107 Airport Rd. Westerly, RI 02891 (401) 596-0146 service@thorptrainer.com

How to Safely Enjoy Your Summer Barbecues

Some of the most memorable summer moments occur when friends and family gather in the backyard for a barbecue. These gatherings can make for a great summer; however, it is important to remember safety when barbecuing. 

At Thorp and Trainer, we want to ensure this is your best and safest summer. Please review the followingsafety tips to help keep everyone and everything safe at your next barbecue. 

  • Clean the grill – The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported that 22% of structure fires were due to the grill not being cleaned. The 10 minutes it takes to clean the grill before use will not only make the food you’re grilling taste better, it will also protect you, your family, and your home.
  • Never abandon it – One in six backyard grilling fires begin when someone turns their back on the grill. Fire can spread quickly, but you can avoid this from happening by keeping your eye on the grill.
  • Keep the grill at a distance – An alarming 17% of grill-based home fires start because of the grill being placed too close to flammable material. Keep your grill away from walls, low overhangs, fences, dry grass, or anything else that is flammable.
  • Be cautious of whether it’s a gas or charcoal grill – It is important to inspect the propane tanks of gas grills before use. A spray bottle of soapy water can help spot tiny leaks – douse the suspect area with several sprays of soapy water and look for bubbles forming after the spray settles. Soap increases the surface tension of the water, making the bubbles formed by escaping propane gas persist for a few seconds and stack on each other, making it easier to spot leaks.
  • Trim excess fat – While fat is needed to keep the meat juicy and flavorful, if it is too fatty it can cause flare ups and fires. Keeping a spray bottle near your grill is a good idea to stop flare ups immediately, while they are still controllable.
  • Keep children away from the grill – Children under the age of five account for 35% of contact-type burns each year.  While kids are playing in the backyard, they can easily forget to be cautious around a hot grill. Make sure your children are kept at a safe distance and that hot coals are disposed of properly and away from areas of play.

We are dedicated to helping you protect what matters most. Contact us at 401.596.0146 to discuss additional ways to safeguard your family and property. At Thorp & Trainer, “Your Security Is Our Concern.”

4 reasons to add water backup coverage

Reason #1: It’s not included in a standard homeowners insurance policy.
Not sure if your home insurance policy includes water backup coverage? Then it’s time to give our office a call and speak to your account manager.

Water backup coverage is an optional endorsement that must be added onto a standard homeowners, condo or renters insurance policy. Without the endorsement, you would be stuck paying for the cost of cleanup or damages caused by the failure of sump pump or back-up of sewers or drains.

Reason #2: It’s fairly inexpensive.
The average cost of water backup and sewer coverage is $50 to $250 annually, depending on the limits you select.

Different limits are available to match people’s different needs. For example, think about what’s in your basement—it’s an area that’s more likely to flood during a water backup. Is it partially or fully finished? Is your basement a storage area for expensive or hard-to-replace items?  Work with your account manager to choose a limit that matches your unique coverage needs.

Reason #3: Water backups can happen to anyone.
There are a lot of misconceptions about who is more or less likely to experience a water backup situation. And the truth is it doesn’t matter if you live on top of a hill, if you don’t have a basement or if your home has never had a water backup issue before. Everyone has the potential to experience this type of loss.

Reason #4: It qualifies you for Loss of Use coverage if your home is uninhabitable.
In most cases, a sump pump failure or the back-up of sewers or drains would not make your home uninhabitable. But in the rare case that it does make your home uninhabitable, having water backup coverage would qualify you for Loss of Use coverage.

Loss of Use covers additional living expenses.  So if a water backup makes your home uninhabitable and requires a hotel stay for a couple of days, your claim adjuster may approve you for Loss of Use coverage.

Tips for avoiding water backups:

  • Don’t pour cooking oil or grease down your drains.
  • Only flush bathroom tissue in your toilets.
  • Consider replacing your line with plastic pipe to prevent tree roots from entering it.
  • Consult a sump pump professional, typically a plumber, to check your sump pump regularly and look for any pre-existing drainage system issues.
  • Install a backwater prevention valve to prevent sewer backups—in fact, most new homes are built with this already installed.
  • Buy a battery backup to keep your sump pump running when the power goes out or buy a water-powered backup sump pump.

Credit: The Grange Guide to Insurance

Why You Need To Know Where Your Main Shut-Off Valve Is

Knowing the location of your home’s main shut-off valve is extremely important. If a plumbing disaster should occur in your home, being able to get to your main shut-off valve quickly can mean the difference between a little water on the floor and a major homeowner’s insurance claim.

If you’re reading this and you don’t know where your main shut-off valve is, now is the time to change that! Here’s a quick guide on how to easily find your home’s main shut-off valve, as well as the individual fixture shut-off valves throughout your home.

Main Shut-Off Valve Scavenger Hunt

Tip #1: Check Along The Outside Areas Of Your Home – Main shut-off valves are rarely ever within the central confines of a home, so go ahead and start by looking around the outer borders of your house.

Tip #2: Don’t Bother Checking Any Upper Levels – The main shut-off valves will be on either the ground or basement level of your home, so don’t waste your time checking on your upstairs level.

Tip #3: Check The Inspection Report That You Received After Purchasing Your Home – If you still have the inspection report that was provided to you upon the purchase of your home, the location of your main shut-off valve should be listed on the report.

Tip #4: Follow Your Main Water Line – In most cases, your main water line will lead to your shut-off valve with no additional piping or deviations. That being said, if you know where your water main is, figuring out where the shortest path into your house would be a good way of finding the main shut-off valve, too.

Following these steps should easily help you locate your main shut-off valve and help you be prepared to halt a plumbing disaster in its tracks. If you went through all of these steps but still couldn’t locate your main shut-off valve, it’s possible that it is outside, underground, along your water main line, so check there as well.  

Individual Plumbing Fixture Shut-Off Valves:

  • Sinks: Underneath the sink (usually in a cabinet), you’ll find a small valve that you can turn clockwise to turn off the water if there’s a sink emergency.
  • Toilets: Much like with your home’s sinks, you should find a small valve behind the toilet, connected to the wall. Turning the valve clockwise will stop the water in the case of a major leak or overflow.
  • Washing Machine: In the case of washing machines, you’ll find two valves behind the machine that will both need to be turned off in the event of a plumbing emergency. Some houses may have a lever in place of or in addition to the valves. You might have to maneuver your washing machine out of its nook in order to access these valves or the lever.

Whether or not you ever have a plumbing emergency it’s good to know where your shut-off valves are so that you’re ready to act quickly. Knowing your home is the first step in protecting it from unnecessary damages!

Credit: www.jblanton.com/blog

Leadership Lessons from Different Regions, Different Storms

Every year, FEMA and the United States Coast Guard meet to discuss the past year’s hurricane response efforts and to plan for future storms. It may not sound extraordinary, but it’s not only one of the best opportunities for FEMA to engage with the Coast Guard on our joint mission to protect the homeland, but it also brings together multiple FEMA Regions (representing the states most at risk from hurricanes) to discuss how we can better prepare for future storms.

 

This annual gathering allows us to learn how the Coast Guard is securing and reconstituting U.S. ports, conducting maritime operations, and fulfilling requests for search and rescue both at sea and in response to a major storm. Most importantly, it provides us lessons in leadership to take back to our organizations on how to do better for future storms and improve our decision-making processes.

 

The 2019 Senior Leadership Seminar took place June 26 – 27, 2019 in Norfolk, VA. In addition to recapping our operational posture and response to Hurricanes Florence and Michael, we discussed our emergency support functions for hazardous materials and search and rescue. Each of these brings FEMA and the Coast Guard closer together, as we swap stories, experiences, and lessons learned from past storms.

 

We also looked at the mission, where FEMA has often partnered with the Coast Guard to respond to hazardous material and oil releases and conduct search and rescue operations during contingencies. Throughout the 2017 and 2018 Hurricane Seasons, we worked together to protect communities and carry out our mission. The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season is no different. By talking about the challenges facing our communities and the areas of opportunity for positive impacts in our response, FEMA and the Coast Guard are better prepared for the next hurricane.

 

The seminar allows us to collaborate even with the differences across our regions. Each response to hurricanes is unique, but they can inform how we do things and how to do them better. Lessons from hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, Michael, Florence, and beyond are changing the way we train staff, engage our states, and build capabilities to respond to an emergency.  They impact every community differently, but our mission doesn’t change: helping people before, during, and after disasters. Each day, we’re making decisions to help prepare our communities and partners for the next storm, which is always different than yesterday’s response. It’s one of the most important aspects of our work with the Coast Guard, too, in that we can and continue to do better so we can serve our communities when they are most in need.

 

In each of our Regions and at the Coast Guard, we are identifying innovative approaches to future storms with the dual goals of reducing their impact on communities and improving our ability to respond to them.

 

In Region II, we are engaging industry partners to address our complex logistical challenges and improve supply chain redundancies, implementing a mentoring program to support capacity building, and collaborating with local partners to strengthen infrastructure resilience. In Region III, we are not only adapting our timelines for response but increasing our logistics capability, talking about debris missions, and expanding our FEMA Integration Team Program. In Region IV, we have instituted readiness visits with the region’s and states’ emergency management leadership where concerns specific to each state’s unique needs and capabilities are discussed transparently, effectively, and consistently during on-site visits. Each meeting has produced specific, measurable tasks and timelines which support the state’s training, staffing, logistics, and programmatic capabilities. In Region VI, we continue to hold regular exercises and quarterly Regional Interagency Steering Committee meetings to gather our state, local, federal and tribal partners in one room to discuss how our capabilities have changed and what to expect during the next disaster.

 

Following a storm, the Coast Guard supports FEMA and state agencies in a variety of missions, including search and rescue, and works with federal, state and local partners to reconstitute the Maritime Transportation System in the impacted port quickly to prevent disruption to the flow of commerce. 

 

We’re making decisions in support of these initiatives and more, knowing that our communities, states, and the public across the nation are counting on us. Our job, our responsibility, and our charge as leaders is to ensure we are ready. This seminar is one example of the steps we are taking to ready ourselves, our Region, and FEMA to respond to the next hurricane.

 

A Puerto Rican Community Rebuilds After Hurricane Maria

A Puerto Rican Community Rebuilds After Hurricane Maria

The Puerto Rican community of Toro Negro is located in the central, mountainous municipality of Ciales. The isolation and privacy of this small community has been cherished by its residents for over 100 years.  It was in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, however, that the remote nature of the community proved to be a challenge.  

Its seclusion—the closest town is a 35-minute drive—reduced access to basic services such as garbage pickup and mail delivery. As the hurricane’s aftermath worsened, the limited basic services created pollution and raised public health concerns.

The 32-household community quickly realized they needed to become more self-sufficient in order to recover from the hurricane.  They began to take initiatives to expand infrastructure and minimize dependency on outside services.

Toro Negro installed donated solar panels and battery storage system to generate its own electricity. They rebuilt roads and bridges to improve the basic services they had lacked following the storm. They even made plans to create a community aqueduct.

Another Toro Negro community project that has started to take shape is the “Mapa Madre,” or “Mother Map” in English. This project identifies archaeological sites, garbage collection points and ongoing reforestation efforts in bodies of water that cross the municipalities of Barceloneta, Barranquitas, Ciales, Corozal, Florida, Jayuya, Manatí, Morovis and Orocovis. Once all the information is gathered, the “Mapa Madre” will be the ideal mechanism to develop strategies to protect the area’s watershed.

As of July 5, 2019, FEMA has obligated about $2.5 million through its Public Assistance program to the Municipality of Ciales, where the community of Toro Negro resides. The funds have reimbursed disaster-related expenses for emergency protective measures and debris removal. These emergency protective measures are actions taken to eliminate or lessen immediate threats either to lives, public health or safety, or significant additional damage to public or private property in a cost-effective manner.  

While this type of aid is essential to recovery, it is communities like Toro Negro that have proven that disasters like Hurricane Maria are no match for empowered community members. 

FEMA Funded Grant Program Teaches Kids Fire Safety

Author: 

An LA City Fire Dept Captain explains how equipment on a fire engine is used to a group of Junior Fire Inspector Graduates at Quincy Jones Elementary School in Los AngelesWhen the flames started in an LA family’s kitchen, two parents were able to extinguish it with baking soda.  It was a technique their 11-year-old son had taught them only weeks before, after his second MySafe: LA class.  These classes are funded by the Assistance to Firefighters Grants, specifically the Fire Prevention & Safety Grant. 

 

MySafe: LA was awarded in part to help fund a 3-part fire and life safety training.  The training is intended to spread fire safety awareness, as well as to inspire kids to want to grow up and become firefighters.  When younger students graduate from the training they receive Junior Fire Inspector I.D. cards. 

 

Another key component to this FEMA funded program is installation of fire alarms.  In just the first 6 months of the program, 5,000 new 10-year fire alarms were installed in houses.  On average, 4 alarms were installed in each 3-bedroom home. More than half of inspected houses had no working alarms, and in those that did, the alarms were more than 10 years old and no longer reliable. 

 

When the public officers are in homes to conduct inspections and install new 10-year smoke alarms, they also take time to teach any children in the home about basic fire safety steps, including evacuation.  Public officers will get down on their hands and knees and practice the “Get low and go” drill with kids. 

 

Programs such as these, help to significantly reduce fatalities and injuries caused by fire, especially in the wildfire prone areas of California. 

 

For more information on Assistance to Firefighters Grants, visit the FEMA website

 

Pet Preparedness: 10 Items you’ll Need for your Pets Hurricane Emergency Kit

Author: 

Amid rushed evacuations, strong winds, and approaching floodwaters of a disaster, chaos often ensues, forcing families to make impossible decisions about the animals that are part of their families.  It’s never easy to leave a pet behind but often, there is no choice. 

These situations may not always be preventable but having a plan in place can give your pets their best chance.  Keep that plan, and the tools needed to implement it, within an emergency kit tailored specifically to your pet. 

Here’s the top 10 items recommended for your kit:

  1. Food. At least a three-day supply in an airtight, waterproof container.
     
  2. Water. At least three days of water specifically for your pets.
     
  3. Medicines and medical records.  Most boarding kennels, veterinarians and animal shelters will need your pet's medical records to make sure all vaccinations are current. 
     
  4. Important documents. Registration information, adoption papers and vaccination documents. Talk to your veterinarian about microchipping and enrolling your pet in a recovery database. 
     
  5. First aid kit. Cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution. Including a pet first aid reference book is a good idea too.
     
  6. Collar or harness with ID tag, rabies tag and a leash.
     
  7. Crate or pet carrier. Have a sturdy, safe crate or carrier in case you need to evacuate. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down. 
     
  8. Sanitation. Pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach.
     
  9. A picture of you and your pet together. If you become separated, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you. Add species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.
     
  10. Familiar items. Familiar items, such as treats, toys and bedding can help reduce stress for your pet. 


Visit Ready.gov’s Pets and Animals Preparedness page for more information.

14 Electrical Safety Tips: What to do Before, After and During a Storm

Before the storm:

  1. Charge all phone and communications devices.
  2. Move computers and other electronic devices to countertops or tables to avoid water damage from flooding.
  3. Turn off circuit breakers to avoid power surges.
  4. If you plan to use a portable generator during the storm, ensure that a qualified electrician has installed it and make sure to use a listed and approved transfer switch and GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) protection.

During the storm:

  1. Stay indoors during hurricanes and away from windows and glass.
  2. Never operate a portable generator inside your home or garage.
  3. Do not connect generators directly to the household wiring unless an appropriate transfer switch has been installed by a licensed, qualified electrician.
  4. Always use GFCIs in areas where water and electricity may come in contact. The National Electrical Code (NEC) currently requires the GFCIs be installed in all kitchens, bathrooms, garages, outdoors, and within six feet of any sink.

After the storm:

  1. Have a qualified electrician inspect any water-damaged electrical equipment and electronics. Electrical items, such as circuit breakers, fuses, GFCIs, receptacles, plugs and switches, can malfunction when water and silt get inside. Discard them if they have been submerged.
  2. If flooding has occurred, have a qualified electrician inspect your electrical system.
  3. Do not touch a circuit breaker or replace a fuse with wet hands or while standing on a wet surface.
  4. Report and stay away from downed power lines and always assume they are energized. Never touch a person or object that is in direct or indirect contact with a downed power line, such as a fence, tree limb or water. Instead, call 911 immediately.
  5. Avoid flooded areas as they may be electrified. Even nonconductive materials like wood or cloth that are slightly wet can conduct electricity.
  6. If you smell gas, notify emergency authorities immediately. Do not turn on lights, light matches or engage in any activity that could create a spark.

Credit: Property Casualty 360°

Exploring the Different Types of Boat Insurance

When searching for boat insurance, you might be overwhelmed when you find that there are many different types of policies available. In general, insurance companies offer a watercraft liability coverage policy along with additional coverages that you can purchase. If you have financed your dreamboat, the lender probably requires you to also obtain property coverage for damage to your boat.

Watercraft liability insurance coverage is required by law in most states. This insurance provides coverage in the event that damage occurs to a person or to property of others as a result of actions taken on your boat. This is true whether or not it occurs during transportation or actually on the water. The law requires you to have this type of liability coverage and each state will have its own requirement as to how much you will need. It is wise to consult with an insurance agent to find out what is necessary to meet the requirements of the law.

In addition to liability insurance, you should cover the boat, motor and trailer used to transport your boat. Make sure that you protect your boat with optional coverage that includes theft, vandalism, losses caused by storms, fire, sinking, capsizing, stranding and collision.

It is possible that medical payment coverage may be required in your state. This type of coverage pays for the medical expenses, up to a specified amount, for you and any passenger on your boat that result from an accident covered by the policy. As a suggestion, regardless whether or not this insurance is required, you would be wise to consider it. Medical expenses as a result of an accident can become extremely high.

Another additional type of insurance coverage to the standard boat liability policy is the wreck removal and pollution coverage. This should also be strongly considered. If your boat sinks or is involved in an accident for any reason, you are required to remove it at once in accordance with the law. If oil or gasoline leaks into the water as a result of an accident, you will be fined. The wreck removal and pollution coverage provides coverage for this type of incident, and without this coverage you will be required to pay for the pollution and/or removal plus fines out of your own pocket.

Just like in automobile coverage, you should definitely cover yourself against uninsured boats as well. If another boater who does not have any type of boat insurance or does not have enough coverage, collides with your boat on the water, this coverage will pay for the replacement of, or any needed repairs to your boat.

Call Thorp & Trainer to find out what type of insurance is required, and we will provide a no obligation quote for this and any other additional insurance you might require for your boat.

HAPPY BOATING THIS SUMMER.

Drop, Cover and Hold On with “Molly and the Earthquake”

Author: 

The children sat in rapt attention, their faces upturned, hanging on the words being read aloud from the book, “Molly and the Earthquake.”

Tilting the book so all could see the pastel-colored illustrations, the woman continues to read.

“Children, it feels like we’re having an earthquake. Get under the table. Remember: Drop, cover, and hold on,” said Miss Chris calmly, but firmly. The preschoolers slid back their chairs and got under the table, just like they’d practiced in their earthquake drills, but Molly started to cry and headed for the door.”

“Molly and the Earthquake” is one of four books by Hannah C. Watkins that tell the story of a child’s experience with a natural disaster.

In two sessions one recent Saturday afternoon, FEMA employees read from the 20-page book to groups of children ranging in age from preschoolers to high school teens. Parents of the younger children sat beside them on tiny benches.

They heard the story of how Molly and her classmates at Happy Hearts Preschool crouched under tables as their classroom began to shake, how they watched as pretzels tumbled from their cups, the hamster cage crashed to the floor and books slid off the shelves.

The book weaves a tale of bravery as Molly experiences an earthquake for the first time.

The reading was held at a Barnes and Noble store in Anchorage which sponsors a monthly Book Fair hosted by neighboring schools. This was FEMA’s opportunity to teach the children that bravery doesn’t mean a lack of fear. Instead, bravery is a decision to be courageous in the face of fear. 

For Molly, being brave meant deciding she and her classmates would follow the directions of their teacher, Miss Chris.

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake jolted parts of Alaska last Nov. 30, and the aftershocks have not stopped. In the five months since then, the Municipality of Anchorage, Matanuska-Susitna Borough and Kenai Peninsula Borough have experienced over 7,800 aftershocks.

The parents and kids who listened to Molly’s story had a chance to ask questions of the FEMA employees and take home handouts, from coloring books to construction tips, that matched their age group.

At the end of the reading, a FEMA employee asked the kids if they remembered what they should do during an earthquake. The response came from a shy 7-year-old boy.

“Get under the table,” he said. 

A wise reminder to us all.

Did you know?
Alaska has more earthquakes per year than the other 49 states combined.
The moon has earthquakes, too!
Earthquake magnitude tells how much energy is released.
This energy is measured by a seismograph.
 
Do you know what to do if the earth starts shaking?
Visit Ready.gov/earthquakes for more information.

For more information on Alaska’s disaster recovery, visit FEMA.gov/disaster/4413, Twitter.com/FEMARegion10 and Facebook.com/FEMA.


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FEMA's mission is helping people before, during, and after disasters.
 
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has faced discrimination, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-3362 (FEMA), voice/VP/711. Multilingual operators are available. TTY users may call 800-462-7585.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. For more information, applicants may contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955. TTY users may also call 800-877-8339. Applicants may also email DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov or visit SBA at www.SBA.gov/disaster.