What to Do If Caught in a House Fire
Raging flames rip through your home – a terrifying sight we at SERVPRO of Springfield Greene County hope you never have to experience. But the reality is that thousands of residential fires occur in the U.S. every year, over 326,000 last year alone! The causes vary from cooking accidents (#1) to heaters, cigarettes, washers and dryers, BBQ grills, candles and more. Here are tips to escape a fire if one ever occurs in your home:
- Use a fire extinguisher – but only if it’s safe. Try to extinguish only small fires in their early stages. DO NOT attempt to put out any fire if it threatens your safety. Fires can increase in size and intensity in seconds, blocking exit routes and creating a toxic atmosphere.
- Scream to alert others in the house. Don’t rely on smoke alarms alone to warn others. They can malfunction or have low batteries. Get yourself and your family members out as quickly as possible.
- Follow your fire escape plan and fire drills you’ve practiced. Take the safest escape route and stay as low as possible to avoid inhaling smoke and deadly fumes. Cover your nose with a shirt or damp towel.
- Don’t waste time picking up valuables. It usually takes less than 30 seconds for a fire to get out of control. A few seconds can be the difference between life and death. Most valuables are replaceable. You’re not.
- If smoke is coming through cracks or under a door, don’t open it. Touch the door and doorknob with the back of your hand to check if it’s hot. If so, find another way out (door or window) to avoid flames and smoke on the other side. Never sleep in a room without more than one means of escape.
- If you’re able to open a door but heat and smoke pours into the room, stay in the room and close the door. If you can open it safely, stay low and follow your escape route. Close doors behind you to prevent the fire from spreading.
- If there’s no safe exit (for example, from an upper story), stay in the room and seal the door and air vents with sheets or duct tape to prevent smoke from entering. Then call 911, open a window and yell for help. Wave a bright piece of cloth or use a light so that the firefighters notice you. Children should never hide under a bed or in a closet as that makes it harder for firefighters to find them.
- If your clothes catch fire, remember to “stop, drop, and roll” to put out the flames. Cover your face with your hands while doing so.
- Do not use elevators. If the power goes out, you could end up trapped inside the elevator, which in a fire could turn into an oven you can’t escape. Always use the stairs.
- Once you’re out, go to the assigned meeting place and stay there! Never reenter a burning building under any circumstances. Let firefighters, who have the necessary training and equipment, save others and as much of your property as possible.
If you’re having to cope with fire, smoke or water damage from a recent fire, the experienced team at SERVPRO of Springfield/Greene County is ready to respond. We’re prepared for all the challenges a fire brings, and since we’re your neighbors we can act quickly.
8 Fire Safety Tips for People with Disabilities
More than 43 million Americans have a disability, and unfortunately, they also have a greater risk of starting a fire or getting hurt in one due to:
- Decreased mobility, health, sight, and hearing that may limit a person's ability to take the quick actions necessary to escape during a fire.
- Physical limitations. Many actions individuals can take to protect themselves from the dangers of fire may require help from a caretaker, neighbor or outside source.
To overcome their unique challenges in emergency situations, disabled ones, along with their caregivers, need to create a safety plan specific to their needs. Here are eight fire safety tips for people of any disability (physical, auditory, visual, and mental):
- Install smoke alarms in every sleeping area and every level of the home. Test the alarms monthly by pressing the test button and replace batteries each year. If you can’t reach the test button, ask someone to test it for you.
- For the hearing impaired, install smoke alarms and alert devices made specifically for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. They detect the sound of smoke alarms and flash strobe lights to alert you. Those hard of hearing can also opt for smoke alarms that emit a loud, low-pitched sound alert. Additionally, use vibrating pillows and a bed shaker that wake you up when a fire alarm sounds. Also, keep a telecommunication device for the deaf (TTD) phone in your bedroom close to your bed.
- Always be vigilant when cooking. The kitchen is where most fires caused by people with disabilities start. Always supervise the oven or stove when cooking and use a timer. Have a fire extinguisher nearby and be trained on how to use it.
- Live on the ground floor. Whether you live in an apartment building or a multistory home, you should arrange to live on the first floor. By doing so, you’ll be able to escape quickly and more easily in case of a fire.
- Discuss and practice your fire safety plan with your family, friends, building managers and/or neighbors. Practice your fire escape plan with your service animal if you have one.
- Let your local fire department know about your condition and explain your needs. They can perform a home fire safety inspection and suggest escape plan ideas at your request.
- If you use a walker or wheelchair, make sure you can easily get through your doorways. If possible, design your home around your disability. Widen the doorways and install exit ramps to make an emergency escape easier.
- Always keep a cell phone on or near you to call 911 if a fire or other emergency occurs.
Your home is where you should feel safe and secure. But often, danger occurs when we forget to pay attention to the simple things that could easily prevent a disaster. These risks are much more dangerous for people with disabilities, who have special needs and unique challenges in emergency situations. However, with the right planning and preparation, you’ll help keep yourself and loved ones safe when a crisis occurs. And if you do experience fire damage, call SERVPRO of Springfield / Greene County immediately to repair your home and make it "Like it never even happened."
What to do About Warehouse Water Damages
Unchecked water can wreak havoc on any structure, it goes without saying the larger the structure the larger the problem could potentially be. In many cases water is the single largest cause of property damage for commercial structures. The staggering size of the building alone can work against you, sometimes standing water can stay hidden for much longer causing possible mold contamination and more severe damage to contents and merchandise.
As with any disaster, prevention is crucial. The best way to prevent water damages is to have a plan. SERVPRO of Springfield/Greene County can develop a SERVPRO Emergency Ready Profile (ERP) specifically for your business. We have seen proven results of this minimizing damage and business interruption. It gives our customer peace of mind of having a plan in place and of knowing what to do and what to expect. This is a no cost assessment of your facility that offers the business owner or facility manager a concise profile document that contains all the critical information needed in the event of an emergency. It takes very little time and will not take you away from any of your current projects, but will save much time if ever needed. This profile provides facility details such as shut off valve locations, priority areas and priority contact information. Having a quick reference of what to do and how to do it. We know that as many as 50% of businesses close down following a disaster. Of the businesses that survive, the overwhelming majority of them had a preparedness plan in place. Contact SERVPRO of Springfield/Greene County today at 417-865-7711 to schedule a time to develop your free SERVPRO Emergency Ready Profile.
How to Shield Your Home from Moisture and Humidity
This time of year, many in the Springfield area are affected by the high humidity – the mugginess and discomfort. But no matter what the season, protecting your home from moisture and humidity is the key to living comfortably and preventing substantial damage.
By maintaining the indoor humidity level of your home between 30 and 50 percent, you can experience significant benefits. Along with enjoying a preferred comfort level, a lower indoor humidity setting prevents excess moisture which has the destructive tendency to rot a home’s wood furniture, drywall and window frames. Other household items, like musical instruments, react adversely to dampness. Maintaining low humidity also reduces the chances of mold getting a foothold and uncontrollably spreading throughout your home. Additionally, dust mites, some allergens and pest infestations have less of a chance to thrive in a properly humidified environment.
Each home handles humidity differently. Factors that influence how a house responds to humidity include the home’s construction and design, the airtightness of the home and if the builder installed vapor barriers. The following are some ways you can help reduce moisture and high humidity levels to protect your home:
- Insulate Crawl Spaces - Crawl spaces are notorious for containing excess moisture and high humidity levels. These damp environments are a breeding ground for mold colonies. Rotted joists and damage to the home’s structure can result. But before installing insulation in crawl spaces, any standing water will need to be removed and the ground dried before laying down a vapor barrier.
- Insulate the Basement - Many basements have problems with condensation which forms when moist air hits cold pipes, walls, and exposed duct work. Adding insulation to these problem areas prevents the humid air from reacting to cooler surfaces.
- Run the Air Conditioner - Did you know that air conditioning units help to dehumidify because the refrigeration process naturally gets rid of some of the moisture in the air? That’s why you see them dripping when running. If you don’t have an AC unit, then run a fan. It won’t directly remove moisture, but a few hours a day of steady air flow will help lessen minor dampness.
- Run a Dehumidifier - Installing a dehumidifier will efficiently reduce humidity in high-moisture spaces like the basement. Mold grows in environments with humidity levels above 60 percent, so it should be set significantly lower than that. Monitor the dehumidifier; if the unit never shuts off, it is a sign of an air leak.
Possible Underlying Problems
Possible factors contributing to moisture and high humidity in your home may be:
- a leak in your plumbing system
- water entering your home due to clogged gutters
- cracked sealants around windows and drains
- landscaping or pavement sloping toward the house
So, the most important thing that needs to be done is to identify and stop the water source before water damage can spread. This may be difficult for you to do, so call in the professionals from SERVPRO of Springfield/Greene County to take care of it. Our skilled technicians have the tools needed to find water damage and its source. They’ll remove all excess moisture with advanced water extraction equipment and techniques, dry your property, and repair the source of the damage. This will give you peace of mind so that you can enjoy your home again.
12 Common Disaster Restoration Terms
Every industry seems to have their own jargon - specialized or technical language that’s only understood by members of a group or who perform a specific trade. The disaster restoration field is no different. But if you find you’re in need of the services SERVPRO of Springfield / Greene County provides, then it’s best that you understand what we’re talking about. So as a public service, the following are twelve of the most common disaster restoration terms:
- Assessment: Usually this is the first step upon arrival of a restoration team. It begins with an evaluation of a request for assistance and is followed by an estimate of the resources (equipment, labor, etc.) needed. Any safety concerns are outlined and a written scope of work is produced outlining details of the project along with an estimated time of completion.
- Air Mover: An industrial strength fan that blows air at an extreme velocity to increase the rate of moisture evaporation from wet surfaces and materials when there is water damage.
- Air Scrubber: A high-volume air mover connected to a HEPA or carbon filter that removes particulate materials, contaminants, and odors from the air. A way of cleaning the air within a building.
- Dehumidifier: Used in water damage and flood events, this machine removes excess moisture from the air, returning the property’s interior air levels back to a dry condition.
- Extraction: Refers to the first step of water damage restoration during which excess water is removed using pumping equipment. Physical extraction is the fastest way to remove water.
- Indoor Air Quality (IAQ): Refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. Understanding and controlling common pollutants indoors can help reduce your risk of indoor health concerns.
- Demolition: During this step of the restoration process all damaged materials (carpet, drywall, wood and building materials) are removed and safely discarded to ready the property for reconstruction. SERVPRO of Springfield / Greene County does its best to keep any demolition to a minimum.
- Containment Area: An isolated area of contamination within a building to prevent the spread of contaminated materials (mold, lead, asbestos). This is done by erecting a barrier of plastic sheeting or a similar material.
- Pre and Post Testing: This testing process collects air and surface samples and sends them to a lab for analysis. The lab determines types of species of molds and fungal growth. This process is also used to identify bacteria, asbestos fibers and other possible harmful contaminates.
- Biohazard: This term is used when there is the presence of biological waste at a disaster site. This waste may be trauma related, or arise from sewage backups, chemical spills, hoarding or other biohazards that present a potential health concern. Biohazards require professional handling by trained, certified experts.
- Pack-Out: During the restoration process, a pack-out refers to the moving of contents out of the damaged property and to an off-site facility for contents cleaning and storage.
- Remediation: The reversing and stopping of environmental damage usually associated with water damage, lead, mold and asbestos.
Facing a disaster can be intimidating, even when you’re familiar with the terms. And dealing with the language of insurance companies can add to the stress of the situation. At SERVPRO of Springfield / Greene County, we’re experts at guiding you through the most complicated disaster recovery projects. We speak the language of insurance adjusters and can assure that your project will meet all required steps, regulations, and guidelines.
How to Check for “Black Mold”
Mold growth in a Springfield Missouri kitchen cabinet was caused by an ongoing undetected leak.
There are many different types of mold, but none are actually called "black mold", because many molds have a black color. When people use the term, they may be referring to a type called Stachybotrys chartarum (S. chartarum), also known as Stachybotrys atra. But whichever type may be growing, it’s important to note that some people may be more sensitive to mold spores than others, and they may develop respiratory symptoms after inhaling even a small number of spores. In large quantities, mold spores can cause health effects in almost anyone.
That’s why it’s important to have SERVPRO of Springfield / Greene County professionally remove mold growth from your Southwest Missouri home or business and take steps to prevent it from growing back.
Mold requires moisture to grow, so it’s naturally found in areas that are damp and humid, such as bathrooms and basements. Plumbing leaks can also trigger mold growth and should be repaired ASAP. But, what about mold growth that you can’t see? If you’re experiencing a musty smell, it’s likely that you’ve got mold growing in a hidden spot.
The following are some of the most common areas for mold to grow undetected and should be periodically checked:
- Behind your refrigerator
- Beneath stacks of magazines, papers or cardboard
- Behind the drywall in spaces with plumbing lines
- Under sinks
- Behind wallboard near leaking windows
- In ventilation ducts
- Under carpeting that was once wet
- Backside of acoustic ceiling tiles
It can get downright humid in Greene County, which is a perfect environment for mold growth. Here are some ways to control the moisture in your home:
- Install air conditioning. These units not only cool the house, they also remove moisture from the air.
- Install dehumidifiers in areas that suffer from moisture.
- Increase air circulation by installing ceiling fans and more air vents.
- Insulate water pipes. Cold pipes can “sweat” and drip.
When it comes to mold, one of the worst things you can do is to do nothing. Mold is a living organism that grows and will continue to grow under the right conditions. It may also adversely affect your health and will damage the structure of your home or business until it’s been stopped in its tracks. By the time you notice it, it’s already been around for a while. So, whether you can see it or not, call SERVPRO of Springfield / Greene County to safely remediate any mold problems you’re facing.
Don’t Confuse Cleaning with Disinfecting
If you need help with any deep cleaning and disinfecting needs, contact us at SERVPRO of Springfield / Greene County.
Our homes are supposed to be a haven where we can relax and recuperate from the pressures of the world. Unfortunately, we wind up bringing home some of the world and its germs through dirty hands, shoes, clothing, and phones.
Even if your Southwest Missouri home looks clean, it could still be hiding contaminants that could affect your health. Dr. Michael Schmidt, professor of microbiology at the Medical University of South Carolina and chair of the American Society of Microbiology's Council on Microbial Sciences, says that the best way to protect your family is to quite simply to clean your house.
Dr. Schmidt points out that after washing our hands, the best way to protect your family is to wipe down countertops, doorknobs, light switches, and common surfaces with a microfiber cloth dampened in a solution of hot water and an all-purpose cleaner twice a day. "The slight abrasion of the microfiber cloth and the cleaning solution will lift and dilute any microbes that have settled on the surfaces," says Dr. Schmidt. "Since electronics don't hold up well to soap and water, use an alcohol wipe with at least 70% isopropyl alcohol to clean cell phones, remotes, and keyboards."
But cleaning shouldn't be confused with disinfecting. Cleaning means you're removing germs, but not killing, while disinfecting means you're actually killing them. This difference is important because you might clean surfaces well but you might not be disinfecting, leaving germs and bacteria to grow.
However, "Disinfecting cleaners can give a false sense of security if they are not used properly and are only necessary if someone in the household is ill," says Dr. Schmidt. The crucial areas to address are surfaces shared by family members and those that come in close contact with bodily fluids. If you have dirty windows, they aren't a big health concern, but a doorknob touched after a sneeze can be.
It’s important to read labels and follow the directions on products. Products labeled as disinfectants will adequately kill viruses and bacteria if used correctly. But if the label promises to just "sanitize" a surface, the fine print might say it’ll kill 99.9% of the bacteria, but not mention if it's effective against viruses or fungi. You want to look for disinfectants because they can kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi when used properly.
Before disinfecting anything in your house, decide whether you'll wear gloves and what kind. Rubber gloves are more durable and reusable, but disposable latex ones also work. Just remember to always wash your hands with soap and warm water after using any cleaning products.
If you need help with any deep cleaning and disinfecting needs, contact us at SERVPRO of Springfield / Greene County. Not only do we use the proper disinfectants, but our professionals receive the necessary training and field experience to service your home or workplace to achieve the highest standards of cleanliness and customer satisfaction.
We are Cleaning Experts
SERVPRO is Here to Help during this time of need
During this unprecedented time caused by the global pandemic of coronavirus, this is a reminder to our customers that we are specialists in cleaning services, and we adhere to the highest cleaning and sanitation standards.
We are prepared to clean and disinfect your home or business, according to protocols set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work that regular janitorial staff perform on a daily basis.
The CDC encourages cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and tables. Other spaces mentioned in the CDC’s guidance for commercial spaces include:
- Kitchen/Food Areas
- Retail Spaces
- Water Fountains
- Sales Counters
- Carpets and Rugs
- Stair Handrails
- Elevator Cars
- Playground Equipment
- Fitness Equipment
The CDC recommends usage of a labeled hospital-grade disinfectant with claims against similar pathogens to the coronavirus. Multiple products in the SERVPRO product line carry the EPA-approved emerging pathogens claims. While there is currently no product tested against this particular strain of the coronavirus, we are following all guidelines as provided by the CDC and local authorities.
Call Today for a Proactive Cleaning
If your home or business needs deep cleaning services, call the experts today – SERVPRO of Springfield/Greene County, 417-865-7711
Practice Fire Prevention in Your Business
Fire is unpredictable. It can happen anytime, anywhere, to any business. But almost a third of office fires happen between 7pm and 7am, the hours workers aren’t present. Those fires also cause about 67% of property damage because they went undetected for a longer time. Fortunately, there are preventative measures you can take to minimize the chances of a fire happening in your Southwest Missouri business or commercial building.
According to OSHA, employers are required to perform a full maintenance check on their workplace’s fire extinguishers at least once per year. “Maintenance” means a thorough examination and repair, as needed, of all your businesses portable fire extinguishers, as covered in NFPA Sec. 4.
Besides checking that your fire extinguishers are regularly inspected and maintained according to local fire codes, each month you should take these actions:
- Look for signs of damage, including dents, corrosion, and leakage.
- Check the pressure gauge to make sure that the indicator is in the operating (green) range.
- Make sure the pull-pin isn’t missing and that the pull-pin seal is unbroken.
- Verify the date of the last professional maintenance inspection.
- Date and initial the tag to log the visual inspection.
Your company should have a fire prevention plan in writing that’s kept in the workplace and is available to all employees for examination. Even if you have only a few employees, having it written down instead of communicating it verbally is better as that it can be reviewed at any time. Your plan should include:
- Pertinent information about the building’s layout
- The building’s fire protection systems and equipment
- Emergency evacuation procedures
Space heaters are notorious for starting fires, so if you can get by without them, do so. But if you must have them, follow these safety tips:
- Require employees to get approval before using a heater in their workspace.
- Instruct that space heaters and cords be placed in out-of-the-way areas.
- Stress the necessity to turn off space heaters at the end of the workday.
- Establish minimum standards for heaters, including safety features and independent testing certifications.
Keep other appliances such as coffeemakers and toasters away from paper and other flammables. You should also reduce the amount of clutter in your building. Items like boxes, piles of paper, and other flammable materials can provide fuel for a fire, especially if left near a heat source. Before plugging anything in, make sure the cord hasn’t been damaged or frayed. If it has, replace it immediately. Wires should not run under rugs or between furniture and walls; they tend to heat up, so they need to be clear of any flammable objects.
We understand how devastating and confusing a fire to your home or business can be. Don’t hesitate to contact the experts here at SERVPRO®? of Springfield Greene County to help guide you through the restoration process.
7 Reasons Not to Ignore Water Damage
If you experience water damage in Southwest Missouri don't delay, call SERVPRO of Springfield/Greene County at 417-865-7711
If you experience water damage in Southwest Missouri, it’s no big deal. Right? Afterall, it’s only water. But water is known as the universal solvent for a good reason - because it dissolves more substances than any other liquid. That includes major structural parts of your home or business. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s are seven negative impacts of leaving water damage untreated:
- Devalued Property
The signs of water damage are difficult to hide. They’ll usually reveal themselves to any appraiser even if you attempt to paint over the stains. Also, when water’s left untreated, a repellent smell can linger which will probably turn buyers away.
- Structural Damage
Structural damage occurs depending on the amount of water surrounding the affected area. Drywall begins to deteriorate and the subfloor can easily warp or even split, meaning you’ll end up replacing and restoring the affected areas. Even solid materials that foundations are made of, whether masonry, concrete or stone, can soak up small amounts of water through their cracks and pores. Unless these pockets of water are removed, they can create defects in the building foundation that eventually weaken the entire structure.
Any presence of water can cause mold to begin growing in as quickly as 48 hours. Once mold is present, it can be very difficult and expensive to treat and remove. Also, if mold is left untreated it can spread and can cause health effects.
- Electrical Damage
Once electrical systems are damaged by moisture, wiring, outlets, and electric boxes become unsafe to use until they’re professionally inspected. Electrical water damage usually occurs to kitchen appliances, washing machines, dryers, hot water tanks, furnaces, and low mounted electrical outlets.
- Health Hazards
A home or business exposed to floodwaters are susceptible to harmful bacteria and other microbes. If not treated correctly, toxins will linger on your affected furniture, carpets, and inside your HVAC system long after the water has dried. Those bacteria and microbes can cause serious respiratory issues and other health issues. (For other flood dangers, read, “A Flood of Concerns for Greene County”)
- Lost Personal Items
The same water that causes structural damage can destroy many personal items including, photographs, books, electronics, and personal documents, among other items. However, if you act quickly and call SERVPRO of Springfield / Greene County, we can help save and restore many of your personal items.
Bugs love moisture and water damage creates the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, beetles, fleas, ticks, spiders, and more. And the hatching eggs and dying bugs will attract even more insects to the area as well as spread bacteria.
As you can see, when water damage occurs, immediate action is needed as it helps to minimize the damage and cleaning and restoration costs. SERVPRO of Springfield / Greene County is strategically positioned to be faster to any size emergency. Be sure to give us a call so you never have to experience the seven dangerous impacts of water damage yourself.