Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Health and Safety Tips

For many people, autumn events like Halloween and Harvest Day are fun times to dress up in costumes, go trick-or-treating, attend parties, and eat yummy treats. These events are also opportunities to provide nutritious snacks, get physical activity, and focus on safety.

Check out these tips to help make the festivities fun and safe for trick-or-treaters and party guests.

Going trick-or-treating?
  •      Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.
  •      Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
  •      Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
  •      Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.
  •            Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. Always WALK and don't run from house to house.   
  •     Always test make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.
  •      Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.
  •      Lower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.
  •    Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
  •     Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
  •     Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.
  •      Enter homes only if you're with a trusted adult. Only visit well-lit houses. Don't stop at dark houses. Never accept rides from strangers.
  •      Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.
 Expecting trick-or-treaters or party guests?

  •     Provide healthier treats for trick-or-treaters such as low-calorie treats and drinks. For party guests, offer a variety of fruits, vegetables, and cheeses.
  •     Use party games and trick-or-treat time as an opportunity for kids to get their daily dose of 60 minutes of physical activity.
  •     Be sure walking areas and stairs are well-lit and free of obstacles that could result in falls.
  •     Keep candle-lit jack o'lanterns and luminaries away from doorsteps, walkways, landings, and curtains. Place them on sturdy tables, keep them out of the reach of pets and small children, and never leave them unattended.
  •     Remind drivers to watch out for trick-or-treaters and to drive safely.

Follow these tips to help make the festivities fun and safe for everyone!
For more information on Halloween safety

  •     Halloween Food Safety
  •     Party food safety advice from the manager of the U.S. Department ofAgriculture Meat and Poultry Hotline.
  •     Halloween Food Safety Tips
  •     Steps to help your children have a safe Halloween, and tips for Halloween parties, from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  •     Halloween Safety Tips
  •     Stay safe this Halloween with safety tips from the U.S. Consumer ProductSafety Commission.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Colleges & Universities, Community Colleges, and Online Colleges in Pensacola

Pensacola is a superb place to become an educated professional in several occupations. Showing a -8.98 percent change in net population between 2000 and 2009, Pensacola is becoming a promising place to live and work. Pensacola is home to many different regions, such as historical areas, to more forested areas, as well as commercial centers, many of which can benefit from more professional knowledge. Pensacola, also known as City of Five Flags, currently has on average 149,390 in the work force, and they are accumulating on average $36,850 per year. There are many well-respected organizations that are located in the greater Pensacola metropolitan area. A large number of companies, and the local government, have job openings, and forecast this to continue. Those who are talented and well-qualified will find quite a few jobs available. Between work and home, workers of Pensacola spend 49 minutes daily on the road, enjoying $170,510 as a median value of their homes as a further reward for living here. Following are examples of just a few of the careers in Pensacola:
Find the complete article on the Online coleges Database website at:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The seat belt analogy…compared with home electrical systems!

The seat belt analogy… Why you should care about your electrical system.I use the “Seatbelt” analogy when it comes to how look at the homes nervous system… your electrical system.

The analogy goes- “We all wear seatbelts but how often do we really need them? Less than 95-99% of the time, but we want them there when things goes wrong.”

I know this for a fact when I got t-boned by a pickup truck, was hit sideways, hit the curb and proceeded to pull a TV stunt ride on two wheels across the road and smacked a parked car and landed upside down roof to roof on a ‘72 Chevy Nova. As I was dangling in my seat protected by my seatbelt I was fully aware of its need and how it just saved me from being horribly injured.

I apply this to the electrical system, there are many aspects of the rules in how the electrical system is designed, and they are just seatbelts. They are there for when things go wrong. Mostly they will not be needed. There are several items in the home that can be deadly and the electrical system maybe the biggest one. We take this system for granted and are so used to it that we really do not give it much thought.

This is why when I am performing a home inspection and I evaluate the electrical system I am pretty critical of it. In general water is the enemy of the home. It can cause a lot of damage and can have some health effects, but the electrical system on a given event can be spontaneously deadly.

All too often the homeowner (or even some electricians) because of their lack of knowledge and understanding will play with the electrical system and in effect will compromise the “seatbelt”.  I am always looking for the compromise. Now some of it is pretty minor but you can have an accumulative effect.

The fact that we do not have electrical fires and electrocutions all the time is a testament to the built in safety. We all know the car will run just fine without the seatbelts but when things go wrong you really want it there.

As a SitePro home inspector, this is a major component that takes a lot of time to understand the rules and why we have them. I spend more time studying these rules than any other component in the home because I feel this is the single greatest safety issue I see in homes.
Fixing the seat belts can help ensure when thing go wrong that you are safe.

“The learning and knowledge that we have, is, at the most, but little compared with that of which we are ignorant.”

Van Hibberts, CMI

Certified Residential Building Code Inspector ICC-5319905
Florida-State Certified Master Home Inspector Lic. #HI 89
Certified Owens-Corning Roof Data Technician
Florida-Certified Wind Mitigation Inspector
WDO Certificate #JE190791 
InterNACHI #10071802
362 Gulf Breeze Parkway, #214
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561
850.934.6800  (Office)
850.485.3209  (Cell / Text Msg)
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

NFPA's Safety Information for Photovoltaic Panels

NFPA offers a variety of safety information for anyone involved in the installation of solar panels (and the ancillary equipment) on homes and larger structures. Fire Protection Division manager Ken Willette highlights some of the resources available through the National Fire Protection Association, as well as a research study called ( "Fire Fighter and Emergency Response for Safety for Solar Power Systems."

Published on Oct 16, 2013 -National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Pesticides are poisons designed to kill a variety of plants and animals, such as insects (insecticides), weeds (herbicides), and mold or fungus (fungicides). They are each composed of an inert carrier and a pest-specific active ingredient, both of which are toxic to humans and pets.

Human Exposure
Pesticides may enter the body in one of the following three ways, which are ordered from least to most dangerous:
  • absorbed through the skin. People can get pesticide on their skin because it is likely to splash or mist while mixing, loading or applying the chemicals. Skin contact may also occur while touching protective clothing, a piece of equipment, or any other surface that was exposed to pesticides;
  • swallowed. Numerous reports exist of people accidentally drinking or eating a pesticide that had been placed in an unlabeled container, or by children whose access was not adequately child-proofed. Toxic substances can also be ingested when eating or smoking near those who have handled the chemicals; and
  • inhaled. Powders, airborne droplets and vapors can easily be inhaled. Low-pressure applications present a relatively limited hazard because most of the droplets are too large and heavy to remain in the air. High-pressure applications, however, are particularly dangerous because the droplets are small enough that they can be carried by winds for considerable distances. Pesticides with a high inhalation hazard should have a label that instructs the user to use a respirator.
Health Effects and Symptoms of Pesticide Exposure
The health effects of pesticides are specific to their ingredients. Organophosphates and carbamates, for instance, affect the nervous system, while others may irritate the skin and eyes, influence the body’s hormone or endocrine system, and even cause cancer. Symptoms of pesticide exposure may appear immediately and disappear soon after exposure has ceased, or they may take a long time -- even years -- to develop. Specific symptoms include, but are not limited to, the following.
Acute symptoms include:
  • mild poisoning:  irritation of the nose, throat, eyes or skin, headache, dizziness, loss of appetite, thirst, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, weakness or fatigue, restlessness, nervousness, changes in mood, and/or insomnia;
  • moderate poisoning: vomiting, excessive salivation, coughing, constriction of the throat and chest, abdominal cramps, blurred vision, rapid pulse, excessive perspiration, profound weakness, trembling, lack of muscular coordination, and/or mental confusion;
  • severe poisoning:  inability to breathe, small or pinpoint pupils, chemical burns, uncontrollable muscular twitching, unconsciousness, and/or death.
Long-term health effects include:
  • cancers (lung, brain, testicular, lymphoma, leukemia);
  • spontaneous abortions and stillbirths;
  • genetic damage;
  • infertility, including lowered sperm count;
  • liver and pancreatic damage;
  • neuropathy; and
  • disturbances to immune systems (including minor ones, such as asthma and allergies).
Only a small percentage of insecticides and herbicides actually reach their intended destinations. The bulk of the chemicals find their way to other places, such as the air, water, food sources, and non-targeted insect/animal species. People and pets track pesticide residue into the house where it may settle on laundry, furniture, toys, and virtually anyplace else. Most runs off into water or dissipates in the air, where it may endanger the environment.  This incidental or unintended travel is known as "drift."

Fumigant pesticides used outdoors have the potential to travel many miles from their intended targets, drifting through the air into schools, homes, parks and playgrounds. Pesticide drift has resulted in cases of mass hospitalizations, such as in 2007 when 121 workers in Nevada were rushed to the hospital after fumigant pesticide traveled ¼-mile from its intended target. Home gardens usually require significantly less pesticide than large-scale agriculture, although the latter is usually held to safety standards that gardeners are more likely to ignore. 

Warning Labels on Pesticides
Manufacturers of pesticides create warning labels for their products by considering how harmful the chemical would be through each route of entry into the body. The signal word that applies to the most dangerous route of entry is the one that goes on the label. Any one of the following signal words should appear on pesticide warning labels:
  • CAUTION:  slightly hazardous by any of the routes of entry.
  • WARNING:  moderately hazardous by at least one route of entry.
  • DANGER:  highly hazardous by at least one route of entry. The word "DANGER" alone means that the pesticide’s greatest hazard is that it can severely irritate your skin or your eyes, or both. If the pesticide has the word "DANGER" plus a skull-and-crossbones symbol, it means that the pesticide is highly toxic through one or more routes of entry. Funginex®, for instance, has the signal word "DANGER" on its label because it is a severe eye irritant. If it were highly toxic through oral, dermal or inhalation exposure, it would have the word "POISON" and the skull-and-crossbones symbol.
Labels should also contain a “hazard to humans” section and a “personal protective equipment” section, in which users can learn which kinds of exposures the signal word for that particular pesticide refers to.

Safety Tips:
  • Limit termite infestation -- and the necessity for pesticide use -- by building with steel, concrete or brick. Borate-treated lumber will repel carpenter ants and termites.
  • Plant disease-resistant plants around the home.
  • Always keep these chemicals away from children.
  • If you must handle pesticides, wear gloves and long sleeves, and avoid breathing the vapors.
  • Carefully follow directions with regard to concentration, protective gear, and restricting access to areas that have been treated.
  • Always ventilate the area well after use.
  • Mix or dilute chemicals outdoors, if possible.
  • Dispose of unwanted pesticides safely, and store partially-used containers outside the living space.
  • Leather items contaminated with pesticides should be discarded. According to Montana State University, when leather watch bands, boots and gloves are worn and become damp, the person will again be exposed to the pesticide.
  • Address any additional concerns with your InterNACHI inspector during your next scheduled inspection.
 by Nick Gromicko

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tiling Tips-DIY

                           DIY Network - Amy Matthews- Sweat Equity

Friday, October 18, 2013

All About Kitchen Cabinets

More than just storage for pots and plates, cabinetry defines the look of your cook space.
 The experts at This Old House help you pick the right style for your budget and your needs.

All kitchen cabinets need replacing, eventually. Whether they're falling apart after years of hard use or standing in the way of that work-triangle overhaul you've been planning, a coat of paint or new wood veneers simply won't save them.

With so many door styles, finishes, and bells and whistles, such as built-in spice racks and pull-out pantries, to choose from, investing in new cabinets can be exciting. But with a lot of money at stake—cabinets account for about half the cost of a typical kitchen renovation—it can also be nerve-wracking. To get the most bang for the buck, it's important to focus not just on good looks but also on the quality of materials, the type of hinges and other hardware, and the joinery that holds the cabinets together. Those factors determine whether your cabinets will hold your affections for the long haul or soon force you to start shopping again.

New, custom-built cherry cabinets echo the expertly fitted and handmade look of millwork in the rest of this 1904 Craftsman-style home. Flat-panel door with beaded detailing in varnished cherry; available from Frost Cabinets

Mark Feirer: This Old House magazine

See the full article at:,,20413909,00.html

Monday, October 14, 2013

Home Inspection Reports: What to Expect

Prior to the mid-1970s, inspection reports followed no standard guidelines and, for the most part, there was little or no oversight or licensure. As might be imagined, without minimum standards to follow, the quality of inspection reports varied widely, and the home inspection industry was viewed with some suspicion.

With the founding of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) in 1976, home inspection guidelines governing inspection report content became available in the form of a Standards of Practice. Over time, a second, larger trade association, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), came into existence, and developed its own standards.

InterNACHI has grown to dominate the inspection industry and, in addition to its Residential Standards of Practice, it has developed a comprehensive Standards of Practice for the Inspection of Commercial Properties.  Today, most types of inspections from mold to fire door inspections are performed in accordance with one of InterNACHI's Standards of Practice.

As a consumer, you should take the time to examine the Standards of Practice followed by your inspector. If he is unaffiliated with any professional inspection organization, and his reports follow no particular standards, find another inspector.

Generally speaking, reports should describe the major home systems, their crucial components, and their operability, especially the ones in which failure can result in dangerous or expensive-to-correct conditions. Defects should be adequately described, and the report should include recommendations.
Reports should also disclaim portions of the home not inspected. Since home inspections are visual inspections, the parts of the home hidden behind floor, wall and ceiling coverings should be disclaimed.

Home inspectors are not experts in every system of the home, but are trained to recognize conditions that require a specialist inspection.
Home inspections are not technically exhaustive, so the inspector will not disassemble a furnace to examine the heat exchanger closely, for example.

Standards of Practice are designed to identify both the requirements of a home inspection and the limitations of an inspection.

Checklist and Narrative Reports
In the early years of the home inspection industry, home inspection reports consisted of a simple checklist, or a one- or two-page narrative report.

Checklist reports are just that; very little is actually written. The report is a series of boxes with short descriptions after them. Descriptions are often abbreviated, and might consist of only two or three words, such as “peeling paint.” The entire checklist might only be four or five pages long. Today, some inspection legal agreements are almost that long!

Because of the lack of detailed information, checklist reports leave a lot open to interpretation, so that buyers, sellers, agents, contractors, attorneys and judges may each interpret the information differently, depending on their motives.

In the inspection business, phrases that describe conditions found during an inspection are called "narratives."  Narrative reports use reporting language that more completely describes each condition. Descriptions are not abbreviated.

Both checklist and narrative reports are still in use today, although many jurisdictions are now beginning to ban checklist reports because the limited information they offer has resulted in legal problems.

From the standpoint of liability, narrative reports are widely considered safer, since they provide more information and state it more clearly.

Many liability issues and problems with the inspection process are due to misunderstandings about what was to be included in the report, or about what the report says. 

For example, in 2002, an investor bought a 14-unit hotel in California.  The six-page narrative report mentioned that flashing where the second-story concrete walkway met the building was improperly installed, and the condition could result in wood decay. Four years later, the investor paid out almost $100,000 to demolish and replace the entire upper walkway. In some places, it was possible to push a pencil through support beams.

Although the inspector's report had mentioned the problem, it hadn't made clear the seriousness of the condition, or the possible consequences of ignoring it. Today, a six-page report would be considered short for a small house.

Development of Reporting Software
Years ago, when computers were expensive to buy and difficult to operate, inspection reports were written by hand. As computers became simpler to operate and more affordable, inspection software began to appear on the market.

Today, using this software, an inspector can chose from a large number of organized boilerplate narratives that s/he can edit or add to in order to accommodate local conditions, since inspectors in a hot, humid city like Tampa Bay, Florida, are likely to find types of problems different from those found by inspectors in a cold, dry climate, like Salt Lake City, Utah.

Using narrative software and checking boxes in categories that represent the home systems, an inspector can produce a very detailed report in a relatively short time.

For example, using a checklist report, an inspector finding a number of inoperable lights in a home would check a box in the "INTERIOR" section labeled something like “some lights inoperable,” and that would be the limit of the information passed on to the client.

Using inspection software, in the "INTERIOR" section of the program, an inspector might check a box labeled “some lights inoperable.”  This would cause the following narrative to appear in the "INTERIOR" section of the inspection report:
  • “Some light fixtures in the home appeared to be inoperable. The bulbs may be burned out, or a problem may exist with the fixtures, wiring or switches.
  •  If after the bulbs are replaced, these lights still fail to respond to the switch, this condition may represent a potential fire hazard, and the Inspector recommends that an evaluation and any necessary repairs be performed by a qualified electrical contractor.”
Standard disclaimers and other information can be pre-checked to automatically appear in each report.

Narrative Content
Narratives typically consists of three parts:
  1. a description of a condition of concern;
  2. a sentence or paragraph describing how serious the condition is, and the potential ramifications, answering questions such as, “Is it now stable, or will the problem continue?” or “Will it burn down the house?" and “When?”; and
  3. a recommendation. Recommendations may be for specific actions to be taken, or for further evaluation, but they should address problems in such a way that the reader of the report will understand how to proceed.
“Typically” is a key word here. Some narratives may simply give the ampacity of the main electrical disconnect. There is no need for more than one sentence. Different inspectors would include what they think is necessary.

Report Content
Inspection reports often begin with an informational section which gives general information about the home, such as the client’s name, the square footage, and the year the home was built.
Other information often listed outside the main body of the report, either near the beginning or near the end, are disclaimers, and sometimes a copy of the inspection agreement, and sometimes a copy of the Standards of Practice.  A page showing the inspector’s professional credentials, designations, affiliations and memberships is also often included.  And it is a good idea to include InterNACHI's Now That You've Had a Home Inspection book.

Inspection reports often include a summary report listing major problems to ensure that important issues are not missed by the reader. It's important that the reader be aware of safety issues or conditions which will be expensive to correct. With this in mind, some inspectors color-code report narratives, although many feel that color-coding exposes them to increased liability and don't do this.
Software often gives inspectors the choice of including photographs in the main body of the report, near the narrative that describes them, or photographs may be grouped together toward the beginning or end of the report.

A table of contents is usually provided.
The main body of the report may be broken down into sections according to home systems, such as "ELECTRICAL," "PLUMBING," "HEATING," etc., or it may be broken down by area of the home:  "EXTERIOR," "INTERIOR," "KITCHEN," "BEDROOMS," etc.
It often depends on how the inspector likes to work.

Sample Reports
Many inspectors have websites which include sample inspection reports for prospective clients to view. Take the time to look at them. Also often included is a page explaining the scope of the inspection. The inspection contract is usually included on the website, and it should give you a good idea of what will be included in the report.
In conclusion, for consumers to have realistic expectations about what information will be included in the home inspection report, follow these tips:
  • read the Standards of Practice;
  • read the Contract;
  • view a sample Inspection Report; and
  • talk with the inspector.

by Nick Gromicko and Kenton Shepard

 From Home Inspection Reports: What to Expect - InterNACHI

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Winter Vegetables for Northern Florida Gardens

 Here's a list of the cool season (fall) vegetables commonly grown in Florida home gardens from the University of Florida IFAS Extension. Included are Suggested Varieties, Plant Family, Harvest Information, and Helpful Comments.

Suggested varieties are based on availability, performance and pest resistance. Other varieties may produce well also.

In column 2 in the chart below the plant families are named to help practice crop rotation. Avoid planting family members following each other

Column 3 in the chart is a transplantability rating: I, easily survives transplanting; II survives with care; III, use seeds or containerized transplants only.Column 4 is pounds of yield per 100' row

Column 5 is days from seeding to harvest. The values in parentheses are days from transplanting to first harvest.

Early Wonder, Detroit Dark Red, Cylindra, Red Ace, Little Ball
Comment: Beets require ample moisture at seeding or poor emergence results. Leaves edible
Early Green Sprouting, Waltham 29, Atlantic,Green Comet, Green Duke
Harvest small multiple sideshoots that develop after main central head is cut.
Gourmet, Marion Market, King Cole, Market Prize, Red Acre, Chieftan Savoy, Rio Verde,Bravo
Comment: Buy clean plants to avoid cabbage black-rot, a common bacterial disease that causes yellow patches on leaf margins. Keep an eye out for loopers, use Bt for control.
Imperator, Thumbelina, Nantes, Gold Pak, Waltham Hicolor, Orlando Gold
Comment: Grow carrots on a raised bed for best results. Sow seeds shallow and thin to proper stand.
Snowball Strains, Snowdrift, Imperial 10-6, Snow Crown, White Rock
Comment: Tie leaves around flowerhead at 2-3 inch diameter stage to prevent discoloration. For green heads, grow broccoflower.
Utah Strains, Florida Strains, Summer Pascal
Comment: Celery requires very high soil moisture during seeding/seedling stage.
Chinese Cabbage
Michihili, Wong Bok, Bok Choy, Napa
Comment: Bok Choy is open-leaf type,while Michihili and Napa form round heads.
Georgia, Vates, Blue Max, Hicrop Hybrid
Comment: Tolerates more heat than most other crucifers. Harvest lower leaves. Kale may also be grown.
Florida Deep Heart, Full Heart, Ruffec
Comment: Excellent ingredient in tossed salads. Well adapted to cooler months.
Early White Vienna, Grand Duke, Purple Vienna
Comment: Both red and green varieties are easily grown. Use fresh or cooked. Leaves edible.
Crisp: Minetto, Ithaca, Fulton, Floricrisp. Butterhead: Bibb, White Boston, Tom Thumb. Leaf: Prize Head, Red Sails, Salad Bowl. Romaine: Parris Island Cos, Valmaine, Floricos.
Grow crisphead type in coolest part of season for firmer heads. Sow seeds very shallow, as they need light for germination. Intercrop lettuce with long-season vegetables.
Southern Giant Curled, Florida Broad Leaf, Tendergreen
Consider planting in a wide-row system. Broadleaf type requires more space. Cooked as "greens".
Bulbing: Excel, Texas Grano, Granex, White Granex, Tropicana Red Bunching: White Portugal, Evergreen, Beltsville Bunching, Perfecto Blanco
Multipliers: Shallots

Comment: Plant short-day bulbing varieties. For bunching onions, insert sets upright for straight stems. For multipliers, divide and reset. Bulbing onions may be seeded in the fall, then transplanted in early spring (Jan-Feb). `Granex' used for Vidalia and St. Augustine Sweets.
Moss Curled, Perfection, Italian
Comment: Grow parsley root similarly (Hamburg type). Curly and plain types do well.
Peas, English
Wando, Green Arrow, Laxton's Progress, Sugar Snap, Oregon Sugar.
Comment: Edible podded type are "Oregon" (flat) and "Sugar Snap" (round) - be sure to trellis.
Sebago, Red Pontiac, Atlantic, Red LaSoda, LaRouge, Superior
Comment: Plant 2-ounce seed pieces with eyes. Do not use table-stock for seed. Remove tops two weeks before digging to "toughen skin." Varieties planted by seeds produce less than from tubers.
Cherry Belle, Comet, Early Scarlet Globe, White Icicle, Sparkler, Red Prince, Champion, Snowbelle
Comment: The winter type (Daikon) grows well in Florida, too. Inter-crop summer type with slow growing vegetables to save space.
Virginia Savoy, Melody, Bloomsdale Longstanding, Tyee, Olympia
Comment: Grow during coolest months. Malabar spinach is a more prolific type that grows well in Florida.
Florida 90, Chandler, Dover, Florida Belle, Oso Grande, Sweet Charlie, Selva
Comment: Plant short-day varieties. Grow as an annual crop starting with disease-free plants in the fall.
Roots/Tops: Purple-Top White Globe, Just RiteTops: All Top
Comment: Grow for roots and tops. Broadcast seed in wide-row system or single file. 












Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What is a FORTIFIED Home?

Over the last decade storms like Ike, Irene, Katrina and Sandy have amplified the need to make homes and businesses more resilient. In 2010,the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s FORTIFIED Home™ Program made best practice engineering and building standards - developed using more than 20 years of storm damage investigations - available to anyone seeking to strengthen existing single-family, detached homes.

FORTIFIED can be affordable at every price point and uses a uniquesystems-based method for creating stronger, safer homes. The program employs an incremental approach toward making existing homes more resistant to damage from hurricanes, tropical storms, hailstorms, high windsand wind-driven rain associated with thunderstorms. With three levels ofFORTIFIED Home™ designation available – Bronze, Silver and Gold builders can work with homeowners to choose a desired level of protection thatbest suits their budgets and resilience goals.

Complete a free online application at It takes less than 5 minutes.

Once an application is received and processed, the applicant will be directed to a list of IBHS Certified FORTIFIED Evaluators working in the area. The applicant then schedules a fee-based evaluation of the home. The applicant has the option to interview any evaluator listed, discuss their fees and negotiate accordingly. IBHS certifies only those evaluators who have completed a comprehensive training program, passed an exam, and who meet IBHS’ rigorous professional requirements.

At the scheduled time, the chosen evaluator will visit the home and conduct a FORTIFIED Evaluation. The evaluator’s role is to collect information about the home and complete a comprehensive checklist provided by IBHS. At the conclusion of the evaluation, the information is transmitted to IBHS for analysis and processing.

After the evaluation, the applicant will receive access to a comprehensive, customized Current Condition Report via a personal, secure online portal. This report includes analysis of the home’s condition, an explanation of deficiencies, if any, and an overview of the improvements needed to achieve each of the three FORTIFIED designations. If there are no retrofits required, a designation certificate will be issued at this time.

If retrofits are needed, the Current Condition Report will be a roadmap for making the home more disaster resistant. The applicant’s FORTIFIED Action Plan begins with deciding what level of protection they want to achieve, identifying the needed retrofits and having the work performed. Upon completion, the FORTIFIED upgrades must be verified for compliance by a certified FORTIFIED evaluator. The evaluator will submit compliance documents to FORTIFIED Home
for review and processing.\

Once the FORTIFIED evaluator verifies the improvements have been made, a FORTIFIED Designation is awarded. The FORTIFIED Designation Certificate is proof of compliance and can be submitted to the homeowner’s property insurance provider to receive applicable discounts or credits where available. Check with your insurance carrier for more details about FORTIFIED incentives. Once awarded, a FORTIFIED Home Designation lasts for five years. At the end of that term, a re-designation audit is required and will focus on the condition of the roof covering. If major structural changes have been completed or if systems covered by FORTIFIED requirements have been damaged or upgraded since the original designation was awarded, a more extensive audit may be required.

FORTIFIED HomeTM is a program of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety
Find additional information at OR visit

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Tips For Cleaning Up After a Storm

So you've just experienced another late summer/early fall storm. You may have a variety of issues to face in the aftermath and some may include damaged trees, flooding, and wind-blown shingles. During and after large storms and hurricanes your main concern should be the well being of yourself and your family. Only once a storm has cleared and authorities report conditions are safe should you begin with your cleanup. Always keep your own safety in mind. Authorities report that most injuries after storms are associated with carelessness while cleaning up.

Depending on the size of the storm you have experienced, damage levels may vary. During stronger storms or hurricanes your home may incur some damage. While this may be your main concern as you begin your cleanup, keep your surroundings in mind. Trees, shrubs, and other debris may make immediate cleanup dangerous.

Step 1. Clear dangerous brush and debris out of your yard and away from your home. Examine your yard and outside of your home carefully before beginning this step. Note any hanging branches or debris, especially nearest your home. Use a chainsaw or trimming shears to remove damaged branches from trees and shrubs. For situations in which there is a large amount of natural debris, the use of a wood chipper can help eliminate large piles of tree and shrub branches and significantly cut the time needed to complete your yard cleanup. After clearing your yard of debris, moving on to repairing your home will be easier and much safer for you and your family.

Step 2. Assess the damage to your home. Are the repairs minor enough that you can complete them yourself or do you need to hire professional? Be sure not to get into something you are not capable of completing; either because you have insufficient tools or lack the necessary skills.
One task that is commonly required after a storm and can be completed by the average joe is replacing or re-tacking windblown shingles. If the damage is excessive (you'll know when it is) refrain from getting on your roof and risking injury. If the task is manageable, grab a ladder and carefully re-tack shingles that are partially ripped or overturned and replace shingles that have been completely removed with new shingles. A nail gun can be very helpful in this instance because they will reduce the time you need to be on the roof; especially important if the roof is unstable because of storm-related damage.

Before beginning the cleanup process inside, make a trip around the outside of your home to determine if any windows have been damaged or broken. Most likely you won't have the necessary materials to repair a damaged window so use a piece of plywood to cover the window to ensure further damage within your home is prevented. In your trip around the house, examine your gutters to be sure water is draining away from your home's foundation (the further the better) to prevent flooding.

Step 3. Enter your home and examine any damage that may have occurred indoors. If any debris is visible on the floor or otherwise, be sure to sweep and clean it all up. Depending on whether an evacuation was necessary or not, you may need to clean out your refrigerator of its contents; never assume food will last, be safe and get rid of it. You may also have experienced some flooding within your home. The chance of flooding increases if your home has a basement, which may hold standing water after a large storm or hurricane. To prevent massive flooding in a basement, you can install a sump pump that will automatically pump water outside of your home. Check out this video from This Old House to learn how to install a basement sump pump.

Step 4. After your home has been repaired from the storm, relax and enjoy the company of your family. Talk about ways you can prepare for the next storm. Set up plans to exit your home and how to get in touch with one another during an emergency. A little preparation can go a long way in case of another storm or emergency. Almost every state has tips for creating a set of plans in the event of an emergency. Check out Ready America for tips as well.

I hope these suggestions were helpful. If nothing else at least you'll have some things in mind the next time you experience a severe storm or hurricane. If you have any other suggestions or comments please leave them below!

The Not Top Ten []

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Friday, October 4, 2013

Your Hurricane Preparedness Checklist - 23 Vital and Easy and Simple Supplies

When a hurricane strikes, the worst thing that can happen is being unprepared. The second worst thing is to waste time gathering the wrong supplies in an attempt to get prepared. Getting ready for Hurricane Season doesn't have to cost ridiculous amounts of money, nor do you need to build a fallout bunker to hide in for years. With the right checklist of essential supplies, you can ride out the storm and its aftermath with less stress and with a strategic advantage. Here is a list of 23 vital items that will help you be well-prepared for a disaster emergency - and it all starts with a relatively inexpensive thick-walled foam cooler.

    Thick Walled Foam Cooler Ice Chest - a superior grade, 1 1/2 to 2 inch thick, fully fused EPS foam cooler will cost so much less than a hard shell plastic or metal cooler that you can buy quite a few of them and come nowhere near the painful expense of hard-surface brands. That means you can have more storage ability and even have some left over for neighbors, friends, or relatives where themselves may wind up in need. The thermal qualities of high-grade foam coolers allow for keeping items cold for days when properly packed, and you'll find that emergency management organizations often neglect to provide disaster area residents with such a simple, fundamental necessity. So, while other people are worrying about what to do with the bags of ice that they collect from FEMA or the Red Cross in the blazing summer heat, you'll be able to take along your light-weight, reliable cooler to protect your cold stuff from the heat.

  •     Batteries - multiple sizes! Someone else may have a radio or other info-gathering device if yours breaks.
  •     Water - bottled or in plastic jugs. Some can keep in the foam cooler, while the rest can be stored somewhere in the shade to prevent your water stash from getting too hot.
  •     Charcoal - useful for grilling and cooking even without a charcoal grill.
  •     Mosquito Repellant - there's no need to suffer when swarms kick up due to stagnant water sources that result from deluges of rain.
  •     First Aid Supplies - if some of those supplies are temperature sensitive, use the foam coolers to keep them protected from the heat.
  •     Food - canned and non-perishable. Once a can of food is opened or prepared, leftovers can go in the thermal-insulated foam cooler.
  •     Disposable plates, cups, utensils
  •     Baby Needs - formula, diapers, and other necessities. Use the foam cooler to keep formula and baby food cool.
  •     Spare Clothes - protected in plastic or another waterproof method.
  •     Prescription Medications - consult a pharmacist to learn what temperature ranges are best for a particular type of medicine.
  •     Pet Medications - consult the veterinarian to learn what temperature ranges are best for a particular type of pet medicine.
  •     Plastic Garbage Bags - thick ones, large. Definitely come in handy.
  •     Cleaning Supplies - storm damage can be messy, even unsanitary.
  •     Children's Toys - to keep the young ones occupied and entertained.
  •     Pet Food - dry food will last longer than canned wet foods.
  •     Ice - bagged, can be kept in freezer until transferred for use in foam cooler.
  •     Candles - lots of them, without dye colorings that can cause irritating smoke.
  •     Canned Drinks - non-soda is better for the body - healthy fruit juices and such.
  •     Sterno - for cooking.
  •     Propane - serves for cooking, and in some cases for heating.
  •     Bleach - both for cleaning and appropriate disinfectant purposes.
  •     Dish Detergent - will clean well and still good enough for washing clothing.
When it comes to making yourself ready for a strong tropical storm or hurricane, having a well-made foam cooler ice chest is an essential focal point to ensure that you can more easily bear the brunt of the aftermath when the power is out and you need to keep items protected from the heat of the sun. The low cost, reliability, and even the fact that they make great flotation make the decision to purchase at least one a very practical idea.

My name is Riley Marquette and I'm a content provider for and The Bear Facts (Lifestyle) Blog. I'm an admitted, unabashed, stark raving fan of LoBoy Foam Coolers and Insul-Pak Insulated Foam Shippers and other related Magna Manufacturing, Inc. products. It's not about the cooler - it's about the FUN YOU HAVE WITH THE COOLER!

By Riley Marquette
Expert Author Riley Marquette
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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How to Find the Right Pool Fence For Your Family

So, you want to install pool fences (also known as security fences) for your home? They keep the swimming pool area a fun filled zone that is free from accidents or injuries. If your kids like to spend time swimming in the pool then the fences can keep them safe. With security fences you can reduce the chances of injuries or drowning to a bare minimum.

When you search the market to obtain a fence that best suits your requirements, you will be amazed by the number of choices. There are many materials to choose from. Security fences are available in vinyl, metal, masonry, brick and wood. Material you choose should be instigated by many factors. One of the important aspects is landscape of your home.

What Material will meet Your Need?

Brick: Though brick fences are a wee bit more costly but they offer more privacy and security. If you have a historic neighborhood or a home with classic d├ęcor then the brick fences are ideal for your pool.

Vinyl: This is cost effective option that is popular among the new neighborhoods.The fences have fine lines and they are easy to maintain (need no painting). Vinyl fences last longer last longer than many types of traditional fences.

Wood: If you want to give your pool side a traditional look then wooden fences are the tried and tested option. The longevity of wooden fences varies from 10-15 years depending on their maintenance standards. Bamboo is a popular wooden fencing material. If you have a well maintained garden then the wooden fences will look gorgeous.

Metals:You may opt for steel, aluminum or wrought iron fences. These are decorative fences that can significantly improve the looks of your property.When choosing security fencing materials always ponder over your outdoor decor.

How to Estimate the Real Costs of Pool Fence Installation:
Once you have finalized the fencing material it is time to call up a fence installation company and get your fences up. Most companies will listen to your requirements minutely before providing a quotation, but bear in mind these are rough estimates. They may vary by 10%. So, be ready to shell out some extra cash.

To make your pool fence sturdy, the professionals will have to dig underground. There may be boulders found beneath the earth surface, which is undetectable apparently. When your project gets stuck on a boulder there are two ways to approach it. You may go around the rock or dig up the rock. Both these instances will ask for extra efforts from the professionals and the charges will go up. Experienced pool fencing installation companies will access the condition of soil before giving a quotation.

Added Security Measures:
If you want to protect your kids, always build a fence that is more than four feet in height. It would be impossible for the kids to climb such a height. You may also opt for a door in the pool fence that would be shut with electronic lock. Some pool owners are opting for opting for pool and fence alarms. When there is an abnormal disturbance in water, a loud alarm will sound and the gate will open. This can save your family from a serious catastrophe.

Please visit our page to know more about our Free Pool Checkup
We also offer Pool Fencing Newcastle, NSW
CALL US - 02 4982 6288

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