Preparation Guide for Bay Area Residents

Wildfires

Preparing for wildfires is part of Bay Area life. Photo: American Ratings Corporation ©2020

Wildfire: A Preparation Guide for Bay Area Residents

Wildfires are a yearly threat to Bay Area residents. With our dry, hot summers and abundant open spaces, wildfires can start suddenly and spread fast.

On this page, we’ve collected tips and articles to help you prepare your home and family for wildfire threat. Learn how to create a defensible space around your home and find out what to do when confronted with a fire.

  • Get Started: Wondering where to get started right now? This is what you need to know
  • Find: Find professional help for your fire-related needs
  • Explore: Take a deep dive into Bay Area wildfire resources and articles
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Get Started

Fires devastated much of the North Bay in October 2017. Photo: Nancy Giovannini ©2017

Defending Your Home Against Wildfires

Creating a defensible space isn’t a one-time affair; rather, ongoing maintenance is required to sustain fire-safe conditions. In addition to clearing away dead growth and pruning shrubs and trees, be diligent about watering, as insufficient irrigation can compromise the integrity of fire-resistant plants. Remember, it’s your responsibility to keep your home and property as fire-safe as possible.

Read the full article.

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Learn How to Prevent and Prepare for Wildfire

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Research

WHAT LOCAL EXPERTS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT WILDFIRE

Corey Haney

Statcomm Inc.

David Lorber

Superior Builders & Remodelers

Ron Evenich

Evenich Construction, Inc.

Rory Moore

RM Construction

2 Fire Safety Tips for Your Home

2 Fire Safety Tips for Your Home

MOUNTAIN VIEW — When it comes to fire safety, even small steps can potentially save your life. Here are a couple of basic fire safety tips for your home:

1. Test fire safety equipment. The simplest way to reduce fire risks in your home is to regularly test and inspect all fire safety equipment. This includes smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and fire extinguishers, both of which should be tested monthly and replaced by their respective expiration dates.

If you have older, battery-powered smoke alarms, be sure to replace the batteries one to two times per year. Newer smoke alarms have built-in 10-year batteries, so you don’t need to replace the batteries—just test the units every month and replace them at the 10-year mark. Fire extinguishers typically last between five and 15 years, so keep track of expiration dates and replace them as needed.

2. Close your bedroom door. While this may seem like a strange tip, the facts confirm that closing your bedroom door before going to sleep at night could potentially save your life. More than half of house fires occur between 11pm and 7am, when most people are sleeping. In the event of a fire, a closed bedroom door can reduce the amount of carbon monoxide that enters the room by up to 90 percent, as well as protect against extreme temperature increases.

Smoke and CO Alarm Tips

Smoke and CO Alarm Tips

OAKLAND — Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors may be easy to ignore, but they can also potentially save your life. Fortunately, there are new models that are simple to use and further improve home safety.

One of the biggest advantages of new smoke detectors is the “hush button” feature. In the past, if you had a smoke alarm that was constantly triggered by cooking smoke or shower steam, the temptation was to simply remove the battery, which would render the unit useless. The new models reduce the nuisance of accidental alarms by allowing you to “hush” it with the touch of a button.

When purchasing a smoke or carbon monoxide detector, it’s a good idea to read and save the directions, as well as register the product with the manufacturer. Most manufacturers have an 800 number that consumers can call if there’s a problem with the unit, and they’ll generally replace a malfunctioning unit free of charge if it’s within the warranty period (typically between five and 10 years).

If you’re still using old, battery-powered smoke and CO alarms, remember to be proactive about changing their batteries. Typically, you should change the batteries in a smoke detector once a year and the batteries in a combination smoke/CO alarm every six months. Whether you need to mark your calendar or set up another type of reminder, a little forethought can go a long way toward ensuring safety in your home.

5 Ways to Vet a Contractor

5 Ways to Vet a Contractor

PETALUMA — Due to the widespread damage caused by both wildfires and flooding, there’s currently a shortage of general contractors in Sonoma County and the surrounding areas. To supplement this shortage, a lot of contractors are coming in from central and southern California, and even from out of state. Unfortunately, in this type of situation, it’s often difficult for homeowners to find a contractor that’s qualified, honest and reliable. That’s why it’s crucial to be diligent about vetting any contractor you’re thinking of hiring. Here are five smart steps:

1. Verify that the contractor has current licensing and insurance on file with the California State License Board (CSLB). You should also see if any complaints have been lodged by former clients. You can do this by visiting the CSLB’s website: www.cslb.ca.gov.

2. Request up-to-date liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance certificates, as well as an additional insured endorsement.

3. Request a list of references that includes both current and past projects. This will allow you to call the contractor’s current and former clients and ask them about their experiences.

4. Expect the contractor to provide a detailed bid that includes an itemized breakdown of construction costs and a written scope of work.

5. Insist on a signed contract and give a deposit of no more than 10 percent of the project’s total cost (as per the legal limit in the state of California).

 

Air Filtration Systems: A Healthy Home Improvement

Air Filtration Systems: A Healthy Home Improvement

SAUSALITO — When it comes to home remodeling, most homeowners are concerned with improving aesthetics or performance. While these aspects are certainly worthwhile, an equally important concern is creating a healthy indoor environment. As building code requirements become increasingly focused on maximizing energy efficiency, homes are becoming more airtight. Unfortunately, while this saves energy, it also increases the risk of unsafe or allergenic particles being harbored within the home. To prevent this, homeowners need to be proactive about maximizing air filtration and ventilation.

One of the most effective ways to do this is by installing a home air filtration system. One good choice is the Lunos™ e2 system, which brings fresh air into the home while removing unwanted pollutants and humidity. The system consists of one or more pairs of corresponding units, one of which exhausts stale indoor air while the other introduces fresh air. With its heat recovery feature, the Lunos e2 employs the heat captured in stale exhaust air to warm incoming fresh air, which saves on home heating costs. Plus, the system runs on very low wattage (0.11 – 0.14 W / cfm, to be specific), doesn’t require a centralized core for ventilation and can be easily retrofitted to an existing home.

Considering the frequency of wildfires in California during the last few years, there’s no better time to install an air filtration system in your home. However, even if you aren’t ready to take this step, you should consider utilizing your current remodeling project to install wiring for future installation. Since the walls are going to be opened up anyway, this easy step will save you a lot of time and money if you decide to add air filtration later.

Watch this

Lamine Elabed, president of LW Construction & Handyman Services, discusses smoke detectors.

Crucial Info on Smoke Detectors

Two-thirds of fire-related deaths in the home are attributable to smoke detectors being inoperative (usually due to dead or missing batteries) or absent altogether. To improve upon this dark statistic, California safety codes now require an improved model of smoke detector to be installed in homes and businesses statewide. Watch to learn more.

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