Homeowners Insurance | Boizelle Insurance Partnership

How to Prevent Your Home From Flooding

Have you ever experienced a catastrophic event that almost ruined you financially? Windstorms or hail damage are commonly covered perils under a typical homeowners insurance policy. A peril is something that has the potential to cause damage to your property i.e. fire and smoke, lightning, explosion, vandalism, damage from an aircraft, car or vehicle, theft, falling objects, weight of ice, snow and sleet, and water damage. You may think that, because water damage is listed here, that a flood would fall under that category. Actually, floods are not covered by homeowners policies. Floods are covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, better known as FEMA.

Protecting your home against flooding is something that all home owners should consider. Before purchasing a flood insurance policy, however, you should take some time to consider just how likely the area in which you live will have to endure a flooding situation. To get a better idea and overall understanding of flood possibilities, take a look at this flood map provided by FEMA. Enter your address in the search bar to analyze your specific area’s flood zones or simply click “Search All Products” and choose your state, county, and community to view reports of your area’s flood history.

The process by which you prepare your home to combat flooding will depend greatly on where you live. If you do live in an area that is prone to flooding, consider these steps:

Raise your home on stilts or piers: The idea here to create enough space between flood water and the base of your home, so that water is not able to enter your home.

Install foundation vents or a sump pump: Foundation vents allow water to flow through your home as opposed to pooling around it. This method of flood prevention significantly decreases the pressure that flood water can place on your walls and basement windows. Using sump pumps are, oftentimes, an effective way of pumping water out of basements where flooding tends to occur frequently. To ensure that this method is fool-proof, consider installing a sump pump that has a battery backup just in case you lose power.

Apply coatings and sealants: Coating and sealants—when applied to cracks in walls, windows, or doorways—can help prevent flood water from seeping into your house.

Install check valves on your pipes: All pipes that lead into your home should be fixed with valve for the purpose of preventing sewage from entering your home. Ask one of our agents about Sewer Line Backup Coverage provided by Erie Insurance.

Raise your electrical outlets and switches: For the same reason as raising your home on stilts or piers, raising your electrical outlets and switches can help prevent a disaster in which you would experience significant electrical damage. Water and electricity are not a safe combination.

Grade your lawn away from your house: Using heavy soil that contains either and sand allows surface runoff to be lead to an appropriate, safe place. This way, you don’t have to worry about excess water building up around your home.

Leave space between mulch and siding: Wet mulch can lead to dangerous situations because it can rot your home’s siding, resulting in leaks. You want your home to have the ability to fully dry after rainstorms.

Point your downspouts away from your house: If runoff is not pointed away from your home, it could potentially pool around your home, eventually leading to leaks in your basement.

If you are experiencing an emergency flood situation, following these important steps could spell the difference between saving your home and a complete and utter disaster.

  • Turn off your water line if you are certain that is where the water is coming from.
  • Make sure your gutters and drains are cleared of any debris i.e. leaves, grass, etc.
  • Remove all rugs, furniture, electronics, and other valuables from the flooded area. If you can, keep those valuables elevated to keep them dry.
  • Turn off your electricity at the breaker panel! Electricity and water can prove to be a deadly combination. To avoid that danger, keep your electricity off.
  • Open your windows to increase airflow in your home.
  • An active sump pump can prove to be extremely helpful in removing excess water from your home.
  • Take photos of any damages caused by the flood and submit them to your insurance company as evidence of what happened. This evidence can prove extremely important and helpful in any financial dispute.
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Backyard Safety Tips

Spending time in the backyard with your friends or family should always be a joyous time. They provide families an opportunity for fresh air,

Establish Safety Rules

If you’ve ever been a parent, you know how much of a challenge it can be to keep your kids away from potentially dangerous situations. Babies are always putting objects into their mouths while toddlers or kids who are a little bit older and always running around getting their hands and faces dirty. It’s important to help your kids to understand that the rules you set in place and meant for their own safety.

Don’t chase, push, or wrestle while playing on slides, climbing walls, or swings.

Store your bikes, backpacks, and any other personal items away from play areas to avoid any potential tripping or falling.

Always wear close-toed shoes. Do not wear loose clothing, jewelry, or any other items that could potentially get caught in equipment.

Use equipment the way it is intended to be used. Do not stand stand on swings. Do not jump from high platforms. Do not walk up slides. In fact, when it comes to slides, be extra cautious, especially with slides made from metal as they tend to get extremely hot in the summer.

Stay clear of areas like the garage or shed as potentially dangerous tools are often stored here. Parents should always keep an eye on their children while they’re playing and should encourage them to always stay in sight.

Inspect Your Yard for Possible Hazards

Young kids are always testing their limits. Whether by themselves or through peer pressure from friends, kids may have a tendency to ignore certain signs or danger to be thought of as cool. Do your best to inspect your yard ahead of time to make sure there are no hazards that could hurt or injure your child.

Supervise children at all times

Kids should always have an adult supervising them as they play outside. If necessary, take rest breaks. Always remember to drink plenty of fluids and apply and re-apply sunscreen and insect repellant as needed.

Install a fence

Fences are great ways to ensure that you kids will stay in your yard. Of course, this isn’t to say that you should leave them unsupervised as they could jump over the fence. What is important is that you set clear boundaries with your children to help them understand where they can play and what areas are off limits. Another option is to fit your youngest children with GPS trackers just in case they wander off when you’re not looking.

Remove poisonous plants and flowers

Young kids tend to be unfamiliar with poisonous vegetation. Therefore, it’s probably best to remove these threats altogether. Before giving your kids permission to play in the backyard, do you due diligence and conduct a thorough inspection of your yard, being sure to remove any poisonous plants and/or flowers. If your child happens to ingest one of these plants or flowers, call the American Association of Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Improve the security in and around your pool

Drowning is the leading cause of death in children under four years of age; most of these tragedies occur in home swimming pools. In addition to your swimming pool, make sure your hot tub’s cover is securely fastened when it’s not being used.

Pool area doors should remain closed and locked when the pool is not being used. Always remember, no matter how many sensors or high-tech security gadgets you install, nothing beats having an adult supervising children as they play.

Use caution while grilling

Make sure that your grills are away from any play areas and always keep your kids away from the grilling area. Never leave a grill unattended. Once you’re finished grilling your delicious food, be sure to put away all items such as lighter fluid, matches, and propane.

Check play structures for signs of wear

Naturally, equipment wears over time. Be sure to periodically inspect your play sets and playground equipment for signs for wear. Obvious signs could be rotting wood, exposed bolts, damaged floor boards, or loose steps and railings. Repair these unsafe items before allowing your child to use them again.

Get rid of the trampoline

Although trampolines may seem like a lot of fun, they can be extremely dangerous if used improperly. Countless children have been injured while using trampolines—the majority of them suffering broken bones. Studies have shown that 75% of injuries related trampoline use have occurred when more than one person was using the trampoline at the same time. To ensure the safety of your children and their friends, do not allow this behavior. It is important to note that many homeowners insurance policies may not cover trampoline-related injuries.

In the event that an individual outside of your immediate family does suffer an injury while on your property, you may be at risk of a serious lawsuit. You may be held liable for such injuries. Because of this, it’s a good idea to get yourself a liability insurance policy to cover the cost of potential medical costs. Call our office to discuss a Personal Catastrophe Liability insurance policy with one of our experienced insurance professionals today!

 

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The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and How to Combat It

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning is very real, very dangerous, and is something that should not be taken lightly.

What happens when you develop Carbon Monoxide Poisoning? It’s not pretty. When there is too much carbon monoxide in the air and you breathe it in, that poisonous gas is taking the place of healthy oxygen within your red blood cells. When this happens, oxygen is not able to reach your body’s tissues and organs in order to function properly and effectively. The effect can be devastating and can even lead to death.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning include: dull headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision, and loss of consciousness. Even worse is, because carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas, people who may be asleep or intoxicated may suffer irreversible brain damage before even realizing there is a problem. That’s why it is so important to have your carbon monoxide detector routinely checked to make sure they are functioning properly.

Carbon Monoxide gas is especially dangerous when it is able to be released in enclosed spaces and areas. For instance, one should never use a charcoal grill indoors because carbon monoxide from the fumes has the ability to build to dangerous levels. Additionally, smoke inhalation during a house fire can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Those At Highest Risk for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:

  • Unborn Babies: Because fetal blood cells take up more readily than those of an adult, unborn babies are at higher risk for being harmed from exposure to carbon monoxide.
  • Children: Because the lungs of young children may not be as strong as an adult’s, they may be more likely to take more breaths. This could make them more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Older adults: Older adults may be more likely to experience irreversible brain damage from carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • People With Chronic Heart Disease: Those who suffer from anemia and/or have difficult breathing are especially at risk.
  • Those Who Become Unconscious Due to Exposure to Carbon Monoxide: If someone loses consciousness, this could indicate a more severe exposure to carbon monoxide. Call 911 immediately.

Potentially Devastating Effects of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • Permanent Brain Damage
  • Damage to your heart, potentially leading to life-threatening cardiac complications
  • Fetal death or miscarriage
  • Death

Ways to Combat And/Or Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Because carbon monoxide gas is both odorless and colorless, it is virtually undetectable to humans. Therefore, preventative measure are really the only way to protect yourself and your family. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones:

Install carbon monoxide detectors: Wherever members of your family sleep, a carbon monoxide detector should be placed in or near every room of your house. Regular battery checks are essential to ensure everyone’s overall safety. Conduct these checks at least twice a year. If the alarm does go off, do not take the time to try to discover where the leak is coming from. Instead, remove yourself and your loved ones from the house and move to a safe area immediately. Once you are safe, call 911 or your local fire department for assistance.

Open your garage before starting your car. This really should go without saying. We’ve all see what happened to the character Peter Russo in the show “House of Cards”, right? Now, although that was a fictional show, it correctly and effectively demonstrated the devastating effects of carbon monoxide gas on the human body. Carbon Monoxide gas thrives in small, enclosed areas. It is important to remember that.

Use gas appliances as recommended.

Keep your fuel-burning appliances and engines properly vented.

Space heaters

Furnaces

Charcoal grills

Cooking ranges

Water heaters

Fireplaces

Portable generators

Wood-burning stoves

Car and truck engines

It is of paramount importance that, if you have a gas fireplace, that you keep it in good, healthy condition. This means having to properly inspected for gas leaks every year. Conduct yearly cleaning sessions for your chimney and flue.

Keep your vents and chimneys unblocked during any remodeling. Remove any tarps or debris to ensure airways are clean and clear.

If an incident has occurred in a given area, do not return to that specific area until a thorough investigation of, and/or repairs to, the area is conducted. Your local fire department or utility company can could be of assistance with this. You can also call your own inspector.

Be extremely cautious when working with solvents in an enclosed area. Methylene chloride, which is a solvent commonly found in certain paints and varnish removers, can break down into carbon monoxide when it is inhaled. Exposure to this may cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

 

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Why Should I Have An Umbrella Insurance Policy?

Think of umbrella insurance as extra coverage. If you have certain coverage limits on your auto insurance policy and you’re involved in an at-fault collision, it’s possible that those limits may be exhausted through having to pay the costs for vehicle damages or medical payments for the other party if they’re injured. An umbrella policy kicks in once those initial limits are exhausted and will likely cover the rest of the costs.

No matter where you stand in regards to your career, whether you’re just starting a new one or you’re preparing to retire, having a solid umbrella insurance policy in place has some important benefits. If you don’t have one and you suffer a catastrophic financial hit, such as a lawsuit, you’ll certainly wish you had one in place beforehand. Every decision you make in life comes at a cost.

Imagine this scenario. You’re driving along on the road, going 65 miles and hour in a 40 mph speed limit zone. To add insult to injury, you’re texting while driving, so your eyes aren’t focused on what’s in front of you. You approach an intersection when the traffic light turns red. You’re still not paying attention. You fly through the light, crashing your car into two other cars in the middle of the intersection. This is just one scenario. Accidents can happen at any moment.

That’s a pretty terrible situation to imagine, isn’t it? Unfortunately, this kind of situation happens more often than you’d think. That’s why it’s so important to have that extra coverage in place just in case something unexpected happens.

Umbrella Insurance isn’t just limited to your automobile. It can also help you cover damages related to your home insurance. For example, if you host a part at your house and someone slips and falls, breaking their ankle, although having someone injured in your home is terrible and unfortunate, your umbrella policy can help you cover the costs of their medical care. Your umbrella policy can also help to protect you against being sued.

Every situation is different and it is understood that not everyone is going to have the same needs. However, in terms of protecting yourself and your peace of mind, it’s best to have that extra protect in case you face a catastrophic event. Call our office at 301-948-2010 to speak with one of our experienced insurance professionals to learn how umbrella insurance can benefit you now.

 

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