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Is emergency planning just too scary?

Washington Energy | 11/19/2012 | Posted in Doors, Windows, Plumbing, Insulation

Is emergency planning just too scary?

Have you put off emergency planning because the thought of serious disaster is too scary? Our local authorities advise having 3 days of water, food, and supplies on hand and a list of other emergency items. And yet, only 30-40 percent of us do this, according to Pierce County Department of Emergency Management.

The most likely disaster scenarios in the Northwest are power outages and storm flooding. The non-profit group Take Winter By Storm. www.takewinterbystorm.org has a list of tips for creating your storm plan. Even just doing the basics of this plan is better than nothing – so don’t be overwhelmed that they have a lot on their many checklists.

In addition to water/food/first aid and a communications plan, they do recommend some preventive actions to get your house ready to weather the storms of winter. We think this is important not only for storm preparation but general maintenance of your house – and your personal comfort.

Here are the highlights from their list, and you can see the full list on their website under home maintenance checklist. These tips can help limit damage to your home, even without a big 100 year storm.

  • (We think this is the most important one on the list) Locate the electric, gas and water shut off valves in your house. Keep tools needed near gas and water shut offs and teach family members how to turn off utilities. If you turn the gas off, a utility representative must turn it back on.
  • Inspect insulation in your attic and crawl space. Seal areas around recessed lights, attic hatch, plumbing vents that may allow warm air to enter the attic.
  • Clean gutters and drains. Direct them away from the foundation and from walkways or driveways to prevent ice.
  • Check Doors and Windows for cold air coming in that may compromise your heating efficiency. Weather strip doors. Replace caulk and weather stripping that has lost contact with surfaces.
  • Check roof for loose or damaged shingles and make sure flashing is secure around vents and chimneys.
  • Plumbing pipes near outer walls or in attics and crawl spaces can be susceptible to freezing. (This is especially true for mobile homes where pipes are exposed under the house.) Insulate exposed pipes to protect them from bursting.
  • Cover outdoor faucets or replace with frost proof models. (Faucet covers are usually less than $5 and available at local hardware stores.)
  • Check your water heater, (or if in doubt get it inspected by a water heater company.) Most tank water heaters last 8-12 years. Wet spots on the floor or a rusted tank may be signs of a problem. Make sure your tank water heater is located near a floor drain.
  • Have professionals check your heating or cooling system. Consider having your air ducts cleaned and filters replaced.
  • Check siding, soffits, walls and flashing for damage or looseness and secure.
  • Check foundations for signs of settling, such as bulging or shifting. Have a professional inspect cracks more than 1/8 in wide. Check siding and foundation for openings where pests can enter and seal up.
  • Keep snow build up off of surfaces that could collapse.
  • Test your sump pump to make sure it works. If you are in an area that floods and has frequent power outages, consider installing battery operated backup sump pumps.
  • Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

You know that old “ounce of prevention makes a pound of cure” saying. We’re here to help. Washington Energy Services provides many of the preventive products and services mentioned by Take Winter By Storm’s checklist, and in case of trouble, call us 24/7 for Emergency service for plumbing, water heater and heating emergencies. Call us at 800-398-4663.

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