Flood Prevention Tips:
In most cases, you can prevent residential floods from happening by taking a few simple, yet effective steps:
- Be on the look-out for leaks and fix them as soon as possible. Cracks in your foundation can weaken the structure of your home and is not only a good place for mold to flourish, but creates even more opportunity for damage in the event of a flood. Waterproof cracks in your foundation walls or sidewalks with silicon. As silicon breaks down, this needs to be redone every three to five years. Hydraulic cement is another sealant option that expands as it sets and easily fills around pipes.
- Check your plumbing fixtures. A qualified plumber should inspect all plumbing fixtures and flood-proofing devices regularly to make sure they are in good conditions
- Keep your drainage system and gutters clear of debris. Eaves troughs should be cleaned regularly and checked for leaks, poor connections or sagging. They should be inclined so water is quickly sent to downspouts.
- Make sure drainage is properly directed away from your home. Downspouts should exit at a splash pad or be connected to extensions. Extensions should end at least 1.8 meters (six feet) away from the house and directed to a street or back lane and not a neighbor’s yard. In older neighborhoods with a sanitary and a storm sewer system, some roof downspouts are connected directly to the underground storm sewer pipe. This is acceptable.
In neighborhoods built before the mid-1960s, downspouts were connected to a combined sewer system. In areas where a separate storm sewer system was added later, homeowners should disconnect the downspouts and direct water onto the surface.
- Landscaping not only prevents soil erosion, but lot grading keeps water away from foundation walls and basement windows and reduces the amount of water that seeps into underground weeping tile.Plants and vegetation create room in the soil for water to gather below ground. Without plants the soil becomes compacted and the water is less likely to absorb into the ground and cause flooding.
- The soil, lawn or other hard surface should slope downward at a continuous angle for a minimum of five feet. The height at the wall should be at least 4-6 inches higher than the ground five feet away. Grade should be checked regularly as ground settles over time. If necessary, use window wells around basement windows to adjust the grading there.
- If your basement is prone to gathering water, invest in a battery powered sump pump. There are electric sump pumps on the market, but they are of little use in the case of a power outage.
- Wet basement or soggy lawn? French drains are slightly sloped trenches that move water away from your home and are good for homes on flat land.
- To prevent sewer backup install line check valves. Line check valves only allow waste to go in one direction.
Fire Prevention Tips
In most cases, you can prevent residential fires from happening by taking a few simple, yet effective steps:
- Make sure your home has at least one functional smoke alarm and test it regularly. Use long-life smoke alarms with lithium-powered batteries and hush buttons, which allow persons to stop false alarms quickly. If long-life alarms are not available, use regular alarms, and replace the batteries annually.
- Be careful to not overload outlets and extension cords. Unplug anything that sparks, or emits an odor immediately and have it professionally repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
- If you have a fire place make sure it is cleaned regularly and properly screened.
- Keep fire extinguishers in key areas like the kitchen, workshop, garage and bedrooms. Some extinguishers need to be recharged. Check regularly that your extinguisher is in working order.
- Never smoke in bed or leave burning cigarettes unattended.
- Practice safe kitchen practice. Avoid wearing long sleeves and keep handles of pots and pans turned inward on the range so they can’t be knocked over on accident and don’t leave pans unattended on a hot burner.
- Keep baking soda handy in case of kitchen fire
- Do not empty smoldering ashes in a trash can, and keep ashtrays away from upholstered furniture and curtains.
- Never place portable space heaters near flammable materials (such as, drapery).
- Keep all matches and lighters out of reach of children. Store them up high, preferably in a locked cabinet.
- Keep cleaning supplies in well ventilated areas away from any heat sources.
- Devise a family fire escape plan and practice it every 6 months. In the plan, describe at least two different ways each family member can escape every room, and designate a safe place in front of the home for family members to meet after escaping a fire.
- If possible, install or retrofit fire sprinklers into home.
- Sources: Adapted from recommendations of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the U.S. Fire Administration, the National Fire Protection Agency, and CDC.
Mold Prevention Tips:
The black spots on your walls are more than just unsightly. Because any type of mold growth in elevated levels indoors can harm the occupants’ health, prevention can significantly improve the well- being of residents. Here are the top 12 tips to prevent indoor mold:
Keep year-round indoor humidity to less than 60 percent. Adequate ventilation, air-conditioning and dehumidifiers can help. Indoor mold grows very well when the indoor humidity is above 70 percent. Minimize the use of live indoor plants, which facilitate mold growth and increase humidity due to frequent watering. High humidity in southern and eastern Hong Kong, leaks, internal air-conditioner moisture and dirt accumulation and ground water wicking up through concrete floors are the major causes of growth.
- Don’t make humidity levels worse. Never use a humidifier to increase humidity, hang wet clothes to dry indoors or shower without turning on the exhaust fan or opening a bathroom window.
- Use a digital hygrometer. This can check humidity levels in all rooms and areas of your house or flat. Record the humidity percentage and the measurement dates for each room in a journal.
- Clean air-conditioners, air purifiers and dehumidifiers at least every three months. This gets rid of accumulated dust and dirt. Air-conditioners enable mold to grow through the internal condensation of water and blow airborne spores into the living area.
- Install high-efficiency particulate air filters. Important areas are inside the heating/cooling air supply duct registers, return air register and the fresh air supply. Use portable HEPA filter air cleaners to remove airborne mold spores.
- Clean well. Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner to clean carpeting and rugs and mop tile floors daily. Use borax laundry detergent or boric acid powder in warm water to wash down all walls, floors surfaces, and furniture and appliances at least monthly for the same reason.
- Test for mold. Use test kits, which you can buy online to check the outward air flow from window air-conditioners, heating, ventilation, and air- conditioning duct registers and the air of each room at least annually.
- Use your nose. If you smell mold, there is mold growing, whether visible or hidden.
- Use your eyes. Inspect the roof, attic, exterior siding, ceilings, walls, floors, rugs, wood furniture, and behind and beneath furniture on a regular basis. Mold discolors wood and other materials. It can be many colors including black, white, blue, green, white, yellow and pink.
- Look for leaks. Inspect bathroom, kitchen and laundry room plumbing areas (such as inside and beneath sinks and sink cabinets) regularly for water leaks, water damage and mold growth.
- Inspect dark nonliving areas. Danger zones include the attic, crawl space under a building, basement, garage and exterior siding regularly for leaks, stains, water damage and mold growth. Such areas often have high humidity and water intrusion problems that drive growth. Mold can then grow into the adjoining floors, ceilings and walls.
- Monitor residents’ health. Are family members or pets suffering from health problems that may be mold- related? These problems include chronic coughs or sneezing, sinus problems, chronic tiredness, headaches, difficulty in remembering and thinking, skin rashes, open skin sores, abnormal hair loss, chronic dandruff or breathing disorders?