Steps to Take After a Fire
Fires can be understandably overwhelming. Here are the first steps to take after a fire.
- Make sure the local fire department has given the okay to go inside the residence.
- Call your insurance company so they can start a claim and initiate paperwork. If you are a tenant contact your landlord.
- Call loved ones to let them know you are okay and inform anyone who wasn’t home what happened.
- Secure the residence to prevent theft by locking doors and covering windows or holes. If you need help, give us a call! We offer board up services to secure the property.
- Get a copy of the fire report by contacting your local fire department.
- If the residence is uninhabitable, contact a friend or relative in the area to see if you can stay with them or the American Red Cross for assistance.
- Notify your employer, friends, family, post office, children’s schools, delivery services such as newspapers, utilities, telecom services and the police all of your current move.
- Consider the cleanup requirements. Does all of your contents need to be cleaned? Does every rooms need to be cleaned? Was the affected area contained to certain rooms in the home?
- Talk to your insurance company about what your policy covers before having a cleanup and restoration company come on site.
- If counseling is needed, especially for small children, don’t be afraid to seek help.
Preventing Leaky Pipes
Stress on pipes can result in leaks which can be expensive to fix, replace and, not to mention, could cause extensive water damage to your home, business and personal items if they burst. Here are some ways to decrease the amount of stress and pressure on your pipes.
High water pressure can feel nice in the shower and it may seem like the dishes are getting done faster but, this can put an unnecessary amount of strain on your plumbing. You can get a hose bib gauge at your local hardware store to test the pressure. Attach it to an outside spigot and open the valve. Normal pressure is between 40-85 PSI so if you pressure measures above this, you may want to consider hiring a plumber to install a pressure reducer. You can also install a low flow shower head in your bathroom to help reduce pressure there.
Hard water is another obstacle as far as pipes are concerned. Hard water is water with a higher than normal amount of mineral content such as calcium or magnesium present. These minerals can build up inside your pipes which restricts flow and in turn, increases the pressure. Deposits can also corrode joints and fittings over time. If you see a white substance on our faucet heads, you more than likely have hard water. If you are unsure or want more proof, ask your local municipality to view the water quality report they are required to have through the Environmental Protection Agency. The only way to effectively soften the water in your home or business is by having a plumber install a water softener.
Wrap your pipes. If you have exterior piping and plan on going out of town in the winter months, take precautions to prevent coming home to a disaster. Wrap your pipes in electrical heat tape or a pipe sleeve which you can purchase at your local hardware store to prevent them from freezing. Remember, if the water is not constantly moving and the cold water pipes touch the exterior of the building when the temperature gets below freezing, your pipes will most likely freeze!
Set the spigot valve. If you have a pipe running through cement to your outside spigot valve, it’s always a good idea to install a frost-free hose bib which allows you to shut off water to the inside of the home preventing freezing.
These are all relatively simple and in expensive ways to protect your pipes that in the end could save you thousands of dollars!
How to Save Your Furniture After a Water Damage
Having water damage can be very frustrating and exhausting. We often hear from customers that they have tried to move all of their contents from an affected area, mop up the standing water, and fix the source of the water damage themselves during all hours! We spend our hard earned money on things that make our houses a comfortable and enjoyable environment. The last thing we want is to lose expensive or sentimental pieces of furniture.
There are a few things you can do in order to save your furniture from being ruined in a water damage situation:
-Assess what items have been affected by the water.
-Take pictures to document the water damage and specific pictures of items that have been damaged due to the water.
-Move any furniture out of the affected area that can be moved. The less time the furniture can be sitting in the water, the better. If you cannot move the furniture, try to put something underneath it that gets it up out of the water. For example, you could use wood blocks or aluminum foil.
-If you have wood furniture that has been affected by the water, make sure you put it somewhere it can air dry. Keep the furniture out of direct sunlight as direct sun exposure could cause the wood to crack or warp.
-Apply mayonnaise to any furniture that is lightly water damaged. Apply a thin layer of the mayonnaise and let it sit on the water damaged area for 1-2 hours. Use a damp cloth to remove the mayo from the area. This should remove the water damaged areas.
At SERVPRO of East Onondaga County, we often get calls from customers with questions or concerns regarding black mold. People worry about how harmful black mold is to their health, how to get rid of it, and how to stop the mold from coming back. In this blog post we will try to create a quick reference on the subject of black mold.
The scientific name for black mold is Stachybotrys Chartarum or Stachybotrys Atra. Black mold usually grows in moist areas with poor circulation. Mold often produces a strong odor. There are many types of mold which have a similar appearance to black mold. An industrial hygienist would be able to identify whether or not the mold you have in your home is black mold or another type.
Mold affects everyone differently. The American Industrial Hygiene Association advise that pregnant women, infants and children, the elderly and the immunocompromised, those with allergies, asthma or respiratory conditions are at risk to more severe side effects than others.
If you suspect that black mold is in your home there are a few steps needed to correctly get rid of the mold and keep it from coming back. First, you need to figure out where the mold is in your home. You may need to call an Industrial Hygienist to complete an assessment of your home. The hygienist will complete a moisture intrusion assessment, air and surface sampling and relative humidity testing. This investigation will determine what kind, how much and where the mold is present in your home. From knowing these items, you will be able to figure out what is causing the mold to grow and what area of your home mold remediation is necessary. It is important to fix the problem that is causing the mold to grow. For example, if there is a leaky pipe dripping into an area causing mold to grow, the pipe should be fixed before mold remediation takes place. Next, you will need to remediate the mold. By disrupting the materials that mold is growing on, you can easily spread mold spores into the air multiplying the spores rather than reducing them. It is important to contact a company who specializes in mold remediation to get mold levels back to normal. At SERVPRO of East Onondaga County, our technicians have are highly trained mold remediation specialists. Our technicians have Applied Microbial Remediation Certifications and have completed the New York State Mold Abatement Worker Course.
Preparing for a Natural Disaster
With the increasing amount of technology, we are often able to predict storms before they happen. However, natural disaster can happen without much warning. Though, it is important to be prepared and understand what it takes to be prepared. It is often joked about that the only job that you won’t get fired for being wrong is being a weatherman. Whether we believe the storm will affect us directly or not, we need to trust the possibility that if a storm is predicted to hit a specific area and prepare of the worst.
How should you prepare for the possibility of a natural disaster?
-Prepare to be without electricity for several days. Here is a list of very basic items you should have on hand:
>You should have a couple flashlights with extra batteries. Candles and matches.
>Food that will not spoil and does not need to be heated to be eaten or kept cold.
>Plenty of bottled water. Some sources say as much as 1 gallon of water per person per day.
>Blankets and clothing stored in a plastic container that won’t get wet if flooding should occur.
>First aid kit.
>At least a week’s worth of any prescription medication and any over the counter medication you may take.
>Toiletries such as paper towels, toilet paper, shampoo, body wash, tooth paste and tooth brushes, anti-bacterial wipes, hand sanitizer.
Remember that stores and gas stations can get overwhelmingly busy when everyone is trying to prepare for a storm. Be patient and understanding during this time. It is easy to become anxious as no one truly knows what will happen in the days or hours to come.
-Watch the news and stay current on what is happening. In some areas evacuations may be necessary. It is important to know what is going on and what safety measures are being recommended.
-Create a family communication plan. In case you get separated from your loved ones, make sure you have a plan of how you would get back in touch with them. Often we hear on the news that family members were evacuated separately from one another. If this were to happen, you would want to have a plan to get back in touch with your loved ones so that you know quicker that they are alright.
-Be flexible with your plans. Circumstances may change in a moment’s notice and it is important that we remain flexible in our plans. The area you’re in may not be expecting initially to get hit with the eye of the storm. However, this can change very quickly and officials may decide to evacuate your area. You need to be prepared to do so with very little time so that you and your family can get to a safe zone.
Grilling Safety Tips
Summer is finally here and we all know what that means…. grilling time! Who doesn’t love a nice steak or veggies cooked on the grill while basking in the sun? It’s easy to forget that while grills are a great way to cook food in the summer, there are some hazards that go along with them. Here are some tips to remember for safe grilling.
- Use your grill outside and away from low roofs. This will not only prevent toxins from lingering in your home but will also prevent potential fires.
- Place the grill on a flat surface away from anything that may catch fire such as trees, shrubs, fences and hedges.
- Do not grill with loose clothing or dangling bits that can catch fire or are flammable.
- Have a fire extinguisher on hand and know how to use it. It’s also a good idea to have a small squirt bottle fill with cold water nearby to douse any minor flames.
- Keep children and pets away from the grilling area.
- Do not leave the grill unattended.
- Smoke and char contain chemicals that have been linked to health problems including cancer. Do not stand over the barbeque and inhale the smoke if at all possible. While char stripes may look good on your steak, char has been known to contain cancer causing toxins. Cook the meat to your liking and then remove it from the grill before too much char builds up.
- Bristles from wire brushes have been known to get stuck on the grill and then people’s food which enters the digestive system causing abdominal pain. Use a different kind of nylon or plastic brush to clean your grill to ensure no one digests these harmful bristles. If you already use a wire cleaning brush or plan to continue using one, just make sure you check your grill before cooking to clean any bristles off.
Follow these simple safety tips for a fun and safe grilling season!
When most people think of summer, particularly the Fourth of July, fireworks come to mind. While it’s best to just let the pros take care of bright light displays, we realize that many people often ignite their own fireworks. Here are some tips on how to stay safe while lighting off your own fireworks.
- Never let young children handle fireworks.
- Ensure older children are supervised closely by an adult when using sparklers and remind them to keep the sparkler away from their body, clothing, hair and others.
- Store fireworks in a cool damp place until usage.
- Do not use or buy illegal fireworks. These typically have names such as M-80, M-100, quarter pounder or blockbuster. Illegal fireworks account for the majority of accidents cause by fireworks in the first place.
- Never try to make your own fireworks.
- Read the labels on all fireworks before igniting so you are aware of safety precautions and performance of each.
- Do not carry fireworks in your hand or pocket as they could ignite due to friction.
- Never light fireworks in a metal or glass container.
- Wear protective goggles when lighting fireworks off or if you happen to be near the ignite site.
- Always have a bucket of water nearby and a hose just in case.
- Never reignite a dud. Wait twenty minutes and if it still hasn’t gone off, place it in a bucket full of water away from people, structures and flammables for several hours.
- Never point a firework at someone, even in jest.
- Ignite fireworks outdoors in an open space away from people, homes, brush and other flammable substances.
- Only light one firework at a time.
- Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water for several hours before throwing them away.
- Do not pick up firework debris until several hours after the display as many of pieces may still be hot and can cause burns.
Please keep these Safety tips in mind when setting off fireworks this season!
A Storm Can Bring a Great Deal of Destruction
The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927
The flooding of the Mississippi River in 1927 was the worst flood in American history. At the height of its power, the flood affected an area approximately 27,000 square miles affecting the states of Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas with Arkansas being hit the hardest. At one point the flooded area was 50 miles wide, a 100 miles long and 30 feet deep. 500 people were killed, 600,000 were left homeless and there were 350 million dollars in damages – approximately 5 billion dollars today.
How did it happen?
Heavy rains came down in late 1926 and kept falling from the sky well into 1927. The tributaries of the Mississippi started to become burdened and the levees overflowed. The single greatest weak point in the levee system was at Mounds, Mississippi but authorities assured residents that the levee would hold. Slaves were made to pile sandbags on top of the levee but once one leak started, the water flow continued to increase. The levee started to shake and eventually collapsed with water flowing more than double the volume of Niagara Falls. The Mounds Landing levee break was significant in that after its collapse, the entire levee system along the river broke. Mounds Landing is known as the most severe levee break in the history on the United States to this day.
The Mississippi Flood of 1927 brought about many changes to the region and the entire country. Racial tensions soared high and many African Americans migrated north resulting in what is now known as the Great Migration. Under the Flood Control Act of 1928 the world’s longest system of levees were built. In 1941 Congress authorized the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Yazoo Backwater Project which utilizes levees, connecting channels, drainage structures and pumps to prevent flooding in the Mississippi Delta. The Great Flood of 1927 will always be remembered and continues to affect our country, its geography, its people, culture and our landscape to this very day.
Tips for Making an Insurance Claim for Water Damage
Having a water damage is never something expected. Coming home to a house filled with water can be a traumatic experience. It can be hard to think about the appropriate steps to take to resolve the issue as quickly as possible to limit secondary damage and keep the out of pocket cost to a minimum. Below are some tips to help make filing an insurance claim easier.
Something to Know:
Every insurance policy is different. Therefore, what will be covered may only be determined by reading your policy or calling your insurance agent/insurance company to have them determine coverage.
Knowledge is Power:
Be sure you know who your insurance company is and how to contact them. You may want to list the phone number for your insurance company on your refrigerator for easy access. You could also add your insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number to your cell phone to have ready at all times. You never know when this information is going to be important.
This experience can be upsetting. It's important to stay calm when you are talking to your insurance company so they can ask all the essential questions to set up your claim and get the ball rolling.
Document the situation every step of the way to help your insurance company understand the full extent of the damage. Take pictures of every room that sustained damage, structural materials affected and personal items. These pictures will help your adjuster understand the full picture of what happened and what will be involved in restoring your house and the contents affected.
Resolving the water damage issue can be very confusing. Feel free to ask as many questions as you can think of to your insurance company so that you understand what will happen next every step of the way. It's important to know what your roles are and what your insurance company will be doing for you.
Use a company with IICRC Certified Technicians:
While there are many companies that may be willing to help you clean up from your water damage, it is important to utilize a company that has technicians who have been trained to properly perform mitigation. SERVPRO prides itself on the fact that our technicians are IICRC certified. Our technicians go through on-the-job training and complete IICRC training so that we can keep up with the latest techniques and technologies to dry your home out quickly to eliminate further damage. Education and training is very important to satisfying our customers. http://www.IICRC.org/education-certification/
Mold vs. Bacteria
While mold and bacteria are often grouped together, they are actually two very different organisms. Both occur naturally in nature but certain types of molds and bacteria may be harmful to humans.
Size. Molds are typically a lot larger than bacteria and possess hyphae or long, multi-celled filaments. Bacteria are generally smaller and more numerous in size but less complex.
Cellular structure. Molds are fungi and bacteria are not. Fungi are considered eukaryotes which means their DNA is enclosed in a nucleus (often referred to as a proper or well-defined nucleus) which is separated from their cytoplasm. The nucleus of a bacteria cell is not separated from their cytoplasm making them prokaryotes. What makes fungi cells complex are all the structures within their cell that bacteria cells do no possess.
Growth. There are two types of fungi which are important to consider when talking about growth; filamentous and yeasts. Fungal yeast reproduce by budding and filamentous fungi reproduce by branching or elongation. Bacteria on the other hand, regenerate by binary fission which means each parent cell divides into two smaller cells, typically of similar sizes.
Food and nutrition. Bacteria are autotrophic in that they have the ability to produce their own food via light or chemical energy and they are heterotrophic as well meaning, they can take in energy from other organisms for food if need be. Fungi are a type of heterotroph called saprophytes which get their energy from dead organic matter. This is why fungi are often found in soil or on surfaces that are in the process of decay.
Fungi and bacteria often come with a negative stigma but don’t forget about all the good they do! They release and create nutrients to provide energy for our ecosystem, are used in the fermentation of chemicals, the production of food and even in our bodies to make certain vitamins. Remember, not all molds and bacteria are created equally. While different, they are necessary to our ecosystems and way of life.