5 Tips for Fire Safety in Your Home The importance of fire safety cannot be underscored. At a recent press conference hailing his heroics in saving a neighbor from her burning home, Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker was pictured holding a DVD set called “Fire Is…”. These now famous DVDs were conceived by Dr. Frank Field, a retired reporter and meteorologist, to help combat fire ignorance. He designed the video series for children age 5-7 in the hopes of preventing more needless tragedies. You can see a compilation of the videos here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMs6RgsGBnE At Paul Davis Restoration of Maine & Central Maine, there’s nothing more important to us than your family’s safety. We’ve put together a list of fire safety tips drawn from Dr. Field’s videos that you can use in your home right now. Although simple, these tips may surprise you and are certainly extremely important—they could mean the difference between a tragedy and a close call. Check your smoke alarms…and keep checking them! Time is of the essence in a fire, and the quickest (and noisiest) indicator there’s a fire in your home is your smoke detector. Your smoke alarm just might save your life, so it’s important you change the batteries regularly. Experts recommend replacing all your smoke alarms’ batteries twice a year. An easy way to remember is to swap out the batteries when you change your clocks forward and backward every March and November. And do a monthly test of your alarms to make sure they’re working properly—it takes under five minutes and will help keep your family and home safe! Keep potential dangers out of reach As the video notes, fire is fascinating to young children. But when a child gets his or her hands on a match, tragedy can strike in the blink of an eye. If you have children, store all of your matches and lighters up high, out of the reach of curious eyes. Even better? Consider purchasing a lockbox and placing all potential fire starters in it. Lock it up and place it on a high shelf—and then have a chat with your children about the dangers of playing with fire! Test your escape routes When smoke detectors sound, you and your family need to be prepared to escape as quickly as possible. Test escape routes from every room in your home. Do your windows and doors open easily? Are they big enough for everyone to fit through? Do you have fire escape ladders if you need to exit from the second or third floor? Map out a potential escape route for every room and make sure your entire family knows how to safely exit and where to go in case of an emergency. Be prepared A house fire isn’t like the fires we see in movies—as the video explains, real house fires are dark and smoky, not bright. Keep a flashlight and small bell in every bedroom in your home. If there’s a fire, you’ll be able to use the flashlights to see when escaping. Teach young children not to hide from the fire, but to escape with the help of the flashlight. The bells will help your family find one another if the smoke makes it difficult to speak or if anyone is injured; it also can help firefighters locate a trapped member of your family. Be smart Many house fires are preventable, so make sure you’re making smart decisions to protect your family! If you’re using a space heater, keep it at least three feet away from anything flammable, and never leave it on overnight or when you’re out of the house. If you or someone in your home is a smoker, take extreme precautions; never smoke in bed and always make sure every cigarette is fully extinguished before throwing it away. Also, the chef in your family shouldn’t wear shirts with baggy or billowing sleeves, and he or she should never pour water on a grease fire—always smother the fire with a pan lid, then turn off the burner. Finally, be wary of any appliance that starts smoking or smells odd. Stop using it, unplug it immediately and take it to be repaired or replaced as soon as possible. These small precautions could mean the difference between life and death! Paul Davis Restoration of Maine & Central Maine, Servicing: Bangor, Old Town, Lewiston, Portland and the surrounding areas.
Tips for home improvement month: 5 contractor nightmares and how to avoid them
Hiring a contractor to work on your home can be a nerve-wracking experience—how do you know you won’t be cheated? If the contractor comes cheap, will they do a good job, or will your home end up looking worse than before (and be unsafe to boot)? At Paul Davis Restoration/Emergency Services of (location), we understand the many stresses that a homeowner can experience when opening your doors to a service professional. In honor of home improvement month, we’ve put together a list of contractor nightmares and tips on how to avoid them.
1. They ask for a lot of money—upfront
Of course, any good contractor will want to be paid some money upfront. But if your soon-to-be contractor demands the full cost of the job before any work has begun, it’s a serious red flag. Sadly, many unsuspecting clients will pay the money, only to never hear from the contractor again. The best way not to be cheated? Before signing your contract, make sure they’re asking for a reasonable amount and never pay with cash—if they demand cash, they could be operating “under the table” and likely will refuse to provide you with any paperwork or written guarantee to do the job. If they won’t bend on the upfront cost, find a new contractor and consider yourself lucky for dodging a bullet!
2. Quality isn’t their concern
Is cracked drywall or a leaky roof standard work for your contractor? You could end up hiring a subpar or sloppy contractor if you only speak to them by phone and never check their references or see any of their finished work. Before signing a contract, call the listed references and ask them not only about the work’s quality, but about the contractor’s customer care and problem solving throughout the project. If possible, visit some of the homes they have completed and inspect them. Is the work up to your standards? Finally, do a background check on the contractor—have they ever been sued? How’s their credit history? Are they fully licensed by your state? Doing this legwork before signing on the dotted line will help ensure that you don’t make a costly mistake!
3. They’re unscrupulous with the contract
Picture this: You approach the contractor about when your building permit will be ready. Their response? “That’s not in the contract, but I’ll do it for an additional $1000.” Any scrupulous contractor should handle all building permits—it’s a key part of the job and you shouldn’t have to pay more money to get it taken care of! The lesson? Read your contract carefully, and then read it again. Make sure you know what is and is not the contractor’s responsibility. If you need help, consider hiring a construction attorney who can look over the contract with you and make sure it’s sound—and that you’re protected. Finally, never assume any oral agreement holds; always get everything in writing!
4. They drag the project on…and on…and on…
Was your project supposed to be finished in “two weeks?” If “two weeks” has turned into “in the future” with no explanation, your contractor is unnecessarily dragging out the project—probably in an effort to charge you more. The best way to avoid this money pit? Get the daily start and stop times for work on your project written in your contract (for example, the workers will be there Monday through Friday, 7 am to 3 pm). This will ensure that the contractor has his crew at your house working to complete the project on time. You also can consult with an attorney about adding penalty clauses to the contract in case the start and stop times aren’t observed in the future.
5. Contractor? What contractor?
Perhaps every home remodeler’s nightmare is waking up to find your contractor has disappeared. If your contractor is dodging your calls and has stopped showing up to work, or if things seem strange around the work site—vendors claiming not to have been paid or installations only half-complete, for example—there’s a chance your contractor might have abandoned the job. Preventing a project meltdown requires due diligence on your part: Be sure to check your contractor’s references and previous projects before hiring them, and read the contract carefully before signing. During the project, make sure to touch base with your contractor frequently and check in on your home’s progress regularly. If something seems wrong or strange to you, voice your concerns. Finally, consult an attorney if necessary and file claims with the state licensing board—taking action might be the only way to see your project finished, whether by your contractor or a more scrupulous one!
Paul Davis Restoration of Maine & Central Maine, Servicing: Bangor, Old Town, Lewiston, Portland and the surrounding areas.