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SAFETY

Spring is coming, which means the weather can change at a moment’s notice, no matter where you live. Wind, rain, hail, tornadoes, and other elements can cause extensive damage to your home and property, so it’s always a good idea to be prepared for what Mother Nature throws your way. Below is a Spring checklist to proactively protect your home and property.

Spring Home Safety Checklist

  1. Assess. Take a walk around your property often to see if there is any damage—whether by Old Man Winter or from summer mayhem—and make necessary repairs. Small damage to roofs and chimneys that occurred during winter can turn into big headaches after any severe storm. Make sure gutters are clear and draining properly. Consider investing in a chimney cap—they’re great at keeping out moisture from heavy rains, which can damage stainless steel liners, or cause mold.
  2. Smoke Alarms. Test your smoke alarms every month and replace the battery at least once a year. If the alarm makes a "chirping" sound, replace the battery immediately.  Smoke alarms should be in every bedroom and in the common areas on each floor of a home. Mount them at least 10 feet from the stove to reduce false alarms, less than 12 inches from the ceiling and away from windows, doors and ducts.
  3. Carbon Monoxide Detectors.  Anything that burns fuel can potentially become a source of carbon monoxide, an invisible, odorless gas that can kill. CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each bedroom and on every level of the home. The safety tips for CO detectors mirror those of smoke alarms: change the batteries, test them and interconnect them, if possible. Also, make sure vents for your gas appliances (fireplace, dryer, stove and furnace) are free and clear of snow or debris.
  4. Secure backyard items. Your backyard oasis can turn into a danger zone in a severe storm. High winds can turn unsecured items into missiles. If you’ve received a warning that a severe storm is approaching, move these items—patio furniture, lawn chairs, propane tanks, and grills, flags and poles, bird feeders, and potted or hanging plants—inside your home, shed, or garage if possible. If you can’t bring furniture or heavy items in, try using a rope or garden hose to tie them down securely.
  5. And don’t forget this important step!

Familiarize yourself with your insurance coverage. Every homeowner should know exactly what their policy covers, or doesn’t cover, so there are no surprises in the event of storm damage. Damage to your swimming pool, for example, may not be covered.

Family Emergency Plan:

Spring is a great time to review that plan with family members. Have a home and car emergency kit. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says an emergency kit should include one gallon of water per day for each person, at least a three-day supply of food, flashlight and batteries, first aid kit, filter mask, plastic sheeting and duct tape, and medicines.

  • A communications plan to outline how your family members will contact one another and where to meet if it's safe to go outside

 

  • A shelter-in-place plan if outside air is contaminated; FEMA recommends sealing windows, doors and air vents with plastic sheeting

 

  • A getaway plan including various routes and destinations in different directions

 

  • Keep your cell phone charged before the power goes out!

 

Other safety tips to consider:

  • Keep you cell phone charge!
  • Know your community’s warning system. And be sure everyone in the family is aware of what the signal sounds like.
  • Be sure you’re receiving severe weather alerts on your cell phone. Most cell phones are automatically equipped with emergency alerts. Check with your carrier.

 

Friendly reminder that the clocks spring forward one hour early Sunday morning on March 13, 2022 at 2 am. 

How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft During Tax Season

Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen personal information, including your Social Security number, to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund.

If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must file a paper return.

Know the Signs of Identity Theft

You may not know you’re a victim of identity theft until you’re notified by the IRS of a possible issue with your return.

Be alert to possible tax-related identity theft if:

  • You get a letter from the IRS inquiring about a suspicious tax return that you did not file.
  • You can’t e-file your tax return because of a duplicate Social Security number.
  • You get a tax transcript in the mail that you did not request.
  • You get an IRS notice that an online account has been created in your name.
  • You get an IRS notice that your existing online account has been accessed or disabled when you took no action.
  • You get an IRS notice that you owe additional tax or refund offset, or that you have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.
  • IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer you didn’t work for.
  • You’ve been assigned an Employer Identification Number but you did not request an EIN.
For more information see
IRS Tips-- https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/taxpayer-guide-to-identity-theft
Experian Tips-- https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/how-to-protect-yourself-from-identity-theft/

 


CDC Tips to Stay Safe and Healthy in Winter                                 

 

Winter storms and cold temperatures can be dangerous. Stay safe and healthy by planning ahead. Prepare your home and vehicles. Prepare for power outages and outdoor activity. Check on older adults.

Although winter comes as no surprise, many of us may not be ready for its arrival. If you are prepared for the hazards of winter, you are more likely to stay safe and healthy when temperatures start to fall.

Prepare Your Home

Staying inside is no guarantee of safety. Take these steps pdf icon[PDF – 344 KB] to keep your home safe and warm during the winter months.

·         Winterize your home.

o    Install weather stripping, insulation, and storm windows.

o    Insulate water lines that run along exterior walls.

o    Clean out gutters and repair roof leaks.

·         Check your heating systems.

o    Have your heating system serviced professionally to make sure that it is clean, working properly, and ventilated to the outside.

o    Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys.

o    Have a safe alternate heating source and alternate fuels available.

·         If you do not have a working smoke detector, install one. Test batteries monthly and replace them twice a year.

·         Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning emergencies.

o    Install a CO detector to alert you of the presence of the deadly, odorless, colorless gas. Check or change the battery when you change your clocks in the fall and spring.

o    Learn the symptoms of CO poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.

Prepare Your Vehicle

Get your vehicle ready for cold weather use before winter arrives.

·         Service the radiator and maintain antifreeze level.

·         Check your tires’ tread or, if necessary, replace tires with all-weather or snow tires.

·         Keep the gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.

·         Use a wintertime formula in your windshield washer.

·         Prepare a winter emergency kit to keep in your car in case you become stranded. The kit should include:

o    Cell phone, portable charger, and extra batteries;

o    Items to stay warm, such as extra hats, coats, mittens, blankets, or sleeping bags;

o    Food and water;

o    Booster cables, flares, tire pump, and a bag of sand or cat litter (for traction);

o    Compass and maps;

o    Flashlight, battery-powered radio, and extra batteries;

o    First-aid kit; and

o    Plastic bags (for sanitation).

Prepare for Emergencies

Be prepared for weather-related emergencies, including power outages.

·         Stock food that needs no cooking or refrigeration and water stored in clean containers.

·         Ensure that your cell phone is fully charged.

·         When planning travel, be aware of current and forecast weather conditions.

·         Keep an up-to-date emergency kit pdf icon[PDF – 6.5 MB], including:

o    Battery-operated devices, such as a flashlight, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio, and lamps;

o    Extra batteries;

o    First-aid kit and extra medicine;

o    Baby items; and

o    Cat litter or sand for icy walkways.

·         Protect your family from carbon monoxide (CO).

o    Keep grills, camp stoves, and generators out of the house, basement and garage.

o    Locate generators at least 20 feet from the house.

o    Leave your home immediately if the CO detector sounds, and call 911.

Take Precautions Outdoors

Outdoor activities can expose you to several safety hazards, but you can take these steps to prepare for them:

·         Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: wear a tightly woven, preferably wind-resistant coat or jacket; inner layers of light, warm clothing; mittens; hats; scarves; and waterproof boots.

·         Sprinkle cat litter or sand on icy patches.

·         Learn safety precautions to follow when outdoors.

o    Work slowly when doing outside chores.

o    Take a buddy and an emergency kit when you are participating in outdoor recreation.

o    Carry a cell phone.

Do This When You Plan to Travel

When planning travel, be aware of current and forecast weather conditions.

·         Avoid traveling when the National Weather Service has issued advisories.

·         If you must travel, inform a friend or relative of your proposed route and expected time of arrival.

·         Follow these safety rules if you become stranded in your vehicle.

o    Make your vehicle visible to rescuers. Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna, raise the hood (if it is not snowing), and turn on the inside overhead lights (when your engine is running).

o    Move anything you need from the trunk into the passenger area. Stay with your vehicle unless safety is no more than 100 yards away.

o    Keep your body warm. Wrap your entire body, including your head, in extra clothing, blankets, or newspapers. Huddle with other people if you can.

o    Stay awake and stay moving. You will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems. As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to improve circulation and stay warmer.

o    Run the motor (and heater) for about 10 minutes per hour, opening one window slightly to let in air. Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe—this will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Be ready to check on family and neighbors who are especially at risk from cold weather hazards: young children, older adults, and the chronically ill.

If you have pets, bring them inside. If you cannot bring them inside, provide adequate, warm shelter and unfrozen water to drink.

No one can stop the onset of winter. However, if you follow these suggestions, you will be ready for it when it comes.

Be sure to visit CDC’s Winter Weather webpage for more winter weather safety tips.