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Friday, November 12, 2010

House Insurance and Home Video


House Insurance, it’s not just about paying your premiums.
A Home Emergency from a house fire, flood water damage, earthquake damage, tornado damage, hurricane damage, or home burglary, begs a form of house insurance.
Even for the fully prepared, having house insurance will usually provide some relief immediately following an emergency, followed by the balance after the full affects of the emergency and damage have been determined and documented.
Most of us know that house insurance is a requirement pretty much everywhere, but how many of us know that paying the house insurance premium is often not enough to ensure that you recover all of your losses?
For example, if your house burned down, do you think that you will actually remember all of the things that were inside? Chances are you will not, especially during the trauma and aftermath of the emergency. You will be in no state of mind to think clearly.
The best way to be sure that your house insurance will pay for your lost items is to have proof that these things were actually there inside your home. The most tedious method is to document all items in a listing (paper or computer record) and keep it off-site or in a very good fire rated safe.
However, since most people do not take the time to list their things, a very simple method is to video document everything in your home. This is so easy that there will be no excuse not to do this once you have read this post. If you don’t have a video camera, then take pictures of everything, and I mean everything.


Be very methodical about the video or picture process so there will be no question regarding your house insurance.
One room at a time, video and pan the entire room, s-l-o-w-l-y. Then, open the closet and do the same. Then, think about contents in drawers or boxes and open each one of them and video document the contents within. Open jewelery boxes, look everywhere, think about anything of value. You will not miss anything so long as you systematically go through each room and every space in the room.
You will be surprised at the countless trinkets and objects that you have tucked away here and there, many of which have worthy tangible value, items that you would probably have forgotten about after-the-fact while trying to document items under stress and pressure for your house insurance claim agent.
Now this is the most important part… when you are done with the documentation, you must secure the documentation from potential damage from the very emergency you have house insurance for.


If using a video camera with “tape”, or a digital model with a removable storage, simply store the tape or storage medium off-site in a safety deposit box or in your home inside of a good quality Fire-Safe.
If the content is typically downloaded to your computer, then buy yourself a portable USB hard drive to keep a copy of the house insurance video or picture files. Again, don’t leave this in your desk drawer, use a safety-deposit box or good quality home safe.
Protect yourself and avoid conflicts with your house insurance in the unfortunate aftermath of a home emergency.

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Modern Survival Blog

Alternative Heating Methods: Coffee Can Heater

One of the most requested topics from our “What’s Coming Up Next” post was to discuss some alternative methods of cooling and heating your home. We have recommended in the “Car Kit” portion of our Emergency Preparedness Plan that you place a Coffee Can Heater in your car. These heaters could also be useful in a home if you had no other options available and needed to thaw yourself out a little bit.
A while back, we gave a little tutorial for how to make a coffee can heater, but we had a reader (David H. from Washington) who has refined and perfected this method and makes it so that the outside of the can doesn’t get too hot to the touch. This is a tutorial and pictures put together by him and posted here with his permission. This is the best part about our blog, we learn from our readers every day. You guys are the best!

How to Make a Coffee Can Heater

Items Needed:
1 – Empty tuna can (not shown)
2 – 1 lb cans: 1 empty, 1 unopened
1 – # 10 can empty with plastic lid
1 – Roll toilet paper
1 – Can spray foam insulation
1 – Book or small box of matches
1 – Bottle isopropyl alcohol
Optional Items:
1 – Empty popcorn tin (Three flavor type)
2 – Additional rolls toilet paper


Step 1: Clean and dry the empty cans and remove labels if desired.
Step 2: Remove cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper.
Step 3: Place toilet paper into 1 lb can by squeezing bottom of roll to get it started then pushing it in with a twisting motion.
Step 4: Place the tuna can into the bottom of the # 10 can.
Step 5: Spray a small amount of foam insulation around the tuna can.
Step 6: Place the 1 lb can with the toilet paper into the # 10 can on the tuna can.
Step 7: Spray insulation between the sides of the two cans. Fill the foam about halfway up the side of the 1 lb can.
Step 8: Place an unopened 1 lb can on top of the can with the toilet paper roll. This directs the insulation upward as it expands and prevents it from expanding over the top of the toilet paper can. Let it sit for an hour or more so you can determine the amount of expansion.
Step 9: Spray in a second layer of insulation, allowing for enough expansion to bring it to the top of the # 10 can. Set this aside for eight hours to allow the insulation to fully expand and set up.
Step 10: Remove the unopened can and use a long-bladed utility knife or a sharp kitchen knife to trim the excess insulation. Slice the insulation from the rim of the # 10 can to the rim of the 1 lb can. If the insulation is still wet inside, it will get on the blade of the knife and is difficult to wipe off. Scraping with a straight edged (not serrated) is the best way to get it off.
Step 11: Pour some alcohol onto the toilet paper and light it with a match. The insulation may burn briefly and char, especially if it hasn’t set up completely. Do this outdoors or with adequate ventilation to avoid smoke buildup in the house. After using the heater for 30 minutes, the # 10 can was cool enough to hold at the top. The rim gets hot enough to melt the plastic lid if placed on it right after using the heater.
Step 12 (optional): If you choose to use the popcorn tin option, the heater, two extra rolls of toilet paper, and a bottle of alcohol will all fit in the popcorn tin with room for a flashlight, some tools, or other similar items. The popcorn can lid is an easy way to put out the fire in the coffee can heater and it won’t melt. Just set it on top and the flames go out.
Some observations from David. Originally, I hoped to make a self-contained heater with room for a small bottle of alcohol and some matches. This can be done by not using the tuna can, however, the 1 lb can with the toilet paper sits too low in the # 10 can and the flames may die from poor air circulation. Drilling a series of holes a couple of inches below the rim of the # 10 can through the insulation will help with the air flow. Use a hammer and nail to make starter holes so the drill won’t skate. Metal burrs may be found around the holes and the metal is sharp, so a file should be used to remove the burrs.
With four attempts at making the heater, I used about 1.5 cans of spray insulation. I estimate that one can could produce 3-4 heaters.
Note from Jodi and Julie: We hope this has been helpful for you. If you make one of these heaters using this method feel free to share about it in the comments or post a picture in our facebook fanpage. Thanks again to David for submitting this!