Protecting Your Trees From Storm Damage

With their girth, large trees may seem indestructible but though they may withstand most things, hurricane-force winds, lightning, and floods brought about by non-stop rain can wreak havoc on the plants. From their root system up to their trunks and branches, extreme weather can permanently damage your trees, or even—in the case of lightning strikes—kill them outright!

There are plenty of ways that you can do to avoid tree storm damage from happening. Today, let’s find out some of the most effective tips to successfully storm-proof your trees. Here they are:

Keep Trees Strong and Healthy

The first and the most effective step to storm-proof trees is by keeping them strong and healthy long before a storm arrives and ruin everything in your yard. There is no question that healthy trees can withstand most extreme weather conditions compared to weaker ones. Branches are less likely to fall and cause damages on the plants’ immediate area when the trees are strong and completely healthy.
There are several things that you can do to ensure that trees grow healthy. Providing them with proper water, regular and corrective pruning and fertilizer depending on the species are the most important steps. Just make sure to start these routines when trees are still young. Don’t wait for your trees’ health to decline before you start taking good care of them.

Trim Trees Regularly

At first, you may think that tree pruning damages your tree what with all the sawing off of branches and thinning its foliage. However, when pruning is done in the proper way, it can help trees withstand storms. It is highly advised that you start pruning your trees while they are young in order for them to develop a strong central trunk.
Pruning has a lot of advantages. Besides removing dead and weak branches, it also boosts proper structure and growth of your trees. Regularly conducting tree pruning can shape your trees in becoming more resistant to weather damage. But, the result of tree pruning greatly depends on how it is done. When done improperly, the effects of tree pruning may be counterproductive.

Protect Tree’s Root System

Roots may be hidden underneath the ground but they are actually critical to the total stability and strength of any tree. They can be considered as the tree’s anchor, keeping them stable even when the winds are strong enough to uproot the whole tree.
In order to keep the roots of trees deeply grounded, you have to minimize activities that may impede its growth or compromise the nutrients of the soil where your trees were planted. Some activities to be avoided include construction work and excavation.
One of the best ways to help protect your tree’s root system is by mulching the ground. Putting an extensive mulch ring around the tree’s base has numerous benefits which include preserving the nutrients and water from the soil; it even prevents weed growth.  Be careful, however, not to place the mulch too high up the trunk – the critical gas and air exchange is at the base.

Protect Tree Trunks As Well

Aside from the root system, the trunk of the tree should also be protected. If you are expecting a strong storm in your area, you can provide a tree’s trunk added protection by wrapping it with protective material like row cover or even burlap. These materials can protect your tree against flying debris, but need to be removed after the worst weather.

Plant the Right Kind of Tree

If your area frequently has storms, then you should be extra careful with the trees you are planting in your yard. There are several tree species that can withstand the storm better than any other species. As revealed by Kansas State University horticulturist Bob Neier, the red maple, red oak, linden, bald cypress, autumn blaze maple, and the Austrian pine are some of the sturdier trees.
In general, trees that are healthy endure storms way better than the rest. If you don’t want your trees to end up deteriorating due to extreme weather conditions, then be a responsible tree owner—provide the plants with proper watering, regular and corrective pruning and nutrients.

Hurricanes 101 | The 2018 Hurricane Season

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season is in full force, and recent storms indicate that the coastal region is in for a pummeling this year. To help raise awareness for storm preparedness, we suggest that you keep the following information throughout the 2018 season.

Hurricane season starts June 1st and runs through November 30th. This is when tropical storm conditions are most favorable for hurricane development. A tropical disturbance becomes a tropical storm and is given a name when sustained winds around the center of the storm reach 39 mph. A tropical storm is upgraded to hurricane status when sustained winds reach 74 mph. Last year, hurricanes Harvey and Maria wreaked havoc. Harvey delivered a beating to southern Texas, while Maria — the 10th most intense hurricane on record — destroyed parts of Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands. Both of these storms ranked among the top five most costly hurricanes in United States history.

Last year’s season ended with 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes and six major hurricanes, slightly more than what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had predicted. The Atlantic basin typically averages 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. Each spring, NOAA forecasts for the upcoming hurricane season. This year’s storm activity was projected at 75, which will be at normal or above-normal levels. NOAA also predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms — those with winds of 39 mph or higher. Of these, five to nine could become hurricanes, with one to four turning into major hurricanes (category 3 or above).

Forecasting, though helpful, cannot provide the most critical information to residents living in hurricane-prone areas such as the Gulf Coast. Similarly, coastal regions along the Carolinas and even as far north as Boston can be at high risk for hurricane-force winds. This year’s predictions indicate an increased risk for these areas specifically.

NOAA’s predictions are based on storm formations, not landfalls. What this means is that although forecasts predict an extremely active hurricane season, some of these storms might never hit land or harm anyone. It is important to note that hurricanes are formed by complicated weather variables, global trends and weather patterns in place as the storms approach land, making it difficult to predict impact, according to the CPC.

The storms of 2017 caused devastating damage, but according to a recent NOAA report, we gained the most accurate storm-path predictions on record, which helped communities prepare for the hurricanes and potentially saved lives. Improvements in computer processing, analytics and modeling have contributed to the greatest predictive power increase of technology and science to date.

Overall, there may be severe weather and destruction, but with the trend of increasingly accurate storm forecasts and computer modeling, we will better be able to see these storms coming.

4 Ways to Protect Your Home From Lightning

Lightning is a major risk of property damage to both homeowners and renters because it causes fires and power surges that damage electronics. The Insurance Information Institute reported lightning strikes cost $739 million in homeowners insurance losses in 2014, up 9.7 percent from 2013. 

What’s more, the report stated that the amount of claims was declining (due to lightning protection technology) and the average cost per claim was rising, as damaged electronics become more expensive.

Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, there are steps you can take to prevent your property from being damaged. Here are four simple ways to protect your home from lightning:

Use a Home Lightning Protection System

One of the best ways for homeowners, in particular, to protect their homes from lightning is to install a home lightning protection system. A properly installed system is approximately 99 percent effective in preventing lightning damage. Lightning protection systems can include:

Lightning Rods
Main Conductors
Grounds
Bonds
Surge Protectors

The Lightning Protection Institute also noted that homeowners may receive a credit on their homeowners insurance by installing a lightning protection system.

Unplug Electronics and Appliances

In addition to causing structural fires, lightning can damage the electronics in your home. Lightning can cause power surge damage if it uses your home’s electrical wiring system as its primary or secondary path. The electrical surge can damage even non-electrical appliances. An easy step both owners and renters can take to avoid electrical damage is to unplug any electronic devices or appliances in anticipation of a storm.

Install Transient Voltage Surge Suppressors

There are always going to be times when you’re not available to unplug your electronics, such as during a vacation. One way to make sure your electronics are always protected from lightning is to install transient voltage surge protectors. According to Allstate, transient voltage surge protectors are connected to computers and other electronic equipment to limit voltage to 1.5 times the normal voltage.

Check Your Homeowners and Renters Insurance Coverage

Even if you take all the precautionary steps, you will want to make sure your homeowners insurance and renters insurance plans cover damage caused by lightning. Not all insurance plans are the same, so make sure yours will cover damage done to your home and electronics.

It is especially important to make sure you are covered in case of lightning damage if you live in an area that has frequent lightning storms. According to State Farm, the top 10 states for lightning damage insurance claims in 2014 were: Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Illinois, North Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana, Florida and Missouri.

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Pet Fire Safety

Protecting Your Pets From Potential Danger

Home fires are the most preventable disaster that can occur.

The best way to protect your pets from the dangers of a fire is to include them in your family fire plan. This includes having their own disaster supplies kit as well as arranging in advance for a safe place keep them if you need to leave your home for a long period of time.

When you practice your home escape plan, practice taking your pets with you. Train them to come to you when you call.

In the event of a disaster, if you must evacuate, the most important thing you can do to protect your pets is to evacuate them, too. But remember: never delay escape or endanger yourself or family to rescue a family pet.

Prevent Your Pets From Starting Fires

The National Fire Protection Association estimates that nearly 1,000 home fires each year are accidentally started by the homeowners’ pets.

The American Kennel Club and ADT Security Services have joined forces to provide the following tips:

  • Extinguish Open Flames – Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Make sure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.
  • Invest in Flameless Candles – These candles contain a light bulb rather than an open flame, and take the danger out of your pet knocking over a candle. Cats are notorious for starting fires when their tails turn over lit candles.
  • Secure Young Pets – keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home such as in crates or behind baby gates in secure areas.

Help Firefighters Help Your Pets

  • Keep pets near entrances when away from home. Keep collars on pets and leashes at the ready in case firefighters need to rescue your pet. When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them.
  • Stick a pet alert window cling and write down the number of pets inside your house and attach the static cling to a front window. This critical information saves rescuers time when locating your pets. Make sure to keep the number of pets listed on them updated.
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Why Thomasville Homes Restoration?

Why Thomasville Homes Restoration?

Thomasville Homes will renovate and restore your property as quickly as possible using quality construction and materials to ensure 100% customer satisfaction. Our contractors are licensed and insured and are known for their incredible work at making properties look like new again.

Fire Damage

A disaster like a fire can leave you feeling helpless. Once the firefighters extinguish the blaze, a rapid response is required to repair and restore your home to cause the least amount of disruption. 

After a fire, we work with your insurance company to see how much of your home can be salvaged or will need to be completely rebuilt. We’ll work with insurance adjusters to help get your claim resolved quickly.

Water Damage

Whether your home has been affected by bad plumbing or a natural disaster, our professional contractors will rebuild a large portion or all of your property with the staff and equipment in place to handle every need and restore your Maryland property as quickly as possible. 

With nearly two decades of experience in the home building, remodeling and construction industry, our team will make your existing space inhabitable again on time and on budget.

Emergency Response

Don’t hesitate to call us night or day, we’re on standby 24 hours a day to take care of your emergency. Our team of experts will be there fast, with everything needed to get your property back to normal in no time. Give us a call now for a fast response from the pros who care. Thomasville Homes is locally owned and operated so we’re already close by and ready to respond immediately when you need us.

Emergency Number: 410-360-1075
24 hours / 7 days a week!

Mitigation

Our team will determine what your home will need before we start the construction.  This is called mitigation.  

It may need boarding up, tarp- covering, and/or securing of property.  If so, these services will need to be completed first.  

We do this because if your house has holes or gaps caused by the fire, your house and its contents could be further damaged by the elements such as rain, snow, or excessive heat.

24/7 Emergency Board Up Services

After your home is damaged from a fire, storm, or other disaster, you may end up with unwanted openings in your structure. This type of damage will leave the property and the people and possessions inside at risk. 

You could possibly end up suffering additional losses particularly if further water damage occurs during a rainstorm. If you are in this situation, you could greatly benefit from our 24/7 board up services at Thomasville Homes. We will help you secure your premises after disaster strikes. 

We offer the following:

  • Boarding up of openings on the structure of the house
  • Covering of openings with protective tarp
  • Security fencing

Our board-up services will close the gap in your structure providing the protection you need until the property can be fully repaired. 

Protective Tarping

As soon as your property is secured, the clean-up process begins.  Smoke, soot, and water from the firefighters cause a lot of destruction.

Thomasville removes and cleans up all the mess, smell, and debris caused by the fire and the extinguishing of the fire.

Our Team specializes in securing damaged properties. Your home is in good hands!

Insurance

Right from the start, we work with your insurance company to settle your claim with your insurance representative. Together we determine whether some of your home can be salvaged or whether it will need to be completely rebuilt.  

Our two decades of service in the industry ensure that your claim will be resolved quickly and satisfactorily.  

We know the ins and outs, the complications, and the setbacks.  Let us use our expertise to make the process less frustrating and less arduous for you.

Construction

After your house has been protected and thoroughly mitigated, having settled your insurance claim with your representative, we can now begin the building process.

With all staff and equipment in place, Thomasville’s professional employees will renovate, restore, and rebuild portions, or if necessary, all of your property.  We complete all projects as quickly as possible using only quality construction and materials.  

Our workmen are licensed and insured and are known for their superior workmanship, which makes properties look like new again – or better.  

Our goal is nothing less than 100% customer satisfaction.

With 25 years of licensed experience in the home-building, remodeling and construction industry, our in-house team will make your existing water-, fire-, or storm-damaged space inhabitable again, on time and on budget, and looking even more beautiful than the original.

If you have a property damage, an emergency, or want to get in contact with Thomasville Homes Restoration, call us at (410) 360-1075 and be sure to check out our Facebook Page Here. 

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Mould, Left Untreated, Brings Respiratory Infection

Mold, Left Untreated, Brings Respiratory Infection

Often times, most people do not notice mold in their home until it can’t be ignored any longer. That means that some people could have been exposed to dangerous levels of  mold without getting the medical assistance that they need. It is, however, rare for mold to cause permanent problems in people, but it is still imperative to know what a mold-related illness looks like. 

Whether you’re at home, an apartment, office building, or public location, anyone can be affected by mold. Although it is rare, the early symptoms of mold exposure can be dismissed as seasonal allergies, getting a cold, or another everyday illness. These symptoms may include sneezing, eye irritation, and coughing. If you leave mold untreated, it will get worse and could lead to respiratory infections. It is essential to pay attentions to the signs that your body is giving you, and equally important to know the conditions of your surroundings where you may suspect there to be mold. 

Mold isn’t just found indoors – it can be outside too. It’s important to know how you can be exposed to it. You should become familiar with the best practices for minimizing your exposure risk and how to address mold should you come into contact with it. 

You can be exposed to mold in the following locations: 

  • Places prone to extra moisture
  • Doorways
  • Windows
  • Bathrooms
  • Around pipe and roof leaks

Mold can be brought into your house from outside through: 

  • Doors
  • Shoes
  • Pets

What can mold really do to your health?

In 2009, the World Health Organization released their guidelines for indoor air quality.

Some people are more sensitive and susceptible to mold exposure.  Though it can start with nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing and general allergy-like symptoms, those with a weakened immune system or with increased/prolonged exposure can find themselves with conditions like asthma or serious lung infections.

If you think you’ve been exposed to mold and begin to show any of these symptoms, please seek medical attention promptly. This can be as general as over-the-counter allergy medicine or as targeted as prescription medicine specifically ordered to treat an infection. The National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health stresses guidelines for mold and exposure indoors and its effects on those exposed.

You’ve found mould, now what?

Are you consistently checking your house or building for mold? If you can find mold locations before it gets worse, you are able to control it and minimize the damage it could cause to you, your family, and your business. 

If you find mold in your home, you not only need to clean it up immediately! You also need to determine the cause of the mold itself.  Where is the moisture coming from that is creating the mold? Look for leaks, water damage, wet spots, condensation, and other precursors for mold. The issue needs to be resolved so that once the mold is removed, it will not be a recurring issue.

Never try to remove mold yourself unless it’s found in your bathroom, like the mold and mildew found in and around your tub or shower. Instead, call Thomasville Homes Restoration at (410) 360-1075 and let us take care of your mold remediation needs.

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Tree and Shrub Maintenance Calendar

Trees and shrubs form the framework of your landscape. Their beauty, shape, size, foliage, and flowers are important elements of a welcoming and inviting space in which to live and play.

Whether you’ve planted trees and shrubs on your property or inherited them from a previous owner, it’s important to keep up with their care so they live their longest, most beautiful and productive lives. Or maybe you have a blank slate and wonder how much time and effort it will take to plant and tend trees and shrubs. Use this tree and shrub maintenance calendar as your guide.

Spring and Autumn: Time to Plant Trees & Shrubs

In most parts of North America, early spring — while deciduous trees are still leafless and dormant — is the best time to plant. Autumn or winter planting is recommended in areas where summers are extreme and winters are mild, such as parts of the South and West.

Spring is the only time you should plant bare-root trees in northern climates.

Balled-and-burlapped trees should be dug from nurseries in early spring and can be planted in yards in spring or early summer.

Container-grown trees can be planted successfully almost any time of the year, except when the ground is frozen.

There are a few exceptions. Trees with active, late-winter sap flow, such as birch and sugar maple, should be planted after their sap flow ends, just as the leaf buds begin to unfold.

Fleshy-root trees such as magnolias should be planted after their leaves have expanded slightly.

Evergreens are best planted in early autumn, after summer heat is gone but early enough to get established before winter sets in.

Although you can plant trees and shrubs almost any time the ground can be worked with a spade, avoid planting in late spring, right before hot summer weather, and in very late fall, because roots may not have enough time to get established before winter weather.

Spring, Summer, and Autumn: No Staking Necessary

Although you may see some staked or guy-wired trees, in general you should avoid staking. Here’s why:

Trees need to move and bend with the wind to develop strength. When they’re staked, they don’t develop strong trunks from the stake on down. They also are more subject to breakage from wind because the entire tree isn’t allowed to move as much. Rubbing and girdling from stakes and ties can affect the trunk as well, creating wounds that are susceptible to attacks from diseases or pests. The tree may also grow too fast with an underdeveloped root system.

There are a few exceptions. Bare-root and large balled-and-burlapped trees may not be able to support themselves at first, especially in windy settings. After planting, watch the tree to see if it tips or leans; if so, it may need temporary anchor staking.

Each tree needs at least three stakes. Broad, soft tie materials (such as nylon stockings or elastic webbing) are fastened from the tree to the stake. Avoid using wire, string, or other materials that can cut into the trunk.

Remove the stakes as soon as possible. Research shows that almost all trees staked for more than two years have a higher probability for breakage.

Autumn and Winter: Wrapping

Tree wrapping in winter months protects against sunscald, not cold. It’s unnecessary for most trees, but it’s helpful in protecting young, thin-bark trees, such maples and fruit trees, for the first winter or two after planting.

A rule of thumb is to wrap the tree at Thanksgiving and remove the wrap at the spring equinox (around March 20). Always remove tree wrap in spring to avoid a spot where insects can gather and disease can take hold.

To protect established trees from winter critters, create a barrier fence a couple of feet away from the trunk using stakes and mesh screen or plastic tree wrap. You can wrap the trunk itself with chicken wire or plastic wrap that has air holes for circulation, or a plastic drainage tube slit down the side to loosely cover the trunk.

Again, always remove any barriers in the spring.

Protect evergreens from drying winds and sunscald with burlap screening or wrapping on the south, southwest, and windward sides. Antidessicant sprays can help but may not be fully effective in all cases.

Spring, Summer, and Autumn: Watering

During the first year after planting, water is the most important element in tree and shrub survival. Always water deeply and thoroughly, even if less frequently; avoid frequent, shallow watering, as the roots will travel to the surface to receive the water and won’t establish themselves deeper.

Place a hose at the base of the tree and allow a trickle of water to flow for at least 15 minutes. Shrubs can be watered for less time. If you have sandy soil, water more frequently; if you have heavy, clay soil, allow more time between waterings.

Autumn is the most important time to water trees and shrubs, especially evergreens. Water during the growing season during periods of drought, particularly the first year or two while the plants are getting established.

Spring, Summer, and Autumn: Fertilizing

Good news: Fertilizing is one thing you probably don’t need to do! Most soils have enough nutrients to grow trees and shrubs. Only fertilize for specific elements when a soil test indicates nutrients are missing.

Spring, Summer, and Autumn: Mulching

A 2- to 3-inch-deep ring of mulch that extends to the drip line of a tree (the reach of the branches) is a great way to conserve moisture and suppress weeds that compete with tree roots for water and nutrients. Keep the depth of the mulch at 4 inches or less to avoid trapping too much moisture, which can kill roots.

Organic mulches such as shredded or chipped bark decompose, adding nutrients to the soil.

Mulch is also helpful in keeping lawn mowers and other equipment away from trunks.

Avoid mulch “volcanoes” where mulch is placed in a cone shape directly against the trunk of a newly planted tree. Too much mulch directly against the bark causes rot, circling roots, and disease problems.

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If you would like more information about Thomasville Homes Restoration, or to get a quote, give us a call at (410) 360-1075.

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Don’t Let A Power Outage Hurt Your Business

Don’t Let A Power Outage Hurt Your Business

When businesses create plans to keep them going in the event of a disaster, they often think big. Huge storms, intense blizzards, fires, and floods are often prepared for the most when a business creates a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). While these disasters can disrupt your business, a small power outage can be just as problematic if you’re not prepared. Here’s what to do to make sure your company isn’t halted when a power outage occurs.

Power outages are one of the only disasters that can strike just about anywhere in the United States. If you are in Seattle chances are tropical storms are not going to be an issue and if you’re in Miami you aren’t going to fret over a blizzard, but losing power can occur anywhere, at any time and without warning.

A Department of Energy report noted that power outages cost American businesses nearly $150 billion in 2014 and added that increasing demand for energy coupled with an aging infrastructure could see the number of blackouts increase. While weather-related events are the most common cause of power outages in the U.S., it is far from the only thing that can disrupt energy service.

Since this is a problem that will continue to plague businesses, especially those ones that are unprepared, it’s important to be ready should a blackout strike. Here are a few things you should consider when it comes to power outages.

Power outages hurt in more ways than you think

The most notable issue a business faces when a power outage occurs is an inability to work. Employees often times sit around unable to do anything until the power is turned back on. Once the power does return, additional time is needed to safely turn everything back on and to check if all your files are still there.

There are also numerous indirect consequences that your business may face either during or after a power outage. These include a loss of revenue from potential sales, a decrease in customer satisfaction and a drop in your company’s reputation. The more your company is prepared for a power outage, the better continuity you will see and the less damage will be done. While it may be impossible to completely avoid issues caused by blackouts, you can minimize their impact.

Be ready in case of an outage

One of the biggest sources of frustration for employees during a blackout is losing files they had been working on. Autosave features do help prevent this but sometimes you’ll still lose that one important note or sentence you didn’t have the chance to save. Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) are one way to buy your employees a little extra time should the power go out. You’re able to plug your computer into these devices and they will operate as a battery when the power goes out. The life of these power stations is anywhere from ten minutes to an hour for some models which should give you enough time to save your work and properly shutdown your computer.

If you want to stay in business during a power outage, a standby commercial generator can help. These normally run on propane or natural gas and immediately switch on as soon as your main power supply goes out. If you aren’t concerned about the lights but want to keep your employees productive, equipping them 4G enabled devices with Office 365 or Google Apps will let them continue to work on files that have been saved and stored on the cloud.

Always test your outage plans

Regardless of what your company’s plans are during a power outage, you will need to test them on a regular basis to ensure everything runs smoothly when the real thing does happen. If you utilize a UPS or standby generator, you will want to test these out every six months at the very least to make sure they function properly. If your business has special plans for what employees need to do during a power outage, you should run a practice drill on a yearly basis to ensure everyone is up to speed on their duties.

They key to business continuity is preparation. Let our team of experts help prepare your business for anything thrown its way in 2018 and beyond.

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If you would like more information about Thomasville Homes Restoration, or to get a quote, give us a call at (410) 360-1075.

Time For Your Annual Insurance Review

Time For Your Annual Insurance Review

It’s almost time for year-end reviews. Is your insurance coverage included on the review list? If not, it should be. Let us help you with this insurance checklist as a starting point to review your policies and address any gaps in your coverage, as well as potential cost savings.

Homeowner’s Insurance

Change in Value – If your house has gone up in appraisal value, the amount of your policy may not be enough to rebuild your home completely. Improvements or renovations that increase your home’s value may require adjusting your insurance coverage through the same logic.

Extended Coverage – Do you have jewelry or other valuables that you would rather insure on your homeowner’s policy than insure separately (or not at all)? Add any riders you need, and check the coverage limitations and adjust them if they are inadequate.

New Discounts – Insurers add and change discounts all the time, and changes in your situation may qualify you for different savings. Check with your insurer to see if you qualify for any new discounts. Don’t forget indirect items lowering the risk on your home, like the fire department putting in a nearby hydrant.

Life Insurance

Life Changes – Birth, death, marriage, divorce, job loss and other family status changes may require adjustments to your policy. Of course, if you have experienced death personally, someone else will be taking care of that adjustment for you.

Changes in Income – If your income has increased significantly, you may need to increase your coverage for your family to maintain their standard of living should you pass away. Conversely, if your income is lower, you may not be able to afford your current policy and will have to work with your agent to find a suitable adjustment.

Changes in Life Insurance Policies and Provisions – Occasionally, life insurance carriers introduce new and innovative features that may be of benefit to consumers. Desirable options may be introduced to those of us with existing coverage when we schedule an annual insurance review. One type of option that is proving desirable for many has been what are called “living benefits” that allow the death benefit to be triggered for such things as long-term care expenses, critical, chronic, and terminal illnesses while we are still alive. Some of these options did not exist years ago.

Retirement/Estate Plans – Changes in your retirement needs or estate plans may involve your life insurance policies. Adjust them accordingly, if you can – whole life and certain other policies do not have much capacity for adjustment.

Auto Insurance

New Drivers – Has your teen started driving? You will need to get them a policy of their own or add them onto yours. Check your healthcare plan for discounts on Xanax while you are at it. Search under “parent of teen driver.”

Car Status – As your car ages, you may be able to drop or change elements of your coverage, such as the collision and comprehensive (C&C) portion of your policy. C&C becomes less useful as the annual premiums start to approach the current value of your car.

Discount Status – Auto insurance is particularly filled with potential discounts. Check with your insurer to see if you qualify for new discounts based on any changes in status or driving habits.

You need an annual health insurance review as well (thanks to ObamaCare, many of us have no choice), but that scope goes well beyond the space we have here. If you receive insurance through an employer, it is wise to check with your employer to review any changes on your part or theirs that require adjusting your coverage.

If you have any categories of less common insurance, do not forget to check those policies as well.

A common thread to saving money under all of the insurance categories is to shop around. You may find a better deal, or at the very least find leverage you can use to negotiate a better deal with your existing insurer.

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Hoarding and Fire Safety

Hoarding and Fire Safety

Compulsive Hoarding can lead to a dangerous situation for not only you, but also for firefighters in the event of a house fire. 

One concern from fire departments is the chaotic nature of the material in many hoarding situations, where windows and exits can be blocked, which makes a fire attack and rescue difficult. 

The excessive amount of materials and items in homes poses a significant threat to firefighters fighting fires and responding to other emergencies in these homes and to residents and neighbors. Quite often, the local fire department will be contacted to help deal with this serious issue. Studies suggest that 3-5% of the population are compulsive hoarders, and fire departments must become familiar with this issue and be prepared to effectively handle it. 

What is hoarding?
Hoarding is defined as collecting or keeping large amounts of various items in the home due to strong urges to save them or distress experienced when discarding them. Many rooms in the home are so filled with possessions that residents can no longer use the rooms as designed. The home is so overloaded with things that everyday living is compromised.

Why do people become hoarders?
Hoarding is a mental disorder that can be genetic in nature, triggered by traumatic events, or a symptom of another disorder, such as depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, or dementia. Studies have found that hoarding usually begins in early adolescence and gets worse as a person ages. It is more common among older adults.

Why is hoarding an issue for the fire service?

1. Hoarding can be a fire hazard. Many occupants die in fires in these homes. Often, blocked exits prevent escape from the home. In addition, many people who are hoarding are injured when they trip over things or when materials fall on them.

2. Responding firefighters can be put at risk due to obstructed exits, falling objects, and excessive fire loading that can lead to collapse. Hoarding makes fighting fires and searching for occupants far more difficult.

3. Those living adjacent to an occupied structure can be quickly affected when a fire occurs, due to excessive smoke and fire conditions.

For more information, visit www.nfpa.org

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If you would like more information about Thomasville Homes Restoration, or to get a quote, give us a call at (410) 360-1075.