Tag Archives: damage

The Calm After the Storm

May 4, 2015 by

Article originally appeared in Omaha Home May/June 2015

The spring storm season has the potential to introduce the most unpredictable of problems for homeowners. We checked in with Lisa and Regi Powell of Powell Insurance, a Farmers Insurance agency, for their best advice on how to navigate the process if your home sustains storm damage.

The Most Common Mistake?

Lisa: “Automatically turning in a claim. Every claim stays on your record for three years, even if you end up later saying, ‘Never, mind, it’s not worth collecting on it after my deductible.’ Many people may not understand that it is still counted as a claim. We recommend getting an estimate outside of the insurance process in order to make the best decision about whether or not to proceed with an actual claim.”

Regi: “This is also important because claims frequency can effect your premiums, even your eligibility. When in doubt, talk to your agent first. That’s what we’re here for.”

How to Best Protect Your Rights and Your Property?

Regi: “Each state has a different statute of limitations on claims. Get a good estimate from a reputable contractor. That cost is reimbursed in the process if a claim is, indeed, later filed. You wouldn’t want to find much later on that, for example, you have water problems from a damaged roof. Now you’re faced with bigger, costlier issues.”

Lisa: “Water is one of the things you should be most concerned about as a homeowner. It is stubborn, persistent. If you don’t fix a roof after a storm, over time water leaks or damage may occur. This water damage may not be covered if you didn’t take the proper steps to repair the original storm damage.”

Okay, So Now it’s Time to Make Repairs

Lisa: “We have what we call a Preferred Provider program…a list of trusted contractors. A lot of companies have similar programs. The financial relationship is still between the homeowner and the contractor, but those that make it onto our list have gone through a thorough vetting process. They’ve jumped through a lot of hoops to make the cut and be on that list.”

Regi: “And don’t forget some of the simplest tips when making repair decisions. Talk to your friends and neighbors. What great experiences have they had with contractors? Who do they trust? If some guy shows up in your driveway offering to do work, check his truck’s license plate. If it’s from Florida or Alabama…well, there are a lot of storm-chasers out there and they, like any business, can be all over the map in terms of ability, reliability, even honesty.”

What Does My Insurance Company Need to Know?

Regi: “Keep them updated throughout the process. Your contractor may point out, for example, that you need to replace a skylight after, say, some hail damage. But if that sky light wasn’t identified in the original adjusting process, it causes problems later. If additional damage is found, let’s be sure to get that into the claim so you will be paid accordingly.”

Lisa: “Which is a good reminder to take a comprehensive approach to any claim. Our adjustors are trained to inspect the entire property. Do you have a pool? A tool shed? Ask your claims adjuster to inspect your entire property, not just the roof or siding. An adjuster may often find damage you didn’t
know existed.”

And Before the Storm?

Lisa: “Perhaps our most important role is to make sure you have the appropriate type and amount of coverage along with deductibles that work for you before a storm hits, before an auto accident, before a fire.”

Regi: “It’s just human nature to believe that bad things will never happen to you, but there’s a reason we send update offers and call people to review policies. That’s one of the tougher parts of this job—a homeowner learning too late that their policy didn’t meet their needs.”

Final Thoughts?

Lisa: “There are so many factors that go into recovering from storm damage. We recognize that it’s a stressful time. This is your home. It is important to you…and it’s
important to us.”

Regi: “It is really gratifying to help people through these things. Just like being in an auto accident, storms can be traumatic and you may have more important things to worry about than the roof over your head. This is what your insurance agent lives for. When in doubt—and especially if you’re in any way confused about the process—call your agent. That’s what we’re here for.”

CalmAfterStorm

Skin Repair After Sun Damage

July 22, 2013 by

The damage is done. You have been told for years to wear a hat and sunscreen (minimum SPF 30) and to stay out of direct sunlight between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. But, again, the sun wrapped you up in its relaxing warmth, and now you’re burnt to a crisp.

You can almost feel the crows feet forming around your eyes and the deep creases folding into your forehead. Is there anything you can do to lessen the damage? Justin G. Madson, M.D., Ph.D., dermatologist at Midwest Dermatology Clinic, P.C., gives practical advice on remedies for both serious and mild sunburns.

If you have a serious sunburn, you need to see your doctor immediately. “Signs of serious sunburn are blistering, a rash, excessive itching immediately following sun exposure, fever, or an infection that results from scratching or an open blister,” says Dr. Madson.

“Excessive pain is also a sign that it is time to see a doctor, especially if it cannot be controlled by over-the-counter pain relievers. Your dermatologist can prescribe treatments for these symptoms, including prescription cortisone creams, antihistamines, and pain relievers.”

For milder burns, try a couple home remedies. “Sooth the area with a cold, wet cloth for 10-15 minutes. This takes the heat out of the skin,” says Dr. Madson. A cool bath and moisturizing lotion can also be helpful. However, “avoid lotions that contain petrolatum [i.e. Vaseline], as these ointments form a barrier that traps the heat within the sunburned skin.

“Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help with moderate pain,” says Dr. Madson. After trying some of these immediate remedies, it is a good idea to let your skin heal on its own. “Leave blisters alone. They are nature’s Band-Aids and protect newly healing skin from dirt and bacteria on the surface of the skin. The outer layers of your skin are there to protect what is underneath. Allow nature to shed the skin when it is no longer needed.”

If you are on vacation and cannot avoid the sun, “apply sunscreen SPF 30+ liberally to all areas of the skin and wear long-sleeve, sun-protective clothing. The sun’s damaging rays can penetrate clothing, so it’s necessary to double your efforts,” says Dr. Madson. “Make sure the fabric is a little loose. Tight fabric stretches, letting in more light. And try to plan vacation activities outside during morning, late afternoon, and evening hours when the harmful rays are not as strong.

“There is a long list of skin conditions caused by long-term sun exposure, the most serious of which is skin cancer. It’s a serious, invasive cancer that spreads to vital organs in the body if not diagnosed and treated early. And sun exposure, especially sunburn, is the leading cause,” says Dr. Madson.

Next time you cozy into the lawn chair on a sunny summer afternoon, remember this statistic from Dr. Madson: “Studies show that your risk of developing melanoma doubles after five sunburns in your lifetime. That’s why sun protection is so important.”

Surprising Fact: “We get more sun damage through the car window than previously thought. A new study found that 53 percent of skin cancers occur on the left side of the body as opposed to the middle or right side. That is attributed to the many miles we put behind the wheel and the increased sun exposure. Whether the window is rolled down or up, you are at risk—windshield glass only protects us from UVB rays. We get a steady dose of UVA while driving (or as a passenger). Reflective factors, such as snow or water, also increase dangers of ultraviolet light,” says Dr. Madson.

Diagnosing a Troubled Tree

June 20, 2013 by

When diagnosing a troubled tree, there are many variables that come into play. What species of tree are we dealing with? When and where was it planted? What problematic symptoms does it exhibit? One should look at the surroundings of the plant. Construction and soil compaction can play a huge role in a tree’s longevity. Weather is also a big factor. Storm damage, such as hail, can wreak havoc on a tree’s well-being.

The biggest issue we see is poor initial planting. Many trees are planted too deep or too high in the soil. A tree can survive in these stressful conditions for approximately 4-5 years before showing signs of decline. Watering can be a big issue, too. Most trees need 1” of water each week. Not enough or too much water can be detrimental to the tree’s growth.

When treating a diseased tree, the right diagnosis is key. Only a certified arborist will know which fungicide is required to treat a fungal problem, or which insecticide will best treat a tree infested with pests. Using the proper treatment application method is also essential and may depend on the severity of tree damage. When you see a tree exhibiting signs of trouble, it’s best to call a professional arborist right away. Likely, the tree has been in distress for some time. Better yet, employ a regular tree service to service and treat your trees year-round, before the trouble starts.

For tree analysis or treatment, call on the professionals at Terry Hughes Tree Service, voted #1 Tree Service in Best of Omaha™ 2013! Visit hughestree.com for more info.

Tan Without Damaging Your Skin

May 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When Coco Chanel returned from a luxurious vacation in 1929, she declared “The 1929 girl must be tanned,” starting a beauty revolution that changed the sun-kissed look from being a sign of working-class status to chic, wealthy fashionista. Surprisingly, this trend has stuck around for nearly 85 years and has only grown as a desired beauty trait among women (not to mention its growth as a major cash-cow for the beauty industry).

The problem is more and more women are getting skin cancer while trying to achieve this look, even those in their early 20s who should barely have had time to damage their skin. With too much natural sun exposure, as well as tanning booth UV exposure, this beautiful look seems a little too dangerous. But as it’s the time of year again for swimsuits, women are lining up to get that perfect tan.

So how can we get the bronzed look without actually harming our skin?

If you’re attempting your own self-tanning experience, try Here Comes the Sun™ ($28), one of the many Philosophy skin care products available at Sephora in Village Pointe Shopping Center. According to Sephora’s website, “This self-tanner provides a sun-inspired golden glow within hours of application while an amino acid complex helps firm and tone for smooth, healthy-looking skin. The oil-free, streak-free formula is easy to apply for even, mistake-proof coverage. Skip the sun, and go for the glow.”

Cheaper options—like Jergens Natural Glow, L’Oreal Sublime Bronze, or Sally Hansen Airbrush Leg—usually range from $7-15 and are available at Walgreens, Target, or Walmart. But always read the product reviews first! While these products will save you money, they can sometimes spread unevenly or leave your hands, arms, knees, ankles, and feet looking too brown or awkwardly orange. A few minutes of online reading can be the difference between countless hours of frustrated scrubbing in the shower and a thrifty, beautiful glow.

If you don’t trust your own handiwork to get the desired effect, most local tanning salons have spray-on tanning available. Best of Omaha® winner Ashley Lynn’s Tanning, which has 11 locations in Omaha, is known for its “sunless tan” spray-on tanning.

A “sunless tan” at Ashley Lynn’s only takes a few minutes. Clients can go fully nude or wear swimsuits. Single sessions cost $30, but the tanning salon currently has a $39 special for three sessions.

“We use the VersaSpa spray tan booth,” says Dana Morinelli, director of marketing with Ashley Lynn’s. “There’s a clear treatment and a bronzer treatment. The bronzer is topical. [It] washes off so you can see it right away. Both are composed of skin-firming agents to give you long-lasting color.” Morinelli adds that the color in the clear treatment develops four to eight hours after the session, and both treatments usually last about five to seven days, depending on skin type and daily skin care routines.

Though the bronzer treatment isn’t recommended if you’re getting a quick spray-on tan during your lunch break before heading back to the office, Morinelli assures that the treatments are water-soluble, so clothes won’t be stained.

“If you’re looking for quick color with fewer sessions, then [sunless tan] is perfect. It’s completely cosmetic, and it gives you that immediate tan,” says Morinelli.

Quit Aging Yourself

March 25, 2013 by

Every year, we spend tons of money to keep our faces looking youthful and tight. But what we don’t realize is that some of our bad beauty habits are actually making us look older than we are. Here are some seemingly “no-brainer” tips that will help you keep your face looking young and beautiful without spending a fortune on anti-aging products:

Find the Right Foundation.

Every woman has been guilty of those embarrassing foundation lines at some point in her life. What you might not know is that the appearance of those lines is usually a signal that you’re not using the right kind or color of foundation. Even worse, using the wrong foundation can speed up the process of aging of your skin. The best way to prevent both of these problems is to find the best foundation for your skin.

Before you even think about brands, you need to determine what kind of foundation works best with your skin type. Have dry skin? Look for “moisturizing” or “hydrating” foundations. Have oily skin? Look for “oil-free” or “matte” foundations. Have a combination of oily and dry skin? Look for “cream-to-powder” foundations. Or if that seems like too much of a hassle, look for mineral foundations, which go great with any skin type—especially sensitive skin.

After determining the right kind of foundation, you need to match the color to your skin tone. Despite what you might have heard about testing the color on your wrist, the best place to test a foundation color is actually on your jawline, as this is the area where foundation is most noticeable (Remember those lines?). Make sure you’re as close to natural light as possible—like outside or near a window—while testing colors since indoor lighting can make you choose to dark of a color. Whichever color blends or disappears into your skin tone during the test is the color you should get.

Don’t Overpluck Your Brows.

Some women prefer professional eyebrow threading or waxing. But for those of us that prefer to save cash and time, plucking is the way to go. The only problem with plucking is that, too often, we overpluck our brows, giving us an aged look. Actually, the fuller the brow, the more youthful you look. Now, “fuller” doesn’t mean you let your eyebrows go ungroomed—just don’t pluck them too thin.

Before plucking, wash your face, brush your brows up and out with a brow brush (a clean toothbrush works, too), and sit near a window with a good mirror. To determine your brow thickness, use an eye pencil and draw a line along the bottom edge of your brow, following the fullest, natural shape. Any hairs that fall below this line are okay to pluck. The general rule with plucking is to make sure your brow begins in line with the inner corner of your eye and ends in line diagonally with the bottom edge of your nose and the outer corner of your eye. You can use a ruler (or your tweezers, if they’re long enough) to check if everything is aligned. Any hairs outside of these measurements can be removed.

If your brows are naturally too-thin, or if you’ve overplucked and are trying to grow your brows back out, use powder or an eyebrow pencil to fill in the shape. Just make sure to match the powder or eyebrow pencil shade to your natural hair color so you don’t age yourself any further—or look like a cartoon villain.

Remove Makeup and Wash Your Face.

It’s hard to get in the habit of removing our makeup and washing our faces every night when we’re tired and just want to get in bed. But not removing your makeup or washing your face is one of the quickest ways to age your skin. Just think about the fact that the average woman today begins wearing makeup at age 12 and wears makeup into her 70s and 80s. That’s long-term damage.

If you don’t use all-natural makeup, there are tons of harsh chemicals in your makeup that can damage your skin. Not to mention your skin is exposed to dirt, pollution, and germs throughout the day. Imagine all of those things collecting on your pillows as you sleep. If you think that’s gross, then why are you leaving those things on your face? At night, the skin needs oxygen to repair the damage done throughout the day. With your pores clogged, your skin can’t go through its natural exfoliation.

Also, our eyes start showing age the earliest because the skin around them is the thinnest. Going to bed with your makeup on dries the skin around your eyes out and weakens the hairs in your eyebrows and eyelashes, causing them to thin and fall out. Remember—it’s a lot easier to remove your makeup and wash your face than it is to undo aging and regrow your eyebrows and eyelashes.