FIREWORK SAFETY

National Fireworks Safety Month occurs every June and runs through the Fourth of July to remind communities that setting off your own fireworks could be deadly. According to recent statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), over one-quarter of fires started by fireworks were reported on the Fourth of July. Almost half of the fires reported on Independence Day were started by fireworks. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) even reported that in 2016 alone, an estimated 11,000 injuries were treated at hospitals due to fireworks-related injuries, mostly to the hands, fingers, head, face and ears. That’s why it’s so important to follow the advice of the NFPA: leave the fireworks to the professionals.

If you haven’t purchased any fireworks for this year’s events, consider watching the professional displays that occur in several places around your city. That way, your friends, family and pets can stay safe from any potential injuries. However, in the event that you insist on setting off your own display, read the following fireworks safety tips from the experts at ServiceMaster Restore® first.

OBEY YOUR LOCAL LAWS.

If fireworks aren’t legal to buy in your area, they are illegal for a reason. Do not set off your own display. Instead, let the experts impress you with their safe fireworks shows. If they are legal in your area and you choose to use them, do so safely with the rest of these tips in mind.

For specific information on what is allowed in your area, here are reminders for Skagit and Whatcom County.

READ ALL DIRECTIONS AND CAUTIONARY LABELS ON THE PACKAGING.

Never light a firework without first reading its directions. Responsible usage is key to avoiding the burns, cuts, sprains, fractures or worse injuries associated with amateur fireworks. While you’re examining the packaging, pay attention to warning labels, too. As a general rule, these explosive devices aren’t intended for children to handle, and firework products typically recommend keeping pets safely inside and away from the show.

ONLY USE FIREWORKS OUTDOORS.

Setting off a firework in your home is asking for a fire. If you choose to do this, you may potentially face fire and property damage, damage to your neighbor’s property, city fines, increased risk of injury and even death. To avoid all these risks, only use fireworks outside in an open area. The space should be far away from buildings, vehicles, children and animals to keep everyone safe.

DO NOT USE FIREWORKS NEAR DRY GRASS OR FOLIAGE.

The summer sun has a way of drying out grass, leaves and plants. If recent temperatures are especially scorching, take a close look at the area where you plan to launch the fireworks. We recommend performing this examination in daylight for a full, clear understanding of the area’s risk of fire. If dry grass or foliage is found, do not light off your display there. These items will behave like kindling if touched by any stray sparks, putting you at risk of fire.

DO NOT SET OFF FIREWORKS NEAR BUILDINGS.

A rogue firework could easily set a building on fire, shatter its windows, injure residents and much more. Respect your neighbors’ properties by keeping your fireworks away from their homes and businesses. You should also keep fireworks away from power or gas lines, as these can ignite a fire upon impact. Instead, only use fireworks in a wide, open field that’s free from any dried or otherwise combustible materials.

KEEP A LARGE BUCKET OF WATER CLOSE BY.

If things go awry, it’s necessary to be prepared. During your fireworks show, make sure to always have a bucket of water, a hose or a fire extinguisher on hand. That way, if a fire starts, you can put out the flames immediately.

If you choose to set off your own fireworks displays, do your part during National Fireworks Safety Month first. Read up on all the fireworks safety tips you should know before lighting off any fireworks to prevent the worst from happening. From the members of ServiceMaster Restore, we hope you have a fun, happy and safe Fourth of July!

AFTER THE FIRE: HOW SMOKE DAMAGE CAN AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS

Even the smallest fire can wreak havoc on your business. If you don’t take prompt action after the flames have been put out, smoke damage can lead to lasting repercussions that span far beyond any damage you can visibly see on the surface. Smoke and soot contain high levels of acidity that can harm almost any material, making smoke damage repair a time-sensitive process.

SMOKE DAMAGE TIMELINE

Minutes after a fire breaks out in your commercial building, soot begins to destroy your property, making it crucial to call in restoration experts as soon as the fire is extinguished. The longer you wait, the more loss your business may have.

  • Minutes: Soot and smoke can leave a yellow stain on your walls and items made with plastic, marble and other porous materials.
  • Hours: The acidity content in soot could cause metal objects, grout and other materials to become permanently tarnished or stained.
  • Days: By this time, your walls may be permanently yellow. Metals can corrode or rust. Wooden furniture may be destroyed. Flooring, upholstery, cubicles and other items made with fabric will have to be replaced.
  • Weeks: When soot damage has a chance to permeate through your materials, it can cause permanent corrosion and even release toxic fumes into the air. Office supplies, office furniture and electronic equipment exposed to smoke damage may need to be thrown out and replaced.

AFTER THE FIRE IS OUT

Once the fire has been put out and everyone in the building is safe and accounted for, it’s time to begin the clean-up and restoration process. First and foremost, file a smoke damage insurance claim with your company’s insurance provider. Confirm with your agent if there are any filing deadlines to ensure you get everything submitted on time.

After filing a claim, call a restoration company like ServiceMaster Restore for commercial smoke damage and soot removal services. By acting fast, restoration experts can mitigate severe losses that your company may face. When they arrive on scene, you can expect our trained technicians to provide the following services:

  • Evaluate all of your furniture and equipment to assess whether damage is reversible.
  • Work with you to create a comprehensive remediation plan.
  • Thoroughly clean each of your items and surfaces.
  • Use specialized equipment and chemicals to eliminate the smell of smoke.
  • Seal surfaces to prevent the risk of re-contamination.

REDUCING SMOKE ODORS IN YOUR BUILDING

Following a fire, there are a few steps you can take before the restoration experts get there to minimize costly damage to your business. Once officials say it’s safe to enter your building, you can attempt to reduce the smell of smoke odors in your business by following these suggestions:

  • Open all doors and windows to air out the building, if the temperature is above 60 degrees.
  • Replace the air filters on your furnace if it uses forced air.
  • Tape cheesecloth over returns and supply registers to capture loose soot floating in the air.

While you’re completing these tasks, keep in mind that there are some things you should avoid doing to prevent additional damage. While you attempt to reduce smoke odors in your building, be careful not to do the following:

  • Do not touch anything in the building with your bare hands. Oils from your skin can permeate through materials like upholstery, walls and woodwork, leading to extensive damage.
  • Do not attempt to wash yellowed or damaged walls. The wrong cleaning technique could compound soot residue, so it’s best to leave the clean-up to the professionals.

Although dealing with a disaster can be stressful, know that you’re not alone. With over 65 years in the cleaning and restoration industry, the professionals at ServiceMaster Restore are committed to being at your side every step of the way. Our commercial fire and smoke damage removal services include expert processes for electronics restoration, document and data recovery, smoke and odor removal and more to completely restore your company back to its pre-loss conditions. We’ll even guide you through every step of our process to ensure you can get back to business right away.

RESIDENTIAL FIRE & WATER DAMAGE RESTORATION SERVICE

In the event of a house fire, countless gallons of water can be poured into your home. Water damage as a side effect from fire-fighting can be devastating to your floors, walls, possessions and even the structure of your house. At ServiceMaster Restore, we respond immediately using advanced equipment and techniques to remove water quickly.

Remember, the faster you get water extraction services, the less flood damage you’ll have in your home. So when the unforeseen happens, call in the experts at ServiceMaster Restore right away.

HOW TO PROTECT AGAINST WORKPLACE FIRES

Fire prevention in the workplace is a serious matter, and not just because your livelihood is on the line. A fire threatens the safety of everyone around. Luckily, there are some basic steps you can take to ensure workplace fire safety for everyone who helps keep your business running. Check out these seven expert tips to make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your business and coworkers safe.

1. Create a fire prevention plan.

Take the time to create a plan for workplace fire safety. Create guidelines for employees, make a calendar with inspection dates and important maintenance, and share it with everyone at your business.

2. Clean house.

If your place of business is cluttered up with unorganized equipment, materials, debris or paperwork, you have a fire hazard on your hands. Making a clear pathway to an exit not only removes flammable items, but also helps you get to safety. Tidy up! And don’t forget to keep the garbage or disposal areas clear.

3. Set a smoking policy.

Smoking but it also introduces potential fire hazards. Consider the following as you create a safety-minded workplace smoking policy:

  • Designate smoking and non-smoking areas.
  • Have ashtrays available and make sure people use them.
  • Keep ashtrays clean of other material and away from flammable items.
  • Clean all ashtrays regularly.

4. Install and test smoke detectors.

Smoke detectors are one of the simplest, most effective things you can do for fire prevention in the workplace. Install the best ones you can afford and inspect them regularly. Working smoke detectors can give you valuable time to react to a fire, which can make a huge difference in reducing harm to your business and the safety of your coworkers. Conduct periodic fire drills by using the test feature on your smoke alarms, to ensure that everyone knows how to react in the event of an emergency.

5. Install sprinklers.

Sprinkler systems are an effective part of any workplace fire prevention plan. Used in conjunction with a warning system like smoke detectors, automatic sprinklers can help mitigate the impacts of a fire at your business. A professional can help you design a sprinkler system configuration that addresses important or at-risk areas of your business.

6. Place and check fire extinguishers.

Like sprinklers, fire extinguishers can sometimes prevent a minor fire from turning into a major disaster. Buy enough fire extinguishers as appropriate for the size of your building, and make sure they’ll be accessible when it matters. That means no junk or equipment making them hard to reach. Putting them under cabinets or on high shelves won’t do much good when a room is full of smoke, either.

7. Check for hazards.

Make time on a regular basis to inspect equipment, areas where chemicals are stored and other identified high-risk areas. Perform maintenance on electrical equipment as soon as problems are spotted. Fires are often preventable, and the last thing you want is for your business to be destroyed by a fire that could have been averted through proactive maintenance.

Smart policies, persistent vigilance and swift action can help you avoid or mitigate fire damage at your place of business. Keep your eye on the ServiceMaster Restore® blog for more tips on how to keep your workplace safe, and know that you can always contact us if a fire does hit your business. From cleaning up smoke and ash damage to evaluating damaged office equipment, our experienced crews know what it takes to help your business get back on its feet as quickly as possible.

 

 

SEWAGE BACKUP CLEANING SERVICES

Experiencing a sewage backup or overflow is more than damaging to your home. It can be dangerous to your health. Whether it’s a sewer backup from a breakdown in a neighborhood sewer system or water runoff from a storm, we respond with the right tools, expert training and techniques to remove the hazards and water from your home and repair the damages.

WHAT CAUSES BACKUPS?

Blockages are often caused by:

  • Soil settlement
  • Misaligned joints
  • Root infiltration
  • Pipe collapses
  • Grease buildup
  • Items flushed down a drain

Remember, it could look perfectly fine, but germs are invisible. Make sure the job is done right with the experts from ServiceMaster Restore.

OUR CLEANING PROCESS:

 

COVID19-cleanup

COVID-19 Cleaning Services

ServiceMaster can help you give your employees and customers the confidence to return to business as usual. As the country begins to relax stay at home orders and businesses reopen, companies must have plans in place to further reduce the spread and threat of the current virus.

At ServiceMaster Restore, we are experts in the disinfection services you need to get your business back up and running. The COVID-19 pandemic will affect how we think and behave, in the near future and in the long term. Every business, school, church, and facility space must now be concerned with preventing infection exposure, not just regular cleaning.

ServiceMaster Restore has the experience, knowledge, training, and national network to meet your needs on an ongoing basis. Disinfection goes beyond a standard cleaning service and requires specific protocols.

ServiceMaster Clean also has protocol to assist in training employees on proper hand hygiene and breaking the chain of infection. We follow the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), which includes routine cleaning and disinfection with a focus on high touch areas.

We pride ourselves on providing service to our customers above and beyond standard disinfection. Our teams have training with AHE and AHA seals of approval for healthcare level disinfection. Routine quality assurance processes help your business create a clean, safe, and healthy environment for all.

Certifications: ServiceMaster Clean can provide you with a certificate of disinfection stating the date and time of your last disinfection. Displaying this can reassure your employees and customers that you are taking ongoing measures to help protect them.

Supportive Materials:
We have developed several flyers and videos to arm you with the information you will want to provide your employees and customers. These materials include:
Detailed hand hygiene instructional flyer
High Touch Cleaning checklist for your everyday cleaning
Informational video for employees on everyday tips for their office and common spaces
Informational video for employees on everyday tips for cleaning their homes

Water Removal in 7 Steps

You Called For Help With Drying Your Flooded Home – Now What?

DRS explains damage and how to restore return your home to pre-damage condition.
Disaster Restoration Specialist assesses damage and explains plan for mitigation of damage.

You just made the horrifying discovery of water creeping, spraying or flooding into your home. Then you made the call to your disaster restoration company. Now they’re on their way to perform an initial inspection. But there you are waiting for water removal with soggy carpet and no running water. You probably wonder what happens now? What will they do? How long will this take?

You were wise to call quickly. Your certified Disaster Restoration Specialist (DRS) will assess your situation and ask questions. How bad is it? How long has it been wet? What materials are wet? Here’s a general picture of mitigation and restoration of most water losses.

1. Address possible dangers

Water in the home doesn’t only damage building materials. It can also present dangerous conditions to your health and safety.  A few possible risks could be electrical shock and gas leaks, compromised ceilings and floors, and asbestos containing materials. Other threats are pathogens in sewage and airborne mold. Each of these and other possible dangers can be an even greater issue than the water flooding your home.

2. Find the water and identify the source

There are many types of water losses. Maybe you have sewage covering the whole basement. Or possibly you had an upstairs bathroom sink overflowing for the entire tenth inning. Where did all that water go? Water migration follows certain habits, but a good technician seeks out the not-so-predictable. Sophisticated instruments find and measure moisture levels in materials such as drywall and wood. These tests define the line between wet and dry materials. An effective drying strategy can now begin.

3. Control mold and microbial growth

DRS applies anti-bacterial product to stop mold growth.
Anti-bacterial applied frequently throughout job process discourages mold growth until materials are dry.

Mold spores were already present in your home (and everyone else’s home) before this disaster. They may have been dormant. But now, those spores have the moisture needed to begin growing and does so at an alarming rate. Timely application(s) of professional grade antimicrobial products are applied to keep mold at bay during the drying process.

4. Manipulate contents to access affected areas

Your DRS needs access to floors and drywall to remove water and dry them. The goods you live with everyday like furniture, cabinets and appliances must be moved. Depending on your situation, they can be moved to another part of your home or packed and stored off-site until restoration is complete.

5. Demolition of water damaged materials and contents

Crew removing vinyl plank flooring.
Vinyl plank flooring may need to be removed in order to dry sub-floor.

A responsible DRS always considers saving your home’s materials and contents first. However, not everything can be salvaged. Non-salvageable items are sorted from salvageable items.Unfortunately, items tainted with sewage can absorb pathogens and therefore cannot be cleaned and dried.

6. Water removal process

A Disaster Restoration Specialist uses many types of equipment to address a water emergency. There are many choices available to the DRS: Water extractors, fans, dehumidifiers, mat systems, and “dragons”. Generally, heaters warm the air, air movers stir up water droplets and dehumidifiers pull that moisture out of the air and drain it away. The amount of water and wet materials determine how long this process takes. Choosing just which pieces of equipment to use – including the size and placement – makes a big difference in how quickly things dry out. You can trust your DRS to choose well and make adjustments as necessary.

7. Monitor progress of water affected materials

Nick uses a hammer probe to read moisture levels in subfloor beneath carpet.
Moisture meters help answer the question “Where is it wet?”

Once equipment is running, your DRS will visit your home daily in most cases, to assess the drying progress. They do this by taking multiple moisture readings to gauge drying progress. The equipment is monitored daily so it can be adjusted and removed as soon as possible.

You made the right choice! A certified, experienced Disaster Restoration Specialist is your best first call when water threatens your home. They’re there for you.

Mold or Mildew – How Do You Know?

Mold growth is more likely than mildew in your house

Mold on interior wall.

As a young parent, one morning I pulled back the curtain in my baby’s newly decorated nursery to find black furry spots covering the window frame. The question of mold or mildew did not apply here; this was definitely mold growing undetected on the wood frame of a damp single pane window. The warmth of the sun on the window and moisture from my too-frequent use of a humidifier provided its favorite conditions. It couldn’t have been happier.

I was staring in disgusted shock at what is commonly referred to as “black mold” (Stachybotrys Chartarum).  But not every patch of mold or mildew encountered is so easily identified. There are in fact thousands of types of mold in the United States and hundreds of thousands of types worldwide.

Mold grows on dead organic materials

Heavy mold growing in wallboard.
Drywall contains cellulose, a plant fiber, which is a favorite food for mold.

The difference between mold and mildew is best determined by the substance on which it grows. A general rule of thumb makes for easy determination:  mold grows on dead materials that were once alive. These materials include wooden framing or sheathing in the attic, drywall under the sink, underneath bathroom vinyl or just about anywhere in your home. It can grow on dead leaves in a crawl space, leather furniture left sitting on a damp carpet and even on natural fibers such as cotton and wool garments.

Powdery mildew on the other hand, generally grows on living organisms – plants. Powdery mildew looks like its name: it has a white appearance and spreads in a flat pattern. It’s not typically found indoors except on houseplants.

Mold and mildew growth should not be allowed in your home

Mold growth discovered on wall and floor after moving appliance.
It’s possible to have mold growing behind cupboards and appliances and not be aware of its presence.

Of course, whether it’s mold or mildew isn’t usually critical to determine. Both have the same undesirable characteristics of maturing to the point of releasing viable spores. When these spores are inhaled, they may cause negative effects on those allergic to the substances they emit. Both will spread if proper conditions continue. And both should be removed to maintain the health and integrity of your home. Click here to read more about mold’s effects on your home and health.

Mold requires specialized cleaning techniques

Crew member in hazmat suit applying mold serum to interior sheeting
Large areas of mold removal require professional equipment and safety gear.

For more information on mold and how to clean mold yourself, The Centers for  Disease Control and Prevention provides excellent information. Or, if you already know you have a bigger job than you can handle and are wondering how much it costs to get mold removed, contact us. We are mold and mildew removal experts.

If it is necessary to determine the type of mold or mildew present in your home, or how to test for mold toxicity, ServiceMaster by Roth can help. Contact us.