Black Friday Winter Preparedness Gift Ideas from FLASH

As “Black Friday” approaches, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)® suggests that this year, especially in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy, families consider shopping for gifts of winter safety.

According to FLASH, there’s no better gift than one that offers your loved ones safety and protection and even has the potential to save their lives. For that reason FLASH, the country’s leading consumer advocate for strengthening homes and safeguarding families from natural and manmade disasters, developed a comprehensive list of winter-weather preparedness gift-giving ideas that can protect friends’ and families’ homes and ensure their safety.

Severe weather like Sandy has redefined this year’s must-have gift list. Traditional gifts and gadgets are taking a backseat to products like weather radios, power generators and simple things like hand-crank cell phone chargers.

Consider the following winter weather-smart gift ideas in the areas of Comfort and Security and Home Mitigation:

Comfort & Security

  •  AM/FM radios w/extra batteries
  • Automobile power inverters
  • Blankets
  • Carbon monoxide detectors
  • First-aid kits
  • Hand-crank powered appliances such as cell phone chargers, power supplies, radios and weather radio
  • LED flash lights w/extra batteries
  • NOAA weather radios w/single-area message encoding (SAME)
  • Power generators
    • Portable gasoline-powered generators
    • Permanent LP or natural gas standby generators
    • Solar-powered backpack to charge laptops, tablets, music players and other portable devices

 Home Mitigation

  •  Attic insulation
  • Insulated doors
  • Storm doors
  • Portable generators
  • Standby generators
  • Gift certificates for professional home inspections
  • Gift certificates for professional winterization services
  • Insulation for hose bibs, exposed plumbing, pool equipment
  • Weather stripping
  • Replacement windows

For a complete list of tips on how to stay safe and comfortable during power outages, click here. For comprehensive disaster safety and home mitigation information on weather of all kinds, visit www.flash.org. And to enter the 2012 Great Hurricane Blowout Kohler/FLASH standby generator contest, visit www.greathurricaneblowout.org before November 30.

Post Sandy Flood Clean Up

FLASH offers the following insurance, safety and clean up tips as families begin the process of cleaning up after flooding associated with Super Storm Sandy:

Structural Considerations

  • Outside
    • Check for building stability before entry – sticking doors at the top may indicate a ceiling at risk of collapse
    • Check foundation for any loose or missing blocks, bricks, stones or mortar.
  • Inside
    • Assess stability of plaster and drywall – any bulging or swelling ceilings indicate damage that should be removed. Press upward on drywall ceilings. If nail heads appear, drywall will need to be re-nailed but can be saved
    • If prevent warping of wooden doors, remove and disinfect all knobs and hardware, and lay flat and allow to air dry completely.
    • Remove wet drywall and insulation well above the high water mark

Insurance Tips

  • Take extensive photos and video for insurance claims. Only flood insurance typically covers damage from floods
  • Remove damaged items from the home. If you need evidence of damage, save swatches (carpet, curtains, etc.) for your insurance adjuster

Clean Up

  • Wash and disinfect all surfaces, including cupboard interiors with a solution of 1/2 cup bleach to 2 gallons of water.  Remove sliding doors and windows before cleaning and disinfect the sliders and the tracks
  • Clean and disinfect concrete surfaces using a mixture of TSP (trisodium phosphate) and water. Mix according to manufacturer’s directions and apply to entire surface
  • Liquid cleaners can remove mud, silt and greasy deposits. Liquid detergents work on washable textiles. Use diluted bleach if item is safe for bleach
  • The National Archives Website has information on how to clean up your family treasures. Although it may be difficult to throw certain items away, especially those with sentimental value, experts recommend that if you can’t clean it, you should dispose of it, especially if it has come into contact with water that may contain sewage.

Home air quality considerations and mold prevention

  • Clean and disinfect heating, air conditioning and ventilation ducts before use to avoid spread of airborne germs and mold spores
  • Use fans and sunlight to dry out interior spaces
  • To avoid growth of microorganisms, household items should be dried completely before they are brought back in the house. Although the drying process can take a long time, homeowners should be patient because it is necessary to keep a home’s air quality healthy. Some household items may take longer than others to dry, such as upholstered furniture and carpets.
  • Remove wallpaper and coverings that came into contact with floodwaters. Don’t repaint or repair until drying is complete and humidity levels in the home have dropped

For more information on protecting your home from flooding, visit www.flash.org.

Tips for Families Experiencing Power Outage and Extreme Cold

With power outages persisting from superstorm Sandy and additional outages from this week’s Nor’easter, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) offers the following tips to keep families safe and comfortable:

 Family Safety

  • Include power outages in your family disaster plan, identifying alternate means of transportation and routes to home, school or work.
  • Keep extra cash on hand since an extended power outage may prevent you from withdrawing money from automatic teller machines or banks.
  • Keep your car fuel tank at least half-full, gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
  • During a power outage, resist the temptation to call 9-1-1 for information –that’s what your battery-powered radio is for.
  • Turn off all lights but one, to alert you when power resumes.
  • Check on elderly neighbors, friends, or relatives who may need assistance if weather is severe during the outage.
  • Keep a supply of flashlights, batteries and a battery-powered radio on hand. Do not use candles as they pose a fire hazard.

 Staying Warm

  • Put on layers of warm clothing. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors.
  • If you are using a gas heater or fireplace to stay warm, be sure the area is properly ventilated.
  • Go a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345)

Food

  • Keep a supply of non-perishable foods, medicine, baby supplies, and pet food as appropriate on hand. Also be sure to have at least one gallon of water per person per day on hand.
  • Avoid opening the fridge or freezer. Food should be safe as long as the outage lasts no more than four hours.
  • Have one or more coolers for cold food storage in case power outage is prolonged. Perishable foods should not be stored for more than two hours above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • If you eat food that was refrigerated or frozen, check it carefully for signs of spoilage.

Generators

  • Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. Use gas-powered generators only in well-ventilated areas.
  • Connect only individual appliances to portable generators.
  • Don’t plug emergency generators into electric outlets or hook them directly to your home’s electrical system – as they can feed electricity back into the power lines, putting you and line workers in danger.

When Power Returns

  • When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary, “surges” or “spikes” that can damage equipment such as computers and motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer or furnace.
  • When power is restored, wait a few minutes before turning on major appliances to help eliminate further problems caused by a sharp increase in demand.

For more information on staying safe in extreme cold weather events, visit www.flash.org.