Recent Posts

Prepare for Spring Weather

4/13/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Prepare for Spring Weather Spring Storms

Prepare for Spring Weather

Spring is the time of year when many things change—including the weather. Temperatures can swing back and forth between balmy and frigid. Sunny days may be followed by a week of stormy weather. Sometimes extreme weather changes can occur even within the same day. Mark Twain once said, “In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.”

Thunderstorms cause most of the severe spring weather. They can bring lightning, tornadoes, and flooding. Whenever warm, moist air collides with cool, dry air, thunderstorms can occur. For much of the world, this happens in spring and summer.

Because spring weather is so unpredictable, you may be unprepared when severe weather hits—particularly if you live in a region that does not often experience thunderstorms, tornadoes, or flooding. And when severe weather hits unexpectedly, the risk of injury and death increases. So planning ahead makes sense; prepare for storms, floods, and tornadoes as if you know in advance they are coming, because in the spring, they very likely will.

Advance planning for thunderstorms, lightning, tornadoes, and floods requires specific safety precautions. You can follow many of the same steps that you would for all extreme weather events. Keep an emergency kit on hand. Some items to include are:

  • A battery-operated flashlight, a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio, and extra batteries for both
  • An emergency evacuation or shelter plan, including a map of your home and, for every type of severe weather emergency, routes to safety from each room
  • A list of important personal information, including:
    • telephone numbers of neighbors, family, and friends
    • insurance and property information
    • telephone numbers of utility companies
    • medical information
  • According to the American Red Cross a first aid kit may include:
    • non-latex gloves
    • assortment of adhesive bandages
    • antibiotic ointment
    • sterile gauze pads in assorted sizes
    • absorbent compress dressings
    • tweezers
    • scissors
    • adhesive cloth tape
    • aspirin packets (81 mg each)
    • first aid instruction booklet
      (NOTE: Customize your first aid kit to meet your individual and family needs.)
  • A 3–5 day supply of bottled water and nonperishable food
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • An emergency kitin your car

Prepare your family members for the possibility of severe weather. Tell them where to seek appropriate shelter as soon as they are aware of an approaching storm. Practice your emergency plan for every type of severe weather. Show family members where the emergency supplies are stored, and make sure they know how to turn off the water, gas, and electricity in your home.

Often by the time we are aware of an approaching storm, we have little if any time to prepare for it. But we do know that when spring arrives, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and floods are real possibilities. So why not take the surprise factor out of severe weather and prepare yourself, your family, and your home? If thunderstorms, tornadoes, and floods do occur, you’ll be ready for them.

Mold Allergy Peak in Spring

3/30/2018 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation Mold Allergy Peak in Spring Signs of Mold

Mold Allergy Peak in Spring

by ALLERGY GUY

Mold allergy problems increase in the spring.  This can be confused with a pollen allergy, but they are quite different.

You may be suffering from both, to make matters worse.

What can you do about it?

Mold is around all year because it grows indoors as well as outside.  If you live far enough north to experience winter temperatures below freezing, mold allergies are usually less of a problem during those months.

Mold does not grow outside when it is frozen, and the drier air inside from heating reduced mold growth in your house as well.

Outside is a a different matter.

As temperatures increase, the mold begins to wake up.  I’ve seen mold growing on top of snow as it melts, and under the snow, so that its already growing on the grass even before you can see the grass.

All of this aggravates your mold allergy

Last year’s leaf litter is this spring’s mold bed.  There is no getting away from it.

Allergy shots may help with your mold allergy.  See your allergist about this in the winter so that you’re already taking the shots before the spring mold season.

Open the windows for fresh air in the evening when temperatures are lower and the mold less active, then close them during the day.  This is the opposite of what you should do in the summer in some cases.

Make sure the fresh air intake damper for forced air heating is turned off during the spring.  Do open it during the summer and winter.

Reduce your humidifier setting to maintain a drier atmosphere inside.  This discourages mold growth in your home.

Keeping your house a bit warmer in the spring may also help.

Spring can be a bad time for mold allergies, so do your best to avoid mold problems.

SERVPRO's FREE Emergency Ready Profile

3/1/2018 (Permalink)

Commercial SERVPRO's FREE Emergency Ready Profile ERP

It is estimated that up to 50% of businesses that close due to a disaster, such as fire and flood never reopen!  Of the businesses that survive, the overwhelming majority of them had a preparedness plan in place.

Are you “Ready for whatever happens?”

Preparation is a key component for making it through any size disaster, whether it’s a small water leak, a large fire, or an area flood.  The best time to plan for such events is not when the event happens, but well before it happens.

The SERVPRO® Emergency READY Profile serves as a quick reference of important building and contact information or can be an ideal supplement to any well-designed emergency preparedness or existing contingency program.  Rather than simply reacting to disaster situations, most prefer proactive measures to establish a relationship with a restoration services company. 

By working with SERVPRO® of Charles County to develop your personalized Emergency READY Profile your business will receive the benefit of over 40 years of experience in reducing the impact of any natural or man-made disaster.  SERVPRO® is a leader in water and fire damage response and can help you quickly get your property back in working order.

Call Lauren at 301.753.8313 Today for a No Cost Assessment
of Your Facility!

Helping you to be “Ready for whatever happens,”

SPRINGTIME TIPS TO REDUCE FIRE RISK

3/1/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage SPRINGTIME TIPS TO REDUCE FIRE RISK Fire Tips

SPRINGTIME TIPS TO REDUCE FIRE RISK

We have come a long way in preventing house fires and their associated injuries and deaths over the last 40 years. For example, in 1977, 723,500 house fires resulted in nearly 5,900 civilian deaths and $10.2 billion in damage. In 2013, there were just 369,500 house fires, 2,700 civilian deaths and $6.8 billion in property damage. Within our individual communities and neighborhoods, we need to do everything we can to bring those numbers down even further.

There is no way to eliminate house fires completely. However, there are steps we can all take to make our homes safer and to reduce the risk of injuries and deaths should a house fire occur.

Spring is a great time to start thinking about fire safety. You are already in spring cleaning mode, so why not take the spring months to do some simple things that can reduce your fire risk. Below are some easy-to-implement tips along with a brief explanation of how wireless home security can help.

Check Your Smoke Alarms

Fire departments around the country take advantage of the start of daylight saving time to encourage people to check the batteries in their smoke alarms. Your smoke alarm should have a test button that you simply press to make sure the battery is working. If not, replace the battery with a fresh one.

If your smoke alarms are hardwired to your home’s electrical system, they still need to be checked. They can fail from time to time. Also, be aware that sometimes hardwired smoke alarms are temporarily disconnected for whatever reason. Make sure yours are not.

Check Electrical Outlets and Cords

Electrical outlets and cords take a beating during the winter months because we are inside for longer hours, resulting in more frequent use of electrical appliances. While you clean, give each of your outlets (and the cords plugged into them) a quick inspection to make sure everything is okay. Do the same for exterior electrical outlets as well. They can sometimes suffer damage from winter weather.

Replace Extension Cords

If you have been utilizing extension cords in your home for long-term purposes, spring is the time to change that. Extension cords are meant to be temporary only. So, if you have one that has been plugged in for months, it is better to run wiring to install a new outlet so the extension cord can be eliminated.

Remove Unnecessary Flammables

Your spring cleaning will undoubtedly involve the garage – if you have one. A good thing to pay attention to in the garage is the existence of flammables including gasoline and charcoal lighter fluid. If there are any flammables you no longer need, check with your county or city to make arrangements to properly dispose of them. Those you do intend to keep should be sealed in approved containers and kept in a cool place.

How Wireless Home Security Can Help

If you are not already utilizing home security, spring is a great time to look into it. The most basic of systems usually includes both burglary and fire monitoring at a very reasonable price. The advantage of fire monitoring is that it keeps track of your home even when you are not there. Monitoring also allows for quicker response times because monitoring centers can immediately notify local first responders.

Reducing the risks associated with house fires is no accident. It takes a concerted effort among homeowners to keep themselves and their families as safe as possible. We hope you will utilize these tips in combination with installing a wireless home security system with fire monitoring.

Prevent Frozen and Bursting Water Pipes

1/3/2018 (Permalink)

Water Damage Prevent Frozen and Bursting Water Pipes Frozen Pipes

Prevent Frozen and Bursting Water Pipes

Due to the unusually cold weather temperatures, residents are experiencing frozen and busted water pipes.  Please be aware that indoor pipes can freeze, depending on temperatures, insulation, and placement in the building. Pipes in attics, above ceilings, in crawl spaces and basements, and near exterior walls are highly vulnerable to freezing, especially where there is poor insulation, wall cracks, or other openings that allow entry of cold outside air. 

It is important for owners to know where the main water shut-off valve(s) are located, in case of a pipe break. Never attempt to thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame.
Monitor water-based fire protection systems such as automatic sprinkler systems, fire pumps, hoses and hydrants.   These systems must remain heated and ice-free to minimize losses from fire and water damage. 

To prevent pipes from bursting or ice formation within the pipes, considerer these preventive measures: 

•Always place piping in heated areas of a building.
•Properly insulate attics, exterior walls, and other areas lacking adequate heating. 
•Repair broken windows, ill-fitting doors, and other conditions that allow heat loss. 
•Keep exterior doors closed, even if not in the immediate vicinity of piping. 
•Maintain heat in buildings at all times. No area with piping should be allowed to fall below 40°F (4°C). (This requires regular maintenance, inspection, and servicing of existing heating equipment, and safe emergency measures during a prolonged power failure.) 
•Shut off water lines and drain all pipes if the building is to be left unattended for an extended period. (The exceptions are sprinkler systems unless all combustible materials are removed and the building is noncombustible or fire-resistive.) 
•Provide insulation around a pipe sufficient to reduce heat loss, or provide heat tracing, if the pipe might be exposed to freezing temperatures.
•Install low temperature alarms (with remote monitoring) in cold-prone areas. 
•Adequately maintain and prepare dry-pipe sprinkler systems for cold weather (drain low points, etc.). 
•Properly service and winterize private yard hydrants. 
•Clear snow and ice from private yard hydrants, outside hose connections, and fire protection system valves to help prevent freezing of these systems.

If adequate heat cannot be maintained, the main domestic water supply valve should be shut off and all water from piping should be completely drained by a qualified plumber. Sprinkler systems and other water-based fire protection systems are a special case. Every effort should be made to keep these systems in service for your safety.

http://www.charlescountymd.gov/news-releases/prevent-frozen-and-bursting-water-pipes-0

Would your business open after a disaster?

12/13/2017 (Permalink)

Commercial Would your business open after a disaster? ERP

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.

By developing a SERVPRO Emergency READY Profile for your business, you minimize business interruption by having an immediate plan of action. Knowing what to do and what to expect in advance is the key to timely mitigation and can help minimize how water and fire damage can affect your business.

  • A no cost assessment of your facility.
    This means there is no need to allocate funds, giving you a great value at no cost.
     
  • A concise Profile Document that contains only the critical information needed in the event of an emergency.
    It will only take a little time to complete and will not take you away from current projects. But it will save a lot of time if ever needed.
     
  • A guide to help you get back into your building following a disaster.
    This can help minimize the amount of time your business is inactive by having an immediate plan of action.
     
  • Establishes your local SERVPRO Franchise Professional as your disaster mitigation and restoration provider.
    You have a provider that is recognized as an industry leader and close by.
     
  • Identification of the line of command for authorizing work to begin.
    This saves time so we can begin the work of mitigating the damage which can save you time and money.
     
  • Provides facility details such as shut-off valve locations, priority areas and priority contact information.
    Having a quick reference of what to do, how to do it and who to call provides solutions in advance of an emergency so that during the emergency you are "Ready for whatever happens.

Call 301.753.8313 today to schedule your Emergency Ready Profile!

Ten Things You Should Know about Mold

12/13/2017 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation Ten Things You Should Know about Mold Mold

Ten Things You Should Know about Mold

  1. Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints.
  2. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
  3. If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
  4. Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
  5. Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth by:
    • Venting bathrooms, dryers and other moisture-generating sources to the outside
    • Using air conditioners and de-humidifiers
    • Increasing ventilation
    • Using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing and cleaning
  6. Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
  7. Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
  8. Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
  9. In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
  10. Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.

Facing Water and Mold after a Fire sounds like a nightmare!

12/2/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage Facing Water and Mold after a Fire sounds like a nightmare! Fire- Water- Mold

Facing Water and Mold after a Fire sounds like a nightmare!

So there were some events that occurred in Southern, MD last week that really got my mind thinking. When you think of a Fire breaking out in a home you instantly hope that everyone is safe and that the home is not burnt to the ground. Once you find out that everyone is safe and the home is still standing you tend to have a sigh of relief. Unfortunately there are so many other scenarios that most people do not stop to think about.  

So your home catches on fire but your sprinkler system is activated and puts the fire out almost immediately! GREAT! Well not so great. Now you have a home that could have extensive water damage from the sprinklers putting out the fire. WOW! Catch 22! Now you have minimal fire damage but a large water damage!

This is where hiring a professional to handle the work in your home is so important. You need to make sure that they can not only handle the Fire but the Water damage as well. As we all know if water damage is not treated properly it could result in microbial growth! (MOLD) This then opens another wound in an already frustrating scenario.

Here at SERVPRO® Charles County we hate to see anyone experience these losses but we also are glad that we can be of service during these difficult scenarios. Sometimes people just need someone to listen to them vent and tell them that it will be ok. Here at SERVPRO® we are ALWAYS “Here to Help.”

IICRC Mold Remediation: What Happens After a Flood?

11/30/2017 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation  IICRC Mold Remediation: What Happens After a Flood? Mold

IICRC Mold Remediation: What Happens After a Flood?

Have you ever wondered what happens when a mold removal specialist gets called to a mold-damaged facility? The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) shares five steps a mold removal specialist takes when conducting mold remediation.

“Many people aren’t aware of the dangers, nor the difficulty level of removing mold from a facility,” said IICRC Chairman Tony Wheelwright. “Mold remediation is a potentially hazardous process that should only be undertaken by a certified professional.”

Five steps that each mold-removal specialist takes when conducting mold remediation includes:

  1. Determine the degree of contamination. The first step for a mold remediation specialist may be to bring in an Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) to determine the extent of the mold damage and test for contamination within the facility. Because mold spores and other microscopic contaminants can travel easily throughout a building, the IEP may collect and analyze samples from affected as well as unaffected areas of the building. Once the IEP has finished the inspection they will develop a remediation plan for the mold removal specialist with steps to return the home to its preloss condition (Condition 1).
  1. Set up and verify containment. To make sure mold contamination does not spread to other areas of a facility, the mold remediation specialist will set up containment by creating isolation barriers. Once the barriers are set up, the specialist will need to verify the containment with a lower partial pressure differential (negative pressure) to ensure there is no air leakage between containment zones. Exit chambers would then be used to serve as a transition between the containment and the unaffected area of the building. Once the containment is verified and the correct amount of pressure is achieved, the removal process can begin.
  1. Remove unsalvageable materials. Porous materials and items that cannot be restored or cleaned effectively must be carefully discarded. Unsalvageable items include but are not limited to drywall, insulation and other items with visible mold growth. It is important for the specialist to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment which may include a full face respirator equipped with a P100/OV cartridge, disposable coveralls and nitrile gloves.
  1. Clean surfaces with a high-attention to detail. A mold remediation specialist will likely begin the cleaning process by thoroughly vacuuming the contaminated areas using a HEPA vacuum with a high-efficiency filter to catch mold spores. He or she will then begin a detailed cleaning process involving mold removal tools such as a HEPA filtered sander, followed by the damp wiping of surfaces with an effective cleaning solution.
  1. Verify remediation. Once cleaning is complete, the IEP will return to too to verify the remediation was successful. The area must be returned to the dry standard and should be visually dust free with no malodors. In addition an IEP may perform surface or air sampling as part of the verification that the area is back to normal fungal ecology (Condition 1).

“Mold remediation requires mold removal specialists to perform techniques that promote source removal rather than relying on chemicals, paints and coatings as a replacement,” said Rachel Adams, President of Indoor Environmental Management, Inc. “Understanding and managing air flow is also critical to the success of a mold remediation project. Working with qualified IEP can also help to reduce the liability for the technician as well as provide a final determination if the remediation was successful.”

For more information on mold remediation or the latest in mold remediation standards, visit the IICRC website at http://www.IICRC.org.

Dangers of Winter Weather- Southern MD

11/29/2017 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Dangers of Winter Weather- Southern MD Winter Storm

There are a number of different ways that winter storms can impact a region and the people who live there. Winter storms are considered deceptive killers because most deaths are not directly related to the storm itself. People could get in an automobile accident on icy roads, have a heart attack while shoveling snow, or suffer frostbite or hypothermia from prolonged exposure to the cold.

Wind - Some winter storms have extremely strong winds that can create blizzard conditions with blinding, wind driven snow, drifting, and dangerous wind chills. These intense winds can bring down trees and poles, and can also cause damage to homes and other buildings.

Snow - Heavy snow accumulations can immobilize a region and paralyze a city, strand motorists, stop the flow of supplies, and disrupt emergency services. Buildings may collapse, and trees and power lines can be destroyed from heavy snow. In rural regions, homes and farms may be isolated for days, and livestock could be lost.

Ice - Heavy ice accumulations can bring down objects like trees, utility poles and lines, and communication towers. Power can be disrupted or lost for days while utility companies repair the damage. Even a small amount of ice can cause hazardous conditions for motorists and pedestrians.

Cold - Extremely cold temperatures can accompany winter storms and be left in their wake. Infants and the elderly are most susceptible to prolonged exposure to the cold, which can cause potentially life-threatening conditions such as hypothermia and frostbite. Below freezing temperatures can damage vegetation and cause pipes to freeze and burst inside homes. Exposure to cold can cause frostbite or hypothermia and become life-threatening.

What constitutes extreme cold varies in different parts of the country. In the South, near freezing temperatures are considered extreme cold. In the North, extreme cold means temperatures well below zero. Freezing temperatures can cause severe damage to citrus fruit crops and other vegetation. Pipes may freeze and burst in homes that are poorly insulated or without heat.

Wind Chill is not the actual temperature, but rather how wind and cold actually feel on exposed skin. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, driving down the body temperature. Animals are also affected by wind chill; however, cars, plants and other objects are not.

Frostbite is damage to body tissue caused by extreme cold. A wind chill of -20° Fahrenheit (F) with light winds will cause frostbite in just 30 minutes. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately! If you must wait for help, slowly re-warm affected areas.

However, if the person is also showing signs of hypothermia, warm the body core before the extremities. Hypothermia is a condition brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 95°F, and it can kill. For those who survive, there is likely to be lasting damage to the kidneys, liver and pancreas. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. Take the person’s temperature. If below 95°F, seek medical care immediately!

If Medical Care is Not Available, warm the person slowly, starting with the body core. Warming the arms and legs first drives cold blood toward the heart and can lead to heart failure. If necessary, use your body heat to help. Get the person into dry clothing and wrap them in a warm blanket, covering the head and neck. Do not give the person alcohol, drugs, coffee, or any hot beverage or food. Warm broth is an excellent choice.