Water Water everywhere!!!
Fall in Massachusetts has been the wettest on record with still a few days and inches to go. This spring we could be in for some serious flooding.
Do you feel like it has been an endless rainy season in what is notoriously a dry season? You would be right. We have some of the oldest records for weather in the country right here in Mass. Blue Hill records date back to the late 1800’s and as of November 26, 2018 we had achieved the wettest fall on record. With more rain on the way it is shaping up to be a wet one.
This rain can have a big impact on winter storm damage to homes and businesses. How can that be you ask? Here are just a few examples.
Freezing: Water is unlike any other element on the planet. It expands as it cools rather than shrink. This causes all sorts of problems. If you have a small leak in the home from all this rain that is out of sight. When the cold weather sets in it will freeze. Many times, this freezing will occur and cause a lot of damage. Since water expands as it freezes any area that is saturated will expand either allowing more water in or cracking any materials that is stuck inside of. Be it a roof, wood framing, corner of a home or foundation, etc..
So, what can you do: Have a trusted contractor walk around the house look into the attic, basement, crawlspace and work on detecting anything out of the normal. Any edges of your home that show signs of rot, or water damage, Check inside the attic for any damp or wet insulation. Look in the crawl space for any signs of water coming through the foundation. Damage to any flooring, place any insulation over pipes that may have fallen off. Clear out all the gutters so that nothing is blocking the down spouts either from the top or at the output on the bottom.
Saturated soil: Soil that is unnaturally wet for extended periods of time can have damaging effects on trees. Many times, the roots have a hard time holding onto the soil and in high wind events can cause the tree to topple over many onto a home or car. There is also the effect water has on the roots themselves. If the tree is not prone to doing well in significantly wet soil the roots can start to rot. This rot can happen in even a healthy-looking tree causing it too to fall over.
So, what can you do: Walk your property ideally with a tree care professional. Have any leaders removed. Trim any branches that seem precarious. Inspect the trees and roots for any thing that looks like it will not hold during a storm.
Water intrusion: All this water has to go somewhere many times it does not have the ability to run off or be absorbed by the ground at the same rate when frost starts to set it. This allows the water to travel further than it normally would. Meaning there could be flooding events in areas that there are not normally any. It may also travel for a distance then a cold snap will freeze it in place. This causes a crack in a foundation. Allowing the warm air from your home to get out thawing out the water. This water will travel into your home as it thaws if left unnoticed you will have a major problem on your hands
As we continue to see rivers rise during a time of year that they normally slow to a trickle we have to be worried about what will happen. In the spring when all the snow melt, and runoff drains into already overloaded springs, streams, and rivers. We will see a lot more flooding events and now is the time to prepare.
So, what can you do: You can learn where your existing flood zones for your area are. See if you are downhill from any streams, rivers, ponds really any bodies of water. Follow the link below if you are not sure. https://msc.fema.gov/portal/search
It is a great time to look at your insurance policies. Make sure you have flood coverage. This will not be tied to the regular home owner’s insurance you have. It is a separate policy. Look it over, make sure you have both home coverage as well as contents. If you are not in a flood zone that is the best time to get flood insurance, it is much more cost effective. It can also protect you should the zoning change during a reevaluation time.
As our climate changes, storms become more intense and the extreme weather. It is important to know that those hundred-year storms events will be more like 3-year storm events if not more frequent than that. Knowing what water can do the soil, trees, and your home is key. Being prepared is more important than ever. Finding water damage before it becomes a major problem is going to help you keep things under control. Developing good home inspection habits will help avoid costly repairs later.
Space Heater Safety
Space heaters are a great way to add warmth to a room. Being safe and understanding the best way to do that is essential.
It may not be officially winter in New England but it is sure has not stopped mother nature from delivering us some snow and arctic blasts. With century breaking cold coming for Thanksgiving this year we really need to look at home heating. Many in Massachusetts are not even in their homes due to fires in the Merrimack Valley area. That means more people will be using space heaters to stay warm. They are small, portable and cost effective. That alone does not make them safe.
Space heaters and other heating equipment causes almost 70,000 fires every year. Damages both monetarily, physically and emotionally are insurmountable and sadly as is the case in California can often times spread having devastating results. Winter is a dry season with a lot of leaves on the ground. That being said let us focus on how to stay safe while we all try to stay warm.
Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the United States. More than 65,000 home fires are attributed to heating equipment each year. These fire result in hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries and millions of dollars in property damage.
When you get a space heater making sure that the new one is the right fit for you needs will help with keeping everyone safe. Space heaters use electricity which means these is a risk of sparks, frayed or faulty wiring. Below you will find some key point to use as consideration when using them.
Choosing the right heater for your space can go a long ways in terms of keeping you safe. There is a little bit of math involved but it is relatively easy. Get the square footage of the room, it takes approximately 10 watts per square foot. So a 12X12 SQ Ft room needs about 1,440 watts to heat. Ok but the packaging for the heaters say BTU’s so now what. Multiply the watts by 3.41. A single watt is equivalent to 3.41 watts. So that sized room needs about 4,910 BTU unit heater. Guess what unless your room is much bigger than that most heaters run in at 5,100 BTU’s or 1500 watts. Pretty convenient right. Yes we thought so to. Just like a lot of products out there are counterfeit or knock offs. It is important to avoid these as they will have not been safety tested properly.
So now you have the proper sized space heater. Let us take a look at where the best place is to put it, along with what are some basic safety tips.
Make sure your space heater has the label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory.
- Make sure you are familiar with how your specific unit works. Read all the warnings and labels. The instructions can vary from unit to unit so do not assume the one you had years ago functions the same. Technology and requirements change. .
- Before use it is important to inspect the unit for broken cords, frayed wires, any damage or cracks. If any of that is found DO NOT USE
- Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when you're leaving a room or going to sleep, and don't let pets or children play too close to a space heater.
- DO NOT use these units to try and cook food, dry anything or warm up a bed. Space heaters are only meant to provide heat to a space only. Woman in Lowell caused a fire 2 day after she was given a space heater for misusing it.
- Change all batteries in every smoke alarm in the house before using a space heater. There needs to be one on every floor. Make sure you conduct monthly tests to ensure proper working order.
- Keep them at least 3 ft away from anything flammable. This includes rugs, curtains, blankets and paper products.
- Keep cords and placement location out of main high traffic areas of your home. If you have to run the cord through an area that is walked through a lot tape the cord down. As flush against a wall as possible.
- They go directly into WALL outlets. DO NOT ***DO NOT*** use an extension cord or power strip. It is also important to not plug other high energy draining devices into the outlet. Sudden surges such as a toaster oven can cause overheating and start fires.
- The best places for a space heater is on the floor. For a few reasons. One of which is that heat rises and you want as much warm air to move throughout the room. The other is that it is a flat surface. If placed on a table or piece of furniture you run the risk of something else being placed on or near it increasing the risk of fire.
- If you are not using the space heater, make sure it is always unplugged.
Ok so now that you know how to stay safe and properly use a space heater lets get to enjoying the warmth. Have a safe and happy holiday season.
Water Prevention Technology
Water damage even a small leak can result in big damage. Learn what options are available and best suit your lifestyle and needs.
SERVPRO of East Boston Chelsea & Revere we see our fair share of the intense damage cause by water. We are always trying to keep a pulse on how these damages can be prevented. Searching out new technologies for our clients and putting the information out for our clients to find.
Over the years we have seen great advances in these areas. Streets that can absorb gallons upon gallons of water which aids in reducing run off and drainage and sewer system overload. The ability to recycle and clean water to reduce pollutants and contaminates within the environment. There has also been extensive research on ways to harness water for electricity consumption. The ones that directly affect your homes and businesses are the ones that get us the most excited.
We should all be aware by now of the importance of smoke detectors and Carbon monoxide detectors. Many of us even keep a fire extinguisher on hand. Yet so many of us fail to take the same precautions with water.
While the amount of damage caused by a fire is extensive and does cost the most. I highest number of claims called in comes from water damage. Often times these claims stem from leaks that have gone unnoticed or have happened when no one was home. A poorly timed disaster could happen while you are on a vacation, at a family function or away for work. Having no alarm system or warning system in place can lead to a great deal of damage.
There are answers and they can be autonomous and tied directly to apps on your phone to ensure damages are mitigated and any potential issues are caught as soon as possible. The variety of options run the gamut in price, engagement and notification options.
Simplicity and ease of use for some basic peace of mind comes in the way of battery-operated or simple plug ins. Some of the most cost-effective devices in this category can tie directly to your cell phone. The water will prompt the device to send a message to your cell phone. They often will not have an alarm that would go off within the home.
Others are a bit more intricate and required them to be built into the infrastructure of the home. These are similar to the built-in smoke detectors in your home. These devices may require to be plugged into an actual outlet but will work with your homes WIFI. They have water sensors you can place in front of items such as boilers or even on pipes directly that will alert you of temperature changes.
There are more that are full smart home ready devices. They can not only tie to your smart phone but also your Alexa or google home devices providing automatic shut off options as well. These smart home devices have some intricate features that allow them to go as far as turning off the water if a leak is detected. Due to this feature you will need the aid of a certified plumber to install them making the upfront costs a bit more.
As with some of the higher end home service options there are monitoring centers staffed with trained individuals that can call and notify you of any changes within your system. This could even assist with troubleshooting what the problem could be and how to fix it.
Do you have a property that you rent out? Are you a property management company that has a new tenant and seen a spike in the water usage of a particular unit? Well they have a device for that as well. It will monitor water pressure, temperature and which devices are consuming the water. Do you have toilet that is running constantly that a tenant did not tell your about? Has the washing machine see its last day and uses far more water than the newer models. Does that dishwasher have a leak that no one sees? These sensors can help to assess and determine your best options as well as catching a problem long before it even becomes one.
As time progresses and more of these items are adapted and technology changes. There will be more sensor options. Some have even begun to offer them for Gas shut offs as well. Commercial businesses are always looking for cost cutting measures. These water sensors can be an integral part of the assessments on when to upgrade appliances and aging systems.
It is imperative with water being such a scarce commodity with essential for life be we all take steps to ensure it is not wasted. Saving us all money and protecting the planet. Here at SERVPRO we must ensure our team and our clients know about the options out there for protecting their homes and businesses.
Below you will find a link to some of the key products that have been rated. While we understand it is a somewhat older article it is a great assessment of the range of products available.
Holidays and Fire safety
Fire risk in homes increases during the holiday season. Candles, cooking, fireplaces and dried trees all add to the risk. Prepare, plan, prevent.
With the recent infernos spreading throughout California we feel the need to remind people about fire dangers here at home. The holidays are fast approaching being able to spend time with the ones that we love. Often that time is spent in the kitchen, next to a roaring fire, creating a mood with some extra candles, curled up in an electric blanket , or even just getting out the chill with a boost of heat from a space heater. With temperatures dipping there is also an increased instance of smoking within in the home as it is simply too cold for some to go outside.
Many of these things are traditions that shape our lives. Yet these are the same traditions that see a spike in disaster this time of the year. We will dissect each of these to ensure you have the tips you need to keep you and the traditions alive.
Smoking inside, this is actually the easiest one to avoid. JUST DO NOT DO IT… The number one cause of deaths from fires every year is this one thing. Many times it is out of exhaustion or combined with something else such as alcohol. Falling asleep with a lit cigarette or other similar device has devastating consequences. So how do you stay safe with this one..
- Stay outside
- Use a deep ashtray ( not the ground is not safe to toss it)
- Fill the ashtray with a sand water combination & keep it far away from anything that can burn
- Stay away from flammable materials such as oxygen and gasoline ( Yup that’s right no smoking in the garage either)
- Use fire safe cigarettes (Yes they exist)
- E-Cigarettes count too…they can explode.. ignite while charging or even in transport be wary and use the same precautions
These fires are caused by a number of different things. Over the holiday season many of us have more lights plugged in to illuminate our lives during season. Extra lights, extension cords, power strips and additional strain on many of the outlets within your home. Before you get started any additional cords need to be checked for frayed wires, cracked, chipped, or chewed( animals like to do that) . Do not overload any one outlet, if you are not sure which outlet coincides with what have a certified electrician check it out for you. Do not run a cord in main walking paths they can pose a tripping hazard but could also be partially pulled out. This could cause serious fire risk from an improper connection. Never use an outlet that does not have the faceplate properly installed. Below is a more entailed punchlist.
- Ensure bulbs match the wattage output of the device
- Do not REPETE DO NOT plug a power strip into another power strip.
- Do not overload an outlet
- Avoid tripping the breaker if you do you have overloaded the outlet.
- Check for frayed, chipped, cracked or chewed wires.
- Place all power strips up off of the floor. ( This keeps it out of reach of kids and pets and water should you have a pipe break.
- Use only 1 heat producing items per outlet. (i.e coffee pot, space heater, toaster etc.
Candles so many people add candles for both religious and aesthetical reasons over the holiday season. The top 3 days for candle fires are Christmas, New Years Eve and New Years day. Falling asleep with a lit candle is a key factor to these fires. Almost 60% were caused because a combustible material was left too close to the lit candle itself. So what do you do to have them safely in your home.
- Blow them out when you leave the room for an extended period of time.
- Keep them 1ft at a minimum away in all directions from flammable materials.
- Use a steady surface
- Use a candle holder with a wide base.
- Do not place in a window
- Keep all matches, ignition materials or combustible materials out of reach of children.
- If someone in the home uses oxygen DO NOT use them no matter the reason.
These are the peak months for heating fires. December, January, February. Many of the electrical and smoking safety tips apply here. Increasing the usage of fireplaces & space heaters. It is essential for all outlets to not be overloaded. Ensure that only one heat producing appliance or large use appliance is plugged into the outlet. Do not under any circumstances use a power strip, or extension cord for these devices.
- Provide proper fire safety glass. ( regular glass will explode)
- Add any necessary screening metal / glass combinations
- Fireplace extensions that are non-flammable to catch any escaping embers or ashes
- Never transfer hot ashes
- No frayed wires
- Keep all heat sources 3ft away from any flammable
Last but certainly not least. Cooking is a significant cause of fires in this country. Most home fires actually stem from cooking. Be it deep frying a turkey ( BAD IDEA), Grease fires, oven or stove top cooking . Cooking is fun, engaging and full of memories made. Make them happy ones. Develop good habits.
- Never leave a flame unattended.
- Keep flammable materials away from the stove. ( towels, oven mitts, wooden utensils etc.)
- Keep decorations away from stoves as well
- Always set incremental timers to periodically check on items in oven 15 min is a good recommendation.
- Use splatter shields.
- Have a portable fire extinguisher with the proper fire rating code on hand.
- Fighting the fire yourself can result in serious injuries. Best to get out and call a professional.
Nothing is guaranteed. Accidents do happen and the best things we can do is be prepared and cautious. It is important to know that if a fire breaks out knowing as soon as possible can and will save your life. Changing the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every 6 months is the best way to get make sure you are notified right away. You can have a little as 2 minutes to get out of the house once a fire takes hold in a home. Check your cords on everything replace or adjust accordingly, have safe distance from any flammable materials, be diligent about the kids, and pets around kids electricity and flames.
While nothing is 100% guaranteed taking steps to protect yourself, your loved ones as well as neighbors can go a long way. Develop good habits that allow all memories to be ones that we can share and cherish.
Training your staff and having the proper relationships with all that you work with. That is what makes the difference between good and great.
The training SERVPRO has as minimum requirements is extensive. Throughout each division of the company training is a vital part of everything that we do. SERVPRO has dedicated a great deal of time and energy into proprietary software to log, track, manage and process your claim. Members of staff at every level have a working knowledge of this software allowing us to track your job progress, log adjusters’ notes, questions and concerns so everyone is aware of its status.
Many members of our team are also cross-trained. This makes sure each person knows what is expected, how things affect our clients and what should be done on each call.
A strong understanding of each community coupled with the ability to address those needs is an important part of every business. Having the right people to address those needs is what makes every business great. We at SERVPRO are committed to this process. Training and development of our staff is the best way we know how.
Field training: Our on-site team receives hours of hands on training in all various aspects of our service offerings. Various techniques are required for each type of job we do. While every job we encounter is very different as are the needs of each client. When a Fire, Water, Mold, Smoke disaster strikes it is comforting to know that the experience that comes with those working in your home eases the process.
Supervisor Training: Our field supervisors training is a step above the rest with a litany of certifications ranging from EPA Lead Safe Renovation, Applied Structural Drying, Water Restoration Training, Subrogation training. Estimating writing certifications for the same software that the insurance adjusters use is also obtained. These certifications help provide peace of mind that the job will be done correctly the first time.
Office Training: Our office staff works tirelessly reviewing your claim prior to sending it off to the insurance company. Each insurance company has varied requirements for what they want to see when they are processing a claim. Working closely with the field team our office staff produces just what each agent is looking for. Smoothing out and streamlining the process ensures that your claim is paid quickly and your rebuild can begin promptly. Bi- annual training sessions that encourage team collaboration really strengthens the resolve to be the best. It allows provides various team members that would not otherwise meet to put a face to the name.
Operational training: The operational teams training is very similar to the office team. There are added levels of knowledge of things such as Human Resources, Accounts receivable and payable. The operational team also works with various vendors to promote the smoothest transition possible. Maintaining relationships with plumbers, electricians, reconstruction teams, dumpster companies and other various companies. These strong relationships are crucial in determining the speed at which we can work through your claim.
Sales/marketing Training: Marketing degrees are held by our team members in this position. Having a solid understanding of our how and what happens through a claim is extremely important. They have a lot of the same certifications and training that the field receives. With working hands on working days as well. Our sales and marketing team must have a pulse on the community. Understanding the needs of the variety of clients we serve both commercially and residentially. What happens on one side of the city may be very different on the other. Through local chamber of commerce participation, networking groups and many other community involvement activities we are able to stay right on top of everything. They have degrees in marketing along with a lot of field certifications. The team also works to highlight the first responders of each area. Maintaining relations with city officials and holding the SERVPRO brand to a higher standard.
So when you are asking Why SERVPRO? It may be easier to say Why not SERVPRO? There are many moving pieces to your claim. Having the properly certified, insured and registered professionals at your fingertips is the key to getting back to “Like it never even happened”
Large Commercial Loss.... What do you do first?
Having a plan before an emergency strikes allows you to be more likely bounce back. "Like it never even happened"
Did you know that SERVPRO team member and staff receive extensive training on commercial property losses? There are more moving pieces to a commercial property loss than a residential loss.
While the scope of the work is the same, remove the damaged materials, clean the affected areas, dry out the area. Many businesses have special requirements. Some need to stay open during the process. Others are dealing with food and or patient care. Certain businesses have sensitive documents that require specialty handling. Patient privacy and HIPPA regulations many times dictate who can handle their documents.
Immediate responses are essential to getting things back on track. Coordination with priority responders for gaining access to the facility. Scoping out the loss along with developing a plan. Communicating with IT services, plumbing, electrical and cubical management companies is pivotal. Ensuring that each moving piece of the business is coordinated.
Larger commercial projects require more resources, staffing, equipment and time. Major damage can result in significant business interruption. Everything from the entrance that employees use, where they park along with where they will be working. Has their equipment been damaged, document access been restricted or destroyed?
Strategic containment barriers should be set up in multi-use buildings that allow the work to be done with out risk of cross contamination. Many times, multiple floors will have been affected in these large buildings. Working with property managers allow us to get into all floors quickly to ensure building safety through building stabilization, wall ceiling and floor demolition. Along with clear moisture mapping to ensure structural drying, all mechanicals and air systems can be cleaned as well.
Many businesses that maintain large file systems, such as lawyers, doctors’ offices, veterinarians, hospitals, tax accountants need special care with their documents. If they have not transitioned over to a scanning system, the documents will need to be salvaged. There are special freeze-drying chambers to accommodate such a process. Some of these some businesses handle special documents covered by HIPPA regulations or client/ patient confidentiality. Do those coming in to handle these personal documents have the proper certifications or security clearance to handle them?
Coordination is key when dealing with a large loss. Making sure all the appropriate connections ahead of time is essential to creating a seamless remediation process. Developing relationships with a variety of vendors before problems arise ensures that immediate response times are kept to a minimum. Just some of the vendors we build relationships with are temporary Labor, scaffolding, high lift equipment, document drying, ice house, moving companies, portable power, dumpster/waste companies, desiccant/ climate control, portable toilet services, dry cleaning, construction, emergency/ temp fencing, board up & roofing, IT services, fine art restoration, as well as temporary warehouse space.
The best way a business can recover from any disaster is to be prepared. Does someone in your company know where all the shut of valves are for your floor or the entire building? Where are essential electrical shut off locations? Where is the HVAC unit kept? What is the emergency evacuation plan for the building and where is your companies meeting place? Aside from emergency personnel who is the first person you should be contacting?
If even one of these questions cannot be answered you need to create an Emergency Ready Profile. Preparing you, your building, staff and tenants.
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.