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Essential Tips for Surviving a Fire in your Home

4/10/2019 (Permalink)

Most of us probably don’t think this could ever happen to us and our homes, therefore we likely don’t have a plan in place. Putting an evacuation plan together and practicing it with our families can go a long way. We’ve all heard the saying, practice makes perfect. It’s natural for us as humans to panic in a situation like this, but the more we plan ahead and practice, the more it becomes muscle memory.

 Here are some tips to consider when you are putting together your evacuation plan when fire becomes your enemy.

  1. Have a written escape plan
    • Most important, write down your plan. Describe routes that will be used to evacuate your home, where you will meet afterwards and who your designated leader will be that will contact the authorities for help.
  2. Purchase Rope Ladders for the upper floors (if you have them)
    • Having ladders ready to go is important in case your downstairs is blocked off. Most emergency rope ladders can be purchased for $30-$50.
  3. Have a fire extinguisher
    • It’s ideal to have multiple fire extinguishers that are easily accessible in your major rooms including the master bedroom, the kitchen, the bathrooms and living room.
  4. Install and Test Smoke Alarms
    • These should be installed on every level and in each major room of your home. Make sure to test them on a monthly basis to make sure they are working. Repair or replace any that don’t.
  5. Test doors for heat
    • A well-known tip for surviving a house fire is to test the doors for heat before walking through it. There could be a fire blazing in the next room even if it’s not in the room you are in.
  6. Stay low to the ground
    • Staying low to the ground makes you less vulnerable to smoke which tends to rise.
  7. Cover your nose and mouth covered with a wet rag or shirt
    • Often times the fire itself is not the biggest threat, it’s the smoke. Breathing in too much smoke can cause you to pass out. At a minimum, cover your mouth with your hands.
  8. Don’t go back in after you have evacuated
    • Once you have safely evacuated the home, do not go back in no matter what. Leave it to the professional fire crew to handle the situation from that point on. Never go back in for valuables. Those are replaceable, lives are not.
  9. Place emergency kits near the exits
    • Having a few kits near the exits can be helpful to grab on the way out. Include some cash, extra clothing, first aid supplies and so forth.
  10. And most important, PRACTICE
    • The best way to be prepared is to practice! Just like schools that run periodic fire drills to make sure everyone knows how to evacuate, you should do the same with your families. This could ultimately be what saves your lives in the end.

If you do experience fire damage in your home, that can be devastating. We can help restore your home back to its pre-fire condition. Our approach is to take the least invasive path to restoration and save as much as possible. Give us a call today and let SERVPRO of Southeast Waukesha/West Franklin do the worrying for you. We will make it “Like it never even happened.”

We’re Here to Help Resolve Disaster Situations Fast | SERVPRO® of SE Waukesha County/West Franklin

3/22/2019 (Permalink)

We’re Here to Help Resolve Disaster Situations Fast | SERVPRO® of SE Waukesha County/West Franklin - SERVPRO OF SE WAUKESHA COUNTY/WEST FRANKLIN Blog

When disaster strikes your home or business, time is of the essence when it comes to cleanup and restoration. When it is your home or livelihood on the line, you don’t have the luxury of the benefit of waiting for help—you need it right away.

We understand that a fast response is crucial, which is why responding faster to any size disaster is more than just a slogan to us.

The Importance of a Fast Response

When your belongings or business are on the line, time is not on your side when it comes to disaster cleanup. This can be especially true where water damage comes into the picture, which can occur through various means such as flooding, appliance and/or plumbing failures, storm damage and fire damage, as water is used to put out the fires.

Within minutes, water can spread throughout your property, saturating everything it touches in its path. Your walls, floors, upholstery and your belongings are fast casualties of water—nothing is safe.

The effects of water damage within the first 24 hours include:

  • Drywall beginning to swell and break down
  • Metal surfaces beginning to tarnish
  • Furniture beginning to swell and crack
  • Dyes and inks from cloth and paper items spreading and staining
  • The beginning of a musty odor

The damage continues to worsen as time goes on. Between 48 hours and a week later, you could begin to see:

  • The growth and spreading of mold and mildew
  • Swelling and warping of doors, windows and studs
  • Metal beginning to rust and corrode
  • Paint beginning to blister
  • Wood flooring swelling and warping
  • The possibilities of serious biohazard contamination

Water damage that is left untreated for more than a week will lead to dramatically increased restoration time and costs and may also impact structural safety.

We’re Here to Help

Our services offer an immediate response to any size or type of disaster, which can help minimize the damage and help keep the cleaning and restoration costs manageable.

Our trained cleanup and restoration specialists will be dispatched to your property or business at any time, no matter what day or time it is that you call.

Also, since we are a locally owned and operated franchise, we are close by and ready to respond whenever the call comes in. One major perk of being part of a national network of over 1,700 franchises is that we have access to more resources for the cleanup and restoration projects that may be larger or stem from major storm situations.

Remember, if you need us, we’ll be there—no matter the time or day. The team of highly trained restoration experts at SERVPRO® of Southeast Waukesha County/West Franklin is available for emergency cleanup and restoration services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Fire Safety Tips for Your Business | SERVPRO® of Southeast Waukesha County/West Franklin

3/7/2019 (Permalink)

Fire Safety Tips for Your Business | SERVPRO® of Southeast Waukesha County/West Franklin

Business owners have much to take into consideration regarding risks to their business, staff and visitors. As a business owner, one of those risks you need to spend a little extra time planning for and working toward preventing is a fire.

Leading Causes of Commercial Structure Fires

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has reported that the leading causes of structure fires in office properties from 2007–2011 were (in order):

  1. Cooking equipment, 29% of fires
  2. Electrical distribution and lighting equipment, 12% of fires
  3. Heating equipment, 11% of fires
  4. Intentional, 10% of fires
  5. Smoking materials, 9% of fires
  6. Exposure, 4% of fires
  7. Electronic, office or entertainment equipment, 3% of fires

Of those causes, intentional, exposure, and electrical distribution and lighting equipment accounted for the most property damage with 20%, 18% and 15% respectively.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2007, fires and explosions were responsible for 3% of all workplace fatalities.

In studying more recent numbers, the NFPA estimates that for a period from 2007–2011, U.S. fire departments answered an average of 3,340 calls for fires involving office properties per year. Those fires resulted in an annual average of four deaths, 44 injuries and $112 million in direct property damage.

Protecting Your Business From Disaster

So, what steps can you take to protect your business and employees from the risk of fires? By placing an emphasis on fire risk assessment, fire prevention and staff education, you are taking steps to reduce the chance of a fire breaking out.

First, assess your facility for the risk of fire hazards. Local governments in some areas may even offer a visit from a fire marshal to help identify these risks and provide guidance on your fire prevention plan.

Ensure that the right fire protection equipment (including an automatic sprinkler system, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers) is in place on each floor.

Finally, work with your most important asset—your employees—by creating a fire plan and reviewing it with your staff to make sure everyone knows procedures to follow in the event of a fire. By conducting fire drills at least once a year, you will keep this information fresh in everyone’s mind, and provide the opportunity to review evacuation plans and first-aid kit locations.

Despite best efforts with fire prevention and safety tips, the worst could always happen at your business. If a fire has damaged your business, SERVPRO® of Southeast Waukesha County/West Franklin is available to help make it "Like it never even happened."

This Is How Floodwater Is Classified | SERVPRO® of Southeast Waukesha County/West Franklin

2/25/2019 (Permalink)

This Is How Floodwater Is Classified | SERVPRO® of Southeast Waukesha County/West Franklin - SERVPRO OF SE WAUKESHA COUNTY/WEST FRANKLIN Blog

Not all water that causes water damage is created equal. There are three different classifications: clean water, gray water and black water. Understanding the differences in these types of water will help you understand how to better handle a water damage situation.

Whatever type of water is involved, there will always be the tedious chore of a cleanup and restoration process afterward. The first and most important step to take is removing all of the moisture and damp items quickly to inhibit the growth of mold—since a wet environment is the perfect environment for mold.

Clean Water

The name clearly defines clean water. This water is free of contaminants and not the type that will pose an immediate threat to your health. It can come from:

  • Broken water lines
  • Malfunctioning appliances
  • Toilet holding tanks
  • Snow melt and rainwater

Cleanup in a clean water situation is the easiest to deal with since there are fewer microbes living in the water. However, after 48 hours and after contact with building surfaces, clean water can transform into gray water.

Gray Water

Gray water makes water damage cleanup and restoration a bit more complicated. This is water that may pose a health risk since it will contain slight amounts of chemical or biological contamination. The slight contamination in gray water means that it would need to be thoroughly treated before being safe for consumption.

Examples of gray water is water that comes from dishwashers, aquariums, showers, etc. Here, as well, the 48-hour exposure time applies because, if not treated, gray water turns into black water.

Black Water

Black water is the worst and most serious of the three classifications, and it is heavily contaminated by harmful chemicals and biological matter. This would include floodwaters containing soil and all sewage waters.

Sewage is laden with microbes, including bacteria, protozoans, molds, fungi and more—many of these can be hazardous to humans.

Some of the diseases that can be transmitted by black water are:

  • Cholera
  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis
  • Gastroenteritis-type illnesses

Remember, when it comes to floods, play it safe and assume all waters are black water since it picks up contaminants along its path.

These classifications of floodwater are recognized by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Remediation Certification (IICRC), which is an organization that certifies and sets the standards for the cleaning and restoration industry. Our technicians all study IICRC standards and best practices in water restoration and are available to help determine the steps to take to get your home back to normal.

It doesn’t matter what type of water has caused damage to your home or business, SERVPRO® of Southeast Waukesha County/West Franklin is here to help get the situation under control and make it "Like it never even happened." Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need emergency cleanup and restoration services!

Ways to Guard Your Home From Water Damage | SERVPRO® of Southeast Waukesha County/West Franklin

2/15/2019 (Permalink)

As a homeowner, there could come a time that you encounter a water damage situation to your home as it can be one of the most common and costliest disasters homeowners face. From a burst pipe to a malfunctioning dishwasher or storm damage, there are countless ways water damage could strike your home.

While water damage is common, there are plenty of ways you can help protect your home from some trying scenarios.

Guarding Your Home From Water

Not only is water damage a hassle to deal with, but it can have a long-term impact on your home, namely, mold. Mold begins to grow within 48 hours of moisture exposure and is one of the most common side effects of water damage.

When you are thinking about ways to protect your home, don’t be overwhelmed. Break it down by areas of impact, such as basements, kitchens, bathrooms, flooring and ceilings.

You can help prevent water damage in the basement by preventing water seepage. To do this, start by resealing vulnerable areas of the basement, making sure water drains away from your home’s foundation and installing a backwater valve.

Your kitchen and bathrooms may experience water damage due to plumbing issues and backups or by appliance failures.

Be sure you regularly:

  • Inspect all appliances, looking for issues with hoses and faucets
  • Check seals and caulking around your showers and tubs, looking for any leaks
  • Know where the main shut-off valve is in your home
  • Don’t leave the house while the washer or dishwasher is running

Protecting your possessions in the home from water damage is not always possible, but there are waterproof storage bins that can be used for storing items to at least decrease the amount of destruction. Also, keep items stored up off the floor on shelves—which is especially recommended when using your basement for storage.

How to Recover

If you find yourself and your home in a water damage situation, you’ll can stand a good chance at salvaging items if they can be dried out within 48 hours.

Make sure to immediately contact your insurance company, evaluate the extent of water damage to your home and identify the type of water that is involved as well.

The three types of water involved include:

  1. “Clean” water. Can be from rain, condensation, leaky pipes, etc.

  2. “Gray” water. Slightly dirty water from dishwashers, washing machines, clean toilets, etc.

  3. “Black” water. Water from sewage or serious flooding from nearby rivers, etc. This water can cause serious health problems.

After a water damage disaster strikes, remove all wet items, dry your home out and dehumidify the area. Then be sure to clean and disinfect any remaining materials.

Pro tip: You can freeze wet books, photos and papers in a frost-free freezer to buy some extra time. This prevents mold and mildew from developing and causing more deterioration. Once able, you can remove them from the freezer and air-dry or fan-dry the pages.

It may seem like recovering from water damage is an overwhelming and slightly impossible task, but it doesn’t have to be. You can call on the highly trained experts at SERVPRO® of Southeast Waukesha County/West Franklin, who are here to make it "Like it never even happened."

Prepping for Severe Weather With Your Family | SERVPRO® of Southeast Waukesha County/West Franklin

1/24/2019 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Prepping for Severe Weather With Your Family | SERVPRO® of Southeast Waukesha County/West Franklin If a storm causes damage to your home, SERVPRO of Southeast Waukesha County/West Franklin is #heretohelp

Prepping for Severe Weather With Your Family | SERVPRO® of Southeast Waukesha County/West Franklin

While there is often advanced warning for some types of severe weather, there are also times when Mother Nature can manage to catch us off-guard.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take and safety tips to follow to prepare your family for various severe weather occurrences.

Where to Begin

One of the best ways to be prepared in severe weather situations is to have a family emergency plan established.

If your family does have an emergency plan in place, be sure to discuss it, review it and have drills at the onset of various weather seasons, making sure that everyone knows exactly what to do at a moment’s notice.

If you’ve not yet created a family emergency plan, here are some things to take into consideration when creating it:

1. How will you receive emergency alerts?

Thanks to technology today, it is easy to receive emergency alerts and warnings in the palm of your hand by way of smartphones, as well as receive alerts through radio and television broadcasts. If you have a weather app or Google on your smartphone, you will quickly receive emergency alerts, which can provide you with valuable time in severe weather situations.

2. What storm shelter options are available?

Taking shelter in areas where tornadoes are common means you’ll want to be in the lowest part of your home, preferably a basement if you have one. If that is not possible, choose an interior room on the lowest level of your home or building that is away from corners, windows, doors and outside walls. Be sure to visit ready.gov for other situations that may require a storm shelter or basement.

3. Do you have evacuation routes mapped out?

Evacuations are stressful so you should always have evacuation routes mapped out in advance. It’s wise to have multiple routes just in case one is impassable, and make sure those routes will have places to stay with your pets along the way if you have furry family members to evacuate with.

4. How will everyone keep in touch?

When there is an emergency, communication is key. It is easy to rely on cell phones to keep in touch with your family, but in some circumstances, that just isn’t feasible. Cell phone towers can incur damage, phones could be lost or left behind, and batteries will die if there is a power outage and there is no power source for recharging.

Hence, it is wise to have an emergency communication plan in place for your family and a safe meeting place for your family to meet should family members be separated during the emergency.

If a storm does cause damage to your home or business, don’t hesitate to call your friends at SERVPRO® of Southeast Waukesha County/West Franklin to get the cleanup and restoration process started.

Creating a Disaster Plan Is Vital for Your Business | SERVPRO® of SE Waukesha County/West Franklin

1/11/2019 (Permalink)

Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and earthquakes seem to fill the news, proving that Mother Nature can be quite a formidable foe. The key to being able to roll with the punches, so to speak, is to be prepared for a multitude of worst-case scenarios.

Being prepared for those scenarios involves creating a natural disaster plan for your business. This blog is dedicated to laying out some considerations for designing a disaster plan for your business.

<h4to-consider:1d1f3614d19ffbcd99c992c0a6ca3f5e">Things to Consider

There are many things you will need to consider when creating a disaster plan for your business.

Included in those considerations should be:

  1. Protecting your employees
  2. Securing your assets
  3. Getting your business up and running again

Many checklists are available from different agencies like the Red Cross, FEMA and Ready.gov that will assist in identifying areas that need to be included in your natural disaster preparedness plan. These sources can also help let you know how prepared you truly are.

<h4to-protect-your-employees:1d1f3614d19ffbcd99c992c0a6ca3f5e">How to Protect Your Employees

If a disaster were to strike without warning, having a plan that lays out procedures and safety measures for your human assets, employees and visitors, will be extremely important. Ensure that all evacuation routes and exits from your facility are clearly marked and visible, provide an area that can serve as shelter, look into installing emergency lighting, and have designated staff “safety wardens” properly trained and ready to guide and assist with all emergency efforts.

A basement is the ideal location when looking for a space to provide shelter in tornadoes or high-wind situations. However, if this is not possible, find a small interior room, closet or interior hallway on the lowest level of the building.

<h4your-assets:1d1f3614d19ffbcd99c992c0a6ca3f5e">Protecting Your Assets

If you have a brick and mortar location for your business, you’ll have to make mindful choices about how to protect the assets that are inside the building. With the equipment and/or merchandise inside, your business stands to lose thousands of dollars when a natural disaster strikes.

It is always wise to put together comprehensive and up-to-date inventory of these items, and keeping photographs prior to a disaster whenever possible is always helpful if insurance claims will need to be made. If your assets are based on a computer server, take the steps necessary to ensure that the backup system is working and the storage system cannot be damaged.

If you own the building where your business is located, talk with a contractor to uncover areas that may need structural integrity improvements. This contractor should be able to walk you through possible safety upgrades and advise on any areas that may not make the grade in certain weather situation.

<h4disaster-to-back-to-business:1d1f3614d19ffbcd99c992c0a6ca3f5e">From Disaster to Back to Business

When a natural disaster does occur, it is possible that your business will need repairs and be shut down as of a result of damage. This is when it is wise to have a fund set aside for additional non-covered insurance expenses because every day you remain closed is another day of lost profits.

Make out a list of reliable contractors who would be readily available for construction and repairs, and get to know which cleanup and restoration service will be available to quickly respond to your emergency situation.

With SERVPRO® of SE Waukesha County/West Franklin, you can count on us to get to the disaster faster and make it "Like it never even happened." Our training and expertise have prepared us to help with water damage, storm damage, fire damage and mold remediation quickly and effectively.

Knowing what to do when disaster strikes your business is of the utmost importance. When it comes to the cleanup and restoration aspects, depend on SERVPRO® of SE Waukesha County/West Franklin to be there for you.

January Is The Deadliest Month For Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

1/7/2019 (Permalink)

Why SERVPRO January Is The Deadliest Month For Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Common Sources of Carbon Monoxide.

According to a new study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the first month of the year is the worst for carbon monoxide poisoning. At least two people die each day from carbon-monoxide poisoning in the month of January.

It should come as no surprise that carbon monoxide deaths are the highest in winter (with December being the second highest month). Cold weather increases the use of gas-powered furnaces, portable generators, charcoal briquettes and propane stoves/grills during power outages.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning (headaches, nausea, dizziness or confusion) can often be mistaken for the flu or fatigue.

Safety tips to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

  • Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal-burning appliance inspected and serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Install battery-operated CO detectors on every level of your home.
  • Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside the home, basement, garage or outside the home near a window.
  • Don’t burn anything in an unvented stove or fireplace.
  • Don’t let a vehicle idle inside a garage attached to a house, even if the garage door is left open.
  • Don’t heat a house with a gas oven.

If a CO detector sounds, leave your home immediately and call 911 from outside. Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and if you or someone in your household is feeling dizzy, light-headed or nauseated.

Learning about Mold Remediation | SERVPRO of SE Waukesha County/West Franklin

12/28/2018 (Permalink)

Mold is something that can be found everywhere, but in some instances, it can develop into quite a major problem for homeowners and business owners. Excess moisture, such as water from a flood, can increase the growth of mold.

If you are faced with a mold issue, it is vital you know what steps to take next.

Mold Remediation 101

If you have seen ads for mold removal, know this: It is a fallacy. To remove all mold from a home or business is simply not possible.

This is because mold spores are naturally occurring almost everywhere, both inside structures and outdoors. The issue arises when a minor problem is left untreated, leaving it to become a major mold infestation.

A qualified restoration company’s focus is mold remediation and bringing mold levels back to a normal and natural range.

During mold remediation, technicians isolate all contaminated areas either by closing all doors and windows or effectively sealing off all doorways and openings with a polyethylene sheeting. The dust in the contaminated areas is then suppressed through a misting process.

The wet and mold-damaged materials is removed and discarded through the use of plastic bags. After that, all areas that have been exposed to and affected by the mold are then thoroughly cleaned and dried. A HEPA vacuum is sometimes used to aid in the removal of contamination and debris.

The mold area will then be treated using a biocide and left to cure overnight and destroy the mold spores. The next day, the mold remediation crew will return to encapsulate all of the affected and surrounding areas.

Here’s What to Do If Mold Has Become an Issue

If you suspect your home or business may have a mold problem, it is important that you act quickly. If the size of the affected area is more than 10 square feet, it is time to call in the professionals.

These professionals you bring in need to be highly trained and certified in the following areas:

  • Applied microbial remediation
  • Water damage restoration
  • Applied structural drying

There have been times where some minor mold issues have been successfully resolved by homeowners and business owners on their own, but the best way is to use a professional remediation company to ensure the quickest and safest resolution to the problem.

At SERVPRO of SE Waukesha County/West Franklin, our mold damage specialists are trained and certified experts in mold remediation. If your home or business is experiencing a mold issue, contact us to begin the mold remediation process.

Common Causes of Water Damage in Your Home

12/7/2018 (Permalink)

Have you ever stopped to consider the causes of water damage? When thinking about water damage, severe weather is usually one of the first things that comes to mind for many.

While storms and flooding can cause an enormously overwhelming amount of water damage, they are often not the main culprits. Often, various items in your home can be responsible for many incidents that result in water damage.

Gradual Water Damage Is Problematic

Water damage is the third most common reason that many homeowners faced that resulted in homeowners insurance claims between 2011 and 2015, with an average payout per claim of $8,861.

But do you know the difference between water damage and gradual water damage, which can impact insurance claims? Examples of gradual water damage are things that have been happening over time, such as plumbing issues in the walls causing damage to walls, ceilings or floors, or water damage caused by cracks in the foundation of the home. However, unfortunately, many aspects of gradual water damage are not covered by homeowners insurance, while storm-related water damage usually is.

Identifying The Culprits

According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), the leading causes of water damage are:

  • Plumbing supply system failures. This involves frozen pipes that may burst due to water pressure building up caused by freezing water or when the materials used in the supply system fail resulting in a leaking or burst pipe. Per IBHS, these supply system failures are the leading source of residential water damage losses, and claims cost an average $5,092 per incident after the deductible. Also, according to IBHS, it was found that a larger group of supply system material failure claims were made on homes over 16 to 40 years of age.

  • Plumbing drain system failures. This occurs when a sewer drain backs up and overflows into a home or when the materials used break down or become damaged. In their study, IBHS found that 52% of drain system failures were caused by sewer backups and 37% were related to material breakdown issues. In their study, IBHS also found that the average drain system failure claim was more expensive in southern region states than in the northern region states.

  • Toilet failures. Toilets come in as the second largest source of residential water damage loss after plumbing supply system failures, and can stem from faulty fill valves or clogged drain lines. A toilet failure on the first floor of the home causes more extensive damage than those in basements or upper floors, according to IBHS.

  • Water heater failures. If your water heater has reached its life expectancy, the tank begins to rust and corrode, which can result in leaking or bursting issues. IBHS found that 69% of all water heater failures resulted from a slow leak or sudden burst and, on average, cost $4,444 per incident following the deductible.

  • Washing machine failures. These failures are typically caused by supply hose failures, machines overflowing and drain line failures, and are one of the top 10 sources of residential water damage losses. Per IBHS, supply hose failures accounted for over half of all washing machine-related losses.

If your home falls victim to water damage, the team at SERVPRO® of SE Waukesha County/West Franklin is available to help with cleanup and restoration and make it “like it never even happened.”