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Prepare, prepare, prepare!

10/13/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Prepare, prepare, prepare! Most electrical fires are caused by faulty electrical outlets and old, outdated appliances

In just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames.

Learn About Fires

  • Fire is FAST! In less than 30 seconds a small flame can turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house or for it to be engulfed in flames.
  • Fire is HOT! Heat is more threatening than flames. Room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling this super-hot air will scorch your lungs and melt clothes to your skin.
  • Fire is DARK! Fire starts bright, but quickly produces black smoke and complete darkness.
  • Fire is DEADLY! Smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames do. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio.

Before a Fire

Create and Practice a Fire Escape Plan

In the event of a fire, remember that every second counts, so you and your family must always be prepared. Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly.

Twice each year, practice your home fire escape plan.  Some tips to consider when preparing this plan include:

  • Find two ways to get out of each room in the event the primary way is blocked by fire or smoke.
  • A secondary route might be a window onto a neighboring roof or a collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows.
  • Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly, and that security bars can be properly opened.
  • Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
  • Teach children not to hide from firefighters.

Smoke Alarms

A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire.

  • Install both ionization AND photoelectric smoke alarms, OR dual sensor smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors.
  • Test batteries monthly.
  • Replace batteries in battery-powered and hard-wired smoke alarms at least once a year (except non-replaceable 10-year lithium batteries).
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, both inside and outside of sleeping areas.
  • Replace the entire smoke alarm unit every 8-10 years or according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Never disable a smoke alarm while cooking – it can be a deadly mistake.

Smoke Alarm Safety for People with Access or Functional Needs

  • Audible alarms for visually impaired people should pause with a small window of silence between each successive cycle so that they can listen to instructions or voices of others.
  • Smoke alarms with a vibrating pad or flashing light are available for the hearing impaired. Contact your local fire department for information about obtaining a flashing or vibrating smoke alarm.
  • Smoke alarms with a strobe light outside the home to catch the attention of neighbors, and emergency call systems for summoning help, are also available.

Mold 101

10/13/2017 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation Mold 101 Molds and other fungi grow easily in damp indoor environments. People who spend time in such environments sometimes complain of respiratory effects.

Mold is a non-scientific term for many types of fungi - unwanted, unappealing patches of black, brown, yellow, pink, green, smelly, fuzzy growths. Countless species of mold are found both indoors and outdoors.

"Mold" and "fungus" have many connotations, most of them unpleasant: musty odors, damp basements, moldy carpets, water leaks, soggy drywall, athlete's foot, and poisonous mushrooms, among others. On the positive side, molds are also responsible for penicillin and blue cheese; yeasts are fungi (plural of fungus) used to make bread, beer, and wine; and some types of mushrooms are considered edible delicacies. And without fungi to break them down, the world would be buried in leaves, trees, grass, and garbage.

Although mold and its spores are literally everywhere, active mold growth requires moisture. Whether on visible surfaces or hiding behind drywall, in attics, or under carpets, indoor mold grows in the presence of excessive dampness or water. Also found in damp indoor environments are:

  • bacteria;
  • dust mites;
  • break-down products of bacteria and molds, such as proteins, cell-wall particles (glucans) and volatile organic compounds (the actual cause of the musty odor associated with mold);
  • airborne chemicals, gasses, and particulate matter caused by destruction of materials by growing molds.

Indoor mold may be unsightly and smelly, but the potential problems are more serious than that. By definition, actively-growing mold damages the material it lives on, thereby impairing structural integrity. In addition, mold is associated with some untoward health effects in humans, including allergies and infections. (Some health effects attributed to mold may in fact be caused by bacteria, dust mites, etc., found in mold-colonized environments. So-called "toxic mold" has been claimed as the cause of "toxic mold disease"; this syndrome remains undefined and "toxic mold" as a cause remains unproven. "Toxic mold" is also unproven as a cause of the various symptoms associated with "sick building syndrome".

Mold growth in homes, schools, and businesses should be eliminated for the sake of human health, structural integrity, and quality of life. Cleaning up small amounts of mold can be done by homeowners. Eliminating mold from large areas requires expertise and protection both for the removal specialists and occupants of the affected space.

How Mold Effects Human Health

10/13/2017 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation How Mold Effects Human Health Spending time in damp and moldy buildings seems to increase the risk of bronchitis and respiratory infections, but is not proven to do so.

Molds and other fungi grow easily in damp indoor environments. People who spend time in such environments sometimes complain of respiratory effects, headaches, and other physical symptoms. In addition to visible or hidden mold, damp spaces likely harbor mold break-down products, dust mites, bacteria, and chemicals, gasses, and particulate matter released from the materials on which molds are growing. Given the difficulties in testing for all of these elements, hard evidence of precise cause-and-effect can be elusive.

In an extensive 2004 report, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) did not find enough evidence to identify health effects which were definitely caused by spending time in damp indoor spaces. However, the experts found that being in damp indoor spaces seemed related to respiratory illnesses: nose and throat [upper respiratory] symptoms, cough, wheeze, and asthma symptoms. They also found limited evidence that these environments can be associated with shortness of breath, the development of asthma in people who did not previously suffer from it, and lower respiratory symptoms (coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath) in healthy children. Based on available research, IOM was not able to substantiate claims of numerous other symptoms such as skin irritations, fatigue, cancer, lung disease, or respiratory infections. There was enough evidence of health effects overall, though, that IOM identified damp indoor spaces as a public health problem that needs to be addressed.

 It can be difficult or impossible to assess all types of molds, spores, fungal fragments, chemicals from destruction of mold-colonized materials and second-hand smoke, and other airborne matter indoors at any given time. Though numerous studies associate the presence of dampness and mold with respiratory allergies and asthma, it can be equally difficult or impossible to establish the presence of these substances as the definitive cause of illness in particular patients.

What to do during a storm?

10/13/2017 (Permalink)

Storm Damage What to do during a storm? Most of the U.S. will experience thunderstorms from time to time, but the state with the highest occurrence of storms might be surprising.

Before

  • Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: Look for lightning and go indoors if you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder; stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last thunder-clap
  • Consider investing in a personal lightning detector
  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage
  • Shut all windows and secure outside doors
  • Unplug electronic equipment

During

  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords, including devices plugged in for recharging (consider unplugging valuable electronics in case of power surge)
  • Water conducts electricity, so avoid contact with plumbing
  • Stay away from windows and doors and stay off porches
  • Do not lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls
  • Avoid natural lightning rods, such as tall isolated trees, and avoid isolated small structures in open areas
  • Avoid contact with metal, including farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts and bicycles
  • If you are driving, safely exit or pull over and park; do not touch any surface that conducts electricity in or outside of the vehicle

After

  • Never drive through a flooded roadway
  • Avoid storm-damaged areas
  • Help people who may require special assistance
  • Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately
  • Watch your pets closely; keep them indoors if possible

Tornado Safety

10/13/2017 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Tornado Safety A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm.

When a severe thunderstorm is imminent or already occurring in your area, it's time to put your plan into action. Pay close attention to any storm watches or warnings that have been issued for your location.

If You're in a Building

  • Make sure you have a portable radio, preferably a NOAA Weather Radio, for weather alerts and updates.
  • Seek shelter in the lowest level of your home, such as a basement or storm cellar. If you don't have a basement, go to an inner hallway, a smaller inner room or a closet.
  • Keep away from all windows and glass doorways.
  • If you're in a building such as a church, hospital, school or office building, go to the innermost part of the building on the lowest floor. Do not use elevators because the power may fail, leaving you trapped.
  • You can cushion yourself with a mattress, but don't cover yourself with one. Cover your head and eyes with a blanket or jacket to protect against flying debris and broken glass. Don't waste time moving mattresses around.
  • Keep pets on a leash or in a crate or carrier.
  • Stay inside until you're certain the storm has passed, as multiple tornadoes can emerge from the same storm.
  • Do not leave a building to attempt to "escape" a tornado.
 

If You're Outside

  • Try to get inside a building as quickly as possible and find a small, protected space away from windows.
  • Avoid buildings with long-span roof areas such as a school gymnasium, arena or shopping mall, as these structures are usually supported only by outside walls. When hit by a tornado, buildings like these can collapse, because they cannot withstand the pressure of the storm.
  • If you cannot find a place to go inside, crouch for protection next to a strong structure or lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area. Cover your head and neck with your arms or a jacket, if you have one.

If You're in a Car

  • If you can safely drive away from the tornado, do so.
  • If there is a sturdy structure available, go inside.
  • If no building is available,  it might be better to pull over, stop the car (but leave it running so the air bags work), and crouch down below the windows.   The airbags and frame of the car will offer some amount of protection, but certainly not absolute safety.
  • A long-standing safety rule has been to get out of the car and into a ditch.   If you do that, you should get far enough away from the car that it doesn’t tumble onto you.   Being below the prevailing ground level may shield you from some of the tornado wind and flying debris, but there is still danger from those.
  • Do NOT get out of a vehicle and climb up under the embankment of a bridge or overpass.   This often increases your risk.

If You're in a Mobile Home

  • Do not remain in a mobile home during a tornado. Even mobile homes equipped with tie-down systems cannot withstand the force of a tornado's winds.
  • Heed all local watches and warnings, and leave your mobile home to seek shelter as quickly as possible before a tornado strikes, preferably in a nearby building with a basement.
  • If no shelter is immediately available, find the lowest-lying area near you and lie down in it, covering your head with your hands.

Buying a house with water damage?

10/13/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage Buying a house with water damage? As with any water loss, the first thing we will do upon arriving at your property is assess the full scope of the damage.

You found your dream home. It's in the perfect neighborhood, has the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms, an updated kitchen, spacious family room and sprawling backyard. The only negative: it's a water damaged house. Buying a House with Water Damage: Important Facts to KnowYou don't have to give up your dream home just because the house has suffered water damage or currently has water damage. You do need to determine some facts before making an offer on the property. Schedule Inspections Before BuyingBegin by scheduling a home inspection. A home inspection before you purchase any property is wise and especially important when dealing with known water damage. Only work with a certified home inspector who can provide a comprehensive water damage inspection including the extent of the mold problem. The inspector needs to be able to find any hidden damage, including structural issues, leaking windows, foundation cracks and bad pipes. You also may opt for an inspector who specializes in foundations or a roofing expert depending on where the mold issue is concentrated. Important: Request written copies of all home inspection reports. Consult a ContractorA contractor can provide an estimation on how much it will cost to repair the damage caused by water, including any repairs needed after mold removal. It's important to factor in the cost of water damage repair and mold remediation (if mold is present in the home) before placing a bid on the house. The mold experts at SERVPRO of Central Glendale can provide full mold remediation for any type of mold issues. Evaluate Repair and Remediation CostsWater damage from a leaking bathtub pipe may have effected more than what can be seen. Water can seep through the walls, soaking the back of drywall, structural supports and insulation, especially if the leak had been undetected for some time. Flood damage to a basement can create significant mold issues that need to be treated by professionals. It's essential to factor in full water damage repair and mold remediation costs before making an offer on the house. Thoroughly read all inspection reports and don't be afraid to ask questions of the inspectors, contractors and other experts. Get all the facts and then sit down with your real estate agent. It may be possible to work the repair costs into the offer or to have the seller cover the costs of repair and mold remediation. Be sure your realtor includes the water damage repair costs in writing in the bid presented to the seller. Everything in WritingNegotiations may go back and forth. However, once a final deal has been agreed upon, double-check to ensure the agreement regarding water damage costs is correct. A real estate attorney can be consulted if any of the contractual terms need clarification.

Prevent Water Damage from Toilets

10/13/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage Prevent Water Damage from Toilets If you experience backups or blockages regularly even after having the pipes cleaned, then you may have an underlying issue.

Common toilet problems and plumbing issues can lead to water damage. Plumbing problems can be prevented by regular plumbing maintenance. Taking care of a toilet repair as soon as toilet plumbing problems occur is the best way to prevent toilet-related water damage. Follow the IBHS recommendations below to avoid costly water damage repair and water damage restoration.

Toilet Maintenance

Water damage in your bathroom can drain your wallet, which is why IBHS urges property owners to complete preventive maintenance before trouble strikes. IBHS conducted a study of closed water damage insurance claims and used that information to identify the leading causes of water damage and develop solutions.

Toilet Failure

  • The study found that toilet failures cost more than $5,500 per incident after the deductible was paid.
  • One-third of all toilet failures in the study resulted from an overflowing or clogged toilet.

Ways to Reduce Damage

  • Be patient after you flush and wait for the valve to completely finish refilling the tank and bowl. If an overflow looks imminent, lift off the tank cover and lift the float to shut off water flow to the tank, and then turn off the supply valve.
  • Twice a year, inspect a toilet’s components, such as the fill, supply and flush valves and the supply line. Make sure that you can turn off the supply. If you have older screw type valves that are hard to turn or start leaking, consider replacing them with simpler ball valves that are easy to shut off quickly.

Tip: It is a good idea to look over your insurance policy and familiarize yourself with any exclusion to your water damage coverage. For instance, most policies cover sudden damage, like water damage from a really bad storm or from an overflowing washing machine. On the other hand, any water damage that happens because you didn’t maintain the property may be excluded, as well as gradual leaks that caused water damage over time.

How to prepare for a water damage consultation

10/13/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage How to prepare for a water damage consultation Sensitive moisture meters detect trapped and hidden moisture in and below the surface of building materials.

If your home has been affected by water damage, the hours following the incident are crucial. Whether due to a flood or a leaky pipe, one of the first things you should do is to call a company who specializes in water cleanup in Glendale. These professionals are equipped to assess, restore, and repair any sort of water damage that occurs in your home. Their first appointment is generally just a consultation. Before they arrive, there are a few things that you can do to prepare.

    • Have your insurance information close by. Most restoration companies can assist you in filing an insurance claim. Before they arrive, make sure that you have your homeowner’s insurance policy available. If you have time, it could be beneficial to look it over or call your carrier to find out if your policy covers the water damage.
    • Think about what you want to do. In some instances, water damage is so severe that it is impossible to repair the structure. In other cases, it’s completely possible to restore your belongings. Before your water damage consultation, think about whether or not you would rather restore your belongings or purge them. Purging them would require you to throw them out and start again.
    • Prepare yourself for the process. During water damage consultation, the professionals will take their time to look over your property and assess all of the issues. It could take quite a bit of time for everything to be detailed and examined.
  • Trust your restoration professionals. When calling a company to assess the water damage in your home, it’s important to trust them and their opinions. While you may think that certain walls are dry to the touch, there may still be risk of mold and deterioration. Experts can detect and assess these types of issues. If you aren’t willing to listen to their opinions or trust their methods, it will prolong the process and could lead to further damage. Trust those who are trying to restore your home. It’s in their best interest to get the structure of your home and your belongings back to normal as soon as possible.
  • Be prepared to vacate the premises if needed. Not all water damage warrants an evacuation. However, in the event that your water damage professionals need you to leave the home while they restore it, have a place in mind that you can stay. Whether you choose a hotel or with friends, mentally preparing to stay somewhere else can make it easier if it ends up being a reality.

The restoration process can be slow. There are deliberate procedures that must be executed to ensure that water damage doesn’t spread and that your home remains safe for you and your family. If you are dealing with water damage, be prepared for the road ahead of you. Water damage repair should only be left to the professionals, like the technicians from SERVPRO of Central Glendale. Whether you are dealing with flood water or a burst sprinkler pipe, don’t attempt to clean up the damage on your own. 

Avoid Hazards & Fires in your California Home

8/24/2017 (Permalink)

From overly hot faucets to tipped-over coffee cups, burns are a potential hazard in every home. In fact, burns (especially scalds from hot water and liquids) are some of the most common childhood accidents. Babies and young children are especially at risk — they're curious, small, and have sensitive skin that needs extra protection.

Here are some important ways to protect kids from burns — as well as electrical shocks and household fires — in your home.

In General

Make a fire escape plan with two ways out of the house, plus a designated meeting place once out of the house. Practice the fire escape plan regularly.

  • Keep an emergency ladder on upper floors of your home in the event of a fire. Keep the ladder in or near the room of an adult or older child capable of using it.
  • Make sure you have a smoke alarm on every level of your home and in each bedroom. Test smoke alarms monthly and remember to change the batteries twice a year.
  • Replace smoke alarms that are 10 years or older.
  • Install a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and know how to use it.
  • Keep matches, lighters, chemicals, and lit candles out of kids' reach.
  • Don't smoke inside, especially when you're tired, taking medication that can cause you to be drowsy, or in bed.

Electrical Equipment and Appliances

  • Put child-safety covers on all electrical outlets.
  • Get rid of equipment and appliances with old or frayed cords and extension cords that look damaged.
  • Bind excess cord from lamps or other electrical equipment with a twist-tie to prevent injury from chewing on cords. You also can purchase a holder or spool specially designed to hide extra cord.
  • Position television and stereo equipment against walls so small hands don't have access to the back surfaces or cords. It's best to secure TVs by attaching them to the wall.
  • Make sure all wires to seasonal lighting, such as holiday tree lights, are properly insulated (for example, make sure they don't have exposed or broken wiring). Bind any excess cord and unplug lights when they're not in use.
  • Check electronic toys often for signs of wear and tear; any object that sparks, feels hot, or smells unusual must be repaired or thrown away immediately. Replace batteries in electronic toys regularly and look for any signs of corrosion in the toys.
  • Clean the clothes dryer vent of lint after each use.
  • Don't run electrical wires under rugs or carpet.
  • Don't overload electrical sockets.
  • Keep any decorative items away from windows, doors, and ceilings. Make sure anything you have near the ceiling is not blocking any sprinklers you may have installed.

Living Room

  • Screen fireplaces and wood-burning stoves and always keep kids 3 feet away from them. Radiators and electric baseboard heaters also might need to be screened.
  • Teach kids never to put anything into the fireplace when it is lit. Also make sure they know the doors to the fireplace can be very hot and cause a burn.
  • Make sure to have all chimneys inspected and cleaned regularly

Wildfire Preparation

8/24/2017 (Permalink)

Southern California is infamous for its wildfire seasons. With high temperatures and winds, fires can spring up and can spread very quickly. It is important to take the time to prepare for evacuation should an emergency situation arise.

Below is a checklist that can help you with this:

1. Pack an emergency bag for you and your family (basically act like you’re going on a weekend camping trip):


    • Water and nonperishable food (3 day supply per person). If you have animals, ensure you include their food.

    • A first aid kit, including any absolutely needed medications or medical items.

    • Emergency tools including flashlights, batteries, radio, etc.

    • Sanitation and hygiene items, including any items needed for any infants such as diapers.

    • Cellphone chargers.

    • Extra clothes and footwear for each person.

    • One blanket or sleeping bag per person.

    • Some cash and emergency credit cards (if you have them).

2. Put a plan together:


    • Plan two ways out of your neighborhood in case a usual road is blocked

    • Select a meeting place for your family members in case you are evacuated, can’t get home, etc. Also select one person who is out of the area to be a central contact point in case you are not able to meet up or get a hold of one another.

    • Figure out what documents you should take with you. Make sure the documents are all in one location that is easy for you to access. You can also make copies of all of them and keep them specifically with your emergency bag.

    • Figure out any cherished (irreplaceable) items you would want to take (jewelry, artwork, etc.). Make a list ahead of time so that if you do HAVE TIME to pack, you can quickly gather up these items (NOTE: These are the LAST things you would gather up, the first being your family and pets, the second being your emergency supplies, the 3rd being your documents and this being the LAST. If there is something so important to you that you must take it with you, put it with your emergency bag).

    • Don’t let your vehicle get to empty on gas. You don’t want to have to evacuate and be out of gas, that would be bad. Try to keep at least 1/2 a tank of gas throughout the fire season.

3. Prepare your home:


    • Clear dead brush, dead or dry plants and pine needles from around your home

    • Keep your roof and rain gutters clean and clear of all pine needles, dry leaves, etc.

    • Keep trees and bushes trimmed and not hanging over your roof

    • There are many other steps you can take, including using fire resistant material for your roof and fence, but the above 4 are things you can do immediately. For longer term fire proofing of your home, here are some great tips.

If and once you’re told to evacuate, do so immediately, don’t wait. Don’t panic. Take your emergency kit, family and pets and then anything else you have time for, lock your home and go to your emergency meet up location.