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Top ways to Prevent a Christmas Tree Fire

11/13/2018 (Permalink)

Here is a list from the NFPA and FEMA's U.S. Fire Administration:

  • When choosing a tree, look for the one that is fresh and has green needles that don't fall out. Brownish needles mean the tree is dried out and more prone to catch fire.
  • Water your tree daily to prevent it from drying out.
  • Check the manufacturer's labels to ensure you use only lights and decorations that are flame-retardant. Look for a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories, Intertek or the Canadian Standards Association, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  •  Check holiday lights for frayed wires or excessive wear.
  • Don't connect more than three strands of mini-string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs
  • Keep your tree at least 3 feet away from any heat source, such as a fireplace, radiator, candles or lights.
  • Make sure your tree is not blocking an exit. In case there is a fire, you want a way to get out.
  • Always turn off lights on a tree before going to bed or leaving your home.
  • Get rid of a tree when its needles start dropping. It means the tree is drying out.
  • Check that your smoke alarm is working properly.

Call your Local SERVPRO of South Elkhart County at 574-533-2500 or go to our webpage at http://www.SERVPROsouthelkhartcounty.com

Storm Damage Season

9/4/2018 (Permalink)

24 Hour Emergency Service

Flooding, water emergencies, and storm damage do not wait for regular business hours and neither do we. SERVPRO of South Elkhart county provides emergency cleaning and restoration services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including all holidays. You can expect an immediate response time, day or night.

Need Emergency Service? Call us 24/7 - (574)533-2500

Faster to Any Size Emergency

In many cleaning and restoration situations, immediate action is needed. With over 1,700 United States and Canadian Franchise locations, SERVPRO is strategically positioned to be faster to any size emergency. An immediate response helps to minimize the damage and the cleaning and restoration costs. Water is particularly invasive, quickly spreading throughout your propertyand being absorbed into floors, walls, furniture, and many other things. SERVPRO of South Elkhart county arrives quickly and starts the water extraction process almost immediately.

Water Damage Timeline

Within Minutes

  • Water quickly spreads throughout your property, saturating everything in its path.
  • Water is absorbed into walls, floors, upholstery, and belongings.
  • Furniture finishes may bleed, causing permanent staining on carpets.
  • Photographs, books, and other paper goods start to swell and warp.

Hours 1-24:

  • Drywall begins to swell and break down.
  • Metal surfaces begin to tarnish.
  • Furniture begins to swell and crack.
  • Dyes and inks from cloth and paper goods spread and stain.
  • A musty odor appears.

48 hours- 1 Week:

  • Mold and mildew may grow and spread.
  • Doors, windows, and studs swell and warp.
  • Metal begins to rust and corrode.
  • Furniture warps and shows signs of mold.
  • Paint begins to blister.
  • Wood flooring swells and warps.
  • Serious biohazard contamination is possible.

More Than 1 Week:

  • Restoration time and cost increase dramatically. Replacing contaminated materials and structural rebuilding may be extensive.
  • Structural safety, mold growth, and biohazard contaminants pose serious risks to occupants. 

Destroy Odors With Deodorization

9/4/2018 (Permalink)

Even a small fire can cause odors for years to come if the affected areas are not properly cleaned and deodorized. Fire, smoke, and soot damage in your home or business can create unpleasant and potentially permanent problems. As various materials burn, the smoke produced travels throughout the structure, leaving odorous residues and deposits on surfaces and in hard-to-reach places. Unless fast, professional action is taken, these residues and deposits can cause permanent damage to contents and may result in resurfacing odors. With technicians certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration (IIRC), SERVPRO of South Elkhart County Franchise Professionals provide specialized services that can rid your home or business of offensive odors left by fire or smoke damage. SERVPRO of South Elkhart County Franchise Professionals do not cover up lingering odors with a fragrance; they seek out and remove the sources of the odor. If you or a customer suffer a fire damage or some other accident and require deodorization services, contact SERVPRO of South Elkhart County Franchise Professionals at (574) 533-2500. Whether its fire, water, or mold damage, or just a stubborn odor that refuses to go away, we'll help make it "Like it never even happened."

Other Odors that may require DEODORIZATION:

  • Cigarette Smoke
  • Pet Odors
  • Decomposition
  • Mold

In a disaster, SERVPRO is "Ready for whatever happens."

9/4/2018 (Permalink)

When a storm or disaster strikes, SERVPRO's Disaster Recovery Team is poised and "Ready for whatever happens." With a network of more than 1,700 Franchises, the SERVPRO System strives to be faster to any size disaster. Strategically located throughout the United States, SERVPRO's Disaster Recovery Team is trained and equipped to handle the largest storms and highest flood waters. Providing experience, manpower, equipment, and other resources, the Disaster Recovery Team assists SERVPRO of South Elkhart County Franchise Professionals. SERVPRO's Disaster Recovery Team has responded to hundreds of disaster events. In the aftermath of a disaster, there is only one objective, to help you make it "Like it never even happened." We helped with 2017 Hurricane Harvey, 2017 Mid-West Flooding, 2018 Mid-Atlantic Freeze, 2018 Indiana Area Microburst, 2018 Mid-West Freeze, 2018 Maryland Flooding.

Build an Emergency Kit

9/4/2018 (Permalink)

Be Prepared at your home or business with an Emergency Kit. Ready.gov suggests you have enough supplies to last for at least three days. Below are some suggested items to include in your kit: 

  • 3 day supply of non-perishable foods
  • Water (one+ gallon per person per day) 
  • First-aid kit
  • Prescription medication 
  • Sleeping bag or blankets
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Hygiene products
  • Flashlights
  • Extra batteries
  • Cell phone charger
  • Change of clothes
  • Matches in waterproof container
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities 
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Pet supplies
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Important documents such as insurance policies, IDs, and bank records in a plastic container

Tips For Protecting Your Business Against Fire Devastation

9/4/2018 (Permalink)

When you own your own business, you can't afford to be unprepared for extreme circumstances. If your commercial building in South Elkhart County, caught fire, for example, it would be helpful to have a plan for dealing with the aftermath. Here are some fire preparation tips that can help you handle emergencies as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Data Backup

Every important electronic document should be regularly backed up, and at least one backup copy should be stored in an off-site location. There is a collection of essential information you need to keep your business running smoothly, including:

• Payroll records
• Customer contact and billing information
• Supplier contact information
• List of inventory, equipment and essential assets
• List of the cost of replacing essential equipment and supplies

It is also advisable to store the numbers of fire mitigation experts and your insurance company with the copies of your important business documents. Then you don't have to scrounge to find the first numbers you need to call.

Insurance Coverage

Proper fire preparation involves knowing that your business is covered if something should happen. Review your insurance portfolio with your agent to make sure that you have covered all your bases beyond the standard general liability and property policies. 

Disaster Plan

Every business should have a detailed disaster preparation plan. The plan should include evacuation procedures, task delegation, relocation decisions and a business continuity outline. All employees should receive training on the plan as well as the opportunity to complete a test run to identify unforeseen flaws. Don't wait until the fire damage has already occurred to decide how you are going to proceed.

It's never too early to protect your business against potential fire devastation. Make sure you have protected important information, made an emergency plan and purchased sufficient insurance coverage. Sufficient fire preparation could mean the difference between your company’s survival after a fire and its demise.

What Type of Damage Can Cold Weather Storms Cause

9/4/2018 (Permalink)

Cold-weather storms can cause just as much damage to your building as thunderstorms or tornadoes. While a blizzard may not cause rain flooding, it can introduce other issues for your property:

• Burst pipe
• Collapsed roof
• Ice buildup

Your storm damage restoration professional may be able to go over other types of damage common in the winter months.

Plumbing Issues

When the temperatures drop below freezing, your pipes may be at risk for freezing up. This is especially true for any plumbing in exterior walls. If you don't heat your entire building, you may have an even higher risk of getting a frozen pipe somewhere on your property. When the liquid within the piping freezes, it expands. This can cause cracks to form, which can lead to leaks and floods.

Roofing Problems

Winter storms are often associated with high winds that can cause roof damage. If parts of your roofing system are torn off, it can expose the plumbing in your attic to the cold weather. This can lead to a burst pipe, but a damaged roof can invite other moisture into your space as well. For example, the weight of the snow on your roof can cause a collapse, which sends lots of snow into your building.

Ice buildup is another common roofing problem caused by winter storms. The snow accumulates on your roof. As the weather warms up, the snow at the peaks starts to melt first. Once the melt reaches the edges of the roof, it may start to freeze again. This cycle causes the formation of ice dams, which can lead to standing water in your commercial building.

Winter storms can be unkind to your commercial building. Knowing that you may have to deal with a burst pipe or another source of flooding during the winter can help you prepare for the worst eventuality.

How Landscaping Can Help Protect a Home From Flooding

9/4/2018 (Permalink)

Many homeowners think of landscape design as a way to improve the aesthetics of their property and enhance their enjoyment of the surrounding nature, but landscaping can also help protect a home from flooding. Outside flooding can destroy the lawn and garden around a house and increases the risk of water damage inside the home. These three tips can help you decrease your chances of flooding.

1. Make Sure Water Drains Away From the House

It’s important to check your downspout before the rain storm comes. Not only do you want to look for and repair any damages, but you should also ensure that water drains away from the house. In addition to the standard downspouts used in home construction, there are also ornamental rain drainage systems that can help direct the water even further away from the house. Diverting this water to a garden bed, or other porous surface, can also help prevent flooding.

2. Check That Rain Water Has Somewhere To Go

Outside flooding occurs when rain water does not have a clear path to a drainage source or when water cannot be absorbed into the ground around the house. As part of your landscaping, you can install other drainage sources such as sub-surface drains or catch basins. You could also install a dry streambed or a swale on a sloped surface to create a path for the water to flow away from the house. 

3. Ensure That Your Mulch Can Withstand Heavy Rains

Lightweight mulch can easily float away in a rain storm. This mulch is harder to clean up after a storm, and during a storm it can clog drains and result in flooding. Using heavier mulch that stays in place may help avoid these problems.

September is National Preparedness Month

9/4/2018 (Permalink)

September is recognized as National Preparedness Month to remind everyone that “we must all take action, now and throughout the year, for the types of emergencies that could affect us where we live, work, and also where we visit,” (ready.gov).

With the recent flooding in Louisiana in mind, the last thing you want to worry about is how to communicate and what to do during a disaster like this horrific event that killed hundreds and left many families without homes.

What you can do:

  • Make A Family Plan – you may not be together with your family during a disaster.
    • Set up emergency alerts from local officials
    • Discuss family plans for disasters and plan where to go for safety.
    • Collect information on paper including, phone numbers, emails, social media, medical facilities, doctors, service providers, school
    • Decide on safe, familiar places where your family can go for protection and if you have pets think about animal-friendly locations
  • Take Action – ensure you can go for at least 3 days without electricity, water service, access to supermarket, or other local services
    • Prepare a disaster supply kit (water, food, battery-powered radio, flashlight, first aid kit, whistle, local maps)
    • Bookmark weather.gov to stay informed on severe weather
    • Learn about wireless emergency alerts, messages that will be sent to your phone during an emergency

Consider the following disasters that can occur at any time: Learn more about hazards which can affect your community and ways you can take action to prepare.

  • Earthquakes – can occur suddenly and be deadly. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.
  • Floods - Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States and can happen anywhere.
  • Hurricanes - have the power to cause widespread devastation, and can affect both coastal and inland areas.
  • Tornadoes - are one of nature’s most violent storms, and can cause death, injury, and destruction within seconds.
  • Wildfires - can occur anywhere and can destroy homes, businesses, infrastructure, natural resources, and agriculture

Top 5 Causes Of House Fires

9/4/2018 (Permalink)

Here are top 5 most common causes of house fires as identified by the National Fire Protection Association.

  1. Candles

From 2007-2011, the NFPA says there were an average of 10,630 fires in the U.S. that were started by candles, causing 115 deaths, 903 injuries and approximately $418 million in property damage. That is an average of 29 candle fires per day.

Safety tips:

  • Never leave a candle burning near flammable items.
  • Never leave a candle burning in a child’s room or an unoccupied room.
  • Make sure candles fit securing into candle holders so they won’t tip over.
  • Blow out any candles before leaving a room or going to sleep
  1. Smoking

While the number of fires caused by smoking is trending downward, the NFPA found that there were still an average of 17,600 related fires per year resulting in 490 deaths and more than $516 million in property damage.

Safety tips:

  • If you smoke, consider smoking outside.
  • Use wide, sturdy ashtrays to catch butts and ashes.
  • Look for cigarette butts under furniture and between seat cushions to make sure no lit butts have fallen someplace where they can’t be seen.
  • Don’t smoke in bed, when you’re tired or around medical oxygen.
  1. Electrical & Lighting

According to the NFPA, in 2011 approximately 47,700 home structure fires were caused by some sort of electrical failure or malfunction. These resulted in 418 deaths, 1,570 injuries and $1.4 billion in property damage.

Safety tips:

  • Don’t overload outlets or electrical cords.
  • Make sure you have the right cord for the job – inside cords for inside, heavy duty/outside cords for outdoor use.
  • Don’t leave Christmas lights, Christmas trees, or halogen lights on overnight or when not at home.
  • Consider having an electrician perform an annual checkup of your home’s wiring.
  1. Dryers & Washing Machines

Clothes dryer fires happen more often than one might think, accounting for 16,800 home structure fires in 2010 and doing more than $236 million in property damage. 

Safety tips:

  • Clean the lint screen frequently and don’t run the dryer without it.
  • For gas and propane dryers, make sure there aren’t any leaks in the lines.
  • Vent the dryer to the outside of the house and ensure nothing blocks the vent pipe.
  • Clean the vent pipe and the area where the screen is housed.
  • Keep the area around the dryer free of combustible materials.
  1. Lightning

From 2007-2011, NFPA says there were an average of 22,600 fires per year caused by lightning strikes.

Safety tips:

  • Stay away from doors and windows during an electrical storm.
  • Do not use corded phones, computers, TVs or other electrical equipment during storms.
  • Unplug major electronics – TVs, stereo equipment, computers and microwaves to minimize damage if there is a lightning strike close by.
  • Avoid plumbing such as sinks, baths and faucets during a thunderstorm.

You experience a fire in your home, don't hesitate to call SERVPRO of South Elkhart County (574) 533-2500.