The at-home Olympian: Home safety tips for sporty families

Families across the nation are camped out in front of the tube this week watching the Olympics. You know what that means. The infectious fanfare and inspiration will be sending tomorrow’s stars (your kids!) doing handsprings across the lawn and begging you for a volleyball net. While the Olympics only last for a couple weeks, we at Paul Davis Restoration of Central Maine have plenty of ideas on how to keep your sporty family safe and fit around your home throughout the year. Here’s a list of tips and home fixes to ensure that kicking a goal in your front yard is a big win and not a big medical bill!

AERIAL GYMNAST
Do you have dreams of being an Olympic gymnast and doing all sorts of fancy moves on the rings? Well, whether you can do one pull-up or 50, an in-home pull-up bar is a great way to increase strength and stamina. When choosing a bar, make sure it can support at least double your weight. Choose a place in your home with a sturdy wall on which to install it—think a concrete garage or on a wall stud or ceiling joist. Before installing the bar, drill pilot holes to avoid cracking the wall or injuring yourself. Finally, make sure you tighten it with properly-sized bolts to keep it (and you) up in the air!

TRACK & FIELD
Are you a Lolo Jones in training? If so, you may be interested in getting a treadmill for your basement or office to help keep you on track even when the weather sours. First, always wear running shoes on the machine—never go barefoot or wear sandals! Let Fido and Spot sniff around the new machinery before you start your run so they don’t end up exploring while it’s in motion causing injury to you or themselves.

Also remember that while walking or running on the treadmill, resist the urge to look down at your feet; this could lead you to lose your sense of the belt’s proportion and stumble or fall. Instead, look at the wall or the display in front of you. Finally, never compromise your safety by getting off the machine while it’s still running. If you need to stop your workout momentarily, press the “pause” or “emergency stop” button and wait for the treadmill to slow before disembarking.

TRAINING ACE
You’re so into pumping iron, you could give Olympic weightlifters a run for their money! Your home gym is stocked with weights and all the latest fitness tools and gadgets—here’s how to make sure it remains a safe place for you to work out. Keep your home gym clean and tidy; doing so eliminates careless accidents, such as tripping over a misplaced dumbbell.

Make sure you have plenty of room to perform the exercises you’re interested in—it’s no good having a home gym if you don’t have the space to even stretch! Finally, impress upon your curious kids that this area is off limits without adult supervision. The large, heavy pieces with lots of moving parts can be a real danger for young ones.

ALL AROUND GYMNAST
Does your budding Gabby Douglas spend hours on a backyard jungle gym? Every other week, do a quick inspection of the set. Check the nuts and bolts, and tighten if necessary. Make sure the protective caps that cover hardware are still in place, and order replacements if they’ve disappeared.

Every month, do a more complete inspection: Is everything in good working order? Do the swings, ropes, bars and slide feel secure, with no visible cracks or damages? Finally, make sure to clean, sand and repaint any rusted parts as necessary. These quick fixes will keep your little gymnast safe while they work on sticking the landing!

FOOTBALL (WHAT THE U.S. CALLS SOCCER)
Nothing puts a damper on a pick-up game of soccer quite like a sprained ankle from a stumble. Often, the cause is a divot or hole caused by animals or weather erosion. If the hole is in a grassy or wooded area of your yard, fill the bottom with gravel—this will discourage any animals from returning. Then, fill the rest of the hole with about three inches of topsoil and tamp it down into a mound.

Is your soccer field your driveway? Potholes pose a serious danger for your teammates! If you notice a pothole has formed, move your game to a local park and call in the professionals to fill the pothole before someone takes a nasty tumble.

SWIMMING
If your family has a pool in the backyard, it’s likely you spend many summertime hours imitating Michael Phelps and perfecting your stroke. But swimming pools can be a great danger for you and your children if used improperly. First, make sure your pool has a fence and automatic cover, and teach your children to swim at an early age to help prevent accidents. Enforce safety rules (such as “no running in the pool area”), and never let a child swim unsupervised. Keep your safety equipment within easy reach or access of the pool, and no matter how skilled a swimmer you may be, adults should never swim alone or while intoxicated.

Paul Davis Restoration of Central Maine serves the following communities: Bangor Brewer, Old Town, Ellsworth, MDI, Houlton, Waterville, Augusta, and surrounding towns in Central & Down East Maine.

10 most common questions people have after a weather event

Picture this: A big storm hits your city. The question on everyone’s mind is: Now what? You’re not sure where to begin with the cleanup—or if it’s even safe to return to your home at all. At Paul Davis Restoration of Central Maine, we know how stressful a weather event can be. To help relieve some of your anxiety we’ve put together a list of answers to the 10 most common questions people have after a weather event. Store this list in a safe place, and the next time a storm hits you’ll be better prepared to deal with the aftermath.

How do I know if my water is safe to drink?
Immediately after a big storm that has caused citywide damage (such as a hurricane), you should not use tap water for brushing your teeth, preparing meals, washing fruits and vegetables, ice or as drinking water (for you and your pets). Your city may issue a boil order, meaning all water should be boiled for at least one minute before consumption. Your local media outlets will provide you with information on the state of the city’s water, including when it’s finally safe to drink it again!

If you have a well that was flooded, don’t drink the water or use it for bathing until you have checked with your local health department about disinfecting it.

How do I contact a loved one who’s in a storm-struck area?
When you’re watching a storm unfold on television from hundreds of miles away, it can be heart wrenching to think of your loved ones who are riding out the storm. Naturally, you will want to get in touch with them to make sure they’re safe. The first step is a phone call directly to your loved ones. Be aware, however, that electricity—including landlines—may be knocked out, and that the cell networks may be overwhelmed. It may be difficult to reach them directly. The good news is that cell phone providers are working on strengthening their networks in storm-prone regions for emergency situations, so this may not be as problematic as it has been in the past.

In the event of a major disaster, the National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System will be activated to help you find individuals and families displaced by the storm. The Red Cross also maintains a searchable Safe and Well list that you can check to see if your loved ones have registered themselves.

How do I begin drying out my home after it’s been flooded?
If you happen to return home after a storm and find that it’s been flooded, it’s natural to want to eliminate the intruding water as quickly as possible. If you pump all the water out of your basement or first floor at once, though, the pressure from the water-heavy soil outside could cause the entire structure to collapse! In the event that your home is severely flooded and you’re feeling overwhelmed, call a professional to help you survey the damage and restore your home to its former state.

How do I find a missing pet?
If poor Fido or Spot managed to get loose during the storm, first take a look around your neighborhood for any signs of your beloved pets. If you still can’t find them, call your local animal control office—they should have information on where lost pets are being housed, and you can make a trip to see if your pets are boarding there.

When is it safe to return to my home after a weather event?
Although it’s tempting to head to the comforts of home immediately after a traumatic storm like a hurricane, do not return to your home until officials determine that it’s safe to do so. Their evaluation will take water and sewage levels, electricity, natural gas levels and accessibility into account. The Environmental Protection Agency will likely be in contact with these officials and will announce when it is safe for residents to return to their homes.

How can I rid my home of smoke after a wildfire?
Cleaning your home after a wildfire depends on the amount of smoke exposure your home had. If the wildfires weren’t in your immediate region and the smoke smell is faint, you can use an air purifier to clean and remove pollutants from the air. If, however, your home was significantly affected by the fires, you need to call in a professional to restore your home and help protect the health of your loved ones from the effects of smoke damage.

What should I do if I smell gas or suspect a leak after a storm?
If you smell natural gas (which smells like rotten eggs), hear a hissing sound or see a broken gas line in your home after a storm, ventilate by opening a window or door and evacuate immediately. Do not turn on the lights, light a match or use the telephone in your home. Call the gas company immediately from a neighbor’s house or a local business; if you cannot get in touch with the gas company, call 911. Finally, don’t return to your home until you’ve been told that it’s safe to do so.

How should I evaluate my home after a weather event?
After a big weather event has passed and it’s safe to return home, you’ll have to evaluate your house for damage. Make sure you wear sturdy shoes and protective clothing, and bring a flashlight (not candles!) in case your electricity is out. You also should bring a camera and take photographs of every room to document the damage for insurance. Be cautious when entering your home, and be on the lookout for any frayed wiring that you’ll need to report to your electrical company. Watch out for broken glass and nails, and report any larger issues—downed power lines, gas leaks, or structural hazards—to the proper authorities immediately.

How do I help my children cope with what’s happened?
A natural disaster is frightening for everyone, but it’s especially traumatic for children who may not fully comprehend what has happened and why. After a storm, explain to your kids that storms are natural events. It may help to read a book with them that’s specifically geared toward the type of storm you’ve experienced. Listen to their fears and offer reassurance that the situation isn’t permanent. Finally, include your child in small clean-up activities—it can be comforting for kids to have something to do after the storm, and can help them feel like everything is returning to normal.

How do I cope after a disaster?
After surviving a terrifying natural disaster, it’s normal for you to feel dazed or numb. You may find you have trouble sleeping or experience frightening dreams, a loss of appetite, and you may even develop a shorter temper than usual. These are all natural reactions to stress.

To cope, try sticking to your regular schedule as much as possible. Do what’s best for your body—eat right, get enough sleep and exercise frequently. Talk through your feelings with a family member or friend, and limit your exposure to news stories revisiting the event. Finally, if the stress is too much for you to handle alone, seek help from a professional immediately. It will take time for you to heal from the weather event, and you don’t have to do it alone!

Paul Davis Restoration of Central Maine serves the following communities: Bangor Brewer, Old Town, Ellsworth, MDI, Houlton, Waterville, Augusta, and surrounding towns in Central & Down East Maine.