Your home – and everything you choose to place in it – says a lot about your family. And whether or not you realize it, your home’s personality says a lot about you! At Paul Davis Restoration of Central Maine we see examples of this everyday as we go from home to home to help families recover from weather events and natural disasters. We see how much energy, time and money many families spend to keep their homes in good condition, and we also see how lack of preparation can lead to even a worse outcome after a disaster! We’d never name names, of course, but we did pull together a list of 10 types homes and their owners. Find your match and then tell us: Do you agree?
The Master of Disaster
Your garage is stocked to the rafters in anticipation of Armageddon (maybe a bit too much—when was the last time the family car fit inside?!). But being reasonably prepared for an emergency, particularly if you live in regions prone to natural disasters, is a smart way to protect you and your family.
With that in mind, here’s a look at some statistics about your chances of being caught in a weather events:
• Hurricanes. According to the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, if you live in Miami, FL, you have a 48% chance per season of experiencing a hurricane. That’s tied with Cape Hattaras, NC, as the highest average in the nation. San Juan, Puerto Rico residents have a 42% chance and New Orleans residents have a 40% chance per season!
• Tornados. According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, on average 1000 tornados hit the U.S. each year!
• Earthquakes. Alaska and California experience the most earthquakes per year. SoCal has an estimated 10,000 earthquakes, but of those, only several hundred have a magnitude of greater than 3.0 and only 15-20 are greater than a 4.0, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That said, earthquakes happen everywhere in the world—so a little preparation to keep your home safe is good common sense.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Your family is rough-and-tumble and er, your home is showing it. It looks like a shootout might’ve occurred in your living room! Sometimes cosmetic fixes can wait until the kids and the puppy have matured. But here are some important structural things you should take care of today.
• Mold grows quickly. Did you know it only takes 48 hours for mold to start growing after water damage and/or exposure? So if you have a leak in your bathroom, dry it immediately to prevent mold growth. And if you already have a mold problem, call in a professional immediately to get it taken care of!
• Ladders are dangerous. Each year, Americans make more than 164,000 emergency room visits related to ladder falls, and most ladder deaths result from falls of 10 feet or less. If your roof needs patching or resurfacing, be safe and call a trained professional to make the fixes for you.
• Wires cause fires. More than half a million Americans seek treatment for burns each year, and more than half of these injuries happen at home. One major cause? Electrical fires. If you notice a frayed cord or smell smoke when you plug an appliance in, stop using it immediately until you have it evaluated by a professional. If your light switches feel hot to the touch, this is a sign your wiring may be faulty and it’s time to call in someone to evaluate your electrical system.
The Hostess with the Mostest
You know how to throw a great party—your food is delicious, décor classy and playlist perfect! Everyone clamors for an invitation; often, your home is filled to the brim with your friends. While you may have prepared for the arrival of adults, take a few moments to make sure your home is ready for kids, too! These are the three biggest no-nos for hosting whole-family parties:
1. Adult food only. Sure, some of your friends’ kids may have sophisticated palates, but we can’t imagine many children who’d be happy eating foie gras and caviar for dinner! Make sure you provide plenty of kid-friendly options along with your adult fare.
2. Not enough entertainment. Since you and your friends are happy to gab until the sun sets, it’s easy to forget that kids bore easily and need activities (or at least, a good climbing tree!). Set out coloring books, puzzles and toys for kids to play with.
3. Inviting too many guests. In a sea of unfamiliar faces, many children become shy or downright scared. Don’t invite so many guests that the children might feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed.
The Gadget Genius
What can you say, you love technology! Your home office looks like an extension of the electronics store and you’re always on the hunt for the next greatest gizmo. But if you find yourself running to the basement far too often to reset the circuit breakers, your gadgetry may have gone too far! You may be a tech whiz, but how much do you know about home electronics safety? Check out these common myths and misconceptions:
• Plugging your gadgets into a power strip doesn’t have a safety benefit. False! A power strip, also known as a surge protector, will protect your sensitive tech toys from over-voltages of power, which could result in a fried laptop or smartphone.
• Turning off your toys is the final step for safety. False! After you’ve finished using and turn off your gadget, there’s still one final step: Unplug it! Not only are you saving on energy costs, you’re also eliminating potential fire hazards and protecting your toys from electrical surges.
Your house resembles a farm, and you love each and every animal dearly. That’s why it’s so heartbreaking for you when your pets are frightened from a storm! But there are some ways you can be prepared to help your furry friends feel calmer:
• Dogs. According to the Humane Society, dogs will try to reduce their fear through destruction and escape. Barking, chewing, howling and digging are all ways your dog demonstrates his fear. The Humane Society suggests creating a safe place for your dog to retreat to during a storm, and distracting him or her with an activity or toy right when he or she is beginning to get anxious. Never punish your dog for being afraid, or force her to experience or listen to the noise that frightens her—this could increase her aggressiveness or destructiveness.
• Cats. Cats tend to display fewer outward signs of fear during storms than dogs, but this doesn’t mean they’re comfortable or fearless! Cats tend to hide during storms, and experts agree the best method of handling a frightened cat is to provide a safe haven. If you can bring your cat into a contained room (like a basement), this will help reduce their anxiety.
Anyone can see from your kitchen that you’re a master cook—you’ve got the mess from constant activity (and something delicious simmering on the stove at this very minute) to prove it! But even top chefs need some safety reminders every now and then. Take a peek at these three tips:
1. Use a glass, not wood or plastic, cutting board for meat and veggies. The surfaces of wood and plastic cutting boards can be nicked, allowing bacteria to hide and potentially make you ill.
2. You may be busy cooking up a storm, but leaving your dirty knife out anywhere in the kitchen—even the sink!—is dangerous. Instead, take a minute and wash, dry and put away your knife immediately after you’re finished using it to prevent accidents.
3. Taking your cooking to your outdoor kitchen? Keep a plastic spray bottle of water next to the grill to manage any flare-ups.
You believe everything has its place, and your home is a perfect reflection of that mantra—it’s spotless! But all that cleaning may have potential hazards for your health. If you store or use your chemicals and pesticides incorrectly, you could inhale or absorb them through your skin with potentially fatal consequences. Plus, who wants to breathe in hundreds of unpronounceable chemicals every time they clean the bathtub?!
The next time you’re scanning the detergent aisle, look for product with “green” labels. You’ll find brands covering a variety of cleaning needs from detergents and soaps to traditional bathroom and kitchen cleaners, all of which are nontoxic and natural. Many companies with traditionally “harsh” chemicals in their products are jumping on the green bandwagon. Now you can feel good about getting your scrub on!
Some Like It Cool
Your home’s chilly 60-degree temperature is a year-round indicator that you hate being overheated. But in the stifling summer months, running your air conditioner constantly can make a serious dent in your wallet! In fact, the average homeowner spends roughly $375 (or 17% of their total energy costs) per year cooling their home! How does your energy bill compare?
From the Pacific Ocean to your bathtub (with some toy sailboats afloat in it), you love being in the water. But traveling to the Florida or California coast (and stops at big-name parks your kids are desperate to visit!) for a summer getaway costs some serious cash. A 2010 American Express survey found that the average family of four spends $4000 on summer vacations, including airfare. Ouch!
Instead, plan a staycation: Purchase a guidebook or surf the net for fun facts about your city. Visit all the historical monuments and attractions (think zoos, aquariums and national/state parks) — they often offer discounts to locals. Time your vacation around a local event your family would enjoy, whether it’s strawberry picking when the weather warms up or your city’s annual food fest. Splurge on things you normally skimp on when you travel – a short stay at an upscale hotel (yes, in your own city!) or a Kobe steak dinner at a five-star restaurant. Make sure to treat your staycation like a real vacation—that means no checking your work email or tackling the leaves in the gutters!
The Chronic DIY-er
The welcome mat made out of corks? You made that. The farmhouse table in your kitchen? You made that too. You are a DIY master, and your home is filled with beautiful projects you created using love and a whole lotta elbow grease. Check out these potential projects:
• Hardwood floors. You’ve gotta love the appeal of sleek hardwood floors, especially on the first floor of a home. If you already have hardwood floors, consider re-sanding or replacing them for maximum visual appeal!
• A finished basement. Who wouldn’t want to add extra space to their house? A comfortable basement not only adds square footage to your home, but it’s the perfect opportunity for you to invest in some “fun” spaces like a media room.
• An upgraded kitchen. Perhaps the most popular focal point for American upgrades is the kitchen. After all, you and your family spend hours preparing and eating delicious meals there, so why not make it an efficient, attractive space? Consider granite countertops, new appliances and an island to boost your kitchen’s value.
Paul Davis Restoration of Central Maine services the following communities: Bangor Brewer, Old Town, Ellsworth, MDI, Houlton, Waterville, Augusta, and surrounding towns in Central & Down East Maine.