Ben Esposito - RE/MAX Real Estate Center

Posted by Ben Esposito on 1/20/2019

OK, so moved into your new home, got the right insurance, the new lawn mower, unpacked all the boxes and then just went back to your life. That was everything. Right? Wrong. If you didn't create or update an emergency plan for your home and family, you could be putting everyone in danger. It is critical to be prepared well in advance for any disaster to keep your family as safe as possible. Preparedness sounds like a no-brainer, but even though the news is always full of fires, storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes, the majority of families don't have a plan for where to go or what to do if an emergency strikes. 

Know Your Risks

Each area has different disaster risks. The internet is your best friend here. Look up your area to find out what is most likely to happen. If your area is at risk for natural disasters like tornadoes or hurricanes, your community likely has resources available for you. Get on the right mailing lists, websites, social media profiles, and texting lists, so you always know what's going on in your area. If you don't already get the WEAs (wireless emergency updates) from the national weather service on your phone, check with your wireless provider to make sure your phone is compatible and get those turned on ASAP. For more information, check out NOAA Weather Radio online. Download a variety of weather apps with alert systems from your phone or desktop app store.

Find the Right Shelter

It's important to understand what disasters require evacuation to a safer area, and which you can wait out in your home. Each different disaster has a different method to keep your family safe, and your community should prepare in case evacuation measures are necessary. Check with your local government for emergency services and locations. If you have kids, make sure to check with their schools and get familiar with their emergency response plans as well. That way, no matter what happens, you know your kids will be safe.

  • Hurricanes – First, secure the fridge and freezer: plan for the power to go out, so turn them all the way down to as cold a setting as possible and secure them shut to keep your food cold for as long as you can. Since you won't want to open it, if possible, get some dry, shelf-stable food to get you through the storm. Make sure you disable as many appliances as possible to keep them from shorting out due to power fluctuations or water damage. Lastly, close up your hurricane shutters and board any windows without them to keep them from shattering in the wind. Depending on its severity and the security of your home, you may be able to wait out the storm in place. Watch for evacuation notices though, and when told to leave, do it. Your family's safety is more important than staying in your home.
  • Thunderstorms and Tornadoes – If at all possible, make sure you have access to underground shelters. If you have a basement or cellar at home or work, this will be your best bet. Even walkout basements are safer than upper floors, so long as you stay well away from the windows and doors and keep near the walls braced all around by the ground outside. If an underground space isn’t available, stick to interior rooms like closets and bathrooms. Your best choices will have sturdy walls and no windows. If a tornado is in your immediate vicinity, huddle down in a bathtub and away from any glass or possible falling objects
  • Earthquakes – These disasters tend to have the least warning. If you live in an earthquake danger area, its best to prepare your house from the outset. Make sure that any hanging decorations or items are earthquake safe and secure. You don't want them falling and injuring your family or getting damaged. Appliances should also be secured to prevent them from pulling away from walls and floors or tipping over when the ground moves. Get familiar with the safest spots in your home — the sturdiest interior walls or spaces under furniture where you can brace during the event. Also know what areas of your home to avoid, specifically around hanging objects, light fixtures, windows or mirrors. In a pinch, you can brace in an interior door frame to keep yourself safe, but it is better to have a more protected space. For the best results, immediately drop to your knees when the earthquake strikes then move to your most secure area while protecting your head and neck. Once you get situated, continue bracing and protecting your head and neck until the earthquake stops.
  • Flooding – Floods can happen with minimal warning, and the water level can increase much faster than you can plan for. Don't risk it. The moment your area is under a flood warning, get to higher ground. Whether that's finding a hill outside, or just moving to the second floor of your home, don't ignore these warnings. If its late at night, grab the kids and go upstairs for a storm slumber party. That will keep your kids calm and safe at once.
  • Fire – If there is any sign of a fire in your home, get out and stay out. Plan for a variety of ways to exit your home depending on where the flame is greatest. If you have a second, or perhaps a third story, make sure that all working upper windows are armed with fire ladders so you can get out without using the stairs. Don't be left without a way out. Plan a meeting place nearby, but at a safe distance, so your family can re-convene after exiting the home, just in case you all go different directions. Make sure your kids are aware of what to do and practice with a home fire drill just like they do at school. Once your family is outside, call 911 and follow the directions of your emergency service providers.

Evacuation Prep

City or town-wide evacuations can be panic-ridden and chaotic. The evacuation itself is dangerous because those who are unprepared are more scared and unsure what to do. Keep both you and your family calm and safe throughout the process by being prepared ahead of time. Have an emergency kit with a change of extra fuel, clothes, water, some candles, and food in your garage or car if you can. That way your family is ready at a moment's notice. Learn the evacuation procedures of your community, so you know how they will direct you in case of emergency. Always make sure to follow evacuation orders as quickly and calmly as possible. Evacuation is a last choice, so stalling because you "don't think its necessary" puts your family in danger and over-taxes emergency personnel. If there were any other options, your community would avoid the evacuation order.

Make sure to ask your real estate professional what disasters are frequent in your area before buying your home.

Posted by Ben Esposito on 3/12/2017

Being a homeowner comes with a lot of responsibility. You'll need to keep up with your bills, cleaning and maintenance, and have a keen eye for managing your finances. What many people don't tell you when you buy a house is that you could also become the victim of scammers who specifically target homeowners. Like computer viruses, scams are constantly evolving to stay one step ahead of the game. However, many of them rely on behavior that should raise a red flag for homeowners. In this article, we'll cover some common scams that affect homeowners and tell you how to avoid them to keep you, your home, and your wallet safe.

You've won!

Congratulations! By reading this article you've won an all-expenses paid trip to the destination of your dreams. One of the most common scams affecting homeowners come in the form of phone calls, mail, or even door-knockers informing you that you've won some kind of prize. Unless you've specifically entered to win a certain prize, you can almost be certain that this is a scam.

Identity crisis

We've often heard of the dangers of identity theft, but homeowners in particular are an at-risk demographic. Identity thieves attempt to steal your personal information in order to commit fraud or crimes. To avoid identity theft, be responsible with your mail. Always shred mail with personal data and be sure to have someone take care of your mail for you when away from home for extended periods.

I noticed your roof needs to be repaired

Many scams come in the form of people knocking on your door to offer a great deal on a service. People who solicit you and ask to be let into your home or onto your property to "inspect" part of your home should never be allowed in. They may actually be a roofer attempting to convince you to repair your roof (regardless of whether it needs to be repaired). Or, they could be a would-be burglar scoping out your residence. These scammers will attempt to sell you anything from "subsidized" and "energy efficient" home energy products all the way down to fixing imagined water/moisture issues in your basement.

Make $60k a year working from home!

Work-from-home jobs do exist, and they're growing in number as technology makes it easier and more efficient than traveling. However, some job offers are too good to be true. Be wary of job offers that require you to enter personal information like your social security number before ever having met the employer. Many of these "too good to be true" jobs can be spotted when they ask you for money to get started. They may say to need to pay for your own training but then can make thousands, or will ask for a company buy-in that will pay off later. Regardless, never give money to a potential employer.

I came to read the meters

Someone in a safety vest with a name tag and clipboard knocks on your door and says they're from the energy company, water company, etc. They seem legitimate and tell you how important it is to have your meter read. The might even say you're eligible for a refund or subsidy. It's important to always ask representatives to show you their ID or ask them to call and make an appointment before letting them enter your home.

Tags: home   scams   fraud   scammers   homeowners  
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