The Daniels Team's Blog
Floods are one of the most terrifying events to occur in any home, especially if it’s the result of a natural disaster. As expected, your priority should be the safety of your family, and while you make arrangements for their protection, you can do the following things before repairs start.
1. The first step is to cut off the power supply.
Be very careful before going in to grab items as flood water could carry an electrical current to electrocute you or even cause a fire, as well as bring bacteria and microbes into your home. Locate your circuit panel and shut off all power circuits, even if the power from the grid is off. Watch out for signs of potential danger, like a collapsed roof. If the home appears unsafe to enter, do not attempt to go inside.
2. Document Everything
Since you do not know how long it will take before the insurance process kicks in, you will need to start compiling documentation of everything. Pictures and videos are essential, as well as written reports about the condition of the home. If the house worsens after the initial damage let your records reflect it. The claims adjuster will carry out another investigation on getting to your property and the more information you offer, the better informed they can be during their assessment.
3. Begin the Repair Process
As soon as you can, drain the water from your home. If you have a sump pump, you can elect to do it yourself, or you could decide to hire an expert for the job. Take extra caution when paying for services if your claims adjuster is not done assessing the degree of the damage. It’s advisable that you keep receipts for whatever you purchase, no matter how unimportant you think it is.
4. Be Patient and Cautious
If your region was declared a disaster area because of the flood, you might have to spend a long time before you get access to repair services. Protect yourself from repair scams by asking anyone who comes to your home to provide identification and confirmation that they are from your insurance company, as many conmen often use this con to defraud victims.
If you need special help and assistance from FEMA or other relief agencies, don't hesitate to reach out to them.
Even the most experienced chef can fall for most of these pervasive and ridiculous myths. Many of these cooking myths have been promoted as well-meaning culinary advice over the years; and have become a bedrock to many cook their meals. By now, you already know that lobsters don’t scream during cooking, that screeching sound is caused by the air trapped in the lobsters’ shell or stomach. There are more and more hilarious myths out there and if you want to know them, keep reading!
1. Alcohol doesn't burn off.
Complete alcohol burnoff is one of the countless cooking myths that experiments have proved to be false. According to studies published by the USDA, the alcohol retention for recipes that include alcohol as a primary ingredient is 40%. Also, another experiment proved that a Grand Marnier sauce boiled over hot steam could retain 83-85% of its alcohol.
2. Adding salt to water makes it boil quicker.
Another cooking myth to stop believing is that salted water boils faster. Many cooks also are convinced that watching water makes it boil slowly. Well, that's a whole bunch of mumbo-jumbo and is not true. Putting salt inside water increases the boiling point, thereby making it hotter. But it doesn’t make it boil faster.
3. Cooking removes nutrients from vegetables.
Some people hold on to this myth. According to many, cooking your vegetables breaks down the vitamins and minerals, making it less healthy. However, such isn't true because most vitamins aren't affected by heat. Apart from water-soluble like vitamin C and B which release some of their nutrients into the water, most of these nutrients don't get modified by cooking.
4. Rinsing pasta stops it from cooking.
Just as you rinse some things to stop them from overcooking, does the same apply to pasta? Will it overcook if not rinsed in cold water according to popular belief? The answer is NO! Pasta doesn't have much carryover cooking, which means there is no need to reduce the temperature unless perhaps you want to make a pasta salad.
5. Salt will break down your yeast.
Another popular cooking school myth is that salt kills yeast in food. But that is not true. Salt acts as a desiccant but won't affect the yeast in food. So, you don't need to worry about salt touching it if you bloom or add it to the dough, just the way everyone likes it.
If you're a fan of the kitchen and you have been hanging onto these lame cooking myths, now is the time to forget them.
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Hopefully, you've made plans in case of emergency and prepared your family by discussing your arrangements and creating an emergency kit. However, surviving the crisis is only part of the battle. The recovery takes a lot longer and requires even more early planning. You can prevent a lot of damage to your home by designing it or updating it to handle whatever comes.
Check and Reinforce your home.
If your area is subject to hurricanes, you need to be careful about choosing the right windows, doors, and roof. Have a professional check out your roof and determine how well-braced it is. They can provide suggestions on the best way to reinforce or add bracing to protect your roof from strong winds. If your windows or doors break and open during the storm, the interior damage to your home will be much more significant. Review your doors and windows to determine if storm shutters and reinforcing bolts are necessary improvements. Don't forget about the garage door. If you're at risk, your local government probably requires wind-resistant garage doors so check your building codes and make sure your door comes appropriately equipped. If it's not, get a retrofit kit to stabilize the door.
Live in tornado alley or an area with high thunder and hailstorms? Plan a yard that will be safe in case of disaster. Keep trees away from your home to prevent them from falling in and causing damage and consider wood chips or mulch instead of gravel which can act like additional hail in high winds. Review your roof and determine its impact resistance to see if you can make any improvements. If improvements are not an option, then be aware of how much damage you might suffer so you can plan for the financial ramifications. High storm areas are subject to flooding, but you might be in a flood-risk area just due to your altitude or if there is nearby water. If you live in a flood-risk area, ensure that your furnace, water heater and electrical panels are off the floor or foundation. Use waterproofing compounds to seal basement and ground floor walls and install "check-valves" in your sewage lines to prevent backup into your drains.
If you're likely to experience an earthquake, you need to check the stability of the entire home. Have a professional check the whole property from roof to walls to the foundation and any brickwork to determine if you need any fortification. If its an older home, especially pre-1935, ensure the house itself is bolted to the foundation. Once you've stabilized the house, you need to do the same thing with your belongings. Use wall and floor fasteners to secure heavy furniture that could be dangerous if it slides around or tipped over. Also, secure large appliances and look into breakaway cords to allow smaller devices to disconnect from the wall instead of pulling on your utility lines. Make sure you have an extra secure space for your family to retreat to in case of danger.
Everyone is in danger of fire, no matter what your location or weather. Protect yourself by installing smoke alarms on every floor, specifically near all sleeping areas and near any appliance with an open flame. Regularly check the batteries on your alarms, ensure they work all the time and replacing batteries if necessary. Make sure all sleeping areas have an available exit to the outdoors, especially upstairs bedrooms. Any window that opens can have an escape ladder nearby or installed to allow for quick and safe exits.
Check Your Insurance and Save Just in Case
All homeowners' insurance is different. Triple check that your policy covers all the disasters you possible in your area. Most policies cover tornadoes and fire, but hurricanes, hail, storms, and flooding are often not covered at all. Check with your insurance carrier about your options to increase your protection. Even the best insurance has a deductible, but it usually requires additional funds to recover your property after a disaster. It is not too early to establish funds in case of a rainy day (or a flaming day, shaking a day or windy day) by putting aside money regularly. You've put so much into the home, that you don't want to lose it. Research the likely damage and replacement costs given your location, risks, and home construction. Once you have the appropriate information, you can start estimating possible expenses and set a reasonable goal amount for your fund.
Always find out your risks before purchasing or building a home when possible. Ask your real estate agent for help finding a home prepared in case the worst happens.
The idea of homeownership can seem daunting if you doubt you can save up a down payment. After all, even a modest house on a conventional mortgage requires twenty percent plus the closing costs. When saving up seems out of reach, try these creative tips to grow your nest egg:
A lofty word for a simple idea, delaying gratification means doing without for now so that to attain a specific goal. Nearly every budget has discretionary funds—what’s left over after paying rent, utilities, and other necessary bills. Once you’ve identified what’s left over, you get to decide how to spend it. When homeownership is the goal, some purchases become less necessary, and others can wait until you’ve attained your objective.
First, open a savings account specifically for your down payment. Consider setting it up in a credit union or a different bank from your regular financial institution so that the extra effort it takes to move it into your regular account mitigates the temptation to use it to pay bills.
Then, consider ditching these items for less expensive alternatives (or altogether) and putting the savings directly into your new account. Treat the savings as an expense, the same way you did the bill payment, or else the extra funds could just slip away:
- Gym membership: finding a less expensive gym or utilizing a local park for workouts could save you an extra $35-50 per month.
- Dump satellite or cable. Try to opt for less expensive online streaming alternatives or plan regular evenings with friends to share viewing your favorite shows. Depending on the plan you have, savings can really add up and more time socializing with friends is a bonus.
- Instead of expensive meals out, plan a movie or game night at home. Invite friends and share potluck or have everyone bring ingredients to cook together.
- Local libraries have current books, DVDs, audiobooks, and magazines so make a habit of stopping there to check them out instead of paying for your own. Many electronic media memberships have options for sharing with a friend or family member and qualifying for free books and audios.
- Make saving a game. See who saves the most each week—you or your spouse/partner—and allow that person one small indulgence—a latte, for example, or an evening free of the children for a spa bath.
Set a price on each of these events and pay that amount into your savings account. If you don’t isolate the savings, you’ll find it harder to keep it up.
Find alternative income
You could take a second job to add to your savings or a freelance gig. Put 100 percent of what you've paid into your savings account. Other options include monetizing a hobby (if it doesn’t cost you more money than you make) to sell online or through local outlets. Perform seasonal jobs such as raking leaves, shoveling snow or washing windows.
Put all loose change in a piggy bank (or coin jar). Determine to spend only paper money, then save all the loose change. When the jar or bank is full, take the coins to the bank or a coin-counting machine. Discipline yourself to put the cash in your savings account though so it doesn't slip through your fingers.
As you near your savings goals, reach out to your real estate professional for tips on finding the perfect home in your budget.