Homeowners Insurance | Boizelle Insurance Partnership

How to Declutter Your Home

Do you ever feel like you just have too much stuff? Does living in a cluttered space where you can barely move make you feel stressed?

Believe it or not, there are many benefits of decluttering that will positively impact your life, almost immediately!

Decluttering can significantly improve your mental health and overall well-being. Going through this process thoroughly can help reduce anxiety and finding items that were previously lost. Additionally, it can ease future burdens. Let’s say you need to make a sudden change to your living situation i.e. downsizing, whether it be due to a divorce, you’ve lost your job, or there has been a death in the family, your loved ones can rest assured that the process of going through various items will take far less time because you already began that process long ago.

When you stop to take a look at just how much clutter you have in your home and your living spaces, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed. Here’s a concise list of steps you should take to make the process easier for yourself.

Remove trash. Go around each room of your home with a garbage bag and throw away anything that is trash.

Start small. Begin your decluttering process by starting with small areas such as closets or kitchen drawers.

Get sorting. An easy way of going about this step is by creating three separate piles: keep, donate, and toss.

Give everything a home. If you plan to keep anything, do yourself a favor and find a specific area to store or display items you plan to keep. For example, eating utensils belong in the kitchen drawer, not your office drawer.

Store like with like. For example, tools should be stored with other tools. Mixing items will only create more chaos.

Establish the “one in, one out” rule. If you plan to keep something, plan to either donate or throw away something else. This will help you to keep the number of items in your home down to only what you regularly use.

Ask your loved ones questions before continuing to store something. If you have any items that you plan to pass down to your children or your children’s children, ask your kids what they would like to keep and what they are okay with never seeing again.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Remember the saying, “Slow and steady wins the race.”? Well, that holds true here. Do not allow yourself to become overwhelmed by trying to take on more than you are physically or mentally capable of. Instead, break down your process into small, easy tasks that are able to be completed on a consistent basis. That way, you won’t feel burned out and you’ll be able to look back on your work with pride once your process is finished.

Creating a home inventory is an effective and efficient way to help you organize your process of going through each room of your home. You will be better able to form a comprehensive list of your personal belongings and each items estimated values. This is extremely helpful and beneficial to you because it is your resource to use in case you need to file a homeowners insurance claim after a fire or other major disaster to happen to your home.

Office

If you have a home office, the first thing you’ll want to do is organize your paperwork. What should you keep and what should you discard? Make sure you always keep important items such as birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, social security cards, military service records, pension and estate-planning documents, and life insurance policies. Your personal health and vehicle records are also important to keep in a secure file.

Rid yourself of any electronic devices you no longer use. If you have an old laptop or a digital camera that is missing a power cord, these items are now, sadly, useless to you. You can either throw them out or figure out a way to recycle them. Before doing this, be sure to remove any personal information from your devices.

Your children may have tested the waters of painting or sculpting. And every piece of artwork that your child hands to you is unique and special. If you save everything, you’ll soon have a massive collection on your hands. Remember, you still have a limited storage space. Instead of keeping everything, put your favorite pieces on display on an art wall.

Old photo collections are wonderful to have, but have you taken the time to organize them? Create a new album of physical photos or store them in a digital file that you can access later on.

Garage

Your garage may be one of the most cluttered spaces in your home. Use the walls of your garage to create more storage space. For example, you can use bungee cords, mason jars, and magnetic strips to effectively use wall space in order to store various items in your garage. Storing them securely against the wall can help you create far more storage space than you originally thought you had.

Your garage is probably one of the spaces in your home you frequently use and physically find yourself in. Be sure to lock up your tools in a safe and secure area. Get rid of any tripping hazards. Store ladders properly, so that they are safely out of the way. Fire extinguishers should be kept in a secure place that is also easily accessible.

Kitchen

Certainly, you spend almost, if not every day in your kitchen. Make sure you take the time to go through items in your refrigerator and pantry, paying special attention to expiration dates. Rid yourself of anything that has expired.

Over the years, if you haven’t taken the time to assess how much “stuff” you have, it’s not unlikely that you have duplicate items in your possession. How many spatulas or tongs do you have? How many cutting boards? How many drinking glasses? Donate anything you don’t need.

If, after going through your storage containers, you find that some of them do not have a matching lid, get rid of them. This will help you declutter and rid yourself of any items you can no longer use.

Bedroom

When was the last time you went through your closet? Are there any shirts or pants that you haven’t worn in years? Get rid of them. All those items are doing is taking up space. Perhaps there are some items you have outgrown? It’s time for them to go.

 

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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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