Tag Archives: water

Yearly Disaster Preparation Check-Up

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Protect Your Home While on Vacation

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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.

The FBI reported an estimated 2,103,787 burglaries in 2012, which resulted in an estimated $4.7 billion in property losses and an average of $2,230 loss per burglary.

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.
  • According to SocialMediaToday.com, 54% of burglars say posting status and whereabouts on social media is the most common mistake homeowners make. So, while you may be tempted to check-in at every trendy hotspot you visit or show off photos of you lounging by the ocean or pool … don’t (at least until after you get home). If you’re a social media addict who breaks out in hives at the idea of not sharing every moment of your life online, hire a friend to housesit and keep an eye on things for the duration of your trip.
  • 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.

Know The Difference Between Water Damage And Flood Damage

Water Damage vs. Flood Damage

When dealing with broken pipes, burst water mains, and other water issues in your home, you likely do not think about whether you should file a water damage claim or a flood damage claim. Many homeowners do not realize there is a difference between these two types of claims. Gathered is some vital information about water damage and flood damage to help you better understand the issues you may be dealing with.

Floods

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a flood is defined as a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres and two or more properties of normally dry land. Within this definition, flood damage can only be caused by:

  • Overflow of inland or tidal waters.
  • Unusual accumulation of runoff of surface water.
  • Mudflow.
  • The collapse of land along a body of water, as a result of erosion caused by waves or currents.

So What Is The Difference?

In simple terms, the difference between a flood damage claim and a water damage claim is that a flood involves water from a natural source and includes more than one property. If only your home is dealing with water issues, chances are you are dealing with a water damage claim, not a flood damage claim.

Flood Insurance

Most home insurance policies do not include flood insurance. If you are in an area at risk of flooding, you should contact the National Flood Insurance Program for a policy. This will allow you to stay protected from flood damage and be able to file a flood damage claim. You can learn more about purchasing flood insurance here if you are concerned about your home’s risk.

For all of your homeowner’s insurance needs throughout the Conejo Valley, contact the insurance professionals at Integrity First Insurance Services in Thousand Oaks, California.

4 Ways To Reduce Your Water Use

Homeowners all around California are trying to conserve water because of the recent drought but water conservation is not only helpful to the environment but also can bring down the price of your water bill. Here are 4 ways you can conserve water with every day usage.

  1. Check for leaks in pipes and faucets. One small leak can make you lose up to 20 gallons a day while a larger leak can lead to losing hundreds of gallons a day.
  2. Don’t use your toilet as a trashcan. Flushing the toilet uses five to seven gallons of water so think twice next time you decide to flush a piece of trash down the toilet.
  3. Install a water saving shower head to save about 2 gallons a minute. Try limiting your showers to a shorter time and turning off the water when you’re not under it.
  4. Use a foam pipe to insulate your water pipes to get hot water faster so you don’t have to let the water run until it gets warmer.

Integrity First Insurance in Conejo Valley California can find you the coverage you need at the price you deserve. Contact us for your insurance quote today.

Steps To Prevent Ruptured Pipes From Damaging Your Home

Rust can sometimes rupture pipes causing flooding and devastating damage to your household. Your pipes are the only things between your home and gallons of flowing water so it pays to keep them maintained. Sadly many people fail to maintain their pipes so pipe bursting happens quite often. Here are steps you can take to fix a busted pipe without dropping too much cash.

  1. Shut the water off! Find the water main and shut your water flow off to give your pipe some time to drain before taking the steps to fix it.
  2. Find where the source of the damage and patch it. If there is damage in the main pipe you will need to take extra care to patch it up.
  3. A small burst that isn’t on a main pipe can be fixed with a garden hose clamped tightly over the hole.
  4. For a more advanced fix, cut the portion of the damaged portion of the pipe with a hacksaw and replace it with a new piece.

Integrity First Insurance in Conejo Valley California can help you prevent water damage from costing you thousands. Contact us today to find the coverage that’s right for you.