Hurricane Shutters: What You Need To Know

There are several types of products that qualify as “shutter” protection for your home. Each option meets current Florida Building Code standards, and will also satisfy insurance requirements. They fall into one of the following categories:

  • Manually Installed Aluminum Hurricane Panels
  • Manually Installed Clear Polycarbonate Hurricane Panels
  • Accordion Hurricane Shutters
  • Bahama Hurricane Shutters
  • Colonial Hurricane Shutters
  • Electric or Motorized Roll-Down Hurricane Shutters
  • Manual and Electric Roll-Down Hurricane Screens
  • Hurricane Fabric
  • Impact Resistant Hurricane Windows and Doors

Because each application has Florida Building Code approval, your choice should be based on your lifestyle and which product best fits the specific opening. You should consult with a professional licensed building contractor to determine what the best option is for an opening. Each application needs to be installed according to Florida Building Code specifications to meet the requirements of protection, which will satisfy local building codes and your insurance company.

Manually Installed Aluminum Hurricane Panels

This style is often what is thought of when someone hears the phrase “hurricane shutters”. Aluminum hurricane panels are made from light-weight corrugated aluminum is very strong and can be installed vertically or horizontally to meet the needs of the opening. These panels are put up when there is threat of a storm, and taken down after.

The panels are measured and cut to cover the opening, and can be affixed to the house with a track or secured directly to the structure. The window will be completely covered when installed, and you can’t see out of the window once they are in place.

This is generally the least expensive type of shutter protection. The panels are lightweight, making them easy to carry, but can be awkward when installing over large openings. You will also need a place to store the panels when they are not in use.

Manually Installed Clear Polycarbonate Hurricane Panels

This style is similar to aluminum hurricane panels, but the corrugated panel is a clear polycarbonate. The main benefit of the polycarbonate material is that light can get through the opening, and you can see the conditions outside.

Like aluminum hurricane panels, they are lightweight and strong and can be installed vertically or horizontally to meet the needs of the opening. These panels are put up when there is threat of a storm, and taken down after.

The panels are measured and cut to cover the opening, and can be affixed to the house with a track or secured directly to the structure. The window will be completely covered when installed, and you will be able to see out of the window once they are in place.

The panels are lightweight, making them easy to carry, but can be awkward when installing over large openings. You will also need a place to store the panels when they are not in use.

Accordion Hurricane Shutters

Accordion hurricane shutters will protect windows, sliding glass doors or enclose entire balconies or lanais. They are also a good option for opening that may be hard to secure, such as a rounded window, aquarium type window or corner-meet non-impact sliding glass doors.

They are made from a lightweight aluminum and installed into tracks on the top and bottom that guide the movement of the shutters as well as hold them in place. The top track holds a wheel carriage that adds to ease of movement. These are manually operated.

They are easy to open and close in almost every application. Once the interconnected aluminum panels are closed and locked, your protection is in place. You will not be able to see out of the opening, and light will not pass through.

Accordion hurricane shutters need to be maintained by lubricating and cleaning annually. You won’t need to worry about storage as they are left in place retracted when not in use.

Bahama Hurricane Shutters

Bahama hurricane shutters might just look like decorative shutters that typify the look and feel of a tropical home, however when they are made of material strong enough to withstand hurricane force winds, and installed to meet current building code standards, they serve as viable protection for your home.

They are always in place, and can be lowered and latched with relative ease in the event of a storm. While extended, they can also serve as shade for any opening.

The style is not well-suited for every architectural style. It simply doesn’t work for many homes. There are also some limitations on the maximum size that they are considered to be effective, such as a door.

Colonial Hurricane Shutters

Colonial hurricane shutters are also permanently affixed to the structure, and considered “decorative”. Like Bahama hurricane shutters, when they are made of material strong enough to withstand hurricane force winds, and installed to meet current building code standards, they serve as viable protection for your home. They can also be easily closed in the event of a storm.

Like Bahama hurricane shutters, the style is not well-suited for every architectural style. It simply doesn’t work for many homes. There are also some limitations on the maximum size that they are considered to be effective.

Electric or Motorized Roll-Down Hurricane Shutters

Electric or motorized roll-down hurricane shutters might very well be considered to be the most convenient shutter option. Just a flip of a switch and your protection is in place. In some cases, you can also operate the shutter manually if there is a loss of power.

Electric or motorized roll-down shutters are a popular solution for lanai area of a home. They can be installed to easily enclose the entire lanai. Some people like the ability to leave patio furniture in place during a storm, which is easy to do with this shutter option. They also come in handy for everyday use by adding noise reduction, security and privacy when they are down.

They are always in place, affixed to the top of the opening and contained in a small box. This may be a deterrent to homeowners who don’t want to have this housing visible, especially on the front of the home.

Manual and Electric Roll-Down Hurricane Screens

Manual and electric roll-down hurricane screens are newer to the market, but most manufacturers have obtained Florida Building Code approval through stringent testing. The screen will stop flying debris from impacting your opening during a storm. These must be installed by a certified professional contractor.

They function much like a composite electric, motorized or manual roll-down shutter with a noted exception that you can have full visibility from the inside to the outside. The screen itself is a very dense, tightly woven material that not only withstands the force of hurricane winds of 130 mph, but also repels water in the same way that a composite shutter would.

They are a great solution for protection in large or unusually configured areas. They deploy with relative ease, and have the added benefit of use for privacy, shade and rain protection during mild storms.

Hurricane Fabric

Hurricane fabric is also called hurricane netting or hurricane curtains depending on the manufacturer. The function and installation is basically the same as long as it meets the same Florida Building Code approval requirements.

Hurricane fabric is a PVC coated woven fabric panel that has been tested and approved to block wind, rain and flying debris. You can see through the fabric from the inside, and it is also a great solution for protection in large or unusually configured areas.

The fabric comes in a variety of colors. It can be affixed to the structure of your home with straps, buckles (such as around columns) and grommets (such as around a window area). All methods of installation allow for easy access to exit your home quickly.

Impact Resistant Hurricane Windows and Doors

Impact resistant hurricane windows and doors are not considered “shutters”. They are an alternative to shutters that offer full-time protection against the elements, intruders, UV rays and noise. This is generally going to be the most expensive option in hurricane protection.

The benefit of total home replacement of windows and doors with impact resistant products is that you never have to think about it again. Once installed by a qualified, licensed professional your protection is in place 24-7-365.

If your windows and doors need to be replaced, you might give serious consideration to replacing them with impact resistant hurricane windows and doors. The cost of replacing a window or door with a non-impact product and then adding a shutter to meet current codes is very close to replacing the opening with an impact product.

The bottom line…

You have a spectrum of options ranging from the least expensive shutter panels to replacing your windows and doors with impact resistant hurricane windows and doors. So how do you determine what is best for you?

Consider this:

Typically the least expensive option will be the most labor intensive and conversely, the most expensive options will be the most worry-free. So when narrowing your budget vs. expense, consider this:

The front of your home generally has the highest priority aesthetically. You want protection in place that doesn’t detract from the architecture.

The back of your home will take the next level of priority, and typically will be the most expensive area to protect due to the fact that you generally see the most glass in the back. Most people want to preserve the view, and possibly enclose the lanai to be able to leave furniture out at all times. You can generally save a great deal on the back of the home with shutters vs. impact-resistant doors and windows.

The sides of your home usually are the last priority because they rally aren’t seen by you and sometimes, not even your neighbor. Although they can’t be seen, it is still vital to protect the openings as they are vulnerable.

The least expensive hurricane panels might be a good option. You can always upgrade in the future to a more expensive shutter option, or choose to replace the windows with an impact product.

Ultimately…

You want to make sure that you choose products that fit your lifestyle, and hire a qualified contractor for the installation.

If your commercial or residential property has been damaged by strong winds or a big storm, there is a series of steps you should follow to mitigate the damage and get help right away.

  • Contact the Regency DRT team for a damage assessment. If you have insurance, you must act quickly to minimize any damage to your property as required by your policy.
  • Call your insurance company to report the damages and review your policy and coverage. (Keep in mind Regency DRT does not advise or make recommendations on your insurance coverage.) We do work with all insurance companies to assist you in working with the insurance adjuster.
  • Report safety hazards especially downed power lines.
  • Stay away from areas that are flooding as the water could be charged with an electrical current. There is also the possibility of potential dangers under the water like any nails or other sharp objects.

24/7 Emergency And Professional Storm Damage Cleanup And Restoration – Call (888) 221-5791!

 

How Does Your Smoke Detector Work?

Have you ever looked up at your smoke alarm and thought, “I wonder how that works?” Well the simple answer is, “With cunning ingenuity”. The first thing to understand is that there are two basic smoke alarm designs. The first and the most commonly used design is nuclear powered and is known as an ionization smoke detector, these require little space are cheap and are more common than the other type of detector, which is the photoelectric smoke detector.

 

Ionization Smoke Alarms

At the heart of an ionization smoke detector is a small amount of radioactive material called Americium 241, along with two plates with opposite electrical polarity. This sensor arrangement is held in an air flowing metal chamber and along with its support electronics is powered by a long life battery, usually 9-volt. The metal chamber acts as the negative plate; a positive plate covers the Americium 241.

So how does an ionization smoke alarm work? Well, alpha particles are generated by the Americium element, these alpha particles ionize the nitrogen and oxygen atoms that circulate through the smoke detector. This simply means that electrons are stripped from both the nitrogen and oxygen elements, when this happens the “air” inside the smoke detector becomes positively charged. These “air” atoms are drawn to the negative (metal chamber) plate, while the negatively charged electrons are drawn to the positive plate. As long as this process continues the smoke alarm will not activate. However, when smoke enters the device it interferes with the ionization process and the alarm is triggered. Ionization smoke alarm detectors are considered sensitive enough to do their job correctly and robust enough to last several years under normal operating conditions.

 

Should you worry about Americium 241?

Being radioactive does mean that it produces radiation, however the amount is very small. Moreover, the type of radiation emitted is in the form of alpha particles, which are the weakest type of radiation. A sheet of paper can stop alpha particles. The metal canister that holds the Americium is more that capable of containing any harmful radiation. You should however make sure that any discarded ionization detectors are properly disposed of, check with your local authority or council to find out the preferred method in your area.

 

Photoelectric Smoke Alarms

These are probably the least popular type of smoke detector; this is down to the fact that they’re not as sensitive as an ionization detector. They function by employing two channels; one emits light, while the other channel detects the light. If smoke finds it way into the channels it will interfere with the light and trigger the alarm.

The type of smoke alarm you choose really depends on the application. While ionization detectors are seen as the preferred choice, they perform best in detecting fast flaming fires with small smoke particles. Optical sensor smoke alarms on the other hand perform best at detecting slow, smoldering fires with large particles. It’s recommended that you fit a combination of the two types of smoke alarm to your home, preferably interconnected. It’s possible to string together several smoke detectors to form an impressive smoke alert system.

When a fire damages your home or business, expert fire damage restoration is required to get fully restore your property to pre-loss condition and ensure the safety of future occupants. Regency Disaster Response Team is a leading fire damage restoration company and has experience cleaning and restoring all sizes and types of fire disasters.

Call Now For Immediate Emergency Help – Our Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration Experts Are Standing By To Serve You!

(888) 221-5791

Hurricane Isais Could Regain Hurricane Strength

Tropical Storm Isaias got slightly stronger as it slid past Florida’s coast and it could become a hurricane again as it nears the Carolinas. It will then push over the Mid-Atlantic into New York and New England. A hurricane watch has been issued from the South Santee River in South Carolina to Surf City, North Carolina. Isaias could still raise ocean levels as much as 4 feet above normal from South Carolina to Virginia, as well as sweeping the eastern seaboard with high winds and wringing out as much as 6 inches (15 cm) of rain in Mid-Atlantic and 4 inches in New York and New England, the National Hurricane Center said. “Isaias is expected to be near hurricane strength when it reaches the coast of northern South Carolina and southern North Carolina Monday night, and strong tropical force winds are likely, with hurricane conditions possible,” Stacy Steward, a meteorologist with center wrote in his forecast.

North Carolina has opened shelters for people looking to flee the storm and will screen for COVID-19 symptoms, sending anyone who tests positive to another location where they can be isolated and receive medical attention, Governor Roy Cooper said in a tweet. The state has also activated 150 National Guard troops to help prepare for flooding and damage.

The storm diminished from hurricane-strength late Saturday and has remained a tropical storm through Sunday. In its weakened state it will probably cause about $700 million in damage and economic loss, down from initial estimates of $3 billion when it was still a hurricane, Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research, said in an email interview.

“Plan for power outages, street flooding, some scattered trees down, and have your radio on in case a random tornado forms,” Watson wrote in his blog earlier. “Plan for some bad weather — hazardous in a few places, but not dangerous if you don’t do anything dumb.”

President Donald Trump issued emergency declarations in Florida, where it nearly hit Sunday, and North Carolina. The storm killed at least one woman in Puerto Rico and caused slight damage across the Bahamas. It is 2020’s ninth Atlantic storm, the fastest such a tally has been reached in records going back to 1851.While forecasters track Isaias, they’re also watching another patch of thunderstorms near the Caribbean Leeward Islands that has a 60% chance of becoming the season’s next storm in five days, the center said.

Top 10: Worst Fires in History

Fire is a terrifying force, even on the smallest of scales. When it gets out of control, it can ravage thousands and thousands of acres. Stories of out-of-control fires, and the courage and sacrifice they’ve inspired, provide a humbling glimpse into the power of nature.

10. The Great Fire Of Meireki

According to the story, in January 1657, Edo (modern-day Tokyo) was plagued with tuberculosis. A particular kimono seemed to be spreading the disease, as three successive owners died from TB after wearing it. On January 18, a Buddhist monk set the garment on fire. A gust of wind snatched it away, and it set the temple roof ablaze. The fire was said to have spread from there, giving the fire its other name-the “long-sleeved kimono fire”

When the fire was finally extinguished two days later, around 60 percent of the city was gone, and the death toll was estimated to be as high as 100,000, around a third of the city’s population at the time. Edo was transformed radically after the fire, doubling in size and laid out under new guidelines to prevent future fires.

9. The Great Porcupine Fire

The Great Porcupine Fire swept through Northeastern Ontario in July 1911, at the height of a local gold rush, and was so named because many people took shelter from the wildfire by retreating to boats on Porcupine Lake. The fire burned out nearly 500,000 acres of forest, along with numerous towns and mining camps. The death toll is unknown.

The survivors who Took refuge on the lake have recounted some harrowing tales, including the story of a woman who gave birth while trapped on the boats. The nearby Salvation Creek got its name when it saved the lives of a group of miners, but others were less fortunate. When railcars of dynamite exploded, shock waves sent across the water caused a number of people to drown.

One mine boss took his 22 employees, his wife, and his daughter into the West Dome Mines. They suffocated when the fire engulfed the entrance.

8. Thumb Fires

Wildfires destroyed huge parts of Michigan’s “thumb” in 1871 and 1881. During the first fire, many people couldn’t even make it out of their homes, and many of those who did make it to the shores of Lake Huron were drowned in the choppy lake waters. Others tried to shelter in wells, and many died there.

The 1871 fire laid the groundwork for the Great Thumb Fire of 1881 by drying out the wood that didn’t burn. At least 300 people died in the fire, and 14,000 were made destitute and homeless. Some were permanently blinded by the heat and ash, but at least one man survived thanks to a bizarre stroke of luck: He had been out hunting and had killed an elk. He managed to gut the creature, crawl inside, and escape the worst of the blaze.

The fire also precipitated the first large-scale disaster relief effort organized by the American Red Cross.

7. Delft Thunderclap

On October 12, 1654, Cornelis Soeens walked into a gunpowder storehouse in the middle of the Dutch city of Delft. Moments later, around 40,000 kilograms (90,000 lb) of gunpowder exploded. No one knows exactly what happened, but some sources suggest the inspector was, rather unwisely, carrying a lantern.

The explosion-and the following fires-destroyed about a quarter of the city. Around 100 people were confirmed dead (with the actual death toll unknown), and thousands were injured. Fires consumed many of the wooden homes that managed to survive the initial blast. Protestant preachers took the tragedy as a sign that the End Times had been finally brought, instigated by the rise of the Catholics.

The explosion claimed the life of Carel Fabritius, a student of Rembrandt. Bizarrely, one of the survivors was a baby, rescued an entire day after the explosion. She was still sitting in her high chair, still giggling, and still holding an apple.

6. Black Thursday

Brush fires are common in Australia, but in 1851, the high temperatures, dry months, and the high gum resin content of the native plants meant that the Outback was a powder keg just waiting to go off. The culmination was on Black Thursday (February 6), when smoke from the fires blacked out the entire sky.

Newspapers later reported that it wasn’t only fires that swept across Australia, but also clouds of air filled with heat, fire, and suffocating sand. TheArgus Newspaper painted the horrible picture of men, women, and children trying to run on horseback, unable to stay ahead of the inferno. Areas that weren’t destroyed by fire were still subjected to stifling heat and smoke, trapping countless people indoors to watch and hope the winds didn’t change.

The heat continued throughout the rest of the month. Watering holes, creeks, and rivers were completely gone.

5. Cloquet Fir

The 1918 Cloquet Fire lasted for only about 15 hours, but it killed hundreds of people and consumed around 1,500 square miles  of Minnesota forest. It was more accurately a series of around 50 separate fires caused by a combination of wind, dry weather, dry lumber and wood waste from the area’s timber industry, and sparks from the area’s trains.

The fire smoldered for a while before the devastation really started, so the residents of Cloquet had enough warning to escape the worst of the blaze. More than 7,000 people were shuttled to safety by some of the same trains that started the fire.

By the time the fire reached Duluth, escape was down to luck, an idea illustrated by a terrifying comparison: If the world’s fastest sprinter was given a 90-meter (300 ft) head start, he would be engulfed in flames in 30 seconds. Some survivors drove their cars into Moose Lake and waited underwater. One schoolteacher survived by retreating to a lakeside pier and dousing the wood with water to keep it from burning.

4. Peshtigo Fire

A series of five major fires broke out in the Great Lakes region on October 8, 1871. The most famous is the Chicago Fire, but the deadliest was the Peshtigo Fire. More than 1.5 million acres were consumed (more than twice the area of Rhode Island), smoke was seen from Baltimore, and between 1,200 and 2,400 people were killed. Peshtigo itself was destroyed in a single hour.

Survivors described the fire moving like a tornado. Some tried to flee on foot and burst into flames as they ran. Others tried to take shelter in nearby water, where some died from hypothermia. Others, thinking that it was a tornado, headed into their cellars and basements, where they succumbed to the heat. Bodies were still being found years later.

3. The Great Fire Of Smyrna

The most widely accepted date for the beginning of the fire that destroyed all of Smyrna is September 13, 1922. The fire burned for nine days and forced around 400,000 Greek and Armenian citizens from their homes. Although Turkey still denies it, most historians agree that the fire was part of the genocide during the Greco-Turkish War. As the fires burned, the Turkish army continued their march through the city, killing as they went

It was against that backdrop that the most unlikely of heroes stepped up: Asa Jennings was a failed minister from Upstate New York who had taken a position with the Smyrna YMCA. When confronted with hundreds of thousands of citizens huddled along the coastline, Jennings, with the help of the US Navy’s Lieutenant Commander Halsey Powell, started securing ships to ferry the refugees to safety. The men are credited with saving around 250,000 lives and their story was largely buried in the denial and finger-pointing that followed.

2. The Big Burn

Firefighter Joe Halm later described what happened on August 20, 1910, at his camp along Idaho’s St. Joe River: He remembered hearing something in the distance, likening it to a distant waterfall or windstorm. The sound was coming from overhead on wind that was rustling the treetops ever so slightly.

It was a wall of fire.

Halm and his crew of firefighters retreated to a creek, salvaging only some buckets of water. Miraculously, they were able to hold their ground as the forest around them burned.

They were experiencing part of the Big Burn (also called the Big Blowout or the Great Fire of 1910), which destroyed a huge part of Idaho and Montana during the final days of an incredibly dry summer. Around three million acres were consumed by flames that sometimes raced through the forest canopy before descending to the ground. The fires resulted in renewed funding for the US Forest Service.

1. The Great Hinckley Fire

In 1894, the Brennan Lumber Company churned out around 60,000 meters (200,000 ft) of board lumber every day. The dry wood, coupled with the sawdust and waste, was disaster just waiting for a spark. The spark happened on September 1, and by the time smaller fires joined up to converge on Hinckley-and the lumber company-they were already burning from the east, south, and the west. Flames rose 60 meters (200 ft) high, and more than 400 people died. Some of them would not be found until 1898.

While some waited the fire out in the middle of potato fields or headed to the Grindstone River, trains shuttled survivors out of the burning city. As people fled in droves and appealed to the surrounding towns for help, the St. Paul and Duluth Depot’s telegraph officer, Tommy Dunn, continued to man the office and monitor communications. His last message was, “I think I’ve stayed too long.” He died in the blaze.

Home Tips: Installing a Carbon Monoxide Detector

CO detectors are safety devices placed in homes to save lives during emergencies. Therefore, it is imperative to install the CO detectors appropriately to realize the best outcomes and early detection. Henceforth, homeowners can follow these tips to detect gas leaking early and improve overall safety.

Basics of carbon monoxide gas

Understanding the general properties of CO gas enhances the need for a homeowner to ensure proper placement and potential risks. CO is a colorless, tasteless, and odorless gas that is rather difficult to detect without the use of a detector. Therefore, it is commonly referred to as a ‘silent killer’ and poisoning manifest as dizziness, nausea, headache, and other non-specific symptoms.

CO gas is released from the incomplete burning of fuel. The incomplete burning might arise from faulty appliances, and accumulation occurs indoors, especially in poorly ventilated rooms. A high concentration of CO gas is life-threatening and fatal. The gas is lighter than air to some degree and distributes evenly.

Studies on proper placement of CO detectors indicate any point in a room is useful in detection. However, for early detection of small concentrations, there are general rules homeowners should follow.

How do carbon monoxide detectors work?

For a CO detector, the critical part is the alarm sensor. The sensor determines the concentration of CO gas in the room. The three types of CO sensors include colorimetric, metal-oxide, and electrochemical have differing mechanisms of detection. Placement does not affect the operation of the CO detector directly, but positioning mitigates early detection. Alarm triggers for CO detectors are similar since they detect elevated concentrations of CO in the air around the alarm.

Correct placing a CO detector

There are general guidelines to follow on areas homeowners should place the detector. Firstly, homeowners should ensure all rooms with appliances such as gas cookers, fireplace, furnace, open-fire, and boiler have a CO detector. Additionally, the garage and any other rooms with cars with a running engine should have a sensor. Living rooms and sleeping areas should each have a CO detector in place.

Moreover, homeowners should always check the laws and codes on the CO detector installation. For a multi-story apartment, should install the detectors on each floor, including the attic and basement. Homeowners should place the CO detectors in rooms that have a flue.

The number of detectors to install depends on the dimension of the house and the number of fuel-burning devices. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) advises homeowners to invest at least a CO detector on each level of a home. Additionally, NFPA recommends a central section placement of the CO detectors outside the sleeping areas and in other regions as required by local codes and law. The gas is toxic, and thus, it imperative that one should install the appropriate number of the detectors that a home might require.

Correct mounting of CO detectors

Homeowners must read the manual guide of the CO detector on locations and height specified by the manufacturer. Rooms with appliances that use fuel such as cookers and boiler, or open fire areas, one should mount the detector 6 inches from the ceiling. Mounting should be higher than either the door or window height unless stated by the manufacturer. Additionally, homeowners must mount CO detectors 3 to 10 feet horizontally from the possible source.

Rooms with an open fire or without any fuel-burning appliances should have the CO detectors near the breathing areas. Moreover, a room with a sloped ceiling will have mounting on the high region of the ceiling. The device should be at the breathing level or at the knee level to consider kids and pets.

Areas to avoid mounting a CO alarm

Homeowners should not place CO detectors close to water heaters, furnaces, or cooking appliances since the device might give false alarms. Other areas to avoid include, next to doors or windows, above sinks, and humid places like bathrooms. Additionally, avoid mounting the CO detector in dusty places since the dust might interfere with the device sensor. Likewise, homeowners should install the detectors away from obstructing furniture and enclosed spaces such as behind curtains and cabinets.

Homeowners must ensure that mounting of the devices is not close to fans, air vents, or any other ventilation opening since ventilation decreases CO gas concentration below detection. Furthermore, other areas to avoid mounting include outdoor locations and zones’ operational temperature of the CO detector is not guaranteed. Place the device away from the reach of children to prevent damaging and tampering.

Ensure the effectiveness of the device

Homeowners should contact local authorities before purchasing a CO detector to ensure they get a current device. Furthermore, the CO detector must meet the standards set by Underwriters Laboratories. The alarms should be tested regularly, at least monthly, and batteries tested weekly. Homeowners should clean the CO alarms as per the manufacture with a clean cloth and renew cells at least annually.

What You Should Know About Mold

What You Should Know About Mold

Mold is a fast-growing fungus that can spread within 48 hours of water damage. In some cases, like after a flood, the need for restoration is obvious. In other cases, mold can be growing behind your walls without you noticing. Mold spores spread easily and quickly, and mold can grow almost anywhere under the right conditions: on carpet, clothing, cabinets, drywall, in your walls, or even in your ceiling. In addition to being difficult to remove, mold can also produce allergens and, in some rare cases, even toxins. Taking the necessary steps to protect your home against mold, learning to spot the signs of mold, and knowing the negative effects of mold are important to keeping you and your family safe.

PREVENTING MOLD

Dry Wet Areas Immediately

  • Depending on conditions, mold growth can occur within 48 – 72 hours of water damage. During everyday occurrences, such as spills, wet cloths, etc., make sure to dry everything up right away. Quickly fix roof leaks, old dilapidated pipes, cracks in the walls and foundations, and make sure to regularly check HVAC units for clogs
  • If you experience a large loss, such as a flood, burst pipe, flooded basement, etc., call a restoration company immediately.

Monitor Humidity in Your Home

  • The EPA recommends keeping humidity in your home between 30% and 60%. You can measure humidity with a moisture reader purchased from a hardware store.

Keep House Well Ventilated

  • Even simple, daily activities can lead to mold growth – cooking, taking a shower, or doing the laundry can facilitate mold growth if the room is not properly vented. Make sure to vent moisture-producing appliances, such as dryers and stoves, to the outside of the house, not the attic.
  • Mold needs moisture to grow and, as the air temperature drops, air is less able to hold moisture. Keeping your A/C on and/or running a dehumidifier during hot/humid days can help prevent mold growth.
  • Improving airflow in your house can also prevent excess moisture from condensing on your walls, windows, and floors. To increase circulation, open doors between rooms, move furniture away from walls, open closet doors, and open windows.

Identify Problem Areas in Your Home

  • The best way to do this is to do an audit of your home. Do you notice frequent condensation on your window? Is there a water stain on your ceiling? Are there often wet spots in your basement? Looking for signs of moisture in your home will help you identify the places most susceptible to mold growth.
  • Once something is wet, fixing it may be as simple as throwing out wet furniture or ripping up wet carpet. Or it may require major mitigation and reconstruction. Either way, it is very important to fix it immediately.

Direct Water Away from Your Home

  • If the ground around your home isn’t sloped away from the foundation, water may collect there and seep into your basement or crawlspace. It can even compromise the integrity of the foundation over time.

Check Gutters

  • Clogged or broken gutters can lead to roof leaks, which can cause mold growth in your ceiling. Have your roof and gutters inspected and cleaned regularly. Keep an eye out for water stains after heavy rain fall, as they can indicate a leak.

SIDE EFFECTS OF MOLD EXPOSURE

  • Foggy thoughts and temporary memory loss, loss of focus, headaches
  • Weakness of muscles and exhaustion
  • Joint pain, nerve pain, random muscle pains
  • Tingling of numbness in the body
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Coughing or shortness of breath
  • Slight tremors of the body
  • Change in appetite, diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal pains
  • Irregular body temperatures changing at random intervals
  • Increased urination and higher intake of liquids

 

MYCOTOXINS

What are mycotoxins?

  • Mycotoxins are chemicals released by fungi and they are toxic to both humans and pets. They are not required for mold to grow, since most mold will not produce mycotoxins, but they act as a kind of defense mechanism and allow mold to more easily infect a host.
  • Short term symptoms of mycotoxin exposure include headaches, muscle pain, nerve pain, night sweats, difficulty breathing, fatigue, confusion, vision changes, and disorientation. Long term effects of mycotoxin exposure include poor kidney function, liver necrosis, lung hemorrhage, gastrointestinal ulcers, and seizures.
  • Mycotoxins can harm any organism that competes with the mold for space and nutrition, which can include other mold. If you have various molds competing, mycotoxin production may increase. Although most molds won’t produce mycotoxins, the best way to avoid them is to prevent and get rid of any mold growth.

SIGNS OF MOLD

Watery or Stinging Eyes

  • Many people have allergies to mold. If you are consistently experiencing itchy/watery eyes, coughing, and/or nasal congestion, there may be mold in your house.

Tingling Skin

  • If you’re allergic to mycotoxins, you can experience tingling, itching, or burning sensations when you come into contact with mold.

Paint Bubbling

  • Bubbling paint is a sign of moisture build up. It is important to fix the underlying problem before repainting.

Odd Smelling Chimney

  • Moisture can build up in the porous bricks and mortar in a chimney and mold growth can produce a musty smell. Rusty chimney caps or damaged flashing can let rain and snow seep in.

Bathroom Exhaust Fan isn’t Working

  • Exhaust fans can get clogged and, if it’s still steamy five to ten minutes after you get out of the shower, your fan isn’t circulating enough air. The bathroom is one of the rooms most susceptible to mold, so it is imperative to fix a faulty bathroom fan immediately.

Even if the water damage to your home may not seem significant, it is important to use a qualified restoration company to bring your home back to pre-loss condition. Trying to fix a major mold problem in your home on your own is not only generally ineffective, it can also be dangerous. Any cleaning a homeowner does is usually only at the surface level, leaving potentially harmful mold, bacteria, and toxins beneath your floors or in your walls. This can lead to bigger and more costly damages down the line.

 

 

Natural Disaster Preparedness With Pets

Sometimes natural disasters come at us with such little notice, but there are things you can do to prepare your pets before the disaster is even predicted! Read on to learn more about pet emergency care in a disaster.

 

 

Who to contact
There are plenty of people and organizations that should be contacted before the event of a natural disaster. First of all, local animal shelters can provide you with the best safety tips for your area. They may not be available to take your pets in, but they can tell you where to take them if you cannot take care of them. Being informed about what your community does for pets in these instances is the first step to being prepared for a disaster.

 

Evacuate pets when you evacuate the family
This may seem obvious, but in the event of a natural disaster, you may put everything else besides you and your family to the back of your mind. Don’t say “we will go back and get him/her” because it is quite likely that you will forget, or it will be too late; if you leave your pet behind, he/she could get injured, lost, or worse.

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                     

Research pet-friendly shelters

Research pet friendly shelters ahead of time so you know where you can take your pet, and where you can’t. The most important thing to be aware of is that Red Cross disaster shelters do not allow pets. If you need to go to one of these, plan ahead and find a different shelter for your pets. It would be useful to contact hotels, boarding facilities, and veterinarians beforehand to determine if they take pets during emergencies. You can also find friends, relatives, or others outside the area that may take care of your pet until your family gets back on its feet.

 

Prepare a disaster kit for pets
This should include pet supplies, such as medications and medical records, a pet first aid kit, sturdy leashes, harnesses, and/or carrier to transport pets safely and ensure that your animal can’t escape. You may also want to include current photos of your pet in case you lose them. Also in the kit should be food, portable water, bowls, cat litter/pan, and a can opener. Make sure this kit is easily accessible and everyone in your household knows where it is located.

 

 

What to do if your pet gets lost
It is a very scary situation if you lose a pet during a natural disaster. The first thing you can do is contact the local animal shelters, police station, and veterinarians to see if they took in a pet like yours. If you have no luck, try contacting boarding facilities or any other location that you think your pet might end up. That is why it is handy to keep photos of your pet in the disaster kit, so people are familiar with what they should keep their eyes open for. It is helpful to get your pet micro chipped ahead of time, and make she he/she wears a collar and identification tags.

Natural disasters are scary, and they can be even scarier for our pets. That is why it’s so important to be prepared for a disaster even when it is not likely to happen. Remember, all your pet has is you. The best thing you can do is be prepared!

 

Why Is Water Temperature Important?

Human populations demand solid weather forecasting. They need to know exactly what they are up against especially during the Atlantic tropical hurricane season. Not only do they need to know the speed, direction, and likely point of landfall, but for them to prepare they need to know days in advance. They have to buy the boards to board up the windows, batten down the hatches, and get everyone to a safe haven. There’s a lot that goes into forecasting the direction, path, and speed of hurricanes.

You may wonder why water temperature is so important for hurricane information. The reason has to do with a meteorological phenomenon. Surface water temperature increases the amount of evaporation. The more evaporation you get off the surface of the ocean, the more easily the normal wind flows and trade winds are blocked. When the trade winds are weak, or blocked by walls of heavy moisture content, the hurricane is allowed to freely form and grow stronger. The hurricane doesn’t have to worry about the trade winds knocking down the eye wall of the hurricane, or not allowing it form.

Without the trade winds moving the tropical storm along, that storm starts slowing down, as it goes slower all of that energy starts moving in a circular fashion. The hurricane eye wall becomes tighter and tighter, constantly evolving from a well-defined circle into a broken pattern, and reforming again. Eventually it finds a perfect groove, and the eye wall lasts longer between re-formations. If the water is cold, the evaporation slows down, and any prevailing winds push the hurricane forward on its path preventing the eye wall from creating a very tight circle with an increased low-pressure area.

This is why the super computers take into consideration the water temperature. It has often been said that warm water is like jet fuel for a hurricane. This is indeed true, and this is why warm water temperatures are so important and such an important component of the algorithms used to guesstimate, predict, and forecast the wind speeds, forward speed, and low-pressure numbers. By knowing these things and the prevailing trade winds, the artificially intelligent computer software system can adequately predict within a small range of probability.

It seems everyone knows that very warm water close to the shore in the path of a hurricane is a very dangerous factor to consider when predicting the impending disaster as the hurricane hits land, now you know why.

Three Methods for Emergency Disinfection of Drinking Water

After a water pipe leakage, flood or hurricane, the supply of clean drinking water could be interrupted. Therefore, you may have to use disinfected, boiled or bottled water until the water supply is restored. In this article, we are going to share with you a few methods that will help you disinfect drinking water from the comfort of your home.

The instructions given below can help you boil or disinfect water in order to kill microorganisms found in water. The good thing about these methods is that they won’t destroy other common contaminants like some chemicals, salts, and heavy metals.

First of all, make sure you use water that is properly disinfected. This type of water is safe for drinking, cooking and cleaning your clothes and dishes.

1. Boiling Method

If you don’t have bottled water to drink, you can boil any type of water you have access to. Boiling for 1 minute up to elevations of 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) and 3 minutes at elevations higher than that is enough to kill different types of pathogens, viruses, protozoa and bacteria, according to the reports released by WHO.

At times, water is cloudy. To get it cleaned, all you need to do is pour the water into another container through a coffee filter or a towel.

After boiling the water, you should take it off the heat and wait for a few minutes to let it cool down. Make sure the container is covered. If the water tastes flat or odd, you can add a small amount of salt into a litter of water. Alternatively, you can pour the water to another container and then to the first container and then repeat the process several times to fix the odor.

2. The Bleach Approach

For the bleach method, you need to use chlorine bleach for proper and safe disinfection. Typically, the active ingredients of this bleach have 6% of sodium hypochlorite. It’s not a good idea to go for color safe or scented bleach as they have additional cleaners.

Look for a clean dropper and use it to drop a few drops of bleach in the water. For a gallon of water, you can drop just 6 drops of bleach, which will be more than enough. However, the amount can be increased if the water is still quite cloudy or stinky.

Finally, you should stir the container and keep it covered for half an hour. If the water emits a little bit of chlorine odor, you can repeat the process and let the container sit for another 15 minutes.

3. Iodine Tablets, Crystals, or Solution

This is an effective and more convenient method. It is also available in different forms you will surely find one that would suit your budget. It has the ability to kill viruses and bacteria. They are lightweight and easy to use.

However, it takes about thirty minutes before you can drink the treated water. It is also not suitable for pregnant women. In addition, it has an aftertaste that you might not like.

Once you drop the tablet into the water container, shake the container and hold the bottle upside down and have the lid slightly unscrewed to let the iodine to flow into the threads of the bottle cap.

Long story short, if you are looking for an easy method to disinfect your drinking water in an emergency, we suggest that you try any of the three methods described in this article.

COVID-19’s Genome Signature Has Been Cracked!

Computer scientists and biologists have identified an underlying genomic signature for 29 different COVID-19 RNA sequences using machine learning.

This new data discovery tool will help researchers to classify viruses like COVID-19 in just a few minutes—which is a process of high importance for strategic planning and mobilizing medical needs during a pandemic.

This discovery also supports the scientific hypothesis that COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) has its origin in bats (Sarbecovirus, a subgroup of Betacoronavirus).

The findings, Machine learning using intrinsic genomic signatures for rapid classification of novel pathogens.

The “ultra-fast, scalable, and highly accurate” classification system uses a brand-new software, graphic-based and decision-tree approach to illustrate the classification and deliver the best choice out of all possible outcomes.

Kathleen Hill, a biology professor co-led the study with Western collaborators in Statistical and Actuarial Sciences and Computer Science, along with others in the University of Waterloo’s Department of Computer Science.

This machine-learning method delivers a 100% accurate classification of the COVID-19 sequences and most importantly, discovers the most relevant relationships for over 5,000 viral genomes again within minutes.

“All we needed was the COVID-19 RNA sequence to discover its own intrinsic sequence pattern. We used that signature pattern and a logical approach to match that pattern as close as possible to other viruses and achieved a fine level of classification in minutes—not days, not hours but minutes,” Hill stated.

This classification tool has already analyzed more than 5,000 unique viral genomic sequences, including the 29 COVID-19 sequences available.

Hill believes this data discovery tool, which can classify any newly discovered virus sequence, will be an essential component for vaccine development, researchers, scientists, and health-care workers during this global pandemic and beyond.

 

 

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