Your 4th of July Safety Guide!

Are you ready for this 4th of July weekend?  While the burn ban is still in effect for the Portland area, the ban on legal fireworks has been lifted.  That being said it is important to note how hot and dry the weather has been lately and to take the necessary precautions when celebrating the 4th of July this year.  We want you to have the best holiday ever, so here are a few tips to keep you, your family and your property safe this weekend:

Fire work safety:

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  • Light fireworks off a safe distance from your home, vehicle or any other structures; at least 25 feet.
  • Always light fireworks off a concrete surface or board, never directly off  the ground or near grass.
  • Have a bucket of water handy to completely extinguish all spent fireworks.  Have a fire extinguish nearby just in case a spark should catch.

Home safety

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  • Is your lawn bone dry from the heat wave?  Dry grass can catch fire very quickly, so make sure the grass and soil is damp before the festivities commence!  Water your lawn, mulch and shrubs continuously from now until the 4th.
  • Trim bushes to make sure they are not touching your house.  Should a spark cause a fire, you want to eliminate an easy path from your yard to your home.  Remove yard debris that may have gathered in window wells or around the edges of your property.
  • Remove leaves and pine needles from gutters; this would be a very easy place for a fire to start.  Spray down roof as much as possible.

 

Pet safety

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  • This can be a scary time for your furry friends!  Keep your pets indoors and comfortable as much as possible; if left outdoors your dog might panic and attempt to escape!
  • Once confined to a room in the house, leave the TV or music playing to calm your pet.  The continuous noise will make the sound of fireworks let startling.
  • An anxious dog can be destructive.  Give your pup an outlet for that nervous energy by providing him with appropriate, brain stimulating items to keep him occupied, like a Kong or frozen treat.

Stay safe and have fun this weekend!

Home maintenance calendar

Welcome to the New Year!  We hope you enjoyed the holidays and are excited about what 2015 will bring to you and yours!

Was one of your New Year’s resolutions to take better care of your home?  If so, we have a list to help you throughout the year.  Broken down by month, here are some chores to take care of as you work towards keeping your home safe, energy efficient and in good working order:

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January: Test all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms.  Are your fire extinguishers in working order (do you know where they are?).  Review warranties and maintenance requirements on major appliances.

 

February: Check your home for signs of water damage and mold.  Inspect windows for incomplete seals and condensation.   Don’t forget areas that may not get as much foot traffic, like you attic and basement.  Neglect to these parts of your home may result in costly damage that could easily be remedied by early detection.

 

March: Check your roof!  How did it weather the winter wind and rain?  Check for lose or cracked shingles as these will only be further damaged by the sunny weather on the way.  Inspect flashing around plumbing vents, skylights and the chimney for damage as well.

 

April: Take a look around outside, what can be taken care of to de-clutter and freshen up your yard?  Throw away damaged flower pots and find new plants that will brighten your outdoor spaces.  Gather all the yard debris (fallen branches, leaves…) left over from the winter to prepare your lawn for a great spring and summer!

 

May: You guessed it, time for spring cleaning!  Whether you have hardwood, carpet or both, give your floors a bit of extra attention this month.  Now would be a great time to clean your windows, both inside and out and let all that lovely sunshine into your nice, freshly cleaned home!

 

June: Time to power wash your house, deck or patio!  The rain and weather from the winter and spring may have left your property dirty or mossy.  Take some time to address all the little nooks and crannies, your property will look great!

 

July: Summer is a great time to address areas of your home that may be costing you during the winter months. Perform an energy audit of your home by seeking out gaps around doors or windows where heat may be escaping your home.  These issues are more easily addressed in the summer months, your winter budget will thank you!

 

August: Make sure other creatures aren’t trying to invade your home!  Look for evidence of mice or rats by checking your home for droppings or nests.  These types of pests may also be indicated by holes and gnaw marks or an unusual odor in your home.  Check for signs of termites around your home as well.  Indicators of these pests include: hollow sounding wood in floors, walls or furniture, sagging wood, or frass (termite dropping).  Should you find signs of these pests, contact a professional to address the issue.

 

September:  Prepare for cooler weather by inspecting and, or cleaning your fire place.  Hire an inspector to ensure your fire place and chimney is in clean and working order.  It’s a good idea to have this inspection done once a year.

 

October: With leaves beginning to fall, it’s important to make sure gutters and downspouts are clear.  Clean your gutters of leaves and debris and inspect them for damage to ensure they are functioning properly.

 

November: With the temperatures starting to drop, now is a good time to inspect outdoor stairs and railings.  Railings that are broken or weak should be replaced to prevent slips on icy or wet steps.

 

December: Replace the filters in your heating and cooling systems.  During peak seasons of use, these should be changed monthly.

 

What would you add to this list?

 

Tornado in Longview WA

The National Weather Service declared a powerful storm system a tornado yesterday afternoon in Longview, Washington.  Thankfully, no on was injured but the storm did sustain damage to trees and property in the area.  This storm is a reminder that we should be prepared for the impact of any natural disaster.  What would you have done in a similar situation?  Would your family or workplace be prepared for such an event?  Being prepared means having fully stocked emergency supplies and having a plan in case of a disaster.

Our thoughts are with those who have been impacted by this event.

Ask the Estimator!

Welcome to Ask the Estimator, where we pick the brains of the professionals who have seen it all! Today’s question went to estimator Jason Stephens. Jason came to Kennedy Restoration in 2013 with plenty of experience to contribute to the company. With 15 years in construction, 9 years in restoration and 6 years as an estimator, he is a wealth of knowledge!

 

The Question:

“What can I do prepare for severe damage to my home by water, fire, storm or other such events?”

 

The Answer:

 

  1. Know the risks for the area you live in – Planning for the worst differs depending on location, climate, and proximity to trees, elevation and many other factors. Understand the events that could affect your property and plan for them accordingly.
  2. Know your coverage – Make sure your insurance information is current and easy to find when you need it. Have all the necessary information to contact your representative handy and ready to go, should you have to leave your home during an emergency. Know your coverage limits and special endorsements (code upgrade, mold coverage, flood insurance, etc…).
  3. Know your home – Know where to shut off your water in case of leaking or pipe breakage. Any amount of water that is contained could potentially further damage. The more quickly you can shut off the running water, the less damage could be caused.
  4. Know your fire extinguishers – In case of a fire, make sure your fire extinguishers are in working order and everyone in the family knows how to use them properly. Inspect your extinguishers monthly and check the gauge to see when replacement or repair is needed.
  5. Know your emergency plan – Have a well stocked emergency kit with back up lighting and make sure all family members know its location. Run emergency evacuation plans with everyone in your household, making sure that all emergency exits are identified.

 

If you have a question to ask one of our estimators, send it our way!

10 Fireplace Safety Tips

While many residences are now heated by furnaces or boilers, the good, old fire place is still found in over one third of American homes.  Wood and pellet heated homes are wonderful; they add a certain coziness to a home that can only come from the crackle of a fire place.  This comfort can potentially come at a price; a fire place can pose a potential hazard to your home and family.  Through proper precautions the risks posed by fire places can be avoided.

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  1. Have your chimney and fireplace annual inspected by a certified chimney specialist.  These professionals will perform routine cleanings which will keep your chimney safe from build up as well as inspect the unit for potential fire hazards.
  2. Be sure to cap your chimney to keep debris from flying into it and causing damage.
  3. Use dense wood that has been properly stored and dried (for at least 6 months). Wood that has not been properly stored or is too green produces more creosote, which can damage your chimney over time.  Use only wood, never flammable liquids, cardboard or trash to start fires.
  4. Use a spark guard in front of your fireplace to prevent damage or injury.  Place a non flammable carpet in front of the fireplace to keep embers and sparks from damaging hardwood or carpet.
  5. Never leave a fire unattended in the home.  Make sure there is always an adult present while a fire is burning and children should be at least 3 feet away from it at all times.
  6. When removing ash to clean the fireplace, wait at least 3 days since the last fire before handling soot.  Embers can smolder for quite a while and have the potential to cause burns or fire damage if not cooled long enough.  Where a dust mask while disposing of the debris.
  7. When the fire place is routinely in use, clean out the fire box at least once a week.
  8. If you ever notice a smoky haze indoors while burning a fire, inspect your fireplace for potential build up or damage.  The air indoors should never be smoky and must be addressed immediately.
  9. Never build your fire too large so it burns too hot.  Start small and build the fire until it is an appropriate size and producing adequate heat.
  10. Install and regularly test carbon monoxide and smoke detectors!

Stay warm and safe!

Thanksgiving safety tips

Tomorrow is one of our favorite holidays, Thanksgiving!  What a wonderful day to visit with friends and family, cook delicious food and enjoy some time to relax.  Ensure that your family will have a lovely and safe holiday with these tips!

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According to the NFPA, cooking fires (already the leading cause of home fire in the US) will triple the average on Thanksgiving Day.  Protect your home from these potential fire hazards:

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Always be in the kitchen when cooking stovetop.  It is easy to get distracted on such a busy day, but always keep an eye on what’s going on while cooking.  Never leave the house while cooking your turkey.  Check on your bird frequently to check temperature and to make sure nothing is dripping in the stove.

Keep children a safe distance (at least 3 feet) from the stove and cooking instruments at all times.  Take care to make sure they do not carry or come into contact with hot liquids like gravy or hot oil.

Wear short sleeves while cooking or roll your sleeves securely into place.  Lose clothing can easily drag through hot food or a heat source causing burns or a fire.

Make sure your smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are in working order.  You want them to be ready should you ever need them!

If you are planning on frying your turkey this year (a common cause of fire damage) make sure your bird is thawed before adding it to the hot oil.  Check that you have the correct amount of oil in the pot so when the turkey is added it will not overflow.

Many families travel for the holidays which can leave homes vulnerable to break ins.

Travel safety –

Don’t post travel plans on social networks; not everyone needs to know that your home is going to be vacant for days at a time!

Have a kindly neighbor stop by the home to pick up the paper and mail and do a general sweep of your property to make sure nothing looks out of place.

Make sure to properly secure your home before leaving, checking all doors and window for properly locking mechanisms.  Remember to arm your alarm before leaving.

Nothing will put a damper on the holiday quite like a food borne illness; cook with caution!

Food handling –

Take care while thawing your turkey that it doesn’t drip on or contaminate other fresh foods.  Turkey can contain harmful bacteria that can make you very sick!

Keep your kitchen clean while cooking.  Utensils that come into contact with a raw bird should not be used on any other foods until they have been thoroughly sanitized.  Be aware of using porous materials, like wooden cutting boards and take extra care to clean them.

165 is the magic number when it comes to cooking turkey; this is the temperature at which harmful pathogens are destroyed.  If the temperature within the turkey is any less this, it can be dangerous to eat.  Make sure to test the temperature in a dense area like the breast.

When you’re done eating, don’t let your leftovers sit out for too long.  Package them up for turkey sandwiches, turkey stew, turkey casserole and turkey everything for days to come!

Happy holidays from all of us here at Kennedy Restoration!

Icy Driving!

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The coldest weather of the fall is set to arrive this week!  Temperatures were in the 30s last night and snow is falling in the Cascades.  Freezing fog and icy roads can lead to some pretty treacherous driving conditions; here are some tips to keep you safe out there!

When possible, simply don’t drive!  If a trip can wait until later in the morning when the roads have warmed up, postpone the errand.

If you are unfamiliar with driving in snowy or icy conditions it is best to practice your skills in an open, space clear of other drivers and pedestrians; such as a vacant parking lot.  Here, you can learn how brakes, steering and other functions perform differently when road conditions change.

Visibility is always crucial while driving.  Make sure your wiper blades are functional and your wiper fluid is full.  Use an ice scraper (not your blades) to clear your windshield before heading out on the road.  Also clear your headlights of ice and snow and make sure they are on so that others can see you on the road.

Check your tires!  Make sure you have on all weather or snow tires in the fall and winter months.  Don’t wait for the snow and ice to come around first!  Check the tread on the tires as well to access if they are too worn down for treacherous driving.

Know where to expect black ice.  Black ice occurs most commonly in the morning, where traffic is light, in shady areas and on bridges.  Should you hit black ice, do not quickly brake or swerve as this can cause you to lose control of the vehicle.

Drive slower than you would normally and be aware of your surroundings.  Other drivers may be inexperienced or reckless; be on alert for potential accidents.  Leave adequate space between your vehicle and the driver in front of you to allow time to react.

Always check your route before you leave, especially if you are traveling more than a few miles.  Conditions may change based upon elevation and temperature, be prepared for anything!

Stay safe out there!

Protect your property from wind damage

storm-843732_1280While October was sunny and beautiful, it looks like a fall storm is headed our way!  Storms with high winds have the potential to cause extensive damage to your home and property. By taking a few precautions before a storm hits some of the hazards presented by the weather can be avoided.

 

Insurance – Review your home insurance policy to make sure it covers weather hazards common to your area.  Knowing your policy well before a storm hits is crucial to understanding what will be covered.

Landscaping – Make sure trees and limbs aren’t within reach of landing on your home or car should they fall.  Secure lighter items (such as garbage and recycling bins) so they are not potential hazards in strong wind.

Roofing – How is your roof doing?  Knowing the condition of your roof will inform you if you need to inspect it before a storm in coming.  If you are putting in a new roof, make sure everything is up to date with recommended practices.

Doors and windows – Any weakness in your doors or windows will be revealed in a big wind storm.  Properly secure all doors, including the garage door.  Storm shutters can help to protect more fragile or older windows.

Power outages – Wind storms have the potential to knock out power for hours and possibly days.  Have flash lights and batteries at the ready and read our previous post  on ways to prepare for a power outage.

After the storm – Thoroughly inspect your home and property for damage, especially broken glass and roof damage.  Examine the area around your home for downed trees, misplaced debris and other damages.

 

If you experience any storm damage, Kennedy Restoration is always here to expertly assist you in any and all repairs.

5 tips for Fire Prevention Week

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October 6th through 12th marks this year’s Fire Prevention Week!  Since 1917, Fire Prevention Week has been a time to draw attention to potential fire hazards and fire prevention tools.  This year’s theme focuses on a very important safety topic: “Prevent Kitchen Fires”.  The kitchen is the only place in the home that we use open flame and direct heat.  It is important that we take the proper precautions to ensure our kitchen, cooking equipment, and food preparation practices do not lead to a potential fire hazard.

Here are five simple ways to protect your home and family from kitchen fires:

  1.  Take care of your cooking equipment.  Oil residue and leftover crumbs can present a potential fire hazard.  Make sure that all electrical appliances are properly cared and maintenance as needed.  Wipe up oil spills on your stove; grease build up is flammable.
  2. Install a smoke detector near the kitchen and check it monthly.
  3.  Pull back your hair and roll up your sleeves while cooking.  This may seem like an unimportant step to cooking, but properly preparing to be around heat or open flames is crucial!
  4. Never leave cooking unattended.  Turn off the heat source and remove pans from burners if you need to leave the house or are distracted.  Unattended cooking is a leading cause of kitchen fires.
  5. Keep children and pets at least 3 feet from the stove at all times.  Make sure to turn pot handles in toward the stove.

For more information on Fire Prevention Week, visit http://www.firepreventionweek.org.

Be ready…anywhere!

As we mentioned last week, September is Emergency Preparedness Month!  It is important to be prepared for an emergency of any scale no matter where you are.  An earthquake isn’t going to wait to strike until you are safe in your home and an electrical surge doesn’t have the courtesy to hold off until you are finished at work.  This week we have a few tips for stocking up on your emergency preparedness kit no matter where you are!

Your home should provide you with the bulk of your supplies needed in case of an emergency situation.  Make sure to communicate to your family your emergency plan and where the supplies are located.  Regularly check these items to make sure they are fully stocked and in their proper place:

  1. Food – Enough for at least three days.  Non perishable items are best, such as canned and prepackaged food
  2. Water – One gallon per person per day for at least three days
  3. A well stocked first aid kit; regularly check to make sure all necessary items are present
  4. Battery powered or hand crank radio
  5. Flashlight
  6. Plenty of batteries
  7. Copies of important documents, local maps and extra cash
  8. A seven day supply of all prescription medications
  9. Multipurpose tool
  10. Emergency blanket
  11. Cell phones with solar chargers or portable charging unit
  12. Pet care supplies

In our cars, we are more vulnerable than we would like to imagine ourselves to be.  Any number of emergencies can occur while we are in transit: from a collision in a populated area to running out of gas far from the nearest town.  Being prepared for a event in your vehicle is every bit as important as preparation in your home.

 Here are some basic supplies that should be present in every vehicle:

  1. Drinkable water – at least one gallon
  2. High calorie food
  3. Blankets and warming devices – especially in the winter months
  4. A working flashlight
  5. Basic tools
  6. First aid kit
  7. Flares
  8. Jumper cables and a spare tire
  9. Good walking shoes

One place that is often forgotten when assessing your emergency readiness is the workplace.  Much of our lives are spent in our place of employment, so it is crucial that we are prepared for any type of emergency while at work.  While many of the supplies may be similar to those we would have in the home, it is important to communicate an emergency plan and have a committee in place should such an emergency occur.

 These are some steps to take to ensure you and your coworkers are ready for anything:

  1. A rehearsed evacuation plan
  2. Emergency contact information for all employees
  3. Designate a safety team
  4. Enough food and water for 3 days
  5. Battery powered radio
  6. A well stocked first aid kit
  7. Flashlights
  8. Blankets and pillows
  9. Basic toiletries