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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Archived Blog Posts

COVID-19 - Still Here and Still Challenging The Norm

5/12/2021 (Permalink)

Technician in PPE SERVPRO is trained and prepared to provide fully compliant COVID-19 / Coronavirus sanitizing and disinfecting services.

We first posted our COVID-19 Back To Business Plan blog last year.  At that time, we envisioned it would be a thing of the past.  A challenge we could look back at as bad times gone.  But, sadly, this is not the case, so we are re-posting our blog as businesses continue to re-open.

COVID-19 Back to Business Plan

With all the changes that a person or business encounters after any type of local, national, or global scale disaster we ALL need a plan to get back to business! Without it you will feel the impacts long after the event. We are here to help with some important steps and ideas for you to consider so that you can start off on the right path of getting back to your business normal confidently!

At SERVPRO we have over 50 years of proven experience working to make it "Like it never even happened."® A big part to achieving that has been by educating and empowering people and businesses in our local communities with tools they can use to recover or reopen or after a small or large disaster.

With re-opening dates for businesses coming up let us help you!

Pre-reopening and biological contamination prevention suggestions:

  • It is crucial to have an Employee Safety/Outbreak Response Plan in place if you don’t already.
  • Fogging and high touch cleaning recommended for businesses before reopening to give peace of mind to your employees and customers, so they feel secure coming back to work or shop. (Please be advised SERVPRO personnel adhere to protocols set forth by the CDC and we have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work that regular janitorial staff perform daily).
  • Set up scheduled cleanings in the future to be proactive instead of reactive.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for employees such as face masks and gloves.
  • Temperature Checks as warranted.
  • Shift Management / Space Separation / One Way Aisles.
  • Regular Hand Sanitation and Hand Washing.

Educating Employees in the Workplace

It’s important to prepare a Healthy work environment and educate Employees on how to safely return to work. It gives peace of mind where there could be fear and educates all employees of new policies and procedures moving forward.

  • Practice Good Hygiene! Stop shaking hands – use other non-contact methods of greeting. Clean hands with sanitizer or wash hands frequently. Avoid touching your face and cover coughs and sneezes. Disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, tables, desks, keyboards, phones/tablets, light switches and bathroom fixtures regularly. Increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning.
  • If any employee is feeling sick, they should stay home.
  • Under the revised EEOC guidelines as of March 2020, if an employee arrives at work displaying symptoms of respiratory illness the employer may check employee temperature. As with all medical information, the fact that an employee had a fever or other symptoms would be subject to ADA confidentiality requirements.
  • Business owners cannot require employees to have a vaccine if it becomes available.
  • Limit food sharing in the workplace.

Back to Business Basics

As professionals and business owners alike, it is important to quickly adapt to our current business climate.

  • Consider implementing physical distancing policies and practices.
  • Schedule videoconferencing for meetings when possible, when it is not possible, hold meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces.
  • Business travel should be assessed case-by-case as to necessity.
  • Employers must maintain the confidentiality of any employee with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or other sickness. There should be a system and process in place to protect their identity. However, you should inform employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 or other sickness because employees have the right to know there is a risk in their workplace. Those employees then can do their own risk assessment of their potential exposure based on guidance from the CDC.
  • Introduce supportive and more flexible sick leave policies that are consistent with current health guidance.
  • Be mindful that not all employees and customers may display symptoms and it is important to follow set guidelines.

We, at SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County, are experienced in all verticals, and our experts can work with your risk management and/or operations teams to provide consulting and best practices!

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

Like Us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter, or Instagram and follow the tips, tricks and advice we share with our community.

Mold and Humidity Threats in Vacation Residences

5/12/2021 (Permalink)

A closed-up vacation house can be a breeding ground for mold in the summer months. Moisture from a nearby lake or river, or the humidity in the air, can lead to that musty odor vacationers have come to expect upon arriving at their weekend getaway.

Mold is a particularly hidden foe. It exists nearly everywhere in an inactive state, and all it needs to grow is a food source (drywall will do nicely), and a source of moisture, such as high humidity.

To get rid of the damp odor, most homeowners will turn on the air conditioner and maybe a dehumidifier and wait for the smell to go away. While much of the odor may dissipate in a few hours, the mold is still there. And, when they leave for a week, it’s back again when they return.

That smell is more than just unpleasant; it’s an indication that mold is actively growing, potentially affecting health. Left untreated, mold will continue to grow and spread and can damage walls, ceilings, carpeting, and more. Every time the house is closed up and the a/c is turned off, the moisture creeps back in and the mold begins growing again.

MOISTURE SOLUTIONS

What can HVAC contractors do to help? First, it’s important to stress to customers that the key to preventing mold is to eliminate moisture. The first step is to address any leaks in roofing, chimneys, and foundations. Perhaps you can recommend someone who can do a thorough check and perform the repairs necessary to stop the leaks. If mold remediation is necessary, your customer should get bids from several companies that specialize in this, as it can be costly.

Reducing humidity through air conditioning is a key to controlling mold, but, of course, leaving the a/c on all summer long will run up utility bills. Fresh outside air is also critical, but vacation homeowners won’t want to leave windows open while they’re not using the property.

Some relatively new offerings in air conditioning systems can help manage mold problems. One example is a small-duct, high-velocity air handler, which has a unique cooling coil that removes 30 percent more humidity from the air than a traditional system. Eliminating moisture is critical in avoiding mold growth, so this feature is particularly important.

Another helpful technology is a continuously operating outdoor inverter unit that works so efficiently that homeowners can leave it on while they’re away without breaking the bank. It runs on various speeds — typically a very low speed — always striving for the most efficient operation by making small, incremental changes to keep a constant temperature. In a traditional system, every time the system cycles on it must ramp up to full operating power, requiring a tremendous amount of energy. You won’t have this issue with the inverter unit.

When cooling a summer home, the inverter technology is a great way for customers to keep air conditioning going when they’re gone, but at a lower cost.

Another great option is a ventilation system operated by a programmable control board. Based on the size of the home, the control board calculates how much fresh outside air to bring in at all times, opening and closing dampers as needed to maintain a healthy level of fresh air. Look for options that meet ASHRAE 62.2 standards for IAQ.

These newer technologies can go a long way toward reducing energy consumption while letting fresh air in and keeping mold problems at bay. More savings and fewer molds mean a healthier and happier vacation for everyone. 

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

Like Us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter, or Instagram and follow the tips, tricks and advice we share with our community.

Prepare NOW For Storm Wind Damage

5/1/2021 (Permalink)

As we approach hurricane season, now is the time to begin to think about storm damage, even here in the northeast.  Preparing your business or home now can help prevent unnecessary damages to your building when that storm hits.

Wind can come in the form of hurricanes, tornadoes, cyclones, microbursts or downdrafts. It can be valuable to understand the impact of high winds and how to best protect your business, home and property from wind damage. There are many ways to reinforce a building against wind damage — some are simple enough to DIY while others may require a pro.

First, inspect your building's roof, siding, windows and doors and even landscaping to identify vulnerable spots.  Replacing many of these items can be very expensive, so this may not be an option.  However, being prepared to install temporary protection, in the event of a storm that brings high winds and heavy rains, may be all you need to do.  No solution is perfect, mother nature knows that, but doing nothing to prepare is not the best option either.

Doors

When considering the role doors play in protecting buildings from high winds, it is normal to think about our exterior doors first. They are the doors that provide the first line of defense from high winds and blowing debris.

While wind-resistant doors and break-resistant glass play a large role in fighting winds, interior doors are important as well. In hurricane winds or when a tornado may be imminent, all doors and windows, including every interior door should be closed. This can prevent pressure build up inside of a building which can lead to losing a room. Closing interior doors will also help to compartmentalize damage from wind or rain if there is a breach in the exterior of a building.

Impact resistant doors are the best possible solution, but if these are not installed, then:

  • inspect doors for any cracks or missing or damaged hardware.
  • make sure there are no air leaks around the door and replace standard hinge screws with longer, stronger screws that will reach into the wall frame.
  • make sure the threshold seals the door bottom and is screwed deeply into the floor.
  • add a deadbolt to exterior doors that extend a minimum of one-inch.
  • if you have French-style double doors, make sure they are refitted with bolts that extend at least an inch into the floor.
  • finally, reinforce doors (and windows) with sheets of plywood when a hurricane approaches. This can be cost-effective and should be planned in advance.

Windows

Any number of items in a yard can quickly turn into projectiles during high winds. These items make a building’s windows vulnerable during high winds, especially when standard glass is used.

Even a small branch or piece of flying debris can start a landslide of damage once a window is cracked.  As winds continue to put force on the broken window, the break can become larger and even cause the complete failure of the window. Winds and rain now have even greater access to the building’s interior, creating further damage. Once winds enter a space, the entire structure, including the roof, is at risk.

There are really only two options when it comes to providing better window protection. One is to cover or reinforce windows and the other is to upgrade windows to high impact glass.

Roofing

The roof is one of the largest parts of a building. It is helpful to think of it as a combination of materials that protect your home from the elements and helps keep warmth and cool air in.

The roof is susceptible to damage in high winds for a variety of reasons. As a roof ages, shingles can become brittle and lose adhesion to the structure. Older roofs aren't reinforced as well as more modern structures and are more easily damaged. While a roof is both large and heavy, it can be no match for high winds as elements get peeled away or the entire roof structure may even be lifted away.  Of course, once the roof has been compromised, wind and water can enter the interior of the building and the entire building will be at risk. 

There is no additional protection you can provide for a roof except to repair damaged sections or replace the roof entirely.

Garage Door

A garage door is typically the largest moving part of an entire home. Generally speaking, garage doors are designed to move upward and downward. Under the stress of high winds, they can and do fail. This can cause a chain reaction of destruction and damage to a home, once wind and moisture are introduced to the area.

Check to see that all seals around the door are in good shape to prevent winds from entering.  Protecting a garage door can be done with special braces or simply installing plywood as you would with windows.

Home Siding

Another area of a home that should be of concern in high winds is the siding. Like the roof, windows, and doors, keeping a home's siding inspected and properly maintained will go a long way in maintaining its integrity in a windstorm. Like those other areas, the key is preventing the wind from getting a foothold behind the siding, giving it an opportunity to tear it off of the structure.

Preparing the siding of a building is simply to repair damages sections and gaps where wind could enter or complete replacement of the system.

Landscaping and Outdoor Items

An important component of protecting a building in high winds is minimizing the potential projectiles that can become airborne. These projectiles can result from trees and limbs and from an assortment of yard items.

Depending on how much warning you have prior to a wind event, these items should be safely stored.  Larger items which cannot be stored should be disassembled and stored, or at the very least turned upside down and secured to the ground.  You should consider every item not secured in their outdoor spaces as a potential projectile.

Taking Shelter Indoors

The safest place in a building during a high wind event is generally the same; an interior room on the lowest level of a structure, away from windows and exterior doors. In some cases, this may be a basement or a first-floor interior closet or bathroom.

Be sure to take a battery operated radio or weather radio with you along with a flashlight. Blankets may offer additional protection and in severe cases, mattresses can be used to provide cover. If an interior bathroom is used, the tub can provide additional protection.

When disaster strikes your home or business, choose the #1 ranked in Restoration Services.  Choose SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

Like Us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or Instagram and follow the tips, tricks and advice we share with our community.

Stopping Ice Dams

4/7/2021 (Permalink)

roof with ice ice dam, water damage

Seems a little late in the season to be talking about Ice Dams, but now is the time to correct some issues which may have caused them.

Ice Dams are thick ridges of solid ice that build up on the lower part of your roof line, preventing melting snow from reaching your gutters.

First we need to understand how an Ice Dam forms:

  1. Heavy snow fall and sustained cold weather prevents roof bound snow from gradually melting away.  This leaves an enormous amount of snow on your roof.
  2. Heat then collects in your attic and warms the roof, except the eaves.
  3. Snow then melts on the warm roof and then freezes as the melted water approaches the cold eaves.
  4. This water them re-freezes.  Ice accumulates along the eaves, forming a dam.  Once this ice dam forms, it blocks ongoing melting snow from escaping into your gutters.
  5. Melted snow water has nowhere to go except back up the roof line, under the shingles and finally into your home.

Preventing Ice Dams

Following are some steps you can take now to prevent Ice Dams in the future.  Speak with a contractor for each, if you're not handy.

  1. Use Heated Cables: heated cables, placed along your roof edge, will help keep snow melting before it freezes
  2. Ventilate Eaves And Ridge: Place baffles at the eaves to maintain a clear path for the airflow from the soffit vents.
  3. Cap the Hatch: Cover unsealed attic hatches with weather stripped caps made from foil-faced foam board held together with aluminum tape.
  4. Exhaust to the Outside: Make sure that the ducts connected to the kitchen, bathroom, and dryer vents all lead outdoors through either the roof or walls.
  5. Add Insulation: Make sure attic insulation is not missing in any area.  This will keep heat from entering the attic space from your home.  The attic should not be a heated space.
  6. Flash Around Chimneys
  7. Seal and Insulate Ducts
  8. Caulk All Penetrations

If you do experience an Ice Dam situation, here are some quick fixes to prevent further damage until the ice and snow can be removed from the roof.

  1. Rake the Snow before it can accumulate and freeze.  There are long handle snow rakes you can purchase.
  2. Blow Cold Air at the source.  This will help to re-freeze the ice dam and prevent water from entering the home until the roof can be cleared.
  3. De-ice the problem area by filling an old panty hose with calcium chloride and place it where the ice dam has occurred.  This will cause a gradual melting of the ice.

Finally, DON'T:

  • Throw rock salt on the problem.  This could damage the roof shingles and shrubs.
  • Hack away at the ice.  You could damage your roof and this is a dangerous fall hazard.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

Like Us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter, or Instagram and follow the tips, tricks and advice we share with our community.

We're Back! Entrepreneur Ranks Us #1 In Our Industry

3/18/2021 (Permalink)

SERVPRO Industries is proud to boast our re-entry into the Top 10 on the Franchise 500 list of Entrepreneur Magazine, landing in the #10 spot out of 500 franchisors listed.  Further to that accolade, we are #1 in our Industry Sector.  

Why?

Because SERVPRO never stops improving, inventing, seizing opportunity for growth.

SERVPRO specializes in fire and flood cleanup, but that's the simplest of explanations of what SERVPRO is.  SERVPRO is a national presence, a first responder when regional disaster hits, a collaboration of local, regional and national franchise owners who go into the teeth of disaster while others run from it.

As the pandemic impacted the US, SERVPRO created solutions.  “We have a really loud voice, and I never understood the power of that until COVID hit,” says Rick Isaacson, SERVPRO’s CEO. When stadiums, strip malls, and small-business owners started calling on SERVPRO to kill a virus, the company moved quickly to launch a new program. It developed a COVID-19 cleaning protocol with input from industry groups and disseminated disinfecting chemicals and PPE. Within a few weeks, businesses began posting “Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned” badges in their windows and on their websites. “The whole thing happened faster than anything we’ve ever done,” says Isaacson.  Read more.

When disaster strikes your home or business, choose the #1 ranked in Restoration Services.  Choose SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

Like Us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or Instagram and follow the tips, tricks and advice we share with our community.

Helping Homeowners Recover

3/11/2021 (Permalink)

2 male Servpro technicians cleaning SERVPRO crew cleaning smoke from a fire damage

A back-draft of emotions often sweeps over the homeowners after a fire ravages a home. Fear, uncertainty, stress and doubt about the future of the property can overwhelm the homeowner long after the flames have been extinguished and the smoke has cleared.

So after the first wave of heroes have rescued the property, let SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County help you restore it. With the industry approved training to employ rapid response, the utmost professionalism, cutting-edge technology and open communication, we strive to restore not only the home, but the customer’s peace of mind, as well.

So, before you risk doing further damage by attempting to clean up the damage yourself, call the fire damage cleanup and restoration professionals.

What You Can Do Until Help Arrives

  • Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from spreading and additional damage from occurring.
  • Place clean towels or old linens on rugs and high traffic areas and upholstery.
  • Coat chrome faucets, trim and appliances with petroleum jelly or oil.
  • Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpet.
  • Do not wash any walls or painted surfaces.
  • Do not shampoo carpet or upholstery.
  • Do not clean any electrical equipment.
  • Do not send clothing to a dry cleaner since improper cleaning may set smoke odor.

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County provides the following restoration services:

  • Board-ups-In some cases it may be important to secure openings to your home or structure using sturdy, durable materials designed to protect it from both weather intrusion and intrusion by outsiders. SERVPRO® may perform the board-up themselves, or outside subcontractors may be utilized.
  • Move-Outs - If prolonged exposure to the loss event could cause additional damage to your contents, your contractor requests relocation of the contents, or the safety of your contents is a concern, a move-out may be recommended. In these situations, SERVPRO® is trained to properly inventory, move out and control the contents from the structure during the cleaning, restoration and deodorization process.
  • Electronics Cleaning - Smoke residues can contain acids that corrode metal surfaces when moisture is also present. If the residues are not removed, corrosion can eat away at the metal casing and can ultimately cause electronic failure in the device. SERVPRO® can clean the outside casing correctly, as well as refer your equipment to a qualified electronics vendor.
  • Artwork - Artwork ranges from inexpensive framed pictures to extremely valuable fine art. Restoration of valuable art requires the use of a trained art restorer (known as a conservator), while less expensive art may not warrant these costly specialized services. SERVPRO® will usually subcontract fine art restoration to a conservator. If desired, SERVPRO® may attempt to remove smoke residues and odors, after qualifying with the customer that such cleaning procedures may affect the visible appearance of the item.
  • Structural Cleaning - After a smoke or fire damage, ceilings, walls, woodwork, carpeting and floors will often need a thorough cleaning. SERVPRO® will pretest to determine the extent of damage, and then use the specific equipment and cleaning products required to clean and protect the different types of surfaces found in your structure. Depending on the amount of soot, SERVPRO® may even be able to reduce the cost of recovery by cleaning lighter soot deposits found on some surfaces, eliminating the expense incurred with repainting or refinishing. In other cases, SERVPRO® will clean to “prepare for painting”. This process deodorizes and ensures the new paint will adhere properly to the surface.
  • Contents Cleaning–All of the restorable contents in affected areas will be professionally cleaned and deodorized.  This includes area rugs, furniture, draperies and upholstery. SERVPRO® begins by carefully inspecting and testing all fabrics in the structure to determine which cleaning methods are most appropriate. SERVPRO® can provide wet or dry cleaning services. Additionally, all the other restorable contents will be cleaned and deodorized to preloss condition. This includes electronics, art, wood furniture, kitchen items,clothing, bedding, bric-a-brac and much more. Finally,SERVPRO® can provide an inventory list of all “to be claimed” items if requested.
  • Deodorization–SERVPRO® provides specialized services that rid your home or place of business of offensive odors left by fire or smoke damage. SERVPRO® does not merely cover up lingering odors with a fragrance, they seek out the sources of the odor and remove them. 
  • Repair / Rebuild-In most cases, SERVPRO® can provide full scope repair and rebuild services, including structural repairs, painting and flooring.

So, before you risk doing further damage by attempting to clean up the damage yourself, call the fire damage cleanup and restoration professionals at SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

Like Us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter, or Instagram and follow the tips, tricks and advice we share with our community.

Business Interruption Insurance

3/10/2021 (Permalink)

It's common practice to maintain commercial property insurance policies to repair and replace your assets in the event of a covered peril.  In fact, for its cost, it's extremely risky to even consider not carrying this insurance.  Commercial Property Insurance can pay your repair or replacement costs if your business property gets damaged or destroyed from a fire, theft or other covered loss.

However, when your business is impacted by an event which forces closure, the impact of lost revenue and the burden of ongoing costs can be crippling.  Few consider adding Business Income (interruption) coverage.

Business Income Coverage (BI) can help with operating expenses during the restoration period, until the business can resume normal operations.  This coverage can include:

  • Lost Net Income
  • Mortgage and Lease Payments
  • Employee Payroll
  • Taxes
  • Loan Payments

As with any coverage policy, you need to consider reasonable terms when establishing the policy.  After a major disaster, it can take more time than many people realize to get “back in business.” Business income coverage likely has a "restoration period.” This is the length of time that a policy will help pay for lost income and extra expenses while the business is being restored.

So, this then begs the question of "how much BI insurance coverage is needed?".  The general rule is to use gross earnings and projections to help determine future profits.  This will assist in determining the right amount of coverage.

What is NOT covered by BI Insurance?  Typically, the following is not covered:

  • Broken items resulting from a covered event or loss (such as glass)
  • Flood or earthquake damage, which are covered by a separate policy
  • Undocumented income that’s not listed on your business’ financial records
  • Utilities
  • Pandemics, viruses, or communicable diseases (such as COVID-19)

BI Insurance may also include extra expenses which will cover anything beyond the normal day-to-day expenses, while the business recovers.  This includes:

  • Renting a temporary place of business while the original place of business is being restored
  • Replacement of hardware, technology and furniture
  • Paying overtime for employees or hiring more employees
  • Leasing equipment

Speak with your Commercial Insurance Agent to discuss BI insurance and other policies which could protect the business during unplanned outages of all types.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

Like Us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter, or Instagram and follow the tips, tricks and advice we share with our community.

Is It Mold or Is It Rust?

2/26/2021 (Permalink)

Can you easily tell the difference between mold and rust? Many people look at a reddish colored stain and assume its rust, although that’s not always the case. Before you break out your heavy-duty cleaning solutions, it pays to understand what you’re up against: mold, rust, or even another stain. 

What’s Normal for Your Home?

If you’re seeing new stains on walls, floors, or countertops, you’ll want to make sure they’re not the result of water infiltration or excess humidity in your home. Try to pinpoint a reason for the stain, based on what room it’s in and the common daily activity. Mold tends to be found in damp, humid areas, while rust forms when metallic surfaces start to corrode. Recognizing the differences between mold and rust helps you determine the best way to take care of an issue before it becomes more pervasive.

What’s that Stain? Mold vs Rust

Areas prone to dampness, such as bathrooms and basements, can easily foster the growth of mold or mildew. If you see a stain that looks like mold or rust in your shower, sink area, or basement, you’ll want to clean them as quickly as possible to avoid permanent damage. However, different cleaning solutions are used to treat different stains. Rust, hard water marks, grease, and mold may all look similar, but if you use the wrong cleaner, you may not be able to fully remove them.

Identifying Rust

Rust is the result of iron, or a metal alloy containing iron, such as steel, corroding. Rust is most often observed as a red, yellow or reddish-brown surface stain. Rust is caused by water or damp air touching the surface or a metal prone to rusting. Some common areas where rust is spotted in the home, according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), include the following:

  • Water Pipes
  • Metal Roofs and Chimneys
  • Oil tanks for home with oil heat
  • Electrical Panel Boxes
  • Nails

Preventing Rust

Rust can be prevented by keeping metals out of damp and humid areas. Protective coatings, such as varnish may also be applied to surfaces prone to rusting. Ensuring that metal fixtures in your home are kept dry can also help to prevent rust. Wipe up spills immediately and check your basement after heavy storms to spot signs of flooding as soon as possible.

Removing Rust

Removing rust can be a tough job, but with the right cleaners, you should be successful. For lighter rust stains, some household products, such as baking soda or vinegar might work. Mild abrasives like steel wool pads may also remove surface rust, but they may also leave behind scratch marks. There are also many specialized rust removal products sold that you can try for smaller stains. One product you should never use on rust is bleach, which could react negatively with the rust and actually worsen it. 

If you do attempt to clean rust, always follow the instructions on any commercial cleaning product. Be sure to don safety gear, including gloves, safety glasses and a face mask. Always work in a well-ventilated area. If you’re not comfortable with the task, find a handyman or painter that is.

Mold Stains

Mold can resemble other stains like rust or mildew in appearance, but there are actually over 300 types of mold. The colors of mold can range from black to brown, white or gray, or even pink, blue or green. Mold also presents in a range of textures from downy to fuzzy. Some mold is powdery and some has a more slimy texture. 

Mold can grow as the result of a single event, such as a broken pipe or indoor water infiltration due to floods or leaks. It’s important to catch the signs of indoor mold growth as early as possible and have them taken care of before they lead to greater damage. Mold can also affect the health of certain susceptible individuals, including those with a suppressed immune system or an allergy to mold. Mold sometimes can leave a stain, but that’s not always the case. A damp, musty odor can also be a sign of mold growth. 

If you notice mold growth in damp areas of your home, you can clean affected surfaces with a specialized mold removal product. Common, everyday household cleaning solutions may not be effective against mold. Typically, mold cannot be totally eradicated from porous surfaces, like shower curtains, drywall or insulation; these items should be disposed of and replaced.

When cleaning mold, you should always wear protective gear, such as a face mask and ensure that you’re working in an adequately ventilated area. You can read more about the protective gear recommended for mold removal. If you suffer from mold allergies or asthma, it is not recommended that you try to clean the mold yourself. SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County can help you determine the best way to remove the mold. Once the mold is removed, it’s a good idea to have the area tested by a professional. If mold has continued to grow in your home, you may have a more pervasive problem that requires additional professional remediation from SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County.

Evaluating Mold Issues

Because so many of the stains we see around the house look similar, it may be difficult to determine what is causing the discoloration and damage. If you notice stains on your walls, countertops, or floors that look like mold or rust, contact SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County and request a free home inspection to help diagnose your problem. 

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

Like Us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter, or Instagram and follow the tips, tricks and advice we share with our community.

SERVPRO Cares About Your Safety - Generator Safety

2/1/2021 (Permalink)

Winter season is upon us and power outages may follow.  If you have a generator on hand for power outages during severe weather, follow the safety tips below provided by the American Red Cross.

  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawl space, or any partially enclosed area.
  • To avoid electrocution, keep the generator dry and do not use it in wet conditions.  Operate it on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure, such as under a tarp held up on poles. Do not touch the generator with wet hands.
  • Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent carbon monoxide (CO) buildup in the home. Although CO can’t be seen or smelled, it can rapidly lead to full incapacitation and death. Even if you cannot smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to CO. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air immediately.
  • Install CO alarms in central locations on every level of your home or property and outside sleeping areas to provide early
    warnings.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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SERVPRO Cares About Your Safety - Carbon Monoxide

1/15/2021 (Permalink)

carbon monoxide detector Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Your safety is always top of mind with SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County.

Winter months present a particular concern with accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.  Every year, hundreds of people in the US die from accidental CO poisoning and 50,000 visit the emergency room.

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless and invisible fume generated by furnaces, kerosene heaters, portable generators and similar fuel burning appliances.  Carbon Monoxide can build up in enclosed spaces and you can be poisoned and die from breathing these fumes.

Common symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning include headaches, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.  Most people are poisoned while they sleep.

Here are some steps you can take to reduce the risk and prevent CO poisoning:

  • Make sure you install a CO detector in different parts of the home and frequently check that the batteries are working.
  • Never operate your car in a closed garage.
  • Keep vents and flues clean of debris and blockages.
  • Make sure your home heating system is inspected annually.
  • Never operate a generator or other gasoline powered equipment within 20 feet of an open window or door and never inside the home.

Remember, CO poisoning is preventable.  If you suspect CO poisoning, do not wait, call 911.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Home Mold Testing - DIY Kit - Use With Caution

12/27/2020 (Permalink)

You can expect mold and mildew outside your home because of the natural damp conditions of the outdoors. Mold and mildew inside the home is a different problem, because the inside of your home shouldn’t remain damp.

The presence of moisture is the biggest contributor to mold growth, and to fight the infestation you should conduct a room-by-room assessment of the house to identify problem areas. The moisture can come from condensation due to poor ventilation (attic), from a water leak (around bathrooms), or from outdoor intrusion (foundation walls).

Detection

Mold and mildew in a home is not always easy to detect if it exists within attics or is hidden within walls. If you suspect your indoor air quality is hindered by hidden mold, the best course of action is to contact an Industrial Hygienist (IH). 

The IH will take both surface and air samples to detect the presence of mold on the structure.  These 2 tests are important to take in concert with each other as they will help to detect the presence of mold in areas that cannot be seen or reached, such as in wall cavities.  They will also help to determine the severity and types of mold in a specific area of the home.

If you choose to take your own surface sample as a first step, mold detection kits can be purchased in most home improvement stores and are easy to use.  Simply swab the surface in an area you're concerned with.  Test results show in as little as 5 minutes, and much like a pregnancy test you’ll either see one line (negative results) or two lines (positive).

Use caution as these tests are not necessarily conclusive, given the absence of air samples and misinterpretation by the user.  Only a trained professional should perform mold testing, using the proper methods.

Even if your home test is positive, it does not necessarily mean you have a serious problem but that you should consider consulting a professional indoor air quality inspector or contact SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County. You can also have an optional laboratory analysis of your test results conducted for an additional fee.  

Click here to go to our website and learn a bit more about Mold Remediation. 

Fighting the Mold you Find

If you discover mold on the home’s interior, the first step in solving the problem is to eliminate the source of moisture—whatever that may be. Otherwise, any mold or mildew you clean is likely to return.

For minor problems you may be able to clean the surface of the materials with an antimicrobial cleaner. For major problems, remove materials that cannot be thoroughly cleaned of mold like insulation, carpeting or drywall. Use your antimicrobial cleaner to clean the surrounding area as well as the places where you actually see mold and mildew, to make sure you remove all traces of the substances.

Finally, replace the removed building materials with new, mold-free materials.

Mold can be a serious issue with challenging aspects in remediating it properly.  We highly recommend calling in a professional, like SERVPRO, to help you evaluate the proper steps before proceeding on your own.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Places To Find Cash After A Disaster

12/26/2020 (Permalink)

It happens when you least expect it, and you certainly don't plan for it.  The natural disaster, like a flood, fire or any other type of personal catastrophe that leaves you in dire need of liquid funds. 

Self preservation requires cash.  If you’re hit with an emergency and need to find cash fast, of course, the first place to look are your bank accounts. If these funds are not sufficient, then look to these resources.

1. Family and Close Friends

If you need to find cash fast, ask your family and friends. If they can help, remember to always treat this as a loan and never treat it casually.

If you need to, attach an interest rate and a payment time frame, as you would any official loan from a financial institution.  This is important because your family or friend have to charge you something for the transaction to be considered a loan and not a gift that could have tax and estate planning implications.

2. The Government

FEMA is able to provide disaster assistance for such needs as temporary housing, home repair, disaster-related medical expenses, vehicle damage and cleanup costs.  Another source, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers federally subsidized loans for renters, private nonprofit organizations and home and business owners.

Here's the catch...to qualify for either a FEMA or SBA loan, you must live in a federally declared disaster zone and file a claim with their insurance company first.

3. Life Insurance

Permanent life insurance policies are great resources because they’re readily accessible funds.  The can be borrowed against without having to qualify for a loan, and you can pay a policy loan back on your own schedule.

However, rules will vary with insurance providers. Many require policyholders to own their policies for a few years before they can qualify to borrow. You’ll also be charged interest for taking out a policy loan. 

4. CDs, Savings Bonds and Mutual Funds / Stocks

CD's: You can take your money out of a CD, but you’ll likely pay a penalty. Sacrificing some earnings is a relatively insignificant compared to paying interest rates on a life insurance loan.

Savings bondsSavings bonds are another quick cash resource.  You might need to pay a three-month interest penalty if a bond is redeemed too early though. In both cases, of course you’ll pay income tax on any interest earned.

Mutual Funds: You can sell stocks as well as mutual funds and annuities. If you take this route, consult your financial adviser about likely tax issues and penalties.

5. College 529 Savings

You may need to borrow from your future to pay present obligations.  You 529 College Savings Account is a good resource for this.  However, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission, those who withdraw funds out of a 529 plan for non-qualified education expenses will pay income tax and a 10 percent penalty on any earnings.

6. Retirement Accounts

Retirement accounts can be used to fund personal financial needs.  It's important to understand the long term personal retirement planning impact.  So plan accordingly and know the difference between a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA.

Roth IRA holders may withdraw their own contributions — not earnings — without tax or penalty.

Traditional IRA holders may start taking penalty-free distributions on their accounts if they begin taking regular distributions, but specific rules apply. You’ll pay income taxes and a 10 percent penalty on the taxable amount if you’re under age 59½.

7. A 401(k) Loan

A 401(k) loan is usually a better option than using a 529 or IRA loan.

401(k) holders can borrow up to half of their account balance, up to $50,000, tax-free, but, in most cases, funds must be repaid within five years.

The shortcoming is that you have to stay with your current employer for the duration of the loan period.  If you leave your job, you’ll have 30 to 60 days to repay the loan or face penalties.

Before pulling funds from any long-term investment, read the fine print and always consult your tax adviser.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Destroy Odors with DEODORIZATION

12/22/2020 (Permalink)

A fire can leave behind soot, smoke damage, and a host of other problems. Ceilings, walls, woodwork, carpeting, and floors will often need a thorough professional cleaning. If your home or business suffers a fire, it is important to take the appropriate steps to prevent further damage until SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County professionals arrive.

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 (IICRC), SERVPRO® provides specialized services that can rid your home or business of offensive odors left by fire or smoke damage. SERVPRO® does not cover-up lingering odors with a fragrance; they seek out and remove the source of the odor. Once the source is found, SERVPRO’s own proprietary line of cleaning products is used to treat and prevent the odor from returning. Any restorable item in affected areas will also be professionally cleaned and deodorized, including furniture, draperies and upholstery, electronics, art, flooring, walls, ceilings, HVAC air ducts and more.

Ask SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County professionals to explain the various deodorization methods available and which one will work best for you.

If you or one of your customers suffer a fire damage or some other accident and require deodorization services, contact SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County immediately. Whether it’s 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.”

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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PREPAREDNESS FOR PETS

12/15/2020 (Permalink)

Have you accounted for Fido or Lucy when emergency planning?

After The Storm

After Hurricane Katrina, "It’s estimated that over 15,500 animals were ultimately rescued. Of the 15,500 animals rescued, only 15%-20% were ever reunited with their owners.”

Source: Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, la-spca.org

Pets are just as important as any family member to most people, so why would you not make them a part of your preparedness planning? There are several things you can do to make sure they stay safe as well during an emergency.

Pet Emergency Kit

Ready.gov/animals lists the below items as essential to building your Pet Emergency Kit.

  • Food. At least a three day supply in an airtight, waterproof container.
  • Water. At least three days of water specifically for your pets.
  • Medicines and medical records.
  • Important documents. Registration information, adoption papers and vaccination documents. Talk to your veterinarian about micro-chipping and enrolling your pet in a recovery database.
  • First aid kit. Cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution. Including a pet first aid reference book is a good idea too.
  • Collar or harness with ID tag, rabies tag and a leash.
  • Crate or pet carrier. Have a sturdy, safe crate or carrier in case you need to evacuate. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down.
  • Sanitation. Pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach.
  • A picture of you and your pet together. If you become separated, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you. Add species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing  characteristics.
  • Familiar items. Familiar items, such as treats, toys and bedding can help reduce stress for your pet.

Evacuations
While practicing fire escape or evacuation plans, be sure to include pets. If an evacuation happens, don’t leave pets behind as they can be lost or injured.

Identification
Micro-chipping pets is a great way to locate them. Most veterinary clinics and shelters have scanners that will read the microchip information to help find a pet’s owners.

Be sure to take four-legged friends into consideration when planning for emergencies. Visit ready.gov/ animals for further tips and safety precautions to think about for you or your insured’s families’ pets, or your tenants pets’ during a disaster.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Be Proactive and Reduce Covid-19 Business Liability

12/15/2020 (Permalink)

You likely have workplace safety policies in place.  But you probably never contemplated the Covid-19 pandemic and the fluid, constantly changing landscape of NJ state-wide employer requirements.

Governor Murphy recently implemented Executive Order 192 to "Protect New Jersey's Workforce During the Covid Pandemic".  In short, this order requires New Jersey businesses to document the health conditions of all workers on a daily basis and to restrict access of those workers if they show symptoms.

Taken from an article found in New Jersey Business, "Being Proactive Can Reduce COVID-19 Liability", written by Joe Cavaluzzi, it takes a lot of thought to come up with workplace safety policies that address COVID-19’s threat to workers and protect a company against liability claims. 

Additionally, this article states, a change in New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation law, which is retroactive to March 9, created the presumption that coronavirus contracted by those whose jobs expose them to COVID-19 is work-related and fully compensable. The New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) has suggested that the law puts an added burden on companies already struggling with lost business, although labor attorneys say the new law provides protection from increased insurance premiums. 

Joe states, the best protection, however, comes from being proactive with comprehensive policies that address the safety of workers – even those working from home – and vigilance to make sure they are understood and followed. 

The key points raised by the article are:

  • Setting Policies that Protect Workers and Employers - Recommending 4 Policies

    • Telecommuting Policy
    • Containment Policy
    • Health Screening Policy
    • Travel Policy
  • Liability When Employees Get Sick 

    • Although state policies are fluid and change frequently, act promptly when a worker comes down with the virus. 
    • Ask workers to sign an acknowledgement form confirming compliance with COVID-19 workplace practices.
    • Document contact tracing with other employees when an employee becomes ill.
  • Changes to Workers’ Comp Law 

    • Will raise concerns for workers and employers

One final note: Gov. Murphy signed S-2380 into law which creates a presumption that COVID-19 infections occurred at the workplace for certain essential employees.  This law leaves it up to the employer to prove that it didn’t.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Celebrate Safely this Holiday Season

12/7/2020 (Permalink)

Celebrate Safely this Holiday Season

Local SERVPRO fire restoration specialist says use common sense and caution to help control risk of holiday season home fires

In a year when large holiday gatherings may not be possible, fire damage restoration specialist SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County says a focus on family decorating traditions and more intimate celebrations may take on extra significance.  It’s as important to keep safety top of mind with a small family gathering as it is with a large holiday party.  We all enjoy bringing the glow of the holiday season to our homes with Christmas trees or menorahs and candlelight, but these statistics from the U.S. Fire Administration show how easy it is for home decorating to turn into a home disaster. 

  • The top three days for home candle fires are Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve.
  • More than half of the home decoration fires in December are started by candles.
  • A heat source too close to the Christmas tree causes one in every four winter fires.
  • On average, one of every 52 reported home Christmas tree fires resulted in death.

In addition to exercising caution with candles and heat sources, it is important to follow manufacturers’ guidelines for holiday lighting. According to the National Fire Protection Association, electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 44% of home Christmas tree fires. Though Christmas tree fires may not be common, they can be devastating to more than the house itself. They can destroy irreplaceable photos, mementos, and family heirlooms and even cost lives.  To help keep your holidays bright and your home and family safe, use common sense with candles and tree placement, and follow these important home decorating guidelines.

  • Only use decorations that are flame-retardant or not flammable.
  • Check holiday lights each year for frayed wires or excessive wear.
  • Don’t link more than three strands of holiday lights. 

In a year when so many of the things we take for granted have changed, we know people will still come together – in person or virtually – to celebrate family and holiday traditions. "Stay safe" has become a common expression in the context of public health, but this holiday season, we urge all Sussex County-area home and business owners to think about "staying safe" in their homes as they prepare for and enjoy the holiday season. 

SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County is an industry leader and provider of fire and water cleanup and restoration services. For more fire prevention and fire safety tips and information about fire and water damage restoration services, please visit our website.

For more information on SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County, please contact us at 973-383-2024.  If you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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What You Need to Know About Air Duct Cleaning

12/4/2020 (Permalink)

Air duct cleaning is a misnomer. In actuality, the entire HVAC system should be cleaned. Failure to clean all components of the system can result in recontamination of the entire system, thus minimizing the benefits of cleaning.

Just as you wouldn’t clean only half of your living room floor, you also would not want to clean only part of your HVAC system. NADCA recommends cleaning the entire HVAC system, including the following components:

  • air ducts
  • coils
  • drain pan
  • registers
  • grills
  • air plenum
  • blower motor and assembly
  • heat exchanger
  • air filter
  • air cleaner

There are two key components to HVAC cleaning: breaking contaminants loose, and collection of contaminants.

Breaking Contaminants Loose

Properly cleaning HVAC systems requires removing the sources of contamination. Source removal begins with the use of one or more agitation devices designed to loosen contaminants from the surfaces within the heating and air conditioning system. Examples of agitation devices include: brushes, air whips and compressed air nozzles or “skipper balls.” Agitation can also be achieved through hand-brushing or contact vacuuming.

Collection of Contaminants

During cleaning, the entire HVAC system is placed under continuous negative pressure (a vacuum) to prevent the spread of contaminants. Continuous negative pressure allows very fine particles to be removed from the system as they become airborne, ensuring that these particles are not released into the living space when the system is turned on after cleaning. This negative pressure also serves to extract the loosened contaminants, which are collected and removed from your home.

System Access

HVAC system cleaning is not a complex process, but each job is unique. Where possible, access to duct interiors should be made through existing openings such as supply diffusers, return grills, duct end caps and existing service openings. Cleaning technicians may need to cut access holes in the duct work in order to reach inside with various cleaning tools. Creation of these service openings, and their subsequent closure, requires craftsmanship and professional skills.

Equipment Requirements

There is a wide variety of equipment available to HVAC cleaning professionals. Both truck-mounted and portable vacuums can be used to stop the spread of contaminants and get the system cleaned to the NADCA Standard.

Antimicrobial Chemicals

Antimicrobial chemicals include sanitizers, disinfectants and deodorizers that can be applied to nonporous surfaces in HVAC systems to address microbial contamination and help control odors. Only chemicals registered with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can be used. These products should only be considered after mechanical surface cleaning has been performed and if the need for such treatment has been deemed necessary. Review the NADCA White Paper on Chemical Applications in HVAC Systems for more information. 

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Get Ready! Winter is Coming!

11/20/2020 (Permalink)

You don’t have to be a Game of Thrones fan to know that winters these days are wild. When colder months roll around, the only thing that’s certain is that the weather will be unpredictable. Whether it’s ice storms across the North East, or flash floods throughout the South West, being prepared is the best defense.

Check these nine home projects to weatherproof your place and make sure you have a cozy winter.

  1. Get a winter-ready roof. A leaking roof makes for a messy, expensive, winter. Inside the house, dark ceiling stains or sagging spots mean a roof repair is in order. Outside, confirm shingles have no signs of splitting, disintegration, or looseness. If your roof is tricky to access—or you have tile shingles—hire a specialist to do the inspection. It’s not worth the broken bones or broken tiles!
  1. Clean those gutters. You could break out the ladders and gloves, root around in old wet leaves… or do yourself a favor and hire someone who specializes in gutters to handle this arduous task for you. A professional will safely reach the roof, clear out the muck, and look for signs of wear and tear that might need repair.
  1. Tuck up your trees. If winter storms are bad, unwieldy trees can do serious damage to homes, vehicles—even people. Call in a tree trimming service to give an assessment of your yard and tree safety. Southeastern cities such as Miami,Houston, and New Orleans benefit from trim trees during hurricane season as well.
  1. Tune up your heat source – and save money on heating bills. Have a fireplace or heater? Get it ready for winter. Buildup in a fireplace is a serious fire hazard. Call in an expert to take care of black dust or residue. For heaters, call for a routine maintenance check before the freezing temps hit.
  1. Winterize your windows and doors. Apply weather stripping around doors to seal in heat and keep out cold. Use caulk to seal windows in tight and keep out icy winds. Even cities with moderate winter climates like Los Angeles benefit from these quick fixes. Best of all, it’s a cheap energy saver!
  1. Schedule your holiday lighting installation. Winter prep is not all chores! Decorating is a fabulous project to look forward to. Think big this year with a gorgeous light display that’ll have all the neighbors jealous. Give Chicago’s Magnificent Mile Lights Festival a run for their money.
  1. Winterize the yard. Bring in small plants that can’t survive a freeze like the ones that strike Dallas each winter. For cities that deep freeze, like Chicago and Boston, turn off outdoor watering systems to avoid bursting pipes. Regardless of location, every yard benefits when you load up the truck—or hire someone to do the dirty work for you—and haul away dead bushes, old leaves, and yard waste. When rotting debris stays on the lawn all winter, expect brown spots and blight come spring.
  1. Prep the pool. Love the summertime fun of playing in the pool? Make sure it gets the winterizing treatment before snows and freezing temperatures hit. Cities like Newark that enjoy both hot and cold temperatures can call in a pool specialist or winterize themselves to make sure the pool survives the winter.
  1. Finish your to-do list. Getting winter ready is a great excuse to fix a leaky faucet, repair the creaking washing machine, and replace the springs on the garage door. Everything is more manageable when the weather is warmer. Either get out the toolbox or hire a handyperson—all you’ll have to worry about when the temperature drops is which movie to watch.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned

11/16/2020 (Permalink)

Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned Shield Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned

In these challenging times, staying safe at home and at work is vital to the good health of our family and friends.  As winter approaches and we spend more time indoors, the risk of contracting COVID-19 increases.  

As America continues to get back to business, we all have a new sense of what it means to be clean. In fact, 89% of consumers are uneasy about going back to brick-and-mortar locations.

At SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County, we’re dedicated to inspiring confidence in our communities as we navigate through our new normal.

For this reason, SERVPRO has ushered in our Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned program.

Since every situation and every need is different, we'll tailor a solution to meet your specific goals of providing a clean, safe home or work environment.  Find out more about our Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned program here.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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KITCHEN CAUTIONS

11/6/2020 (Permalink)

Oven in a fire damaged kitchen Kitchen fires are the leading cause of fire damages during the holiday season.

Keep Fall Fire Free

  • Fall decorations, like dried flowers and cornstalks, are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations away from open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.
  • Keep emergency exits clear of decorations no nothing blocks escape routes.
  • Teach children to stay away from open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop, and roll if their clothing catches fire.
  • Remember safety first when choosing a Halloween costume. Consider avoiding billowing fabric.
  • It is safest to use a flashlight or battery- operated candle in a jack-o-lantern. Use extreme caution if using a real candle.

Each year, around the holidays, families gather together to celebrate by preparing a delicious feast. However, not everyone practices safe cooking habits.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and injuries. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. It’s important to be alert to prevent holiday cooking fires.

  • Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, do not use the stovetop or oven.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food.
  • If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while the food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire, like oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, or hand towels, away from the stovetop.

If you have a cooking fire, consider the following safety protocols to help keep you and your family safe.

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the flames.
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you get out safely.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the oven door closed.
  • If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear path out.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the kid over the pan and turn off
    the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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We Know Hoarding

10/15/2020 (Permalink)

HOARDING: A SERIOUS SITUATION

According to The Mayo Clinic, “A hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs.” Many people with a hoarding disorder do not find their habits to be a problem.

Hoarded items are often things others would throw away or look at as junk or garbage, such as old newspapers, junk mail, or packaging.

Hoarding can lead to homes filled with extreme clutter to full capacity from years of accumulation, making living conditions unsanitary and crowded. Bugs, fleas, rats and other vermin may be present, at which point an exterminator would need to be called. At times, hoarding may spread to outside the home as well, to storage facilities, or even the garage or yard.

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County encounters hoarding situations in several different ways. Often, we are called for a fire or water loss and find the hoarding situation when they arrive on-site. A SERVPRO® franchise professional will communicate with the insurance company regarding their contents coverage, and after approval, contents can be packed out and possibly cleaned, dried, and stored by SERVPRO®, or relocated to a storage facility so work on the fire or water loss can begin.

Another way SERVPRO® encounters hoarding jobs is through calls from landlords, case workers, real estate agents, or family members, often after
the death of a loved one. In these situations, the crew will see if they should look for any items of importance while they clean the job. Sometimes,
family members will come and try to help the hoarder sort through their contents as well.

Each case is very different, and hoarding jobs are often sensitive situations, but SERVPRO® is here to help make it “Like it never even happened.” If you encounter a hoarding situation at one of your properties, call SERVPRO®.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Crisis Communication

10/2/2020 (Permalink)

Crisis Communications – Engaging Stakeholders During an Incident

Courtesy of The American Red Cross.

Our current "new normal" demands a new way of doing business, of communicating, with our employees, vendors and most importantly, our customers.  If businesses are to survive, it is imperative to make changes in how we operate.

Trust is the foundation of relationships. When your organization faces an emergency, communications (or the lack thereof) to your employees, customers, and other stakeholders can support or erode that foundation. Protect your organization’s reputation and relationships by being prepared to communicate in a crisis.

In an event, you need to know who to communicate to and how and when to do so. This requires pre-planning. Make sure your emergency response plans have a communication component so you will know how to respond to each risk your organization faces. Essential components of a crisis communication plan include:

  • Stakeholders: Identify the individuals and public or private groups your organization interacts with. Internal stakeholders include employees, volunteers, members of the board of directors, etc. External stakeholders include customers, suppliers, service providers, vendors, public and regulatory authorities, and the media. Think about what information each group would need to know from you during a crisis and what you would need to know from them.
  • Spokesperson: Identify a single individual or small team that will handle dissemination and receipt of information from stakeholders.
  • Strategy: Transparency and timeliness of communications are critical during an incident. Plan in advance what and how you are going to communicate with internal and external stakeholders, including alternate ways of accessing and sharing information. General statements, also called holding statements, can be prepared in advance and are released to stakeholders during an incident before detailed facts come in. For example, an organization operating in an area affected by a hurricane would release: “Our thoughts are with those who are in harm’s way and those responding to the storm. We have implemented our crisis plan and will be supplying additional information as it becomes available.” Review and revise these statements on a regular basis to make sure they remain timely and appropriate.

In developing your communications strategy and holding statements, consider the unique environment your organization operates in. For example, is litigation a concern? If so, it is prudent to include your legal counsel.

Once you have your communications plan, make sure it is part of your emergency preparedness training. The spokesperson or communications team should practice drafting communications when plans are exercised.   

When the unexpected does occur, craft a message that is honest, clear, and concise. Foremost, assess the situation and collect facts. Your communications to stakeholders should be fact focused and not prospective. Explain what went wrong, commit to addressing the situation.

Be empathetic in your communications by including expressions of concern for those involved in the incident, your stakeholders, and the community. Don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’ but be willing to go find the answer where appropriate. Your concern and honesty will support the trusting relationship you want to preserve through the crisis.

For more information on stakeholder identification and crisis communication, refer to Guidance on Crisis Communications and Emergency Response Notification Procedures at ReadyRating.org.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Property Restoration Can Be a Messy Business

10/2/2020 (Permalink)

When disaster strikes, property owners need to make a lot of decisions quickly and under pressure. Effective disaster remediation involves a lot of moving parts: remediation specialists, insurance companies, local codes, state codes, documentation and more—and all of this has to happen in an atmosphere charged with emotion and stress. 

Cody Sullins of SERVPRO® of Christian, Todd, Logan & Simpson Counties says, “Efficiency is key when you are dealing with disaster remediation; it saves our customers money and it makes our work more effective. SERVPRO is an industry leader in work efficiency technology—continually innovating to help both our customers and our business control costs.” 

SERVPRO’s proprietary DryBook™ tool is one example of the company’s focus on efficiency and cost control. Remediation projects must be managed to both industry and insurance company standards, and Sullins says tools like DryBook™ help SERVPRO Franchise technicians track and document progress on restoration, cleanup and repair services. “The DryBook™ tool helps us deliver on every detail of every water damage job, every time,” says Sullins. 

To help avoid regulatory headaches and paperwork pitfalls, Sullins suggests property owners consider the following criteria when choosing a remediation company to deal with the aftermath of a disaster. 

1. Industry standards: Does your remediation company deliver a product that meets the standards set by

• The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Cleaning (IICRC)?

• Most major insurance companies, including cycle times and deadline requirements?

2. Recordkeeping: Does your remediation company have a system in place to ensure accurate, complete and convenient benchmarking of each step of the remediation process, including

• Capturing and updating data, including job diary notes, electronically real-time on the jobsite, with simultaneous updates saved at the central office?

• Using e-signatures to help eliminate lost paperwork and the need to scan documents?

• Providing a complete record of the damage and remediation efforts in images, with descriptions, start-to-finish?

3. Equipment selection: Does your contractor have the ability, on-the-spot, to

• Identify the right equipment for the job, based on the damage description?

• Validate the use of each piece of equipment, automatically, as part of the remediation records?

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Escape Planning

9/29/2020 (Permalink)

Plan Ahead! If a fire breaks out in your home, you may have only a few minutes to get out safely once the smoke alarm sounds. Everyone needs to know what to do and where to go if there is a fire.

Facts

  • A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire. Install smoke alarms inside every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home. Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one smoke alarm sounds, they all sound.
  • According to an NFPA survey, only one of every three American households have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.
  • While 71% of Americans have an escape plan in case of a fire, only 47% of those have practiced it.
  • One-third of American households who made an estimate thought they would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life-threatening. The time available is often less. And only 8% said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out!

Safety Tips

  • MAKE a home escape plan.  Draw a map of your home showing all doors and windows. Discuss the plan with everyone in your home.
  • KNOW at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows leading outside easily open.
  • HAVE an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole or mailbox) a safe distance from the home where everyone should meet.
  • PRACTICE your home fire drill at night and during the day with everyone in your home, twice a year.
  • PRACTICE different ways out.
  • TEACH children how to escape on their own in case you can't help them.
  • CLOSE doors behind you as you leave.

IF THE ALARM SOUNDS....

  • If the smoke alarm sounds, GET OUT AND STAY OUT. Never go back inside for people or pets.
  • If you have to escape through smoke, GET LOW AND GO under the smoke to your way out.
  • CALL the fire department from outside your home.

Information provided by the National Fire Protection Association (nfpa.org).

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Tips for Staying Healthy as COVID-19 and Flu Season Converge

9/28/2020 (Permalink)

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged business owners and homeowners alike to find ways to live and work without exposing themselves or others to this highly contagious virus. Now, the approaching flu season is set to complicate that challenge even further. To help control the threat that the one-two punch of COVID-19 and the seasonal flu presents, SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County urges everyone to be extra vigilant about following cleaning and disinfecting protocols this year.

Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) believe both COVID-19 and the seasonal flu spread primarily by droplets made when infected people cough, sneeze, or talk. While not as frequent, it is also believed adults and children can contract COVID-19 or the flu by touching a surface or an object that has virus particles on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. The CDC continues to recommend a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses, but experts also emphasize the importance of cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily to help mitigate the potential spread from contaminated surfaces. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

To limit exposure and control the spread of these double threats, SERVPRO recommends you wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol, keep your hands away from your face, and wear a mask to protect others. For effective daily, routine cleaning at home or at work, SERVPRO recommends first removing surface grime and dirt with soap and water, then following up with a disinfectant. It’s easier to feel comfortable about limiting exposure at home where you can control how clean your surroundings are. It’s more difficult out in public; but this year especially, it’s important to be aware of the space you’re in. You need to learn to recognize spaces where cleaning is – or is not – a priority so you can adjust your behavior accordingly.

For those home and business owners who have specialized cleaning requirements or who simply want the peace of mind that a professional cleaning service can offer in this stressful time, SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County can help.

While we remain a leader in disaster cleanup and remediation situations, we also provide that same ‘deeper level of clean’ for everyday residential and commercial cleaning. In addition, SERVPRO offers their ‘Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned’ program, developed for businesses in response to the pandemic. The high level of confidence that a professionally cleaned space provides offers welcome reassurance to patrons as the flu season intersects with COVID-19.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Storm Ready, Storm Smart

9/2/2020 (Permalink)

Severe weather can happen any time, anywhere.

Each year, Americans cope with an average of  the following intense storms*:

  • 10,000 severe thunderstorms
  • 5,000 floods or flash floods
  • 1,000 tornadoes
  • 2 landfalling deadly hurricanes

Approximately 98 percent of all declared disasters are weather-related, leading to around 500 deaths per year and nearly $15 billion in damage.  * Knowing your risk of severe weather, taking action and being an example are just a few steps you can take to be better prepared to save your life and assist in saving the lives of others.

Know Your Risk.

The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you, your business and your family.  Check the weather forecast regularly, obtain a NOAA Weather Radio, and learn about Wireless Emergency Alerts.  Severe weather comes in many forms and your shelter plan should include all types of local hazards.

Take Action.

Take the next step in severe weather preparedness by creating a communications plan for your home and business. Put together or purchase an emergency kit.  Keep important papers and valuables in a safe place.

Be an Example. 

Once you have taken action to prepare for severe weather, share your story with co-workers and family and friends on Facebook or Twitter. Your preparedness story will inspire others to do the same.

Build An Emergency Supply Kit

  • Water (one gallon per person per day)
  • Food (non-perishable 3-day supply)
  • Manual can opener
  • Battery operated radio, preferably a NOAA Weather Radio
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Clothing
  • Dust masks or bandanas
  • Plastic sheeting, garbage bags and duct tape
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Hygiene items
  • Important documents; copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account information
  • Cash
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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HURRICANE HAZARDS

8/24/2020 (Permalink)

DID YOU KNOW?

  • In 2019, there were  2 major hurricanes: Barry and Dorian.
  • Globally, September is the most active month for hurricanes.
  • The deadliest hurricane dates back to 1900 when a Cat 4 hit Galveston, TX causing 8,000 - 12,000 reported deaths.

Hurricane season has already begun and several named storms have developed in the Atlantic, Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico. For the Atlantic, the season begins June 1 and runs through November 30. On average, there are 12 tropical storms that develop, with an average of six becoming hurricanes, according to the National Weather Service.

Hurricanes can be life-threatening as well as cause serious property damage.  The National Weather Service lists the following as potential “hurricane hazards.”

  • Storm surge is the abnormal rise of water generated by a storm’s winds. This hazard is historically the leading cause of hurricane related deaths in the United States. Storm surge and large battering waves can result in large loss of life and cause massive destruction along the coast. Storm surge can travel several miles inland, especially along bays, rivers and estuaries.
  • Flooding from heavy rains is the second leading cause of fatalities from land-falling tropical cyclones. Widespread torrential rains associated with these storms often cause flooding hundreds of miles inland. This flooding can persist for several days after a storm has dissipated.
  • Winds from a hurricane can destroy buildings and manufactured homes. Signs, roofing material and other items left outside can become flying missiles during hurricanes.
  • Tornadoes can accompany land-falling tropical cyclones. These tornadoes typically occur in rain bands well away from the center of the storm.
  • Dangerous waves produced by a tropical cyclone’s strong winds can pose a significant hazard to coastal residents and mariners. These waves can cause deadly rip currents, significant beach erosion and damage to structures along the coastline, even when the storm is more than a 1,000 miles offshore.

Preparation is the best protection against the dangers of a hurricane. Plan an evacuation route and your emergency plan, take inventory of your property and take steps to protect your home or business. For more information on recovering from water damage caused by weather-related disasters, contact SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County today. 

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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IT’S THE WATER YOU DON’T SEE

8/3/2020 (Permalink)

Even small water damages have the potential to cause serious structural and indoor air quality issues over time.

The key to avoiding costly future restoration is to handle every water problem as a real threat to your property. SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County has the equipment, training, and experience to find and dry unseen water before secondary damages occur. The proper equipment makes a measurable difference in reducing the damage expense during a fire or water loss.

When time matters, technology and equipment must be counted on to perform. SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County professionals will answer your call with fast action and a full arsenal of drying equipment. Here are a few of the tools used by your local SERVPRO® professionals.

  • Moisture Sensors are used to detect moisture in carpets, baseboards and walls.
  • Moisture Meters are used to determine the actual moisture content of various materials. The moisture tester provides accurate readings, allowing SERVPRO® professionals to monitor the drying process.
  • Thermohygrometers measure temperature and relative humidity. When armed with this information, SERVPRO® professionals can calculate and create an environment most conducive to drying.  When facing a contaminated water loss, it is not only important to dry the structure, but the structure must also be disinfected and often deodorized.
  • Ultra Low-Volume (ULV) Foggers  will atomize liquid deodorizing agents, producing a fine mist that can easily penetrate the site where odor-causing residues may accumulate. This device can also be used to inject fungicides and disinfectants into wall cavities and other hard-to-reach areas.
  • Thermal Foggers dispense solvent-based products by creating a dense fog. The fog consists of tiny particles of deodorant solution that attach to and neutralize odor causing particles to deodorize structures, garments, automobiles and other places where cleaning cannot reach.

The bottom line?

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County has the training and equipment to make it “Like it never even happened.”

DEFENSE AGAINST MOLD GROWTH:

Prompt mitigation is vital to avoid mold growth, which can be visible in as little as 24 to 48 hours under certain conditions.

  • Keep the humidity between 30 to 60 percent.
  • Provide for proper drainage away from building foundations.
  • Regularly inspect plumbing and appliances
    for leaks.
  • Keep gutters and drains clear of debris.
  • Inspect the roof, windows and other areas where water might enter the building and perform necessary maintenance.
  • Respond to all water intrusions immediately.
  • Contact SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County for assistance after a water damage or if you discover mold.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Home Fires - Be Prepared

6/15/2020 (Permalink)

Home Fires Prevent home fires. Have a safety and evacuation plan to save lives.

Source: https://www.ready.gov/

In just two minutes a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes a residence can be engulfed in flames.

Learn About Fires

  • Fire is FAST! In less than 30 seconds a small flame can turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house or for it to be engulfed in flames.
  • Fire is HOT! Heat is more threatening than flames. Room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling this super-hot air will scorch your lungs and melt clothes to your skin.
  • Fire is DARK! Fire starts bright, but quickly produces black smoke and complete darkness.
  • Fire is DEADLY! Smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames do. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a 3-to-1 ratio.

Before a Fire

Create and Practice a Fire Escape Plan

In the event of a fire, remember that every second counts. Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly. Twice each year, practice your home fire escape plan. Some tips to consider when preparing this plan include:

  • Find two ways to get out of each room in the event the primary way is blocked by fire or smoke.
  • A secondary route might be a window onto a neighboring roof or a collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows.
  • Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly and that security bars can be properly opened.
  • Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
  • Teach children not to hide from firefighters.

Smoke Alarms

A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire.

  • Install both ionization AND photoelectric smoke alarms, OR dual sensor smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors.
  • Test batteries monthly.
  • Replace batteries in battery-powered and hard-wired smoke alarms at least once a year (except non-replaceable 10-year lithium batteries).
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, both inside and outside of sleeping areas.
  • Replace the entire smoke alarm unit every 8-10 years or according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Never disable a smoke alarm while cooking – it can be a deadly mistake.

Smoke Alarm Safety for People with Access or Functional Needs

  • Audible alarms for visually impaired people should pause with a small window of silence between each successive cycle so that they can listen to the instructions or voices of others.
  • Smoke alarms with a vibrating pad or flashing light are available for the hearing impaired. Contact your local fire department for information about obtaining a flashing or vibrating smoke alarm.
  • Smoke alarms with a strobe light outside the home to catch the attention of neighbors and emergency call systems for summoning help are also available.

More Fire Safety Tips

  • Make digital copies of valuable documents and records like birth certificates.
  • Sleep with your door closed.
  • Contact your local fire department for information on training on the proper use and maintenance of fire extinguishers.
  • Consider installing an automatic fire sprinkler system in your residence.

During a Fire

  • Crawl low under any smoke to your exit. Heavy smoke and poisonous gases collect first along the ceiling.
  • Before opening a door, feel the doorknob and door. If either is hot, or if there is smoke coming around the door, leave the door closed and use your second way out.
  • If you open a door, open it slowly. Be ready to shut it quickly if heavy smoke or fire is present.
  • If you can’t get to someone needing assistance, leave the home and call 9-1-1 or the fire department. Tell the emergency operator where the person is located.
  • If pets are trapped inside your home, tell firefighters right away.
  • If you can’t get out, close the door and cover vents and cracks around doors with cloth or tape to keep smoke out. Call 9-1-1 or your fire department. Say where you are and signal for help at the window with a light-colored cloth or a flashlight.
  • If your clothes catch fire, stop, drop, and roll – stop immediately, drop to the ground, and cover your face with your hands.  Roll over and over or back and forth until the fire is out. If you or someone else cannot stop, drop, and roll, smother the flames with a blanket or towel. Use cool water to treat the burn immediately for three to five minutes. Cover with a clean, dry cloth. Get medical help right away by calling 9-1-1 or the fire department.

Fire Escape Planning for Older Adults and People with Access or Functional Needs

  • Live near an exit. You'll be safest on the ground floor if you live in an apartment building. If you live in a multi-story home, arrange to sleep on the ground floor and near an exit.
  • If you use a walker or wheelchair, check all exits to be sure you get through the doorways.
  • Make any necessary accommodations – such as providing exit ramps and widening doorways – to facilitate an emergency escape.
  • Speak to your family members, building manager or neighbors about your fire safety plan and practice it with them.
  • Contact your local fire department's non-emergency line and explain your special needs. Ask emergency providers to keep your special needs information on file.
  • Keep a phone near your bed and be ready to call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number if a fire occurs.

After a Fire

The following checklist serves as a quick reference and guide for you to follow after a fire strikes.

  • Contact your local disaster relief service, such as The Red Cross, if you need temporary housing, food and medicines.
  • If you are insured, contact your insurance company for detailed instructions on protecting your property, conducting inventory and contacting fire damage restoration companies. If you are not insured, try contacting private organizations for help.
  • Check with the fire department to make sure your residence is safe to enter. Watch out for any structural damage caused by the fire.
  • The fire department should make sure that utilities are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site. DO NOT attempt to reconnect utilities yourself.
  • Conduct an inventory of damaged property and items. Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made.
  • Begin saving receipts for any money you spend related to fire loss. The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and for verifying losses claimed on your income tax.
  • Notify your mortgage company of the fire.

Prevent Home Fires

Home fires are preventable! The following are simple steps that each of us can take to prevent a tragedy.

Cooking

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time turn off the stove.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
  • Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a "kid-free zone" of three feet around the stove.
  • Position barbecue grills at least 10 feet away from siding and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

Smoking

  • Smoke outside and completely stub-out butts in an ashtray or a can filled with sand.
  • Soak cigarette butts and ashes in water before throwing them away. Never toss hot cigarette butts or ashes in the trash can.
  • Never smoke in a home where oxygen is used, even if it is turned off. Oxygen can be explosive and makes fire burn hotter and faster.
  • Be alert – don’t smoke in bed! If you are sleepy, have been drinking or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy, put your cigarette out first.

Electrical and Appliance Safety

  • Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately and do not run cords under rugs or furniture.
  • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
  • Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker.

Portable Space Heaters

  • Keep combustible objects at least three feet away from portable heating devices.
  • Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Check to make the portable heater has a thermostat control mechanism and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over.
  • Only use crystal clear K-1 kerosene in kerosene heaters. Never overfill it. Use the heater in a well-ventilated room.

Fireplaces and Woodstoves

  • Inspect and clean woodstove pipes and chimneys annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions.
  • Use a fireplace screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks.
  • Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.

Children

  • Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
  • Store matches and lighters out of children's reach and sight, preferably in a locked cabinet.
  • Never leave children unattended near operating stoves or burning candles, even for a short time.

More Prevention Tips

  • Never use a stove range or oven to heat your home.
  • Keep combustible and flammable liquids away from heat sources.
  • Portable generators should NEVER be used indoors and should only be refueled outdoors or in well ventilated areas.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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CDC Update Regarding the Transmission of COVID-19

6/3/2020 (Permalink)

Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned When the stakes are this high, you want a SERVPRO partner who has developed an industry-leading and proprietary training. program.

Authored by: Scott Gettelfinger

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated information regarding the spread of coronavirus from contaminated surfaces. Read the updated guidance and suggestions when marketing and producing coronavirus cleaning jobs.

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidance clarifying that coronavirus may indeed be spread by touching infected surfaces. Per the CDC's updated information:

  • “It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus.”

“Routinely cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces” continues to be recommended in the new guidance as a key precaution individuals can take to protect themselves and others from the spread of the virus. “COVID-19 is a new disease, and we are still learning about how it spreads…”

The first tenet of the Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned program is to Consult. In discussions with key decision makers, it is always encouraged to understand their key drivers, unique needs, and their current business environment when making a cleaning recommendation. Is their main concern employee safeguards in returning to the office? Is it customer confidence in reestablishing business relationships? Or is it simply establishing a new normal?

The key question in all these decisions is, "Why take the risk?"

The tools provided by the Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned program allow a business owner to easily show how they have made a difference to reduce overall risk for their employees and customers. CSC allows them to take one more variable off the table of restarting their business today!

As it is important to be up-to-date on the latest expert guidance, read the CDC's updated recommendations here.

We, at SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County, are experienced in all verticals, and our experts can work with your risk management and/or operations teams to provide consulting and best practices!

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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COVID-19 Back to Business Plan

5/12/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO Coronavirus Sanitizing SERVPRO is trained and prepared to provide fully compliant COVID-19 / Coronavirus sanitizing and disinfecting services.

With all the changes that a person or business encounters after any type of local, national, or global scale disaster we ALL need a plan to get back to business! Without it you will feel the impacts long after the event. We are here to help with some important steps and ideas for you to consider so that you can start off on the right path of getting back to your business normal confidently!

At SERVPRO we have over 50 years of proven experience working to make it "Like it never even happened."® A big part to achieving that has been by educating and empowering people and businesses in our local communities with tools they can use to recover or reopen or after a small or large disaster.

With re-opening dates for businesses coming up let us help you!

Pre-reopening and biological contamination prevention suggestions:

  • It is crucial to have an Employee Safety/Outbreak Response Plan in place if you don’t already.
  • Fogging and high touch cleaning recommended for businesses before reopening to give peace of mind to your employees and customers, so they feel secure coming back to work or shop. (Please be advised SERVPRO personnel adhere to protocols set forth by the CDC and we have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work that regular janitorial staff perform daily).
  • Set up scheduled cleanings in the future to be proactive instead of reactive.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for employees such as face masks and gloves.
  • Temperature Checks as warranted.
  • Shift Management / Space Separation / One Way Aisles.
  • Regular Hand Sanitation and Hand Washing.

Educating Employees in the Workplace

It’s important to prepare a Healthy work environment and educate Employees on how to safely return to work. It gives peace of mind where there could be fear and educates all employees of new policies and procedures moving forward.

  • Practice Good Hygiene! Stop shaking hands – use other non-contact methods of greeting. Clean hands with sanitizer or wash hands frequently. Avoid touching your face and cover coughs and sneezes. Disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, tables, desks, keyboards, phones/tablets, light switches and bathroom fixtures regularly. Increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning.
  • If any employee is feeling sick, they should stay home.
  • Under the revised EEOC guidelines as of March 2020, if an employee arrives at work displaying symptoms of respiratory illness the employer may check employee temperature. As with all medical information, the fact that an employee had a fever or other symptoms would be subject to ADA confidentiality requirements.
  • Business owners cannot require employees to have a vaccine if it becomes available.
  • Limit food sharing in the workplace.

Back to Business Basics

As professionals and business owners alike, it is important to quickly adapt to our current business climate.

  • Consider implementing physical distancing policies and practices.
  • Schedule videoconferencing for meetings when possible, when it is not possible, hold meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces.
  • Business travel should be assessed case-by-case as to necessity.
  • Employers must maintain the confidentiality of any employee with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or other sickness. There should be a system and process in place to protect their identity. However, you should inform employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 or other sickness because employees have the right to know there is a risk in their workplace. Those employees then can do their own risk assessment of their potential exposure based on guidance from the CDC.
  • Introduce supportive and more flexible sick leave policies that are consistent with current health guidance.
  • Be mindful that not all employees and customers may display symptoms and it is important to follow set guidelines.

We, at SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County, are experienced in all verticals, and our experts can work with your risk management and/or operations teams to provide consulting and best practices!

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

Like Us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter, or Instagram and follow the tips, tricks and advice we share with our community.

Hurricane Preparedness

5/12/2020 (Permalink)

Hurricane Preparedness Taking important steps to monitor and prepare for a hurricane can save your home and your life.

Source: https://www.ready.gov/

Hurricanes are dangerous and can cause major damage because of storm surge, wind damage, and flooding. They can happen along any U.S. coast or in any territory in the Atlantic or Pacific oceans. Storm surge is historically the leading cause of hurricane-related deaths in the United States.

Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season: May 15-November 30. Atlantic Hurricane Season: June 1-November 30. Central Pacific Hurricane Season: June 1-November 30. 

Prepare for Hurricanes

Know your Hurricane Risk

Hurricanes are not just a coastal problem. Find out how rain, wind, water could happen where you live so you can start preparing now.

Recognize Warnings and Alerts

Have several ways to receive alerts.Download the FEMA app and receive real-time alertsfrom the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide. Sign up for community alerts in your area and be aware of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA)- which requires no-sign up.

Make an Emergency Plan

Make sure everyone in your household knows and understands your hurricane plan. Discuss the latest Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it may affect your hurricane planning. Don’t forget a plan for the office, kids’ daycare, and anywhere you frequent.

Review Important Documents

Make sure your insurance policies and personal documents like ID are up to date. Make copies and keep them in a secure password protected digital space.

Gather Supplies

Have enough supplies for your household, include medication, disinfectant supplies, cloth face coveringspet supplies in your go bag or car trunk.

Strengthen your Home

Declutter drains and gutters, bring in outside furniture, consider hurricane shutters.

Get Tech Ready

Keep your cell phone charged when you know a hurricane is in the forecast and purchase backup charging devices to power electronics.

Those with Disabilities

If you or anyone in your household is an individual with a disability identify if you may need additional help during an emergency.

Know your Evacuation Zone

You may have to evacuate quickly due to a hurricane. Learn your evacuation routes, practice with household, pets, and identify where you will stay. 

Help your Neighborhood

Check with neighbors, senior adults, or those who may need additional help securing hurricane plans to see how you can be of assistance to others.

Prepare your Business

Make sure your business has a continuity plan to continue operating when disaster strikes.

Stay Safe During a Hurricane

Stay Informed

  • Listen for emergency information and alerts.
  • If told to evacuate by local officials, do so immediately.

Dealing with the Weather

  • Determine how best to protect yourself from high winds and flooding.
  • Take refuge in a designated storm shelter, or an interior room for high winds.
  • If trapped in a building by flooding, go to the highest level of the building. Do not climb into a closed attic. You may become trapped by rising flood water.
  • Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters. Turn Around. Don’t Drown! Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • Stay off bridges over fast-moving water.

Personal Safety

  • If you must go to a community or group shelter remember to follow the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for protecting yourself and family from COVID-19.
  • Be prepared to take cleaning items with you like soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, or general household cleaning supplies to disinfect surfaces you may need to touch regularly.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet between you and persons not part of your immediate family while at the shelter [by avoiding crowds or gathering in groups] as much as possible. 
  • Anyone over 2 years old should use a cloth face covering while at these facilities.
  • Only use generators outdoors and away from windows.

Returning Home After a Hurricane

  • Listen to local officials for information and special instructions.
  • Be careful during clean-up. Wear protective clothing and work with someone else.
  • Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. If it is safe to do so, turn off electricity at the main breaker or fuse box to prevent electric shock.
  • Avoid wading in flood water, which can contain dangerous debris. Underground or downed power lines can also electrically charge the water.
  • Save phone calls for emergencies. Phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster. Use text messages or social media to communicate with family and friends.
  • Document any property damage with photographs. Contact your insurance company for assistance.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

Like Us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter, or Instagram and follow the tips, tricks and advice we share with our community.

SERVPRO Encourages Property Owners to Prepare Now for Severe Spring Weather

5/1/2020 (Permalink)

Warming temperatures threaten to trigger thunderstorms, snow melt, and flooding.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), flooding is the most common natural disaster in the U.S.  SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County wants local home and business owners to know that the approaching spring season is notorious for flood-producing weather, so now is the time to prepare for the unpredictable.

The water damage caused by a broken pipe, malfunctioning clothes or dishwasher, backed up gutters, or damaged roof is typically limited in scope and pretty straightforward to deal with.  Depending on where you live and work, however, you may also be at risk for flooding caused by rain, melting snow, coastal storms, storm surges, overflows of dams, ice jams in rivers, or a severe spring storm.  Those are the types of flooding risks you need to plan for in advance.

While some areas are more prone to flooding than others, FEMA warns that everyone lives in an area with some flood risk, so it’s important to understand your risk and take the appropriate steps to prepare. You can discover the flooding risk for your specific home or business address here, but even those who live in a “low flood risk” zone should heed weather warnings. Here are some of spring’s common flood related weather hazards and where they are most likely to occur.

  • Thunderstorms: The Southeast sees the greatest number of thunderstorms while the West Coast sees the fewest. They occur most often in the spring and summer months during the afternoon and evening hours but can occur anywhere and anytime. These powerful storms can dump large amounts of rain in a short period of time, resulting in flooding and power outages. In an average year, the U.S. experiences about 100,000 thunderstorms.
  • Snow Melt: Areas of the U.S. that receive a lot of snowfall are subject to flooding from snow melt. As warming temperatures melt the snow on top of frozen ground, water can pour into basements and flood yards and streets. Communities downstream of heavy snow pack areas are at flooding risk from streams and rivers swollen with melted snow and ice. Communities along rivers are subject to flooding due to ice jams that block the river’s flow.
  • Coastal Flooding: Flooding events during or following a coastal storm are common, but changes in average sea level and ongoing development have led to a new phenomenon for coastal communities—Blue Sky or Sunny Day Flooding. Spring is one of the times when this phenomenon occurs, when the Moon’s orbit brings it closest to the Earth, and the Moon, Sun and Earth align, resulting in extraordinarily high tides. Coastal flooding is most common along the Northeast and Gulf Coasts.

It’s great to look forward to the warmer days of spring, but it’s also important to remember that this change in the weather can trigger some unsettled and even dangerous weather.  Prepare now for the risk of flooding events by making an emergency plan for meeting up with loved ones, storing fresh water in the event of water supply contamination, having fresh batteries on hand in case of power outages, and stockpiling non-perishable food.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, floodwaters can pose several health risks and cause injuries, infections, chemical hazards, and more.  Never drive through flooded roadways, and avoid contact with floodwaters when possible as it may contain downed power lines or electric current from a home or business; human or livestock waste; household, medical, or industrial hazardous waste; debris; or wild animals such as rodents and snakes. If the water has entered a structure through the flooding of a creek, stream or river, or if it has filtered through insulation during its intrusion, it is also to be considered black water and could be hazardous to your health.

If your home or business is affected by a flood, remember, quick action is critical to minimizing damage and long-term health risks.  Add SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County to your contact list in your phone. We’re here to help.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

Like Us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter, or Instagram and follow the tips, tricks and advice we share with our community.

Coronavirus – An Unprecedented Storm

4/7/2020 (Permalink)

We, at SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County, hope that you, your family, staff, and friends are all safe through this unprecedented pandemic. We know that the coronavirus has impacted all of us in some form and has affected the ways we operate our businesses and live in our homes. We are keeping you and all our first responders in our thoughts and prayers as we continue to watch these events unfold.

Be Prepared - Life WILL Return To Normal

In these times of stress and uncertainty, the best way to combat the threat of COVID-19 is to be prepared. When it comes to disinfection and sanitization, SERVPRO cleanup practices follow CDC guidelines and use EPA-approved products.

SERVPRO is being called by numerous business owners and community leaders to perform necessary bioremediation services to clean, disinfect, and sanitize their facilities and their homes. Our cleanup procedures are in accordance with the CDC recommendations.

We are here and ready to aid you in your time of need, providing these services so your facility can be ready for business to resume and your home can be safe.

Please continue to stay safe and maintain social distance as we all do our part to combat this and lessen the spread of this horrible virus. You are all in our prayers.

We’re here to help you protect your business and your employees – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – until life is back to normal in the communities of Sussex County, NJ, we all call home.

SERVPRO is Here to Help during this time of need

During this unprecedented time caused by the global pandemic of coronavirus, this is a reminder to our customers that we are specialists in cleaning services, and we adhere to the highest cleaning and sanitizing standards.

Specialized Training

We are prepared to clean and disinfect your home or business, according to protocols set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work that regular janitorial staff perform on a daily basis.

The CDC encourages cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and tables. Other spaces mentioned in the CDC’s guidance for commercial spaces include:

  • Kitchen/Food Areas
  • Bathrooms
  • Schools/Classrooms
  • Offices
  • Retail Spaces
  • Water Fountains
  • Shelving/Racks
  • Sales Counters
  • Carpets and Rugs
  • Stair Handrails
  • Elevator Cars
  • Playground Equipment
  • Fitness Equipment

Specialized Products

The CDC recommends usage of a labeled hospital-grade disinfectant with claims against similar pathogens to the coronavirus. Multiple products in the SERVPRO product line carry the EPA-approved emerging pathogens claims. While there is currently no product tested against this particular strain of the coronavirus, we are following all guidelines as provided by the CDC and local authorities.

Call Today for a Proactive Cleaning

If your home or business needs deep cleaning services, call the experts today – SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County, 973.383.2024 or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

Like Us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter, or Instagram and follow the tips, tricks and advice we share with our community.

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-prevent-spread.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fguidance-prevent-spread.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/guidance-business-response.html

Providing Better Service To Sussex County

3/18/2020 (Permalink)

2019 was a busy year for SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County.  We made significant changes in our business so that we could better serve our Sussex County customers.

Franchise Sale:

In early 2019, ownership sold our Wayne territory license.  Our owner recognized that we could better serve Sussex County clients if we could concentrate our resources to this area.  The results have been impressive in our ability to provide more services to our Sussex County client base.

This also allowed us to re-invest in the business with more, and more state-of-the art equipment and training.

Consultation and Service:

During the year we made many changes in how we approach our customer's needs.  First and foremost was to deliver an honest appraisal of their needs and to only recommend required services.

As a result, of the 500+ calls our office received during the year, 15% of those calls were either consulted over the phone or through an onsite inspection and were deemed as "no service required". 

This means that our customer was given an honest appraisal by our Production Manager, Brian Tucci, and we were able to help them understand that they either did not have an issue, or we were able to direct them to one of our licensed contractors for a better remedy than we could provide.

Honesty in our business is paramount to ensuring that our customers believe that, when they call SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County, they'll get the best possible advice and will not be taken advantage of.

Sussex County is our community.  Our employees live here and their families are part of this community.  Our customers know that we stand behind our work.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

Like Us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter, or Instagram and follow the tips, tricks and advice we share with our community.

We are Cleaning Experts

3/18/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO is Here to Help during this time of need

During this unprecedented time caused by the global pandemic of coronavirus, this is a reminder to our customers that we are specialists in cleaning services, and we adhere to the highest cleaning and sanitation standards.

Specialized Training

We are prepared to clean and disinfect your home or business, according to protocols set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work that regular janitorial staff perform on a daily basis.

The CDC encourages cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and tables. Other spaces mentioned in the CDC’s guidance for commercial spaces include:

  • Kitchen/Food Areas
  • Bathrooms
  • Schools/Classrooms
  • Offices
  • Retail Spaces
  • Water Fountains
  • Shelving/Racks
  • Sales Counters
  • Carpets and Rugs
  • Stair Handrails
  • Elevator Cars
  • Playground Equipment
  • Fitness Equipment

Specialized Products

The CDC recommends usage of a labeled hospital-grade disinfectant with claims against similar pathogens to the coronavirus. Multiple products in the SERVPRO product line carry the EPA-approved emerging pathogens claims. While there is currently no product tested against this particular strain of the coronavirus, we are following all guidelines as provided by the CDC and local authorities.

Call Today for a Proactive Cleaning

If your home or business needs deep cleaning services, call the experts today – SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County, 973-383-2024.

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-prevent-spread.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fguidance-prevent-spread.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/guidance-business-response.html

Learn About Fires

3/11/2020 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.ready.gov/

In just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames.

Learn About Fires

  • Fire is FAST! In less than 30 seconds a small flame can turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house or for it to be engulfed in flames.
  • Fire is HOT! Heat is more threatening than flames. Room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling this super-hot air will scorch your lungs and melt clothes to your skin.
  • Fire is DARK! Fire starts bright, but quickly produces black smoke and complete darkness.
  • Fire is DEADLY! Smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames do. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio.

Before a Fire

Create and Practice a Fire Escape Plan

In the event of a fire, remember that every second counts, so you and your family must always be prepared. Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly.

Twice each year, practice your home fire escape plan.  Some tips to consider when preparing this plan include:

  • Find two ways to get out of each room in the event the primary way is blocked by fire or smoke.
  • A secondary route might be a window onto a neighboring roof or a collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows.
  • Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly, and that security bars can be properly opened.
  • Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
  • Teach children not to hide from firefighters.

Smoke Alarms

A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire.

  • Install both ionization AND photoelectric smoke alarms, OR dual sensor smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors.
  • Test batteries monthly.
  • Replace batteries in battery-powered and hard-wired smoke alarms at least once a year (except non-replaceable 10-year lithium batteries).
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, both inside and outside of sleeping areas.
  • Replace the entire smoke alarm unit every 8-10 years or according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Never disable a smoke alarm while cooking – it can be a deadly mistake.

Smoke Alarm Safety for People with Access or Functional Needs

  • Audible alarms for visually impaired people should pause with a small window of silence between each successive cycle so that they can listen to instructions or voices of others.
  • Smoke alarms with a vibrating pad or flashing light are available for the hearing impaired. Contact your local fire department for information about obtaining a flashing or vibrating smoke alarm.
  • Smoke alarms with a strobe light outside the home to catch the attention of neighbors, and emergency call systems for summoning help, are also available.

More Fire Safety Tips

  • Make digital copies of valuable documents and records like birth certificates.
  • Sleep with your door closed.
  • Contact your local fire department for information on training on the proper use and maintenance of fire extinguishers.
  • Consider installing an automatic fire sprinkler system in your residence.

During a Fire

  • Crawl low under any smoke to your exit - heavy smoke and poisonous gases collect first along the ceiling.
  • Before opening a door, feel the doorknob and door. If either is hot, or if there is smoke coming around the door, leave the door closed and use your second way out.
  • If you open a door, open it slowly. Be ready to shut it quickly if heavy smoke or fire is present.
  • If you can’t get to someone needing assistance, leave the home and call 9-1-1 or the fire department. Tell the emergency operator where the person is located.
  • If pets are trapped inside your home, tell firefighters right away.
  • If you can’t get out, close the door and cover vents and cracks around doors with cloth or tape to keep smoke out.  Call 9-1-1 or your fire department. Say where you are and signal for help at the window with a light-colored cloth or a flashlight.
  • If your clothes catch fire, stop, drop, and roll – stop immediately, drop to the ground, and cover your face with your hands.  Roll over and over or back and forth until the fire is out.  If you or someone else cannot stop, drop, and roll, smother the flames with a blanket or towel.  Use cool water to treat the burn immediately for 3 to 5 minutes.  Cover with a clean, dry cloth.  Get medical help right away by calling 9-1-1 or the fire department.

Fire Escape Planning for Older Adults and People with Access or Functional Needs

  • Live near an exit. You'll be safest on the ground floor if you live in an apartment building. If you live in a multi-story home, arrange to sleep on the ground floor, and near an exit.
  • If you use a walker or wheelchair, check all exits to be sure you get through the doorways.
  • Make any necessary accommodations, such as providing exit ramps and widening doorways, to facilitate an emergency escape.
  • Speak to your family members, building manager, or neighbors about your fire safety plan and practice it with them.
  • Contact your local fire department's non-emergency line and explain your special needs. Ask emergency providers to keep your special needs information on file.
  • Keep a phone near your bed and be ready to call 911 or your local emergency number if a fire occurs.

After a Fire

The following checklist serves as a quick reference and guide for you to follow after a fire strikes.

  • Contact your local disaster relief service, such as The Red Cross, if you need temporary housing, food and medicines.
  • If you are insured, contact your insurance company for detailed instructions on protecting the property, conducting inventory and contacting fire damage restoration companies.  If you are not insured, try contacting private organizations for aid and assistance.
  • Check with the fire department to make sure your residence is safe to enter. Be watchful of any structural damage caused by the fire.
  • The fire department should see that utilities are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site.  DO NOT attempt to reconnect utilities yourself.
  • Conduct an inventory of damaged property and items.  Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made.
  • Try to locate valuable documents and records.  Refer to information on contacts and the replacement process inside this brochure.
  • Begin saving receipts for any money you spend related to fire loss.  The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and for verifying losses claimed on income tax.
  • Notify your mortgage company of the fire.

Prevent Home Fires

Home fires are preventable! The following are simple steps that each of us can take to prevent a tragedy.

Cooking

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
  • Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a "kid-free zone" of 3 feet around the stove.
  • Position barbecue grills at least 10 feet away from siding and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

Smoking

  • Smoke outside and completely stub out butts in an ashtray or a can filled with sand.
  • Soak cigarette butts and ashes in water before throwing them away. Never toss hot cigarette butts or ashes in the trash can.
  • Never smoke in a home where oxygen is used, even if it is turned off. Oxygen can be explosive and makes fire burn hotter and faster.
  • Be alert - don’t smoke in bed! If you are sleepy, have been drinking, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy, put your cigarette out first.

Electrical and Appliance Safety

  • Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately and do not run cords under rugs or furniture.
  • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
  • Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker.

Portable Space Heaters

  • Keep combustible objects at least three feet away from portable heating devices.
  • Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Check to make the portable heater has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over.
  • Only use crystal clear K-1 kerosene in kerosene heaters. Never overfill it. Use the heater in a well-ventilated room.

Fireplaces and Woodstoves

  • Inspect and clean woodstove pipes and chimneys annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions.
  • Use a fireplace screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks.
  • Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.

Children

  • Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
  • Store matches and lighters out of children's reach and sight, preferably in a locked cabinet.
  • Never leave children unattended near operating stoves or burning candles, even for a short time.

More Prevention Tips

  • Never use stove range or oven to heat your home.
  • Keep combustible and flammable liquids away from heat sources.
  • Portable generators should NEVER be used indoors and should only be refueled outdoors or in well ventilated areas.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

Like Us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter, or Instagram and follow the tips, tricks and advice we share with our community.

SERVPRO Urgent Professional Disinfecting Services

3/10/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County offers cleaning services including the removal of biohazard contaminants. We have the specialized training and products to get your property back to business.

About Coronavirus
The CDC is responding to an outbreak of a respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has spread to 60 locations internationally (as of this publication), including cases in the United States. The virus known as “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”) is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person or through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Scope of Cleanup Protocol
SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County can perform a proactive cleanup that involves facility or structure cleaning and disinfection where the customer states that there is no active known threat of COVID-19 contamination or exposure. The customer will be required to acknowledge that cleaning and disinfecting will only apply to the current state of the structure and contents. The structure would not be protected from future COVID-19 contamination if an infected person was to enter and occupy the building.


Cleanup Scope of Work and Planning
The CDC encourages cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and tables at a minimum. These same surfaces are mentioned in the CDC’s guidance for commercial spaces as well, including:

  • Kitchen/Food Areas
  • Bathrooms
  • Schools/Classrooms
  • Offices
  • Retail Spaces
  • Water Fountains
  • Shelving and Racks
  • Sales Counters
  • Carpets and rugs
  • Stair Handrails
  • Elevator Cars
  • Playground Equipment
  • Fitness Equipment

Cleanup and Disinfecting Procedures
Cleanup procedures generally include cleaning of porous and non-porous surfaces, disinfecting of non-porous surfaces, cleaning and disinfecting of equipment, tools, and/or supplies used for cleanup process, and disposal of waste.

The CDC recommends usage of a labeled hospital-grade disinfectant with claims against similar type organisms to COVID-19.

SERVPROXIDE™, SERVPRO’s proprietary disinfectant, is a hospital-grade disinfectant that has demonstrated effectiveness against viruses similar to SARS-CoV-2 on hard, non-porous surfaces. In addition, SERVPROXIDE™ currently has dozens of EPA-approved claims including Feline coronavirus, Canine coronavirus, Staphylococcus (MRSA), E. coli, Salmonella, Rotavirus, Swine flu (H1N1) and more.

Porous surfaces that are not water-sensitive, such as carpet and other fabric material, cannot be disinfected but can be sanitized using SERVPROXIDE™.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

Like Us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter, or Instagram and follow the tips, tricks and advice we share with our community.

Because We Know Generator Safety

3/6/2020 (Permalink)

Regardless of whether SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County has had the pleasure of helping you with your service needs, our community and your safety are always on our mind.

During our winter months, and in the ever present severe storm events, generator use is a common element when you lose power to your home or business.

GENERATOR SAFETY

If you have a generator on hand for power outages during severe weather, follow the safety tips below provided by the American Red Cross.

  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawl space, or any partially enclosed area.
  • To avoid electrocution, keep the generator dry and do not use it in wet conditions. Operate it on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure, such as under a tarp
    held up on poles. Do not touch the generator with wet hands.
  • Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent carbon monoxide (CO) buildup in the home. Although CO can’t be
    seen or smelled, it can rapidly lead to full incapacitation and death. Even if you cannot smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to CO. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get
    to fresh air immediately.
  • Install CO alarms in central locations on every level of your home or property and outside sleeping areas to provide early
    warnings.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Mold Remediation: Dangers in the Ducts

2/26/2020 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.randrmagonline.com/ Mold remediation is a serious subject, covered at large by professionals and institutions that specialize on the subject matter. While we're not mold experts, we do know air duct cleaning and how important it is to complete an HVAC Duct Cleaning after any mold, mildew, or fire restoration. The HVAC system of a building, residential or commercial, is designed to convey the dirty undesirable air from the living space and replace it with clean, heated or cooled, conditioned air that is pleasant to breathe and comfortable to building occupants. Depending on the building type and room use, many building codes call for the air in a room to be exchanged five to 15 times per hour. For HVAC systems that are clean and have adequate filtration, every exchange of air generally means the indoor air quality is improving. However, when mold, mildew, soot, allergens, and other contaminants are present, in the HVAC system, the IAQ is reduced with every air exchange. Proper source removal HVAC air duct cleaning, following any restoration project, will reduce the contaminants within the HVAC system and in some cases completely remove the chances of recontamination. It sometimes is overlooked that while a building itself is being remediated, the HVAC system is still in operation and therefore moving mold spores, smoke particles, and other contaminants throughout the return and supply air duct, as well as other HVAC system components. Because the HVAC system is redistributing the air throughout the building, a small about of dirty/contaminated air has the potential to recreate the need for an entire restoration project in as little as a few days.   Source removal, the practice of cleaning by removing contaminants the HVAC system, is the method prescribed within the NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaners Assocaiton) Standard, ACR-2013. Source removal can be achieved in a variety of ways, but is most often achieved by using a negative air vacuum/collector, rotating duct brushes, and compressed air whips/skippers to loosen debris from the duct walls allowing the airflow from the vacuum/collector to evacuate it from the HVAC system. The methods for a proper professional HVAC Air Duct Cleaning have been continually developed and refined for 30 years by working professionals engaged with NADCA and other IAQ associations.

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Awards and Recognitions

2/15/2020 (Permalink)

A common question is often asked of us as we work with our customers - what makes SERVPRO different from the other restoration companies in the area.

We can answer this questions in so many ways. 

One response that we love giving is - SERVPRO is recognized as a national industry leader, winning recognition awards on a consistent annual basis.

SERVPRO has been continually recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as a leader in our industry as well as a leader as a franchisor.

Since 2004, SERVPRO has consistently been ranked #1 in the Restoration Services Category by Entrepreneur Magazine.  This is the type of recognition we accept with pride as a national leader in cleanup and restoration.

So, feel confident, that when you call SERVPRO, you're calling the very best.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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SERVPRO Is Adding Team Members To Its Gallatin Headquarters

2/15/2020 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.tennessean.com/

From California wildfires to flooding in Texas, many businesses and individuals across the country have been hit hard by fire and water damage over the past year. In each of those instances and many more, SERVPRO Industries, LLC and its 1,700 SERVPRO franchises have answered the call for help.

Throughout the U.S. and Canada, SERVPRO franchises provide fire and water cleanup and restoration services. When disaster strikes, each franchise is available 24/7 to send its highly trained professionals to assist. By the time they leave, their goal is to restore the area back to its prior condition, as expressed by the company’s motto: “Like it never even happened.”

To help each franchise reach their fullest potential and offer the highest levels of service, the SERVPRO Industries campus in Gallatin plays an important support role. The Gallatin campus is home to the corporate team, national call center, warehouse, fitness center, manufacturing facility and franchisee training center.

Employees in each of those areas play a key role in making sure franchisees are trained and equipped to step in quickly and efficiently. They are helping people through some of the worst times of their lives, and the Gallatin headquarters employees are critical to empowering the helpers.

For many SERVPRO Industries employees, the company’s important mission is what makes the company one of the best places to work. 

The company’s services aren’t just important regarding getting houses and workplaces clean. They’re also critical for making homes and businesses safe again. Water damage, for example, can cause anything from serious slip hazards to electrical damage. When SERVPRO is finished with a house, it won’t just be clean. It will also be safe.

In addition to supporting people affected by damage, employees know that their success fuels another important initiative: helping franchise owners succeed in their entrepreneurial pursuits.

By helping to make each SERVPRO franchise a successful business endeavor for its owners, the company’s headquarters is working diligently to help entrepreneurs pursue the American dream.

“The SERVPRO System is a Franchise network founded by entrepreneurs, fueled by entrepreneurs and focused on helping entrepreneurs succeed,” explained Rick Isaacson, Chief Executive Officer.

The meaningful work is just one of the many reasons that SERVPRO Industries employees enjoy a high level of job satisfaction. They also enjoy being part of a caring and collaborative team that has been growing for over 50 years and is still growing today.

Based on positive feedback from current employees about their overall experience with the company, The Tennessean awarded SERVPRO Industries with a Top Workplaces Award for the best places to work in the region.

“We are honored to receive this distinctive recognition. A special salute goes to each and every SERVPRO employee who has made contributions to our mission, vision and purpose,” noted Beth Watts, Director of Human Resources.

Over the long term, the company’s vision is to be the premier cleaning and restoration company in the world. With motivated and engaged employees, it is certainly on its way.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Carbon Monoxide: A Silent Killer

2/14/2020 (Permalink)

You can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, but at high levels, it can kill a person in minutes. Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide, or CO, is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas, created when fuels, like gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas and propane burn incompletely.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning. It is estimated another 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to CO poisoning.  All people and animals are at risk for CO poisoning, with some groups— including unborn babies, infants, and people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems— being more susceptible to the effects of carbon monoxide.

An excess of CO, leading to CO poisoning, can result from faulty furnaces or other heating appliances, portable generators, water heaters, clothes dryers, or idling cars left running in garages.

Taking some basic, precautionary steps can help eliminate the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Protect yourself by reviewing the following tips, provided by the United States Fire Administration.

  • Have fuel-burning appliances, like oil and gas furnaces, gas or kerosene heaters, fireplaces, and wood stoves inspected by a trained professional every year.
  • Open the damper for proper ventilation before using a fireplace. Never use your oven or stovetop to heat your home.
  • Make sure all fuel-burning vented equipment is vented to the outside to avoid CO poisoning. Keep the venting for exhaust clear and unblocked.
  • If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Never run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not blocked with snow, ice, or other materials.
  • Make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow and other debris.
  • Only use barbecue grills outside, away from all doors, windows, vents, and other building openings. Some grills can produce CO gas. Never use grills inside the home or the garage, even if the doors are open.
  • Use portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from all doors, windows, vents, and other building openings to prevent exhaust fumes from entering the home.

Symptoms of CO Poisoning

  • Dull headache
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness

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Business Continuity Plan

2/2/2020 (Permalink)

Source: ready.gov

When business is disrupted, it can cost money. Lost revenues plus extra expenses means reduced profits. Insurance does not cover all costs and cannot replace customers that defect to the competition. A business continuity plan to continue business is essential. Development of a business continuity plan includes four steps:

  • Conduct a business impact analysis to identify time-sensitive or critical business functions and processes and the resources that support them.
  • Identify, document, and implement to recover critical business functions and processes.
  • Organize a business continuity team and compile a business continuity plan to manage a business disruption.
  • Conduct training for the business continuity team and testing and exercises to evaluate recovery strategies and the plan.

Information technology (IT) includes many components such as networks, servers, desktop and laptop computers and wireless devices. The ability to run both office productivity and enterprise software is critical.

Therefore, recovery strategies for information technology should be developed so technology can be restored in time to meet the needs of the business. Manual workarounds should be part of the IT plan so business can continue while computer systems are being restored.

Business Continuity Impact Analysis

Business continuity impact analysis identifies the effects resulting from disruption of business functions and processes. It also uses information to make decisions about recovery priorities and strategies.

The Operational & Financial Impacts worksheet can be used to capture this information as discussed in Business Impact Analysis. The worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers with sufficient knowledge of the business. Once all worksheets are completed, the worksheets can be tabulated to summarize:

  • the operational and financial impacts resulting from the loss of individual business functions and process
  • the point in time when loss of a function or process would result in the identified business impacts

Those functions or processes with the highest potential operational and financial impacts become priorities for restoration. The point in time when a function or process must be recovered, before unacceptable consequences could occur, is often referred to as the “Recovery Time Objective.”

Resource Required to Support Recovery Strategies

Recovery of a critical or time-sensitive process requires resources. Business Continuity Resource Requirements should be completed by business function and process managers. Completed worksheets are used to determine the resource requirements for recovery strategies.

Following an incident that disrupts business operations, resources will be needed to carry out recovery strategies and to restore normal business operations. Resources can come from within the business or be provided by third parties. Resources include:

  • Employees
  • Office space, furniture and equipment
  • Technology (computers, peripherals, communication equipment, software and data)
  • Vital records (electronic and hard copy)
  • Production facilities, machinery and equipment
  • Inventory including raw materials, finished goods and goods in production.
  • Utilities (power, natural gas, water, sewer, telephone, internet, wireless)
  • Third party services

Since all resources cannot be replaced immediately following a loss, managers should estimate the resources that will be needed in the hours, days and weeks following an incident.

Conducting the Business Continuity Impact Analysis

The worksheets Operational and Financial Impacts and Business Continuity Resource Requirements should be distributed to business process managers along with instructions about the process and how the information will be used. After all managers have completed their worksheets, information should be reviewed. Gaps or inconsistencies should be identified. Meetings with individual managers should be held to clarify information and obtain missing information.

After all worksheets have been completed and validated, the priorities for restoration of business processes should be identified. Primary and dependent resource requirements should also be identified. This information will be used to develop recovery strategies.

Recovery Strategies

If a facility is damaged, production machinery breaks down, a supplier fails to deliver or information technology is disrupted, business is impacted and the financial losses can begin to grow. Recovery strategies are alternate means to restore business operations to a minimum acceptable level following a business disruption and are prioritized by the recovery time objectives (RTO) developed during the business impact analysis.

Recovery strategies require resources including people, facilities, equipment, materials and information technology. An analysis of the resources required to execute recovery strategies should be conducted to identify gaps. For example, if a machine fails but other machines are readily available to make up lost production, then there is no resource gap. However, if all machines are lost due to a flood, and insufficient undamaged inventory is available to meet customer demand until production is restored, production might be made up by machines at another facility—whether owned or contracted.

Strategies may involve contracting with third parties, entering into partnership or reciprocal agreements or displacing other activities within the company. Staff with in-depth knowledge of business functions and processes are in the best position to determine what will work. Possible alternatives should be explored and presented to management for approval and to decide how much to spend.

Depending upon the size of the company and resources available, there may be many recovery strategies that can be explored.

Utilization of other owned or controlled facilities performing similar work is one option. Operations may be relocated to an alternate site - assuming both are not impacted by the same incident. This strategy also assumes that the surviving site has the resources and capacity to assume the work of the impacted site. Prioritization of production or service levels, providing additional staff and resources and other action would be needed if capacity at the second site is inadequate.

Telecommuting is a strategy employed when staff can work from home through remote connectivity. It can be used in combination with other strategies to reduce alternate site requirements. This strategy requires ensuring telecommuters have a suitable home work environment and are equipped with or have access to a computer with required applications and data, peripherals, and a secure broadband connection.

In an emergency, space at another facility can be put to use. Cafeterias, conference rooms and training rooms can be converted to office space or to other uses when needed. Equipping converted space with furnishings, equipment, power, connectivity and other resources would be required to meet the needs of workers.

Partnership or reciprocal agreements can be arranged with other businesses or organizations that can support each other in the event of a disaster. Assuming space is available, issues such as the capacity and connectivity of telecommunications and information technology, protection of privacy and intellectual property, the impacts to each other’s operation and allocating expenses must be addressed. Agreements should be negotiated in writing and documented in the business continuity plan. Periodic review of the agreement is needed to determine if there is a change in the ability of each party to support the other.

There are many vendors that support business continuity and information technology recovery strategies. External suppliers can provide a full business environment including office space and live data centers ready to be occupied. Other options include provision of technology equipped office trailers, replacement machinery and other equipment. The availability and cost of these options can be affected when a regional disaster results in competition for these resources.

There are multiple strategies for recovery of manufacturing operations. Many of these strategies include use of existing owned or leased facilities. Manufacturing strategies include:

  • Shifting production from one facility to another
  • Increasing manufacturing output at operational facilities
  • Retooling production from one item to another
  • Prioritization of production—by profit margin or customer relationship
  • Maintaining higher raw materials or finished goods inventory
  • Reallocating existing inventory, repurchase or buyback of inventory
  • Limiting orders (e.g., maximum order size or unit quantity)
  • Contracting with third parties
  • Purchasing business interruption insurance

There are many factors to consider in manufacturing recovery strategies:

  • Will a facility be available when needed?
  • How much time will it take to shift production from one product to another?
  • How much will it cost to shift production from one product to another?
  • How much revenue would be lost when displacing other production?
  • How much extra time will it take to receive raw materials or ship finished goods to customers? Will the extra time impact customer relationships?
  • Are there any regulations that would restrict shifting production?
  • What quality issues could arise if production is shifted or outsourced?
  • Are there any long-term consequences associated with a strategy?

Manual Workarounds

Telephones are ringing and customer service staff is busy talking with customers and keying orders into the computer system. The electronic order entry system checks available inventory, processes payments and routes orders to the distribution center for fulfillment. Suddenly the order entry system goes down. What should the customer service staff do now? If the staff is equipped with paper order forms, order processing can continue until the electronic system comes back up and no phone orders will be lost.

The order forms and procedures for using them are examples of “manual workarounds.” These workarounds are recovery strategies for use when information technology resources are not available.

Developing Manual Workarounds

Identify the steps in the automated process - creating a diagram of the process can help. Consider the following aspects of information and work flow:

Internal Interfaces (department, person, activity and resource requirements)

  • External Interfaces (company, contact person, activity and resource requirements)
  • Tasks (in sequential order)
  • Manual intervention points

Create data collection forms to capture information and define processes for manual handling of the information collected. Establish control logs to document transactions and track their progress through the manual system.

Manual workarounds require manual labor, so you may need to reassign staff or bring in temporary assistance.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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SERVPRO Adopts Xactware Job Management Tools

1/15/2020 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.marketwatch.com/ Xactware's Restoration Manager aligns with SERVPRO's WorkCenter tools to deliver best-in-class job management solution. 

SERVPRO(R) has announced a sweeping, company-wide adoption of Xactware's Restoration Manager(R). Xactware is a Verisk VRSK, +0.30% business. This announcement marks another chapter in SERVPRO's long history of providing innovative, best-in-class job oversight and project management capabilities to more than 1,700 franchisees nationwide.

"With this integration, SERVPRO continues to deliver its franchisees important solutions that help them efficiently and effectively manage their businesses," said Xactware's president, Mike Fulton. "Most importantly, it helps SERVPRO Franchise Professionals continue to provide exceptional service and value to homeowners that have suffered the effects of disaster."

This new alliance ensures that SERVPRO and its franchisees can leverage Restoration Manager's job costing, budgeting, scheduling, communication, and reporting capabilities.

"We believe the deep commitment we feel toward our customers is best served by using leading-edge technology to deliver highly customized and professional restoration experiences," said Jeff Fields, SERVPRO's chief information officer. "Our alliance with Xactware has been longstanding, and this new level of engagement will translate into additional time and resource savings for all parties involved in cleanup and restoration."

Moving forward, SERVPRO and its franchisees will have the ability to better control paperwork, schedules, and project plans by using the checks and balances, task features, and notifications inherent to Restoration Manager.

"We're excited about the expanded relationship with SERVPRO," said Dan Long, president of Xactware's Service Software division. "Restoration Manager is aligned to enable the most efficient transfer of information from claims ecosystem staples like Xactimate(R) and XactAnalysis(R) to reduce duplicate entry, streamline operations, and expedite inspections and repairs."

About XactwareXactware specializes in technologies for the property insurance, remodeling, restoration, and mortgage and lending industries. Xactware's tools provide claims estimating, contents replacement, claims management, and property maintenance solutions for desktop, mobile, and online platforms. Xactware's services include repair cost research and reports, aerial imagery, and real-time business intelligence. Xactware has been providing cloud services for customers since 1995. Xactware is a Verisk VRSK, +0.30% business. For more information about Xactware's solutions, contact Xactware at 1-800-424-9228 or Xactware.com.

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UNDERSTANDING WATER TYPES

12/27/2019 (Permalink)

When your home or business suffers a water damage, understanding what type of water you are dealing with is critical to ensuring proper cleanup.  There are three types of water.

Clean water is water from a broken pipe, or other water source; rainwater is also considered clean.

The term gray water is used to classify slightly contaminated water. Clean water becomes gray water when it is left untreated allowing bacteria and other contaminants to begin growing, making the water hazardous.

Black water is highly contaminated and filled with fungi, bacteria, chemicals and more. Black water is typically caused by sewage damage, flooding or any type of natural disaster. Black water should always be handled by trained professionals.

Consider taking the following precautions to help minimize damage or prevent further damage while waiting for help to arrive.

Damage from Clean Water

  • Shut off the water source if possible or contact a qualified professional to do so.
  • Turn off circuit breakers for wet areas of the building if access to the power distribution panel is safe from potential electrical shock. Do not enter rooms with standing water, as electrical shock hazards may exist.
  • Remove as much excess water as possible by mopping and blotting. Wipe excess water from wood furniture after removing lamps and tabletop items.
  • Remove and prop up wet upholstery cushions to allow more even drying.
  • Move any paintings, art objects, computers, documents and other valuable items that may be sensitive to moisture to a safe place.
  • Do not leave books, newspapers, magazines or other colored items on wet carpets or floors as they may cause staining. 
  • Do not use your household vacuum cleaner to remove water as there is potential for electrical shock or causing damage to the vacuum cleaner. 
  • Do not turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet; do not enter rooms where ceilings are sagging from retained water.

Damage from Contaminated Water

  • Avoid all contact with sewage and items contaminated by sewage. Wash your hands thoroughly if you come in contact with contaminated items. 
  • Do not walk through contaminated areas, as you could spread damage to unaffected areas.
  • Do not turn on the HVAC system if there is a possibility of spreading contaminated air.
  • Do not use household fans to dry the structure; air flow could spread contaminants.
  • Discard any food and/or products for personal hygiene and cleanliness if exposed to the contaminated areas.

When you have a water damage, don’t leave your property to chance. 

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Be Prepared to Stay Safe and Healthy in Winter

12/26/2019 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/

Winter storms and cold temperatures can be dangerous. Stay safe and healthy by planning ahead. Prepare your home and cars. Prepare for power outages and outdoor activity. Check on older adults.

Although winter comes as no surprise, many of us are not ready for its arrival. If you are prepared for the hazards of winter, you will be more likely to stay safe and healthy when temperatures start to fall.

Take These Steps for Your Home

Many people prefer to remain indoors during winter, but staying inside is no guarantee of safety. Take these steps to keep your home safe and warm during the winter months.

Winterize your home.

  • Install weather stripping, insulation, and storm windows.
  • Insulate water lines that run along exterior walls.
  • Clean out gutters and repair roof leaks.

Check your heating systems.

  • Have your heating system serviced professionally to make sure that it is clean, working properly, and ventilated to the outside.
  • Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys.
  • Install a smoke detector. Test batteries monthly and replace them twice a year.
  • Have a safe alternate heating source and alternate fuels available.
  • Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) emergencies.
    • Install a CO detector to alert you of the presence of the deadly, odorless, colorless gas. Check batteries when you change your clocks in the fall and spring.
    • Learn symptoms of CO poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.

n’t Forget to Prepare Your Car

Get your car ready for cold weather use before winter arrives.

Service the radiator and maintain antifreeze level; check tire tread or, if necessary, replace tires with all-weather or snow tires.

  • Keep gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
  • Use a wintertime formula in your windshield washer.
  • Prepare a winter emergency kit to keep in your car in case you become stranded. The kit should include:
    • cell phone, portable charger, and extra batteries;
    • blankets;
    • food and water;
    • booster cables, flares, tire pump, and a bag of sand or cat litter (for traction);
    • compass and maps;
    • flashlight, battery-powered radio, and extra batteries;
    • first-aid kit; and
    • plastic bags (for sanitation).

Equip in Advance for Emergencies

Be prepared for weather-related emergencies, including power outages.

  • Stock food that needs no cooking or refrigeration and water stored in clean containers.
  • Ensure that your cell phone is fully charged.
  • When planning travel, be aware of current and forecast weather conditions.
  • Keep an up-to-date emergency kit, including:
    • Battery-operated devices, such as a flashlight, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio, and lamps;
    • extra batteries;
    • first-aid kit and extra medicine;
    • baby items; and
    • cat litter or sand for icy walkways.
  • Protect your family from carbon monoxide.
    • Keep grills, camp stoves, and generators out of the house, basement and garage.
    • Locate generators at least 20 feet from the house.
    • Leave your home immediately if the CO detector sounds, and call 911.

ake These Precautions Outdoors

Many people spend time outdoors in the winter working, traveling, or enjoying winter sports. Outdoor activities can expose you to several safety hazards, but you can take these steps to prepare for them:

  • Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: wear a tightly woven, preferably wind-resistant coat or jacket; inner layers of light, warm clothing; mittens; hats; scarves; and waterproof boots.
  • Sprinkle cat litter or sand on icy patches.
  • Learn safety precautions to follow when outdoors.
    • Work slowly when doing outside chores.
    • Take a buddy and an emergency kit when you are participating in outdoor recreation.
    • Carry a cell phone.

Do This When You Plan to Travel

When planning travel, be aware of current and forecast weather conditions.

  • Avoid traveling when the weather service has issued advisories.
  • If you must travel, inform a friend or relative of your proposed route and expected time of arrival.
  • Follow these safety rules if you become stranded in your car.
    • Make your car visible to rescuers. Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna, raise the hood of the car (if it is not snowing), and turn on the inside overhead lights (when your engine is running).
    • Move anything you need from the trunk into the passenger area. Stay with your car unless safety is no more than 100 yards away.
    • Keep your body warm. Wrap your entire body, including your head, in extra clothing, blankets, or newspapers. Huddle with other people if you can.
    • Stay awake and stay moving. You will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems. As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to improve circulation and stay warmer.
    • Run the motor (and heater) for about 10 minutes per hour, opening one window slightly to let in air. Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe—this will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Above all, be ready to check on family and neighbors who are especially at risk from cold weather hazards: young children, older adults, and the chronically ill. If you have pets, bring them inside. If you cannot bring them inside, provide adequate, warm shelter and unfrozen water to drink.

No one can stop the onset of winter. However, if you follow these suggestions, you will be ready for it when it comes.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Smoke Alarms: Life Savers

12/22/2019 (Permalink)

Fire Facts:

  • 7 People die every day from a home fire.
  • 36 People suffer injuries as a result of home fires every day.
  • $7 Billion in property damage occurs every year.

Smoke alarms save lives when properly installed and maintained, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

In homes, smoke alarms should be in every bedroom and on every level, including the basement. In office and commercial environments, check your state requirements or contact your  local Fire Marshall to help ensure all codes are met.

Test smoke alarms monthly using the test button. Smoke alarms with non-replaceable batteries need the entire smoke alarm unit replaced every ten years. Other alarms need batteries replaced every year and the unit replaced every ten years. If the alarm chirps signaling low battery, take the proper steps to replace the unit or the batteries immediately. Never disable or remove the battery from an alarm. Almost half of fires where smoke alarms were present but did not activate had missing or disconnected batteries (NFPA).

In larger commercial facilities, hard wired or wireless smoke alarms offer benefits such as not needing to be tested as often and activating throughout the entire building if smoke is detected in just one area (NFPA).

If you need help installing, testing or changing batteries in your smoke alarms, contact your local fire department, an electrician or the American Red Cross. Be sure your home or workplace has a fire emergency plan in place and conduct regular fire drills. 

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SERVPRO Announces Long-term Partnership With Blackstone

12/17/2019 (Permalink)

Source: Blackstone.com

SERVPRO and Blackstone (NYSE:BX) announced that private equity funds managed by Blackstone (“Blackstone”) have recapitalized SERVPRO, a leading franchisor of residential and commercial property damage restoration services. Blackstone is acquiring a majority stake in SERVPRO as part of Blackstone’s Core Private Equity strategy, which is designed to hold investments for longer periods of time than traditional private equity. The Isaacson family will be re-investing alongside Blackstone and will continue to be significant shareholders in the business going forward.  Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 1967 by the Isaacson family, SERVPRO is a leading national franchisor, providing services in both residential and commercial property mitigation, restoration and reconstruction following damage related to water, fire, mold or storm activity. Since its founding, SERVPRO has now grown to over 1,700 franchisees in the United States and Canada. 

Rick Isaacson, SERVPRO CEO, said, “We are thrilled about this long-term investment from Blackstone and the strategic benefits its global platform can provide the company, our franchisees, and our customers. SERVPRO was founded over 50 years ago with the vision of becoming the premier cleaning and restoration company, and we believe this partnership with Blackstone is a vital next step towards this goal.”

Peter Wallace, Senior Managing Director at Blackstone, said, “We are excited to make this investment and join together with the Isaacsons and the SERVPRO team as long-term growth partners. We believe the additional capital and extensive network of relationships that Blackstone can bring to bear will benefit not only SERVPRO, but its more than 1,700 franchisees and its customers.”

David Kestnbaum, Managing Director at Blackstone, said, “SERVPRO is a high-quality company with a strong management team and great long-term prospects. We look forward to working with SERVPRO and its franchisees to help fuel the business’ next phase of growth.  As one of the largest owners of residential, office, retail, hotel, and industrial real estate in the world, Blackstone has unique expertise and insights into a broad array of properties that are relevant to SERVPRO.”

Harris Williams is acting as financial advisor to SERVPRO with respect to the transaction and Bass, Berry & Sims PLC is acting as SERVPRO’s legal counsel. Jefferies, Credit Suisse, and Deutsche Bank Securities provided debt financing for the transaction and served as financial advisors to Blackstone. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett is acting as Blackstone’s legal counsel. 

About SERVPRO®
Founded in 1967, the SERVPRO Franchise System is a leader and provider of fire and water cleanup and restoration services, and mold mitigation and remediation. SERVPRO's professional services network of more than 1,700 individually owned and operated Franchises responds to property damage emergencies ranging from small individual disasters to multi-million dollar large-loss events. Providing coverage in the United States and Canada, the SERVPRO System has established relationships with major insurance companies and commercial clients, as well as individual homeowners.

About Blackstone
Blackstone is one of the world's leading investment firms. We seek to create positive economic impact and long-term value for our investors, the companies we invest in, and the communities in which we work. We do this by using extraordinary people and flexible capital to help companies solve problems. Our asset management businesses, with $472 billion in assets under management, include investment vehicles focused on private equity, real estate, public debt and equity, non-investment grade credit, real assets and secondary funds, all on a global basis. Further information is available at www.blackstone.com. Follow Blackstone on Twitter @Blackstone.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Winter Weather Preparedness

12/15/2019 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.wunderground.com

While the danger from winter weather varies across the country, nearly all Americans, regardless of where they live, are likely to face some type of severe winter weather at some point in their lives. Winter storms can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for several days. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and sometimes by strong winds, icing, sleet and freezing rain.

One of the primary concerns is the winter weather's ability to knock out heat, power and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for days at a time. Heavy snowfall and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region.

The National Weather Service refers to winter storms as the "Deceptive Killers" because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. Instead, people die in traffic accidents on icy roads and of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold. It is important to be prepared for winter weather before it strikes.

Watches and Warnings

Winter Storm Watch

This product is issued by the National Weather Service when there is a potential for heavy snow or significant ice accumulations, usually at least 24 to 36 hours in advance. The criteria for this watch can vary from place to place.

Winter Storm Warning

This product is issued by the National Weather Service when a winter storm is producing or is forecast to produce heavy snow or significant ice accumulations. The criteria for this warning can vary from place to place.

Blizzard Warning

Issued for winter storms with sustained or frequent winds of 35 mph or higher with considerable falling and/or blowing snow that frequently reduces visibility to 1/4 of a mile or less. These conditions are expected to prevail for a minimum of 3 hours.

Winter Storms Home Preparedness Checklist

  • Before winter approaches, add the following supplies to your emergency kit:
    • Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways
    • Sand to improve traction
    • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment
    • Sufficient heating fuel, like dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove
    • Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm
  • Make a family emergency plan — Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency
  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS) and be alert to changing weather conditions
  • Minimize travel, but keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle
  • Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather
  • Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water

During the Winter Storm

  • Stay indoors during the storm
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy walkways
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow; overexertion can bring on a heart attack — a major cause of death in the winter
  • If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside
  • Keep dry and change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat (wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly)
  • Watch for signs of frostbite: loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia: uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible
  • Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive: travel in the day, don't travel alone, keep others informed of your schedule, stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts
  • Let someone know your destination, your route and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route
  • If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate)
  • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes
  • Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects
  • Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55°F

Winterize Your Home

Winter storms can range from a brief period of extreme cold temperatures, to days of snow, blowing wind and white-out conditions. Preparing in advance helps you tackle winter weather before it even begins. Two of the biggest safety issues as the winter season approaches is knowing how to deal with power outages in cold weather and understanding how to drive (or when not to drive) in snowy conditions. 

Get Your Home Winter Ready

  • Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic
  • Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment
  • Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year
  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing; Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing
  • All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside and kept clear
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts)
  • Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out
  • Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work

Carbon Monoxide Safety

  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors
  • The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide
  • If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door
  • Call for help from the fresh air location and remain there until emergency personnel arrive to assist you

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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FIRE SPRINKLER SYSTEM FREEZE FAILURES

12/4/2019 (Permalink)

Source: https://county-fire.com

A Sprinkler Freeze Failure Scenario

Sprinkler systems can malfunction when temperatures drop. When any portion of a sprinkler system is exposed to freezing temperatures, water in the piping can turn to ice, expand in volume, and produce thousands of pounds of pressure. The pressure can force sprinklers to operate and break fittings. As a result, water leaks or is discharged from the system when the ice thaws. Normally sprinkler system failures, due to freezing, aren’t discovered until after the water starts to cause damage because it is discharging.

After a water discharge from a sprinkler system, building owners face property damage, business interruption, and irate tenants and customers. Most fire sprinkler contractors have the ability to eliminate the chances of a freeze failure with proper installation, but to make sure it never happens, building owners also need to be involved.

Wet System Freeze Failures

Most sprinkler systems are wet pipe systems, meaning that the piping is normally filled with water. A wet system freeze failure has two primary causes:

  1. The system lacked adequate heating
  2. The system lacked adequate insulation

Installation standards define how and where wet piping systems are supposed to be installed, but part of the responsibility rests with building owners and operators. According to NFPA 25, paragraph 4.1.1.1, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems:

“The building owner shall ensure that all areas of the building containing water-filled piping shall be maintained at a minimum temperature of 40°F (4.4°C) and not exposed to freezing conditions.”

A wet system freeze failure can occur in an area where a building used to be heated, but is now left cold or where a piece of insulation is disrupted, leaving piping exposed. In either scenario, the building owner has the ability to prevent the freeze failure with regular maintenance and inspection.

Dry System Freeze Failures

Dry sprinkler systems can also have failures due to freezing in cold conditions. A dry pipe sprinkler system is a specialized type of fire sprinkler system that is typically installed in areas of a building that is exposed to freezing temperatures. The pipes are normally dry and charged with compressed air. The compressed air holds the dry valve closed and prevents water from entering the system. When a sprinkler activates, the compressed air leaks out, the valve opens, and the system piping is filled with water. If the dry system is properly installed, the water will drain, but that doesn’t always happen.

In addition, if a dry system’s pipes are not sloped back towards the source or an auxiliary drain, the water will pool within the piping. When winter comes around, the uninsulated piping freezes, creating problems just like a wet system freeze failure. In buildings where there is a low quality of construction, this is a common scenario. Residential buildings, where construction is fast and lacks proper oversight, are particularly prone to dry system freeze failures.

How To Prevent Fire Sprinkler Freeze Failures

Ideally, all sprinkler systems would be properly designed and installed for their environment. Dry sprinkler systems would properly slope in order to drain and wet systems would be properly insulated in areas that drop below 40°F. Unfortunately, the ideal situation isn’t always a reality and you can’t just turn off a fire protection system every time it gets cold to prevent potential freezing problems.

Every year, we find dry pipe systems that are improperly installed and do not drain as a result. Building owners don’t have much control over the slope of their dry pipe systems, but they can make sure the systems are otherwise properly drained before freezing weather arrives. In a wet system, building owners and operators can ensure the pipes remain heated and insulated enough to not freeze.

To prevent a pipe freezing scenario, building owners and operators should take preparations before cold weather, routine actions during cold weather, and special precautions when a building might be unattended for an extended period of time.

What To Do Before Cold Weather

In wet sprinkler systems:

  1. Annual servicing of your heating systems will help to ensure dependability when the temperature drops. As it becomes colder, heating systems play an important role in preventing wet system freeze failures.
  2. Check all piping to verify insulation is intact.
  3. Make sure there are no major leaks or blocks (like broken ventilation) in building openings.
  4. Verify system performance and monitoring.

In dry sprinkler systems:

  1. Check air sources/air pressure.
  2. Check and operate low point drains to ensure there is no residual water in the system piping.
  3. Test low temperature and system air pressure monitoring devices.

County Fire Protection strongly recommends that all work on fire sprinkler systems be performed by trained, experienced individuals who are employed by a professional fire protection company.

What To Do During Cold Weather

Freezing of water-based fire protection systems is avoidable. Many sprinkler freeze failures occur due to inadequate building heat. Building owners who actively monitor and maintain building heat will help to reduce many fire system freeze failure impairments.

In cold building spaces where wet sprinkler systems are located, like above the ceiling, you can install thermometers that can be checked remotely. If a wet system freezing is a major concern, you should consider replacing it with a dry system. A dry system is less likely to freeze, but they still require monitoring and maintenance.

During extended periods of cold weather or vacancy, building owners should safely increase heat in all building spaces and turn off energy savings settings. Extended idle periods occur when building occupants leave for a long weekend or holiday. During these periods, building owners need to make sure suitable means of heat loss detection are maintained. Where building temperatures are detected at or below 40°F, prompt action by the building owner is needed. Every sprinkler system has a control valve. Building operators should know where the sprinkler valves are in order to turn them off in the event of a system failure.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Snowstorms & Extreme Cold

11/21/2019 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.ready.gov

Winter storms create a higher risk of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks from overexertion. Winter storms and blizzards can bring extreme cold, freezing rain, snow, ice, and high winds. A winter storm can:

  • Last a few hours or several days;
  • Knock out heat, power, and communication services; and
  • Place older adults, young children, and sick individuals at greater risk.

IF YOU ARE UNDER A WINTER STORM WARNING, FIND SHELTER RIGHT AWAY

  • Stay off roads.
  • Stay indoors and dress warmly.
  • Prepare for power outages.
  • Use generators outside only and away from windows.
  • Listen for emergency information and alerts.
  • Look for signs of hypothermia and frostbite.
  • Check on neighbors.

HOW TO STAY SAFE WHEN A WINTER STORM THREATENS:

Prepare NOW

  • Know your area’s risk for winter storms. Extreme winter weather can leave communities without utilities or other services for long periods of time.
  • Prepare your home to keep out the cold with insulation, caulking, and weather stripping. Learn how to keep pipes from freezing. Install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups.
  • Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of freezing weather and winter storms. Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
  • Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Do not forget the needs of pets. Have extra batteries for radios and flashlights.
  • Create an emergency supply kit for your car. Include jumper cables, sand, a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, bottled water, and non-perishable snacks. Keep the gas tank full.
  • Learn the signs of, and basic treatments for, frostbite and hypothermia.

Survive DURING

  • Stay off roads if at all possible. If trapped in your car, then stay inside.
  • Limit your time outside. If you need to go outside, then wear layers of warm clothing. Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Only use generators and grills outdoors and away from windows. Never heat your home with a gas stovetop or oven.
  • Reduce the risk of a heart attack. Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia and begin treatment right away.
  • Check on neighbors. Older adults and young children are more at risk in extreme cold.

RECOGNIZE AND RESPOND

  • Frostbite causes loss of feeling and color around the face, fingers, and toes.
    • Signs: Numbness, white or grayish-yellow skin, firm or waxy skin
    • Actions: Go to a warm room. Soak in warm water. Use body heat to warm. Do not massage or use a heating pad.
  • Hypothermia is an unusually low body temperature. A temperature below 95 degrees is an emergency.
    • Signs: Shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech, or drowsiness
    • Actions: Go to a warm room. Warm the center of the body first—chest, neck, head, and groin. Keep dry and wrapped up in warm blankets, including the head and neck.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Emergency Fire Damage Tips

11/8/2019 (Permalink)

Fire Extinguisher Use Knowing how to use a fire extinguisher can save your life.

FIRE FACTS

  • 7 People die every day from a home fire.
  • 36 People suffer injury as a result of a home fire every day.
  • $7 Billion in property damage occurs every year.

These emergency tips will assist you in taking proper action until SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County arrives. Follow these DO's and DON’Ts to help reduce damage and increase the chances of a successful restoration.

DO:

  • Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into carpet and avoid tracking.
  • Keep hands clean. Soot on hands can further soil upholstery,walls and woodwork.
  • If electricity is off, empty freezer and refrigerator completely and prop doors open to help prevent odor.
  • Wipe soot from metal kitchen and bathroom faucets, trim and appliances.
  • If heat is off during winter, pour RV antifreeze in sinks, toilet bowls, holding tanks and tubs to avoid freezing pipes and fixtures.
  • Remove soot particles from plants with a damp cloth.
  • Change HVAC filter, but leave system off until a trained professional can check the system.
  • Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers to stop particles of soot from getting in or out of the HVAC system.

DON'T:

  • Don’t attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces without first contacting your SERVPRO® Franchise Professional.
  • Don’t attempt to shampoo carpet, rugs or upholstered furniture without first consulting SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County.
  • Don’t attempt to clean any electrical appliances (TV sets, radios, etc.) that may have been close to fire, heat or water without first consulting an authorized repair service.
  • Don’t consume any food or beverages that may have been stored close to fire, heat or water. (They may be contaminated.)
  • Don’t turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet. Wiring may be wet or damaged and cause electrical shock and air movement may create secondary damage.
  • Don’t send garments to the dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set in smoke odor.

Portable fire extinguishers can be life and property saving tools when used correctly. In order to operate an extinguisher, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests remembering the word PASS:

  • Pull the pin. Hold the nozzle pointing away from you and release the locking mechanism.
  • Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
  • Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side. Read the instructions on the fire extinguisher and become familiar with them before a fire breaks out. Remember, extinguishers do have limitations. It is also important to ensure you have the correct type of extinguisher for your facility. To find more information on choosing the appropriate class of extinguisher, please visit the NFPA website at nfpa.org.

Smoke Alarms: LIFE SAVERS

Smoke alarms save lives when properly installed and maintained, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

In homes, smoke alarms should be in every bedroom and on every level, including the basement. In office and commercial environments, check your state requirements or contact your local Fire Marshall to help ensure all
codes are met.

Test smoke alarms monthly using the test button. Smoke alarms with non-replaceable batteries need the entire smoke alarm unit replaced every ten years. Other alarms need batteries replaced every year and the unit replaced every ten years. If the alarm chirps signaling low battery, take the proper steps to replace the unit or the batteries immediately. Never disable or remove the battery from an alarm. Almost half of fires where smoke alarms
were present but did not activate had missing or disconnected batteries (NFPA).

In larger commercial facilities, hard wired or wireless smoke alarms offer benefits such as not needing to be tested as often and activating throughout the entire building if smoke is detected in just one area (NFPA).

If you need help installing, testing or changing batteries in your smoke alarms, contact your local fire department, an electrician or the American Red Cross.

Be sure your home or workplace has a fire emergency plan in place and conduct regular fire drills. For more information on Emergency
Preparedness, contact SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Workplace Fire Prevention

10/15/2019 (Permalink)

A fire can happen anywhere and anytime. Every business MUST be prepared, for the safety of their employees.

Here are some tips on things we can do to help prevent a fire in the common workplace.

  1. Accessibility
    Always ensure accessibility to electrical control panels. Material or equipment stored in front of the panels would hinder the shutdown of power in an emergency. Also, never block sprinklers, firefighting equipment or emergency exits and observe clearances when stacking materials.
  2. Good Housekeeping
    Clutter not only provides fuel for fires, but also prevents access to exits and emergency equipment. Keep your workplace as clutter-free as possible.
  3. Proper Waste Disposal
    Discard fire hazards like oily rags by placing them in a covered metal container and emptying it on a regular basis.
  4. Maintenance
    Make sure the machines in your workplace are properly maintained to prevent overheating and friction sparks.
  5. Report Electrical Hazards
    Unless you are qualified and authorized, you should never attempt electrical repairs. Faulty wiring and malfunctioning electrical equipment are key contributors to workplace fires.
  6. Safe Chemical Use & Storage
    Always read the label and the Material Safety Data Sheet to assess flammability and other fire hazards of a substance. When using and storing chemical materials, always do so in an area with adequate ventilation.
  7. Precautions In Explosive Atmospheres
    Follow all recommended and required precautions to prevent ignition in potentially explosive atmospheres, such as those containing flammable liquid vapors or fine particles. These precautions include non-sparking tools and proper static electricity control.
  8. Maximum Building Security
    To help prevent arson fires, always lock up as instructed, report suspicious persons or behavior and never leave combustible garbage outside near your building..
  9. Smoke Areas
    Always ensure that there is a smoke area available and that all workers who smoke on the job are using it. Proper extinguishing of smoking materials should always be enforced.
  10. Fully Charged Fire Extinguishers
    Check fire extinguishers often by looking at the gauges and making sure they're fully charged and ready for use. If they're not fully charged or if the attached tag indicates that the last inspection occurred more than a month ago, call for maintenance. Also, encourage all workers to learn how to use a fire extinguisher.
  11. Emergency Numbers
    Emergency phone numbers, as well as your company address, should be posted by the phone station for quick access.

11.5 OSHA Guidelines
Adherence to OSHA's fire safety guidelines is crucial for fire prevention. Read through these regulations and make sure your workplace is in compliance.

Making sure your workers return home safely is our mission and passion. Take these 11.5 tips to your workplace and practice true fire safety, which begins before the fire even ignites.

When fire or water damage strikes, you need professional help to get your property back to preloss condition.  SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County provides 24-hour emergency service and is dedicated to being faster to any size disaster.  Our highly trained technicians can respond immediately to your residential or commercial emergency.??

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Understanding Mold is the Basis to Prevent Mold

10/4/2019 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.randrmagonline.com

Mold is not a plant and not an animal. Mold is a fungi with its own unique life-style, starting from a tiny microorganism called spore. Not all fungi are as unwanted as mold. Some are great decomposers, where decomposition is wanted. Antibiotics such as Penicillin are fungi, their development is a blessing for people. Even in our food we welcome the distinctive taste of yeast-fungi when brewing or baking.

Mold in buildings is un-welcome, it presents a danger for the building and for the people living in the building.

Mold starts from spores.  Spores have been around for centuries, our environment is contaminated with spores. That’s why mold can develop everywhere under the right conditions, even though nobody put “mold seeds” out.

Let’s take a look at how mold grows: A tiny spore is dormant somewhere, waiting sometimes for years for the right conditions. If the right conditions occur (see below), a spore will develop into a new organism.

The new organism develops into mold by penetrating through and under the surface into the substrate looking for food and growing an ever-extending web along the surface as far as favorable conditions exist. From this web tiny extensions grow vertically up. The ends swell and new spores are produced. When the spores are ready, they are air borne by the millions and dispersed into the surrounding air. The slightest drift can carry the spores far away in a short time, where they will, if conditions allow start a new colony.

Four ingredients have to be present for mold to grow: food, water, air and moderate temperatures.

First red flag:  Food: Contrary to green plants, the food source for mold is carbon, extracted from the material the mold lives on. As mold extracts carbon, it destroys carbon-containing substances: organic materials such as wood, wood-based products as well as plastics made from petroleum products, paint, etc. as well as building materials such as concrete and sheetrock. Mold infestations can have catastrophic consequences by weakening or destroying structural elements in buildings.

Second red flag:  The destruction of materials is not all. While digesting its food, mold releases toxics into the air, which can present a health hazard to humans.

Third red flag: One mold colony can grow countless spores sent into the air and inhaled by people living in mold infested areas. Mold can be a health hazard, depending on the type of fungi very serious health problems have occurred. Plus, the smell is revolting.

As mentioned before, in addition to food, the fungus needs water, air and moderate temperature.

In order to absorb food and grow, mold needs a certain moisture in the materials it likes to eat. Not too much and not too little. The fungi will not grow, if submerged in water, the fungi also cannot grow on dry materials. The moisture has to be a moisture content equivalent of 80% relative humidity to 99%, but not standing water. Example, if the relative humidity is 80% and the temperature is at 700F, the equivalent wood moisture content is 16%, which is considered a threshold for mold concerning wood.

And last not least mold will not grow, when it is very hot or very cold.

Summary: Spores are everywhere, ready to develop into mold. Mold needs food which is a main substance of all building materials. Humidity in air and moisture content of the substrate the mold grows on, are critical and have to be in a range from 80%-99%  and Wood moisture equivalent of 16% and above. And, the climate has to be moderate. Considering all these factors individually, we can really only control the air humidity and the moisture content to reduce the danger of mold growth.

If all is well, we live in dry buildings, kept at a comfortable relative humidity and temperature. Mold cannot develop, because the building is dry, the food source is inaccessible for mold and its spores.

This all changes, when a pipe brakes, a roof leaks or a flood occurs. There is a time slot of 24 hours to a few days, when something can be done before the mold gets a foothold. Restoration specialists should be called to assess the problem, dry out or remove the materials, which have gotten too wet.

To assess the damage, the moisture content in the affected parts needs to be measured and the relative humidity needs to be kept under control. Lignomat is a company offering equipment for measuring moisture content and relative humidity. We have developed easy to use effective moisture meters with hand probes to assess water damage. The same equipment will tell you, when repairs are done and later if a leak exists. We also offer a very simple monitoring device for hard-to-reach areas.

The cable-probe system has been proven helpful to monitor inaccessible areas during drying and later-on for leak detection.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Crisis Communications – Engaging Stakeholders During an Incident

9/30/2019 (Permalink)

Courtesy of The American Red Cross.

Trust is the foundation of relationships. When your organization faces an emergency, communications (or the lack thereof) to your employees, customers, and other stakeholders can support or erode that foundation. Protect your organization’s reputation and relationships by being prepared to communicate in a crisis.

In an event, you need to know who to communicate to and how and when to do so. This requires pre-planning. Make sure your emergency response plans have a communication component so you will know how to respond to each risk your organization faces. Essential components of a crisis communication plan include:

  • Stakeholders: Identify the individuals and public or private groups your organization interacts with. Internal stakeholders include employees, volunteers, members of the board of directors, etc. External stakeholders include customers, suppliers, service providers, vendors, public and regulatory authorities, and the media. Think about what information each group would need to know from you during a crisis and what you would need to know from them.
  • Spokesperson: Identify a single individual or small team that will handle dissemination and receipt of information from stakeholders.
  • Strategy: Transparency and timeliness of communications are critical during an incident. Plan in advance what and how you are going to communicate with internal and external stakeholders, including alternate ways of accessing and sharing information. General statements, also called holding statements, can be prepared in advance and are released to stakeholders during an incident before detailed facts come in. For example, an organization operating in an area affected by a hurricane would release: “Our thoughts are with those who are in harm’s way and those responding to the storm. We have implemented our crisis plan and will be supplying additional information as it becomes available.” Review and revise these statements on a regular basis to make sure they remain timely and appropriate.

In developing your communications strategy and holding statements, consider the unique environment your organization operates in. For example, is litigation a concern? If so, it is prudent to include your legal counsel.

Once you have your communications plan, make sure it is part of your emergency preparedness training. The spokesperson or communications team should practice drafting communications when plans are exercised.   

When the unexpected does occur, craft a message that is honest, clear, and concise. Foremost, assess the situation and collect facts. Your communications to stakeholders should be fact focused and not prospective. Explain what went wrong, commit to addressing the situation.

Be empathetic in your communications by including expressions of concern for those involved in the incident, your stakeholders, and the community. Don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’ but be willing to go find the answer where appropriate. Your concern and honesty will support the trusting relationship you want to preserve through the crisis.

For more information on stakeholder identification and crisis communication, refer to Guidance on Crisis Communications and Emergency Response Notification Procedures at ReadyRating.org.


Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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October is Fire Prevention Month

9/30/2019 (Permalink)

Home Escape Floor Plan Fire escape planning

October is Fire Prevention Month and an excellent time to examine the emergency preparedness plans for your home and business, including your fire escape plan. Do you have a fire escape plan? Have you changed your smoke alarm batteries within the last year? Are you prepared if a disaster strikes?

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) sets aside a designated week each October to focus on fire prevention. The 2019 theme is "Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice your Escape!"

According to the NFPA, once the fire alarm goes off, "you could have less than one to two minutes to escape safely," yet only 8 percent of people surveyed said getting out was their first thought after hearing a fire alarm. Creating, implementing, and practicing a fire escape plan for your home or business may be the difference between safety and tragedy. Make a plan today! Escape planning and practice can help you make the most of the time you have, giving everyone in your home or business enough time to get out.

How do you define a hero? Is it a person who is courageous and performs good deeds? Someone who comes to the aid of others, even at their own personal risk? A hero can be all of those things! A hero can also be someone who takes small but important actions to keep themselves and those around them safe from fire. When it comes to fire safety, be a hero in your household or community.

EVERY SECOND COUNTS

Every second counts during a fire. Fire experts agree; people have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out.* In a matter of moments, a small flame can become a major fire, making it critical to be prepared and have an escape plan in place.

A survey conducted by the American Red Cross shows only 26 percent of families and businesses have developed and practiced a fire escape plan. Once a plan is developed, it is critical everyone in the home or office understands the plan. The best way to do this is by practicing the escape plan at least twice a year. Increase your chance of surviving a fire by ensuring you have working smoke detectors in place, building an escape plan, and then practicing it. The following are a few suggestions to help you develop an emergency escape plan.

  • Draw a map of each level of your home or business and show all the doors and windows. Find two ways to get out of each room. Make sure all doors and windows that lead outside open easily.
  • Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second and third floors. Only purchase collapsible escape ladders evaluated by a recognized testing laboratory. Store them near the window where they will be used.
  • Choose an outside meeting place a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they’ve escaped. Make sure to mark the location of the meeting area on your escape plan.
  • Teach children how to escape on their own in case you cannot help them. Plan for everyone in your home or office, with special considerations for elderly or disabled individuals.
  • Practice your fire escape plan during the day and at nighttime.

KEEP FALL FIRE-FREE

The fall season brings cooler temperatures, beautiful colors, and an abundance of outdoor activities. Plan ahead this season to help ensure it is safe and fire-free.

  • Fall decorations, like dried flowers and cornstalks, are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations away from open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.
  • Keep emergency exits clear of decorations so nothing blocks escape routes.
  • Teach children to stay away from open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop, and roll if their clothing catches fire.
  • Remember safety first when choosing a Halloween costume. Consider avoiding billowing fabric. If you are making your costume, choose material that won’t easily ignite if it comes into contact with heat or a flame.
  • It is safest to use a flashlight or battery-operated candle in a jack-o-lantern. Use extreme caution if using a real candle. Place lit pumpkins away from anything that can burn and out of the way of doorsteps, walkways, and yards.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Why Air Scrubbers Should be Used on Every Water Damage Job

9/17/2019 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.randrmagonline.com

Any water loss poses a significant opportunity for particle contamination and for microscopic bio-pollutants such as fungi (molds) and bacteria that thrive in wet indoor environments to proliferate. Even smaller water leaks or overflows of sanitary water can ultimately trigger fungal growth if wet materials are not promptly identified and thoroughly dried. 

It is very important to note that the very activities undertaken to remediate the problem can increase the risks of air contamination. For example, as forced-air drying evaporates water from surfaces, carpet and other materials, contaminants such as fungal spores and ultra-fine dirt and dust particles are likely to be released into the air. Once aerosolized (suspended in air), workers exposed to these pollutants can inhale them. Particles stirred up during remediation also create housekeeping and cleanup issues that can increase the cost of the cleanup. 

Types Of Indoor Air Pollutants

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) places air pollutants into three general categories: particulates, bio-aerosols, and volatile organic compounds (VOC), all of which may be released into the air during or following a water loss event. 

  • Particulates from building materials are primarily released into the indoor air after the event or during the remediation process as opposed to during the water loss event itself. These commonly include dirt, drywall, VCT and concrete dust, fiberglass, carpet and asbestos fibers, sawdust, smoke particles, and metal fumes.
  • Bioaerosols are particulate remains from living matter, including microbial pollutants such as bacteria, fungal spores (molds, mildews and yeasts), arthropods (dust mites), algae, insect remains, pet dander, and pollens. With the exception of plant spores and pollens, virtually all bio-aerosols fit into the 10-micron or smaller category, ranging from 0.01 microns (four one-millionths of an inch) up to one to 10 microns (four ten thousandths of an inch).
  • Volatile organic compounds are potentially harmful or irritating gas-phase derivatives released into the air when chemicals containing alcohols, ketones, hydrocarbons and aromatics vaporize. VOC are also ‘off­gassed’ from man-made materials such as carpeting and composite wood products, especially when new. Formaldehyde is one of the most frequently encountered VOC, commonly found in adhesive or bonding agents and in materials used in households or offices such as carpets, upholstery, particleboard, and plywood paneling. When released into the air it may cause health problems such as coughing, eye, nose and throat irritation, skin rashes, headaches and dizziness. 

    Using Portable Air Scrubbers to Meet IICRC S500

Air filtration devices (AFD) are one of the most versatile and important tools available for any remediation project, including water losses. They should be among the first pieces of equipment on the job and among the last to leave.


A more complete listing of the functions AFD may be required to fulfill during the water damage remediation process would include:

  1. Removing airborne particles including harmful tiny particles and bio-pollutants by continuously filtering the air in the affected environment six to eight times per hour. Six to eight air changes per hour (ACH) or more is essential to ensure proper air cleaning.
  2. Reducing job cleanup time and the potential for re-contamination of clean areas by capturing particulates that can eventually drop out of the air and settle onto surfaces.
  3. Protecting against more widespread facility air contamination by exhausting HEPA-filtered air from a contained work area at a rate sufficient to maintain negative (lower) pressure in the contained area than in adjacent areas, thus ensuring that any barrier leakage will be inward, not outward (negative pressure containment).
  4. Removing unpleasant odors and low concentrations of VOC and other gas-phase contaminants where necessary, using heavy-duty activated carbon filters and/or germicidal UV lamps.

Conclusions

Failure to properly clean the air can ultimately lead to higher facility remediation costs, worker health issues, lingering occupant health issues and complaints when the facility is reoccupied, lower job quality, and even legal actions. Any construction or restoration job inside of buildings or homes, including Category I “clean water” jobs, has the potential to release potentially harmful pollutants, allergens and toxins into the indoor environment. 

Portable Air Scrubbers are a valuable and essential tool for any water project, and very economical to use in comparison to the benefits derived by contractors, insurers building owners and occupants. They can improve safety and hygiene both during and after the remediation process, reduce job cleanup time, and help ensure that the facility can be safely reoccupied.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Mold Prevention and Remediation in HVAC Systems

9/3/2019 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.randrmagonline.com

Mold is a common issue in building interiors with poor humidity control, and the US Environmental Protection Agency recommends professional remediation when a mold patch exceeds 10 square feet. Mold is detrimental for indoor air quality, producing an unpleasant musty odor and causing allergic reactions. Mold can also damage porous objects such as carpets and furniture, forcing building owners to replace them.

When a you have a mold infestation, it is important to point out that humidity control is the only permanent solution, and ASHRAE recommends keeping relative humidity below 60 percent. Mold spores are extremely resilient and nearly impossible to eliminate completely, which means that mold will simply grow back if the humidity problem is not addressed.

Mold infestations that affect HVAC installations require urgent attention, since their spores can spread more easily through indoor spaces. Mold can spread very quickly if left unattended in a moist environment.

Importance of Adequate Mold Detection

Mold remediation can be a challenging task when it affects HVAC components such as ductwork and air handlers. Before proceeding, it is important to ensure that the client actually has mold issues, since dirt accumulation can sometimes seem like mold. The first step should be an adequate inspection and mold testing.

Once the presence of mold has been verified, it is important to determine which affected components can be cleaned and which must be discarded and replaced. Consider the case of mold in ductwork:

  • Porous components such as insulation and fiberglass ducts must normally be replaced when they are affected by mold.
  • Metallic ducts and other non-porous components are less susceptible to mold and can be reused with proper cleaning.

When professional mold remediation services are required, the scope of work must be clearly discussed. For instance, the contractor should explain the US EPA guidelines for containment: Limited containment for mold patches between 10 and 100 square feet, and full containment when the affected area exceeds 100 square feet.

Clients should also be made aware of the health risks associated with mold, which are often underestimated. Contractors must explain that the containment area can only be accessed by authorized personnel with adequate protection equipment, and that it will be kept under negative pressure to keep spores from spreading.

The Importance of Humidity Control

Even with the best professional remediation services, mold can become a recurrent issue if humidity is not controlled properly. Oversized air conditioning equipment is a common cause of high humidity: since there is excessive cooling capacity, the air conditioning system operates in short cycles that don’t remove moisture effectively. If humidity remains an issue with a properly sized HVAC system, additional dehumidification may be required.

Before carrying out mold remediation, you must be aware that mold regrowth does not mean that the service was deficient. As previously mentioned, mold spores are highly resilient and can spread easily through the air. While eliminating mold patches is possible, getting rid of all the spores in an affected building is unfeasible. However, spores can be killed with humidity control, preventing regrowth.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Hurricane Restoration

8/25/2019 (Permalink)

Source: bnpmedia

Hurricanes often leave behind some major damage. High winds, storm surges and battering waves can result in the destruction of homes and buildings, road and bridge damage, the erosion of coastlines and major flooding.

Restoration after the storm is serious and important work that must be handled properly. And while we often think immediately about the physical damage left behind by hurricane-force winds, more lasting effects can result from flooding and improperly mitigated water damage that can occur in the impacted homes and structures. After the storm hits, water cleanup is critical, as floodwaters can contain any number of infectants. What’s more, if water is not cleaned and dried within a few weeks, mold growth should be expected, which can cause serious health risk within any structure if the mold continues unchecked.

Water and mold remediation work must be performed by following proper techniques, using the right disinfectants and sanitizers to ensure sanitization and that mold is eliminated completely. In recent years, this has only become more important, as the lasting effects of water damage and mold growth has been brought into sharper relief by numerous major storms where flooding has been a serious issue.

Water cleanup must be taken seriously. Here’s what restoration and remediation professionals need to perform to effectively combat the risks associated with floodwaters and mold growth in the wake of hurricane damage.

Impact of floodwaters and mold on structures

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exposure to floodwater is a serious health risk, mostly because we don’t know what it may contain at any given time. In a flood event, the number of potential contaminants is extensive—human and livestock waste, medical and industrial waste, and coal ash are just some of the possibilities.

Category 3, or “black” water, considered grossly unsanitary and typically the kind of water damage being dealt with during hurricane relief and remediation efforts. It includes water from sewage sources, seawater, or standing water, and is assumed to contain harmful bacteria and fungi that can cause serious threats to humans—things like West Nile virus, E.coli, Salmonella, tetanus and more can all be found in floodwaters.

In order to effectively combat the potential harm caused by black water and resulting mold on structure interiors, the right cleaners, sanitizers and disinfectants must be selected. There are a variety of options available on the market, but at minimum, professionals should seek products that are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Registered products have been proven as effective against biological contaminants, and can reliably disinfect and sanitize surfaces subject to microbial contamination.

Following the proper method: Clean, Kill, Coat

A water remediation project must follow the right steps to ensure a job well done. Since mold formation is typical after hurricane-related flood damage, a three step process should be followed in order to completely eliminate mold and to protect the home from future damage.

  • Clean. In an interior that has experienced flood damage, drywall or ceiling panels can sometimes be salvaged by using the right disinfectant product that is applicable to porous surfaces if completed within 72 hours. Most post-hurricane work isn’t completed within that window of time, however, so it’s usually necessary to tear out the damaged drywall and start from scratch.  After removing the drywall, beams and studs should be cleaned with a mold and mildew stain remover product. Surfaces should then be dried before moving on to the next step.
  • Eliminate. Importantly, cleaning removes stains from the surface, but it doesn’t remediate any lingering mold or mildew spores. Step two involves treating the affected areas with the appropriate disinfectant sanitizer to eliminate microbial contamination. This is the most important step. Lingering mold and mildew spores can cause health risks later down the line, even if surfaces appeared free of stains after cleaning. For restoration and remediation professionals, it’s important to educate customers here. Many available disinfectant products that can be bought off the shelf at big-box home stores aren’t up to the challenge of major disinfectant jobs like those seen after significant hurricane-related flooding— professional products are recommended.
  • Coat. Finally, after potential microbial threats have been eliminated, surfaces should be treated with a final antimicrobial coating that inhibits any future growth and spread of mold and mildew. This final coating acts as a final layer of protection that offers homeowners and building occupants peace of mind long after the remediation job has been completed.

The aftermath of a hurricane is a trying time for the affected communities. It can be a time of confusion and chaos as families and building owners attempt to reconstruct and rebuild from the damage left behind. That’s why it’s so important that communities have access to the right products and technologies that can safely and effectively help toward those goals.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Destroy Odors with DEODORIZATION

8/16/2019 (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 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 (IICRC), SERVPRO® Professionals provide specialized services that can rid your business of offensive odors left by fire or smoke damage. SERVPRO® Professionals do not cover up lingering odors with a fragrance; they seek out and remove the source of the odor. Once the source is found, SERVPRO’s own proprietary line of cleaning products is used to treat and prevent the odor from returning. Any restorable items in affected areas will also be professionally cleaned and deodorized, including furniture, draperies and upholstery, electronics, art, flooring, walls, ceilings, HVAC air ducts and more.

Ask your SERVPRO® Professional to explain the various deodorization methods available and which will work best for you. If you or a customer suffer a fire damage or some other accident and require deodorization services, contact  SERVPRO®. Whether it’s 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.”

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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BE FLOOD SMART

8/7/2019 (Permalink)

Floods are one of the most common and widespread natural disasters in the United States. Whether your home or business is near a coastline, along city streets, in the mountains, near a river or even in the desert-there is always potential for flood damage. Floodsmart.gov reports, in the last five years, all 50 states have experienced floods or flash floods.

According to the American Red Cross (ARC), floods cause more damage in the U.S. every year than any other weather-related disaster. The ARC offers the following flood safety tips.

  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come up on a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
  • If you approach a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.

If a flood does strike your home or business, contact SERVPRO®. Even minor floods have the potential to cause major damage to a structure when not treated quickly and properly, and the cleanup is often an overwhelming task. The SERVPRO® System is prepared to handle any size disaster. When fire and water take control of your life, SERVPRO®.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Flood Insurance

7/20/2019 (Permalink)

Source:https://www.randrmagonline.com

The next disaster is imminent. It always is. That might be a Debbie Downer attitude, but it’s the truth, especially when you think about disaster on a more local scale. While a hurricane can impact a dozen states and trigger an emergency declaration by the president, there are a lot of small communities that face their own disasters much more frequently, like northern New Jersey.

It doesn't need to be a hurricane condition to cause community level flooding.  As in years past, our local rivers have crested and move to flood stage when constant heavy rains hit the area.

In some cases, that meant flooding homes in its path. Localized flooding like this is relatively commonplace around the U.S. While it might not earn a federal disaster declaration, it sure feels like a disaster to the local community that is impacted. It can take weeks for the water to recede, and even longer to clean up and restore properties.

Flood Stages & Flood Insurance

You can easily track the rise and fall of local rivers on water.weather.gov. It will give you an idea of flood season in your region and what specific areas will flood depending on river levels. 

It is data like this that plays a role in whether or not property owners in that area qualify for flood insurance. In some high-risk areas, people with federally-backed mortgages can be required to carry flood insurance.

However, according to FEMA, about 20 percent of all the National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance claims come from people outside mapped high-risk areas. Plus, about a third of the people filing claims end up receiving Federal Disaster Assistance during the cleanup process. Don’t be fooled by that phrase, however. Federal Disaster Assistance usually comes in the form of a loan from the government that must be paid back, with interest. Some homeowners who call you for help may be unaware that their homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover flood damage.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Ready – Set – Grill (Safely)

6/16/2019 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County offers tips to area homeowners for a sizzling and safe summer grilling season.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), July is the peak month for grilling fires, followed by June, May, and August. Annually, U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 10,200 home fires each year involving grills, hibachis, or barbeques. With the summer season fast approaching, we urge homeowners to check the readiness of their outdoor cooking equipment – like grills and propane tanks – to help ensure summer cooking fires don’t become house fires.

The NFPA reports that seven out of every 10 adults in the U.S. has a grill or a smoker. That statistic really highlights the risk that homeowners face of experiencing a home fire caused by grilling and other open flame cooking. It’s important to take some basic safety steps to help ensure you’ll spend your summer enjoying friends and family and not dealing with the aftermath of a grill-related house fire.

According to the NFPA, the top three causes of grilling fires are failure to clean the grill, leaks in gas hose lines or breaks in the grill body itself, and proximity to flammable objects. These risks are easily managed and offers the following tips from the NFPA to help area residents prepare and use their outdoor grills:

General Grill Safety

1. Check your grill for cleanliness and damage. Remove grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill before the first use and after each subsequent use.

2. Position your grill well away from your home and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging tree branches

3. Keep children and pets at a safe distance – at least three feet from the grill

4. Never leave the grill unattended when in use, and always grill outside.

Propane Grills

1. Check for leaks in the gas tank hose before using your grill.

2. Open gas grill top before lighting the grill.

3. If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least five minutes before relighting it.

Charcoal Grills

1. Use only charcoal starter fluid or opt for a charcoal chimney or electric starter.

2. Never add charcoal starter fluid, or any flammable fluid, to the fire.

3. Dispose of coals in a metal container after the coals have cooled completely.

It doesn’t take long to prepare your grill for safe cooking, but it can take months to recover from a fire and the resulting flame, smoke, and water damage.  Invest a few minutes now to get your outdoor cooking equipment clean and ready to go, and then spend your summer enjoying good times and great food, not dealing with the destruction and heartbreak of a house fire.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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The 2019 Hurricane Season Is Upon Us

6/1/2019 (Permalink)

2019 Hurricane Severity Forecast Map

Source: Accuweather

The tropical track density map shown here was created by analyzing analog years, which are past years that have weather patterns similar to current and projected weather patterns. Analog years are often used to predict future trends and impacts during a hurricane season. They can be based solely on the El Niño—Southern Oscillation or on a combination of weather patterns and teleconnections, which are weather patterns occurring over another part of the globe that can strongly influence current or future weather in a particular area of concern.

After an active Atlantic hurricane season in 2018, AccuWeather forecasters are predicting 2019 to result in a near- to slightly above-normal season with 12 to 14 storms.

Of those storms, five to seven are forecast to become hurricanes and two to four are forecast to become major hurricanes.

“This year, we think that there will be a few less tropical storms and lower numbers in hurricanes, but again, the old saying is ‘it only takes one’,” AccuWeather Atlantic Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.

After the U.S. took a battering in 2018, thanks largely to Michael and Florence, meteorologists are once again forecasting impacts for the United States.

Be Prepared:

Unexpected emergencies like severe weather call for immediate action. SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County knows immediate reaction to the disaster is important to help you get your life back to normal.

Before The Storm

  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency supply kit and make a family communication plan.
  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
  • Postpone outdoor activities.
  • Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
  • Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
  • Unplug any electronic equipment well before the storm arrives.

During The Storm

  • Use your battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
  • Avoid contact with corded phones. Use a corded telephone only for emergencies. Cordless and cellular telephones are safe to use.
  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
  • Avoid natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.
  • Avoid hilltops, open fields, the beach or a boat on the water.
  • Take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
  • Avoid contact with anything metal—tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.
  • If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.

After The Storm

  • Never drive through a flooded roadway.
  • Stay away from storm-damaged areas to keep from putting yourself at risk from the effects of severe thunderstorms.
  • Continue to listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or to local radio and television stations for updated information or instructions, as access to roads or some parts of the community may be blocked.
  • Help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children and the elderly or those with access or functional needs.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately.
  • Watch your animals closely. Keep them under your direct control.

Emergency Supply Kit

Recommended items to include in a basic emergency supply kit:

  • Water (one gallon per person per day)
  • Food (non-perishable 3-day supply)
  • Manual can opener
  • Battery operated radio, preferably a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Clothing
  • Dust masks or bandanas
  • Plastic sheeting, garbage bags and duct tape
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Local maps
  • Hygiene items
  • Important documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account information
  • Cash
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container 

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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MAY IS NATIONAL BUILDING SAFETY MONTH

5/1/2019 (Permalink)

Source: iccsafe.org

Building Safety Month— in its 39th year—is an initiative of the International Code Council (ICC) and their 64,000 members across the world, as well as their partners in building construction and design, and the safety community. Building Safety Month is an opportunity to educate insurance and commercial property professionals, as well as the general public, on “what it takes to create safe, resilient, affordable, and energy efficient homes and buildings,” according to the ICC website.

The theme for 2019 is No Code. No Confidence. and highlights managing disasters, specifically natural disasters, in week one of this year’s campaign.

Some of the topics and tips shared throughout the month include disaster preparedness, construction professionals, and innovations in building safety.

The general public may not be aware how codes and code officials “improve and protect the places where we live, learn, work, worship and play,” and this month can certainly improve that awareness!

IMPORTANT TIPS FROM THE ICC

Disaster Safety & Mitigation

  • If you live in a high wind or hurricane prone area and do not have tested and code-approved shutters for protection from windborne debris, consider temporarily protecting your doors and windows by mounting exterior grade, 7/16" minimum thickness plywood and fastening it into place. Visit www.flash.org for detailed instructions on how to use plywood for emergency board-up.
  • Consider building or retrofitting to create a tornado-safe room in your home. Follow ICC/ NSSA 500 Standard for detailed construction information and to ensure you achieve the highest level of protection for your family.
  • In wildfire prone areas, remove fine (dead grass, leaves, etc.) and coarse fuels (dead twigs, branches, etc.) within 30 feet of a building to create a survivable space in case of wildfire. Be sure to remove dry leaf and pine litter from roofs, rain gutters, decks, and walkways. Follow ICC’s International Wildland-Urban Interface Code® for detailed requirements.
  • Flooded roads could have significant damage hidden by floodwaters. Never drive through floodwaters or on flooded roads. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream. It takes only six inches of fast flowing water to sweep you off your feet and two feet of water to move an SUV-sized vehicle.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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BECAUSE HOARDING IS A SERIOUS SITUATION

3/18/2019 (Permalink)

According to The Mayo Clinic, “Hoarding disorder
is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save
them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs.” Many people with hoarding disorder do not find their habits to be a problem.

Hoarded items are often things others would throw away or look at as junk or garbage such as old newspapers, junk mail or packaging.

Hoarding can lead to homes filled with extreme clutter to full capacity from years of accumulation, making living conditions unsanitary and crowded. Bugs, fleas, rats and other vermin may be present, at which point an exterminator would need to be called. At times, hoarding may spread to outside the home as well, to storage facilities, or even the garage or yard.

SERVPRO® Franchises encounter hoarding situations several different ways. Often, a SERVPRO® Franchise is called for a fire or water loss and find the hoarding situation when they arrive on-site. A SERVPRO® Franchise Professional will communicate with the insurance company regarding their contents coverage, and after approval, contents can be packed out and possibly cleaned, dried, and stored by the SERVPRO® Franchise, or relocated to a storage facility so work on the fire or water loss can begin.

Another way SERVPRO® Franchises encounter hoarding jobs is through calls from landlords, case workers, real estate agents, or family members, often after the death of a loved one. In these situations, the crew will see if they should look for any items of importance while they clean the job. Sometimes, family members will come and try to help the hoarder sort through their contents as well.

Each case is very different, and hoarding jobs are often sensitive situations, but SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals are here to help make it “Like it never even happened.” If you encounter a
hoarding situation at one of your properties, or with your insureds, call your local SERVPRO® today.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Outdoor entertaining

3/11/2019 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.nfpa.org

Summer outdoor parties are some of the best events of the year.

The warm balmy nights, food cooking on the grill, and friends and family spending quality time together in the backyard or around the pool create wonderful memories that last a lifetime. But, hosting outdoor events also means there’s an increased risk of home fires.

Fortunately, following some simple safety tips and guidelines can help ensure you and your guests stay safe. Consider the following when you host your next outdoor event: 

  • Have an adult present at all times when a portable fireplace is burning
  • Use sturdy candle holders that won’t tip over easily
  • Keep anything that can burn, as well as children and pets, at least three feet away from open flames
  • Use battery-operated flameless candles and solar-powered patio (tiki) torches in place of an open flame. Flameless candles come in all colors, shapes and sizes, and many are scented. Flameless candles look and feel like the real ones, and add a beautiful soft glow to any outdoor event.

Outdoor entertaining by the numbers

  • Outside fireplaces or fire pits caused nearly 3,700 grass and brush fires
  • Total outdoor patio heater or fire pit injuries has nearly tripled in six years (1,330 to 3,608) from 2006 – 2012
  • More than half of all candle fires start when things that can burn are too close to the candle
  • An average of 8,800 home fires involved grills, hibachis, or barbecues each year
  • In 2012, sparklers, fountains and novelties accounted for 25% of emergency room fireworks-related injuries.

More outdoor entertaining information

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Ready for whatever happens

3/6/2019 (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 your local SERVPRO® 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.”

2017 Hurricane Harvey: Category 4 Hurricane Harvey hit Texas on August 26 with winds of 130 mph.The hurricane made a second landfall just hours later and lingered over Southeast Texas for about two days, dropping more than 40 inches of rain. On August 29, Harvey made a third landfall in Louisiana. Following the storm, an estimated 550 storm crews were deployed, representing more than 240 SERVPRO® Franchises. Those numbers, in addition to area Franchises, placed more than 1,000 crews in storm-affected areas. Crews traveled from as far away as California, Washington, Wisconsin, and New York.

2016 Houston, TX, Flooding: In April, a nearly stationary mesoscale convective system developed over Houston, resulting in widespread rainfall rates of 2-4 inches per hour. This was a historic flooding event for Harris County, which saw a total of nearly 18 inches of accumulated rainfall. The Storm Team dispatched 81 crews to over 360 jobs, mitigating over $3 million in damages.

2015 Siberian Express: Record sub-zero temperatures caused major problems for a large portion of the country stretching from Florida to Maine. The Midwest also experienced record-breaking low temperatures, resulting in frozen pipes and ice dams causing major problems for residents. The Storm Team dispatched a total of 257 crews from 108 Franchises to assist local SERVPRO® Franchises, completing nearly 2,000 jobs.

2014 Mid-Atlantic Flooding: Rainfall rates up to 2 inches per hour caused major flash flooding stretching from Northeast Ohio all the way up to Portland, Maine. Eastern Michigan and Baltimore, Maryland, were also impacted, creating over 1,381 jobs for the Storm Team to produce. A total of 82 SERVPRO® Franchises and 173 crews mitigated over $4.3 million in damages while assisting the local Franchises.

2014 Polar Vortex: Record low temperatures caused by a break in the North Pole’s polar vortex resulted in an unprecedented freezing event, spanning from east of the Rocky Mountains to as far south as Central Florida, affecting all or part of
39 states and 70 percent of the SERVPRO® Franchise System.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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The Science of Water Damage Drying

2/27/2019 (Permalink)

DID YOU KNOW there is actually a science behind the process of drying? Having the knowledge of psychrometrics is essential to restoring a water damaged structure to its preloss condition. While your initial reaction may be to grab a few towels to mop up the mess and place a fan or two around the damaged area, SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County professionals are trained in the science of drying and follow strict industry approved standards to help lower the chances of any secondary damages. If your home or business suffers a water damage, SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals will:

Inspect the building to detect every component that is wet, to help prevent secondary damage from happening.
Measure how much moisture is in wet materials and monitor whether the materials are drying properly.
Speed up Mother Nature by using professional drying equipment.
What exactly does it mean to help “speed up Mother Nature”? A wet building can often dry naturally because the environment always seeks equilibrium. When materials are wet, moisture will naturally move to drier air at the surface of the material–but only if the air is, indeed, drier. Th e only problem is, nature takes too long and secondary damages may occur while the building is drying out.

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals have the tools and equipment to help Mother Nature along, including equipment to help dryhardwood floors, tough-to-reach spaces inside walls (pictured below), and much more. SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals also use state-of-the-art monitoring equipment, and a proven scientific process to help speed the drying of your home or business.

The bottom line?  SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals have the training and equipment to help make water damage “Like it never even happened.”

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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FASTER TO ANY SIZE DISASTER

2/22/2019 (Permalink)

There’s no such thing as a small disaster— especially when the water you don’t see contains bacteria or can cause mold, rot, and other unseen damage. Water damage can affect the value of your property. Before you get out the mop bucket and try to clean it yourself, consider how the damage can affect your property.

SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals know how disruptive water damage can be for your business. Your local SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals are trained and equipped to manage the drying process. By utilizing the proper equipment and moisture measuring devices, your building will be quickly and thoroughly dried to industry standards, which will help prevent secondary water damages. With rapid response time and a full line of water cleanup and restoration services, SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals can help you regain control quickly,
by helping to ensure your facility and its contents are properly dried, deodorized, and protected.

Before you risk further damaging the value of your facility by attempting to clean the mess yourself, call your local water damage cleanup and restoration professionals.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Home fire sprinklers

2/15/2019 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.nfpa.org

Home fire sprinklers can dramatically reduce the heat, flames, and smoke produced in a fire. Properly installed and maintained fire sprinklers help save lives.

Fire sprinklers have been around for more than a century, protecting commercial and industrial properties and public buildings. What many people don't realize is that the same life-saving technology is also available for homes, where roughly 80 percent of all civilian fire deaths occur.

NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition

NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative outlines proven, effective ways that home fire sprinkler advocates can communicate the impact of sprinklers to their decision makers. Visit the initiative's site for free resources for the fire service and other sprinkler advocates, including fact sheets, videos, a free monthly newsletter, research, and our "Faces of Fire"campaign, which features real people demonstrating the need for home fire sprinklers.

The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) is a leading resource for accurate, noncommercial information and materials about home fire sprinklers for consumers, the fire service, builders, and other professionals.

Free resources

Facts about home fire sprinklers

Automatic sprinklers are highly effective and reliable elements of total system designs for fire protection in buildings. According to NFPA's "U.S. Experience with Sprinklers" report

  • the civilian death rate was 81 percent lower in homes with fire sprinklers than in homes without them.
  • the average firefighter injury rate was nearly 80 percent lower when fire sprinklers were present during fires.
  • when sprinklers were present, fires were kept to the room of origin 97 percent of the time.
  • the home fire death rate was 90 percent lower when fire sprinklers and hardwired smoke alarms were present. By comparison, this death rate is only 18 percent lower when battery-powered smoke alarms are present but automatic extinguishing systems weren't.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Real Quotes from Real Customers

2/10/2019 (Permalink)

“Our water heater burst in our home, resulting in tremendous water damage to our condo and many of the surrounding units in our building. What a nightmare for anyone to go through, but in this case the shining star for us was SERVPRO®!

Carlos was called in and immediately, we all were taken by his professionalism and follow through from start to finish! He worked tirelessly and very closely with our building board members and the insurance companies on the details from the early estimates, to reviews, and right on through construction. He and his staff were simply the very best. He and his contractors exceeded our expectations in every way!”
-Jerry

“There are not enough good words to describe SERVPRO’s service and the technician who took care of us after our entire living room flooded after the heavy rains. What a blessing he was! Our insurance denied the claim, since we had no flood ‘coverage.’

Our technician came in, studied the situation, and got right to work! He answered all questions we had and quoted a reasonable cost. He returned yesterday to remove the equipment, and again, he was very punctual, professional, and compassionate!

Yes, compassionate, which is often hard to find in a service industry and in a man so young! “I want y’all to know that our tech was the voice of calm in this crisis (or what felt like a crisis to us)! Thank you so much for your high-quality work, the reasonable pricing, and especially for our technician. We will be more than happy to refer anyone to SERVPRO®!”
-Steve and Susan

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Document Restoration

2/3/2019 (Permalink)

As a leader in the restoration industry, SERVPRO® knows timely mitigation is the key to reducing severity and recovering damaged items. Water– or smoke–damaged paper can rapidly deteriorate. Without proper handling, valuable files and irreplaceable documents could be lost forever. Let SERVPRO’s Document Restoration Team help you recover your damaged paper goods before it is too late.

SERVPRO’s technicians are trained to use the most advanced technology available for document recovery and drying; in fact, the Document Restoration Team uses the same technique the Library of Congress uses to dry water-damaged books.

Vacuum Freeze Drying?

Vacuum freeze drying is the most efficient and effective way to salvage water-damaged documents. The Document Restoration Team uses
sublimation—turning a solid directly into a vapor, skipping the liquid stage to avoid causing more damage to the documents. This process can recover even the most delicate items—from documents to photographs and x-rays, to entire business archives.

All employees of the Document Restoration Team are HIPAA Master certified and once your items arrive at the SERVPRO® facility, 24/7 video surveillance is guaranteed.

Digitizing

With the new age of technology, digitizing records and documents has become a standard practice in most industries. This eliminates the need to have massive file storage rooms and allows us to access records at the click of a button. If your file room was damaged by water or smoke and needs to be cleaned, dried or decontaminated, digitizing might be a good choice to eliminate the need to have hundreds or even thousands of documents and records in storage.

Gamma Irradiation

Gamma irradiation is a process used for cleaning/disinfecting and decontaminating documents or other consumer goods.

In a CAT 3 situation (sewage or flood water), documents are not only deteriorating but are also infected with all types of bacteria. In most storm situations, you are dealing with CAT 3 water; therefore, most of the affected documents you encounter will be contaminated.

If this is the case, decontamination is always a must. In living cells, these disruptions result in damage to the DNA and other cellular structures. These photoninduced changes at the molecular level cause the death of the organism or render the organism incapable of reproduction. The gamma process does not create residuals or impart radioactivity in processed products.

Certified Destruction

Unfortunately, many businesses and government agencies have to dispose of counterfeit, faulty, expired or contaminated materials. All entities need to be certified that their products and materials are destroyed. The guarantee of certified destruction is to protect one’s liabilities, brand image or proprietary information. We guarantee certified destruction to give you peace of mind that your documents are disposed of properly.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Faster To Any Disaster

1/29/2019 (Permalink)

When fire or water damage puts the things that matter most on the line, you need the very best help on the line as well. That’s why knowing the easiest ways to contact SERVPRO® is so important. Just go to SERVPRO.com on your mobile phone or call 1-800-SERVPRO to get the team that’s faster to any size disaster. We’re a leader in giving control back to homeowners, property managers, and even entire communities after the ravaging effects of water or fire. So whether you’re responsible for 1,000 square feet or 100,000 – be ready for the worst with the very best: Your trusted, local SERVPRO ® Franchise Professional.

SERVPRO’s network of more than 1,700 Franchises is ready to help in the event a fire, water, or mold loss occurs. Call on a restoration system serving insurance companies and their insureds, as well as thousands of commercial property owners in North America. You can trust the SERVPRO® Brand, too!

Want to make sure you get your local SERVPRO?

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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12 Protection Tips for Fire Damage Restoration

1/22/2019 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.randrmagonline.com

During a fire, innumerable toxic chemicals, poisonous gases, heavy metals, and other toxins are generated by the materials, household products, and vegetation that burns. These contaminants fill the air, become part of the ash, and are extremely dangerous to your health if inhaled or come in contact with your skin. We often forget about the dangers involved in the various environments we enter, but safety should always be a top priority.

If you are entering an area affected by fire or smoke, consider the following safety tips:

  1. Avoid breathing air contaminated by smoke odor and minimize your exposure to contaminated areas.
  2. If you need to enter a smoke damaged structure, wear proper personal protective equipment, including a proper fitting respirator with a P-100 HEPA filter designed to filter vapor or gasses (not a dust mask).
  3. Persons with heart or lung disease should consult their physician before using a mask during post-fire cleanup.
  4. Avoid handling or coming in direct skin contact with items or materials affected by smoke, soot, or ash. If you need to retrieve items damaged by smoke, wear proper personal protection equipment, such as coveralls, eye protection, gloves, proper foot wear, hardhat, etc.
  5. Avoid getting ash into the air as much as possible. Do not use leaf blowers or take other actions that will put ash into the air.
  6. Avoid using shop vacuums and other common vacuum cleaners. These do not filter out small particles, but blow them out the exhaust into the air where they can be inhaled.
  7. Do not allow children or pets to enter areas that have smoke odor, ash or soot. If children or pets get soot or ash on their skin or hair, wash immediately with mild soap and warm water.
  8. If you anticipate that you will need to be inside a building or area affected by smoke, attempt to ventilate the area by opening windows or doors unless doing so will allow outdoor smoke odor or ash to get in. Minimize your exposure as much as possible.
  9. Have an environmental testing laboratory test for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) and particulates to determine what types and concentrations of toxins may be present. 
  10. When sorting through contents, don't take chances. People should not eat or drink anything that has signs of heat or smoke damage. When in doubt, throw it out!
  11. If you experience any adverse health symptoms from exposure to smoke or soot, seek medical attention immediately.
  12. If you need to be in an enclosed space that has smoke odor, such as an office, home, or building, try to set up air scrubbers with HEPA filters or other type of filter designed to remove ultra-fine particulate matter as quickly as possible. In addition, using a hydroxyl generator can help to break down odor causing molecules.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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BIOHAZARD, CRIME SCENE, AND VANDALISM CLEANUP

1/17/2019 (Permalink)

Recognized as a leading fire and water cleanup and restoration provider by hundreds of insurance companies, SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals also offer fast, reliable biohazard and crime scene cleanup* and restoration services to residential and commercial property owners.

Exposure to biological and chemical contaminants can pose serious health consequences for building occupants, employees, customers, and owners. A
failure to properly handle and safely remove such hazardous substances can contribute to unhealthy and even dangerous environments.

Your local SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals are trained to safely and effectively remove  iohazardous substances and prepare waste for proper disposal according to OSHA, EPA, and state and local health regulations.

Equipped with the necessary safety equipment and cleaning products, SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals help turn unsafe environments into
clean, safe homes and offices.

SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals can help with the following issues:

  • Bloodborne Pathogens
  • Methamphetamine Labs
  • Crime Scene Residues
  • Arson
  • Vandalism
  • Sewage Backups
  • Black Water Intrusions
  • Mold Mitigation and Remediation

BLOODBORNE PATHOGENS

SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals remove and dispose of bodily fluids, tissue, and other potentially pathogenic substances resulting from accident, trauma, crime, or death. Trained SERVPRO® Franchise Technicians thoroughly clean, disinfect, and deodorize the structure.

CRIME SCENE RESIDUES

From fingerprint powder and evidence gathering
chemicals to tear gas and pepper spray residues, SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals can clean and
restore your property and contents.

METHAMPHETAMINE LABS

Many of the chemicals used in the production of illegal drugs, such as methamphetamine, are volatile and can leave harmful residues throughout a structure. SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals follow federal and state guidelines to properly clean all surfaces.

METHAMPHETAMINE LABS

Many of the chemicals used in the production of illegal drugs, such as methamphetamine, are volatile and can leave harmful residues throughout a structure. SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals follow federal and state guidelines to properly clean all surfaces.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Prevent Frozen Pipes

1/10/2019 (Permalink)

Source: https://disastersafety.org

Frozen water exerts thousands of pounds of pressure per square inch on a pipe and can burst it, causing flooding and major damage to your business. Extensive water damage can also occur as a result of frozen pipes in sprinkler systems during extended power outages in freezing weather.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

Guidance for reducing the risk of pipes freezing:

  • Provide a reliable back-up power source, such as a stand by generator, to ensure continuous power to the building.
  • Install a monitoring system with notifications if the building’s temperature dips below a pre-determined number.
  • Insulate recessed light fixtures in the ceiling to reduce heat entering the attic. Look for visible light inside the attic. If present, insulate or seal. If the space above a suspended ceiling is conditioned, there is no need for added insulation or sealing.
  • Insulate and properly seal attic penetrations such as partition walls, vents, plumbing stacks, electric and mechanical chases, and access doors, and all doors and windows.
  • Seal all wall cracks and penetrations including domestic and fire protection lines, electrical conduit and other utility service lines.
  • Sprinkler systems should be consistently monitored by a central station to provide early detection of a pipe failure.
  • Install insulation and/or heat trace tape connected to a reliable power source on parts of wet sprinkler system piping. This includes main lines coming up from underground passing through a wall as well as sprinkler branch lines.
  • UL-approved gas or electric unit heaters can be installed in unheated sprinkler control valve/fire pump rooms. If back up power is provided, the heaters should also be connected to this power source.
  • A monitored automatic excess flow switch can be placed on the main incoming domestic water line to provide early detection of a broken pipe or valve when the business is closed.

Peace of Mind

Although it seems as if our winters are longer and colder, the winter weather business protection tips described above can help give you piece of mind during the winter months. We believe that implementing these tips can greatly reduce a building’s potential structural loss and loss of business operations due to large snow falls, freezing temperatures and power outages during these times.

8 Ways to Prevent Frozen Pipe Damage for a Business

  1. Seal Exterior: Seal all cracks, holes, windows, doors and other openings on exterior walls with caulk or insulation to prevent cold air from penetrating wall cavities.
  2. Seal Interior: Insulate and seal attic penetrations such as partition walls, vents, plumbing stacks, and electrical and mechanical chases.
  3. Relieve Pipe Pressure: Let all faucets drip during extreme cold weather to prevent freezing of the water inside the pipe, and if freezing does occur, to relieve pressure buildup in the pipes between the ice blockage and the faucet.
  4. Keep the Building Warm: Install a monitoring system that provides notifications if the building's temperature dips below a pre-determined number.
  5. Insulate Vulnerable Pipes: Insulate pipes most vulnerable to freezing by using pipe insulation.
  6. Install Early Detection System: Install an automatic excess flow switch on the main incoming water line to monitor and provide early detection of a broken pipe or valve.  Use wireless sensors near water sources.
  7. Monitor Fire Protection Sprinkler Systems: Monitor sprinkler systems using a central station to provide early detection of a pipe failure and heat unheated sprinkler control rooms.
  8. Install Backup Power: Provide a reliable backup power source to ensure heat to the building.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Prevent Damage from Frozen Pipes

12/29/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://disastersafety.org

Frozen pipes are one of the leading sources of property damage when the temperature drops. Don’t let damage from frozen pipes soak your home or business—prepare using the following guidance.

1. Seal Exterior

Seal all cracks, holes, windows, doors, and other openings on exterior walls with caulk or insulation to prevent cold air from penetrating wall cavity.

2. Seal Interior

Insulate and seal attic penetrations such as partition walls, vents, plumbing stacks, and electric and mechanical chases.

3. Relieve Pipe Pressure

Let all faucets drip during extreme cold weather to prevent freezing of the water inside the pipe, and if freezing does occur, to relieve pressure buildup in the pipes between the ice blockage and the faucet.

4. Keep the Building Warm

Install a monitoring system that provides notifications if the building’s temperature dips below a pre-determined number.

5. Insulate Vulnerable Pipes

Insulate pipes most vulnerable to freezing by using pipe insulation.

6. Install Early Detection System

Install an automatic excess flow switch on the main incoming domestic water line to monitor and provide early detection of a broken pipe or valve. Use wireless sensors near water sources.

7. Monitor Fire Protection Sprinkler Systems

Monitor sprinkler systems using a central station to provide early detection of a pipe failure and heat unheated sprinkler control rooms.

8. Install Backup Power

Provide a reliable backup power source to ensure heat to the building.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Commercial Roof Snow Load & Ice Dam Risks

12/17/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://disastersafety.org

When it comes to the weight of snow, the type of snow is as important as the depth of snow. Fresh “powder” type snow is typically lighter than wet packed snow. Ice is heavier than snow. During the winter months, a roof system can be exposed to all three combinations over a several month period.

General guidelines to help estimate the weight of snow:

  • Fresh snow: 10-12 inches of new snow is equal to one inch of water, or about 5 lbs per square foot of roof space.
  • Packed snow generally is heavier than new snow: 3-5 inches of old snow is equal to one inch of water, again about 5 lbs per square foot of roof space.
  • Ice is also heavier than snow. One inch equals about a foot of fresh snow.
  • The total amount of accumulated snow and ice is what matters in evaluating snow load risk. For example, the accumulated weight of two feet of old snow and two feet of new snow could be as high as 60 lbs per square foot of roof space, which may stress the limits of even the best designed roof.

If you are in the “danger zone” according to chart above or if the loads you estimate based on the thickness of the various types of snow and ice exceed 20-25 psf, you should consider having the snow removed from your roof.

Preventing Roof Collapse

Factors that could dictate how your particular facility will perform under the weight of ice and snow. These factors are listed below, which includes engineering considerations that could help you avoid roof collapses this winter.

  • Live and dead load design;
  • Age of the building and the roof;
  • Condition of the roof;
  • Elevation;
  • Maintenance during or after a major snow storm

Addressing Roof Strength

If it is determined that the roof system is not adequately designed to withstand the snow falls being encountered, a building owner should consider strengthening the roof as soon as possible or before the next winter. A structural engineer can determine the maximum loads your roof can withstand, as well as provide practical solutions to improve the strength of your roof.

Snow Removal

Safe snow removal may reduce some of the snow load on your roof. Consider contracting with a professional for snow removal. If your workers will be removing snow keep the guidelines below in mind. To avoid roof collapse, snow removal should begin prior to reaching the snow load limit of the roof.

Always follow Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) Regulations and Standards, particularly fall protections for roof work. Avoid using shovels or snow blowers. Instead, use a heavy duty push broom with stiff bristles or roof rake to brush off the snow down the slope of the roof. For most single-story buildings with steep sloped roofs, a roof rake may be used for while remaining on the ground to pull snow down the roof slope. Do not pull snow back against the slope or sideways since the snow may get underneath the cover and can break shingles.

Ice Dam Risks

Ice dams are ridges of ice that form at the edge of a roof and prevent melting snow (water) from draining off your roof. The water that backs up behind this “dam” can leak into your business and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas. Additionally, when the roof doesn’t drain properly, snow, ice, and water remains trapped on the roof, adding loads that put your roof at greater risk.

Preventing Ice Dams

IBHS offers the following guidance to help prevent damage from ice dams:

  • Increase insulation above ceilings.
  • Create a roof preventative maintenance, including periodic roof drainage inspections.
  • Install self-regulating heating cables on gutters, downspouts, and around roof drains.
  • Keep all drains, scuppers, gutters, and downspouts free of debris and vegetation.
  • Prune trees that may hang over the roof to prevent an accumulation of tree leaves and branches that may clog or slow roof drainage.
  • Improve ventilation. Consider installing electric power vents with thermostats.

Removing Ice Dams

We do not recommend chipping or breaking ice dams because this can damage the roof. The following guidance is for the most common types of commercial roof systems.

Steep Sloped Roof Systems:

  • If the building has a history of ice dams, remove the snow to reduce the risk.
  • If the building is too tall to reach with a roof rake from the ground, hire a roofing professional. For more information, please see Selecting a Roofing Professional.
  • Remove or relocate heat sources that are installed in open areas directly under the roof.
  • Increase ventilation in attic spaces:
    • New gable roofs: Soffit/ridge vents provide good ventilation.
    • Gable end vents: place an electric fan over vents to increase the flow of air.
    • Hip roofs: Box or static vents are practical improvements.
  • Insulate recessed light fixtures in the ceiling to reduce heat entering the attic. Look for visible light inside the attic. If present, insulate or seal.
  • Insulate or seal all attic penetrations: partition walls, vents, plumbing stacks, electric and mechanical chases and access doors.
  • New roof installation: Seal the roof deck using at least two layers of underlayment cemented together or a self-adhering polymer modified bitumen sheet. Extend the moisture barrier at least 24 inches from the edge of the eaves to beyond the inside of the exterior wall.

Flat, Monoslope and Low Sloped Roof Systems:

  • Flat roofs are particularly vulnerable to water leaks if ice dams keep water from flowing into roof drains. Removing the snow will remove the source of a potential ice dam.
  • Drains:
    • If ice dams form around drains, place heating cables on the roof and connect the cables to the drains to create a path for the melting ice to follow.
    • Consider installing heating cables in a zigzag manner inside gutters.
    • If there is extensive ice build-up around the drains, consult a roofing professional.
  • When the roof is dry, inspect the roof cover. Look for mold, mildew and vegetation, all of which are signs of a problem with the slope of the roof cover system and drainage. A roofing professional can advise you about re-pitching the roof cover.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Commercial Winter Weather Guidance

12/5/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://disastersafety.org

Among the biggest weather events of the winter are the recurring monster snowstorms that wallop the Northeast and wreak havoc on travel throughout the U.S. during a 6-week period from late January to early March. Frequent snowfalls are accompanied by persistent cold temperatures that prevent melting. When it is all done businesses throughout the region experience roof collapses, frozen pipes, and the logistical challenge of getting employees to work when neither roads nor transit systems can keep pace with the snow.

While these “snowpocalypse” storms receive the most attention, winter cold and storms pound many parts of the U.S. during the past year; the lessons learned from these heavy storms can help businesses elsewhere prepare for and respond to snow, ice, and freezing temperatures in 2018 and beyond. With this goal in mind, following is guidance on severe winter weather and business protection.

Use Social Media to Communicate Before, During, and After a Major Storm

Winter storms launch a “blizzard” of social media, as people across the Northeast post photos, videos, and personal anecdotes about the snow. While many of these posts help inject humor into a difficult and sometimes dangerous weather event, they also helped strangers isolated by the storm come together and commiserate. At least as important, social media serves as a way for emergency management officials to warn residents about approaching weather conditions (including how to prepare and what to do during and after a storm), and some businesses use it to stay connected with employees, customers and business partners. This allows them to communicate quickly, widely and accurately—providing such information as the opening status of the business, whether employees need to report to work, any delays in the provision of goods and services, and when updated operational information would be available. Importantly, while these same social media tools that employees use in their personal lives can be applied to post-disaster business communications at little or no cost, planning ahead is essential to finding the specific social media platforms that will work best. 

Telecommuting Should Be Part of Every Winter Weather Business Continuity Plan

Due to the rapid and heavy snow accumulation last winter in the Northeast, a number of states and localities issued widespread travel bans. Even after the bans were lifted, many roads remained impassable, and Boston’s public transit system was incapable of transporting its usual 1.2 million daily riders. For many employers, telecommuting became a vital option that allowed them to avoid a shutdown while keeping employees off of clogged or dangerous roads and stalled mass transit systems. However, for telework to be successful, employers need to plan ahead by identifying telecommuting strategies, documenting a telecommuting policy, putting in place an I/T structure to support the program, and testing the system prior to a blizzard or other emergency. 

Keep the Power On and the Business Running with Generators

Snow and ice have the potential to weigh down tree limbs and pull down power lines, causing widespread and long-lasting power outages. Although power outages associated with winter storms are not as severe as anticipated (due to the powdery light snow that falls in most areas), that is not always the case. In fact, one of the worst storms in this regard was the unprecedented 2011 Halloween nor’easter which hit when many trees were still in leaf, resulting in tree and branch collapses that caused an estimated 3.2 million commercial and residential power outages, some lasting long after the snow had been removed or melted. A commercial generator can help businesses minimize disruption when faced with such a situation, but only if one is purchased, installed, and maintained prior to the time of need. It is also critical to have effective generator safety practices in place to minimize risks to people and property, including fire, damage to electrical equipment, and, most tragically, carbon monoxide poisoning. It is also important to have contracts in place with reliable vendors  to ensure delivery of generator fuel and other critical supplies. 

Snow Removal is Essential to Keep a Clear Path to Your Business

After snowfall, it is important to clear parking lots, driveways and sidewalks to provide safe access for employees, customers and suppliers. In some jurisdictions, there are legal requirements for snow removal; but even if that is not the case, promptly removing snow and minimizing icy surfaces is important for reducing the likelihood of slips and falls, and shows customers you are open for business. Smaller snow amounts can be handled by maintenance staff (assuming the right snow removal equipment is on hand), but large accumulations generally require professional snow removal contractors. These crews are in heavy demand after a storm, so it is critical to have outside service contracts in place prior to the first snowfall of the season. When selecting a contractor, it is important to make sure the people who remove your snow/ice will show up as anticipated, do a thorough job, and work within previously negotiated price guidelines.

  • Make sure the contract covers all of your needs (e.g., parking lots, driveways, walkways, roofs).
  • Look for an established, licensed and bonded professional.
  • Check references.
  • Ask to see the contractor’s certificates of insurance. Make sure coverage for liability and workers’ compensation insurance is current.

Beyond the big headline blizzards, severe winter weather can occur in many parts of the U.S. from late fall until early spring. By the time these storms are broadcast by local forecasters, it may be too late to put in place the measures needed to remove heavy snow and ice, protect roof systems and water pipes, and keep employees and operations productive. With advance planning, businesses can minimize “snowpocalypse” disruption as they wait for warmer weather to arrive.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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5 Ways to Winterize and Holiday-Proof Your Commercial Property

11/23/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://disastersafety.org

For many small businesses, the holiday/ winter weather season is when they will earn a significant part of their revenue for the entire year. For others, it is a time when they will close for a short break or long winter hiatus. Regardless of your business model, preparing for the holidays and winter season can help prevent problems caused by indoor hazards or winter weather.

1. DECORATE SAFELY

  • Choose decorations wisely. Some may be combustible and should be kept away from any heat or ignition sources.
  • Use battery-operated candles in place of traditional ones.
  • Never hang decorations from fire sprinklers or block them—this can prevent sprinklers from operating properly.
  • Do not cover emergency exit signs, fire extinguishers or fire alarms with decorations; also avoid overcrowding aisles or cluttering any place that would make it difficult to exit in an emergency.
  • Do not place extension cords in high-traffic areas of your workplace, or under rugs, carpets or furniture.
  • Promote safe ladder use. This can help protect both employees and customers.
  • Turn off all indoor and outdoor electrical decorations before leaving the building.

2. PREPARE FOR CLOSING

  • Inform customers in advance if you’ll be closing for the holidays or a longer seasonal break.
  • Update your company website to reflect closing details. Shut down any unnecessary office equipment.
  • Secure your building and set alarms. Advise your security company that you will be vacating the property. Verify/update emergency contact information they have on file.
  • Consider hiring a patrol service to conduct recorded rounds while inspecting the premises at different times of day and night to reduce the threat of vandalism and theft.

3. PROTECT AGAINST FREEZING

  • Thermostats should be maintained at a minimum of 55°F when the building is unoccupied.
  • For early detection of a broken pipe or valve, consider installing a monitored electric leak detection system for the main domestic water line. Monitored electronic sensors can also be installed near water sources for early leak detection.
  • Run a small trickle of water to keep pipes from freezing.
  • Open cabinet and utility room doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures to help keep them from freezing.
  • Ensure all pipes located in vulnerable areas, such as crawlspaces, exterior walls, attics and unheated basements, are insulated with sleeves or wrapping. The more insulation you have, the better. Hardware and big box stores usually carry foam or fiberglass insulation.
  • UL-approved gas or electric unit heaters can be installed in unheated sprinkler control valve/fire pump rooms.
  • Indoor and outdoor fire protection sprinkler systems should be monitored by a constantly attended central station to provide early detection of a sprinkler pipe rupture due to freezing. At minimum, if your business is not located close to where you live or are spending the winter, have someone check the property to ensure the heat is working and the pipes have not frozen. 

4. READY THE ROOF

  • If the building will be unoccupied for a prolonged period, safely clear the roof of all debris, dirt and leaves, which can block gutters and downspouts. Debris buildup can prevent snow melt from properly draining away from the building and can cause ice dams and heavy snow buildup on your roof.
  • Inspect gutters/downspouts for securement. Heavy snow/ ice can cause gutters to weaken and sag, leading them to break away from the building and allow for water intrusion.
  • If a winter storm occurs during a holiday or seasonal break, arrange for snow removal for employee access and plan to have a professional remove any excess snow from the roof. This will prevent excessive loads on the roof which could cause structural failure.

CONCLUSION

The winter holidays should be a time for businesses to reflect on past challenges and accomplishments, and make plans to prosper in the New Year. But at the same time, it is important to take steps to prevent injury or damage that can be caused by risks that are unique to this season. Doing so now can provide a head start on New Year’s resolutions to strengthen your business in 2019.

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Reduce Damage to Homes from Alternative Heating Sources

11/11/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://disastersafety.org

Consumers often turn to alternative heating systems like wood pellet stoves (a.k.a. wood burning stove or wood pellet furnace) during the winter to heat their homes. If you’re considering switching to a wood pellet stove, space heater, or fireplace this winter, consider the following safety information.

Use Caution

  • Before using any heating device, install carbon monoxide detectors in several parts of the house.
  • Except where specifically recommended by the manufacturer, only the fuel (e.g., pellets, corn, log wood, coal or gas) for which a stove is designed should be used.
  • Never use a kerosene heater indoors.

Stove Placement

Alternate heating stoves can vary in construction regarding self-contained insulation and thermal protection. A single layer iron-walled stove, for example, can generate enormous heat several feet in all directions. On the other hand, more sophisticated multiple walled insulated forced-air stoves can remain safe to the touch when in use.

Placement of the stove must take into consideration adequate space for installation, maintenance and replacement, flue or vent pipe routing, and most importantly, safe location relative to combustible materials. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recognizes appropriate American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standards and testing of the reduction of heat with distance from the unit as well as non-combustible shielding (defined in codes). Properly tested and rated stoves will have an attached safety label and an installation manual, which will detail the manufacturer’s recommended minimum separations. Some general guidelines are provided for different types of stoves in the following sections for cases when labels are missing.

In most cases, protection of the floor or combustible surface under a stove is required and specified including shielding beneath and extending on all sides in accordance with the code and label requirements. This includes adequate protection in front of the fire box and where ash removal is required.

Standards also exist for locating and routing flue and vent pipes in order to provide separation from combustibles adjacent to and through walls and to existing chimneys.

Pellet Stoves

These modern devices operate through an automated fuel-delivery process. In some designs, a fan delivers air to the fire and blows exhaust by-products out of a vent pipe that is smaller and typically less expensive than a chimney. Often, a separate fan blows air through heat exchangers in the stove and out into the home.

  • Always hire an installer who is licensed and certified.
  • Stove placement must allow for access to proper venting and electrical sources and must meet minimum required clearances. Certified installers operate according to these guidelines.
  • Outlets must be checked for proper voltage, grounding and polarity.
  • According to model building codes, multiple walled insulated forced-air stoves within compartments or alcoves should have a minimum of 3 inches of working space clearance along the sides, back and top with a total width of the enclosing space being at least 12 inches wider than the stove.
  • Stoves having a firebox open to the atmosphere should have at least a 6-inch working space along the front combustion chamber side.
  • Keep the stove clear of all combustible materials.
  • Use PL vent pipes tested to UL 641.

The following materials should never be used to vent pellet appliances:

  • Dryer vent
  • Gas appliance Type B vent
  • PVC pipe
  • Single-wall stove pipe, unless approved by local codes and the installation manual.
  • Inspect chimney before installation. Relining may be required.
  • Altitudes higher than 2,500 feet may require special venting options.
  • An outside air source may be required for houses with tight construction or strong kitchen, bath or other exhaust fans.
  • Manufacturer’s instructions must be closely followed regarding sealing joints and seams, particularly of pressurized mechanical exhaust vents.
  • Regular maintenance is critical to ensure safe operation.
  • Frequency of cleaning will depend on the fuel type, grade and content.
  • Components should be inspected daily.
  • Professional cleaning is recommended for vent systems before each seasonal use.

Wood Stoves

These traditional heat sources remain popular, but have been linked to an increase in house and chimney fires.

  • Choose a stove that has been tested by UL.
  • Second-hand stoves should be free of broken parts or cracks.
  • Maintain at least a 36-inch clearance between the stove and combustible materials or use fire-resistant materials to protect woodwork and other areas. Follow manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Keep the stove clear of combustible materials.
  • Noncombustible floor covering should be used under and around the stove. The material should extend 18 inches on all sides.
  • Prior to using the stove, place a layer of sand or firebrick in the bottom of the firebox.
  • Vent pipes or chimneys must be inspected prior to use.
  • If a stove pipe is used:
  1. Use 22- or 24-gauge metal with a total length of less than 10 feet.
  2. Maintain at least 18 inches between the top of the stove pipe and the ceiling or other combustible material.
  3. Ensure that the stove pipe enters the chimney at a spot higher than the outlet of the stove firebox and that it does not extend into the chimney flue lining.
  4. The inside thimble diameter should be the same size as the stove pipe for a proper seal.
  5. The stove pipe should not pass through a floor, closet or concealed space, or enter the chimney in the attic.
  6. If a metal chimney is used, make sure it is UL-approved.

Whether masonry or metal, the chimney should extend:

  • At least 3 feet above the highest point where it passes through the roof, and
  • At least 2 feet above any portion of the building within 10 horizontal feet of the chimney.

The chimney flue lining should not be blocked.

  • Keep the chimney flue and stove pipe clean and free of obstructions.

Space Heaters

These appliances can be an affordable option for heating a small space, but they also are the leading source of house fires during winter months.

  • Look for products that have been tested by UL.
  • Buy a model with an automatic shut-off feature and heat element guards.
  • Maintain a 36-inch clearance between the heater and combustible materials, such as bedding, furniture, wall coverings or other flammable items.
  • Do not leave a heater unattended.

Electric heaters should be inspected prior to use.

  • Check the cord for fraying and cracking, and look for broken wires or signs of overheating in the device itself.
  • Use only heavy-duty extension cords marked with a No. 14-gauge or larger wire.
  • If the heater’s plug has a grounding prong, use only a grounding (three-wire) extension cord.
  • Never run the heater’s cord (or any cord) under rugs or carpeting.

Liquid-fueled heaters must be operated using only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer.

  • Never use gasoline or any other substitute fuel.
  • Allow the heater to cool down prior to refueling.

Fireplace

This popular heat source is found in homes throughout the United States, but requires proper maintenance and caution to ensure safe operation.

  • Annual inspections are required by a professional chimney sweep.
  • Regular cleaning will keep the fireplace free of obstructions and creosote.
  • Have a removable cap installed at the top of the chimney to keep out debris and animals.
  • Install a spark arrestor that has 1/4-inch mesh.
  • Maintain proper clearance around the fireplace and keep it clear of combustible materials such as books, newspapers and furniture.
  • Always close the screen when in use.
  • Keep glass doors open during the fire.
  • Use a fireplace grate.
  • Approved fireplace tools are recommended.
  • Never burn garbage, rolled newspapers, charcoal or plastic in the fireplace.
  • Avoid using gasoline or any liquid accelerant.
  • Clean out ashes from previous fires and store them in a noncombustible container with a tight-fitting lid. Keep the container outside and away from the house.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Make sure the fire is completely out before closing the damper.

Gas fireplaces require specific maintenance:

  • Adjust the milli-volt output.
  • Keep the glowing embers and logs clean.
  • Inspect and clean the air circulation passages and fan.
  • Clean the glass as needed.
  • Avoid obstructing the vents.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Put A Freeze on Winter Fires

11/2/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.nfpa.org

Heating, holiday decorations, winter storms and candles all contribute to an increased risk of fire during the winter months. NFPA and the U.S. Fire Administration are teaming up to help reduce your risk to winter fires and other hazards, including carbon monoxide and electrical fires.

Heating

Heating is the second leading cause of U.S. home fires, deaths and injuries. December, January and February are the peak months for heating fires. Space heaters are the type of equipment most often involved in home heating equipment fires, figuring in two of every five fires (40%). More statistics on heating fires.

Carbon Monoxide

Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, propane, etc. do not burn completely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of CO. Carbon monoxide incidents are more common during the winter months, and in residential properties. More statistics on carbon monoxide incidents.

Winter storms

Most of the U.S. is at risk for winter storms, which can cause dangerous and sometimes life-threatening conditions. Blinding wind-driven snow, extreme cold, icy road conditions, downed trees and power lines can all wreak havoc on our daily schedules. Home fires occur more in the winter than in any other season, and heating equipment is involved in one of every six reported home fires, and one in every five home fire deaths.

Generators

Portable generators are useful during power outages, however, many homeowners are unaware that the improper use of portable generators can be risky. The most common dangers associated with portable generators are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, electrical shock or electrocution, and fire hazards. According to a 2013 Consumer Product Safety Commission report, half of the generator-related deaths happened in the four coldest months of the year, November through February, and portable generators were involved in the majority of carbon monoxide deaths involving engine-driven tools. 

Candles

December is the peak time of year for home candle fires; the top four days for home candle fires are New Year’s Day, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve. Each year between 2009 and 2013, an average of 25 home candle fires were reported each day. More statistics on candle fires.

Electrical

Electrical home fires are a leading cause of home fires in the U.S. Roughly half of all home electrical fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment, while nearly another half involved other known types of equipment like washer or dryer fans, and portable or stationary space heaters. More statistics on electrical fires.

Christmas tree disposal

Christmas trees are combustible items that become increasing flammable as they continue to dry out in your home. Nearly 40 percent of home fires that begin with Christmas trees occur in January. Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur they’re much more likely to be serious. More statistics on Christmas tree fires.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Last-Minute Winter Weather Checklist

10/24/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://disastersafety.org

Prepare for a Power Outage

Heavy snow and high winds are a recipe for widespread power outages. It’s important to prepare a plan now before a possible outage.

Prevent Roof Collapse

If heavy snow begins to accumulate on your roof, remove the snow with a snow rake and a long extension arm that will allow you to remove the snow while standing safely on the ground. Find additional guidance at disastersafety.org/freezing_weather/prevent-roof-collapse.

Stay Safe and Warm

Inspect your source of heat for any damage which can cause a fire and result in costly property damage. Also, remove combustible items placed near a heat source. For more information, check IBHS’  guide on alternative heating at disastersafety.org/wp-content/uploads/alternative-heating.pdf.

Prevent Frozen Pipes

Prevent costly water damage caused by frozen pipes by:

  • providing a reliable back-up power source to ensure continuous power to the building;
  • insulating all attic penetrations;
  • ensuring proper seals on all doors and windows; and
  • sealing all cracks and openings in exterior walls.

Additional guidance is available at disastersafety.org/wp-content/uploads/Freezing-Bursting-Pipes_IBHS.pdf.

Know Your Winter Weather Alerts

When severe winter weather is on its way, it’s important you know and understand what each alert means so you can respond accordingly. Learn more about alerts at disastersafety.org/freezing_weather/finding-meaning-in-winter-weather-forecasts.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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MANAGING MOLD

10/15/2018 (Permalink)

When there’s a water intrusion, like a roof leak or leaking water line, mold can quickly become a problem in your home or business. Mold can cause health effects and can also cause significant damage to your property.  Fortunately, SERVPRO Franchise Professionals have the training, protective gear, and specialized equipment necessary to handle your mold problem. Although every mold damage scenario is different requiring a unique solution, the general mold remediation process stays the same. The following steps illustrate a “typical” mold removal process.


Call the Team in Green

The mold cleanup and restoration process begins when you call SERVPRO®.  A representative will ask a series of questions to help determine the necessary equipment, resources, and personnel needed.

Inspection and Damage Assessment

Your property will be carefully inspected for signs of mold using technology designed to detect mold and hidden water sources. Mold feeds on cellulose and water and can be hidden from plain view.

Mold Containment

Various containment procedures will be placed to prevent the spread of mold and isolate the contaminated area with physical barriers and negative air pressure to keep the mold spores from spreading during the cleanup process.

Air Filtration

Specialized filtration equipment captures microscopic mold spores out of the air. SERVPRO® technicians utilize powerful air scrubbers and HEPA vacuums to prevent the spread of these mold spores while the mold remediation is in progress.

Removing Mold and Mold-Infested Materials

The mold remediation process depends on the amount of mold growth and the types of surfaces on which the mold appears. Antifungal and antimicrobial treatments will be used to eliminate mold colonies and help prevent new colonies from forming. Removing and disposing of mold infested
porous materials, like drywall and flooring, may be necessary to remediate heavy mold growth.

Cleaning Contents and Belongings

SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals clean your furniture, decorative items, curtains, and other restorable items affected by mold. They use a variety of cleaning techniques to clean and sanitize your belongings. They are also trained to remove odors and deodorize using fogging equipment.

Restoration

Depending on the level of mold damage, drywall, subfloors, and other building materials may be removed.  Restoration may involve minor repairs, such as replacing drywall, painting, and installing new carpet; or it may entail major repairs such as the reconstruction of various areas or rooms in a home or business.

TAKE PRECAUTIONS

SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals handle water
damages every day and know prompt action is required to prevent mold growth. If there is an ongoing moisture problem in the building, be alert for:

  • The presence of visible mold.
  • Strong musty odors, which may indicate mold is present.
  • Any evidence of past moisture problems that might have caused undetected mold growth.
  • Excessive humidity.  These conditions may require the expertise of a qualified Indoor Air Quality/Environmental Professional to inspect the building for mold growth and water damage problems.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Reduce Flood Damage to Businesses

10/6/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://disastersafety.org

Your plan for disaster preparedness should include flood information and outline how to prepare for floods. Read on for information about floods and flood safety tips, and how to make them part of your emergency preparedness plan as you prepare for a flood.

Types Of Flooding

Topography and weather conditions play a prominent role in the impact different types of flooding have on specific locales. The following are some examples of specific types of flooding.

  • Rising water may be the greatest risk to inland areas away from a river bed after a heavy snow pack begins to melt or after heavy rainfall.
  • Moving water is a serious risk in areas near rivers or in coastal storm surge areas because it creates significantly larger lateral forces on a building.
  • Overtopping, breaching or opening of dams, levees, and other flood control mechanisms, which are designed to divert the flow of water to provide protection, can lead to flood damage that may be more significant than if the levees were never installed. The Mississippi and Missouri River floods of 2011 included breaches of levees, as well as controlled flooding by the opening of various flood gates on levees. The result was thousands of acres of farmland, crops, livestock and fish farms being destroyed to protect urban areas.
  • Flash flooding can occur in every region as a result of slow-moving thunderstorms or excessive rainfall from any storm system.
  • Large, slow-moving tropical storms can dump excessive amounts of rain on coastal locations and then move inland to continue the devastation, resulting in widespread flood damage.

Floods can occur anywhere, often with little or no warning, and with devastating consequences. Protecting the bottom line in order to remain open, or to re-open quickly after a flood disaster, requires taking steps now to prevent or reduce flood damage should your business be in the path of rising water. Below is a brief overview of issues that small businesses must address to reduce the likelihood of flood damage and to prepare financially and operationally should a flood occur. Many of the topics covered here involve complex issues that are best addressed by hydrological, engineering, regulatory or insurance experts; the goal here is simply to outline the basics in order to help business owners understand why they need to mitigate against flood risk and some of the challenges they may face.

Tropical Storm Allison (2001): A Case Study in Flooding

Often, businesses and homeowners let down their guard when a tropical weather system does not result in hurricane-force winds. Tropical Storm Allison is a good example of how rains associated with a tropical system can be equally devastating. The storm dumped approximately 32 trillion gallons of rain (enough to meet U.S. water needs for an entire year), according to the Tropical Storm Allison Recovery Project. This included 28 inches of rainfall during a 12-hour period just northeast of downtown Houston, and rainfall amounts ranging from 10, 20 and 30 inches in locations throughout the Southeast—earning Allison the infamous distinction as the costliest tropical storm in U.S. history.

Understanding Your Flood Hazard

There are several flood principles that should be considered to determine your facility’s exposure to flood waters and the type of protection to be deployed:

  • Duration: It is important to know if flood waters are expected to recede quickly or may be trapped due to the slope of the land. The longer a facility is exposed to flood waters, the greater potential for flood-proofing failures due to a breach in the protection.
  • Depth: Flood waters greater than 3 feet create hydrostatic pressure on walls that can cause cracks in masonry and greatly increase the potential of collapse to unreinforced masonry. When estimating the potential depth of flood waters, it is always best to include a safety factor to account for inaccuracies in the estimate.
  • Velocity: As flood water velocity increases, so does the pressure exerted on flood protection. River flooding can be very fast moving water at first and then may settle down. Coastal locations may be exposed to wave action from storm surge.
  • Water Condition: Many times flood waters are dirty, brackish or contaminated with biological and chemical materials including waste water, sewage, pesticides, industrial waste, toxic and non-toxic chemicals, or oils. Debris that is churning in the water can impact buildings and flood protection systems, create breaches in the protection and cause extensive damage.

Location, Location, Location

Proximity to water is the number 1 risk factor for flooding, but property owners should not assume being out of the floodplain will help you entirely avoid the possibility of flooding. It is always a best practice to locate your property as far away from bodies of water as possible. Flood maps available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) identify 100-year and 500-year flood zones throughout the United States. The flood zones also delineate participation in the NFIP, as well as permitting and other requirements that communities adopt in order to meet NFIP standards and qualify their citizens for lower flood insurance rates. By definition, the 100-year and 500-year flood zones mean there is a 1 (.20) percent chance of flooding annually in an area based on topography and historical data; it does not mean that flooding will occur only once in a century (or 500 years). There also are other important points to consider.

  • Floods can and very often do occur outside the 100-year flood zone. In fact, approximately 25 percent of all flood damages occur in relatively low risk zones commonly described as being “outside the mapped flood zone.”
  • Specific boundaries on some flood maps may be arbitrary or include inaccuracies. For example, a property lying just outside the 100-year flood zone is almost equally likely to be flooded as one just within.
  • Obstructions or landfill can change the topography, storm-water drainage patterns, and flow of water over natural floodplains. Although permits are required for flood zone fill (and must be based on engineering assessments demonstrating “no impact”), it is possible that non-permitted work has occurred near your property.
  • Floods show no respect for the estimated probabilities. As Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director Craig Fugate observed following a spate of natural disasters, “It just seemed like it was back-to-back and it came in waves. The term ‘100-year event’ really lost its meaning this year.”

The Importance of Elevation

When it comes to flooding, there really is no better solution than adequate elevation, aside from choosing a location well outside of a 500-year flood plain. If such a location is not possible, the best way to increase the safety margin against flood damage is to raise the elevation of your building above the 500-year flood elevation. Flood-proofing your building is another option to reduce damage. Through the NFIP, there is extensive regulation of floodplain development at the community level.

Permits are needed for a wide range of activities including construction of new buildings, additions to existing buildings, and substantial improvement to the interior of existing buildings that are within the most hazardous flood zones. Part of the permitting process involves whether your building site is higher than the base flood elevation (BFE), which is the elevation at which your property has a 1 percent chance of flooding annually, as indicated on the NFIP flood maps. Major storms and flash floods can cause waters to rise higher than the BFE—therefore, it is always a good investment to build in a safety factor several feet above the BFE. This safety zone is called “freeboarding.”

 

For example, IBHS’s FORTIFIED for Safer Business™ Standards, a package of enhanced voluntary construction standards that greatly increase a new light commercial building’s durability and resilience to natural hazards, requires FORTIFIED buildings to be at least 3 feet above the BFE or above the 500-year flood elevation. There are also ways to retrofit your existing building so that it meets or exceeds BFEs. While only a structural engineer/design professional can determine what is right for your property, the options include raising foundation onto pilings or columns or adding landfill, as long as “no impact” floodplain requirements are met.

  • When elevating a building so that the walking surface of the lowest floor is at the minimum elevation, areas under the BFE can be used only for parking and limited storage—under-floor bathrooms, utilities, and ductwork are not allowed.
  • Equipment, utility connections and all interior utility systems including ductwork must be elevated above the BFE. In addition, fuel and propane tanks must be properly anchored, since they can become buoyant even in shallow water.

What is “Dry Flood-Proofing”?

Sealing a building so that water will not enter is called “dry flood-proofing” or “flood-proofing.” Flood-proofing protects your building by coating the exterior with a membrane to prevent flood waters from entering. NFIP regulations allow flood-proofing as an alternative to elevation above the BFE for newly constructed or substantially improved non-residential structures only—new and improved homes must be elevated above the BFE to meet NFIP requirements. It is important to determine whether dry flood-proofing will provide the protections your property needs before choosing this option. This also applies if your business is located outside the 100-year flood zone, but you want to invest in additional flood protection. Dry flood-proofing is a complex procedure that should be done by professional experts. If done incorrectly, it may not protect your property and can lead to decay, mold, or termite damage:

  • As a general matter, dry flood-proofing is best suited to areas with clay soils where floods are short in duration and less than 3 feet deep.
  • Buildings in poor structural condition should not be dry flood-proofed, as the exterior walls will be under extreme pressure during a flood.

There are a variety of dry flood-proofing measures; a professional can help to determine whether any of them are right for your situation:

  • Applying a waterproof coating or membrane to exterior walls
  • Sealing all wall penetrations including where utilities enter the building
  • Installing waterproof shields over all openings, including windows and doors
  • Anchoring the building to resist flotation
  • Strengthening walls to withstand flood water pressures and flood debris

The Vulnerable Basement

Even above the BFE or outside the floodplain, basements are prone to floods because water may flow down into them. They also may have an increased hydrostatic pressure exerted upon them when the surrounding ground is saturated. Recognizing that elevation is the best form of mitigation, there are a number of additional measures business owners can take to reduce the likelihood and scope of basement flood damage.

  • Thoroughly inspect your basement and the surrounding property for evidence of water entry and sources of water flow and leakage.
  • Correct potential problems—for example, extend and redirect downspouts, re-grade sloping landscape, and caulk any interior wall cracks.
  • Basement walls should be designed to resist hydrostatic pressure.
  • Use flood-resistant materials where possible, including floor coverings, wall coverings, and wall insulation. Most flood-resistant materials can withstand direct contact with water for at least 72 hours without being significantly damaged.
  • Do not store valuable equipment, documents, or inventory in any crawlspace or basement where flooding is possible.

The “Green” Factor

In addition, there are steps you can take now to reduce health and environmental damage should a flood occur.

  • Anchor fuel and propane tanks to prevent them from being swept away. When they break away, the contents may leak, creating fire, explosion and pollution risks that can adversely affect health and the environment.
  • Install sewer backflow valves to block drain pipes from sewage back-up, which can occur if there is flooding in your area.
  • If you are supplied by well water, protect your well from contamination. A licensed well drilling contractor can inspect your well and suggest improvements.

Financial and Operational Protections

The NFIP makes flood insurance available to commercial owners and renters. As is the case with residential property, costs vary depending on how much insurance is purchased, what it covers, and the property’s flood risk. NFIP coverage limits are up to $500,000 for a commercial building, and up to $500,000 to protect its contents. Insurance coverage also may be available from private insurance companies, depending on your business’s location, building and business characteristics, and property value.

The best way to learn more about flood insurance benefits, costs, and options is to contact your insurance agent. Finally, take steps now so you can quickly resume operations should a flood or other hazard damage your property. Although flood insurance may cover losses to your structure and contents, many businesses that are severely damaged never fully recover financially due to the loss of management focus, employees, and market share. IBHS’ Open for Business® planning tool helps small- and mid-sized businesses resume their critical business operations and work processes and deliver the goods and services expected by customers or clients–consider it a vital part of your flood preparation planning and practice.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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How to get federal disaster assistance

10/6/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com

Author: Jay MacDonald

When local and state resources are overwhelmed by a severe disaster, your state’s governor will request that the president issue a Major Disaster Declaration. This is the only declaration that can activate a range of federal assistance programs for individuals and families. Assistance may include temporary housing, low-interest loans and grants, counseling for post-disaster trauma and other services.

FEMA service information to keep handy:

To register for federal disaster assistance:

Online: DisasterAssistance.gov
Phone: (800) 621-3362
Teletypewriter, or TTY: (800) 462-7585
Smartphone: m.fema.gov

To locate a mobile: Disaster Recovery Center

To appeal a FEMA grant denial, write to:

FEMA - Individuals & Households Program
National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055

Or send fax to: (800) 827-8112
Attention: FEMA -- Individuals & Households Program

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, doesn’t activate all of its assistance programs in every natural disaster. It largely depends on the nature of damages reported by your state.

To qualify for federal disaster assistance, your losses must have occurred in an area covered by a Major Disaster Declaration. If you have online access, you can quickly determine this at FEMA’s Federal Disaster Declarations Web page.

A number of criteria are used in the determination of a major disaster area, including the amount and type of damage, the imminent threats to public health and safety, and level of insurance coverage in place for homeowners and public facilities, according to fema.gov.

Make an insurance claim

After determining whether you are in a major disaster area, you should file an insurance claim with your home and/or auto insurance company for any damages incurred. Failure to file an insurance claim may affect your eligibility for federal assistance, because by law, FEMA cannot provide money for losses that are covered by insurance.

Once you file your claim, FEMA may be able to provide some assistance in the following circumstances.

  • Delayed insurance settlement: If your settlement is delayed longer than 30 days, FEMA may loan you some money. It will expect you to repay the loan when your settlement arrives. How to file: Write FEMA with a full explanation and insurance claim number, the date of the claim and documentation.
  • Your insurance settlement falls short: If the maximum payment from your settlement doesn’t cover your disaster-related needs, FEMA may help make up the difference. How to file: Write FEMA with a full explanation and complete insurance documentation.
  • Additional Living Expenses exhausted: If you’ve exhausted your insurance company’s maximum loss-of-use settlement, FEMA may be able to help with your disaster-related temporary housing needs. Write them with explanation and documentation.

Types of federal disaster assistance: housing and nonhousing

There are two types of direct federal disaster assistance available: housing needs and nonhousing needs:

Housing assistance. This includes temporary housing and money to help repair or replace your primary residence. To qualify for housing needs assistance, you or someone living with you must be a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien; your home must be your permanent residence; and you must have been living in the home when the disaster hit but not currently able to due to damage from the disaster.

Nonhousing needs. These include medical, dental and funeral costs; clothing and household items; tools; home fuel; disaster-related moving and storage; and replacement of a disaster-damaged vehicle. In order to qualify for these, you or someone living with you must be a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien; you must have serious disaster-related needs and expenses; and you must have accepted all assistance for which you are eligible from insurance proceeds and Small Business Administration, or SBA, disaster loans.

The SBA provides federally subsidized disaster loans to repair or replace homes or personal property of qualified homeowners and businesses. SBA loans comprise the lion’s share of federal disaster assistance.

Additional forms of direct federal assistance include crisis counseling; disaster unemployment assistance; legal services, including assistance with insurance claims; and special tax consideration that enables you to deduct a casualty loss that exceeds 10 percent of your adjusted gross income on your federal tax return for the current or previous tax year.

What’s next

Once you’ve applied for federal disaster assistance, you can check the status of your application within 24 hours via the same method you applied. FEMA will also mail you a copy of your application along with a detailed guide that walks you through the assistance process.

An inspector working with FEMA will contact you 10 to 14 days after your application to schedule a time to visit your home and inspect the disaster-related damage. There is no charge for this inspection, but you must be present during the inspection and prepared to offer the inspector proof of ownership and occupancy.

  • Proof of ownership includes any of the following: deed, tax records, mortgage payment book or a homeowners insurance policy showing you as the owner. Lacking these, the inspector may be able to obtain proof from a county property tax website.
  • Proof of occupancy includes any of the following: driver’s license with address, a recent utility bill in your name or any first-class government mail sent to you at your address during the past three months.

Do you qualify?

Inspectors submit their report to FEMA but play no role in determining your eligibility for assistance.

It will take FEMA about 10 days to review your inspection. If you qualify for a grant, FEMA will send you a check by mail with a letter explaining how you are to use the money (you’ll receive this via direct deposit if you supplied your bank routing number on your application).

The grant is tax-free and does not require repayment. However, you cannot give it to someone else and you must use it as specified by FEMA. If you don’t, you won’t be granted any additional assistance and you may be asked to pay it back.

If you do not qualify for a grant, you’ll receive a letter explaining why. You have the right to appeal. Appeals must be written and mailed within 60 days of receiving FEMA’s decision.

In a third scenario, FEMA may send you an application to apply for a loan through the Small Business Administration. You must complete and submit the SBA loan application to be considered for a loan as well as certain types of grant assistance. If the SBA then determines that you do not qualify for a loan, it will automatically refer you back to FEMA for grant assistance.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Is your workplace prepared in the event of a fire?

10/6/2018 (Permalink)

Source: http://www.huffinsurance.com

Author:  

What would you say is the biggest cause of workplace fires? It's not equipment failure. It's not electrical faults. It's not storms or natural disasters. It's people and carelessness.

Every year, in more than 70,000 workplace fires across North America, an average 200 people die, thousands are injured and many firms are either put out of business or severely disrupted.

October is Fire Protection Week in the US and Canada, so now is a good time to review and remind employees of safety rules. A few simple steps will help identify and reduce risks. Things like:

  1. Assessing your buildings for risks -- I'd make that a visual inspection tour
  2. Reducing clutter and keeping escape routes clear
  3. Storing flammable chemicals under lock and key
  4. Locating heat-producing equipment, even coffee-makers, away from flammable material
  5. Checking building security to prevent possible arson fires
  6. Enforcing no-smoking or designated area rules
  7. Checking fire extinguisher service and replacement dates
  8. Ensuring employees know how to operate extinguishers
  9. Enforcing rules for the use of spark - and fire-producing equipment
  10. Conducting permitted, controlled burning/fires a safe distance from buildings
  11. Checking operation of fire and smoke alarms

It's even more important that employees know what to do if fire does break out. Even if it's not mandatory, you should have a written emergency action plan that includes details of evacuation routes, location of assembly points, procedures for raising the alarm and, if appropriate, a written list of individuals and their responsibilities.

As much as everyone loathes them, evacuations should be practiced at least once a year. It's a good idea to alert employees of an intention to have a practice drill but not to tell them exactly when it will happen.

Here are a couple of documents you may find useful in drawing up or reviewing your plans:http://tinyurl.com/fire-evac-1 and http://tinyurl.com/fire-evac-2

And if you'd like to know more about Fire Safety Week or get other information about fire safety, visit the National Fire Protection Association, a US-based global organization, at www.nfpa.org

Finally, please make sure you have adequate insurance in place, not just against property damage and liability arising from fires but also coverage to protect you against income losses arising from business disruption.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Flood Cleanup: Avoiding Indoor Air Quality Problems

10/1/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/documents/floods.pdf

During a flood cleanup, the indoor air quality in your home or office may appear to be the least of your problems. However, failure to remove contaminated materials and to reduce moisture and humidity can present serious long term health risks. Standing water and wet materials are a breeding ground for microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, and mold. They can cause disease, trigger allergic reactions, and continue to damage materials long after the flood.

This fact sheet discusses problems caused by microbial growth, as well as other potential effects of flooding, on long-term indoor air quality and the steps you can take to lessen these effects. Although the information contained here emphasizes residential flood cleanup, it is also applicable to other types of buildings.

Prepare for Cleanup

Read Repairing Your Flooded Home prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross. The booklet discusses flood safety issues and can save your life. The booklet also contains detailed information on proper methods for cleaning up your home. You should also consult the wealth of information on the FEMA, CDC, and The American Lung Association sites on the subject, which are listed below:

This fact sheet provides additional information not covered in the original FEMA/American Red Cross booklet on indoor air quality concerns related to flooding (however, because this fact sheet was prepared in 1993, it is more than likely that FEMA and the Red Cross and the American Lung Association do have more up-to-date information and resources available which you should consult). Many of the methods used for general cleanup, as detailed in the booklet, are the same as those used to avoid problems with indoor air quality. For brevity, we have not provided detail on the general methods used for cleanup here. This fact sheet is intended to be used in conjunction with the FEMA/American Red Cross booklet and resources. Children are different from adults. They may be more vulnerable to chemicals and organisms they are exposed to in the environment.

Avoid Problems from Microbial Growth

Remove Standing Water

Standing water is a breeding ground for microorganisms, which can become airborne and be inhaled. Where floodwater contains sewage or decaying animal carcasses, infectious disease is of concern. Even when flooding is due to rainwater, the growth of microorganisms can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. For these health reasons, and to lessen structural damage, all standing water should be removed as quickly as possible.

Dry Out Your Home

Excess moisture in the home is an indoor air quality concern for three reasons:

  • Microorganisms brought into the home during flooding may present a health hazard. These organisms can penetrate deep into soaked, porous materials and later be released into air or water. Coming in contact with air or water that contains these organisms can make you sick.
  • High humidity and moist materials provide ideal environments for the excessive growth of microorganisms that are always present in the home. This may result in additional health concerns such as allergic reactions.
  • Long-term increases in humidity in the home can also foster the growth of dust mites. Dust mites are a major cause of allergic reactions and asthma.

See Step 4, Dry Out Your Home, of the American Red Cross/FEMA booklet, Repairing Your Flooded Home, on steps that should be taken to open up and dry out ceilings, walls, and floors in the home. Be patient. The drying out process could take several weeks, and growth of microorganisms will continue as long as humidity is high. If the house is not dried out properly, a musty odor, signifying growth of microorganisms can remain long after the flood.

Remove Wet Materials

It can be difficult to throw away items in a home, particularly those with sentimental value. However, keeping certain items that were soaked by water may be unhealthy. Some materials tend to absorb and keep water more than others. In general, materials that are wet and cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried within 24-48 hours should be discarded, as they can remain a source of microbial growth.

Information on the types of water-damaged materials that should be discarded are provided in Step 4, Dry Out Your Home, of the American Red Cross/FEMA booklet, Repairing Your Flooded Home

The booklet suggests that you may be able to dry out and save certain building materials (for example, wallboard, fiberglass insulation, and wall-to-wall carpeting that were soaked only with clean rainwater). You may, however, want to consider removing and replacing them to avoid indoor air quality problems. Because they take a long time to dry, they may be a source of microbial growth. For information on mold prevention and cleanup, visit www.epa.gov/mold.

In addition, fiberboard, fibrous insulation, and disposable filters should be replaced, if they are present in your heating and air conditioning system and have contacted water. (If a filter was designed to be cleaned with water and was in contact with clean rainwater only, ensure that it is thoroughly cleaned before reinstalling.)

Avoid Problems from the Use of Cleaners and Disinfectants

The cleanup process involves thorough washing and disinfecting of the walls, floors, closets, shelves, and contents of the house. In most cases, common household cleaning products and disinfectants are used for this task. FEMA also suggests the use of disinfectants and sanitizers on the ductwork for the heating and air conditioning system, if it has been flooded.

Disinfectants and sanitizers contain toxic substances. The ability of chemicals in other household products used for cleaning to cause health effects varies greatly, from those with no known health effect to those that are highly toxic. Read and follow label instructions carefully, and provide fresh air by opening windows and doors. If it is safe for you to use electricity and the home is dry, use fans both during and after the use of disinfecting, cleaning, and sanitizing products.

Be careful about mixing household cleaners and disinfectants together. Check labels for cautions on this. Mixing certain types of products can produce toxic fumes and result in injury and even death.

Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that can be lethal at high levels. Carbon monoxide levels can build up rapidly if certain types of combustion devices (for example, gasoline-powered generators, camp stoves and lanterns, or charcoal-burning devices) are used indoors. Do not use combustion devices designed for outdoor use indoors.

Avoid Problems from Airborne Asbestos and Lead Dust

Elevated concentrations of airborne asbestos can occur if asbestos-containing materials present in the home are disturbed. Airborne asbestos can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer of the chest and abdominal linings. If you know or suspect that your home contains asbestos, contact the EPA TSCA Assistance Information Service at (202) 554-1404 for information on steps you should take to avoid exposure.

Lead is a highly toxic metal which produces a range of adverse health effects, particularly in young children. Disturbance or removal of materials containing lead-based paint may result in elevated concentration of lead dust in the air. If you know or suspect that your home contains lead-based paint, contact the National Lead Information Center to receive a general information packet, to order other documents, or for detailed information or questions. Call and speak with a specialist Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm eastern time (except Federal holidays) at 1 (800) 424-LEAD [5323].

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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11 Ways To Avoid Hurricane Damage

9/22/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/11-ways-to-avoid-hurricane-damage-1.aspx

Author: CRAIG GUILLOT

The tremendous power of a hurricane can turn a home inside out and leave it in ruins. But you can minimize the potential for damage, cut the cost of your home insurance now and save on repairs later with the help of many readily available home improvement products.

And you want to get to work before it’s too late.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is predicting eight to 13 named storms during the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season. Three to six of those storms could become hurricanes, including one or two major hurricanes with winds in excess of 110 mph.

Bracing your home for what the season might bring doesn’t have to be expensive.

“Homeowners may get discounts for things such as hurricane shutters, various types of roof coverings and the way the roof is attached to the structure,” says Claire Wilkinson, a blogger for the trade group the Insurance Information Institute. 

Top products for storm protection

  • Plywood.
  • Fabric panels.
  • Hurricane straps.
  • Flood barriers.
  • Storm panels.
  • Roll-down hurricane shutters.
  • Colonial shutters.
  • Accordion shutters.
  • Bahama shutters.
  • Garage door braces.
  • Hurricane glass.

“There are a lot of things you can do (to your home) that are meaningful, affordable and make a difference,” adds Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and CEO of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, or FLASH.

Here are several ways to avoid costly hurricane damage.

Plywood

A sheet of plywood and a handful of nails have stood out as one of the most popular ways to prepare for a storm. Homeowners typically “board up” a day or two before and attach 5/8-inch or 1/2-inch plywood to the windows of their homes.

  • Cost: Material costs vary by location and season, but a 4-by-8-foot sheet of 5/8-inch plywood typically runs $20 to $30. Depending on home size and number of windows, total material costs could run $275 to $750.
  • Effect on insurance: None.
  • Pros: Plywood is very effective for protecting from flying debris, and it’s easy for “do-it-yourselfers.” You can find the materials at any home improvement store. Plywood is relatively inexpensive and, if stored properly, can be used from season to season.
  • Cons: Working with plywood can be time-consuming and may require a helping hand for those with two-story homes. Installation may involve drilling holes in siding and bricks. Once windows are boarded, the home becomes very dark.

Fabric panels

Polymer-based, hurricane-strength fabric panels add trampoline-like cushion to windows and doors and repel flying debris without sacrificing visibility in a storm. Panels are anchored to the edges of windows and doorways with grommets and wing nuts or clips and pins, making them easy to install.

  • Cost: Approximately $5 to $15 per square foot.
  • Effect on insurance: None.
  • Pros: The panels can easily be installed and removed, then rolled up and stored in a compact space. Most are translucent and allow for visibility through windows.
  • Cons: Professional installation is normally required.

Hurricane straps

Most homes are built to hold the roof up, not down. To correct for the upward and lateral lifting forces of hurricane winds, builders install hurricane straps, clips and anchor belts, which can help keep a home’s roof intact. In a correct setup, galvanized straps securely attached to the walls and foundation keep the roof tied into the entire house.

  • Cost: Inexpensive hurricane straps sell for as little as 50 cents apiece, usually by the box or in coils. A typical home could require hundreds of straps.
  • Effect on insurance: Can be significant depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: When installed properly on a new home, hurricane straps drastically reduce the threat of roof failure in high winds. They are easy to install on new homes.
  • Cons: Retrofitting straps on an existing home can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive.

Flood barriers

While there is little a homeowner can do to prepare for a hurricane’s 20-foot storm surge on the coast, there are several products that can help protect inland residents from minor flooding. Sandbags remain the least expensive option (many counties give them away for free), but they are heavy and it takes hundreds of bags and lots of help to make a solid barrier around a home. Other types of flood barriers include powder-filled absorbent door dams, water-filled tubes, expanding bags and portable walls that can be quickly deployed in the event of a flood.

  • Cost: The price varies from a couple hundred dollars up to tens of thousands of dollars to completely surround a home, depending on product and protection level.
  • Effect on insurance: None.
  • Pros: Barriers are effective in preventing minor floodwaters from entering the home. Some products are easy to install and can be deployed just before a storm.
  • Cons: The products can be expensive and time-consuming to deploy, and they’re ineffective if floodwaters rise above the height of the barrier.

Storm panels

Corrugated steel or aluminum shutters bolted over your windows and doors are one of the best ways to protect a home from flying debris. Storm panels vary in thickness and attach to window exteriors with a system of tracks and bolts. When tracks are installed permanently around the house, the shutters can be attached quickly and easily when a storm is approaching.

  • Cost: Prices for steel or aluminum storm panels run from $7 to $15 per foot of coverage.
  • Effect on insurance: Can be significant depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: One of the most inexpensive permanent shutter systems, the panels are strong and can protect from almost any flying debris. Can be deployed quickly before a storm and removed quickly afterward.
  • Cons: Panels require a large space for storage. They can be difficult to install, depending on the size of windows and number of stories on your home, and you may need extra help. Some shutters have sharp edges.

Roll-down hurricane shutters

With the push of a button or the crank of a handle, roll-down hurricane shutters are the easiest home protectors to deploy before a storm. The shutters are typically made of double-walled aluminum slats that interlock, and they roll up into a narrow box that sits above the window or doorway. Available in all sizes and colors, they are usually custom-fitted to your home.

  • Cost: While they are the easiest and most convenient way to protect your home, roll-down shutters also are the most expensive window defense option, averaging $20 to $35 per square foot of window, according to the NOAA.
  • Effect on insurance: Can be significant depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: The shutters are easily raised and lowered. They also can be used to temporarily darken a ro.
  • Cons: They’re prohibitively expensive for most homeowners and usually require professional installation. Push-button systems need a battery backup or manual override for use during a power outage.

Garage door braces

Your garage door is one of the parts of your home most vulnerable to high wind. Failure of a garage door can allow the full force of a hurricane to threaten the roof or walls. While some newer garage doors are rated for winds of up to 150 mph, many older ones should be braced. Vertical bracing systems are typically made of aluminum and are anchored above the garage door and to the floor to provide a backbone of extra support.

  • Cost: The price varies by manufacturer, approximately $150 to $175 per garage door brace.
  • Effect on insurance: Possible discount depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: Braces are effective and relatively inexpensive.
  • Cons: They may require special tools such as a rotor hammer and masonry bit to drill into concrete floor. Garage door cannot be opened without removing the brace.

Hurricane glass

Want to skip the hassle and closed-in feeling of shutters altogether? Consider installing hurricane-impact windows. The glass is usually 3/8-inch thick and features a film coating similar to the safety glass used in vehicle windshields. If the windows crack or are smashed, the glass will stay embedded in the frame.

  • Cost: Hurricane glass windows are not cheap, costing up to $50 per square foot.
  • Effect on insurance: Possible discount depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: With hurricane glass, there is nothing to install or remove when a hurricane comes; it’s always in place and is completely transparent. No shutters are needed. Hurricane windows also help block outside noise, protect against break-ins and filter out harmful UV rays.
  • Cons: The windows must be installed by a contractor, and the labor costs can be steep.

Accordion shutters

Housed on the sides of doors or windows when not in use, these retractable aluminum shutters unfold like an accordion to protect your home’s openings during a storm. The shutters can provide protection against not only wind but also forced entry. They are usually available in a variety of colors.

  • Cost: $15 to $25 per square foot.
  • Effect on insurance: Possible discount depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: Accordion shutters are easily and quickly deployed in the event of a storm. They are permanently fixed to the house and do not require storage.
  • Cons: They may appear unattractive on some houses. The mechanisms that open and close the shutters may be weaker or break more often than with other products.

Bahama shutters

Bahama shutters are hinged at the top of the window and angle outward from the wall with the help of telescoping arms. The support arms typically are adjustable from 60- to 90-degree angles. The shutters protect against wind while providing light, ventilation and privacy control in everyday use. They often are used in sunny and coastal environments and can give a home a distinct, tropical appearance.

  • Cost: $15 to $20 per square foot.
  • Effect on insurance: Possible discount depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: Bahama shutters permanently attach to the home and can be quickly deployed. Made of aluminum, vinyl or wood, they can easily be painted to complement or match the home.
  • Cons: Almost permanently block full vision from windows and can make a home much darker. The amount of hurricane protection they offer can vary by style and manufacturer.

Colonial shutters

As a traditional style of window protection, colonial shutters attach to the window’s side walls and fold inward to close. Permanently fixed to the window frame and held open by a clip system, they can quickly and easily be closed and secured with a brace bar when a storm approaches.

  • Cost: Moderately priced when compared with other window protection products, colonial shutters run roughly $18 to $30 per square foot.
  • Effect on insurance: Possible discount depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: The shutters can easily be closed by one person. They can add decorative curb appeal to a home.
  • Cons: They must be permanently installed on the house, a process that can be expensive and time-consuming. Professional installation may be required.

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College Campus Fire Safety

9/13/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.nfpa.org/-/media/Files/Public-Education/Resources/Safety-tip-sheets/CampusSafetyTips.pdf

FACT

  • Fires in dormitories are more common during the evening hours, between 5–11 pm, and on weekends.
  • Roughly six out of seven fires in dormitories are started by cooking.

College students living away from home should take a few minutes to make sure they are living in a fire-safe environment. Educating students on what they can do to stay safe during the school year is important and often overlooked. College students living away from home should take a few minutes to make sure they are living in a fire-safe environment. Educating students on what they can do to stay safe during the school year is important and often overlooked.

SAFETY TIPS

  • Look for fully sprinklered housing when choosing a dorm or off-campus housing.
  • Make sure you can hear the building alarm system when you are in your dorm room.
  • If you live in a dormitory, make sure your sleeping room has a smoke alarm, or your dormitory suite has a smoke alarm in each living area as well as the sleeping room. For the best protection, all smoke alarms in the dormitory suite should be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.
  • If you live in an apartment or house, make sure smoke alarms are installed in each sleeping room, outside every sleeping area, and on each level of the apartment unit or house. For the best protection, all smoke alarms in the apartment unit or house should be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.
  • Test all smoke alarms at least monthly.
  • Never remove batteries or disable the alarm.
  • Learn your building’s evacuation plan and practice all drills as if they were the real thing.
  • If you live off campus, have a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room.
  • When the smoke alarm or fire alarm sounds, get out of the building quickly and stay out.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking.
  • Cook only when you are alert, not sleepy or drowsy from medicine or alcohol.
  • Check with your local fire department for any restrictions before using a barbeque grill, fire pit, or chimenea.
  • Check your school’s rules before using electrical appliances in your room.

Smoking Sense

If you smoke, smoke outside and only where it is permitted, Use sturdy, deep, nontip ashtrays. Don’t smoke in bed or when you’ve been drinking or are drowsy.

Candle Care

Burn candles only if the school permits their use. A candle is an open flame and should be placed away from anything that can burn. Never leave a candle unattended. Blow it out when you leave the room or go to sleep.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Get disaster relief from the IRS

9/4/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com/finance/money-guides/disaster-relief-from-the-irs-1.aspx

Author: Kay Bell

After people endure a disaster, taxes are probably the last thing on their minds. But tax laws do offer some help for loss victims. And victims of a presidentially declared disaster could use their tax filing to obtain much-needed cash.

Taxpayers who itemize are allowed by the IRS to deduct casualty losses — “the damage, destruction or loss of property from an identifiable event that is sudden, unexpected or unusual.” Usually, this means waiting to claim the loss on your next income tax filing.

However, when a house, car or business is damaged or destroyed by an event deemed a major disaster by the president, the wait for tax refund money attributable to disaster losses is cut dramatically. In these extreme cases, taxpayers can deduct their losses in the tax year before the event happened by filing an amended return.

When the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, announces that the president declares major disasters in certain areas, usually in the wake of a major storm, the way is cleared for special federal help, including tax options.

Major disaster tax options

Disaster-related tax relief generally includes extended filing deadlines and easing of related penalties for individuals and businesses located in the designated disaster areas. The relief also usually applies to those whose tax records are located in the damaged regions — at an accountant’s office, for example — and workers from any location who are there providing help to victims.

In addition, taxpayers in federal disaster areas have the option of choosing which tax year to claim the disaster losses. Depending on when the catastrophe occurred, filers can amend a previous year’s tax return and claim the catastrophic losses they suffered on the old return. In many instances, amended filing will make the individual eligible for an immediate tax refund — money that could be used to live on or begin repairs.

This often is the case for filers who didn’t itemize deductions the previous year; if the total of the casualty losses and any other itemized deductions will amount to more than the standard deduction they originally took, refiling is generally to their advantage.

Even taxpayers who did itemize might find an amended return worthwhile if the disaster damage produces more than originally deducted.

Not the best move for everyone

While the option to time-shift federal disaster casualty losses to the previous year is a great advantage for some, it’s not the best move for all taxpayers.

Some storm victims might find that while their losses are substantial, they aren’t sufficient to meet two tax-law limits on casualty claims. First, you must reduce the amount you can claim by $100. Then, you have to reduce the total of all your casualty losses by 10 percent of your adjusted gross income. You also have to subtract any insurance money you got for the loss.

Tax experts also note that people who had very high taxable income the year in which they could claim the losses and expect very low income the year of the disaster might be able to deduct more of their losses by waiting until they file their return the following year.

 

The deadline for choosing this option usually is the due date of a filer’s current year return.

So evaluate your individual circumstances — tax, damage and financial recovery needs — carefully. And be sure that the calamity is a certified federal disaster to get the immediate relief.

Paperwork you’ll have to file

If you meet the loss limits, the process to claim them is the same regardless of which tax year you choose to file the claim.

The first step is gathering the proper forms. To claim disaster losses, you must file the long Form 1040 individual tax return plus Form 4684 to figure and report your casualty loss and Schedule A to itemize your loss deduction. If you need to file an amended return to claim losses, use Form 1040X instead.

Then determine how the damage has hurt your property’s fair market value. This is a two-part valuation: what your property was worth immediately before the catastrophe and what it’s worth after.

The pre-disaster value is your “adjusted basis.” For homes, this usually is the cost of the property plus certain adjustments such as improvements that add to the structure’s value; for vehicles or other personal property, it may be depreciation that reduces its value. Get an appraisal for the post-disaster value of the property and compare it with your adjusted basis. The difference between the two amounts is your loss from the casualty.

Once the loss is determined, use Form 4684 to figure the deductible amount of your casualty loss. You must reduce the initial loss claim amount by any insurance or other reimbursement you have received. If you have insurance on your property, you must submit a claim to use the damage to it as a casualty loss. In other words, you can’t decide you don’t want to pay the deductible your insurance would require and then use the total, unreimbursed loss amount as your casualty claim. And all insurance payments must be used to repair or replace your property, or any excess not used for these purposes could be a taxable gain to you.

Then this is where the $100 mentioned earlier comes into play. You further reduce your loss by that amount before finally reducing the total yet again by 10 percent of your adjusted gross income to get to your final casualty loss deduction.

Figuring the tax costs of damages

The following work sheet shows the computations that a hypothetical Tom Taxpayer, who suffered through a federally declared flood disaster, had to make. The water substantially damaged Tom’s home, the property inside and his car. Insurance covered only a part of the losses.

Tom’s adjusted gross income is $60,000, and that’s what he uses to figure his casualty deduction. Tom was off work — and without pay — for the week that his employer was closed during a flood in May 2014. Unfortunately, Tom can’t claim the lost income. The IRS provides no deduction for missed wages, even in the event of federal disasters.

Cleanup and repair costs

Tom was able to get such a good tax result from his difficult situation because he kept track of what he spent to clean up and repair his property, the main concerns after a disaster strikes.

Keep in mind, however, that the tax laws won’t allow you to specifically get back that $5,000 you paid to have the carpets cleaned after the flood. There is no place on Form 4684 for you to enter this expense and have it directly count as part of your casualty loss deduction.

But because your flooring was damaged by the floods, you can use what you spent to repair it as a measure of how much your home’s property value was reduced by the storm. This in turn will give you a more accurate assessment of your property’s damage and the tax deduction value of the loss suffered.

In Tom’s case above, the $75,000 post-disaster value of his home takes the floor damage into account. If the carpets didn’t need the professional cleaning, then his home might be worth $80,000. This would mean that the amount he could claim as a casualty loss would be only $22,900, and his tax relief would be less.

The IRS notes that expenses for repairs should take care of the damage only. You can’t have the repair crew improve on the original state of your property.

Record-keeping requirements

And even though the IRS allows disaster victims some tax leeway, the agency still demands that casualty losses, like every deduction, be substantiated and supported.

The IRS does not require you to keep your records in a particular way, only that you keep them in a manner that allows you and the IRS to determine your correct tax. While you don’t have to submit your documentation with your return, you should keep your records handy and be able to show the following if asked.

You should be able to document:

  • The type of casualty and when it occurred.
  • That the loss amount claimed was a direct result of the casualty.
  • That you were the owner of the property or, if you leased it, that you were contractually liable to the owner for the damage.

The simplest way to track loss substantiation is in your checkbook. There you can enter income and loan or insurance reimbursement deposits along with all checks written for expenses accrued in connection with your disaster loss. Be specific: Note amounts, sources of deposits and types of expenses.

Holding on to other documents, such as receipts and sales slips, also can help prove a deduction. Keep your records in an orderly fashion, such as placing documents related to a particular event in a designated envelope, and, where applicable, store them by year and type of income or expense.

And don’t forget your camera. Photographs showing the original condition of the property and ones taken after the disaster struck can be helpful in establishing the condition and value of your property.

Other filing rules

When you do send in your amended return, explain that the refiling was due to casualty losses incurred in a federal disaster and attach Form 4684 to show how you figured your loss. Be sure to specify the date or dates of the disaster and the city, county and state where the damaged or destroyed property was located when the disaster occurred.

And what if you thought you escaped, only to find out that the disaster was just a bit slow in arriving? This might be the case if you live in a federal disaster area and state or local officials decide that your home, even though it suffered only minor damage, must be moved or torn down for public safety reasons, such as ensuing mudslides.

You still can take advantage of the casualty loss deduction as long as the government-ordered demolition or relocation of a home is issued within 120 days after the original federal disaster declaration. It might be government contractors doing the damage this time, but your resulting loss is treated just as if it were damaged in the natural calamity.

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Hurricane insurance deductibles can make your policy stingier when a big storm hits

8/26/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/hurricane-insurance-deductibles-what-when.aspx

Author: Jay MacDonald

Homeowners going through their first hurricane can be shocked by the unharnessed power of Mother Nature. Unfortunately, once the storm passes, they’re often stunned a second time by a special — and costly — hurricane insurance deductible they didn’t know was buried in their home insurance policy.

Hurricane deductibles were a result of Hurricane Andrew, which slammed into South Florida in 1992 and left insurers holding the bag for $15.5 billion in losses. At the time, it was the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, although Hurricane Katrina now tops that list, according to the New York-based trade group Insurance Information Institute.

In Andrew’s aftermath, insurers in coastal areas along the Atlantic seaboard and Gulf of Mexico now issue home insurance policies with a separate, percentage-based deductible for hurricane-related damage, in addition to the standard homeowners deductible. Hurricane deductibles are applied in 19 states and the District of Columbia, the institute says.

How hurricane deductibles work

When your policy has a hurricane deductible and one of those big storms hits, you typically will be on the hook for 2%-5% of your home’s insured value before your coverage for the damage kicks in. The out-of-pocket cost can be much higher than what you’d face with the dollar-amount deductibles commonly used for fire damage and theft.

If the home you insured for $300,000 has a 5% hurricane deductible, you would be responsible for the first $15,000 in hurricane damage as defined by the policy. With a standard, non-hurricane deductible, you might pay just the first $500 of a home insurance claim out of your own pocket.

In some states, homeowners may be able to get a dollar-amount hurricane deductible by agreeing to pay a higher premium, though in high-risk shore areas the percentage deductibles may be unavoidable.

Hurricane deductible ‘triggers’

A hurricane insurance deductible won’t apply unless a certain threshold of storminess has been crossed.

The “trigger” can vary depending on the state and the insurance company, but it might be activated when the National Weather Service issues a hurricane watch or warning or declares that a hurricane has reached a particular level of intensity, the Insurance Information Institute says.

That might mean, for example, that you won’t have to worry about your policy’s hurricane deductible unless the weather service has determined that a Category 1 hurricane has made landfall. You should ask your insurance agent about the trigger for your deductible, says Jeanne Salvatore, an institute spokeswoman.

“Everyone, no matter where they live, should make sure they understand what is and is not covered under their home insurance policy, as well as how their deductibles work,” she says.

It’s got to be a hurricane

One important catch with a policy’s hurricane deductible clause is that the property damage must involve a named hurricane. As Superstorm Sandy demonstrated in 2012, millions of dollars can hang in the balance if a storm is not given official hurricane status prior to landfall.

The National Weather Service determined that Sandy lacked the sustained winds of 75 mph necessary to qualify as a hurricane when it hit the East Coast.

Even when a hurricane deductible does not apply, homeowners can still find themselves on the hook for hefty out-of-pocket costs. David Bresnahan, client manager for The Horton Group, an Illinois-based insurance brokerage, says some homeowners hit by Sandy were surprised to find themselves subject to a similar percentage-based “windstorm deductible,” which applies regardless of any hurricane declaration.

“At the end of the day, the carriers are going to make a decision that might be based on underwriting standards, and it might be based on the public relations impact,” he says.

An underappreciated upside

Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders, a San Francisco-based insurance consumer group, says insurers faced with Sandy-style line calls would be wise to waive their hurricane insurance deductibles, as most did following the superstorm.

That’s a small price to pay, Bach says, in a storm where many of the claims may be excluded from homeowners policies anyway, either because they involve flooding, for which flood insurance is needed, or because they arose from a combination of insured and uninsured perils.

Lynne McChristian, Florida representative for the Insurance Information Institute, says despite the potential hit to policyholders’ pockets, hurricane deductibles can benefit homeowners.

“There is an advantage to a hurricane deductible that people overlook when the storm’s not there, and that is, it gives you less-costly insurance today,” she says. “It’s something that saves people money when the wind doesn’t blow.”

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Fire Safety - The Escape Plan

8/17/2018 (Permalink)

Source: http://www.huffinsurance.com/blog/entryid/3927/fire-safety-the-escape-plan

Author: 

Whether it was at school, or at work in an office building, we have all been through fire drills numerous times during our lifetimes.  But let me ask you this.  Have you ever had a fire drill at your home?

I bet if I put this poll out there to the public, the “NO” answer would win by a staggering majority.  And at this point, I admit that I would be in the majority with my answer.  But after reading up on this subject, that will change in the not so distant future. 

The first few steps of the plan involves preparation.

  • Make sure that you have smoke alarms in the right areas of your home and that testing them to make sure they are functional.  The old adage of having one alarm on each floor does not apply anymore.  You should have one alarm in each bedroom, one outside of each bedroom, and at least one on the other floors in the home.  And it is best to have interconnected alarms throughout the home, so when one alarm is triggered, all of the alarms sound at once.  
  • Make sure your house number is CLEARLY visible from the road.  You do not want to delay the fire department from getting to your home.
  • Make sure everyone knows the emergency numbers to call, even small children.  
  • Then you need to pull your household members together and make a plan.  Start by walking through the home and locating ALL possible escape routes.  IF you have younger children, you may want to consider drawing up a floor map with the exits clearly mapped (we have all seen these types of maps in hotels before).  
  • Make sure each room above ground level has an escape ladder and that everyone is trained and knows how to use the ladders.  During a fire, a window might just be the only way out, and you do not want to learn on the fly during a fire.
  • Designate an outside meeting place for to gather after evacuating the house.  And make sure you mark the meeting place on your escape plan.  This is the best way to account for all household members during the hectic emergency event.
  • If there are infants, small children, or adults with mobility problems, make sure the plan designate who is responsible for getting them to safety, with backups designated.  The last thing you want to happen is to assume someone else is getting them and then get outside to realize that no one did.
  • Go over your plan on a regular basis to make sure everyone understands their responsibilities and know the best way out should a fire occur.

Putting your Plan to the test:

  • Practice your plan at least twice per year.  And make the drill as realistic as possible, including having a drill in the middle of the night occasionally.  This is important so you can see if there are household members who will not be awakened by the smoke alarms.  This needs to be noted so responsibility can be assigned to get them up and out should there be a fire in the middle of the night.
  • In a fire, you will not always be able to just walk out of the front or back doors.  So practice exiting the house from the windows.  And if you have more than on floor, practice using the escape ladders from the second floor windows.
  • Fires happen and the can be devastating, so having a plan and knowing what to do beforehand and make a difference between making it out safely and not making it out.  Sadly, no plan can ever guarantee that you will make it out safely, but having plan and practicing the plan, will increase your odds of doing so.

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Many people don’t think about disaster preparedness. Are you ready for the worst?

8/8/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/disaster-preparedness-are-you-ready.aspx

Author: Jay MacDonald

An active Atlantic hurricane season serves as an urgent reminder that every U.S. household needs a home inventory, an emergency preparedness kit and an evacuation plan.

If your family’s disaster planning falls short, you’d better get busy. A calamity won’t wait for you to get ready.

Do you have an emergency kit? Many don’t

According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau American Housing Survey, just 51.5% of U.S. households have prepared an emergency kit. Participation was highest at 70% in hurricane-prone Miami and Tampa, Florida, while Austin, Texas Chicago, Minneapolis and Boston have low rates of kit-equipped homes.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, recommends that households have enough water and nonperishable food to last at least 3 days, plus other supplies, such as first aid and a flashlight with extra batteries. But FEMA’s own surveys indicate that the percentage of Americans with disaster kits has gone down since peaking at 57% in 2009.

In a 2014 FEMA survey, about a quarter of respondents said preparing for emergencies is too expensive, and about a quarter said they didn’t know how to get ready.

Room for improvement in readiness

There’s good news and bad in our current record on emergency preparedness, according to Himanshu Grover, co-director of the Institute for Hazards Mitigation Research and Planning at the University of Washington.

“A 50% average is actually good because if you look at where these people are who are planning, they are usually in areas that are historically already at risk,” he says. “But at the same time, it’s also disturbing because it means that the areas that have not seen disasters but may be at risk are likely to face more losses than we would anticipate.”

While disaster preparedness varies by region, all homeowners should review their insurance coverage annually, says Lynne McChristian, the Florida representative for the Insurance Information Institute trade association.

“Knowing that your home insurance renews every year should serve as a reminder to look at your policy every year,” she advises.

Think flood insurance, special deductibles

While standard home insurance policies provide coverage for hurricanes, wind, theft, fire, lightning and other mayhem, they also typically exclude damage from floods and earthquakes.

McChristian says just because your home mortgage company may not require you to carry flood insurance doesn’t mean you don’t need it.

“That’s the biggest mistake — people don’t get flood insurance unless someone makes them get it,” she says. “What they’re overlooking is that about 20% of all National Flood Insurance Program claims are submitted by homeowners who live in low- to moderate-risk zones. That’s a high percentage.”

Homeowners in 19 states and the District of Columbia also should take an annual glance at their home insurance hurricane deductibles.

After Hurricane Andrew in 1992, home insurers introduced a separate hurricane deductible in order to keep home premiums in check. But unlike the set dollar amount of your home deductible, hurricane deductibles — and similar windstorm deductibles — are based on a portion of your home’s assessed value, usually between 1%-5%.

Take advantage of available resources

McChristian urges restraint when it comes to choosing your hurricane/wind deductible.

“My rule is, never take a deductible that is higher than what you can afford,” she says. “If you do and you get hit by a storm, you may not have that money set aside to repair your home.”

She urges homeowners to download and complete the Insurance Information Institute’s free home inventory app at KnowYourStuff.org.

“It costs you nothing but a little time and helps tremendously after a natural disaster,” she notes.

Unfortunately, all of the emergency checklists and home preparedness videos on the Internet will do little good if homeowners ignore them.

That’s where the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, or FLASH, comes in. Led by president and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson, this Tallahassee, Florida-based nonprofit operates as a public awareness firm, of sorts, to make disaster preparedness a normal part of our everyday lives.

Emphasis on resilience

“We are trying to popularize the idea that you can survive, you can afford what’s necessary to survive and you can recover quickly,” she explains. “It’s not luck when you and your home survive; it’s because you did things purposefully ahead of time.”

The FLASH website features videos that break down preparedness projects by time commitment: one hour, one day or one weekend.

It’s all part of the evolution of home preparedness away from the negative, lawyerly sounding “storm mitigation” toward a more upbeat, holistic emphasis on “resilience.”

“The appeal of resilience is, we like the idea of being resourceful and able to overcome and bounce back. Everybody can find something to relate to in it,” says Grover, of the University of Washington. “The resilience of a community will return benefits in terms of sustainability and quality of life beyond just hazard mitigation. It’s not just a set of actions; it’s a forward-looking strategy for life.”

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Is your workplace prepared in the event of a fire?

7/30/2018 (Permalink)

Source: http://www.huffinsurance.com/blog/entryid/11552/fire-safety-and-preparation-for-the-workplace

Author: Jerry Nicklow

What would you say is the biggest cause of workplace fires? It's not equipment failure. It's not electrical faults. It's not storms or natural disasters. It's people and carelessness.

Every year, in more than 70,000 workplace fires across North America, an average 200 people die, thousands are injured and many firms are either put out of business or severely disrupted.

Now is a good time to review and remind employees of safety rules. A few simple steps will help identify and reduce risks. Things like:

  1. Assessing your buildings for risks -- I'd make that a visual inspection tour
  2. Reducing clutter and keeping escape routes clear
  3. Storing flammable chemicals under lock and key
  4. Locating heat-producing equipment, even coffee-makers, away from flammable material
  5. Checking building security to prevent possible arson fires
  6. Enforcing no-smoking or designated area rules
  7. Checking fire extinguisher service and replacement dates
  8. Ensuring employees know how to operate extinguishers
  9. Enforcing rules for the use of spark - and fire-producing equipment
  10. Conducting permitted, controlled burning/fires a safe distance from buildings
  11. Checking operation of fire and smoke alarms

It's even more important that employees know what to do if fire does break out.  Even if it's not mandatory, you should have a written emergency action plan that includes details of evacuation routes, location of assembly points, procedures for raising the alarm and, if appropriate, a written list of individuals and their responsibilities.

As much as everyone loathes them, evacuations should be practiced at least once a year. It's a good idea to alert employees of an intention to have a practice drill but not to tell them exactly when it will happen.

Here are a couple of documents you may find useful in drawing up or reviewing your plans:http://tinyurl.com/fire-evac-1 and http://tinyurl.com/fire-evac-2

And if you'd like to know more about Fire Safety Week or get other information about fire safety, visit the National Fire Protection Association, a US-based global organization, at www.nfpa.org

Finally, please make sure you have adequate insurance in place, not just against property damage and liability arising from fires but also coverage to protect you against income losses arising from business disruption.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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What You Need To Know About Flood Insurance

7/21/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com

Author: TERRY SHERIDAN

Flood water can and will find its way into furniture, flooring, walls, lighting, electronics, appliances and irreplaceable keepsakes and photos.

All it takes is just an inch of flood water throughout a 2,000-square-foot home, and you’ll be looking at almost $21,000 in damage, according to the National Flood Insurance Program.

When that destruction is multiplied across an entire community, it’s easy to see why floods are so devastating — and why flood insurance is so important.

Home insurance offers little help

Victims of Superstorm Sandy and other disasters of recent years learned too late that their homeowners or renters insurance policies offered no protection against flooding. That’s the most misunderstood aspect of flood coverage, says Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, an industry trade group.

The National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP, is the primary source of flood insurance for homeowners and renters. The program is administered by FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The insurance is so vital, FEMA notes, because flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the U.S.

With flooding, unlike other natural hazards, the very first way to protect yourself is to buy insurance, says Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and CEO of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, or FLASH.

The insurance is so affordable compared with the cost of flood damage that it makes no sense not to have it, she says.

The big questions

Here are answers to 4 key questions about flood insurance. For specifics about your community and home, talk to the agent who handles your homeowners or renters policy.

1. Is flood insurance required?

Unless you own your home free and clear of loans or live in an apartment or condo on an upstairs floor, expect that you’ll have to buy flood coverage.

Lenders will require it if you live in an area considered at high risk for flooding and your mortgage is federally backed, such as by the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA.

In fact, just expect any lender to want it, says Worters.

FEMA says flooding affects all states, and everyone is at risk because even very small streams and creeks can flood. Your insurance agent and lender will know whether your home is in a high-risk zone.

2. Where do you get it?

FEMA allows private insurers to write and administer policies for the National Flood Insurance Program. Your homeowners or renters insurance agent should be able to write flood coverage for you.

Coverage is available in about 20,000 participating communities. Discounts of up to 45% are available in communities where local officials enforce certain requirements that can reduce flood damage.

If your community doesn’t take part in the national program, you’ll likely be able to get flood insurance from private carriers, says Chris Hackett, senior director of personal lines policy at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

3. How does flood insurance work?

  • Time lag: You can’t procrastinate because coverage isn’t effective until 30 days after a flood insurance policy is issued. So don’t wait until the storm warnings are posted.
  • Coverage limits: Flood coverage for your home itself is capped at $250,000, while the contents can be insured only up to $100,000. You may be able to get flood insurance beyond those limits through specialty carriers, says Worters. The building coverage and contents coverage are purchased separately; your lender may require a certain amount of coverage.
  • What you get: The policy pays either the value of your lost property or the cost of replacing it, up to the coverage limit.
  • Deductibles: The higher the deductible, the lower the premium — similar to home and car insurance. You’ll pick different deductibles for contents and building coverage. Your lender may require a certain deductible amount.
  • What’s covered: Flood policies insure against physical damage to your home or belongings directly caused by flooding. Sometimes, that’s not quite as straightforward as it sounds. For example, if a flood causes a sewer backup that causes damage, it would be covered. If something else causes the backup, it’s not covered.
  • What’s never covered: Flood insurance won’t reimburse you for: temporary living expenses while your home is being repaired; lost cash or stock certificates; a ruined car (which is a matter for your car insurance); damage from moisture or mold that you could have prevented; financial loss from business interruption; and anything on your property beyond the walls of your home — such as plants, decks and hot tubs.

4. How much will coverage cost?

Your flood policy premium will be determined by your home’s design, age, location, contents and the amount of coverage you decide to buy.

The average annual flood insurance premium cost about $700 in 2014, according to the most current data on the website of the National Flood Insurance Program.

However, reforms enacted by Congress in recent years allow for annual premium increases of up to 18%, to help pull the program out of a deep debt caused by payouts resulting from Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Your agent will be able to give you an exact cost. For a general idea, you can plug your street address into the flood risk profile on the National Flood Insurance Program’s website.

So the site tells you, for example, that the average flood insurance premium for addresses in moderate- to low-risk areas in Florida is $372, while a high-risk property in Louisiana would cost $688 to insure.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Documents You Need When Disaster Strikes

7/12/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com

Author: SUSAN LADIKA

Adelaide says when floods swept through her neighborhood in the wee hours one morning, the first thing she thought of was to go and rouse an elderly neighbor. The last thing on her mind was the financial records she left back in her own house.

“I was thinking family and I was thinking friends and I was thinking safety,” Adelaide says.

Uprooted from their home for days, she and her husband needed a couple of months “before we got to a place where we were thinking about paperwork again,” she says.

By that point, they were late on their mortgage payment. The financial institution was unforgiving, and the couple’s credit score took a hit.

They went through money woes that are common when lives are abruptly turned upside down because of a disaster. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Financial advisers say people who identify and prepare key documents long before calamity strikes can avoid unnecessary damage to their personal finances in the aftermath of a fire, flood, hurricane or other disaster.

Gather up these papers

All homeowners and renters should have a list of “must haves” and “like to haves” — items they will need, or want, after a disaster, says Mitchell Freedman, founder of MFAC Financial Advisors in Westlake Village, California, and an editor of “Disaster Recovery: A Guide to Financial Issues.”

Key documents to take with you include:

  • Mortgage documents or rental agreements.
  • Homeowners, renters and automobile insurance policies.
  • Financial statements and account numbers.
  • Copies of prescriptions for medications.
  • Tax records.

Freedman also suggests having a small stash of cash at hand. If the electricity is out, credit cards won’t work for purchases.

Donna Childs, a former insurance executive, was living within sight of the World Trade Center in New York when the twin towers collapsed in 2001. Hers was the only residential neighborhood evacuated, and she was kept out of her home for a couple of months.

Because of her business background, Childs already had all her personal and business documents scanned and stored online when she had to flee with just an overnight bag.

At a time like that, “you shouldn’t be thinking about documents, you should be thinking about safety,” says Childs, who later wrote the book “Prepare for the Worst, Plan for the Best: Disaster Preparedness and Recovery for Small Businesses.”

Neither Freedman nor Childs recommends using bank safety-deposit boxes to store key documents. They suggest that a bank could be destroyed or inaccessible after a disaster.

Instead, Freedman uses a portable hard drive with his computer so he can grab it and go.

“It’s one of the best insurance policies you’ll ever have,” he says.

Childs prefers using online cloud storage and sharing the password with a trusted family member or friend who can access the account in case of an emergency.

Some banks now offer virtual safe deposit boxes online, to protect documents, photos and videos.

Have proof of valuables, too

In addition to having access to key documents, it’s important to have proof of your valuables when filing insurance claims.

Michael McRaith, the former Illinois insurance director and now head of the Federal Insurance Office, says go room by room through your home, writing down the contents and making special note of things like antiques, jewelry and collectibles.

He recommends keeping one copy of the inventory at home and a second at another location, such as with a relative, at the office or in a safety-deposit box. The list should be updated periodically, with receipts kept for big-ticket items.

Having photographs or videos of your possessions is crucial, Freedman says. Without that evidence, “it’s difficult to know how many shirts you had, how many pair of pantyhose a woman had.”

If you need to file a claim after a disaster, the inventory, receipts, photos or videos can help verify the existence and value of your belongings, McRaith says.

If you have no home or renters insurance or are underinsured, you might claim your losses on your state and federal tax returns. Having documentation of your possessions helps provide necessary proof, Freedman says.

But the key is advance preparation. If you’ve made an inventory, “there’s lots of peace of mind,” Childs says. “That’s really priceless.”

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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SERVPRO Emergency Ready Profile - It Works!

7/3/2018 (Permalink)

The SERVPRO Emergency Ready Profile has been adopted by many of our clients, and in some cases, has shortened the response time of our services, saving our clients downtime and secondary damage costs.

It's simple and easy to implement, securely placing critical business information in a cloud location available to our client and SERVPRO.  Information that is available when access to your business is not.

When you consider you business continuity plan, consider implementing the SERVPRO ERP.

The SERVPRO Emergency READY Profile 

The SERVPRO Emergency READY Profile is a startup approach that provides the critical information needed to begin mitigation and recovery services. It is designed to serve as a quick reference of important building and contact information.  By working with SERVPRO’s Emergency READY Profile, your business can 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.

The SERVPRO Emergency READY Profile Advantage:

  • 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 SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County as your disaster mitigation and restoration provider. – You have a provider that is recognized as an industry leader and is 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.” 

The Best Way to Reduce Business Interruption Following a Disaster is to Plan For it NOW.

As many as 50% of businesses close down following a disaster, according to the latest research. Of the businesses that survive, the overwhelming majority of them had a preparedness plan in place.  Pre-planning can serve as an insurance policy aimed at peace of mind. And knowing you are “Ready for whatever happens” speaks trust to your clients and employees that in the event your business is affected by a disaster, they don’t necessarily have to be.

By developing a SERVPRO Emergency READY Profile for your business, you help to minimize business interruption by having an immediate plan of action. Knowing what to do, who to call and what to expect in advance is helpful in receiving timely mitigation and can help minimize the effects water and fire damage can have on your business.

Are You Ready?

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 for planning for such events is not when the event happens, but well before it happens. No one ever plans on a disaster, but you can plan for it. Now is the time to ask yourself, are you ready for whatever happens?

Call Today to Get Started!

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Hurricane Season: Check Your Home’s Defenses

6/24/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/home-shape-hurricane-season-1.aspx

Author: TERRY SHERIDAN

Government forecasters have predicted a busy Atlantic hurricane season in 2018. If you live on or near the East Coast, don’t put off making sure your home is ready. When a powerful storm is bearing down, it may be too late to protect your property.

Don’t let your guard down this hurricane season. Consider opening a home equity line of credit (HELOC)or taking out a personal loan to make improvements, because there’s much you can do now so you won’t get caught making last-minute — and probably inadequate — moves to strengthen your home’s defenses against hurricanes.

Start with shutters and your roof

“If you buy shutters or other coverings with product approvals and use licensed contractors who pull building permits, you’re on your way to protecting your home,” says engineer Jose Mitrani, associate professor emeritus in the school of construction at Florida International University in Miami.

“And be sure that inspections are done of the work,” says Mitrani, who served on building code task forces after Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 storm that tore through South Florida in 1992.

Roof cover damage is the biggest reason for hurricane insurance claims that are not related to storm surges, says the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, or IBHS, in Tampa, Florida.

A cascade of trouble can happen when a roof is roughed up by a hurricane: Water gets in through gaps in the roof decking, which soaks the attic insulation, which collapses the ceiling, which damages your furniture and other belongings when wet wallboard and insulation fall on them.

And that’s if your roof mostly stays intact. If your roof lacks truss tie-downs known as hurricane straps or its gable ends are unbraced or improperly braced, you stand a greater chance of losing part of or the entire roof over your head.

That’s why the IBHS and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, or FLASH, suggest you take these roof precautions now before hurricane season revs up.

  • Nail or caulk loose roof tiles or shingles.
  • On a metal roof, check for rust and loose anchoring.
  • Install hurricane straps. (Consider hiring a licensed contractor to do this.)
  • Brace gable ends. (Ditto on hiring a professional.)
  • Install a backup water barrier under the roof cover if necessary.

The IBHS also suggests you check your attic’s ventilation. Loose eave and gable end vents, soffits and turbines all provide opportunities for water to enter your attic.

 

Window and door coverings

To a great extent, getting your home hurricane-ready means making sure it’s equipped with the right hurricane-resistant window and door coverings. They run a gamut that includes various types of shutters, panels, screens and sheeting, as well as impact-glass windows and doors.

Plywood is cheap but considered an emergency measure — and it’s little help unless you size and anchor it correctly.

Mitrani says even the smallest windows must be covered because in a major storm, smaller openings are actually subjected to higher wind pressures than larger areas such as the side of your house.

The average window area to be covered (including doors with windows) is about 15 percent of a home’s total square footage, according to the IBHS. A 2,000-square-foot home would need about 300 square feet of shutters. If your shutters cost $20 per square foot, you’ll spend $6,000.

The IBHS notes that some coverings can be installed only by professionals and cost up to $30 per square foot of opening. Do-it-yourself products cost about half as much.

Beware of contractors who try to sell DIY products, warns Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and CEO of FLASH. “Those are products that are cheap and can’t get product approval,” she says.

Protecting doors and windows

Some coverings are permanent attachments to your home, such as accordion shutters and “clamshell” awnings. Accordion shutters rest folded and highly visible on both sides of your windows, while single-piece clamshell awnings fold down over your windows from above.

Removable hurricane panels sit in tracks at the top and bottom of window and door openings; only the tracks are permanently attached to the building.

If you live in a condo or a development with an active homeowners association, be aware that there may be rules about the type and color of storm shutters allowed. Check before outfitting your doors and windows.

Also, ask your local building department what’s required of coverings in your state or region. Mirtrani says building codes in Florida, for example, require that hurricane products be able to withstand certain levels of impact by wind-borne debris. That means those products have to undergo impact tests to earn approval.

Once your new coverings are installed, take them for a trial run, suggests Tim Reinhold, IBHS chief engineer and senior vice president of research.

“Make sure you have all the parts and everything is sized and fits properly,” he says.

Other property precautions

Before hurricanes start forming, do a spot-check from the attic down. FLASH recommends caulking holes in building exteriors and tightening or replacing loose and missing screws and brackets in windows and doors — including garage doors. Also, be sure to clean out the gutters.

A few final preparation tips:

  • Don’t tape windows. Placing those masking-tape X’s across your panes may feel comforting, but the National Hurricane Center says it’s a waste of valuable time and won’t keep your windows or glass doors from shattering.
  • Plan to evacuate a mobile home. Even if you have a newer manufactured home built to withstand higher wind speeds, Reinhold says there’s too great a chance of damage from flying debris from older neighboring homes to risk staying.
  • Prepare for high-rise pressure changes. If you live in a high-rise building, be aware that potentially damaging wind pressures increase with height.
  • Batten down the patio/yard. Don’t leave anything outside, including furniture, playthings and tools. Trim trees so branches won’t bang against the house, and do it early enough so the trimmings can be hauled off before a hurricane. Otherwise, they could become projectiles in a major storm.
  • Gas up before the storm. Fill up your vehicles and emergency power generator well ahead of time to avoid last-minute lines at the pump.

When fire or water damage strikes, you need professional help to get your property back to preloss condition.  SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County provides 24-hour emergency service and is dedicated to being faster to any size disaster.  Our highly trained technicians can respond immediately to your residential or commercial emergency.??

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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7 Places To Find Cash After A Disaster

6/13/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/find-cash-after-disaster-1.aspx

Author: AMANDA DIXON

When nature goes wild, it can be disastrous for your finances. According to the National Climatic Data Center, major weather disasters have caused more than $1.2 trillion worth of damage in the U.S. since 1980 — and that doesn’t include Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria or Nate.

If you’re hit with an emergency and need to find cash fast, tap into the emergency reserves in your savings account. Then look to these resources.

1. Family and friends

If you need to find cash fast, ask loved ones first, says Pamela Yellen, author of “Bank On Yourself: The Life-Changing Secret to Growing and Protecting Your Financial Future.”

“Never ever treat (a family loan) casually,” she says. “Put it in writing. Assign a fair interest rate to it. … Treat it like any other business relationship.”

 

While your family lender doesn’t have to charge the full market interest rate, they have to charge you something for the transaction to be considered a loan and not a gift that could have tax and estate planning implications.

The government publishes a monthly list of applicable federal rates, or AFRs, that provide minimum interest rates on loans made between family and friends.

If your loved ones aren’t in the black right now, peer-to-peer lending sites can connect you with wealthy strangers.

2. The feds

In gravely disastrous times, Uncle Sam might also help.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides disaster assistance for temporary housing, home repair, disaster-related medical and burial expenses, vehicle damage and cleanup costs, while the U.S. Small Business Administration offers federally subsidized loans for renters, private nonprofit organizations and home and business owners.

To qualify for either, borrowers must live in a federally declared disaster zone and file a claim with their insurance company first.

3. Your life insurance policy

Permanent life insurance policies are excellent emergency resources because they’re accessible, you can borrow against them without having to qualify for a loan, and you can pay a policy loan back on your own schedule.

 

“You can borrow up to about 90 percent of the cash value of the policy. There are no immediate income tax consequences unless the loan isn’t repaid,” says Roland Jones, a CFP professional with Moneta Group, a financial services firm in Clayton, Missouri.

Though rules vary among insurance providers, many require policyholders to own their policies for a few years before borrowing. You’ll also be charged interest for taking out a policy loan, which will be deducted from the death benefit until you pay the loan back.

Just don’t borrow too much. Should the loan and accumulated interest become greater than the surrender value of the policy, policyholders could find themselves having to pay significant premiums to keep the policy in force.

4. CDs, savings bonds and mutual funds

You can take your money out of a CD, but you’ll probably pay a penalty. It could be just a few months’ interest, but check with your bank first.

Sacrificing some CD earnings is a pittance compared to paying interest rates on a life insurance loan or cash advance.

Savings bonds are another quick cash resource, though you could pay a three-month interest penalty if a bond is redeemed too early, reports the U.S. Treasury. In both cases, you’ll pay income tax on any interest earned.

Of course, you can sell stocks (and realize a capital gain or loss accordingly) as well as mutual funds and annuities. If you take this route, consult a financial adviser about tax issues and penalties.

5. 529 college savings

If you have to borrow from your future to pay present obligations, so be it.

According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, college savers who pull funds out of a 529 planfor non-qualified education expenses will pay income tax and a 10 percent penalty on earnings.

Those investing in plans that offer state tax incentives may have state tax consequences, too.

6. Retirement accounts

Roth IRA holders may withdraw their own contributions — not earnings — without tax or penalty.

Traditional IRA holders may start taking penalty-free distributions on their accounts if they begin taking regular distributions, but specific rules apply. You’ll pay income taxes and a 10 percent penalty on the taxable amount if you’re under age 59½.

Since taking early IRA distributions can severely disrupt your future retirement plans, “You wouldn’t do that unless it was the only option,” says Kirk Shamberger, a partner with CK Financial Resources in Colchester, Vermont.

7. A loan from your 401(k)

With 529 plans and IRAs, the problem is time. Regardless of whether you get around the tax and penalty rules, pulling funds early limits the compound interest you can potentially gain from them in the future.

A 401(k) loan is usually a better option.

The IRS reports that 401(k) holders can borrow up to half of their account balance (a maximum of $50,000) tax-free, but funds must be repaid within five years in most cases.

The catch is that you have to stay with your current employer for the duration.  If you lose your job, you’ll have 30 to 60 days to repay the loan or face penalties.

Before pulling funds from any long-term investment, read the fine print and consult your tax adviser.

When fire or water damage strikes, you need professional help to get your property back to preloss condition.  SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County provides 24-hour emergency service and is dedicated to being faster to any size disaster.  Our highly trained technicians can respond immediately to your residential or commercial emergency.??

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Hurricane Season Starts June 1

6/2/2018 (Permalink)

Source: http://www.nj211.org/peak-season-for-hurricanes-starts-in-mid-august-in-new-jersey

Peak Season for Hurricanes Starts in Mid-August in New Jersey

Though the national hurricane season normally runs from June 1 through November 30, the peak potential for hurricane and tropical storm activity in New Jersey runs from mid-August through the end of October.

The combination of warm ocean water, humid air, and consistent winds contribute to the formation of “tropical cyclones” – low-pressure systems of circulating winds, clouds and thunderstorms – over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

As they gain strength, these cyclones are classified as tropical depressions, tropical storms or hurricanes. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale rates hurricane strengths, from Category 1 to Category 5. Most of these storms remain over the ocean without affecting the U.S. coastline. When they approach land, tropical storms and hurricanes can be extremely deadly and destructive – even as far north as New Jersey, and even when they do not make landfall here.

The key threats from an approaching tropical storm or hurricane are WIND, STORM SURGE, FLOODING, and the potential for TORNADOES.

Hurricane WINDS can reach 74-95 mph for a Category 1 storm, to above 155 mph for a Category 5 storm.

The STORM SURGE is a dome of ocean water the hurricane pushes ahead of itself. At its peak, a storm surge can be 25 feet high and 50-100 miles wide. The storm surge can devastate coastal communities as it sweeps ashore.

The thunderstorms and torrential rains that accompany a hurricane can create dangerous and deadly floods or flash floods.

Seventy percent of hurricanes making landfall spawn at least one tornado.

Preparing properly for a hurricane begins long before a storm ever hits.

Be ready for hurricane season with these tips from the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management 

NJ Register Ready

If you are a citizen with special needs, call 2-1-1 or visit NJ Register Ready to provide information that will help emergency responders to better plan to serve you in times of emergency.

As with other types of emergencies, you should prepare yourself and your family by creating an Emergency Supply Kit and a Family Disaster Plan. Be sure to educate yourself about the emergencies that typically occur in your locale.

Before a Hurricane

The first line of defense against the effects of a disaster is personal preparedness. During an emergency, the government and other agencies may not be able to meet your needs. It is important for all citizens to make their own emergency plans and prepare for their own care and safety in an emergency.

  • Your Kit includes items that will help you stay self-sufficient for up to three days if needed such as, canned food, bottled water, first-aid kit, battery operated flashlight and radio, blanket, and manual can opener.
  • Your Plan includes evacuation plans, a place to reunite with loved ones, and an out-of-state contact person.

Store important documents and irreplaceable personal objects (such as photographs) where they won't get damaged. If major flooding is a possibility, consider putting them in a storage facility.

Read FEMA's informative press release regarding things that can be done now that will protect your home from damage when a storm hits. Protecting a Home from Storms and Flooding Begins on the Inside

Make plans to secure your property.

  • Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Determine how and where to secure your boat if you own one.
  • Consider building a safe room

If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:

  • Listen to the radio or TV for information.
  • Secure your home, close storm shutters, and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
  • Turn off propane tanks.· Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
  • Moor your boat if time permits.
  • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water. 

You should evacuate under the following conditions:

  • If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.
  • If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure—such shelters are particularly hazardous during hurricanes no matter how well fastened to the ground.
  • If you live in a high-rise building—hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
  • If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an inland waterway.
  • If you feel you are in danger.

During a Hurricane

If you are unable to evacuate, go to your wind-safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:

  • Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
  • Close all interior doors—secure and brace external doors.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm - winds will pick up again.
  • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.

The Red Cross sets up shelters for people who must evacuate. Find a Red Cross shelter.

Plan for Pet Care If you are evacuated, you need to bring your pets with you but pets are typically not allowed to stay at a shelter. The NJ Department of Agriculture recommends that you ask a dependable friend or relative who lives some distance from the evacuation area if you and your pets can stay with them until the all clear is given. An alternative is to find a pet-friendly motel. 

Learn what you can do to prepare for emergencies and protect your pet.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has done the same on a national level. Learn more.

Statewide Preparedness Efforts

Helpnjnow.org is a dynamic, interactive web-based resource providing education, direction, information and tools for people to help themselves and others in a disaster. When there is no active disaster in the state, the website provides information about how to prepare for future disasters, including how you can become certified disaster volunteer. When a disaster strikes, the site will offer guidance on where donations are needed (monetary and material), where people can volunteer and a link to NJ 2-1-1 so that you can find assistance for disaster-related needs.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Mold vs Rust

5/22/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.mold-advisor.com/mold-vs-rust.html

Can you easily tell the difference between mold vs rust? Many people look at a reddish colored stain and assume its rust, although that’s not always the case. Before you break out your heavy-duty cleaning solutions, it pays to understand what you’re up against: mold, rust, or even another stain. 

What’s Normal for Your Home?

If you’re seeing new stains on walls, floors, or countertops, you’ll want to make sure they’re not the result of water infiltration or excess humidity in your home. Try to pinpoint a reason for the stain, based on what room it’s in and the common daily activity. Mold tends to be found in damp, humid areas, while rust forms when metallic surfaces start to corrode. Recognizing the differences between mold and rust helps you determine the best way to take care of an issue before it becomes more pervasive.

What’s that Stain? Mold vs Rust

Areas prone to dampness, such as bathrooms and basements, can easily foster the growth of mold or mildew. If you see a stain that looks like mold or rust in your shower, sink area, or basement, you’ll want to clean them as quickly as possible to avoid permanent damage. However, different cleaning solutions are used to treat different stains. Rust, hard water marks, grease, and mold may all look similar, but if you use the wrong cleaner, you may not be able to fully remove them.

Identifying Rust

Rust is the result of iron, or a metal alloy containing iron, such as steel, corroding. Rust is most often observed as a red, yellow or reddish-brown surface stain. Rust is caused by water or damp air touching the surface or a metal prone to rusting. Some common areas where rust is spotted in the home, according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), include the following:

  • Water Pipes
  • Metal Roofs and Chimneys
  • Oil tanks for home with oil heat
  • Electrical Panel Boxes
  • Nails

Preventing Rust

Rust can be prevented by keeping metals out of damp and humid areas. Protective coatings, such as varnish may also be applied to surfaces prone to rusting. Ensuring that metal fixtures in your home are kept dry can also help to prevent rust. Wipe up spills immediately and check your basement after heavy storms to spot signs of flooding as soon as possible.

Removing Rust

Removing rust can be a tough job, but with the right cleaners, you should be successful. For lighter rust stains, some household products, such as baking soda or vinegar might work. Mild abrasives like steel wool pads may also remove surface rust, but they may also leave behind scratch marks. There are also many specialized rust removal products sold that you can try for smaller stains. According to Cleanipedia, one product you should never use on rust is bleach, which could react negatively with the rust and actually worsen it. 

If you do attempt to clean rust, always follow the instructions on any commercial cleaning product. Be sure to don safety gear, including gloves, safety glasses and a face mask. Always work in a well-ventilated area. If you’re not comfortable with the task, find a handyman or painter that is.

Mold Stains

Mold can resemble other stains like rust or mildew in appearance, but there are actually over 300 types of mold. The colors of mold can range from black to brown, white or gray, or even pink, blue or green. Mold also presents in a range of textures from downy to fuzzy. Some mold is powdery and some has a more slimy texture. 

Mold can grow as the result of a single event, such as a broken pipe or indoor water infiltration due to floods or leaks. It’s important to catch the signs of indoor mold growth as early as possible and have them taken care of before they lead to greater damage. Mold can also adversely affect the health of certain susceptible individuals, including those with a suppressed immune system or an allergy to mold. Mold sometimes can leave a stain, but that’s not always the case. A damp, musty odor can also be a sign of mold growth. 

If you notice mold growth in damp areas of your home, you can clean affected surfaces with a specialized mold removal product. Common, everyday household cleaning solutions may not be effective against mold. Typically, mold cannot be totally eradicated from porous surfaces, like shower curtains, drywall or insulation; these items should be disposed of and replaced.

When cleaning mold, you should always wear protective gear, such as a face mask and ensure that you’re working in an adequately ventilated area. You can read more about the protective gear recommended for mold removal. If you suffer from mold allergies or asthma, it is not recommended that you try to clean the mold yourself. SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County can help you determine the best way to remove the mold. Once the mold is removed, it’s a good idea to have the area tested by a professional. If mold has continued to grow in your home, you may have a more pervasive problem that requires additional professional remediation from SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County.

Evaluating Mold Issues

Because so many of the stains we see around the house look similar, it may be difficult to determine what is causing the discoloration and damage. If you notice stains on your walls, countertops, or floors that look like mold or rust, contact SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County and request a free home inspection to help diagnose your problem. 

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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New Jersey Rules Regarding Mold in Rental Properties

5/11/2018 (Permalink)

Source: www.nolo.com

By 

Here's what New Jersey landlords (and tenants) need to know about mold and the law.

Every landlord should take mold seriously. A top environmental hazard, mold thrives in warm, damp places, and often grows quickly in basements, attics, and other parts of buildings with poor ventilation and humidity problems. Although mold is often associated with buildings in wet climates, no rental property is immune from a mold outbreak, as one can occur following an unattended spill, faulty plumbing, or even a misdirected lawn sprinkler.

What Happens After a Flood: Mold Remediation

4/30/2018 (Permalink)

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) or Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) 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/CIH may collect and analyze samples from affected as well as unaffected areas of the building. Once the IEP/CIH has finished the inspection they will develop a remediation plan for the mold removal specialist, such as SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County, with steps to return the home to its preloss condition (Condition 1).  Learn more about our Mold Remediation process by visiting our website here.

2. Set up and verify containment. To make sure mold contamination does not spread to other areas of a facility, the SERVPRO will set up containment by creating isolation barriers. Once the barriers are set up, SERVPRO 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.

3. 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 SERVPRO specialist to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment which may include a full face respirator equipped with a P100/OV cartridge, disposable coveralls and nitrite gloves.

4. Clean surfaces with a high-attention to detail. SERVPRO 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. We 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.

5. Verify remediation. Once cleaning is complete, the IEP/CIH will return 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/CIH 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

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Home Mold Testing - DIY Kit

4/10/2018 (Permalink)

You can expect mold and mildew outside your home because of the natural damp conditions of the outdoors. Mold and mildew inside the home is a different problem, because the inside of your home shouldn’t remain damp.

The presence of moisture is the biggest contributor to mold growth, and to fight the infestation you should conduct a room-by-room assessment of the house to identify problem areas. The moisture can come from condensation due to poor ventilation (attic), from a water leak (around bathrooms), or from outdoor intrusion (foundation walls).

Detection

Mold and mildew in a home is not always easy to detect if it exists within attics or is hidden within walls. If you suspect your indoor air quality is hindered by hidden mold, you can conduct your own DIY test to detect a problem.

The EHT staff recently conducted the Healthful Home 5-Minute Mold Test in a finished basement that had suffered some previous flooding problems. The air seemed fine in the room, but the old moisture issues suggested that if there were to be a mold problem in the house then it was likely to occur in this room.

The test is easy to accomplish. Simply use one of the cotton swabs included with the kit to sample surface dust in the room. Soak the swab tip in the “rinse buffer” liquid (included) and then drip five drops of the liquid onto the two test strips that come with the kit. One strip is labeled Asp/Pen (Aspergillus and/or Penicillium) and the other is labeled Stachybortrys.

Test results show in as little as 5 minutes, and much like a pregnancy test you’ll either see one line (negative results) or two lines (positive).

If the test is positive, however, it does not necessarily mean you have a serious problem but that you should consider consulting a professional indoor air quality inspector or contact SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County. You can also have an optional laboratory analysis of your test results conducted for an additional fee.  

Click here to go to our website and learn a bit more about Mold Remediation. 

Fighting the Mold you Find

If you discover mold on the home’s interior, the first step in solving the problem is to eliminate the source of moisture—whatever that may be. Otherwise, any mold or mildew you clean is likely to return.

For minor problems you may be able to clean the surface of the materials with bleach or an antimicrobial cleaner. For major problems, remove materials that cannot be thoroughly cleaned of mold and mildew, like insulation, carpeting or drywall. Use your antimicrobial cleaner to clean the surrounding area as well as the places where you actually see mold and mildew, to make sure you remove all traces of the substances.

Finally, replace the removed building materials with new, mold-free materials.

You can learn more about the 5-minute Mold Test at myhealthfulhome.com

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Cleanup: What To Do Until Help Arrives

3/15/2018 (Permalink)

EMERGENCY TIPS FOR YOUR HOME SMOKE DAMAGE

Please follow these DOs and DON’Ts to help reduce damage and increase the chances of a successful restoration.

DO:

  • Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpet.
  • Keep hands clean. Soot on hands can further soil upholstery, walls and woodwork.
  • Place dry, colorfast towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpet traffic areas.
  • If electricity is off, empty freezer and refrigerator   completely and prop doors open to help prevent odor.
  • Wipe soot from chrome on kitchen and bathroom   faucets, trim and appliances, then protect these   surfaces with a light coating of lubricant.
  • If heat is off during winter, pour RV antifreeze in sinks, toilet bowls, holding tanks and tubs to avoid freezing pipes and fixtures.
  • Wash both sides of leaves on house plants.
  • Change HVAC filter, but leave system off until a trained professional can check the system.
  • Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers to stop particles of soot from getting in or out of the HVAC system.

DON'T

  • Attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces without first contacting SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County.
  • Attempt to shampoo carpet or upholstered furniture without first consulting SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County.
  • Attempt to clean any electrical appliances (TV sets, radios, etc.) that may have been close to fire, heat or water without first consulting an authorized repair service.
  • Consume any food or beverages that may have been stored close to fire, heat or water. (They may be contaminated.)
  • Turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet. Wiring may be wet or damaged and cause electrical shock, and air movement may create secondary damage.
  • Send garments to the dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set in smoke odor.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Smoke Damage Can Cause Pervasive Odors

3/1/2018 (Permalink)

Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.  

Smoke and soot facts:

  • Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
  • Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
  • The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.

Different Types of Smoke

There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Here is some additional information:

Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber

  • Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.

Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood

  • Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.

Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire

  • Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor. 

Our Fire Damage Restoration Services

Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions.  We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage.  We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Be Prepared

2/26/2018 (Permalink)

What You Can Do.

In order to be fully prepared, you should have all pertinent and proper information in a written plan for easy retrieval. Some key questions to consider when creating a personal emergency preparedness plan include:

  • Do you have an escape or evacuation route in place?
  • Do you have a designated meeting place in case of separation?
  • Does everyone have a list of contact information including family members out of state who can serve as a point of contact?
  • Do you have a disaster supply kit with necessary supplies?
  • Do you have a first aid kit that includes necessary prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines and basic medical supplies?
  • Do you have enough non-perishable food and bottled water?
  • Do you have access to important family documents, including insurance policies, bank, credit card and loan information and family records such as birth certificates and social security cards?
  • Do you have an inventory of valuable household goods?

A well-equipped disaster supply kit should include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Water- a large enough supply to provide each person with 1 gallon daily for drinking and sanitation.
  • Food- enough to last 3-7 days. Food needs to be non-perishable or canned food. You will also want to include a non-electric can opener, paper plates and plastic utensils.
  • Bedding including sheets, blankets and pillows.
  • Clothing- remember it may be warm, however, you may be working and cleaning and may prefer pants or long sleeves to protect your skin. You will also need sturdy, closed-toe, non-slip shoes if available.
  • First aid kit including antiseptics or sanitizers and bandages, over-the-counter and prescription medications.
  • Extra flashlights and batteries. Oil lanterns also provide a good source of light, if available.
  • Toiletries including toilet paper and hygiene items. Hand sanitizers are also good to have on hand.
  • Battery-operated radio with extra batteries so you can listen to weather service announcements.
  • Cash- you will want some cash and small bills on hand as banks may not be open.
  • Emergency phone numbers and contact information including insurance agent and family contacts.
  • Tools, tarps, plastic sheets, trash bags, duct tape, etc. to help make minor repairs.
  • Important documents should be kept in a waterproof bag or plastic sealed container and should include insurance, medical and family records, birth certificates, social security cards, bank account information and a complete home inventory analysis.
  • Gas- fill your car’s tank ahead of time if time permits. You may also want to fill plastic gasoline-approved containers with gas to store.
  • Pet care items including food, leash and a carrier or cage.

Don’t wait until it is too late; prepare now to help protect your family in an emergency or disaster situation.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Be Ready in 2018 - Winter Water Damages

1/6/2018 (Permalink)

Ice Dams Can Cause Water Damages

Cold weather is upon us in the northeast.  With that comes snow, ice and frozen temperatures which are all jeopardy's to your home or business.

It is essential that you are aware of the hazards and can prepare, prevent or act quickly on each situation.

FROZEN PIPES

A frozen pipe can burst at the point where the ice blockage inside the pipe is located, but typically the rupture is caused by the backflow pressure between the water source and the blockage. A burst pipe can cause considerable damage to your
property if not addressed quickly.

ICE DAMS

Ice dams can be a major problem during the winter season.
They form when heated air melts roof snow downward into water dammed behind still-frozen ice. When the trapped water cannot safely flow or run into the gutter system, it can backflow under the roof ’s shingles and into the structure’s interior areas.

PREPARE YOUR HOME

  • If you own a home which is unoccupied during a cold period, ensure you have ample heating fuel and that the indoor thermostat, in all areas of the home, is minimally kept at 55 degrees and ensure that you have a trusted person check the home periodically during your absence.
  • Keep cabinet doors open during cold spells. This allows warm air to circulate around pipes.
  • Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets, especially if the pipes for faucets run through unheated or uninsulated areas of your home.
  • Consider shutting off outdoor faucets. Find the shut-off valve in the basement or crawl space and turn it to “off .”
  • If you follow the previous step, then open the outdoor faucet to help ensure it drains completely and the inner valve is shut off.
  • Ensure gutters are clean and secure. Leaves and debris accumulate, causing a damming effect on gutters, which could lead to roof problems and water damage.

PREPARE YOUR BUSINESS

  • Check your business property for downed tree limbs and branches. Weather, such as wind, heavy rain, ice and snow, can cause branches to fall, which could cause damage to the property and potentially cause
    personal injuries.
  • Inspect property, especially walkways and parking lots, for proper drainage to alleviate flood hazard potential.
  • Inspect all handrails, stairwells and entryways to address and correct potential slippery or hazardous areas. Install mats or non-slip surfaces and post caution signs where water could be present.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Are You Winter Weather Ready?

12/1/2017 (Permalink)

Be Winter Ready!

Are you prepared for the coming cold weather? Cold weather can have a huge impact on your home or business if you are not ready for it. From heavy rain and freezing temperatures to damaging winds, sleet, or snow, all can cause serious and costly property damage. While you cannot control the weather, you can take steps to be prepared and help take the sting out of winter
weather.

To help prevent costly damages due to weather, consider taking the following precautions to protect your property before colder weather hits.

  • Check your business property for downed tree limbs and branches. Wind, heavy rain, ice, and snow can cause branches to fall, which could cause damage to the property and potentially cause personal injuries.
  • Roofs, water pipes, and gutters should all be inspected to ensure they are in proper order. Gutter downspouts should be directed
    away from your building. Clear gutters of debris that may have gathered during the fall. Leaves and other obstructions can cause a damming effect, which can lead to roof damage and interior water problems.
  • Inspect property, especially walkways and parking lots, for proper drainage to alleviate
    flood hazard potential.
  • Inspect all handrails, stairwells, and entryways to address and correct potential slippery or hazardous areas. Install mats or
    non-slip surfaces and post caution signs where water could be present.
  • Protect water pipes from freezing by simply allowing water to drip when temperatures dip below freezing. If pipes are under a cabinet, leave the cabinet doors open, allowing warm inside air to circulate around the pipes. If the building has outdoor faucets, consider shutting water off at the
    main valve in the basement or crawl space. Once the valve is off, open the outdoor faucet to ensure it drains, preventing any remaining water from freezing in the pipe.
  • Ask SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County about completing an Emergency READY Profile® (ERP) for your business. The ERP is a no-cost assessment to your facility and provides you with a plan to get back in business fast following a disaster.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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KITCHEN CAUTIONS

11/14/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Safety

Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.  The leading cause?  Unattended cooking.

Each November, families gather to celebrate Thanksgiving by preparing a delicious feast, but if you don’t practice safe cooking habits, your holiday could become hazardous very quickly.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. It’s important to be alert to prevent cooking fires.

  • Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stovetop.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food.
  • If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire—oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels, or curtains—away from the stovetop.

If you have a cooking fire, consider the following safety protocols to help keep you and your family safe.

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
  • If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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How To: Use a Fireplace

11/3/2017 (Permalink)

Fireplace Safety

Add ambience and save on heating costs by utilizing your fireplace this winter. Here's all you need to know about the proper technique and safety precautions.

By Katelin Hill

Source: https://www.bobvila.com/

During the colder months, nothing beats warming the house with a crackling fire. But while wood-burning fireplaces should give you long-lasting and evenly burning flames, one simple mistake can fill your living room with smoke—or even spark a dangerous house fire. Here’s the proper technique for how to use a fireplace, with safety precautions every homeowner should know.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS Available on Amazon
– Smoke detector
– Carbon monoxide detector
– Batteries
– Fire extinguisher
– Flashlight (optional)
– Hardwood or softwood kindling
– Newspaper (optional)
– Matches
– Fireplace gloves
– Metal fireplace poker
– Metal fireplace shovel
– Metal box for fireplace ashes

STEP 1: Stay Safe
Before bringing out the lighter, it’s vital to understand safety precautions for using a fireplace. First, always double-check that your fire extinguisher, smoke detector, and carbon monoxide detector are each in working order (check those batteries!). Remove anything flammable within three feet of the fireplace in case stray sparks escape the hearth, and use a fireplace screen as well. Make sure the flue isn’t blocked by obstructions like an animal’s nest, especially if this is your first time using the fireplace. If the system hasn’t been recently inspected, hire a chimney sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America(CSIA) to do the job.

STEP 2: Gather the Kindling
Gather kindling in a variety of sizes (small, medium, and large) for the proper fire-building technique that is outlined below. To emit less smoke and soot, make sure the wood is dry, well-seasoned, and split a minimum of six months ago. You can choose either hardwood or softwood for the fire; while hardwoods like oak or maple burn longer and create more sustained heat, softwoods like cedar or pine start fires easier because they ignite quickly. Whatever you don’t use can return to the firewood rack, best stored outdoors in an elevated and covered location.

Note: Never burn trash, plastic, painted materials, or anything with chemical treatment like scraps of pressure-treated wood—these materials can release harmful chemicals into your home.

STEP 3: Open the Damper
The damper is a movable plate inside the flue. When opened, it allows the smoke and ash to travel safely up the chimney. If you start a fire with a closed damper, however, the smoke will have no escape route and circle back into the house.

Adjust the damper as needed with the handle located inside of the chimney. It will move either front to back, left to right, or in a clockwise or counterclockwise rotation. Check to make sure you opened it properly by sticking your head in the flue and looking upwards, using a flashlight if necessary. You should see up the flue without any obstructions if the damper is open; a closed damper will block your view entirely.

STEP 4: Prime the Flue
Now, gauge the temperature. If you feel a rush of cold air (which usually occurs if the chimney is built on the outside of the house), then you need to prime the flue—in order words, you need to preheat it. Otherwise, the cold draft may cause smoke to blow into the room. Light a roll of newspaper and hold it against the open damper to send warm air into the flue. The draft should reverse after a few minutes, making your fireplace ready for action.

STEP 5: Build the Fire 
While there are multiple ways to build a fire, the CSIA recommends the top-down method, which produces less smoke and requires less tending. Start by donning thick fireplace gloves and grabbing a metal poker. Position large pieces of wood in the bottom of the fireplace in one row, perpendicular to the opening of the fireplace. Next, take mid-sized pieces of wood, and stack four or five rows on top of the base layer in alternating directions. Make sure the stack takes up no more than half the height of your fireplace. Now add your smallest pieces of wood, making sure these pieces are very dry. The tiniest bits (which can take the form of wood shavings or bunched-up newspapers) should be at the very top.

Light the top of the stack with a single match. The fire should travel down, igniting the pieces underneath without prompting. Let the fire burn for as long as you’d like. Don’t close the damper until the fire is completely out and all the embers have stopped burning.

STEP 6: Clean the Ashes 
The CSIA says you can leave a bed of ashes between one to two inches in the fireplace as an insulating layer, which helps the next fire to burn. But when you need to dispose of ashes, proceed with caution. Coals may take several hours or several days to completely cool, and ash could still be burning during that time. Using a metal shovel, scoop ashes into a metal container with a tight-fitting lid. Store the container outdoors away from the house, and not in garages or on decks.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Dealing with Mold and Humidity Threats in Vacation Residences

10/31/2017 (Permalink)

A closed-up vacation house can be a breeding ground for mold in the summer months. Moisture from a nearby lake or river, or the humidity in the air, can lead to that musty odor vacationers have come to expect upon arriving at their weekend getaway.

Mold is a particularly stealthy foe. It exists nearly everywhere in an inactive state, and all it needs to grow is a food source (drywall will do nicely), and a source of moisture, such as high humidity.

To get rid of the damp odor, most homeowners will turn on the air conditioner and maybe a dehumidifier and wait for the smell to go away. While much of the odor may dissipate in a few hours, the mold is still there. And, when they leave for a week, it’s back again when they return.

That smell is more than just unpleasant; it’s an indication that mold is actively growing, triggering allergies and affecting health. Left untreated, mold will continue to grow and spread and can damage walls, ceilings, carpeting, and more. Every time the house is closed up and the a/c is turned off, the moisture creeps back in and the mold begins growing again.

MOISTURE SOLUTIONS

What can HVAC contractors do to help? First, it’s important to stress to customers that the key to preventing mold is to eliminate moisture. The first step is to address any leaks in roofing, chimneys, and foundations. Perhaps you can recommend someone who can do a thorough check and perform the repairs necessary to stop the leaks. If mold remediation is necessary, your customer should get bids from several companies that specialize in this, as it can be costly.

Reducing humidity through air conditioning is a key to controlling mold, but, of course, leaving the a/c on all summer long will run up utility bills. Fresh outside air is also critical, but vacation homeowners won’t want to leave windows open while they’re not using the property.

Some relatively new offerings in air conditioning systems can help manage mold problems. One example is a small-duct, high-velocity air handler, which has a unique cooling coil that removes 30 percent more humidity from the air than a traditional system. Eliminating moisture is critical in avoiding mold growth, so this feature is particularly important.

Another helpful technology is a continuously operating outdoor inverter unit that works so efficiently that homeowners can leave it on while they’re away without breaking the bank. It runs on various speeds — typically a very low speed — always striving for the most efficient operation by making small, incremental changes to keep a constant temperature. In a traditional system, every time the system cycles on it must ramp up to full operating power, requiring a tremendous amount of energy. You won’t have this issue with the inverter unit.

When cooling a summer home, the inverter technology is a great way for customers to keep air conditioning going when they’re gone, but at a lower cost.

Another great option is a ventilation system operated by a programmable control board. Based on the size of the home, the control board calculates how much fresh outside air to bring in at all times, opening and closing dampers as needed to maintain a healthy level of fresh air. Look for options that meet ASHRAE 62.2 standards for IAQ.

These newer technologies can go a long way toward reducing energy consumption while letting fresh air in and keeping mold problems at bay. More savings and fewer molds mean a healthier and happier vacation for everyone. 

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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WHEN DISASTER STRIKES

10/31/2017 (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 local SERVPRO® Franchises. 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.”

2016 East Tennessee Wildfires: One of the largest in the history of Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains wildfires burned more than 17,000 acres and about 2,500 structures in November 2016. The 12 crews that were dispatched worked a total of 78 jobs, where they mitigated over $1 million in damages. 

2016 Hurricane Matthew: Following the East Coast from Florida up to North Carolina, this hurricane caused major flooding, primarily as rivers rose in Eastern North Carolina. SERVPRO® had 169 crews dispatched. These crews took on more than 1,050 jobs and over $7.5 million in damages.

2016 Louisiana Flooding: Catastrophic flooding occurred in Southern Louisiana where rainfall measured 20 inches or more total, falling at a rate of more than 2-3 inches per hour in some places. This caused rivers and inland waterways to rise to record levels. The Disaster Recovery Team® responded to over 830 jobs with 185 crews.

2016 Houston, TX Flooding: In April, a nearly stationary mesoscale convective system developed over Houston, resulting in widespread rainfall rates of 2-4 inches per hour. This was a historic flooding event for Harris County, which saw a total of nearly 18 inches of accumulated rainfall. The Storm Team dispatched 81 crews to over 360 jobs, mitigating over $3 million in damages.

2015 Siberian Express: Record sub- zero temperatures caused major problems for a large portion of the country stretching from Florida to Maine. The Midwest also experienced record- breaking low temperatures, resulting in frozen pipes and ice dams causing major problems for residents. The Storm Team dispatched a total of 257 crews from 108 Franchises to assist local SERVPRO® Franchises completing nearly 2,000 jobs.

2014 Mid-Atlantic Flooding: Rainfall rates up to 2 inches per hour caused major flash flooding stretching from Northeast Ohio all the way to Portland, Maine. Eastern Michigan and Baltimore, Maryland, were also impacted, creating over 1,381 jobs for the Storm Team to produce. A total of 82 SERVPRO® Franchises and 173 crews mitigated over $4.3 million in damages while assisting the local Franchises.

2014 Polar Vortex: Record low temperatures caused by a break in the North Pole’s polar vortex resulted in an WHEN DISASTER STRIKES unprecedented freezing event, spanning from east of the Rocky Mountains to as far south as central Florida, affecting all or part of 39 states and 70% of the SERVPRO® Franchise System.

2013 Colorado Floods: Heavy rainfall, with amounts up to 17 inches in some areas, resulted in widespread flooding in Fort Collins, Boulder, and surrounding Colorado mountain communities. The Disaster Recovery Team® responded with 109 crews from 48 Franchises to assist the local SERVPRO® Franchises in the emergency response.

2012 Hurricane Sandy: Affecting more than 20 states, Sandy left widespread damage and flooding from Florida stretching the entire eastern seaboard to Maine. The Disaster Recovery Team®
placed nearly 1,000 crews in affected areas, representing over 300 SERVPRO® Franchises from across the country. Teams traveled from as far as Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Solved! What To Do About a Leaky Roof

10/6/2017 (Permalink)

Q: Help! I woke after last night’s storm to find a discoloration on the kitchen ceiling and a puddle beneath. What do I do about this new leak?

A: There’s nothing quite like an indoor puddle to put a damper on your rise-and-shine routine, is there? The first thing to do is mitigate any moisture damage. That can get complicated, since a leaky roof doesn’t always appear as a puddle on the floor (or at least not immediately). Occasionally, the only sign of a leak is that subtle discolored patch on your ceiling or wall, caused from water pooling behind it. When you’re lucky enough to spot it early on, intervene as soon as possible following these steps.

Secure the scene. If water has only dripped onto the floor, consider yourself lucky and move a bucket to catch the falling droplets. (While you’re at it, save your sanity by propping up some scrap wood inside the container to mute the annoying drip-drip-drip sound.) Otherwise, move as much out of the water’s path and cover items that are too heavy to relocate with thick plastic sheeting.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Drain the water. Using a ladder or a sturdy chair, climb up and puncture the water-damaged patch with a screwdriver. Making a hole might sound counterintuitive, but skipping this step will allow more moisture to seep in. The weight of the water might even cause your ceiling to sag or collapse—one more thing to add to your list of necessary repairs. Ultimately, patching up a small, 1/2-inch drainage hole is a lot easier and cheaper than dealing with structural damage.

Start sleuthing. So where’s the source of that pesky leak? Water travels down trusses or flashing until it finds a weak spot, so the entry point into the house isn’t necessarily directly underneath the part of the roof you’ll have to fix.  If you have attic access, head up there first during daylight hours. Turn off the lights and look up for any small opening that allows sunshine to stream through—an obvious source for your leaky roof.

Fight water with water. Can’t spot any signs of damage from the attic? Your next step is the water-test method, where someone stands outside on the roof and, using a lengthy hose, showers the roof until the drip returns—giving you a second chance to locate the source.

Phone a professional. Sometimes, finding what is in need of repair is not as easy as spotting a hole in your attic’s ceiling. From failing flashing to clogged gutters to crumbling shingles, the list of potential causes is very long. If you’ve conducted a thorough inspection and you’re still not certain what has led to your leaky roof, it’s time to call in a pro to both deduce the problem and recommend a fix. The actual repair will depend on many factors, including shingle type and pitch.

Meanwhile, lay out a tarp. When you’ve determined the source of the leak but can’t get a same-day repair, you’ll have to find temporary measures to protect your roof and home from snow, rain, and more water damage. If the roof is dry enough for you to carefully climb, try covering the affected area with heavy plastic sheeting or a tarp (at least 6 millimeters thick) and some 2×4s. Start at least 4 feet beneath the problem area and slowly roll the plastic over it, past the ridge of the roof, and 4 feet down the opposite side to cover your leaky roof completely. Place one 2×4 at the “top” of the tarp (the opposite side of roof) and one at the bottom to weight it down, folding the tarp back over each plank and fastening it to the wood with a staple gun. The bottom board should rest in an eave or flat area against the roof. Lay a third 2×4 on the top board (which is wrapped in plastic sheeting) and secure it to the wrapped board with nails to help anchor the covering. Use more 2×4s resting on the plastic’s perimeter if you’re worried about wind.

While you work outside, remember: Proceed carefully and—unless you want to compound the problem with a few more leaks—do not puncture your roof by nailing or screwing boards directly to it.

When fire or water damage strikes, you need professional help to get your property back to preloss condition.  SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County provides 24-hour emergency service and is dedicated to being faster to any size disaster.  Our highly trained technicians can respond immediately to your residential or commercial emergency.??

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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10 Unexpected Places Where Mold Creeps Into Your Home

10/6/2017 (Permalink)

The Smith’s didn’t notice the mold and mildew smell in their home until they came home from vacation.

“What’s that smell?” John asked.
“Mildew. Maybe mold. Maybe I left some clothes in the washer,” Kathy said.

After an hour-long search, the couple couldn’t find a leak. So they called John’s brother David — a plumber. He came right over.

“The number one rule for checking for mold and mildew?” David said, “If it uses water, chances are it’s going to leak.”

These are 10 places many homeowners overlook when checking for mold:

Dishwasher


Unless a dishwasher stops working or needs replacing or servicing, most of us don’t think about it as a potential source for mold. There are two connections under each dishwasher that have the potential for mold and mildew to get started–the water supply and the discharge connection. The water supply needs to be lubricated with the right sealant and properly tightened  periodically. The discharge connection involves a rubber hose and clamp, and installing the hose before the dishwasher is installed ensures it is done properly. Hoses wear out over time. If you’re buying an older house, it doesn’t hurt to check the dishwasher connections — especially if there’s an odd smell when you open the door.

Icemaker Connections


Refrigerators often get moved, either for cleaning or other projects. This can weaken or break the water line connection to the ice maker, causing leaks behind the refrigerator.

“It seems like a simple job, so in the real world the plumbing contractor doesn’t install the water line, another contractor does,” Hoffman said. “The connection is a compression fitting and it must be installed properly to ensure there are no leaks.”

Washing Machine Connections

When installing a washing machine, always install a brand new washing machine hose, using the rubber washers the manufacturer recommends. Also, use Teflon tape and make sure to tighten the connection with vice grips so there are no drips or leaks. After all, it doesn’t take many drips to create an environment for mold.

Hot Water Heater


“Many states have laws regarding the installation of hot water heaters, and most of them involve overflow pans that are piped to drain outside the house. The pan must be tilted ¼ inch to ensure the water does drain. Newer heaters with quick connect connectors should be properly lubricated and tightened so the shut-off valve doesn’t leak,” Hoffman said.

Plastic P-Traps

Under every sink in your home is a “P-Trap,” almost always made of PVC pipe, which expands, and contracts. This process eventually loosens the connection and allows water to leak onto the base of the cabinet. If you look under sinks in every room you’ll easily spot the stains and discoloration commonly caused by leaking P-Traps. Use Teflon tape to seal every P-Trap and check them periodically, tightening them by hand to ensure their connections don’t loosen and leak. Over tightening PVC can cause it to crack, so be careful.

Toilet Connections

“I’m amazed at how many steps the DIY home improvement shows leave out when they explain about how to install a toilet,” Hoffman said. “The base of the toilet is where most mold grows. Toilets should be installed with a horned wax ring, and then the base of the toilet grouted in with tile grout,” he said. “The grout serves as a filler between the bowl and the floor to keep the bowl from rocking. Rocking bowls are the number one reason for the wax ring being compromised, which then allows mold to get a foothold.”

Shower Doors

Shower doors should probably be installed by plumbing contractors, Hoffman said. “They know how to keep them from leaking.” Mold growing at the base of the tub may be from leaking or improperly installed shower doors. Shower doors need caulking on all three rails — the two side rails as well as the bottom rail.

Tub

A properly caulked tub isn’t just nicer looking. It keeps water and moisture from dripping down under the tub and causing mold issues. Slab floors can create more problems — especially if installed by a DIY’er. The hole(s) in concrete slabs under tubs should be filled with a liquid tar, or expandable foam insulation to ensure moisture does not wick up from the ground through the slab.

Exterior Hose Bib

If you have a home, you have an exterior hose bib — a place where the water connection sticks out from the house. If you’ve used a hose, you know a poor connection or missing rubber washer, or loose hose can result in water spraying the house. This uncontrolled spray allows water to enter the space between the sidings, or into the wall, leading to mold growth. Make sure all holes, gaps and areas around every outdoor water connection are properly caulked and sealed.

Outdoor Water Sprinklers

Siding is engineered to shed rain falling down, not sprinklers shooting water up. Make sure your sprinklers are well away from the house when turned on. If you have children or teens that are watering the yard or garden, make sure they know not to spray the house with the hose. If power washing your home, hire a professional, or take care that water is not forced up under the siding as you wash.

As a homeowner, if you take the appropriate precautions and are vigilant about upkeep, you should be able to avoid mold, or catch it at it’s outset. While mold can be a huge problem in homes, even causing health issues, it is easily preventable.

When fire or water damage strikes, you need professional help to get your property back to preloss condition.  SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County provides 24-hour emergency service and is dedicated to being faster to any size disaster.  Our highly trained technicians can respond immediately to your residential or commercial emergency.??

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Proper Air Duct Cleaning in Businesses

10/6/2017 (Permalink)

What You Need to Know About Air Duct Cleaning

Air duct cleaning is a misnomer. In actuality, the entire HVAC system should be cleaned. Failure to clean all components of the system can result in recontamination of the entire system, thus minimizing the benefits of cleaning.

Just as you wouldn’t clean only half of your living room floor, you also would not want to clean only part of your HVAC system. NADCA recommends cleaning the entire HVAC system, including the following components:

  • air ducts
  • coils
  • drain pan
  • registers
  • grills
  • air plenum
  • blower motor and assembly
  • heat exchanger
  • air filter
  • air cleaner

There are two key components to HVAC cleaning: breaking contaminants loose, and collection of contaminants.

Breaking Contaminants Loose

Properly cleaning HVAC systems requires removing the sources of contamination. Source removal begins with the use of one or more agitation devices designed to loosen contaminants from the surfaces within the heating and air conditioning system. Examples of agitation devices include: brushes, air whips and compressed air nozzles or “skipper balls.” Agitation can also be achieved through hand-brushing or contact vacuuming.

Collection of Contaminants

During cleaning, the entire HVAC system is placed under continuous negative pressure (a vacuum) to prevent the spread of contaminants. Continuous negative pressure allows very fine particles to be removed from the system as they become airborne, ensuring that these particles are not released into the living space when the system is turned on after cleaning. This negative pressure also serves to extract the loosened contaminants, which are collected and removed from your home.

System Access

HVAC system cleaning is not a complex process, but each job is unique. Where possible, access to duct interiors should be made through existing openings such as supply diffusers, return grills, duct end caps and existing service openings. Cleaning technicians may need to cut access holes in the duct work in order to reach inside with various cleaning tools. Creation of these service openings, and their subsequent closure, requires craftsmanship and professional skills.

Equipment Requirements

There is a wide variety of equipment available to HVAC cleaning professionals. Both truck-mounted and portable vacuums can be used to stop the spread of contaminants and get the system cleaned to the NADCA Standard.

Antimicrobial Chemicals

Antimicrobial chemicals include sanitizers, disinfectants and deodorizers that can be applied to nonporous surfaces in HVAC systems to address microbial contamination and help control odors. Only chemicals registered with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can be used. These products should only be considered after mechanical surface cleaning has been performed and if the need for such treatment has been deemed necessary. Review the NADCA White Paper on Chemical Applications in HVAC Systems for more information. 

When fire or water damage strikes, you need professional help to get your property back to preloss condition.  SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County provides 24-hour emergency service and is dedicated to being faster to any size disaster.  Our highly trained technicians can respond immediately to your residential or commercial emergency.??

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Workplace Fire Prevention

10/6/2017 (Permalink)

A fire can happen anywhere and anytime. Here are some tips on things we can do to help prevent a fire in the common workplace.

  1. Accessibility
    Always ensure accessibility to electrical control panels. Material or equipment stored in front of the panels would hinder the shutdown of power in an emergency. Also, never block sprinklers, firefighting equipment or emergency exits and observe clearances when stacking materials.

  2. Good Housekeeping
    Clutter not only provides fuel for fires, but also prevents access to exits and emergency equipment. Keep your workplace as clutter-free as possible.

  3. Proper Waste Disposal
    Discard fire hazards like oily rags by placing them in a covered metal container and emptying it on a regular basis.

  4. Maintenance
    Make sure the machines in your workplace are properly maintained to prevent overheating and friction sparks.

  5. Report Electrical Hazards
    Unless you are qualified and authorized, you should never attempt electrical repairs. Faulty wiring and malfunctioning electrical equipment are key contributors to workplace fires.

  6. Safe Chemical Use & Storage
    Always read the label and the Material Safety Data Sheet to assess flammability and other fire hazards of a substance. When using and storing chemical materials, always do so in an area with adequate ventilation.

  7. Precautions In Explosive Atmospheres
    Follow all recommended and required precautions to prevent ignition in potentially explosive atmospheres, such as those containing flammable liquid vapors or fine particles. These precautions include non-sparking tools and proper static electricity control.

  8. Maximum Building Security
    To help prevent arson fires, always lock up as instructed, report suspicious persons or behavior and never leave combustible garbage outside near your building..

  9. Smoke Areas
    Always ensure that there is a smoke area available and that all workers who smoke on the job are using it. Proper extinguishing of smoking materials should always be enforced.

  10. Fully Charged Fire Extinguishers
    Check fire extinguishers often by looking at the gauges and making sure they're fully charged and ready for use. If they're not fully charged or if the attached tag indicates that the last inspection occurred more than a month ago, call for maintenance. Also, encourage all workers to learn how to use a fire extinguisher.

  11. Emergency Numbers
    Emergency phone numbers, as well as your company address, should be posted by the phone station for quick access.

11.5 OSHA Guidelines
Adherence to OSHA's fire safety guidelines is crucial for fire prevention. Read through these regulations and make sure your workplace is in compliance.

Making sure your workers return home safely is our mission and passion. Take these 11.5 tips to your workplace and practice true fire safety, which begins before the fire even ignites.

When fire or water damage strikes, you need professional help to get your property back to preloss condition.  SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County provides 24-hour emergency service and is dedicated to being faster to any size disaster.  Our highly trained technicians can respond immediately to your residential or commercial emergency.??

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Flood Insurance 101: What Homeowners Need To Know

10/5/2017 (Permalink)

Flooding

Flood Insurance 101: What Homeowners Need To Know

Source: Homes.Com

Author: Becky Blanton

The fact is – any property can flood. Your home doesn’t have to be under five feet of water from hurricane flood surges to suffer flood damage. Normal amounts of rainwater can drain under your home, and flood your basement or the lowest floor level, causing flood damage. This kind of flooding can cause mold, increase the risk of termites and cause electrical problems.

More than 75% of homeowners devastated by flooding unfortunately discover they should have had flood insurance. The sad thing, experts say, is that flood insurance is not that expensive – typically $450 to $600 a year for the average home. When you weigh the cost of flood insurance against replacing your entire home $100,000 to $500,000, it only makes sense to buy it, whether you believe you’ll need it or not.

“People may say things like, ‘I live on a hill, I don’t need flood insurance’,” Diana Herrera, a FEMA flood insurance specialist said. “If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that, and those homes were flooded…”

Other common reasons people give for not buying flood insurance include:

  • “I’m not in a flood zone.”
  • “I’m not anywhere near water.”
  • “I’ll never need it, it’s money wasted.”
  • “My homeowner’s insurance will cover it.”
  • “It’s not available.”
  • “My realtor told me the property would never flood.”

Unfortunately, water tables may fill up. There may be a landslide or a dam miles away can burst or overflow due to rain. Drainage systems in your neighborhood may become blocked. Low spots in your yard, or a neighbor’s, can collect water rather than distribute it away from your home. Poor drainage is a number one reason for flooding for homes on a hill.

Your Insurance Agent’s Responsibility

By law, it’s your realtor’s responsibility to make sure you, the home buyer, are aware of any and all risks to the property you are buying – that includes telling you that you are, or are not in a flood zone, and if your property is in a high-risk area for earthquakes, tornadoes, landslides, hurricanes or other natural disasters. They’re not telling you that bad things will happen, but that they could. If your realtor doesn’t disclose this information, ask them. It is their responsibility to identify what risks you may be exposed to. If you choose not to purchase insurance after being informed of the risks, your realtor or insurance agent may ask you to sign a disclaimer to protect them and their agency in case you do suffer damages from a natural disaster.

Property Checklist

“When you’re buying a home, any home, anywhere, you should check certain basic things before buying,” Herrera said.

  1. Check first with your realtor,” she said. “States have disclosure laws. If the property has ever flooded for any reason, it must be disclosed.” This not only lets the homebuyer know flooding is possible, but that it has happened before. Check to see if the property is in a low, medium or high risk and what those terms mean.
  2. Talk to your community’s floodplain manager. These officials are typically found in the zoning, planning, permitting or mapping offices of your city or county.
  3. Talk to your insurance agent. They should know what is happening in your community regarding flood insurance. They should also be able to explain the National Flood Insurance Program, what the rules and requirements are, and what documents they need (elevation certificate, etc.) to write a flood insurance policy.
  4. Whether you’re building a new home or buying one, get a copy of your site elevation plans. If your lowest floor is higher than the average requirement for flood insurance, you can save money on your insurance. For insurance rating purposes, a building’s flood proofed design elevation must be at least one foot above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) to receive full rating credit for the flood proofing. If the building is flood proofed only to the BFE, the flood insurance rates will be considerably higher. “For every foot higher your floor is above the BFE, you can save as much as 50% on your insurance premium,” Herrera said.
  5. Get a flood proofing certificate. This certification is issued by a registered professional engineer, or architect. It certifies that “the construction of a structure is in accordance with accepted practices for meeting the flood proofing requirements in the community’s floodplain management ordinance.” This documentation is needed for both floodplain management requirements and insurance rating purposes.

Additional Resources

If you own or are buying a home, check out the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). NFIP is not just an insurance program. According to the NFIP, “the program is a comprehensive flood risk management program that maps floodplains, issues hazard mitigation grants, and helps community’s implement safe local floodplain ordinances. The NFIP communicates flood risk and promotes community practices to mitigate that flood risk. Strong awareness tools combined with smart and safe floodplain management practices can help guide communities towards less risky development, and result in floodplains that have more room for rivers to safely flood.”

When fire or water damage strikes, you need professional help to get your property back to preloss condition.  SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County provides 24-hour emergency service and is dedicated to being faster to any size disaster.  Our highly trained technicians can respond immediately to your residential or commercial emergency.??

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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What To Do After a Fire

9/28/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage

Now that the fire is out, there are a few things you need to know. Here is a check list to follow:

Step 1 - Securing the site

  • Protect the fire site from any further damage by weather, theft or vandalism. Do not leave the site unsecured.
  • If you are the owner it is your responsibility to see that openings are covered against rain and entry. Make sure outside doors to the property can be locked and secured. The Fire Department will help secure the premises until responsibility can be handed over to the tenant or insurance company.
  • If you are the tenant, contact your real estate agent or landlord and inform them of the fire. If you cannot contact them and you need professional assistance in boarding the premises, a general contractor for or fire damage restoration firm can help. Check your telephone directory.
  • If you plan to leave the site, try to remove any valuable remaining in the building.
  • Contact your own insurance agent to report the loss.

Step 2- Cautions

  • Household wiring which may have been water damaged should be checked by a licensed electrician before power is turned back on.
  • Check for structural damage caused by the fire. Roofs and floors may be weakened. The local Municipality's Building Inspector may be able to help.
  • Food, drink and medicines exposed to heat, smoke or soot may be discarded in the appropriate manner.
  • Refrigerators and freezers left unopened will hold their temperature for a short time. However do not attempt to refreeze thawed items.
  • The Fire Department will call for the services of the local gas, fuel and electricity suppliers to disconnect services before they leave the site.
  • If a utility (gas, electricity or water) is disconnected, it is your responsibility to have the services checked and reconnected by a licensed trade person. Do not attempt to reconnect the service yourself.
  • Start collecting receipts for any money you spend. These are important because you can use them to show the insurance company what money you have spent relating to your fire loss and also verifying losses claimed.

Step 3 - Insurance Claims

  • Make personal contact with the insurance claims manager.
  • Advise the claims manager of loss or damage and give him, or her, a forwarding address and telephone number if the circumstances have forced you to leave the damaged fire building.
  • The sooner the insurance company is alerted, the quicker the insurance claim can be processed, as the company has to alert the insurance adjuster to carry out the inspection.
  • Try to form an inventory, as soon as possible, of household items either inside or outside the buildings which have been damaged by fire. The inventory of damaged items will further speed the claim when the loss assessor makes contact. Do not throw away any damaged goods until after the inventory is made by the insurance adjuster.

Step 4 - Leaving your home

  • If you have to leave your home because the fire has left it unsafe, contact the local police. They may be able to keep an eye on the property in your absence.
  • Check with your insurance company to find out whether you are entitled to stay in hotel as part of a temporary housing clause in your policy, or how soon you might get an advance on your eventual insurance claim settlement.
  • Provided it is safe to do so, try to locate the following to take with you:
    • Identification
    • Vital medicines, such as blood pressure regulating drugs or insulin.
    • Eyeglasses, hearing aids, prosthetic devices or personal aids.
    • Valuables such as credit cards, check-books, insurance policies, savings account books, money and jewelry.

Notify these people of your new address

  • Your employer.
  • Family and friends.
  • Your children's schools.
  • Your Post Office. Have them either hold or forward your mail, depending on the length of time you expect to be relocated.
  • Delivery services like newspapers.
  • Telephone company and the suppliers of gas, electricity and water.

When fire or water damage strikes, you need professional help to get your property back to preloss condition.  SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County provides 24-hour emergency service and is dedicated to being faster to any size disaster.  Our highly trained technicians can respond immediately to your residential or commercial emergency.??

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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SERVPRO Recognizes National Preparedness Month

9/6/2017 (Permalink)

SERVPRO Recognizes National Preparedness Month with a Reminder to Home and Business Owners:

“Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.”

Local disaster restoration specialist offers no-cost tools to help property owners prepare a comprehensive emergency readiness plan

September is National Preparedness Month (http://www.ready.gov/September), an annual event sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to raise awareness about the importance of preparing—in advance—for the unexpected. In support of this initiative, Jack Oliver, owner of SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County, encourages property owners to take the following two steps now to protect their family, home, and business in the aftermath of a disaster.

  1. Review and update your emergency preparedness plan, including business and life continuity plans. If you don’t yet have a plan, use the tools provided by FEMA to get started. (https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan
  1. Collect and store time-critical information, like the location of shutoff valves, fire suppression system controls, and emergency contact numbers electronically, where it is immediately available to assist first responders.

“Evacuation plans and emergency supply kits help you survive a disaster, but a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan helps you recover from a disaster,” said Oliver. “The most effective response to any emergency is a fast response. That’s why having critical system and contact information at your fingertips is so important. A quick and effective response helps minimize repairs and downtime, helping both businesses and families get back on track in less time, with less stress.” 

SERVPRO offers tools for both commercial and residential property owners to help them minimize damage and recover quickly from emergencies. The SERVPRO READY app stores essential contact and property information electronically where it can be accessed with a mobile device in seconds if disaster strikes. Both home and business owners can download the free app at https://ready.SERVPRO.com/home/mobileapp. Local business owners can take an additional preparedness step by designating SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County as their disaster mitigation and restoration provider. SERVPRO professionals will conduct a no-cost assessment of the facility and assist the owner in completing a comprehensive Emergency READY Profile® (ERP) and storing that profile in the READY app.

“Rapid response from a disaster cleanup and restoration specialist can help the property owner evaluate options, start the insurance process, and take the right steps from the beginning to bring their property back to normal,” said Oliver. “Even in the confusion and panic that often surround a disaster, a property owner or manager using the SERVPRO READY app can reach out for expert help right from the scene, using a cell phone.”

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County specializes in disaster restoration, cleanup and repair services, helping to remediate damage, making it “Like it never even happened,” for both commercial and residential customers. For more information on SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County, please call (973) 383-2024. For more information on SERVPRO® and the SERVPRO® Emergency READY Program, please visit www.ready.SERVPRO.com.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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American Red Cross: Hurricane Harvey Update

8/30/2017 (Permalink)

American Red Cross - Hurricane Harvey Relief

Our hearts go out to the hundreds of thousands of people affected by this catastrophic disaster in Texas. We know this is a challenging and emotional time, and the American Red Cross is working around the clock to get help to those who need it most.

Thousands of people have been forced to leave their flooded homes, losing everything they own – and the storm isn’t over yet. Significant flooding and tornadoes are still predicted. As much as 50 inches of rain is expected to fall before Harvey leaves the region, and parts of Texas comparable to the size of Lake Michigan remain underwater.

Click here to make an urgently needed donation today to help the thousands of people who are counting on the generosity of people like you in these difficult hours – they need a warm, dry place to sleep, hot food to eat, and a community to lean on as they work to return to normal life.

Thanks to two generous families from the state of Texas, all donations made today to Hurricane Harvey will be MATCHED, dollar-for-dollar, up to $55,000. This is a chance for your impact to go twice as far. Please give generously to those who need it most. 

Special thanks to the Pointer Family and Bobby and Leona Cox for their generous matching gift contribution.

Your gift will help support relief efforts that are already underway. So far your support has enabled us to –

  • Work alongside partners to provide shelter for at least 17,000 people in Texas Monday night, and we are prepared to shelter thousands more. 
  • Serve nearly 30,000 meals and snacks since the storm began.
  • Mobilize 80 tractor trailer loads of supplies including cots, blankets, comfort kits, kitchen supplies and cleaning supplies.

But the damage wreaked by Tropical Storm Harvey is only growing – more and more families will be depending on the Red Cross for help in the days and weeks to come, and we will be depending on the support of generous donors like you to fulfill our mission. Please donate now and have your gift MATCHED, dollar-for-dollar, up to $55,000 to support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

If a friend or loved one is in harm’s way, urge them to be safe and listen to the advice of emergency officials. People in life-threatening situations that need rescue should call 9-1-1 or the U.S. Coast Guard at 281-464-4851.

You can find shelters by calling 1-800-Red Cross (1-800-733-2767), visiting redcross.org or by downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App. The Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

Stay tuned for more information on our response. I truly appreciate you and your support of the Red Cross.


Sincerely,

Harvey Johnson

Senior Vice President, Disaster Cycle Services
American Red Cross

Why Regular Carpet Cleaning is Important

8/25/2017 (Permalink)

Why Regular Carpet Cleaning is Important

Carpet cleaning can be a bothersome chore. However, the reward of restoring the freshness and beauty back to our carpets is very often worth the efforts. Carpets without proper cleaning quickly lose its beauty in due time. The soiling of carpets can unfold rather fast, even with regularly vacuuming and spot cleaning. Let’s take a look at the main reasons why carpet cleaning is so important.

It prolongs the life span of the carpet.

Vacuuming does help but there are dirt and grime that sinks deep within the fibers. They become hard to clean. They even make the carpet look old and discolored. Regular carpet cleaning in intervals of 12 to 18 months sustains longer life span. It also maintains the beauty of the carpet as if it is only several months old since purchased.

It removes stains, restoring the carpet back an unblemished state.

Carpet stains often mar the look of a carpet and make our living space less pleasant-looking. Carpet stains appear all the time from the dirt carried inside from the soles of shoes, to spilt coffee, wine and other drinks, to pet accidents and more. Deep carpet cleaning can separate the dirt from the carpets, bringing it back to an unblemished and pleasant-looking state.

It lessens pollutants.

The carpet is an effective trap of various particles. Dirt, dust, pet dander, and insect allergens are regulars of home carpet. Regular carpet cleaning helps lessen or completely eliminate these pollutants. The use of special sanitizers like carpet shampoo kills the bacteria from these particles. Would you believe that the average home toilet seat is cleaner than the average home carpet?

It prevents insect infestation.

There are insects that are hard to notice when they are on the carpet’s surface. Sometimes, adaptive coloration makes cockroaches and mites to stay on it until they release eggs. They also leave body fragments like shed skin. With regular carpet cleaning, you do not clean the carpet alone but also kills insects and prevents possible infestation.

It eliminates bad odor.

The dust, insects, urine and various pollutants on the carpet emit foul odor. They also increase the chances that some organisms like bacteria and fungi will soon thrive on the carpet. The bad odor is itself a sign of an unhealthy environment. Regular carpet cleaning will not only eliminate bad odor. It will also hinder these harmful organisms from being carpet mainstays.

It contributes to overall home appeal.

A well-maintained and regularly cleaned carpet is a sign of a well-maintained home. It leaves an impression that the homeowner is careful and meticulous of how his house looks and appeals to his guests. More often than not, a clean home carpet reflects that other things and other parts within the house also shows equal cleanliness.

It protects your investment

Regular carpet cleaning treats your carpet as a great investment. It doesn’t matter how cheap or how expensive you’ve bought it. This is an effort that maintains beauty, color, and the pattern or designs of your carpet longer than you could imagine. It can even make your carpet a legacy passed to your children.

Summary & Next Steps

Regular home carpet cleaning should not be taken for granted. Summing up, the importance it brings comes down to adding beauty wherever that may be.

Manual (hand wash) carpet cleaning of homes can be a tedious, if not impossible process. Fortunately, there are many models of home carpet cleaning machines that allow the process to be much easier.

On top of your own carpet cleaning routines, you may also consider engaging qualified professional cleaning services for an expert review of your carpets. Here at SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County we have the most up to date equipment to do a job well done. You can always give us a call for professional advice on the matter at hand.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Why Carpet Maintenance is Important in The Workplace

8/11/2017 (Permalink)

SERVPRO can remove most staining from carpets.

Maintenance Protects your Investment Flooring is a substantial investment —one you’ll want to protect for years to come. After all, the longer your flooring lasts, the less it costs. The initial cost for floor covering materials and installation does not fully encompass your total floor covering investment. The life cycle cost also factors in life expectancy of the carpet, costs for removal/disposal, lost revenues during renovations and maintenance costs over the life of the carpet.

Good maintenance helps protect your total flooring investment.

Maintenance Helps Carpet Last Longer and Cost Less Proactive, regularly scheduled maintenance removes soil before it can build up and damage carpet fibers. This can actually extend the life of the carpet, reducing the costs of restoration, replacement and disposal. Reactive maintenance cannot fully restore a carpet to a like-new appearance. This results in shorter carpet life and higher carpet life cycle costs.

Maintenance Is Good for the Environment

Our life cycle analysis of carpet shows that the overall environmental footprint of carpet is reduced by increasing the amount of time a carpet remains on the floor. A consistent, proactive maintenance program can significantly improve the appearance retention throughout the life of the carpet. Less carpet waste going to landfills is always good for the environment.

Creating a Carpet Maintenance Program

Once the importance of proper carpet maintenance is understood, we can create a comprehensive maintenance program for you.

Step 1: Make Preventive Maintenance a Priority Preventing soil from entering the environment is easier and less expensive than removing it from the carpet.

Here are five simple but important steps in a preventive maintenance program:

Keep Outside Areas Clean Outside maintenance helps minimize immediate sources of soil. The cleaner you keep sidewalks, parking lots, garages and other areas around the perimeter of your building, the less dirt that will be tracked inside.

Use Soil Barriers Walk-off mats, grates and removable elevator carpets help collect soil before it can be tracked throughout the building. Be sure soil barriers are large enough to allow for at least five steps across.

Vacuum daily, clean frequently and change often for best results. Protect Desk Areas Chair pads under desk chairs prevent casters from crushing carpet and grinding in soil. Specify eating, drinking and smoking areas By restricting these activities to limited areas, you can help confine certain difficult kinds of soil.

Maintain your HVAC System To remove many airborne particles before they are recirculated, regularly replace or clean filters on air-handling equipment. Airborne soil includes industrial wastes, auto emissions, tobacco smoke and pollen.

Step 2: Manage Soil with Regular Vacuuming Vacuuming is the most important dry soil management procedure. Effective vacuuming removes dry soil so that it cannot spread to other carpeted areas.

The level of effective vacuuming has two components: frequency and equipment type. Vacuuming Frequency

• Heavy- to moderate-traffic areas (entrances, elevator lobbies, reception areas, busy corridors, cafeterias, vending machine areas, employee lounges) should be vacuumed daily.

• Light-traffic areas (offices, conference rooms) should be vacuumed at least two to three times per week. Equipment Type

• Dual-motor vacuums are very effective machines for thoroughly cleaning heavy- to moderate traffic areas. This vacuum uses two motors to clean. One motor drives a beater-brush bar that knocks dirt loose, while the second motor provides suction that pulls dirt into the vacuum bag.

• Single-motor vacuums can be very effective machines depending upon their design. For the most part, they should only be used in light-traffic areas. They are generally less powerful than dual-motor vacuums, but easier to maneuver around furniture.

• Detail vacuums can be used to clean around the edges of a room or in confined areas around furniture.

• Carpet sweepers may be used to remove larger particle-sized surface dirt and small litter in high-visibility areas during the business day. However, they are not an effective cleaning method and should not take the place of thorough vacuuming.

The Carpet and Rug Institute has identified vacuum cleaners that meet industry criteria for removal efficacy, particulate emission and carpet damage.

Step 3: Promptly Remove Spills and Stains Although spills are inevitable, permanent stains do not have to be. Most stains can be avoided or removed by immediate, or at least same-day, treatment. It is good practice to have spot and stain removal products and equipment on hand for immediate use.

Correct identification of spots and stains is the first step in proper removal because some types of spills may require special cleaning solutions and techniques.

But for most spills, the basic removal procedure is the same:

1. Blot as much of the spill as you can with an absorbent towel. Always work toward the center of the spill. Do not rub! If the spill is solid or semisolid, gently scrape off what you can using a dull knife.

2. Apply a general-purpose carpet spotter to the spill. This is a detergent solution that is specially made for use on carpets. Never use other kinds of cleaning solutions, such as bleach. These may permanently damage the carpet.

3. Tamp or pat in the carpet spotter with a tamping brush.

4. Wait three minutes, then blot again.

5. Rinse with clean water, then blot as dry as possible. If the stain remains, repeat the entire process. If the stain persists after the second time, contact us here at SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County.

Step 4: Renew your Carpet with Proactive, Periodic Cleaning Even the most effective, consistent vacuuming may leave some soil behind.

Periodic cleaning improves the appearance and extends the life of carpet. Periodic cleaning also removes oily, sticky soil from the carpet that attracts and holds additional soil. Depending on soiling conditions and other factors, there are a number of available cleaning methods. Your choice of method should be based on what will be the most effective and compatible with your carpet and its traffic levels.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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SERVPRO Emergency Ready Profile Continues To Improve

8/11/2017 (Permalink)

SERVPRO's Emergency READY Profile

The SERVPRO Emergency READY Profile 

SERVPRO Industries continues to make improvements to its already successful Emergency READY Profile.

The SERVPRO Emergency READY Profile is a startup approach that provides the critical information needed to begin mitigation and recovery services. It is designed to serve as a quick reference of important building and contact information.  By working with SERVPRO’s Emergency READY Profile, your business can 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.

The SERVPRO Emergency READY Profile Advantage:

  • 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 SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County as your disaster mitigation and restoration provider. – You have a provider that is recognized as an industry leader and is 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.” 

The Best Way to Reduce Business Interruption Following a Disaster is to Plan For it NOW.

As many as 50% of businesses close down following a disaster, according to the latest research. Of the businesses that survive, the overwhelming majority of them had a preparedness plan in place.  Pre-planning can serve as an insurance policy aimed at peace of mind. And knowing you are “Ready for whatever happens” speaks trust to your clients and employees that in the event your business is affected by a disaster, they don’t necessarily have to be.

By developing a SERVPRO Emergency READY Profile for your business, you help to minimize business interruption by having an immediate plan of action. Knowing what to do, who to call and what to expect in advance is helpful in receiving timely mitigation and can help minimize the effects water and fire damage can have on your business.

Are You Ready?

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 for planning for such events is not when the event happens, but well before it happens. No one ever plans on a disaster, but you can plan for it. Now is the time to ask yourself, are you ready for whatever happens?

Call Today to Get Started!

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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How To Prepare for a Flood

8/11/2017 (Permalink)

How To Prepare for a Flood

Floods are the most common disaster for homes in the US. Whether a flood is from torrential rains, flash floods, rising rivers, or a leak inside the home, a flood can cause serious damage to your house. If the horrible images of Hurricane Sandy or Hurricane Katrina are still fresh in your mind, you know just how powerful a sudden surge of water can be. According to FloodSmart, every home is at risk of a flood, but regions are usually divided up by low, medium and high-risk areas. Unfortunately, even homes located in flood-prone areas don’t have flood insurance, making the cleanup and recovery efforts even more stressful for homeowners.

Create a home inventory that you can access during a flood

It’s a smart idea to have an inventory of your home and personal possessions. Insurance companies require thorough inventories in order to compensate a policyholder. So whether the loss of belongings is from break-ins, floods, fires or other disasters, it’s a good idea to keep an accurate record of what you own. Read this article to learn more about different ways to keep track of your inventory. During an actual flood, it’s a good idea to take photographs of your home (if it is safe to do so). This can also help during the documentation process. Keep a home inventory somewhere safe and accessible, like in cloud storage, and remember that when a flood occurs, you may need to evacuate your home.

Store important documents and information outside of your home

Some families like to keep important objects like passports, jewelry, cash or other paper goods in a fireproof safe. But when a flood occurs, these safes may not be accessible. It may be a good idea to keep certain belongings in a safe deposit box at your bank. Of course, if your region regularly floods, you’ll want to ensure that this outside facility is secure from flooding. Keep in mind that if a flood has occurred in your town, the bank may not be accessible for quite some time.

Advice for the basement or rooms below ground

If your live in an area that floods regularly, or if you are concerned about flooding, you’ll want to think carefully about which items you store in your basement. If your basement is where valuables are kept, elevate boxes off the ground and consider watertight enclosures. It’s easy to purchase rolling racks with adjustable shelves; these can be perfect for moving things around and keeping boxes up off wet surfaces. If your water heater, furnace, electrical panel or other important mechanical fixtures are located in the basement, consider having them elevated off the ground or moved (at least 12 inches above the expected flood line). Water can seriously damage these items and replacing them can be very expensive.

Install a sump pump

Sump pumps are ideal for homes that experience regular flooding, especially in the basement. It may not be able to handle a flash-flood situation, but can be perfect for smaller, seasonal floods. You’ll want to have your sump pump regularly inspected to ensure it functions properly. Many homeowners that install a sump pump also install a backup generator so that the pump continues to operate even when power is cut off to the home.

Food and water for 2-4 days

The American Red Cross suggests having at least a 3-day supply of food and water on hand for emergencies. Remember that if your area has experienced a flood, you may have difficulty getting to your local stores and pharmacies and even if you can reach them, supplies may be very limited. It is recommended to have at least 1 gallon of water per day per person during an emergency. Keep these supplies in an area of your home that would be accessible in the event of a flood.

Have an emergency bag packed

An emergency bag or box should be filled with first aid supplies, extra medicine (a 7-day supply), food and water, flashlight and batteries, toilet paper, a multipurpose tool, a blanket and any other supplies you may need to cope with a flood. You’ll also want your tools for communicating like a portable radio and a cell phone charger. Some people keep cash in their emergency kits; ATMs may not be functioning during a natural disaster and you may need cash for hotels or transportation. If your region has flood warnings or institutes a flood evacuation, you don’t have time to pack a bag. The idea of this emergency kit is that it should be already packed, easy to carry or transport (in case you need to evacuate) and should be able to tide you over until you reach a more stable area.  There are many online sites that sell ready-to-go bags and emergency kits. Here is a link to the FEMA recommended list of emergency supplies.

Plan your evacuation with your family ahead of time

Your family should put together a plan of action in case of an emergency. This could include how everyone should get a hold of each other, meeting points, and evacuation routes. Many city websites have specific pages designed to help families understand their local natural disaster plans. It’s important to read through this information prior to a natural disaster, as your access to the internet may be immediately cut off. As we saw from past events like Hurricane Katrina, flooding can happen quickly and can create an overwhelming feeling of chaos. Some families designate an out-of-state person as the central point of contact during an emergency, as their lines of communication may still be functioning. Having a plan on hand is the best way to feel in control when disaster strikes, particularly if you and your family have to act quickly. Some neighborhood organizations create emergency plans for their specific area. If you have neighbors that live alone or may need extra help during an emergency, it’s a good idea to ask them if they’d like to be included in your family’s plan. Remember to have a plan for your pets as well.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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How To Stock Up for Severe Weather

8/11/2017 (Permalink)

How To Stock Up for Severe Weather

This Old House host Kevin O'Connor and Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel discuss how to prepare for the next big storm

THIS OLD HOUSE HOST KEVIN O'CONNOR AND JIM CANTORE OF THE WEATHER CHANNELTHIS OLD HOUSE TELEVISION 
  • Overview

  • Comments

  • In this video, This Old House host Kevin O'Connor and Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel discuss how to prepare for the next big storm.

    Steps:
    1. Keep a water supply of one gallon per day per person for three days.
    2. Have a three-day supply of canned goods, and don't forget to pack a can opener.
    3. Pack several fresh batteries, flashlights, and lanterns.
    4. Get a hand-crank flashlight that can also recharge cell phones.
    5. Place important documents and phone numbers in a waterproof case.
    6. Choose a meeting place in case family members get separated.
    7. Portable gas-powered generators must be placed outdoors; never run one in an enclosed space. Be sure to have gasoline on hand.
    8. Use a chain and padlock to secure the generator to a tree or other unmovable object.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Brace Yourself, Winter Is Coming

8/11/2017 (Permalink)

Brace Yourself, Winter Is Coming

You don’t have to be a Game of Thrones fan to know that winters these days are wild. When colder months roll around, the only thing that’s certain is that the weather will be unpredictable. Whether it’s ice storms across the North East, or flash floods throughout the South West, being prepared is the best defense.

Check these nine home projects to weatherproof your place and make sure you have a cozy winter.

  1. Get a winter-ready roof. A leaking roof makes for a messy, expensive, winter. Inside the house, dark ceiling stains or sagging spots mean a roof repair is in order. Outside, confirm shingles have no signs of splitting, disintegration, or looseness. If your roof is tricky to access—or you have tile shingles—hire a specialist to do the inspection. It’s not worth the broken bones or broken tiles!
  1. Clean those gutters. You could break out the ladders and gloves, root around in old wet leaves… or do yourself a favor and hire someone who specializes in gutters to handle this arduous task for you. A professional will safely reach the roof, clear out the muck, and look for signs of wear and tear that might need repair.
  1. Tuck up your trees. If winter storms are bad, unwieldy trees can do serious damage to homes, vehicles—even people. Call in a tree trimming service to give an assessment of your yard and tree safety. Southeastern cities such as Miami,Houston, and New Orleans benefit from trim trees during hurricane season as well.
  1. Tune up your heat source – and save money on heating bills. Have a fireplace or heater? Get it ready for winter. Buildup in a fireplace is a serious fire hazard. Call in an expert to take care of black dust or residue. For heaters, call for a routine maintenance check before the freezing temps hit.
  1. Winterize your windows and doors. Apply weather stripping around doors to seal in heat and keep out cold. Use caulk to seal windows in tight and keep out icy winds. Even cities with moderate winter climates like Los Angeles benefit from these quick fixes. Best of all, it’s a cheap energy saver!
  1. Schedule your holiday lighting installation. Winter prep is not all chores! Decorating is a fabulous project to look forward to. Think big this year with a gorgeous light display that’ll have all the neighbors jealous. Give Chicago’s Magnificent Mile Lights Festival a run for their money.
  1. Winterize the yard. Bring in small plants that can’t survive a freeze like the ones that strike Dallas each winter. For cities that deep freeze, like Chicago and Boston, turn off outdoor watering systems to avoid bursting pipes. Regardless of location, every yard benefits when you load up the truck—or hire someone to do the dirty work for you—and haul away dead bushes, old leaves, and yard waste. When rotting debris stays on the lawn all winter, expect brown spots and blight come spring.
  1. Prep the pool. Love the summertime fun of playing in the pool? Make sure it gets the winterizing treatment before snows and freezing temperatures hit. Cities like Newark that enjoy both hot and cold temperatures can call in a pool specialist or winterize themselves to make sure the pool survives the winter.
  1. Finish your to-do list. Getting winter ready is a great excuse to fix a leaky faucet, repair the creaking washing machine, and replace the springs on the garage door. Everything is more manageable when the weather is warmer. Either get out the toolbox or hire a handyperson—all you’ll have to worry about when the temperature drops is which movie to watch.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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The High Cost of Plumbing Leaks

8/11/2017 (Permalink)

The High Cost of Plumbing Leaks

Repair leaks promptly - If you have a leaky faucet, toilet or pipe in your home, fix it immediately before it becomes a much bigger and more expensive problem. Even if it’s a slow leak, such as a dripping faucet, it can account for more than 10 percent of your water usage.

If you don’t know if you have a leak, your water meter readings can provide the clue. When water is not in use, check the meter twice in a two-hour time span. If the readings change, then there is a leak somewhere in your home.

If you can't determine the source of the leak but your meter readings indicate you definitely have one, call in a professional plumber. You may have a leaky pipe behind a wall, and if left alone, will cause extensive damage that ruins the drywall, deteriorates the framing over time and causes mold growth. A leaky pipe is also an early sign of a burst pipe, which will result in greater damage to your home.

Stop a running toilet - A running toilet can cost you hundreds of dollars and is a major contribution to a costly water bill. It is generally the result of broken internal parts. It could be that a simple repair on the valves is needed, or there could be a larger issue.

"Many people think that showering or doing laundry uses the most water, but actually, the toilet accounts for the largest use of water in a home. If you have a leaky or running toilet, your water bill can skyrocket," explained Tim Flynn, owner. "If you hear the toilet running or it flushes slowly or overflows often, get it checked out right away. Clogged drains waste water as well and can become a major problem."

Waiting for hot water - If you turn on the sink or shower and wait anywhere from 30 seconds to over a minute for the water to heat up, precious gallons of clean water go down the drain. You are paying for that water to get hot while it runs. Consider replacing your traditional storage water heater with a Tankless Water Heater or installing a Hot Water Recirculating System. Recirculation pumps will get the water to the faucet faster and keep it hot in the line longer. They usually cost approximately $1000, which can be recouped in about two and a half years. Either system will ensure immediate delivery of hot water when you need it and provide significant water savings.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Window Air Conditioner Leaking Water Into House – What To Check – How To Fix

8/11/2017 (Permalink)

Window Air Conditioner Leaking Water Into House – What To Check – How To Fix

Question: I just turned my window AC unit ON today and it is leaking water inside my house. What could be the problem? I had it running for 3 weeks and all of a sudden it started leaking. There is a puddle of water on the window ledge on the inside of the house. Water is on the plastic vent where the cold air blows out. I believe that is where it is leaking but not sure. Can you tell me how to fix this? My carpet is soaking wet, I need this to stop leaking, please help!

Window AC Leaking Water Into House – How To Fix

ANSWER: You are going to check a few things to be sure the ac unit is installed properly and there is no water drainage block present
 Unplug the window AC unit.
 Clean up all the water on the AC unit, on the window ledge, and on the floor of your room.
 Check and be sure the AC is tightly sealed in the window.
 Do you feel warm air coming into the room around the AC unit?
 If you feel warm air coming in you need to seal it correctly.
 Seal in the window AC unit to prevent warm air from entering the room.
 Check to see if the drain holes on the rear of the ac unit are blocked.
 Clean the drain holes to allow water to drip out.
 Make sure the filter is clean and not clogged with massive dirt or dust.
 After cleaning up the water and having it turned off for 30 minutes or so, turn it back on and see if the water appears again.
 If water appears and starts dripping into your room again, check to see if the AC unit is properly sealed in the window.
 If the AC unit is not sealed correctly, the moisture in the air coming in from outside gets condensed by the cold air inside the unit and this extra moisture builds up in AC unit and then leaks.
SO BE SURE IT IS SEALED IN THE WINDOW CORRECTLY.

Here are some other reasons water can drip from a window air conditioner unit:

AIR LEAK – AIR CONDITIONER NOT PROPERLY SEALED IN WINDOW:
If your window air conditioner is not sealed correctly, the warmer air from outside gets inside the air conditioner. When this happens, the moisture that is in the warmer air will be condensed by the colder air inside the air conditioner. When there is excess moisture inside the AC, water will leak. So if this is happening to you, make sure you have a good seal around the window AC.

DRAIN IS BLOCKED – DIRT OR DUST HAS BLOCKED THE DRAIN HOLES:
There are drain holes (drip pan) at the rear of window AC units. They can get blocked from dusty conditions or dirt in the air. When this type of blockage happens, the water that would normally drip out will be trapped and water will leak from the front of the AC unit and at both sides of the unit. Be sure to keep the drain holes clean and free of debris. Also clean the filters or replace them to prevent any type of blockage that may cause a water leak.

OUTSIDE TEMP IS LOWER – HEAVY MOISTURE IN OUTSIDE AIR:
If it is raining or there is heavy moisture in the air outside, water evaporates much less than usual. This leads to excess water moisture in the air conditioner and this will cause water leaks. This is normal for most window AC units and using a drip pan can solve the issue if there is heavy moisture in the air outside.

CONDENSER PUMP NOT WORKING – BROKEN OR CLOGGED PUMP:
If the condenser pump in the AC is faulty or clogged, it will cause water to leak. You can check the condenser/pump if you feel confident. Check for any blockage or loose wires. If the pump seems to be okay visually, you will need to test the pump with a meter to see if it is faulty. If so, you may be better off buying a new AC unit.

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The 10 most Common Causes of Rooftop Leaks

8/11/2017 (Permalink)

The 10 most Common Causes of Rooftop Leaks

Let’s face it: No one wants to have to go running for a drip bucket every time it rains. Not only is having to stay on top of the weather forecast annoying and impractical, but that one small drip symbolizes a larger roofing issue – and we all know that roofing issues mean an investment of time and money.

In an effort to save you that investment, we’ve compiled a list of The 10 Most Common Causes of Roof Leaks. We’ll tell you what they look like, why they happen, and how to fix them.

Whether your roof is two years old or twenty keep this list handy. You never know when it could mean the difference between doing a quick repair or a major remodel.

1. Your Flashing Has Cracked

What Does It Look Like: Flashing are thin pieces of metal that are installed under shingles and on the joints of your roof in order to create a water-resistant barrier, which can be concealed or exposed. If exposed, they will look like long runs of sheet metal and, if concealed, they will have a rubberized coating over top. Broken flashing will feature large cracks

Why It Happens: Roofers often use tar to seal the flashing together and that can corrode over time. In the event that your flashing is left exposed, elements like wind and rain could be the reason behind its crack.

How To Fix It: (Via The Family Handyman): Once you locate the source of the leak, pry up the nails used to secure the old flashing. Lift any shingles out of the way and remove the cracked segment. Gently put a new run of flashing in its place, fasten the new flashing in the same pattern as your old piece using roofing nails. Then, apply a coat of roofing sealant to the nail heads.

2. You Have Broken Shingles

What Does It Look Like: Look up! This one is easy to spot. Since shingles are the exterior layer of a roof, you should be able to identify missing shingles by seeing different-colored patches on your roof. Alternatively, you may find the shingles themselves littering your yard after a heavy storm.

Why It Happens: Again, weather. High winds and heavy rains.

How To Fix It: (Via This Old House): Slide a pry bar underneath the row of nails that connects the damage shingle to the one below it. Lift up until the nail pops and then press down on the shingle while you remove the nail. Repeat for the remaining nails. Pull out the damaged shingle, replace it with a new one, and secure it with four new nails.

3. Your Valleys Aren’t Properly Sealed

What Does It Look Like: An area where two planes of roof come together. Since, these areas of the roof are usually sloped, if the valleys are not sealed together properly, rainwater can get inside as it runs down the roof. You can detect a problem by searching for wet spots that run along the seams of your roof.

Why It Happens: A variety of reasons – the sealing may not have been done properly in the first place, it may have cracked when being stepped on, or an excess of rain and ice may have caused it to erode over time.

How To Fix It: This is one of those things that needs to be done by a professional because of its complexity and we do not recommend attempting it on your own. However, your roofer will likely fix the problem by laying a new leak barrier along the valley and shingling overtop.

4. Your Vent Booting Is Cracked

What Does It Look Like: Roof vents are those things that look like small pipes sticking out of the top of your roof. They’re used to expel excess moisture from the inside of the house. Leaks from this area will likely leave corresponding dark spots (and mustiness).

Why It Happens: Roof vents are often sealed by placing some flashing around the opening and slipping a tight, rubber boot over the area where the pipe peeks out of the roof. Over time, the flashing can break or the roof can decay.

How To Fix It: (Via: DIY Guy): Use a knife to remove the rubber around the vent. Use a pry bar to break the seal on any connecting shingles. Slide the new rubber boot under the shingles, over the vent, and bring it down onto the roof. Then, secure the new boot with roofing nails on either side and caulk under the shingles to seal them to the new flashing.

5. You Have Ice Dam Buildup

What Does It Look Like: An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off. The combined weight of the ice itself can damage the roof, as well as the water just sitting on the roof’s surface.

Why It Happens: The heat from your attic (and the rest of your house) is above freezing, which causes some of the snowfall to melt, despite the cold temperatures outside. The water will then run between the roof’s surface and the snow and will refreeze into ice once it hit’s the roof’s exterior edge.

How To Fix It: Invest in a roof rake, which looks like a sideways shovel with a long handle, and use it too reach up onto the roof and remove at least the lower four feet of snow from the roof edge. If you see an ice dam forming, consider treating it with an ice melt product, according to manufacturer’s directions.

6. Your Skylights Were Improperly Installed

What Does It Look Like: Leaks from this kind of problem should be super easy to spot. If you find yourself noticing wet spots or consistently needing to place drip buckets around the sides of your skylights, you’ve found the cause. However, leaks and wet spots near the top of the skylight may be a flashing issue instead.

Why It Happens: There are two main causes for this type of leak. Improperly measuring and fitting the skylights upon installation or decayed insulation along the skylights edges.

How To Fix It: Clear any debris off of the skylight and check for cracks in the window itself. Seal any cracks with a layer of clear silicone along its length, if necessary. If that is not the cause, check the surrounding flashing and replace as needed.

7. Your Gutters Are Clogged

What Does It Look Like: You may be able to see the leaves sticking out of the gutter when you look up onto your roof. But, if not, you should notice the lack of water trickling out of a downspout during a rainstorm.

Why It Happens: Your gutters are meant to help water travel away from the roof. When a blockage forms and they get clogged, that travel stops. Rainwater will then pool in one area of the roof and have more of an opportunity to seep through cracks.

How To Fix It: Sorry, there’s no easy answer to this one. Get up on a ladder, and get in there with your hands. Many recommend placing a large tarp underneath the area where you are working. That way, you can drop any debris as you go and wrap it up for easy disposal later.

8. You Have A Cracked Chimney

What Does It Look Like: Most often, you can look for signs of wear and tear along the mud cap, or mortared area around the top of the chimney. You should also look for any holes in the mortared joints where the chimney connects with the roof. Also, be on the lookout for loose flashing and shingles in the surrounding area.

Why It Happens: Mortar is essentially just a thick mixture of water, sand, and cement. It erodes easily in harsh weather conditions.

How To Fix It: In some cases, all you need to do is find the source of the leak and replace the missing mortar. However, since the materials used for chimney repairs are different than those for standard roofing fixes, it is recommended that you hire a professional handle the repairs.

9. There’s Condensation In Your Attic

What Does It Look Like: A leak is most likely coming from your attic if the space shows signs of mold growth or mildew. A strong, musty odor  emanating from the attic is also a key that water has gotten inside.

Why It Happens: As the uppermost part of your home, the attic is trapped between indoor and outdoor temperatures. When those clash – think hot summers and cold winters – condensation will form and moisture will follow.

How To Fix It: First, treat any mold growth. Then, take the time to isolate your attic to prevent large fluctuations in temperature. Make sure that all of the roof vents are clear from the interior end and install a large ventilation fan, if needed.

10. You’re Using It Too Much

What Does It Look Like: Unfortunately, there is no way to differentiate if this is the cause of the leak. However, all homeowners should be careful with how often they venture out on to their roofs.

Why It Happens: As you can see from the other causes in this post, a lot of roofing material is very fragile. You may accidentally step on a crucial element or crack an already precarious seal.

How To Fix It: Avoid walking on your roof whenever possible. Let that Frisbee go and buy a new one. Hire a professional roofer to do your fixes, since they are trained on how to avoid the most easily-damaged areas.

Whether you have an old roof, new roof, or even a fancy green rooftop, wear and tear is unavoidable. There will be rainstorms, long winters, and heavy winds. But, roof leaks? They are a different story. With the right care regimen, every roof should have the ability to keep your family warm and dry for decades. As you work on home maintenance, refer to this list of the 10 most common causes of roof leaks. You’ll be glad you did when catching a leak early saves you time and money.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Carbon Monoxide: A Silent Killer

8/4/2017 (Permalink)

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

You can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, but at high levels, it can kill a person in minutes. Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide, or CO, is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas, created when fuels, like gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas and propane burn incompletely.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning. It is estimated another 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to CO poisoning.  All people and animals are at risk for CO poisoning, with some groups— including unborn babies, infants, and people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems— being more susceptible to the effects of carbon monoxide.

An excess of CO, leading to CO poisoning, can result from faulty furnaces or other heating appliances, portable generators, water heaters, clothes dryers, or idling cars left running in garages.

Taking some basic, precautionary steps can help eliminate the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Protect yourself by reviewing the following tips, provided by the United States Fire Administration.

  • Have fuel-burning appliances, like oil and gas furnaces, gas or kerosene heaters, fireplaces, and wood stoves inspected by a trained professional every year.
  • Open the damper for proper ventilation before using a fireplace. Never use your oven or stovetop to heat your home.
  • Make sure all fuel-burning vented equipment is vented to the outside to avoid CO poisoning. Keep the venting for exhaust clear and unblocked.
  • If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Never run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not blocked with snow, ice, or other materials.
  • Make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow and other debris.
  • Only use barbecue grills outside, away from all doors, windows, vents, and other building openings. Some grills can produce CO gas. Never use grills inside the home or the garage, even if the doors are open.
  • Use portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from all doors, windows, vents, and other building openings to prevent exhaust fumes from entering the home.

Symptoms of CO Poisoning

  • Dull headache
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness

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EXTREME HEAT!

6/2/2017 (Permalink)

Extreme Heat Safety

DID YOU KNOW?

On average, heat is the number one weather related killer in the United States.

Source: National Weather Service, nws.noaa.gov

As summer approaches, it is time to consider safety precautions for extreme heat in the coming months. Heat affects all people, but especially the young, elderly, sick, and overweight. Urban area residents also have a greater chance of being affected than those who live in rural areas due to the heat island effect.

According to the EPA, “the sun can heat dry, exposed urban surfaces, such as roofs and pavement, to temperatures 50–90°F hotter than the air, while shaded or moist surfaces—often in more rural surroundings—remain close to air temperatures.” These surface heat islands are strongest during the day when the sun is shining, while the atmospheric heat islands are more likely after sunset “due to the slow release of heat from urban infrastructure.”

Whether you are in an urban or rural area, there are several things you can do to prepare for and prevent extreme heat from affecting you. If possible, stay indoors in air conditioning. Be sure to check on your pets who may be outdoors or bring them inside. Stay hydrated and limit alcohol and caffeine intake.

If you must go outside, wear loose-fitting, light colored clothing, and be sure to apply sunscreen often. Pay attention to signs of heat exhaustion, which are heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale, and clammy skin; nausea or vomiting; and fainting, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which is life-threatening. Signs of heat stroke are a high body temperature (103°+), rapid and strong pulse, and possible unconsciousness.

If you think someone has heat stroke, call 911 immediately and move the person somewhere cool. Reduce body temperature with cool, wet cloths or a bath. Do not give a person with heat stroke fluids, and treat the situation as a serious medical emergency (CDC). If you live in a humid climate, be aware of the heat index. The heat index factors in the humidity, which can make the temperature feel 15° hotter.

Extreme heat is a serious danger. For more information on preparation and prevention, visit ready.gov or cdc.gov.

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Mold: Chapter 3 - The Professional Assessment

5/26/2017 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation

Ok, so you think you may have a mold issue.  You see mold growth,  there’s a heavy musty smell, or you just have a hunch something is not right and decide to find out exactly what type of mold or indoor air quality problem exists, if any at all.

In order to determine what the problem is, you can reach out to a Certified Mold Remediation company, like SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County, and get a free professional opinion.  We will inspect the areas of concern and offer opinion on cause, severity and next steps, which may ultimately involve the participation of a Certified Industrial Hygienist if the issue is serious or we can’t draw a satisfactory conclusion.

It is important to understand that a professional mold remediator is not necessarily someone who could, or even should, test for the presence of mold or develop a remediation project plan on their own as it could be deemed as a conflict of interest.  A third party evaluation should always be considered, which is why the involvement of a Certified Industrial Hygienist may be a critical component in protecting your home, your budget and your health concerns with any mold issue.

Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIH) are scientists / engineers committed to protecting the health and safety of people in the workplace and the community.  The CIH’s role, with respect to inspecting for mold and mold remediation, is:

  • The CIH will discuss the history of the environment with you to help determine root causes of any problem, from current or past water incursions or any other relevant environmental issue.
  • The CIH will visually inspect the areas of concern looking for water damage markers and the existence of visual mold growth.
  • They will make every effort to identify causes, if none are obvious to the homeowner, and provide corrective actions.  They may inspect exterior drainage, roof conditions, plumbing, etc. to make this determination.
  • The CIH may or may not take samples in their determination of existing mold conditions.  Sometimes conditions are obvious and testing becomes an unnecessary expense.  When samples are taken, these samples will be sent to a third party lab for analysis to determine the severity of mold activity and the various species involved.
  • Once lab results are returned, the CIH will produce a protocol for mold remediation and repairs to prevent a recurrence of mold growth.  This protocol becomes the defining project plan and is vital when you begin planning your project steps, project budget and begin the process of identifying contractors who may perform the work.
  • Finally, once any remediation work has been completed, the CIH will perform a Clearance inspection.  At this time, he will visually inspect the work area(s) to ensure satisfactory work was completed.  If he is satisfied with the visual examination, the CIH will take a final set of samples to ensure that the existence of mold, in the work area(s), is at satisfactory levels and the area(s) can be returned to the homeowner in a healthful condition.

There are several resources you can us to obtain a CIH.

  • They can be referred to you from a trusted source, like SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County,
  • You can find them online at various sources, such as the American Industrial Hygiene Association
  • You can perform a web search.

Be sure to always check credentials and experience in your selection process.

In our next chapter we’ll discuss project planning and budgeting for your mold remediation project.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's Mold Remediation Services.

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Mold: Chapter 4 - Contractor Selection

5/24/2017 (Permalink)

Choosing a mold remediation contractor

You’ve selected your Certified Industrial Hygienist and he’s performed his initial inspection.  If they have determined that there is a mold issue, their next step is to provide you with a written assessment and protocol, or mold remediation and corrective action work plan.


In this document, you should be provided:



  • the likely caused the mold growth,

  • current observations and conditions of the area(s) inspected,

  • sampling results (if samples were taken) describing the mold species identified and their impact,

  • a corrective action plan describing what repairs need to be made to prevent further damage,

  • a detailed remediation work plan which your mold remediation contractor will use is creating their proposal and work plan.


Your next step is to search for and invite remediation firms to bid on this project.  There are many sources you can use to identify potential candidates, such as:



  • web searches

  • referrals from your CIH or others

  • the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (org) or other reputable certifying firm


When inviting remediation contractors to bid on your project, ensure they are qualified.  Some of the questions or information you may request are:



  • Insurance coverage: candidates should have, and be happy to provide you with, the following insurance information.  Each should have reasonable limits to address the size of your project:

    • General Liability

    • Pollution

    • Workers Comp





  • Certifications and Registrations

    • They should ideally be firm certified in Water and Mold Remediation by an organization such as the IICRC, IAQA or ACA

    • Registered with Consumer Affairs as a state Home Improvement Contractor





  • Prior experience or testimonials:

    • Ask for testimonials or references from recent clients

    • Beware of online reputations.  Good or bad, they may only give you a very small sampling.




Each candidate you select should then be provided with a copy of the CIH protocol and permitted a time when they can inspect the areas in question.  The CIH should be made available to each candidate in order to answer any questions they may have regarding the project and to verify their intended approach.  The CIH should not instruct them on how to assemble their proposal, but should give them guidance as to what will be expected in order to pass clearance.


Since you provided each candidate with the protocol, there should be no confusion regarding scope of work.  Each proposal should show a timeline to accomplish the work and provide ample details.  If the candidate you felt most impressed with is higher, try to negotiate.


At this point you should have enough information to make your selection.  Next we’ll present project time and budget planning.


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Mold: Chapter 2 - Detection and Prevention

5/19/2017 (Permalink)

prevent mold growth, mold testing

How to prevent mold growth

The key to preventing and stopping indoor mold growth is to control excessive moisture and condensation. Keeping susceptible areas in the home clean and dry is critical. In general, mold will not grow indoors without water, dampness or excessive moisture.

Three main factors contribute to condensation of water on building surfaces:

  • Relative Humidity: Condensation occurs when the air is saturated with water and it cannot hold any more moisture. For example, steam generated from bathroom showers or from cooking can fill up the air with moisture, which will then condense into drops of water on cooler surfaces, such as mirrors and windows. Where possible, localized sources of humidity, such as clothes dryers, should be directly vented to the outdoors.  To lower indoor humidity during warm, humid weather, air conditioners and/or dehumidifiers should be used. In chronically damp areas such as basements or crawlspaces, it is often recommended that dehumidifiers be used to maintain humidity levels below 60 percent.
  • Temperature: Warm air holds more moisture than cold air. Condensation occurs when warm humid air comes into contact with a cold surface and the moisture condenses into water. This can often be seen on single-pane windows, where water condenses and then runs down, causing the wood frames and sills to rot and the wall under the windows to blister. Condensation can occur on exterior walls, particularly north-facing walls, if they are not properly insulated. Other chronically cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes, should be covered with insulation to help prevent condensation.
  • Poor Ventilation: Indoor humidity can build up if there is not enough ventilation and exchange of indoor and outdoor air. Where there is little or no air movement, such as behind dressers and cabinets, surfaces can remain cooler than surrounding areas, which can lead to increased condensation and mold growth. It is recommended that the area be ventilated and the occupants use exhaust fans (vented to the outdoors) to remove moisture from high-humidity areas, particularly in bathrooms, kitchens and laundry areas. Furniture should be moved slightly away from walls so that air can freely pass behind it. Air should be allowed to circulate between rooms and regularly ventilate to remove humid air. Fans should be used as needed.

Other things that can be done are to clean and repair gutters regularly, make sure the ground slopes down and away from the home’s foundation and keep air conditioner drip pans and drain lines clean. In addition, in air conditioned buildings in hot and humid climates, vinyl wall coverings on the interior sides of exterior walls should not be used, as these materials can trap moisture, resulting in mold growth underneath them.

In the case of floods or leaking pipes, any standing water should be promptly removed and water-damaged materials should either be dried out and cleaned, or removed and replaced. Porous materials that are wet for more than 48 hours are likely to produce mold growth and should be discarded. In instances where the water damage is extensive, it is recommended that professional help, such as a commercial restoration company, be consulted.

Should I test my home for mold on a routine basis?

Probably not. Looking for evidence of water damage and visible mold growth should be your first step. Testing for mold is expensive, and you should have a clear reason for doing so. In addition, there are no standards for “acceptable” levels of mold in the indoor environment. When air testing is done, it is usually to compare the levels and types of mold spores found inside the home with those found outdoors. If you know you have a mold problem, it is more important to spend time and resources solving the moisture problem and getting rid of the mold than to spend it on sampling.

What to do if you see or smell mold in your home

The most important step is to identify the source(s) of moisture, which result in mold growth, and make repairs to stop them. If you only clean up the mold and do not fix the moisture problem, most likely the mold growth will recur.

If the source of the moisture is related to a building failure or fault, such as a burst pipe or leaking roof, a professional contractor should be consulted. In instances where the moisture source does not appear to be related to leaks, floods, structural faults or rising damp, it is most likely due to condensation. If you do not see mold growth but smell a musty odor, mold may be growing underneath or behind water-damaged materials, such as walls, carpeting, or wallpaper.

Once the source of the moisture has been identified and fixed, you need to decide if removing the mold from the affected areas is something that can be done without professional assistance. If the mold growth was caused by sewage back-up or other contaminated water, potential pathogens may be present and the work should be performed by a professional contractor that has experience in cleaning buildings damaged by contaminated water.

If the mold growth is due to condensation or small-scale leak and is limited to a small area (fewer than ten square feet), you can probably do the work yourself following guidelines such as those that have been prepared by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and AIHA.

On hard surfaces, such as countertops and furniture, use detergent and water to wash mold off and then dry completely. The use of biocides or chemical disinfectants is not recommended as these may be hazardous to occupants.

Moldy porous or absorbent materials, such as ceiling tiles, wallboard and carpeting should be removed and replaced. People cleaning mold should wear rubber gloves, goggles and an approved respirator to protect against breathing airborne spores. An N95 respirator would be appropriate for most cleanup projects, provided that you are medically capable of wearing a respirator. If you have health concerns, you should consult your doctor before doing any mold cleanup.

Over the past decade or so, the industry has given rise to many individuals and companies who tout themselves as experts and certified in various aspects of mold investigation and remediation, but who may have little or no practical experience. If you choose to hire a consultants to help identify your problem, or a contractors to perform the cleanup in your home, make sure that they have specific work experience in dealing with and cleaning up mold, and check their references.

Source: AIHA American Industrial Hygiene Association

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Mold: Chapter 1 - Background

5/4/2017 (Permalink)

mold growth, mold remedation, black mold

The subject of mold growth and remediation can be a complex issue which prompts many questions:



  • How did the growth happen?

  • Is my health in danger?

  • How do I get rid of it?

  • Will it happen again?


We'll issue a series of blogs to present the various points on mold growth and what you can do about it.


What is mold?


The term “mold” is a colloquial term for a group of filamentous fungi that are common on food or wet materials. This includes the green Penicillium species that produces penicillin, and fungi that spoil our bread, fruit, cheese and crops. Most of these are Ascomycetes (def: ascomycetes include most molds, mildews, and yeasts, the fungal component of most lichens, and a few large forms such as morels and truffles) that produce a lot of spores.


The majority of the molds that grow on damp building materials are found in the soil and are adapted to grow on a wide variety of materials. Outdoors, molds live in the soil, on plants, and on dead or decaying matter. There are thousands of species of mold and they can be any color. Different mold species are adapted to different moisture conditions ranging from very wet to just damp. Many times, mold can be detected by a musty odor. Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold growths (colonies) under the right conditions. All of us are exposed to a variety of fungal spores daily in the air we breathe, both outdoors and indoors.


How mold gets into a house or building


Mold and fungal spores occur naturally outdoors, where fungi are the earth’s most important recyclers. Indoors, mold needs moisture to grow; it becomes a problem only where there is water damage, elevated and prolonged humidity, or dampness. Common sources of excessive indoor moisture that can lead to mold problems include:



  • flooding from surface waters (i.e., overflowing rivers) or from severe storms;

  • roof leaks from damaged or missing roofing materials, ice dams or blocked gutters;

  • storm-driven rain through window frames, exterior walls or door assemblies;

  • leaking pipes, sewer back-ups or overflows;

  • damp basements or crawl spaces due to a high water table or poorly managed rainwater drainage; and

  • condensation on cold surfaces.


Should I be concerned about mold?


It all depends on how much mold there is. Small amounts of mold growth in workplaces or homes (such as mildew on a shower curtain) are not a major health concern. Large quantities of mold growth, however, are an important public health concern. In addition, mold can damage building materials, finishes, and furnishings and, in some cases, cause structural damage to wood.


How molds affect people


Most people have no reaction when exposed to molds. Allergic reactions, similar to pollen or animal allergies, and irritation are the most common health effects for individuals sensitive to molds. Flu-like symptoms and skin rash may occur. Exposure to molds may also aggravate asthma. In very rare cases, fungal infections from building-associated molds may occur in people with serious immune disease. Most symptoms are temporary and eliminated by correcting the mold problem.


Who is affected by exposure to mold?


There is a wide variability in how people are affected by airborne mold spore exposure. Currently, there is no established airborne concentration that is known to adversely affect any individual’s health. People who may be affected more severely and quickly than others include:



  • Infants and children

  • Elderly people

  • Pregnant women

  • Individuals with respiratory conditions or allergies and asthma

  • Persons with weakened immune systems


Those with special health concerns should consult their doctor if they are concerned about mold exposure. Symptoms that may seem to occur from mold exposure may be due to other causes, such as bacterial or viral infections or other allergies.


Can mold spores contain toxins?


Yes. Some of these fungi produce toxic metabolites (mycotoxins), and almost all molds that grow in the built environment can produce triple helical glucan, both of which are toxic to lung cells. Many studies in appropriate laboratory animals have demonstrated that very low exposures of these compounds can result in inflammation. The health effects of breathing mycotoxins indoors are not well understood and they continue to be studied. This research is done to better understand why epidemiological studies consistently show increased asthma among occupants of damp buildings not associated with atopy.


Black Mold


The news media and some contractors often refer to “black mold” or “toxic black mold.” It is usually associated with Stachybotrys chartarum, a type of greenish-black mold commonly associated with heavy water damage. Not all molds that appear to be black are Stachybotrys. The known health effects from exposure to Stachybotrys are similar to those caused by other common molds, and again in high exposure situations, are known to be associated with severe health effects in some people. Such exposures seldom, if ever, occur in buildings except during remediation activities by people not taking appropriate precautions.


Source: AIHA American Industrial Hygiene Association


Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.


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MAY IS NATIONAL BUILDING SAFETY MONTH

4/27/2017 (Permalink)

NATIONAL BUILDING SAFETY MONTH, board-up, fire damage, flooding

Building Safety Month—in its 37th year—is an initiative of the International Code Council (ICC) and their 57,000 members across the world, as well as their partners in building construction and design, and the safety community. Building Safety Month is an opportunity to educate insurance and commercial property professionals, as well as the general public, on “what it takes to create safe, resilient, affordable, and energy efficient homes and buildings,” according to the ICC website.


The theme for 2017 is Code Officials— Partners in Community Safety and Economic Growth and highlights managing disasters, specifically natural disasters, in week three of this year’s campaign.


Some of the topics and tips shared throughout the month include Disaster Safety and Mitigation, as well as Fire Safety and Awareness.


The general public may not be aware how codes and code officials “improve and protect the places where we live, learn, work, worship, and play,” and this month can certainly improve that awareness!


IMPORTANT TIPS FROM THE ICC


Disaster Safety & Mitigation



  • If you live in a high wind or hurricane prone area and do not have tested and code- approved shutters for protection from wind borne debris, consider temporarily protecting your doors and windows by mounting exterior grade, 7/16" minimum thickness plywood and fastening it into place. Visit www.flash.org for detailed instructions on how to use plywood for emergency board-up.

  • Consider building or retrofitting to create a tornado-safe room in your home. Follow ICC/NSSA 500 Standard for detailed construction information and to ensure you achieve the highest level of protection for your family.

  • In wildfire prone areas, remove fine (dead grass, leaves, etc.) and coarse fuels (dead twigs, branches, etc.) within 30 feet of a building to create a survivable space in case
    of wildfire. Be sure to remove dry leaf and pine litter from roofs, rain gutters, decks, and walkways. Follow ICC’s International Wildland-Urban Interface Code® for detailed requirements.

  • Flooded roads could have significant damage hidden by floodwaters. Never drive through floodwaters or on flooded roads. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream. It takes only six inches of fast flowing water to sweep you off your feet and two feet of water to move an SUV-sized vehicle.


Source: iccsafe.org


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SERVPRO® Expands PGA Sponsorship with PGA Fantasy Golf

4/6/2017 (Permalink)

PGA Tour, PGA Sponsorship, PGA Fantasy Golf

There is an old adage: “It never rains on a golf course.” As the official cleanup and restoration company of the PGA TOUR, SERVPRO® knows this isn’t true, but rain or shine, fans follow their favorite players’ performance at PGA golf tournaments throughout the season. Recognizing the ever-growing popularity of the game, SERVPRO has expanded its relationship with the PGA TOUR by becoming the presenting sponsor of the PGA Fantasy Golf games, available at pgatour.com/fantasy


“We know people don’t associate SERVPRO with the wide-open spaces and fair weather feeling of a golf course. After all, SERVPRO is the company you turn to when the unexpected, even the unthinkable, happens to your home or business,” says Jack Oliver, owner of SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County. “But each SERVPRO business is also a local business, there to support the community in good times and bad. Teaming up with the PGA TOUR as the sponsor of their Fantasy Golf Suite helps us build connections within our local community. We want local home and business owners to know that we are there for them ready to respond at a moment’s notice if things go wrong.”


The new “One & Done” games were launched on January 3, 2017*, but the game structure allows players to join in on the fun at any point during the current season. Each week, game players select one player to earn points for them in that week’s tournament. The PGA Tour Fantasy game is based on accumulated FedEx Cup points and the PGA Tour Champions game is based on accumulated Charles Schwab Cup points. A player may select a given golfer for a tournament in each of the One & Done games only once in each season. Since some tournaments earn a pro golfer more points than others, game strategy is based on selecting the right golfers for the right tournaments. 


“With the first major tournament of the season—The Masters—just around the corner, now is a great time to start your One & Done game for this year’s tour,” says Oliver. “If you ‘master’ the trick of choosing the right golfers in the right tournaments, you could jump to the top of your Fantasy league.” The top finisher in the PGA TOUR game will win a new set of golf clubs, while the top prize for the PGA TOUR Champions game is a trip for two to the Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Phoenix Country Club in Phoenix, Arizona, November 6-12.


SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County specializes in disaster restoration, cleanup and repair services, helping to remediate damage, making it “Like it never even happened,” for both commercial and residential customers.


For more information on SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County, please contact us at (973) 383-2024 or office@SERVPROsussex.com.


*PGA TOUR Fantasy One & Done presented by SERVPRO debuts this weekl


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Fire Damage: Escape Planning

3/17/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Escape Planning

Plan Ahead! If a fire breaks out in your home, you may have only a few minutes to get out safely once the smoke alarm sounds. Everyone needs to know what to do and where to go if there is a fire.

Facts

  • A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire. Install smoke alarms inside every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home. Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one smoke alarm sounds, they all sound.
  • According to an NFPA survey, only one of every three American households have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.
  • While 71% of Americans have an escape plan in case of a fire, only 47% of those have practiced it.
  • One-third of American households who made an estimate thought they would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life-threatening. The time available is often less. And only 8% said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out!

Safety Tips

  • MAKE a home escape plan.  Draw a map of your home showing all doors and windows. Discuss the plan with everyone in your home.
  • KNOW at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows leading outside easily open.
  • HAVE an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole or mailbox) a safe distance from the home where everyone should meet.
  • PRACTICE your home fire drill at night and during the day with everyone in your home, twice a year.
  • PRACTICE different ways out.
  • TEACH children how to escape on their own in case you can't help them.
  • CLOSE doors behind you as you leave.

IF THE ALARM SOUNDS....

  • If the smoke alarm sounds, GET OUT AND STAY OUT. Never go back inside for people or pets.
  • If you have to escape through smoke, GET LOW AND GO under the smoke to your way out.
  • CALL the fire department from outside your home.

Information provided by the National Fire Protection Association (nfpa.org).

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Fire Damage: Home Heating System Safety

3/10/2017 (Permalink)

fireplace safety, fire safety

As the temperature drops outside, wood and pellet stoves may be fired up inside the home. What you may not realize is that heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fires during the winter months.

Did you know that heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths? With a few simple safety tips and precautions you can prevent most heating fires from happening.

Wood and Pellet Stove Safety

  • Have a QUALIFIED professional install stoves, chimney connectors, and chimneys.
  • Stoves should be listed by a qualified testing laboratory.
  • In wood stoves, burn only DRY, seasoned wood. In pellet stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood pellets.
  • Have your chimney and stove INSPECTED and cleaned by a certified chimney sweep every fall just before heating season.
  • CLEAN the inside of your stove periodically using a wire brush.
  • Allow ashes to COOL before disposing of them. Place ashes in a covered metal container. Keep the container at least 10 feet away from the home and other buildings.
  • Keep a CLOSE EYE on children whenever a wood or pellet stove is being used. Remind them to stay at least 3 feet away from the stove.
  • Stoves need SPACE. Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from the stove.
  • INSTALL and maintain carbon monoxide alarms (CO) outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. For the best protection, interconnect the CO alarms. When one sounds, they all sound.

Other Heating System Safety Tips

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three-feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month.

For more information on fire safety, visit the National Fire Protection Association's (nfpa.org) website.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Fire Damage: Portable Fire Extinguishers

2/27/2017 (Permalink)

Fire safety, fire extinguisher, putting out a fire

Portable fire extinguishers can be life and property saving tools when used correctly. In order to operate an extinguisher, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests remembering the word PASS:

  • Pull the pin. Hold the nozzle pointing away from you and release the locking mechanism.
  • Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
  • Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.

Read the instructions on the fire extinguisher and become familiar with them before a fire breaks out.

Remember, extinguishers do have limitations. It is also important to ensure you have the correct type of extinguisher for your facility.

To find more information on choosing the appropriate class of extinguisher, please visit the NFPA website at nfpa.org.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Fire Damage: Smoke Alarms - Life Savers

2/27/2017 (Permalink)

fire safety, smoke alarm, smoke detector

FIRE FACTS:



  • 7 people die every day from a home fire.

  • 36 people suffer injuries as a result of home fires every day.

  • $7 billion in property damage occurs each year.


Smoke alarms save lives when properly installed and maintained, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).


In homes, smoke alarms should be in every bedroom and on every level, including the basement. In office and commercial environments, check your state requirements or contact your local Fire Marshall to help ensure all
codes are met.


Test smoke alarms monthly using the test button. Smoke alarms with non-replaceable batteries need the entire smoke alarm unit replaced every ten years. Other alarms need batteries replaced every year, and the unit replaced every ten years. If the alarm chirps signaling low battery, take the proper steps to replace the unit or the batteries immediately. Never disable or remove the battery from an alarm. Almost half of fires where smoke alarms were present but did not activate had
missing or disconnected batteries (NFPA).


In larger commercial facilities, hard wired or wireless smoke alarms offer benefits such as not needing to be tested as often and activating throughout the entire building if smoke is detected in just one area (NFPA).


If you need help installing, testing or changing batteries in your smoke alarms, contact your local fire department, an electrician or the American Red Cross.


Be sure your home or workplace has a fire emergency plan in place and conduct regular fire
drills. For more information on Emergency Preparedness, contact SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County.


Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.


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Fire Damage: The Public Adjuster

2/10/2017 (Permalink)

House Fire - Working with a Public Adjuster

If you have ever filed an insurance claim, whether it be for your home, auto or health, you know it can be a very stressful process fraught with uncertainty and questions.  Will I be covered?  How much will I be covered for?  How will it impact my premiums?

Because of this confusion and uncertainty, many turn towards a Public Adjuster to get them through their ordeal.  But, before engaging a Public Adjuster, there are a few things you need to be aware of.

What happens first?

After you’ve taken care of your loved ones, you will need to get your home back in order.  When you have a damaging event to your home, for which you wish to submit a claim, one of the first things you should do is to contact your agent or your insurance company directly.

Your insurance company will record your loss and issue you a claim number.  They will also assign an internal or independent adjuster to review your claim.   This adjuster works on behalf of the insurance company.  This adjuster will schedule a visit to your home to inspect and assess the loss to determine coverage.  This is a benefit to you as a policyholder and does not cost you anything. 

Once coverage is determined, the insurance company’s adjuster will then discuss actions which need to be taken immediately, such as getting the home dried out or possibly boarded up if needed.  They’ll then provide you with their assessed value of the loss.

So now comes the question of whether or not to use a Public Adjuster.  Let’s go through this.

First, exactly what is a public adjuster?

A public adjuster is someone that you pay to help you with your insurance claim.  They are an insurance claims specialist who interprets the homeowner's policy, assesses the damage and how much it will cost to repair, and negotiates with the insurance company on behalf of the homeowner until the claim is settled.

The Public Adjuster does not represent your insurance company nor is he/she assigned by your insurance company.  Public Adjusters are sought and hired by you to be your representative and deal with your insurance company.   For their services they will charge you a fee, typically a percentage of the total award amount that they negotiate with your insurance company.

Remember, a Public Adjuster can assist with the claims process, but cannot get you more money than you are entitled to under your insurance policy and will not be able to get your claim settled any faster. You are simply paying them for a service.

OK, so when should I use a Public Adjuster?

Many will hire a Public Adjuster simply because they don’t have the time to deal with the claim.  Remember, though, you are paying a fee for this convenience. 

Typically, the Public Adjuster will charge a fee of 10%-15% of the final claim awarded.  This can be a sizable fee, so be sure before you sign any paperwork.  It’s also important to know that this fee can be negotiated depending on the size of the loss.

If you chose to deal with the claim personally, there are steps you can take before bringing a Public Adjuster in.  Your insurance company is a reputable business and they want you to continue to be a policyholder.

If you feel you can justify additional damages, speak with your insurance company’s assigned adjuster and present your case.  If you are not getting anywhere, ask to speak with a more senior representative.  You may find that these steps yield good results.

If you still feel that you need more representation, this is when you may consider working with a Public Adjuster.  It’s really a judgment call as to whether or not you believe your loss, and the associated damages you claim, are fairly reflected in your insurance company’s assessment.

Before you proceed, do some simple math. 

Let’s say you had a fire loss, for which your insurance company has assessed a $200,000 payment to cover the loss, but you feel you are entitled to $20,000 more and you have not been successful with your discussions with your adjuster.  So, you hire a Public Adjuster with a fee of 10%.  At the end of it, he argues and wins $10,000 more from your insurance company for a total payment of $210,000. The fee will be $21,000 to the Public Adjuster, netting you $189,000.  You would have been better off accepting the initial payment offered by the insurance company.

How can I find a good Public Adjuster?

As with anything else, a Public Adjuster can be found by doing some internet searches.  Another place to start would be going to the NAPIA website.  They have a vetting process and require their members to be licensed and to have been in business for at least 2 years.

Some steps you should think about:

  • Always avoid any Public Adjuster who tries to pressure you into signing a contract. Remember this a business transaction.
  • Interview several.
  • Get reference lists and check with their prior clients.
  • Check their company websites.
  • You can also ask friends and colleagues who they might recommend.
  • Avoid single practitioners or small firms unless they demonstrate a good track record.

Before signing anything, make sure your rights are protected:

  • Determine how long you have to cancel any contract you sign. New Jersey protects consumers with a 72-hour cancellation provision under the Consumer Fraud Act.
  • Verify that the Public Adjuster will remove any lien once the contract is terminated.
  • Limit the contract to no more than six months.

Once you’ve identified your Public Adjuster, you will sign a contract between you and them, which obligates your relationship with them until the claim is settled.  The Public Adjuster will likely place a lien on your insurance claim, naming them as additional payee on all payments from your insurance company.

What role with the Public Adjuster play in the process?

So now you’ve hired a Public Adjuster.  Here’s what you can count on him doing and what you should not expect.

You will still be very involved in helping the Public Adjuster document the loss.  He will need details of the event and information about content damage and their value.

A public adjuster will assess your losses and help you get every penny you deserve, but don't expect miracles.  Understand the insurance company may not agree to everything you want just because you hired a public adjuster.

The Public Adjuster will be your representative and negotiate every aspect of the loss with your insurance company until a final agreement is made.  Once the negotiations are completed, your Public Adjuster’s job is done.  They do not perform or manage the restoration portion of this project.

The next and final step is to begin the restoration process by hiring the various contractors needed to perform the cleaning and repairing of your home.  This could start during negotiations between your Public Adjuster and your insurance company, depending on the urgency and what may have been agreed to. 

Remember, the Public Adjuster may provide you contractor referrals to do the work, however, you are under no obligation to use them, after all, this is your home and you have every right to decide who performs the work. 

Always consider using SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County for your cleaning and restoration needs, regardless of any contractors your Public Adjuster may insist on using. SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County is a full service restoration company, providing everything from board-up and drying, to cleaning and rebuilding.

Summary

I hope this has helped you in understanding the role and costs surrounding using a Public Adjuster.  There is always risk in any decision.  Minimize your risk by doing your research first by working with your insurance company.  It will be well worth it to go down this path first.

Always feel free to contact SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County at 973-383-2024 to discuss this before making your decision.  We’re always glad to help.

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Carpet Care and Maintenance

1/26/2017 (Permalink)

Carpet cleaning and carpet care.

Carpet Care and Maintenance

Proper regular care can add years of life to your carpet and help retain the original appearance. The most important thing you can do is vacuum thoroughly and frequently, particularly in high traffic areas.

Vacuuming helps remove dirt particles, which can damage the carpet and dull the appearance. Use a vacuum cleaner with beater bars and good suction for best results. Keep bags, filters and recovery tanks clean.

Professional Cleaning

Soiling is a buildup of soil particles and oily materials that cling to the carpet fibers and dull the beauty of the carpet. Time causes foot traffic to drive the soil particles deep into the carpet. When this condition cannot be corrected with vacuuming, it is time to have your carpet cleaned by SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County.

How often you will need professional cleaning depends on soil buildup, traffic, type and color of carpeting. A good rule of thumb would be to professionally clean your carpet every twelve months.

Most professionals use hot water extraction cleaning (also known as steam cleaning). Hot water extraction cleaning is the method recommended by DuPont, Monsanto and Allied Fibers. Other common cleaning methods include absorbent pad or bonnet cleaning and rotary shampoo (often referred to as Showcase Cleaning).

A Word About Do-It-Yourself Cleaning

Professional cleaning is recommended for any carpet, especially stain-resistant carpet. However, if you decide to do it yourself, carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions and use the correct products for the job.

Common Carpet Characteristics

Pilling

After carpeting has been subjected to foot traffic, moving of furniture, vacuuming and other forms of mechanical agitation, fuzzing or the working out of loose fiber ends in the pile can be observed. When an entire fiber is removed, it is called shedding or fluffing. In some cases, only one end of the fiber is worked out; in others, it is tightly twisted or entangled in the tuft. When this situation occurs in local areas, the long fibers become entangled and form a pill.

Pilling is common and is not a problem when the pills break or are pulled out by the vacuum as they form. However, a strong elastic fiber such as nylon will resist this breaking. This results in small spider-like pills over the entire surface of the carpet, perhaps more concentrated in the areas of greatest traffic.

These pills can generally be removed by lifting the main ball portion with the thumb and forefinger, and using scissors to cut the fiber which holds the pill onto the carpet. Take care not to pull any excess fibers from the carpet which may damage the pile when cutting.

Ripples

Carpeting is made under tension. Tension is necessary so that the loom or machine will function properly, producing fabric uniform from one portion to the next. Carpeting differs from many textiles. The back of the carpet may be composed of several layers which are not generally pre-shrunk. When backing yarns absorb moisture, the fibers swell, resulting in the relaxation of the yarns previously held under tension.
Moisture, which produces swelling, may result from humidity, spills or improper cleaning methods.

If two adjacent areas are not manufactured under the same identical tension, unevenness or rippling will develop. Rippling will also happen if the tension of the second back is not uniform with the primary rug backing.

Ripples can be caused by dragging heavy furniture across the carpeting or by the sliding and pulling of carpeting in traffic areas caused by walking. Each case is different. Ripples may extend across the entire width of the rug, from the edge to the middle, in the middle only, along the edges or in one small section. This situation can sometimes be corrected by wetting backing yarns and tacking the rug out in a stretched position. However, the ripples may reoccur when moisture is again present.

Shading

Shading is an apparent color difference between areas of the same carpet. This results from random differences in pile lay direction caused by normal wear.

Shading is a characteristic of all cut-pile carpet. Shading is not a manufacturing defect. The physical cause is the difference between cut end luster and side luster of fibers. The sides of fibers reflect more light and appear brighter and lighter in color than the ends which absorb more light and appear to be duller and darker in color.

Little can be done to prevent or correct shading. Shading is an inherent characteristic of certain types of carpet. Shading can be slowed down by vacuuming or brushing the pile in one direction during daily or weekly maintenance.

Static

Do you experience light shocks after walking across your carpet? This is static formed by the friction of your shoes against fibers in the carpet. Usually there is enough moisture or humidity in the air to carry off the static charge as it is formed, but when the weather turns dry and the humidity is low, watch out!

The tendency to generate a static charge at low humidity varies from carpet to carpet. Some of the new carpets have anti-static agents built into the fibers. Other carpets use very fine metal wires or even conductive latex within the carpet to carry off the static. Anti-static protection of this type usually lasts for the life of the carpet.

If your carpet has none of these innovations and acquires static in dry weather, it may still be possible to obtain some relief through increasing the humidity or by the use of an anti-static agent sprayed on the face of the carpet. Many home products of this type are available from your local store. These, however, are not permanent and generally become less effective after a period of time.

Sunlight Damage

Almost every carpet will lighten in color or fade over a period of time. The extent of damage depends on the location, exposure, color, intensity and type of dye and method of dyeing of the carpet.

A solution-dyed carpet (dyed during the synthetic fiber producing process) is least susceptible to sun fading. The pigments are added to the polymer before the fibers are formed, locking in the color. Most polypropylene (olefin), many acrylics and some polyester carpets are dyed by this method. Lighter shades will usually fade more quickly than darker shades because they contain less dye. Most dyes are composed of two or more colors. If one color is affected more than the other, the fading may appear as a color change rather than a lightening of the color. For example, a green carpet yarn is made from blue and yellow dyes. If the yellow dye is affected and the blue is not affected, the green carpet may seem to be turning bluer. In other cases, the colors may fade uniformly, appearing as a lighter shade of the original color. In severe cases, the color may be
completely removed and can appear to be bleached white. The fiber itself can also deteriorate.

You may be able to prevent carpets from fading in sunny locations by keeping the windows covered by draperies or by treating the windows with a protective coating which filters the ultra-violet rays. If you live in an area where sunlight fading is a problem, shop carefully for your next carpet purchase.

The Forgotten Spill

Sometimes stains are hidden by soil and revealed after cleaning. These stains, which did not immediately cause discoloration, are usually from spilled liquids containing colorless sugar which remains on the fibers. After long exposure to the air, hidden stains change to insoluble brown stains, but are not noticed because of dirt covering them.

Other kinds of stains can be caused by water soaking through and absorbing sizing, browning or fugitive dyes from the backs of the material. Because the fibers act as wicks, moisture will rise to the surface and evaporate, and discoloration will be left. Carpet owners who try to remove stains by using the wrong cleaning compounds and procedures may make the stained areas more noticeable.

To lessen the possibility of stain damage, immediate action should be taken. Thoroughly absorb all moisture and, when possible, put a ½ inch thickness of clean, white absorbent material over the area, weighing it down. Then call SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County to learn how to remove the spot safely before it becomes a permanent stain.

Animal Stains

Cats may be considered one of the cleanest animals and dogs may be man’s best friend, but neither is necessarily a carpet’s best friend. Neglected animal stains have always been a problem.

Two types of reaction can take place between the chemicals in the urine and those in the fiber dye. Some dyes change color as soon as urine comes in contact with them. Often original color can be restored by immediate addition of a weak solution of ammonia and white vinegar. Pick an inconspicuous area of the carpet and test small amounts of solution to determine its effect on the fiber and dye.

The other change develops slowly over a period of several months and results in permanent change of fiber dye. Along with the dye change, some fibers become weakened or destroyed. After cleaning, these areas are more obvious because the soil, which hid the true color, has been removed.

The next time you are confronted with an animal accident, immediately absorb as much liquid as possible and wash the area with a solution of one teaspoon of neutral detergent (which contains no bleach) to one cup of lukewarm water. Absorb into white tissues or toweling. Add a white vinegar solution (one part white vinegar to two parts water). Absorb as dry as possible. Place a ½ inch layer of white absorbent material over the area and weight down. Allow to dry for about six hours.

If immediate action is taken to remove the stain in this manner, no change in color should occur, and that forgotten accident will not become apparent after your carpet has been professionally cleaned.

The Right Stain Removal Techniques

Stains can make a carpet appear more soiled than it really is, so no carpet cleaning method is complete unless all removable stains have disappeared.

A basic knowledge of different stains and chemicals for spot cleaning and removal is vital, since improper or indiscriminate use of spotting chemicals can worsen a problem.

Helpful Tips on Spotting

  • Always blot or scrape up as much material as possible before it soaks into the carpet. 
  • For blotting liquids, use white paper towels or tissues. You might use a cloth, but it is less desirable. If used too long, the matter soaked into the cloth will re-deposit into the fibers and spread the stain.
  • For scraping solid matter, use a table knife. Never use a sharp instrument.
  • Never use soap. This frequently leaves a sticky residue that causes rapid re-soiling.
  • Do not allow solvent-based products to penetrate to the backing. They might damage and soften the latex compound used to strengthen the carpet backing.

Stain-Resistant Carpeting

Since late 1986, the carpet industry has undergone a drastic change in carpet fibers. With the introduction of Stain- Resistant carpeting by DuPont, Allied Fibers and Monsanto, it is wise to take a different approach to cleaning and spot removal in order to maintain the carpet warranty. The first thing to consider is the help that each one of these companies can offer you.

Carpet companies all provide a "help" number with the warranty, and this should be consulted before you attempt to remove a spot. (This does not mean that you cannot remove material with a clean white towel and water. Sometimes this may be enough). If the method they recommend does not work, the carpet company can recommend a professional cleaner in your area, like SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County.

Furniture Depressions

Furniture legs may cause depressions in your carpet if allowed to stay too long in one position. If furniture is moved, the carpet will spring up in time, but often can take weeks or even months. For immediate care, cover the furniture depression with a damp cloth, steam with a warm iron and then brush pile briskly with a coin or kitchen butter knife that is not sharp. Correct professional cleaning by SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County will usually remove depressions.

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County employs only the highest quality standards and workmanship to prevent shrinkage, over-wetting, rapid re-soiling and many other problem areas that come with inexperience.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County's carpet cleaning services.

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Fire Damage: HALT WINTER HEATING HAZARDS

1/13/2017 (Permalink)

Heating Related Fire Statistics

The winter season is here and with it comes shorter days and lower temperatures. No matter where you live, winter brings a change in the weather. In an effort to keep our homes and workplaces cozy, many people use alternative heat sources like fireplaces, portable space heaters, and wood burning stoves. Did you know, heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths? According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment fires cause an estimated $1 billion in direct property damage annually. Keep the following safety tips in mind to help reduce your risk of a heating-related fire.

  • Keep anything flammable at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or a portable space heater. Have a three foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room.   Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home. 
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment  according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly.

If your property does suffer fire damage, contact SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County to help make it “Like it never even happened.”

Call us today at 973-383-2024 and be sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter for tips on how to protect you 

 

Water Damage: Winter Water Damages

1/6/2017 (Permalink)

Ice Dam

Cold weather is upon us in the northeast.  With that comes snow, ice and frozen temperatures which are all jeopardy's to your home or business.

It is essential that you are aware of the hazards and can prepare, prevent or act quickly on each situation.

FROZEN PIPES

A frozen pipe can burst at the point where the ice blockage inside the pipe is located, but typically the rupture is caused by the backflow pressure between the water source and the blockage. A burst pipe can cause considerable damage to your
property if not addressed quickly.

ICE DAMS

Ice dams can be a major problem during the winter season.
They form when heated air melts roof snow downward into water dammed behind still-frozen ice. When the trapped water cannot safely flow or run into the gutter system, it can backflow under the roof ’s shingles and into the structure’s interior areas.

PREPARE YOUR HOME

  • If you own a home which is unoccupied during a cold period, ensure you have ample heating fuel and that the indoor thermostat, in all areas of the home, is minimally kept at 55 degrees and ensure that you have a trusted person check the home periodically during your absence.
  • Keep cabinet doors open during cold spells. This allows warm air to circulate around pipes.
  • Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets, especially if the pipes for faucets run through unheated or uninsulated areas of your home.
  • Consider shutting off outdoor faucets. Find the shut-off valve in the basement or crawl space and turn it to “off .”
  • If you follow the previous step, then open the outdoor faucet to help ensure it drains completely and the inner valve is shut off.
  • Ensure gutters are clean and secure. Leaves and debris accumulate, causing a damming effect on gutters, which could lead to roof problems and water damage.

PREPARE YOUR BUSINESS

  • Check your business property for downed tree limbs and branches. Weather, such as wind, heavy rain, ice and snow, can cause branches to fall, which could cause damage to the property and potentially cause
    personal injuries.
  • Inspect property, especially walkways and parking lots, for proper drainage to alleviate flood hazard potential.
  • Inspect all handrails, stairwells and entryways to address and correct potential slippery or hazardous areas. Install mats or non-slip surfaces and post caution signs where water could be present.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Fire Damage: Helping Homeowners Recover

12/16/2016 (Permalink)

SERVPRO professional cleaning a fire damage home.

A back-draft of emotions often sweeps over the homeowners after a fire ravages a home. Fear, uncertainty, stress and doubt about the future of the property can overwhelm the homeowner long after the flames have been extinguished and the smoke has cleared.

So after the first wave of heroes have rescued the property, let SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County help you restore it. With the industry approved training to employ rapid response, the utmost professionalism, cutting-edge technology and open communication, we strive to restore not only the home, but the customer’s peace of mind, as well.

So, before you risk doing further damage by attempting to clean up the damage yourself, call the fire damage cleanup and restoration professionals.

What You Can Do Until Help Arrives

  • Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from spreading and additional damage from occurring.
  • Place clean towels or old linens on rugs and high traffic areas and upholstery.
  • Coat chrome faucets, trim and appliances with petroleum jelly or oil.
  • Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpet.
  • Do not wash any walls or painted surfaces.
  • Do not shampoo carpet or upholstery.
  • Do not clean any electrical equipment.
  • Do not send clothing to a dry cleaner since improper cleaning may set smoke odor.

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County provides the following restoration services:

  • Board-ups-In some cases it may be important to secure openings to your home or structure using sturdy, durable materials designed to protect it from both weather intrusion and intrusion by outsiders. SERVPRO® may perform the board-up themselves, or outside subcontractors may be utilized.
  • Move-Outs - If prolonged exposure to the loss event could cause additional damage to your contents, your contractor requests relocation of the contents, or the safety of your contents is a concern,a move-out may be recommended. In these situations, SERVPRO® is trained to properly inventory, move out and control the contents from the structure during the cleaning, restoration and deodorization process.
  • Electronics Cleaning - Smoke residues can contain acids that corrode metal surfaces when moisture is also present. If the residues are not removed, corrosion can eat away at the metal casing and can ultimately cause electronic failure in the device. SERVPRO® can clean the outside casing correctly, as well as refer your equipment to a qualified electronics vendor.
  • Artwork - Artwork ranges from inexpensive framed pictures to extremely valuable fine art. Restoration of valuable art requires the use of a trained art restorer (known as a conservator), while less expensive art may not warrant these costly specialized services. SERVPRO® will usually subcontract fine art restoration to a conservator. If desired, SERVPRO® may attempt to remove smoke residues and odors, after qualifying with the customer that such cleaning procedures may affect the visible appearance of the item.
  • Structural Cleaning - After a smoke or fire damage, ceilings, walls, woodwork, carpeting and floors will often need a thorough cleaning. SERVPRO® will pretest to determine the extent of damage, and then use the specific equipment and cleaning products required to clean and protect the different types of surfaces found in your structure. Depending on the amount of soot, SERVPRO® may even be able to reduce the cost of recovery by cleaning lighter soot deposits found on some surfaces, eliminating the expense incurred with repainting or refinishing. In other cases, SERVPRO® will clean to “prepare for painting”. This process deodorizes and ensures the new paint will adhere properly to the surface.
  • Contents Cleaning–All of the restorable contents in affected areas will be professionally cleaned and deodorized.  This includes area rugs, furniture, draperies and upholstery. SERVPRO® begins by carefully inspecting and testing all fabrics in the structure to determine which cleaning methods are most appropriate. SERVPRO® can provide wet or dry cleaning services. Additionally, all the other restorable contents will be cleaned and deodorized to pre-loss condition. This includes electronics, art, wood furniture, kitchen items,clothing, bedding, bric-a-brac and much more. Finally,SERVPRO® can provide an inventory list of all “to be claimed” items if requested.
  • Deodorization–SERVPRO® provides specialized services that rid your home or place of business of offensive odors left by fire or smoke damage. SERVPRO® does not merely cover up lingering odors with a fragrance, they seek out the sources of the odor and remove them. 
  • Repair / Rebuild-In most cases, SERVPRO® can provide full scope repair and rebuild services, including structural repairs, painting and flooring.

So, before you risk doing further damage by attempting to clean up the damage yourself, call the fire damage cleanup and restoration professionals at 973-383-2024

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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IS YOUR PROPERTY WINTER READY?

12/9/2016 (Permalink)

Cold weather is here. Make sure your property is ready.

Cold weather can have a huge impact on your home or business if you are not properly prepared. Whether it is heavy rain, freezing temperatures, damaging winds, sleet or snow, all can cause serious and costly property damage. While you cannot control the weather, you can take steps to be prepared and help take the sting out of winter weather.

To help prevent costly damages due to weather, consider taking the following precautions to protect your property before colder weather hits.

  • Check your business property for downed tree limbs and branches. Weather, such as wind, heavy rain, ice and snow, can cause branches to fall, which could cause damage to the property and potentially cause personal injuries.
  • Roofs, water pipes and gutters should all be inspected to ensure they are in proper order. Gutter downspouts should be directed away from your building. Clear gutters of debris that may have gathered during the fall. Leaves and other obstructions can lead to a damming effect, that can lead to roof damage and interior water problems.
  • Inspect property, especially walkways and parking lots, for proper drainage to alleviate flood hazard potential.
  • Inspect all handrails, stairwells and entryways to address and correct potential slippery or hazardous areas. Install mats or non-slip surfaces and post caution signs where water could be present.
  • Protect water pipes from freezing by simply allowing water to drip when temperatures dip below freezing. If pipes are under a cabinet, leave the cabinet doors open allowing warm inside air to circulate around the pipes. If the building has outdoor faucets, consider shutting water off at the main valve in the basement or crawl space. Once the valve is off, open the outdoor faucet to ensure it drains, preventing any remaining water from freezing in the pipe.

Ask SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County about completing an Emergency READY Profile® (ERP) for your business. The ERP is a no cost assessment to your facility, and provides you with a plan to get back in business fast following a disaster.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Fire Safety - Celebrate Safely This Holiday Season

12/1/2016 (Permalink)

Take care when arranging your holiday decorations.#firesafety

DID YOU KNOW?
December is the peak time of year for home candle fires.

Pretty lights, candles and decorations are just a few of the items bringing charm and cheer to the holiday season—however, if they are not used carefully your holidays may go from festive to frightening.

The American Red Cross offers the following safety tips to help greatly reduce the fire risk in your home or business this holiday season.

  • Place Christmas trees, candles and other holiday decorations at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents and candles.
  • Make sure that light strings and other holiday decorations are in good condition. Do not use anything with frayed electrical cords and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Always unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving the property or going to bed.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate a tree.  Always extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Use only sturdy tree stands designed not to tip over. Keep curious pets and children away from Christmas trees.
  • Keep anything that can catch on fire—pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from your stove top.  
  • Designate one person to walk around your property to ensure all candles and smoking materials are properly extinguished after guests leave.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Carpet Cleaning: SERVPRO Carpet Care Options

11/18/2016 (Permalink)

Trust SERVPRO to provide effective and cost efficient carpet cleaning methods for any type of soiling.

We Know Stains

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals have been handling stains and soils of all types, from residential homes to commercial facilities.  Using IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification) standards for carpet care as a guide, SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County guide you in the best decisions to care for your carpet.

A SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County will take time to:

  • Explain to you what cleaning option would be best for your carpet’s level of soiling.
  • Give you an estimate of time and cost of the carpet cleaning.
  • Explain the benefits of soil protection.
  • Explain the advantages of a clean carpet for good indoor air quality.
  • Explain how you can help prolong your carpet’s appearance with frequent vacuuming.

SERVPRO® CARPET CARE OPTIONS

Soil Level: LIGHT

Cleaning Method: Bonnet Cleaning

Process

  • Carpet is lightly sprayed with cleaning solution.
  • A rotary extractor with a “bonnet”pad is used to pull dirt from the carpet.

Advantage: Least aggressive maintenance cleaning method especially for short piled carpets.

Benefit: Cleans carpet with quick drying time.

Soil Level: MODERATE

Cleaning Method: Hot Water Extraction

Process

  • Truck mount or portable extraction unit applies cleaning solution with hot water while vacuuming the carpet.

Advantage: Deeper cleaning method for all carpet types.

Benefit: Helps promote longer carpet life.

 

Soil Level: HEAVY

Cleaning Method: Showcase Premier Cleaning

Process

  • Two-step process:
    • Shampooing the carpet.
    • Rinse and extract entire carpet for deep cleaning.

Advantage: Most thorough cleaning method in the industry; cleans when other methods may not work.

Benefit: Restorative method -excellent for helping restore carpet after a fire damage.

Soil Protection - Keep It Clean Longer

Heavy traffic lanes, time, normal wear and cleaning can remove stain and soil protection from carpet. Help increase the life of your carpet, reduce the frequency of future cleanings and save money by treating your freshly cleaned carpet with a stain and soil protectant.

 

For answers about carpet cleaning and care, contact SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County or at 973-383-2024, or visit our website.

Thanksgiving: CELEBRATE SAFELY WITH A RECIPE FOR SAFETY

11/10/2016 (Permalink)

Cooking Fires are most common during the holidays.

DID YOU KNOW?

Thanksgiving is the leading day for home cooking fires, with
three times the average number.

 

Each November, families gather to celebrate Thanksgiving by preparing a delicious feast, but if you don’t practice safe cooking habits, your holiday could become hazardous very quickly. According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. It’s important to be alert to prevent cooking fires.

  • Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stovetop.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food.
  • If you are simmering, baking or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire—oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains—away from the stovetop.

If you have a cooking fire, consider the following safety protocols to help keep you and your family safe.

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
  • For an oven fire turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
  • If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.

Five Dangers of Deep Frying a Turkey

  • Turkey fryers can easily tip over, spilling hot cooking oil over a large area.
  • An overfilled cooking pot will cause cooking oil to spill when the turkey is put in, and a partially frozen turkey will cause cooking oil to splatter when put in the pot.
  • Even a small amount of cooking oil spilling on a hot burner can cause a large fire.
  • Without thermostat controls, deep fryers can overheat oil to the point of starting a fire.
  • The sides of the cooking pot, lid and pot handles can get dangerously hot.

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County wishes you a safe and happy holiday season.

Understanding The Behavior of Smoke

11/3/2016 (Permalink)

The damage to your property following a fire can often be complicated due to the unique behavior of smoke. There are two different types of smoke—wet and dry.  As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County professionals are thoroughly trained in fire cleanup and restoration and know the different types of smoke and their behavior patterns. Knowing this information is vital to proper restoration.  Before restoration begins, SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals will survey the loss to determine the extent of impact from fire, smoke, heat, and moisture on the building materials and contents. The soot will then be tested to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. Pretesting determines the proper cleaning method and allows SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals to focus on saving your precious items.

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals
know smoke can penetrate various cavities within the structure, causing hidden damage and odor. Their knowledge of building systems helps them investigate how far smoke damage may have spread. The following are additional facts you may not know about smoke.

  • Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and
    upper levels of a structure.
  • Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
  • The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.

Different Types of Smoke

  • Wet Smoke (Plastic and Rubber) - Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.
  • Dry Smoke (Paper and Wood) - Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.
  • Protein Fire Residue (Produced by
    evaporation of material rather than
    from a fire) - Virtually invisible, discolors paints and
    varnishes, extreme pungent odor.
  • Fuel Oil Soot (Furnace Puff Backs) - While “puff backs” can create havoc for homeowners, SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals can, in most cases, restore the contents and structure quickly.
  • Other Types (Tear gas, fingerprint
    powder and fire extinguisher residue) -  Special loss situations require special care.

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals are trained to handle even the toughest losses. If your home or business suffers fire or smoke damage, contact SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County at 973-383-2024 to help make it “Like it never even happened.”

For more information on Fire and Smoke Damage Restoration, visit our website.

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Mold Damage - What To Do

10/28/2016 (Permalink)

Mold growth

Microscopic mold spores naturally occur almost everywhere, both outdoors and indoors. This makes it impossible to remove all mold from a home or business. Therefore, mold remediation reduces the mold spore count back to its natural or baseline level. Some restoration businesses advertise “mold removal” and even guarantee to remove all mold, which is a fallacy. Consider the following mold facts:

  • Mold is present almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors.
  • Mold spores are microscopic and float along in the air and may enter your home through windows, doors, or AC/heating systems or even hitch a ride indoors on your clothing or a pet.
  • Mold spores thrive on moisture. Mold spores can quickly grow into colonies when exposed to water. These colonies may produce allergens and irritants.
  • Before mold remediation can begin, any sources of water or moisture must be addressed. Otherwise, the mold may return.
  • Mold often produces a strong, musty odor and can lead you to possible mold problem areas.
  • Even higher-than-normal indoor humidity can support mold growth. Keep indoor humidity below 45 percent.

If you see visible mold, do not disturb it. You can inadvertently spread the mold infestation throughout your home. When mold is disturbed, the mold can release microscopic mold spores which become airborne and can circulate inside your home.

What to Do:

  • Stay out of affected areas.
  • Turn off the HVAC system and fans.
  • Contact SERVPRO of of Northern Sussex County for mold remediation services.

What Not to Do:

  • Don’t touch or disturb the mold.
  • Don’t blow air across any surfaces with visible or suspected mold growth.
  • Don’t attempt to dry the area yourself.
  • Don’t spray bleach or other disinfectants on the mold.

If you believe your home or business has a mold problem, we can inspect and assess your property and use our specialized training, equipment, and expertise to remediate your mold infestation.

About Our Mold Remediation Services

SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County specializes in mold cleanup and restoration, in fact, it’s a cornerstone of our business. We are Firm Certified by the IICRC and Our crews are highly trained restoration professionals that use specialized equipment and techniques to properly remediate your mold problem quickly and safely.

If You See Signs of Mold, Call Us Today – 973-383-2024.

Visit our website for more information about mold.

Crisis Communication

10/21/2016 (Permalink)

Business Crisis Management

Crisis Communications – Engaging Stakeholders During an Incident

Courtesy of The American Red Cross.

Trust is the foundation of relationships. When your organization faces an emergency, communications (or the lack thereof) to your employees, customers, and other stakeholders can support or erode that foundation. Protect your organization’s reputation and relationships by being prepared to communicate in a crisis.

In an event, you need to know who to communicate to and how and when to do so. This requires pre-planning. Make sure your emergency response plans have a communication component so you will know how to respond to each risk your organization faces. Essential components of a crisis communication plan include:

  • Stakeholders: Identify the individuals and public or private groups your organization interacts with. Internal stakeholders include employees, volunteers, members of the board of directors, etc. External stakeholders include customers, suppliers, service providers, vendors, public and regulatory authorities, and the media. Think about what information each group would need to know from you during a crisis and what you would need to know from them.
  • Spokesperson: Identify a single individual or small team that will handle dissemination and receipt of information from stakeholders.
  • Strategy: Transparency and timeliness of communications are critical during an incident. Plan in advance what and how you are going to communicate with internal and external stakeholders, including alternate ways of accessing and sharing information. General statements, also called holding statements, can be prepared in advance and are released to stakeholders during an incident before detailed facts come in. For example, an organization operating in an area affected by a hurricane would release: “Our thoughts are with those who are in harm’s way and those responding to the storm. We have implemented our crisis plan and will be supplying additional information as it becomes available.” Review and revise these statements on a regular basis to make sure they remain timely and appropriate.

In developing your communications strategy and holding statements, consider the unique environment your organization operates in. For example, is litigation a concern? If so, it is prudent to include your legal counsel.

Once you have your communications plan, make sure it is part of your emergency preparedness training. The spokesperson or communications team should practice drafting communications when plans are exercised.   

When the unexpected does occur, craft a message that is honest, clear, and concise. Foremost, assess the situation and collect facts. Your communications to stakeholders should be fact focused and not prospective. Explain what went wrong, commit to addressing the situation.

Be empathetic in your communications by including expressions of concern for those involved in the incident, your stakeholders, and the community. Don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’ but be willing to go find the answer where appropriate. Your concern and honesty will support the trusting relationship you want to preserve through the crisis.

For more information on stakeholder identification and crisis communication, refer to Guidance on Crisis Communications and Emergency Response Notification Procedures at ReadyRating.org.

Home Fires - America's Biggest Disaster Threat

10/14/2016 (Permalink)

Map your escape plan

Courtesy of The American Red Cross

Fast Facts

  • Nearly 47,000 fires occur during the winter holidays claiming more than 500 lives, causing more than 2,200 injuries, and costing $554 million in property damage.**
  • On average, one of every 22 home fires started by Christmas trees result in death.***
  • Candle fires are four times as likely to occur during the winter holidays.**
  • During the winter holiday season, an average of 40 home fires per day are caused by children playing.**
  • The number of home fires the American Red Cross has responded to has risen 10% since 2000.*
  • Having a working smoke alarm reduces one’s chances of dying in a fire by nearly half.**

Preparedness Tips

  • Place Christmas trees, candles, and other holiday decorations at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents and candles.
  • Purchase flame retardant metallic or artificial trees. If you purchase a real tree, make sure that it has fresh, green needles that aren’t easily broken. Keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them plenty of water.
  • Make sure that light strings and other holiday decorations are in good condition. Do not use anything with frayed electrical cords and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Always unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate a tree. Always extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Use only sturdy tree stands designed not to tip over. Keep curious pets and children away from Christmas trees.
  • Keep anything that can catch on fire—pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from your stove top.
  • Designate one person to walk around your home to make sure that all candles and smoking materials are properly extinguished after guests leave.
  • Smoke alarms save lives. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year.
  • Visit www.redcross.org/homefires for more information on how to keep your home fire safe during the holidays.

Sources: American Red Cross,* U.S. Fire Administration,** and the National Fire Protection Association.***

 

Fire Escape Planning

9/30/2016 (Permalink)

Fire Facts

  • One quarter of home fire deaths are caused by fires that start in the bedroom. Another quarter result from fires in the living room, family room or den.
  • One-third of survey respondents who made an estimate thought they would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life-threatening. The time available is often much less. Only 8 percent said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out.

CAN YOU DO IT IN UNDER 2 MINUTES?

Every second counts during a fire. Fire experts agree, people have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out.* In a matter of moments, a small flame can become a major fire, making it critical to be prepared and have an escape plan in place. A survey conducted by the American Red Cross shows only 26 percent of families have developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. Once a plan is developed, it is critical everyone in the home understands the plan; the best way to do this is by practicing the escape plan at least twice a year. Increase your chance of surviving a fire by ensuring you have working smoke detectors in place, building an escape plan, and then practicing the escape plan. The following are a few suggestions to help you develop an emergency escape plan.

Draw a map of each level of your home and show all doors and windows. Find two ways to get out of each room. Make sure all doors and windows that lead outside open easily. 

Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second and third floors. Only purchase collapsible escape ladders evaluated by a recognized testing laboratory. Store them near the window where they will be used.

Choose an outside meeting place a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they’ve escaped. Make sure to mark the location of the meeting place on your escape plan.

Teach children how to escape on their own in case you cannot help them. Plan for everyone in your home with special considerations for elderly or disabled individuals.

Practice your fire escape plan during the day and at nighttime.

Escape Planning for Your Business

An emergency escape plan is not required for all businesses, however, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends building an emergency action plan to protect yourself, your employees, and your business during an emergency. OSHA suggests the following steps when developing such a plan.

Organize an Emergency Preparedness Procedures review with employees to review your company’s emergency plans. You may wish to select an individual or team of individuals to lead and coordinate your emergency plan.

Once a plan is developed, post evacuation procedures, including routes and exits, where they are easily accessible to all employees. Ensure all exits and routes are clearly marked
and well lit, wide enough to accommodate the number of evacuating personnel, and unobstructed and clear of debris at all times.

Conduct office evacuation exercises and drills. Designate a safe spot outside of the facility where employees can regroup, recover and conduct a head count. Once completed, evaluate how well the plan worked and if additional training or exercises are needed.

For more information, visit our website.

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American Red Cross Fire Prevention Month

9/22/2016 (Permalink)

Home Fire Statistics

Hooray!  It’s American Red Cross Fire Prevention Month!  For the whole month of October, we are going to help you celebrate by learning more on how to prevent and prepare for home fires with the American Red Cross.  For more information, please visit www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergeies/fire.

Did you know that home fires are actually the majority of the disasters that occur?  You can easily prevent a home fire if you know the right protocol.  The American Red Cross has many great tips for you.  Please visit www.redcross.org to learn more about preventing home fires and be prepared if one does occur.

Don’t let a home fire happen to you and your family.  The American Red Cross can help you learn how tips on how to prevent a home fire at your household.  Make sure your family can safely escape your home in less than 2 minutes.  Test your smoke alarms.  To learn more please visit www.redcross.org/homefires for home fire prevention information. Don’t let a home fire affect your family.

Everyone knows “Stop, drop and roll”.  But does everyone know how to escape their house I n less than 2 minutes?  To prevent a home fire in your house, please visit the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org/homefires for home fire prevention information.  Don’t let a home fire affect your family. 

On average, 36 people suffer injuries as a result of home fires every day.  To help prevent an injury to you or your loved ones, visit the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org/homefires to learn more information.  You can help home fire victims by donating to http://redcross.org/cm/SERVPROindustries-pub

When is the last time you checked your smoke alarm?  Make sure you are checking monthly to keep you and your family safe.  The American Red Cross will help you learn the other ways to prevent home fires at www.redcross.org/homefires.

Over $7 billion in property damage occurs every year due to home fires.  Your help is needed in every form.  If you can finally donate please visit, http://redcross.org/cm/SERVPROindustries-pub.  If you can give your time or effort, please become an American Red Cross volunteer at www.redcross.org to help others recover from home fires. 

Are you home fire safety savvy?  Challenge friends, family members, and yourself by taking the quiz at www.redcross.org/homefires.

Teaming with the American Red Cross, we are striving to reduce deaths and injuries due to home fires by 25%.  Help us help you.  Make sure you know all the proper ways to prevent and prepare for home fires.  For more information, please visit www.redcross.org/homefires.

Attention grown ups!!  The Red Cross #MonsterGuard app is a great way to teach your kids how to prepare for emergencies.  Role playing as monsters, kids learn about different hazards such as home fires, floods and hurricanes.  Learn more at www.redcross.org/monsterguard.

You cannot predict when something tragic is going to strike.  You can make sure you are prepared when it does.  The American Red Cross has great ways to get prepared at www.redcross.org/prepare.

Do you know how often you are supposed to replace your smoke detectors in your house?  The American Red Cross does, and to find out the answer, please visit www.redcross.org.  It is very important to have updated smoke detectors for your family’s safety.

What is something you can do in less than 2 minutes?  You can make a cup of coffee, floss your teeth, but most importantly, evacuate your house in the event of a home fire.  For more information on the proper procedure, please visit the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org.

A home is more than a supportive structure.  It shelters you, your family, and all of your treasured keepsakes.  What if you had the power to prevent the loss of your home?  Well, the American Red Cross can give you some of that power by learning proper home fire prevention and safety.  For more, please visit www.redcross.org

You can help save lives by having a home fire escape plan.  The American Red Cross can help you get your worksheet today by visiting www.redcross.org/escapeplan.

SERVPRO supports the American Red Cross by asking every household in America to join us in taking two simple steps that can save lives; checking or installing smoke alarms and practicing fire drills at home. www.redcross.org

According to the American Red Cross, 82% of family have not practiced fire drills at home.  Don’t be a part of that statistic.  Practice home fire drills to save your children’s lives.  For more information, please visit www.redcross.org

What is Lurking in Your Ducts

9/15/2016 (Permalink)

Dirty Ducts

Sweeping Away Years of Dust and Dirt - Helping Reduce Potential for Damage and Health Risks

Since the ventilation system is often the biggest culprit in poor indoor air quality, inspecting the ductwork should be a high priority. In most cases, the HVAC system has been operating for some time without much attention. Dirty ducts can circulate odors, contaminants such as mold and irritating dust throughout your building or home.

A routine part of a SERVPRO® Franchise Professional’s service is inspecting the heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit (HVAC). Keeping the HVAC system and ductwork clean can potentially extend the life span of the equipment by allowing it to operate at peak condition, which may save you money.

The SERVPRO® Proven Duct Cleaning System is Cost Efficient

Unlike the majority of duct cleaning services, your SERVPRO® Franchise Professional uses a Portable Ventilation
& Air Duct Cleaning System to examine ductwork and make a clean sweep, removing years of dust and grime.

The SERVPRO® Duct Cleaning Process

  • The process begins by using patented equipment including a roto-scraper, which automatically adapts to the duct’s shape and diameter while traveling through the duct, removing debris and filth before vacuuming begins.
  • Next, a powerful push-pull air delivery and collection system transfers the debris from the ducting to a 16-gallon container.
  • Air is filtered through a HEPA filtration system, removing 99.97 percent of particles in the airstream. HEPA filters capture debris and keep the environment clean.
  • As an optional process, a sealant or coating product may be sprayed to address odor or microbial concerns.
  • Filters will either be cleaned or replaced to remove odor and dirt.

Duct Cleaning May Not Always Be Necessary

SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals will inspect your HVAC system and ductwork and make recommendations about the best way to address any indoor air quality concerns. This inspection can save you money and provide peace of mind on the health of your HVAC system and ductwork.

In some circumstances, such as after fire, smoke or suspected mold growth, duct cleaning becomes an essential part of the cleanup process. In these cases, your SERVPRO® Franchise Professional can often restore the HVAC system and ductwork to pre-damage condition.

The SERVPRO® System is the Difference - We Can Help:

  • Remediate Bacteria, Fungi and Mold.
  • Reduce Potential for Mold Growth.
  • Restore Peak Energy Efficiency.
  • Eliminate Offensive Odors.
  • Provide Free Written Inspections and Estimates.

Click here to learn more or contact our office at 973-383-2024 to schedule your next duct cleaning.

Be Ready with the SERVPRO Emergency Ready Program

9/9/2016 (Permalink)

National Preparedness Month is the perfect opportunity to share the benefits of having a readiness plan in place with your customers, business and family.

The SERVPRO® Emergency READY Profile® (ERP) will help ensure you and your business are “Ready for whatever happens.”

In the event of an emergency, the SERVPRO® Emergency READY Profile®, can help minimize business interruption by having an immediate plan of action in place for your facility. The ERP is a comprehensive document containing critical information about your business, including: Emergency Contact Information, Shut-off Valve Locations and Priority Areas. The ERP is also accessible online using your computer or tablet; download SERVPRO’s free Ready Plan app to access this information at any time using your smartphone or tablet.

The ERP establishes your local SERVPRO® Franchise Professional as your disaster mitigation and restoration provider, giving you access to over 45 years experience and a System more than 1,700 Franchises strong. Knowing what to do and who to call in advance is key to quick response and timely mitigation. Having a plan in place may help minimize the amount of time your business is inactive and get you back in the building following a disaster.

Preparation is the key to making it through any size disaster, whether it is 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. No one ever plans on a disaster, but now, you can plan for it.

The ERP is a no cost assessment, all it requires is a little time, making it a great value that could save a lot of time in the future.

Call SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County at 973-383-2024 to establish your Emergency READY Profile®.

Do You Have A Plan?

9/2/2016 (Permalink)

As a member of the Ready Campaign’s National Preparedness Coalition, SERVPRO® is proud to present the
following information.

How quickly your company can get back to business after a tornado, fire, or flood often depends on the emergency planning done today. The regular occurrence of natural disasters demonstrates the importance of being prepared for any emergency. While each situation is unique, your organization can be better prepared if you plan carefully, put emergency procedures in place, and practice for all kinds of emergencies. The following are basic measures business owners and managers can take to begin preparing. A commitment to begin planning today will help support your employees, customers, the community, local economy, and even the country. It also protects your business investment and gives your company a better chance for survival.

Develop a Business Continuity Plan.

Your organization’s risk needs will vary depending on the specific industry, size, scope and location. Begin by reviewing your business process flow chart, if one exists, to identify operations critical to survival and recovery. Carefully assess your internal and external functions to determine which staff, materials, procedures and equipment are absolutely necessary to keep the business operating. You should also establish procedures for succession of management.

Review Insurance Coverage.

Inadequate insurance coverage can lead to major financial loss if your business is damaged, destroyed or simply interrupted for a period of time. Insurance policies vary; check with your agent or provider about things such as physical losses, flood coverage and business interruption.
Understand what your policy does and does not cover.

Prepare your Emergency Plan.

Your employees and co-workers are your business’ most valuable asset. Communication is central before, during and after a disaster. Include emergency information in newsletters, on your company intranet, in periodic employee e-mails and/or other communication tools.

Practice the Emergency Plan.

Some disasters will require employees to leave the workplace quickly. The ability to evacuate workers, customers and visitors effectively can save lives. If your business operates out of more than one location, establish evacuation procedures for each individual building. If your company is in
a high-rise building, an industrial park, or even a small strip mall, it is important to coordinate and practice with other tenants or businesses to avoid confusion and potential gridlock.

Secure Your Facility and Equipment.

Install fi re extinguishers, smoke alarms and detectors in appropriate places. Secure all entry and exit points and plan for mail safety. Plan what you will do if your building, plant or store is not usable. Secure valuable equipment.

Improve Cyber Security.

Protecting your data and information systems may require specialized expertise, but even the smallest business can be better prepared. Use anti-virus software and keep it up-to-date. Don’t open e-mails from unknown sources. Use hard-to-guess passwords. Protect your computer from intruders by using firewalls. Back up your computer data and download security protection updates known as patches regularly.

National Preparedness Month Focuses Home and Business Owners on Advance Planning for Disaster Recovery

8/26/2016 (Permalink)

SERVPRO Ready App

SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County offers property owners no-cost tools for preparing a disaster readiness plan.

Each September, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sponsors an awareness event—National Preparedness Month (http://www.ready.gov/September) —to encourage both home and business owners to review and update their emergency preparedness and business and life continuity plans. SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County, encourages property owners to take advantage of the information available from FEMA, because advance planning is critical in dealing with and recovering from the unexpected.

Most home and business owners have taken basic precautions to protect life and property in the event of an emergency like flooding, fire, wind damage, or even malicious attacks.  In many cases, building codes require clearly marked emergency exits, fire extinguishers, fire and flood drills, and similar preparations. But the missing link for many property owners is a comprehensive emergency plan that provides first responders with the information they need to deal with the emergency quickly and effectively, like the location of shut-off valves, fire suppression system controls, and emergency contact numbers.”

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County offers tools for both commercial and residential property owners to help address this problem. Business and home owners alike can download the free SERVPRO READY app, and store time-critical contact and property information electronically, in advance, where it can be accessed with a mobile device in seconds if disaster strikes. In addition, when a business designates SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County as their disaster mitigation and restoration provider, SERVPRO professionals will conduct a no-cost assessment of the facility and assist the owner in completing a comprehensive Emergency READY Profile® (ERP). The ERP includes information about emergency contact numbers, priority and high/risk areas, shut-off valve locations and more that can then be stored in the READY app.

The most effective response to any emergency is a fast response and that means having critical information available and ready to access at a moment’s notice. FEMA statistics* show that as many as 40 percent of businesses never reopen after a major flood disaster. Minimizing downtime and repairs with a quick, effective response effort can help prevent this type of outcome for businesses and can also help families put their homes and lives back on track in less time and with less stress. Creating a READY profile in advance with SERVPRO’s no-cost tools is well worth the time.”

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County specializes in disaster restoration, cleanup and repair services, helping to remediate damage, making it “Like it never even happened,” for both commercial and residential customers.

For more information on SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County, please contact our office at 973-383-2024 or office.SERVPROsussex@gmail.com. For more information on the SERVPRO® and the SERVPRO® Emergency READY Program, please visit www.ready.SERVPRO.com.


*www.fema.gov/protecting-your-businesses

Commercial Post Construction Cleaning

8/18/2016 (Permalink)

Post construction cleaning results of a commercial office lobby.

Structural integrity, materials, labor, safety, customer satisfaction and deadlines - the list goes on and on when building a commercial facility. The bottom line, however, is you are responsible for getting the doors open on time.  SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals can help you meet your deadlines by providing thorough post-construction services in a timely manner.  These services include:

Post Construction Cleaning

Once the floors are down and the drywall is up, it’s time to remove the debris and dirt in order to lay carpet, paint and decorate. SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals can provide the debris removal services to prepare the building for interior design.

Dehumidification and Drying

During the construction phase, a building can trap moisture. Excessive moisture could result in mold growth. If you think one of your projects may have a moisture issue, rely on SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals to provide the help you need eliminating moisture and preventing the potential for mold growth.

Final Cleaning

You want the facility to look its best when the doors open. Your local SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professional provides cleaning services to give the building that extra shine. Services include:

  • Carpet, resilient and non-resilient floor prep and finish
  • Ceiling, walls and fixture cleaning
  • Deodorization
  • Air Duct Cleaning
  • Debris Removal (if necessary)
  • Window Cleaning

To learn more about all of the SERVPRO® services, visit our website.

Biohazard and Crime Scene Cleanup and Restoration

8/15/2016 (Permalink)

Graffiti

Recognized as a leading fire and water cleanup and restoration provider by hundreds of insurance companies nationwide, SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals offer fast, reliable biohazard and crime scene cleanup and restoration services to residential and commercial property owners.

Exposure to biological and chemical contaminants can pose serious health consequences for building occupants, employees, customers and owners. A failure to properly handle and safely remove such hazardous substances can contribute to unhealthy and even dangerous environments.

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals are trained to safely and effectively remove biohazardous substances and prepare waste for proper disposal according to OSHA, EPA and state and local health regulations. Equipped with the necessary safety equipment and cleaning products, SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals help turn unsafe environments into clean, safe homes and offices. SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals can help with:

  • Bloodborne Pathogens
  • Methamphetamine Labs
  • Crime Scene Residues
  • Arson
  • Vandalism
  • Sewage Backups
  • Black Water Intrusions
  • Mold Mitigation and Remediation

Bloodborne Pathogens

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals remove and dispose of bodily fluids, tissue and other potentially pathogenic substances resulting from accident, trauma, crime or death. Trained SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Technicians thoroughly clean, disinfect and deodorize the structure.

Methamphetamine Labs

Many of the chemicals used in the production of illegal drugs such as methamphetamine are volatile and can leave harmful residues throughout a structure. SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals follow federal and state guidelines to properly clean all surfaces.

Crime Scene Residues

From fingerprint powder and evidence-gathering chemicals to tear gas and pepper spray residues, SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals can clean and restore your property and contents.

Arson and Vandalism

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals are recognized as leaders at helping property owners recover quickly from fire and water damage. SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professional also provides general cleaning and deodorization services for situations resulting from vandalism including graffiti, egg, spoiled foods and human or animal waste.

Sewage Backup

Sewage backups and black water intrusions are more than nasty, smelly deposits – these damages also introduce harmful microorganisms into a structure. SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals remove the sewage, contaminants and moisture, disinfecting as they clean. SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals help ensure the structure is properly cleaned, disinfected and deodorized.

Vandalism Damage Do’s and Don’ts

DO:

  •  Hose or wash egg or other residue damage from building exterior as soon as possible.
  • Carefully vacuum glass particles from carpets and upholstery.
  • Save containers revealing the ingredients of products used in vandalism damage.
  • Record all damage and photograph when possible.

DON'T:

  •  Attempt to remove ink, paint or cosmetic stains.
  • Operate damaged lamps or appliances.
  • Discard broken or damaged pieces from porcelain, furniture or other contents that may be used for repair.

To learn more about these SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County specialty cleaning services, please visit SERVPRO Cleaning Services.

It's The Water You Don't See

7/29/2016 (Permalink)

Hidden water underneath wet carpeting could eventually cause mold damage if not properly treated.

Even small water damages have the potential to cause serious structural and indoor air quality issues over time.

The key to avoiding costly future restoration is to handle every water problem as a real threat to your property. SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals have the equipment, training and experience to find and dry unseen water before secondary damages occur. The proper equipment makes a measurable difference in reducing the damage expense during a fire or water loss.  When time matters, technology and equipment must be counted on to perform. SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals will answer your call with rapid action and a full arsenal of drying equipment. Here are a few of the tools used by your local SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals.

  • Moisture Sensors are used to detect moisture in carpets, baseboards and walls.
  • Moisture Meters are used to determine the actual moisture content of various materials. The moisture tester provides accurate readings, allowing SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals to monitor the drying process.
  • Thermohygrometers measure temperature and relative humidity.  When armed with this information, SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals can calculate and create an environment most conducive to drying. When facing a contaminated water loss, it is not only important to dry the structure, but the structure must also be disinfected and often deodorized.
  • Ultra Low-Volume (ULV) Foggers will atomize liquid deodorizing agents, producing a fine mist that can easily penetrate the site where odor-causing residues may accumulate. This device can also be used to inject fungicides and disinfectants into wall cavities and other hard-to-reach areas.
  • Thermal Foggers dispense solvent-based products by creating a dense fog. The fog consists of tiny particles of deodorant solution that attach to and neutralize odor causing

particles.

The bottom line? SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals have the training and equipment to help make it “Like it never even happened.”

Visit the Water Damage section of our website to learn more...Water Damage Repair and Restoration

CELEBRATE SUMMER SAFELY

7/8/2016 (Permalink)

Enjoy your firework and BBQ's safely!

Summer is synonymous with barbecues, parades and fireworks displays; but along with all the festivities are plenty of visits to emergency rooms—especially during July.

Each year, around 230 people are injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. In addition to causing injury, fireworks are also responsible for thousands of house fires each year with millions of dollars in property damage.

There is nothing like firing up the grill during the summer months! Did you know, July is the peak month for grill fires? A backyard barbecue can become dangerous quickly if proper safety precautions aren’t considered.  SERVPRO® of NOrthern Sussex County wants you to have an enjoyable and safe summer. Consider the following tips to help ensure your summer celebrations are disaster-free!

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.
  • When using a charcoal grill, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.
  • Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear.
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire. Children should never pick up fireworks that may be left over as they may still be active.
  • The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display conducted by trained professionals.

CELEBRATE SUMMER SAFELY

Firework Facts

  • Fireworks cause an average of almost 20,000 reported fires per year.
  • In 2013, sparklers caused 41% of fireworks injuries.
  • On Independence Day in a typical year, fireworks account for two out of five of all reported fires, more than any other cause of fire.

*Most recent statistics available—provided by the NFPA.

Restoring Your Commercial Property After A Water Damage Event

6/24/2016 (Permalink)

Don't let a water damage control your business.

Flooding and water damage events at commercial properties are often complex with numerous issues that require a knowledgeable and flexible response.  Whether we’re dealing with a relatively small water cleanup scenario or a large scale event, we work quickly to assess each unique situation and isolate the damaged area.  In many instances, normal operations can continue in a temporary space while we restore your facility.

Restoring Commercial Properties Presents Unique Challenges

Our professionals are trained to be mindful of legal and environmental concerns and strive to fully restore the damaged area while working within your budgetary constraints. We understand that every hour spent cleaning up is an hour of lost revenue and productivity. So when an emergency situation arises in your business, give us a call and we’ll be there fast with the help you need.

About SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County

SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County specializes in the cleanup and restoration of commercial and residential property after a water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.

SERVPRO® Pledges Ongoing Support to the American Red Cross Disaster Responder Program

6/16/2016 (Permalink)

Red Cross recognizes SERVPRO for their contribution to disaster preparedness and recovery efforts

The American Red Cross recently recognized SERVPRO®, a cleanup and restoration company, for participation in its Disaster Responder Program1.  As a Disaster Responder Program member, SERVPRO pledges a donation to the Red Cross in advance of disasters, allowing the organization to respond quickly and effectively to nearly 66,000 disasters annually, most of which are home fires. SERVPRO is entering their third year of partnership with the Red Cross; their donations to the organization to date exceed one million dollars.

According to statistics cited by the Red Cross, seven people die in a home fire each day in the U.S. Aiming to reduce deaths and injuries caused by home fires by 25 percent by the end of 2019, the Red Cross launched a Home Fire Campaign in October of 2014. The support of SERVPRO and other Disaster Responder Program members allows the Red Cross to pursue their home fire prevention goals while they continue to provide critical services to disaster victims.

“One of the reasons home fires account for the majority of the disasters the Red Cross responds to annually is that the risk for home fires exists all year long,” said Jack Oliver, owner of SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County. “Statistics compiled by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)2 show the majority of home fires are related to unattended cooking accidents – and cooking is something most people do every day.”

Although SERVPRO’s business is helping business and home owners recover from fire, flood and other disasters, the company and its franchisees actively support disaster preparedness education, including fire prevention efforts. When disaster does strike, their relationships with major insurance companies combined with industry-leading job-management technology help smooth the path to rebuilding and restoration for home and business owners affected by the unexpected.

“SERVPRO’s commitment to the Red Cross Disaster Responder Program means that, when disaster strikes, homeowners can count on the Red Cross to address their immediate needs and supply essential services,” said Oliver. “Once the immediate emergency is under control, homeowners can count on the expertise of restoration specialists at SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County to help them restore their property and move forward with their lives.”

For fire prevention tips and information about fire and water damage restoration services, please visit www.SERVPROnorthernsussexcounty.com. For more information on SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County, please contact Jack Oliver at (973) 383-2024 or office@SERVPROsussex.com.

1 http://www.redcross.org/news/article/local/tennessee/SERVPRO-Recognized-for-Contribution-to-the-American-Red-Cross

2 http://www.nfpa.org/research/reports-and-statistics/fires-by-property-type/residential/home-structure-fires

 

6 Steps to a Successful Mold Remediation Process

6/13/2016 (Permalink)

Mold growth patterns.

Mold: An Unwanted Houseguest

Water damage can cause all sorts of problems for a homeowner. Whether the damage is caused by a leaky roof, a burst pipe, or some other unforeseen event, it is important to act quickly to avoid the emergence of mold. In some cases, mold growth can begin within 24-48 hours. If left unchecked, certain types of mold can cause respiratory problems and other symptoms.

But what do you do if you’ve already found mold in your home? Maybe there wasn’t a catastrophic water event. Maybe your home is excessively humid or a pipe has been leaking inside your bathroom wall. Whatever the cause, you have a mold problem and you need to act quickly.

The first step you can take is to call SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County at 973-383-2024. A representative will ask a series of questions to help determine the equipment, resources, and personnel that may be needed to fix your specific problem.

Although every mold damage scenario is different, the general mold remediation process stays the same. The following steps illustrate a typical mold removal and remediation process:

Step 1: Professional Inspection and Damage Assessment

The first step in any successful mold remediation process is an assessment by a mold remediation professional. Because mold prefers to grow in dark and damp areas, it may require more than a trained eye to evaluate the scope of the problem. State-of-the-art equipment such as hygrometers and infrared cameras may be used to find the associated water source to eliminate future mold problems.

Step 2: Mold Containment

Various containment procedures must be put in place to prevent the spread of mold and isolate the contaminated area. Containment procedures may include the use of physical barriers and negative air pressure, to prevent mold spores from spreading during the cleanup process.

Step 3: Air Filtration

SERVPRO® technicians utilize powerful air scrubbers and HEPA vacuums during the mold remediation process. These pieces of specialized filtration equipment actually capture microscopic mold spores out of the air, thereby preventing the spread of mold. 

Step 4: Removal of Mold and Mold-Infested Materials

The specifics of each mold remediation process are dependent on the amount of mold growth and the types of surfaces on which the mold has grown. Antifungal and antimicrobial treatments will be used to eliminate mold colonies and help prevent new colonies from forming.  Removal and disposal of mold-infested porous materials, including drywall and flooring, may be necessary to remediate heavy mold growth.

Step 5: Cleaning Contents and Belongings

SERVPRO® Professionals will clean your furniture, decorative items, curtains, and other restorable items affected by mold. They use a variety of cleaning techniques to clean and sanitize your belongings and they are trained in odor removal and deodorization techniques, using fogging equipment.

Step 6: Removal and Restoration

The restoration phase of a mold remediation project may involve minor repairs, such as replacing drywall, painting, and installing new carpet; or it may entail major repairs such as the reconstruction of various areas or rooms in a home or business.

If You See or Smell Mold, Call SERVPRO

The professionals at SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County understand mold and mold growth. We are mold remediation experts and we have the training, protective gear, and specialized equipment necessary to fix your mold problem and make it, “Like it never even happened.”

Call us today at 973-383-2024 and be sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter for tips on how to maintain a mold-free home or business.

The Science of Water Damage Drying

6/3/2016 (Permalink)

Specialized water damage drying equipment shown here drying a wall cavity with no wall damage and requiring minimal repairs.

DID YOU KNOW there is actually a science behind the process of drying?  Having the knowledge of psychrometrics is essential to restoring a water damaged structure to its preloss condition. While your initial reaction may be to grab a few towels to mop up the mess and place a fan or two around the damaged area, SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County professionals are trained in the science of drying and follow strict industry approved standards to help lower the chances of any secondary damages.  If your home or business suffers a water damage, SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals will:

  • Inspect the building to detect every component that is wet, to help prevent secondary damage from happening.
  • Measure how much moisture is in wet materials and monitor whether the materials are drying properly.
  • Speed up Mother Nature by using professional drying equipment.

What exactly does it mean to help “speed up Mother Nature”? A wet building can often dry naturally because the environment always seeks equilibrium. When materials are wet, moisture will naturally move to drier air at the surface of the material–but only if the air is, indeed, drier. Th e only problem is, nature takes too long and secondary damages may occur while the building is drying out.

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals have the tools and equipment to help Mother Nature along, including equipment to help dryhardwood floors, tough-to-reach spaces inside walls (pictured below), and much more.  SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals also use state-of-the-art monitoring equipment, and a proven scientific process to help speed the drying of your home or business.

The bottom line?  SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals have the training and equipment to help make water damage “Like it never even happened.”

Storm Readiness - Tools To Keep You Safe

4/29/2016 (Permalink)

One of the best precautions you can take is to purchase a good quality weather radio.  A weather radio is designed to alert you to potentially dangerous weather situations, like an approaching tornado. It allows you to be warned ahead of storms, providing you time to seek shelter.

A weather radio is the most reliable source for weather alerts. Weather radios have made many advancements over the years and are very aff ordable. Most basic weather radios average around $30 and can be programmed to only alert you for the weather alerts you choose.

When shopping for a weather radio, look for the following key features:

  • Reviewable alerts (you can scroll through alerts and turn off the siren for alerts you do not wish to hear).
  • Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) alert programming (alerts when specific counties are threatened, ensuring you only receive alerts for your county).
  • Ease of programming.

If you need help programming your weather radio, you can always contact your local National Weather Service Offi ce or for additional information, including county codes for your state, visit the NOAA Weather Radio website at www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr.

Understanding WEAs

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are emergency messages sent by authorized government alerting authorities through your mobile carrier.  Government partners include local and state public safety agencies, FEMA, the FCC, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Weather Service.  Alerts received at the right time can help keep you safe during an emergency. With WEA, alerts can be sent to your mobile device when you may be in harm’s way, without need to download an app or subscribe to a service. WEA may share:

  • Extreme weather warnings.
  • Local emergencies requiring evacuation or immediate action.
  • AMBER Alerts.
  • Presidential Alerts during a national emergency.

A WEA will look like a text message. The WEA message will typically show the type and time of the alert, any action you should take, and the agency issuing the alert. The message will be no more than 90 characters.

Visit www.ctia.org/wea to learn more about Wireless Emergency Alerts, including how to determine if your mobile device is WEA-capable.

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Be Storm Ready, Be Storm Smart

4/21/2016 (Permalink)

Severe weather can happen any time, anywhere.  Each year, Americans cope with an average of  the following intense storms*:

  • 10,000 severe thunderstorms
  • 5,000 floods or flash floods
  • 1,000 tornadoes
  • 2 landfalling deadly hurricanes

Approximately 98 percent of all presidentially declared disasters are weather-related, leading to around 500 deaths per year and nearly $15 billion in damage.  * Knowing your risk of severe weather, taking action and being an example are just a few steps you can take to be better prepared to save your life and assist in saving the lives of others.

Know Your Risk.

The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you, your business and your family.  Check the weather forecast regularly, obtain a NOAA Weather Radio, and learn about Wireless Emergency Alerts.  Severe weather comes in many forms and your shelter plan should include all types of local hazards.

Take Action.

Take the next step in severe weather preparedness by creating a communications plan for your home and business. Put together or purchase an emergency kit.  Keep important papers and valuables in a safe place.

Be an Example. 

Once you have taken action to prepare for severe weather, share your story with co-workers and family and friends on Facebook or Twitter. Your preparedness story will inspire others to do the same.

Build An Emergency Supply Kit

  • Water (one gallon per person per day)
  • Food (non-perishable 3-day supply)
  • Manual can opener
  • Battery operated radio, preferably a NOAA Weather Radio
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Clothing
  • Dust masks or bandanas
  • Plastic sheeting, garbage bags and duct tape
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Hygiene items
  • Important documents; copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account information
  • Cash
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container

Contact SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County for more readiness tips and tools, including SERVPRO’s Emergency READY Profile® (ERP).  Having an ERP in place for your facility can help minimize business interruption in the event of a disaster.

Contact SERVPRO® to learn more and be “Ready for whatever happens!”

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ARE YOUR DUCTS IN ORDER?

4/12/2016 (Permalink)

Did you know, your ventilation system is often the biggest culprit in poor indoor air quality? Inspecting the ductwork in your facility or home should be a high priority.  In most cases, the HVAC system has been operating for some time without much attention.  Dirty ducts can circulate odors, contaminants such as mold, and irritating dust throughout your building or home.

A routine part of SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's service is inspecting the heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit (HVAC).  Keeping the HVAC and ductwork clean can potentially extend the life span of the equipment by allowing it to operate at peak condition, which may help save you money.  Duct cleaning may not always be necessary. SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals will inspect your HVAC system and ductwork and make recommendations about the best way to address any indoor air quality concerns. This inspection can help save you money and provide peace of mind on the health of your HVAC system and ductwork.

In some circumstances, such as after fire, smoke or suspected mold growth, duct cleaning becomes an essential part of the cleanup process.  In these cases, your SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professional can often restore the HVAC system and ductwork to pre-damage condition.

If you have a fuel burning furnace, stove or fi replace, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends they be inspected for proper functioning, and be serviced before each heating season to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning.

The SERVPRO® Duct Cleaning System is proven and cost efficient.  Unlike the majority of duct cleaning services, your SERVPRO® Franchise Professional uses a portable ventilation and air duct cleaning system to examine ductwork and make a clean sweep, removing years of dust and grime.

  • The process begins by using patented equipment including a roto-scraper, which automatically adapts to the duct’s shape and diameter while traveling through the duct, removing debris and fi lth before vacuuming begins.
  • Next, a powerful push-pull air delivery and collection system transfers the debris from the ducting to a 16-gallon container.
  • Air is filtered through a HEPA filtration system, removing 99.97 percent of the particles in the airstream. HEPA filters capture debris and keep the indoor environment clean.
  • As an optional process, a sealant or coating product may be sprayed to address odor or microbial concerns.
  • Filters will either be cleaned or replaced to remove odor and dirt.

For more information on duct cleaning, or to schedule an appointment, contact us at 973-383-2024.

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SPRUCE UP YOUR SPACE

4/12/2016 (Permalink)

Birds are chirping and the temperatures have warmed up—spring is fi nally here!  Spring cleaning is a tradition allowing us to  freshen our environment and get a head start on the hectic seasons of spring and summer. While many people deep clean their homes, this is also a great time to clean and organize your business.

SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County can help get your facility in tip top shape.  In addition to air duct and HVAC cleaning, SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals are trained to use state-of-the-art equipment to remove soils hiding deep within your carpet, as well as focused stain removal and stain resistance applications.  Other services include: upholstery and drapery cleaning, hard fl oor cleaning and care, and odor deodorization.

A clean environment is a healthy environment!  Improve your living and work spaces this spring. If you need a little help, don’t worry, SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County Professionals have the tools to make your home or business sparkle in no time!

Spring Cleaning Your Workspace

  • Divide Your Workspace Into Zones:

Determine how you want and need to use the space and set up zones for your daily functions. You may require a workspace for your computer, a library area for your research, a storage area for supplies and a filing area for your archives.  This will provide a foundation for a more efficient use of space.

  • Keep Only What You Need At Arm’s Length:

Boxes of pens, stacks of papers and old coffee cups need to go. Rid your desk of visual clutter by paring down the items on top to the essentials only.  Supplies, paperwork and personal items should be kept in the zones you’ve established for them.

  • Sort Your Catch-All Drawer:

Use drawer dividers to give everything a place, like compartments for paperclips and rubber bands. Go through the drawer every six weeks and clear out anything that is out of place or isn’t being used.

  • Eliminate Digital Clutter:

Digital clutter can be just as stressful as physical clutter. Organize digital files and your e-mail inbox just as you would paper fi les–with a system of logical and clearly labeled folders. Also, keep the icons on your desktop to a bare minimum, and trade in sticky notes on your monitor for calendar reminders.

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Duct Cleaning - Residential

11/23/2015 (Permalink)

Clean Air in the Home

  • Children in homes with high levels of mold show persistent, cold-like symptoms - 300% more than those in clean environments.
  • Every year about 40 pounds of dust is generated per 1,500 square feet in a home.
  • Roughly 80 percent of the particles you see floating in your home in a ray of sunshine are dead human skin.

Causes of Indoor Air Pollution

  • Asbestos building products when dislodged (no longer intact)
  • Biological contaminants such as mold, dust mites, viruses and pet dander
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Formaldehyde found in pressure treated wood
  • Lead (pre-1978 house paint)
  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • Particulates found in dust, pollen, cleaning sprays and poorly ventilated areas
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Volatile organic compounds including household cleaning products, pesticides and aerosol propellants

Cleaner Air Means a Healthier Home

Dirty ducts can circulate odors and contaminants like mold and irritating dustt hroughout the home. SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County uses a proven Portable Ventilation and Duct Cleaning System to examine ductwork and make a clean sweep, removing years of dust and grime.

Benefits of Cleaning Ducts & HVAC:

  • Lowers indoor air pollution
  • Reduces pet dander
  • Eliminates offensive odors
  • Restores peak operating condition
  • Prolongs the life of your system

Duct Cleaning - Commercial

11/23/2015 (Permalink)

Proper Maintenance Saves Money

Estimates made by the World Health Organization say that poor indoor air quality costs $60 billion in employee sick leave and lost production.

Part of your responsibility to the tenants, workers and students who work and play in your buildings includes proper maintenance and prompt response to any situation that could cause illness or health concerns. 

Sick Building Syndrome

In the 1970s, sick building syndrome became apparent as groups of people displayed similar symptoms after having spent extended periods of time in buildings with poor air quality.

Good judgment and immediate attention can correct the situation and save you money in the event of litigation. People most at risk include:

  • Infants and children.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Elderly.
  • People with compromised respiratory systems or asthma/allergies.
  • People with weakened immune systems.

While molds are found naturally in the environment, an overabundance inside buildings is undesireable; some people can become ill. Experts disagree about the more controversial details of mold, but they all agree that if you have excessive mold, it needs to be removed.

Improve the Air Quality of Your Business

When addressing air quality, inspecting the ductwork is SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County's first order of business. Dirty ducts can work to circulate odors and contaminants like mold and irritating dust throughout the building.

SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County uses a proven Portable Ventilation & Air Duct Cleaning System to examine ductwork and make a clean sweep removing years of dust and grime.

“Cents” of Smell - Create an Impact

You only have one chance to make a first impression with your customers. Using safe and biodegradable products, SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County can create a clean, fresh and long lasting impression.

Ways to Impress Your Customers

  • Clean dirty and stained ceilings.
  • Scrub lobby, furniture and draperies.
  • Establish maintenance plans for furnishings, carpets and draperies.
  • Clean HVAC & air duct systems.

The SERVPRO Difference

  • Reduce potential for mold growth.
  • Remediate bacteria, fungi and mold.
  • Restore peak energy efficiency.
  • Eliminate offensive odors.
  • Free written inspections and estimates.

Weather Alert Terminology

11/23/2015 (Permalink)

Weather Alert Information

Basic Weather Terms:

Warning

A warning is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely. A warning means weather conditions pose a threat to life or property. People in the path of the storm need to take protective action.

Watch

A watch is used when the risk of a hazardous weather or hydrologic event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location or timing is still uncertain. It is intended to provide enough lead time so those who need to set their plans in motion can do so. A watch means that hazardous weather is possible. People should have a plan of action in case a storm threatens and they should listen for later information and possible warnings especially when planning travel or outdoor activities.

Advisory

An advisory is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely. Advisories are for less serious conditions than warnings, that cause significant inconvenience and if caution is not exercised, could lead to situations that may threaten life or property.

WINTER WEATHER ALERTS:

Winter Weather Advisory

This product is issued by the National Weather Service when a low pressure system produces a combination of winter weather (snow, freezing rain, sleet, etc.) that present a hazard, but does not meet warning criteria.

Winter Storm Watch

This product is issued by the National Weather Service when there is a potential for heavy snow or significant ice accumulations, usually at least 24 to 36 hours in advance. The criteria for this watch can vary from place to place.

Winter Storm Warning

This product is issued by the National Weather Service when a winter storm is producing or is forecast to produce heavy snow or significant ice accumulations. The criteria for this warning can vary from place to place.

Blowing Snow Advisory

Issued when wind driven snow reduces surface visibility, possibly, hampering traveling. Blowing snow may be falling snow, or snow that has already accumulated but is picked up and blown by strong winds.

Blizzard Warning Sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable amounts of falling or blowing snow (reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile) are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.

Freezing Rain Advisory

Issued when freezing rain or freezing drizzle is forecast but a significant accumulation is not expected. However, even small amounts of freezing rain or freezing drizzle may cause significant travel problems.

WINTER WEATHER ALERTS:

Ice Storm Warning

This product is issued by the National Weather Service when freezing rain produces a significant and possibly damaging accumulation of ice. The criteria for this warning varies from state to state, but typically will be issued any time more than 1/4" of ice is expected to accumulate in an area.

Snow Advisory

This product is issued by the National Weather Service when a low pressure system produces snow that may cause significant inconveniences, but do not meet warning criteria and if caution is not exercised could lead to life threatening situations. The advisory criteria varies from area to area. If the forecaster feels that it is warranted, he or she can issue it for amounts less than the minimum criteria. For example, it may be issued for the first snow of the season or when snow has not fallen in long while.

Heavy Snow Warning

Issued by the National Weather Service when snowfall of 6 inches (15 cm) or more in 12 hours or 8 inches (20 cm) or more in 24 hours is imminent or occurring. These criteria are specific for the Midwest and may vary regionally.

Frost Advisory

Issued during the growing season when widespread frost formation is expected over an extensive area. Surface temperatures are usually in the mid 30s Fahrenheit.

Frost/Freeze Warning

Below freezing temperatures are expected.

HURRICANE/TROPICAL STORM EVENTS:

Tropical Depression

An organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 38 MPH (33 knots) or less. Sustained winds are defined as one-minute average wind measured at about 33 ft (10 meters) above the surface.

Tropical Storm

An organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39–73 MPH (34–63 knots).

Hurricane

An intense tropical weather system of strong thunderstorms with a well-defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 74 MPH (64 knots) or higher.

Storm Surge

A dome of water pushed onshore by hurricane and tropical storm winds. Storm surges can reach 25 feet high and be 50–1000 miles wide.

Storm Tide

A combination of storm surge and the normal tide (i.e., a 15-foot storm surge combined with a 2-foot normal high tide over the mean sea level created a 17-foot storm tide).

HURRICANE/TROPICAL STORM ALERTS:

Hurricane/Tropical Storm Watch

Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are possible in the specified area, usually within 36 hours. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.

Hurricane/Tropical Storm Warning

Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are expected in the specified area, usually within 24 hours.

HURRICANE/TROPICAL STORM ALERTS:

Short Term Watches and Warnings

These warnings provide detailed information about specific hurricane threats, such as flash floods and tornadoes.

Hurricane Force Wind Warning

A warning for sustained winds, or frequent gusts, of 64 knots (74 mph) or greater, either predicted or occurring, and not directly associated with a tropical cyclone.

Hurricane Force Wind Watch

A watch for an increased risk of a hurricane force wind event for sustained surface winds, or frequent gusts, of 34 knots 64 knots (74 mph) or greater, but its occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain.

Hurricane Local Statement

A public release prepared by local National Weather Service offices in or near a threatened area giving specific details for its county/parish warning area on (1) weather conditions (2) evacuation decisions made by local officials (3) other precautions necessary to protect life and property.

Tropical Storm Warning

A warning for sustained surface winds, associated with a tropical cyclone, within the range of 34 to 63 knots (39 to 73 mph), expected in a specified coastal area within 24 hours.

Tropical Storm Watch

An announcement that a tropical storm poses or tropical storm conditions pose a threat to coastal areas generally within 36 hours. A tropical storm watch should normally not be issued if the system is forecast to attain hurricane strength.

FLOOD ALERTS:

Flash Floods

Flash Flood Statement

(FFS) In hydrologic terms, a statement by the NWS which provides follow-up information on flash flood watches and warnings.

Flash Flood Watch

Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.

Flash Flood Warning

A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

Widespread Flooding

Flood Watch

Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.

Flood Warning

Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

Flood Potential Outlook

(ESF on AFOS) (FPO for Acronym): In hydrologic terms, An NWS outlook that is issued to alert the public of potentially heavy rainfall that could send area rivers and streams into flood or aggravate an existing flood.

Flood Statement (FLS)

In hydrologic terms, a statement issued by the NWS to inform the public of flooding along major streams in which there is not a serious threat to life or property. It may also follow a flood warning to give later information.

Coastal Flooding

Coastal/Lakeshore Flood Warning

Flooding that will pose a serious threat to life and property is occurring, imminent or highly likely. Coastal/Lakeshore Flood Warnings are issued using the Coastal/Lakeshore Hazard Message (CFW) product.

Coastal/Lakeshore Flood Watch

Flooding with significant impact is possible. Coastal/Lakeshore Flood Watches are issued using the Coastal/Lakeshore Hazard Message (CFW) product.

River Flooding

River Flood Statement

This product is used by the local National Weather Service Forecast Office (NWFO) to update and expand the information in the River Flood Warning. This statement may be used in lieu of a warning if flooding is forecasted, imminent, or existing and it presents no threat to life or property. The statement will also be used to terminate a River Flood Warning.

River Flood Warning

Flooding is defined as the inundation of normally dry areas as a result of increased water levels in an established water course. The flood warning normally specifies crest information. It usually occurs 6 hours or later after the causative event and it is usually associated with widespread heavy rain and/or snow melt or ice jams.

Urban and Small Stream Flood Advisory

This advisory alerts the public to flooding which is generally only an inconvenience (not life-threatening) to those living in the affected area. Issued when heavy rain will cause flooding of streets and low-lying places in urban areas. Also used if small rural or urban streams are expected to reach or exceed bankfull. Some damage to homes or roads could occur.

HIGH WIND ALERTS:

Wind Advisory

Sustained winds 25 to 39 mph and/or gusts to 57 mph. Issuance is normally site specific.

Extreme Wind Warning

Extreme Wind Warning (EWW) informs the public of the need to take immediate shelter in an interior portion of a well-built structure due to the onset of extreme tropical cyclone winds. An EWW for extreme tropical cyclone winds should be issued when both of the following criteria are met:

1) Tropical cyclone is a category 3 or greater on the Saffir Simpson hurricane scale.

2) Sustained tropical cyclone surface winds of 100 knots (115 mph) or greater are occurring or are expected to occur within one hour.

Gale Watch

A watch for an increased risk of a gale force wind event for sustained surface winds, or frequent gusts, of 34 knots (39 mph) to 47 knots (54 mph), but its occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain.

Gale Warning

A warning of sustained surface winds, or frequent gusts, in the range of 34 knots (39 mph) to 47 knots (54 mph) inclusive, either predicted or occurring, and not directly associated with a tropical cyclone.

FIRE ALERTS:

Red Flag

This is a fire weather program which highlights the onset of critical weather conditions conducive to extensive wildfire occurrences.

Red Flag Warning

A term used by fire-weather forecasters to call attention to limited weather conditions of particular importance that may result in extreme burning conditions. It is issued when it is an on-going event or the fire weather forecaster has a high degree of confidence that Red Flag criteria will occur within 24 hours of issuance. Red Flag criteria occurs whenever a geographical area has been in a dry spell for a week or two, or for a shorter period , if before spring green-up or after fall color, and the National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) is high to extreme and the following forecast weather parameters are forecasted to be met:

1) a sustained wind average 15 mph or greater 2) relative humidity less than or equal to 25 percent and 3) a temperature of greater than 75 degrees F.

In some states, dry lightning and unstable air are criteria. A Fire Weather Watch may be issued prior to the Red Flag Warning.

SEVERE WEATHER ALERTS (Thunderstorms & Tornados):

What is a Severe Thunderstorm?

A thunderstorm that produces a tornado, winds of at least 58 mph (50 knots), and/or hail at least ¾" in diameter. Structural wind damage may imply the occurrence of a severe thunderstorm. A thunderstorm wind equal to or greater than 40 mph (35 knots) and/or hail of at least ½" is defined as approaching severe.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch

This is issued by the National Weather Service when conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area. The size of the watch can vary depending on the weather situation. They are usually issued for a duration of 4 to 8 hours. They are normally issued well in advance of the actual occurrence of severe weather. During the watch, people should review safety rules and be prepared to move a place of safety if threatening weather approaches.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning

This is issued when either a severe thunderstorm is indicated by the WSR-88D radar or a spotter reports a thunderstorm producing hail 3/4 inch or larger in diameter and/or winds equal or exceed 58 miles an hour; therefore, people in the affected area should seek safe shelter immediately. Severe thunderstorms can produce tornadoes with little or no advance warning. Lightning frequency is not a criteria for issuing a severe thunderstorm warning. They are usually issued for a duration of one hour. They can be issued without a Severe Thunderstorm Watch being already in effect.

Severe Weather Potential Statement

This statement is designed to alert the public and state/local agencies to the potential for severe weather up to 24 hours in advance. It is issued by the local National Weather Service office.

Severe Weather Statement

A National Weather Service product which provides follow up information on severe weather conditions (severe thunderstorm or tornadoes) which have occurred or are currently occurring.

Tornado Watch

This is issued by the National Weather Service when conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in and close to the watch area. Their size can vary depending on the weather situation. They are usually issued for a duration of 4 to 8 hours. They normally are issued well in advance of the actual occurrence of severe weather. During the watch, people should review tornado safety rules and be prepared to move a place of safety if threatening weather approaches.

Tornado Warning

This is issued when a tornado is indicated by the WSR-88D radar or sighted by spotters; therefore, people in the affected area should seek safe shelter immediately. They can be issued without a Tornado Watch being already in effect. They are usually issued for a duration of around 30 minutes.

Understanding Mold

11/21/2015 (Permalink)

From The Ordinary

Fungi and mold naturally occur in our environment. In fact, over 100,000 kinds of fungi have been identified.

Fungi produce some very useful results. Yeast is a type of fungi used in preparing breads, baked goods and other food products, including some alcoholic beverages. The unique flavor of blue cheese is a result of mold. An edible mushroom is simply a type of fungi, and life saving penicillin is a product of mold (Penicillin chrysogenum).

Even though some forms of mold can add value to our lives, other forms can be harmful. Excessive amounts of mold, different types of mold, and/or exposure to molds may present health concerns for some people.

To The Unhealthy

Intrusion of water into your home or place of business can result in mold growth. Water intrusions can result from storm damage, plumbing or equipment failures, long-standing leaks and poor humidity control.

When water intrusions are not addressed right away, the resulting damage can present increased risk of harmful mold growth. Some amount of mold spores is normally present in most environments. If the humidity and moisture levels in a water-damaged environment are not promptly returned to normal, mold spores may grow and multiply. Organic materials found inside abuilding, such as wood, paper, drywall and insulation, provide food sources for mold to flourish. Excessive mold growth can lead to indoor environmental conditions that pose a health threat.

Health Concerns

Health concerns may arise when excessive mold grows indoors. Concerns are more likely to arise for “at risk” people, which might include immune suppressed or compromised individuals, young children and individuals with chronic inflammatory lung diseases such as asthma and severe allergies. However, anyone may experience health problems associated with exposure to mold in damp buildings.

Possible health effects include: runny nose, sneezing, coughing, aggravation of asthma, sore throat or inflammation of the sinuses.

People most at risk include:[1]

  • Infants and children.[1]
  • Pregnant women.[1]
  • The elderly.
  • [1]People with compromised respiratory systems or asthma and allergies.
  • [1]People with weakened immune systems.
  • Take Precautions

    SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County handles water damages every day and knows prompt action is required to prevent mold growth. Mold is more likely to spread when an environment has been subject to moisture for along period of time. If your property has sustained a recent water damage, it is vital to remove excess water and dry the structure promptly.

    If there is an ongoing moisture problem in the building, it is important to be alert for:

  • [1]The presence of visible mold.[1]
  • Strong musty odors which may indicate mold is present.[1]
  • Any evidence of past moisture problems that might have caused undetected mold growth.[1]
  • Excessive humidity.
  • These conditions may require the expertise of a qualified Indoor Air Quality/Environmental Professional to inspect the building for mold growth and water damage problems.

    Indoor Air Quality/Environmental Professionals

    Indoor Air Quality/Environmental Professionals evaluate the quality of the air inside a structure.

    Some specialize and are skilled in testing buildings for the presence of molds. Using various testing devices, these professionals collect air and surface samples to compare the indoor mold spore count to the outdoor environment. If you have concerns about mold, SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County can assist you in locating a qualified Indoor Air Quality/Environmental Professional.

    Help Is Here

    If you think you might have a mold problem, call 973-383-2024. A SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professional trained in mold remediation will examine the structure for any visible signs of mold.

    In the event mold is found, you will be asked to approve and sign a work authorization form prior to any mold cleanup or related work being performed.

    The technician may also recommend you leave the affected area while the mold cleanup and associated containment process is being safely completed.

    If extensive mold growth is present, additional assistance may be required. Some situations require the addition of an Indoor Air Quality/Environmental Professional with the specialized equipment and services needed to assess and /or repair property. You may wish to consult your adjuster if needed.

    SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County cares about proper restoration of your structure. In most water damage situations excessive mold growth is not a problem and SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals can safely restore your building to pre-loss condition. The need to address the presence of mold can only be determined by an on-site, indoor environmental inspection. Please keep in mind SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County Professionals do not interpret insurance policies or coverage; you must consult your insurance company to determine the scope of policy coverage.

    What To Do Until Help Arrives

    11/21/2015 (Permalink)

    EMERGENCY TIPS FOR YOUR HOME

    Please follow these DOs and DON’Ts to help reduce damage and increase the chances of a successful restoration.

    CLEAN WATER DAMAGE

    DO:

  • Shut off the source of water if possible or contact a   qualified party to stop the water source.
  • Turn off circuit breakers for wet areas of the building,   when access to the power distribution panel is safe   from electrical shock.
  • Remove as much excess water as possible by mopping   and blotting.
  • Wipe excess water from wood furniture after removing   lamps and tabletop items.
  • Remove and prop up wet upholstery cushions for even drying.
  • Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting.
  • Remove to a safe, dry place any paintings, art objects,   computers, documents and other materials that are   valuable or sensitive to moisture.
  • Use wooden clothespins to keep furniture skirting off   damp floors.
  • Hang draperies with coated hangers to avoid contact   with wet carpeting or floors.
  • Hang furs and leather goods to dry separately at room temperature.
  • DON'T

  • Enter rooms with standing water where electrical shock hazards may exist.
  • Enter affected areas if electrical outlets, switches, circuit breakers or electrical equipment are exposed to water. Always avoid electrical shock hazards.
  • Leave books, newspapers, magazines or other colored   items on wet carpets or floors to cause stai