We recently had a homeowner contact us regarding a property that they were wanting to purchase. The home had been vacant for a great deal of time, and had not had any air circulation through the home. It had also had a hot tub drained on the second floor of the home which led to excess moisture.
When our staff member arrived at the home and entered, the home was entirely covered in mold. The homeowners had been walking through the home periodically for weeks with no protective respirator or gear at all. They had no idea that this could be a hazard to their health. This home is in need of total demo and rebuild inside, and the amount of mold in the home was frightening.
If you suspect that there is mold in your home or business, please take the necessary precautions to protect your health. Have it tested by a professional, and have it restored by a professional. Your health is much more important than the risk is worth.
Fall is a wonderful time of year! Cooler weather, bonfires, holiday foods. It is also a great time to begin some preparation on your home for the coming cooler weather.
Here are some tips that can help you make sure your home is ready for the next seasons. Most of these are easily done by a homeowner, with no need for a professional!
Get your mind in the gutters. Inspect and clean gutters and downspouts.
Button up your overcoat. Seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors with weather-stripping and caulk.
Get on top of roof problems. Inspect your roof for damaged or curled shingles, corroded flashing, or leaky vents.
Walks the walks (and drives). Take steps to repair damaged sidewalks, driveways, and steps.
Chill out. Drain and winterize outdoor faucets and irrigation systems.
Freshen your filter. Clean or replace dirty furnace filters.
Give your furnace a physical. Have a professional inspect your heating system.
Gather round the hearth. Check fireplaces for soot or creosote build-up. Better yet, schedule a visit from a reputable chimney sweep.
Keep the humidifier humming. Clean the plates or pads to ensure efficient operation.
Head-off gas problems. If you have a gas-fired room heater, have it inspected by a pro. Also, perform any routine maintenance recommended by the maker.
Keep the wood fires burning brightly. Wood stoves are making a comeback. To avoid a deadly situation, be sure to inspect yours before firing it up.
Keep your family safe at home. A home safety check should be an annual ritual in every household. Test smoke and CO monitors, inspect (or install) fire extinguishers, review fire escape plans, and rid your home of old newspapers and other fire hazards.
Fall is my favorite time of year. Hands down. Pumpkin spice candles, cool weather, colorful leaves. Colorful leaves.........those can also be a hazard. As beautiful as they may be falling in your yard and creating that wonderful fall appearance, they also fall into your gutters, which causes a whole list of problems.
Here are some tips to help prevent water damage from occurring this year:
heck and clean your gutters at regular intervals throughout the year, but especially during autumn when leaves are falling.
Consider installing gutter guards that screen out leaves and other debris while still admitting roof runoff.
To ensure adequate drainage and avoid overflows during heavy rains, you should have one downspout for every 40 feet of gutter length.
Make sure your gutters aren’t sagging. For optimum drainage into downspouts, gutters are installed with a slight pitch. Sagging disrupts proper gravity flow of water and triggers overflow.
Install downspout extensions that divert runoff far enough from the house to prevent penetration into the foundation or basement walls. Ideally, each downspout should discharge water at least three feet from the house. Downspouts can also be connected to an underground pipe to convey water even further away.
Anytime you have multiple employees working in a building, coming and going at different times, utilizing different appliances or outlets in the building, you run the risk of a fire. Unless you have the absolute perfect system of accountability, there is always the risk of a forgotten appliance or forgotten candle burning that may cause fire.
Here are a few tips to help prevent fires in your business:
Keep your work area free of waste paper, trash and other items that can easily catch fire.
Check on your electrical cords. If a cord is damaged in any way, replace it. Try not to lay cords in places where they can be stepped on, as this will contribute to deterioration of the protective outside coating.
Don't overload your circuits.
Turn off electrical appliances at the end of each day.
Keep heat producing equipment away from anything that might burn. This includes copiers, coffee makers, computers, etc.
In the event that you DO have a fire, here are some tips to follow to ensure employee safety and expedient response by emergency responders:
Upon finding a fire, call 911 immediately and don't hand up with the emergency responder until told to do so.
Close doors when exiting to help limit the spread of smoke and fire throughout the building.
Never use elevators during an evacuation.
Follow the escape plan and meet at a per-determined place outside of your building and away from danger. Conduct a headcount to ensure all of your staff has evacuated.
After several weeks of successful storm work, our teams are soon to be headed back to Hattiesburg. We were proud to be a part of this storm team, and they have experienced a lot during this trip. The amount of devastation that the people of Houston and surrounding areas suffered is intense, and our crew members have been honored to be a part of their restoration process.
Our guys witnessed devastation over there that made them hurt for the residents there. On top of providing the professional services that we are accustomed to, our guys also found themselves playing the role of "shoulder to lean on" and "listening ear" as the homeowners processed the damages and the emotional toll it took on them.
Being a part of storm teams is a blessing to us, as we not only get to do what makes our business grow, but we also get to be a part of such an uplifting and humbling event.
It is with heavy hearts and deep concern that we post this morning that one of our own, SMR Travis Darby, has been diagnosed with Stage 4 esophageal cancer. This has come as a complete shock to him and his family. He was in Houston assisting with the Hurricane Harvey efforts and had some issues which caused him to go the ER. Once there, they were given this shocking diagnosis. Travis has been with the SERVPRO family for five years, and he is truly that - family. We will be starting some fund raisers soon to assist them in the financial strain that will accompany this illness. We will also be accepting donations to give to the family. Donations can be made at our office, and 100% will go to Travis. Please keep him in your prayers continually as he faces this storm.
With the recent storms in Texas, everyone is thinking about what has happened, and what could happen. Everyone tries to be prepared for before and during the storm, but very few people get far enough to think about what to do AFTER a storm.
Here are a few tips from the American Red Cross to help with post-hurricane chaos.
Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.
Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
Stay out of any building that has water around it.
Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes.
Use flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles.
Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.
Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control.
Unfortunately, too many people are aware of what extensive damage a hurricane can do to their home or business. Once the initial shock of the storm was begun to fade, they are then left with the next big questions........what next? How do I rebuild? Where do I go from here?
Here are a few tips from the American Red Cross to help in that process.
As you rebuild
Secure double entry doors at the top and the bottom.
Strengthen existing garage doors to improve the wind resistance, particularly double- wide garage doors.
Protect windows with permanent storm shutters or one-half inch marine plywood that is pre-cut to fit your doors and windows.
Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts to prevent flooding and unnecessary pressure on the awnings.
Select trees that are not as subject to uprooting to replace damaged ones. A gardening or landscaping professional can give you excellent advice.
Identify a place to store lawn furniture, toys, gardening tools and trash cans that is away from stairs and exits to prevent them from being moved by high winds and becoming missiles.
Ask a professional to
Ensure roof sheathing is properly installed.
Ensure end gables are securely fastened to the rest of the roof.
Fasten the roof to the walls with hurricane straps.
Elevate your home if it is near the coast and subject to flooding from storm surge.
Take caution and treat all electrical lines, wires, equipment and fixtures as if they are energized until proven otherwise.
Immediately evacuate buildings if a gas leak or odor is detected, and notify the site supervisor or competent person.
Monitor local road conditions and obey closure signs. Don’t drive though flowing water. Six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle and two feet of water will carry most cars away.
Standing water may not carry you away, but you may not be able to tell how deep it is. Unless you know how deep it is, it’s best to not drive through standing water.
Be aware of seen and unseen road hazards such as building debris, tree limbs, and pot holes. Also floods bring mud and roads can become very slick.
Gasoline, propane and diesel-powered equipment (such as portable generators, power washers, compressors and pumps) should only be operated in well-ventilated outdoor areas to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide gas.
Stay upwind of or away from dust-generating activities, in particular involving crystalline silica-containing materials like concrete, brick, tile, drywall, mortar, sand, or stone.
Identify building materials such as painted surfaces and pipes that may contain lead.
If an area is known or suspected to contain asbestos, ensure that an assessment has been done by a competent individual before entering the area; if asbestos is present, wait until it is removed or contained.
Notify the supervisor immediately if asbestos is identified at the site and stop work until it has been removed or contained.
Refrain from entering areas with extensive mold buildup.
Be aware of your surroundings. If there is evidence (sight or smell) of chemicals or their use, avoid that area and request an Industrial Hygienist accompany you.
Sharp, jagged debris
Construction or demolition debris.
Animal bites, both stray pets and wild animals.
Roofing and Working from Heights
Ensure the use of fall protection systems: guardrails, safety nets or fall arrest systems.
Identify areas of structural weakness.
Identify ladder hazards and ensure their safe use.
Ensure guarding on power tools is in good working order and always used.
Inspect all extension cords, remove from service those that are damaged, cut or have exposed wiring and inner insulation.
Use ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) or double-insulated power tools that are approved by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory.
Flood Waters (Drowning/Walking)
Same as with driving, six inches of moving water may cause you to lose your footing and two feet of water will carry you away. Stay out of moving water.
Even standing water can present similar hazards. The water most likely will not be clear; therefore you won’t see how deep even a small puddle is. Avoid walking in standing water unless you know it is safe to do so.
Be aware of seen and unseen hazards such as building debris, tree limbs, and pot holes. Also floods bring mud and walkways can become very slick.
Ensure the use of hearing protection when noise levels exceed 85 decibels. Generally, if you cannot hold a normal conversation at arm’s length due to noise, then hearing protection should be worn.
Always wash hands with soap and water before eating, drinking, smoking, applying lip balm or cosmetics to prevent contamination of the mouth, nose or eyes with hazardous materials or infectious agents. Use a waterless alcohol-based hand cleaner if water is not available.
Decontaminate raingear and rubber boots that have been exposed to potentially hazardous materials.