Natural Disasters- Prepare Your Home
You are home watching the local news when the reporter says the next big hurricane is coming through your area within the next couple of days. You may think running out to fill up your gas tank and grabbing the last carton of milk and loaf of bread at the store means you are prepared. However, what about your home? Is it protected and prepared for the storm?
Here are some last minute tips on what you can do to get your home ready in the event of a natural disaster:
- Close all windows, doors, and shutters
- Bring in anything outdoors that can be picked up by wind.
- Keep trees trimmed, remove any compromised limbs
- Turn your fridge and freezer on to the coldest setting & keep it closed as much as possible so food will last longer in case of a power outage
- Turn off propane tank
- Unplug any small appliances
- Make sure your sump pump is working
To keep your home prepared all year round you must first identify any vulnerable areas in your home.
- Check for cracks or small holes in the foundation where water can seep in.
- Check for any loose or missing shingles on your roof. Secure soffits that may weaken over time. You can reinforce them by adding stainless steel screws.
- Touch up areas with caulking that have worn away like windowsills and door jambs. You can easily fix these cracked areas on your own by simply getting a caulking gun and a waterproof sealant
- Keep gutters free of debris and make sure water flows several feet away from your home
- Make sure the septic tank and sewer are inspected and cleaned before the start of every season
If your home is affected by a major storm or disaster, an emergency restoration company can help you with cleanup. You should also contact your insurance company to report the damage and file a claim. Our team at SERVPRO of Paramus can handle any size disaster you may face. Call us for more info. 201-445-5588
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral in the ground typically found in North America. It was frequently used in the past as a flame-resistant insulation. It is a durable material made of layers of fibers that together virtually create an indestructible material. It was widely used up until the 70's when it was discovered to be a carcinogen.
Asbestos is found to be the sole cause of a deadly and rare form of cancer known as mesothelioma. After being exposed to asbestos mesothelioma can take 20-50 years before symptoms can appear. Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, heart and abdomen. Despite asbestos being known as a carcinogen it is still not banned. However, most manufactures have phased out the use of the material to switch to safer alternatives.
The EPA classifies six different materials as asbestos. All six being human carcinogens.
Only amosite which is the brown colored asbestos and crocidolite (blue) are mainly used.
Now that we know what asbestos is and the negative side effects lets talk about what to do when you come across asbestos. When finding asbestos in your home or building you don't necessarily need to go remove it immediately. It is actually best to leave it untouched if it is intact. Generally asbestos containing material that is in good condition and not disturbed will not release asbestos fibers. In the case the material is not in good condition or is in the vicinity of a renovation it should only be removed by a trained professional.
If you suspect the material contains asbestos but are not completely sure you can have testing done to confirm. Air testing can also be performed to confirm the air quality is safe after removal.
The most common scenario we come across is asbestos containing tile found hidden under layers of flooring. In the event our technicians suspect asbestos we will have testing performed to verify and then plan on the best route of execution.
Preventing an Ice Dam
What is an ice dam and how will it affect my home?
Have you ever noticed those pretty icicles hanging off the edge of your roof after a big snowstorm? Although they are beautiful to look at (I guess that's why they mimicked them with Christmas decorative lighting) those icicles can cause some serious water damage to your home.
An ice dam forms when snow melts from the upper portion of your roof causing water to run down your roof and then refreezes when it reaches the edge causing an ice dam to form over your gutter backing up water from properly draining. This pool of water that gets trapped backs up under the roof shingles soaking the roof sheathing and eventually finds cracks in the roof where it leaks into the attic of your home.
Typically this is usually caused by poor roof ventilation, and a warm attic space. A clogged gutter system can also intensify the extent of the situation.
Some steps that can be taken to prevent this from occurring are:
1. Check attic to make sure it is in good condition. You can do this buy searching your attic for daylight through any cracks.
2. Keep gutters clear of debris. Make sure your gutter is draining properly. Remove any tree limbs that can come in contact with your home.
3. Keep interior roof structure the same temperature as exterior. This can be done by providing ventilation for continuous airflow under the roof deck. As far as the interior temperature start by removing any heat sources like un-insulated lighting or un-insulated duct work. Opt for sealed can light instead of recessed lighting. Also increase attic floor insulation to keep living area heating from rise to the attic.
4. Use a roof rake to remove snow (6 inches or higher) from the edge of your roof.
If you find yourself with water leaking into your home call us at SERVPRO of Paramus to handle your ice dam problems. 201-445-5588
Dealing With Hoarding
Homeowner with hoarding disorder affecting the mitigation of water damage and mold growth.
What is hoarding?
By definition hoarding is collecting or keeping large amounts of various items in a home due to strong urges to save them or distress experienced when discarding them. It is classified as a mental disorder that usually is the result of a traumatic event or a symptom of another disorder such as depression, dementia or obsessive compulsive disorder. It is most commonly found in older adults.
Many rooms in a hoarders house are so packed with items that the room cannot be used for its intended use. This makes normal everyday living compromised.
Hoarding can really be an issue in terms of safety and health. For one it can be a major fire hazard. In the event of a fire many occupants die due to the inability to escape the home because of blocked exits or even injuring themselves by tripping over items. Firefighters responding to a fire that is home to a a hoarder can be put at risk as well due to these obstructed exits and falling objects. It makes the search for occupants much harder and very risky. The weight of large amounts of piled up personal belongings along with the use of water to put out a fire can lead to a homes collapse.
Along with fire safety hazards hoarding can also be detrimental to health in the event of ignored or even unnoticed water leaks that can lead to mold growth. Many times a pile of various items can hide any issues that may be going on in the home since they are blocked out of sight. It can also attract pests and rodents that can gnaw away at materials like wiring causing further safety risks.
To prevent and respond to hoarding behavior be sure to be respectful when communicating with the individual. Instead of acknowledging the clutter focus on expressing safety concerns for not just themselves but for those around such as neighbors, family members, responders etc. The use of outside outlets to help with intervention can be beneficial and necessary.
How to Prepare For and Prevent a Fire.
Did you know that the actual heat from a fire is more dangerous than the flames?
Room temperature during a fire can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level.
You can scorch your lungs just trying to take a breath. The high temperature will even melt your clothes onto your skin.
- Install the right number of smoke alarms for your home and test them at least once a month. Batteries should be changed once a year.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended
- Turn off portable heater when unattended.
- Never smoke in bed, when drowsy, or medicated. Douse cigarette buds in water before disposal.
- Never smoke in a home where oxygen is used. Oxygen can be explosive and will make a fire burn hotter and faster.
- Never use a portable generator indoors. It should also only be refueled outdoors or in well ventilated areas.
- Keep items 3 feet in distance from any fire source.
- Teach children what to do when they hear the sound of the smoke alarm.
- In the dark close your eyes and practice feeling your way out of your house.
- Establish two ways to exit each room.
- Create a meeting point for all the members in your family outside of your home.
- Make sure everyone knows how to call 911.
- Make sure windows are easily accessible and screens can be removed quickly.
- Make digital copies of all important documents and records such as a birth certificate.
In the event of a fire; before opening a door, feel the doorknob and door. If it is hot and/or has smoke coming out of the cracks do not open it. Use your second mode of escape from that room. If clothes catch fire teach everyone to stop, drop and roll. If someone cant drop down you can also take a blanket to smother the flames.
Better Act Quick!
Soot cob webs found in the kitchen of this home.
A fire is a devastating thing to have happen to anyone. No homeowner wants to experience a fire and its damages left behind.
Why is it important to start clean up and restoration after a fire?
First and foremost, left over smoke & soot particles is a bio-hazard. Smoke inhalation can cause respiratory problems or worsen conditions like asthma and heart disease. If possible always try to limit exposure by staying with a relative or in a hotel during restoration. Many times when filing a claim your insurance company may offer you a stay in a hotel until it is no longer a hazard.
Was Water Used?
There may be occurrences where water was used to cease the fire. If that is the case you may be experiencing not only fire and smoke damage to your home but also water damage. It is imperative to start proper drying of water in your home to prevent mold growth from occurring.
Acidic soot can cause damage to porous materials leading to permanent discoloration that even a professional at that point wouldn't be able to remove. However, if action is taken quickly permanent damage can be prevented.
It is expected that wherever the fire occurred there can also be electrical damage to outlets, wires, appliances. Make sure these are deemed safe before return to use.
Soot can also cause damage to finishes on appliances or kitchen surfaces. These can become discolored turning a yellow hue. Over time smoke and soot can cause etching to glass and tarnishing of metal.
Hopefully this situation will not occur in your home but if you find yourself needing to act quickly contact SERVPRO of Paramus.
Most Common Types of Homeowners Claims
Did you know that in 2016 losses due to natural disasters in the U.S. totaled $23.8 Billion in costs. Severe thunderstorms accounted for 60% of the losses at $14 Billion.
The most common types of homeowners insurance claims policy holders will file are:
1. Theft- Unlike most of the other types of losses this one can be prevented with security measures like an alarm system, safe box or my personal favorite a dog!
2. Wind Damage- Be sure to check trees and shrubs around your property to make sure they will not cause damage to your home. Also checking the shingles on your roof should be done yearly.
3. Water Damage (non-weather related)- This list includes causes like a pipe burst, leaky appliance, sump pump failure or even a sewer back up.
4. Water Damage (weather related)- This is most common in the Northeast where colder temperatures are common. Some measures can be taken to avoid instances like clearing out snow and ice to prevent buildup.
5. Hail Damage- This type is most common in the West and Midwest where golf ball sized hail can cause serious damage to property.
Water Damage? Let's Talk Contents!
When dealing with property damage to your home one of the challenging tasks is trying to save all of your possessions.
It may be a disappointing and daunting task to itemize, photograph and list every single item for insurance reimbursement but SERVPRO of Paramus will be there to help give some guidance as well as lend a hand with the removal of any unsalvageable items.
Here are some tips to help you figure out how to categorize your items.
Let's start with discussing what types of contents cannot be saved from water damage.
Items like food, cosmetics, medicines, medical supplies, carpet padding, stuffed animals and baby toys should never be tried to salvage. Mainly due to the risk of contamination and potential health hazards.
There are also some types of contents that can usually be saved but depending on the extent of the damage.
These are items like mattresses, pillows, large carpets, area rugs, upholstered couches & chairs, books, paper products, solid wood/metal/plastic furniture, metal utensils, pots and pans.
Now that you have an idea of what types of items can be saved it is important that you move FAST! Make sure everything you want to save is moved to a safe dry place to prevent further damage. Time is of the essence to decrease the chances of further damage.
The things you don't want to save should be left outside to dry until your claims adjuster arrives. Sometimes your adjuster may not be able to get out for a couple of days. In the case that some of these items are things like food that will spoil or may attract rodents; make a separate pile to have discarded as soon as possible after contacting your adjuster.
Be sure to have EVERYTHING documented as well as photographed for your adjuster to confirm all of your losses.
We hope this provides you some help and insight when dealing with your personal items.
What Is Soot?
Soot shown on a chemical sponge.
Did you know that the highest cause of house fires is from cooking? Usually when a homeowner leaves a pot or pan unattended and then only remembers it when smoke invades their home. It may not develop into fire damage to your property but rather smoke and soot damage that usually is worse than you would think. Although your kitchen cabinetry isn’t on fire and ruined there is still some specialized clean-up needing to be done from the smoke & soot.
Soot is a powdery, flaky substance composed of mostly carbon that is a result of incomplete combustion of materials like coal, oil and wood. Not only is it harmful but it can also be a pain to remove due to its stickiness which can cause staining if not treated properly.
A chemical sponge is used to clean soot from walls. Commonly a chemical sponge may also reveal soot you did not notice was there.
When treating textiles, a heavy duty vacuum must be used before trying to clean them. Do not try to wash these in regular dry-cleaning or wash. Professional cleaners will need to use counteractants to break up smoke molecules and eliminate odors.
It is highly recommended to hire a professional to properly handle clean-up and restoration to eliminate chances of staining and odor.
Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today – (201) 445-5588
How to Prevent Mold Growth After a Water Damage
Mold growing behind wainscoting in home theater.
Mold spores are everywhere! It only wrecks havoc on our life when it starts to grow in our home.
Mold requires a few circumstances in order to grow.
1. Warmth: Ideal temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit or above. Mold does not flourish in cold temperatures.
2. Food: Organic matter found in sporous materials like carpet, carpet pad, drywall, wallpaper, wood materials, paper products and ceiling tiles.
3. Moisture: Humid environments with poor circulation.
Typically when mold has these conditions present it can begin to grow within 24-48 hours.
To prevent mold from reaching these conditions we must:
First, eliminate water ASAP.
Second, remove any saturated porous materials like carpet padding, insulation and ceiling tiles. Upholstered furniture should be removed as well since it can be a nesting ground for mold and difficult to clean. Lift carpeting to allow flooring underneath to dry out.
Third, dry out any wet materials with fans. Keep area ventilated by opening windows and doors.
Fourth, dry out the moisture in the air with a dehumidifier.
Fifth, sanitize walls, flooring and baseboards. Any baseboards not made of true wood should be discarded. If so made of wood detach from wall to allow drying to occur behind.
In most cases a professional like SERVPRO of Paramus is recommended to perform proper water mitigation and drying. In the event mold does grow on these materials mold remediation will need to be done safely and effectively to ensure no health risks are present.