Fire Safety: Unplug Household Appliances
The consumption of household appliances worldwide is forecast to generate nearly 590 billion U.S. dollars in revenues by 2020.
With electric appliances being so common in modern homes, it's easy to forget that there are very real risks and hazards associated with their use and even non-use.
Being safe when using electrical appliances, extension cords, light bulbs and other equipment is easy. It only takes one mistake to spark an electrical fire, but simple prevention measures can be effective solutions.
These safety tips can help keep all appliances operating safely and help you prevent unexpected fires in the home:
- Ensure any appliances you purchase are approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or another reputable consumer laboratory.
- Unplug unused appliances and store cords safely out of reach of pets, young children or hazardous situations.
- Appliances that generate heat, such as clocks, televisions and computer monitors, should be given several inches of clearance all around for good air circulation and cooling.
- Do not attempt amateur repairs or upgrades.
- Keep all electric appliances away from water such as sinks, bathtubs, pools or overhead vents that may drip.
- Do not operate any electrical appliance with wet hands or while standing in water.
- Keep clothes, curtains toys and other potentially combustible materials away from radiators, space heaters, heating vents and other heat sources.
Source: Stephanie Sage of Sage Restoration
To read more on this subject, click here.
Have Questions about Fire Safety? Do you have fire damage? Call Us Today – (330) 650-4486
Why a Fire Restoration Contractor Is the Way to Go
When fire & water damage strikes, a fast response is critical. We’re dedicated to responding immediately, day or night, to your Summit County property
A fire restoration contractor can help you restore your home properly after a house fire.
When you hire a fire restoration company, it dispatches several fire restoration contractors, each of whom has the knowledge to use the tools necessary to complete the job. Their skills vary, from reducing the dangers in your home after a fire to preventing secondary water damage. Hiring a fire restoration contractor is an excellent idea because it allows the experts to work on many different things at once, which lets you focus on other things like insurance matters.
A Fire Restoration Contractor’s Equipment
A fire restoration contractor has a variety of tools and the knowledge necessary to use them effectively. One example of this is an ozonation machine. This machine generates ozone, a toxic gas, which fills the house and can partially reverse the effects of smoke odor from embedding itself in everything. These machines are expensive and dangerous, and only a qualified professional should use them.
Getting a referral from your insurance provider is an excellent idea. This ensures that the company you hire has contractors that actively implement sound business practices and can restore your home properly and in accordance with any applicable laws. In addition to this, this method allows you to be sure that the contracting company and your insurance provider can work well together and agree on an appropriate settlement.
Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
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Winter is Coming: Prepare Your Business for Winter
A winter storm can bring with it sleet, ice, high winds, and heavy snow, which can result in sudden unexpected commercial property damage.
September has arrived
and, before we know it, so will Halloween, then Thanksgiving, and then the holidays. Is your business ready for the frigid temperatures, the heavy snowfall?
According to Leavitt Group's article, Prepare Your Business for Winter Weather, In the past five years, 15 percent of small businesses have experienced damages caused by water and freezing. The average cost of these claims is $17,000.
Leavitt Group also discusses common types of winter-related damages, including:
- Damage to contents, inventory and equipment caused by significant temperature changes.
- Water damage caused by pipes freezing and bursting.
- Wind damage to roofs, buildings and landscape.
- Fire suppression efforts delayed by inaccessible fire hydrants (covered by snow or ice)
- Frozen fire suppression sprinkler pipes, resulting in flooded rooms and malfunction of system.
- Ice damming, resulting in damage to roof and gutters.
- Injury to guests and employees.
- Loss of revenue (business interruption).
Taking preventative actions now while the weather is still warm is incredibly important and could save you business a lot of time and money. Here are some maintenance tips Leavitt Group suggests in preparing your business for winter:
- Drain water from all systems and equipment not needed in winter months, including landscape sprinklers and air conditioning units
- Check for and repair damages to the roof. Make sure roof drains are clear and in good condition. Clear rain gutters to ensure proper drainage and make sure downspouts are intact and draining in areas away from foot traffic
- Inspect the exterior of the building for gaps and seal appropriately to prevent weather and critters from getting inside
- Trim tree branches and lanscape that might come in contact with the building in the event of heavy snowfall and ice accumulation
- Make sure the heating system has enough fuel for unexpected conditions and a back-up in case of emergency
- Maintain a temperature of at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit in unoccupied facilities, attics and basements
- Make arrangements for snow removal with a reputable company before winter starts- don't wait until the storm hits and you are buried under a pile of snow. Discuss snow removal from the roof. To avoid damages from snow removal equipment, mark curbs, fire hydrants, drains, speed bumps and other features that may not be visible under a layer of snow
- Make sure you have sand, ice melt and shovels on hand for winter maintenance that won't be covered by your snow removal contractor
Begin checking off your maintenance needs while the weather still allows for it. Stay tuned for our next blog for commercial property owners, "Developing a Business Continuity Plan for the Winter Weather."
Have questions? Call our office at 800-648-1212 or our 24/7 Emergency Service number at 330-650-4486.
5 Levels of Mold Remediation
When dealing with mold contamination in your home it can be difficult to decide when a mold remediator is needed or what you can take care of yourself.
In the following 5 levels, you will have a guideline to go by when removing mold from your home:
- Level I (10 square feet or less)Mostly found on ceilings or baseboards. Level I mold contamination may be cleaned without hiring a mold remediator, but there are several important safety precautions that you need to know:
Do not attempt cleaning mold if you suffer from asthma, allergies, or immune disorders
Wear gloves, eye protection, and an N95 disposable respirator
Vacate from your work area any infants less than 12 months old, individuals recovering from recent surgery, anyone with a suppressed immune system, or people with chronic lung diseases such as asthma, sever allergies, emphysema, etc.
Contaminated materials that cannot be cleaned should be removed from your home in a sealed plastic bag to prevent an infestation in another part of your home
Clean your work area when you’re done with a damp cloth or mop
Make sure all areas are left dry and visibly free of mold contamination
- Level II (10-30 square feet)About the size of one wall panel. To clean, the same precautions used in Level I should be taken.
- Level III (30-100 square feet)
The size of patches of mold on several wall panels. To clean, the same precautions used in Level I and II should be taken, as well as:
- Seal ventilation ducts/grills in the work area and areas directly adjacent with plastic sheeting
- Vacate everyone from your work area until work is completed.
- Level IV (greater than 100 square feet)
An infestation depending on how much greater than 100 square feet may require the assistance of a mold remediator. If not, the same requirements should be followed as were needed in levels I, II, and III along with the following:
- Every worker must be trained in the handling of hazardous materials and equipped with full face respirators with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cartridges, with disposable protective clothing covering both head and shoes.
- Make sure workers completely isolate their work area from the rest of your home with sheeting sealed with duct tape, including ventilation ducts/grills, fixtures, and any other openings.
- Air monitoring should be conducted prior to moving back into your home to determine if it is fit to reoccupy.
- Level V (Air Conditioners and HVAC Systems)
All remediation procedures for air conditioning units and HVAC systems should be left to professionals. Procedures for level V remediation for areas larger than 10 square feet are the same for all previous levels with the following precautionary measures added:
- Shut down the HVAC system prior to remediation
- Growth-supporting materials that are contaminated, such as the paper on the insulation of interior lined ducts and filters, should be removed and sealed in plastic bags
- A variety of biocides – broad spectrum antimicrobial agents designed to prevent the growth of microorganisms – are recommended by HVAC manufacturers for use with HVAC components, such as cooling coils and condensation pans. HVAC manufacturers should be consulted for the products they recommend for use in their systems.
Do you have mold in your home or business? With questions or if you need a mold remediator, call our 24/7 Emergency Service line at (330) 650-4486. Request help online by clicking here.
Water Back-Up, Overflow or Discharge? Homeowners' Claims
Last month we talked about how to protect your home from flood damage. Hopefully the tips served you well, but here are some tips on what causes a water back-up or overflow and whether or not there is coverage for such a loss.
Is it a water back-up, an overflow or discharge?
A back-up is a build-up caused by a stoppage in the flow. Something prevents the water from continuing down its path, so it is forced to reverse direction and go back the other way.
- Causes: A collapsed drain pipe can cause a back-up because water can no longer proceed down its normal course. A blockage can also cause a back-up. The blockage prevents the water from going forward. Both of these factors force the water to reverse direction.
An overflow is when excess or surplus is not able to be accommodated by an available space.
- Causes: The space is filled to capacity and water then spreads beyond its limits. A bath tub left running creates an overflow, as well.
Discharge is what happens when water is released from plumbing or appliances and then floods your home.
- A leaking pipe discharges water from the hole in the pipe.
The ISO HO 00 03 provides coverage for water damage that is the result of a discharge or overflow of a plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or household appliance if it is on the resident’s premises. This covers:
- Pipes that leak behind walls
- Floors, or ceilings
- Washing machines and dishwashers that overflow
- Toilets that overflow
- Storm drains off premises that overflow due to high rains or floods
It is important to note that a sump, sump pump or related equipment, or a roof drain, gutter or downspout or similar equipment is not considered a plumbing system or household appliance.
A discharge or overflow caused by a storm drain, water, steam, or sewer pipe is covered as well if it is off the premises.
Overcoming Hoarding: 12 Tips
There’s obviously the assault on your eyes of the quantity of the clutter, then there’s the appreciation of what a mishmash the clutter is. -WebMD
Compulsive hoarding, also known as hoarding disorder, is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them, according to MayoClinic.org. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of value, occurs.
People with compulsive hoarding may not see it as a problem, and this makes treatment challenging. Below are some tips to overcoming hoarding, pulled from Oprah.com:
- Just because you can think of a use for an object, doesn't mean you need to keep it. If you haven't used an object in over a year, if you didn't know you had it until you found it, you can probably live without it.
- More is not necessarily better. Try to get rid of the extras.
- Categorize items into piles. A pile of things to keep, to donate, to sell or give away, and to throw away, but don't make too many piles and stress yourself out.
- Don't overthink. If the decision takes you more than a couple of minutes for a particular object, you're making it too complicated.
- Learn to get past the imperfections- you don't have to do a perfect job, just a good enough job.
- Only Handle It Once (OHIO). If you pick something up, make a decision and put it where it belongs.
- Be brave. The people who gain the most are usually those who are willing to risk the most.
- Understand what you're afraid of, and recognize when your fears are irrational. Ask yourself, what's the worst that can happen if I throw this out? How bad would that really be? Then discard it and watch for whether or not that bad thing happened.
- Be patient. No one overcomes compulsive hoarding overnight. Take it one room at a time.
- Keep the ball rolling. Clean things as they come along before they become overwhelming problems. Once you start, don't stop. Create a pattern, 5 minutes a day, 30 minutes...
- Be strict with yourself. Promise yourself a reward for doing it.
- Know when to ask for help. Compulsive hoarding is a potentially serious mental health issue. If you can overcome it on your own, great. If you can't, get help from someone who has experienced it.
For further information, visit WebMD.
How to Keep Safe During a House Fire
In less than 30 seconds a small flame can turn into a major fire. It takes minutes for smoke to fill a house or for it to be engulfed in flames.
You may not think you'll ever fall victim to a house fire, but it's better to be prepared and know what to do to avoid panicking if it happens to you. To increase your chances of survival, follow these steps:
Keeping safe in your house during a fire:
- React as soon as you hear your smoke alarm go off. If you hear your smoke detector or see fire, exit your home as safely as possible. Do not stop to grab your belongings. Your only concern should be to get out as quickly as possible.
- Safely exit through doors. If you see smoke under the door, do not open the door to escape. If you do not see smoke, put the back of your hand to the door to feel for heat. If it is cool, open slowly and pass through. If you see fire, close the door to protect yourself from the fire and search for another exit.
- Prevent yourself from smoke inhalation. Get low to the floor and crouch or crawl on your hands and knees to evade the toxic smoke, avoiding disorientation and unconsciousness. If you must walk through the smoke, cover your nose and mouth with a shirt or towel.
- Stop drop and roll if your clothes catch fire. Immediately stop what you're doing, drop flat on to the ground and roll around until you smother the fire. Cover your face with your hands as you're rolling to protect yourself.
- Ward off the smoke if you can't get out. If you cannot escape, you can always reclaim some measure of control and stay safe, even if you feel trapped. Close the door and cover all vents and cracks with a cloth or tape to keep the smoke out.
- Call for help from a second story window. If you are trapped in a second story room, do what you can to get yourself to an area where people will be able to hear or see you. Take a sheet- preferably white- and hang it out the window to signify you need help. Be sure to close the window to the fresh oxygen doesn't draw the fire towards you. Put a blanket or towel at the base of the door to prevent the smoke from coming underneath.
- Escape from a second story window if you can. If you have an escape ladder, toss it down the side of the house. If you must go out the window, look for a ledge you can get yourself onto and hang down from your hands, facing the side of the building. Let yourself fall to safety.
What to do once you exit your home:
- Do a head count. Make sure everyone is accounted for. If anybody is missing, only re-enter the building if it is safe to do so. Tell the first responders immediately on their arrival if you are afraid someone is missing.
- Call 911. Use your cellphone or call from a neighbor's house.
- Do an injury assessment. After making the call and the resources are coming, check yourself and your family for any injuries. If there are, do what you can to address them until the fire department arrives.
- Get away from the structure. Keep a safe distance between you and the fire.
Preventing future house fires:
- Form and practice your family's escape plan. Have a plan of escape in the event of a fire. Practice at least twice a year to get comfortable with the routine. Plan to find two ways to escape from each room. Practice escaping by crawling, being in the dark and having your eyes closed.
- Make sure your home is prepared. Check your smoke detectors are working and always have fresh batteries. Make sure your windows can easily be opened and that screens can be quickly removed. Everyone in your family should be able to open and close all windows. Buy reliable collapsible ladders in case of higher level escapes.
- Practice safe behaviors. Teach your children that fire is a tool, not a toy. Always be in the kitchen when you're cooking. SO not smoke in the house and make sure you put out your cigarettes entirely. DIspose of any electronics with frayed wires. Avoid lighting candles unless they're directly in your line of vision. Always check that the gas is turned off as well as any other wired electronics. Finally, try to use a lighter instead of matchsticks.
For more information as well as a community Q&A, click here for the source of the above information.
HVAC Compressor Damage: Lightning or Wear & Tear?
In the summer months, when severe weather is most prevalent, property carriers see an increase in claims for lightning damage to HVAC equipment, and most often to the compressor.
HVAC compressor damage due to lightning is commonly misdiagnosed. More often than not, an HVAC claim that is originally reported as damaged by lightning is ultimately found to have suffered damage due to some other cause of loss.
No matter the time of year, one of the most common culprits of compressor failure is mechanical damage due to age-related wear and tear. Nearly 43% of all compressors (regardless of how the damage is initially reported) fail due to this cause of loss.
Considered the “heart” of the HVAC system, the compressor is not only critical to proper system function, but can often be impossible to repair and expensive to replace. Moreover, without understanding the root cause of compressor failure, the simple act of replacing this component may not ultimately resolve the overarching issue. When handling HVAC claims, it is critical to understand what caused the compressor to fail before agreeing on a scope of repair for settlement.
For additional information on mechanical damages versus electrical damages, click here to the source of this information.
Vehicles After Flooding: Filing a Claim
No region is safe from flooding. All 50 states are subject to flash floods.
In the aftermath of a natural disaster, it is important for consumers to be aware of the warning signs of a flood damaged vehicle. If you are in the market to buy a used vehicle, be sure to inspect it carefully.
The following tips on filing a claim will help those with flooded vehicles after a storm:
- Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible. Have your policy readily available and find out whether the damage is covered under the terms of your policy and how long you have to file a claim.
- Your automobile insurance policies cover flooding if you have purchased comprehensive coverage. If you only have liability coverage, your vehicle is not covered for flooding.
- Minimize your losses and document the damage. Take photos of any damage and then make whatever reasonable temporary repairs that are needed.
- Remember that flooding is generally not covered under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. Flood insurance is a separate policy through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program and some private insurers.
- Ask for identification from any agents, adjusters or contractors. Do not sign any contracts for repairs until you have been instructed to do so by your adjuster and you have called the Better Business Bureau in your area.
- Don’t be afraid to file a claim. Storms are considered “Acts of Nature” and an insurance company cannot cancel, refuse to renew or increase the amount of a premium on a homeowners policy based solely on this type of incident.
Do you have storm damage? Contact our SERVPRO franchise at (330) 650-4486 or request help online.
Fire Damage Cleanup
SERVPRO has the experience, the expertise, and the advanced training that enables us to get your property restored quickly and thoroughly.
Fire damage clean up is an arduous process that often requires the proper industrial equipment and time. A standard vacuum cleaner is rarely enough. In addition, time is of the essence. In the wake of a fire, when victims are faced with insurance matters, arrangements for interim housing, and possible health concerns, homeowners are unlikely to make salvage efforts the top priority. Sadly, this could present a costly dilemma. In these cases, the services of a certified fire restoration company are invaluable.
The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) states that delays in fire damage clean up can have serious consequences. In addition to the obvious devastation created by heat, flames, and soot, water and smoke are powerful contaminators and destructors in their own right. Immediate intervention is critical to minimize exposure to these damaging agents in hopes of limiting restoration costs.
In addition to the structural destruction caused by the flames, acidic soot alone can cause irreparable harm to a home’s interior and belongings. But the problems don’t end there. Odor removal can present another challenge, and ceiling or box fans alone are not always powerful enough to disperse the smell of smoke. Water damage caused by first responders in an effort to extinguish the inferno further complicates matters.
For more information on fire cleanup and how to choose a restoration firm to do the damage cleanup, visit the IICRC website.
Do you need fire damage cleanup? Call our 24/7 Emergency Service line at (330) 650-4486, or request online help.