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What to Do If Your Home is Damaged in a Natural Disaster

Experiencing home damage from a natural disaster, no matter how big or small, can cause immense emotional and financial strain on homeowners. This type of damage often happens suddenly and if a plan of action hasn’t been put into place, homeowners are at risk of making crucial missteps in getting the repairs they need. Every homeowner should prioritize a plan in case of storm damage. Here are immediate actions you should take after a natural disaster strikes your home.

What to Do If Your Home Is Damaged in a Disaster
Contact Your Insurance Agent

The very first thing you should do is соntасt your insurance agent or company. This should be done as soon as possible after your home has been damaged. Whenever you communicate in any way with a representative from your іnѕurаnсе соmраnу, keep a log of when you spoke, what you spoke about, and the outcomes from those conversations. Is someone going to come inspect the damage? Do you need to provide documentation? When will your agent follow-up? These questions are examples of pertinent information needed while you begin filing your claim.

Choose a Trusted Contractor

As part of your emergency plan, have a trusted contractor chosen prior to any home damage. Seek out a contractor that is qualified in the insurance claims process and can help walk you through your policy. Once an insurance company determines a fair price to fix the damage, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to find a contractor. This makes finding a reputable company prior to a disaster that much more important. After you make the call to your insurance agent, have a reliable restoration company survey the damage and deliver a detailed quote prior to the insurance claims adjuster’s visit. Doing this can move the entire process along faster, and get you and your loved ones back into a fully restored, pre-loss condition home sooner rather than later!

Contact Your Mortgage Servicer

Unfortunately, damage to your home does not stop your responsibility to pay your mortgage. Contact your mortgage agent as soon as possible, and discuss your situation. There may be a number of options available that could help you temporarily suspend or reduce your mortgage payments.

Take Pictures of the Damage

Just as you should document your conversations with your insurance and mortgage companies, you need to visually document the extent of the damage. These pictures may come in handy when acquiring the full funding needed to restore your home to its original condition, or when dealing with your mortgage provider. In a time of crisis, your memory may fail you, so photographs of the damage could be essential evidence when filing your claim and covering anything you may have missed during conversations with your insurance company.

Home damage due to flooding, hail, wind, or other natural disasters will never be a positive experience, however having an action plan in place can ease the hassle of getting your home back to original condition. Contact us today and we’ll help you develop a disaster action plan as your trusted contractor!

How Do I Know When I Need a New Roof?

One of the biggest dreads homeowners face is actually right above our heads. Yep, we’re talking about the roof. Thankfully, roofs tend to have pretty long life expectancies, but when it’s finally time to replace them it can really hurt our wallets. But ignoring a worn out roof can be even more expensive.

Keep an eye out for these top four warning signs it’s time for a new roof.

Tips for Knowing When You Need a New Roof

Age

Whether you’ve lived in your home for years or just moved in, every responsible homeowner should know the age of their roof. Most experts agree – expect to squeeze about 20 years or so out of a standard asphalt shingle roof. If yours is older than this, or the current layer was installed over older layers, it’s time to start thinking – and saving – for a new one.

Visible Damage

Sagging spots, leaks and water stains, curling or missing shingles … all of these sign are evidence that your roof is in disrepair. Sometimes, roof damage can be repaired without the entire surface needing replaced, so get in the habit of regularly inspecting your roof from the inside and out. Remember – preventative maintenance may cost a little bit now, but it helps avoid major problems and even bigger costs later!

Signs of Light

The next time you’re in the attic, carefully examine the roofing boards above you. If you see any daylight peeking through or feel a draft coming from the other side, you have a problem. If light and air is getting through the boards, so is moisture.

Granules in the Gutter

The surface of roofing shingles is much like sandpaper. If you find any of these granules in your gutters, this is another sign your roof is reaching the end of its life. Shingle granules tend to break off more on older roofs. Too much debris can clog downspouts, causing additional unintended problems.

What to Do If You Discover Roof Problems

Like we said, roof damage doesn’t necessarily mean you need a whole new roof. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a licensed local roofing professional for minor repairs as soon as you discover a problem. Speaking of pros, did you know that Van Rooy Restoration in Indianapolis does roofs, too? We’ve replaced hundreds of roofs across central Indiana, and earned hundreds of happy customers in the process. Whether you need minor roof repairs, major roof work or replacement, or help with a storm or fire damaged home, we are the team to call 24/7/365!

 

Preventing Floods in Your Home

When it comes to flooding, no home is 100% safe. Flash floods can strike with zero warning. Your family might be able to escape the rising waters, but what happens to your home?

Preventing flooding in your home

Elevation Is Your Friend

Even if your house isn’t at the top of a hill, you can still safeguard many aspects of it. Since water flows down, raise your home’s heating & cooling, plumbing, and electrical systems. Find out the height of your property’s projected flood level, and make sure furnaces, water heaters, circuit breakers, and other vital equipment are anchored above that level.

The same thing goes for essential components outside of your home, too. Get HVAC units, generators, and similar equipment off the ground if you can. Don’t ever let electrical units sit on the ground.

Keep Your Pipes Flowing the Right Direction

It doesn’t take a flood to overload most sewer systems; even moderate rainfall can cause major problems, backing up pipes and sending raw sewage right up and into your home. Yuck! Don’t want to find yourself stuck in a stinky situation? Talk with a licensed plumber in your area, as well as your local water utility about back flow prevention devices. Any plumbing lines that enter your home should have proper preventers installed.

The Lay of Your Land

When it rains, or when you irrigate your lawn, does water tend to pool in certain places? The slope of your property can be a blessing – or a disaster – in a flood event. Make sure the land surrounding your home is designed and landscaped to divert water away from the structure, not toward it. Likewise, always make sure your roof, gutters, downspouts, and foundation are well maintained.

Have a Plan in Place … NOW.

Taking preventative steps is always a smart idea, but they’re not always bulletproof. Sometimes, the rains just keep falling. That’s why your smartest idea is to have a plan in place, just in case. Know what to do with furniture, electronics, and high-value items in your home, like moving them upstairs or at the very least off the floor. The same goes for irreplaceable items like family heirlooms, works of art, and photo albums. Make sure your circuit breaker is clearly labeled, and learn how to shut off the electricity to your home. Have an escape plan prepared, and practice this with your family – and don’t forget about your pets!

Unfortunately, Indiana is no stranger to floods affecting families and communities across our state. Van Rooy Restoration in Indianapolis encourages you to plan ahead and take the necessary preventative steps now. We never want to see it happen, but if your home is affected by a flood or other natural disaster of any size or kind, we’re here and ready to help get your family’s life back to normal as quickly as possible. Learn more about our many home restoration and repair services today.

How to Prevent House Fires on the 4th of July

What’s a 4th of July celebration without a cookout and fireworks? We all love those grilled meats and colorful, exciting displays that light up the night sky, but these Independence Day favorites lead to thousands of preventable house fires and injuries each year. So, while you and your loved ones celebrate this summer holiday, keep these 4th of July safety tips in mind.

fireworks safety

Firework and Sparkler Safety

Although fun, it’s important to remember that fireworks are dangerous explosives. It’s no wonder that professional companies and fire departments are in charge of most public displays! Before you load up a shopping cart with all sorts of firecrackers, bottle rockets, and mortar shells, know your local laws and regulations on when, where, and what you may legally light off. And, don’t forget – even “minor” novelties like snakes and sparklers can cause damage if used improperly!

When setting off fireworks of any kind, follow these five simple yet important safety tips:

  1. Never point fireworks at anything other than the sky!

  2. Choose a wide open area outside, on flat pavement, and away from buildings and trees

  3. Do not light fireworks inside containers, on porches, or any other confined space

  4. Keep children and pets safely away from all types of fireworks display

  5. Always have a garden hose or large bucket of water next to the ignition area

Grill Safety

Between the age-old argument over charcoal vs. propane, one thing is certain – grills can be dangerous. In fact, a recent report from the National Fire Protection Association counted some 8,600 annual fires started by cooking equipment. While it is an American pastime, grilling requires constant attention and responsibility.

This Independence Day and all summer long, do your part to reduce house fires while cooking out by following these five easy tips:

  1. Never leave a grill unattended!

  2. Do not grill while drinking alcohol or taking medications that cause drowsiness

  3. Do not use utensils or accessories that are not labeled for high-heat and open flame

  4. Check propane tanks and lines before each use, to ensure no leaks or damage

  5. Always wait for coals and ash to cool before disposing in a metal container with lid

Additional House Fire Safety Tips

Fireworks and grills are requirements for the perfect 4th of July party, but they are also two of the biggest causes of summertime house fires. So, enjoy both, but use both with extreme caution.

A few more helpful tips to keep you and your home safe include:

  1. Keeping a fire extinguisher in the house, and inspecting it regularly for a full charge

  2. Always having a phone nearby to call 9-1-1- in case of emergency

  3. Understanding and following manufacturer instructions, and contacting local emergency officials for advice and suggestions

Van Rooy Restoration wishes you all a very happy – and very safe – Independence Day. For more information about our services, including 24-hour Indianapolis area emergency restoration, fire and smoke restoration, remodeling and construction, and more, give us a call today.

Build Your Own Car Disaster Kit

In order to drive safe in winter weather, you need to stay up-to-date on automotive maintenance, you need snow or all-season tires, and you need to avoid distractions while on the road. Even with all of these things in mind, accidents can and do happen. So, there’s one more thing every vehicle needs this winter – something many of you leave home without every day.

We’re talking about a winter emergency kit for your car. The folks at Van Rooy Restoration in Indianapolis explain how to assemble your own.

emergency car kit

Winter Emergency Car Kit Essentials

Although there’s no guaranteed way to prevent an accident or disabled vehicle, you can prepare yourself for trouble by planning ahead and building an emergency car kit. Supplies should include:

  • Heavy blankets or a sleeping bag
  • Jumper cables
  • Road flares
  • Flashlight and spare batteries
  • Cold weather outerwear (boots, gloves, socks, scarf, hat)
  • Non-perishable food (granola bars, mixed nuts) and bottled water
  • First-aid kit and prescription medications, if necessary
  • Sand or non-clumping cat litter (sprinkle below tires for added traction)
  • Tire repair kit
  • Ice scraper, shovel, and rope
  • Battery-powered cell phone charger and spare batteries
  • Candles, matches, lighters, hand-warmers, heat packs

Pack as many items as possible into a duffle bag or storage container with lid, so that your emergency kit is easy to transport and everything is together. Make sure that every vehicle at home is equipped with a kit! 

Slow Down. Stay Back. Arrive Alive.

Few things are as frightening as a car accident, but being stranded following one is just as scary. Something as simple as a flat tire or empty gas tank can strand a driver on the side of the road, and help may be seconds, minutes, or an hour or more away. In the winter, dealing with a disabled car can quickly become a life-threatening event if you’re not prepared.

Remember, the best way to avoid accidents is to prevent them in the first place. During these cold weather months, give yourself extra time to reach your destination. Drive slow and leave plenty of space between your car and vehicles ahead. Pay attention to local forecasts. Avoid unmaintained roads. And please, put down that cell phone! Find more safety tips on our blog. From those of us at Van Rooy Restoration, we wish all of our fellow Indianapolis-area drivers happy holidays and a safe winter season!

Staying Up-to-Date During an Emergency

Thinking about disasters tends to put folks in “defense” mode. When we imagine a major storm sweeping through our community, we only think about protecting what’s ours. That is human nature.

Stop for a moment though and think bigger picture. If a disaster strikes, what will you do if you are separated from loved ones? What if an evacuation is ordered? What if power and communication is lost? What if your home is completely destroyed?

Questions like these remind us why staying connected with your larger community in an emergency is so important.

clouds-rainy-rain-asia-large-e1448376736397

Emergency Alerts

You know the sound; that sharp, shrill, nails-on-chalkboard sound. Emergency Alert System (EAS) notifications sure can be annoying, but they save lives. These public alerts are designed to notify the community with imminent emergency information. EAS messages are delivered on TV, over the radio, and even through your smartphone.

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are a relatively new way to get that information out to the public. They look like text messages, but alert users with a unique sound and vibration. If you have ever received an AMBER alert on your smartphone, this is an example of a WEA. Learn more and find out how to activate WEAs on your device.

Emergency Shelters

If your home is damaged or inaccessible during an emergency, help is out there. The American Red Cross operates quick-response shelters whenever and wherever disasters strike. Open shelters are searchable on an online database from the Red Cross National Shelter System, with information updated every 30 minutes.

Some people prefer to have storm shelters a little bit closer to home. For that reason, there are many American companies that specialize in building private shelters and safe rooms for customers. These family-sized units can be installed in the basement or buried in the backyard. The National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA) maintains a catalog of builders, and provides a lot of helpful consumer information on its website.

Plan, Survive, Recover

Few thoughts are as frightening as losing your home – or worse – in a disaster. Thankfully, there are many steps you can take to protect it all. Plan ahead by reading articles and finding tips on our blog, know what to do and where to go in the event of an emergency, and remember that material possessions are replaceable.

If your home is damaged during a disaster, we can help. Learn more about our restoration services on our website, and contact us if you have questions about any of our services. At Van Rooy Restoration, we are with you every step of the way.

Winter is Coming – Are You Ready?

We may only be a few weeks into fall, but winter isn’t far behind. Being prepared means planning ahead, and when it comes to cold weather threats like snow and ice, it’s never too early to start planning. Let’s cover a few things you should know about winter storms.

winter storm

Your Home

You tune in to the local evening news, only to see a breaking weather alert that a severe winter storm is headed your way. So, you drop what you’re doing and rush to the store to stock up on supplies. The only problem? So does everyone else, and by the time you make it to the store, shelves are empty and folks are fighting over what’s left. It’s a scary reality, but the items in your pantry and medicine cabinet might not be enough to help your family ride out a bad storm. That’s why you need to start planning now. An emergency supply kit is essential for your home. Be sure to include gear like:

  • A three-day supply of food & water for each family member (and pet!)
  • Flashlights & extra batteries
  • A first aid kit & medicines (over-the-counter & prescription)
  • Cold weather outerwear & spare blankets
  • Alternative heat source (like a wood fireplace or coal-burning stove)
  • Rock salt or kitty litter for steps & walkways
  • Extra cash

You can find a longer list of items to add to your home’s emergency kit in our recent weather disaster blog post.

Your Car

Just like your home, you’ll want to make sure each of your family vehicles is stocked with a portable emergency survival kit. In addition to flashlights, kitty litter (which helps with tire traction), food, water, and blankets, make sure you have:

  • An ice scraper
  • A shovel
  • Jumper cables
  • Tire chains
  • Road flares

A kit like this is vital in case you get stranded, but you can prevent accidents due to snow and ice by being cautious while driving. Go slow, give yourself plenty of room, check your tire pressure, and keep your gas tank full.

Your Family

Property damaged by blizzards and ice is replaceable. Your family is not. The most important thing you can do before a snowstorm blows through is have an action plan in place and practiced.

  • Write down essential phone numbers for relatives, work, school, etc.
  • Teach your children about winter-related health dangers like frostbite and hypothermia (warm, loose-fitting, layered clothing is key!).
  • In a power outage, never operate a portable generator, grill, or camp stove inside, and be sure to run those devices away from windows and vents outside. Your best bet is to go to the home of a relative or friend, or a public shelter, if your home loses power and/or heat.
  • Lastly, be sure to bring your pets inside during heavy snow or other winter weather!

More Winter Preparedness Tips

Make this autumn a season of preparation for the colder temperatures and inclement weather ahead. Find more tips on our website, and remember: Van Rooy Restoration is here for you 24/7, should a damaging winter storm strike your home or business.

Weather Disaster Preparedness

September is National Preparedness Month. It’s a time to think about what you and your loved ones would do if the unthinkable should happen. This year’s theme is, “Don’t wait. Communicate. Make your emergency plan today.” So, if you have been putting off stockpiling that disaster supplies kit, or still haven’t created and practiced an evacuation plan with your family, make September the time to get started.

Here’s a recap of natural disaster tips we’ve discussed here recently to help you prepare.

weather preparedness

Severe Storm Preparedness

Scary weather strikes our state year-round — knocking out power, damaging your home, or worse. One of the best things you can do to prepare your family for severe storms is build an emergency kit. Essential items include:

  • Three-day supply of food and water for each family member
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Moist wipes
  • Garbage bags
  • Wrench or pliers to turn-off utilities to your home
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter, or solar charger

Make sure everyone at home knows where this kit is stored, and knows how to use all of the included items. Consider building smaller kits to store in each of your vehicles.

Flood Preparedness

Did you know that floods are one of the most common and costliest natural disasters? You don’t have to live in a low elevation or next to a body of water to be at risk. If you and your family find yourselves in the midst of a flood, remember this American Red Cross-approved advice:

  • Watch TV if possible, or use your emergency radio or cell phone for updates.
  • Be prepared to evacuate your home at a moment’s notice.
  • If a flood warning is issued for your area, get to higher ground immediately.
  • Don’t return home until officials have declared your area safe.
  • If you smell or hear leaking gas, evacuate the area and call 911.

Visit the Red Cross website to find more preparedness tips for before, during, and after a flood.

Heat & Drought Preparedness

Do you know the difference between a heat watch, a heat warning, and a heat advisory? While all three alerts should be taken seriously, it is important to understand what each means:

  • Excessive Heat Watch – Weather conditions are favorable for extreme heat in your area over the next few days.
  • Excessive Heat Warning – Your local Heat Index values are high enough that bodily harm and even death can occur.
  • Heat Advisory – Temperatures are expected to meet local Heat Index values within the next day or two.

Learn more about weather watches, warnings, and advisories here.

Fire Preparedness

As we keep seeing across the western U.S., fires are dangerous and often unpredictable, and occur in many settings and situations. Protect your property by:

  • Keeping leaves, logs, and other vegetative debris away from your home and outbuildings.
  • Screening in porches and patios with metal wire mesh to help trap ash and embers.
  • Maintaining your lawn with proper hydration and prune trees and shrubs.
  • Making sure grills, fire pits, and chimineas are well away from your home’s foundation.
  • Inspecting roofing tiles and shingles, and repair loose or broken material.

Check out these other fire prevention tips for the whole family.

Snow Storm Preparedness

Indiana is no stranger to heavy snow and below freezing temperatures. Prepare your family for cold weather disasters by:

  • Writing down essential phone numbers for relatives, work, school, etc.
  • Teaching your children about winter-related health dangers like frostbite and hypothermia (warm, loose-fitting, layered clothing is key!).
  • Never operating a portable generator, grill, or camp stove inside during a power outage, and running those devices away from windows and vents outside. Your best bet is to go to the home of a relative or friend, or a public shelter, if your home loses power and/or heat.
  • Bringing your pets inside during heavy snow or other winter weather.

Additional Help & Resources

Contact us or browse our website for more ways to stay safe and prevent disaster. And, if the unthinkable should happen, remember that we’re here for you. This National Preparedness Month, Van Rooy Restoration reminds you: “Don’t wait. Communicate. Make your emergency plan today.”

Extreme Heat Preparedness

It’s one of the world’s deadliest and most dangerous types of natural disaster, and it might surprise you. We’re not talking about earthquakes or floods. The phenomenon responsible for the most weather-related deaths is extreme heat, and it affects people all over the world. During periods of extreme heat it is important to know how to keep you and your family safe.

sun-desert-dry-tree

Know What to Look For

One of the best ways to stay alert to potential heat dangers is to pay attention to local media. Watch for and subscribe to weather information and alerts on your TV, radio, computer, and mobile phone. Meteorologists often break down extreme heat into three common terms:

  • Excessive Heat Watch – Weather conditions are favorable for extreme heat in your area over the next few days.
  • Heat Advisory – Temperatures are expected to meet local Heat Index values within the next day or two.
  • Excessive Heat Warning – Your local Heat Index values are high enough that bodily harm and even death can occur.
A Heat Index is calculated by combining air temperature and humidity. Basically, it refers to how hot your body feels. So, a temperature of 85 degrees outside with very high humidity can make your body feel like it’s 100 degrees or more.

Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst

You might be familiar with the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is definitely true for heat waves and any other type of dangerous weather event. Plan ahead by:

 

1. Making sure everyone in your family understands the risks of extreme heat, and knows how to identify symptoms of overheating. Remember that animals can suffer from overheating too.
2. Having safety plans for different emergency situations (home, work, school, etc.).
3. Keeping your emergency disaster kit (sometimes called a “bugout bag”) properly stocked and ready to go in case of a power outage or other emergency.
4. Knowing where to go if you don’t have air conditioning at home or your A/C system fails. Public spaces like malls and libraries are good places to go, and local officials typically set up public cooling centers during extreme heat events.
5. Being trained in basic first aid. These skills are essential to identifying and treating heat-related illnesses.

Have a Fun & Safe Summer

Summer is time for family fun and outdoor recreation. You can ensure that your loved ones stay safe during these hot summer months by paying attention and planning ahead. Want to learn more? Check out the CDC’s tips for extreme heat here, and be sure to bookmark the Van Rooy Restoration website for local resources and services right here in Indianapolis.

Flood Preparation: Stay Safe with These Tips

Did you know that Indiana has more than 60 rivers and creeks that wind their way across the state? That’s a lot of water! It’s also a big reason to plan ahead for a potential flood.

You don’t need to move to higher ground or build a house on stilts to protect your family and your property. The smartest thing you can do is prepare. Here’s how.

Approaching Storm with Dark Clouds and Heavy Rains

Understanding Flood Risks

According to the American Red Cross, floods are one of the most common and costliest types of natural disasters. In some cases, flooding begins to occur after several days of steady rain. Other times, it happens with little or no warning.

Be on the lookout and listen for these two weather alerts in your area:

  • Flood/flash flood WATCH. Meteorologists use this term when flooding is possible in your community.
  • Flood/flash flood WARNING. This means that flooding is already happening or is imminent in your community.

So, what do you do if weather experts interrupt your program with a severe weather alert?

Have a Flood Emergency Kit Ready

Prepare for a flood by having a disaster supply kit ready to go in an emergency. The following pieces of equipment are essential:

  • Three days of food & water for each family member (don’t forget your pets!)
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Wireless cell phone charger
  • Sanitation & personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents
  • Extra clothing & rain gear
  • Maps of your area
  • Cash
  • Make collecting equipment and items for your emergency kit a family affair. Be sure everyone at home knows where the kit it stored, and how to use each item. For more ideas and tips on emergency preparedness kits, visit Ready.gov.

Response During & After a Flood

In the worst-case scenario of a flood actually striking your community, do you know what to do? Consider these safety tips for during and after the disaster:

DURING

  • Watch TV if possible, or use your emergency radio or cell phone for updates.
  • Be prepared to evacuate your home at a moment’s notice.
  • If a flood warning is issued for your area, get to higher ground immediately.
  • Stay away from and never try to navigate floodwaters by foot or vehicle.
  • Keep children away from the water.

AFTER

  • Don’t return home until officials have declared your area safe.
  • Inspect your home’s exterior (power lines, foundation, etc.) before entering.
  • Be on the lookout for stray and wild animals.
  • If you smell or hear leaking gas, evacuate the area and call 911.
  • Wear protective clothing during cleanup and dispose of food.
  • If you notice flood damage in or around your home, contact Van Rooy Restoration in Indianapolis for rebuilding assistance.

Stay Safe!

If you are the victim of a flood, be sure to let family know that you are okay once you are able to do so. Remember that homeowner’s insurance does not cover flood damage, so consider a flood insurance policy. For more tips on how to recover from a flood or other disaster, visit the Red Cross website and Van Rooy Restoration for flood repairs.