Space Heater Safety
After Space Heater Fire
With temperatures dropping as we turn the corner into November, a heated home is becoming more necessary to relieve us from the chilly temperatures in Hunt Valley & Harford County. For many homeowners, space heaters are a popular method of providing that desired warmth. While they perform a helpful function, space heaters can also become dangerous. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated in 2013 that 25,000 residential fires and 300 deaths are caused each year by space heaters. However, with a thorough understanding of space heater safety, you can utilize your space heater while keeping your home and family members safe.
Space heaters can ignite fires if they come into contact with combustible items. Therefore, space heaters should be situated at least 3 feet away from combustible items, which can include curtains, rugs, papers, furniture such as sofas or beds, and clothes. They should also be kept on flat surfaces, away from major walkways in which someone could bump into the heater, knocking it over. Before using a space heater, always check to make sure that it has not been damaged in any way. Examples of damage can include frayed cords, cracks, and loose plugs in addition to damage to the heater itself. If you find that your space heater has been damaged, do not plug it in. Finally, it is a good idea to never leave your space heater unattended while it is in use, as it could ignite a fire with no one present who could notice the smoke or smoke smell and contain the fire. This is why it is crucial to unplug and turn space heaters off before leaving the house or falling asleep.
It may also be beneficial to have smoke detectors and alarms installed on every level of your home in order to detect fires as soon as possible. If you have children or pets in your home, make sure that they don’t get too close to the heater while it is in use in order to avoid injuries. In the event that a fire ignites as a result of space heater usage, call SERVPRO for any fire damage restoration needs.
Frozen Rain stuck to a house
With colder temperatures moving in, the Hunt Valley and Harford County areas are beginning to see their first glimpses of snowfall and experience the first freezes of the season. During this time, the chance for freezing rain becomes heightened due to cold ground temperatures. Freezing rain occurs when the atmosphere is too warm to produce snow, so the precipitation falls as rain and freezes into ice upon hitting a freezing surface, such as the ground, roads, or bridges. Freezing rain can be dangerous due to its effects on roadways, sidewalks, and even power lines. For this reason, it is important to understand how to deal with freezing rain and what precautions you can take before a storm producing freezing rain.
Freezing rain is significantly more difficult to deal with than snow or other winter precipitation, as it cannot simply be shoveled. Because the rain forms ice upon hitting the ground, surfaces such as driveways, sidewalks, and roadways can become covered in a layer of ice that is not always easily visible. Icy roadways and surfaces often simply appear to be wet, which can be deceiving, as driving or walking on ice is significantly more dangerous than driving or walking on a wet surface. Another threat that freezing rain poses is the accumulation of freezing rain on power lines and branches. As the rain freezes into ice on the cold surfaces of power lines and tree branches, accumulate large amounts of ice, which weigh down upon them, eventually causing them to break. This can leave homes or businesses without power until power lines are repaired and risk damage due to heavy, falling tree branches.
With these dangers considered, it is beneficial to take precautions prior to a storm that is forecasted to produce freezing rain. Firstly, purchasing salt will be helpful so that you can salt your home or business’ sidewalks and driveways, which will begin working to melt the ice as soon as it hits the ground. Because freezing rain can cause power lines to break, your home or business could lose power for a certain amount of time. The ice produced by the freezing rain can also make it unsafe to leave your home until it has melted. In either of these cases, stocking up on essentials such as batteries, flashlights, toilet paper, bottled water, and blankets will alleviate the need to venture out of the house for those essential items while it is unsafe to go anywhere.
Owners Corner: 4th Quarter 2019
Jim and Trish Wall at the start of it all.
Owner’s Corner: 4th Quarter 2019
Wowza. Has it been a year! Last quarter’s “Owner’s Corner” focused on the big, surprise announcement that occurred earlier this year.
Just as a quick recap, Blackstone entered into a recapitalization and long term partnership deal with SERVPRO Industries in March 2019. Blackstone did an incredible amount of market research and determined there is huge growth potential for the SERVPRO franchise system in the restoration market. This single conclusion has been THE catalyst for innovation and change for SERVPRO franchises across the country.
So how has it affected Team Wall’s business and franchises? One word… “wholeheartedly”.
In January of this year, we had a total of 3 franchises and were a month away from opening up our very first out of state office in Harrisburg, PA. Now, here we are, midway into fourth-quarter 2019, and we have acquired a total of 11 franchises and are operating in 3 locations. This is the most in SERVPRO history and Team Wall is honored and proud to pave the way for others in our franchise community.
So let’s get down to it. Where in the world is Team Wall’s SERVPRO Disaster Recovery Team? Well, here’s the rundown:
- Hunt Valley & Harford County: Our office is located in Sparks, MD; Employs over 70 people; Services Maryland, Virginia, Southern Pennsylvania, Delaware, and travels the East Coast for Catastrophic Storm Response; We offer full service mitigation and reconstruction in this office.
- Harrisburg West: Our office is located in Camp Hill, PA; Currently employs a team of 15; Services Central PA and travels the East Coast for Catastrophic Storm Response; We offer full service mitigation and reconstruction in this office.
- Metro Pittsburgh East: Our office is located in North Versailles, PA; Currently employs a team of 30; Services Western PA, Eastern Ohio, West Virginia, and travels the East Coast for Catastrophic Storm Response; We offer full service mitigation and reconstruction in this office.
Running 3 offices and a team of 115 plus employees may seem like a daunting task, but we have searched high and low for some amazing team members to help make this adventure a successful one. Please check them out in our 4th Quarter hiring class article! These added members to our team really have made a significant impact already and have been so helpful in navigating our new business model.
Expanding geographically means nothing but good things for our customers:
- Larger Geographic Territory: Operating 3 offices spaced out throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region enables us to service customers who have multiple locations as well. We can be the go-to vendor to count on no matter where a property is located.
- Larger Team: We have 4 crews in our smallest office and 15 crews in our largest… and that number is only growing. If a large influx of work affects one office, we can share resources from our others to ensure a quality and timely job is produced. These shared resources apply to production staff, equipment, office responsibilities, training, and so much more. Sharing resources and best practices makes Team Wall a more effective and reliable team no matter what region we are serving.
- Focus: Growing from 1 to 3 offices in a 250 mile radius within a mere 10 months may seem disorienting, but we have been able to focus more than ever. Focus on our processes, on our team, on our service lines, on our training programs… bottom line… on our business in every aspect. This has made our team more reactive, more knowledgeable, and completely focused on a superior customer service experience. Jim and I are focused on working “on” our business and not “in” our business. We have seen the positive impact this has made in the short term and we’re confident this will make us the restoration vendor of choice in the long term.
Looking back through this article, we have used the words “change”, “daunting”, and “disorienting”. But, we’ve also used the words “innovation”, “impact”, and “successful”.
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
We are excited to see where this road leads us and, as always, thank you for your support and loyalty as a customer!
Jim and Trish Wall
Jaime the Employee of the Quarter: Q3 2019
This month's Hunt Valley & Harford County SERVPRO Employee of the Quarter is Jaime Orellana!
Below is our Senior Production Managers official statement regarding Jaime's hard work and dedication over the last quarter:
"Jaime Orellana exemplifies everything we look for in an employee by consistently displaying SERVPRO’s “7 Pillars of Success” in his work without fail. He produces high quality work in every job he performs and he consistently hustles to get his assignments complete. He is a team player that is willing to assist other crews by lending a helping hand even when he is not obligated to do so. His persistence to perform at his highest ability and his willingness to continue to learn is contagious while helping to motivate other employees around him. He also is accountable for every issue, decision and solution that may arise on his jobs. It’s because of his consistent hustle, quality, persistence, and his willingness to be a team player that we have chosen Jaime to be the Team Wall Hunt Valley employee of the quarter. We are excited to see where Jaime’s drive and positive attitude can take him within the company and look forward to watching his continued development."
Surviving Prolonged Power Outages
This could cause major damage to your home.
With the wind whipping, causing flash flooding and fallen trees, shattering windows, and damaging power lines in its path, we all fear the loss of electricity during a strong storm. Power can be knocked out for a few minutes or even seconds, but if enough damage is sustained, power can be lost for a longer period of time. Electricity provides us with many opportunities, from heating and cooling to preserving our refrigerated food. Without power, everyday tasks, such as communicating with others, storing food, and obtaining necessities, become more difficult. Considering the following tips in order to keep your family safe while you wait for the power to return.
Before the Losing Power
In the event of an emergency, you may need to utilize your cell phone. Without a method of charging, phone battery can deteriorate quickly, so cutting down on cell phone use can help to preserve the battery. One way to do this is to write down the numbers and addresses of important people or local hospitals ahead of time. Keep extra batteries at hand for electronic devices such as flashlights and radios. Preparing and eating food should also be an important consideration, as power outages take away our ability to cook or refrigerate food. To have food available, stock cabinets with items such as crackers or power bars that are non-perishable. Finally, have a back-up plan in mind for medications that require refrigeration in the event that your refrigerator is out of commission for an extended period of time.
During the Power Outage
Before scrambling to hook up a generator, remember that they should be as far away from your home as possible. Generators emit high carbon monoxide concentration levels, which can be deadly if the generator is placed within the home or garage. as high carbon monoxide concentration emitted from the generator can be deadly. Besides any electrical appliances being powered by the generator, all other electrical appliances should be unplugged, as they could suffer damage during power surges. Food inside of your refrigerator will spoil once the refrigerator loses its cool temperature, so it is crucial to keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed in order to preserve the food inside. Gas stoves can be used to heat food, as they can operate without power, but they should not be used to heat your home.
In the event that your home undergoes any serious damage, from flooding to ceiling leaks, call SERVPRO Hunt Valley in order to make it like it never even happened.
In The Know: Ceiling Stains
Source of ceiling stains
Water Stain on Your Ceiling? Here’s What You Should Know.
There’s nothing worse than glancing up only to spot a yellow ring or discolored blemish on your ceiling. This is a visible mark of water damage in your home, which can not be remedied with a simple coat of paint, as doing so can facilitate the growth of mold or mildew. Water stains should instead be repaired immediately in order to avoid further damage to ceilings. But before breaking out any tools, determining the cause of your stain can help in deciding the best course of action to take.
Several different scenarios can result in ceiling water stains. The first of which is clogged gutters. Full or clogged gutters are the likely culprit if you’ve experienced heavy or persistent rain. The second scenario is leaky pipes. Leaky pipes could run from a bathroom, air conditioner, refrigerator, or dishwasher if one is located in the room above the stained ceiling. Another common source is a caulking issue. If the caulking that surrounds your bathtub or shower deteriorates, water can leak down into the ceiling below. Think about any recent events that could have kickstarted the leak, such as yesterday’s heavy rainstorm or the last time someone in the house took a shower, as one of those situations could have led to your ceiling’s water stain.
Taking Action vs Calling a Professional
Verifying the source of a leak can sometimes involve drilling holes in the ceiling in order to search for the source, which may be uncomfortable for some homeowners. If the idea of removing the water stain on your own generates unease, hiring a professional may be beneficial. A professional can also get the job done in a fast, efficient, and cost-effective manner, as most homeowners are not equipped with the knowledge or skills necessary in order to repair a leak.
Promoting Fire Safety in the Workplace
Most of us are familiar with home fire safety. Habitually testing our fire alarms, replacing their batteries, and being conscious of the location of the fire extinguisher are drilled into our memory. What may not be so habitual, however, is workplace fire safety. Knowing the instigators of fires in addition to what to do and where to go in the event of a fire emergency are essential skills to have in order to best protect your office from a disastrous fire.
Before all else, taking precautions can make a world of difference in the safety of your workplace. Computers, telephones, and other electrical appliances should be inspected for damage, as faulty wiring can very easily catch fire. Immediately eliminating and replacing all damaged electrical equipment in conjunction with educating employees on how to correctly use electrical appliances can decrease the risk of a fire igniting in the first place. Smoke alarms should also be present in every workplace, as they warn employees of a fire as soon as one is detected. In order to ensure that they are always functioning properly, test the alarms, replace their batteries, and make sure that the alarms can be heard by everyone, no matter their location in the office.
Creating an emergency escape plan that can be followed by employees during a fire is extremely valuable. The plan should be explained in detail, covering which exits can be used and pointing out an exact meeting place outside of the building. With a thorough understanding of the emergency plan before disaster strikes, workers will be able to exit the office as quickly and efficiently as possible in a real emergency. Teaching employees about office fire safety can also help to prevent fires. Prior to a fire, employees should be taught to look for fire hazards while going about their daily routine, use all electrical equipment carefully, and alert others when a fire hazard is spotted. Finally, employees should also know where the fire extinguisher is located in the office in addition to understanding how to operate it.
Protecting your office from a destructive fire can be made attainable by taking safety precautions and ensuring that your employees understand the ins and outs of workplace fire safety.
Hurricane Season: Are You Prepared?
Hurricane Season: Are You Prepared?
September is on our doorstep and therefore, hurricane season is approaching quickly. Summoning strong winds, heavy downpours, and major flooding, hurricanes can wreak havoc on your home. September is also National Preparedness Month, a time when homeowners across the United States can focus on preparing their homes for hurricane season in addition to other natural disasters. Protecting your home from devastation during a hurricane begins with learning the most effective methods of keeping your home’s exterior in top condition.
Prior to hurricane season, it is a good idea to consider your home’s risk of being impacted by a storm, which depends on where you live. For example, if you live in a coastal area, your risk is elevated and you should take extra precautions. It is also important to understand what exactly your homeowner’s insurance covers. Make sure that your policy covers flood damage and rebuild costs if your home suffers devastating damage.
Before a storm, examine your roof and gutters. Missing or loose shingles are a red flag that your roof is damaged and may not be able to handle a strong storm. If your roof is already in poor condition, it’s more susceptible to damage from a hurricane. In addition to replacing shingles, it may also be helpful to seal your roof. Checking your gutters to make sure that they are clear of any debris will help assure that water will drain properly. If your gutters are clogged, water is more likely to splash up against the roof, imposing water damage on the roof.
Hurricanes can bring heavy rains and considerable flooding, so keeping as much water as possible out of your home can help to limit water damage. One effective way to prevent water from entering your home is to use sandbags, which divert flood water away from your home. Finally, check that your windows are sealed properly. Seals can break under the pressure of weather, such as intense summer heat. Without functioning seals on windows, rain water can seep into your home. Call a professional to ensure that your windows will be properly sealed before hurricane season hits.
Why Is My Air Conditioner Leaking?
Why Is My Air Conditioner Leaking?
Even though summer is winding down, hot temperatures will persist and our air conditioning units will continue to work hard throughout the coming months. With this constant use, you may find evidence of water leaking from your home’s air conditioning unit. Although a small leak may not appear to be a cause for concern, malfunctioning air conditioning units and the persistent leaking that they can cause can lead to serious damage. Such damage often includes water damage, which can range from the growth of mold or bacteria to structural damage including ceilings caving in. There are many reasons as to why air conditioning units leak, but a clogged drain line, improper installation, and frozen coils account for the majority.
When rust, debris, or dirt accumulate inside of your air conditioner’s drain line, it can clog, causing the drain pan to overflow. Overflowing of the drain pan can result in water leaking onto nearby objects, such as walls, ceilings, carpets, and floors. You may also experience leaking if your AC unit was installed improperly, leading to an insufficient fitting of the drain pipe. When its connection is not secure, the drain pipe can loosen and potentially disconnect from the unit, causing water to leak. Lastly, when AC units are working overtime during the summer, your unit’s filter can become dirty and clogged if not replaced regularly. With a clogged filter, ice can form in the evaporator coils and when that ice melts, your air conditioner can leak. In order to prevent your AC unit from leaking, it is crucial that you replace your air filter regularly.
You may be wondering: what should I do if my AC unit leaks? If you notice a leak, immediately turn off your air conditioner and call a professional. A professional can also install a switch that will automatically shut off the unit in the event of a dirty air filter or clogged condensate line, preventing leaks before they become an issue.
Home Fire Safety 101
In the event of a fire starting in your home, time is of the essence. Mere seconds can determine the severity of the damage that a fire can inflict upon your home. Therefore, preparing your home for the worst and having a fire emergency plan in place ahead of time is necessary in order to keep your home and those living in it as safe as possible during an emergency. Follow these guidelines in order to get the best understanding of each necessary element of fire protection for your home.
Make sure that smoke alarms are installed on each level of your home. It may be extra beneficial to have one smoke alarm inside of every sleeping area in addition to the one alarm per level. It is very important that smoke alarms are tested regularly and that their batteries are changed yearly to make sure that they are functioning properly. Consider installing a central carbon monoxide detector in addition to smoke alarms in order to protect your home from deadly fumes.
Be sure that there is at least one fire extinguisher in your home that is easy to access in the event of a fire. The type of fire extinguisher recommended for household use is an ABC fire extinguisher, which can put out three different classes of fires. Class A covers trash, paper, and wood fires. Class B is for various liquids and gases. Finally, Class C is for fires emanating from electrical sources. Understand how to use your fire extinguisher beforehand so that you don’t have to waste time reading the directions during an actual emergency.
Enforce Safe Practices
Teach your children the dangers of playing with fire and keep matches as well as lighters in a secure location away from them at all times. Lastly, create a fire emergency plan with your family in order to have a predetermined escape route in the event of an emergency that your entire family can remember in case you become separated.