Multiple Sclerosis Month

Multiple sclerosis and the MS movement – everyone engaged in addressing the challenges of MS today while moving toward long-term solutions for tomorrow – become better known each year. But more must be done. Together we are stronger when it comes to increasing awareness and support to create a world free of MS.

You can help ensure that more people understand what life with MS can be like, and engage more people to do something about it. When we connect with one another, we become stronger than MS — we make breakthroughs that we could not do alone.

What is a breakthrough? It’s being able button your shirt in the morning. It’s walking to the supermarket, and all the way back home. It’s getting back up on that bike, that surfboard, that horse. It’s having the first dance at your daughter’s wedding. Feeling strong enough to fall in love. Continuing that job you were made for.

Please share your breakthrough stories on any social media with the hashtag #WeareStrongerthanMS. During MS Awareness Week and throughout the year, we’ll bring your post together with those shared by others across the nation, at wearestrongerthanMS.org, where all can find solutions, strength and inspiration through collective experiences.

World MS Day unites individuals and organizations from around the world to raise awareness and move us closer to a world free of MS. The theme for 2017 is ‘Life with MS.’ In 2009, the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) and its members initiated the first World MS Day. Together we have reached hundreds of thousands of people around the world, with a campaign focusing on a different theme each year.

MSIF provides a toolkit of free resources to help everyone to take part in World MS Day. Anyone can use these tools, or make their own, to create positive change in the lives of more than 2.3 million people around the world.

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Preventing Water Damage

If you think about water damaging your home, you might conjure up an image of a hurricane, torrential rain or other natural catastrophe. The unfortunate reality is that damage that is caused when ordinary household appliances fail can be just as destructive as an extreme weather event. According to the Insurance Industry Institute, water damage accounts for billions of dollars in losses to homeowners and renters each year. It is also responsible for about 25 percent of all property insurance claims. In fact, data suggests that water is ten times more likely to damage your home than fire.

Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to help prevent water damage from appliances, and protect your home. It is helpful to understand some of the common causes of water damage, which include leaky baseboard heating, air conditioning condensation drains, and failed water heaters, washing machine hoses and plumbing.

These household appliances do not always offer warning signs until the damage has already occurred. That is why it is important to check them regularly. The simple steps below can help you protect your home from the most common causes of water damage:

  • First, know where the main water supply is located in case of emergency.
  • If you will be away from home for an extended period, shut off the water supply and drain the pipes. During the heating season, if your home is heated by an older steam heating system, consult with your heating professional to determine if it is safe to turn off the water supply for your particular heating system. Also, if your home is protected by a fire sprinkler system, do not turn off the water to this system, and maintain sufficient heat to prevent a freeze-up.
  • Consider having your air conditioning system inspected regularly by a professional. Check the drain lines annually and clean them if they are clogged.
  • Inspect water heaters, showers, tubs, toilets, sinks and dishwashers annually, and have them repaired if there are any signs of leaks or corrosion. When possible, install water heaters in areas with floor drains to minimize damage if leaks should occur.
  • Check caulking around showers, bathtubs, sinks and toilet bases, and make repairs as needed.
  • If your refrigerator has an ice machine or water dispenser, the hose between the wall and the refrigerator should be made of braided copper, which has greater cracking and corrosion resistance.
  • Check pipes for cracks and leaks. Have pipe damage fixed immediately to prevent more costly repairs in the future.
  • Check appliance hoses and plumbing fittings for breakage, crimping or bending.

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Taking Home Inventory

As we enter the New Year, it might just be the perfect time to take stock of your material possessions. Did you get a great gift for the holidays? Maybe a diamond ring, a new musical instrument or a beautiful watch? All of these items should be insured, and, just as importantly, added to your home inventory.  If a fire or major water loss should occur in your home, or if you become a victim to thieves, not having these items removed may not get you compensated.

What is a home inventory, you ask? Once created, it will be the most valuable item in your house.

The first step is to make a record of every item in your house that you would want and expect to be covered by your insurance. This list should include your computers, TVs, jewelry, antiques, china, art, furniture, gardening equipment, tools and many other things. Include serial numbers if you have them, and take pictures of each item. Mark down the item’s condition, and how much you paid for it (including a receipt image would be ideal).

Another way to approach this is to create a home inventory video. Videotape all of the valuable items in your home, making sure to zoom in on the smaller items. You should still document, whether by video, in an accompanying report or in a mobile app, their serial numbers and other identifying markers. The more specificity you include, the more likely you’ll be able to get a claim filed quickly, and at the right amount, should anything ever happen to your stuff.

In addition, there are several software programs and apps available to help you create a home inventory. However you choose to make yours, it’s important to back up this information and store a copy outside your home, just in case your home is severely damaged.

This is an opportunity to learn the real value of your items, especially art and jewelry, and serves as a reminder to get them appraised often. The value of these types of items can go up over time, so you should also make sure they are insured for the right amount. Be sure to check with your independent agent that your policy covers all your belongings, even the most personal and valuable items.

After a Claim

After a claim has been filed, and if you filed the claim yourself, your work is not finished. You have to be diligent when filing a claim in a water loss, or any loss for that matter, because you want to be sure you’re getting what you deserve.  Here’s a short list of things to do after a claim has been filed:

Reviewing the Claim Process

After you’ve reported the claim, the following steps will take place:

  • The loss report is assigned a claim number and assigned to a claims handler.
  • A property adjuster will contact you to confirm the facts of the loss. This may include an inspection of the damaged property. The adjuster will then determine if coverage applies, and, if so, evaluate the damages.
  • After the claim is initiated, the adjuster or claims handler will check on the progress of the claim and make every effort to efficiently complete the process. Some claims can be settled quickly. Others—especially those involving severe damages—may take longer.

Keeping Track of the Details

To help stay organized and involved, you may want to maintain a file regarding your homeowners insurance claim/loss that includes the following:

  • Customer’s name as it appears on the policy
  • Policy number
  • Claim number
  • Claim handler or adjuster’s name, mailing address, phone number and title
  • Estimates, correspondence and notes of phone conversations regarding the claims settlement

Keep this file with you. Wherever you talk to your homeowners insurance claims handler or adjuster—at home or at work—your documentation will help ensure the claim is processed in a timely, accurate manner.

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Floods & Storage

Many homes use basements and some bedrooms for storing items.  Two mistakes that often occur are homeowners storing too many items, with some boxes being empty or filled with trash and two, they store items so high and so tightly packed to the wall that they can never see if there is a problem lurking.  Pictured below is an example of a home that had a minor leak that went unnoticed for several weeks because of boxes stored from floor to near ceiling.  The leak then caused damaged, not only to the stored items, but also the walls and floor.  If the home would have had a better system for storing such items, most of this issue could have been remediated and repaired prior to causing extensive loss to building materials and personal contents.  Too many packed items is also a major fire hazard and if you can not afford to part with any item, then considering a storage unit may be helpful in times like this.

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4 Easy Steps When Pipes Burst

There are four steps to take when a pipe bursts in your home.

1. Shut The Water Off

First thing, turn off the water flow when you suspect a pipe has broken, even if you don’t know where the water’s coming from. You’ll find the stop tap on the water main. It is typically located under the kitchen sink or where the main service pipe connects to your house. Every family member should know the location of the water shut-off stopcock for emergencies. Once the main water switch is off, you’ll need to drain the pipes. To do this, run the cold water on all the faucets. Be sure to flush each toilet at least once. Shut off the hot water heater. Once the hot water system is off, go back to each faucet and run the hot water to drain that supply. When there is no more running tap water, the leak will stop.

2. Locate The Pipe 

After draining all the excess water, locate the burst pipe. Inspect the damage and consider where the pipe is located before you run off to the home improvement store. Regardless of the damage or size of the break, a major water pipe will take more time and effort to replace because it holds more water and leads to additional connections, as opposed to a single pipe under the bathroom sink.

3. Repair The Pipe

Fixing a rupture or crack in non-main pipes is usually fairly straightforward, but it can become expensive depending on the mending material you choose. If you’re capable of fixing the pipe yourself, then the repair will be easy and cost effective.  Otherwise, you’ll need to call a plumber in who can properly repair the pipe and maybe even offer solutions to not allowing the pipe to freeze again.

4. Water Restoration

If the water from the burst pipe is on the walls or ceilings as well as the floor, contact a professional water restoration company. Simply using fans and open windows to dry a soaked area is an invitation to mold, mildew, and even serious illness for your family. You will also want to shut off the electrical power to that area of the house as a precaution against shocks.  Be careful of whom you hire, because franchises and inexperienced contractors can cause more damage, or try to max out insurance policies with doing very minimal work.  A good water damage restoration company will be prompt, and return the home to pre-loss conditions in a cost effective manner.

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World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is held on the 1st December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day, held for the first time in 1988.

WHY IS WORLD AIDS DAY IMPORTANT?

Over 100,000 people are living with HIV in the UK. Globally there are an estimated 34 million people who have the virus. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

Today, scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. Despite this, each year in the UK around 6,000 people are diagnosed with HIV, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with the condition.

World AIDS Day is important because it reminds the public and Government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

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