MYTH: Open windows before a tornado approaches to equalize pressure and minimize damage.
TRUTH: Virtually all buildings leak! Leave windows alone. The most important action is to immediately go to a safe shelter. NSC’s Current Tornado Policy is to monitor the weather radio service for instructions. You should close all blinds, curtains, and other window coverings to prevent flying glass and objects from entering.
If you see a tornado while driving, you should immediately seek the best available shelter. Many people are killed when they remain in their vehicles. Do not seek shelter in a highway overpass. The funneling of wind will actually increase the wind speed. Ditches provide limited protection but your risk will be greatly reduced by moving inside a strong building.
Fires and falls of all kinds are among the leading causes of injury and death in young children. While some falls occur from windows, it is important to realize that in the event of a fire, a window can also save a child’s life. This is why windows play a critical role in home safety. Print out this checklist and use these tips to help your family stay safe around windows and patio doors in your home.
Has your family developed an emergency fire escape plan?
Determine your family’s emergency escape plan and practice it regularly. In the plan, include two avenues of escape from every room. Remember children may have to rely on a window to escape a fire. Help them learn to safely use a window under these circumstances. Make sure you have identified a safe meeting place outside.
Do you keep windows shut when children are around?
You should keep your windows closed and locked when children are around. When opening windows for ventilation, open windows that children cannot reach. Also, set and enforce rules about keeping children’s play away from windows and/or patio doors. Falling through the glass can be fatal or cause a serious injury.
Do you leave, or have you left, windows open because you thought the insect screen provided a safeguard from a fall?
Don’t rely on insect screens to prevent a fall. Insect screens are designed to provide ventilation while keeping insects out; they are not designed to, nor will they prevent a child’s fall from a window.
Is there furniture placed under or near windows in your home?
Keep furniture – or anything children can climb – away from windows. Children may use such objects as a climbing aid.
Do any windows in your home have guards, security bars, grilles or grates?
These windows are useless in an emergency if the devices on them do not have a functioning release mechanism. Time is critical when escaping a fire. Consult your local fire department or building code official to determine proper window guard placement.
Inspect your home’s windows carefully. Are any windows in your home painted or nailed shut?
Never paint or nail windows shut. You must be able to open them to escape in an emergency.
Do you have any window unit air conditioners in bedroom windows or other windows in your home that may be needed for escape or rescue in an emergency?
Do not install window unit air conditioners in windows that may be needed for escape or rescue in an emergency. The air conditioning unit could block or impede escape through the window. Always be sure that you have at least one window in each sleeping and living area that meets escape and rescue requirements.
Did you know that strategic landscaping may lessen the extent of injury sustained in the event a fall does occur?
Plant shrubs and soft edging like wood chips or grass under windows to cushion potential falls. The surface can greatly affect the degree of injury sustained from a fall.
Question: I have a block basement. I have noticed this spring that some of the blocks on the top few rows turning a darker color after a substantial rain. Is this water leaking through? I have no ‘color change’ on the lower blocks or on any other walls. I do not have water on the floor either. Is there something I can do before calling in help?
Ann & Bob, Kokomo
Answer: Thanks Ann & Bob for the great question. Water definitely can be a home’s worse nightmare if it gets into the foundation, so I’m glad you asked. It sounds like the beginning stages of water leaking thru the blocks, which will eventually cause block deterioration and water entering into the basement. First, check to make sure the gutters are not leaking and downspouts are extended away from the foundation. If gutter system is not the cause, you may want to coat the exterior block. Buy a concrete/masonry water-proofer and some drain board membrane. Dig down along your exterior basement wall one foot below the apparent leak and apply the coating. Follow instructions for applying membrane over the waterproofing coating. Allow to dry and repeat as instructions indicate. Once coating has cured you can fill the dirt back in. I hope this was helpful and I wish you and your home the best.
A favourite past time for many people is the activity of gardening. Unfortunately, maintaining a beautiful garden can sometimes be physically demanding and time consuming.
There are many strategies and assistive devices which can be used to make gardening tasks easier and safer.
You may also wish to enquire at your local council or service regarding your eligibility for assistance with garden tasks and maintenance, or consider paying for help.
Consider adapting the garden environment
to make it more manageable:
Minimise the size and number of high maintenance garden beds. Raised garden beds, large pots or urns and plant pots can reduce the need for bending. They may be built into the garden or may be portable on wheeled frames for ease of manoeuvring.
Pull-down hanging garden pots can be lowered to an accessible height for maintenance and watering. Self-watering pots may also help to reduce the frequency of watering required.
Place paths in the most direct route and consider installing wider paths to allow access with a mobility aid if required. Use slip‑resistant, flat paving or concrete. Avoid gravel which can be dangerous to walk on and may require additional maintenance. Mark edges of steps and changes in ground heights with a contrasting colour and place rails alongside steps or ramps to provide additional support. Ensure adequate lighting levels by using outdoor sensor lights, solar lights or garden lights.
Eliminate tripping hazards by repairing cracked paths and level uneven areas. Rake up and remove fallen leaves and sweep paths regularly. Put tools away after use, return the hose to its holder or gather it into a neat pile near the tap. Keep overhanging shrubs and trees well trimmed. Look out for pets before moving around the garden. Encourage family members to pick up belongings such as toys and balls.
Where possible keep garden beds, tool storage, work surfaces and water sources close together.
For a low-maintenance garden, consider native plants and avoid plants that require a lot of care (such as pruning or fertilising). Replace annual plants with perennial species that do not need replanting, and choose drought tolerant species that require less watering. Reduce weeding by selecting ground cover plants or thickly planted perennials, mulching or using chemical control.
Regular mulching of garden beds can reduce ongoing maintenance by maintaining soil moisture content, inhibiting weed growth and decreasing watering requirements.
Lawns are demanding on time and physical ability, requiring regular mowing and edging. Consider replacing lawns with ground covers, paving or mulched areas. Synthetic grass may provide a natural looking low‑maintenance substitute. Alternatively, re-plant with a grass species that requires less mowing. If lawn is necessary, set the lawnmower at a high cutting level, as lawns grow slower if left longer.
Maintaining good body posture is important for reducing the risk of injury and strain.
Where possible, avoid reaching above head height and bending to ground level. Bending down can create rounding of the back and increase stress on the spine and nerves. Use long‑handled tools and work in an upright posture. When working down low, place one knee on the ground with a straight back, or use a kneeler or stool. Ensure joints are not locked, particularly when standing.
When lifting, keep the back straight and bend at the hips and knees. Place hands underneath the object and straighten the knees when rising, keeping the back straight and holding the load close to the body with elbows bent. Consider dividing large bags of fertiliser or soil into smaller loads or use a wheelbarrow.
Equipment and Tools
Appropriate tool selection can reduce effort and help maintain good posture.
Small lightweight tools conserve energy and may be easier to lift and manipulate. Lightweight materials such as plastic, cane or aluminium are useful for those with decreased strength. Some tools can be adapted for left‑handed use and others modified for one-handed use with hook and loop tape.
Consider the handle of the tool. Thick, slip-resistant handles and grips can make tools easier to hold, particularly for those with weak or limited grasp. To increase handle circumference, consider adding tubular foam, bicycle grips or tennis racquet tape. Tools with angled handles assist with maintaining a neutral wrist and hand position.
Look for tools with a ratchet mechanism. Ratchet secateurs cut in stages rather than requiring continuous grip force to complete the cut. Pruners are also available where the lower handle rotates with the fingers as it is squeezed, which is designed to reduce friction on the skin.
Long‑handled tools reduce the need to bend and reach and can be used when standing or sitting. Some have length-adjustable handles with interchangeable tool heads. Options include weeders, edge trimmers, loppers, trowels, forks, a potted plant lifter and handled fruit pickers with telescopic handles which are designed to pick fruit and catch them in a collection bag. A long‑handled reaching aid or a long‑handled dustpan and brush can be used to pick up garden rubbish. Long‑handled watering wands assist with watering hanging garden baskets and reduce the need to climb ladders or stools. A range of handle lengths are available.
An auxiliary handle part way down the shaft of a long‑handled tool can improve leverage and provide a firmer grip. These are available in “D” shaped and pistol grip shaped handles. A forearm crutch can be adapted for use as a gardening tool to provide forearm support and a stable grip.
Cordless, battery powered hand tools have recently entered the market. Many are powered by lithium batteries and options include secateurs, small hedge trimmers and shrub shears.
When planting new plants, long-handled BBQ tongs or a reacher can be used to pick up and place seedlings and smaller plants. A bulb planter allows soil to be lifted and replaced quickly and easily.
Lightweight wheelbarrows can reduce the risk of back injury. Two-wheeled models rather than one may be easier to use as the load is spread through the wheels over a larger surface area, rather than through the handles.
Garden kneelers can be useful for those with difficulty standing for long periods of time or rising from a kneeling position. When used as a kneeler, they provide arm supports to assist with standing up and have soft padding for comfort. Some can be reversed to form a low stool to assist with completing gardening tasks within low garden beds.
Hose holders assist when unable to stand for long periods to water, and enable the gardener to do other tasks. A coil style hose stretches out when used around the garden, and automatically returns into place for storage.
Tool belts, carry bags and garden aprons are a good way to move small tools around the garden. Yard carts and wheelbarrows can be used for larger items.
Garden tap turners are designed to provide leverage or an increased grip size when turning on and off taps.
Before a gardening session, begin with gentle stretches and warm up exercises. Plan ahead and organise the required tools and equipment before starting.
Spread strenuous jobs out over hours, days or weeks Take frequent breaks and vary hard tasks with less demanding tasks. Change positions frequently to reduce the risk of overstressing any one part of the body.
If a walking aid is used for mobility, ensure it is used in the garden to avoid falls. Wear appropriate shoes with a flat, slip-resistant sole and create a plan on what to do to gain assistance if a fall does occur.
Recognize your abilities and limitations. Stop to ask for help if needed.
Winter is finally over, which means it’s time for your
Spring Maintenance To-Do List!
Winter is gone along with cold, ice and snow, but it may have left its mark on the exterior of your home. Now that spring is here, it’s time to do your exterior home inspection to fix any problems left by Old Man Winter. Walk around the exterior of the house and check for the following things:
Roof: Inspect the roof for damaged, loose or blistered shingles. Have damaged shingles replaced if they are on less than 20% of the roof. If the damaged shingles cover more than 20% of the roof, you may need to re-roof.
Gutters/Soffits: Check for proper drainage, leaks, or holes; and any areas pulling away from the house. Also make sure the downspouts are at least 5 feet away from you foundation walls. Examine fascia and soffit boards. Replace if they are soft or rotting to prevent water from getting into your attic.
Windows/Doors: Take off storms and replace with screens, check the caulking, look for worn/broken hardware, paint chipping, and deteriorating weather stripping. Clean out basement window wells. If needed, replace the caulking if you find it is cracked or soft, because it prevents moisture from getting inside your walls and causing mold.
Siding: Paint peeling, deterioration or rot, pieces pulling from house, cracks, & holes. Touch up any areas that need paint before they deteriorate further. Inspect bricks and concrete blocks for cracked mortar or loose joints. If the siding is damaged too severely with cracks, holes or deterioration you may need to consider replacement siding.
Air Conditioners: Clean all debris on/around system, change filter and check the condenser on a central air system. If you have window units, check for wear, that the filter is clean and test to make sure it has enough Freon.
Trees: Trim branches and shrubs that are touching your home which can provide a pathway for bugs or excess moisture to enter your home. Also clean up fallen limbs, branches and other debris around the house to help prevent a pathway for wood-eating insects (termites).
If you notice any problems repair these items promptly. It’s these little things that if left unattended will lead to costly major damage in the future. So, as soon as the weather permits nip it in the bud! Then enjoy your lazy days of summer with the satisfaction of a well maintained house! And feel proud of the great work you’ve done!
We would like to give a special thanks to Soft-Lite for recognizing Unique Home Solutions for earning the “Replacement Contractor Service Excellence Award”, which was presented by Guild Quality and Hanley Wood!
“My husband and I were looking to have work done to our home. We contacted Unique Home Solutions. We had our consultation with Ray Franklin and Matt Barr. They showed up the time they said they would, they were very professional. Their knowledge of the business, materials, and other companies was unbelievable. We never felt pressured at all. At the end of the consultation there was no reason to check other companies we knew we wanted Unique to do our home. John Elsea started the work on our house he and his partner were very professional also; they worked hard and got the job done. The window crew came in did their job, worked nonstop very professional as well. Long story short we have met so many people from Unique Home Solutions and every one of them were AWESOME people. We love the work that was done to our home it looks GREAT. We have had several compliments on our home. We want to thank all of you for quality work and effort you provided. We are working just as hard to spread the word about your company.”
Roger and Christy
Springtime is here and with the spring comes rain. It’s time for you to make sure your basement and crawl spaces are good to go! Here are a few DIY tips from our All Dry Waterproofing Department to prepare you for the April showers:
-Keep the gutters clear and clean of debris. Clogged or full gutters can cause overflow which will lead to excess water running along the foundation.
- Buy downspout extensions and attach them to the downspouts. Downspouts that are draining too close to the house can cause excess water to run down the foundation in the corners.
-Make sure that mulch or dirt is properly graded away from the house. Improper grading can allow water to pool along the foundation and cause leaks.
-Make sure that dirt or mulch is not graded above that foundation. The soil or mulch will get wet which can cause wood rot, and attract termites.
-Check your sump pump for proper operation by causing it to engage and drain any water in the crock. Sump pumps tend to fail when we least expect them to and are typically, “out of sight, out of mind.” A failed sump pump will cause water to back up in the basement/crawlspace.
-Install a battery back-up to the sump pump. Most sump pumps run on electricity. If the power is out during a storm, the pump will not be able to pump the water away.
-Make sure that all boxes or appliances are off the floor by putting them on skids or shelving. Water in the basement can ruin valuable keepsakes and shorten the life of appliances.
-Buy a dehumidifier and keep it running in the basement. Excess humidity in basement can shorten the life of the furnace and cause boxes to gain mildew.
Q. How much longer will a metal roof last than common roofing like asphalt or wood shingle?
You can expect a metal roof to last at least 2 to 3 times longer than a regular roof. In general terms, count on a metal roof lasting 40 to 60 years and beyond.
To put it in context, the average life span of an asphalt roof is 12 to 20 years. That lifespan can be shorter depending on the pitch of your roof and the climate in your area. Made of oil impregnated paper or fiberglass, asphalt begins to deteriorate as soon as you expose it to normal weather. A metal roof, however, will never decompose.
Other roofing materials like wood shingle, shake and tile have varying degrees of weather-related problems that lead to breakdown. Wood shingle and shake roofs often need replacement before twenty years. Concrete tile roofs can crack and warp in the freeze/thaw cycle of more northern climates.
All of the above roofing materials are well-outlasted by metal roofing, which retains its good looks and durability decade after decade after decade.
Q. Is metal roofing noisier in bad weather than asphalt, cedar shake, tile and slate roofing?
When installed with solid sheathing, a metal roof on your home will silence noise from rain, hail and bad weather as well – if not better – than any other roofing material.
Q. How will a metal roof stand up to extreme weather?
A metal roof can withstand decades of abuse from extreme weather like high winds, heavy snow, hailstorms, and even wildfires. Metal roofing has a 140-mph wind rating, meaning it can withstand wind gusts up to 140 miles per hour. Under high wind conditions, says architect Jim Mitchell, “Metal roofing systems have wind resistance and uplift resistance that is above the new building code requirement. That gives us a sense of relief in that we can use the best material to meet those criteria.”
In locations that see heavy snow, metal roofing has been the choice of homeowners for years. It sheds snow fast, which protects the structural integrity of the roof. And it can eliminate ice damming at the eves, so water can’t back up and collect under the roof then leak into your home.
If you live in a part of the country that is prone to wildfires, metal roofing can protect your home should burning embers land on your roof.
Q. Is a metal roof environmentally responsible?
Not only is metal roofing great for your home, it’s great for the environment. The recycled content of the steel in a metal roof is about 28% from production to installation to reuse – far superior to asphalt.
According to the National Association of Homebuilders Research Center, 20 billion pounds of asphalt shingles are dumped into U.S. landfills every year. If you loaded those shingles into tractor trailers, then lined them up end-to-end, they would make a line from New York City to Los Angeles, back to New York City again, then on to Chicago.
That’s a lot of wasted asphalt. But because a metal roof can often be installed over your current roof, without tearing off what’s already there, metal roofing helps to reduce this excessive shingle waste.
Q. Would a metal roof be too heavy for certain types of homes, or for smaller structures like a detached garage or porch?
You’ll be surprised to learn that a metal roof is, on average, 50% lighter than an asphalt shingle roof, and 75% lighter than concrete tile, fiber cement shakes and slate. With metal roofing, weight on a structure is never an issue.