Sinkholes and waters role
Water is really to blame for all sinkholes be it a natural occurring event or a man-made problem from aging pipes breaks.
Sink holes. What causes them? How does water affect them? What to do when one opens up near you.? Is it covered by insurance?
Florida is not the only area that can experience a sink hole. To better understand how and why they happen a little geology lesson is needed.
What causes them?
Bedrock that has a lot of limestone, carbonate rock or salt deposits will be more likely to erode. Resulting in holes that can no longer support the ground above it. Sink holes can also develop if an object such as a building is built on soil it too soft to support the weight.
How does water affect them?
The cause of this erosion is from water. As water passes through the top layers of soil, plants, roots and decaying materials making the water more acidic. As more material is eroded out of the rock the hole becomes larger eventually too large to sustain the earth that remains above it. These holes can open on a street, under a building, or on the edge of a cliff.
What to do if a sinkhole opens on your property?
Vacate your home or office immediately. Contact emergency professionals to have the area roped off. Reach out to your insurance company to have them send out an adjuster to make an initial assessment. Sinkholes NEVER get better. You will have to work with engineers to decide on the proper course of action. Getting someone to come out and take soil samples every 5 ft will provide a good picture of what is going on. Note this testing can take 3-5 weeks and may require payment from you. It is not cheap with average cost running $4,000-$8,000. Also know many insurance companies do not cover sinkhole damage unless you have separate insurance similar to flood insurance. Know what your policy covers if you think you are in a high-risk area.
As more and more flooding events occur these events will increase. As aging pipes fail and water is forced out into these already susceptible areas washing out the support materials even faster that normal.
There are 3 different kinds of sink holes cover collapses sink holes, cover substance & solution sink holes. They also have two ways they are created naturally and manmade. There is nothing that can be done about the naturally occurring ones. The man-made ones that is a whole different story.
The man-made ones stem from pipes underground breaking and washing away the soil they are sitting in. In turn they are compromising the materials above them. While natural sink holes have the same risks and cause the same problems. Maintaining pipes and catching small leaks before they become big problems is essential to reducing the damage that they can cause.
Watermain breaks and sewer systems that are overloaded. are a contributing factor to sink hole development. When the pipe breaks the water will find a way to go somewhere. The force pushing the water through those pipes is immense and will continue to push water through if it is broken or not. Water will expand out from the break forcing the earth away as well.
Sewer systems that become overloaded will force water out of a controlled pipe system onto the streets, sidewalks, front yards allowing it to get into a lot of developed ground that has been leveled with sand allowing it to wash away.
Which is why it is essential to never drive through a flooded area. You can not see if a sink hole has been created. Water is level with the surface that it sits on. This water is always muddy and the bottom where the ground is can never been properly assessed. These sink holes can be a few feet or upwards or 50ft or more. They can also release a lot of toxic fumes contaminating the water. Please stay out of the waters and wait, go around and seek alternate route.
Treating a flooded road or area the same as if there was a storm event is essential for your safety. Only 6inches of moving water can knock someone off their feet. If you are off balance and fall into contaminated water, you should seek medical attention and rinse the water off immediately. Taking a sample of the water to the doctors office can help them assess your real risk. Toxic chemical, bacteria, and virus thrive in water and can be ingested if you are yelling for help or over exerted and are breathing through your mouth. Allowing that bacteria to enter your digestive system and or your lungs.
It is better to just be smart and stay out of the area. Do not drive around barriers. Do not walk through the flooded water if you can avoid it. Do not drive your car through these roads or flooded our areas. Again it is impossible to know how deep they are.
Remember get out of immediate danger, call authorities, and DO NOT DRIVE OR WALK through flood waters.
Photo courtesy of
Freeze drying and why you should care
Water is not always your friend. Especially if you run an office that requires a lot of documents and secure information to be kept.
Do you have a lot of important documents in your office?
Is your office subjected to HIPPA regulations or client and patient confidentiality laws?
What is your plan for all those if you have a water damage event?
Did you know that SERVPRO has a solution for that?
It starts with a relationship with your facility and an understanding about what the process is and how it works. Here is a snapshot. We need to have someone from your office that can assist with proper labeling of the boxes so none of the files are misfiled.
The next steps are critical and will ensure the largest number of documents survive.
Freezing Documents/Cold Storage
Where to find Cold Storage Facilities. Grocery Stores tend to have a vendor in their area that rents cold storage spaces to store their excess frozen goods until they are ready to be put on the shelf. These facilities regularly have extra space and will store documents as well. Price may vary depending on your location. However the average rate around the country is roughly $4 a cubic foot per month. These facilities should be used primarily if you need Long-Term storage. SERVPRO Industries, Inc. also has cold storage available. Call and ask about available space and pricing. Documents should be sent to SERVPRO Industries, Inc. as soon as possible in order to minimize damage to documents and facilitate drying procedures to ensure efficient return.
Any of the major shipping carriers (UPS, FedEx, USPS) will work for smaller orders. Overnight Shipping is a MUST. Whether the documents are frozen or not. It is crucial that we receive these documents as soon as possible in order to keep them frozen until they are ready to be cycled through the chamber. This prevents further damage and deterioration. Overnight shipping is most important when dealing with documents that have not been frozen PRIOR to shipping. The sooner we receive documents that have not been frozen the sooner we can freeze them and stop them from further damage/deterioration. Refrigerated Trucks and Trailers (Reefer Trucks) Reefer trucks come in many different sizes, ranging from 16’ box trucks all the way to 53’ tractor trailers. They can be rented from a lot of the major rental companies like Penske, and Ryder. There are even smaller rental companies all over the nation that rent reefer trucks. Reefer trucks work the best when dealing with larger quantities of documents. This is because it doubles as your cold storage as well as shipping! Once you have the truck packed, all you have to do is find a driver to drive it to us and we’ll handle the rest!
Benefits of Vacuum Freeze Drying
- Vacuum Freeze drying
- Process in which an item containing moisture is frozen anddried using various vacuums and pressures to achieve sublimation.
- Sublimation is the direct conversion of a solid (Ice) into a gas (water vapor), without passage through a liquid stage. Take Dry Ice for example. Dry ice is made of Carbon Dioxide, not water. When dry ice is exposed to normal atmospheric conditions it begins to sublimate, it turns directly from its sold stage into its gaseous stage bypassing the liquid stage
- Why Vacuum Freeze Drying?
- Vacuum Freeze Drying is the most efficient and effective way to salvage water damaged documents. It is the only method that is approved by NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) and the GSA (General Services Administration). Other Methods such as dehumidification can alter the structure of the paper’s fibers and cause the papers to become more brittle, and is not recommended by any means.
Other Services Provided
- With the new age of technology majority of people have begun digitizing their documentation rather than keeping the hard paper copies. However, businesses that have been around for a long time (Hospitals, Law Firms, State and Federal Governments) still have a surplus of paper documentation. Most of these businesses do not have the time to digitize these old files. In the event that these documents need to be salvaged, digitizing may also be a good option. It makes them easier to access as well as easier to store. Many businesses have storage facilities that are specifically for documents, or they subcontract the storage and upkeep to a company like Iron Mountain. This makes accessing a particular file very difficult and painstaking.
In a contaminated water situation (Sewage or Flood water) documents are not only deteriorating but are also infected with all types of bacteria. As you all know in most storm situations you are dealing with contaminated water, therefore most of the affected documents that you will encounter will be contaminated. If this is the case than de-contamination is always a must.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Compliance
What is HIPAA?
Requires the protection and confidential handling of protected health information.
Why HIPAA is important?
- Doctors by law cannot release PHI (Protected Health Information) to just anyone. With that being said, covered entities (Hospitals, Physicians, Doctors, etc.) cannot release PHI for the purpose of recovery and/or restoration to anyone unless that Business Associate (BA) is HIPAA compliant. This is to ensure that their patient records are being handled properly and with minimal risk for any PHI to be compromised.
- Chain of Custody is the tracking of sensitive documents (or any documents) through a process. This depicts whose hands the documents passed through and when, allowing any company to track down any leaks of sensitive information (if such situation where to occur). It is crucial when handling sensitive documentation, especially when dealing with protected health information (Commonly Referred to as PHI).
- HIPAA Certifications ensure that personnel are Master HIPAA certified to handle PHI. This certification allows SERVPRO not only to handle PHI, but tells Covered Entities that we are held to a high standard and can and will be held accountable if any information is compromised.
We hope that this has given you something to think about. Should you like us to go through this further with those at your office please call us at 617-567-3777 and set up your appointment today.
Fire Fire everywhere … What do you do ...
These men and women put their lives on the line daily for us. Please take steps, be cautious, and mindful so they do not have to.
Our friends at NFPA have some great tips and ideas on how to prevent fires. Due to the fires out west that are leveling homes and killing both firefighters and those who live in that area.
These fires are fast moving and the amount of smoke they cause can be just as deadly as the flames. Please use caution when presented with a fire situation. Even better is to use caution to prevent them.
Today, people who die in fires typically die in ones and twos, in their own homes and vehicles.
Fire in the home
Home is the place people feel safest from fire, but it’s actually the place they’re at greatest risk. Approximately 80% of all U.S. fire deaths occur in the home; an average of seven people die in home fires every day.
According to NFPA’s latest reports, home fires and home fire deaths declined by about 50% since 1980. However, the 7.8 deaths per 1,000 reported home fires reflects a 10% increase over the 7.1 rate in 1980. In other words, while the number of U.S. home fires and home fire deaths has significantly declined over the past few decades, the death rate per 1,000 reported fires is actually a little higher. These numbers show that while we’ve made strong progress in preventing fires, mitigating their effects when they do happen remains a challenge.
Today’s homes burn faster than ever. Experts say you may have a little as two minutes (or even less) to safely escape a typical home fire from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Modern home furnishings, along with the fact that newer homes tend to be built with more open spaces and unprotected lightweight wood construction, all contribute to the increased rate at which home fires burn.
The death toll of home fires can be reduced through:
- Cooking. Cooking is by far the leading cause of home fires and injuries in the U.S. each year, and is the second-leading cause of home fire deaths. Unattended cooking represents the leading cause of these fire. People get distracted by children, pets or visitors, sometimes forgetting that they left food cooking. There is no safe period of time to leave cooking unattended. Almost two-thirds of home cooking fires involve the range, especially the cooktop. A 1999 CPSC study found that about two-thirds of home range fires started within the first 15 minutes of cooking; this increased to 83% for frying fires.
- Heating equipment. Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires, and third leading cause of home fire deaths. Most heating-related fire deaths can be traced to space heaters—a category that includes fixed and portable space heaters, including wood stoves. Space heaters (excluding fireplaces and chimney) most often caused fires when something that could catch fire was left too close. Most fireplace and chimney fires were caused by creosote buildup. These can be prevented by regular cleaning.
- Electrical. Flipping a light switch. Plugging in a coffeemaker. Charging a laptop computer. Electricity is such a ubiquitous part of our daily lives that it’s easy to overlook its power and potential for fire-related hazards. In fact, electrical distribution and lighting equipment represents the third-leading cause of fires. Wiring and related equipment was involved in 70 percent of these incidents; cords or plugs were involved in only 10 percent of the electrical distribution or lighting fires, but these fires caused more than one-quarter (28 percent) of the associated deaths.
- Smoking materials. Lighted tobacco products — almost always cigarettes — are the leading cause of fatal fires in the home, causing an average of 560 deaths per year. Typically, abandoned or discarded smoking materials ignite trash, mattresses and bedding, or upholstered furniture, with the majority of fatal smoking-related fires starting in the bedroom, living room, family room or den.
- Wildfires. While wildfires have traditionally been considered a concern only in the western half of the U.S., hotter temperatures, severe drought and a growing number of people living in the wildland-urban interface have played a role in increasing the risk in states all across the country. And with some of the hottest summers and winters on record in recent years, wildfires are burning larger than ever before and destroying twice as much land area each year as they did 40 years ago, and the threat continues to increase.Most fire deaths are not caused by burns, but by smoke inhalation. Often smoke incapacitates so quickly that people are overcome and can’t make it to an otherwise accessible exit. The synthetic materials commonplace in today’s homes produce especially dangerous substances. As a fire grows inside a building, it will often consume most of the available oxygen, slowing the burning process. This “incomplete combustion” results in toxic gases.particles: Unburned, partially burned, and completely burned substances can be so small they penetrate the respiratory system’s protective filters, and lodge in the lungs. Some are actively toxic; others are irritating to the eyes and digestive system.toxic gases: The most common, carbon monoxide (CO), can be deadly, even in small quantities, as it replaced oxygen in the bloodstream. Hydrogen cyanide results from the burning of plastics, such as PVC pipe, and interferes with cellular respiration. Phosgene is formed when household products, such as vinyl materials, are burned. At low levels, phosgene can cause itchy eyes and a sore throat; at higher levels it can cause pulmonary edema and death.
- In addition to producing smoke, fire can incapacitate or kill by reducing oxygen levels, either by consuming the oxygen, or by displacing it with other gases. Heat is also a respiratory hazard, as superheated gases burn the respiratory tract. When the air is hot enough, one breath can kill.
- vapors: Foglike droplets of liquid can poison if inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
- Smoke is made of components that can each be lethal in its own way:
- The killing fumes
When oxygen levels are at...
...a person experiences:
Normal outside air
Impaired judgment and coordination
Headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue
Respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest, death
Summer Storms in New England
Trees who had a dry summer and suddenly become saturated have nothing to hold them in place
In New England we tend to think of storms being something that we need to worry about during our harsh winters. The storms that swept through Upton, Douglas and other western MA we are reminded we are not 100 % safe from the raging storms of the summer.
There are some key things that you can do to protect your home that will last through out the year.
If you are the homeowner or a renter. it is important to start with your insurance coverage. Renters you need to have renters coverage because a home owner is not responsible for your stuff. Home owners make sure you have the right coverage for your property based on the area. This will be the catalyst for what will be covered and what will not be covered. For example, if you are in an area prone to flood but not an official flood zone it may make sense to get flood coverage for example and want to reach out to your agent and review your policy. Coverage options for the structure and contents is also two different things. That too may be something worth looking into. If you have any valuables that would be over and above a specific value such as jewelry check your policy. They have the limits on these types of items unless there is a stipulation otherwise. Having proper documentation along with proper coverage is essential for getting you back to normal as fast as possible.
Not that many of us needed to be told this but according to the National Weather Service, there is a 50 percent to 60 percent chance New England could experience higher-than-normal temperatures this summer. A lot of us have bought air conditioners that have never used them before. Maybe even added one to another part of the house. Check which outlets are connected as older wiring that is found throughout New England may have more units connected than you think. Having more than one large draining device can cause fires.
Check your Gutters
The run off water from your roof has to be directed away from your home. If it is safe to do so check your gutters or hire a professional to keep them clean and free from debris. There are covers that can be put over the top to aid in the long term. Again while you are out walking around check out your roof look for any warped or have any holes. Use a garden hose and empty water to the gutter system to see if you have any leaks in the seams or corners of your gutters. Make sure you check all of the elbows and down spouts for any large items or accumulation of debris. These clogs can cause the water to back up into your home. Using extenders on the bottom of the down spouts to direct the water away you’re your home and route it safely to a place where it will not collect.
Look at those trees
Are any branches touching the house? Does it look like the trees have leaned more towards your home than they were before. Trees can twist in the wind look up where large branches diverge from the stem. Inspect them from the ground and if you are questioning them at all call a specialist and put the wheels in motion. Due diligence is an imperative part of being a home owner.
Use generators safely
Here in New England we should be familiar with the use of generators. Yet we feel the need to remind those using them for a power outage in the summer is no different than using them in the winter. They need to out in the open. Away from the house out of garages. Do not put them on porches or near any open vents, doors or windows. It is also important to keep the fuel that you use to power it away from it unless it is off and being refueled. Depending on how it is fueled or its type will determine if it needs to be professionally installed and grounded or just plugged in. Be in the know before you need it so it is ready when you do.
Protect against Lightening
Did you know that you can get a surge protector (yes like the ones you have all your electronics plugged into) for your house. It is a whole home surge protector. It is installed by an electrician directly to your electrical panel. Each outlet can have its own surge protector those are the strips as well depending on what the home size is and what your goals and budget are.
Developing a plan now for the storms and unsettled season that we seem to be having is going to be pivotal to how well you get through any difficulties that arise. Preparedness is something we strive to achieve and help our clients achieve as well.
Roofs, Gutters, Snow and Rain do not mix......
Clearing the snow off the roof and shoveling out the down spouts to your gutters and sewer drains is going to help with all the rain coming to Boston
Having a hard time shoveling/Walking/ driving with all the ice and snow in and around Boston???? Yes we know you are we see the posts..
It is heavy.. Hard to move. .Frozen solid.. Sidewalks not shoveled///
OK so it is warming we are all looking forward to it... We are in the clear.. Its going to rain and be almost 50 right..... Ummmm No not even close..GET THOSE ROOFS SHOVELED OFF BEFORE IT RAINS and clean out those down spouts so the water has somewhere to go. This is very important because behind this rain will be another blast of cold air which means more freezing. Even measurable icing event behind the rain.
Did you know.
Total accumulated weight: 2 feet of old snow and 2 feet of new snow could weigh as much as 60 lb per square foot of roof space, which is beyond the typical snow load capacity of most roofs. Ice: 1 inch of ice equals 1 foot of fresh snow.
Do you have icicles hanging from your roof?
Do you have snow on your roof?
Do you have gutters?
Are the downspouts blocked by snow?
If you answered yes to any one of these questions you have a major problem on your hands.
Ice causes melting snow to stop up and back up onto your roof and possibly into your home. If not it will stay and create more ice. If it gets under a shingle , breaks your gutter off or even cracks a corner of your home you will have a major water problem in your home most likely between the walls. Icicles also mean heavier water on your roof.
If you still have measurable snow with the temperatures warming up you will most likely see some rapid melting provided you have a good drainage system with no ice. ( but hey we have only had -25 wind chills I am sure you don't have ice hahah) You will be fine.
We have a major rain event set for Friday.. with excess of 2.5 inches of rain on the way. Couple that with the snow already on roofs with little or any place to go. You are at risk for a roof collapse
We talked about roof shoveling and it’s importance. Did you get it done? Hope so because now you have more work to do. Snow on roofs..sidewalks and streets are frozen and making a mess of walking and getting around. We know we have seen all the issues online...
We all have to look out for one another as well as ourselves from time to time. Relying on the city, a business or a landlord to do something does not always work law or otherwise.. As we have seen. Let’s all help out this was a bad storm with another on the way.
Find your gutters ... the down spouts are buried by all the snow that we got or got put out of the way. GUESS WHAT....Its in the way.
We are getting 2-3 inches of rain it needs a place to go.
Storm drains are blocked by snow..
Gutters are totally covered.
Sidewalks and streets have solid bricks of snow encased in ice.
Open up a drain If it is in front of your house
Shovel out the down spouts ALL of them
If you don’t that water is going to flood into homes
If you do not have flood insurance this will not be a covered event. A little bit of shoveling is worth it trust me. Even if you do it is very limited so just get it done. Landlords are tapped out. City’s are over extended. Complaining will not stop the water from coming Friday let’s just get this done.
Boston looks picturesque at this height during this time of the year. However the bitter cold sets in and a Nor'Easter this view changes quickly
Did you know that MA has a website that can provide you with emergency information and assistance on how to find help. I know right who knew?
From here you can get a lot of information fast and accurate. Should you need help during this intense record breaking winter season here in New England.
Record breaking cold rounded out our 2017 year bring it all into the start of 2018. Creating havoc. Our aging water systems pipes cannot handle the frigid temperatures and have had more water main breaks than we care to talk about. There have been gas line fires, house fires started from people trying to keep warm and improperly using space heaters. There have been some unintelligent uses of blow torches, as well as pipes bursting. We know there are a lot of ice dams on peoples roofs we can see them, but no one has called us for damage yet because they are not melting very fast due to the cold but they will.
Being prepared and knowing what the forecasts are saying is your only way to stay ahead of everything this season. There are numerous ways to stay informed and up to date. Below is a link for choosing the right way for you to receive your information. There are even apps that you can download to your phone.
Did you know that preparing for a Nor’Easter is almost the same as preparing for a hurricane. Yes it can be that serious. Having a weather app on your phone to listen for updates is the first step to being in the know. Ensuring your car has plenty of gas so that if you lose heat or power you can at least be warm until you make other arrangements. . Making sure your phone is charged before you lose power is key, and having a car charger will help keep you in the loop while you search out your options.
Know where the warming stations in your town are and being prepared to leave with your family to go to them if necessary. Many town buildings like libraries have opened their doors to those who need it . There are a number of local churches and shelters that have extended capacity to make sure everyone that needs it will have a place to go. So do your research on that now.
Alternative and additional heat sources. Yes we know that it is cold and the house may be drafty so what do you do. Crank up a wood stove or fire place if you have it. Great but please be safe, clean and empty the ashes into fireproof tins and outside on a non flammable surface (NOT YOUR PORCH). So you have a space heater, wonderful, are you following the 3ft rule? Not sure what that is keep everything 3ft away yes everything clothes, furniture, curtains, kids, pets, rugs everything. Oh and for the sake of good sense only directly plug them into wall units.
Food preparedness: With the cold of the winter we have a bit of a reprieve than what we do in the summer. If you are out for more than 4 hours get your refrigerator cleaned out and put it all outside on the porch in containers this will ensure you do not lose any of that food. The freezer would be a good idea to but if you get the power on before the 8 hour mark that stuff should be ok. Also make sure you have some foods that are non-perishable and that you have extra food on hand for your pets. It could be a while until you get to a store. Keep an eye on things but remember animals are looking for food this time of the year so make sure the food is in a container and covered.
So you have food taken care of, you have found places to go if necessary, you are getting ready to leave your home for what could be a few days depending on when you get your heat back on. You need to get your home ready. Turn every faucet in the house on and let it run while you are going to be gone. Open all of your cabinets and doors this will let the air circulate and help to try and keep the pipes from freezing.( Hopefully)
Is your Car prepared? There are a few things you should always keep in your car, Shovel, cat litter or sand, extra chargers, blankets as well. Flashlights, knife, jumper cables road maps (yes the paper ones), an extra set of clothes and some drinking water and food. These are just the basic suggestions depending on how many people, or animals you are going to be with will determine how much you actually need.
Being prepared will help you survive and stay safe during emergency situations. Knowing where to go to get and getting there safely may just save your life. Be in the know and be prepared.
Watch/Warning/Advisory .. What do you know??
Winters in Boston can get pretty intense if you are not prepared you could be in for some trouble. Know the warnings and be ready
WE are in the thick of winter here in New England. With all the weather we have already had we thought it would be a good idea to keep you up to date with all the watches, warnings, and advisories that can be issued. They can be confusing and if you do not know which one is worse you could be in some trouble.
Hazardous Weather Outlook
The Hazardous Weather Outlook will describe potential hazardous weather and hydrologic information of concern in Days 1 through 7.
The outlook contains two segments: One segment for the marine zones and adjacent land-based (i.e., coastal) zones and the other segment for the rest of the land-based zones. Each segment of the HWO will contain 3 sections: short term through Day 1, long term for Days 2-7, and spotter information.
Winter Storm Watch
A Winter Storm Watch is issued when there is the potential for significant and hazardous winter weather within 48 hours. It does not mean that significant and hazardous winter weather will occur...it only means it is possible.
Significant and hazardous winter weather is defined as a combination of: 1) 5 inches or more of snow/sleet within a 12-hour period or 7 inches or more of snow/sleet within a 24-hour period AND/OR 2) Enough ice accumulation to cause damage to trees or powerlines. AND/OR 3) a life threatening or damaging combination of snow and/or ice accumulation with wind.
The snow/sleet criteria for a Winter Storm Watch for the five westernmost counties (Allegany, Mineral, Grant, Pendleton, and Highland) is higher (6 inches or more within a 12-hour period; 8 inches or more within a 24-hour period).
A Blizzard Warning means that the following conditions are occurring or expected within the next 12 to 18 hours. 1) Snow and/or blowing snow reducing visibility to 1/4 mile or less for 3 hours or longer AND 2) Sustained winds of 35 mph or greater or frequent gusts to 35 mph or greater. There is no temperature requirement that must be met to achieve blizzard conditions.
Winter Storm Warning
A Winter Storm Warning is issued when a significant combination of hazardous winter weather is occurring or imminent.
Significant and hazardous winter weather is defined as a combination of: 1) 5 inches or more of snow/sleet within a 12-hour period or 7 inches or more of snow/sleet within a 24-hour period AND/OR 2) Enough ice accumulation to cause damage to trees or powerlines. AND/OR 3) a life threatening or damaging combination of snow and/or ice accumulation with wind.
The snow/sleet criteria for a Winter Storm Warning for the five westernmost counties (Allegany, Mineral, Grant, Pendleton, and Highland) is higher (6 inches or more within a 12-hour period; 8 inches or more within a 24-hour period).
Ice Storm Warning
¼ inch or more of ice accumulation.
Winter Weather Advisory
A Winter Weather Advisory will be issued for any amount of freezing rain, or when 2 to 4 inches of snow (alone or in combination with sleet and freezing rain), is expected to cause a significant inconvenience, but not serious enough to warrant a warning.
If the event is expected to impact the Baltimore/Washington metro areas during rush hours (4-9 am or 2-7 pm on weekdays) forecasted snow totals of one inch will necessitate the issuance of a winter weather advisory. The snow/sleet criteria for a Winter Weather Advisory for the five westernmost counties (Allegany, Mineral, Grant, Pendleton, and Highland) is higher (3-5 inches).
A Freeze Watch is issued when there is a potential for significant, widespread freezing temperatures within the next 24-36 hours.
A Freeze Watch is issued in the autumn until the end of the growing season (marked by the occurrence of first widespread freeze). The normal end of the growing season is mid to late October west of the Blue Ridge and early November east of the Blue Ridge. However, during anomalously warm autumns, the growing season may be extended past the normal end of the growing season.
A Freeze Watch is issued in the spring at the start of the growing season (when it is late enough to cause damage to new plants and crops).
A Freeze Warning is issued when significant, widespread freezing temperatures are expected.
A Freeze Warning is issued in the autumn until the end of the growing season (marked by the occurrence of first widespread freeze). The normal end of the growing season is mid to late October west of the Blue Ridge and early November east of the Blue Ridge. However, during anomalously warm autumns, the growing season may be extended past the normal end of the growing season.
A Freeze Warning is issued in the spring at the start of the growing season (when it is late enough to cause damage to new plants and crops).
A Frost Advisory is issued when the minimum temperature is forecast to be 33 to 36 degrees on clear and calm nights during the growing season.
A Frost Advisory is issued in the autumn until the end of the growing season (marked by the occurrence of first widespread freeze). The normal end of the growing season is mid to late October west of the Blue Ridge and early November east of the Blue Ridge. However, during anomalously warm autumns, the growing season may be extended past the normal end of the growing season.
A Frost Advisory is issued in the spring at the start of the growing season (when it is late enough to cause damage to new plants and crops).
Wind Chill Advisory
A Wind Chill Advisory is issued when wind chills of -5F to -19F are expected east of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and when wind chills of -10 to -24F are expected along and west of the Blue Ridge Mountains and in Frederick and Carroll Counties in Maryland.
Wind Chill Warning
A Wind Chill Warning is issued when wind chills of -20F or lower are expected east of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and when wind chills of -25F or lower are expected along and west of the Blue Ridge Mountains and in Frederick and Carroll Counties in Maryland.
Courtesy of our friends over at the National weather service. You can visit their website at
www.weather.gov for more information and to stay up to date on the latest weather for your area.
Space Heaters and Smoking Material Fire Safety..
Space heaters even infrared ones need to be attended to. Just like Smoking materials .. Please stay alert to remain safe...
With the first few major fires of the season having tragic results in and around Boston, we feel the need to write this article.
Two of the deadly fires were a result of improperly disposed of smoking materials while the other was a space heater. We have written article in depth about these topics but really need to reiterate the fact that these are quick moving and fast spreading. Many of which occur at night while these materials are unattended.
Let us start with the smoking materials.
This is the number one cause of death in home fires.
Many industries have made efforts to aid in the reduction of death and injury from these kinds of fires. The mattress and furniture industry have been required to use flame resistant materials in manufacturing. New fire safe cigarettes have been developed and are required to aid in reduction of fires starting in the first place. These measures cannot and should not replace the smokers properly disposing of lit or smoldering products. We need to change our mindset and not rely on companies to make things safer for our friends and families.
We all know the dangers that smoking has on our overall health yet many still continue to smoke. All too often while driving down the road someone will toss a lit cigarette they are done without the window. While seemingly innocent when it comes in contact with the dry under brush and fallen leaves this can spark a major problems for so many. This is not an ideal way to dispose of a lit object period.
With the holiday season upon us many of us will partake in joyous occasions which often includes alcohol. While we support good time these drinks do impede judgment, make you sleepy, and reduce awareness. Coupled with many do smoke socially this can be a recipe for a disaster. When you have a smoke right before bed, but you are tired all too often many will fall asleep with the cigarette in their hand or even more scary in their mouth. The images of someone sleeping with a cigarette hanging out of their mouth is often a funny thing yet is a very dangerous event. As they sleep and muscles relax those funny images become deadly. Cigarettes falling out of the mouth or hand unknowingly onto the floor. Allowed to go unchecked, smoldering on a dry article of clothing, carpet or bed can quickly get out of hand. Deaths in these types of fires are often NOT the individual that was smoking the cigarette.
Please stay aware and if you see something say or do something you may just save a life. Properly dispose of the smoking materials even if they are not yours.
Here are some tips from our friends at National Fire Protection Association
- If you smoke, smoke outside.
- Whenever you smoke, use deep, wide, sturdy ashtrays. Ashtrays should be set on something sturdy and hard to ignite, like an end table.
- Before you throw out butts and ashes, make sure they are out. Dowsing in water or sand is the best way to do that.
- Check under furniture cushions and in other places people smoke for cigarette butts that may have fallen out of sight.
- Smoking should not be allowed in a home where medical oxygen is used. ( Someone in Maine just had a home explosion due to this) .. Oxygen is flammable ….Very FLAMMABLE… Be smart and safe…. Others will be affected.
- To prevent a deadly cigarette fire, you have to be alert. You won’t be if you are sleepy, have been drinking, or have taken medicine or other drugs. These are the second leading cause of home fires and injuries and the third cause of death. As Temperatures dip and the cold settles into the homes we all seek to stay warm, many of us turn to space heaters. While this is a great way to provide an infusion of concentrated heat into the areas of the home we are in or live in they can be very dangerous if not used properly.
- The second is the space heater.
- Keep them at least 3ft away from any and all flammable materials.
- This includes curtains, furniture, rugs, bedding, paper, Christmas trees, and holiday decorations.
- Turn them off when you are not home or cannot monitor properly i.e. when you are sleeping. Warm up the room and get an extra blanket to hold in the heat but turn that heater off when you go to sleep
- When buying a heater, look for one that has been tested and labeled by a nationally recognized testing company, such as Underwriter’s Laboratories Inc. (UL).
- Place the heater on a level surface away from areas where someone might bump into it and knock it over.
- Avoid using extension cords. If you must use an extension cord, make sure it is a heavy duty cord marked with a power rating at least as high as that on the label of the heater itself.
- Supervise children and pets when a space heater is in use.
- Keep electric heaters away from water. Never use them near a sink or in the bathroom.
- The sale and use of unvented kerosene heaters is illegal in Massachusetts.
- We hope this will make you think about these two causes of fires and use even just one tip to save a life maybe even your own. Share this tip with anyone you know that smokes or uses space heaters. Have a safe and happy holiday season with your friends and family. Let us work together to create lasting memories we can all be happy about. Not the memories that bring sadness over the holiday season. Being with our loved ones is precious and every moment we can add to it should be treasured. DO NOT cut those memories short because of a careless mistake. Check back with us often for this and other important safety tips and tricks.
Holiday Fire Statistics
Having the holiday season fast approaching the need to remind everyone of home fire safety.. Please make this holiday season SAFE AND FUN..
Home Fire statistics are an important way to stay safe this holiday season. Knowing where most problems stem from can lead to more attention being paid to those areas or activities .We have borrowed this information from NFPA ( National Fire Protection Association). Hoping to keep you safe and secure this Holiday season
- Between 2010-2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 210 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 6 deaths, 16 injuries, and $16.2 million in direct property damage annually.
- On average, one of every 34 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home fires.
- Some type of electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in one-third (35%) of home Christmas tree fires.
- Twenty-three percent of Christmas tree fires were intentional.
- Two of every five (38%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den.Holiday decorations
- A live Christmas tree burn conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) shows just how quickly a dried out Christmas tree fire burns, with flashover occurring in less than one minute, as compared to a well-watered tree, which burns at a much slower rate.
- U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 860 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees, in 2009-2013. These fires caused an annual average of one civilian fire death, 41 civilian fire injuries and $13.4 million in direct property damage.
- Ten percent of decoration fires were intentional.
- The decoration was too close to a heat source such as a candle or equipment in nearly half (45%) of the fires.
- One-fifth (20%) of the decoration fires started in the kitchen. One out of six (17%) started in the living room, family room or den.
- One-fifth (20%) of the home decoration fires occurred in December.
- Candles started 38% of home decoration structure fires.
- Half (51%) of the December home decoration fires were started by candles, compared to one-third (35%) in January to November.
- The top three days for home candle fires were Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Christmas Eve.Holiday cooking
- Source: NFPA's "Home Structure Fires Involving Decorations" report
- Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
- Cooking equipment was involved in 18% of home decoration fires. This can happen when a decoration is left on or too close to a stove or other cooking equipment.Fireworks
- Source: NFPA's "Home Fires Involving Cooking Equipment" report
Water Damage Emergency Process
Flooding can occur with out warning despite the advanced weather technology. Having a plan and knowing how to react makes all the difference.
So you got flooded.. Now what do you do
Everyone always wants to get back to normal as soon as possible, with as little cost and intrusion into their life as possible. Guess what??? That expectation is the worst way to approach this kind of water loss. While it sounds great what is the big deal. Let us explore the things that can happen when you actually move too quickly.
Having anything submerged in water means it was able to saturate. Saturated clothing can be wrung out but is still wet at the fiber level. Guess what wood does the same thing. Unlike clothing wood structures cannot be thrown into a dryer. That is right inside those beams are still wet. Behind that wall is soaked, oh your home is insulated yeah that’s wet too. That beautiful wood floor is sitting on a subfloor that space is wet too. However will you get it dry. Well if you do not have high powered fans and commercial grade dehumidifiers it can take months yes months to air dry.
Aside from the fact that everything is wet, said you were flooded right? Guess what dispite what you think flood water is not clean. At all!!!! It is flooded because the water did not have a normal place to drain. Where does most city water drain into??? That is right the sewer system.. Sooo if you are flooded because the sewer system is not working that is right folks you have been flooded with sewer water.
- Is mold already growing
- Is electricity on & active ( Never walk through water to power off electricity)
- Check for gas leaks
- Is the structure safe
- Wear protective eye glasses, Shoes and gloves and respirator if you suspect mold.
- Do not mix chemicals the vapors can be deadly ( Especially Bleach and Vinegar)
Step by Step guide:
- Get to safety: If the rain has stopped flooding is still possible as the water drains from some areas and into others. Makes sure you stay safe. Once it is safe to do so start assessing the personal damage you have incurred.
- Insurance: Most people have home owners insurance. Guess what they do not cover flood insurance so start there. If you were flooded and do not have flood insurance you are on your own. Even if you do it is your responsibility to keep the home safe and reduce damages as much as you can. Which means you cannot wait to hear from the insurance company. Should you get mold or rot from waiting most likely it will not be covered due to the fact that it is considered secondary damage. Meaning it would not occur if you had started to clean up immediately.
The clean up: What can you do before the adjuster arrived from the insurance company.
- Take pictures of everything, before you or anyone do any work what so ever.
- Clean up areas of the house so that wall, and floor damage can be easily seen.
- There can be hidden damage, such as behind the walls so it will be reassessed as work begins.
- Reach out to government agencies for potential assistance for aid. ( Please note that a federal disaster must be declared for you to apply for this type of assistance.
- Hire an electrician to come in and assess the safety of electrical system of the home. This will tell you what is safe and not safe to turn on ( Never turn on equipment that was submerged any salvageable items could spark and become a total loss)
- Check with the local town to see if the water is safe to use or if it was adversely affected by the flood waters.
- Go through your food and make sure you throw out anything not in a metal can. Make sure you get rid of the labels and get new ones. To identify the food later. The cans must be washed if you are going to keep them . o.
- All your silverware and utensils have to be cleaned and sorted. Wood, plastic or anything no metal or ceramic needs to go
- Cut and remove walls ( Even if they do not look damaged)
- If you see a water line ..Cut the wall at a minimum of 2 feet above that line.
- Remove insulation and yes throw it away.
- Take off the base boards , they may be able to be dried and saved but at least removing them assured they are not holding in moisture.
- It is recommended anything that cannot be dry cleaned should be thrown away. This includes but is not limited to furniture, clothing, and blankets.
- Carpets must be pulled up and while the carpet may be able to be cleaned and dried the pad cannot so throw that way.. Do not re-attach the carpet before the floor it sits on is fully dry ( Yes we have to say that again) To avoid any issues make sure that you do this within 48hrs after the water goes down so that it does not have a chance to grow anything it should not be growing ( which is anything)
- Flooring: Be it if you have wood, vinyl, laminate or tile if it was submerged in flood water it really has to go.
- If you are not sure if the tile or its adhesive is asbestos get it tested.
- If it is a painted surface and you are not sure about the presence of Lead that too should be tested.
- This step while will be a bit of a delay keeps you, your family and the workers safe.
- Subfloors: Guess what your floors sit on a floor and regardless of what sort of main floor you have most of the time the subfloor is plywood and will be affected by the water. The top floor must be removed so that this level of floor can dry fully. Make sure you do not have any buckling before you put a new floor on top once it is dry. If so you may need to replace that.
- Set up fans and Dehumidifiers to created a vortex to encourage drying. Proper fan positioning and temperature regulation will speed up the drying process.
- ****BLEACH**** DOES NOT KILL MOLD… PERIOD….
- If you see mold… There is a very specific process that must be followed. The most important step is to NOT spread the spores all over the house. So DO NOT VACCUM them unless you have a hepa-vaccum.
Contact a professional and keep in mind this is not a two or three day process. Have the right expectations going in to this. It will ease your mind and reduce the amount of stress that you have. Expecting something to be done to fast can result in long term damage that will cost more. It will also put undue stress on all involved. Take a step back and know that it could be a month or even more depending on how extensive the damage is.