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Thunderstorm Safety Tips to Consider

All thunderstorms are dangerous. Every thunderstorm produces lightning. While lightning fatalities have decreased over the past 30 years, lightning continues to be one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States. On average in the U.S., lightning kills 51 people and injures hundreds more each year. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.

A thunderstorm with lightning continues to be one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States.Other associated dangers of thunderstorms include tornadoes, strong winds, hail and flash flooding. Flash flooding is responsible for more fatalities – more than 140 annually – than any other thunderstorm-associated hazard. Dry thunderstorms that do not produce rain that reaches the ground are most prevalent in the western United States, but very rarely ever found around Myrtle Beach. Falling raindrops evaporate, but lightning can still reach the ground and can start wildfires.

To Prepare for a Thunderstorm:

  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
  • Postpone outdoor activities.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
  • Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
  • Unplug any electronic equipment well before the storm arrives.

During a Thunderstorm:

  • Use your battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
  • Avoid contact with corded phones and devices including those plugged into electric for recharging.  Cordless and wireless phones not connected to wall outlets are OK to use.
  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
  • Avoid natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.
  • Avoid hilltops, open fields, the beach or a boat on the water.
  • Take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
  • Avoid contact with anything metal—tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.
  • If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.

After a Thunderstorm:

If lightning strikes you or someone you know, call 9-1-1 for medical assistance as soon as possible. The following are things you should check when you attempt to give aid to a victim of lightning:

  • Breathing – if breathing has stopped, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
  • Heartbeat – if the heart has stopped, administer CPR.
  • Pulse – if the victim has a pulse and is breathing, look for other possible injuries. Check for burns where the lightning entered and left the body. Also be alert for nervous system damage, broken bones and loss of hearing and eyesight.

After the storm passes remember to:

  • Never drive through a flooded roadway. Turn around, don’t drown!
  • Stay away from storm-damaged areas to keep from putting yourself at risk from the effects of severe thunderstorms.
  • Continue to listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or to local radio and television stations for updated information or instructions, as access to roads or some parts of the community may be blocked.
  • Help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children and the elderly or those with access or functional needs.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately.
  • Watch your animals closely. Keep them under your direct control.

These tips on thunderstorm safety is presented by Brown & 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.

Winter Storm – How to Prepare and Handle

The Myrtle Beach area is preparing for a rare winter stormWith the Myrtle Beach area under a Winter Storm Warning, it’s important to remember some winter weather tips.

While the danger from a winter storm varies across the country, nearly everyone, regardless of where they live, are likely to face some type of severe winter weather at some point in their lives.

A winter storm can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for several days. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and sometimes by strong winds, icing, sleet and freezing rain.

One of the primary concerns is the winter weather’s ability to knock out heat, power and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for days at a time. Heavy snowfall and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region.

The National Weather Service refers to a winter storm as the “Deceptive Killer” because most deaths are indirectly related to the actual winter storm. Instead, people die in traffic accidents on icy roads and of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold. It is important to be prepared for a winter storm before it strikes.

Prepare for a Winter Storm by Doing the Following:

Add the following supplies to your emergency kit:

  • Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways.
  • Sand to improve traction.
  • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
  • Sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove. If you have a portable gas powered generator, make sure you have sufficient fuel on hand to run it.
  • Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.

Make a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.

Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS). Be alert to changing weather conditions.

Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
Bring pets/companion animals inside during a winter storm. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

Caution: Carbon Monoxide Kills

Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal¬ burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.

The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire.

  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
  • If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door.
  • Call for help from the fresh air location and remain there until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.

These winter storm tips are brought to you by Brown and Reaves Services, Inc. Call us for any of your winter related heating needs. 843-497-9867.  Remember to grab our 20% off coupon on your next service call by Liking us on Facebook. We also post daily tips and money saving ideas on Twitter.

Christmas Tree Fires

Christmas tree fires are more common than you might think. We’re just a few days away from celebrating Christmas, and if you have a live or cut tree decorating your home this holiday season, make sure you keep it watered!

Between 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 230 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 6 deaths, 22 injuries, and $18.3 million in direct property damage annually.

On average, one of every 40 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home fires.

Electrical problems were factors in one-third (32%) of home Christmas tree structure fires.

Two of every five (39%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den.

This video, courtesy of the National Fire Protection Association, demonstrates the flammability of a dry Christmas tree vs. a tree that has been watered regularly…

One in six (17%) Christmas tree fires occurred because some type of heat source was too close to the tree. Decorative lights on line voltage were involved in 12% of these incidents. Seven percent of home Christmas tree fires were started by candles.

Brown and Reaves Services, Inc. wishes you and your family a safe and joyous holiday season. Don’t become a victim and statistic of Christmas tree fires in the U.S.  Keep that tree adequately watered.

Remember to grab our 20% off coupon on your next service call by Liking us on Facebook. We also post daily tips and money saving ideas on Twitter.

Electric Heater Safety Tips

Use an electric heater according to these guidelines and the manufacturer recommendationsIt’s that time of year again when many people turn to an electric heater to supplement their household heat. Even though an electric heater is very handy for warming up our homes during those chilly winter days, it is important to be aware of the safety hazards associated with using them.

Thousands of fires are associated with an electric heater every single year and there are hundreds of reports of people receiving serious burns from them. With a little common sense and smart planning, these accidents don’t have to happen.

The main hazard associated with an electric heater is that they get extremely hot; even though there is no actual flame involved, material that is kept close to the appliance is still prone to catch fire. Over the years, a number of different items have caught fire due to exposure to an electric heater, including: curtains, furniture, toys and even paper.

Electric Heater Safety Guidelines

Make sure your electric heater is registered with the relevant bodies

More often than not, packaging for an electric heater will feature a symbol that indicates it has been tested by the appropriate government bodies and that it meets their approval. This does not guarantee that you won’t run into any problems, but it does allow you to sleep easier knowing that your electric heater is in compliance.

Avoid using an extension cord

It’s best never to use an extension cord with any electric heater, but if you must use an extension cord, make absolutely certain it features a three prong grounded plug and a 14-wire gauge size for maximum safety. You should also avoid running the cord for your electric heater underneath carpet and make sure the appliance has been placed on a flat surface to avoid tipping over.

Read your instruction manual carefully

When you first purchase your electric heater, be sure to read the manual from cover to cover before using it. This document will outline how far away the appliance must be kept from furniture, flooring and even people. These sorts of distances may vary depending on the type of electric heater you own.

Never leave an electric heater on and unattended

This includes not leaving the unit on while sleeping, as you cannot keep a close eye on it while sleeping. Avoid leaving young children unattended around any electric heater. They can easily knock it over or burn themselves. Only use your electric heater in situations where you have complete control.

It should go without saying to only use your electric heater for its intended purpose – providing heat to rooms in your home. Never use your heater to thaw frozen pipes or to dry wet clothing, as this is when many disasters occur. Never use an electric heater in wet areas to prevent it from shorting out.

Brown and Reaves Services wants you to have a safe winter, and if your winter plans include the use of an electric heater, use these safety tips to keep your family and your home out of harms way.  Call us anytime, 24/7, for heating problems that may force you to use an electric heater just to keep your house warm. 843-497-9867.  Remember to grab our 20% off coupon on your next service call by Liking us on Facebook. We also post daily tips and money saving ideas on Twitter.

Dehumidifiers Recalled

More than 2 million dehumidifiers are being recalled after dozens of reports of fires and more than $2 million in property damage.

Dehumidifiers are being recalled after dozens of reports of fires and more than $2 million in property damage.

Photo credit: CPSC | The SuperClima dehumidifier model DG50 is among 12 brands being recalled because of risk of fire, the U.S. Product Safety Commission said Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013. The recall affects more than 2.2 million units sold in the United States and Canada, the agency said.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the dehumidifiers can overheat, smoke and catch fire.

They were manufactured by Gree Electric Appliances and carried the brand names of Danby, De’Longhi, Fedders, Fellini, Frigidaire, Gree, Kenmore, Norpole, Premiere, Seabreeze, SoleusAir and SuperClima.

The dehumidifiers have been linked to 46 fires and $2.15 million in property damage. No injuries have been reported.

They were sold nationwide at major retailers including Home Depot, Kmart and Lowe’s between January 2005 and August of this year.

Consumers should immediately turn off and unplug the dehumidifiers and contact Gree at 866-853-2802 for a refund.

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.

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