Tips for Creating a Home Inventory

home_inventory

Do You Really Know What You Have In Your Home?

The other day I was talking with a friend about some fall cleaning that she was doing around her house. She was telling me how she found a bunch things in boxes and closets that she had completely forgot about. It’s always fun to rediscover…sort of like shopping without spending money.

Of course, my insurance brain kicked in, and I asked her if she had done a home inventory in case she had a fire. “No…when do I have time to do that?”, she said. Being an insurance person, it’s sort of an occupational hazard that I look at life through a lens of potential risks and “what if” scenarios. In all honesty, it’s been about 5 years since I’ve updated my own home inventory, and I need to get it done because I know that I couldn’t name everything I own from memory.

Given our busy lives and how much stuff we all have, it can seem like an impossible task to put together an inventory of everything. But, doing so helps you can make sure that you’ve got enough insurance to cover your personal property, and if you experience a loss, you’ll be able to settle a claim quicker and be more likely to get reimbursed for what you have.

The easiest way to start is by going through each room in your house, one at a time, making a list of items as you go. Don’t try to do it all in one day. That’s a sure fire way to get overwhelmed and give up before you get started. Break the project down over several days or weeks into manageable chunks.

A few quick ideas to help you create your inventory:

  • Take pictures with a time stamp on the image. On the back of the image, list the value, serial number, make and model number. If you’re storing it electronically, name the pictures and reference the description.
  • Take a video camera through your home and verbally describing all the items in your home.
  • If you have an iPhone® download a free app from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, myHOME Scr.APP.book app. It guides you through capturing images, writing descriptions, saving bar codes and serial numbers, and stores them all electronically.
  • Download a home inventory spreadsheet at http://www.vertex42.com/ExcelTemplates/inventory-spreadsheet.html .  A simple format for getting organized plus other tips on getting your inventory done.

As you go through your house, take note of any high value items that may need to be “scheduled” on your home insurance such as expensive jewelry, antiques, fine arts and collectibles, and contact your agent to discuss getting them listed.

So, as I tackle my own home inventory update, I hope you’ll join me it doing your own. Don’t put off getting started on your inventory. It’s easy to procrastinate, but just think of how good you’ll feel when it’s done!

P.S. Don’t store the only copy of your inventory in your home. If there is a fire, you don’t want your inventory destroyed along with your stuff. Make a copy and give it to a family member, friend or put it in a safe deposit box.

 

 

Source: Wayne Texeira Marketing Director, CFMP, AINS, AIS, API

 

Is One of The Biggest Dangers In Your Home Your Trampoline?

The-Trampoline

Home trampoline danger: 1M visits to ER, study says

 

INDIANAPOLIS — Boing, boing, boing … OWW! could be the anthem of the trampoline jumper — and that’s a good reason to ban the things, said an Indiana University researcher.

A new study from an Indiana University School of Medicine researcher finds that from 2002 to 2011, accidents on backyard trampolines accounted for nearly 289,000 visits to emergency rooms for broken bones. Factor in all accidents, not just fractures, and the tally rises to more than 1 million ER visits, according to the study which published online in theJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics.

“We are inundated with injuries,” said Dr. Randall T. Loder, chair of orthopaedic surgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine and the study’s lead author. “Kids need to be healthy and active, but this is not the way to do it.”

His study, the first to look at fractures related to trampoline use nationwide, found that over 10 years, trampolines caused an estimated 288,876 fractures, at a cost of more than $400 million. Trampoline injuries overall led to more than $1 billion in emergency room visits.

Loder, a surgeon at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, decided to do the study after seeing an increase in the number of patients with fractures suffered in backyard trampoline accidents.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended against backyard trampolines since 1999, and many homeowner insurance policies either prohibit them or have a clear exclusion for trampoline injuries.

Still, that doesn’t stop parents from purchasing them.

And some, such as Mark Publicover, dispute how dangerous trampolines are. Publicover invented the trampoline safety enclosure about 15 years ago and founded JumpSport Inc., a San Jose-based trampoline company.

If you compare the number of hours children spend jumping on trampolines compared with the time they spend in other activities such as biking or swimming in backyard pools or playing on swing sets, trampolines cause much fewer injuries, Publicover said.

“If you look at all of the high energy activities kids can play in, trampolines end up being pretty much the safest things that they can do,” said Publicover, who broke his leg on an earlier generation trampoline.

Eight years ago Jason Reese, a personal injury lawyer in Carmel, Ind., purchased a trampoline for his three kids, now 14, 11 and 9; two years ago he replaced it with a large one he considers safer. He also hires an inspector to check the net once a year.

Strict rules govern the use of the Reese family’s trampoline. No more than four kids at a time. A parent must be home. Don’t bounce against the safety net. And no one is to go airborne.

The only injuries from their trampoline? A few bloody noses.

“For the most part, like any other parenting thing, it comes down to supervision,” said Reese. “You can do it safely.”

Still, he’s amazed at what he sees in other people’s backyards, from trampolines that have no nets, to those that sit on uneven surfaces to trampolines with decaying mats that provide iffy support.

Little surprise that stories about trampoline-related injuries are rife in the suburbs.

According to Loder’s study, which included data from 100 hospitals nationwide, the number of injuries peaked in 2004 with about 110,000. Since then, the number has slowly dropped to an estimated 80,000 injuries in 2011.

Safety enclosures like the one Publicover invented, now standard on trampolines, no doubt have had much to do with the reduction in injuries, he said.

By 2004, 75% of trampolines had safety enclosures. At the same time, sales had gone from 600,000 a year just a few years ago to 1.2 million, Publicover said.

Doctors, however, would prefer to see much fewer injuries.

“Whether it’s 80,000 or 100,000, that’s still a huge number of totally preventable injuries,” Loder said. “The way to prevent it is not to go on it at all. There are lots of other ways to get exercise.”

The most common trampoline-related injury that Loder sees at Riley is an elbow fracture, which in some cases requires immediate surgery. Knee fractures that threaten growth plates and require surgery also are common, he said.

On average, patients were 9 years old; though those who have injuries of the spine, head, ribs and sternum — accounting for 4% of the injuries seen — had an average age of nearly 17, perhaps because they are bigger and can jump harder.

The study looked only at backyard trampolines and did not include trampoline parks. Almost all of the fractures, 95%, happened at the injured person’s home.

Loder does not question the appeal of trampolines, just whether they’re worth the risk.

“I’m sure they’re fun,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it that they’re fun. They’re fun up until the time they get the injury.”

Source: http://www.9news.com

 

3 Tips on Fireproofing Your Home

wildfire

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

 

 

 

Be Prepared, Have An Escape Plan!

FirefightersWhen firefighters arrive at a fire, they do a ‘scene size-up’ – identifying where the fire is, where it is spreading, and the location of the primary and secondary exits.  It’s a routine that can save your life – and you don’t need res suspenders and a helmet to do it.

Prior to a fire, have an escape plan and practice it!!  You’ve been hearing that since grade school.  But did you listen?  You should not only do drills at home (and in the dark), but also form a habit of familiarizing yourself with ‘points of egress’ everywhere you go.

If a fire does occur, remember this slogan:  Get Out, Stay Out.  Staying out is critically important.

 

Source: Men’s Health

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

Buying a New Car? What is Gap Insurance and do you need it?

New carGap Insurance Rights Your “Upside Down” Car Loan

Everyone’s heard it before…brand new cars instantly depreciate in value as soon as they’re driven off the lot. What you may not realize is that this fact can lead to a big gap in your auto insurance coverage. How? Below is an example scenario.

You buy a new car for $28,000 and sometime later you get into an accident in which your car is totaled. You still owe $23,000 on your loan, but because cars depreciate in value so quickly, the actual cash value—the original price minus depreciation—may only be $18,000 at the time of the collision. Your deductible is $500, which provides you with a settlement of $17,500 from your insurer. However, since you still owe $23,000 on your loan, you’re left with a gap of $5,500 and no car to get from A to B.

That’s where gap insurance comes to the rescue. This coverage can be added to your auto policy at any time while you’re paying off your loan. If your car undergoes a covered total loss, your insurer can cover the gap instead of it being on your tab. The best part is that this valuable coverage is often less than $30 per year.

A new car loses approximately 30 percent of its value within one year of purchase and 50 percent by year three, which means that at any given point before your car is paid off, its actual cash value can be thousands less than what you still owe on it. This situation is called being “upside down” on your loan.

Who needs gap insurance? Consider it in the following situations:

  • Finance a vehicle for at least 60 months
  • Put less than 20 percent down on a new vehicle
  • Lease a vehicle
  • Select a vehicle make/model with a history of high depreciation rates

Many dealerships will offer you gap insurance, but it often costs more than buying it through an independent agent. Protecting such a large investment is worth a call to your agent.

Contact Long’s Insurance Agency today and let us help you protect your new investment!

Source:  State Auto Insurance

7 Dangers of Decking the Halls

In the midst of the holiday season, many families embrace the spirit of the season and festively decorate their homes to celebrate. For most Americans, the holiday season would not be the same without colored lights, Christmas trees, or halls decked with boughs of holly.

Holiday décor is part of what makes the season special, but it is important to take safety precautions when prepping the home for the holidays.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree Fires

 

Christmas trees tend to be the focal point of many homes during the holiday season, but a beautiful tree could start a house fire.

 

According to the National Fire Protection Assn., Christmas tree fires cause an average of four civilian deaths, 21 civilian injuries and $17.3 million in property damage per year. Though these fires are relatively uncommon, they cause serious damage when they do occur. On average, one out of every 66 reported home structure Christmas tree fires resulted in a death compared to one death per 144 total home structure fires.

 

Electrical malfunctions are the cause of nearly one-third of Christmas tree fires, and one in every six Christmas tree fires occur because a heat source is too close to the tree. In addition, natural trees are more likely to catch fire than artificial trees, especially if the tree dries out.

 

Checking the lights, being aware of candles and other heat sources and making sure the tree is getting enough water can help prevent Christmas tree catastrophes during the holidays.

Christmas Lights

Decorative Lighting Fires

 

Holiday lights and decorative lighting with line voltage can also become a major fire hazard if proper precautions are not taken. An estimated average of 160 home structure fires are caused by decorative lights annually, with approximately half occurring in December and January. Electrical failures and malfunctions were factors in 69 percent of the fires involving holiday lights.

 

On average, home fires caused by decorative lights cause approximately 8 deaths, 14 injuries, and $8.5 million in property damages.

Wreath

Spray-On Snow

 

Spray-on snow can add a new element to holiday décor, instantly providing a frosty look. However, spray-on snow can contain chemicals, such as methylene chloride and acetone, that if inhaled can cause nausea, lightheadedness and headaches.

 

Long-term, the chemical exposure could be even more serious, as methylene chloride may be a carcinogen.

 

If spray-on snow is part of your holiday decorating routine, try using it in a well-ventilated area. If possible, leave the area after using the product until it has dried completely, and keep children and pets away until the fumes have subsided.

Christmas Lights Box

Christmas Lights Containing Lead

 

Fires are not just the only danger of holiday lights. Researchers have found that four out of five holiday lights tested contain lead. Even more staggering is that 28 percent of these lights contained lead at such high levels that they would be illegal to sell in Europe.

 

Both the bulb bases and wiring insulation have been found to contain lead, which is a known carcinogen and can cause birth defects. However, the casing that contains lead in these lights is typically made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which contains phthalates, which are chemicals that can be dangerous to children. These chemicals, though, are also found in common household dust.

 

The good news is lead-free stabilizers are widely available, and the risk can be minimized if gloves are worn during installation. Hanging holiday lights outdoors may also protect young children from any phthalates caused by the PVC casing.

Christmas candles

Candles

 

Candles cause fires year round, but the top three days for home candle fires are Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.

 

However, fire is not the only danger that comes with lighting candles. Candles, as well as other scented materials such as air fresheners and potpourri can release phthalates and the carcinogen benzene. As a result, hormone disruptions can be ensued.

Hanging lights

Falls

 

Almost 6,000 people are sent to emergency rooms every year due to a fall while decorating for the holidays. Most of these injuries occur as a result of falling from a ladder while hanging decorations, followed by falling off a roof. Other injuries include tripping over a tree skirt or decorations.

 

Being aware of outdoor and indoor conditions that could cause falls is essential for staying safe while decorating for the holidays.

Holly Berries

 

 

Choking Hazards and Unexpected Poisoning

Holiday decorations are often shiny and beautiful, but these decorations can also tempt infants, becoming choking hazards. Small items such as ornaments, tinsel and other decorations can be especially hazardous.

Additionally, holiday plants can be poisonous if consumed. Although it is a common misconception that Poinsettias are the most poisonous holiday plant, these plants are not toxic to humans. Mistletoe, however, is toxic. Eating even a small portion of the plant can cause blood pressure changes, upset stomach, blurred vision and, in severe cases, death.

Decking the halls with boughs of holly can also be dangerous if there are small children around. Consuming enough of those tiny red berries could kill a child.

Keeping holiday decorations, as well as holiday candies and nuts, out of reach of small children, or using fake plants instead of real ones, can help in prevent a trip to the hospital during the holidays.

 

Source: propertycasualty360.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.