Summer Storms Bring Dangerous Lightning
Lightning House Fire
It’s that time of year where we are starting to see damage from lightning-related fires. Lightning-related fires are more common in June through August and in the late afternoon and evening. If you know your house has just been hit directly by lightning, call the fire department. It is common for lightning to start fires in the attic and within walls of homes. These fires inside enclosed spaces may not be visible in their beginning stages.
The National Fire Protection Association “NFPA” estimates that U.S. local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 22,600 fires started by lightning per year. These fires caused an estimated average of 9 civilian deaths, 53 civilian injuries and $451 million in direct property damage per year. These estimates are based on data from the U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA’s) National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) and the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA’s) annual fire department experience survey.
Only 19% of reported lightning fires occurred in homes, but these fires caused a majority of the associated losses. Lightning is also a major factor in wild-land fires, and the average number of acres burned per fire is much higher in lightning fires than in fires caused by humans.
If you or someone you know has property damaged from fire or water, please give us a call. We are here to help! SERVPRO of Guadalupe & Gonzales Counties 830-379-7474.
What happens when water damage is ignored.
Call SERVPRO of Guadalupe & Gonzales Counties at 830-379-7474.
While it’s unlikely anyone would knowingly ignore water damage, sometimes situations are let go far longer than they should. This could be due to not recognizing the signs of water damage, or slow-forming damage that goes unnoticed.
While it’s obvious a professional should be called for flooding, other situations may be handled with less urgency. The following will remind you that’s a bad idea.
The Danger of Mold
Mold generally develops from long-term moisture and water exposure. Sometimes, homeowners may not notice the moisture build up, and won’t know there’s anything wrong until mold begins growing. Water leaking in from the roof is a common culprit. At that point, the least of a homeowner’s worries is the cost to fix the original issue causing this type of water damage. Mold can cause allergies on the more benevolent end of the spectrum, and serious health issues on the other. Needless to say, you don’t want mold growing in your home.
Surprise Water Bills and Floods
A form of water damage includes leaking or cracked pipes, which may be constantly leaking. If you notice your water bill increasing without increase in regular use, it’s worth it to have your pipes and system looked into to make sure everything’s okay. If the situation gets worse, you can suddenly be dealing with the nightmare of a water bill in the thousands of dollars. But it doesn’t end there: cracked pipes can lead to burst pipes, causing disastrous flooding.
Look for signs
Sometimes it’s easy to overlook water damage, but you should always keep an eye open for these signs:
- Disintegrating of walls, baseboards, or areas around windows.
- Unpleasant or new unidentified odors.
- Listen for any leaking or dripping water.
- If the any part of floors or walls are buckling.
- Stains on the ceiling or walls.
Need emergency water damage service?
In a water damage emergency, we’re here for you. You can give us a call any time when disaster strikes, and we’ll start restoration for you quickly to help reduce damage as much as possible.
Call SERVPRO of Guadalupe & Gonzales Counites at 830-379-7474.
Playing in Floodwater: All Fun and Games Until You're Seriously Sick or Hurt
Kids can be especially tempted to splash through the streets-turned-canals, and photos of gleeful young adults tubing in the receding waters of Hurricane Harvey show that there’s no age limit for play. Of course, sometimes contact with floodwater is unavoidable. You might need to traverse the flood to escape or even run daily errands. If you have to step into floodwaters, though, be extremely cautious and make sure you know how to recognize the symptoms of common waterborne illnesses.
Why Floodwater is Dangerous
Of course, rushing floodwater with a strong current is clearly dangerous because it can sweep you away. Many people have drowned in flooded areas, even in relatively shallow floodwaters. You should never, ever enter floodwaters under a strong current. It puts you and any rescuers at risk.
But water that’s as still as a pond is also extremely dangerous. Pathogens and bacteria carrying diseases and worse can lurk in the most harmless-looking water. As the water sweeps through it can pick up oil, harmful chemicals, and raw sewage.
A short list of the health risks associated with floodwater includes:
While many of these diseases are treatable if you get swift medical attention, they are all to be taken seriously. So many symptoms of serious diseases can be mistaken for illnesses that are “no big deal,” like colds or a mild fever. The bottom line is that if you have been exposed to floodwater and exhibit any symptoms including headache, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, urinary discomfort or have a wound or scrape that touched contaminated water, you should seek medical help right away.
Diseases aren’t the only health risk associated with floods. A wall of water can sweep dangerous debris in its path, including sharp branches and metal scraps that put you at risk for serious wounds or tetanus from cuts. In floodwaters you also increase your risk of encountering mosquitoes with West Nile, and standing in floodwater for too long can lead to developing a condition called trench foot or immersion foot, where your legs and feet develop painful blisters.
Some of the most serious dangers come from spilled chemicals and downed electrical lines. Floods are equal-opportunity destroyers: if a flood sweeps through a building where chemicals are stored, those chemicals will likely leach into the water where you’re now wading. Chemicals can cause skin burns or leech poisonous fumes into the surrounding air. The water can also damage utility poles and utility boxes, leaving power lines dangling close to water and electrical circuits exposed. Never approach power lines immersed in water, or attempt to fix a downed power line yourself.
There’s no reason to play in floodwater. The risks are too high to make your street your personal water park. Don’t do it, and don’t let your family and friends do it. For those who must brave a flood for emergency reasons, be careful and visit urgent care if you think your health’s been compromised. Even if the latest storm ruins the roads, the healthcare professionals at your GoHealth Urgent Care center can ensure that it doesn’t ruin your health.
Thunderstorm & Tornado Facts
Seguin, TX Storm Damage
A Thunderstorm is a rain shower during which you hear thunder. Since thunder comes from lightning, all thunderstorms have lightning. A thunderstorm is classified as "severe" when it contains one of or more of the following:
- Winds in excess of 58 mph
- Structural wind damage
Also, make sure you remember the difference between a Storm WATCH and Storm WARNING.
Watch vs. Warning
A severe Thunderstorm Watch means that the potential exist for the development of thunderstorms which may produce large hail or damaging winds. A watch is issued by the SPC (Storm Prediction Center).
A severe Thunderstorm Warning means that a severe thunderstorm is occurring or is imminent based on Doppler radar information or a reliable spotter report.
Tornadoes are arguable nature's most violent storms. Generated from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes generally appear as rotating, funnel-shaped clouds extending from the cloud base to the ground. With winds that can reach up to 300 miles per hour, tornadoes can cause massive destruction with seconds. Damage paths can be excess of a mile wide and fifty miles long.
- The average tornado moves southwest to northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction.
- The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 miles per hour, but may vary from stationary to 70 mils per hour.
- Tornadoes are most frequently reported east of the Rocky Mountains during spring and summer months.
- Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 pm and 9 pm.
(Tornado facts and Storm tips are provided by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
What to Expect from the Water Damage Cleanup Process
Here to Help! 830-379-7474
If you’ve recently experienced a flood or pipe burst and have water damage in your home, you’re probably wondering “what happens now?” The first, and most important, step when dealing with water or flood damage is to stop any active leaks in the home. This can be done by shutting off the home’s main water supply. If you don’t know how to shut off your home’s water supply, call a professional plumber or your local water supply company for assistance. Once any active leaks have been addressed and all water has been turned off, it’s imperative you call SERVPRO of Guadalupe & Gonzales Counties at 830-379-7474 to start the water damage cleanup process as quickly as possible to minimize damage.
How a Home is Restored After Water Damage
All water damage restoration jobs are unique, and the amount of work required for each depends on a variety of factors such as the amount of area in the home that’s been damaged and how long the water has been present. We will arrive and inspect the home, we will be able to put together a detailed project timeline specific to your job. In the meantime, we’ve listed the eight common phases that occur during the water damage restoration process and what happens in each, so you’ll know what to expect.
We have special tools and instruments we use to measure the moisture content of the home. To do this, we either poke or rest the instruments on top of surfaces like floors, baseboards and ceilings in the damaged rooms to get an accurate reading. Depending on the moisture content readings we will assess if drying equipment is needed.
PREVENTION OF FURTHER DAMAGE
The longer water damage sits untreated, the more likely it is that additional damage can occur. If it’s determined that drying equipment is needed, dehumidifiers and air movers will often be placed in the home to prevent against further damage like mold growth while we are waiting for approval from the insurance company, if one is involved. Dehumidifiers and air movers can be present for one or multiple nights depending on factors such as the length of time the water has been present and the source of the leak or water damage.
REMOVAL OF STANDING WATER
Removing any standing water from the home. We use either a truck-mount system or a portable extraction machine for sucking up all the water that’s present in the area. The amount of time this phase takes varies depending on the type of substrate that’s being dried, the size of the room and the total amount of water that’s present.
Once any standing water has been removed, it’s time to start drying out the home. We bring in different types of air movers (think of these like glorified fans) to help circulate airflow throughout the room. If you have hardwood floors, we may use floor mats which help draw the water out of the floor. If needed, we might even remove the baseboards and drill holes into the drywall to help the walls dry faster. While some of these methods may sound extreme, we are making every effort to dry the home without having to demolish and rebuild, which could add multiple weeks to the project timeline and become very costly.
Throughout the drying process, crews will stop by periodically to monitor how the drying is progressing. Specifically, they monitor the dehumidifiers’ intake and output temperatures and humidity levels to make sure the dehumidifiers aren’t putting wet air out into the room. They’ll also go back and take readings of the same surfaces they did during the inspection phase. As rooms are declared dry, crews will often move equipment around to other areas of the home that are still wet.
Once the home has been returned to its previous dry state, the water damage cleanup process is considered complete. At this point the drying equipment will be removed from the home.
REPAIR OF ADDITIONAL DAMAGE
After the water damage cleanup process is complete, if additional structural repairs are needed, a general contractor will repair any damage in the home.
Need Mold Testing?
Mold Testing - 830-379-7474
Channing Simon is licensed by the Texas Department of State Health Services as a Mold Assessment Consultant and a Mold Remediation Contractor.
His focus is determining the existence of indoor mold growth, type of mold, and the airborne mold spore concentration.
Primary types of lab samples that we recommend to test for mold:
Ambient airborne mold spore samples (air in the breathing space of a room).
- Wall cavity air samples (air inside of a ceiling or wall cavity).
- Surface (direct) samples (swab, bulk materials, tape lift).
Mold Inspection and Mold Detection Services:
Complete visual mold investigation of your home, rental property, school, or business designed to identify sources and instances of moisture intrusion and to detect mold.
- Our findings, conclusions, recommendations, and digital color photographs are assembled into a complete written report.
- If the mold inspection and mold testing of your property detects a mold problem, we can write a Mold Remediation Protocol (“scope of work”) that provides detailed instructions for a Licensed Mold Remediation Contractor to follow when doing the Mold Remediation.
- Once the mold has been completely and property remediated, we will perform a Post Mold Remediation Clearance Inspection and Testing to ensure that the job has been done properly.
Testing prices start at $350.00. Call us at 830-379-7474 for more information on pricing and to set up an appointment
May is Building Safety Month
Building Safety Month (BSM) is a public awareness campaign celebrated by jurisdictions worldwide during the month of May for the past 38 years to help individuals, families and businesses understand what it takes to create safe and sustainable structures. The campaign reinforces the need for the adoption of modern, regularly-updated building codes, a strong and efficient system of code enforcement and a well-trained, professional workforce to maintain the system.
All communities need building codes to protect their citizens from disasters like fires, weather-related events and structural collapse. Building codes are society's best way of protecting homes, offices, schools, manufacturing facilities, stores and entertainment venues. Code officials work day in and day out to keep the public safe.
The campaign is presented by the International Code Council and its 64,000 members worldwide along with a diverse partnership of professionals from the building construction, design and safety communities. Corporations, government agencies, professional associations, nonprofits and more come together to support BSM because they understand the need for safe and sustainable structures where we live, work and play. You can check it out at the link below:
No one plans on a disaster. Are you ready?
SERVPRO Emergency Ready Plan
No one can forget the devastating effects brought forth by the United States’ most damaging hurricane in history, Hurricane Katrina at $108 billon.
Just six years later in 2012, Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on New Jersey and New York, damaging an estimated $71.4 billion worth of land and property, and our latest, Hurricane Harvey at $100 billon, making it the second-costliest hurricane in United States history.
Now that we are approaching hurricane season with a future relatively unknown to building owners, it is important to revisit precautions to increase your facility’s chance of survival before, during and after the storm.
Here are some recommend steps to prepare your business:
Develop a business continuity plan
Having a business continuity plan is vital for companies to prepare for, survive and recover from a hurricane. Share your plan with employees, assign responsibilities and offer training so your workforce can collaborate in the recovery of the business. Conduct regular drills to assess and improve response. At SERVPRO we have an Emergency Ready Plan (“ERP”) that is offered at no charge for your business and it can help minimize the amount of time your business is inactive by having an immediate plan of action.
Maintain key information off site
To get your business up and operating as quickly as possible after a hurricane or other disaster, you’ll need to be able to access critical business information. In addition to backing up computer data, keep other critical information off site such as your insurance policies, banking information and phone numbers of employees, key customers, vendors and suppliers.
Create a business inventory
Include all business equipment, supplies and merchandise — and don’t forget commercial vehicles.
Review your insurance coverage
The time to review your insurance policy is before a hurricane or other disaster strikes and you have to file a claim. It is important that your business have both the right amount and type of insurance for its needs and risk profile.
Contact SERVPRO of Guadalupe & Gonzales Counties at 830-379-7474 to have us come out and discuss our Emergency Ready Plan so you will be “Ready for whatever happens”.
Fire Safety Tips for a Commercial Kitchen
Grease fire in a commercial kitchen.
A kitchen fire causes plenty of chaos in a home, but it’s one of the worst things that can happen to a restaurant. Not only are lives and property in danger, but your business is closed for an unknown length of time, putting jobs and the future of the restaurant at risk. That’s why it’s vital to take kitchen fire safety seriously. These five tips will help reduce the risk of fire in your commercial kitchen environment.
• Check your cooking equipment. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were an estimated average of 7,640 structure fires in eating and drinking establishments per year between 2006-2010, causing around $246 million in damages. Three out of five of those fires involved cooking equipment. Be sure that all equipment, from fryers to ovens, is cleaned on a daily basis. Schedule regular professional inspections to check for problems and don’t use equipment that’s no longer safe to operate.
• Clean grease frequently. It’s easy to wipe up grease on a cooktop, but don’t forget that it accumulates in hoods and grease traps. If these areas get too hot, or the buildup is too great, a fire can easily result. Regularly scheduled cleanings from the companies that installed the equipment will keep these hazards from developing.
• Be sure the sprinklers work. Automated sprinkler systems can be the difference between a small fire that keeps you down for a few days and an inferno that destroys your business. The pipes and heads on the system can become corroded over time, so it’s important to have them inspected regularly. If you do any work at your business, such as remodeling, repairs or buildouts, have the sprinkler system checked to ensure that the system integrity hasn’t been affected.
• Verify your suppression system’s UL compliance. UL 300 compliance is the safety benchmark, and has been since the early 1990s. Some restaurants still use older systems, but the newer technology boasts an impressive 95% reliability. If you don’t know how old your system is, or who manufactured or installed it, ask at your next inspection. Consider an upgrade to a UL 300 system if possible.
• Train your staff. Even with the best preventative equipment, fires can happen and it’s important that the kitchen crew has the training to know what to do in an emergency. Have meetings and drills about fire prevention, evacuation of patrons, and how to use extinguishers. Make sure new hires are brought up to speed.
Four Steps to Removing Mold Growth after a Flood
This mold was caused by a small water leak that went undetected and caused mold to form under the carpet.
Step One – Remove Affected Materials
Aside from stopping the source of the moisture, it’s important to promptly remove wet furnishings and porous materials from the flooded area to enable a thorough damage-assessment and drying and restoring contents that have not been compromised.
Some of it - such as wet/moldy carpet, drywall, upholstery and fabrics - will need to be discarded.
Vacuum using HEPA-wet-dry vacuums to remove moisture, mold and soils without spreading allergenic or unhealthy mold and dust particles around your home. According to the IICRC, "It is preferable to use a HEPA vacuum, but a simple wet/dry vacuum can work. When using a wet/dry vacuum, attach a hose to the exhaust and vent the exhaust air to the outside. This keeps dust, spores and other fine particles from being suspended in the air and settling back on clean surfaces.
In the case of minor “clean” flooding, say from a small burst indoor water pipe, homeowners can remove smaller wet items themselves, but should wear goggles, gloves, long sleeves and an N-95 respirator to avoid exposure to mold spores that may already be present in the environment.
Clean mold from smooth surfaces using a weak bleach-water solution (1/4 - 1/2 cup bleach per gallon of water). Use gloves, eye and skin protection and plenty of ventilation. If you are sensitive to mold or chemicals, have someone else do it.
If the flooding is excessive and/or “dirty” - e.g., from a rising river or sewer backup - expert help is needed to protect health and property.
Step Two – Dry It Out and Quickly
Mold spores are everywhere but need moisture to “germinate” – so drying affected areas is Step Two. Since mold can grow within 24 to 48 hours, quick action is critical.
Aside from obviously wet areas, experts using special meters can check for and locate moisture - even finding hidden wet/moldy places, such as inside wall cavities - and implement techniques to enable a thorough drying-out process. They may also use special fans or “air-scrubbing” equipment with HEPA filters. See also Step Three.
Step Three – Air It Out
The flooded, wet area will need fresh air and ventilation to dry it out but take care not to spread mold spores around your home by improper “airing”. Consult with an IICRC -certified firm to set up “containment”– a fancy word that means keeping doors closed, putting up plastic sheeting, exhausting air to the outdoors, and other measures to enable the drying and ventilation process without exposing loved ones to contaminated air from the flooded area.
Step Four – Keep it Dry to Keep It Out
The cardinal rule for preventing mold growth is – Keep it Dry. Strive to ensure your home’s insides are staying dry. It’s also a way to protect the investment of your home, since excess mold growth and moisture will damage the structure, in addition to being unhealthful.
Try to keep indoor humidity below 50% using air conditioning or a dehumidifier. Have carpets cleaned by professionals that use equipment to clean and properly dry your carpet.
Keep mold outside where it belongs.
Tip: Use a water-sensing alarm (battery-operated) in moisture-prone areas such as next to the washer, the hot water heater, in the basement and other possible wet zones, so you are alerted if excess moisture happens.
Tip: If you can’t use a HEPA vacuum to clean, damp-wipe surfaces to remove mold. Put moldy items in plastic (bags or sheets) before you take them out.