Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fires & Preparedness

The air is thick out.

Here in Santa Monica, we've had an orange day. Every time there's a big fire caused by the Santa Ana winds, it seems to get blown out over the sea, directly over us. The effect is a surreal orange shadow over the day. The ocean, usually a crystal blue, is a dense, ashy-orange. It's hotter than usual, and there's something haunting about the whole effect. It would be almost enchanting if it wasn't all so depressing. I would take a picture, but honestly, this is when I'm reminded that I'm no photographer. I might take a picture that comes out well every now and then, but for the most part, I can never convey the mystical effect of a moment like this.

We're not in the direct line of any fires, thank goodness, but we're not far from them, relatively speaking. We're being told to avoid spending time outside because the air quality is pretty bad. No arguments here; it's very unpleasant outside right now. Malibu is just a few miles away. And we have several friends impacted by fires in the Valley. One friend went out on errands with his family and they packed all of their valuables in the car "just in case." The fire near them has since been extinguished, but there are constant reminders that they're not in the clear yet.

On that note, this is usually a great reminder to inventory the contents of your home for insurance purposes. At the very least, take a video or photographs of each of your rooms (in and out of your home) and note the date of purchase and cost of items above $50. Keep these records, along with receipts, warranty information, etc. in a safe place. We like to have it all on our computer, which we backup often on an external hard drive and keep at a safe deposit box. If possible, try to keep a copy out of town, too. We're not there yet, but we're working on it. I'm still working on completing our inventory list, so this is as much a reminder to me as to anyone else.

If you're overwhelmed at the thought of an inventory, here's a handy list on how to start. Some interesting tips they suggest that could be very useful, but easily overlooked:
WHN TIP:Paul Winans, the president of NARI (Natl Assoc. of Remodeling Industry), recommends documenting the finishes and fittings in your home. "There is a big money difference between sheet rock and plaster, a formica counter versus granite, linoleum versus tile." Also note special features such as decorative plaster work, intricate hardwood floor patterns, craftsman work from 100+ years ago. Document the age, make and models of your utility systems (e.g. 50 year old furnace vs. 3 years old).

WHN TIP: Be honest when you quote the cost of items. A question about one could to lead to questioning the value of all your things.

WHN TIP:Stephen Hadhazi, public insurance adjuster and publisher of DocuDamage.com recommends taking close ups of your windows, doors and their frames. Also, videotape or take a picture of someone holding a level to your foundation to show that the foundation is indeed level at the moment.


MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

I'm so glad you posted on this because I was wondering if and how you were impacted by the fires.

I'm just heartbroken watching all those poor families lose everything. How incredibly awful. Awful!

I am so glad the Metafamily is safe.