When was the last time you thought about an emergency-preparedness plan? “Never,” is the answer most people would give, which could have terrible consequences if you happen to be caught in the middle of a disaster. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), natural disasters in the U.S. have increased 700 percent since 1950 and reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicate severe weather events are also occurring more frequently, so now is the time to get prepared.
September is National Preparedness Month, but since disasters can strike at any moment, it’s important to prepare before disaster strikes …Today. Creating an emergency plan is a good start, but remember, you should review it with your family annually. For example, do you have a newborn in the family? Did you adopt a pet? Have emergency kit materials expired? If you’ve experienced any of these or other changes, then you need to update your plan to make sure you’re prepared. Here are six things to consider during your routine yearly disaster preparedness check-up:
Check emergency kit materials
Refresh everyone’s memory of where the emergency kit is located. Check expiration dates of materials in the kit to assure perishable items will last for at least another year, including food, water and batteries. According to FEMA, here’s a full list of materials to include in a basic emergency kit.
Update your emergency plan
A basic plan should have a meeting place in case disaster hits and your home becomes unsafe, as well as at least two escape routes. Each year, make sure to remind everyone of the meeting place, ensure it is still a safe location and evaluate everyone’s escape routes to avoid new obstructions. Take into account any special needs of children, seniors, people with disabilities, family members who don’t speak English and pets.
Know how to turn off your utilities
Learn where the utility shut-offs are located and how to operate them. Turning off gas mains can prevent leaks and turning off electricity can help prevent potential fires started by electrical sparks. Additionally, turning off your water main can help prevent flooding.
Practice home safety
Home safety should be observed year-round, not just in the event of an impending disaster. Install smoke detectors in each room of your home and replace the batteries every six months. Store heavy items on the lowest shelves. Combustible items such as firewood, picnic tables, boats and flammable liquids should be kept separately and 50 feet from your home and other structures.
Prepare your insurance
Getting ready for a natural disaster actually starts by choosing your insurance policy. Ask yourself: Do I have enough insurance to repair or replace my home if it is damaged or destroyed? Mercury recommends you get an insurance check-up from your agent or broker once a year to help you make an informed decision about the coverage you need.
Catalog your property
Recovering from a disaster takes time. To ease this process, keep a detailed inventory of your property and update it annually. Photos and videos of your home can be presented to insurance adjusters to help your claim. Mashable, a technology blog, provides a list of eight home inventory apps that make creating inventory of your property easy. Visit the Mercury Insurance website for additional tips to help with the claims process in the event your home suffers damage.
Be proactive about disaster preparedness. You’ll be investing in your family’s safety, property and peace of mind.
We all look forward to vacations. Whether you’re planning on soaking up the sun on a tropical beach, or camping in a local park, it’s great to get away. You can relax and enjoy time with your family and friends and forget about the pressures of home and work for a little while … or so you thought.
You’re not the only one who likes it when you go away … burglars love it, too.
Guess which months have the highest burglary rates … that’s right, July and August. And it’s not a coincidence that these are the two most popular travel months, too. Thieves are opportunists who prey upon the naive, unobservant and ill-prepared, and they love it when they know homeowners won’t walk in on them in the middle of a robbery.
So how do you protect your home when you’re away? Nothing is foolproof, but here are few tips that can help protect your home when you’re away for an extended period of time.
Secure your home. Often times burglars don’t need to forcibly enter a home because they can easily get in through an unlocked door or window. It seems simple, but make sure everything’s locked before you leave, including windows located on the second floor and higher, and entrances from the garage into the house. Don’t hide spare keys under door mats, rocks or other easy-to-find places. Instead, give a copy to a trusted neighbor in case of an emergency. Keep shrubs trimmed below window-level so as to not create inadvertent hiding places for thieves, and cut back tree branches that would allow an agile climber access to upper-level windows, balconies, ledges or the roof. Installing an alarm system and activating it every time you leave the house provides an added level of security, which may qualify you for an additional homeowners’ insurance discount. And, just in case, place dowels in sliding glass doors and windows to prevent them from unwanted opening.
Notify a trusted neighbor.Neighbors are a great resource for recognizing when unfamiliar vehicles or people are in the area. Tell your chosen neighbor when you’ll be away, if you have anyone who’s scheduled to stop by your house in your absence and how to reach you in case of an emergency.
Make your home appear occupied. Don’t let your mail and newspapers pile up while you’re away. Instead, ask a neighbor or friend to regularly bring them inside, or stop your delivery services until you return. Arrange for someone to mow your grass and trim your hedges in your absence. Setting light timers is another way to give the appearance that someone’s still around.
Don’t share plans on social media. Social media makes it easy to share great vacation experiences with family and friends, but it also has become a great way for burglars to learn when you will be away. It happens all the time, but just in case you don’t believe us, take a look at what happened to this unsuspecting family in Fontana, Calif. when they went on vacation to Las Vegas.
Know what your insurance policy covers. Mercury Insurance recommends that you speak with your local insurance agent before your vacation to ensure your homeowners or renters insurance policy covers potential losses that may occur in your absence. Additionally, keep an up-to-date inventory of everything that own to make the claim’s filing process easier, if necessary.
The summer is in full swing, bringing us warmer temperatures and longer days, inviting us all to soak up the season and have some fun. The rising mercury may be great news for your pool plans, but it could also mean a rising utility bill. Fortunately, there are some energy saving measures you can take to keep your usage—and your bill—cool this summer.
Bump It Up:Keep your thermostat at 78 degrees F when you are home and 85 degrees F (or better yet, off) while you are away. This ensures that your home is never too hot to be comfortable and can help you save nearly 15 percent on your air-conditioning bill.
Close It Up:Closing your curtains and blinds during the day helps keep your house cooler. Get in the habit of drawing the shades in every room. As you do, turn off fans to lower your bill because fans cool people, not rooms.
Stock & Seal Up:A fully stocked refrigerator and freezer will require less energy to keep cold. Also, make sure that your fridge door offers you a tight seal to keep its cool without wasting energy. If you can slip a dollar half-closed in the door out easily, you need a new gasket.
Clean Up:Replace the air filter of your home’s cooling system to ensure it is not working overtime to push air through a dirty filter.
You put a lot of work into maintaining your home and protecting its systems against working too hard during the summer months. Why not set the experts to work on protecting your house and your efforts? To get expert homeowners insurance coverage for your home this summer, contact Integrity First Insurance. Serving Thousand Oaks and the surrounding California area, we are here to protect you.
With the hot summer weather just around the corner, it is the perfect time to find exciting local events that your whole family can enjoy together. Mark your calendar for these Conejo Valley events that people of all ages can enjoy together.
The Love Run is happening on June 7th, and is helping to benefit the Meals on Wheels Charity. You have the chance to run in the 10K starting at 7:15 a.m., the 5K starting at 7:30 a.m., and the 1 mile run starting at 9 a.m. Make sure to bring the little ones to enjoy the Love Run Kids Zone that is presented by Moms In Motion and Run Kids Run.
The City of Agoura Hills is happy to announce its 2015 Summer Concerts in the Park from June to August. The first concert is being held on June 21st, and then every other Sunday through August 9th. Each concert will include a Kidszone for the little ones to enjoy.
You will not want to miss out on the Conejo Valle Food & Wine Fest in Thousand Oaks on Sunday, June 28th. Everyone is encouraged to join in celebrating the most delicious food and wine in the community, along with live entertainment and prizes. Tickets for the event range from $60 to $80, and make sure to get yours before they are all gone!
All of us at Integrity First Insurance in Thousand Oaks, California would like to encourage you to head out and enjoy all of these local events this June!
Spring is here, which means it is time to pull the cover off of your RV to get it ready for your first road trip of the season. To ensure that your RV is ready for all of your fun spring and summer adventures, keep this RV prep checklist in mind.
Look for leaks – water leaks can lead to serious issues. Take a look at the roof of your rig, as well as vents, seams, doors, and windows for signs of water damage. While you are thoroughly inspecting your RV, also check for any signs that a critter made your RV their home for winter.
Check the battery – storing your RV for a long period of time can mean big issues for your battery. Check the battery to ensure that it is working properly. Look at the connections, terminals, and battery trays for any signs of corrosion. Mixing baking soda with a little bit of water can help to clean off any corrosion that you find.
Clean your water lines – run fresh water though your entire water system to make sure that all lines and holding tanks are clean. While running water through, also check for leaks. If your RV has been sitting for many months, you may also want to clean out the water system by pouring 1 cup of bleach into the entire tank, and then wash it completely.
Check the propane – before you check your propane, make sure that there are no open flames nearby and that all appliances are turned off. Open the valves, and if you can smell propane, you have a leak that needs to be fixed.
Most importantly, before you head out on the road, review your RV insurance policy to ensure that it is providing the right amount of coverage. Contact the insurance professionals at Integrity First Insurance in Thousand Oaks, California for all of your RV insurance needs.
Boating is a lot of fun. What better way to enjoy the great outdoors than on the lake or out in the ocean. However, when summer passes, you may wonder what you should do with your boat.
First, make sure you have the right boat insurance coverage. Your insurance agent should be able to tell you if you need to maintain full coverage, or if there is a more affordable option for use during the off season. Either way, you do want to make sure you have coverage in case there is an unexpected warm day and you want to take the boat out.
As far as protecting your boat, you probably want to wash it according to manufacturers instructions—especially if you have ridden in salt water. Then, cover your boat well. If you have a garage, it may be worth it to find space to keep your boat out of the sunlight and rain. Then, when next summer arrives, you will be ready to go!
If you need more information about protecting your boat—during or after summer in Thousand Oaks California, contact Integrity First Insurance today.