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home maintenance

10 Simple Steps to Keep Your Home in Shape

Maintaining your home can be a daunting task at first. Unexpected mishaps occur, causing homeowners and landlords costly repairs. But with diligent checkups, you can prevent those mishaps from getting unmanageable and keep your home in shape all year long. Below are 10 basic maintenance routines that can save you headaches and prevent major repairs.

  1. Routine checkups

Start simple: Test and replace the batteries for your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Even hard-wired smoke detectors have backup batteries that need to be tested and replaced. This routine checkup can prevent massive home damage and keep your loved ones safe.

  1. Yes, fire extinguishers do expire

If you’re not sure if you can still rely on your fire extinguisher, check the pressure gauge. If the needle is in the green, your fire extinguisher is in the clear. Otherwise, it’s time to get a new one.

  1. You have the power

Every month, test all Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt (GFCI) outlets by pressing the “test” button or using a GFCI tester. Call a professional electrician to help if you’re unsure.

  1. Clean air, clean home

Change your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) filters every one to three months, depending on your household. If you have a large household with pets, your filter may need to be checked more often. If your filter is damaged, replace immediately. Regular filter changes are key to maintaining healthy air quality in your home. Bonus benefit: increased HVAC efficiency, which means lower cost to run.

  1. Test the waters

If you have rooms that aren’t occupied daily, such as a guest bathroom, be sure to run the faucet and flush the toilet. This will help prevent grime or buildup.

  1. Rinse and repeat

If your washing machine and dryer are not routinely monitored, it can be hazardous to your home. Regularly check for exhaust to come out of your dryer. (Tip: it should smell like fresh laundry!) If exhaust is not coming out, check for blockages — this may require a professional. Additionally, be sure there are no leaks in your supply hose. If you have a metal supply hose, tighten it until it cannot be tightened any further.

  1. Clean the lint

Always clean the dryer lint screen after every load of laundry to prevent fires!

  1. Basement patrol

Don’t forget about the basement! Take a look through the area for any repairs and mold. If your concrete walls are visible, make note of any cracks and water because these can be indicators of foundation issues. Use a piece of chalk to mark any cracks so you can track the “growth.”

  1. Chimney sweep

To prevent a chimney fire, check the chimney, fireplace and vents at least once a year to remove buildup of soot and creosote. Removing creosote can be a challenge, so it’s recommended to have your chimney inspected by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweep. Another tip: Never burn trash, cardboard boxes or trees in your fireplace because these can spark fires!

  1. Deep clean

Just as dentists recommend flossing your teeth in addition to daily brushing, it’s recommended to give your home a deep clean to enhance home care. Take one day a month to walk through your home and clean all the nooks and crannies. This includes baseboards, doorframes, cabinets and more. A clean home is a healthy home.

 

By regularly completing these 10 basic tips, you reduce your risk of frequent and costly home repairs. When in doubt, contact an experienced plumber, electrician or other professional.

As all homeowners know, anything can happen; so make sure your property is covered with a home insurance policy from Madison Mutual. Be a champion of safety and contact an agent today to determine the best coverage for you.

earthquake safety tips

How To Protect Yourself Before, During, and After an Earthquake Strikes

It can strike at any time. Maybe you’re in the middle of your workday or watching your favorite show, or maybe you’re deep in sleep in the middle of the night when you feel the ground below you shift and shake. After a second or two of confusion, you realize what it is – an earthquake.

Earthquakes are a phenomenon that should never be taken lightly. Although we can’t truly predict when exactly one will occur next, there are plenty of actions that we can take to protect ourselves before, during, and after an earthquake happens. Prepare yourself today with the following tips:

Before an Earthquake

Prepare Your Actions – It’s easy to lose your cool once an earthquake strikes, but you can change how you react with practice and mindfulness. Identify the safe places in your home and your work area, and remember that you will need to drop, cover, and hold on when an earthquake hits. Also, know at least two ways that you can exit the building safely after the fact.

Stock Up on Emergency Supplies – This includes a fire extinguisher, first-aid kits, a battery-powered radio, flashlights, and extra batteries at home. You will also want to consider getting a whistle, sturdy shoes, and blankets together. Plan as if resources won’t be available to you for about 24 hours.

Be Smart About Item Placement – Make sure that your bookcases, large file cabinets, and artwork in your home are all anchored to the wall. You will also want to store heavy objects on low shelves as they can fall and cause damage when an earthquake hits.

Make Plans With Your Family – Much like you would for a fire, you will want to determine where you will meet your family after an earthquake hits. Meet somewhere that everyone is familiar with in the event that you are separated in the event of an emergency.

During an Earthquake

Stay Calm – The most important thing you can do when an earthquake hits is to stay as calm as possible. You will be able to make smarter, more rational decisions when you are calm, and others will take notice of your actions and respond to them.

Stay Safe Indoors – If you are indoors when an earthquake happens, stay there. Make sure to move away from the windows and any unsecured tall furniture. Drop, cover, and hold on under a desk, table, or along an interior wall, and cover your head, neck, and face. Stay this way until the shaking subsides.

Stay Safe Outdoors – If you are outdoors when you feel the earth tremble, stay outside. Move to an open area away from falling hazards including trees, power lines, and buildings. Once again, drop to the ground and cover your head and neck until the earthquake finishes.

After an Earthquake

Check For Injuries – Assess yourself and others for any injuries. If you are able, provide first aid to anyone who may need it until the authorities arrive. Also, don’t move injured people unless they are in danger.

Check Water, Gas, and Electric Lines for Damage – If there is any damage to any of these, shut off the valves. If you happen to smell gas, open all of the windows and doors and get out. You will also want to report the smell of gas to the authorities.

Use Extreme Caution –
If you have to leave a building, be incredibly careful. Continually assess your surroundings and watch for any falling debris and broken glass. If you do leave, be sure to take your keys, any vital personal items, and emergency supplies, but only do so if it’s safe. Also, never re-enter a damaged building until an all-clear has been given.

Be Smart With Phones – Your cell phone might not be too handy after an earthquake as the systems might be jammed. If there is a life-threatening emergency, make sure to use an actual telephone. Remember to turn on the radio and listen for updates.

Expect Aftershocks – It isn’t uncommon for aftershocks to happen after an earthquake hits. Tremors and aftershocks can occur for days, so don’t be surprised if you feel any minor trembling.

While you can help protect yourself with these crucial tips, earthquakes can strike at any time of the day or night and can cause massive damage in just a few quick seconds. Make sure that you’re totally prepared by calling your agent at Madison Mutual at 1-800-766-MMIC today!

Cleaning the gutters

Clean Your Gutters Like a Pro With These 7 Tips!

Fall is finally here, and people nationwide are preparing their homes for the new season with pumpkins and wreaths, putting away their shorts and flip flops for another year.

Don’t forget to take care of your home this season, too, especially your gutters! Gutters that aren’t cleaned at least once a year stand a better chance of becoming rusty and clogged, and they could cause a good deal of problems for you. Take the initiative and clean your gutters like a pro with the following 7 tips!

Choose the Right Ladder – If your home is a single story home, you will more than likely need to use a four-legged ladder for the job. If your home is a two stories, you will probably need to have an extension ladder. Remember to check your ladder to make sure that it’s safe and sturdy and that the steps are in good condition before you climb on. Place your ladder on level ground and get to work! Never lean your ladder against the gutters!

Wear the Right Clothes – When you’re setting out to clean the gutters, be sure to wear thick work gloves to protect your hands from leaves, dirt, animal waste, and any sharp debris or hazardous materials that could be present in your gutters. Leather and suede gloves will give you the best protection. If you need to walk on the roof at all, be sure to wear rubber-soled shoes.

Protect Your Eyes Properly – Your eyes need to be protected, too! Wear protective goggles or eyewear in order to prevent any possible eye injuries. A host of animals and insects could be living within the leaves and debris in your gutters, and they will be disturbed when you remove the debris, so it’s best to make sure your eyes remain unaffected by any potential surprises!

Use the Right Tools – Aside from you gear and ladder, be sure to use the proper tools for the job! We recommend using a plastic gutter scooper to help you remove large debris from your gutters. It will give your hands a bit of a break in the long run! Also, consider securely attaching a bucket to the shelf of your ladder in order to help you collect leaves and debris from the gutters.

Pay Attention to the Downspouts – Keep an eye on the downspouts! If leaves and debris are clogging it up, the water won’t drain properly. This could cause your gutters to sag and mildew and mud to overtake your gutters.

Look For Any Sources of Leaking – Take a peek at your gutters when you’re cleaning them out and be on the look out for any holes or cracked calking in the seams. Use an old chisel to scrape out the old caulking, dry the area thoroughly, and use new silicon sealing to prevent rotting and rust. Try the ultimate test in finding any leaking sources – slowly pour a bucket of water into the gutters and watch it drain!

When in Doubt, Hire a Professional – Cleaning gutters can very much be a simple, do-it-yourself task, but it still can pose a high risk of injury for anyone undertaking the ordeal. If you don’t have the proper equipment or time or if you feel as if you are unfit for the job, don’t be afraid to hire a professional to clean your gutters! Better to be safe and have fantastic gutters than to try it unprepared and wind up going to the hospital for injuries.

Want to learn more home improvement tips for the fall? Need to go over a home insurance policy with us? No problem! Just call us at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com!

jump

5 Trampoline Tips to Keep You and Your Children Safe

What comes to mind when you think of a trampoline? Do you think of the rush of bouncing on the rubber and the feeling of the wind in your hair? Do you recall the sensation of temporary flight when you jump up and down on the trampoline’s surface and the undeniable feeling of exuberance and freedom you used to feel?

Trampolines are a lot of fun and can be a good source of exercise, but they should be used with great caution. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discourages recreational trampoline usage, warning the major injury risks that the activity has for users, especially children.

While the trampoline was invented in 1945 by competitive gymnast George Nissen for acrobats, gymnasts, and military training, the recreational use of the modern trampoline has increased in recent decades. This increased usage has caused a number of injuries in children. In 2009, 70 out of 100,000 children ages 0 to 4 and 160 out of 100,000 children ages 5 through 14 were injured on a trampoline, totaling to whopping 98,000 injuries in the year.

Still want a trampoline for yourself, your friends, or your family? Follow the 5 safety tips below to make sure that you and yours are safe!

Take Turns Jumping – We might have killed your sense of fun in telling you that only one person at a time should be permitted to jump, but you’ll thank us! Three out of four of all trampoline injuries happen because several children jump on the trampoline at the same time. The smaller children are also 14 times more likely to get hurt than their older, heavier counterparts as well. Play it safe – allow only one person to jump on the trampoline at a time!

Save the Stunts for the Professionals – Using a trampoline improperly can result in many different injuries, hospitalization, and though it’s relatively rare, it can also result in death. Remember, this is not American Ninja Warrior or the latest Jackie Chan movie! Do the activity the trampoline was solely meant for – jumping! Refrain from performing somersaults or flips while on the trampoline as it can cause injury and great injury to your spinal cord as well. Additionally, encourage children to get off the trampoline safely by walking to the edge, sitting, and safely sliding off.

Supervise Others on Trampoline – While supervision won’t totally prevent all trampoline mishaps, it can most certainly help nip most of them in the bud. When others are jumping, be sure to act as a spotter of sorts for the person jumping. In case something does go wrong, you’ll be able to act much more quickly if you’re supervising! Additionally, to prevent younger children from getting on without supervision, be sure to not leave a ladder or a chair nearby to help them get up without your assistance.

Make Sure Conditions Are Prime for Jumping – Not just any location or weather will do for trampoline jumping. For the safest options, place the trampoline on soft, energy-absorbing ground or a soft and springy lawn. Make sure that the trampoline is placed on a clear, flat area of land with no potential hazards like fences, bushes, trees, or other equipment around. Never put a trampoline on the concrete, asphalt, or any other hard surface, and never ever allow children to jump on a wet trampoline!

Prepare for Any Potential Falls Accordingly – Falling off the trampoline accounts for up to 40 percent of all trampoline injuries, especially when the device is placed on uneven ground. Make sure that you have an 8 foot radius of clear ground around the trampoline, and consider having a safety net in place if possible. It might not prevent injuries, but it could prevent them from becoming serious injuries.

While the AAP strongly recommends avoiding all recreational trampoline use, you can still use the trampoline if you also employ the appropriate supervision, coaching, and safety measures!

Got questions about trampoline usage? Want to check if your insurance covers trampoline-related injury claims? Call us today at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com! We’ll sit down and help you with all of your insurance needs!