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Timeline of Smoke/Fire Damage

11/16/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Timeline of Smoke/Fire Damage FIRE

Timeline of Smoke/Fire Damage

In the wake of a fire that has covered homes with smoke and ash, it’s important to begin clean up as soon as possible in order to prevent permanent damage or discoloration from soot residue. The IICRC provides the following tips for fire victims facing clean up:

  • Practice safety first. Use a dust mask (like painters use) and gloves as you work.
  • Ventilate the home. Place a box fan in an open window to draw the air and dust out.
  • Clean from top to bottom. Start with the ceilings, walls and fixtures, and work your way down to the contents of the room, then to the floor.
  • Vacuum floors and upholstery. Make sure your vacuum cleaner has a high efficiency filter. Otherwise, you risk blowing soot back into the air.
  • Some draperies, clothing and machine-washable items may be laundered. Use a mild alkaline cleaner to neutralize the acid in the soot. Fine clothing should be dry cleaned.
  • Most exterior walls (brick, stone, wood, paint, siding) and eaves can be cleaned by spraying with a detergent, agitating soot with a soft-bristled brush, pressure washing from bottom to top, then rinsing from top to bottom.
  • If the damage and residue are heavy, it may be best to hire a professional to thoroughly restore your home and belongings.
  • Check with your insurance company to see if smoke damage from outdoor sources is covered by your policy.
  • If the fire has warped or distorted the structure, consult a licensed general contractor.

Professional restoration technicians know that damage increases and restoration costs escalate the longer neutralization, corrosion control and cleaning is delayed. When homeowners prolong the restoration of their home, they extend the effects brought on by the smoke exposure. The following is a timeline of the effects of fire and smoke on a home.

Within Minutes: Acid soot residues cause plastics to yellow; small appliances located close to the source of combustion discolor; highly porous materials (marble, alabaster) discolor permanently.

Within Hours: Acid residues stain grout in bathrooms; fiberglass bath fixtures may yellow; uncoated metals tarnish, counter tops may yellow; finishes on appliances, particularly refrigerators, may yellow; furniture finishes may discolor.

Within Days: In time, acid residues cause painted walls to yellow permanently; metal corrodes, pits and rusts; wood furniture requires refinishing; vinyl flooring requires refinishing or replace­ment; clothing becomes soot stained; upholstery stains permanently.

Within Weeks: Restoration costs escalate tremendously. Synthetic carpet fibers may yellow or discolor permanently; silver plate is corroded permanently; glass, crystal, china may require replacement due to severe etching and pitting caused by prolonged exposure to acid soot residues.

Cleaning up soot residue must be done as quickly as possible. During combustion, soot residue and volatile vapors are carried by rising and expanding air to surfaces throughout a structure, and are deposited. This process occurs repeatedly until combustion ends, with soot residue building up on surfaces layer by layer. By the time restoration technicians arrive, lacquer-like soot residue may be quite difficult to dissolve and remove.

In addition to removing residue, ridding your home of its smoky odor is necessary. Professionals use this four-step process to remove odors:

  • Remove the source of the odor, as possible, including unsalvageable debris that contributes to odor generation and recontamination of cleaned and deodorized areas.
  • Clean salvageable surfaces and items to physically remove odor-causing residue.
  • Chase remaining odor with an odor counteractant. In the case of smoke, create a deodorizing fog or gas that seeks out and combines with odor-causing substances.
  • Seal salvageable surfaces that are inaccessible or slightly scorched, not only for aesthetic purposes, but primarily to encapsulate odor and prevent progressive recontamination.

Understanding the effects of a fire can help homeowners evaluate the damage to their home. By learning more about residue clean-up and deodorization after a fire, you can minimize the need for costly repair. Fire and smoke restoration experts can help you return your home and furnishings to a “preloss” condition.

SEWAGE BACK-UPS TIPS

11/2/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage SEWAGE BACK-UPS TIPS SEWAGE BACK-UP

SEWAGE BACK-UPS TIPS

Sewage is one of the most dangerous substances to enter homes or buildings. It contains fungi, bacteria and viruses, many of which are disease-causing. Unfortunately, many people fail to understand the hazards that sewage presents, particularly for the very young or very old, or for those with compromised immune systems or respiratory problems.

The IICRC complied guidelines for professional sewage clean-up called the Standard for Water Damage Restoration (S500).

Here are the key principles homeowners should know about sewage back-ups:

  • Sewage contains a variety of pathogenic – disease causing – fungi, bacteria, viruses and parasites. Anyone who works on sewage losses must have updated vaccinations, including one for Hepatitis B.
  • Sewage exposure is particularly dangerous for people with weakened immune systems, including anyone under two or over 60, those who are pregnant, ill, recovering from surgery, on prescription drugs or chemotherapy, or are AIDS victims.
  • It is not safe to stay in a building that’s flooded with sewage unless the contaminated area can be completely sealed off and placed under controlled air flow so that there will be no cross contamination of unaffected areas.
  • Highly absorbent sewage-saturated materials, such as carpet, pad, upholstery, bedding, wicker, paper or even fabrics that can’t be washed in hot water (130°F/54°C) for at least 10 minutes, must be contained and disposed of properly.  This goes for sewage-saturated drywall, insulation and several other structural materials too.  There’s simply too great a health risk involved if any of these materials are dried in place and cleaned only.
  • Only the most highly trained professionals should attempt sewage remediation work. Then, a “third party” indoor environmental professional can provide post-remediation verification or “clearance testing” to ensure that the home or building is safe to re-occupy.

Charles County Fire Safety

10/27/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Charles County Fire Safety Fire Safety

This week I was alerted to an unoccupied house fire in our area and as I arrived on scene it was still an active fire.  As I sat down the street (out of the way) my eyes began to fill with tears. The images of the brave men and women working to contain and stop this fire brought back memories of a fire I personally went through and a flood of emotions. There were your typical emotions such as fear, sadness and hope but there was also a sense of pride. I was proud to be a part of a community where our volunteer fire fighters serve selflessly to help others. To see these men and women working together to save this home was amazing. It is not often that we get to see these guys in action and when I did it was amazing, but it also sparked the thought process of fire safety.

SERVPRO® is known for the cleanup and restoration of house fires but we are also proactive in helping create an emergency plan. Safety is very important and we try to talk to everyone about being prepared in case of an emergency. The safety and well being of our community is a vital part of our business. We want people to be knowledgeable, safe and prepared. Does your family have a fire safety plan? Do your kids know EXACTLY what to do and do you practice? If you do not please let us know!

Top Tips for Fire Safety

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
  • Test smoke alarms every month. ...
  • Talk with all family members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.
  • If a fire occurs in your home, GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL FOR HELP.

Get a Head Start in Advance of Specific Severe Weather Threats

10/19/2017 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Get a Head Start in Advance of Specific Severe Weather Threats RISK

Get a Head Start in Advance of Specific Severe Weather Threats

While emergency planning ideally is a twelve-month priority, the start of the severe weather season in your area is a good time to refocus your efforts. This is the time to:

  • Designate an employee to monitor weather reports and alert your team to the potential of severe weather.
  • Review your business continuity plan and update as needed, including employee contact information.
  • Remind employees of key elements of the plan, including post-event communications procedures and work/payroll procedures.  Make sure all employees have a paper copy of the plan. Review emergency shutdown and start-up procedures, such as electrical systems, with appropriate personnel, including alternates.
  • If back-up power such as a diesel generator is to be used, test your system and establish proper contracts with fuel suppliers for emergency fuel deliveries.
  • Re-inspect and replenish emergency supplies inventory, since emergency supplies are often used during the offseason for non-emergency situations.
  • Test all life safety equipment.
  • Conduct training/simulation exercises for both your business continuity and emergency preparedness/response plans.

5 Days Before Storm Conditions – Start to Focus on What Needs to Get Done

  • Notify employees of the potential for severe weather and to be prepared for the emergency plan possibly to be implemented.
  • Inspect the roof and grounds for loose debris, which may become a hazard in high winds.  If staff or temporary help is available, begin removal of the debris, otherwise the removal may be done at the 72-hour interval.
  • Provide a list of storm tips and needed supplies to help your employees prepare their homes and families.  The Insurance Information Institute (III) has developed a free “Know Your Plan” app to help families make their own emergency plan; it also features property protection guidance from IBHS. The app is available in iTunes, or by searching “Insurance Information Institute” in the App store from any Apple device.
  • Ensure all employees have your business’ designated emergency telephone numbers and key contact other information (i.e., employee emergency wallet card).

72 Hours before Storm Conditions—Time to Activate the Plan

  • If not completed already, remove or secure all loose roof and ground items, including landscaping that may become wind-borne debris.
  • Clear roof drains, gutters and downspouts of debris, to prevent water back-up
  • Clean out all debris from outdoor perimeter drains, especially in areas where water may collect such as shipping and receiving areas where the ground slopes towards the building.
  • Fill emergency generators with fuel and contact fuel suppliers with anticipated needs for post-storm deliveries.
  • Ensure fire protection systems are in proper working order.
  • Notify key customers, suppliers, and partners of office/facility closing and contingency plans (post office, Fed Ex, UPS, cleaning service, building management, vendors, etc.).
  • Make decisions on when to excuse employees so that they have sufficient time to prepare their homes and families, and notify employees of office closure details.
  • Make any necessary alternative travel arrangements for employees away on business.
  • Customize messages for business’ website, telephone recording, employee intranet, etc.
  • Decide which outstanding invoices, bills, expense reports, etc. should be paid by your accounts payable department, before a possible closure
  • Instruct employees with laptops to take them home at the end of each day and confirm that they can connect to your business’ server from home.
  • Remind employees to make sure their cell phones are fully charged and that they have a power cord and car charger.
  • Advise employees to begin checking your employee emergency hotline and/or company intranet/website for updates on the status of your office/facility.

 48 – 24 Hours before Storm Conditions – Finalize Preparations and Make Sure Employees are Safe

  • Process accounts payable and payroll. Protect or relocate vital records.
  • Make sure all employees with calling responsibilities have the most updated version of the company telephone call list and have it in multiple formats (hard copy, electronically, etc.).
  • For hurricanes and other high wind events, install window protection; if window protection is unavailable, close all window blinds, and cover office equipment with plastic sheets or tarps.
  • Close and lock all office doors, especially perimeter offices.
  • If you expect your building to be exposed to flooding or storm surge, seal all water entry points such as utility penetrations into the building and install flood protection including first-floor drain plugs.
  • Conduct full/partial shutdown procedures. If volunteers are to remain onsite during the storm, make sure they can remain in a safe and secure area. If conditions permit, instruct them on how to monitor, document, and mitigate against leaks and water infiltration in critical areas with vital equipment.
  • Advise employees to check the status of your office/facility at least twice per day.
  • Disconnect all electrical equipment and unplug from power source.
  • Place a “Closed” notice on office/facility main entrance.

  During and Immediately After the Storm

  • Update employee emergency hotline and/or company intranet and company website with postings on the status of your operations.
  • Activate the company telephone call list process, in order to contact all employees regarding the status of your office/facility.
  • Designate times for key staff members to call into conference calls for situation overviews.

Recovery: After the Storm

  • Designated personnel should return to the facility, assess conditions, document damages, and notify the emergency operations teams of their findings.
  • When it is deemed safe, designated personnel should begin start-up procedures.
  • When all safety and operational concerns are addressed and an “All Clear” is provided, employees can return to work.
  • Activate employee communications tools and local media contacts to give notice of re-opening.
  • Take an overall inventory, including photos of all damaged property, and report damage and related expenses to your insurance company.
  • Employees returning to the building should be instructed to examine their work area, test all office equipment and report findings back to the designated staff contact.
  • Notify key customers, suppliers, and partners of office/facility re-opening and any necessary property or operational changes resulting from storm damage.

Businesses and The Emergency Ready Plan

10/5/2017 (Permalink)

Commercial Businesses and The Emergency Ready Plan ERP

Businesses and The Emergency Ready Plan

Many businesses are not prepared to respond to a man-made or natural disaster.  Statistics show that, of the businesses that close because of a disaster, at least one in four never reopens.  Small businesses are particularly at risk because they may have all of their operations concentrated in one location that is damaged or destroyed. That is why disaster planning is a critical part of every business’ operational objectives.

To help keep small businesses “open for business,” SERVPRO®  has developed The Emergency Ready Plan (ERP), a streamlined business continuity program that gives business owners tools to better understand the risks they face; plan for how to contact key suppliers, vendors and employees; understand how to access data; and identify where to go for help after a disaster. 

ERP is an essential tool not only for business continuity but also to help identify priorities and organize essential information.  Once this initial step is done, the next focus should be on emergency preparedness and response planning—the specific actions and tasks needed to protect people and property from physical and economic damage should disaster strike, as well as those to be taken directly following a disruption to your business.  Not having a plan, or a having poorly prepared or misunderstood plan, could lead to disorganized preparation or confused response, with the possibility of harm to your employees or property.

To schedule your businesses FREE Emergency Ready Plan call (301) 753.8313.

How A Water Restoration Technician Assists After Disaster

9/20/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage How A Water Restoration Technician Assists After Disaster SERVPRO

How A Water Restoration Technician Assists After Disaster

A water restoration technician has an extremely important job when a home is affected by excess moisture or fluid. Certified professionals in the industry can quickly reverse the extensive damage that a flood or sewage backflow can cause, and save as many items as possible in the process. And when dealing with contaminated fluids, especially when it has pooled in the home, only certified professionals should be allowed to manage the cleanup. Attempting to perform cleanup efforts without expert assistance can lead to injury or illness, both of which can be severe.

A certified water restoration technician will usually be on call around the clock, except for those times when an entire community has been affected by a major disaster. As soon as a professional is on site, they will assess the situation and determine what items need immediate rescuing. If fluid has pooled in areas around the home, then pumps will be used to remove it.

The home will be dried using a configuration of heavy duty air movers and dehumidifiers, and while it dries, the firm will move through the building and look for any evidence of mold or pathogen contamination. If pathogens or mold are present, they will be eliminated using special  procedures. This will ensure the home is safe to return to, and with concerted drying efforts, the building will as good as new once professionals have completed their work.

 

Damage From Water Should Be Cleaned By Certified Professionals

9/20/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage Damage From Water Should Be Cleaned By Certified Professionals SERVPRO

Damage From Water Should Be Cleaned By Certified Professionals

The amount of damage water can cause is amazing, and often underestimated by homeowners. Excess moisture is bad enough, but when a home is flooded or hit with a plumbing disaster (like a burst pipe), the situation can quickly get out of hand. There’s a reason why these incidents are among the most expensive problems a homeowner can face. Contaminated water not only creates immediate structural problems, it can leave serious biological threats behind after it has been removed.

Floods, sewage backflows, and other sources of contaminated fluid usually cause the worst damage. Dirty water is filled with all kinds of deadly substances, ranging from chemical residues to animal feces to parasites. Bacteria, viruses and fungi grow explosively in contaminated fluid, and severe health risks, like salmonella and hepatitis, are common in flood waters.

This problem is compounded by the composition of most homes, which are filled with organic materials. Drywall, wood and the matter that is trapped in carpet fibers are just a few examples, and they can give pathogens room to grow. Within 48 hours, mold may begin creeping behind the walls and releasing spores, and any organic materials that have been soaked through by contaminated fluid will usually have to be destroyed.

That’s why restoration firms, in addition to surveying the home for structural problems, will dry the home quickly and apply antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal agents to all surfaces that had contact with the water. This ensures the family can return to a safe home, and not one harboring a collection of deadly pathogens.

 

The 4 most common types of fire

9/18/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage The 4 most common types of fire #1 is the kitchen fire

The 4 most common types of fire

Kitchen, electrical, heater and smoking-related fires are the four most common types of fires

Dec 21, 2011

 

While fires can start at anytime and anywhere, below are descriptions of the four most common types of fires. Acknowledging these types of fires may help you to reduce or even eliminate the risk of starting a fire.

1. The most common type of fire in the U.S. is the kitchen fire. The reason that the kitchen is the source of many fire hazards is because the kitchen is where heat, electricity, water, and grease come together.

The most common type of kitchen fire is the grease fire. A grease fire is extremely dangerous as it can get out of control quickly and spread from the stove throughout the kitchen and into other rooms of the house.

Many grease fires occur because someone leaves a frying pan on the stove unattended. They also occur when someone overheats a pan during attended cooking if the grease catches fire. Grease fires can cause serious injury and extensive property damage.

Other types of kitchen fires include oven fires and appliance fires. Fires can also get started in the kitchen when electricity comes in contact with water.

2. Electrical fires are another common type of fire. Electrical fires are caused by a number of different factors, including faulty appliances, worn or faulty electrical wiring, improper use of electrical outlets and worn out breaker boxes.

Older homes often do not have the proper wiring to handle the amount of electrical appliances in use today. Often old wiring inside walls becomes frayed or worn, causing shorts and sparks that can ignite.

Old breaker boxes are made to shut off electrical current when the circuit becomes overloaded as a fire prevention measure, but often the connections are worn or broken and do not activate the breaker switch.

Lighting is another cause of electrical fires, which can be triggered by improper wiring or the use of bulbs that are higher in wattage than the amount recommended for the lighting appliance.

3. Heater fires are among the most common types of fires in the months of December, January and February. Portable heaters should always have automatic shutoffs that activate when they overheat as a fire precaution.

Coil space heaters are especially hazardous because the coils will ignite anything combustible nearby. Always keep any type of space heater a minimum of three feet from anything combustible. That includes curtains, bedding, clothing and furniture. Always shut space heaters off when you’re not in the room.

Extension cords should not be used with space heaters as they generate too much electricity and can start a fire.

4. Another major type of fire is smoking-related. Fires caused by cigarettes account for 1,000 deaths in the U.S. every year. Many times the smoker is not the person who dies.

Most smoking fires are started by embers igniting on furniture, bedding and trash cans. Smokers should always be sure cigarettes are completely extinguished before emptying ashtrays into the trash.

Never smoke in bed and never smoke when you are tired, inebriated, or drowsy from medication. Do not place ashtrays on flammable surfaces like couches, chairs, or beds where they can tip over and start a fire.

The best way to prevent smoking-related fires is to smoke outside the house and have a can filled with sand to extinguish cigarette butts.

References:

www.Fire-Extinguisher101.com

www.RestorationSOS.com

Four Seasons of Safety

9/18/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Four Seasons of Safety 4 Seasons of Safety

Four Seasons of Safety

Each season of the year has unique fire and electrical safety dangers that are related to common seasonal activities.  The 4 Seasons of Safety program includes tips, lessons and activities that help students learn about basic fire and electricity concepts while also providing critical safety information that helps them learn to identify and prevent the fire and electrical safety hazards.  All included activities can be conducted without the need for additional resources or supplies and with little to no advance preparation required.

The program also includes valuable family involvement opportunities.  Take-home resources empower students to share the safety information they have learned with their families.

The 4 Seasons of Safety program resources are appropriate for students in grades 3-5 and have been developed to align with the following educational standards:

Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)

  • Science Standard 9
  • Health Standard 5

National Science Teachers Association (NASTA) National Science Education Content

  • Standard B Physical Science
  • Standard F Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

Common Core English Language Arts Standards – Reading: Informational Text

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.8
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.7
  • CCSS.ESL-Literacy.RI.5.9

Fire Prevention and Electrical Safety Classroom Toolkit: Each section of the toolkit includes two seasonal lessons and safety tips along with information to help you tailor the activities to your grade level.

Classroom Poster: Display this colorful poster in a prominent place in your classroom as a constant reminder of the steps we can take to stay safe all year long.

4 Seasons of Safety Interactive White Board Activities

The 4 Seasons of Safety program includes tips, lessons and activities that help students learn about basic fire and electricity concepts while also providing critical safety information that helps them learn to identify and prevent the fire and electrical safety hazards. All included activities can be conducted without the need for additional resources or supplies and with little to no advance preparation required. Available in ".Notebook" format.

Funding for this program was provided by a 2012 Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) Grant from the Department of Homeland Security / Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold?

9/18/2017 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold? Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold?

People are usually afraid of the fact that mold can grow in their homes. However, this is not an excuse to ignore the topic altogether. We have covered methods before about Mold Prevention and Control Tips; however, what about you already have mold damage in your home? Are there any insurance plans that will protect you from the costs of mold remediation? Well, these questions that homeowners ask leads to the big question. Does homeowners insurance cover mold? Let’s discuss.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold?

Homeowners insurance does not usually cover mold damages. Although, there are instances when mold is covered. These instances are generally when the cause of mold is due to an incident that homeowners insurance does cover. For example, if mold has grown due to accidental and sudden pipe burst or if a recent fire has caused mold, your homeowners insurance will likely cover the mold damages. On the contrary, if mold has grown due to improper maintenance practices, such as on-going humidity exposure or a continuous leak, homeowners insurance will not likely cover the damages.

How To File a Homeowners Claim for Mold

The first step in filing a claim is to call your insurance company quickly and informing them of the damages. Once you speak with your insurance company and they provide you with next steps, gather the evidence. You can do this by taking several pictures of the damages. Also, take pictures any mold that becomes visible before anyone comes out and fixes the issue. Keep in mind that mold only needs 24 hours to begin to grow. It would also be a good idea to contact a mold remediation company and have them come out and dry the water before mold starts to grow. However, consult with your insurance company before making this call to be sure that they will cover the costs.

Once your insurance claim goes through and resolves all damages, keep any documentation and images. If mold later grows in that area and the growth is due to the initial incident, then your insurance company will likely have to cover the costs of going back in and fixing the problem.