Being a home owner during a storm can be a little frightening. Not only do you worry about the safety of your loved ones, but also about the safety and security of your home. As many of my past and present clients in the DC Metropolitan Area found out this week, storm damage can bring up a variety of issues that you may not have thought about when you were buying your home.
Power Outage Reporting – It is great that websites have online forms for reporting outages and list the phone numbers for reporting there as well, but these sites are often not accessible when there is no power. After learning this during a past storm, my family made a card with the phone number on it and posted it where we could easily find it – right next to our flashlights. The Report an Outage number for PEPCO is 1-877-737-2662.
Home Owners Insurance is something that many new home owners buy as a commodity service selecting a policy by shopping for the best price. Take a look at your policy and see what it covers and what it doesn’t.
If a neighbor’s tree falls in your yard, who is responsible for the clean-up, expenses, damage, etc.? The answer is usually whatever is in your yard is your responsibility and should be addressed by you and your home owners insurance provider.* A good reason to check your home owners insurance policy.
Storm Season? Depending on the season in which a storm occurs, there are different issues that you may face. Winter storms where you lose heat and need to bundle up are a little different than summer storms where you lose your air conditioning. Summer heat is particularly hard on the more vulnerable members of your family or neighborhood. Be sure to check on older neighbors who live alone.
Don’t forget about your pets! Pets can also suffer during a loss of air conditioning. Make sure you provide lots of fresh water to cats, dogs, hamsters and other furry animals that may get very hot in a home without power. Aquariums are vulnerable to a loss of power as well. Visit the following sites that help pet owners get prepared ahead of a storm or power outage.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has this resource: ASPCA Page on Disaster Preparedness,
Your Dog Advisor, a site written by veterinarians, dog groomers, specialists and dog owners with many years of personal and professional experience caring for dogs, offers: Preparing your pet for a natural Disaster.
And, if you find a lost cat, contact King Street Cats, a no-kill cat orphanage in Alexandria, Virginia that will come to the rescue.
Loss of power means loss of refrigeration. According to Alert Montgomery, Food in the refrigerator is safe if the power has been off for no more than four hours. After that, discard perishables such as meat, poultry, soft cheese, eggs and leftovers. A full freezer can keep food frozen for 48 hours after a loss of power. A half-full freezer can keep food frozen for 24 hours Check out the USDA’s Guide called Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency for more details and a chart.
A Dark House. When you have no power it may also mean that security systems and security lights are not in service. Be sure to keep your eyes open for anything out of the ordinary in your neighborhood or building. Be extra vigilant about watching out for your neighbors. Especially if it is a summer storm and some of your neighbors are out of town on vacation.
Calm After the Storm. After the storm is over and you are cleaning up the mess it left behind, remember that Hollish Hill Group keeps a list of local vendors who can help you. Whether you need a tree removal service, roofer, painter or other service provider, let us know and we will provide you with the names of people who have been utilized and recommended by our clients. Call us at 240-630-4649 and let us know the type of service provider you are seeking.
* I am not a lawyer, so please feel free to consult an attorney about your specific situation.
** This post was originally posted in 2012, but has been updated with new resources.
If you, or someone you know is thinking about buying or selling a home in the DC Metropolitan Area, give me a call to Get Started.