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Taking Water Damage Into Consideration | SERVPRO® of Central Union County & SERVPRO® of Western Essex County

11/25/2019 (Permalink)

man inspecting water controls Water damage can be a nightmare to deal with but fortunately, you will always have us.

Water. Let’s face it—we need it to live—everything needs it! But what we don’t need is for it to be causing damage to our property and our homes.

When it comes to damage caused by water, there are many reasons it happens. How many of those reasons are you aware of?

For the period covering 2009 to 2015, The Travelers Companies Inc. discovered the most prevalent reasons for a filed homeowners insurance claim were:

  • Wind damage
  • Water damage from sources other than weather
  • Hail
  • Weather-related water damage
  • Burglary

Water damage is so common that it appears on this list twice, in two different categories. To make it simple, remember that it can be classified as non-weather-related and weather-related.

Water damage that is not caused by weather occurs most often in the home and is the result of plumbing and appliance malfunction issues. Water damage caused by weather can cause just as big of headache but does not occur as often. Weather-related water damage is caused by events such as rain, snow or melting ice.

The top five reasons for water damage in the home are plumbing, appliance leaks, water pipe issues, older water heaters and weather.

<h4damage-prevention">Water Damage Prevention

While water damage can be pricey, it could be even more pricey if a homeowner is not covered by homeowners insurance. Check your homeowner policy for your coverages. In most cases, damages that are covered in a standard policy are:

  • Damages caused by winter weather
  • The expulsion of water, even if it is accidental
  • Damaged or broken down hot water heating system
  • Plumbing that freezes

Fortunately, there are ways to keep water damage from occurring, thereby saving yourself some headaches in the future.

Here are some ideas for preventive maintenance to help you protect your home as much as possible from the damage caused by water:

  • Hire a plumber to install back flow valves and standpipes in basement drains.
  • Raise your appliances and personal items up off the basement floor.
  • Clean all gutters and downspouts.
  • Never place grease down the kitchen drain.

When you follow these suggested tips, you just might reduce the probability for any water damage incidents in your home.

Water damage can be a nightmare to deal with but fortunately, you will always have SERVPRO® of Central Union County & SERVPRO® of Western Essex County on your side to help with the cleanup and restoration process.

How Homeowners Can Protect Their Homes Against Flood Damage | SERVPRO® of Central Union County & SERVPRO® of Western Essex County

11/25/2019 (Permalink)

water damage all over a kitchen floor Our technicians are fully trained in water remediation, and our 24/7 Emergency Line means we’ll be there for you when you call.

Did you know that out of all natural disasters, 90% involve some form of flooding? While no one wants to think about the dangers a flood could pose, it is important that homeowners understand their risks.

Though your home may not have a history of flooding in the past, it is still essential to be aware of the risks a flood could pose should it occur.

Here are some ways for flood damage to be prevented for your home:

Stay aware of the risks. Using the FEMA Flood Map Tool or contacting your local authorities in emergency management, you can understand what specific measures you should take to stay aware.

Elevate valuables. Irreplaceable paperwork and documents such as family memorabilia, tax returns and other important files would be better kept in a secondary location, such as a safety deposit box.

Turn off electricity. It may be unlikely that electrical appliances or outlets would be affected by water, but it is still dangerous to have these things be live anywhere near floodwaters. Shut off the electrical breaker to any rooms that are at-risk for a flood.

Anchor propane and fuel tanks. A dangerous spill or even a fire can result from fuel tanks tipping or propane tanks leaking. Remove fuel tanks from the property or anchor them securely.

Discuss emergency procedures. Ensure every member of the household is aware of what to do should the need to evacuate arise. Keep emergency supplies on-hand, and make sure all adults know where to shut off the home’s utilities.

Raise hazardous materials. Elevate things such as oil, paint and cleaning supplies to prevent dangerous spills into the floodwater.

Prepare appliances. In the case of a shallow flood, appliances such as washers and dryers can be elevated on bricks or stands to protect the internal workings from water damage.

A disaster, such as a flood, puts into perspective that the most important thing is keeping your family safe. By understanding precautionary measures and disaster action plans, homeowners can protect their family and their home from flood dangers.

If you’ve experienced water damage due to a flood or other causes, SERVPRO® of Central Union County & SERVPRO® of Western Essex County is here to help. Our technicians are fully trained in water remediation, and our 247 Emergency Line means we’ll be there for you when you call.

Learn More About Our “Restore First” Mentality | SERVPRO® of Central Union County & SERVPRO® of Western Essex County

11/25/2019 (Permalink)

windows boarded up after fire struck a house We are available for emergency cleanup and restoration services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

When disaster strikes, we get there fast, but that is not the only reason why we need to be first on your list of calls if the worst should occur.

What sets us apart—our team of technicians have a “restore first” mentality, complemented by specialized equipment and cleaning techniques. By making this our mission, we are able to minimize potential disruptions to your home and life and get you back into your home as quickly as feasible.

How It Works:

When a fire has damaged your property, it’s a scary time, but once you reach out to our team, we’ll take some of the weight off your shoulders.

No two fires act the same, so it’s logical that the damage they inflict would also be different. That’s why we believe in starting with a standardized process, but adding onto it and enhancing it to meet your individual needs.

1. You call us. When you reach out via our 247 Emergency Line, we will spring into action. Our first step is to ask you questions about the fire and your home’s unique space and needs. That set of questions helps inform our strategy.

2. We inspect and assess the fire damage. Our next step is to visit your home. During this visit, we will inspect and test adjoining rooms of the property to determine the extent of fire, smoke and soot damage. Based on what we see and determine, we will take immediate next steps.

3. We board up windows and tarp the roof. Because fire damage often compromises windows, walls and roofs, we will make sure that your property is secured and protected from further damage. This will involve boarding up missing windows and walls and placing a tarp over the top of damaged roofs.

4. We remove water and begin the drying out process. When we think of fire, we don’t think of water damage. But we should, because water is a necessary component of fighting fires. So our next step is to remove any standing water and start drying out objects and spaces when possible.

5. We remove smoke and soot from all surfaces. We use specialized equipment and techniques to remove smoke and soot from ceilings, walls and other surfaces in your home.

6. We clean and sanitize your home. This is another place where the “restore first” mentality comes into play. We will attempt to clean objects and surfaces whenever possible, rather than removing and replacing them. We also use industrial air scrubbers and fogging equipment to help remove odors.

7. We complete the restoration. This is our final step, bringing your property back to the condition it was in before the fire. Restoration may involve minor repairs like replacing drywall, painting and installing new carpet. It could also involve major repairs like reconstruction of damaged areas.

Remember, if you need us, we’ll be there—no matter the time or day. The team of highly trained restoration experts at SERVPRO® of Central Union County & SERVPRO® of Western Essex County is available for emergency cleanup and restoration services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Avoiding Fire Hazards While Cooking | SERVPRO® of Central Union County & SERVPRO® of Western Essex County

11/25/2019 (Permalink)

man putting out a fire with a fire extinguisher If your home has experienced damage from a cooking fire, we are here to make it “Like it never even happened.”

Even though the kitchen can be a wonderfully versatile place for family and friends to gather to enjoy a fresh-cooked meal or to spend quality time together, danger can lurk. Unfortunately, home fires can often begin in the kitchen.

Fires resulting from cooking are the No. 1 cause of home fires and injuries and, often, the leading cause of these kitchen fires is unattended cooking.

Over $130 million in homeowners insurance claims that were related to grease and other cooking fires were paid out in 2017 by State Farm Insurance. According to the insurance company, these are the worst states for kitchen fires:

  • North Carolina
  • Texas
  • Pennsylvania
  • California
  • Ohio
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • New York
  • Alabama
  • Georgia

There are other safety tips to look into, as well as the well-known tip of remaining in the kitchen while cooking. Here are some other helpful tips to observe while cooking:

1. Be careful of your clothing. If you are wearing long, flowing sleeves or loose fitting clothing, it is best to change into a short or close-fitting sleeved shirt or make sure any loose shirts are tucked in or tied back away from the stove. Loose clothing could catch fire if you aren’t careful and get too close while cooking over the stove.

2. Be aware of what you are placing on or near the stovetop. Make sure there are no kitchen towels, oven mitts, appliance cords or even curtains too close to the stovetop when cooking. Ideally, it is best to move anything flammable away from the stove.

3. Place a fire extinguisher in or close to the kitchen. It is best to have at least one fire extinguisher located in your home and, ideally, one that is near your kitchen. Make sure you know how to properly use the extinguisher, just in case it is ever needed.

4. Wait before throwing hot grease in the garbage can. Even if the grease may not be on fire, it could still be hot enough to cause something in the trash to burn. Letting the grease cool a bit and then disposing of it in an old coffee can is safest. Also, know the smoke points of the oils you cook with. Be sure to never subject a low-smoke point oil to high heat when cooking, as it could catch fire.

5. Be sure there is a fire escape plan established. Thinking about the worst that can happen is not fun, but it’s better if you are over-prepared rather than unprepared if an emergency were to occur. Go over exit routes and designated meeting points with your family, making sure that everyone knows what to do.

Fire safety in the kitchen is an absolute necessity, as it can help prevent dangerous and destructive cooking fires. If your home has experienced damage from a cooking fire, know that SERVPRO® of Central Union County & SERVPRO® of Western Essex County is here to make it “Like it never even happened.”

Tornado Safety Tips Your Family Can Use | SERVPRO® of Central Union County & SERVPRO® of Western Essex County

11/25/2019 (Permalink)

tornado going through a town behind a house If your home or business has been damaged by a tornado, know that we are ready to jump into action and get cleanup & restoration underway.

Springtime weather can be unpredictable and create the perfect conditions for a tornado. You should always be prepared for the chance of severe thunderstorms that contribute to tornadoes.

In April and May, we traditionally have the highest occurrences of tornadoes at 30% and 24% respectively, which means we are currently in the height of tornado season throughout the United States.

Included in this blog are some tips and information on tornadoes that can help keep your family prepared for the worst possible scenario.

Each year, roughly 1,200 tornadoes occur in the U.S., and they develop from thunderstorms, especially those known as “supercells.”

When changes in wind speed and direction create a horizontal spinning effect within a storm cell, a tornado forms. This is then tipped vertical by rising air moving up through the thunderclouds.

When a tornado first develops, the signature funnel cloud is transparent, but it will become visible when water droplets from the storm’s moist air condense or when dust and debris are picked up. A typical tornado can grow to be 660 feet wide and will move at 10 to 20 miles per hour, although larger and faster have been observed. Hail and intense winds of over 200 mph can accompany tornadoes.

Tornadoes usually occur during spring and summer late in the afternoon, but please remember that they can occur anytime and anywhere.

<h4you-should-do-during-a-tornado-warning">What You Should Do During a Tornado Warning

Educate yourself about the differences between tornado watches and tornado warnings. A watch is issued if conditions are favorable for tornadoes, while a warning is issued when a tornado has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar.

If you are in the path of a “warned” tornado, it is vital to take immediate action and find a safe shelter.

Shelter options include:

  • Underground options like a basement or storm shelter.
  • The lowest part of your home, in an area that is away from outside walls, doors and windows. Interior closets and bathrooms can be ideal options.
  • If you are outside, try to get to a sturdy building. Mobile homes and trailers are not a safe option.
  • If on the road and no building access is available, do not get under an overpass or bridge. Instead, find a low, flat location and use your arms to protect your head and neck.

Make sure that you have flashlights, a battery-powered weather radio and extra batteries readily available in your selected tornado shelter at home. Also, when you are taking shelter in your home, you can provide additional cover by using furniture items like couch cushions, mattresses or blankets to help in keeping your head and neck covered.

When caught out on the road during a tornado, DO NOT try to outrun it!

Tornadoes can wreak absolute havoc on the areas where they touch down. While meteorologists and weather services can provide some advanced warning to potential threats, tornadoes can still occur with little to no warning at all.

If your home or business has been damaged by a tornado, know that SERVPRO® of Central Union County & SERVPRO® of Western Essex County is ready and waiting to jump into action and get cleanup and restoration of your property underway.

What Could Cause Fires in Your Business | SERVPRO® of Central Union County & SERVPRO® of Western Essex County

11/25/2019 (Permalink)

two men putting out a fire at their place of business If a fire has damaged your business,we are available to help make it like it never even happened.

Business owners have many responsibilities, with one of them being safety factors to take into consideration regarding risks to your business, staff and visitors. One of those risks that needs some extra consideration is planning for and working toward preventing fires.

According to a report published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) the leading causes of structure fires in office properties from 2007–2011 were (in order):

  1. Cooking equipment, 29% of fires
  2. Electrical distribution and lighting equipment, 12% of fires
  3. Heating equipment, 11% of fires
  4. Intentional, 10% of fires
  5. Smoking materials, 9% of fires
  6. Exposure, 4% of fires
  7. Electronic, office or entertainment equipment, 3% of fires

Of those causes, intentional, exposure, and electrical distribution and lighting equipment accounted for the most property damage with 20%, 18% and 15% respectively.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in 2007, fires and explosions accounted for 3% of all workplace fatalities.

In more recent studies, the NFPA estimates that from 2007–2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 3,340 fires at office properties per year. Those fires were responsible for an annual average of four deaths, 44 injuries and $112 million in direct property damage.

<h4your-business">Protect Your Business

By focusing on fire risk assessment, fire prevention and staff education, you can take steps to protect your business from a fire risk and help reduce the chance of a fire breaking out.

First, you must assess the fire hazard risk. Fire marshals are often offered in some areas by the local government. During a visit, the fire marshal can offer advice and help identify your business’ risks, providing guidance on your fire prevention plan.

You’ll want to make sure you have chosen the right fire protection equipment. This should include an automatic sprinkler system, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers on each floor.

Finally, and more importantly, consider your employees and visitors. By creating a fire prevention and evacuation plan and reviewing it with your staff, you’ll be making sure everyone knows what to do in the case of a fire. Conduct regular fire drills at least annually to keep the fire safety protocol fresh, and take time to review evacuation plans and routes and also the location of first-aid kits.

Despite best efforts with fire prevention and safety tips, the worst could always happen at your business. If a fire has damaged your business, SERVPRO® of Central Union County  & SERVPRO® of Western Essex County is available to help make it like it never even happened.

Does Your Business Have a Natural Disaster Plan? | SERVPRO® of Central Union County & SERVPRO® of Western Essex County

11/25/2019 (Permalink)

stick man running to an exit in an office sign When it comes to the cleanup and restoration aspects, depend on us to be there for you.

Would your business be prepared to face all that Mother Nature can throw at it through floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and earthquakes? The most important key to surviving these natural disasters is to be prepared for these situations.

Being prepared for these situations involves creating a natural disaster plan for your business. This blog will lay out some aspects to consider when designing that very important disaster plan.

Where to Start With Your Disaster Plan

There are many things you will need to consider, including your employees, your material assets and equipment, when developing a disaster plan for your business.

Some of those considerations should be:

  1. How to protect your employees
  2. How to secure your assets
  3. How to get business up and running again

Many checklists have been made available through sources like the Red Cross, FEMA and Ready.gov that can offer information that will help you identify areas that need to be included in your natural disaster preparedness plan. These sources will also help you see just how prepared you truly are.

Don’t Neglect Employee Safety

If a disaster should strike without warning, your plan must lay out clear and concise procedures and safety measures for the protection of your employees and visitors. Your evacuation routes and exits from your facility should all be properly and clearly marked, have an area designated that will serve as a shelter space, consider emergency light installation, and ask for volunteers to serve as designated “safety wardens” properly trained and ready to guide and assist with all emergency efforts.

When choosing a place for shelter, ideally this space would be a basement or storm cellar in the event of tornadoes or other high-wind situations. If there is no basement available, select a small interior room on the lowest level of the building, such as a closet or interior hallway.

How to Protect the Assets

In a brick and mortar location, you’ll still need to make careful decisions when it comes to protecting the assets inside the building. You have thousands of dollars tied up in equipment and/or merchandise that will be at risk should a natural disaster strike.

Be sure to have a complete and up-to-date inventory of all equipment and assets. Having photographs prior to a disaster whenever possible is also always helpful if insurance claims need to be made. If your assets are computer data-based and kept on a server, take the steps necessary to ensure that the backup system is making regular backups and that the storage system cannot be damaged, such as a cloud storage option.

If you own the building that you conduct your business in, get with a contractor to uncover areas that could be structurally strengthened. This contractor should be able to suggest possible safety upgrades and advise on any areas that may not make the grade in certain weather situations.

Getting Back to Business

When—and if—a natural disaster does occur, it may be entirely possible that your business will have to be closed for days or months due to the damage incurred. And every day you remain closed is another day of lost profits. It is wise to set up a disaster fund to help cover any additional costs that are not covered by your insurance.

Keep a list of contractors handy who will make themselves available for repairs, and know which cleanup and restoration service will be available to quickly respond to your emergency situation.

With SERVPRO® of Central Union County & SERVPRO® of Western Essex County, you can count on us to get to the disaster faster and make it "Like it never even happened." Our training and expertise have prepared us to help with water damage, storm damage, fire damage and mold remediation quickly and effectively.

Knowing what to do when disaster strikes your business is of the utmost importance. When it comes to the cleanup and restoration aspects, depend on SERVPRO® of Central Union County & SERVPRO® of Western Essex County to be there for you.

Understanding the Basics of Damaging Winds | SERVPRO® of Central Union County & SERVPRO® of Western Essex County

11/25/2019 (Permalink)

roof and house damaged from excessive winds If your home has been hit by damaging winds and resulting water damage, our highly trained specialists are here to help.

Damaging winds are one of the threats that comes with severe storms. These winds can catch you off guard and be problematic due to long-term structural impacts.

Why Damaging Winds Are Such a Major Concern

Tornadoes and hurricanes are not the only times damaging winds occur. Damaging winds are considered winds with wind speeds exceeding 50–60 mph and can be produced by a strong thunderstorm. Often, you will hear damaging winds referred to as “straight-line” winds to differentiate the damage from tornado damage.

The damage from straight-line winds can be especially destructive, often causing unanchored objects to become projectiles. Any windows or roof can take the brunt of this damage. If the damage is extensive, it can result in water damage to the home as outside elements come indoors through broken windows or damaged roofs.

Anyone who lives in a thunderstorm-prone area can be at risk from damaging winds, but there are some structures, such as mobile homes, especially at risk. Mobile homes, even those that are anchored, could sustain serious damage in winds gusting over 80 mph.

Ways to Prepare Your Home

There are a number of things you can do to protect your property from damaging winds, but there are two things to remember, keeping the “Two R’s” in mind: reinforce and remove.

  • Look into having your garage door reinforced by a professional.

  • Ensure that any loose objects on your property that could become wind-borne are properly stored or anchored. Remember that trash cans, grills and outdoor furniture are easily picked up by strong winds.

  • Larger, older decaying trees and branches should be professionally removed, which will ensure they cannot be blown onto your home.

Remember, high winds can occur without advanced notice. By taking some, or all, of the above actions, you can be prepared on a moment’s notice.

Also, if you are building a new home or renovating an older home, be sure windows, walls and doors are up to code for your area.

If your home has been hit by damaging winds and resulting water damage, the highly trained specialists at SERVPRO® of Central Union County & SERVPRO® of Western Essex County &  are here to help with the cleanup and restoration of your home.

Business Owners Should Practice Flood Preparedness | SERVPRO® of Central Union County

11/18/2019 (Permalink)

flooding in large room with staircase partially submerged in water Having a team on your side after a disaster can help relieve stress. SERVPRO of Central Union County is here to help.

It is not uncommon for home and business owners to underestimate their flood preparedness, especially if they are not in an area historically known for flooding. However, it was recently reported that natural disasters involve flooding in 90% of instances and affect areas that are not typically known for flooding quite often.

Planning is a smart idea for business owners not only to increase safety within the workplace, but it can also serve to allow businesses to reopen more quickly after the flood passes. By planning ahead, business owners can have the peace of mind to know that they are ready should a flood occur.

How to Practice Flood Preparedness

Some key ways business owners can practice flood preparedness are:

  • Make use of the Flood Map provided by FEMA to get an overview of flooding rates in your geographical location.
  • Copy business documents and keep them in a secure location such as a waterproof safe or safety deposit box.
  • Develop an official training guide for emergencies so employees can be educated and know what to do.
  • Designate evacuation routes and mark them clearly.
  • Consider adding flood insurance to your business policy, which does not typically include it.
  • Create a personal emergency kit for your desk and an office-wide one in case someone is stranded.
  • Find creative ways to raise electronics if necessary.
How to Prepare Documents for a Flood

As you begin the process of reopening the business after a disaster, having helpful documents will make the process much easier. Consider preparing and storing copies of the following:

  • The continuity plan for after floodwaters recede
  • Contact information for all employees, vendors, suppliers and any other parties that might need to be contacted right away
  • Your insurance policy records and agent contact information
  • Digital file backups and recovery instructions
  • Financial documentation that may come in handy

If your business has experienced a flood, we are always here to help. Call us 247 to get our team of professionals to your business quickly so you can get back on track.

Where Water Damage May Hide in a Home | SERVPRO® of Central Union County

11/18/2019 (Permalink)

water damage and flooding on kitchen tile Having a team on your side after a disaster can help relieve stress. SERVPRO of Central Union County is here to help.

Though water damage to a home is often associated with bad weather, there are many other ways water damage can sneak up on a homeowner. There are many causes of water damage, and many places for it to hide.

Because hidden water damage often takes a long time to be discovered, it can be a costly endeavor. For water damage insurance claims, the typical amount is over $6,500, and often insurance companies do not cover water damage at all. Being aware of where water damage may hide in a home is a great way to be on guard and prevent this costly disaster.

Where Water Damage May Hide in a Home
  • Beneath a window. The seal between the window and wall can often become compromised, allowing water to come between them and rot the wood over time.

  • Underneath siding. Where siding panels come together or at corners are especially vulnerable spots that water can enter.

  • Thresholds of exterior doors. Under the metal plate that serves as the door threshold, the wood can become swollen with water damage as it is gradually exposed.

  • Within painted windowsills. If there are many layers of paint on a windowsill, water can seep between them innocuously.

  • Beneath the dishwasher. The hoses of a dishwasher can get worn or leak, causing expensive damage to the subfloor underneath.

  • Under a tub. The pipes that carry water to a tub can become leaky or weak with time and can leak under the tub without notice.

  • Beneath a wobbly toilet. The seal at the base of the toilet can become weak and soak the wood underneath, which is often not noticeable until the toilet begins to wobble on the unsteady flooring.

If your home has suffered water damage (even in a hidden place like one of these), we are happy to help! Give us a call right away, and we’ll get there quickly.