Storm and Flood Safety Tips
Storms and floods are dangerous and require numerous precautions
The fall brings with it hurricane season, and even if you don’t get hit directly, the heavy rain – and flooding – can still have a major impact on your home or business. Flooding can be extremely dangerous if you’re not prepared. Here are some safety tips to help you prepare for some of Earth’s most common natural hazards.
Wear Protective Gear
If you’re in a flooded area, make sure you’re wearing waterproof protective gear. Floodwaters can contain harmful bacteria and other organisms that your body is unable to fight off. If you have any sort of injury that floodwaters get into, you could get an infection that can quickly claim your life.
Don’t Drive or Walk Through Flood Waters
If you can avoid going anywhere during severe weather, you should. If you see water across the road, you should NOT drive through it. You have no idea how deep it is! If you try to take your car through it, you could end up with water in your engine – which will ruin the automobile. There’s also a serious danger of being swept away in swiftly moving water.
Walking carries similar dangers. The bacteria mentioned previously are a danger, as are invisible objects hitting you underwater. They can cause serious injuries and even cause you to lose your footing and potentially drown in deep enough water.
Keep An Eye Out For Falling Objects
Soft, wet ground mixed with wind is a recipe for falling objects. Keep an eye on any trees or light poles in your yard, they can blow over and potentially into your home. If you notice that an object is about to fall into your home, get out. If there’s somewhere you can go that’s less dangerous, do so. If nothing else, try to get into a room that won’t get hit.
Don’t Touch Downed Power Cables
Downed power cables are still potentially live. Do not touch any that are within reach, and report all outages and fallen lines to your local power company. These can cause nasty electric shocks and potentially burns. Water is also a conductor for electricity. If you see a power line in water, avoid that water at all costs.
Always Call Professionals
After the storm is over, make sure you call the professionals at SERVPRO of Salem/Peabody/Marblehead at 978.744.4545 to help you clean up after a flood. Our goal is to restore your home or business to its original state as quickly as possible. Above all, stay safe!
Water Damage: The First 48 Hours
The first 48 hours are crucial to minimizing damage from a water loss
If you've ever experienced flooding in your home either from a storm or from leaky pipes, then you know it doesn't take long before everything starts going awry. This is why it's vital to take care of the problem as soon as possible. Water is an unrelenting destructive force that can do a significant amount of damage in a short period.
Calling a professional water & flood damage restoration company like SERVPRO of Salem/Peabody/Marblehead should be first on your list. If you attempt a DIY project yourself, you will quickly find that it will take up to five times as long, and you're likely to be less than satisfied with the results. A professional can clean up the mess and fully restore your home in order to maintain its market value and provide stability in the house.
STRUCTURAL COMPROMISE DUE TO WATER SATURATION
If your home is suffering from standing water due to a flood, the water is already working on the wood while weakening it at every joint. When wood becomes saturated with water, it bulks up and expands beyond its capabilities. This causes stretching, cracking, and deformity. It usually happens at the bottom portion of the wood where stability is critical. The sooner you can have the water removed the less damage it causes.
HEALTH AND SANITATION ISSUES
If you find that the home is flooded on the first floor or the basement, avoid contact with the water at all costs. If you're wondering what could be in the water within the first 48 hours, then here's a short list (and a dangerous one):
- Chemicals and cleaning agents
- Dead & decaying animals
- Wiring & electrical components
- Paint & related
- Backed up sewage from the mainline
- Dirt and grime from the outside and within the carpets and flooring
- Dirty laundry
DEALING WITH HOME INSURANCE
The first 48 hours are the most critical when it comes to dealing with your insurance agent.
If you are looking for a water & flood restoration company in Salem, Peabody, Swampscott, Marblehead or Middleton MA then please give SERVPRO of Salem/Peabody/Marblehead a call at 978.744.4545
Three Facts About Water Damage
When water damage happens call SERVPRO of Salem/Peabody/Marblehead
Dealing with water damage is every homeowner's nightmare. Questions about what to do, what will be covered by insurance and what possessions to save first will start ‘flooding’ in. When a pipe bursts or a basement floods, life is on hold until your home is dried and secured – and that’s not always an easy task.
Here are three facts about water damage that will help you secure your home and respond properly to a potential disaster:
1. The Type of Water is Important
Generally speaking, there are three types of water that invade homes: rainwater, fresh water and sewage. Depending on the type of water in your home, you may need to approach any contact or cleanup efforts differently. Sewage can contain harmful bacteria and make you violently ill. Fortunately, telling the difference is often easy, as it will typically smell just as terrible as you would expect. If you think that you are dealing with sewage, a professional water damage cleanup company will have the proper tools and equipment needed to handle the problem safely.
2. The Trouble Doesn’t End When the Water is Gone
It may be tempting to let out a sigh of relief the moment the water is removed from your home, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t moisture still lurking in the shadows. When moisture is hidden in walls, crawlspaces and below floorboards, it can eventually lead to mold. Mold is toxic and causes damage to structural elements of a home, leading to serious consequences. Make sure you have a mold prevention expert inspect your property to ensure this dangerous substance isn’t invading your home.
3. Attics Are a Cause for Concern
The most common source of water damage is a leaky roof or malfunctioning gutters, which means your attic is at the highest risk for water damage. Make sure to have your attic inspected regularly by a water damage professional to make sure that a small leak isn’t turning into a serious problem.
If you suspect you may be dealing with water damage or mold, call SERVPRO of Salem/Peabody/Marblehead immediately at (978) 744-4545! All forms of water damage require immediate attention to minimize further losses. We will help you stay safe and protect your assets.
The 5 most Common Sources of Water Damage in Your Home
Look at these sources to prevent a water loss in your home
As a homeowner, you need to be aware of all the possible things to protect your home against. Storm damage, earthquake damage, wind damage – and, most frequent of all, water damage. We don’t like to think of our homes being ravaged by the elements, but it happens, and when it does, we need to be prepared. Instead of being reactive, we can try taking proactive steps to safeguard our homes and protect our belongings (plus save a bunch on costs). Below, we outline the five most common causes of water damage in your home in the hopes that this information will help you avoid damage to your home.
Your air conditioner might seem to be working just fine, but it’s important to adhere to regular service dates (at least once each year) to ensure nothing is malfunctioning behind the scenes. Your A/C removes moisture from the air, and sometimes that moisture builds up within the A/C itself. If not properly drained, that water could be slowly leaking into your home – potentially ruining the flooring and drywall and, in many cases, introducing mold.
Dishwashers are another possible culprit of water damage in your home. Your dishwasher can cause water damage if not properly sealed, meaning that the latch is broken, or if it was loaded with the wrong soap. Make sure that any leaks are immediately addressed and that your dishwasher is repaired or replaced ASAP, so you can avoid costly water damage repairs to your kitchen.
Perform regular checks on your washing machine, inspecting beneath the unit as well as behind it. Make sure all fittings are securely connected, and that the underbelly of the washing machine isn’t leaking any water beneath the unit. If you have an older washing machine that gives you frequent issues, consider replacing it altogether.
It might seem obvious, but water damage in the home is often caused by leaky pipes. Let’s pretend that you have a loose-fitting pipe under the kitchen sink or in the bathroom, and you’ve just recently noticed water pooling in that area. Don’t wait to call a plumber – a leak in one place in your home could signify leaks in other areas, too. If you notice spikes in your water bill, a leak is likely present and needs to be addressed before additional damage is caused to your landscaping, foundation, flooring, or other areas of the home.
Clogged drains aren’t just annoying, they also cause water damage (and mold growth) if left unchecked. If your toilet is clogged, it means that not only can you not use the toilet, but you will likely also experience water backing up into the shower, sinks, or bathroom floor. Sewer water is extremely dangerous because it contains raw sewage and bacteria, and must be cleaned up by a professional. If your kitchen sink drain is backing up, you can experience sink overflow and subsequent damages to your kitchen flooring and cabinetry. Make sure to seek professional help when experiencing frequent drain clogs so you don’t have to deal with water damage to your home on top of the clog itself.
So there you have it: the top five causes of interior water damage. By knowing the most common causes of home water damage, you’ll be able to take preventative steps to avoid them.
But what if it’s too late for prevention? The team at SERVPRO of Salem/Peabody/Marblehead offers service throughout the North Shore area, so you’ll always be in good hands. Call us today at 978.744.4545.
Why Fast Flood Response is So Important
Respond quickly to any water loss!
There’s a few reasons why experts recommend that you begin flood clean-up within 24 hours. The first is simply about your safety. Waterlogged homes are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, mold and pathogens. Twenty four hours after a flood, toxic mold can begin to grow that puts your health and the health of your family members at risk. The odds of bad bacterial growth surge again after the 48 hour mark.
The Risks of Mold
Exposure to mold can cause many health concerns. You may develop irritation in your throat, eyes and nose along with increased phlegm. You may find your asthma symptoms worsen. Even if you don’t have asthma, mold may make your wheeze, cough, and feel short of breath.
Once mold has developed you need the help of a certified mold inspector to ensure that the mold is removed. This can raise the costs of your clean-up. It’s better to just not let mold develop in the first place.
Other Complications from Slow Flood Clean-Up
Mold and bacteria aren’t the only problems that come with a slow response to flooding. Often they bring odor with them. The smell from flooded clothing, furniture and carpet is like the smell you get from leaving your clothes in the washing machine over night, but worse, and harder to remove. Once it has developed, you’ll need to use odor absorbing products to reduce it, and cleaning agents to target the bacteria that creates the smell.
Of course, if you’ve flooded from a sewer line break, or if your whole area has flooded, there will likely be sewer material absorbed into your possessions. That will bring along its own smells and make pathogen growth even more likely.
Advantages of Addressing Water Damage Right Away
The less time the water has to penetrate deeply into materials, the less damage it will cause and the more effective the cleaning process will be. Not only does this mean that we may be able to salvage more of your possessions that you’ll find hard to replace, it means you’ll have reduced replacement costs.
Those items that have porous surfaces are more likely to be affected by flood water right away. Drywall, ceiling tiles, and flooring are all usually porous and may all be saved if you get a clean-up crew in right away. The sooner we can examine these items the more likely we’ll be able to salvage them. On the other hand, items with hard, nonporous surfaces are more likely to survive a 24 to 48 hour wait. These surfaces will generally be our second priority as we clean your home.
If your home has suffered a flood, whether large or small, it’s critical to call SERVPRO of Salem/Peabody/Marblehead within the first 24 hours, so we can arrive quickly. Our office number is 978.744.4545. This will minimize the health risks of flooding and save you money on cleaning and replacing damaged items.
Six Signs that Your Sprinkler is Leaking
A sprinkler leak can be an expensive problem
Your sprinkler system was installed to help you save time, money, and energy. So what happens if it springs a leak? How would you even notice since the main components of the system are buried under the lawn?
A leak can cost you a lot of money. Not only can it increase your water bill, but it may also cause damage to your lawn, landscaping, or concrete. To keep an eye out, it’s important to understand the signs that indicate a leak is happening. Here are the top signs that your sprinkler has sprung a leak and what you can do about it.
- The grass is unusually wet. When you walk through your lawn on a non-rainy day, do you feel squishing under your feet? If so, this isn’t normal and probably indicates a leak. You might notice more around the sprinkler valves or areas where important connections are buried. This could just manifest as wet grass, but you may also see bubbling from the ground.
- The concrete is wet. If it hasn’t rained and you see a wet spot on your concrete walkways or patio, it may also indicate a leak from your sprinklers. If it can’t be explained rationally, it might be time to contact a professional to get a better understanding of what’s going on underground. Excess water can damage concrete over time, so getting it repaired quickly will save you a huge headache in the end. If you think this might just be a case of over-watering, you might also want to look into getting a smart sprinkler controller.
- Erosion near your sprinkler heads. Something you might not spot right away is erosion near the sprinkler heads. If it looks like the ground is caving in or something has been digging around the sprinklers, it probably isn’t squirrels or a neighborhood dog. Check for a leak and contact a professional to take a closer look.
- Unexplainable fungus growth. Another indicator of too much moisture due to a leak is fungus growth. Are there mushrooms around your system? Or growing on the base of trees that might be near buried lines? Mushrooms aren’t natural in a suburban or landscaped environment and are a sure sign that something isn’t quite right with your system.
- Your water bill has spiked. Of course, your primary indication may not be physical at all. If you noticed that your water bill has increased significantly, you’ll need to look at a number of factors. Providing your daily use hasn’t spiked for an explainable reason, it could be your sprinkler. Rule out any issues within the home, such as a leak in your plumbing, toilet, dishwasher, or washing machine. If those seem normal, check out your sprinkler system for the culprit.
- Water pressure drop. There are several things that could cause low water pressure in your sprinklers (such as municipal supply problems and a partially open backflow valve), but don’t rule out a system leak either.
If you have water damage from a leaking sprinkler system, contact the team at SERVPRO of Salem/Peabody/Marblehead at 978.744.4545. Our professionals specialize in flood damage restoration and we know you can’t afford to wait.
How Long Does it Take for Mold to Grow on Wet Carpet?
Mold grows quickly on wet carpeting
Mold can grow on carpeting after water damage or flooding has occurred. This usually happens due to delamination, the process in which the water weakens and loosens the glue. This allows the carpet to separate and create a space for mold to grow.
If you’re wondering how long does it take for mold to grow on wet carpet, you may be surprised at the answer. It happens fast – in as 24 to 48 hours. The initial mold growth may be small, but if not dealt with, it can take a week or two of growing before it’s easily visible.
Be Smart About Dealing with Water Damaged Carpeting
In most cases, drying water damaged carpeting is best left to the professionals to make sure it’s done properly. This way, you have your best chance of saving your carpet, eliminating mold and mildew, and breathing clean air in the future. It’s not enough to just know how to dry carpet once it gets wet. At SERVPRO of Salem/Peabody/Marblehead our team is equipped to handle water, fire, and mold in any situation, so contact us for all of your restoration needs at 978.744.4545.
How to Put Out an Electrical Fire at Home
Know the dangers of an electrical fire
An electrical fire in the home is often a more immediate danger than a wildfire and may lead to panic. The first thing to remember is that you need to stay calm. Then, follow these steps to put out an electrical fire at home.
Step One: Call the Fire Department
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) advises that, in the event of a fire, the first thing a homeowner should do is call the fire department.
Yes, you can put out small fires by yourself, but there’s always a chance that you will fail. If you do, you want the fire department to already be on the way, so that they can put out the fire as quickly as possible.
In fact, even if you have put out an electrical fire, there is always a chance it could re-ignite. When they arrive, the firefighters will ensure that the fire is truly out and that your home is safe.
Step Two: Assess Safety
You’ve called 911, and the fire is still raging, so take a split second to gauge your safety and your family member’s safety. If a child, senior, or someone with mobility issues is nearby the fire, evacuate them first.
Then consider if it is safe to fight the fire. According to FEMA, you need to ensure that:
- The fire is contained and still small
- You are not at risk to inhale smoke
- You have a way to escape the fire if you fail
- Your instincts tell you its okay
If you are panicking, you will not make the best decisions for your safety. It’s okay to recognize that the fire is more than you can handle, just evacuate.
Step Three: Use a Fire Extinguisher
You have to use a “C” rated fire extinguisher on electrical fires—remember C stands for “current.” Extinguishers are often rated for multiple types of fires, so an ABC extinguisher is perfect. If you have one:
- Pull the pin off
- Aim the nozzle at the bottom of the fire
- Squeeze the extinguisher’s lever
- Sweep the extinguisher back and forth across the base of the fire
What if You Don’t Have a Fire Extinguisher?
Fighting an electrical fire without a fire extinguisher is particularly dangerous because we reach for water instinctively to put out fires, but water will make an electrical fire more dangerous. If you try to use water, you may even electrocute yourself.
Instead, you first need to turn off the power to the electrical outlet or device that is on fire. It may not be safe to do this without a fire fighter’s equipment. But, if you are certain it is safe, you may flip the main breaker in the electrical outlet (it’s a larger breaker) which cuts power to the whole house.
Once the power has been cut off, the fire can be doused like a normal fire, with water or an “A” rated fire extinguisher.
If your home has been damaged by an electrical fire, all you need to do is make a single call to SERVPRO of Salem/Peabody/Marblehead. We file the claim with your insurance carrier, handle damage removal, fix damage including from smoke, clean the debris, and fully restore your home. Contact us today at 978.744.4545, we are available 24/7 to help.
An After the Fire Checklist
After the fire checklist
- Contact your local disaster relief service, such as The Red Cross, if you need temporary housing, food and medicines.
- If you are insured, contact your insurance company for detailed instructions on protecting the property, conducting inventory and contacting fire damage restoration companies. If you are not insured, try contacting private organizations for aid and assistance.
- Check with the fire department to make sure your residence is safe to enter. Be watchful of any structural damage caused by the fire.
- The fire department should see that utilities are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site. DO NOT attempt to reconnect utilities yourself.
- Conduct an inventory of damaged property and items. Do not throwaway any damaged goods until after an inventory is made.
- Try to locate valuable documents and records. Refer to information on contacts and the replacement process inside this brochure.
- If you leave your home, contact the local police department to let them know the site will be unoccupied.
- Begin saving receipts for any money you spend related to fire loss. The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and for verifying losses claimed on income tax.
- Notify your mortgage company of the fire.
- Check with an accountant or the Internal Revenue Service about special benefits for people recovering from fire loss.
In the unfortunate event of a fire please call SERVPRO of Salem/Peabody/Marblehead at 978.744.4545
Why Timing is Critical After a Fire Loss
In the event of a fire it is critical to begin cleanup quickly
Startled by the sound of a fire alarm going off, you’re suddenly awake in the middle of the night. You rush out of bed and get yourself and your family out of the house. Once you and your family are safe, you call the fire department to come and calm the flames. After the smoke clears and the fire department leaves, you see your belongings covered in soot and water. It can be overwhelming seeing the damages that fire has caused to your home and belongings but timing is essential in fire damage restoration and you need to act fast to mitigate your home.
So, take a deep breath, and follow the steps below to get your home on track to recovery.
1. Companies You Want to Contact
Fire Restoration Service
The longer you let your home sit in soot and water damage, the further the damage. This is why it is crucial to start the fire restoration process right away. After speaking to a reputable fire restoration company like SERVPRO of Salem/Peabody/Marblehead, they will be able to develop a custom action plan to restore your home. An expert will be dispatched to your home to review the damage, get a clean up plan in place and save as much of your belongings as possible.
Contact your insurance company and alert them of the situation at hand. They will be able to shed a little light on this dark situation by informing you of the next steps you need to take. With their guidance, you will be able to navigate the first initial steps of your fire damage claims. In addition, they will be able to inform you of the best practices you should take such as making a list and taking pictures of damaged items for documentation.
Utility and Lending Companies
Paying your bills and living expenses in addition to paying to having your home and belonging restored can be financially exhausting. Utility and lending companies realize this and they know the hardship a family can face in the event of disaster such as a house fire. Contact them, explain your situation, and see if they offer any hardship programs that would lower your payments or stop them completely until you get back on your feet.
Do you or a family member rely on daily medication to stay healthy? Depending on the extent of the fire damage or the origin of it, retrieving medication may not be possible. Contact your family physician and request to have your medication filled at your nearest pharmacy.
If you have a child in school you may want to contact the school and alert them of the situation at hand. If the fire damage deems your home unlivable you may need to stay with a family member and their home can be too far from the school. Teachers and principles are understanding of the difficulties a child and family faces in the event of a disaster and may allow them to do class work at home.
2. Disaster Relief
Disasters can devastate a family and can be especially hard if staying with family member is not an option. If this is the case, look for local disaster relief programs in your area. These agencies may be able to give you shelter, food, medication, and water until you can go back into your home.
3. Replace Important Documents
In the event of a life threatening fire, you’re probably not going to think about grabbing the safe in your house that contain important documents. Most important documents can be replaced. Here are just a few of the documents that you need to get replaced right away.
- Driver’s license
- Birth, marriage, and death certificates
- Damaged money (you can exchange it for undamaged cash with the treasury department)
- Social security card
- Bank documents
- School records
- Tax records
- Vehicle registration
4. Start Fire Clean Up
If the fire department gave you permission to enter your home after they leave then you can start the cleaning process while you wait for the restoration company to arrive. The sooner you get the jump on this, the more likely you’ll be able to save your belongings and home. Here are some steps you can take to help begin the restoration process:
First and foremost you have to get the polluted air out. Open all your windows and turn on any box/floor fans that you have to circulate the air out your home. If the fire department has advised against the use of electronics for safety reasons do not use fans that use your homes electricity such as box fans.
Circulating air out your home does not take care of soot alone. After a fire, a smoky smell will linger in your air until soot is completely removed. Try to remove as much soot from your home as possible by sweeping. The longer your belonging are covered in soot, the more it will continue to deteriorate.
Start Fire Damage Restoration Right Away
When your home has gone through a fire, time is of the essence to save, recover and restore your belongings from fire damage. Following these steps are essential to begin the fire damages restoration process in turning your house into a home again.
Have you called a fire restoration service yet? Contact SERVPRO of Salem/Peabody/Marblehead to schedule an appointment at 978.744.4545.