All About Fires
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House fires are dangerous and can become life-threatening in just two minutes. It will only take 30 seconds for a small candle flame to engulf the window curtain and then create a thick black smoke that will fill your house. The smoke and gases are more deadly than the fire itself, so you must take extra precaution when you smell smoke.
Make sure you plan and create a fire escape plan and practice it with your family. Check your smoke alarms monthly to make sure the batteries are still working; working fire alarms increase your chance of survival.
If you do experience a fire, take these precautions:
- Crawl low under any smoke to your exit - heavy smoke and poisons 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 911 or the fire department. Tell the emergency operator where the person is.
- If the pets are 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 911 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. If this is not possible, 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.
Make sure you take precautions when you are cooking and smoking, or have portable space heaters and fireplaces to prevent those preventable house fires.
The Storm has Passed but are YOU in the Clear?
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Here in the midwest, we get anxious when tornado season comes around. Severe storms come through your life fast and turn it upside down.
Make your mind at ease with a few of these tips to stay safe after the storm has passed.
Your first instinct after a storm is to go outside and see what the damage is, DO NOT do that. There could be broken glass and other sharp objects that you can’t see.
If you smell gas, make sure you find the main gas line, if possible, and shut it off. If you can’t turn it off then call the gas company immediately.
If you see a power line on the ground, wait until help gets there. They could be energized and very dangerous.
If there are people depending on you, kids or elders, then you must stay calm. They look to you for peace and if you start to freak out then it will just cause more chaos.
Be prepared; if you have notice that a severe storm is coming, take precautions and pack a bag of necessities.
Also, know how your insurance policies work. A few questions you may ask yourself is:
- Is my vehicle covered for storm-related damage?
- Will my insurance rates go up because of storm damage?
- How do I file a claim for storm-related damage?
- What if I can’t tell if the damage is more than my deductible?
We hope you don’t go through a sever storm, but if you do we hope that your are prepared.
Is Mold Covered by your Homeowners Insurance?
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Most owners insurance comes down to the source of the moisture to where the mold damage started. If you are unsure if your homeowners insurance covers mold, go over your policy. Make sure you look for mold exclusions or limitations and call your agent if it still unclear.
If mold results from a sudden and accidental damage, like a pipe bursting, the cost of mold remediation would be covered. Now, if it mold shows up because of neglecting home maintenance then most claims would be rejected.
Here is sample of damage done by an inch of flood water:
- Replace carpet, flooring: $2,700
- New baseboard molding: $2,250
- Replace drywall $1,350
- Cleanup, materials: $1,000
- Bookshelves, lamps: $500
- Total: $7,800
Source: National Flood Insurance Program - https://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program
You could also buy a mold rider as an add-on to your existing policy for extra coverage. If your insurance carrier doesn’t provide a rider, specialty companies might sell you a stand alone mold policy. Just to warn you, there will be a big price tag for that route.
If your insurance does not cover mold at all, moisture prevention is the key.
To help prevent mold growth, take the following steps:
- Lower indoor humidity with air conditioners, de-humidifiers, and exhaust fans
- Inspect hoses and fittings on appliances, sinks, and toilets
- Use household cleaners with mold-killing ingredients like bleach
- Opt for paints and primes that contain mold inhibitors
- Clean gutters to avoid overflow and check roof for leaks
- Avoid carpet in wet areas like basements and bathrooms
- Remove and dry carpet, padding, and upholstery within 48 hours of flooding
Source: House logic https://www.houselogic.com/finances-taxes/home-insurance/homeowners-insurance-mold-covered/
Common Causes of Commercial Water Damage
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Usually when companies think about water damage in their building, they think the cause will be from a huge storm. Most of the time, that is the truth but there are other factors that cause water damage in commercial buildings.
1. Damaged Appliances - This problem is more common in restaurants where they have many different appliances that could cause a problem. If you have any equipment or appliance that involves water, you could have this particular water emergency.
2. Water Heaters - It is possible for water heaters to crack or lose their seal because of high pressure. You want to make sure and follow the manufacturers guidelines and flush your heater regularly to make sure it is working properly.
3. Roofing - One of the more obvious ways that you can tell that your building has water damage is seeing water leaking from your roof. Your roof might need to be resealed or it does not drain properly. If you notice a leak, even a small one, get it fixed ASAP.
4. Malfunctioning Sprinkler Systems - If you have an older building, sometimes the sprinkler systems work with the fire protection systems. You need to check the system to make sure that it is not faulty or in need of replacement to prevent unnecessary water damage.
5. Broken Pipes/Plumbing - During colder weather, it is more possible for pipes to break if you don’t continually run water through them. You need to take care of all pipes to make sure none of them burst.
6. Backed up Sewer Lines - This water emergency might be the most disgusting and one of the most dangerous. You will have contaminated black water flowing on the floors which can cause serious health effects.
If you experience any water damage to your commercial building, SERVPRO of Raytown/East Kansas City will get your building cleaned and up and running in no time.
Preparing Your Home and Car for the Blast of Winter Cold
Always be PREPARED!
If you live in the Midwest, you know the drill. Four to five months of heavy clothes, seeing your breath and generally freezing outside. Sometimes even elsewhere, Old Man Winter stops in for an unexpected visit. But beyond the inconvenience and discomfort, a winter storm or other severe weather conditions can cause real damage. So it's important to think about winter preparedness.
Protecting your home is vital. A frozen water pipe can burst and flood your house or basement. An ice dam in your gutter can cause water to seep into and saturate an interior wall. And then there’s your car. Making sure it’s prepped to face winter’s worst is just as critical. After all, what would happen if a blizzard stranded you in your car?
Some winter weather tips to help you get through a severe stretch of cold:
- Stay indoors during the storm.
- Walk carefully on snowy, icy walkways.
- Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. It’s a serious workout, and going at it too hard can bring on a heart attack − a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
- Stay dry. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits the cold rapidly.
Prepare your home
Some tips to brace your home for a winter storm:
- Clean out the gutters, disconnect and drain all outside hoses. If possible, shut off outside water valves.
- Insulate walls and attics, and caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
- Repair roof leaks and remove tree branches that could get weighed down with ice or snow and fall on your house – or your neighbor's. (Avoid liability for the latter.)
- Wrap water pipes in your basement or crawl spaces with insulation sleeves to slow heat transfer.
- Consider an insulated blanket for your hot water heater.
- If you have a fireplace, keep the flue closed when you're not using it.
- Have a contractor check your roof to see if it would sustain the weight of a heavy snowfall.
- Make sure your furniture isn't blocking your home’s heating vents.
- During cold spells, keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes, particularly those in the kitchen and bathrooms.
- Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through unheated or unprotected spaces.
- If your house will be unattended during cold periods, consider draining the water system.
- Avoid ice dams – where water from melted snow refreezes in the gutters and seeps in under the roof, soaking interior walls. Here’s how:
- Ventilate your attic.
- Insulate the attic floor well to minimize the amount of heat rising through the attic from within the house.
- Consider having a water-repellent membrane installed under your roof covering.
Prepare your car
Prepare your car for treacherous conditions and extremely cold temperatures – and know what to do if you find yourself stranded in a vehicle. When the temperatures start to drop:
- Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive, travel during the day.
- Don’t travel alone. Keep others informed of your schedule.
- Stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts.
- Top off antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, gas, oil and other fluids.
- Make sure your tires have enough tread. Consider snow tires.
- Keep bagged salt or sand in the trunk for extra traction and to melt ice.
- Clear snow from the top of the car, headlights and windows.
- Save the numbers for your auto club, insurance agent and towing service into your cell phone.
- Keep a cold-weather kit in your trunk. It should include a blanket or sleeping bag, gloves, hard candy, bottled water, folding shovel, first aid kit, flashlight and cell phone charger.
5 Steps to be Prepared for Water Damage
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Most water damage that happens to your home is uncontrollable and unpredictable. It could potentially cost you thousands of dollars. When the water starts coming into your home, there is not much you can do to stop it but there is a couple things you can do to prepare for it. Here are a few steps you can take so you can be prepared for the worst.
Step 1: Stop the Source of the Water
If it is possible, stop the water at its source. If it has to do with your plumbing then turn off your water line as soon as possible. This will help with decreasing the amount of damage.
When the flooding occurs from storm water, there is no stopping a storm but you can try and divert the water away from your home by blocking entry points.
Step 2: Think Safety
If it safe, then shut off all electrical sources by turning the circuit breakers or unplug devices. Water and electricity don’t mix, remember that. Make sure everyone, including children, are away from standing water.
Step 3: Protect Your Possessions
Try and remove or raise your furniture from flood water. Water soaked furniture begin to mold very quick and you the last thing you will want is to throw away all of your belongings after a flood. Protect the things that are irreplaceable rather then carpet and other flooring.
Step 4: Contact Your Insurance Company
Now is the time to call your insurance and see how they will approach the water remediation. All insurance companies have professionals who specialize in this kind of emergency so they will have the best people to restore your home back to normal. Do not try to remove the water by yourself. You can just end up cause more damage.
Step 5: Work With the Professionals
When you are choosing a company to perform your water remediation; you need to compare everyone highs and lows. Make sure they have good reviews and are available at your earliest request. SERVPRO of Raytown/East Kansas City is highly dependable and will exceed your expectations for your water remediation.
How to Keep Mold and Moisture Out of Your HVAC System
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Tips and Tricks From SERVPRO to Keeping Mold and Moisture Out Of Your HVAC System
In the warm summer heat, it's easy to build up moisture; especially when it gets sticky, muggy and humid. When this happens, you naturally crank the A.C., reach for something cold, and kick back in your lazy chair. The problem is, when you're relaxing and enjoying the nice cold breeze, mold is spreading through your ducts, vents, and HVAC system, leaving a nasty haze of mold that you can smell all over the house. If you're running a business, your customers could smell it too- which is why you should always call our service professionals to deal with the problem as soon as possible.
How Does Mold Get in The HVAC System?
Mold damage in Raytown/East Kansas City is no laughing matter. Mold, fungus, and other bacteria are in their perfect environment when they're trapped in your HVAC system. It's dark, warm, moist, closed in, and humid, meaning that spores can grow practically unabated. You'll notice more and more scent as heat and humidity is generated from outside and pulled through your ducts.
When this moist air gets in your air system, it collects within and above your HVAC units. At this point, the spores of mold and other fungi easily rise through the air, setting up colonies as your condenser forces them up through the duct system. These aren't the only cases of mold that we've seen at SERVPRO; we've seen mold stick to people's clothes or shoes, and it's all brought inside by excess humidity caused by rainfall.
Here Are a Few Tips on How to Remove Mold From Your HVAC System
1. Continue to clean and maintain your HVAC system, even when you aren't using it. Check the ducts for wet spots, and regularly check and maintain your HVAC filter.
2. Double check the drainage systems on your HVAC for mold. Allow for "dry-out" areas where the drainage comes out to prevent excess moisture.
3. Get dehumidifiers for your home. They are ideal for collecting excess humidity, and they help with the temperature inside your house, too.
4. Always insulate your pipes, walls, and ceilings. Use caulking for cracks to control cracks and leaks.
5. Contrary to common beliefs, keep your windows closed when it's hot outside. Humidity, dust, and dampness easily travel inside.
Holiday Home Safety Tips
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Holidays are near which means more entertaining and cooking; which could increase the risk of fire and accidents.
Follow these tips to stay safe during the Holidays:
- Before you go to bed or leave the house, make sure you turn off all the lights to refrain from a fire.
- Use only non-combustible and flame-resistant materials to trim your tree.
- Make sure you keep an eye on your food; unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires.
- Have a steady base so the tree won't tip over easily.
- Decorations should be at least 6 inches above children's reach.
- Replace old mittens or mittens with threads loose to protect your child from getting it tangled around their neck and choking.
- Do not discuss travel plans with strangers.
- Have a neighbor or close relative keep an eye out on your house.
Top 5 Most Common Causes of House Fires
If you experience a fire in your home, don't hesitate to call SERVPRO of Raytown/East Kansas City at 816-737-8776
Here are top 5 most common causes of house fires as identified by the National Fire Protection Association.
From 2007-2011, the NFPA says there were an average of 10,630 fires in the U.S. that were started by candles, causing 115 deaths, 903 injuries and approximately $418 million in property damage. That is an average of 29 candle fires per day.
- Never leave a candle burning near flammable items.
- Never leave a candle burning in a child’s room or an unoccupied room.
- Make sure candles fit securing into candle holders so they won’t tip over.
- Blow out any candles before leaving a room or going to sleep
While the number of fires caused by smoking is trending downward, the NFPA found that there were still an average of 17,600 related fires per year resulting in 490 deaths and more than $516 million in property damage.
- If you smoke, consider smoking outside.
- Use wide, sturdy ashtrays to catch butts and ashes.
- Look for cigarette butts under furniture and between seat cushions to make sure no lit butts have fallen someplace where they can’t be seen.
- Don’t smoke in bed, when you’re tired or around medical oxygen.
- Electrical & Lighting
According to the NFPA, in 2011 approximately 47,700 home structure fires were caused by some sort of electrical failure or malfunction. These resulted in 418 deaths, 1,570 injuries and $1.4 billion in property damage.
- Don’t overload outlets or electrical cords.
- Make sure you have the right cord for the job – inside cords for inside, heavy duty/outside cords for outdoor use.
- Don’t leave Christmas lights, Christmas trees, or halogen lights on overnight or when not at home.
- Consider having an electrician perform an annual checkup of your home’s wiring.
- Dryers & Washing Machines
Clothes dryer fires happen more often than one might think, accounting for 16,800 home structure fires in 2010 and doing more than $236 million in property damage.
- Clean the lint screen frequently and don’t run the dryer without it.
- For gas and propane dryers, make sure there aren’t any leaks in the lines.
- Vent the dryer to the outside of the house and ensure nothing blocks the vent pipe.
- Clean the vent pipe and the area where the screen is housed.
- Keep the area around the dryer free of combustible materials.
From 2007-2011, NFPA says there were an average of 22,600 fires per year caused by lightning strikes.
- Stay away from doors and windows during an electrical storm.
- Do not use corded phones, computers, TVs or other electrical equipment during storms.
- Unplug major electronics – TVs, stereo equipment, computers and microwaves to minimize damage if there is a lightning strike close by.
- Avoid plumbing such as sinks, baths and faucets during a thunderstorm.
Tips to Avoid Freezing Pipes
Don't let frozen pipes flood your life with unexpected problems!
Why Pipe Freezing is a Problem
Water has a unique property in it that expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the “strength” of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.
If your pipes do freeze and cause damage to your home or business, STAY CALM AND CALL SERVPRO Raytown / East Kansas City, we can make it “Like it never even happened.®”
During a freeze, Take Preventative Action
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
- When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
- 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.
To Thaw Frozen Pipes
- If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
- Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
- Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electrical heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes in towels soaked by hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
- Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.