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Emergency Evacuation Plan

September 7th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

7 Steps to Prepare an Emergency Evacuation Plan

Well before a disaster or some unforeseen event strikes, you should be thinking about an evacuation plan in the event you and your family are forced to leave your home on short notice. Emergencies can come in a variety of forms with varying preparation times, from storms with fair warning to a more immediate crisis, such as a fire.

An evacuation plan that is spelled out and shared with your family members well in advance is a good strategy for success, and overall safety, in case of disaster. Consider where you will go and how you will get there, how you will stay in touch and who will know where you are.

Step 1: Designate a place for all family members to meet while ensuring the meeting place is outside the impacted evacuation area.

Step 2: Map out a primary evacuation route, including alternate routes in case your intended route is blocked.

Step 3: Create a communication plan for use if family members become separated. Develop an alternate plan that everyone is comfortable with in case there is no landline or cell service. Remember that during certain emergencies, public safety officials will communicate the need to evacuate and other developments through various methods including the news media, social media and alert broadcasts to smartphones. These can be valuable information resources for individual family members should anyone become separated.

Step 4: Be sure that you have ample fuel in your vehicle to reach your meeting place, remembering that you may not be able to take your preferred evacuation route.

Step 5: Identify a contact person outside the affected area and give that person’s contact information to everyone in the family so he or she can serve as a point of contact should you get separated.

Step 6: Share cell phone numbers for texting, as text messages will often go through if cell service deteriorates.

Step 7: Pack a survival kit and be sure it includes a portable radio, a cell phone charger, a charger for any tablets or laptops, as well as fresh batteries, to ensure you can get the most up-to-date information. Don’t forget to bring any vital medications.

How to Prepare for a Hurricane

September 7th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

Your level of preparation before a hurricane can determine how well you weather the storm and how quickly you recover from it. You should start preparing your home, inside and out, long before a storm is in the forecast. In the end, you can never be too prepared when it comes to protecting your loved ones and your property from extreme weather events such as hurricanes.

Know the Forecast

You may hear the terms “hurricane watch” and “hurricane warning” in your local forecast. Understanding the difference between them is essential to helping you prepare for a hurricane. As soon as a hurricane watch or warning is forecast for your area, it is important, depending on the type of alert, to immediately begin or complete your preparations.

watch means hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours. You should begin to stock up on emergency supplies in the event a warning is issued. If you live in a coastal area, you also should be prepared to evacuate.

warning is more serious. Hurricane-force winds (74 mph or higher) are expected to hit your area within 36 hours. You should seek shelter or evacuate, if notified to do so.

General Hurricane Preparation Tips

  • Prepare a survival kit that includes items such as water and non-perishable food for everyone, including your pets; medications; a portable radio; flashlights; batteries; and battery chargers for your cell phones and other portable electronic devices, which can be powered by your car.
  • Plan your evacuation route and leave as soon as an evacuation order is issued. Also, fuel up your car before you leave.
  • Build a content inventory of the items in your home or at your business.
  • Secure all outdoor objects or move them inside. Close your home’s storm shutters and board up windows and glass doors as appropriate.
  • If possible, bring in gas or charcoal grills, but do not use them indoors. Also, do not store propane tanks inside the house or garage. Chain propane tanks in an upright position to a secure object away from your home.
  • Secure your boat or move it to a safer place.
  • Fill your emergency generator fuel tank, if you have one, and have spare fuel on hand. Store generator fuel in an approved container in a garage or shed, away from open flames, heat sources and appliances such as natural gas appliances.

Keep Track with Our Emergency Checklist > 

Five Tips to Help Prepare Your Home for a Hurricane

1. Help Avoid Water Damage

Heavy rains have the potential to cause significant water damage. These tips can help you prepare your home.

  • Closing and locking all windows and doors and removing any window air conditioners.
  • Removing valuable items from your basement or elevating them off of the floor.
  • Clearing debris from exterior drains and gutters.
  • Repairing damaged gutters and downspouts to make sure water can drain away from your foundation.
  • Checking your sump pump and the battery backup to confirm they are working properly.

2. Monitor Your Trees

In a powerful windstorm, trees can be a hazard. Broken limbs or fallen trees — even uprooted shrubbery — could damage your home and fences, or your neighbor’s property.

Routinely maintain the trees around your home:

  • Prune tree limbs within 10 feet of your home.
  • Check for cracking or splitting in trees.
  • Remove dead limbs and weakened trees.

3. Roofs, Doors, Windows and Skylights

It is important to keep wall openings, such as doors, windows and skylights protected. The roof, doors and windows of your house are especially vulnerable to wind damage. When houses are exposed to hurricane force winds, roofs are most susceptible to damage, followed by walls and openings such as skylights.

Strengthen doors and windows by:

  • Installing reinforcing bolt kits at the top and bottom of doors.
  • Reinforcing garage doors.
  • Installing storm shutters over windows.

4. Secure Outdoor Items

If you live in an area that experiences high winds, outdoor items around your property that are not properly anchored can become airborne and cause damage.

  • If high winds are expected in your area, move as many outdoor items indoors well before the high winds arrive. As mentioned earlier, do not store propane tanks in your home or garage.
  • Adequately secure any remaining outdoor items that cannot be safely moved to protected areas.

5. Strengthen Your Exterior Structure

During a windstorm, wind forces are carried from the roof down to the exterior walls and then to the foundation. Homes can be damaged when wind and wind-driven water gets under the building’s exterior walls if proper controls are not in place.

Strengthen exteriors by employing a contractor to:

  • Install hurricane straps to reinforce roof-to-wall and wall-to-foundation connections.
  • Retrofit soffits to help ensure they remain in place in high winds.
  • Properly brace roof trusses.

National Preparedness Month

September 7th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Live Well, Work Well

Since 2004, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the national Ready Campaign have promoted National Preparedness Month (NPM) every September. NPM encourages Americans to take steps to prepare for all types of emergencies and strives to increase the overall number of people, families and communities that engage in preparedness actions.

The most recent data from the Red Cross, though, reveals that despite 8 out of 10 Americans feeling unprepared for a catastrophic event, only 1 in 10 has taken the following appropriate preparedness steps:

  • Create a family emergency plan.
  • Stock an emergency supply and first-aid kit.
  • Train in basic first aid.

Remember, you can’t plan when a disaster will occur, but you can plan ahead to be prepared if and when a disaster does strike. This September, take time to learn more about NPM and take the suggested steps to become properly prepared. For more information, please visit the NPM website.

View more Live Well, Work Well tips here.

Insuring Your College Student

September 7th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Hedda's Hints

Sending a child off to college is a significant milestone that represents the culmination of years of planning and hard work. As you prepare for the start of the semester, you should consider how your insurance needs may change with your son or daughter away at school.

Protecting Your Student’s Belongings

Many homeowners policies consider a dorm room as an extension of your home, so items your child keeps there may be covered to some extent. However, if your child has expensive electronic equipment or furniture, you may want to consider purchasing additional coverage.

If your child lives off campus, his or her possessions may not be covered by your homeowners policy. In that case, you may want to consider renter’s insurance, which costs as little as $15 per month. Renter’s insurance will cover possessions in your child’s off-campus apartment or house as well as provide liability coverage if anyone is injured in the residence.

Keeping Your Child Healthy While on Campus

Many students can stay on their parents’ health plans if they are full-time students. However, restrictions vary greatly by state, and coverage could be even more complicated if your child is attending an out-of-state school.

If you find your child doesn’t have coverage under your plan, you have a few options. Most colleges have their own health plans, but some policies have high deductibles and low coverage maximums. A few don’t offer any coverage for conditions present before entering the school, so be sure to examine plans carefully. Otherwise, you may want to consider an individual policy for your child.

Changing Auto Coverage

If your child moves more than 100 miles away from your home to attend school and doesn’t keep a vehicle there, your auto insurance premiums could decrease by as much as 30 percent. Call us today at 240-644-6000, and see if you can save money while still maintaining coverage for your child when he or she is at home.

Insurance Questions to Ask

Here are some important questions to ask when your child goes to college:

  • Will my child’s belongings be covered if he or she lives in off-campus housing?
  • Do I have to change my auto policy if my child brings the car to school?
  • If my child is an athlete, will he or she be covered under my family health plan if he or she is injured during a practice or game?

Count on Us
If you are sending a child off the college and haven’t looked at adjusting your coverage, contact us today to learn more. You could save money on your policies and protect your child from expensive incidents while away from home.

Common Flu Vaccine Myths

September 7th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Family Health & Safety

September 2017 Festivals and Events

September 7th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Spotlight on the Community

Maryland Renaissance Festival – Through Oct. 22, 2017. Crownsville, MD. A 16th century English village with crafts, food, live performances, games and lots more.

Prince George’s County Fair – Sept. 7-10, 2017. Upper Marlboro, MD. Carnival rides, live animals displays, family circus, fireworks, live entertainment, food.

The DC Shorts Film Festival – Sept. 7-17, 2017. Film festival in Washington, DC featuring short films and discussions with filmmakers.

Rosslyn Jazz Festival – Sept. 9, 2017, 1-7 p.m. Enjoy a day of free jazz concerts in Rosslyn, VA.

Frederick’s In the Street Festival  – Sept. 9, 2017. Frederick, MD. One of the biggest festivals of the year takes over the downtown area with live entertainment to encourage dancing in the streets. Also, enjoy food, arts and crafts, and kids activities.

Maryland Seafood Festival – Sept. 9-10, 2017. Sandy Point State Park, Annapolis, MD. Weekend event with great food, music, and family fun.

September 11 Memorial Events – Various Dates. See the schedule of special commemorative events in Washington, DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia.

Takoma Park Folk Festival – Sept. 10, 2017, 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Community festival with games, food, crafts, dancing and music.

Nation’s Triathlon – Sept. 10, 2017. The sporting event includes a scenic course that winds through the National Mall, a 1.5k swim in the Potomac River, 40k bike course through the streets of Washington and Maryland, finishing with a 10k run past the city’s historical landmarks. The weekend includes a Health and Fitness Expo that is open to the public.

Adams Morgan Day – Sept. 10, 2017, Noon-7 p.m. Annual street festival in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC.

Washington Redskins Opening Game – Sept. 10, 2017,  7 p.m. The Washington football team plays in their home opener. Enjoy the football season and cheer for the Redskins.

Anne Arundel County Fair – Sept. 13-17, 2017.  Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds, Crownsville, MD. Monster truck rides, carnival rides, farm animals, pig races, antique saw mill, pie eating contest, talent show and much more.

National Hispanic Heritage Month – Sept. 15-Oct. 15. Celebrate the culture and traditions of Spanish speaking residents who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

Charles County Fair – Sept. 14-17, 2017. Charles County Fairgrounds, 8440 Fairgrounds Road. La Plata, Maryland. (301) 932-1234. Farm animals, displays, demonstrations, food, entertainment, carnival rides, games and activities for all ages.

Great Frederick Fair – Sept. 15-23, 2017. Frederick Fairgrounds. Musical entertainment, tractor pulls, equine expo and showcase, agricultural events, food.

Andrews Air Show – Sept. 16-17, 2017. Joint Base Andrews, Camp Springs, MD. The show features the Air Force’s premier aerial demonstration team, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, performing fast-paced aerobatic maneuvers of two, four and six planes flying in formation.

Alexandria King Street Art Festival – Sept. 16-17, 2017. King Street becomes an outdoor gallery featuring 200 of the nation’s top award-winning artists.

WalkingTown DC – Sept. 16-24, 2017. Enjoy free guided tours of the neighborhoods of Washington DC. Dozens of walking tours are available offering a great way to explore the nation’s capital.

H Street Festival – Sept. 16, 2017, noon-6 p.m. The festival includes musical and dance performances, children’s activities, crafts, international foods and more.

Latino Festival – Fiesta DC – Sept. 16-17, 2017. Washington DC. Celebrate the Latino culture with one of the largest festivals in the nation’s capital. International cuisine and lots of live entertainment.

Mount Vernon’s Colonial Craft Fair – Sept. 16-17, 2017, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The fair is a re-creation of an early American marketplace with artist demonstrations, family entertainment and 18th-century amusements.

Fiesta Musical at the National Zoo – 2017 Dates to Be Announced, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Enjoy a celebration of Latin American culture and wildlife through a variety of family-oriented activities, live music and dance, special keeper talks, and a Latin American food court.

Capital Home Show – Sept. 22-24, 2017. Dulles Expo Center. 4368 Chantilly Shopping Center, Chantilly, VA. See what’s new in building, remodeling, and decorating. Meet experts and shop, compare and save on all of your home improvement projects.

Hyattsville Arts and Ales Festival – Sept. 23, 2017, 12-6 p.m. Hyattsville, MD. More than 100 artists, MD breweries, food trucks and  live entertainment will span 4 blocks in the Gateway Arts District.

Taste of Georgetown – Sept. 24, 2017, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sample dishes from 30 Georgetown restaurants, while enjoying live music and children’s activities.

Fall Theater in Washington DC – With dozens of performances around the region, here is the schedule of the top shows for the 2017 season.

Charity Walks in the Washington, DC Area – The MS Challenge Walk and the Walk for Kids are great charities to support while improving your own health. See these and more walks coming up this fall.

Oktoberfests Near Washington, DC – Various DatesFind German folk festivals with great beer, food, and live entertainment.

Washington DC Tour de Cure Bicycling Event  – Sept. 23, 2017. Washington, DC. Bike across the nation’s capital and help raise funds and awareness for the American Diabetes Association. All experience levels welcome.

Turkish Festival – Sept. 24, 2017, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Freedom Plaza, Washington, DC. Celebrate Turkish art and culture with a variety of family-friendly activities, food, crafts and more.

Pumpkin Festivals – Some of the region’s pumpkin patches open at the end of September. Find out where the best pumpkin patches and fall festivals are in the Washington, DC area and plan an early visit before the crowds.

Calvert County Fair – Sept. 27-Oct 1, 2017. Prince Frederick, Maryland. The fair includes a wide range of activities including farm animals, exhibits, musical, entertainment, food, carnival rides, contests and a 4H auction.

Fall for Fairfax Festival – Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2017, 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Northern Virginia’s largest fall festival includes more than 100 interactive activities and exhibits for the whole family.