Burt County Extension News
As folks start to clean-up from the June 3rd storm consider the following:
Repairing Storm Damaged Trees -Trees or limbs falling on a house or vehicle during a storm is the most obvious hazard. However, removing broken branches still hung up in the tree canopy, removing branches tangled in power lines or that could come in contact with power lines when removed, and the danger of coming in contact with a power line with ladders, loaders or pole saws are a greater danger. In many cases, hiring a professional arborist may be the best strategy. The link below gives many practical tips on repairing storm damaged trees. The one thing not covered in this publication is to NOT apply any kind of wound dressing or sealant to the tree when branches are removed. For more information, see: http://extension.missouri.edu/p/g6867
Chain saws can cause serious injuries - use them safely. These can be hazardous, especially if they "kick back." to help reduce this hazard, make sure that your chain saw is equipped with the low-cickback chain. Look for other safety features on chain sawss including hand guard, safety tip, chain brake, vibration reduction system, spark arrestor on gasoline motors, trigger or throttle lockout, chain catcher, and bumper spikes. On new saws look for certification to the ANSI. Always wear shoes, gloves, and protective glasses. If you are in doubt about your own ability to handle the job or not familiar with chain saw operation, have a qualified professional do the job. (Source: Shirley Niemeyer, Professer Emeritus, Retired, UNL Extension)
Using Generators for Electrical Power - Emergency generators become popular after storms and disasters. They can help save food in freezers and refrigerators, but they also may be dangerous if not used properly. Here is a list of some do's and don'ts:
- A generator procudes electicity and may cause electrical shock.
- Gasoline engines produce carbon monoxide. Don't run them in an enclosed area.
- Check the oil level in the engine before using and on a regular basis (for example when refueling).
- Let the engine cool off before refueling.
- The generator should be kept a safe distance from structures because of engine heat.
- Place the generator on a level surface to keep oil at proper level in engine. Keep the generator dry.
- A voltage drop may occur if too long an extension cord is connected to the appliance or if one with too small a wire size is used. If the extension cord becomes very warm, it is inadequate.
- Connect the generator directly to the appliance. You should not try to hook generators to your home electrical supply box.
- Ground the generator as stated in the instructions. If you use an extension cord, use one with a ground plug.
- Have the generator running before the A.C. circuit on the generator is turned on or before you plug in the appliance.
- An appliance that has a heating element, such as a toaster or hair dryer, consumes a large amount of current. It's best to avoid using these types of appliances.
- If an appliance hs gotten wet or damaged, it may not be in good working order. Using the appliance may damage the generator.
- Some generators have the ability to produce 115/120 volts or 220 volts. Select the outlet that corresponds to the voltage requirement of the appliance.
(Source: LSU Extension)
Attempts to clean up, using a wet-dry vacuum cleaners, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions to avoid electric shocks. Do not allow the power cord connections to become wet. Use a ground fault circuit interrupter to prevent electrocution. Never remove or bypass the groupd pin on a three-pronged plug in order to insert it into a non-grounding outlet. And never allow the connection between the machine's power cord and the three-wire extension cord to stand in water or become wet. Use safe practices when using a wet-dry vacuum cleaner to clean up water damage.
Water in basements is always a problem with large amounts of rain and flooding. Water seeping through basement walls and flooors is a common sight. This is because water seeks its own level. When the soil surrounding a basement foundation wall is saturated or flooded with water, the pressure exerted against the solid side of the basement wall is increased. The pressure provides the force to encourage leakage through cracks, splices or at he connection of the foundation wall to the footing. The method of basement wall construction, whether a reinforced poured concrete or block construction, has a large effect on how to handle basement water. An unreinforced block basement cannot stand very much pressure and will collapse quite easily. If a lot of water is seeping in, it may be better to let the basement flood.
If your basement is flooded, shut off electricity in the basement, but don't do it standing in water! The electrical service panel is commonly in the basement and any shorted out receptacles should trip the breakers. To shut off the electricity, use a dry, wooden stool which is higher than the water, wear rubber boots that aren't wet on the inside, and wear rubber gloves, If this is not possible, have the power company cut the power if there is not shut off outside of the house.
No matter the type of basement wall construction, if the basement is flooded with more than 6 inches of water, don't be in a big hurry to pump it out. More damage could be caused by pumping the water out too soon than by letting it remain. Water in the basement helps brace the walls against the extra pressure. If pumped too soon, floors may push up and walls cave in. Don't pump until water around the house recedes. Then pump out about one-third of the water each day, make sure it is well away from the house. Use a gasoline powered pump or one connected to an outside line, not the house electrical system. While pumping out the dirty water, wash off the walls with clean water and remove any mud while it is wet. (Source: NDSU Extension)
Some people may be without cooking appliances; don't use cooking grills indoors or in enclosed sheltered areas. In doing so, you risk both asphyxiation from carbon monoxide and the chance of starting a fire that could destroy your home. Carbon monoxide has no ordor and can kill you.
Play it Safe With Food
While the electricity is off, avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer doors unless absolutely necessary. A fully stocked freezer will usually keep food frozen for two days after losing power. A half-full freezer will usually keep food frozen for about one day. If the freezer isn't full, quickly group packages together so they'll retain the cold more effectively.
Separate raw meat and poultry items from other foods. If raw meat and poultry begin to thaw this will prevent their juices from getting onto other foods.
If the power will be out for a longer period than the freezer will maintain the cold, dry ices may be placed in the freezer. CAUTION: Never touch dry ice with your bare hands or breathe the fumes. Place the dry ice on cardboard or on empty shelves in the freezer around the items to be kept frozen. Thirty pounds of dry ice should hold a full, normal-size freezer below freezing for at least a couples of days. Place blankets or quilts over these appliances to act as additional insulation. (Source: LSU Extension)
Making A Record of Losses and Damage:
Take photos. Do this inside and out. You can't have too many pictures. Pictures should show any structural damage to the building and furnishings, and any items of particular values. Record the serial numbers of any appliances or equipment that is thrown out. This information is valuable for filing insurance claims and for documenting lossess for other purposes, such as tax deductions.
Allow Buildings/Houses to Dry Out:
This can reduce or prevent mold growth, but must be done quickly, usually in 48 hours or less. Open doors and windows, and open up wall cavities if walls have gotten wet. Remember that these measures will only be effective if outside humidity is low. Use fans to move air in and around the cavity to speed up drying.
Secure damaged buildings from looters when you are not present. Doors and windows should be locked, or secured with plywood, if possible. Portable valuables should be removed to a secure location.
Do not use electrical appliances that have been wet. Water can damage the motors in electrical appliance, such as furnaces, freezers, refrigerators, washing machines and dryers.
Storms and Damage from Storms can be Highly Stressful for BOTH Adults and Children
Keep the family together for mutual support. Discuss problems with others -- friends and neighbors can offer mutual support, too. Take care of and comfort your kids. During the clean-up, take breaks and don't forget to eat nutritional foods.
For more specific information related to storm clean-up refer to:
UNL Extension - Flood Resources, flood.unl.edu
MSU Extension - Chain Saw Safety: Tree Felling
Purdue Extension - Rebuilding Water-Damaged Homes
UFL Extension - Hurricane Recovery: Cleaning up the Mess (good information related to generator safety and food safety)
Texas A&M - Hiring a Reputable Contractor
We have complied a collection of resources to help those that have been affected by recent storms. More...
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