Best Safety Practices during Hoarding Cleanu
Safety is the primary concern.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, hoarding disorders occur in an estimated 2 to 6 percent of the population and often lead to substantial distress and problems functioning. While the emotional and physical impact of this growing disorder is significant, the potential health and safety concerns including fire hazards, biohazards and health code violations are paramount and a major focus for the restoration and remediation industry today. While well-trained in restoring properties from fire, water or smoke damage, restoration professionals called upon to address a hoarding environment must consider a number of additional key factors. In particular, the very real threat of biohazard dangers including bloodborne pathogens carrying potential diseases like Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or HIV/AIDS.
The following article provides best practices, based on 30 plus years of experience, in successfully remediating a hoarding environment including biohazard dangers, for the safety of all involved.
- Safety is the primary concern. Engage with fire, police and other relevant authorities to understand all the potential hazards before the cleanup begins.
- Often times biological hazards are present in hoarding situation including animal or human feces, mold, bacteria, and/or insects. Assume one or more of these hazards are present and wear full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including suits, mask, and nitrile gloves at all times.
- Bloodborne pathogens may be present as well within the hoard including contaminated needles or sharp objects. Dispose of these hazards within appropriate containers and make hand washing facilities readily available.
- Provide specialized training on biohazard cleanups for employees annually.
- Offer employees post-exposure evaluations and follow-up with medical personnel in the case of an exposure incident.
- Have an emergency action plan in place. Exit routes are likely obstructed and the greater amount of contents present a greater risk of fire. Communicate the action plan at the onset of the job and ensure all employees are present.
- Create a cleaning and staging area. This is preferably done outside as there isn’t typically enough space inside. If weather dictates that cleaning must take place indoors, empty one room and clean and disinfect the room completely with an EPA approved disinfectant.
- If working outside, be prepared with cleaning tables and if needed, pop up tents to create shade and shelter for employees.
- Be courteous and respectful to the hoarder at all times, sensitive to the individual’s feelings in the cleanup process.
- Enlist the assistance of one of the hoarder’s relatives and ask them to be present on the job to make decisions on what is discarded and what should be salvaged.
It is important to note that if a hoarding cleanup job does present biohazard concerns, the timeline of the service will increase given the additional number of precautions necessary. For example, in a recent hoarding clean up experience, the team at ARS was called upon to address a one-bedroom apartment filled with clothing, boxes, and paper goods piled from floor to ceiling. Upon arrival, the team was notified that the resident was HIV positive and syringes were found within the property. As a result, the crew needed to use tongs to individually remove several contaminated items to avoid contact. This slowed down the process significantly but ensured the safety of the crew in completing the job.
Given the sensitivities in a hoarding cleanup, it is also important to provide daily communication with the property owner and his or her family to ensure they are well informed as they navigate this difficult process. Daily email updates and personal phone calls are critical to keep the hoarder, and family up to date on the project timeline and set expectations. In doing so, you become a partner to the client, eliminate issues and build trust. The intangible elements often become the most important part of a job well done.
Hoarding presents a very real danger to all those involved. As the epidemic continues to rise, it is critically important for the restoration industry, called upon to safely and effectively decontaminate and sanitize properties, to understand and address all the potential hazards to keep both property owners and their own crews safe in the cleanup process.
Types of Storm Damage
Wind Damage Restoration
Hurricane damage sometimes includes severe wind damage. Roof damage in this situation may range from a missing roof, to harsh winds and rains shearing away asphalt tiles. Roof repair of obvious defects usually ensues in the wake of hurricane damage and storm remediation. Correcting roof damage may challenge homeowners after a disaster, since a roof leak may not appear obvious.
How can a roof leak and roof damage escape easy detection in this situation? Wind damage may loosen flashing, eventually causing another roof leak weeks after the storm. Even a subtle roof leak of this nature can produce damp, moldy conditions inside the home. Obtaining fast roof repair may prevent long term interior damage. A wind damage home restoration expert may assist clients in receiving comprehensive roof assessments and roof repair services when hurricane damage afflicts an area. Their expertise helps property owners address storm damage and roof damage more effectively.
Flooding And Recovery
Flood water frequently poses a risk in coastal areas. Yet heavy rains may cause river flooding miles inland also. If the surrounding terrain cannot absorb ground water, runoff contributes to flood water. Even residents of mountainous areas sometimes sustain varying degrees of flood damage if frozen pipes rupture. Flood pump failures contribute to basement flooding and contaminated ground water in some locations, too.
Flooding may disrupt municipal water systems. Experts need to assess ground water and evaluate the condition of pipes following flood damage. Hiring a storm restoration firm may allow you to begin your cleanup process even before water restoration occurs. (Cleaning before water restoration often proves essential yet challenging.) By relying upon a trained specialist, you'll usually obtain faster storm remediation. These experts may suggest ways to help mitigate flood water damage in the future, for instance, by requesting backup flood pump installation.
No Job is TO BIG OR TO SMALL
What do you do if you have a large commercial or small business water loss? How can anyone possibly clean up all that water and get your business back open? SERVPRO of Hattiesburg has the equipment, employees and the expertise to get the job done right every time.
No Job Is Too Large or to Small
Our SERVPRO team can get on the scene with a trailer mounted dehumidifier, called a desiccant, air movers and LGR dehumidifier, mat drying systems and all state of the art equipment.
We take pride in providing our employees with the best tools, training, equipment, and vehicles to effectively and efficiently get the problem solved with minimal stress and impact on our customers. We know it is never anticipated when a water emergency occurs, but when you call in our SERVPRO of Hattiesburg you can count on us to get things clean and dry even when it seems impossible!
We can also provide you with an ERP - Emergency Ready Profile to help you prepare before an event occurs.
If your business suffers a major loss, call SERVPRO of Hattiesburg at 601-544-0512 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. We are always available to help you and your business.
Thermal Imaging Technology
Detecting a temperature difference behind a wall can save big bucks and time by avoiding the need for demolition and an idea where the source of water problem may lie. Temperature differences do not always indicate moisture or water. It could be cool air from outside, so it requires some skill to determine if it’s one thing or another.
Thermal cameras serve to guide the user to the cold spots usually associated with moisture. Moisture spots, where evaporation is happening, tend to be cooler, just like humans sweating. Most commonly, thermal imaging is used to find the source of a roof leak, condensation issues, leaking pipes, or air flow issues.
In areas where moisture problems are abundant, like Seattle, the reasons for moisture can be very, very different, but the end consequence is moisture in the space, which can deteriorate the structure, and trigger mold growth. Often, moisture problems are not in the most visibly noticeable locations, as infrared discovered here in this wood-paneled wall and dark, low-pile, loop carpeting.
At first, the darker blue area on the camera was thought to be a normal pattern seen in many wood-frame buildings, which is quite common on corners. However, the larger light-green area showing was a clue that something more was happening, however. In fact, this was a result of a water leak in an adjoining upstairs room.
These two infrared images show where water from an unattended bathtub overflow in an upstairs room had entered the space between the floors and pooled on the drywall of the downstairs ceiling. Knowing the location and extent of moisture infiltration is critical in determining the best course of remediation
This infrared image clearly shows the heat from hot water leaking out of a supply pipe down the inside of the plumbing wall cavity behind the shower panel. Pinpointing the approximate location of this leak saved considerable time, effort and money in resolving the issue.
SERVPRO of Hattiesburg technicians use FLIR Infared Cameras on job sites to assist in finding where/what the source may be if the customer is unsure.
Highly Trained Restoration Specialists
Our SERVPRO Professionals are highly trained in property restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO's Corporate Training Facility to regular IICRC industry certifications, our Professionals are equipped with the knowledge to restore your property. Our SERVPRO training program includes the following:
- IICRC Training
- Employee Certification Training
- Initial Franchise Trainin
Natural Disaster Pet Safety Guide
Natural Disaster Pet Safety Guide
Natural disasters affect every member of the family, including our pets. In an effort to keep our four legged family members safe and promote preparedness during the storm season, Nationwide, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance, has released its Natural Disaster Pet Safety Guide.
In anticipation of severe weather, Nationwide encourages pet owners to prepare a grab-and-go bag filled with essential pet supplies, including:
- Bottled water
- Pet food (enough for at least five days)
- Any medication your pet is on.
- Portable feeding bowls
- Collar with identification tag and cell phone number
- Current photos of your pets
- List of emergency contacts including your veterinarian
- Copy of pet vaccination records
- Leash for dogs, pet carrier for cats or small pets
- Waste bags
- First-aid kit
A pet carrier will provide your pet with safe housing on the go, and can be used to store all of your pet emergency items in one place. Keep food, water and medications current by rotating supplies on a periodic basis.
Locate Veterinary Resources
Pet owners should become knowledgeable of local emergency veterinary hospitals in their community and surrounding areas. If a pet becomes injured in the midst of a natural disaster, prompt veterinary care may help limit long term damage. The most common disaster related pet injuries are*:
InjuryCostSmoke inhalation$246Blunt Force Trauma$401Lacerations$346
*Based on Nationwide’s database of more than 550,000 insured pets.
Locate a Pet Refuge
Nationwide encourages pet owners to familiarize themselves with local pet-centric resources within their area. Pet shelters are often used as temporary holding facilities for lost pets during a catastrophe. Awareness of pet friendly hotels outside the immediately affected area can prevent owners and their pets from being separated in the event of housing displacement.
“The effects of a natural disaster can have a major impact on the lives of household pets,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for Nationwide. “We encourage pet owners to incorporate their pet’s well being into their storm preparations. Having the correct supplies and resources on hand can ensure a pet’s safety and prevent him or her from becoming separated from their family.”
Do You Have Mold?
Just the idea of mold can cause panic for a homeowner. It can create structural issues and seriously affect your property value. But how do you even know if you have mold and how should you proceed if you do?
Did you know that mold is a fungus that’s an integral part of the earth’s bio-mass? It consumes and breaks down organic material, like leaves, wood, and plants. A problem can occur when mold colonizes in our buildings, consumes our building materials, and puts spores into our indoor air. This happens when there’s a moisture problem since mold cannot grow without water. When there’s enough moisture or humidity for colonization, that’s when humans begin to have problems.
The unfortunate reality is that problematic mold can really pop up anywhere that isn’t dry. It is most often seen in attics due to roof leaks, poor air circulation, and bathrooms that ventilate into the attic rather than outdoors; crawl spaces because earthen or gravel flooring allows moisture and spores to rise from the soil; basements that have flooding from foundation leaks or plumbing leaks; and interior living spaces with leaks, bad windows, and high humidity.
The following are criteria that you should be aware of:
- A musty odor is caused during the colonization of some fungal species, but can come and go depending on moisture levels and air current changes.
- If you have water staining or if building materials have discoloration that’s spreading over time… that may be a sign of mold.
- Mold spores that were already present will begin to colonize just 48 hours after a water event.
The remediation process (providing a remedy to a known mold issue) involves three things. Those three things are:
- Killing the fungi,
- Removing the dead mold, and
- Protecting against future mold growth/colonization.
There is a multi-step process that should be followed.
- Contain work area and apply negative air pressure HEPA air purifiers to prevent cross-contamination.
- Mist EPA registered anti-microbial to suspend and kill mold spores.
- Remove affected building surfaces.
- Bag and dispose properly
- Treat cavities/underlayment and dehumidify.
- Abrasively remove dead loose mold.
- Apply EPA registered protective sealer.
- Perform clearance testing.
- Remove containment materials.
It is always a good idea to consult with a mold remediation professional. If there’s an issue you can believe you can tackle yourself, they could give you recommendations about how to do so. Usually it is best to let a professional do the remediation to keep your family/employees safe while preventing cross contamination, killing mold, removing it and preventing new mold from growing.
At SERVPRO of Hattiesburg our technicians are certified professionals in Mold Remediation
3 Warning Signs
Signs of Mold
Nothing sends shivers through a homeowner's spine like mentioning the word "mold." Not only can it cause damage to your home and make it hard to sell, it also can be a health hazard to you and your family. Here are three warning signs of this insidious fungus that you don't want to ignore:
1) Water spots
Any wet spot in your Hattiesburg home can be a potential sign of fungus growth. This can include water spots on your ceilings or walls, or on floors in your basement or crawlspace. If you find evidence of water spots, you need to find the potential moisture source and get it taken care of promptly. Using a highly-recommended remediation company like SERVPRO of Hattiesburg is the best option.
If you find a spot on a wall or floor that's discolored, it is a potential sign of mold. Discoloration that is green or black is a definite warning sign of fungus growth. However, any discoloration can mean growth is present, even if it isn't of the tell-tale colors.
3) Bad smell
If you have fungus growth in your home, it can cause a bad smell. Depending on the type of growth and how much of it you have, you could have a very strong smell or one that is faint. It can smell musty or earthy, or it can produce a smell that is more pungent. Any bad smell needs to be investigated.
Mold can be harmful and is not something to be ignored. If you experience any of these warning signs, call SERVPRO of Hattiesburg to investigate. Our staff receives extensive training on how to effectively deal with mold infestations. We also have the equipment and start of the art techniques to carry out remediation and keep your home safe and clean.
Hotel Carpet Cleaning
A busy hotel in Hattiesburg is something to brag about! A high occupancy rate means you are doing something right, and it shows.
With lots of guests come lots of maintenance challenges, too. High traffic means more damage in those areas guests visit most often, and no area of your hotel sees more traffic than the flooring.
An expensive carpeting can last longer and be more cost efficient in the long run as well as being manufactured to handle high traffic situations much better, repelling heavy soiling and bad odors from wet, icy, or muddy conditions. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for; it may actually save you money spent on carpet maintenance when you invest in higher quality flooring.
There are a lot of great products on the market that you can use to help guard your carpets against damages and odors caused by spills and flooding from bathrooms, like overflowing toilets or broken piping. These products can also keep your carpets looking fresh even after all those shoes have come through.
Make sure the housekeeping staff is vacuuming thoroughly on a daily basis. Instruct them to take care of corners and edging; dingy corners and edges of carpeted areas can make an entire room look and smell unpleasant from potential mold growth if not maintained well. Your cleaning staff also needs to be trained and encouraged to communicate with you and your management team whenever they see (or smell) a problem - mold can take hold quickly, and once it’s established and beginning to spread, it can be difficult to get rid of.
A regularly scheduled professional cleaning throughout your establishment can help to keep your whole Brunswick hotel looking and smelling great, and deep cleaning can preserve carpeting, helping to preserve the condition and look of your flooring, and saving you money.
SERVPRO of Hattiesburg experienced in those big cleaning jobs, and we are here to help with any emergency restoration services, such as fire or flood cleanup. Call us at 601-544-0512
5 Tricks to Keep Your Gym Bag Smelling Fresh
While working out is great for your health, dealing with stinky gym bags is important too! Whether we realize it or not, our gym bags can gather bacteria over time from our dirty gym clothes and accessories. Not only is it unhealthy, but the smell can become gross! Fortunately, SERVPRO of Hattiesburg some tips for you to use when it comes to the deodorization of your smelly gym bag!
Disinfect the Bag
The most logical approach to odor removal would be to disinfect the bag whenever you get the chance. Take some disinfecting wipes and scrub the insides of the bag thoroughly to properly remove any bacteria that’s been festering
Do this at least twice a week to keep the germs out of your bag and to eliminate nasty smells that can build up.
Don’t Keep Dirty Clothes in the Bag
One of the first things many people do once home from the gym is allow the bag to sit full of dirty gym clothes. Even when you come back later to remove the clothes, the more time they’re allowed to sit in a damp environment, the more chances the germs have to spread and create a nasty smell. As soon as you’re home, dump your gym bag out into the dirty clothes hamper to avoid this problem.
Let it Breathe
You’ve scrubbed the inside, kept the dirty clothes out, what more could you do to keep the bag clean? One of the best methods is the simplest: let it breathe. Any time is a good time to let your bag stay open to let it breathe in some fresh air. This will allow any odors to be released into the air, and fresh air to fill the bag.
To ensure that your bag stays fresh for longer periods of time, use protective measures to eliminate smells. Dryer sheets, essential oils, and more are fantastic ways to help keep your gym bag smelling cleaner. There are dozens of methods to use to stay proactive on the deodorization process, pick which method works best for you!
Keep your Shoes Out of the Bag If Possible
Finally, keep your shoes out of the bag if possible when it comes time to leave the gym. Shoes contain a mass amount of bacteria and can transfer germs to other items, or even fabrics inside of the bag. While it can't always be helped, do your best to keep the shoes separate from the rest, and it will help with your odor problem!
CONTACT US Important Tips for Choosing a Biohazard Cleanup Service
Always Choose a Trained Professional
- Because it’s traumatic: No one should have to deal with the personal impact of cleaning up after the traumatic loss of a loved one. A professional SERVPRO can get a situation cleaned up quickly, compassionately and discreetly.
- Because it’s safer: Federal regulations classify all human and animal remains, including blood, urine, feces, vomit and bodily fluids, as biohazards. This is because they have the potential of carrying life-threatening pathogens such as Hepatitis B and C, AIDS, HIV, MRSA, Tuberculosis and many more. The safe cleanup and removal of biohazardous materials involves extensive analysis and detailed work, and the use of state-of-the-art cleaning and odor removal technologies.
Licensed Bonded & Insured
It is important to use licensed professionals because they conduct safe cleanup, removal and disposal of biohazardous waste. Additional considerations include being registered and compliant with OSHA and FEMA, federal agencies that oversee disasters and workplace safety. Cleanup crews will be coming into your home or the home of your loved one, so be sure the professional you choose is bonded and insured.
Will Work with Insurance Companies
- In most cases, insurance will cover much or all of the cost of traumatic even cleanup. You can minimize or eliminate your out-of-pocket expenses by working with licensed and bonded professionals such as SERVPRO of Hattiesburg who will deal directly with insurance companies, saving you one more headache in this already difficult process.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. Can I just use my regular cleaning or janitorial service for biohazard cleanup of blood or bodily fluids?
A: Not unless your regular cleaning or janitorial service has been properly trained and equipped to handle biohazard cleanup and waste such as blood or bodily fluids, and has a legal place to dispose of the recovered biohazardous waste.
Q: Who pays for bio-recovery services?
A: In many cases home, business or auto insurance will pay for bio-recovery services. Ultimately the property owner may be responsible for cost of the service.
Q: Can I have an employee of my business clean the scene?
A: Federal Regulation 29cfr1910.1030 states that no employee can be placed in a position to be exposed to biohazard cleanup of blood spills without first:
- Receiving Blood Borne Pathogen (bbp) training.
- Having a written BBP exposure control plan.
- Having been provided personal protective equipment.
- Having been offered Hepatitis B vaccine and exposure evaluation and follow-up.
- Being provided with a method to remove and properly store the bio-hazardous waste in properly marked containers for disposal at an approved site.