On April 1st, Governor Larry Hogan proclaimed the month of April as Maryland’s Flood Awareness Month. And for good reason. Each year, floods are responsible for more deaths than any other natural disaster.
As it is predicted that storms are going to increase in both frequency and intensity over time, the necessity and importance of obtaining flood insurance is becoming even more essential.
Governor Hogan’s Administration is joining forces with the Maryland Department of the Environment, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, the Maryland Insurance Administration, the Maryland Department of Planning, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland Department of Transportation, the Maryland Environmental Service, the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, and the Maryland Association of Floodplain and Stormwater Managers in an effort to encourage residents of Maryland to learn more about the various flood hazards they could face.
Maryland’s bays and tributaries are subject to flooding after either short periods of heavy rain or prolonged steady rain. Additionally, hurricanes and tropical storms can cause tidal flooding.
Flood Insurance is offered through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), not specifically though any particular insurance carrier or provider. Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover flood insurance; it needs to be purchased separately. It is important to note that flood insurance policies can be purchased from an insurance carrier under contract with FEMA.
You may be wondering what exactly is covered under a flood insurance policy. If disaster strikes and your home is flooded, it can help cover: your home and its foundation, your electrical and plumbing systems, air conditioning equipment, furnaces and heaters, appliances i.e. washers and dryers, refrigerators and stoves. It can also cover damage to your personal possessions like your clothing, furniture and electronic equipment. Under a typical flood insurance policy, your personal property is only covered on an actual cash value basis. The maximum coverage amount for a flood insurance policy is $250,000 for the structure of the home and $100,000 for the contents of the home.
When you buy a flood insurance policy, it is also important to remember that there is a waiting period of 30 days before your flood policy takes effect. Do not wait until you need it to get it.
Without a flood insurance policy, relief from damage caused by flooding usually comes in the form of loans. If your area is deemed a disaster area, the federal government may provide no-interest or low-interest loans as an effort to assist in the recovery process. You are still responsible for paying these loans back out of your own pocket. Having a flood insurance policy in place just in case a disaster strikes could protect you against possible financial ruin.
As stated earlier, there is a waiting period of 30 days before a flood insurance policy goes into effect, so it is best to get the ball rolling towards obtaining a policy sooner rather than later.
Winter weather has the potential to cause serious damage to our lawns. Frigid temperatures reek havoc on grass, plants, and flowers. With spring comes warmer weather and conditions in which lawns and foliage can really flourish if properly tended to. Caring for your lawn in spring is not difficult and regular attention to your lawn may prove to be exactly what your lawn needs in order to be in tip-top shape throughout the season. Your lawn may just end up being the envy of the neighborhood.
If you want to have an immaculate lawn for spring, follow these easy, important steps:
Tune up your lawn mower: Everything from changing the oil, air filter and spark plug, making sure that your mower is clean will ensure that it is functioning properly.
Spend some time raking: When it comes to preparing your lawn for new growth, the first step you should take is to rake. Raking helps break up something called thatch: the layer of dead turfgrass lying between the healthy vegetation of the grass above and the root system and soil underneath. If this layer becomes too thick, it can pose problems for your grass.
In addition to raking in the fall, do not become complacent and ignore your lawn in the spring time. In fact, because winter weather can cause so many damage to your lawn, it is especially important to rake in the spring in order to remove all of the dead blades of grass from the winter. Another benefit of raking is that it may help to prevent something snow mold, which is a lawn disease that makes it extremely difficult for new, healthy grass to penetrate the diseased areas. Raking can fix this.
Get a Lawn Aerator. A lawn aerator creates openings in the turf which allows both water and air to get through the soil and reach the grassroots. It is important to note that spring may not be the ideal time to do this because aeration holes provide a perfect opportunity for weeds to grow. You don’t want to spend your spring cleaning up all of those weeds that could potentially damage your lawn.
Assess your Soil
Grass likes a neutral pH level. So, if you ever see moss coating the ground, it may be a sign of acidic soil which can be neutralized by adding ground limestone. This process does take some time as the liming holds gradually.
If your lawn has a lot of bare patches due to consistent heavy traffic, it may be in need of grass seed. Grass seed will help your grass grow more efficiently. Once you pour seed over existing grass, apply a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. Once the grass germinates (typically after 5 weeks), apply quick-release nitrogen fertilizer.
Although it is important to fertilize, you want to be careful when you do it. Too much fertilizer in spring may lead to disease and problems with weeds. Many lawn experts recommend a lighter feeding in the spring and a heavier feed in the fall.
Apply Postemergent Herbicides (Or Pull Weeds)
If you do not want to spend a lot of time and energy pulling weeds, consider applying a postemergent herbicide to kill your weeds. It is more effective to use one for broadleaf weeds. Do this in the fall rather than the spring. However, reaching down to the root of the problem by weeding may prove to be more effective long-term.
Winter has the potential to cause significant damage to your home if you do not take certain necessary preventative steps. Everything from leaks to fallen trees to damaged siding, it can become expensive to cover the costs of repairs to your home. What about frozen pipes? Frozen pipes are one concern. What really causes heads to roll is if they burst! Here’s what you can and should do to prevent your pipes from freezing.
Insulation is probably one of your most effective ways to protecting your pipes from the possibility of freezing. When it comes to insulation, you have several options. First, you can wrap your pipes with a foam covering; Polyethylene is an effective material to use. Insulating your pipes is a good idea, even if your area is not often the host of hard freeze conditions. It is better to be safe than sorry. Apart from using foam coverings, you can also wrap your pipes in heat tape or heat cables using a thermostat control. Do not install any insulation without first reading the directions from the manufacturer.
Cold air has a tendency to sneak its way through cracks and crevices. It is important that you seal off these areas with a good caulk. This is especially important to do in areas where pipes run from inside to outside your home like dryer vents or water pipes.
If colder temperatures begin to settle in, an effective way of preventing your pipes from freezing is by maintaining a slight drip from your faucets in your kitchen, bath, and laundry room.
If you are going to be away from your home for any significant amount of time, it is best to inform a trusted neighbor so they have the chance to check-in on your home, reassuring you that no pipes have burst in your absence.
If you suspect frozen pipes in your home, turn on our faucets. If you only see a very gentle drip, you may have a frozen pipe. Inspect your water supply lines, paying attention to any really cold areas. Do this carefully, so you do not miss any areas that may have breakage. If, during your inspection, you see broken or burst pipes, call a professional plumber immediately.
If you want to thaw your frozen pipes, open the faucet of the particular pipe. The flow of water will help the water melt more quickly.
If you have pipes that are exposed, wrap them in a heated pad and turn the temperature up. Take a hair dryer, turn it to the high setting, and move the hot air back and forth around the pipe. Another way to combat frozen pipes is to wrap them in heated, wet towels. These would need to changed frequently because they tend to lose heat rapidly. Finally, place a space heater close to the area of the frozen pipe. Once the pipes are thawed and the water pressure returns to normal, you can remove it.
Taking consistent maintenance steps regularly throughout the year is the best way to avoid a long, tedious, and perhaps, expensive process. Winters can be especially unforgiving when it comes to repairs if you are not mindful of the time it takes to properly maintain your home. Leaving the warning signs unattended may result in some harsh lessons. If you want to avoid costly repairs, it is best to prepare your home for the winter. Here are some steps you can take to protect your home, your wallet, and your sanity.
Check your Gutters and Drainage
Rain always presents a challenge when it comes to keeping your gutters and drains clean and free of clutter. If you take a proactive approach to maintaining your gutters, you will prevent your need to replace them. Additionally, clogged gutters and drains have the potential to lead to roof damage.
When a gutter clogs with leaves and debris, it can cause a strain on your roof. Ice can be particularly troublesome, as it can thaw and strain your gutters. To make sure your gutter is cleaned properly, flush it out with a hose.
Test Your Sump Pump
Testing your sump pump to make sure it is functioning properly can help prevent a basement from flooding or your home’s foundation suffering immense damage. Repairs for these could prove very costly. A properly functioning sump pump, when plugged in, should have a humming sound.
Check Your Window Wells
Natural light coming into your basement is a great way to provide ventilation. Window wells prevent soil from building up on window fixtures.
If the lining along your window wells fail, you leave your home at risk for flooding. A flood inside your home could require costly repairs.
Clean Your Dryer Vents
The lint inside your dryer, if not properly cleaned out, can present a dangerous fire hazard to your home. It is extremely important to regularly clean out your dryer vents to prevent a problem from occurring. Naturally, you will most likely have to do this more often during the colder months, as your dryer will get more use. In addition to preventing a fire from occurring, you will also be improving your energy efficiency.
Check Your Electrical System
The last thing you want to have happen is your electricity failing when it gets really cold! To ensure this does not happen, you should inspect your breaker wire for bad insulation and any discoloration.
If you need any assistance, it is a good idea to hire an experienced electrician to do a thorough inspection for you.
Bleed Your Radiators
This process should be completed every winter. Turn on all of your radiators to the highest temperature possible. Wait a few minutes and then turn of the central heating system to give them time to cool off. Turn off the radiator and open the bleed valve. Place a tray underneath the valve and let the air escape. Any water that escapes will be caught by the tray. Do not be alarmed when you see the water dripping. It is perfectly normal.
Avoid Ice Dams
When temperatures drop to freezing conditions, ice dams can form that prevent melting snow from draining properly. When this happens, you leave your home at risk of leaks in ceilings, insulations, and walls that could prove extremely costly.
Increase ventilation and add insulation in order to regulate the temperature of your roof. Any air leaks should be properly sealed.
Prevent Your Exterior Pipes From Freezing
This might be the most important step you can take to protect your home during the winter months. If a frozen pipe cracks and thaws, it can release hundreds of gallons of water in a single day. This could present a disastrous problem for your home as well as your wallet.
Inspect your pipes for signs of weakness. If you see any moisture on faucets and connectors, it could mean your pipes are nearing their decline and are in need of replacement. Do this as soon as possible to avoid catastrophic damage.
All of your pipes should be properly drained. It does not hurt to check on this a second time a few days later to make sure that all water has fully drained.
To provide extra protection for your exterior pipes, a foam covering is a great way to add some extra insulation.
Prepare for Winter Storms
Winter can bring harsh weather conditions consisting of heavy rain, snow, sleet, and hail. If you have a generator, take the necessary steps to make sure it is functioning properly. It is a good idea to keep back up batteries for flashlights the event of a power outage.
Having a battery-powered radio is a good way to stay informed with regard to changing weather conditions or local emergencies.