6 Ways to Prepare for an Ice Storm

Snow and ice can be a pretty sight in small doses, but Oklahoma is no stranger to heavy ice storms. You can help ensure minimal impacts to your property by following these six ways to prepare for an ice storm. Check out these tips:

1. Prepare an Emergency Home Kit

Severe ice storms can cause road closures as well as city-wide power outages, thus leaving you situated in your home for a potential long period of time. It could be helpful to have an emergency home kit with the necessities that could include things like:

  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Candles 
  • Canned goods and no-cook foods/snacks
  • Bottled water
  • Medication and first aid kit 
  • Blankets
  • Warm winter clothing and accessories
  • Emergency radio 

2. Have Tools on Standby

Too much ice or snow could trap you inside your home, so having a crowbar, axe, chiseling tool or shovel could aid in making a path to escape. Additionally, having tools nearby could be helpful for making any quick repairs. For instance, closing a small hole to stop the cold from filling your home. Remember to stay warm or find shelter if the damages are dangerous. 

3. Check on Pipes & Gutters 

As fall winds down and winter begins, take time to clear out rain gutters, repair roof leaks, and check the roof to make sure it can handle the extra weight of snow and ice. You’ll also need to insulate water pipes or faucets with winter covers on the exterior of the home. Allowing faucets to drip or trickle during cold weather or if the power/heat are out can also help avoid freezing pipes. When water freezes, it expands, and this can cause water pipes to burst. Know how and where to shut off water valves if a pipe bursts.

4. Watch Out for Trees

Trees lose limbs and leaves annually, and they also grow wider and bigger annually. Thus it is important to inspect trees before winter and to remove any branches that could fall on a house, powerline, car or other structure. After the storm, it’s also important to be careful around trees. Ice can accumulate and cause limbs to snap and fall down. For your safety, watch out for trees when walking around the property or shoveling ice out of the driveway.

5. Be Mindful About Carbon Monoxide 

Carbon monoxide poisoning is dangerous and there can be a heightened possibility for it after an ice storm. You’ll need to check and clear out the areas where your furnace and other vents are located, in case ice or snow start to block the vents. If the power does go out, remember to turn off anything that runs on gas or propane. To receive an early warning if carbon monoxide does become present, install battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors in the home. 

6. Save Water, Then More Water

One way to save water is by filling bathtubs, sinks and kitchen pots with water before the power goes out. Water is necessary for staying hydrated, and it can also help you operate your home in many other ways. It could give a toilet enough pressure to flush and even for hygienic purposes such as brushing your teeth and cleaning. 

As you take steps to prepare your home for an ice storm this winter, remember to contact your OKFB Insurance agent and review your Home Insurance policy. Insurance claims are an important part of recovering from storm damage. Review your homeowners, renters, or business insurance policies to ensure you have appropriate coverage for your property and personal belongings. Photograph and inventory your property to assist with post-disaster claims.

Holiday Travel Tips

The holiday spirit is in full swing and with it comes spending time with loved ones and enjoying the peace as the year begins to wind down. If you have plans to visit family or friends, consider these travel tips, whether you’re road-tripping or flying this holiday season. 

Focus on Scheduling

The end of the year can get quite hectic. Planning ahead is crucial for staying sane and avoiding feeling overwhelmed. One thing to remember is that the day before Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve are the most heavily traveled days of the year. If possible, schedule your travel for several days before and several days after the holidays to save money and time by avoiding peak road and air traffic.

Prioritize Disinfectants and Sanitizers

Regardless of if you’re driving or flying, it’s important to travel with a supply of hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. Winter is peak flu, cold and virus season so you’ll want to take steps to ward off these germs. Aim to wipe down high-touch surfaces, like car doors, seat belts and armrests, and remember to clean off hands before eating or touching your eyes, mouth or nose. 

Don’t Forget These Items

  • Passport – Nothing is more frustrating than arriving at the airport and realizing you don’t have your passport. Put this at the top of your packing list! 
  • Important documents – This may be car insurance cards, health insurance cards, boarding passes, etc. Any documents that might be helpful in case of an emergency.
  • Snacks – Traveling takes lots of energy and time, so be prepared by having some snacks on hand for the whole family. A reusable water bottle is a good idea as well. 
  • Don’t forget to check under the hood and/or your flight information. It’s always a good idea to ensure your vehicle is good to go, and it never hurts to double-check flight times and terminals.

Protect Holiday Gifts

If your travel plans require bringing gifts along, it could be helpful to hold off on wrapping the gifts until after you’ve reached your destination. This could make packing easier and help the wrapping stay in good condition. Additionally, if flying, it might help to ship the package ahead of time to the end destination, so you have one less thing to worry about when traveling.

Stay safe this holiday season! If driving, contact your OKFB agent to make sure your auto insurance is updated. Additionally, check-in on your home insurance if you’re going to be gone for a while. All in all, we wish you all the best and hope you have a merry holiday! 

5 Ways to Keep Your Home Warm & Safe

The air outside is turning cool and crisp and your home can officially be a warm getaway. Keeping a home heated properly and safely can be a large undertaking and an ongoing process, so to help you keep your home cozy this year, check out these tips! 

1. HVAC System

Don’t wait to check up on your heating system until the day you need it, otherwise, it can be a pain to discover it needs repairs or a tune-up. Early November is a good time to schedule an inspection with an HVAC specialist to ensure all things electrical and gas are working well. Most HVAC’s have a long service life, and you can extend the longevity of the system by performing these annual checkups and tune-ups.  

2. Proper Ventilation

One way to help the warm air circulate better is to replace your furnace filters and check the exhaust fans in the bathrooms and kitchens. If the exhaust fans have buildup, it could pose a fire hazard. You should also install at least one carbon monoxide detector in the home. Most modern gas heaters are very safe, but there is still a chance that a dangerous leak could occur. Having a detector can help keep you and your family safe while the heater is running. 

3. Home Decor

Did you know you could utilize rugs and curtains to decorate your home and help make it warmer? Floorboards and tiles can become cold, so laying out a rug will keep your feet from picking up the cool temperature from the floor. Along with rugs, dense curtains could help keep your home warm by keeping in more of the home’s heat and keeping out more of the outdoor cold. 

4. Fireplace Flue 

If your home has a fireplace, remember to close the flue when you don’t have a fire going. Leaving the flue open can allow warm air from your living room to escape through the chimney, meaning it will take more to heat your home. It’s also often the culprit for cold drafts entering your home. Closing the flue when the fireplace is not in use can help keep the warm air inside your home. 

5. Space Heaters

Space heaters can be a great way to add an extra burst of heat to a room, but they also pose some safety risks. You can safely use a space heater by placing it at least three feet away from anything that could catch on fire, plugging it directly into the wall and avoiding using power strips or extension cords, and by routinely checking the heater and power cord to ensure they are not damaged or frayed. 

Your home keeps you warm and safe, and we protect your home. We’ve got your back during all the seasons. If any changes have been made, remember to contact your OKFB agent to ensure your home insurance policy is up-to-date and everything is covered.

End of Year Checklist for Businesses

As the end of the year approaches, every small business has things they need to do to prepare for the upcoming year. Reviewing your business’s activity and strategizing on what changes should be made can help further drive your business’s success. This process may seem overwhelming, so here are five things to start with when compiling an end of year checklist!

Finances

Towards the end of the year is the perfect time to review your business’s finances. Completing a profit and loss statement, balance sheet or cash flow statement could be a great way to get started. These documents help pull together the big picture of a business’s financial fitness. With this financial information, you can assess which times of the year your business performed the best and worst. Knowing this can help when strategizing next year’s goals for each quarter.

Employees

While revenue plays a significant role in business, it’s also important to reflect on your team and how they’re doing. This could be a good time to provide employees with feedback, as well as ask for any in return. Getting employee input on processes or projects may bring up ways to increase efficiency. Also, remember to audit personal employee information, as it is important to ensure this general information is always up to date.

Marketing 

Now is also a good time to review marketing efforts and impacts from the past year. Reflecting on past actions can help strategize and prioritize the best marketing efforts that can produce the biggest return on investment. For example, your business’s online presence is crucial. Ensure that your website and social media efforts are working the way you need them too. If they aren’t, then this is an opportunity to think about how to improve these channels and implement any changes. 

Achievements

Although taking note of administrative information is important for annual planning, it is also important to reflect on past wins and achievements. Celebrate and share these successes with your employees and customers. This could be a great way to end the year on a high note and get excited about your company’s future and goals. 

General Housekeeping

This could be a great time to make sure all the little things are in order. Conducting an audit over digital data could be one way to get started. This can mean filing information to ensure everything is organized or even backing up data. Additionally, conducting a physical inventory  could provide insight on which products sell and which don’t. General housekeeping can offer a fresh start when the new year begins.

Along with completing an end-of-year checklist for your business, remember to also check in with your OKFB agent and review your Commercial Insurance policy. Many changes and updates can happen in a year, and as your partners in business, we want to help ensure you’re covered. Check out our Businessowners Insurance policy, specifically tailored for small businesses, as well as our commercial policies to ensure your business is protected.