Preparing Your Home for Natural Disasters

Storm season ahead road signPeople often assume that drastic, unexpected dangers to their houses have no chance of happening. Unfortunately, many people find this expectation gravely disappointed when natural disasters strike their neighborhoods abruptly. All homeowners need to take steps to prepare for dangerous weather because it can—and often does—strike here in North Carolina. The state annually experiences many natural disasters, including hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. Here are useful pieces of advice for homeowners to prepare their families for natural disasters.

Why Prepare?

During the busy and eventful summer season, it is especially easy to get caught up in your life and neglect home safety. Parents may ask: “Why devote so much time and energy to prepare for a natural disaster which is unlikely to even happen?” Well, the first thing to point out is that it is much easier to prepare your family for an emergency than it is to keep them safe without having taken any precautions. More importantly, a natural disaster is not as unlikely as you might think—especially in North Carolina. According to a recent study, the state ranks fifth in the country for the number of homes that are at high risk or very-high risk of natural disasters. To make matters even worse, they can strike during each season. Summers in North Carolina are prone to hurricanes, and the start of hurricane season was June 1st, so there is no better time to prepare yourself. Tornadoes can strike at any time, with the peak of the state’s tornado season being in the Spring. Winters often experience snowstorms, icy roads, and power outages. Finally, the Fall can experience anything from flooding to wildfires.

How to Prepare?

Thankfully, the situation for North Carolina homeowners is not at all hopeless! There are many courses of action which families can take to prepare themselves for natural disasters. Obviously, one of the first steps which you should take is to know what you most need to prepare for by discovering which natural disasters are most liable to strike your neighborhood. It may be wise to ask your neighbors what kind of inclement weather happens in the county most often and do private research online. After taking into account the peculiar weather of your area, you can begin to prepare. Assembling an emergency supply kit can mean the difference between a very dangerous situation and a safe one after a disaster strikes. Include in your kit a gallon of water and a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Canned foods would be a good option, but if you opt for them be sure to include a manual can opener. Other supplies, such as fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and blankets can also keep your family safe in the event of home damage and extended power outages. Be sure not to forget items specific to your own personal family needs, such as food for your pets and baby supplies. Keep everyone in your family informed about the proper course of action and place to go in the event of a disaster. During disasters such as tornadoes and hurricanes, windowless rooms low to the ground, such as underground shelters, basements, or bathrooms, are the best option.

 

Since 1990, the U.S. government has announced 20 federal disaster declarations for tropical storms and flooding in North Carolina. Many areas of the state experience frequent tornadoes—with Hoke, Cumberland, and Robeson counties featuring in the nation’s top 100 at-risk counties. Winter weather frequently leaves tens of thousands of people across the state without power for days and imperils your ability to travel. Far from being an unnecessary chore, taking the proper precautions to keep your family safe is one of the most useful things that you can do for them. As North Carolina begins Hurricane Season, take action to prevent the worst-case scenario from becoming your new reality.

4 Tips for Boosting Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Curb Appeal ImageAn old saying has it that “your first impression is your last impression.” In no arena is this quip more accurate than in the real estate market. Visitors would be wary of entering a sketchy house, and potential buyers would be reluctant to even come after seeing photos of an ugly home. Whether you are selling your residence or simply want to have the most attractive house on the block, these tips for boosting your home’s curb appeal are sure to improve both your property’s look and value.

Tip 1: Keep it clean!

So much attention is generally given to cleaning a house’s interior that homeowners often forget that its exterior is seen by more people and carries just as much weight. A trim and proper yard, for example, does wonders to make your home more approachable. Mow the lawn, remove overbearing weeds, and prevent the accumulation of unseemly lawn items. The house itself should also be effectively maintained. To make worn, aged houses look brand new again, consider pressure washing the exterior to remove decades of built up dirt and mold.

Tip 2: Vibrant Colors

In addition to general cleanliness, houses with curb appeal need appealing color schemes. Houses with drab and dull colors give off a sterile and even gloomy atmosphere. In contrast, those with lush and vibrant color schemes radiate warmth and life. It helps to update your paint job if the color has faded or is simply unattractive. A fresh coat of paint is not the only way to brighten your home’s color palette. Gardens, plants, and trees add a burst of natural color to your home and a rich look sure to captivate guests and potential buyers.

Tip 3: Seasonal Decorations

A well-maintained, colorful residence has a lot going for it, but keeping it up to date with the season provides curb appeal by adding timeliness and personality. During the summer months of June and July, displaying an American flag is an appropriate way to celebrate Memorial Day and Independence Day and give your home a patriotic edge. In the fall, pumpkins and leaves provide a dash of autumnal festivity. The winter months, abundant with holidays, enjoy tons of possibilities—from Christmas lights, to snowmen, and wreaths. The springtime is sure to make your yard’s floral decorations stand out, so be sure to keep them beautiful.

Tip 4: Don’t forget the seemingly-innocuous factors

Though they are often overlooked, the seemingly minor elements of a home’s exterior can greatly improve your home’s curb appeal. For example, almost no owner thinks very much about their house numbers. But personalized house numbers can add character or distinction to your home. Other more under-the-radar factors which can bolster a house’s curb appeal are driveways and garage doors. Ensure that your driveway is well-maintained by removing grass growing in cracks and repairing damaged portions of concrete. Garage doors take up a lot of your property’s space and have a commanding presence, so keeping them classy through routine paint jobs and cleaning off grime can greatly enhance your house’s image.

 

Improving your home’s curb appeal improves both the financial value of your property as well as its visual appeal. Though these tips are by no means exhaustive, they will serve as great starting points for you as you work to make your house the standout of the neighborhood!

Preventing Opioid Misuse and Diversion

Every day in North Carolina, approximately three people die due to opioid overdose. Nationally, the President’s Economic Advisory Council estimated that the opioid epidemic cost our nation more than $500 billion in 2015.

Home Sellers have an important role to play in confronting this crisis. Open houses have become a target because they present easy access for those who seek prescription drugs. To prevent drug diversion during home showings and open houses, please review the following guidelines.

Before Open Houses or Showings:

  • Safely dispose of addictive prescription painkillers. Take advantage of medicine drop box locations. Flushing these drugs down the toilet or throwing them away is not a good alternative to safe disposal. A list of disposal programs can be found below.
  • Home sellers who need their prescription medication should secure any prescription drugs in locked containers or remove them from the house to a safe location the same way they would a wallet or a dangerous weapon.

Medicine Disposal Programs

Holiday Aftermath – Removing and Storing Decorations

Rows of shining christmas baubles in boxIt’s the first week of January, and the annual ritual of delicately taking down dozens – if not hundreds – of holiday decorations is staring you squarely in the face. (For those of you who intentionally take them down before the new year due to the fear of a year’s worth of bad luck, this article isn’t for you – this year.) Aside from hosting distant (eh um, non-favorite) relatives, the annual storing of holiday decorations is one of the most dreaded parts of the holiday. Yet, it must be performed no later than early January or else you risk being labeled as “that family.” You know the ones – who keep their lights up year-round and dare we say even the decorated tree. The audacity. But that’s not you, is it?

So, let’s explore some simple, cost-effective methods for storing and organizing these precious decorations that turn your home into a warm, festive winter wonderland for three to four weeks out of the year.

Plan Ahead

As best as possible, think ahead to where and how your holiday decorations will be used, so you can plan storage space and options accordingly. Depending on the layout of your home or business, it may make sense to break up the collection into different storage areas. For example, for a multi-story structure, it may make sense to store first-story decorations on the first floor and the second-story decorations on the second floor, thus eliminating the need to lug large trees, wreaths, figurines, and light sets from floor-to-floor.

Dedicated Storage Space

It’s best to have dedicated storage space for holiday decorations. Perhaps a corner in the attic, a spare closet, or off-site storage unit (for the expansive holiday collections) is available. By keeping the collection together and easily accessible, you won’t “lose” precious decorations each year or forget about timeless pieces due to them being scattered about different storage areas. Dedicated storage spaces also allow for easier transportation. Don’t forget to pick storage areas that are dry, temperature controlled and away from direct sunlight to prevent weathering and deterioration.

Wreath and Storage Boxes

Protect your wreaths, ornaments, and lights in sturdy, clear boxes dedicated for their purpose. When possible, keep the original boxes that the ornaments were sold within. They can be used each year to store ornament collections in a safe way to prevent damage during the holidays. Also, consider investing in a label machine or permanent, thick black marker, so you can clearly label boxes. It’s best to group ornaments and decorations by purpose and room for ease of decorating year after year. For example, if you have more than one holiday tree, group ornaments together by tree in its own box, so ornaments do not get mixed up.

Post-Holiday Decoration Purchases

Considering investing in a high-end, pre-lit tree or large outdoor decorative statements that are on post-holiday clearance? While the 70 percent off deals may be too good to pass up, be sure you have room to store the new tree or holiday-themed lawn inflatables 11 months or so out of the year before you buy it. You definitely don’t want to bring them home only to find the only space large enough to store them is your dining room. That makes for awkward dinner party conversation.

With a little pre-planning, having the right storage solutions, and organizing your holiday decorations, you can make the decorating – and storing post-holiday – more enjoyable and less stressful.

New Year, New (Home) Resolutions

2018 goals list
Goal, Plan, Laptop, Letter, List, computer Keyboard

If you’re like most of us, you rang in the new year with at least one ambitious resolution. Start exercising more? Travel more? Be a better person? Get more organized? Any of these are noble resolutions for 2018 and find themselves on tripsavvy’s Top New Year’s Resolutions list for 2018. But what about those resolutions for one of your life’s most valuable investments – your home? Here are some home-worthy New Year’s Resolutions for you to consider for 2018 that will make your house an even better home this year.

  1. Finish that “Honey-Do” List

One of the biggest barriers to completing your to-do list around your home is that the items on the list keep piling on faster than other projects on the list are completed. Perhaps try tackling the current honey-do list first – before adding any new projects. One helpful strategy may be to separate the lists into priorities, such as 1) Critical 2) When possible 3) Wish List. Another strategy is to tackle those existing projects on your list in order of time commitment, finishing the quickest projects first. Additionally, consider setting aside designated time to tackle these projects – perhaps a half day every other Saturday.

  1. Paint cans and colored brushes on white background
    Ultra Violet collage with paint cans and colored brushes on white wooden background. House renovation concept.

    Update Paint Colors

Almost nothing is as comforting as a fresh coat of paint and updated colors to bring the best out of your home – and its occupants. The right paint colors can be inviting, inspiring, comforting, and soothing and can positively impact the health, morale, and attitude of its occupants. Pantone’s color of the year is Ultra Violet 18-3838. While perhaps not suitable to deck all the walls in your home in this color, an accent wall with the right colors, furnishings, and lighting might just work. Keep in mind that Pantone selects a new color each year, so be sure not to pick colors in haste that you can’t live with for a few years – or until you want to paint again.

  1. Declutter

Nothing hinders progress (and Feng Shui) more than clutter. Psychologists have long theorized and proven that clutter is a form of mental baggage, weighing down the minds and spirits of those who keep it. Regina Leeds, professional organizer, bases her work on the premise that learning to organize is one piece of the puzzle – that cluttering is merely a symptom of a greater inner psychological issue. A decluttered home (and business, for that matter) environment will enable greater concentration, increased creativity, improved sleep, and many more invaluable benefits. The new year is the perfect time to take the first step and declutter your home – and your mind – to make room for the personal goals you have in store for 2018.

When you work on your New Year’s Resolutions for 2018, don’t forget to include some for your home on your list. Your home – and your psyche – will reward you for it.