Search results for: 'pet'

  • Why You Need a Home Inventory, and How to Do It Yourself

    Home inventory

    Every year, one in 15 insured homes suffers a loss or damage large enough for the owners to file a claim, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The average claim was $8,793 according to a study from 2009-2013. That’s more than petty cash.

    Yet fewer than half of Americans know what’s in their homes. Only 41 percent have a home inventory, according to a Feb. 2012 survey from the National Association of Insurance Commissions.

    It’s important to have a home inventory for three reasons, according to the Insurance Information Institute. An inventory helps people buy enough insurance to replace what they own. It helps people get insurance claims settled faster. And it helps allow an income tax deduction for unreimbursed losses.

    "Regular people, whether they're homeowners or renters, need home inventories way more than the wealthy, because they need the money more," said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson for the Insurance Inventory Institute, in a story from the Associated Press.

    Start by making a list, any list. It’s better to have an incomplete inventory than nothing at all.

    Home inventory Take notes of your personal belongings

    Many companies have inexpensive or free apps or software. Or use a pencil and paper or walk around the house with a phone’s video recorder on. Describe each item, where you bought it and its make and model. Add any sales receipts, purchase contracts and appraisals.

    For clothes, count what you own by category like shirts or shoes, paying extra attention to any valuable pieces like jewelry and furs. They may need additional insurance since most policies limit jewelry coverage to $500, according to the N.A.I.C.

    In the kitchen, open the drawer or look on the shelf and describe what’s there, like ‘a set of dishes for 12 including a dinner plate, bowl and so on,’ and when and where you bought it.

    Appliances and electronic equipment are often big ticket items, and sometimes basic insurance doesn’t cover their replacement cost. The standard insurance policy limit for electronic equipment is $1,000, which might not be enough to cover all the devices like computers and tablets, according to the N.A.I.C. An inventory can help you know if you need more coverage. Record each device’s make and model and the serial number found on the back or bottom.

    The cost of even basic items like toys, fans, and towels can rapidly add up, so make sure to include those in the inventory.

    Moving Boxes"People always say they don't have a lot of stuff. But if you add up the cost of your bed, with your mattress, mattress cover, bed frame and maybe a few suits hanging in your closet, some high-tech items or small appliances, and your bike or golf clubs, it easily adds up to thousands of dollars. And you're going to really depend on that money to get up and running again after a disaster," Salvatore told the A.P.

    Remember to look in the garage and attic, too.

    It can be daunting to start the inventory process, especially if you’ve been accumulating things for a while. The I.I.I. suggests you start with recent purchases then work backward, and don’t do the work by yourself.

    "If your household gets involved, this project can be fun. Children can help by opening closets and drawers and listing what is in there," Salvatore said in a release.

    Or, you can hire one of numerous companies to do an inventory for you. Try a Google search of home inventory businesses.

    Once you’ve got an inventory, update it at least yearly. Also, whenever you buy anything valuable, add it to your inventory: take a photo, get the serial number and save the receipt.

    Finally, make sure you store a copy of the inventory off your property. The N.A.I.C. said 28 percent of people who have made a home inventory don’t have a backup copy elsewhere.

    “Don’t wait until after a disaster to think about a home inventory,” Salvatore said in a release. “Put aside a little time now to document all of your personal belongings. It will cost nothing but a little time to do.”

    Posted In: Budgeting Tagged With: insurance claims, home inventory, home, be prepared, insurance

  • Preparing Pets for Emergencies

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    Preparing Pets - FloodIn May 2011, storms and spring runoff combined to produce some of the worst flooding in a century in Memphis, Tennessee. The local government ordered more than 1,300 homes evacuated.

    Some people had to evacuate so fast they left their pets behind. Others took pets but found housing them in hotels was costly – if allowed at all. The American Humane Association, which sponsors an animal rescue group that travels to emergencies, reported it took in 187 animals. It pulled 50 of them from the flooding, including a cat that bore four kittens after its rescue.

    When preparing your family for emergencies, don’t forget pets. Preparing pets is just as important.

     

    ID your pet

    Preparing Pets with TagsYour pets should have current ID tags in case you get separated from them. The Humane Society of the United States suggests putting an out-of-state contact on the back of the tag, since an evacuation might force you out of your home. Pets with microchips in them have been found halfway across the country, so if possible, get your pet microchipped and enroll it in a recovery database, said the Humane Society.

    “If your pet gets lost, his tag is his ticket home,” said ready.gov.

    Once you’ve tagged your pet, make sure you keep its records handy in a waterproof container.

    Your pet’s records should include a veterinary history and name of your veterinarian, feeding schedules, medical conditions and behavior issues, in case you have to board your pets apart from you.

    You need a current photo of you with your pet along with its description. That can help others find your pet and prove it’s yours if you get separated.

     

    Make a pet disaster kit

    “Keep in mind that what's best for you is typically what's best for your animals,” said ready.gov.

    Pets need disaster kits just like people do.

    The Humane Society of the United States has a great checklist for a pet disaster kit.

    It suggests packing food and water for five days (check out our freeze-dried pet food, great for long-term storage). Remember a can opener. Though your pet doesn’t need a gallon of water per day, the checklist recommends keeping an extra gallon of water on hand to clean your pet if it gets exposed to chemicals or flood water. You also need equipment to collect pet waste: a cat litter box with litter and a scoop and garbage bags.

    Preparing Pets with Meds, etc.You should have first aid supplies for your pets as well as for your family, including medicines and a pet first aid book.

    “There are many minor injuries you can deal with at home before going to a vet, especially in an emergency or when you can't get in to see a doctor quickly,” wrote Deann Shepherd, director of communications for the Humane Society of Utah in an email.

    A pet could end up staying in a carrier for hours or longer. The Humane Society of the United States recommends a carrier large enough to allow a pet to stand comfortably, turn around and lie down. Small pets should have a secure cage with blankets or towels for warmth and any species-specific needs. Also bring leashes or harnesses. If possible, a pet’s bed and toys from home are useful to reduce its stress.

    Other useful items include paper towels, trash bags, grooming items, and bleach.

     

    Find a safe place to stay

    Most shelters won’t take pets. See if you can arrange for friends or relatives outside your immediate area to shelter you and your pets, the Humane Society said. If you have more than one pet, you may need to house them in separate places. A kennel or vet’s office might board your pets. Or, though this will be more costly, you can track down a pet-friendly hotel.

    The Humane Society has a list of online resources for pet-friendly hotels, reproduced below. Be aware that many hotels will have a pet surcharge.

     

    Find Pet Friendly Hotels:

    Bringfido.com
    Dogfriendly.com
    Doginmysuitcase.com
    Pet-friendly-hotels.net
    Pets-allowed-hotels.com
    Petswelcome.com
    Tripswithpets.com

     

    As a last resort, ask your local animal shelter if its staff can watch your pet, the Humane Society said. However, be aware that shelters often have limited resources.

     

    Plan for your pet in case you're not home

    Ask a neighbor or nearby family member to take your pets if you’re not at home when there’s a disaster. Give that person a key and show them where your pets are likely to hide and where you keep emergency supplies. Make sure that person knows your pets and vice-versa.

     

    What solutions have you come up with for preparing pets for disasters? Tell us in the comments!

    Posted In: Planning Tagged With: preparing pets, pets, disaster

  • Preparing Children with Emergency Signs

    Preparing children for emergencies is essential for families. You can train most children, even young ones, how to react to a disaster. You should create an emergency plan for natural and human-caused disasters, then practice at least twice a year so everyone knows where to go and who to contact in case they need to evacuate, recommends the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

    However, babies can’t be trained. Pets usually have trouble following an evacuation plan. Some special needs family members can’t be trained or may have trouble communicating or moving. Some use medical equipment like concentrated oxygen, which is explosive in a fire.

    Preparing Children - Baby on BoardThough not for everybody, emergency signs can be useful to those populations. These include window stickers that indicate children’s bedrooms, oxygen signs, medical alert stickers and bracelets, and car signs like, oh, yeah, “Baby on Board.” “Baby on Board” signs were so ubiquitous in the mid-1980s they even inspired a song on “The Simpsons.”

    The advantage is simple: the more information first responders have, the better, said Trooper Josh Lewis from the Colorado State Patrol.

    An autistic boy from his church congregation wandered away from home, which caused an hours-long search. Fortunately, the boy wore a medical alert bracelet.

    “Should law enforcement come across him and see … the medical alert bracelet, we would much rather have the information than not,” Lewis said.

    Medical alert stickers are available.

    Preparing Children - Autistic ChildEmergency signs are useful on cars too. A sign like “Autistic child may not respond to verbal commands” or even “Baby on Board” helps first responders be more alert, Lewis said.

    “Any time we respond to a crash and see a car seat or anything that has to do with a kid in a vehicle, we are going to scour the area,” he said.

    Advocacy groups often recommend emergency alert window stickers for apartment buildings, said Ken Willette, division manager of the public fire protection division of the NFPA. They help responders know where to search first. Private homeowners may also post the stickers.

    “It’s all about life and safety. If people feel comfortable putting up a warning label or sign to let first responders know they might need special services, that’s a good thing,” he said.

    Preparing Children with OxygenOxygen signs are not voluntary, Willette said. Many states require people to post an oxygen sign if they have compressed oxygen cylinders in their home. Remember the movie “Apollo 13”? A single spark in its oxygen tank destroyed the spacecraft.

    Emergency responders like to know if they’ll be facing something like that. Wouldn’t you?

    Voluntary signs like child stickers in windows can come with disadvantages, according to the NFPA.

    First, they can create a false sense of security and imply that children should wait for rescue. Parents need to teach children to respond immediately when the smoke alarms sounds, know two ways out of every room, crawl under smoke, gather at a meeting place and call the fire department from outside a burning building, according to the NFPA.

    Second, emergency signs can suggest vulnerable areas in the home to intruders. They also open up owners to the abuses from bullies. A mother in Utah who had an autism warning sign for first responders on her car came out one morning to find somebody had defaced it with stickers that read “spoiled brat” and “unetitled” (sic).

    Preparing Children - Tag their roomFinally, and most importantly, when children change rooms or grow up, the window signs need to change rooms or be removed. Firefighters could waste vital rescue time looking for a child who isn’t there, a NFPA brochure said.

    With all that in mind, if you choose to use emergency signs, or must use them by law, follow two directions. Make sure the signs are visible and take them down when they don’t apply. Whether or not you use emergency notification equipment, do contact emergency services in your area if you have family members with special medical needs. Some fire departments can enter that information so it will show when dispatchers access an address, Willette said. If you have medical equipment that requires electricity, tell power companies so they can prioritize that during outages.

    “As long as you feel comfortable, first responders would much rather have the information than not,” Lewis said.

    Emergency notification signs, bracelets, and stickers are available in many places. I found them for sale with a simple Web search and on Amazon.com. Some fire departments sometimes have free window stickers. I also found free printable signs with a Google search. As you see, preparing children is more than just teaching them about disasters. It's about informing others around you to take extra care as well.

     

    - Melissa

    Posted In: Planning Tagged With: emergency sign, baby on board, preparing children

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