The Manuel Builders Blog

Category: Home Safety

Hurricane Preparation

Categories: Home Safety | Posted: June 21, 2019

Hurricane season is once again upon us. Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1-November 30 but we see the peak of the season from mid-August to late October. We cannot control the weather, however, we can take the time and effort to prepare for it. What we all want to avoid is scrambling last minute to get supplies and making arrangements for a hurricane that’s already headed our way. In this month’s blog, we will discuss some helpful tips to best prepare homeowners for the 2019 hurricane season.

  • Plan your evacuation route. Although you will most likely receive instructions from your local government, it’s smart to have an evacuation plan long before a disaster strikes.
  • Have an emergency kit. This kit should include but is not limited to a three day supply of water, non-perishable food, any prescription drugs you or your loved ones may need, first aid supplies, a portable radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
  • Protect your home. This includes home maintenance such as replacing old garage doors and tracks, cleaning out gutters, caulking doors and windows, and installing storm shutters or precutting plywood panels for windows. This also includes landscaping maintenance like cutting down any weak branches or trees and keeping shrubbery around your home trimmed.
  • Review your insurance policies. Take the time to review your homeowner’s policy limit, hurricane/windstorm deductible and which disasters your policy covers and which ones it does not.

– Written by our Building Coordinator, Suzanah Hajrula

5 Holiday Hot Spots in Your Home

Categories: Home Safety, Other | Posted: November 23, 2017
It’s easy to forget about or even brush off fire safety during the busy and stressful holiday months whilst shopping, cooking and spending time with family. According to the National Fire Protection Association, home fires occur most often during the winter months so before baking the pecan pie and rocking around the Christmas tree, take some time to check out these fire safety tips.


Know The Facts

One of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. A heat source that is too close to the tree causes one in every four of Christmas tree fires. December is the peak time for home candle fires and one-third of all candle fires start in the bedroom.

Oh, Christmas Tree

Natural trees should be cut at a 45-degree angle at the base then placed in water. Tree stands should be filled with water at all times and when the tree becomes dry, discard it right away because once your Christmas tree becomes dry, it’s chances of catching fire increases greatly. It’s also important to place the tree away from any heat source including fires, candles, and space heaters.

Smart Decorations

When hanging lights either on your Christmas tree or on the exterior of your house, make sure to check the strings for wear and tear, throwing away any with frayed wires, broken bulbs or faulty sockets. Remember not to pile on a lot of plugs onto one power strip or extension cord, this includes stringing three or more strands of lights together. When hanging lights outside, avoid using nails or staples as it could damage the integrity of the lights. Also, only use non-flammable or flame-retardant decorations as it can prevent a fire from growing rapidly should one break out.

Kitchen Time

The heart of your home can get pretty wild around the holidays when you’re preparing the perfect dinner for your family and it’s easy to become distracted and forget about a certain dish on the stove. The NFPA says that unattended cooking is the #1 cause of kitchen fires. Be certain to stay present while you’re cooking and keep distractions to a minimum. If you must leave the room, take a pot-holder with you so you don’t forget that you have a dish in the oven. Also, keep kitchen clutter off the counter, especially flammables like towels, paper, plastic containers and cooking utensils, away from the stove.

Watch Your Wicks

During the Holiday months, candles set the atmosphere and give a sweet aroma that just makes it feel like Christmas time but the incidence of candle fires is four times higher during December than during other months. To reduce the risk of fire, keep candles at least a foot away from anything that can burn and make sure it’s placed on a sturdy base. Try to remember and remind your family to only have candles burning in a common room like the living room or kitchen (away from flammables) so the flame is never left unattended. It’s a good practice to walk through each room before bed and before leaving home to make sure there’s no candles still burning. Also, consider battery-operated and LED lights as they can look & smell like real candles.

Check the Basics

Install smoke detectors on every level of the home, outside of sleeping areas and inside the bedrooms. Make sure your smoke detectors are up-to-date and have working batteries by testing each one monthly. In addition to the kitchen, you should have a fire extinguisher next to the front and rear exits of the house, in the hallway and on every level of your home. It’s also important to develop and practice a house fire escape plan with your family.

Get Your Kids Involved

It’s important that children know the importance of fire safety. Get them involved by printing out fire-safety coloring pages and explain things that they should and should not do around fire. Organize a fire evacuation plan with your family – make sure they know the fastest way to escape, helping younger siblings if they’re in the same room, and instructing them how to move around the house. If they’re in the bedroom with no way to get out the door, make sure they know how to open their own window and other windows around the house. Designate a specific meeting spot where the entire family can meet up to ensure everyone is safe.

For more information about house fires around the holidays visit,
Source: National Fire Protection Association

How to Prepare for the First Freeze in Louisiana

Categories: Home Safety | Posted: December 8, 2016


Here in the south, our winter season is quite different from northern states where there are blizzards and a lot of snow. The southern states might get an inch or two of snow every now and then, or maybe freezing temperatures, but we do not have to stock up on groceries every winter!  It is still very important to know helpful tips to prepare you and your household if there might be a cold front or a chance of snow in the upcoming winter months!


Check on your heater

It is very important before the winter months to get your heater checked before use.  Inspection of your heater system can ensure that it is clean, in good condition, and does not leak carbon monoxide.  For you as the homeowner, this means assurance that the heater system is in tip-top shape and savings on your energy bill.


Make sure there is no damage to your roof

Take notice of any damages, such as loose or missing shingles, that would compromise the insulation of your house.  Not replacing or repairing them can lead to higher energy bills and openings for little critters to get into your warm home.


Turn off outside faucets and hoses

Water in pipes can freeze if left on during the winter months.  If you do not own frost-proof faucets, begin to disconnect your hoses and cover the faucet with an insulated covering.


Seal exterior windows and doors

Inspect your windows and doors for any drafts or openings before the winter season arrives.  Use weather-stripping for your doors and use caulk to seal your windows.  The benefit for sealing crevices is to maximize on energy savings by preventing cold drafts that might come in.


Cover or protect outdoor potted plants

Don’t lose your potted plants to an overnight freeze!  If you have the space, bring the plants into a garage or outdoor shop where they can be removed from outdoor freezing temperatures.  If they cannot be moved, cover them so the freezing winds combined with the humidity do not cut the lifespan of the plant short.


With these tips, you can expect to have a warm, cozy winter with your family and friends!

Don’t be a Stranger. Let’s Welcome Our Newest Neighbors!

Categories: Home Safety, Lifestyle | Posted: April 19, 2016

Moving into a new home can be one of the most exciting events for you and your family. It’s a new beginning and with that fresh start comes new neighbors! There are two ways most people will go about addressing their neighbors: Stay hidden or Stay open. One may choose to respect thy neighbor but leave it at that and others may choose to love thy neighbor like they are family.

Either way you choose to view it, it’s important that you make your neighbors aware of who you are and that you welcome them into the community. It’s only neighborhood etiquette to do so!

Give them the 411:

handshake2Introduce yourself to the new neighbors first and foremost so that you can exchange contact information. In the event of an emergency, you want to know that someone is looking out for not only your house but for the well being of your family. Get to know them by sharing information about your family and create small talk. This will help the both of you form trust in your relationship so that you can have comfort knowing your new neighbor will look after your house while you’re away. So whether you are a “stay hidden” or “stay open” type of neighbor, exchanging contact information is always a must.

Welcome Gifts:

A welcome-to-the-neighborhood gift will brighten the newcomer’s day and ease the hassle of settling in. Typically, gifts are simple and inexpensive like a plate of cookies, a bouquet of garden flowers, a stack of (new) local take-out menus, or an extra phone book. Other gift suggestions can be:Haylei Smith

* Fresh-picked vegetables and fruit from your garden.

* Blooming houseplants

*Personalized stationary with the homeowners new address

* Specialty spices for their new kitchen spice rack like Tony Chachere’s or Louisiana Hot Sauce

*Local goodies such as a pack of Swamp Pop, Loaf of bread from Great Harvest, Sweets from Indulge, etc

If gifts aren’t your thing, you can also offer to help them unload the truck while they’re moving in or invite them to dinner with a few other couples from the neighborhood. This will ensure that they feel welcome in their new place!

Be respectful:

When welcoming your new neighbors, stray away from rushing over as soon as the truck pulls into their driveway presenting them with a basket of homemade goodies. This can easily be stressful for them and might put them in an uneasy position. Instead, allow them time to begin their move into their new place and see that they are settled before you go knocking. However, a polite wave and “Welcome to the neighborhood!” from your yard is certainly appreciated.


Regardless of the situation you’re in, what matters most is that you’ve made the effort! It’s a much better feeling to be greeted and welcomed into a new environment, especially one where you call home. After all, if you’re the new neighbor moving in, wouldn’t you hope to receive the same experience?!

Keep Warm Wisely: How to Safely Heat Your Home

Categories: Home Safety, Lifestyle | Posted: November 13, 2015

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With the fall season slowly rolling in, the time of year to start preparing your home for the winter months is here. This means taking the right steps to properly and safely heat your home. To ensure that you and your family don’t fall victim to a house fire during this season, here are some suggestions below on how to safely heat your home.

The Chimney:

Chimney fires are the most common type of house fire during the winter months. It is important to have your chimney professionally cleaned before lighting the first fire of the year. Removing all debris from the chimney and opening the flue will ensure that your home remains free of dangerous smoke. The type of wood used is also very important. You want to use only a seasoned hardwood such as ash, oak, or maple in your fireplace.  Do not burn trash or cardboard boxes.  To keep embers off of rugs and carpets, employ the use of fireplace screens or glass fireplace doors. Clean it properly before using so that you and your family can enjoy it the best way you know how in the winter…with S’mores!

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Gas Heating Systems:

If you have a gas heating system, place carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly. It is important to test your detectors annually. If you ever smell gas, immediately extinguish all flames in your home. Do not operate electrical appliances because they may create sparks. Turn off all gas appliances and make sure pilot lights are extinguished. If you still smell gas, turn off your home’s main gas tap, evacuate immediately and call the gas company from a remote location. If your pilot light produces a red or yellow flame make sure you call for service. Your pilot light flame should be blue in color.  If your pilot light goes out, turn off the gas at that heat source and wait several minutes before re-lighting.

Other Heat Sources:

Fires started by the use of space heaters are the second most common type of house fires during the winter months. These heaters certainly come in handy on chilly mornings when all you want to do is bury deep into the warm covers; however, they can also lead to hazardous moments if not used correctly. To ensure your safety, never leave electric space heaters on if they are unattended, and always position them away from flammable objects. Make sure to unplug them when they are not in use, and keeping them away from children and pets is always a wise decision.

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Home Maintenance:

It is important to check that all of your heat sources are well maintained. Have a professional examine and clean your home’s heating unit annually. This can ensure that all potentially harmful leaks are repaired. Also, have your chimney professionally cleaned before the first use of the winter season. Most importantly, inspect your smoke alarms to see they are all functioning properly. They should be tested every month, and batteries should be replaced at least twice a year.

Keep these few tips in mind as you move into the colder months and you’re sure to keep cozy until the spring arrives!