Florida Wildfire Evacuation: Steps to Take Before Leaving
If you are in a situation where authorities advise you to evacuate your residence due to an approaching wildfire, do so immediately. If authorities say you have some time before evacuating your premises, there are some tasks you can perform to help the firefighters and could help protect your home.
Remember the five P’s of evacuation
People, Prescriptions, Papers, Personal needs, and Priceless items.
Protect Your Home
? Turn ON the lights outside and in every room to make the house more visible in heavy smoke.
? Close all windows, vents, doors, and fireplace screens. By doing this, it will help reduce drafts in your house and reduce heat.
? In case you lose power, disconnect automatic garage door openers so the door can be opened by hand.
?Remove all flammable curtains and window treatments in case windows brake. Also move flammable furniture towards the center of your home, away from all windows and sliding glass doors.
? Fill garbage cans, tubs, or other large containers with water. Also shut off natural gas from the source, and move propane or fuel oil supplies away from the house.
Dirtiest Items in your Home
How many people have touched your door knobs in your house?
Anyone who comes into your home and uses the bathroom may or may not wash their hands properly, therefore leaving behind germs all over your bathroom sink’s faucet handles. To wash mix 2 cups of warm water with 2 teaspoons of dishwashing liquid in a small bowl. Soak a washrag into the mixture and scrub the faucet. Use an old toothbrush dipped in baking soda to scrub areas with hard mineral deposits. Lastly, rinse the faucet and shine with a microfiber cloth.
How often do you clean your door knobs? Most people simply do not think of their door knob when cleaning the house. Take a moment and think about how many people have touched your door knobs in the last month or two. That’s a lot of dirty hands. To wash spray the surface with vinegar and wipe dry with a clean cloth.
Our pets are part of our family and we love them but we don’t have to love your beds. Their beds should be cleaned as often as we change our mattress sheets, right? Especially since our pets are outsides using the restroom several times a day and then go lay down in the beds. To wash, first vacuum the bed of all the hair and debris. Then remove the cover from the base of the bed (most beds have one) and put both in the washing machine (wash on sanitize cycle). Once washed, switch to the dryer and use a dryer sheet to reduce static electricity and remove excess hair.
Our cutting boards need a little more attention than we think, since its purpose it to cut the food that we eat on them. If not washed properly, bacteria can grow and affects our food. To wash properly scrubbing the wooden or plastic cutting boards with a paste made from baking soda, salt, and water (1 tablespoon each). Then Rinse thoroughly with hot water.
Sponges are used to clean, but how often to you actually spend time cleaning the sponges, themselves. To wash, mix ¾ cup of bleach in one gallon of water, and soak the sponge for five minutes.
Remote controls are one of the most hand held items in your house and with all those hands touching them how often are they cleaned? To clean use a lint-free cloth to wipe down the remote with rubbing alcohol (or use an electronics cleaning wipe). Make sure to clean the top, bottom, and sides of the remotes. For the buttons on the remote and any hard to reach areas, use a cotton swab.
How to Prepare for Spring Storms
Gulf of Mexico waters are freakishly warm, which could mean explosive springtime storms for Florida and surrounding areas.
“Spring is the first kiss of Summer”-Anonymous
Spring has arrived and the excitement of summer, warm sun rays, and hot days are just around the corner. Although spring represents the end of winter and new beginnings, it also consists of spring showers, thunderstorms, and unpredictable weather, which can cause severe problems if not properly prepared. Since Florida weather already seems irregular, how do you prepare for unexpected spring storms, what do you do in the event of severe weather conditions, and what is needed to stay safe among hazardous conditions following a storm?
Preparing for the unknown can save lives, so we have provided these important preparation steps.
Organize an Emergency Plan
Putting a plan in place can potentially save you and your family’s lives. But one plan may not work for every type of severe weather condition, such as thunderstorms, floods, and tornadoes. For instance, your evacuation plan for a tornado should be different than if a flood occurred and the streets are two feet under water. Each emergency plan prepared needs to include a map of your home, routes to safety, and an emergency shelter or destination. Being prepared for each type of life-threatening weather condition is important in keeping your family safe before and after a disaster.
Go Inside When You Hear Thunder
According to the American Red Cross, lightning strikes are the leading killer. Every year lightning has killed more people than hurricanes or tornadoes. When you hear thunder, loud or soft, go inside! With lightening strikes following thunder, every lightening flash is a potential killer.
Protect Your Electronics
To avoid damaging your electronics during a storm, you should plug all electronics into surge protectors. By doing this, the surge protector protects your electronics from burning up due to voltage strikes. If any electronics are not safeguarded by surge protectors, unplug the devices before a storm.
Keep an Emergency Kit
Because severe weather can be unpredictable, you need to put together an emergency kit beforehand. When preparing an emergency kit you should include a first aid kit, a 3-5 day supply of water, nonperishable food, personal hygiene items, blankets or sleeping bags, flashlights, a battery-operated radio, and extra batteries. Make a list of important information to have on hand, like your insurance and utility company’s phone numbers. In case you get stuck in severe weather on the road, keep a second emergency kit in your car.
We, at SERVPRO believe that by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail
How to Put Out a Grease Fire
Has there been a time that you planned to cook an AMAZING dinner, but you found yourself cooking up a disaster and producing more smoke than the great aroma you were expecting? At any point during the cooking process, a grease fire can occur. These fires can quickly become devastating and potentially fatal.
A fire only requires THREE components to burn: oxygen, heat, and fuel. The safest and smartest way to kill a grease fire is by removing one of the components. Oxygen will be the fastest to remove because it takes time for the electric burner to cool down and it’s not safe to remove the fuel (grease).
Here are the CORRECT steps to kill a grease fire:
- Turn off the electricity supply to the stove top.
- Eliminate the oxygen supply.
- Put on kitchen mitts so you don’t burn yourself
- Grab the lid that fits the pot/pan and slide it across the top of the pot/pan
- If you do not have a lid, you can use a cookie sheet and repeat the step above
- Call the fire department.
- Call SERVPRO and we can come clean your mess up and make it look “Like it never even happened”.
- Fire extinguisher
- Pour a large amount of baking soda on the flames
- Use a soaking wet cloth, and carefully drape the cloth over the pot/pan
Here is what NOT to do:
- Use water to put out the flames.
- Water is heavier than oil; therefore the water will sink to the bottom. This causes the water to rapidly heat up, and an explosion to occur.
- Swat the flames with a cloth
- Throw flour on the flames (flour is combustible)
- Move the pot/pan (not even to another stove burner)
And Remember! If you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen.
8 Tips for Fire Damage
Fires can be extremely devastating to your home and business. When a fire occurs, and damage is done, it can be extremely stressful and frustrating to figure out what to do next. The most important thing to remember is to stay calm and read these tips on what to do next.
After the trucks leave, your property will likely suffer from not only fire and smoke damage, but also widespread water damage and flooding from firefighting efforts. That is where SERVPRO can help you get your property back in good shape. SERVPRO professionals who are specialized in fire and water damage restoration will quickly clean up and restore your home and belongings. They also remove the pervasive smoke odor and deep-clean soot from upholstery and carpet. Call as quickly as you can, as the longer you wait, the worse the damage will become.
Keep Hands Clean
With all of the residue from the fire laying around, it is a good idea to keep your hands as clean as possible by washing them and avoiding touching any soot or dust with your bare hands. If you have to touch something that has been burned in the fire, use protective gloves to protect your skin and avoid spreading any of the residue around. The soot and dust will spread very easily and can be very dangerous if it gets into your eyes or mouth, so keep your hands as clean as possible to avoid any health hazards.
When your home is still waiting to be cleaned and restored by SERVPRO, it is highly recommended that you keep all pets away from the damage for their safety and for yours. You do not want your pets tracking any soot or debris around and you definitely do not want them getting any of it in their mouths. The remnants of the fire can be extremely dangerous if animals consume it and if it gets onto their paws or fur, they bring it with them everywhere they go. The best you can remove them from the area, the better for everyone’s safety.
Empty Freezer and Refrigerator
If the fire damage is extensive enough that your power is turned off, remember to empty your freezer and refrigerator. This will save time and maintenance down the road when you do not have to deal with rotting and stinky food that was left in the kitchen. Beyond the refrigerator, it is safe to say that removing all food that was in the presence of the fire should be disposed of for safety purposes. It is not safe to consume food that has been touched by flames or smoke and can cause damage to your health if eaten.
Avoid Electrical Appliances
After a fire takes place in a home, any electrical appliances in the area should be avoided. The wires in electrical appliances can become extremely dangerous if they have been exposed to any flames or smoke. It is best to not touch these appliances and let the SERVPRO professionals dispose of the appliances properly so that no further damage occurs and additional fires do not start.
Have Dishes and Eating Utensils Assessed
Eating food off of any contaminated dishware or utensils can cause severe illness. Avoid this by having your items properly inspected by a SERVPRO professional restoration specialist. If the items are not able to be restored, they need to be disposed of properly so that they do not interfere with the health of anyone who comes in contact with them.
Change Air Filters
It is important to change the air filters after a house fire to avoid spreading smoke around even more. During a fire, smoke can drift through household ducts and become trapped. Adding a new filter into the mix can help trap the odor and reduce the dispersion of it throughout your home. If not properly removed, smoke odor can recur from time to time, especially during any warm or damp days.
Make a List
Making a list of all items that you believe have been permanently damaged or ruined by a house fire can help assist your insurance company with your claim. If it is possible, take as many pictures as possible of the damaged areas and make detailed notes of what has been lost. SERVPRO professionals will do their best to restore any damaged items such as dvd players, clothing, and furniture. If there are items that are beyond salvation, making your insurance company aware of the damage is the best method of having those items replaced or compensated.
4 Ways Gutters Keep You Avoiding Water Damage
Sometimes gutters can seem like a bit of a nuisance. Oftentimes, leaves and other debris can collect in the gutters forcing the homeowner to climb a ladder and dig out the clogged gutter. But gutters play an important role for a home. They keep your roof in good condition, protect the home’s foundation, protect any wooden areas of the home, and help to keep the home clean. Here are some of the ways that gutters protect your home.
Keeping Your Gutters in Good Condition
When homeowners suffer leaks inside their home, the cause is often due to issues with the roof. These issues are often the result of either drainage problems from the roof or issues with the shingles. One of the primary purposes of shingles is to protect your home from the elements. Any issues with those shingles could allow water to get underneath the roof and into the home causing costly water damage. If you have clogged, damaged, or missing gutters, the water that falls on the roof will not be directed away from the home resulting in standing water collecting on any flat or low areas of the roof. Subsequently, this can lead to shingle damage which will allow water to seep through the roof and into the home potentially causing significant water damage. The way to avoid this problem is to keep your gutters in good condition. Regularly clean any leaves or other debris out of the gutters as the weight of the debris and collected water could cause damage. Also, make sure that the gutters are not pulling away from the home.
Protect the Foundation
Damage to a building’s foundation is one of the most costly and serious problems a homeowner can face. That’s assuming the damage caused is repairable in the first place. The main way a building’s foundation can be damaged is by water collecting at the base of the home. When the gutters of a building are not properly directing water safely away, the rainwater that falls on the roof flows right off the roof and collects at the base of the building where it can cause problems to the foundation. Over time, this can cause cracking and sinking to the point where the structural integrity of the building is put into question.
Protect Wood from Water Damage
Most houses have wood integrated into their structures in some way or another. Often these wooden parts of the house are used for decks, doors, or garage doors. The problem with wood that is open to the elements is that water damage is always a possibility. Similar to issues with the foundation, if gutters are absent from the building or are defective so that water flows straight down rather than being directed away from the building, the result could be rotting, mold growth, or other problems associated with wood being affected by water.
Keep Outside of the House Clean
When rainwater flows off the roof, it brings with it the mud, sand, and other debris that may have collected on the roof. What fell from the sky as clean water is now dirty water that can leave a trail on the house. The result of this could be the staining of doors, windows, and siding which could negatively affect the look of the house and force you to clean the house more frequently. The primary purpose of gutters is to direct water away from the house so that the water doesn’t flow straight down where it can cause trouble. By doing this, the water that would’ve caused these unsightly features will now be directed well away from the house leaving the home with a cleaner outside look.
The purpose of gutters on a home is to collect the water that runs off the roof and direct it away from the building. This will help to avoid any trouble with the foundation or any wooden parts of the home. It also has the effect of keeping the outside of the home clean. Making sure that your gutters are in good working order will help keep your home from suffering from potentially severe water damage. If you do experience water damage, call on the professionals at SERVPRO to restore your home.
Protecting Your Home from Flooding
Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States and can cause extensive damage. Between 2001 and 2010, flooding caused a total $2.7 billion worth of damage. It’s important to remember that your homeowner’s insurance policy will not cover flooding so if you want to protect yourself financially, you will need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy. The best way to avoid one of these issues is to take preventative measures so, if you do suffer from a flood, you suffer as little damage as possible.
You may think that a flood will not occur at your home but everyone is in a flood zone, no matter where you live. Flooding occurs in all 50 states of the United States. In fact, 20 percent of flood claims come from areas where the flood risk is considered low. Because of this, it is important that you are prepared should a flood occur at your home.
Tips for Protecting Yourself
No matter where you live, it is a good idea to have a bag ready to easily pack in case you are forced to evacuate due to a storm. If a major storm hits and water begins to collect around or in your home, you may need to make a quick getaway. Items that should be included in case you have to quickly evacuate include a change of clothes, your insurance policy numbers, the phone number of your insurance agent, your insurance company’s main number, essential toiletries, and cash for emergencies. If you return to find damage to your home, you should immediately contact the professionals at SERVPRO to come restore the house. Remember, when you are dealing with water damage, every minute counts.
Prior to your evacuation, you should have already mapped out your evacuation route and know where you are evacuating to. This is not only so you know where you are going but also because if a mass evacuation occurs such as for a hurricane, finding a hotel or other lodging could become quite difficult. Make sure you always follow any evacuation orders by emergency personnel. These decisions are made for your own safety.
If you do have to evacuate, it is a good idea to shut off the power to your home at the main electrical panel. This will ensure that you do not have any electrical situations should flooding occur in the home. When dealing with electricity, always make sure you are not standing in water as this could cause severe injury.
Tips for Protecting Your Home
There is always a chance that water damage can occur in your home. Oftentimes the situation is unavoidable. But there are certain precautions you can take to limit the risk of such an event occurring.
Fix Any Leaks
If you have any leaks in your roof or cracks in the foundation of your home, make sure to take care of those immediately. These can weaken the structure of your home. If you have leaks in your roof, water could get into your attic and walls creating damage to items and creating health hazards such as mold and mildew.
If you are replacing your roof, a good preventative step is to add protection to your roof. You can do this by having a rubber roof underlayment installed. This underlayment will act as a waterproof barrier that is placed under the shingles to protect the roof from any water that may threaten to get through.
Clean Gutters and Drains
The purpose of your gutters is to carry water away from the home and protect it from potential water damage. However, if your gutters are clogged with leaves and debris, it can block the exit for the water causing it to collect. This can cause damage to your roof and leaks into your house. Also, check any storm drains on the street for the same issue.
Battery-powered Sump Pump
The inclusion of a sump pump allows you to pump water out of your home. This can work as a great defense against flooding in your home. If a storm hits and you lose power, a sump pump run by electricity will fail to work. But if you have battery-powered sump pump, the pump will continue to run, ridding your home of excess water.
No matter where you live, flooding can occur in your home. But by taking safety precautions, you can avoid substantial damage that could cost you thousands of dollars. Taking preventative steps will ensure that you, your family, and your home are safe. If you do suffer flooding and need restoration services, call on the professionals at SERVPRO.
Water and Flood Damage: What's the Difference?
Water is a necessity, but not when it is causing damage to your home or business. If water damage does occur, SERVPRO of South Brevard can clean and restore your home to make it as though it never happened. However, the cleaning and restoration after damage occurs is not the only piece of the puzzle. When water causes damage, an insurance claim should be made as soon as possible.
Filing an insurance claim because of unwanted water can be complicated. The first step is knowing the difference between a water damage claim and a flood damage. This information is crucial to the policyholder because it determines what is covered and what is not.
The distinction between a water damage claim and a flood damage claim can best be defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) flood definition. According to FEMA, a flood is a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres and two or more properties of normally dry land.
To simplify the matter, if the water that caused the damage occurred from a natural source and any neighbors are experiencing the same water issues, it is safe to say the situation is a matter of flooding. According to FEMA, flood damage can only be caused by overflow of inland or tidal waters, unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, mudflow, or collapse of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood.
If a flood has caused damage to your home, it is important to know if you currently have flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, because home insurance companies do not offer coverage on flood damage. Having flood insurance is extremely beneficial to homeowners who think they might even have the slightest chance of being affected by a flood. The official site of the National Flood Insurance Program states that flood insurance policies cover physical damage to your property and possessions.
Everything from the actual building and its foundation to the refrigerator and the food inside of it is covered by flood insurance and will be taken into consideration when claims are filed. Flood insurance does cover basements and areas below the lowest elevated floor, but it depends on the flood zone and the date of construction. It is important to remember that flood insurance does not cover the sentimental value of any property, so be sure to remove any precious items such as photos, documents, or personal items that cannot be replaced as quickly as possible.
When water damage occurs in your home, did not originate from a natural source, and is not affecting any surrounding buildings, a water damage claim is necessary. Circumstances such as overflowing bathtubs, broken toilets, burst water mains, and broken pipes are all grounds for water damage claims that should be filed by contacting your home insurance company.
Working through the process of filing both a water damage claim and a flood damage claim can be tricky and seem overwhelming. SERVPRO offers a Contents Claim Inventory Service for customers who already have enough stress to deal with. What this service does is provide a detailed and accurate list of all of your belongings. Our Technicians have the experience needed to deliver detailed and accurate reports to insurance companies and help settle claims fast.
If you are experiencing either water or flood damage in your home, SERVPRO of South Brevard can inspect the damage, remove the moisture, and make repairs using state of the art extraction equipment as quickly as possible.
It is important to take immediate action when it comes to both water and flood damage. Refer to our Water Damage Emergency Tips and keep safety as your primary focus. Do not fret, SERVPRO has the ability and resources to go beyond just basic restoration by repairing electronics such as televisions and computers and also dry photographs and documents. Highly trained Water Restoration Technicians are available around the clock for when damage occurs and are only a phone call away.
5 Ways to Spot Water Damage to Your Foundation
One of the most serious issues that can be caused by water damage is water getting into the foundation. This has the potential to cause many structural issues to the house. Some of these structural issues can be quite easy to see but others can be quite difficult to see. No matter how easy these problems are to spot, noticing them early will make fixing the issue easier and cheaper than if they are found later on. Here are five tips to spotting water damage to your foundation that will save you time and money.
Wet Soil Around the House
If the soil around the house is very wet, this is a sign that the water around the house is not draining as it should. If water is standing around the house, it has the ability to seep into the foundation. When water gathers at the foundation of the home, this has the ability to cause serious structural issues to the house.
Wet Crawl Space
If your home has a crawl space, an area that has limited height and is typically used for electrical wiring, this space is often vulnerable to water damage. You can tell that water has infiltrated the crawl space and is causing trouble as there will be moisture, standing water, or staining within the crawl space. If this crawl space is underneath your floors, this is caused by water that has seeped into the foundation of the home. If this crawl space is in your attic, that means you likely have a leak in your roof somewhere. Either way, this is a problem that must be rectified to avoid worse water damage throughout the home and to restore the structural stability of the home.
The floors in your home should be straight and level with the foundation of the house. If there happens to be any deviation in the levelness of the floors, that shows that there are issues with the foundation. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there is water damage within the foundation, but that certainly could be the issue. Any issues with floors can be difficult to tell so if you think water may have infiltrated your foundation, you might want to consider bringing out the leveler to check how level your floors are. The change might be very small and only noticeable using a leveler.
Appearance of Discoloration or Mildew Outside of the House
Water that is properly draining from your house shouldn’t be standing next to your house long enough that it can cause stains and mildew. If stains or mildew are being caused by standing water, that water is probably there long enough to drain into the foundation of the home. Additionally, any issues like mold or mildew, which is caused by the existence of moisture, that accumulates near your home can cause health issues for your family, especially if anyone in your home suffers from asthma or respiratory problems.
Your Doors Are Not Working Properly
If you have a door that was working fine but now is sticking or jamming, it may be because the wood of the doorframe is warped. Water is often the cause of wood warping. This could be that water has accumulated around the door and has caused water damage. But another, and more severe issue, could be that water has gotten into the foundation of the home and has caused the warping of the wood. If it is water damage as opposed to foundation damage, it may also cause problems to windows around the house which could make it difficult to open and close them as the wood around the window warps.
Damage to the foundation of your home is a serious matter. The foundation is set to create a safe and stable home for your family. But if water gets into the foundation, it has the ability to create several issues including the warping of wood around door frames and making floors uneven. The most severe issue it can cause is problems to the stability of the home. The longer water sits in any place, the more damage it can cause. So if you have any sort of water damage around your home, it’s important that you contact the professionals at SERVPRO immediately to ensure that the problem doesn’t become worse.
SERVPRO Staff Continue to Make Difference in Community
While SERVPRO South Brevard is committed to serving its community through exemplary water and fire restoration service, we also want to serve our community in other ways. One of our staff members recently took part in a community event through the Melbourne Beach Rotary Club which was planned for such a purpose.
The Melbourne Beach Rotary Club is a part of Rotary, an international organization made up of professional business leaders. There are more than 1.2 million members, called rotarians, that reside in 160 countries and are a part of 30,000 clubs. These clubs meet up weekly with the objective of finding ways to serve their community. Going by the motto “Service Above Self,” these clubs organize community service projects that address major issues in society such as clean water, children at risk, poverty, hunger, illiteracy, and violence.
Recently the Melbourne Beach Rotary Club hosted an event to raise money for Candlelighters of Brevard. This organization exists to provide children with cancer a mental, physical and emotional release from their disease. Through programs and services such as Home Away From Home where family members of patients are put up for free to be by their loved one, the Utility Assistance Program designed to help pay the family’s utility bills, and the Angel Fund which provides a one-time financial donation to families that suffer the loss of a child, the organization is able to make the lives of child cancer patients and their families just a little bit easier.
To raise money for this noble cause, the Melbourne Beach Rotary Club held a golf tournament at Aquarina Golf Course in Melbourne Beach. Of all the proceeds received by the Rotary Club during the event, 75 percent went directly to the organization to aid them in running their programs. The donation by the Rotary Club will help Candlelighters of Brevard continue to help young cancer patients and their families with whatever program or service that they need during this difficult time.
SERVPRO Marketing Representative Heath Parks is a proud member of the Melbourne Beach Rotary Club. Following the ethos of SERVPRO, Heath does whatever he can to help the members of his community. In addition to being a volunteer firefighter, Heath also takes part in community events that are geared toward helping those within his community. One such event that he has taken part in was the golf tournament earlier this month. He’s one of a number of staff members who go out of their way to make a positive in their community.
Providing water, fire, and smoke restoration to those that have suffered such a fate in their homes, SERVPRO’s focus is to help the members of their community get through difficult times. But that’s not something that stays within the doors of the company. SERVPRO also encourages their staff to make a difference in their own community however they can. Heath’s commitment to his community is indicative of the culture that SERVPRO strives to create within the business and spread to their staff members.