Recent Posts

Tips for Kitchen Fires

9/24/2018 (Permalink)

Did you know...

A majority of fires that take place in homes begin in the kitchen.

The holiday season is approaching, which means that many of us will be spending a lot more time in the kitchen. This also means that, with every pumpkin pie and each batch of Christmas cookies you make, there is a greater risk of a fire emergency. 

Aside from calling 9-1-1, which should be one of your first moves, here are some quick tips for dealing with a fire emergency in your kitchen.

  1. Always watch your cooking; don't leave anything unattended
  2. Set a timer so that you don't accidentally burn something or forget that an appliance is being used
  3. If something on the stove catches on fire and it is small, cover it with a lid and turn off the burner
  4. Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen near your cooking area where it is easily accessible
  5. Add baking soda to a grease fire, not water
  6. Clean your appliances regularly so that grease does not accumulate and start a fire
  7. Clean and dust around and behind appliances, as dust accumulation can cause fires if it is close to electrical wiring
  8. Keep flammable objects away from cooking appliances, especially those things like tea towels and potholders 
  9. Install a smoke alarm in your kitchen
  10. Test your smoke alarms and make sure they will work when you most need them!

Keep these quick tips in mind, and prevent a major fire damage emergency from taking place in your home this season!

Prevent Electrical Fires

9/24/2018 (Permalink)

Electrical fires are the cause of many house fires, and can be some of the most difficult to put out due to the difficulty of identifying the source. Proper care of electrical outlets and appliances will help to prevent electrical fires.  It is very important to follow manufacturer guidelines when using electrical appliance and systems, such as the wattage guidelines given when changing lightbulbs.  Be sure that you do not plug in too many electrical units into one outlet, as this could burn out the outlet and cause a fire.  Be sure that you have your wiring checked regularly by an electrician. Faulty wiring is a leading cause of electrical fires and is a common problem in many homes.  If you hear a sparking sound near a particular electrical outlet or appliance, or see smoke or smell burning after plugging a unit in, immediately unplug the object and call an electrician to check your wiring.

                Finally, if an electrical fire does occur, do NOT attempt to put the blaze out with water.  This will only make the fire worse and could shock or electrocute you.  If safe to do so, attempt to unplug the source.  Put the fire out using baking soda or a blanket to smother the flames.  If the fire is larger, a class C fire extinguisher can be used.  If the fire continues to grow, leave immediately! Do not be tempted to put out a growing fire by yourself.  Allow the firefighters to do so.

Mold and Your Business

9/24/2018 (Permalink)

In the business world, time is money, as the saying goes, and you should spend your time growing your business....not repairing water damage or removing mold from your property. Protect your business with mold prevention.


What Causes Mold?


The short answer is simply water. Did you know mold exists nearly everywhere water exists? Mold is a natural occurrence, and any type of moisture can lead to mold growth in a short period of time. Water damage is worrisome because it can unbalance natural mold levels. Your commercial building could experience water damage from various sources:

• Natural disasters
• Heavy rainfall
• Broken pipes
• Leaky plumbing

Untreated leaks, humidity, and moisture may lead to mold, which will continue to spread until the source of the moisture is repaired. 

Disasters Happen

9/24/2018 (Permalink)

As a business owner, insurer or property manager, you are a leader in your community and have the opportunity to set an example for your employees, customers and community to follow.

This year for National Preparedness Month, join your community in preparing for emergencies and disasters of all types, and leading efforts to encourage the community as a whole to become more prepared. “Disasters happen” and not only devastate individuals and neighborhoods, but entire communities, including businesses of all sizes.

As an employer in your community, having a business continuity plan can help protect your company, its employees and its infrastructure, and maximizes your chances of recovery after an emergency or disaster. You can do this by taking three simple steps:

  • Plan to stay in business
  • Encourage your employees to become ready
  • Protect your investment

We must work together as a team to ensure that our families, businesses, places of worship and neighborhoods are ready. At Ready.gov/business, companies can find vital information on how to begin preparing their organization and addressing their unique needs during an emergency. 

Red Cross Safety Tips

9/24/2018 (Permalink)

Check out www.redcross.org for more information!

TORNADOES Tornadoes can strike without warning and destroy a community in seconds. Before a tornado warning is issued for your area, here are some things you should do:

1. Know your community’s warning system.

2. Pick a place where family members can gather if a tornado is headed your way. It could be your basement or, if there is no basement, a center hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place uncluttered.

3. If you are in a high-rise building and don’t have enough time to go to the lowest floor, pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.

4. Remove diseased and damaged limbs from trees.

5. Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.

 

THUNDERSTORM SAFETY STEPS Thunderstorms injure an average of 300 people every year, and cause about 80 fatalities. Here are the top thunderstorm safety steps you should follow:

1. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately.

2. As the storm approaches, take shelter in a building.

3. If you are driving, pull off the roadway and park. Stay in the car with the windows closed and turn on the emergency flashers. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside of the vehicle.

4. If you are inside, unplug appliances and avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances. Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any other purpose.

5. If you are caught outside and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground, water, tall, isolated trees and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are not safe.

 

WHEN WATER DAMAGE STRIKES

9/24/2018 (Permalink)

The first 24 hours following a water loss are the most important in preventing secondary or permanent damage. Within four hours of loss notification, a SERVPRO® Woodbridge/Lorton Professional will be on-site to help ensure a water damage is handled by completing the following steps.

INSPECTION

SERVPRO® Woodbridge/Lorton Professionals will inspect affected areas to determine the extent of water damage and will review the inspection with you to answer any questions before beginning any work.

EMERGENCY SERVICES

SERVPRO® Woodbridge/Lorton Professionals will take steps to help protect your home or business, as well as personal belongings and other contents, from further damage by extracting the excess water and preparing the area for drying. They will explain the needed emergency services to you step-by-step.

MONITORING

To help ensure your home or business and belongings are dried to appropriate industry standards, a SERVPRO® Professional will monitor the drying process. The updates will be consistently communicated to you.

RESTORATION SERVICES

SERVPRO®  Professionals will repair structural materials, reinstall carpets, and clean affected areas of your property and belongings. A final walkthrough of the jobsite will be conducted with you to help ensure the property was returned to preloss condition.

EMERGENCY WATER DAMAGE TIPS

  • Shut off the water source if possible or contact a qualified party to stop the water source.
  • Turn off circuit breakers for wet areas of the building when access to the power distribution panel is safe from electrical shock.
  • Remove as much excess water as possible by mopping and blotting.
  • Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting.
  • Move any paintings, art objects, computers, documents, and other sensitive valuables to a dry place.
  • Don’t enter affected areas if electrical outlets, switches, circuit breakers, or electrical equipment are exposed to water. Always avoid electrical shock hazards.
  • Don’t use your household vacuum cleaner to remove water; this could cause electrical shock or damage to the vacuum cleaner.
  • Don’t turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet or enter rooms where ceilings are sagging from retained water.

The Do's & The Don'ts of Water Damage

9/24/2018 (Permalink)

Do's & Don'ts

Do:

    • Shut off the source of water if possible, or contact a qualified plumbing technician to stop the water source.
    • Turn off circuit breakers for wet areas of the building when access to the power distribution panel is safe from electrical shock.
    • Remove as much excess water as possible by mopping and blotting.
    • Wipe excess water from wood furniture after removing lamps and tabletop items. 
    • Remove and prop up wet upholstery cushions for even drying.
    • Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpet.
    • Remove to a safe, dry place any paintings, art objects, computers, documents, and other materials that are valuable or sensitive to moisture.
    • Pin up upholstered furniture skirting to keep off damp floors.
    • Hang draperies with coated hangers to avoid contact with carpeting or floors. 
    • Hang furs and leather goods to dry separately at room temperature.

Don'ts:

    • Do not enter rooms with standing water where electrical shock hazards may exist.
    • Do not enter effected areas if electrical outlets, switches, circuit breakers, or electrical equipment are exposed to water. Always avoid electrical shock hazards.
    • Do not leave books, newspapers, magazines, or other colored items that may cause staining on wet carpet or floors.
    • Do not use your household vacuum cleaner to remove water, possibly causing electrical shock or damaging the vacuum cleaner.
    • Do not use TV's or other appliances while standing on wet carpets or floors, especially not on wet concrete floors.
    • Do not turn on ceiling fixture if ceiling is wet or enter rooms where ceilings are sagging from retaine

Flood Facts

9/4/2018 (Permalink)

Floods are one of the most common and widespread natural disasters in the United States. FEMA reports, in the last 8 years, all 50 states have experienced floods or flash floods. As most of us have recently experienced, nearly 20% of all flood insurance claims come from moderate-to-low risk areas. 

Here are a few Flood Facts provided by FEMA:

  • Flash floods can bring walls of water from 10 to 20 feet high.
  • Flooding can be caused by spring thawing (snow and frozen grounds melting in the spring), heavy rains, snow melt runoffs, flash floods, and mudflows.
  • Floods are the most widespread natural disaster aside from wildfires. 
  • A 2,000 square foot home undergoing 12 feet of water damage could cost more than $50,000 to repair.

Here are a few supplies you need to prepare for a flood:

  • Stock up on First Aid items
  • Non-perishable foods
  • Three gallons of water per person for 3 days
  • Battery operated radio for weather reports
  • Extra batteries
  • Personal hygiene necessities

Mold in Heating Ducts

9/4/2018 (Permalink)

Mold In Heating Ducts

Mold in heating ducts is a serious problem. Of course, household mold is never a good thing, no matter where in the home it's found. Exposure to mold has been linked to health effects and it can literally eat away at some building materials, including wood. There are a few reasons mold in heating, ventilation and air conditioning ducts is particularly problematic, though. We'll tell you why it's such a bad thing and what to do if you think you may have mold in your heating ducts.

You Can't See It

Mold can grow unseen in heating ducts for a long time before you ever realize it's there. Even if you suspect you have mold in your home and look for it, you might miss mold in your heating ducts. It can be hard to see even if you try to look in your heating ducts, since only a small portion of the duct work in your home can be seen without special equipment. Even if you can't see it, though, mold in your heating ducts can grow and spread and make you sick.

It Can Easily Spread Throughout The House

Most strains of mold grow and spread easily. The duct work that runs through your house provides a pathway for mold to move easily from room to room, throughout the whole house. Turning on the heat helps mold move through the duct work even faster, as the forced air carries the mold spores effortlessly along. Even worse, when the heat is turned on, the air blowing through the vents carries mold spores into every room. In no time at all, you could have mold throughout the entire house.

Mold In Heating Ducts Is Difficult To Remove

It's one thing to clean mold off shower stalls or to remove moldy carpet from a room. It is another thing to remove mold in heating ducts. While mold can be removed from nonporous surfaces like metal or fiberglass heating ducts, it's difficult to reach the ducts in order to clean them.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends calling in a professional if you need to have mold removed from your heating ducts and we definitely agree. Special equipment is needed for the job, including manual or mechanical brushes, blowguns or air skippers that drive mold particles and other debris toward a collection device, a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter to remove potentially harmful mold and other contaminants from the heating ducts, and negative air pressure devices that create negative pressure within the duct work so that mold spores are unable to drift into other areas during the mold removal process. The job must also be done carefully in order to avoid inadvertently damaging the duct work in the process.

Look for a professional that is certified by, or at least adheres to the standards established by, the National Air Duct Cleaners Association. If you have fiberglass ducts or fiberglass liners in your ducts, look for a professional that also is familiar with and follows the cleaning procedures established by the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association. Many techniques commonly used to clean heating ducts can damage fiberglass, so it is important to choose a professional with the skills and experience needed to properly clean fiberglass ducts.

Until you can get a professional to look at your heating ducts, don't turn on the heat! 

Making Sure Mold In Heating Ducts Has Been Removed Completely

The Environmental Protection Agency suggests having your home tested for mold after mold remediation has been completed and we think that is especially important after having mold removed from your heating ducts. You want to make sure no mold remains in the duct work because if even a little bit of mold remains, it can grow and spread throughout the home again. Make sure you find a professional mold tester that adheres to the standards established by professional organizations like the American Industrial Hygiene Association or the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. 

Note that you want to hire a professional mold tester who is not affiliated in any way with any company or professional performing mold remediation in your home or cleaning the heating ducts in your home. You want someone completely independent and objective.

Inspecting For Mold

Having your heating ducts cleaned may not be enough to ensure your home is free of potentially hazardous mold. Since mold spreads easily, especially through heating ducts, we recommend checking the rest of your home for mold. A professional mold tester can test the rest of your home or you can schedule a free inspection by a mold removal specialist. If any additional mold is found, the mold removal professional will provide a written estimate for the work and answer any questions you may have.

Protect Your Business

9/4/2018 (Permalink)

When natural disasters happen suddenly without warning, it can be tough as a business owner to know what steps to take. Today we’re providing you with a couple of tips to ensure that you’re not left unprepared if your business is victim of a disaster.

First – protect your workers! 

Talk with each employee to ensure they know just what to do if a disaster hits during work hours. Plan evacuation routes, emergency shelter areas, and have regular drills to practice your safety plans.

Secondly – secure your assets!

Protect your facilities, equipment, and more by contacting us to see what we can do for you in case of disaster. Back up data and software regularly, and maintain an up-to-date inventory of all equipment.

Third – remember us!

Keep SERVPRO of Washington DC contact information handy so you can get back to work as soon as possible following the disaster. SERVPRO of Washington DC is ready to respond immediately and work quickly to clean or restore your business. We understand that your property’s appearance is important and that every hour spent restoring is an hour of lost productivity. When you need a restoration or cleaning professional, SERVPRO of Washington DC has the training and expertise to help make it “Like it never even happened.”

Whether it be small offices or large restaurants, we can help with it all. We’re available 24/7 to get your business back up and running.