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Weather Alert: review these storm preparedness tips

Expected Upkeep Enforced by our Community Association Management Firms

The staff or volunteers you occasionally see walking around your community with clipboards or tablets are your association’s covenant enforcement officers. They’re inspecting the property to ensure that everything is working properly, that conditions are safe and that nothing is reducing property values or the quality of life in your Carolina community.

In short, they’re making sure policies and rules are being followed—from pet behavior, parking and unkempt lawns, to improper exterior modifications and more. They field complaints from fellow homeowners and, if necessary, remind you (or your neighbor) when a rule has been overlooked.

The officers report their findings to the Carolina Home Association board with photos and detailed notes. Most violations are easily resolved without board action. If not, the next step is a hearing before the board—we want to hear your side of the story. Those who continue to ignore rules may be fined or taken to more extreme measures. The most serious cases may end up in court, though we try very hard to never get to that point.

Your association’s covenant enforcement officers perform a vital function, so please treat them with courtesy and respect. If you have any questions about the rules, the officers can explain them to you. Your association manager and board members are happy to listen and respond to any concerns.

When you purchased your home in one of our common-interest communities in the Carolinas, you became contractually bound to abide by the covenants that protect your association. Please review them and ensure that you are in compliance. You can find them on our website.

Precautions You Can Take Against Lighting As A Homeowner

Warm weather usually means fun in the Carolina sun, but summer heat also can bring severe weather. Threatening thunderstorms often loom large on summer afternoons, so it’s important to be prepared for downpours and accompanying lightning. Consider the following suggestions when planning both outdoor and indoor events this summer to reduce the risk of a lightning strike.

  • Watch the weather. Pay attention to your local weather forecast before participating in outdoor activities. If there’s a chance of thunderstorms, consider rescheduling or moving the event indoors. If that’s not possible, have an emergency plan in place in case a severe storm rolls in, and designate a sufficient nearby structure as an emergency shelter.
  • Stay inside. If severe thunderstorms are imminent, go indoors and wait until they pass. Safe, enclosed shelters include homes, schools, offices, shopping malls and vehicles with hard tops and closed windows. Open structures and spaces do not provide adequate protection.
  • Duck and crouch. If you’re caught outside during a severe storm, it’s important to crouch low on the ground, tuck your head and cover your ears to help protect yourself from harm. Do not lie down; lightning strikes can produce extremely strong electrical currents that run along the top of the ground, and laying horizontally increases electrocution risk.
  • Turn off faucets. During a thunderstorm, lightning can sometimes be conducted through the plumbing. Avoid any type of contact with running water, including bathing, showering and washing your hands, dishes or clothes.
  • Turn off electronics. All electrical appliances—televisions, computers, laptops, gaming systems, stoves and more—that are plugged into an electrical outlet could carry a current from a lightning strike. Surge protectors will reduce the risk of damaging electronics.

Stay away from windows. Not only is lightning a threat, but high winds and hail create flying debris that could be harmful during a thunderstorm. Close all windows and doors and stay as far away from them as possible.

Keep Warm, but Safe

December, January and February are the deadliest months for home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). And, heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires and home fire deaths. That’s why it’s important for you and your loved ones in your HOA community to take extra precautions during the winter.

Thinking of buying a space heater? The NFPA recommends, and your homeowner association insists, you make sure it carries the mark of an independent testing laboratory. Install it according to the manufacturer’s instructions or have it professionally installed. If you have an electric-powered space heater, plug it into an outlet with sufficient capacity. Never use an extension cord. Your association may not allow liquid-fueled space heaters.

Turn off space heaters whenever the room is unoccupied or when manufacturer’s instructions say they should be turned off. Portable space heaters are easy to knock over in the dark. To avoid any type of accidents, it’s best to turn them off when you go to bed, or at least make sure they’re placed in lit and low traffic areas.

If you use a fireplace or wood stove, use only dry, seasoned wood to avoid the build-up of creosote, an oily deposit that easily catches fire and accounts for most chimney fires and the largest share of home-heating fires. Use only paper or kindling wood, not a flammable liquid, to start the fire. Do not use artificial logs in wood stoves.

Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room. After the ashes have cooled downl, dispose of them in a metal container, which should be kept at a safe distance from your home.

Make sure fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside, that the venting is kept clear and unobstructed, and that the exit point is properly sealed around the vent. This is to make sure deadly carbon monoxide does not build up in the home.

Other reminders from the National Fire Protection Association include:

  • Don’t use your oven to heat your home.
  • Inspect all heating equipment annually, and clean as necessary.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly, and install a carbon monoxide alarm outside each sleeping area.

For more information, visit

Flood: How to Protect Your Family and Finances

In the Carolinas, flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster—and it can happen in your home. Just one inch of water can cost thousands of dollars in cleanup and replacement costs, including drywall, baseboards, floor coverings and furniture. You may think you’re covered, but many homeowners associations’ insurance policies do not cover flooding.

Here are several reasons to talk to an insurance agent about flood insurance:

  • There is usually a 30-day waiting period before coverage even begins.
  • Coverage is relatively inexpensive.
  • Renters can buy flood insurance for personal belongings or business inventory.
  • Basement coverage includes cleanup expense and repair or replacement of items such as furnaces, water heaters, washers, dryers, air conditioners, freezers and pumps.
  • You do not have to repay flood insurance benefits as you would with disaster-related assistance loans.
  • You can receive payments for flood-related losses even if no disaster was declared.

Learn more about flood insurance at

There are things you can do to prepare your home and family now for flash floods:

  • Make a family emergency plan. Emergency preparedness is everyone’s responsibility. First write down your plan, and then decide ahead of time where you will go if you have to leave and where family members will meet up. Identify an out-of-town emergency contact.
  • Get supplies for an emergency kit. Start with three days’ water, three days’ packaged and canned food. Add a battery-powered radio and extra batteries. Store in waterproof containers with either wheels or make sure they are light enough so you can lift with ease to take them with you. For details about preparing an emergency kit, visit
  • Stay informed about what could happen. During storm season, listen to your local media for up-to-date reports on weather watches and warnings. Keep a battery-powered portable radio with a NOAA weather band handy in case the power goes out.

Learn more about preparedness at

Community Policy on Security Cameras

Your homeowners association knows you want to feel safe at home and you should. You might have tried trimming foliage, increasing exterior lighting and installing a home security system. And maybe you’ve even considered installing video cameras outside your home to feel more secure.

Before you invest in a high-tech video system, there are a few things to consider. Personal safety and privacy are two ideals everyone wants in a HOA community, but they can collide. HOA policies weigh both these concerns, while also taking local and state laws into consideration.

Installing any security equipment, including cameras, is considered an architectural alteration of the home’s exterior and therefore requires written approval from the homeowners association. In addition, the installation will only be approved after the neighbors’ right to privacy, quiet use and enjoyment of their property has been considered. We may also ask the HOA attorney to review your application.

If you chose to install video surveillance, the camera needs to be placed in the least intrusive or visible location, and it can only be focused on your property—never directed at windows of adjacent structures, neighboring or common property in your HOA community.

Applications to install a security camera must include a plot plan showing the camera’s location in relation to neighboring structures and a property survey and specifications on the size, shape and angle of view of the camera. Any changes from the application, such as altering the location, equipment or field of view of the camera may require a new application.

Before deciding to install a security camera system, think about why you want to monitor particular views. Ask yourself:

  • ŸWhat do I achieve by installing cameras?
  • ŸAre the lighting conditions (night and day) good enough?
  • ŸHow much video do I want to store before the system records over itself?
  • ŸDo I want to monitor cameras myself, access them via the Internet or keep a recording for investigative purposes?

Many homeowners are going beyond just motion-detecting lights and in-home security systems, and installing video cameras for safety. However, your homeowners association must—at the same time—balance your desire to feel secure and your neighbor’s need for privacy.

Government Urges Americans to be Prepared

It is always important to be prepared for the worst because natural disasters and terror-related emergencies can happen at any point in time. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and your homeowners association continues to urge residents to make plans and learn about the resources they can use to prepare for emergencies. DHS is encouraging Americans everywhere to obtain emergency supply kits, make family emergency plans and be informed about the different types of emergencies that could affect them. HOAs encourage all residents to visit the DHS website at

In addition to planning guides and an instructional video, the website offers a variety of preparedness tips, as well as specialized information for seniors, those with disabilities and other special needs. The government’s message to Americans is clear: “We must have the tools and plans in place to make it on our own, at least for a period of time, no matter where we are when disaster strikes. Just like having a working smoke detector, preparing for the unexpected makes sense.”

Visit and plan ahead. You should always hope for the best, but can be shortsighted if you don’t prepare for the worst.