“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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As the rain keeps coming and more water continues to collect we thought we’d share a few facts with you.

  • Did you know that in the past 5 years, all 50 states have experienced floods or flash floods?
  • Did you know that new land development can increase flood risk, especially if the construction changes natural runoff paths?
  • Did you know most homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage?
  • Did you know that in most cases it takes 30 days after purchase for a flood insurance policy to take effect?
  • If you live in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) or high-risk area and have a Federally backed mortgage, your mortgage lender requires you to have flood insurance.
  • Just a few inches of water from a flood can cause tens of thousands of dollars of damage.
  • Anyone can be vulnerable to floods, people outside of mapped high-risk flood areas file nearly 25% of all National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance claims and receive one-third of Federal Disaster Assistance for flooding.

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Long’s Insurance and it’s employees are proud residents of Frederick and the Carbon Valley area and the 2013 flooding hit close to home. If you have questions about if flood insurance is right for you or your business please call, write or drop in.  We are happy to talk to you today.

What’s a “firenado”?

FirenadoThe Week in Severe Weather

What’s a “firenado”? Just ask the residents of San Diego County, California, where wildfires have been raging since Tuesday and where several swirling vortexes of fire were spotted in photos from the front lines. A column of smoke and flames even made its ways through one San Marcos neighborhood at midday on Thursday.

“It’s just like a spinning column of flames,” National Weather Service forecaster Michael Watkins told the LA Times. Firenadoes, or “fire whirls” as they’re known in the science community, can burn fuel at a rate that’s three to seven times faster than an open flame.

As many as 14 wildfires burned in the San Diego area this week, according to Aon Benfield’s weekly natural disaster report, with early damage estimates already reaching $20 million. More than 125,000 evacuation notices were issued at the height of the fires. The Poinsettia Fire near Carlsbad destroyed eight homes, a condominium complex and two commercial buildings before being contained on Friday. In Texas, two people were killed by wildfires in the Panhandle region, where fire destroyed at least 225 homes.

Photo: Twitter/Marcus Smith

As of Friday, officials were starting to life evacuation orders is some affected areas in California and there were hopes that cooler, calmer weather over the weekend would stop the fires’ spread.

Severe weather continues in the East

Strong thunderstorms continued to ravage the Central and Eastern U.S. this week, injuring more than 10 people and causing widespread damage across 10 states. There were 60 local storm reports of tornadoes this week, as well as 330 reports of damaging winds and 348 reports of hail. Between May 10-15 “thousands” of structures were damaged, according to Aon Benfield, with economic losses in the 100s of millions.

Overseas, heavy rains in southern and eastern China this week caused widespread flooding and landslides across six provinces, killing at least three and doing an estimated US $316 million worth of damages. Some 12,000 structures were damaged or destroyed. And five were killed in Serbia and Bosnia after the heaviest rains the Balkan region has seen in 120 years destroyed thousands of structures and did millions worth of damage.

Source:  Property Casualty 360

3 Tips on Fireproofing Your Home

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Although wildfires are most common in the west, they can happen anywhere in the U.S. There are many ways to prepare your home for an unlikely fire that go beyond keeping a fire extinguisher handy—especially in the case of naturally-occurring fires caused by arid conditions and other environmental conditions. Discover key tips on fireproofing your house from The Hartford Disaster Prep page.

Do Your Homework

Knowing your area’s risk for wildfires is the first step in your process of fireproofing your house. If you know that your neighborhood is affected by wildfires often, and when they are likely to occur, do an inventory of the flammable items around your house. This includes landscaping; avoid keeping plants, trees or dead plants too close to the house during wildfire season for your area.

In addition to inspecting the exterior of your home, take a look around inside. Check that your smoke detectors are working and if not, replace the batteries. You’ll also want to keep an emergency kit with essentials on hand in the event you need to evacuate. In addition to an emergency kit, implement a routine practice of an emergency plan the entire family knows.

What to Take

Your emergency kit should include the following: first aid supplies, blankets and any personal items you may need (medications, toiletries, clothing) as well as necessities for any pets. For additional tips on disaster preparedness, check out The Hartford’s Center for Mature Market Excellence’s disaster prep guidebook.

Minimize Damage

If there have been reports of wildfires nearby, it’s important to prepare your home even if you have been ordered to evacuate. Once your emergency kit is ready, and you know what you will take and leave behind, hose down the house, roof and surrounding area, (time-permitting, of course). Also be sure to turn off the gas to your house to lower your risk.

For a complete list of how to fireproof and prepare for wildfires, visit The Hartford’s Wildfire Safety page.

If your in need of Homeowner’s Insurance please contact Long’s Insurance Agency today for a free no hassle quote!  We can handle all of your insurance needs from Home and Auto, to Health and Life and your business needs.

 

Source:  thehartfordmile.com

 

 

 

Tips to Prevent Water Damage

Rain drops Water is everywhere.  We use it to cook, clean and play.  Unfortunately, water in the wrong place can cause damage to your home and belongings.

 WASHING MACHINES

  • Do not operate the washing machine while the home is unoccupied.
  • Leave a three to four-inch gap between the back of the washing machine and the wall to avoid kinking the hose near the valve connection. Leaking washer
  • Inspect the water supply line hoses every six months.  Ensure that the connection to the valve is secure, but avoid over-tightening.
  • Check the hoses for cracks, kinks or blisters, which are most commonly found near the hose connection.

 

 

WATER HEATERS

  • Have a professional plumbing inspection of the anode rod at least once every two years and annually once the warranty has expired.  The rod will eventually corrode and leave the tank vulnerable to damage.
  • Remove sediment by flushing the tank every six months.  Sediment will build up faster in areas with hard water.

PLUMBING SUPPLY AND DRAINAGE SYSTEMS

  • Visually inspect plumbing pipes annually; look for condensation around the pipes or obvious leaks or corrosion.
  • Pay attention to your water bill.  A significant increase could indicate a leak.
  • Call a plumber at first signs of rust-colored water, backed-up toilets or sinks and cracked or warped flooring.
  • Insulate pipes in attics, basements and exposed exterior pipes to avoid freezing.

ICEMAKERSice-maker-line-repair-notext

  • Proper Installation of the icemaker supply line hose is important to avoid water damage.
  • Tightly connect the hose to the valve.  Avoid over-tightening.
  • Leave a three to four-inch space between the back of the refrigerator and the wall to prevent the hose from crimping.
  • Inspect the hose and valve every six months.

SINKS

  • Inspect plumbing beneath sinks every six months.
  • Ensure connections are secure and there is no evidence of corrosion on the pipes.
  • Look for kinks in copper or plastic pipes.
  • Inspect the water shut off valve every six month and replace the valve if needed.

ROOFS

  • Consider a professional roof inspection.
  • Request a detailed inspection report that includes the condition of the flashing, roof covering, parapets and drainage system.
  • Repairs are needed if:    *There are cracked or missing shingles or loose or missing granules    *Flashing has deteriorated, particularly around chimneys and vents  *Pooling water is present
  • In areas prone to freezing and heavy snowfall, insulate to prevent heat from entering the attic space.
  • In areas prone to wind and hail consider an impact-resistant roof covering.

SHOWERS

  • Inspect tile and grout every six months, paying attention to loose or cracked tiles and cracked or crumbling grout lines.  Repair as needed.
  • Test the shower pan annually: *Block the floor drain. Fill the shower stall with approximately one inch of water. Use a pencil to mark the water line. Leave the water standing in the shower pan for eight hours. If the water level decreases, contact a plumbing professional.

SUMP PUMPS

  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for sump pump maintenance.  These vary from running the sump pump every two to three months to a yearly cleaning before the rainy season.
  • To inspect a sump pump: *Open the lid and remove debris that may be blocking the water inlet screen. Pour approximately five gallons of water into the pump and watch the float valve rise. As the float valve rises, the pump should turn on and the water should discharge through the outlet pipe. Go outside and inspect the outlet pipe. Water should be flowing away from the home. If the sump pump fails to operate during this inspection, contact a plumbing professional.
  • Install a battery backup system
  • Choose a system with a battery replacement warning.

Leaky toilet TOILETS

  • Inspect the flushing mechanism inside the toilet every six months. The fill valve should shut off when the float reaches the proper water level.
  • Replace the flapper or fill valve assembly if you notice intermittent or constant tank refilling when the toilet is in use.
  • Inspect the supply line every six months and ensure the connection to the valve is secure.

 

 

 

 

Source:  Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety Via State Auto

Tips for Surviving Severe Cold Weather

Extreme ColdMuch of the country periodically experiences severe and sustained cold weather, with snowfalls interspersed with periods of melting and freezing. This can inflict considerable damage on homes.
Here are some tips and steps you can take to keep your home safe and make insurance losses less likely during extended severe weather.

  • Keep sidewalks and entrances to your home free from snow and ice.
  • Watch for ice dams near gutter downspouts. Keep gutters free of leaves and debris so melting snow and ice can flow freely. Ice dams can cause water to build up and seep into your house.
  • Keep the house heated to a minimum of 65 degrees. The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 65 degrees will not keep the inside walls from freezing.
  • Identify the location for the main water shutoff in your home. Find out how it works in case you have to use it.
  • Open hot and cold faucets enough to let them drip slowly. Keeping water moving within the pipes will prevent freezing.
  • If you own a swimming pool and temperatures are expected to dip below freezing, run the pool pump at night to keep the water flowing through the pipes.
  • If you haven’t already, make sure all hoses are disconnected from outside spigots.
  • If your garage is attached to your house, keep the garage doors closed. The door leading to the house is probably not as well-insulated as an exterior door.
  • If ice forms on tree limbs, watch for dead, damaged or dangerous branches that could break and fall because of ice, snow or wind and damage your house, a car, or injure someone walking near your property.
  • If you use fireplaces, wood stoves and electric heaters, watch them closely and make sure they are working properly.
  • Remember to close the flue in your fireplace when you’re not using it.
  • If you have to leave your home on a trip, ask a neighbor to check the house regularly. If there is a problem with frozen pipes or water leakage, attending to it quickly could mean far less damage.
  • If you plan to be away for an extended period of time (or if temperatures are expected to remain below freezing), have the water system, including pool plumbing, have the water system drained by a professional to keep pipes from freezing or bursting.

A Worst-Case Scenario

  • If you discover that pipes are frozen, don’t wait for them to burst. Take measures to thaw them immediately, or call a plumber for assistance.
  • If your pipes burst, first turn off the water and then mop up spills. You don’t want the water to do more damage than it already has.
  • Call your agent or company as soon as you can. An insurance adjuster doesn’t need to see the spill before you take action. However, he or she will want to inspect any damaged items.
  • Make temporary repairs and take other steps to protect your property from further damage. Remove any carpet or furniture that can be further damaged from seepage.
  • Make a list of the damaged articles.
  • Save the receipts for what you spend—including additional living expenses if you must leave your home until repairs are completed—and submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.

Standard homeowners policies will cover most of the kinds of damage that result from a freeze. For example, if house pipes freeze and burst or if ice forms in gutters and causes water to back up under roof shingles and seep into the house. You would also be covered if the weight of snow or ice damages your house.
However, most policies do not cover backups in sewers and drains or flood damage, which can also happen in winter. To be covered for flooding, you need a policy from the National Flood Insurance Program, while coverage for sewers and drains is generally offered as an endorsement to a standard homeowners insurance policy.
If your home suffers water damage, it is important to make sure that it is properly dried and repaired to prevent any potential problem with mold. Remember, mold can not survive without moisture.
Check with your agent or company so you’ll be sure what your policy covers.

If you are looking for Home Owners Insurance or just what someone to look at your current policy to ensure that you do have adequate coverage, give Long’s Insurance Agency a call!  It’s a free call for your peace of mind.  Now serving the greater Denver area!

 

Source: http://www.iii.org

Umbrella Insurance…Why should I have it?

Umbrella InsHave you ever heard about an Umbrella Insurance Policy and thought, I have no idea why I would need that?

Here are a few things to know about Umbrella Insurance:

  • A lot of coverage costs you very little.   $1 million in coverage can run as little as $250 to $400 annually.
  • An umbrella policy pays for legal fees and settlements above your regular insurance limits.  Without it, your wages and assets may be at stake.
  • Liability risks are everywhere.  Have a teen driver?  Host a lot of parties?  Got a pool, hot tub, or boat?  Employ a nanny or housecleaner?  You have risk factors.
  • You’re insuring against the worst-case scenario, so an umbrella is most useful for protecting your net worth.

Questions about Umbrella Insurance?  Contact Long’s Insurance Agency and we can help you determine what insurance policies are right for you!  Now servicing Greeley, Boulder, Longmont, Denver just to name a few.  Call us today!

Source:  Money

Costly Insurance Mistakes You May Be Making

MOney pinchingNational Survey Finds Many Consumers Are Making Costly Insurance Mistakes

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Dec. 19, 2013—A new national survey reveals consumers have an alarming lack of knowledge about their own insurance coverage. As the new year approaches, Trusted Choice® and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) say consumers should resolve to get their insurance coverage in order.

The independent survey conducted for Trusted Choice® and the Big “I” found that more than one-third, an alarming 38% of respondents, said they have never conducted their own research prior to purchasing an insurance policy. Almost 40% of respondents said they were not confident or only somewhat confident that they have adequate and appropriate insurance coverage for their needs.

“It’s critical that consumers understand the basics of protecting their family, home and property,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president and CEO. “This survey shows that many Americans may not even realize they are vulnerable to serious losses. A lot can happen in a year. The start of a new year is a perfect time to dust off your insurance policies and review them thoroughly.”

Since there are so many types of insurance available today, consumers should sit down with a reputable insurance professional to help sort through the confusion. The new survey also found that more than one-third of policyholders have not met with or even talked to their insurance agent within the last year.

“Keeping your agent updated on changes in your family or to your property is crucial to your financial security,” says Madelyn Flannagan, Big “I” vice president of agent development, research and education. “A new baby, marriage, divorce, death, home renovation or a major purchase could significantly impact your insurance needs and costs.”

This broad lack of understanding can lead to serious and expensive insurance coverage mistakes. Trusted Choice® independent insurance agents identify the following as some of the most common errors they see.

Mistake 1: Not Knowing Your Limits.

Trusted Choice® agents report that too many customers don’t know the limits of their insurance coverage and don’t understand how inexpensive it can be to increase them. This is especially true regarding liability coverage.

“The limits of your policy dictate how much coverage you actually have,” explains Rusbuldt. “For example, an independent agent can increase the liability limits on a typical homeowners policy from $100,000 to $300,000 a year for as little as about $25 annually.” Not enough consumers have separate umbrella liability policies which can provide $1,000,000 of protection a year for as little as $130.

In fact, the new survey says only 29% of respondents considered coverage limits, or the amount of coverage, the most important criteria when selecting an insurance policy. Your coverage limits deserve a closer look.

Mistake 2: Disregarding Discounts.

A previous study by Trusted Choice® and the Big “I” showed that many consumers don’t take advantage of all the discounts that may be available to them.

“Many consumers foolishly throw money away because they fail to ask about insurance discounts for which they may qualify,” continued Flannagan. “Companies often offer some unique, regional, very specific and, at times, quirky discounts. When every dollar counts, some may be able to nickel and dime their way to big savings.”

Companies often have discounts on homeowners insurance for installing a security system, living in a gated community, updating the roof and/or wiring in a house, and remaining claim-free. Some of the more unusual discounts on auto insurance include discounts for teen drivers with good grades, graduating from certain colleges or universities, or carpooling. In addition, many companies are offering significant new discounts within the last five years that consumers may be unaware of. Check with your agent to see if any apply to you. These discounts can make a substantial difference in premium costs.

Mistake 3: You Can’t Take It With You: Consider Insurance in Estate Planning.

While your family gathers together for the holidays, it may be a good time to discuss your estate and final wishes.

Many people put their homes in trusts as part of their estate planning but fail to tell the agent that the trust owns the home. In those cases, the home is no longer insured since the owner is not on the policy. This can create major problems at the time of a claim.

Also, in order to avoid a larger estate tax bite, people sometimes don’t list valuables or collectibles as part of their estate. But these items require special coverage beyond a standard homeowners policy, or they won’t be insured.  If there is a loss on these items, your heirs won’t be compensated and will be deprived of part of the gift you intend to make to them. Making certain that everything is properly documented–and insured–is crucial to guaranteeing that your final wishes are executed after your death.

Mistake 4: Not Assessing Your Biggest Asset.

Too often, people do not properly protect their biggest asset—their home! That leaves them vulnerable to devastating losses. This is particularly true with regard to a change of occupancy. Selling, renting or leaving your home for an extended period directly changes the terms and conditions of your coverage. When there is a loss, your insurance company can deny the claim because you are no longer in control of what happens to your home. That could cost you everything. Homeowners should check with an agent to learn the time limit on vacancy or change of occupancy before it alters or cancels the terms of the policy.

In addition, not having certain specialty coverage could cost homeowners dearly. Failure to purchase sewer and drain back up insurance, flood insurance, earthquake insurance, ordinance or law coverage, or to adjust coverage as property improvements are made could have detrimental consequences in the event of a disaster. Keep your agent apprised of any and all changes regarding your home, no matter how minor they seem.

Mistake 5: Taking the Cheapest Route.

The survey found that 25% of respondents thought price was the most important criteria when selecting an insurance policy. While price should be a factor in insurance decisions, choosing coverage based on price alone could ultimately be a costly mistake.  Insurance policies differ widely, with varying deductibles, coverage limits and exclusions. Alarmingly, about 61% of survey respondents said they were only somewhat familiar or not familiar with the details of their insurance policies.

Source: independentagent.com

Colder Weather is here: Preventing Frozen Pipes

Frozen PipesWhen water freezes, it expands. That’s why a can of soda explodes if it’s put into a freezer to chill quickly and forgotten.  When water freezes in a pipe, it expands the same way. If it expands enough, the pipe bursts, water escapes and serious damage results.

Why Pipes Burst

Surprisingly, ice forming in a pipe does not typically cause a break where the ice blockage occurs. It’s not the radial expansion of ice against the wall of the pipe that causes the break. Rather, following a complete ice blockage in a pipe, continued freezing and expansion inside the pipe causes water pressure to increase downstream — between the ice blockage and a closed faucet at the end. It’s this increase in water pressure that leads to pipe failure. Usually the pipe bursts where little or no ice has formed. Upstream from the ice blockage the water can always retreat back towards its source, so there is no pressure build-up to cause a break. Water has to freeze for ice blockages to occur. Pipes that are adequately protected along their entire length by placement within the building’s insulation, insulation on the pipe itself, or heating, are safe.

Regional Differences

Generally, houses in northern climates are built with the water pipes located on the inside of the building insulation, which protects the pipes from subfreezing weather. However, extremely cold weather and holes in the building that allow a flow of cold air to come into contact with pipes can lead to freezing and bursting.

Water pipes in houses in southern climates often are more vulnerable to winter cold spells. The pipes are more likely to be located in unprotected areas outside of the building insulation, and homeowners tend to be less aware of freezing problems, which may occur only once or twice a season.

Pipes in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls are all vulnerable to freezing, especially if there are cracks or openings that allow cold, outside air to flow across the pipes. Research at the University of Illinois has shown that “wind chill,” the cooling effect of air and wind that causes the human body to lose heat, can play a major role in accelerating ice blockage, and thus bursting, in water pipes.

Holes in an outside wall where television, cable or telephone lines enter can provide access for cold air to reach pipes. The size of pipes and their composition (e.g., copper or PVC) have some bearing on how fast ice forms, but they are relatively minor factors in pipe bursting compared with the absence of heat, pipe insulation and exposure to a flow of subfreezing air.

When is it Cold Enough to Freeze?

When should homeowners be alert to the danger of freezing pipes? That depends, but in southern states and other areas where freezing weather is the exception rather than the rule (and where houses often do not provide adequate built-in protection), the “temperature alert threshold” is 20°F.

This threshold is based upon research conducted by the Building Research Council at the University of Illinois.  Field tests of residential water systems subjected to winter temperatures demonstrated that, for un-insulated pipes installed in an unconditioned attic, the onset of freezing occurred when the outside temperature fell to 20°F or below.

This finding was supported by a survey of 71 plumbers practicing in southern states, in which the consensus was that burst-pipe problems began to appear when temperatures fell into the teens. However, freezing incidents can occur when the temperature remains above 20° F. Pipes exposed to cold air (especially flowing air, as on a windy day) because of cracks in an outside wall or lack of insulation are vulnerable to freezing at temperatures above the threshold. However, the 20°F “temperature alert threshold” should address the majority of potential burst-pipe incidents in southern states.

Mitigating the Problem

Water freezes when heat in the water is transferred to subfreezing air. The best way to keep water in pipes from freezing is to slow or stop this transfer of heat.

Ideally, it is best not to expose water pipes to subfreezing temperatures, by placing them only in heated spaces and keeping them out of attics, crawl spaces and vulnerable outside walls.  In new construction, proper placement can be designed into the building.

In existing houses, a plumber may be able to re route at-risk pipes to protected areas, although this may not be a practical solution. If the latter is the case, vulnerable pipes that are accessible should be fitted with insulation sleeves or wrapping (which slows the heat transfer), the more insulation the better. It is important not to leave gaps that expose the pipe to cold air. Hardware stores and home centers carry the necessary materials, usually in foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves.  Better yet, plumbing supply stores and insulation dealers carry pipe sleeves that feature extra-thick insulation, as much as 1” or 2” thick. The added protection is worth the extra cost.

Cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes should be sealed with caulking to keep cold wind away from the pipes. Kitchen and bathroom cabinets can keep warm inside air from reaching pipes under sinks and in adjacent outside walls. It’s a good idea to keep cabinet doors open during cold spells to let the warm air circulate around the pipes. Electric heating tapes and cables are available to run along pipes to keep the water from freezing. These must be used with extreme caution; follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to avoid the risk of fire, and check to make sure the product conforms to UL 2049. Tapes and cables with a built-in thermostat will turn heat on when needed. Tapes without a thermostat have to be plugged in each time heat is needed, and may be forgotten.

Letting the Water Run

Letting a faucet drip during extreme cold weather can prevent a pipe from bursting. It’s not that a small flow of water prevents freezing; this helps, but water can freeze even with a slow flow.

Rather, opening a faucet will provide relief from the excessive pressure that builds between the faucet and the ice blockage when freezing occurs. If there is no excessive water pressure, there is no burst pipe, even if the water inside the pipe freezes.

A dripping faucet wastes some water, so only pipes vulnerable to freezing (ones that run through an unheated or unprotected space) should be left with the water flowing. The drip can be very slight. Even the slowest drip at normal pressure will provide pressure relief when needed.  Where both hot and cold lines serve a spigot, make sure each one contributes to the drip, since both are subjected to freezing. If the dripping stops, leave the faucet(s) open, since a pipe may have frozen and will still need pressure relief.

If You Suspect a Frozen Pipe

If you open a faucet and no water comes out, don’t take any chances.  Call a plumber.  If a water pipe bursts, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve (usually at the water meter or where the main line enters the house); leave the faucet(s) open until repairs are completed.  Don’t try to thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame; as this will damage the pipe and may even start a building fire. You might be able to thaw a pipe with a hand-held hair dryer. Slowly apply heat, starting close to the faucet end of the pipe, with the faucet open. Work toward the coldest section. Don’t use electrical appliances while standing in water; you could get electrocuted.

Going on a Trip

When away from the house for an extended period during the winter, be careful how much you lower the heat. A lower temperature may save on the heating bill, but there could be a disaster if a cold spell strikes and pipes that normally would be safe, freeze and burst.

A solution is to drain the water system. This is the best safeguard. With no water in the pipes, there is no freezing. This remedy should be considered even when the homeowner is not leaving but is concerned about a serious overnight freeze.

To drain the system, shut off the main valve and turn on every water fixture (both hot and cold lines) until water stops running. It’s not necessary to leave the fixtures open, since the system is filled mostly with air at that point and not subject to freezing. When returning to the house, turn on the main valve and let each fixture run until the pipes are full again.

Source: Institute for Business and Home Safety. IBHS is a national nonprofit initiative of the insurance industry to reduce deaths, injuries, property damage, economic losses and human suffering caused by natural disasters.