Power Outages: Be Prepared

Your electric service is generally very reliable; however, extreme weather conditions and other factors can lead to a temporary loss of power. To keep your family safe and comfortable during an outage or other emergency, it’s important to be prepared.

power outage

Here are some tips:

• Create an emergency preparedness kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash and first aid supplies.
• Maintain supplies of healthy and filling snacks that don’t require refrigeration, such as dried fruits, nuts and protein bars.
• Make sure you have alternative charging methods for your phone or any device that requires power.
• Purchase ice or freeze water-filled plastic containers to help keep food cold during a temporary power outage.
• Learn about the emergency plans established in your area by contacting your state or local emergency management agency.
• If you rely on anything that’s battery-operated or power dependent, such as a medical device, have a backup plan.
• Maintain backup generators according to manufacturers’ recommendations and store an adequate supply of fuel in a safe place.

During an outage, monitor local radio stations or online sources for reports about power restoration. Disconnect or switch off appliances and electronic equipment that were running when the power went out. Avoid opening refrigerators and freezers to save cold air and preserve food longer.

Staying safe

Follow these measures to ensure the safety of you and your family during and after an outage.

Generators. Operate backup generators safely by following manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t attempt to connect your generator to the electrical system; it can backfeed to outdoor utility lines and injure or kill utility service personnel. An automatic transfer switch—installed by a qualified electrician—will help to ensure safe operation.

Refrigerated foods. Discard any perishable items in your refrigerator or freezer that may not be safe to consume. A refrigerator keeps food at a safe temperature for up to four hours during a power outage if it remains closed. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends discarding foods such as meat, poultry and eggs if they’ve been above 40°F for more than two hours.


For more tips and resources, see Power Outages from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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How to Make a Disaster Plan for Your Pet

A hurricane. A flood. A fire. When disaster strikes, our worst fears can come to life. There’s panic and confusion. And, depending on the catastrophe, you may need to leave your home – often in a hurry.

dog rescue alert sticker

Who can forget the image of pragmatic Otis–a German shepherd mix–who was not a stray but escaped from a screen porch during flooding, carrying his own bag of dog food.


When it comes to these terrifying events, there’s a lot to think about, and it’s important to exactly know what to do with your family, including your pets. So while we hope it never comes to this, let’s make sure you and your pets are prepared in the event of an emergency.

1. Make a Plan

When it comes to disaster planning, preparation is key! That’s why it’s a smart idea to keep a leash by the exit and have a planned destination in case you need to leave in a hurry. If possible, it’s a good idea to have more than one transportation option in mind just in case your primary mode becomes unavailable.

In the event you are separated from your pet, you will want to make sure they have proper identification. This includes having an up-to-date license, a microchip, and accurately labeling their carriers. You want to make it easy for anyone who finds your pet to contact you. That way you and your buddy can be reunited as quickly as possible.

2. Know Where to Seek Shelter

It’s not easy to think about something happening to your home, but it’s important to have a plan in place should you – and your pets – need to evacuate.

For many, it’s as simple as calling a friend or family member, but what if that’s not an option? Ask your veterinarian for a list of facilities that can accommodate pets. It’s also a good idea to identify pet-friendly places you and your pet could stay until it’s safe to return home.

3. Build an Emergency Kit

From clothing to medicine, most of us know what we need to pack if we’re going to be away from home for a period of time. However, in the event of an emergency, it could be hard to pack for yourself and your pet when you’re under duress and in a hurry, increasing the likelihood of forgetting something important.

To avoid this, prepare a pet emergency kit that you can easily grab if you’re running out the door. This will ensure you can provide for your pet’s needs when you’re away from home and it will save you precious seconds if you are rushing to evacuate. When preparing a kit, consider everything your pal needs on a daily basis: food, water, prescriptions, leash or harness, maybe even a toy or two. It’s also important to include a pet first-aid kit (create your own with this handy checklist) in case your pet gets injured.

4. Don’t Forget Your Rescue Alert Sticker

What if you’re not home when disaster strikes? How will rescuers know you share your home with a furry family member? That’s why you place a rescue alert sticker near your front door.

These stickers let rescuers know what types of pets are in your home, how many there are, and provides them with your veterinarian’s contact information. Get a Free Rescue Alert Sticker today from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®)!


Did you ever have to evacuate with a pet? What was your experience like? Do you have tips to add to our list? Sound off on our Facebook page or on our Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram feeds. And don’t forget to sign up for our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Home Contractor Warning Signs…
What are some red flags for industry professionals?

home-contractor-warning-jersey-shoreHiring a professional to work in your home is a touchy thing. You want to get the best work for your dollar, but not all of the “professionals” out there will give you the kind of quality work you’re looking for, or even be honest about how much it will cost you in the end.

To help homeowners figure out how to tell the true professionals from the scam artists, we turned to our home industry experts to find out what the red flags are for the home expert industry. So what are some home contractor warning signs?  Here’s a list of the biggest red flags…

1. Lack of a track record
Any professional worth working with will have references for you to check, so you can see the quality of their previous work. If you can’t find any information about a professional’s work online, or they’re cagey about giving you references, you should be very suspicious.  Please do not be fooled by sites like Yelp or Angie’s List.  Anyone can purchase their way onto these sites and invest more to highlight only their best reviews.  Actually, a Jersey Shore Real Estate Agent will likely have a number of contacts they can refer you to.

2. Get it in writing
Some old-timers in the industry might advocate their word as their bond, but as a homeowner you should always get the plan in writing. A written contract can save you a lot of heart ache, and a true professional shouldn’t have a problem with it.

3. The contractor is late
Showing up late to a first meeting is a huge red flag for a contractor, just like it would be in any other situation. If they don’t respect your time or make an effort to behave professionally on your first meeting, don’t expect that to change after you’ve hired them. That goes double if they swear excessively, smoke, wear shoes into your house without slip covers, or otherwise behave unprofessionally.

4. Be suspicious of too-low prices
It’s tempting to go off lowest price offered when you’re looking for a home professional, but you should think twice before picking that one outlier company. Ask yourself: what corners are they cutting to get a price that’s so much lower than anybody else is offering?

5. They want you to get the materials
If you don’t have a lot of experience hiring home professionals, you might not know that home professionals usually include material costs in their quotes. If a professional is asking you to do the buying up front, it means that they don’t have a good relationship with supply houses and can’t get credit there. This means they aren’t on top of their finances, and you might find yourself holding the short end of the stick if you hire them.

6. A disorganized truck
If you get a chance to see the contractor’s work space and it’s disorganized or not well cared for, it’s an indication that they are not taking their work seriously or professionally. A disorganized professional will treat your space the same way they treat their truck. If you don’t want to find your house littered with tools, don’t hire someone who’s disorganized about their work.

7. Try and gauge their subject matter expertise
It might be difficult, but try and ask questions that gauge the contractor’s subject matter expertise. While an older, more seasoned contractor may not be a red flag, it’s possible they haven’t kept up on their education since entering the business. Getting the appropriate training up front is important, but the home industry changes all the time, and what was sufficient training a few years ago may not be up to snuff now. Staying up-to-date with codes is the bare minimum here.

So keep an eye out for these early signs that the contractor you’re considering isn’t a true professional.

Your Turn

Recently hire a home contractor or tradesman to perform work in your home? What home contractor warning signs did you spot? Did you learn anything the hard way? Sound off on our Facebook or Twitter pages and don’t forget to sign up for our monthly Patrick Parker Realty eNewsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox!

Hurricane Preparedness: A Complete Guide from the National Weather Service

Two keys to weather safety are to prepare for the risks and to act on those preparations when alerted by emergency officials. These are essential pieces to the Weather-Ready Nation.

Refer to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Ready.gov/hurricanes for comprehensive information on hurricane preparedness at home and in your community.

Some highlights on how to prepare and take action are available below:

1. Gather Information
2. Plan & Take Action
3. Recover
4. Additional Resources

1. Gather Information

Know if you live in an evacuation area. Assess your risks and know your home’s vulnerability to storm surge,flooding and wind. Understand National Weather Service forecast products and especially the meaning of NWSwatches and warnings.

Contact your local National Weather Service office and local government/emergency management office. Find out what type of emergencies could occur and how you should respond.


Keep a list of contact information for reference.

  • emergency-contactsLocal Emergency Management Office
  • County Law Enforcement
  • County Public Safety Fire/Rescue
  • State, County and City/Town Government
  • Local Hospitals
  • Local Utilities
  • Local American Red Cross
  • Local TV Stations
  • Local Radio Stations
  • Your Property Insurance Agent

Risk Analysis

Online hazard and vulnerability assessment tools are available to gather information about your risks.

2. Plan & Take Action

hurricane-emergency-kitEveryone needs to be prepared for the unexpected. Your friends and family may not be together when disaster strikes. How will you find each other? Will you know if your children or parents are safe? You may have to evacuate or be confined to your home. What will you do if water, gas, electricity or phone services are shut off?

Supplies Kit

Put together a basic disaster supplies kit and consider storage locations for different situations. Help community members do the same.

Emergency Plans

Develop and document plans for your specific risks.

Health & Environment

Follow guidelines to guard your community’s health and protect the environment during and after the storm.


  • Review the FEMA Evacuation Guidelines to allow for enough time to pack and inform friends and family if you need to leave your home. FOLLOW instructions issued by local officials. Leave immediately if ordered!
  • Consider your protection options to decide whether to stay or evacuate your home if you are not ordered to evacuate.

When waiting out a storm be careful, the danger may not be over yet…

Be alert for:

  • Tornadoes – they are often spawned by hurricanes.
  • The calm “eye” of the storm – it may seem like the storm is over, but after the eye passes, the winds will change direction and quickly return to hurricane force.

3. Recover

  • Wait until an area is declared safe before returning home.
  • Remember that recovering from a disaster is usually a gradual process.

4. Additional Resources

This content originally appeared on noaa.gov

Get Great First Aid & Emergency Preparedness Apps offered by The American Red Cross


First Aid App
The official American Red Cross First Aid app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in your hand. Available for iPhone and Android devices, the official American Red Cross First Aid app offers videos, interactive quizzes and simple step-by-step advice it’s never been easier to know first aid.

Hurricane App 
Monitor conditions in your area or throughout the storm track, prepare your family and home, find help and let others know you are safe even if the power is out – a must have for anyone who lives in an area where a hurricane may strike or has loved ones who do.

Shelter Finder App 
The Red Cross Shelter Finder is available in the iTunes store and works on iOS devices. The Shelter Finder displays open Red Cross shelters and their current population on an easy to use map interface.

More Red Cross Mobile Apps…

Stay safe, we hope you will never need these tools.


emergency-kit-red-crossBe Ready: Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed.

September is National Preparedness Month, and, today is World First Aid Day.  It’s a great time to review your own emergency plans and to make sure family, friends and neighbors are prepared.

Whether it’s a house fire or a natural disaster, having a plan in place before an emergency hits means you’ll know where to turn in times of crisis.

So this month, take a few minutes to make an emergency game plan and prepare your emergency kit of essentials. Hopefully, the day doesn’t come when you’ll be thankful for it, but it pays to be prepared.

Being prepared means being equipped with the proper supplies you may need in the event of an emergency or disaster. Keep your supplies in an easy-to-carry emergency preparedness kit that you can use at home or take with you in case you must evacuate.

At a minimum, you should have the basic supplies listed below:

  • Water—one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Food—non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit – Anatomy of a First Aid Kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map(s) of the area

Consider the needs of all family members and add supplies to your kit. Suggested items to help meet additional needs are:

  • Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, etc)
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Games and activities for children
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  • Two-way radios
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys
  • Manual can opener

Additional supplies to keep at home or in your survival kit based on the types of disasters common to your area:

  • Whistle
  • N95 or surgical masks
  • Matches
  • Rain gear
  • Towels
  • Work gloves
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Household liquid bleach
  • Entertainment items
  • Blankets or sleeping bags

It is important to make sure that the entire family is prepared and informed in the event of a disaster or emergency. You may not always be together when these events take place and should have plans for making sure you are able to contact and find one another.

  • Meet with your family or household members.
  • Discuss how to prepare and respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work and play.
  • Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and plan to work together as a team.
  • If a family member is in the military, plan how you would respond if they were deployed.

Emergency Contact Cards for All Household Members:

  • Print one card for each family member
  • Write the contact information for each household member, such as work, school and cell phone numbers
  • Fold the card so it fits in your pocket, wallet or purse
  • Carry the card with you so it is available in the event of a disaster or other emergency
  • You can download an emergency contact card template here

Plan what to do in case you are separated during an emergency:

  • Choose two places to meet…
    1 – Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire
    2 – Outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate
  • Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. It may be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Everyone should have emergency contact information in writing or saved on their cell phones.

Plan what to do if you have to evacuate:

  • Decide where you would go and what route you would take to get there. You may choose to go to a hotel/motel, stay with friends or relatives in a safe location or go to an evacuation shelter if necessary.
  • Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on your map in case roads are impassable.
  • Plan ahead for your pets. Keep a phone list of pet-friendly hotels/motels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes.

Let Your Family Know You’re Safe

If your community has experienced a disaster, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website  to let your family and friends know you are safe. You may also call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and select the prompt for “Disaster” to register yourself and your family.

Test Yourself!

Next week we will take a look at how to prepare each member of your family for emergencies; children, seniors, persons with disabilities and your pets.

Download Great First Aid and Emergency Preparedness Apps offered by The American Red Cross

In the meantime, stay safe, we hope you will never need this advice.

home-buying-tips7 Things Every New Jersey Buyer Must Know

1. Attorney Review Period
This is a three day period in which buyers and sellers can have their contracts reviewed by a local real estate attorney. It is important to remember this review period is three business days from the date the last buyer or seller signs, not when the real estate attorney receives the contract.

2. Contingencies
This means the contract is contingent or dependent upon something happening first. In New Jersey, it’s customary that all real estate contracts are contingent on the buyers getting their mortgage, home inspections and a clear title.

3. Mortgages
A mortgage is a lien put on the property by a lender. There is a great difference between a buyer getting a 90% mortgage from a lender and 80% mortgage from a bank.

Learn more about the important difference between a Mortgage Broker and a Bank Loan Officer.

4. Home Inspection
When you buy a house, there are hundreds of items (often hidden) that can be wrong. Did you know that New Jersey has the oldest housing stock in America? If you buy or sell a house in the area, it might be over 50 to 100 years old! Problems with the major systems are often very expensive to fix, particularly with older frame houses.

5. “As Is”
This means you only get what’s there, nothing less and nothing more. It produces more real estate litigation than any other clause in a contract, which is why we recommend to get the help of a local real estate lawyer if you want to buy a home. A seller has to ensure that the house, the structure, and its operating systems (heat, electrical, plumbing, etc.) are in good operating condition at closing. This has now become more important than ever given the large amount of “As Is” properties available listed at rock bottom prices after damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

This can be a problematic area if not handled properly.  Buyers don’t want to put thousands of dollars into a new plumbing or heating systems, and seller’s don’t want to pay for improvements they didn’t have at contract time. New Jersey law doesn’t interpret “As Is” to mean buyers get stuck if major systems don’t work. The sellers have an obligation to disclose any hidden defect they know about.

6. Closing Date
This is put on at the beginning of a contract and is only a guess at when the closing will take place. The closing date is set by the borrower’s lender and not by the seller or buyer.

7. Escrow
Escrow assures that the lender releases the home purchase funds at or about the same time that the deed is recorded to reflect new ownership. Escrow includes depositing, with a neutral third party, funds, documents and instructions necessary to complete the transfer.

Patrick Parker Realty Agents and Brokers are here to walk you through every stage of the buying process.  We will help you obtain title insurance, set closings, guide you through inspection, supervise, work closely with attorneys and coordinate with the seller’s agents.

You can continue to familiarize yourself with commonly used terms you’ll come across during your real estate transaction in our Mortgage Glossary.

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