Why SERVPRO? Technology and Innovation drive us forward
As technology changes. Embracing ways to streamline and make a more efficient Process. Coupled with tried and true methods creates the best experience
We have talked about our people we need to talk about our technology. SERVPRO is always striving for a new way of doing things. A better piece of equipment to dry things out faster. A new product that works better on getting out odors or smoke and soot. We are even looking for new ways to deliver your information over to the insurance companies so that we can get you back to normal faster. Let us look at some of the newest things we have rolled out over the last few years.
File management: Creating a file for the insurance company is not as easy as you would think. Every insurance company wants to look as different information when it comes to claims. Some want to see images of trash, some want images of protective gear being used. While others want specific notes and documentation. SERVPRO has created a propriety software program that allows continuity with our process. This ensures that the field technicians are capturing all the necessary data. Storing it one place for an easy transfer to the insurance adjuster. Reducing time management needs. This software captures all your information, any necessary paperwork needing to be signed. It also allows them to capture the entire work flow process.
This work flow starts from moisture readings on how wet your various affected surface areas are. Then we can upload images of all the materials to the file. This process includes initial onsite arrival ( pre-mitigation) during the demolition, and after once the work has been complete. They can label each room, document types of materials in each (ie. Floors, ceiling walls). They can draw a map of the home and upload it directly into the system. Any communications between you, the insurance company, your agent, or adjuster can be logged to ensure there is no step missed.
Own a business: Not to worry we have you covered too. We have another proprietary software program to help you be prepared and file a loss quickly with our team. I bet you are wondering what all that means. It begins with a building or space assessment. We conduct walk-throughs noting all shut off valves. All Breaker locations, Main shut off valves for such things as electrical, gas, water. There are notations for all fire alarms and sprinkler locations. They can even be customized with evacuation plan and meet up locations.
We will work with you to log all of your vendors for quick singular location access. Your emergency points of contacts along with images of all important shut off valves will be documented along with directions to each valve from a specific point within the building all will be able to relate to. This allows those who have never been in your building the ability to quickly find an access affected areas. This technology allows you to fit all this information in the palm of your hand. Access it no matter where you are, share the data with your entire management team and control who has edit capabilities to allocate for team member changes. There is an app that can be downloaded right to your phone. That app will also allow you to dispatch emergency services SERVPRO services out to which ever location has been hit with a problem. This can all be done even if you happen to be sitting by the beach. No more trudging back to the hotel room to get your laptop fired up. No more calling someone into the office to find that piece of paper on our desk.
Equipment: Our search for technology extends beyond software. We employ the latest is drying equipment to minimize the demolition necessary to your home while ensuring all materials are dried properly to avoid long term lasting damage. We have invested in newer dehumidifiers that while are physically smaller has much better drying power than the earlier versions. Many of our fans have been redesigned so that the can accommodate specialty equipment that allows for between wall drying. There are new sponges to provide easy smoke removal. There are even more eco-friendly products to ease the effects we have on the environment.
Claim Writing: We have embraced the same software that insurance companies use to document your claim. This software provides a clean looking file that does not lend itself to a lot of interpretation. There are less questions about our work done. When the insurance companies know the format they are looking at they can trust that it is correct the first time.
As we strive for a better way. There will be times and situations where the tried and true methods serve to propel your claim process through properly. Incorporating the new with the new allows us to provide you the services levels you have come to expect with SERVPRO. While ensuring that the best options for your specific circumstances are available
All too often we forget that planning can save you more money and time than it cost. Yet we often fail to act until it is too late, and we have no options. Creating and setting up relationships before a damage occurs now will allow you to stay on vacation. It will ensure that your claim is processed correctly so that you can move forward. “Like it never even happened”
Business preparedness plan are you ready?
Knowing who to call and having vendors set up for your business before a disaster happens increases your chances of reopening by more than 50% . Ar
When you have a commercial loss at your property having a property management company to call is simply is not going to be enough. There will be steps you need to take for prompt resolution. This timeline can be daunting for many business owners just looking to get back open.
The process is complicated and time consuming. When you have a lot of moving pieces and coordinate various vendors, service technicians, displaced employees and insurance adjusters. Having a plan in place ahead of any disaster will mitigate damages and the risk of you not opening back up. More than 50% of businesses that have a disaster do not reopen. Do not be one of them.
Let us take a look at some of the things you need to even if you do not know what will and will not be covered by insurance. You are obligated to protect the property from further damage and also from secondary damage. This means that tarps must be put on a compromised roof. Water must be extracted out, and wet materials need to be removed.
It is critical that you get in touch with the insurance company as soon as possible so that they can come out and start assessing the damages and assign coverage decisions. Once you have called the insurance company there is a lot of things to get through. The checklist below will allow you to get started.
____ Call the fire department and local building inspector. They will check for any structural issues and can also assess if the utilities are safe to be turned on. It is important to have a qualified technician turn on utilities. DO NOT RECONNECT UTILITES YOURESELF.
____ If structural issues are found call the local police to make them aware the building will be uninhabited. Obtaining private security depending on your situation could be something to think about. .
____ Take pictures a lot of them. Photograph everything. Papers, furniture, Knick knacks, food, clothing, appliances, all computers and IT equipment. Photograph any before during and after photos. Save it all to a hard drive or a zip drive.
____ Any incurred expenses you will have resulting in the loss. Must have a saved receipt to be considered for reimbursement.
____ Along with the photos it is important that any items not salvageable be set aside for the insurance adjuster to come out and review. Do not repair or throw away any damaged property until after an inventory is taken and approved by the insurance company’s adjuster.
____ Emergency Service contracts are the only ones you should be signing until the insurance company approves anything. You could be on the hook for some hefty bills.
____ Many insurance policies have a lot of clauses or deductibles. It is important to know these policy limits, so you are not caught by surprise.
____ Often times business insurance has other policies tied to it separate from the main policy. They could be business interruption claims, environmental claims, loss of use, business interruption…ect Check each policy accordingly you may have to file multiple claims.
____ Having a single person that will be the go to point person will make things much easier for you when trying to work through all the various people that will be involved.
____ Stay focused on getting back to business let those you have brought in work on the details needed for the claim filing. This is why having the place in place ahead of time will allow to have the right people already in place.
____ Delaying filing the claim can and we have seen it result in claim denial. It is an obligation under policies to notify all parties with a vested interest in the property when damages occur.
____ Creating a team of people that are on your side is the best and most effective way to make sure you get things taken care of quickly and in your best interests.
Having a plan in place before you need it is your best assurances that you can get back to normal as soon as possible. Starting with the right insurance agent that can properly asses your business its needs. Finding out your insurance is not adequate for the damages that were caused after the fact is the not the time to find these things out.
Trying to rally vendors, contractors, and such once a damage occurs is much more difficult when you are in the middle of a disaster. It can also be a lot costlier if you do not have established relationships. So as you plan for the new fiscal year take a look at your preparedness plan. Talk to the vendors you currently do business with and see where there are gaps. These gaps can be used as a guideline for setting your business up for a successful restoration.
Fires at your business
Fire safety at your place of business or where you work is essential for a safe work environment. Being prepared should something happen is pivotal.
With the colder weather setting in there is an increased risk of fires. A fire at a business can have a dramatic effect on the community and surrounding homes and businesses. They can be debilitating and many facets of business interruption occur.
Having to close your doors to clients, employees and revenue are the most disastrous. Many times businesses without a solid plan do not reopen. We are here to show you some ways to prevent that from happening. Timely responses are going to be your best friend when disaster strikes. Proper communication will provide you with a true scope of the damage as well as an explanation of how it will be handled.
First and foremost you must have a plan of action you will take prior to any major disaster. Whom it is you will be calling to get you back to normal. What company do you have to do the remediation process?? What you do not know, So you will be calling your agent they will know who you can call Right??? They are closed or on vacation. So you are going to call in a claim to the insurance company??? Where is your paperwork, in the desk where the fire just occurred? Probably as you have never had to use it before. So now without a plan you have just spent the better part of an hour trying to find someone to call.
Over an hour has passed and you are stuck in an endless call tree waiting for your insurance company claim department. Did you know most remediation companies can show up within 4 hours of the initial call. Many times it is much earlier than that. Starting the process of cleaning up your damage sooner rather than later will reduce the secondary damage that many insurance companies will not cover. . With solid knowledge of the claim process and the need for their services most insurance companies do not need prior approval or a claim number before services are started. Calling a restoration company and having one already in mind can save you valuable time.
There are restoration companies out there that provide emergency preparedness plans that are accessible from an app on your phone. All important contacts right at your finger tips. Filing a claim directly from the app allows you to put into motion the clean up process to ensure there is no lapse in executing a plan. These plans can also show emergency responders where your major shut off valves are so they are able to keep themselves safe as well as stop any additional damage from occurring.
Although a fire may be contained on one floor, the damage caused by the fire may affect other floors within the building. As a business owner your focus is on handling the job promptly and properly to minimize disruptions to your customers, employees and vendors. Prompt action by a professional helps reduce secondary or long term effects allowing you to return to business as usual. How you can prevent additional damage until a professional arrives is.
1) Limit movement within the affected area
2) Place towels, sheets or old linens on areas where traffic will occur to prevent additional contamination or tracking soil into unaffected areas.
3) DO NOT ..>DO NOT attempt to wipe off or remove any soot that sits on any walls furniture or stationary object. This can push the soot and odor deeper into the material making it more difficult or impossible to remove later.
4) DO NOT attempt to clean any carpets or upholstered furniture without speaking to a professional.
4) Turn off and or unplug all technology in affected areas and do not turn on until you consult a repair service
5) DO wipe chrome faucets, appliances or other non porous surfaces ( NO Stone counter tops do not count) The apply a light coating of lubricant.
A professionally trained individual is the best way to ensure that you have the most effective cleanup possible following a fire. Attempts to clean up the damage can result in improper drying resulting in mold. Smudging in the soot deeper into the materials can result in inability to remove the damage and lock in the odors.
Not every fire damage is the same but there are some basics of treating fire damage that remain constant.
What to expect:
Smoke and soot removal
Water Removal and dehumidification
Many times restoration companies will contact you back to arrange services within an hour. Their arrival is usually no later than 4 hours after that initial phone call and they will communicate the scope of work and how things need to be handled within 8 hours. This ensures a solid foundation for getting you back up and running as soon as possible. They are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week including holidays so that you can start getting back to normal right away.
What kind of water damaged your home?
Water damage issue should be treated with urgency, the extent of what will need to be done for work can be affected by the cleanliness of the water.
Water and Sewage Backup
There are 3 Categories of water damage..how dirty is your problem…..When you have a water damage in your home it is good to know how severe your problem is. No matter if the water damage is in your basement, from a washing machine overflowing, in your kitchen because your dish washer line let go while you were at work, or in the bathroom because the football team visited and your toilet overflowed and cannot handle 15 teenage boys. The type of water that is all over your home makes a huge difference.
- Clean water
- Broken pipe
- leaky faucet
- 2) Gray water
- Urine w no fecal matter
- Washing machine3) Black water
- This water can quickly turn into stage 3 if not handled quickly..
- Standing water overflow w fecal matter
- Flooding waters Sewage back up should be handled immediately and considered an emergency since the water may contain viruses’ bacteria and other microbes that can cause serious illness. The severity of the health threat is going to depend on the source of the water and the extent of penetration into the home or business. How the water enters the area and the materials that are affected along with the time that the water sits will have an impact on extent of the damage is. Even floodwater or storm water which has not been directly impacted by sewage discharges is likely to contain a wide variety of microbiological organisms (e.g., from animal wastes, street runoff, etc.) and must be properly managed. Some of these pathogens, such as mold spores, can even establish themselves long after the water has receded. If a home is located in an area subject to periodic flooding (such as in a floodplain) or where sewage backups have occurred, the homeowner should implement "all feasible measures" to prevent/minimize the nature and extent of impacts from such situations. Such actions can be preventive or pro-active.
- Preventive actions include:
- Obviously the ideal thing to prevent the problem but that is not always feasible and sometimes being pro-active and taking quick action are paramount. Mitigating the risk of infection is important to keep you and your family healthy.
- waterproofing the building foundation and/or sealing cracks in foundation floor or walls;
- installation of a check valve or shut-off valve on the building sewer close to where it enters the structure, which will protect your home from sewage back-ups due to surcharging conditions in the municipal sewerage system (you must check with the proper sewer authority prior to taking this action!!); and
- raising or removing any sink, toilet, washing machine, etc. in the basement that may be subject to backups when the sewer system surcharges.
Pro-active measures include:
- purchasing or installing a pump (e.g. sump pump) to pump out water that collects in the low point of the basement or structure;
- ensure that building gutter downspouts and drains are directed away from the foundation and toward low points away from the home;
- to the extent possible, keep furniture and valuables above flood levels where flooding has previously occurred; and
- if minor flooding occurs, follow the water to its point-of-entry and seal cracks or defects to the extent possible.
Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. Flood insurance is also vitally important where properties are known to be in floodplains or flood prone areas. More information on prevention and flood insurance is available on the FEMA website.
Cleanup of Internal Areas
Once the flood waters have receded and the property can be accessed safely, cleanup operations should commence -Remember to check with local emergency management officials before returning to a property affected by flooding! The most important steps are to restore the environment to a dry state and salvage any valuable property. The longer that water/waste are allowed to remain in your home or on your property, the greater the potential for illness and irreparable damage to your home, its contents, and environs. Where they may be operated safely, use of pumps and dehumidifiers will be helpful in restoring dry conditions. In any flood cleanup project regardless of the source,one should assume that pathogens are present and take appropriate precautions.
The survival of pathogens depends on a number of factors: location (indoors vs. outdoors), season, type of surface contaminated, whether disinfectants are used, and also on environmental conditions such as humidity, temperature, and sunlight. Sunlight (UV radiation) reduces the survival rate of pathogens with numbers decreasing rapidly with increasing exposure to UV radiation. Mild temperatures and higher humidity in external situations result in longer survival times.
As always when there is water damage assess the level of intrusion, type of water, and make sure when in doubt you call a professional there is a lot at stake, because at SERVPRO family matters. The guidance of experienced professionals and public health officials who are able to view a home and assess the needs of your particular situation can make all the difference
Ice dam damage is real
Ice dams do not often make it through the insulation. Damage can go unnoticed for a long period of time. Allowing mold to grow and wood to rot
With Colder weather approaching Ice dams are a common problem … Have you had ice dams in the past?
- How does an Ice dam form: Heat Loss from sides or roof of your home.
- How can it damage my home? When you get an ice dam it can damage your home if it gets big enough…The ice that is closest to the house will start to melt and follows the path of least resistance. Many times that is under your shingles. It will continue to follow that path which can be into your insulation, down onto a ceiling or exterior walls. As it moves through maybe behind an eave it can damage the wall and the paint. The Ice Dam can break free from your home it can pull on parts of the roof, shingles or gutters. As it falls many things could be in the way. Kids playing outside, cars, shrubs, other parts of the house. If the area remains wet and not fully dry mold and rot can start to take hold.
- What steps can I do stop an ice dam? There are steps that you can do to prevent an Ice dam from forming. A roof rake is a good tool for this. ( We recommend hiring a professional who uses a safety line) You have to be careful as there are really only 2 ways to use it. The first is from the roof itself pushing the snow off onto the ground. This means you have to be on a roof that has ice and snow on it. DANGEROUS>>>> The other is to keep your feet planted on the ground and pull what you can reach off of the roof. Which means you are in the path of falling snow and ice again DANGEROUS>> which again is why we recommend a professional. Replacing your roof with metal or standing seam is one way to get snow not to stick to it. While that may be expensive you could replace a smaller portion of your roof that is close to the gutters Approx. 3 ft with a drip edge. Keep in mind the incline on your roof will determine how effective or ineffective these options will be.
While all the above information will help you understand ice dams and how to work on preventing them, none of actually solve the problem of the heat loss. You have to deal with the ice dam once you have one. Let us tackle how to find out why they form to begin with and how to solve that problem.
Heat loss is how they form.. A warm roof or warmth seeping out from an unsealed edge of your home means snow has a chance to melt it will drip down to a point where it reaches the outside temperatures again and freezes again as Ice. Water follows the path of least resistance if that is down to the gutter or down into your home that escaping warmth will melt the snow and water will go to work. Should it drip down your roof it will eventually reach the colder outside air temperature. This build up over a period of time forms the ice dam. Heat loss is a very expensive problem that many do not notice until it is too late. There are many reasons for hear loss. The majority of the time it is through poor insulations or venting directly under the roof. The best solution is to work on insulation and preventing any convection through ceilings. Properly venting the space where the insulation and roof sheathing meet ensures that heat that seeps through is distributed away from the roof. Make sure you seal all living areas. A great resource is to have an energy audit with Thermograpic inspection so that you can see where the problems lie and properly seal insulate and vent in the right areas.
Obviously solving the problem is the best way to just not get an ice dam.
They do happen and when they do you have to deal with the problem. Our team is highly trained on dealing with the damage that an Ice dam can cause and are here for you 24/7. We will be here for you getting back to normal. Like it never even happened.
Ice Dam Damage
Cause ..When you get an ice dam it can damage your home if it gets big enough…The ice that is closest to the house will start to melt and follows the path of least resistance. Many times that is under your shingles. It will continue to follow that path which can be into your insulation, down onto a ceiling or exterior walls. As it moves through maybe behind an eave it can damage the wall and the paint.
Should the Ice Dam break free from your home it can pull on parts of the roof, shingles or gutters. As it falls many things could be in the way. Kids playing outside, cars, shrubs, other parts of the house. Should the area remain wet and not fully dry mold and rot can start to take hold.
Prevent ..There are steps that you can do to prevent an Ice dam from forming. A roof rake is a good tool for this. ( We recommend hiring a professional who uses a safety line) You have to be careful as there are really only 2 ways to use it. The first is from the roof itself pushing the snow off onto the ground. This means you have to be on a roof that has ice and snow on it. DANGEROUS>>>> The other is to keep your feet planted on the ground and pull what you can reach off of the roof. Which means you are in the path of falling snow and ice again DANGEROUS>> which again is why we recommend a professional. Replacing your roof with metal or standing seam is one way to get snow not to stick to it. While that may be expensive you could replace a smaller portion of your roof that is close to the gutters Approx. 3 ft with a drip edge. Keep in mind the incline on your roof will determine how effective or ineffective these options will be.
Cure. Guess what Yes you have to deal with the ice dam once you have one..How about finding out why they form to begin with an how to solve that problem. Guess what a warm roof is how they form.. A warm roof means snow has a chance to melt it will drip down to a point where it reaches the outside temperatures again and freezes again as Ice. This build up over a period of time forms the ice dam. A warm roof means you are losing valuable heat from your home. Be in through poor insulations or venting directly under the roof. Work on insulation and preventing any convection through ceilings. Properly venting the space where the insulation and roof sheathing ensures that heat that seeps through is distributed away from the roof. Make sure you seal all living areas. A great resource is to have an energy audit with Thermograpic inspection so that you can see where the problems lie and properly seal insulate and vent in the right areas.
Obviously Solving the problem is the best way to just not get an ice dam. The do happen an when they do you have to deal with the problem. Our team is highly trained on dealing with the damage that an Ice dam can cause and are here for you 24/7.
Frozen pipes make a huge mess and really affect the home. Many homes with out heat are looking at a potential disaster.Do what you can to prevent this
It is that time of the year again here in New England. Winter storm season. This 2018-2019 season is predicted to be much colder due to a weakened La Nina. NOAAs’ prediction is that the northern states will see a lot more snow than last year. Which was one of the warmest winters in 121 years. This year is predicted to be riddled with frequent storms and cold temperatures.
These colder temperatures and increased chance or more storms mean there could be more storm damage. This damage could be from the cold getting into your homes and freezing your pipes to heavy snow collapsing roofs. Now is the time to prepare and take steps to reduce the chances of damage to your home. Freezing pipe, ice dams and fires are the most common forms of damage during the winter season. Here are some key tips for helping to prevent major problems.
Insulate pipes.. ( this step is essential)
We have said it before and we will say it again get some cheap foam from a home improvement store that rated for the type of water pipes you have. Put them on as many as you can find. Make sure you leave room when you get close to the heating units so that there is no risk of fire. Ok so this is something we do not normally have to worry about but the pipes in homes with no heat are looking at a unique situation. Get the pipes inside your home under your cabinets going up through your walls and into any heating units you have insulated. This is not a normal step but being with out heat one does not all of a sudden want to deal with a burst pipe and water damage.
Open Cabinet doors
When the really deep cold sets in make sure you open cabinet doors. Ensuring under sinks, in bathrooms, cabinets and hutches that have piping running from one level to another are all open will help keep your pipes more warm
Run the water
Yes run the water. A slow moving water drip will help prevent freezing because moving water takes more time to freeze. This is not a full on high running water it is a slow stead stream. Know the difference. Remember that it is one and if you can collect the water and place in front of your heat source so that you can introduce moisture back into your home and conserve a little water in the process.
Search for Gaps
Look at pipes, vents especially dryer vents and electrical outlets that come in from the outside. If there are drafts fill the edges with caulking or spray foam. This will help keep the cold out.
While they are not ideal as many fires are caused by them it is essential for those looking towards the winter months with out heat. Opening your cabinet doors will not do too much good if you do not have heat but if you place a space heater in the middle of the room and point it towards the open cabinet it will help keep the pipes more warm.
Properly setting your thermostat
Many of you looking to escape the dull gray skies will go on vacation. In an effort to save money so many turn their heat way down or off. ***DO NOT DO THIS*** Keep your thermostat at a minimum of 55 degrees we like 60 or better, and open any and all cabinet doors. The last thing you want at the end of your vacation is to come home to a soaking wet house that has been running for days.
Knowing your home:
Where is your water shut of valve. Sure most of us know how to turn off the water if something happens to the toilet or the washing machine it is the valve right next to it. What about a pipe on the 2nd floor to mitigate your damages. Do you know where the main shut off valve is for the house? How about how to turn off your water heater? Learn where these things are and show everyone who is old enough how to do it as well. The sooner the water is shut off the less damage it can cause.
Ok so your home should be ok now we did not forget about your garden. We love the pops of color in the spring. The Home grown vegetables from the summer and the atmosphere of the leaves in the fall create a home outside for you and your family. It is important to take care of it during the winter months. Sure it will get covered in snow and there is not much you can do but before that happens here are few tips.
Before the first Frost:
Any attempt to protect plants should be done before the first frost. You can usually find some information online about your area and when that typically happens.
You can do a variety of things with the plants and their placement to aid in the winterization. Choosing sheltered spots will protect from wind damage and the sudden onset of cold weather. Know the North, South facing spots as well as how much sun these spots get this will aid in placement.
I know mulching in the winter? It acts as a great insulator and holds a lot of soil from being washed away as the rain and snow move and.
Planters and containers
Create a portable garden that you can place anywhere based on the season.
Special wrapping & Structures
Insulating wrapping can be obtained to protect susceptible plants to keep the more warm during the freezing temperatures of the winter. Structures can also be built to protect from the heavy weight of the snow and any that could fall off of a roof onto plants near the house. “A” Frames are the easiest and most effective. Creating a windbreak or barrier can aid many plants as well. This can be achieved from other plants such as dense bushes or hedges. You can make one with some netting and posts staked into the ground
It is important that you do not have pooling water in any areas of your yard. Extra wet soil just like extra dry soil will prevent the roots from holding firm and could have trees uproot. Ensure that your lawn is level and pooling does not occur.
Keeping these things in mind will help you have a worry free winter. Filled with family, friends, and fun. When spring comes you will ready to go with a lot less fuss. Have a wonderful holiday season and enjoy the winter.
Freezing temps... Result in Freezing pipes
Frozen pipes cause a lot of damage during the coldest temperatures of the year. Knowing how to prevent them is your best defense.
With the first frost having settled in the area this AM.. We are looking to Frozen pipe season.
Frozen pipes are scary. If you have ever lived through a burst pipe due to frozen water, you know just how damaging and devastating they can be. If you have not, follow the steps below to help prevent them. Should you have a pipe burst please make sure you call someone immediately .In as little as two days you will start to get mold growth creating an even larger issue
What causes frozen pipes?
The recent extreme cold temperatures coming in have will create an increased risk for a frozen or burst pipe. As the temperatures drop, water in your pipes starts turning to ice. The problem will be not when it is frozen but on Monday and Tuesday when the temperatures start to warm up and the ice melts and water starts to flow out of the cracks in the pipes.
Ice causes pressure and blockage. Over time, the pressure can cause a pip to burst. This ends water flow to fixtures, causes leaks and will end in a major damage not only to the pipe but to your home or office. It does not matter what the pipe is made out of the increased pressure occurs to all pipes, including plastic, copper or steel.
Even a tiny crack in your plumbing line can release more than 250 gallons of water in a single day. That much water gushing out of your plumbing system can cause significant damage and high repair costs. Any delay in remedying the situation can result in a more costly delay.
How can I prevent frozen pipes?
- Open the cabinet doors under your sinks and in storage areas to allow heat from the room to circulate around un-insulated pipes.
- Allow a trickle of water to drip overnight; however, be careful not to run the water into a drain line that is exposed to the extreme cold because that line might freeze.
- Insulate all pipes in unheated areas or against un-insulated outside walls, in garages or crawl spaces.
- Apply heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables around pipes that are exposed and prone to freezing.
- If you are leaving for the a vacation it is very important that you make sure your heat is turned on and is set no lower than 55 degrees.
What should I do if I have frozen pipes?
Sometimes, despite the best efforts, things happen. If you know or suspect you a problem with frozen pipes, here are some immediate steps to take:
- Shut off the water main to reduce pressure on frozen pipes and minimize flooding if the pipes burst.
- If you don’t know where your water main is or have the tools to shut off the main, now would be a good time to get prepared.
- Do not use an open flame to thaw your pipes. If your pipe is exposed, you can try a hair dryer.
- If you suspect frozen pipes, contact your plumbing experts right away.
- If you notice slower water flow that may mean your pipes are starting to freeze, call a plumber immediately. Typically, issues like this can be resolved before any damage occurs.
STAY SAFE, WARM, AND HAPPY!!!
House fires prevent plan survive.
Get out.. Surviving a house fire is understanding you don't have the time you think you do. Get out then get help.
Getting out of the house is the most important thing to do when a fire breaks out. Time is not on your side. Having a plan, mapping escape routes, and doing practice scenarios can save your life. Make sure you call 911 as soon as possible, preferrably once you are outside. Have a central meeting point for your entire family a safe distance away from your home. Our partnership with the American Red Cross is to ensure you are prepared for anything, including fires.
Our friends at the National Fire Protection Association have some very interresting facts about fires we think you should know. You can always visit their website for this and other imporant information about fires at.
- Half of home fire deaths result from fires reported between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most people are asleep. Only one in five home fires were reported during these hours.
- One quarter of home fire deaths were caused by fires that started in the bedroom. Another quarter resulted from fires in the living room, family room or den.
- Three out of five home fire deaths happen from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
- In 2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 367,500 home structure fires. These fires caused 2,745 deaths, 11,825 civilian injuries, and $6.8 billion in direct damage.
- On average, seven people die in U.S. home fires per day.
- Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fire injuries, followed by heating equipment.
- Smoking materials are the leading cause of home fire deaths.
- Most fatal fires kill one or two people. In 2014, 15 home fires killed five or more people resulting in a total of 88 deaths.
- During 2009-2013, roughly one of every 335 households had a reported home fire per year.
- Smoke alarms
- Three out of five home fire deaths in 2009-2013 were caused by fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
- Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires in half.
- In fires considered large enough to activate the smoke alarm, hardwired alarms operated 94% of the time, while battery powered alarms operated 80% of the time.
- When smoke alarms fail to operate, it is usually because batteries are missing, disconnected, or dead.
- An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires. For the best protection, or where extra time is needed to awaken or assist others, both types of alarms, or combination ionization and photoelectric alarms are recommended. Escape planning
- According to an NFPA survey, only one-third of Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.
- Almost three-quarters of Americans do have an escape plan; however, more than half never practiced it.
- One-third of survey respondents who made an estimate thought they would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life threatening. The time available is often less. Only 8% said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out!
- U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 162,400 cooking-related fires between 2009-2013 resulting in 430 civilian deaths, 5,400 civilian injuries and 1.1 billion in direct damage.
- Two of every five home fires started in the kitchen.
- Unattended cooking was a factor in one-third of reported home cooking fires.
- Two-thirds of home cooking fires started with ignition of food or other cooking materials.
- Ranges accounted for three of every five (61%) home cooking fire incidents. Ovens accounted for 13%.
- Children under five face a higher risk of non-fire burns associated with cooking and hot food and drinks than of being hurt in a cooking fire.
- Children under five accounted for 30% of the 4,300 microwave oven scald burns seen in hospital emergency rooms during 2014.
- Clothing was the item first ignited in less than 1% of home cooking fires, but these incidents accounted for 18% of the cooking fire deaths.
- More than half of people injured in home fires involving cooking equipment were hurt while attempting to fight the fire themselves.
- Frying is the leading activity associated with cooking fires.
- The leading factor contributing to heating equipment fires was failure to clean. This usually involved creosote build-up in chimneys.
- Portable or fixed space heaters, including wood stoves, were involved in one-third (33%) of home heating fires and four out of five (81%) home heating deaths.
- Just over half of home heating fire deaths resulted from fires caused by heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses or bedding.
- In most years, heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires, fire deaths, and fire injuries.Once you are safe, the fire is out, and the emergency services are gone, what happens next? You have to focus on the clean up and getting back to normal. There is a lot more into cleaning up after a fire than you can imagine. Knowing who can work with fire restoration to get your home back to normal is so important. They must know how to get the smoke odor removed, what to remove that is not salvageable along with what can be saved. Here is to keeping you happy, healthy and safe as we approach the holiday season..
So you had a fire now what?
There a lot of steps that need to be taken after a fire. Do not go it alone find local resources to get you through it all.
SO you had fire. Help came and put it out. Now you have a layer of mud and soot on your floor and all over everything in your home. Even areas of the house that were not actually affected by the fire. What are your next steps. Breathe, and make sure you take care of your self. There will be a lot of things that will come up it will get stressful, overwhelming and excessive. It will all need to be done but keep in mind it does not have to be done in one day.
The first responders came and saved the day. Saved your home, lives and maybe even pets. The next call you make can be the difference between restoring vs. replacing things in your home. A timely beginning to mitigation of the soot, fire damaged areas as well as the smoke damage reduces your losses. The first 48 hours is crucial to minimizing your damages. Fire damage is especially devastating due to the fact that there is also water damage along with soot and smoke damage. Many times throughout the entire home in some fashion.
Our human brain says this needs to be cleaned up right away. Our attempts to restore order can be far more harmful than we realize. Why I am cleaning up the mess. Wiping all the counters, walls and cleaning the floor. Yet doing this improperly can cause permanent damage along with a lot of problems.
Who do you call? Who is the most important person to call after the fire is out? Where do you begin to get back to normal? What can you do to start cleaning up the mess?
Did you know that improperly cleaning any porous materials can actually push the soot deep into the material. This causes the odor to set below the surface and become permanent.
There area few things that you can do before the professionals arrive. Below is a key list of things that SHOULD be done.
Limit the movement in the home. Restricting access to the most damaged parts of the home is an essential part of not spreading the contamination.
Reduce the number of items you move around to wash and clean ( Particles will become airborne and settle in areas of the home that were not previously affected)
Use towels or old linens to line high traffic areas. Such as rugs, and walk ways and furniture
Coat all chrome faucets any trim countertops or appliances with Petroleum jelly or oil.
Place a barrier between all furniture legs. Wrap aluminum foil around blocks of wood to prevent absorption. Then prop up all of your furniture on the covered blocks. This will reduce the water absorption deep into the wood allowing it to dry more effectively.
Take photos of everything. If you have items that are beyond salvageability before you through them away make sure you photograph them and write a log of each item.
Documentation and Receipts
Find any receipts you have for the items lost.
If you have loss of use to your home, kitchen or bathroom areas requiring you to get a hotel room or eat out a restaurant. Make sure you keep all receipts as well a full calculation of what your normal weekly food expenses are. You will need to submit them to the company for reimbursement.
Log every call you have with all your contractors, insurance agents, adjusters and public officials. This may be needed when and if a difference in coverage allowances are presented.
Below you will find a list of things that you should not do.
DO NOT … DO NOT...
Wash any walls or painted surfaces. This will push the soot deep into he pores of the paint rendering it impossible to remove.
Shampoo anything upholstered or carpeted.
Clean any electrical equipment
Send clothing to a dry cleaner, Most do not know how to deal with soot and smoke damage. It will set the smoke deep into the fibers and will have to be tossed out.
A fire is a devastating disaster. Many times it is easy to become overwhelmed and just want to get back to normal as soon as possible. While this is the end game and the goal. Going to quickly or taking matters into your own hands can result in more of a problem.
Having a plan ahead of time and preparing for what could happen helps us all get through if something happens. Developing things like emergency evacuation routes out of the house. Collective meeting area a safe distance away from the home. Keeping an emergency bag in your car with some basics like a flashlight, blanket, toiletries and such.
Remember you do not have to go it alone. Reach out to local organizations for advice, guidance, direction and solutions. Many cities and towns have local resources. If you have pets local humane societies are a great resource for helping with your pets. Your insurance company agent and the adjuster will be able to provide you will valuable information.
Knowing who to call first, what services you will need coupled with the preparedness plan will bring you out back on top in no time.
Hot Plates and Fire Risk
Hot plates are a great way to add extra cooking areas to your home. They can be dangerous. Know how to stay safe and what to do incase of an emergency
Fire safety week is coming up. We will have safety tips through out the next few weeks. This first one revolves around hot plates. With the recent events in and around the area this is essential information.
Thousands of homes in and around Lawrence MA were given hot plates. Within hours of receiving them fires had already been broken out.
They are not stoves and do not have the same levels of safety built into their design. It is essential for you to understand how to use them while staying safe.
People need to be safe when using any cooking device. With one that is portable there are extra precautions that need to be taken.
- Read all directions and familiarize yourself with how to use the device.
- DO NOT leave unattended at any time.
- Never use near any flammable materials. This includes but is not limited to curtains, carpets, clothing etc..
- Always use on a stable steady surface
- Do not set hot plate to a setting higher than needed.
- Reduce the flammable materials that you cook with (Example: Cooking oil)
- Keep any paper materials away from them (Plates, Cups, ect)
- Check the cords and sensors for damage prior to each use.
As always, we highly recommend that you have a fire extinguisher. Keep it within arms reach of the hotplate. Should you not have one and fire breaks out*****DO NOT******DO NOT***** use water. This is powered by electricity and will make the fire worse. Use flour, baking soda, baking powder or even just bath powder. Getting a lid to contain a fire within a pan is helpful too.
Remain calm, breathe and know what you have to do. Practice ahead of time and be prepared.
Many people were given one to use. This reduced the ability to choose the best one for their needs. We found a good housekeeping article that was able to asses those that are out there. Check out the results below. If you are thinking of getting one or received one. Know what you have or what to look for to stay safe.
The Good Housekeeping Institute (GHI) decided to investigate hot plates and warming trays that are sold online to see what dangers they might pose.
Electrical safety is so key that the first thing we do when we evaluate any product that has an electrical component is make sure it has a UL mark (see below) on it. The UL emblem signifies that the product has been third-party tested by Underwriter's Laboratories and meets national safety standards for electrical appliances. (Other marks that qualify as UL alternatives are: CSA-US, an emblem from the Canadian Standards Association and ETL-US, a European mark signifying that Intertek, an independent organization, has vetted the product for safety standards in the U.S.)
Online, we found four products sold as warming trays or hot plates, with no mention that they're UL listed. We ordered them and confirmed firsthand that they have no UL or other safety logo. (Some were marketed specifically for Sabbath purposes, which was the reason the hot plate was being used by this Brooklyn family). Two of the warming trays carry a CE mark, an emblem that is merely a self-certification symbolizing that the company says it has conformed with legal requirements to be sold in Europe.
To add to consumer confusion: Some products manufactured in China are labeled with a very similar CE mark and all it stands for is "China Export." (The differences, which are hard to distinguish, are that the C and E are closer together, see below, and the line in the middle of the E extends further
While the absence of any approved safety logo does not mean a product is dangerous, it does deprive you of the reassurance of knowing a product has been safety tested by an independent lab.
The Good Housekeeping Institute advises against using any electrical device that doesn't have a UL, CSA-US, and ETL-US mark on them.
We also recommend adhering to the following safety guidelines:
- Regularly check the cords and plugs of your electrical appliances to see if they're frayed, damaged or worn out. If they are, discard them. And make sure any electrical cord is kept away from heat.
- Leave enough space around any electrical appliance to allow for heat dissipation. Also, keep any heating device away from flammable materials and combustible fuels.
- Never leave turned-on appliances unattended.
- Always unplug unused appliances.
- Make sure bathroom, kitchen, and garage outlets are Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI).
- Install smoke detectors outside each bedroom and make sure there are working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home, including your basement. Test your alarms monthly, replace batteries at least once a year, and replace the entire smoke alarm every 10 years.
Miriam Arond is the Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute.
We want you all to stay safe while you are trying to get back to normal. If you are not sure how to properly use a hot plate ask for help. These are not toys and with fires already erupting from use within hours of being received. It is important that people understand proper use.