Biohazard cleanup is also known as crime scene cleanup or trauma scene cleanup. SERVPRO of Pearl River/Hancock and Southwest Harrison Counties biohazard professionals provide this supportive service for victim’s families. During an emotional period for the customer, SERVPRO biohazard professionals have developed a keen sense of how to interact with the customer by providing a level of service victim's families need in a difficult situation. While the police and other responders may spend limited time with the family members, SERVPRO cleaning professionals work around the family longer, by performing the cleaning and restoration of the scene. By performing the cleaning and restoration, SERVPRO helps the family make a step beyond the tragedy, to hopefully carry on with their lives. Our staff is trained in all facets of property damage restoration, from training at SERVPRO’s Corporate Training Facility to regular IICRC industry certifications, our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.
Top 5 Most Common Causes of House Fires
Here are top 5 most common causes of house fires as identified by the National Fire Protection Association.
From 2007-2011, the NFPA says there were an average of 10,630 fires in the U.S. that were started by candles, causing 115 deaths, 903 injuries and approximately $418 million in property damage. That is an average of 29 candle fires per day.
- Never leave a candle burning near flammable items.
- Never leave a candle burning in a child’s room or an unoccupied room.
- Make sure candles fit securing into candle holders so they won’t tip over.
- Blow out any candles before leaving a room or going to sleep
While the number of fires caused by smoking is trending downward, the NFPA found that there were still an average of 17,600 related fires per year resulting in 490 deaths and more than $516 million in property damage.
- If you smoke, consider smoking outside.
- Use wide, sturdy ashtrays to catch butts and ashes.
- Look for cigarette butts under furniture and between seat cushions to make sure no lit butts have fallen someplace where they can’t be seen.
- Don’t smoke in bed, when you’re tired or around medical oxygen.
- Electrical & Lighting
According to the NFPA, in 2011 approximately 47,700 home structure fires were caused by some sort of electrical failure or malfunction. These resulted in 418 deaths, 1,570 injuries and $1.4 billion in property damage.
- Don’t overload outlets or electrical cords.
- Make sure you have the right cord for the job – inside cords for inside, heavy duty/outside cords for outdoor use.
- Don’t leave Christmas lights, Christmas trees, or halogen lights on overnight or when not at home.
- Consider having an electrician perform an annual checkup of your home’s wiring.
- Dryers & Washing Machines
Clothes dryer fires happen more often than one might think, accounting for 16,800 home structure fires in 2010 and doing more than $236 million in property damage.
- Clean the lint screen frequently and don’t run the dryer without it.
- For gas and propane dryers, make sure there aren’t any leaks in the lines.
- Vent the dryer to the outside of the house and ensure nothing blocks the vent pipe.
- Clean the vent pipe and the area where the screen is housed.
- Keep the area around the dryer free of combustible materials.
From 2007-2011, NFPA says there were an average of 22,600 fires per year caused by lightning strikes.
- Stay away from doors and windows during an electrical storm.
- Do not use corded phones, computers, TVs or other electrical equipment during storms.
- Unplug major electronics – TVs, stereo equipment, computers and microwaves to minimize damage if there is a lightning strike close by.
- Avoid plumbing such as sinks, baths and faucets during a thunderstorm.
You experience a fire in your home, don't hesitate to call SERVPRO of Pearl River/Hancock and Southwest Harrison Counties at 228-467-4450
What To Do in Extreme Heat
Beat The Heat
This weekend, temperatures are expected to reach the 3-digit mark! SERVPRO of Pearl River/Hancock and Southwest Harrison Counties wants you and your family to be safe and take the proper precautions during this time of extreme heat. When temperatures reaching this high, the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature.
Extreme Heat can cause the following:
Heat Exhaustion - Typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim's condition will worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may suffer heat stroke.
Heat Stroke - A life-threatening condition. The victim's temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.
To prepare for extreme heat, you should:
- To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
- Install window air conditioners snugly; insulate if necessary.
- Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
- Install temporary window reflectors (for use between windows and drapes), such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
- Weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
- Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers. (Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.)
- Keep storm windows up all year.
- Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.
- Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
- Be aware that people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than are people living in rural areas.
- Get trained in first aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.
What you should do if the weather is extremely hot:
- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio for critical updates from the National Weather Service (NWS).
- Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
- Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
- Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
- Postpone outdoor games and activities.
- Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community facilities. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the perspiration rate of evaporation.
- Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
- Drink plenty of water; even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
- Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
- Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
- Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
- Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.
- Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes.
- Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power during periods of extreme heat
Tips For Homeowners Facing Fire Or Smoke Damage
When disaster strikes, severe fire damage can be the most devastating thing to happen to any property. As fire becomes an increasingly prevalent threat, insurance companies are constantly trying to cut corners on fire insurance claims in an attempt to save money. After a fire, you've most likely lost some personal belongings and areas of your home are completely destroyed. The last thing you need is a homeowners' insurance company giving you a hard time regarding your claim.
First Things First, Check Your Policy
Even if you have replacement coverage for your home you actually may only have "actual cash value" for the personal items that were lost. When you call your insurance company, your agent should notify you about this and suggest buying an endorsement so that your belongings will be covered under a replacement policy.
Secure Your Property
The majority of homeowners coverage policy requires you to take reasonable steps to minimize more harm on your property. In short terms, this is known as your duty to mitigate damages. These steps are fairly small and easy to do, such as covering leaking areas with plastic wrap or turning off the water if you discover a huge pipe burst. Your insurance company will most likely pay these costs when you make your claim.
File Your Claim Immediately
Every homeowner policy will require you to report your loss as soon as possible. You will need to make a call to your agent and submit a "proof of loss claim" in which you will itemize your losses in detail and list the value of each. The longer you wait, the faller you fall down the list when it comes time for the company to send an adjuster to deal with your claim.
Always Keep Track Of Your Living Expenses
Every homeowners policy will include a loss of use clause, which entitles you to adequate reimbursement for living expenses while you're out of your home. Keep in mind, these expenses only include additional living expenses, meaning the difference between what it costs you to live on a daily basis and what it is costing you now. For example, if you ate the majority of your meals at home and your groceries cost you $400 a week and now, after a fire, you're eating out and spending $500 a week, you can claim only that additional $100.
Repairing fire damage is a lengthy process, and dealing with your insurance could be difficult process if you are not knowledgeable about the subject. If you've experienced a small isolated fire a complete burn down, you need a restoration company to properly assess the damage. At SERVPRO our 24-hour operators are ready to take your call and dispatch a team of highly experienced fire and smoke restoration professionals to your property. Call us today at 228-467-4450
The Importance of Professional Mitigation
In July of this year, a local creek flooded after several days of heavy rain fall. On the banks of this creek is a large RV park which houses dozens of campers, motor homes, etc. Unfortunately during this flood, many of these RV's were severely damaged.
One in particular was under water for a couple of days, with approximately three feet of water inside the camper. Once the water receded, the owners elected to mitigate the damages themselves rather than utilize a professional company. Unfortunately they did not follow the appropriate protocol to efficiently dry the area. Now, five months later, there is more damage and mold in the unit due to ineffective treatment.
What could have been remedied very quickly by utilizing a professional company and most likely salvaged the entire unit has now led to greatly increased damages, and the possibility of the unit being totaled by the insurance company. This is all a result of inadequate drying procedures.
Failing to provide appropriate airflow to areas that need drying can lead to much deeper damages. It takes a trained professional to know what areas are wet, what areas need drying or removed, what areas need treating with antimicrobial sprays, and what equipment to use to dry it.
It is extremely important to consult professionals when you experience water damage. It may seem to be expensive, but in the end it prevents a much more expensive job later down the road.
If you experience a damage, call SERVPRO of Pearl River/Hancock and Southwest Harrison Counties and let us handle it for you!
How Bad Can it Get?
We have recently begun working on a residential fire job, which we initially perceived as being a relatively simple and short job. However, as we progressed, more and more started to pile up for us to do. As we uncovered more things, we realized more damage. Which led to more work. This ended up being a much larger job that what we initially scoped.
My purpose for writing this is that sometimes a homeowner may look at their home after a fire damage and think that they can clean it themselves. But damages may go much deeper than what the eye can see, and typically requires the assistance of trained and experienced technicians to restore the home back to pre-fire condition. The purpose of using a restoration company after a fire damage is to insure that the home is safe and has been cleaned to industry safe standards in order to prevent further damage, and/or health problems later on.
Any time you have experienced a fire or water damage to your home, it is imperative that you heed the advice of your insurance company or adjuster and let the professionals handle your restoration.
Mold Inspection Safety
We recently had a homeowner contact us regarding a property that they were wanting to purchase. The home had been vacant for a great deal of time, and had not had any air circulation through the home. It had also had a hot tub drained on the second floor of the home which led to excess moisture.
When our staff member arrived at the home and entered, the home was entirely covered in mold. The homeowners had been walking through the home periodically for weeks with no protective respirator or gear at all. They had no idea that this could be a hazard to their health. This home is in need of total demo and rebuild inside, and the amount of mold in the home was frightening.
If you suspect that there is mold in your home or business, please take the necessary precautions to protect your health. Have it tested by a professional, and have it restored by a professional. Your health is much more important than the risk is worth.
Fall Home Preparation Tips
Fall is a wonderful time of year! Cooler weather, bonfires, holiday foods. It is also a great time to begin some preparation on your home for the coming cooler weather.
Here are some tips that can help you make sure your home is ready for the next seasons. Most of these are easily done by a homeowner, with no need for a professional!
- Get your mind in the gutters. Inspect and clean gutters and downspouts.
- Button up your overcoat. Seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors with weather-stripping and caulk.
- Get on top of roof problems. Inspect your roof for damaged or curled shingles, corroded flashing, or leaky vents.
- Walks the walks (and drives). Take steps to repair damaged sidewalks, driveways, and steps.
- Chill out. Drain and winterize outdoor faucets and irrigation systems.
- Freshen your filter. Clean or replace dirty furnace filters.
- Give your furnace a physical. Have a professional inspect your heating system.
- Gather round the hearth. Check fireplaces for soot or creosote build-up. Better yet, schedule a visit from a reputable chimney sweep.
- Keep the humidifier humming. Clean the plates or pads to ensure efficient operation.
- Head-off gas problems. If you have a gas-fired room heater, have it inspected by a pro. Also, perform any routine maintenance recommended by the maker.
- Keep the wood fires burning brightly. Wood stoves are making a comeback. To avoid a deadly situation, be sure to inspect yours before firing it up.
- Keep your family safe at home. A home safety check should be an annual ritual in every household. Test smoke and CO monitors, inspect (or install) fire extinguishers, review fire escape plans, and rid your home of old newspapers and other fire hazards.
Clogged Gutters and Water Damage
Fall is my favorite time of year. Hands down. Pumpkin spice candles, cool weather, colorful leaves. Colorful leaves.........those can also be a hazard. As beautiful as they may be falling in your yard and creating that wonderful fall appearance, they also fall into your gutters, which causes a whole list of problems.
Here are some tips to help prevent water damage from occurring this year:
- heck and clean your gutters at regular intervals throughout the year, but especially during autumn when leaves are falling.
- Consider installing gutter guards that screen out leaves and other debris while still admitting roof runoff.
- To ensure adequate drainage and avoid overflows during heavy rains, you should have one downspout for every 40 feet of gutter length.
- Make sure your gutters aren’t sagging. For optimum drainage into downspouts, gutters are installed with a slight pitch. Sagging disrupts proper gravity flow of water and triggers overflow.
- Install downspout extensions that divert runoff far enough from the house to prevent penetration into the foundation or basement walls. Ideally, each downspout should discharge water at least three feet from the house. Downspouts can also be connected to an underground pipe to convey water even further away.
Preventing Fires in the Workplace
Anytime you have multiple employees working in a building, coming and going at different times, utilizing different appliances or outlets in the building, you run the risk of a fire. Unless you have the absolute perfect system of accountability, there is always the risk of a forgotten appliance or forgotten candle burning that may cause fire.
Here are a few tips to help prevent fires in your business:
- Keep your work area free of waste paper, trash and other items that can easily catch fire.
- Check on your electrical cords. If a cord is damaged in any way, replace it. Try not to lay cords in places where they can be stepped on, as this will contribute to deterioration of the protective outside coating.
- Don't overload your circuits.
- Turn off electrical appliances at the end of each day.
- Keep heat producing equipment away from anything that might burn. This includes copiers, coffee makers, computers, etc.
In the event that you DO have a fire, here are some tips to follow to ensure employee safety and expedient response by emergency responders:
- Upon finding a fire, call 911 immediately and don't hand up with the emergency responder until told to do so.
- Close doors when exiting to help limit the spread of smoke and fire throughout the building.
- Never use elevators during an evacuation.
- Follow the escape plan and meet at a per-determined place outside of your building and away from danger. Conduct a headcount to ensure all of your staff has evacuated.