How To Save Your Water Damaged Property After a Flood

Tropical Storm Debby caused a great deal of damage in Pinellas County. Many residents, especially those on St. Pete Beach, Gulfport and other coastal cities experienced major flooding in their homes and businesses. Salvage experts, property specialists and government agencies advise that quick action is critical when faced with water-damaged property. Many types of personal property can be saved within 48 hours of the property suffering damage.

Before trying to save property, make sure that YOU are safe. Flooded buildings can be hazardous. Make sure that there is no danger of electrocution by turning off power and avoiding fallen utility lines. Do not come in contact with water containing sewage and make sure the floor, ceiling and wall supports pose no danger.

Tips On Handling Personal Property

Photographs – Remove from plastic/paper enclosures or frames; carefully rinse with cool, clean water; DO NOT touch or blot surfaces. Air dry, hang with clips on non-image areas, or lay flat on absorbent paper. Keep photographs from contact with adjacent surfaces or each other. For more tips on restoring photos go here.

Paintings – Remove from frames in a safe, dry place. Do NOT separate paintings from their stretchers. Keep paintings horizontal and paint-side up with nothing touching the surface. Avoid direct sunlight.

Books – If rinsing is necessary, hold book closed. If partially wet or damp, stand on top or bottom edge with covers opened to 90° angle; air dry. If very wet, lay flat on clean surface; interleave less than 20% of book with absorbent material; replace interleaving when damp.

Paper – Air dry flat as individual sheets or in ¼” or smaller piles, with absorbent paper placed between each wet sheet (interleaving). Do not unfold or separate individual, wet sheets. Keep coated papers wet by packing in boxes lined with plastic garbage bags; freeze (maps or manuscripts), sponge water out; pack loose flat sheets in flat boxes or plywood covered with plastic sheets. If there are too many items for air drying, interleave (by groups or individually) with freezer or waxed paper; pack papers or files, standing up in sturdy containers; pack containers only 90% full and freeze.

CDs, DVDs -Remove from cases and bathe in clean distilled water, dry with lint-free towels and insert into new casing and copy.

Clothing/Fabrics – Brush off all loose, dried dirt. Rinse thoroughly in COLD water as soon as possible until as much mud as possible is removed. Repeat if necessary. Do not use hot water as it sets stains from red or yellow clay. Machine wash when no more dirt can be rinsed out.

Wood Furniture – Rinse/sponge surfaces gently to clean, blot, and air dry slowly. If any painted surfaces are blistered or flaking, air dry slowly without removing dirt or moisture. Weigh down or clamp veneers in place while drying; separate weight from veneer with protective layer. (Finishes may develop white haze; treat later with wood cleaning product.)

Upholstered Furniture – If antique or VERY valuable, get professional estimate on cleaning/restoring.

Metal – Use gloves to handle, rinse/sponge and blot metal object, air dry. If object has applied finish, do not clean. Air dry; keep flaking surfaces horizontal.

Leather (including shoes) and Rawhide – Rinse/sponge with clear water to remove mud, drain and blot to remove excess water, pad with toweling or unlinked paper to maintain shape, air dry. Manipulate tanned fur skins during drying to keep skins flexible.

Baskets – Rinse, drain and blot to remove excess water, stuff with clean paper towels or cotton sheets to retain shape and absorb stains, cover with clean towels and air dry slowly, regularly changing blotting material.

Be Practical and Prioritize

Often it is impractical or impossible to try to save everything, so prioritize. Work on property that is MOST important to you and that is most vulnerable to permanent damage. One practical consideration is to forget about fully upholstered furniture and mattresses. Such property is usually impossible to properly dry and is often contaminated.

We highly recommend purchasing Florida Flood Insurance to protect your home and belongings before a flood damages your belongings.

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Florida Boat Insurance

The insurance approach for covering boats and boating property is quite similar to what is used to protect cars and homes. Essentially insurance is offered on a package basis, meaning that there is coverage for physical property as well a protection against the legal and financial consequences of injuring others or damaging property that belongs to others.

Property Coverage – Typically a boatowners policy covers:

  • Boats – Refers to property designed to travel on water and includes sails, its permanent equipment, spars and fittings.
  • Boating Equipment – Includes a wide variety of property that is used in conjunction with boats and it includes accessories. Items considered as equipment are property used for communication (radios), navigation, sonar, radar, outboard motors, dinghies, skis and sports equipment (recreational flotation devices) that are towed by boats and similar property. As a rule of thumb, the more related an item is to the ownership and use of a boat, the greater the justification to classify it as boating equipment.
  • Boat Trailers – Trailers used (and designed) for transporting boats (as defined by the policy).

This property must be owned by the person who is named as the policyholder. There are limited instances when such property that is temporarily in the policyholder’s possession also qualifies for coverage.

Items and situations that aren’t covered include boating property that is used in business activity, losses that involve races or competitions (an exception is made for sailboats) and boats that are used, full-time, as residences.

Liability Coverage – Besides protecting boating property, a boatowners policy also responds to claims or lawsuits caused when another person is injured, and /or when another person’s property is damaged or destroyed. An example would be a collision where the owner of a large speedboat collides with a person on a jet ski), seriously injuring the rider and demolishing the jet ski. The policy would handle both portions of such a loss. The liability portion would also provide a legal defense against lawsuits.

Another important coverage under the liability section is medical payments. This provides reimbursement for, typically, emergency or immediate medical treatment expense. Consider a person who slips on a boat deck and needs transportation to an emergency for treatment of a broken bone or concussion. Such costs would qualify under medical payments.

As is the case with property coverage, there are liability situations that are NOT covered by a Florida Boat Insurance, including losses that involve business activity, transmission of communicable disease, unauthorized operation of boating property, intentional acts, and criminal activity.

Again, as is the case with cars and homes, boating property is a substantial investment and Florida Boat Insurance is an efficient, affordable way to guard against accidental losses.

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Dads Get in Free to 9 Tampa Bay Attractions

Father’s Day is just 3 days away. If you’re not planning to gather around the grill,  here are 9 Tampa Bay attractions that are offering free admission for dads.

  1. Lowry Park Zoo: Dads receive free admission on Sat, June 16 or Sun, June 17 with the purchase of their son’s or daughter’s full-priced admission ticket (son or daughter can be adult or child ages 3-11).
  2. Fantasy of Flight: Free admission for fathers Thurs, June 14th-Sun, June 17th when accompanied by a paying guest.
  3. Florida Aquarium: Father’s Day weekend, dads get in free to The Florida Aquarium with the purchase of a full paid admission.
  4. Dinosaur World: Dad’s get in free with fully paid child admission.
  5. Mote Marine Laboratory: Fathers receive free admission to Mote Aquarium (with purchase of a child’s ticket) on Sun, June 17th.
  6. American Victory Ship & Museum: Free admission for dads on Sunday, June 17th.
  7. Henry B. Plant Museum: Free admission for dads to the Henry B. Plant Museum on Sunday, June 17th from 12 noon – 5 pm!
  8. Tampa Bay History Center: Free admission for dad with one paid admission on Sun., June 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  9. Chihuly Collection: Dads get in FREE on Sat, June 16th and Sun, June 17th  with a paid St. Petersburg Arts Experience Ticket.

Bonus Deal: At the Glazer Children’s Museum Dads do NOT get in free to this museum, BUT kids can make a special gadget or gizmo for dad on Sat, June 16th and Sun, June 17th.

Looks like dads of all ages are being honored all over Tampa Bay. How many of these attractions can you pack into your weekend? 

If you’re looking for more awesome discounts at Tampa Bay businesses, make sure you check out the Patrons’ Coupon Center. We’re adding special offers all the time!

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Facebook Fan of the Month Wins Gift Card

On the 15th of each month we will select a Facebook “Fan of the Month” and give that person a $10 gift card. If you actively “like” and comment on our posts on a regular basis, you may be selected as the “Fan of the Month” on our Facebook page. The gift cards will vary from month to month.

The gift card for May was a $10 Starbucks gift card and it went to frequent liker and commenter, Colleen T, a long time fan.

This Friday, June 15th we’ll announce our next “Fan of the Month” and send them a $10 Chick-fil-A gift card. So there’s still time share, like and comment on the Patrons Insurance Agency Facebook posts.

We think you’ll like some of our fun albums, like “You Can Insure That?!” and “New Uses For Everyday Items” and “Things To Do in Tampa Bay“. We also love to play games, Trivia (Mon. @ 9am), Hangman (Thurs. @ 3:30) and Movie Quotes (Fri. @ 3:30).

If you don’t win this month, remember you can get a $5 Chick-fil-A gift card for each friend you refer to our agency.

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GasBuddy App to the Rescue

The other day I had a long drive ahead of me through a more rural part of Florida in the late evening. I was distracted when I got on the road, and suddenly realized that my gas tank was on empty. My CRV’s dashboard calculated that I had only 14 miles left before I would be left with fumes. YIKES! Since I was on I-75 and unfamiliar with the area I was in, I admittedly panicked.

Fortunately, after a moment serious of stress I remembered that I had an app on my iPhone called GasBuddy. GasBuddy tells you which gas stations are closest and have the best prices on gasoline. Thanks to GasBuddy, I was able to find a gas station seven miles off the interstate with 1 mile left in my gas tank to spare.

However, in a tight economy, the feature to find the cheapest gas (and good FL car insurance) in Tampa Bay is sometimes, well, priceless. The price of gasoline is reported by people who use the app; those who report prices are entered into drawings for gas gift cards. So, finding cheap gas and finding close gas stations in unfamiliar areas and when you need to find a close one fast (like I did last night!), certainly qualifies GasBuddy as an awesome app.

Download GasBuddy for FREE for your…

You can also go to at your home or office computer to find the best Tampa gas prices and use their Trip Cost Calculator, as well as other helpful features.

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Florida Homeowners Hurricane Tips

Hurricane Season officially started June 1st. Are you prepared for a storm? We can help.

Pinellas County has 587 miles of coastline putting homeowners at a great risk of loss by hurricane. Hopefully, any affected person will have a Florida home insurance policy to help deal with the crisis. However they must be aware of their responsibilities under the insurance policy in order to take full advantage of any available coverage.

The main priority for a Florida homeowner is to be sure that the amount of coverage is adequate in the event that the home has to be totally replaced. Also, the homeowner should keep their deductible in mind, seeking options to make sure that it is affordable. Insurers who operate in areas that experience hurricanes typically require deductibles at a high, flat amount (such as $2,000) or at a percentage of the policy’s insurance limit (anywhere from 2 to 5%).

Naturally, a homeowner should consider ways to minimize their possible loss and maximize their personal safety by:

  • Making advance evacuation plans (including determining evacuation route, fueling car, preparing supplies, etc.)
  • Being aware of the nearest, safe Pinellas County shelter
  • Bring outdoor property inside the home (lawn equipment, toys, tools, etc.)
  • Installing or building a proper “safe room”
  • Cover/Secure all windows and doors
  • Have a portable radio and stay turned to accurate source of weather broadcasts.
  • Turn off (unplug) small appliances and turn refrigerators/freezers to their highest settings.
  • If applicable, turn off fuel/oil tanks.
  • Fill sinks and bathtubs with water.

Returning to a damaged/destroyed site is not when a hurricane victim will be at his or her best, but that is the time that certain obligations have to be met in order to make the most out of any insurance recovery. It is important to do the following:

  • At the earliest possible chance, contact your insurer with details about your loss
  • If possible, be sure you have a way to visually record the loss details (camera, digital camera, video recorder, etc.)
  • Take reasonable action to keep intact property protected from additional damage or loss
  • Keep an accurate record of all expenses that are related to protecting your property as well as items related to temporary housing and meals

Though post-catastrophe times are chaotic and spirit-sapping, it is important to keep in contact with your agent and/or insurer. Take the time to be meticulous about filling out reports, documenting the value of your loss and cooperating with claims personnel.

How does your family prepare for Hurricane Season? Do you have a hurricane kit? What supplies do you keep in it?

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5 Memorial Day Recipes Your Guests Will Never Forget

This Memorial Day weekend, if you’re not having a cookout at your home, you’re probably going to your friend’s cookout. While the focus of the holiday should be the memory of those men and women who gave their lives for our country, it also signifies the start of Summer and that means it’s time to break out the grill and have some friends over.

We poked around Pinterest for some new Memorial Day recipes. Here are 5 recipes we think you’re gong to love–your friends and family too! Just click on the photo to arrive at the recipe’s original source.

Watermelon Feta Salad

Avocado Deviled Egg

An Assortment of Fancy Hot Dogs

Don’t forget to consult our Grill Safety Guide and put an apron on!

Mini Apple Tarts

And to wash it all down, try some refreshing Cherry Limeade.

For more great recipes, check out last year’s post about Memorial Day meatless grilling. We hope you have a wonderful 3 day weekend filled with family, friends and good food!


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See the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch here

Yesterday morning while you were sleeping, around 3am EST, history was being made. Now that NASA has retired its shuttles to museums, it’s dependent on the private sector to bring supplies to the International Space Station.

SpaceX is the first private company to attempt it with the launch of Falcon 9 Rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station right here in Florida. It’s loaded with 1,000 pounds of food, clothing and even the ashes of James Doohan (Scotty on Star Trek) and 307 other people.  It’s expected to dock the Space Station on Friday.

In case you missed the launch on SpaceX’s live feed, you can watch it here.

This is very exciting. Before we know it, more private companies will be sending launching rockets into space and someday they’ll take crew members to the space station and someday civilians will make the trip. Can you imagine the Florida liability insurance these companies will have to carry??

How much would you be willing to pay for a rocket ride into space?

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A Poem for National Police Week

We have some talented Facebook fans and one of them, Ulunda Baker, was kind enough to share this very sweet poem with us. A Tampa police officer, Chris Smith, came to her 3 year old’s classroom to talk to the class about being an officer for National Police Week. Ulunda’s son was in awe and could not stop talking about their special visitor. She wrote this poem from his perspective.

When I grow up I want to be a hero!

Not too long ago I got to see the coolest thing.
After my friend’s dad came to school, it became my dream.
He pulled up in his big car with flashing lights.
All I could do was get excited with a great big smile.
I knew at that moment when I saw his badge,
That just like him was what I wanted to be;
How important of a job to protect you and me?
He went on and on about the things he has to do every day,
Just so our community is safe for us to run and play.
I knew he had a family just like me.
But, yet he sacrifices and gets the bad guys off the street.
He let us flash the lights and sit in his car.
Back and forth we went on asking him lots of questions.
He was our like a Star!
People like him just do their job as it comes.
They have no capes, fancy eye guards or super powers to bring along.
All they have is the commitment to serve and I want them to get the credit they deserve.
Not too long ago I got to see the coolest thing.
It was also the day I began to dream.
That being a Police Officer is one of the greatest jobs I know;
They are our everyday Super heroes!

So the next time you see a police officer, remember to thank them for their daily service. They put their lives on the line every time they put on the uniform. And say a prayer for the families of fallen officers, whose names will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial today in Washington, D.C..

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Motorcycle Safety Tips for Both Riders and Drivers

May is Motorcycle Safety Month. At Patrons Insurance Agency we insure many Florida motorcyclists and drivers. We always recommend that riders start by getting a free motorcycle insurance quote and letting us customize a policy that meets your personal and financial needs. Here are some great safety tips for both Riders and Drivers from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

For Riders

  1. Get Properly Trained and Licensed–Half of all riders today have never taken a proper safety class such as the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Basic RiderCourse. Along with training, get your motorcycle endorsement by the DMV. Studies have shown that trained and licensed riders are safer.
  2. Wear All the Right Gear, All the Time–Always wear a real motorcycle helmet manufactured to the standards of the Department of Transportation. Visit to ensure you have a proper helmet.
  3. Don’t Drink and Ride–Never, ever ride while impaired by alcohol or any kind of drug. Bikes, beer and booze don’t mix. Nearly half of all riders killed in motorcycle crashes had been drinking.
  4. Ride Within Your Skill Limits and Obey Traffic Laws–Don’t ride faster or farther than your abilities can handle.
  5. Be a Lifelong Learner–Take refresher RiderCourses. No matter how often you ride or how long you’ve been riding, take advanced courses to brush up on the basics and keep working on improving your skills.

For Drivers

  1. Focus on Driving–Don’t be distracted. Never text while driving. Put down the cell phone or mobile device. Food, pets and even passengers can be bad distractions.
  2. Look for Motorcyclists–Motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles and are often harder to see. But motorcycles are out there and you should expect to see them and try to see them in the mix of traffic.
  3. Give Motorcyclists Enough Room–Keep a safe distance when following a motorcycle. Don’t change lanes too close in front of a rider. Motorcyclists and their machines generally don’t just have fender-benders in collisions with cars.
  4. Use Your Turn Signals–Always signal your intentions. It’s for everyone’s safety and it’s also the law.
  5. Keep it in the Car–Trash, including cigarette butts, should stay in the car, not thrown out where it could hit a motorcyclist. Road debris can kill a rider. Heavier items, especially, should be kept inside the car or truck or should be very well secured.
Let’s all remember these important safety tips while on the road and make it a better place for riders and drivers alike!

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