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  • 3 Steps to Save Your Home from Melting Snow

    Melting Snow Flooding in Box Elder County - Via KUTV Flooding in Box Elder County, UT - via KUTV

    Snow is great. Not only does it make for fun sledding and skiing, but adds much-needed moisture to the earth. But too much of a good thing can really put a damper on things. Take snow, for example. If a lot of snow falls in one area during the winter, and then the warm, spring sun comes out to visit, there will be a lot of melting snow with nowhere to go. The ground is still hard, so there’s only so much it can absorb. And how does water travel on earth? By way of least resistance. Meaning, your basement is a prime target for flooding snow water.

    What fun.

    Speaking of fun, this is exactly what happened to residents in Box Elder County in Northern Utah. Damages are now in the millions of dollars, and volunteers “filled tens of thousands of sandbags,” according to a KUTV article. The National Guard is also helping in relief efforts.

    There a few things you can do today to protect your home from melting snow. The following steps are from Liberty Mutual, because if your house floods, they have to pay up (and they don’t want that), so you know it’s legit.

     

    Remove Snow Around Your Home

    This might seem a bit obvious, but it’s vital if you don’t plan on having a new swimming pool in your basement. Melting snow (i.e. water) can seep in through doors, windows, and even the foundation. But don’t just focus on the snow right next to your house; take note of the terrain of the surrounding area. Even subtle slopes that lead towards your home will direct the melting snow water in that direction – and that’s what we’re trying to avoid.

     

    Clear Your Roof and Gutters

    Roof raking Melting snow Instead of climbing up to the roof, using a snow roof rake is a much safer option.

    Be careful with this one, since ladders and other methods of getting to your roof can be dangerous, especially when it’s wet outside (i.e. snow on your boots). Also, you may consider hiring someone to do it for you (better them fall than you, right?). Now that we’ve finished with the disclaimer, here’s what you should do.

    Remove the snow from your roof to ensure minimal amount of run-off. Also, make sure your gutters and drain spouts are clear so what water does drain from your roof is redirected away from your home. Liberty mutual even suggests installing a sloped leader to your downspouts, so the water that does come through will travel even further away from your home.

     

    Clear Drainage Areas

    If your gutters and downspouts are free-flowing but the area where the water drains into is clogged up, you’re still going to be in trouble. Clear out all areas where the water should be draining, be it storm drains, catch basins, or even the gutters on the street. This will help the water go where it’s supposed to go (i.e. not into your house).

     

    Spring is just around the corner, and for that, we can truly rejoice. And while you wait with bated breath for the summery sunshine and beautiful blossoms, why not take a little bit of time to prepare your home and surrounding area for the inevitable melt that will occur shortly. After all, it’s better to do a little work now than have a flooded home.

     

    Written by Steven M.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner Melting Snow

  • California is Past Due for an Epic Flood

    California Flood - via Maven's Notebook Epic Flood Flooding in California - Image via Maven's Notebook

    Californians are about to appreciate Noah’s epic flood on a whole new level.

    Apparently (according to researchers), California is due for a massive flood. Caused by atmospheric rivers (basically a fire hose in the sky), major flooding takes place in and around California every 200 years. Well, guess what…It’s been about 200 years since the last time it happened.

    Bust out your brollies and wear your wellies, because things are about to get wet.

    Of course, California is already experiencing some roads-turned-rivers, new lakes in their backyards, and waterfalls spilling off the mountainsides that didn’t used to exist. Sorry to break the news, California, but this is just the tip of the rapidly melting iceberg.

     

     

    Flooded Streets - via the City of Roseville, California Epic Flood Flooded streets - Image via The City of Roseville, California

    According to The Verge, this flood of Biblical proportions could happen at any time. The last flood of this magnitude in California happened between 1861 and 1862 – more than 150 years ago. If history is to repeat itself (and history has taught us that it usually does), then it’s high time to get your home on stilts and walk around with a life preserver around your waist.

    OK, so perhaps a house on stilts and a life preserver as a belt is a little much, but there are certainly things you should do to prepare. For starters, having a water barrel or two (or three or four…) is a great way to always ensure you have drinkable water. In a flood, you might not think you have to worry about water – after all, it’s everywhere! But that’s just the problem, it’s everywhere.

    Despite all the water a flood brings in, it’s not drinkable as-is. Flood water has a nasty tendency of contaminating potable water sources. Aside from water barrels, another way to counter this is to make sure you have at least one water filter so you can use the flood water as drinking water (you may also need a way to purify the water alongside filtering it, because of itty bitty organisms and other icky things).

    If you live near the ocean, a desalinator wouldn’t be a bad idea, either. Desalinators take the salt out of the ocean, making it drinkable. Besides a flood, a desalinator is also good for droughts, since the water is just sitting there, unused.

    Of course, it never hurts to have a massive ark sitting in your back yard…just in case.

     

    Written by Steven M.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner Epic Flood

  • Vegetable Shortage in Great Britain: Time to Get Gardening

    Vegetable shortage

    In a throwback to World War II, many British supermarkets have been rationing lettuce.

    Zucchini and satsuma (Mandarin orange) supplies have also been limited. And now, market experts are predicting a global olive oil shortage.

    It’s all due to poor growing conditions in southern Europe.

    In southern Spain, which supplies half of Europe’s vegetables and a quarter of Britain’s, freezing temperatures and flooding decimated crops. At the same time, unseasonably hot temperatures in Greece and Italy damaged olive groves.

    Your food comes from everywhere. One interest group estimated the average meal in the United States travels 1,500 miles from farms to your plate. A disruption anywhere along the route – poor weather or shipping problems, for example – can cause anything from a price hike to rationing.

    Canned or dried food storage can ensure a long-term supply of many fruits and vegetables. But let’s face it, you can’t can lettuce. And other produce just tastes better fresh.

    So consider growing a garden. This time of year is the best time to plan one. In some places, you can actually start sprouting early season seeds at the end of February.

    Happy man amidst vegetable shortage

    Start by identifying a space. It can even be your porch, if you want to use a garden box or straw bales. Think about using flower beds. I grow garlic chives between my rose bushes. They have a mild garlic flavor that I use in salads and cooking. And the plants may prevent some pests in the roses.

    Consider factors like light, soil, and water. I have a fairly large space for a vegetable garden. But it’s far away from my household water sources. Every year, I have to stretch hoses across my yard to my garden and fight the corresponding loss of water pressure.

    Next, figure out what you want to grow and how much to plant. Think about what your family will eat. Consider what grows best in your area.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture produces hardiness zone maps that tell the average minimum temperature in your area. The American Horticultural Society produces heat zone maps that tell the average of number of days the temperature in your area reaches 86 degrees. You need both of those, plus the frost-free dates for your area, to know what to grow and when to plant.

    If you glance at a seed catalog, you’ll realize there are numerous varieties of each plant. They can be divided into two types of seeds: heirloom and hybrid. Heirloom seeds are nice because if you save the seeds from your plants year after year, they’ll produce the same types of plants. If you collect the seeds from hybrid plants, their genetic traits will be scrambled so they won’t work as well the next year. However, hybrid seeds can be bred for different traits like flavor, disease resistance, and quick growth. So in some areas they’re the better option.

    We sell canned heirloom garden seeds and heirloom herb seeds. Normally, most seeds are good for only a year. These seeds will last longer because they’re packed to keep moisture out. They’re recommended for climates with shorter growing seasons but are adaptable to other temperature hardiness zones. Do your research, however, because there’s a huge difference in soil type and garden pests between, say, a USDA hardiness zone 6 in Utah versus a zone 6 in Virginia.

    To get the best varieties of plants for your area, check your state university’s agriculture extension service. It will give you a few varieties that grow best in your state. (Here’s Utah State University Extension’s vegetable page.) Then, go to a nursery that grows its plants locally. Employees there can help pick the best type for your town or city or yard’s climate.

    This is only a beginning. You can find reams of information online about sprouting seeds, companion planting, and composting and soil preparation, among other topics. To get the best garden, you’ll need to do a lot of research. That’s why now is a good time to start.

    In most places, you don’t have be a great gardener to get some results. I’m a terrible gardener, living in an area where the soil is clay and rock, but last year one of my cherry tomato plants grew to 7 feet tall and produced a pint’s worth every other day for months. (I couldn’t get zucchini to grow, however, unlike about everybody else.)

    Try growing something. Then add something else. Over time, you can develop a great garden that can help tide you over in case a food supply problem elsewhere causes a shortage in your area.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner vegetable shortage

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