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Power Surges And Other Hidden Home Dangers

power surges from lightening - just one of the hidden dangers in your homeHomes face all types of threats like power surges, carbon monoxide leaks, etc. Some are less obvious than others. Here’s a list of possible dangers hiding in or around your home:

Power Surges

If you’re like most families, you’re constantly plugged in, so make sure your electronics aren’t overloading your outlets. If lightning strikes, power surges can damage appliances, electronics and, in worst cases, spark a house fire. To prevent damage from power surges, we suggest using a surge protector and unplugging appliances and electronics during severe storms.

Carbon Monoxide Leaks

There’s a reason why carbon monoxide (CO) is nicknamed the “silent killer.” According to the CDC, this odorless, colorless gas is the leading cause of accidental poisonings for Americans, resulting in about 15,000 emergency department visits and nearly 500 deaths each year. Fuel-burning appliances are often the source of CO leaks, which can create a deadly buildup in the home. Learn more about ventless fireplaces, and why they are such a liability in your home.

It is recommended to install CO alarms on every level of the home, including the basement, and outside each sleeping area. Even though alarm lifespans vary by model and manufacturer, we recommend replacing most every five to seven years. If you don’t remember when your CO alarm was installed, it’s a good idea to replace it. Some models feature end-of-life warnings to alert you when a replacement is needed.

Dirty Lint Traps

It’s easy to disregard the lint trap, but lint buildup can cause the dryer to overheat or start a fire. Take time to clean out the lint trap before and after using the dryer. Also, dryer vents should be cleaned every year, according to the National Fire Protection Association; more often, if you notice it’s taking longer to dry your clothes. Cleaning out your vent may help prevent a possible dryer-induced house fire and keep your machine running more efficiently.

Trip Hazards

If your house is like most, the entryway and stairwell become a landing zone for backpacks, shoes, coats and anything else the kids bring home. While these everyday items seem harmless, the excess clutter could cause serious injuries if someone were to trip and fall. Keep your home safe and clean by investing in storage bins and organizational units – and using them.

Unlocked Windows, Doors

An open garage door or unlocked doors and windows are an open invitation to intruders. Be sure to lock up your house every time you leave. Installing security cameras can help deter intruders, too, and give you peace of mind while you’re out of the house.

Have you encountered any type of hidden home dangers? What do you do throughout the year to keep your family safe? We’d love to hear your story. And remember to call Brown and Reaves Services, Inc. to schedule a checkup of your heating or cooling unit. Call us today at 843-497-9867. Don’t forget to grab our 20% off coupon on your next service call by Liking us on Facebook.

Preparing for Power Outages

electric companies work tirelessly to restore electric service after power outagesAs we head into the final weeks of August, the peak of the hurricane season is right around the corner, which for many means preparing for power outages.

As of the time of writing this article, there are no hurricanes, tropical storms, or systems that are even thought to have any tropical characteristics about them. Which is why we are posting this article now. It’s a time most people become complacent and don’t think about power outages, or the damages that can come with a tropical system.

Start now (if you haven’t already done so) and make preparations for power outages, because as a storm is approaching (or even hitting) may be too late.

How to Prepare for Power Outages

  • Update your phone number and e-mail address with your electric company so you can be served faster in the event of an outage.
  • Make sure your Emergency Outage Kit is fully stocked and easily accessible.
  • Develop an emergency plan that addresses any special medical needs you or your family members have. Call your local emergency management office to discuss necessary arrangements.
  • Purchase appliances with built-in surge protection or install surge protectors to help safeguard valuable electronic equipment such as computers and home entertainment systems. Plug computers and other sensitive equipment into a separate, grounded circuit to isolate them from fluctuations caused when a major appliance restarts (such as your room air conditioner or refrigerator). Consider having a lightning arrester installed at your main circuit panel.

If You Actually Experience a Power Outage

  • Report your outage immediately to your local electric company. Don’t rely on your neighbors to report your power outages. Remember, most power grids are divided to some extent, so you may be having a power outage, and your neighbor’s lights may still be on.
  • Stay away from downed power lines, flooded areas, and debris. Treat all fallen wires and anything touching them as though they are energized. Immediately report downed lines to your local electric company.
  • Turn off all appliances, including your furnace, air conditioner, water heater, and water pump. Leave on one lamp to know when power has been restored. That way, you can avoid a circuit overload and another outage that may result when power is restored to all appliances at once.
  • Keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed. Food will stay frozen for 36 to 48 hours in a fully loaded freezer if you keep the door closed. A half-full freezer will generally keep food frozen for 24 hours. For refrigerated items, pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and spoilable leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers are fine for this purpose.
  • Follow safe operating procedures for generators. Never operate one inside your home or in an enclosed space, such as a garage.
  • Listen to the local radio station on your battery-operated radio for regular news and weather updates.
  • If using portable stoves, kerosene heaters, or lanterns, make sure the area you’re using these items in is sufficiently ventilated.
  • If you must travel, please help protect line workers and crews when you see them on the roadside making emergency repairs. Move over from the lane nearest the workers or slow down until you can safely pass the work site.
  • If it is hot outside, close drapes and blinds on the sunny side of your house, drink plenty of fluids, take your pets to a cool basement location, and go to an air-conditioned civic center, mall, or library if necessary to stay cool. (Check to make sure these places are even open before you go, as following a tropical storm or hurricane, they may be without power as well.)

Remember, after power outages, electric companies restore power to critical community services such as hospitals, police and fire protection, and communications facilities first. The next priority is to restore service to the largest number of people as soon as possible. Service to neighborhoods, industries, and businesses is systematically restored, followed by single residences and small groups of customers, until restoration is complete.

Hopefully you won’t have any power outages this hurricane season, but if you do we hope this list of preparations will have helped you get ready.

These tips on power outages and how to prepare for them presented by Brown and Reaves Services, Inc. Call us anytime, 24/7, for air conditioning problems. 843-497-9867.  Remember to grab our 20% off coupon on your next service call by Liking us on Facebook.

Is Your Home Ready For Your Summer Vacation?

Get your home ready for your summer vacationNow that summer is in full swing, you may be ready for a vacation (if you haven’t taken one already). But is your home ready for your summer vacation?

Follow these tips to make sure your home stays secure and energy-efficient while you’re away enjoying your time off.

Timed Lights

Connect a few lamps around the house to timers and set them on a schedule consistent with your family’s normal activity. With lights going on and off on a regular (or irregular) basis, your home will appear occupied. So criminals will move on.

Get a House Sitter

Have a trusted friend or professional house sitting service take care of your home while you’re away. They’ll discourage crime by visiting your home regularly and bringing in your mail and paper for you. They can also water your houseplants and take care of any pets you may be leaving behind, giving you fewer things to worry about during your summer vacation.

Stop Your Mail and Paper

If you can’t get a house sitter you trust pick up your mail and paper, help your house look occupied during your trip by contacting the Postal Service and your newspaper to temporarily hold your service while you’re gone.

Protect Against Unexpected Leaks

If you’re going to be gone for a long summer vacation, it may make sense to temporarily shut off the water supply to major appliances like washing machines, ice makers, sinks and toilets. That way, there’s no chance of a leak occurring, and no chance you’ll come home to a kitchen or laundry room full of water.

Clean Up Your Yard

Mowing the grass before you leave for that summer vacation can help your home look occupied. Arrange to have a friend or lawn service cut it if you’re going to be away for an extended period. Trimming trees and shrubs away from outside windows can also be helpful, as it makes it difficult for burglars to hide or enter your home unnoticed.

Unplug Small Electronics

Many household devices like coffee makers, televisions and DVRs can continue to draw current even when switched off. Unplug them to save energy. Furthermore, unplugging your garage door can protect your home from criminals using universal garage door remotes. Just make sure you have an alternate way to get back in when you return from your summer vacation!

Don’t Waste Energy Cooling an Empty Home

There’s no sense running an air conditioner when there’s nobody there to feel it. Set your cooling system to 80 to 84 degrees while you’re away. If you have a friend checking on the house for you while you’re away, you could have them turn the temperature back down the day you’re due to return so your home won’t be so hot when you get back.

Don’t Broadcast Your Whereabouts

Social media can be a great way to share your summer vacation memories as they happen. However, by letting everyone know that you’re having a great time far away, you’re also pointing out the fact that your home is empty. Save the vacation photo sharing until you’re back home. Also be sure to watch the conversations you have about your trip while you’re at work, school or in any other public place. You never know who’s listening for an opportunity.

Hopefully these summer vacation tips will help you come back home to find everything safe and sound, and no incidents to have to deal with upon your return. These summer vacation tips presented by Brown and Reaves Services, Inc. Call us anytime, 24/7, for air conditioning problems. 843-497-9867.  Remember to grab our 20% off coupon on your next service call by Liking us on Facebook.

Being Prepared For a Power Outage

Now that we have the first tropical system of the new hurricane season out of the way, being prepared for the next hurricane or tropical storm that visits Myrtle Beach means being prepared for a power outage.

Be prepared for a power outage anytime, not just during hurricane season, with an emergency power outage kit, which should always be stocked and easily accessible.

Power Outage Kit Items Should Include

  • FlashlightsYour power outage kit must contain a working flashlight
  • Fresh batteries (not rechargable)
  • Candles
  • Matches or lighters
  • Battery-powered radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Battery-powered or wind-up clock
  • Portable heater (oil or gas)
  • Portable generator (review safety tips prior to use)
  • Bottled water for drinking and cooking (one gallon per person per day)
  • Non-perishable food and manual can opener
  • Paper plates and plastic utensils
  • Coolers and ice
  • First-aid kit and family prescription medicines
  • Blankets and/or sleeping bags
  • Warm clothes, sturdy shoes, and heavy gloves (power doesn’t just go out during hurricanes)
  • Special needs items for infants, elderly, and/or disabled family members
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items, including hand sanitizer
  • Games and activities for children
  • Pet supplies
  • Emergency telephone numbers, including the number of your local electric company to report outages. Pre-program your cell phone with all emergency numbers
  • Emergency reference material such as a first aid book
  • Extra cash (ATM’s don’t work during power outages)
  • Instructions on how to manually open electric garage doors
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification, and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container

If you experience a prolonged power outage, check with your water company to make sure water is still safe to drink, as an area-wide power outage could cause your water company to be unable to sanitize water.

These power outage tips are courtesy of Brown and Reaves Services, Inc. Follow us on Facebook for even more daily tips.

Ventless Fireplace – Liability In Your Home

A ventless fireplace, or as the industry likes to call them, a “vent-free” fireplace, is a liability in your home. We prefer the term “ventless”, or “not vented at all” when describing these cozy little demons.

The ventless fireplace industry wants you to feel you’re being liberated of a burden by not having an exhaust vent. We think it’s important for people to know that they’re actually missing something important when they go with a ventless gas appliance.

Why a Ventless Fireplace is a Liability

Why a ventless fireplace is a liabilityUnvented gas fireplaces are a liability. We advise those who have one either to remove it, replace it, or just not use it. Yes, we know that some people love them and have never had a problem with theirs. We know lots of people with unvented gas fireplaces who complain of headaches and other problems.

More than a few people are feeling ill when they use unvented fireplaces, and they want to confirm their suspicions. These things are in a lot of houses now, and people are buying those homes without knowing of the problems.

It’s unlikely that ventless fireplace units will go away anytime soon, but the more people find out about these problems, the better. As homeowners doing their research find out the truth and turn away from these ventless fireplace systems, homes become safer.

One company, Fireplace Creations in Tennessee, writes on their website, “After doing research, we decided we would never put a vent-free (room vented) appliance into our home. Because of this decision, we didn’t believe it would be right to sell them to our customers. This decision was made even though vent-free products were/are a hot item. You can read their recommendation on why not to use a ventless fireplace here.

Are Wood Burning Fireplaces Safer Than a Ventless Fireplace?

If your state has adopted the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), you cannot install an open wood-burning fireplace in a new home. What does this tell you?
According to the BCAP-OCEAN code status website, 30 states are on the 2009 IECC or better now. Adopting it was one of the requirements for any state that took ARRA (Stimulus Act) money.

A ventless fireplace may have fancy technology built in now (oxygen depletion sensors and catalytic converters), but the bottom line is that the risks can outweigh the benefits. It’s not that hard to build a chase and cut a hole to install a direct vent model, so why take that risk?

Another article you may be interested in reading involves not burning down your house trying to save on heat with a fireplace.

Call Brown and Reaves Services, Inc. to schedule a checkup of your heating or cooling unit. Call us today at 843-497-9867. Don’t forget to grab our 20% off coupon on your next service call by Liking us on Facebook.

Safety Tips: Winter House Fires

More house fires occur during the winter months than at any other time. Fortunately, taking simple precautions can prevent most house fires. Follow the safety tips below to help ensure your safety:

Portable Heaters

  • Put at least three feet of empty space between the heater and everything else.
  • Vacuum and clean the dust and lint from all heaters.
  • If the cord gets hot, frayed or cracked, have the heater serviced.
  • Never use extension cords with portable electric heaters.
  • Turn off portable heaters when leaving or sleeping.
  • An adult should always be present when anyone is using a space heater around children.
  • Make sure your portable electric heater is UL approved and has a tip-over shut off function.

Your fireplace can be warm and cozy, but also cause many house fires.Wood Stove and Fireplace Safety

  • Have a certified chimney sweep clean and inspect your fireplace.
  • Place ashes outdoors in a covered metal container at least three feet away from anything that burns.
  • To prevent flue fires, burn dry, well-seasoned wood.
  • Always use a fireplace screen made of sturdy metal or heat-tempered glass. If children are present, use a special child-guard screen.

Generators

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible killer. You cannot see or smell it. A generator’s exhaust contains poisonous CO, which can kill you in a matter of minutes. Follow these important generator safety tips:

  • Never use a portable generator inside a home, garage, shed or other partially enclosed space, even if doors and windows are open.
  • Place portable generators outside only, far away from the home. Keep the generator away from openings to the home, including doors, windows, and vents.
  • Read the label on the generator and the owner’s manual, and follow the instructions.
  • Install CO alarms with battery backup in the home outside each sleeping area.
  • Get to fresh air immediately if you start to feel sick, weak or dizzy. CO poisoning from exposure to generator exhaust can quickly lead to incapacitation and death.
  • Be sure generator fuel is properly and safely stored.
  • Always refuel the generator outdoors and away from any ignition sources.
  • If you choose to have a generator permanently connected to your home’s electrical system, make sure a licensed electrician installs it and be sure to notify your electric company.

CandlesCandles can start house fires if left unattended or not enclosed for safety

  • Place candles in sturdy, fireproof candle holders where they cannot be knocked over.
  • Make sure all candles are out before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Keep candles, matches, and lighters out of children’s reach.
  • Keep candles away from Christmas trees, evergreen clippings, decorations, presents, and wrapping paper.

Smoke Alarms and Home Escape Plans

  • Install smoke alarms outside each sleeping area and in each bedroom.
  • Test and vacuum your smoke alarms each month to make sure they are working.
  • Smoke alarms 10 years old or older need to be replaced with new units.
  • Know two ways out of every room.
  • Practice your escape plan with your whole family at least twice a year.
  • Do not attempt to go back into a burning home.

Via Answers.usa.gov

To make sure your home is safe and the danger of winter house fires is lessened, call Brown and Reaves Services, Inc., Serving the entire Myrtle Beach and Grand Strand area. 843-497-9867. We will check all of your home’s heating devices to make sure they’re safe, including checking your smoke detectors and any gas or wood burning devices you may have. Remember to grab our 20% off coupon on your next service call by Liking us on Facebook.

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