Fire prevention maintenance
Why do you change the oil in your car? To prolong the life of the car, right? Maintenance around your office or home is just as important. Fire prevention is a part of that maintenance. Some of these include items that are often overlooked or placed on the back burner (pun intended). But they are key to avoiding the need for SERVPRO of West Forsyth County’s fire restoration services.
- Be sure to test smoke detectors monthly. It’s a good idea to change the batteries when we change the clocks in the fall and spring.
- Your Fire Extinguishers should be checked to ensure they are in date. The fire marshal will inspect and tell you if you have enough for your building. A company like Fire-Ade will test and certify extinguishers. Extinguishers can last anywhere from five to fifteen years. Ask your fire marshal if you have to have your extinguisher certified.
- Check the lights in Fire Exits and Exit Signs. Can customers and employees clearly see exit signs? Can they easily get to them? Have you practiced a fire drill to ensure guests and employees can easily get out of the building in the event of an emergency. Assign key personnel to ensure the safety of customers and visitors in the building in case of emergency.
- State or Local Guidelines. Here are the Forsyth County inspections page and includes common hazards and violations. Take a minute to read up on these, check to see if you are in violation or have a hazard around your home or office. Talk to your local fire marshal to learn about the guidelines.
Keeping your business, employees, and customers safe should be your top priority. Protecting your office and home is step #1 to prevent a disaster from happening but if it does, we can make it “like it never even happened.” Call us directly at 336-946-1131
Cooking and Fire Prevention Safety
The Holidays are upon us and we will be doing more cooking. And unless you live on takeout and fast food, cooking is necessary to feed your family. But not all of us were born Emeril Lagasse or Gordon Ramsay. We novice chefs need a little more help. And sometimes, accidents happen. According to the NFPA (National Fire Prevention Association) Two-thirds (67%) of home cooking fires started with the ignition of food or other cooking materials. Before you cook up a disaster, know how to put out potential fires.
How to prevent a kitchen fire
Stay nearby, this sounds unnecessary to say but unattended cooking are by far the leading cause of kitchen fires. According to the NFPA, unattended cooking is the leading cause of kitchen fires. Don’t leave your boiling spaghetti alone!
Place your products elsewhere Keep your towels, paper towels and pot holders away from open flames because they pose a fire hazard.
Have the proper tools. Besides a lid and a fire extinguisher, ensure smoke detectors are working properly test them biannually. When cooking on a stove top, always keep a lid nearby that fits the pot or pan you’re using. That way, if the food catches fire, you can put the lid on to quickly smother the flames.
Salt, a handful of salt, which cuts off the oxygen supply and smothers the fire.
Baking soda, like salt, baking soda works to put out grease fires, Sexton says. For example, if grease falls to the bottom of the oven and catches fire, covering it with baking soda should put it out.
Fire extinguisher. If you don’t have access to salt, baking soda or water, use a fire extinguisher. Keep one handy in your kitchen in case of emergencies, Reith and Sexton suggest. Know where it is and how to use it.
If your towel or pot holder catches fire, put it in the kitchen sink and douse it with water. But never use water to put out a grease fire. Pouring water onto a grease fire will make a bad situation worse. This can cause burning oil to splatter or even bigger flames to form. Burning drops of grease or oil can spread quickly out of control.
How to put out a kitchen fire. Smother the flames Fire needs oxygen to thrive. Thwart flames by cutting off their supply. Turn off the heat. Remember to turn the burner off when a fire occurs. If the fire starts in an appliance, like your oven or microwave, immediately cut the power source and close the door, Sexton says. If you catch it early enough, there won’t be enough oxygen, and the fire will die.
Evacuate. Don’t be a hero. If a fire gets out of hand, you should get out of there. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 55 percent of non-fatal home cooking fire injuries occurred when the victims tried fighting the fire themselves.
Call 911 - Emergency service providers undergo many hours of training to handle these situations, so avoid putting yourself at unnecessary risk. Let professionals who know the risks and dangers handle it. According to the city website for the FY 2017 Winston Salem has responded to 769 fires. That is actually down from 2015 when they responded to 819 fires.
Be sure to stay safe and for more information and tips on what to and not to do see our website SERVPRO of West Forsyth County. After the fire department leaves there will be damage, call SERVPRO of West Forsyth County to help make it “Like it never even happened.” It’s best to call us directly 336-946-1131
Where’s the Mold?
Moisture meter showing that the wall is saturated with moisture.
We get calls on a regular basis from customers who say “we smell mold or mildew but don’t see any mold, can you help?
We’ve learned over the years some people have a very keen sense of smell and do indeed smell mold even when they can’t see it. The challenge then becomes finding and eliminating the mold. If customers are not aware of any type of water damage event that could have led to mold growth inside their home we usually suggest they get an air quality test from a reputable Indoor Environment Professional. These tests are very objective and document both the types and quantities of mold present in the air. We then review the test results, consult with the customer and if tests say mold is present we begin the search.
Typically we would begin by scanning all areas of the foundation walls, near sinks, toilets, dishwashers, washing machines, hot water heaters, etc. with infrared cameras looking for areas that appear cold or wet. This usually helps us determine the general areas that are wet and that could be leading to mold growth. The next step is to detail check the suspect areas with moisture meters to zero in on the wettest spots to determine where the water is coming from that allows the mold to live.
From there we would begin removing baseboards, shoe mold and other trim work looking for mold growth. If we still do not find the mold we can use borescopes to see inside the walls or demo a small area of the wall then take a photo inside the wall. Once the mold is found containment is set up to isolate the mold affected areas and mold mitigation begins per IICRC s520. (A standard to which we can show progress)
Mold requires water and an organic material to live and grow, without water it cannot live. So if we detect water leaks early we can minimize the chances for mold growth in our homes or properties. We recommend the use of Water Leak Alarms to help detect and alert us to small leaks before they become a major water or mold damage issue. The alarms are small, battery powered, cost less than $12 each in most areas and will emit a shrill alarm when contacted by even a small amount of water. We suggest putting them in the Laundry room near the washer, Near the Water Heater, under the Dishwasher, under all sinks and behind the Fridge if you have a water dispenser or ice maker. These alarms won’t prevent a water leak but they will alert you much sooner of a water issue than the smell of mold or mildew.
If you suspect mold or see it call us directly at 336-946-1131
Water you can't see.
Water, when controlled is a life sustaining resource. So why is that we should get water up and dry structure so quickly? We mopped up or squeegeed the floor? We got all the water up right? Are you sure? In the picture attached it doesn’t look wet but the meter tells a different story. The tools we use can show us the water you can’t see. When water is not extracted thoroughly it can be an extremely damaging element. Since water flows on the path of least resistance it can seep into cracks and crevices you don’t even know you have. The insulation inside walls can act as a sponge and wick the water up the wall causing secondary damage to your home or business. If left unattended the water can with in as little as 72 hrs start to form mold causing the cleanup effort costs to rise even more.
When we are called in after a leak it is easier for us to prevent mold growth and save you money by extracting the water, removing saturated wet materials that are easily replaced at a low cost, such as carpet pad, sheet rock, and insulation. We will also dry the structure and prevent mold growth and wood rot. This process is called demoing. This prepares the areas damaged to be restored once drying has reached a measured and monitored goal.
Restoration of areas that would be costly to replace saves you and the insurance company money. These areas include, floor joists, wooden studs, even engineered hardwood floors when we can get to them quickly enough. Some items depending on the type of water damage are not salvageable such as soft goods like plush toys, sofa cushions and pillows. When these items have been exposed to contaminated water such as a sewer backup it’s best to discard and replace them.
Once the area has been mitigated properly then the restoration or repairs to the sheet rock, flooring and cabinets can be completed. This process can take some time but with our experts we can make the water damage to your home or business “Like it never even happened.”
It’s best to call us directly at 336-946-1131 we are available 24/7/365 for emergency services.
Halloween Fire Safety
One of the top reasons kids get hurt on Halloween is because they get hit by cars. Be sure to ensure they can see clearly and be seen clearly. If possible leave out the accessories to give the child a free hand to hold while you cross the street with them. If you’re driving on Halloween be sure to keep this in mind that kids may be crossing the street and can’t be seen as readily.
Be sure to use flame retardant materials in the costume. Some folks still light candles for their jack-o-lanterns. Loose ill-fitting costumes could be at risk for catching fire. They could also be a risk for a tripping hazard another good reason to leave the accessories out of hands to allow them to catch themselves. Instead of lighting the pumpkin try using a glow stick or battery operated LED light.
Decorations are another source of materials at risk of catching fire. Many of these are made from paper, dried corn stalks or other dried flowers. Be sure to keep them clear of flames or other heat sources such as portable heaters. Also don’t block entrance and exits with decorations that may inhibit you from exiting quickly and safely in the event of a fire. Two of every five fires reported were because decorations caught fire in the home according to the NFPA.
If you do use candles be sure to use sturdy holders that will not tip easily, and use in uncluttered stable surface. Avoid the edge of the surface to not be knocked to the floor. Never use candles in a home where oxygen is in use. Keep Candles at least 1 foot from away from object that can burn, Most importantly never leave a candle burning unattended.
SERVPRO of West Forsyth County hopes you have a safe and Happy Halloween. Should you need any of our Fire Damage related services call us directly at 336-946-1131
How do I know I need SERVPRO of West Forsyth County
SERVPRO of West Forsyth County Crew
Whether you have Fire, Water or Mold damage; frequently homeowners wonder if it necessary to call a professional mitigation company or if they can do it themselves. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind while weighing your options for restoring your home.
First thing to determine is, are you safe? Don’t enter rooms where electrical circuits, equipment, switches or outlets have been exposed to water. If you can do so safely; turn off circuit breakers to the affected areas.
Secondly; what is the source of the water? If possible without putting yourself at risk shut the water off. Keep in mind; contaminated water such as storm water or a sewer back up from the tub, toilet or sink can carry any number of contaminants. Contact a plumber to repair the leak or clog and opt for a professional to clean up and sanitize. SERVPRO of West Forsyth County is focused on root cause solutions so that you only have to deal with the damage once. Fixing it right the first time is a priority.
What if I can’t find the leak? We have the tools to find the source. Most folks don’t have a $1200 infrared camera or a $300 moisture meter just laying around in there toolshed. These tools give us the ability to see water you can’t see. Often times it’s hiding under or behind a floor, cabinet or wall some leaks go undetected for long periods. Once the source has been identified, be careful not to expose yourself to mold. A SERVPRO certified mold specialist in Winston Salem has the knowledge and tools to mitigate safely and contain it to prevent cross-contaminating other areas of your home.
What about my carpet and wood furniture? Place aluminum foil or unstained wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpet and wipe excess water from wood surfaces. This will help protect the finish on your wood furniture as well as protect your carpet from staining.
Are my valuables safe? Professionals from SERVPRO will be working to lower the humidity in the affected areas; but in the meantime removing dry valuables like computers, cameras, artwork and documents to unaffected area will help protect them. If some of these items are already wet, it is usually possible to dry and restore them. Your certified techs are trained to assist you with these issues and will be happy to help provide you with answers to your questions.
What can a professional do that I can’t? IICRC certified technicians from SERVPRO have the knowledge to test materials and the experience to ensure your home is carefully and completely returned to preloss condition. We monitor the drying process so you and your insurance company can be confident the job is done right the first time. Prompt and thorough mitigation will assure all structure is properly dried, help prevent mold growth and protect your home investment. SERVPRO’s 24/7 on call service offers fire, water and mold damage mitigation services in Winston-Salem and surrounding areas.
What is the IICRC? The IICRC is a nonprofit organization that provides certification and standard-setting for the inspection, cleaning and restoration industries. The IICRC is recognized internationally as a knowledgeable industry voice and resource.
For more information about the IICRC: IICRC Welcome Video And IICRC Org
For more information about SERVPRO of West Forsyth County: www.SERVPROwestforsythcounty.com
Or call us directly to ask about our scope service 336-946-1131 it’s best to call us directly.
Power Failure Plan = Business Success
If you experienced a power outage this week due to storms did you follow your plan? Did the plan work? Are there improvements to make in your plan? In case you missed it here are the steps to creating a plan for your business.
Before the power outage.
Have an emergency continuity plan.
- Determine the processes and equipment that would be affected by a power outage. Electrical equipment such as computers, security alarms, elevators, as well as HVAC and lighting.
- Inventory all equipment and keep it up date. What key equipment is used in your day to day operations? Prepare a list of equipment that need to be shut off during an outage to prevent damage to it when power is restored.
- Back up computer data frequently invest in redundant cloud based service that backs it up off site and protects it from hacking and virus threats.
- Make sure computers and other sensitive electronics are plugged into surge protection devices
- Test your battery backup UPS systems, emergency lighting, phone, security and fire protection systems quarterly or a week before a weather predicted event.
- Determine what the impact of the outage will be.
Have a plan for alternative power
- Use a standby generator.
- Portable generator
- Or backup UPS (uninterruptable power supply)
Have emergency lighting available
- Battery operated light sources. (flash lights or lights that turn on when power fails) Do not use candles and consider the installation of emergency lighting for the safety of your employees
Establish shelter locations in the business or on the business site
- Should you have to shelter in place ensure there is enough space for all employees and allow for any customers that are visiting your establishment at the time the emergency is declared.
- Ensure the shelter location has emergency supplies. i.e. flashlights, battery powered radio, first aid kit, blankets, water, and food.
- Educate and review often the emergency plan of action
- Ensure key personnel know the role they have responsibility for in the emergency plan. I.e. Mgrs. Should be able to account for their personnel who report to them.
- Identify employees with special needs will they need assistance evacuating. If the power is out and elevator unavailable or cannot see well in low light.
What are your customers to do?
- Determine the likelihood of customers being in your business at the time of outage.
- Ensure that your emergency plan includes customers. Since you cannot review your plan with customers regularly be sure the employees who interface with customers are aware of their responsibility in the plan. They should guide customers to safety.
During a Power Outage.
Stay informed of the conditions
- Listen to the battery powered radio for situational developments.
- Download the local news app for your phone.
- Use only approved indoor sources of power such as battery
- Never use a generator indoors or any source of power that could emit deadly exhaust into your emergency shelter
- Don’t go outside to start a generator if the weather conditions are unsafe.
- Go through your list of sensitive electronic equipment and turn it off and or unplug it to prevent damage to them.
After a Power Outage
Turn on the most essential equipment first.
- Wait 10-15 minutes to plug in other equipment this will prevent the electrical system from becoming stressed and going out again. Turning everything on at once may overload it and cause it to fail once again.
- Check your facility to ensure everyone is safe and accounted for
- Ensure all equipment is operating correctly and safely
- Review the preparedness plan to determine if any areas need to be improved and train appropriate personnel.
Should you need SERVPRO of West Forsyth County assistance after a loss event call us directly at 336-946-1131 #NatlPrep #SERVPROready
Heavy Rains Strike Again
Normal rains don’t usually create problems for us but when we get large amounts of rain in a short amount of time it can easily exceed the capacity of our gutters and drains to remove the water fast enough. When this happens water pools or collects in areas it normally wouldn’t, then the problems begin. Water can start entering a home or building in a matter of minutes, through foundation walls or windows when puddled on the ground or through ceilings when it puddles on roofs in gutters.
The attached photo shows a recent example of this near Winston-Salem, NC. Too much rain too quickly overloaded the gutter/drain system capacity and water started entering the building through the ceiling and walls. So much water entered the building so quickly that the hardwoods began to warp and buckle within hours. The hardwood flooring had to be removed to expose the saturated subfloor below to assure the structure was properly dried per IICRC standards.
There’s little to nothing we can do to control the weather however with a little planning and prevention work upfront we can minimize the effects and damages typical of heavy rains.
- Make sure all catch basin type drains on your property are clear of debris before heavy rains arrive.
- If the grade or lay of the land around your property allows water to run toward or up to the foundation walls of your property during heavy rains talk with a local contractor about changing the grade of the land or adding catch basins to divert water away from the foundation walls.
- If you have underground drainage pipes connected to gutter downspouts make sure they are not clogged and free flowing. Blocked or obstructed gutter drains normally dump water from the roof at the foundation wall directly below the downspout.
Hurricanes have a degree of uncertainty but they do come with some advanced warning most of the time. Now is the time to prepare for the heavy rains that may accompany hurricane Florence. As the hurricane turns into a low pressure, heavy rains may stress your gutters and drains. Take this time before the storm to ensure your property is prepared.
If you experience water damage call us directly at 336-946-1131
Fire Damage Do's and Don't
Although home fires spike around the holidays, a home or office fire can happen any day of the year. People eat every day and therefore cook every day. Maybe not every meal but the risk is there. What are some of the concerns after a fire damage to my home or office? The fire department has to investigate all calls they are called to. So, before the last fire fighter leaves, ask them if it is ok to call SERVPRO of West Forsyth County to come and get started on the cleanup.
After any fire damage situation, our primary focus is safety of the people who live or work there and our employees:
- Is it safe to stay in the house?
- Electrical and "slip and fall" hazards are some of the most prevalent concerns.
- Only do activities that are safe for you to perform. Did the fire go through the ceiling? Is there a danger of it collapsing?
- Wet materials can be VERY heavy. Be careful!
- Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpets.
- Keep hands clean so as not to further soil upholstery, walls and woodwork.
- Place clean towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpet traffic areas.
- If electricity is off, empty freezer and refrigerator and prop doors open.
- Clean and protect chrome and other metal surfaces with light coating of petroleum jelly or oil. This could include silverware, guns, and expensive faucet fixtures
- Wash houseplants on both sides of leaves.
- Change HVAC filter.
- Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers.
- Don't attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces or shampoo carpet or upholstery without contacting your SERVPRO of West Forsyth County professional. Smoke particles are different and may need special treatment in order to save costs.
- Don't attempt to clean any electrical appliances that may have been close to fire, heat or water without consulting an authorized repair service.
- Don't use any canned or packaged food or beverages that may have been stored near the fire, heat or water.
- Don't turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet. The wiring may be damaged.
- Don't send garments to an ordinary dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set smoke odor.
Contact SERVPRO of West Forsyth County Regarding a Fire or Smoke Damage Emergency - (336) 946-1131
SERVPRO of West Forsyth County proudly serves Winston-Salem, Clemmons, Lewisville, Pfafftown, Rural Hall, and surrounding areas. We are available 24 hours /7 days a week and are ready to restore damage to your home or commercial structure. It is always best to contact us directly.
Be ready for a storm with proper drainage systems
Water collecting on a flat roof with clogged drains
It’s been a wet August in Winston Salem by anyone’s standards. We average almost 5 inches of rain every August but lately it’s felt like we have got it all at once. One of the major things you can do to prevent water damage to your home or business is to ensure you have proper drainage. French drains will help funnel water away from the foundation. Ensuring proper maintenance on them should they become clogged or collapse is also important. Check them with impending weather to ensure they are working properly as after or worse during the storm is no time to find out your basement is now a swimming pool.
If your business has a flat roof with drains clear water you should ensure they are clear and free flowing. Just like gutters need to be cleaned, down spouts and drains that clear water in areas where it could pool are especially important. Water weighs 8 lbs. per gallon, how much weight can your flat roof hold? During a storm is no time to stress test the structural integrity of your roof.
Leaf guards may help prevent you from having to clean the gutters, but when it rains as much and as hard as it has the water may flow right over the edge and not go into the gutter. This can cause issues with water not being directed to where you want it to go which is away from the foundation or basement.
If you should get storm water damage inside your home or office call us directly at 336-946-1131