Earthquake Preparedness Tips

Earthquakes, one of Mother Nature’s most unsettling phenomena, are unpredictable and can strike without warning. That’s why it’s important for you and your family to learn how to prepare for an earthquake, and develop a plan to react quickly and safely if a disaster strikes.

Preparing for an Earthquake

  • Locate and learn how to use the shutoff valves for water, gas, and electricity in your home.
  • Prepare an emergency earthquake kit with warm clothing, non-perishable food items and bottled water to last you and your family for at least 72 hours.
  • Bold down and secure your water heater, refrigerator, furnace, and gas appliances to the wall studs.
  • Hold earthquake drills with your family members: Drop, cover, and hold on!

During an Earthquake

  • Remain inside of your home and seek shelter under a heavy table or desk; brace yourself inside a door-frame or inside wall.
  • Stay at least 2 metres away from windows and out of kitchens and garages, if possible.
  • Stay under the structure that is protecting you. If the shaking causes the table or desk to move, then you should move with it so you remain protected.
  • Do not panic, and anticipate what you should do next to remain safe.

Follow these guidelines to remain safe after the ground stops shaking:

  • Remain in your safe location for several minutes in case there are any aftershocks
  • Do not leave your home unless it is absolutely necessary to do so
  • Check your family members for injuries and administer first aid
  • Establish a temporary shelter area in your home away from areas that have severe damage

Dos and Don’ts for First-time Homebuyers

Purchasing your first home is an exciting milestone. However, home buying is not simple task, and many first-time purchasers fall into common, sometimes costly, traps.

So, before you start searching for your dream home, keep in mind the following dos and don’ts.

First Time Home Buyers DOs.jpg

Get Pre-Approved – When shopping for a home, it’s important to know what kind of credit you have and your overall budget. In some cases, real estate agents won’t even work with you until you’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage.

Get a Real Estate Agent – While it’s true that real estate agents aren’t required for buying a home, they can be invaluable – especially for first-time buyers. A good agent will walk you through the necessary steps and offer market insight and specific advice.

First Time Home Buyers DON'Ts

Get over excited – It’s common for first-time home buyers to act on their emotions. But when it comes to such a large purchase, acting on impulse can be dangerous and commonly leads to overspending. Experts recommend that buyers only close on houses they can see themselves in for at least five years.

Get careless about money – When purchasing a house, you want to avoid making other big purchases before you are approved for a mortgage. In addition, many first-time buyers forget to budget for closing costs. Consider putting aside anywhere from 1 to 4 per cent of the purchase price to cover them.

Keeping in mind the above tips will ensure that, when it comes time to sign on the dotted line, you made all the right steps to secure your dream home. Get a free home insurance quote from Scrivens Insurance and Investment Solutions.

The Importance of Fire Escape Plans

Time is your biggest enemy when escaping from a burning building. In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can get completely out of control and can turn into a major fire.

Proper planning may mean the difference between life and death. When creating a fire escape plan, incorporate the following elements:

  • Use the back of your hand to feel the top of the door, the doorknob and the crack between the door and the frame to make sure that the fire is not directly outside. If the door feels hot, use a secondary exit. If the door feels cool, brace yourself against it and open it slowly.
  • Do not waste any time trying to save your personal property. Instead, take the safest exit route. It may also be helpful to have important documents gathered in a convenient location to grab quickly on your way to safety.
  • If you must escape through smoke, crawl low under the smoke and cover your mouth.
  • Establish a meeting place outside of the home where everyone knows to go once they are safely out. Designate one person to go to a neighbour’s house to call the fire department.
  • Never go back into a burning home for any reason.

Every member of your family should practice the escape plan each month both in the light and in the dark so that everyone knows how to get out of the house.

The top chimney maintenance tips

Did You Know?

In spite of the ambiance and relaxation that a fireplace provides, there are also inherent fire dangers. To combat the risk of fire or inhalation of dangerous carbon monoxide (CO) gas, it is important for you to make chimney maintenance part of your home loss prevention plan.

chimney-maintenance-tipsChimney Maintenance

Both metal and masonry chimneys require maintenance so that smoke and flue gases are ventilated properly. At the very least, you should have your chimney inspected annually before each heating season. In addition:

  • Have your chimney cleaned on a regular basis to reduce creosote build-up.
  • Make sure your masonry chimney has a flue liner in place to reduce the possibility that the masonry could absorb creosote.
  • Replace cracked or damaged liners, as they will allow creosote to accumulate and heat to escape.
  • When hiring someone to reline your chimney, only allow the contractor to use a product that has been tested and listed by a nationality recognized testing laboratory.

There are two types of chimneys that require specific maintenance to minimize the dangers in your home.

  • Fireplace inserts (hearth stoves):
    • Vent should be connected to the flue of the chimney.
  • Factory-built metal chimneys:
    • Do not use natural gas, fuel oil vents, well casing, stovepipe or other material in the chimney, as they cannot withstand the heat in the wood burner.

Safety First

Do not vent more than one heater or appliance into a single flue, as major complications car arise. If one fuel-burning appliance is connected to a flue and then you attach another appliance, such as a water heater, you are running the risk of the following serious problems:

  • Heavy creosote accumulation
  • Deterioration of the flue
  • Creosote blocking the lower heater vent
  • Carbon monoxide drifting into your home

Preventing Ice Dams

During cold winter months, a row of icicles on your home’s eaves may be a sign that a ridge of ice is forming at the edge of the roof. This ridge, also know as an ice dam, can be the result of uneven heat loss from your home, which causes the roof to warm above freezing and melt accumulated snow. When the snow melts and then re-freezes before reaching the roof’s edge, an ice dam forms, causing water to collect behind it. This pool of water can cause extensive damage to the roof, attic, ceilings, walls and contents of your home.

ice-dams

  • Keep the attic well ventilated. One-third square metre of free ventilation opening is recommended for every 45 square metres of attic space.
  • Seal air leaks to prevent warm air leakage from plumbing vents, attic hatches, and junction boxes.
  • Keep the attic floor well insulated (between 40 and 56 centimetres of insulation) to minimize the amount of heat rising into the attic from below.
  • Clean leaves and other debris from gutters before the first snow to help prevent ice buildup.
  • Install an ice shield under your shingles if you’re considering getting a new roof.
  • Use a roof rake to clear snow about one metre above the gutters to allow water to drain freely.
  • Consider hiring an energy specialist to evaluate the performance of your home and recommend some things you can do to minimize energy waste.

To protect your home from winter perils, always be sure your homeowners insurance fully covers all your risks. Find out more from Scrivens Insurance and Investment Solutions.

Tips for Energy-Efficient Windows

windowInefficient windows can increase your energy bills and make your home uncomfortable. These tips can help make your windows more efficient year-long:

  • Hang curtains with white, plastic backing to act as insulation and to retain cold air in the summer and warm air in the winter.
  • Seal windows with caulk to close any air leaks and cut energy costs by 5 to 10 per cent.
  • Create exterior shade by installing things like awnings to help keep your home cool in the summer. These items can block sunlight and reduce heat gain by 65 to 77 per cent.
  • Install storm windows during the fall. If you don’t own any, consider purchasing low-emissivity storm windows, which can lower heating costs by 12 to 33 per cent and cost only a quarter of the price of a total window replacement.
  • Watch for excessive condensation – a sign that a window needs to be repaired or replaced.
  • Consider weather stripping to prevent air leakage at moving window parts. Foam or gasket weather stripping can be applied to the sides and the sashes of windows.

Calling all renters! What happens if your stuff is ruined in a fire?

[edit] The_DuncannonWhether you call a rented house, condo, apartment, or residence your home, you can benefit from renters insurance. We can help!

What Protection Does it Offer?

Just because your landlord has coverage doesn’t mean that you do too. In most cases, your landlord’s insurance policy covers only structural damage to the building itself. If the structure goes up in flames, your landlord’s coverage would include repairs to the building, but not reimburse you for your possessions.

Renters insurance provides protection against both property loss and liability in the event that you cause injury or property damage. To learn more about what that means, we’ve covered some basics about each.

Property Protection

Renters insurance covers your possessions against damage for things such as fire, smoke, lightning, vandalism, theft, and water damage – but not flooding – to name a few. It also extends beyond premise theft and hazards, covering property that is stolen from your car, or loss or damaged anywhere you happen to be.

There are two personal property coverage options to choose from: replacement cost value or actual cash value. We recommend insuring your personal property for its replacement cost value so that you can replace yesterday’s purchases at today’s prices.

Liability Coverage

In addition to protecting your personal property, renters insurance also protects you in the event that you are responsible for injury or property damage to others. That means you’ll likely be protected if someone slips and sprains his or her ankle at your annual birthday bash.

Liability also provides coverage for legal defence costs and judgments in a lawsuit, whether the incident occurred within your rented residence, or elsewhere.

Is Coverage Affordable?

Because renters insurance covers only the value of your belongings, not the building, the premium is relatively inexpensive. for about the same cost as going to the movies once a month, you can gain peace of mind, regardless of life’s unexpected mishaps.