When disaster strikes your home, it can be hard to keep your head on straight and know how to respond. Delta Disaster Services wants to help homeowners be prepared and know how to prevent disasters from striking their homes. When it comes to disaster prevention, knowledge is power, and the more you know about how to live safely, the less likely you’ll have to deal with a disaster later on.
Our team of experts created some homeowner resources to educate our communities about disaster preparation and prevention. While Delta is always here to help in case of a disaster, we want to help people avoid these stressful, often tragic occurrences in any way we can.
Grilling Safety Tips:
- Only use propane and charcoal grills outdoors.
- Place the grill away from buildings, deck railings, and out from under eaves or overhanging branches.
- Keep children and pets away from the grill.
- Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grill and the trays below.
- Never leave your grill unattended, even for a minute.
Before you use your grill, check the major connection points between the gas tank hose and the regulator and cylinder. Check where the hose connects to the burners, then tighten anything that’s loose.
If you smell gas when you’re cooking, turn off the gas tank and burners immediately. If the smell stops after you turn off the grill, make an appointment to get your grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the smell continues, get away from the grill and call the fire department immediately. Do not move the grill.
How to check the gas tank hose for potential leaks:
- Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose using a brush or spray bottle.
- Then, turn on the propane tank.
- If there’s a leak, the propane will release a visible bubble around the hose.
- If there are bubbles, turn off the tank and check the connections. Have your grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
- If the leak doesn’t stop, call the fire department immediately.
There are several ways to get the charcoal ready for use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as fuel. If you use a starter fluid, only use charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or other flammable liquids to the fire.
Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources. If you use electric charcoal starters, be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use. When you’re finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing of it in a metal container.
Prepping for Spring
As the temperatures rise and the snow starts to melt, you know it’s time to start prepping for spring. These tips will help you seamlessly slide into the spring season without having to deal with any disasters.
Swamp Coolers & Air Conditioning
After sitting all winter, your swamp coolers need to be checked for dirt, debris, leaks, good connections, and properly working components. It might sound like a complicated process, but it’s actually pretty simple. Follow these tips and your house will begin cooling down in a flash:
- Clean & inspect the swamp cooler inside & out
If your swamp cooler was covered for the winter, it may need a simple wipe down with a mild soapy solution. If your unit was exposed for part of the fall and winter a closer inspection is in order. Check for dried leaves and other debris in the vents and inside chambers.
The inside of the cooler should be wiped down with mild soapy water and thoroughly rinsed. Inspect all internal components. Check for any damage and for appropriate fit and that all connections are secure. Repair and replace as needed.
- Replace the cooling pads
If cooling pads are left outside for the winter, even in place in the swamp cooler, they need to be replaced. If the pads were stored in a climate-controlled environment for the winter, you may be able to reuse them. Always check cooling pads before installing. Check for cracks, gaps, or any other damage before installing them. Any damaged pad should be replaced. Note: for best cooling results, pre-soak the pads before turning on your swamp cooler.
Fill the water tank and reconnect the power supply. When you turn on the switch, watch to make sure that the water pump is operating appropriately. Check the lines from the pump to the pads to make certain that they are all clear and that water is getting distributed correctly and evenly to the pads. Make sure the blower is functioning correctly and that the belt and other components are secure and doing their jobs. You should feel a temperature difference below at the indoor vents within a few minutes.
If you notice a leak or if something does not sound, look, or smell quite right, give Delta Disaster Services a call. We can refer you to one of our licensed associate companies and get you up and running before it gets really hot. We may be able to help you troubleshoot some problems over the phone. Either way, we will help get you cool and comfortable in time for the hot weather ahead.
Air Conditioning Prep for Spring
Well before warm weather arrives, it is necessary to prepare your air conditioning unit for a trouble-free summer of use. After sitting through a long winter, an air conditioner will collect dirt and debris that need to be removed prior to use. Connections need to be checked and secured. The system needs to be tested.
A central air conditioner utilizes an indoor air handler and an outdoor compressor. There is also an exterior condenser and an interior evaporator. Together, these two-parts extract heat and cool your home. For more technical explanations, do an online search for How a Central Air Conditioner Works. The sealed refrigeration should only be serviced by a professional.
Note: Turn off the circuit breaker before working on the AC system.
Prior to working on a central air conditioner, always turn off the power to the condenser at your electrical service panel. Also, be sure to turn off the 240-volt disconnect box that is outside near or on the condenser.
Note: Allow a half hour or more after shutting down all the power before beginning maintenance on your AC unit.) The condenser contains a capacitor that stores an electrical charge and can be dangerous. This charge needs to dissipate for your safety. If your furnace or air handler cabinet has a separate switch, turn this off as well. Avoid touching all electrical components at all times.
- Clean or Replace the Filters
This is the easiest and often the most important step. Clean or replace your furnace or air-handler filters twice a year or whenever they begin to look clogged with dust. Clogged filters reduce air flow, reduce efficiency, and increase the cost of operating your AC. For more information, do an online search for How to Replace Furnace & AC Filters.
- Clean the AC Condenser Coils
Dirt and debris will collect over the winter and will need to be removed for the efficient operation of your AC unit. First, carefully remove the side and top panels or grilles. Be careful to not bend the condenser fan blades. Do not tug on any wires.
Begin cleaning with a refrigerator coil brush or a brush attachment on a vacuum. Clean thoroughly and from different angles. For stubborn dirt, try using a commercial coil cleaner spray. Avoid spraying the fan or electrical components. In extreme cases, the use of a trigger style nozzle on a hose can be used to remove the most stubborn dirt and debris. Make sure the drain at the bottom is clear to allow any water to flow out.
- Check & Maintain All Components
Tighten any loose mounting bolts and, if the fan motor has oil ports, put a few drops of lightweight oil or spray WD-40 into the ports for lubrication. Mop up any excess water inside the unit, and then reassemble the condenser. The lines that run from the evaporator on the air handler to the condenser outside are covered with insulation to prevent them from losing energy. If the insulation is frayed or missing, replace it.
4. Test the Unit
Allow the unit to dry thoroughly and then turn the power to the condenser back on by doing the following: First, turn the thermostat in your home to OFF. Then, turn on the power at both the disconnect box and at the main panel. Last, switch the thermostat to COOL. If your AC unit isn’t running properly, contact your local HVAC professional.
What to do if You Have Water Damage to your Property
- Locate the source of the water and turn it off if at all possible.
- Remove furnishing, electronics, books, art, wood or cellulose fiber items, and anything else that could be damaged.
- Put items that can’t be moved on blocks made of Styrofoam or aluminum foil.
- Make sure that electricity is not being conducted the water that may be covering outlets.
- Be aware of plaster, debris, or light fixtures falling.
- Close off unsafe areas.
How to Prevent Trips & Falls
The majority of trips, slips, and falls can be prevented by changing or modifying your footwear, the surface you’re walking on, and increasing your awareness of your behavior. Here are some simple tips for avoiding trips and falls that you can share with your employees or employer.
Use non-skid shoes and surfaces
If you work in an area with slippery surfaces, such as a kitchen or outdoors, wear shoes that have slip-resistant soles. Ask your supervisor about the correct shoe for your job. Keep your shoes free of grease and oil. Placing mats or rough-grade coverings on large walkways will also help minimize falls.
Clean up spills
Slippery surfaces often don’t appear dangerous until you happen to step onto them, and then it’s too late. Clean up grease, water, and other spills as soon as you notice them. Cover icy and greasy spots with sand, dirt, or some other type of absorbent material. If you don’t know what to use or where it is located, ASK!
Maintain proper lighting
We’ve all walked through a dark room and banged into a toy, tool, or errant piece of furniture. Inadequate lighting can camouflage what is in your way, so replace any light fixtures or bulbs that don’t work. Make sure stairwells are brightly lit, so you can see the steps properly. When you enter a darkened room, always turn the light on first, even if you ‘re only staying for a moment. Keep walkways in poorly lit areas clear of obstructions.
Stairs that are too steep or not steep enough have the potential to cause trips and falls. Because it is very easy to lose your footing while climbing stairs, go slowly and be careful of worn or broken steps. Never run up or down stairs and avoid skipping steps. If you are carrying a load while climbing up or down stairs, hold it so your vision isn’t blocked and keep one hand free, if possible, to grasp the banister or wall railing. If the load you are carrying does require both hands to carry up or down stairs, consider using mechanical assistance, splitting the load, or taking another route.
Maintenance of surfaces
Keep aisles and surfaces dedicated to foot traffic clear of obstructions and hazards. When setting up for a banquet in a large hall or outside patio where there are many chairs and tables, for example, take care as you navigate around or through the obstacles to clear your path.
Slips, trips, and falls often occur when people are in a hurry because then they often take shortcuts and pay no attention to what they are doing. We have all tried to jump across or go through an obstacle instead of walking “the long way around” to where we are going. These can be unsafe choices. Learn to slow down, and avoid potentially hazardous shortcuts.
Pay attention to your steps
Avoid injuries by paying attention to where you are walking. Learning to recognize and avoid potential hazards saves time, money, and injury. Resist the temptation to take shortcuts, because shortcuts are usually not designed for foot traffic and frequently have unstable, shaky, or slippery surfaces.
Practice walking safely
If you cannot avoid walking on slippery or wet surfaces, practice walking across them safely. Don’t try to run, jump, or slide across slick surfaces. Instead, take slow, short steps. The smaller the step, the smaller the correction you will need to make if you do slip a little. For additional balance, keep your hands at your sides instead of in your pockets. Carrying things reduces your ability to regain your balance if you slip. Not all surfaces are obviously slippery – remember that a freshly polished floor can be very slick even though it doesn’t usually look hazardous.
More Homeowner Tips:
What to do in the case of….
- Burst Pipes
First, turn off your water at the main valve as soon as possible. A single burst pipe can dump multiple gallons of water every minute, so turning off the water source is crucial. Next, turn off your electricity and make sure to keep completely dry and away from the water damage until you do so. The biggest immediate safety risk during sudden flooding is electrical currents.
After the electricity is off, call Delta Disaster Services, and then start preliminary cleanup right away. The longer things stay wet, the more likely that your property and possessions will be permanently damaged or ruined. While wearing gloves, pick up everything off your floors and carpets, especially items that contain any dye or coloring. Hang up and clothes that are wet, but don’t try to dry out your carpets or home with a vacuum cleaner. Delta will be at your door in just two hours or less and will use our state-of-the-art remediation equipment to do the job right.
- Kitchen Fires
Stovetop grease fires are one of the most common causes of house fires, but luckily, they’re also easy to avoid if you know what to do. Never ever leave the kitchen while you’re cooking. Even if you think you could never forget about a pot or pan on the stove, it happens every day, and it’s simply not worth the risk of a stovetop fire. Fires can go from a small flame to a full-blown fire in just a matter of seconds. As soon as you notice flames, turn off the heat or unplug the appliance cord. Use a dry chemical fire extinguisher or baking soda to smother the flames.
Do not use water or any other liquid on a grease fire, as it may cause the grease to splatter and the fire to spread. You can also smother the flames by putting a lid on the flame, but don’t use a glass lid, as it could shatter. In the case of an oven fire, do not open the oven door. Opening the oven will only feed the fire with oxygen and cause it to grow. Call the fire department immediately and then leave the house. Never try to carry a burning pot or pan outside or move it at all. This might seem like the smart thing to do, but it can actually cause the fire to spread and engulf your entire home instead of staying contained.
- Electrical Storms
Electrical storms can cause power surges, so it’s important to unplug all of your electronics during a storm, especially sensitive ones like computers and phones. If your home is hit, call the fire department immediately, even if you don’t see flames. Electrical fires can smolder for hours before you notice any effects. It’s always better to call in the experts and be safe rather than sorry. Don’t shower or bathe during an electrical storm and stay away from water in general as much as possible, as surges can travel through metal pipes.
- Tornadoes or High Winds
The most important thing to do during a tornado is to take cover immediately. You’ll want to move to a protected interior room on the lowest floor of the building. Stay as far away from exterior walls and windows as possible. Gather pillows, blankets, cushions, and mattresses to prepare to protect yourself in the case of flying or fallen debris. Do not open your windows to equalize the pressure. This is a myth and can actually be extremely dangerous.
You’ll want to take cover like you were dealing with a tornado – in a protected interior room on the lowest floor of the building. However, with a hurricane, you need to consider that flooding may occur. If it does, you’ll need to move to a higher level of the building to avoid the flood.
The aftermath of a hurricane can often be just as dangerous as the storm itself. After the storm is over, don’t try to remove large debris from your property yourself. This can cause serious injury if not done properly. Be especially careful to avoid downed or damaged power lines. They can send harmful currents through tree branches or metal fences.
Disaster Preparation Tips
- Educate yourself. Be aware of things like whether or not your home is in a flood zone or if you have any sick or dying trees on your property that could easily fall during a storm. Know where your main water valve is and know how to shut off your electricity.
- Make a plan. Have an emergency plan that you review and practice with your family or neighbors at least twice a year. Pick a safe spot to meet up in case you get separated. Write out the plan and give everyone a copy, so they can review it whenever they want.
- Create a kit. Pull together everything you might need in case of a disaster and keep it in a water-proof, fire-proof case that’s easy to access. You’ll want to include things like copies of important documents, first aid supplies, flashlights and batteries, prescriptions and other essential medications, drinking water, and non-perishable food, spare clothing and shoes, and pet food and supplies if necessary.
- Sign up for alerts. You can get emergency alerts, updates, and information through various services on your smartphone. Do some research and sign up for a couple of services that would be useful for you and your family during an emergency or disaster. Purchasing a battery-operated weather radio isn’t a bad idea either.
- Check your coverage. Go over your insurance plan with an expert to make sure you have all the coverage you need in case of a disaster. The last thing you want to deal with after a disaster is figuring out how to pay for extremely costly repairs, so being proactive about coverage is the way to go.