Have my storm prep supplies expired?

You’ve put together your emergency supplies for your family, but (thankfully) it’s been sitting in the closet for a while. Instead of wondering whether that 5-month-old bag of dried cranberries is safe to eat or not, check out this list of storm preparation supplies that lets you know what to keep and what to toss.

Canned food
Keep it — that is, if you restocked your stash this year. Most canned foods have shelf lives of about two years after the processing date. If the expiration date is within the next year, move the food to your family’s regular pantry and eat up! If you overstocked and have enough canned food to last you for decades, consider donating the excess to a local food bank.

Bottled water
Keep it! The FDA considers unopened bottled water to have an indefinite shelf life. Although most bottled waters have expiration dates, those dates usually reflect taste and/or odor preferences. If your water has “expired” and smells or tastes odd to you, use the water to hydrate your plants (not you!).

If the expiration date is still a year away, you can keep them in your kit for next year. If not, re-purpose them! Use the batteries from your storm prep supply for any battery-operated toys or gadgets you’re gifting to the kids for the holidays, and purchase a fresh pack for your prep kit.

Extra medications
Unsure if you should toss expensive prescription meds? Here’s a quick guideline: If they’ve expired or look discolored, have a strong scent, or have turned powdery, it’s best to dispose of them and order more. To safely get rid of unused medicine, follow the directions on the label or take it to a local drug take-back center for proper disposal.

If the emergency clothes in your supply kit are still usable, leave them in for next year, or swap them out for others if you’d like to bring them back into regular rotation. If they no longer fit, donate them to a local charity. Be sure to update your children’s clothes often so your young ones aren’t wearing pants that are three sizes too small in an emergency!

Your home inventory list
If you haven’t looked at your home inventory list in a few years, take it out of your kit and get to work. Add items you’ve purchased since you last updated it, including major appliances and electronics. Snap photos of each new item for extra protection during the insurance claim filing process.

At 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.

Is it Fall Allergies or Black Mold?!

ACHOO! We know what you’re thinking: This is definitely your worst year ever for fall allergies! Or is it?? If your body’s overreaction to ragweed were actually exacerbated by another irritant in your home, would you know the difference? Ask yourself the following questions to determine: Is it just fall allergies? Or do you have black mold in your home?

Are your allergy symptoms accompanied by flu-like symptoms? Maybe it’s mold.

Everyone knows the telltale signs of an allergy-sufferer: those red eyes, sniffles and hacking coughs. But are your fall “allergies” accompanied by headaches, nose bleeds, fatigue, breathing problems, nausea, loss of appetite and/or weight loss? If so, it may be the result of black mold exposure. People with seasonal allergies may be more sensitive to mold. Long-term black mold exposure has been linked to brain damage, cancer and even death. Run, don’t walk, to book an appointment with your doctor — and just as importantly, call in a restoration professional immediately if your additional “allergy symptoms” lead you to suspect there’s black mold growing in your home.

Only having symptoms in certain rooms of your house? Probably mold.

You’re healthy as can be while in your bedroom, kitchen and living room—but as soon as you walk into your bathroom or basement, you start sneezing away. What gives? Stop blaming your dashed-off dusting job—it may be that black mold is lurking in certain rooms of your home, triggering your allergies in those rooms. Black mold needs relatively high humidity to thrive, so damp spaces like bathrooms, laundry rooms and basements are likely culprits for harboring mold growth. If you have inexplicable allergies in certain areas of your home, get on the phone with a restoration professional. They can evaluate your house and eradicate the mold safely and completely. This isn’t a job you should tackle alone!

Do your symptoms flare, even when you aren’t around your allergens? Could be mold.

You’ve been managing your allergies to ragweed, the most common fall allergen, since you were a kid. You stay inside when the pollen count is highest (10 AM-3 PM), you take prescribed antihistamines, and you keep your windows closed and use the air conditioner throughout the season. But this year, something’s different. Even though you’re following your tried-and-true allergy management plan, you’re still a watery, sneezy, allergy-laden mess! Before you retreat to your bed and hide under the covers until winter’s first snow, consider getting in touch with a restoration professional to search your home for black mold. It may be that you can’t escape from your allergens because they’re also lurking inside your house in the form of toxic mold.

At Paul Davis Restoration of Central Maine, your safety is paramount, and we want to help you protect your family from danger. If you’re suffering from more than just fall allergies—call us. We’re the experts on eradicating black mold from your home.

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.

Four questions every family should ask during Fire Prevention Week!

One of our Paul Davis restoration professionals instructs his family to say a silent prayer every time they pull over for a speeding fire truck. If everyone in North America did that, there sadly would be a lot of roadside praying – a home structure fire was reported every 85 seconds in 2010. We don’t want you to become one of those statistics. To commemorate Fire Prevention Week, we suggest you ask the following questions to spur you to prepare, ease your peace of mind, and protect your family!

1. Will my family be able to get out safely if there’s a fire in our home?

Why it’s important: In 2010, there were an estimated 369,500 home structure fires in the U.S., resulting in 2,640 deaths.

What you should know: Once your fire alarm sounds, you may have as little as two minutes to safely evacuate. Yet only 23 percent of households have (and have practiced!) a fire escape route.

Peace of mind tip: Read the National Fire Protection Association’s “Escape Planning” handout and update your family’s own fire escape routes. Make sure you have two ways out of your home in an emergency and practice evacuations!

2. How will my elderly parents or grandparents fare in an emergency?

Why it’s important: Compared to the general population, adults 65 or older—who make up 12 percent of the U.S. and Canada—are twice as likely to be injured or killed by fires.

What you should know: Falls are the leading cause of accidental death in this age group; each year, 30 percent of adults over the age of 65 are involved in at least one fall. A fall can be deadly when there are only two minutes to safely evacuate in a fire.

Peace of mind tip: Check out the NFPA’s tips on teaching at-risk community members about fire safety and escape plans. Consider hosting a fire safety open house for older adults, or printing out handouts in different languages to pass out to members of your community.

3. Are our smoke alarms functioning properly?

Why it’s important: Roughly 62 percent of home fire deaths occurred in homes with no working smoke alarms (or no smoke alarms at all).

What you should know: Working smoke alarms cut your risk of dying in a home fire almost in half. Replace your smoke detector batteries twice per year and test them monthly to keep them working properly.

Peace of mind tip: Read through the NFPA’s community tool kits on topics like “Keeping Your Community Safe with Home Fire Escape Planning” and “Keeping Your Community Safe and Warm.” They’ll help up your fire prevention knowledge immensely.

4. Do my kids understand the dangers of fire?

Why it’s important: The fire department responded to an estimated 44,900 fires that were started by someone playing with fire in 2010. In almost every case, that “someone” was a child.

What you need to know: Preschoolers and kindergarteners are the most common age group starting these fires, and the most likely to die from them.

Peace of mind tip: Read through Sparky’s Wish List, an online registry of fire safety education materials that America’s fire departments desperately need. You can purchase the requested materials and have them shipped directly to the fire department in your own community to supplement fire education programs in schools.

At Paul Davis Restoration of Central Maine, we know how frightening the possibility of a house fire is, and we want to help ease your fears and keep you safe. We thank the National Fire Protection Association for the wonderful fire safety and prevention resources they provide.

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.

Water and fire damage restoration company, Paul Davis, offers tips to consumers

Milford, ME – Paul Davis, a leading provider of fire, water and mold damage restoration services for residential and commercial properties is participating in this year’s National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Fire Prevention Week, October 7-13. This year’s theme is, Have 2 Ways Out and for children, Be Rabbit Ready.

According to NFPA, when fire strikes, a home could be engulfed in smoke and flames in just a few minutes. Have a home fire escape plan that prepares families to think fast and get out quickly when the smoke alarm sounds. If escape routes are blocked, two ways out should be a key part of an evacuation plan. Focus on the importance of fire escape planning and practice. Most importantly, have two ways out of every room through windows and doors. A fire escape or ladder from window exits is imperative.

In 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to more than 1.3 million fires. These fires resulted in more than 3,000 civilian fire fatalities, and 17,500 civilian fire injuries along with an estimated $11 billion in direct property loss. Home fires caused 84 percent of civilian fire deaths. Visit www.fpw.org.

Keith Trembley, Paul Davis office owner, suggests additional tips to help keep homeowners and their families safe:

• Smoke alarms should be installed; never remove or disable smoke alarms.
• Test smoke alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button.
• Don’t leave cooking items or clothing irons unattended.
• Don’t let children play with fire.
• Handle gasoline or propane-powered equipment cautiously.
• Install carbon monoxide detectors.
• Have a family plan in place and conduct a home “Fire Drill” at least twice a year.
• Have a portable ladder in each second floor room.
• Check fire extinguishers for expiration and replace as needed.
• Have an updated, emergency first aid kit.

During the awareness campaign, Paul Davis offices across the U.S. in concert with fire industry professionals will help to spread the word in their communities about the importance of fire safety. Visit the local office website at www.keithtrembley.com.

About Paul Davis:
Paul Davis Restoration, Inc., a subsidiary of FirstService Corporation (NASDAQ: FSRV; TSX: FSV), is a national franchisor and leading provider of restoration services for residential and commercial properties since 1966. Paul Davis Restoration also provides complete remodeling services and has franchise locations throughout North America with owners and technicians who are certified by The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). Visit the website at www.pdrestoration.com.