SERVPRO - Offering the Green Choice When it Comes to Disaster Restoration
We show once again that “Green Means Clean” with our environmentally friendly line of products.
We have always said that “Green means clean.” And recently, we mean it on a whole other level. We have a new line of green products adherent to the “Safer Choice” guidelines. Striving to meet the needs of all our customers, we want to provide the highest level of restoration that we can. As such, we want to make sure that we have options and strategies available for all our customers.
When I say that we have new “Safer Choice” products available, you might think that means that all our other products are “unsafe.” These are not mutually exclusive adjectives. All our products undergo extensive testing and have met high safety standards. However, we recognize that some projects require a gentler touch than others. We are happy to say that we have the products to handle these jobs!
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created a list of safer ingredients for manufacturers to access when creating products to be a part of this “Safer Choice” category. These ingredients are graded in different areas including: developmental toxicity, toxicity to aquatic life, and persistence in the environment. Our green line of products is made from these safer ingredients. They have no fragrance and a gentler odor than some of our other products. They are available upon request and are often used in homes or business where children, pets, or other sensitive residents are present.
I know the popular response to a “green” cleaning product is scorn that this product cannot possibly work as well as the traditional line of cleaning products. However, at SERVPRO we’re not interested in cleaning halfway, so these products are also still tested against the same standards as other products in the same category that include the harsher ingredients. Which is to say that our green product line provides the benefits of the “Safer Choice” without sacrificing performance.
We are consistently striving to find new ways to provide for the needs of our customers. We are glad to be able to offer these green options to do our part to protect the environment and find better ways to make it “Like it never even happened.”
Water Damage Can Take Many Forms, Don’t Let it Go Undetected
Water follows the path of least resistance, not the path of best visibility.
Not all water damage looks like wet floors or water dripping from the ceiling, although it can definitely take these forms. Some water damage is harder to spot, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous to your home. Especially if you are coming home from a trip or thinking about buying or selling a home, there are a few signs that you can check for to see if there may be unnoticed water damage.
Behind the Walls: Check your walls for discoloration or staining. You might also see peeling paint or bubbling. You can also touch walls to see if they are buckling outwards or if they feel soft or squishy to the touch. These can be indicators that water has leaked or migrated behind the walls of your home or business. Drywall loses its integrity when its wet and so even if it doesn’t feel “wet,” its behavior can still be an indicator of unseen moisture.
Under the Floors: Even if there isn’t water pooling on top of the flooring, or if the carpeting doesn’t feel wet, there could still be water affecting the subfloor. Check for any buckling, warping, or discoloration in your floors. These can be signs of the presence of water or excess moisture between the flooring and the subfloor or in the subfloor.
Special Locations: Be sure to use these techniques to check the basement and the attic, where water damage is most likely to occur.
Other Indicators: Of course, if you are smelling a tell-tale musty odor or if you can see any mold growth, these are also clear indicators that there may be water or moisture where it shouldn’t be.
These tips are just the beginning, if you do suspect water damage in your home, give us a call at 434-977-5850 or an email at office@SERVPROcharlottesville.com
Storm Alerts and What They Mean
Recent Severe Thunderstorm in Charlottesville
When the wind is howling or the rain is coming down in buckets, the National Weather Service will issue weather advisories to help the public properly prepare for weather that is on the way. However, if we are unaware of what these advisories mean, we cannot take proper precautions towards preserving the safety of our families and our homes.
In the event of a severe storm, there are multiple alerts the Nation Weather Service may issue, corresponding to differing conditions in the area or within the system. The first alert is a Dense Fog Advisory. This alert communicates that for two or more hours fog will cover a large area with visibility reduced to ¼ mile or less.
Alerts concerning the wind conditions may take a few forms. High winds are defined by the National Weather Service as winds that are sustained at 40 mph or higher for longer than an hour or bursts of wind that reach 58 mph. In a situation where these winds are possible a High Wind Watch will be issued, but when these conditions are expected or imminent then a High Wind Warning will be issued. And if the wind is less powerful, only reaching sustained speeds of 31 mph or gusts or 46 mph then a Wind Advisory will be issued.
When high winds are combined with thunderstorms or hail at least an inch in diameter, a severe thunderstorm is present. If these conditions are possible but not yet present, a Severe Thunderstorm Watch is issued. But once these conditions are present or imminent the alert will move to a Severe Thunderstorm Warning.
In the summer, we might also observe temperature alerts. In Charlottesville a Heat Advisory is issued when the heat index could possibly reach 105 degrees. An Excessive Heat Watch could be issued if the heat index could possibly reach 110 degrees within 24 – 48 hours. And in Charlottesville, an Excessive Heat Warning would be issued if the heat index has or is expected to reach 110 degrees in the next 12 – 24 hours.
As you can infer from these explanations, usually a watch will indicate that a weather condition is possible, while a warning indicates that said weather condition is occurring or is imminent. Knowing this differentiation makes other weather alerts clearer as well. These additional alerts include: Flash Flood Warning, Flash Flood Watch, Tornado Warning, and Tornado Watch.
These advance warnings provide time to prepare for weather events. If you’d like a more comprehensive list of weather warnings you can visit the National Weather Service’s Website. And if you’d like to learn more about preparing your home and your family for inbound storms, you can visit our September blog on Emergency Preparedness.
National Preparedness Month: Prevent Storm Damage in Your Charlottesville Home
Photo courtesy of Alan Levine
When a large storm hits, you should be thinking about the personal safety of yourself and your loved ones. You shouldn’t need to think about what could happen to your home or belongings. SERVPRO of Charlottesville focuses on National Preparedness Month to help you learn about and prepare for the worst, so you can be confident that your home and family are ready should a disaster occur. In the past few weeks, we have discussed making a disaster plan and packing a home emergency kit. This week we will explore house preparation to prevent and minimize storm damage.
Storm damage prevention can be costly. There are multiple intensive options. If you wanted to, you could almost rebuild your home with storm preparation options and techniques. Yet, we’re more interested in how you can prepare your home with your own hands and without breaking the bank.
The first, and perhaps easiest thing you can do is secure any items that you leave outdoors. Especially heavy items, like lawn chairs and grills, can cause damage if they are picked up by winds or swept away in a flood. Move these items indoors or take measures to secure them in place.
Furthermore, keep you gutters and downspouts clear. In the case of heavy rain, one of the best ways to avoid flood damage is to create paths for the water to flow away from your house. As long as the water has somewhere to go, it won’t stream into your home. As such, keeping the debris and clutter out of your drainpipes and away from other drainage paths can reduce the risk of flood damage.
But even if the water has a path away from your home, you will still want to block its path into your house. Think of the path of least resistance. You have a couple options when evaluating potential leaks in your home. First, check the seal on your windows. The waterproof sealing around the outside of a window can wear away over time and may need to be replaced. Additionally, check for holes in your siding. One of the most common type of hole occurs when electric or cable companies attach cables or wires to the side of your home. These attachments can cause holes that will allow water to sneak behind the siding. They can be easily repaired using an affordable waterproof caulk.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, walk around the outside of your home and check the foundation for any crack or weakness that may allow water into your home. Small cracks that don’t cause problems during a normal rainfall can easily become a leak during flood conditions.
For more information you can visit: https://www.fema.gov/
If you’ve sustained storm damage recently, give us a call at 434-977-5850 so that our team of professionals can help make it “Like it never even happened.”
Prevent Water Damage by Locating Your Water Main Shutoff Before it Becomes an Emergency
Make your water main shut off easier to see with a clearly labelled tag from SERVPRO of Charlottesville.
If a pipe bursts or a leak happens in your home, the first thing you should do to prevent further damage is turn off the water.
Easier said than done, right?
If the leak is somewhere obvious, like a sink or toilet, then you may be able to turn off the water for that line by turning the valve that is located under that fixture. Usually it can be found under the sink or behind a toilet.
However, if you’re not sure where the leak is coming from, then you should turn off the water to the whole house. This means locating the water main shutoff. Here is where the adventure begins. Do you know where the shutoff is located? Could you locate it in an emergency? It might be worth it to locate and tag this shutoff before your pipes spring a leak.
You can try to locate the shutoff valve just by looking for it. You might look around the perimeter of the house as the valve will be on an exterior wall. If this is unsuccessful, you can check your inspection report from your purchase of the house if you still have it. This report will list the location of the main water shutoff.
Once you have found the shutoff, make sure that all members of your household know where it is. You may also want to tag it with a SERVPRO of Charlottesville tag so it’s easier to spot in an emergency.
If you’d like to receive a water shutoff tag, contact us!
Hurricane Florence Disaster Relief Supply Collection
In the days following Hurricane Florence there are still many needs to be met in the Carolinas and other areas that were affected by the hurricane. To help meet a few of these needs, SERVPRO of Charlottesville is teaming up with Gleaning For The World to collect disaster relief supplies.
How Can you Help?
We will be collecting at our office, 1610-C Quail Run from Monday September, 24 – Friday October, 5 from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. If for any reason you want to donate but are unable to transport your donations to this location, please give us a call at 434-977-5850 or an email at office@SERVPROcharlottesville.com and we can arrange a more convenient drop-off location with one of our partnering companies. Or, if you would prefer, you can also give financially online at gftw.org/donate, just make sure to note “Florence” on the donation page to make sure that all of your gift is directed to responding to this storm event. Checks can be made out to “Gleaning For The World” and mailed to P.O. Box 645, Concord, VA 24538, or they can be dropped off with other donations.
We appreciate any help that you can offer as we are also appreciative for all the work that Gleaning For The World does to help provide disaster relief all year round.
Wondering What to Donate?
All products must be new or unused.
- Food Items
- Manual Can-Openers
- Plastic Food Containers
- Zip-Lock Bags
- Easy Open/Pop-Top Foods
- Snack Foods
- Plastic Service Products
- Baby Supplies
- Personal Care Items
- Infant/Baby Formula
- Personal Care
- Adult Diapers/Depends
- Feminine Hygiene Items
- First Aid Kits
- Shelter Supplies
- Tarps/Work Gloves
- Emergency Candles
- Plastic Totes w/Lids
- Pet Supplies
- Food – Cans/Bags
- Household Items
- Cleaning Supplies
- Mops/Brooms/Dust Pans
- Paper Products
- Laundry Detergent
- Trash Bags - All Sizes
Gleaning For The World is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your donation is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law
National Preparedness Month: Home Emergency Kit
An example of a Home Emergency Kit that the American Red Cross has put together.
It’s September, National Preparedness Month, and we at SERVPRO of Charlottesville are working to make sure that the homeowners of Charlottesville are prepared for storms that may come their way. In our last blog we reviewed the importance of a home emergency plan and some practical steps for building such a plan for your family. In the event of a storm, you should also have an emergency kit. You can buy a kit off the shelf, but if you build one yourself, you can tailor it to your home’s and your family’s needs.
Before you decide what to include in your kit, you’ll want to decide what you will put your kit in. The container should at least be waterproof and sturdy enough to sustain some storm damage. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, you could use a plastic bin from a grocery store. Or you could choose a duffle bag designed for emergency kits. They are usually a bright color, very sturdy, and will have lots of pockets.
Once you have the container, in your kit you should have a copy of the emergency plan that you have created. This should include emergency contact numbers and who your emergency contacts are. It should also include a few generic things like:
- Portable radio with extra batteries
- Flash light
- First Aid Kit
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape
- Non-perishable food
- Manual can-opener
- Bottled water
You might also add more personal items. You can add important documents, cash and banking information. Make sure these are in a waterproof bag. You could also add a change of clothes and sturdy shoes. Of course, you can add more but you want to think about the weight of your kit. It should be light enough to carry if you need to evacuate.
Considering the Costs: Restoration or Replacement
Replacing all affected items can increase the cost and time required to recover from a disaster.
Experiencing a water or a fire damage can be overwhelming. Looking around the building or room where the damage occurred can result in a deep-seated feeling that everything is ruined and must be replaced. However, replacing every structure or item that was damaged in a flood or fire can be an expensive and lengthy process. While not all items can be restored, depending on the extent of the damage and how long ago the incident happened, our trained professionals can help you assess what can be saved and what should be thrown out. SERVPRO® of Charlottesville believes in the process of restoration as the preferred alternative to replacing items that can be saved after a disaster.
When looking at the elements in the room, often building materials can be restored rather than replaced even if they were affected in a disaster. Drywall can be dried after a water damage and soot can often be removed from drywall after a fire damage. The same can be said of subfloor materials, carpets, and floorings. These materials take up a large portion of space in landfills and each piece that we can save instead of depositing into the trash is better for the environment. Additionally, replacing these materials can take much longer than restoring them. While we can begin drying or cleaning these items almost immediately, replacing these materials involves removing, discarding, choosing, and installing new materials. During this replacement process, you also lose access to the part of your home or business. Choosing restoration is the first step to getting your business up and running or returning normalcy to your home as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, depending on the level and type of damage, some items will still need to be replaced, but SERVPRO® of Charlottesville is here to help you make this determination so you are discarding only what is necessary and restoring what can be saved.
Once the room has been restored or is underway, we can look at the contents of the room and think about restoring these elements. Some items that you have in your home cannot be replaced, whether it’s a piece of original artwork or your grandmother’s diary. These items cannot be bought or found elsewhere. We are committed to helping recover these items if it is possible. A flood in your basement doesn’t have to mean losing all your family photos. An electrical fire in the attic doesn’t mean throwing out all the mementos from your daughter’s childhood.
Of course, on the larger scale, restoring is also cheaper than replacing. After a fire, if you choose to replace your kitchen, you must consider the cost of labor to tear the old, damaged items out as well as the cost for new items and installation. SERVPRO® of Charlottesville offers a cheaper solution through the restoration of the items that can be saved, including removing the soot and the odor from the affected area. We are happy to work with insurance companies and keep them appraised as work progresses. Insurance companies, in turn, are happy to work with us as the cheaper and quicker alternative to replacement.
In the event of a disaster in your home or business, you’ve already lost enough. Let us help restore normalcy to your residence and make it “Like it never even happened.”
National Preparedness Month: Home Emergency Plan
You can keep your family and house safe in a storm with an emergency plan in place.
As a child, the day I learned about tornadoes at school, I came home and hid in the basement with my teddy bear for the whole night. In the face of a possible emergency, this is how my 7-year-old brain decided to prepare. Unfortunately, as adults, many of us still have this outlook towards storm preparation. We think that it either won’t happen to us, or if it does, we’ll just hunker down in the basement with our kids and hope for the best.
Fortunately, there is another option. Over the next couple weeks, SERVPRO of Charlottesville will be going over the steps of storm preparation to help homeowners in Charlottesville understand the necessity of storm preparation and to go through the practical steps that they can take.
The first step, and our focus this week, is creating an Emergency Plan for your home. This plan should be up to date and every member of your family should be familiar with all the steps, in case someone is home alone or in case he or she is separated from the rest of the family.
The first thing to identify in your plan is how a storm could affect your home. This might start with identifying the kind of storms that are most likely to affect your home. In Charlottesville, we know these storms can include thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flash floods.
The next item to identify is exits in the house. It’s important to note where all of these places are in case of evacuation. Additionally, if your family does need to evacuate, you should identify where you will meet up.
You’ll also need to decide upon a method to stay in contact in case family members are separated or if normal means of communication are down during the storm. This can include having a landmark for the family to meet at. It could also include family members or friends who live out-of-state. These family members can serve as a point of contact for those in the affected region.
Subsequently, in the event of a storm, you will want to turn off utilities to your home, especially gas and water, to prevent further damage. As such, identifying from where these mains can be turned off should also be part of your plan and should be communicated with all family members.
Your emergency plan is almost finished. A few last considerations that you won’t want to forget: plan what you will do with your pets and who will be responsible for them. You should also think about and plan for any medical conditions or special needs that your family members may have. This may be as simple as including a few prescription pills as part of your emergency kit or could be more complex, including a specific method for evacuation.
Of course, you can include more in your emergency plan, but these are some basic items to get you started. Once you have this plan in place, you can create an emergency kit. Check our next blog for our suggested list of items to include.
Smoke Alarms Only Save Lives When They are Used Correctly
Visit https://www.usfa.fema.gov/ for more information
Every single time that I cook pancakes, the smoke alarm goes off. Go ahead, laugh. It’s comical. And it probably means that I’m terrible at making pancakes. But with this kind of consistency, it could also mean that I don’t have the proper type of smoke alarm or that it’s not in the correct place. Is it this way in your home? Are you certain that you have the correct alarms and that they are correctly placed? The U.S Fire Administration (USFA) has provided smoke alarm guidelines for use in homes.
Let’s start with which kind of smoke alarm you should have. There are two distinct kinds of alarms with either ionization or photoelectric sensors. Because these alarms sense different kinds of fires, the USFA recommends that a home has both kinds of sensors present. This could mean buying two different smoke alarms or simply buying one dual-sensor alarm. Just having the correct alarm isn’t enough, though. It also has to be placed correctly. Smoke alarms should be placed near all sleeping areas as well as inside and outside of the doors to sleeping areas, as closed doors can block or slow the spread of smoke. Alarms should also be placed on every floor of a home, including the basement. Because it could be difficult to hear a smoke alarm that is sounding in the basement from a second-floor bedroom, the USFA also recommends that you have smoke alarms that are connected, so that if one sounds they all do.
Even if your smoke alarms are the correct kind and are correctly placed, they still must be maintained. You should check your smoke alarms once a month by pressing the test button. At least once a year you should also change the battery and every ten years the smoke alarm should be replaced.
This may start to sound like a lot of work, but the USFA has released a recent study that three out of five deaths that occurred in a home fire were in a home that did not have a working smoke detector. Additionally, with correctly placed and working detectors the chance of dying in a home fire is reduced by half!
Smoke detectors are an important preventative measure and the Department of Fire Rescue in Albemarle wants to make sure there are smoke detectors in every home. As such, they participate in a Smoke Detector Program which allows any home that may not be able to afford a smoke alarm to request a free smoke alarm. You can apply for this program at www.ACFireRescue.org
I hope these tips help make your home safer and encourage you to continue making excellent pancakes and pan seared steaks without fear of upsetting your smoke alarm.