SERVPRO Holiday Safety Tips
The holidays are a wonderful time for traditions, family, and fun. While you’re decking the halls, cooking delicious feasts, and enjoying the warm glow of holiday lights, don’t forget to go through our SERVPRO Holiday Home Safety Checklist. Taking a few extra precautions will keep you and your home safe and prevent many common holiday season accidents.
1 Hang your lights with care!
Inspect indoor and outdoor electrical outlets before you use them. Cracked or damaged sockets, exposed or loose wires and other issues can cause a shock, electrocution, or even start a fire.
Don’t forget to inspect the cords on your lights and other electrical decorations as you put them up. Frayed cables can easily cause a fire. Also, make sure there is a bulb in each socket. Replace any damaged light strands each season.
Do your Christmas lights have a holographic UL label? This means they passed strict safety tests at Underwriters Lab, a third-party safety testing facility. A red label indicates the lights are safe for indoor and outdoor use, a green label means they are only safe for indoor use.
Holiday decoration and Christmas tree fires are often more damaging than other types of house fires. One easy way to prevent electrical fires is to use light clips to attach the holiday lights to your house instead of tacks or nails. Never hammer anything into an electrical cord.
Only use extension cords that are designated for outdoor use for external lights and decorations. A simple rule of thumb to avoid overloading your extension cords is to plug no more than three sets of light strands into each extension cord. The best practice is to plug outdoor lights, inflatables, and other decorations into circuits that have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI). This type of outlet will turn off if there is an overcurrent.
Don’t forget your indoor light safety, too! Keep your indoor lights and electrical decorations away from furniture, carpeting, drapes, and other potentially flammable materials. Check the cords and extension cords before you plug them in. Keep the cords and decorations tucked away to prevent tripping, but make sure they aren’t crushed, kinked, or twisted.
2 “Candle, candle, burning bright…” Candle safety
December is the peak month for candle-related house fires.The Red Cross reports that holiday fires cause more than $554 million in property damage every year! Candles are responsible for an average of 22 reported fires each day during the holiday season. Many candle fires begin in the living room and dining room.
The safest way to enjoy the look and smell of candles is to use flameless candles around your home. If you do decide to use real candles, keep them at least 12 inches away from anything that can melt or burn. Place them in sturdy candleholders that won’t easily tip over or spill hot wax.
Be careful of loose clothing, hair, flowing decorations, and other flammable items. Never light candles if someone is using an oxygen tank in the home.
Make sure you blow out all the candles when you leave the room. Avoid using candles in the bedroom or during times when you might doze off and don’t allow the candle to burn all the way down to the holder or container.
3 “Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree…” Tree safety
Did you know that Christmas tree-related accidents result in an average $13 million annually in property damage? A dry Christmas tree, electric lights, and various heat sources can be a dangerous combination.
Fresh trees are less prone to fire than dry Christmas trees. Choose a Christmas tree that has healthy, green needles that are a little difficult to pull off. Stay away from trees that are browning or “shedding” needles.
Before you put up the tree, cut about half an inch off the trunk to help it absorb water. Use a tree stand that holds at least a gallon of water and keep the bottom two inches of the trunk submerged in water.
Place your tree away from radiators, fireplaces, heat vents, candles, and other heat sources. Live Christmas trees do better in cool temperatures, so turn down the heat a little and consider putting your tree close to the window or door.
To avoid electrical fires, only use Christmas lights that have the UL or ETL/ITSNA safety seal. Don’t use any damaged light strands.
Don’t forget to unplug the Christmas lights before you head to bed, even if you have a fake tree! Whether you turn everything off yourself or use light timers, this will keep your home safer, lower your electric bill, and give you peace of mind.
4 Cook with caution
Cooking equipment is the leading cause of reported home fires. Thanksgiving and Christmas are two days with the highest reported kitchen fires.
Many people enjoy baking and cooking special meals and treats during the holiday season. It’s easy to get distracted or take unnecessary risks while cooking your festive feast.
Prevent stove fires by making sure your oven and stovetop are clean before you start cooking. Don’t forget to clean the exhaust hood and duct over your stove regularly to prevent dust, dirt, and grease build-up.
Make sure you plug appliances into Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets to prevent electrical shock and other issues. Keep all electrical cords away from the sink and hot surfaces. Don’t forget to unplug everything when you are finished.
As tempting as it might be, never disable your smoke detector. Many people unplug or disable their smoke alarms while cooking, but this is a dangerous practice, and it’s easy to forget to turn the smoke alarm back on.
Make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy in the event you have a small kitchen fire. Make sure you know how to put out cooking fires, especially grease fires! Speaking of deep frying, if you plan to deep-fry your turkey, keep the deep fryer at least ten feet away from your home and deck.
Did you know that dull knives are more dangerous than sharp knives? Sharpen your cutlery before the holiday cooking frenzy to keep your fingers a little safer.
5. Baby-proof your home
If you plan to have holiday guests with small children (or even pets), you can help everyone stay safe and rest a little easier by baby-proofing your home. Move cleaning products to higher shelves or lock those cabinets. Zip ties make easy, affordable temporary baby locks on cabinets.
Cover all the outlets with safety plugs, and keep decorations with small pieces out of reach of curious fingers.
Take extra safety precautions in the kitchen if little ones are around. Angle all the pot handles on the stove or countertop back toward the wall, so they aren’t easily grabbed, knocked, or pulled over (this is a good safety practice at all times).
To check the “baby-proof” status of your home, get down on your hands and knees, and look around your home from a curious little kid’s perspective. Move hazardous items out of reach or into other parts of your home.
6 Have an emergency plan
Fires and other home emergencies occur more frequently during the holidays. It’s critical to have an evacuation and response plan ready for your family. Now is a great time to either review your emergency plan or create a new one.
Make sure everyone knows how to evacuate your home in the event of a fire. Identify a safe place where everyone will gather if you do need to evacuate your home. Don’t forget to include your pets in the emergency plan!
SERVPRO is here to help with any type of disaster, from cooking and Christmas tree fires to frozen pipes and other winter home accidents. Our expert technicians are available 24/7 to respond to any size disaster, even during the holidays!
SERVPRO Preventing Storm Damage To Commercial Properties
Severe storms can bring strong winds, heavy rain, hail, and even flooding. There is never a good time for your business to experience storm damage. It’s inconvenient, frustrating, and costly.
No matter how severe the storm damage, SERVPRO technicians are restoration experts. We will be there fast to get your business up and running as quickly as possible. Here are some practical tips to prevent storm damage to your business or commercial property.
Preventing wind and hail damage
Strong winds can damage your commercial property in a matter of minutes. It’s difficult to predict what kind of damage a storm can do ahead of time, but there are a few steps you can take to prevent property damage.
Inspect your roof, exterior walls, and doors
Before and after major storms, inspect your roof, walls, and doors. Move from top to bottom to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Start by inspecting the roof. Make sure all the shingles fit together correctly and are firmly nailed down. While it isn’t required, it’s a good idea to ensure your roofing is highly rated for wind and impact resistance.
Make sure skylights and pipes are correctly sealed to prevent water damage inside the building. Regularly inspect the sheathing and connection between the roof and walls. Everything should be tightly nailed down and strong enough to withstand updrafts that can lift the roof off the building in very severe storms.
Next, inspect the exterior walls, windows, and doors of your commercial building. Ensure the siding is firmly attached, and windows are properly sealed. For the best protection in strong windstorms, make sure all your exterior doors have triple hinges and a deadbolt lock. Install braces on any overhead doors that will withstand high winds.
Consider installing impact-resistant glass in your windows. Impact-resistant glass prevents shattering and provides an extra layer of protection against severe wind and hail.
Prepare your outdoor areas
Make sure any storage sheds and outbuildings are secure. Inspect their roofing, windows, siding, and doors. Securely anchor all the outbuildings if you are expecting particularly severe storms and high winds.
Check your outdoor signage, light fixtures, fences, and dumpsters. Move any equipment and inventory to safe places and anchor anything that you plan to leave outdoors. Even large, heavy items can become projectiles in strong winds. Ask your property insurance agent if you need any special endorsements to cover your signs and outbuildings.
Keep large trees and shrubs around your building pruned and healthy. Unpruned trees and landscaping can cause severe property damage. Remove unhealthy branches that are likely to fall or break in a storm. Also, remove branches that grow across each other or touch each other. Make sure trees and shrubs are not too thick, preventing the wind from blowing through or around harmlessly.
Protect your vehicle fleet
If you own company vehicles, never park them under a tree during a severe storm. The safest place to park vehicles during a severe storm is in a garage or storage building. If that’s not possible, park your cars safely away from things that could cause damage, like branches, lampposts, and power lines.
Preventing flood and water damage
Flooding is one of the most common and expensive weather-related disasters in the United States. Your disaster preparedness plan should outline what to do in the event of a flood. There are also steps you can take to prevent flood damage to your business.
Clean and prep outdoor areas
Keep your gutters, downspouts, and drainage systems clean to prevent water from pooling or backing up into your building. Add extensions to downspouts to move water far away from the foundation.
Observe how water pools or moves around your property. The grading and landscaping should help water drain away from buildings. Help direct water away from your building by adding soil to low areas and adding drainage pipes where necessary.
Check your foundation and basement
Inspect your foundation for cracks and gaps where storm water can get into your building. If you have a basement, make sure there are no cracks in the walls and ensure your sump pump is working correctly.
Elevate exposed equipment and property
Air conditioning units, fuel tanks, inventory, and inventory you store outdoors should be elevated and securely anchored.
Prevent ice damming
During winter storms, ice dams can form when the attic warms the roof, which melts the snow and causes water to drip toward the eaves. When the water re-freezes, it creates an ice dam, causing water to back up under the shingles and soak through the roof and walls.
The easiest way to prevent ice dams is to minimize heat escaping through the ceiling with proper insulation. Make sure attic spaces have enough ventilation to draw out excess heat. Make sure your roof has waterproofing shingle underlayment that helps prevent water from leaking in.
No matter what kind of storm damage your home or commercial property might incur, SERVPRO technicians are equipped to get you back up and running as quickly as possible. We are standing by 24 hours a day to respond to any size disaster. Contact us today to learn more about our commercial restoration services.
Commercial Fire And Water Damage Prevention Tips
No matter what kind of commercial building you have, fire and water damage are a risk for businesses all over the country. Many events that cause significant damage to commercial buildings can be avoided by taking simple preventative measures.
Having quality fire and water damage prevention is the best and cheapest defense. SERVPRO would rather help you avoid an incident, but our commercial restoration team is standing by to help you recover quickly.
Here are some simple steps to prevent fire and water damage to your commercial building.
Keep your fire protection equipment up to date.
When was the last time you checked the expiration date on your multipurpose extinguishers? Do all your employees know where each fire extinguisher is around your building? Have you checked to ensure your smoke detectors are in good working order? Is your emergency kit supplied with items like a flashlight, bottled water, and first aid kit? Many businesses also include fire escape masks to prevent smoke inhalation in the event of a fire.
Many local governments offer to have a visit from the fire marshall to conduct workplace fire risk assessments and help you create a fire prevention plan. This is an excellent tool for lowering your risk of fire damage.
Protect your building from accidental or intentional fires
The US fire departments respond to more than 3,000 office property fires each year. Most fires are caused by human error, like leaving a coffee pot on, burning food in the kitchen, or spilling liquids on electrical equipment.
Fires that occur between 3 pm and 12 am are usually the most damaging because fewer people are around to catch it early. Keep dumpsters away from the building and empty trash cans inside your building every day to prevent smoldering papers or things from becoming a full-fledged fire.
Keep the trees and bushes around your building trimmed. If you have security cameras or motion sensor lights, it is essential to have a clear line of sight around your property. This will make it easier to spot problems or suspicious activity.
Keeping your HVAC and electrical systems maintained is key to fire prevention and safety. About 9% of commercial fires happen because HVAC systems and other appliances malfunction. Have your heating systems and other appliances inspected regularly, especially before the winter months when your heating systems will be working overtime. Ensure the smoke detectors in utility and storage rooms work correctly.
No smoking policies can dramatically reduce the risk of fire around your commercial property. Cigars, cigarettes, and other smoking materials cause about 9% of fires in office properties. Make sure your employees know and abide by the smoking rules. Provide safe ways to dispose of cigarettes in all the designated smoking areas to reduce the risk of fire.
Prevent commercial water damage with regular inspections.
When was the last time the roof, plumbing, and electrical systems in your commercial building were inspected by a professional? Sinks, toilets, and leaking roofs are common causes of water damage in commercial properties.
An easy and effective way to prevent expensive water damage is to have your facility inspected regularly. Air conditioners, water heaters, water pipes, and other plumbing can develop leaks, cracks, and weak areas over time. It’s essential to catch problems early instead of waiting until they cause thousands of dollars of damage.
Old toilets usually have weak water pressure, which can lead to more clogs. If the toilets clog frequently, it can cause damage to the pipes and lead to black water flooding. Newer toilets are more efficient and effective. Consider replacing old toilets and plumbing before there is an issue.
Have the sprinkler systems inspected to prevent leaks and malfunctions. Sprinkler systems are excellent at minimizing fire damage, but if the pipes leak, they can cause severe water damage.
Inspect your roof frequently. Look for damage to the perimeter flashing or areas where water is not draining correctly. Make sure the gutters and drain pipes are clean, especially before any major storms to prevent your roof from leaking.
Consider installing water leak detection sensors that will send an alert if there is a leak. These are especially useful around water heaters ice and beverage machines, and other utilities that have the potential to cause serious damage if they malfunction.
Perform Risk Assessments
A risk assessment is a careful inspection of your property and work habits to look for things that could cause damage to people or property. Many companies perform risk assessments for you, or you can designate a person in your organization to receive risk assessment training.
The benefit of conducting regular risk assessments is that you are aware of the vulnerabilities and threats to your property so you can take steps to prevent accidents. It is always better to be proactive than reactive.
Develop an Emergency Readiness Plan
Use the SERVPRO Emergency READY Program (ERP) to prepare for disaster ahead of time. A SERVPRO disaster recovery specialist will assess your business and help you create an emergency READY profile for your building and property.
The ERP profile includes critical information about your business, like emergency contact information, locations for all your shut-off valves, and other vital details that you, your employees, and the emergency response team will need to know in the event of a disaster.
Having this information in one place will help you and the SERVPRO team respond quickly and effectively to minimize damage in an accident or disaster. There is even a Smartphone app with access to your plan from anywhere, 24/7.
SERVPRO specializes in commercial property restoration from any disaster. Our technicians will clean and repair your business quickly, so you can get back to serving your customers. Contact us today to set up an Emergency READY program for your business.
Seven Ways To Prevent Mold
It's impossible to create a mold-proof home because mold is all around us. Most of the time, we live peacefully with mold spores all around us. But, if the spores find a damp environment with organic matter to feed on, they can quickly grow into a mold colony. Then, it's only a matter of time before the mold begins to spread. Once that happens, it can be challenging to eradicate.
Mold serves an essential purpose in the environment. It helps break down organic material like leaves and dead plants. They also help create useful things like cheese and penicillin. At the same time, mold can cause serious health issues for people.
You cannot mold-proof your home, and SERVPRO would rather help you prevent mold from invading than wait until there is a mold problem to intervene. There are some easy steps you can take to make your home mold-resistant to avoid the hassle and cost of mold remediation. Here are ten easy ways to create a mold-resistant home.
Seven Ways To Prevent Mold
Prevent Mold and Mildew in the Bathroom
The bathroom is one of the most vulnerable rooms in your home because of all the moisture and humidity. Make sure you have a functioning exhaust fan to remove moisture more quickly and circulate the air.
Mildew and mold can grow easily on fabrics. Spread out damp towels after you use them to help them dry more quickly. Wipe down or squeegee the shower after each use. Also, choose shower curtains that dry quickly and clean easily so that soap residue doesn't build up. Soap scum can foster mold growth.
Ventilation is vital for your home. New homes are more energy-efficient, preventing air leakage, which saves money but can allow moisture to build up inside your home. Routine activities like cooking dinner, showering, and doing laundry can encourage mold to grow in your house.
Make sure your kitchen, laundry room, and other high-moisture areas are well ventilated. Add vents to the outside (not the attic) to appliances like clothes dryers and stoves. Use air conditioners and dehumidifiers to control the moisture levels in your house, especially in humid climates.
Open doors between rooms and move furniture away from the walls to increase circulation around your home. Open your windows on beautiful days with low humidity to let in the fresh air.
Keep Mold Off Your Houseplants
Plants are beautiful and improve the air quality in your home, but the moist soil around the houseplants are the perfect breeding ground for mold colonies. Don't get rid of your beautiful plants! Add a little Taheebo tea to the water when you water them. Taheebo tree oil is resistant to fungi, even in the humid, damp rainforests, and it helps prevent mold from growing in the plant soil. Taheebo tea is readily available in most natural food stores.
Monitor Moisture Levels
It is easy to monitor moisture levels in your home with a hygrometer. The EPA recommends keeping the humidity levels in your home between 30 and 60 percent.
You can also look for telltale signs that there is too much moisture in your home. Condensation on your windows, pipes, and walls is one of the most obvious symptoms of high moisture levels. Dry the surfaces immediately and turn off any humidifiers. Consider putting a dehumidifier in moisture-prone rooms.
Use a Properly Sized Air Conditioner
Make sure your air conditioning unit is the right size for the home and the climate. A central air conditioning unit might cool your home faster, but it won't remove the right amount of moisture from the air. If you live in a climate with high humidity, consider adding a dehumidifier to the central air conditioning system.
You can also raise the temperature in your home so the moisture doesn't build up and cause condensation.
It is also essential to have your air conditioner cleaned and ducts and regularly maintained, including the unit drip pans and drainage lines. Water collects in these dark areas, creating a perfect environment for mold to thrive.
Ventilate Crawl Spaces
Crawl spaces and basements are cool, damp, and dark--the ideal environment for mold colonies to grow. Make sure crawl spaces have the right amount of ventilation and lay down heavy-duty plastic sheeting over dirt to keep moisture from seeping up from the ground.
Clean and Maintain Your Gutters and Roof
One of the easiest ways to prevent rainwater from seeping into your home is to keep your gutters and roof cleaned and maintained. Make sure the gutters and downspouts aren't blocked with leaves and debris. The downspouts should move rainwater at least five feet away from the foundation of your house. This will help keep your basement and crawl spaces dry.
It is important to clean mold properly and as quickly as possible to prevent it from spreading to other areas of your home.
How To Clean Mold and Mildew From Fabrics
It is essential to carefully take the fabric or upholstery outside if possible to prevent mold spores from spreading throughout your home. Once outside, brush as much of the mildew off as possible with a rag or gentle brush. Be sure to wear gloves and a mask to protect your skin and lungs.
Wash the fabric in chlorine bleach and hot water to kill the mildew. If that is not possible, soak the cloth in oxygen bleach and hot water for about 30 minutes, then wash as directed. It is also helpful to allow the fabric to dry in the sunlight.
Vacuum any upholstery that you cannot take outside, then immediately replace the vacuum bag or take the canister outside and clean it thoroughly to remove the mold spores. Mix 1 part ammonia and 1 part cold water and use a clean, white cloth to sponge the mold stains. Blot the stain until all of the solution is absorbed. Repeat the process until the stain is gone, then clean the area with cold water to remove the ammonia. Make sure the upholstery dries completely with a fan, hairdryer (set on cool), or dehumidifier.
How To Clean Mold From Wood
Cleaning small amounts of mold or mildew from wood surfaces is not as difficult as you might think. However, it is important to clean the area thoroughly to prevent it from spreading elsewhere around your home.
Create a solution of equal parts vinegar, soap, and warm water. Use a clean, soft rag to wipe away the mold or mildew. Make sure to scrub between cracks or joints as much as possible. Rinse the area with clean water and dry the wood thoroughly. Use a fan or dehumidifier to make sure there is enough ventilation in the area.
It is important to clean mold with the right methods and equipment to prevent the spores from spreading to other areas of your home. It's easy to clean small amounts of mold growing on hard surfaces with commercial mold and mildew removers. It is crucial to address the cause of the mold.
Because mold spores travel by air, SERVPRO technicians use technology like negative air chambers and HEPA air filters with "air scrubbers" to prevent the mold spores from spreading while they clean and disinfect the area. SERVPRO uses the following process to remediate mold:
- Inspection and assessment: SERVPRO agents inspect your home for mold using a variety of technologies to detect unhealthy mold levels and hidden areas of moisture.
- Containment: Depending on the extent of the mold contamination, SERVPRO agents will use things like negative air chambers to keep mold spores from spreading during the cleanup process. They usually turn off the heat and AC to keep mold spores from spreading through the air ducts.
- Filtration: SERVPRO uses specialized air filtration equipment to clean spores out of the air. HEPA vacuums and "air scrubbers" help bring the mold spores down to normal levels.
- Removing mold and damaged materials: Technicians remove all the mold-infested things like drywall, carpeting, insulation, and other materials from your home. Then, they use antimicrobial and antifungal treatments to kill any remaining mold and prevent new mold colonies from growing.
- Cleaning your belongings: SERVPRO is committed to restoring as much as possible to its original condition, including your belongings like furniture, clothing, curtains, and decorative items. They use a variety of chemicals and cleaning techniques to sanitize everything and remove the moldy smell.
- Restoration: The job isn't complete until the SERVPRO technicians make all the necessary repairs to return your home to its original condition.
If you find mold in your home, contact SERVPRO immediately. Technicians are available 24/7, and they are trained to handle all kinds of mold issues.
Preventing Water Damage While You’re On Vacation
Summer is finally here, and it’s time to head out for family vacations! Unfortunately, water damage is not just a winter concern. Even though you won’t have to worry about frozen pipes, many other things can cause water damage in your home during the hot summer months.
Here are a few things you can do before you head off on vacation to prevent water damage while you are away. Remember, no matter what happens, SERVPRO is always standing by to help with any size disaster.
Begin by making sure all the rain gutters and downspouts are clean. Clogged gutters can allow water to pool on the roof or around the foundation of your home.
While you are cleaning the gutters, check the roof for any loose shingles or damaged flashing that might let heavy rain to seep into your house.
Next, inspect the windows and doors to make sure the seals are tight and the locks work properly. This helps prevent water damage and break-ins. Don’t forget to check and lock the pet door and garage door!
Check your water bill
There are hundreds of feet of water pipes snaking through the walls and floors of your house. Unfortunately, you can’t see them all to ensure there are no leaks. One way to catch leaks early is to keep an eye on your water bill.
If you notice your bill increasing inexplicably or the amount of water consumed doesn’t seem to match previous months, there may be a leak somewhere. Be sure to take other factors into consideration, like hosting summer guests or watering the garden.
One way to keep an eye on your water consumption is to compare your bill for the current month to the bill for the same month one year ago. Unless there was a notable change, (more people live in your house, you added appliances, or the price of water has increased) there should not be a dramatic difference in the amount of water your household consumed.
Check for leaks
Before you leave for vacation, check all the accessible places in your home for leaks. Look under all the sinks for signs of water damage and check the water heater for rusting or cracks.
Ensure none of your faucets (inside or outside) leak or drip. Even small leaks can become big problems quickly, especially if it goes unnoticed for a week or two.
Check all the water hoses in major appliances. Washing machines, refrigerator ice machines, and dishwashers use plastic hoses to connect to the water supplies. Make sure there aren’t any kinks, cracks, or leaks.
For an extra measure of defense, replace the standard plastic water hoses for more durable stainless steel hoses. This is a very cost-effective preventative measure against in-home water damage.
Test your sump pump
Take the time to test your sump pump before you leave for summer vacation. Sump pumps help keep groundwater out of your basement.
Testing your sump pump is easy. Fill the sump pit with water and watch to make sure the pump activates and removes all the water. As it runs, make sure the motor is not making any strange sounds.
If you haven’t already done so, consider installing a backup battery on your sump pump. This will keep your sump pump working even during a power outage!
Turn off your water heater
Not only will this prevent any potential water leaks, turning off your water heater while you are on an extended vacation helps save energy. If your water heater is well maintained, then there is little risk of having an issue, but it will give you peace of mind while you are relaxing at the beach.
If you have a gas water heater, turn the thermostat up or to the “vacation” setting. If you have an electric water heater, simply turn the breaker off to save energy.
Turn off the water main
If there is nobody to check on your house while you are away, consider turning off the water main. If you are leaving for more than a week, turning off the water main prevents water pressure from building up in the pipes.
If you have a clogged or weak area in your plumbing, turning off the water main will prevent the water pressure from building up and causing something to break while you are gone.
After you turn the water main off, turn on all the faucets in your home to let the water drain out.
Have someone check your house
If your vacation plans take you away from home for more than a week, consider asking a neighbor or friend to check on your house every few days. This will give you peace of mind that nothing will go unnoticed for very long.
Asking a trustworthy friend or neighbor to look after your home will give you peace of mind and ensure that any incidents are handled quickly. Leave your insurance and SERVPRO information in the unlikely event something goes wrong and your friend needs to call for help.
Taking these easy steps before you leave for vacation will prevent water damage year-round and allow you to relax and thoroughly enjoy your holiday.
BONUS Two fire prevention steps
It is equally important to prevent fire damage while you are away on vacation.
Unplug electronics: Before you leave, unplug all the electronic devices. Not only will this save electricity, but it also reduces the risk of an electrical fire. Don’t just disconnect cables from electronics; unplug the cords and power strips from the wall outlets.
Check your smoke detectors: While you are checking for water leaks, make sure all your smoke detectors are in good working order. Consider installing smart smoke detectors that alert your home security system or send a notification to your phone if something goes wrong.
How to Restore Your Property After Fire Damage
How to Restore Your Property After Fire Damage
As a homeowner, there is no shortage of concerns to keep at the front of your mind. When a serious disaster such as a fire causes damage to your home, it's important to act quickly and correctly. Because dealing with fire damage is often a distressing event, it's crucial that you stay informed so that you know how to deal with a fire if one should occur. Follow our simple tips and you'll know what to do if you ever need to confront fire damage repair and restoration.
First and foremost, any homeowner who has had a fire should detail the scale and harm of any damage incurred. Cleaning the affected areas of any burned objects or ash can provide a clearer picture of what damage was caused to the home itself. It's a good idea to log everything and include detailed photographs of damage before you begin the restoration process. This way you have evidence to consult should you have a lapse in memory.
Next you should sort any undamaged items. The fire department should be able to limit damage if detection is able to provide a warning 10 to 15 minutes before of the end of the incipient stage, regardless of suppression system activation or the location of the fire. But every fire is different, and you can never be too certain. Always create a clear space so that damage is easily identifiable throughout the repair and restoration process. It's always prudent to contact your insurance company, as an experienced agent can explain the relevant points of your coverage policy. Additionally, your agent should have the resources to get you started on the repair and restoration process.
As a related consequence, smoke damage should also be considered as you clean and document areas of the home affected by fire. Soot and smoke damage can be more difficult to identify and clean, as its properties are much more subtle and potentially evasive when compared to damage caused by flames. A significant portion of the restoration process is devoted to revealing smoke damage and restoring the property through the removal of odors and other unseen damages.
Once you've identified the scale and amount of damage, cleaned the space, and spoken to your insurance company to determine the coverage offered by your policy, you can move onto fire damage repair and restoration. It's wise to hire a trustworthy company that has lots of experience dealing with fire damage, as it is a specific field and hiring lackluster help will only lead to further problems down the road. A reputable company will be able to decide on a course of action. It's often nearly impossible for the average homeowner to determine whether it's best to restore or replace. For these reasons, a good fire damage repair and restoration service is there to guide you through the difficulties of handling fire damage in your property.
Preventing Storm Water Damage
Water damage is costly and often difficult to clean up. While SERVPRO is available 24/7 to respond to any water damage situation, we prefer that you not have water damage at all.
Here are eight steps you can take to prevent water damage from storms or flooding in your home or business.
1. Clean your drainage systems regularly.
This may seem simple and obvious, but clogged gutters and drain spouts allow water to pool around the foundation of your home or business. Make a habit of cleaning the gutters at least twice per year and inspect the drainage system. Replace or repair any cracked or damaged parts that might allow water to collect or leak near your home.
If your property has drainage problems, consider installing a French drains system. They allow water to move away from your home or business via a ditch filled with gravel or rock and perforated pipes. This helps the water disburse over a wider area and prevent it from pooling near the foundation.
2. Inspect your roof.
Schedule an annual roof inspection. It’s a good idea to have this done each spring to assess any damage done over the winter but before the big summer storms roll in. Catching any issues early will go a long way to prevent rain and wind damage.
3. Assess your landscaping.
A well-planned landscaping design will help guide water away from the foundation of your home or commercial building. Make sure the ground slopes away from the foundation.
Experts recommend a slope of ¼ inch per foot going away from your home. This allows gravity to work in your favor, pulling the water away from the foundation. If necessary, add some fresh soil to make sure you have this grade.
During a small storm, go outside and observe how the water flows through your property. Note any areas where water is collecting or places where rainwater is running toward the foundation. If it would be helpful, mark the “problem” areas with little construction flags so you can address these landscaping issues later.
4. Have sewers and septic systems checked.
If the groundwater rises too high, it can impact the effectiveness of sewer and septic systems. In more extreme cases, it can lead to sewer backup or waste leeching to the surface or back into the house. Make sure these systems are inspected regularly.
5. Inspect your foundation.
The most common cause of basement flooding is cracks in the foundation that allow water to seep in during a storm. Have your basement and foundation inspected regularly and repair any cracks as quickly as possible. Some cracks can be repaired easily with caulking or similar products.
Make sure any windows in your basement are in good shape. The wood frame around a window can rot or deteriorate over time, allowing water into the basement. Aluminum or vinyl windows tend to last longer than wood.
6. Consider a sump pump.
If your basement or crawlspace floods regularly, consider installing a sump pump. These handy little gadgets are installed under the floor in your basement or crawl space to collect groundwater and redirect it away from your home before it can cause problems.
If your crawl space or basement has belowground moisture, you should consider a sump pump as a “first line of defense” against flooding. The American Society of Home Inspectors says more than 60% of homes are prime candidates for sump pumps due to ground moisture. You should always have a sump pump if your home is located in a flood zone.
If you have a sump pump, make sure to have it serviced to keep it running at tip-top shape. Make sure the back-up battery works, so the pump will continue running if you lose power. If your pump does not have a backup battery, many plumbers can easily install one.
7. Protect your products and information.
Whether you own a home or business, you have valuable property, products, and documents. Make sure critical paperwork is backed up electronically and store important documents in a waterproof file cabinet or safe that will protect them from fire, water, and smoke damage.
Keep non-waterproof items above floor level or in waterproof containers to avoid potential water damage. Store valuable items on high, stable shelves or stacked wooden pallets.
8. Check your trees.
Make sure there are no dead or diseased trees on your property. These trees may not be able to endure a major storm and come crashing down. Remove any precarious tree branches that might damage your home or power lines if they break.
Even though most insurance policies cover damage from falling trees, prevention is far easier and safer.
Preparing for a coming storm.
If you know a major storm is looming, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself and your property.
If you know a major storm is on the way, unplug appliances or use surge protectors. This will protect your electronics and help prevent electrical fires.
Secure outdoor areas.
In strong winds, outdoor furniture can become dangerous flying objects. A strong gust of wind can toss a patio chair or even a grill, breaking a sliding glass door or causing some other damage. Bring outdoor furniture in and anchor heavy objects.
If you live in a low-lying or flood-prone area, consider putting up floodgates, sandbags, tarps, and other “dry flood protection” materials. These will help keep floodwaters out of your home or business.
Take photos for the insurance company.
“Before” photos are very helpful in filing an insurance claim and throughout the recovery process. “Before and after” photos, video, and documents make it easier for agents to assess the full extent of the damage.
Create an emergency response plan and kit.
Whether you have a family and home or a business and commercial property, an emergency response plan allows everyone to know how to react in an emergency.
Write down important phone numbers for family, friends, and important business contacts. Even if you have the numbers memorized, it’s helpful not to need to rely on your recall in a stressful situation.
Pack an emergency supply kit that includes all the food, water, and supplies you might need to survive up to 72 hours on your own. Store your kit in an easy-to-carry container like a plastic bin or duffle bag, and make sure everyone knows where it is.
Dealing with Water Damage in Your Home
A water emergency can happen at any time and often without warning. Recovering from a water emergency, and the water damage left behind can be overwhelming and scary, thankfully, there are plenty of ways for you to recover from such an event and restore your home.
A water emergency can be anything from your basement flooding due to a broken, cracked or clogged pipe, improper sealing on the flooring or walls, or debris in your gutters to a disaster-related event like flash flooding. In the last five years alone flash floods and floods, in general, have been experienced in all 50 states. It is becoming more and more common for homeowners to experience flooding related to natural disasters than in previous years. Since flooding and water emergencies are common, it is important to know how to deal with flood damage, water removal, and water cleanup to successfully restore your home after receiving water damages.
How to Deal with Water Damage and Water Removal
When a flood or water emergency impacts your home, there are many things to take into consideration. For example, water can contain mud, bacteria, sewage, and other toxins that can contaminate your floors and belongings. This is why it is important to deal with the water removal and water cleanup as soon as possible following a flood event. It is imperative to start the water removal process as soon as you can safely enter your home or access the flooded part of the building. The safest and quickest way to deal with water removal and the cleanup is to contact a professional. However, you can assist in the process by removing excess water. This can be done with the use of a mop or towels to soak up any of the remaining water. You can also bring in large fans to assist with drying the area out and removing any furniture or rugs from that area. Essentially, you want to remove any objects from the impacted area and place fans or turn on the air conditioning to assist in the process. You should also keep mold damage in mind as you start restoring your home.
Restoring Your Home after Water Damage
Once your home has dried out you will want to keep an eye out for mold. Mold infestations are common after flooding, and you can often identify them just by observing the area that was impacted and received water damage. Keeping the area cool and dry can help reduce the likelihood of a mold infestation, and the restoration process also helps with mold remediation. Here are a few things to keep in mind when restoring your home after water damage. The restoration process helps improve your living space by preventing mold and mildew; it also allows you to preserve your home’s value by cleaning and restoring the home quicker and often to a better state than it was previously. Many homeowners explore selling their homes after water damages, or flooding occurs, but many find this difficult due to the state of the home, which is why restoring it is a great option!
When your home suffers water damage, it can be difficult, and when it comes to water damage repair, it can be hard to know where to start. Finding a professional water damage repair and restoration business in your area can make a huge difference in recovering from water emergencies. The benefits include: stopping further damage; ensuring a proper cleanup; reducing your losses and saving you time and money.
What to do When Water Damage Happens
It’s horribly inconvenient to have your daily life disrupted by water damage. Whether it’s a pipe burst, a flood, a slow leak from the ice machine, or your little tyke decided to shove his favorite stuffie down the toilet, water damage can be costly and stressful. SERVPRO of Percy Priest / Hickory Hollow has experienced professionals who are equipped to help you deal with even the worst water damage in an organized, thorough manner.
We hope you never have to call us to restore water-damaged property; but if you do, this guide will help you understand the different classes of water damage, first steps to take, and what to expect during the cleanup process.
What to do first when you find water damage
No matter how much water damage your home or business suffers, it’s important to act quickly and take the right steps to prevent further damage.
Before you do anything, make sure any water sources that may be leaking are turned off. You don’t want water to continue leaking, causing more damage. Next, turn off the electricity in the impacted area. Electrical shocks and similar accidents are surprisingly common in water damage situations because people are so concerned about addressing the water issue that they forget about other dangers.
Next, identify the class of damage and the type of water involved. Only licensed professionals can officially identify the “class” of water damage your property has suffered. Knowing this information is important, as it will determine certain steps in the cleanup process and make sure you cover all the proper safety measures.
What are the classes of water damage?
There are four classes of water damage and three types of water that may be involved.
Class 1 Cleanup: This is one of the smallest water damage situations and the simplest to clean. The impact is confined to a small area and the water did not sit for very long, so very little moisture seeped into the flooring or other materials.
The cleanup process can be as easy as mopping up as much water as possible. Circulate fresh air and get fans and dehumidifiers in the room to make sure everything dries thoroughly to prevent mold and mildew from growing. Quickly remove furniture, area rugs, or anything that needs professional cleaning and throw away anything that is unsalvageable.
Class 2 Cleanup: This level of damage usually impacts an entire room, damaging carpets and padding, subfloors or plywood, and even concrete. Moisture may have crept up to 24 inches up the walls, damaging structural wood, drywall, insulation, and other materials.
Class 2 water damage situations can quickly deteriorate so it is important to dry the area as quickly as possible by circulating fresh air and using dehumidifiers and fans. This will help prevent mold and microorganisms from growing.
It will be difficult to thoroughly dry the area without professional equipment and expertise. With this level of saturation, surfaces often feel dry to the touch but still have water trapped deep inside. That trapped water can cause mold and structural problems down the road if not properly addressed.
Class 3 Cleanup: This is perhaps the most serious level of water damage. A significant roof leak, a pipe burst, or a catastrophic failure of an upstairs appliance that leaks hundreds of gallons of water is often the cause. Damage usually impacts the ceiling to subfloor and practically everything is saturated.
Because of the extent of the damage in a Class 3 cleanup, it is wise to avoid the area until professional help arrives. Take extra safety precautions when entering the area. Wear gloves, goggles and a respirator to protect you from exposure to microorganisms, mold, and other contaminants.
Class 4 Cleanup: This level of water damage often includes standing water that can only be removed with special equipment. Standing water quickly grows bacteria and other microorganisms that pose health threats and can cause further damage beneath the surface.
Class 4 cleanup is perhaps the most extensive and involved cleanup and restoration process. After the standing water is removed, the drying process can begin. Materials like wood, brick, or concrete can trap water deep in the pores. It takes special equipment to thoroughly dry these materials and spaces.
The type of water that caused the damage matters
There are three categories of water that can cause damage to your home or business. The type of water that causes the damage significantly impacts the cleanup process.
Category 1 water is potable drinking water or safe water. It does not pose any threat to people or animals and comes from “clean water supplies” like broken pipes, overflowing sinks, and some broken appliances.
Category 1 water is the easiest to clean up because it does not pose an immediate health risk or contain potentially harmful bacteria.
Category 2 water is also called “grey water”. It contains large amounts of chemical, biological, or physical contaminants. Grey water can cause illnesses and infections because of the microorganisms, bacteria, or viruses in it.
Broken toilets, sump pumps, water leaking from dishwashers or washing machines are the most common causes of grey water damage. While Category 2 water does not contain sewage or seawater, it is important to clean the affected area cautiously and use the proper chemicals.
Category 3 water is known as “black water” and it poses the greatest health risk to animals and people. It contains harmful bacteria, sewage, and other contaminants. Black water often comes from seawater, river water, backed up sewage lines, and similar sources. Back-flow from toilets, sewage pipe bursts, or large-scale floods are the most frequent causes of water damage by black water.
Professionals must take extra precautions when cleaning black water damage as it can cause serious illness and infection. It is important to take the proper safety precautions and use the right chemicals and cleaning methods to restore everything safely.
Time, temperature, and other factors can cause the water-damaged area to deteriorate. Even clean category 1 water can quickly become a category 2 situation if left untreated. A category 2 water leak can quickly become a serious health hazard if not cleaned properly.
Call the professionals
SERVPRO has certified experts and specialized equipment to handle any water damage situation. They use sensors and other equipment to identify the water migration line and all the materials that were impacted by the water. The sensors also help them find where the water may still be “bound” in materials—even where the surface feels dry!
Our technicians are trained and equipped to handle water restoration, carpet and upholstery cleaning, mold mitigation, and drying techniques to help minimize property loss after water damage. And we’re available 24 /7.
Our first step on the scene is to perform a detailed inspection of your home or property, including a damage assessment. We determine the scope of damage and develop a plan of action.
Next, we check for any sources of moisture to make sure all the potential water leaks are stopped. Then we check for contaminated water to ensure everyone’s safety. Identifying the type of water and classification of water damage is important to make sure your home or property is fully cleaned and restored.
Depending on the amount of water that needs to be removed, SERVPRO technicians will use pumps and wet/dry vacuums to clean up any excess water. Carpets, padding, and other materials that easily hold water are inspected and removed if necessary.
SERVPRO technicians use infrared cameras to find “hidden” water behind walls, ceilings, and in floors. Industrial-grade dryers and dehumidifiers help us remove all the water from the area. Moisture detectors, hygrometers, and other devices measure the extent of the damage and ensure everything is fully dried.
We hope you’ll never have to call us to restore water-damaged property, but if you do you’ll know what to expect and be equipped with the right information.
Home Damage: Why Restoration is Best
While you don't want to ever have to deal with any type of fire or water damage, the reality is this: 14,000 people are affected by water damage emergencies in the home or workplace daily. Fire damage restoration and water damage repair are necessary to help restore a home to its original condition again. Learn why restoring a home is better than starting all over again or ignoring the situation in the first place.
You Protect What Healthy Foundation You Have
Having a healthy foundation will help preserve your home when you encounter water emergencies or smoke damage. Did you know that it only takes two days for mold to start to set in when you get moisture damage in the home, and that the longer things stay wet, the more likely they are to be permanently damaged?
This is why getting your home restored after any type of fire or water damage is so important. You need to preserve as much of your home's foundation as possible, allowing yourself to keep as much of your expensive investment intact as you can.
You Keep Your Family Safe
When you have smoke damage restoration done on your home, you improve the air quality of your living space and make your house easier to be in. Water damage restoration prevents mold and mildew from building up, which is beneficial in its own way as well. You want to keep your family safe by creating a healthy environment for them following a home disaster.
You Preserve Your Home's Value
Any lingering damage to your home will cause the value of your property to drop dramatically. Mold damage and warped wood, soot-stained walls, peeling paint, and other damages caused by smoke and water will make your home not only lose value, but become an expensive investment when you do decide to finally fix up what has been damaged. In getting fire damage restoration and other needs completed as soon as they occur, you help keep your home's value stronger than ever.
If you have smoke, water, or another type of home disaster occur, seek professional services right away. Your home remediation specialist will give you the assistance you need to make your home sound and livable again.