Recent Posts

Business Recovery After a Natural Disaster

10/20/2020 (Permalink)

A red sign with white text reading “Come in We’re Open” hangs inside the window of a business. A natural disaster has the potential to cripple a business. Preparing yourself adequately before one can ensure your business has minimal downtime.

Reopening a Business After a Natural Disaster

The U.S. has sustained 279 natural and weather-related disasters since 1980, with damage repairs costing in excess of $1 billion, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. Only about 40% to 60% of small businesses that are affected by a natural disaster reopen their doors, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Some natural disasters, such as a hurricane, are predictable and allow business owners the time they need to prepare. However, many natural disasters, such as wildfires, may occur without warning, leaving no time to ensure a business is safe and prepared. 

As a small business owner, creating a disaster preparation plan and ensuring you’re ready for any type of devastating event is key to your business’s survival. Review the information below to learn how to reopen your business successfully after a natural disaster. 

Emergency Plans

Your emergency plan is a crucial part of your business’s survival and your employees’ safety, both during and after a natural disaster. While you may feel you’ve created a comprehensive continuity plan that thoroughly addresses every aspect of your business, natural disasters can be unpredictable. The aftermath of a weather-related event may pose problems you didn’t foresee that haven’t been addressed in your general operational plans.

When you create an emergency plan, consider how to keep your equipment, environment, and staff safe in different scenarios. You should:

  • Analyze potential threats related to precedented, regional, and seasonal natural disasters.
  • Consider how to deal with business interruptions.
  • Create a work plan for employees and vendors.
  • Choose a professional cleanup and restoration company that will help your business estimate the costs of repairs or even remediation to help increase the resilience of your permanent locations. 

Consider all aspects of the natural disasters that may threaten your business at any point in time and create a plan that addresses these potential scenarios. Once your emergency plan is in place, implement the steps when it’s safe to do so. When you follow your plan, major issues and barriers are easier to tackle because you’re better organized and prepared.

Documentation and Insurance

Once a natural disaster occurs, it’s crucial to document the damages and losses your business suffers. Keep track of receipts and purchases you made to mitigate damages. Document your business’s current physical state with photos and videos.

Before providing compensation for mold remediation services or other aid, your insurance company may ask to see proof of damages. If you need smoke or fire remediation, the insurance company may request photos of the damage to your equipment and building first. Documentation of your property before disaster strikes can help you make your case and potentially expedite the aid you need to get back up and running. Likewise, retain any receipts for expenses incurred after the disaster, as your insurance company may not compensate you without a clear record of expenditures.

Constant Communication

Open lines of communication are the key to getting your business back on track and fully recovered from a natural disaster. Be sure your employees are aware of your recovery plan and their roles in each step. To keep the recovery process running smoothly, you may need to maintain constant communication with:

  • Your insurance adjuster.
  • Lenders and creditors.
  • Lawyers or consultants.
  • Suppliers and other businesses within your supply chain.
  • Your employees and vendors.
  • Customers and prospective clients.

Consistently checking in on everyone involved in the situation ensures you’re all on the same page with the mitigation process.

Safety and Infrastructure

After a natural disaster, it’s crucial to analyze all the risks associated with the damage. The damage that fire, smoke, water, or wind cause can be hazardous to you and your employees. Your work environment may not be safe for a period of time until the damages are repaired. 

If you don’t feel the work environment is safe, have an alternative plan in place to ensure your staff can perform their jobs without the potential for injury or health issues. Remediation work is best left to professionals because they can safely and effectively clear debris and mitigate damage. 

For example, if your business sustained flooding damage from a storm, you may need to hire a professional remediation company to help. Completing the cleanup process thoroughly and correctly ensures mold spores don’t begin to grow and cause future health effects for employees.

Seek and Provide Support and Assistance

Even if you have a detailed emergency plan, you may not be financially prepared for a natural disaster. If you have the proper insurance in place, seek financial assistance with remediation through your insurance coverage. 

Your employees may also feel the negative financial effects of business interruption. Encourage your employees to take advantage of natural disaster relief programs they may qualify for. These programs can help them remain financially stable while you work to get your business back up and running.

There are also several federally or locally funded programs that provide support and assistance to small business owners and their employees after a disaster. These organizations include the following:

  • Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development: Your local chamber of commerce may have a grant or other type of financial assistance program available to help you get back on your feet. If you’re a member of your local chamber, ask about assistance programs your small business may qualify for.
  • Community Support Organizations: Most communities have their own support organizations that are designed to assist small businesses when they need help. Your city or town may have programs available that provide financial assistance during natural disasters to ensure your business can remain intact and continue to thrive after recovery.
  • The Small Business Administration (SBA): The SBA is a national organization that provides resources and assistance to small businesses. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the SBA provided many small businesses with forgivable loans so they could continue operating with limited capacity and under other guidelines enforced by federal and state governments.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): FEMA is a federal government agency that focuses solely on assisting individuals and businesses after emergencies and natural disasters. Once a natural disaster strikes, FEMA generally implements several federally funded programs to financially assist businesses during the recovery process. Contact FEMA directly to inquire about programs your business may qualify for after a disaster.
  • Tax Relief in Disaster Situations (IRS): After tornadoes, earthquakes, or hurricanes, the IRS usually implements tax relief for citizens and business owners who were affected. Since business is often interrupted for a period of time during recovery, the organization may allow for additional credits or relief at the end of the year. When you file your taxes, review the tax relief programs available and utilize the credits that your business qualifies for to decrease your tax liability. 

Exploring these financial aid options after a natural disaster may be helpful if you’re struggling to repair damages, pay your staff, and replace equipment.

Natural disasters can derail your business and or be expensive to recover from. When you have a thorough emergency plan, keep open lines of communication, and seek out financial support, you can work to get back up and running quickly and safely.

Creating and Writing a Business Continuity Plan

10/20/2020 (Permalink)

Window panels in the front door of a clothing store, with a sign hanging in one window frame reading, “Yes, we are open." Keep your doors open by having a business continuity plan to prepare you for natural disasters.

Prepare for the Future With a Business Continuity Plan

As a small business owner, it’s important to be aware of the ways in which a disaster could affect your business. From a cyber attack to a hurricane, preparation for any type of disaster is the key to keeping your business running. One of the best ways to prepare is to create a business continuity plan well before a disaster strikes. 

With a solid continuity plan in place, you can rest assured your business will continue humming along, even as you repair and rebuild. Learn how to create a business continuity plan for any incident to ensure you’re adequately prepared to continue operating as usual, no matter what disaster you’re dealing with.  

What Is a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan is a plan that outlines how your business will continue functioning after any disruption of normal operations. The plan outlines the systems and procedures you’ll activate and put in place after an emergency, natural disaster, or another disruption (including cyberattacks) occurs. 

When you follow your business continuity plan, your business and employees should be able to continue working while you repair and rebuild. With a plan in place, you ensure you can continue selling and servicing customers with the same ease, accuracy, and timeline your business provided before the disaster occurred. 

What Is the Primary Goal of Business Continuity Planning?

When you create a business continuity plan, your main goal should be to ensure your business can continue running at optimal performance after a disaster has occurred. Your plan should include detailed instructions, procedures, and processes that you and your staff can follow to keep working, even after an emergency.

The business continuity procedures you’ll need to implement may vary, depending on the disaster or disruption you experience. Common occurrences that could negatively impact your business include the following:

  • Cyberattacks.
  • Pandemics.
  • Natural disasters.
  • Utility outages.

When you have a thorough business continuity plan in place that addresses these occurrences, you’ll keep your staff working and your customers happy as you address the damages.

What Does a Business Continuity Plan Typically Include?

The elements included in your business continuity plan depend on the type of business you have and the specific processes and actions that keep it running smoothly and successfully. A useful continuity plan should be realistic and easy to follow. It should provide detailed steps that outline how to continue working during a disaster.

Since the effects of a disaster aren’t easily predicted, the business continuity plan should also be adaptable and easily edited as needed. Your plan should include several back-up options or alternative procedures to address different scenarios. A reliable business continuity plan provides efficient and convenient ways for the business to remain productive after a disaster.

How to Write a Business Continuity Plan

To create your own business continuity plan, you’ll need to analyze your current business practices. Following the steps detailed below will ensure your continuity plan is comprehensive and easy to implement when needed.

Identify the Scope and Goals of the Plan 

Consider how your business currently functions and what processes could be negatively affected by a disaster. List the employees, systems, and procedures that keep your business running, employees working, and customers satisfied. 

If you think these procedures may be affected by a disaster, you’ll need to target them in your plan and provide alternative ways to ensure they can still be followed. Outline the goals of your business continuity plan, such as ensuring you can fulfill orders or continue producing goods. Be sure the procedures you include in the plan thoroughly address how to achieve these goals during a disaster.

Create an Emergency Preparedness Team

If you’re busy working with insurance adjusters and commercial restoration professionals after a disaster, you may not have time to improvise and troubleshoot around every challenge or consideration your business faces. Before a disaster occurs, designate a few reliable employees within your business to help. 

Train these employees on how to deal with emergencies and go over the business continuity plan with them to ensure they understand how to implement it. With an emergency preparedness team, you won’t be the only person who can delegate the implementation of your continuity plan and adjust it as needed, which frees up your time to deal with repairs and other issues.

Identify Key Business Areas and Perform Risk and Impact Assessments

In some cases, you may not have ways to modify the way you do business after a disaster. If you have to eliminate certain services or procedures, your business continuity plan should address these issues. 

Perform a risk and impact assessment with your team to identify the tasks that may be neglected after a disaster. Consider how you’ll address these issues and how you could potentially modify services to lessen the impact. For example, if you’re dealing with water damage in your storefront and can’t allow customers into your retail space, consider sidewalk sales until the flooding damage is remediated

Identify Critical Business Functions and Prepare a Plan For Each

Chances are the success of your business relies on several functions, such as marketing, accounting, and administration. Identify all the critical functions within your business and create a plan to ensure they’ll continue to thrive, even after a disaster. You may need to rely on outside vendors or online processes to ensure your business continues to function.

Create a Plan to Maintain Operations

Keeping your business operations running smoothly during a disaster is the only way to maintain customer satisfaction and continue attracting prospective clients. Consider all the operations you need to continue performing so you can serve customers seamlessly, such as shipping and communication. 

Then, address each operation and implement an alternative plan to ensure you can still provide these services adequately. You may need to involve subcontractors, switch your suppliers, or use different shipping options.

Train Staff and Stakeholders

Review the business continuity plan with your staff and stakeholders for feedback. Train your staff on the alternative procedures that may need to be put in place in the case of a disaster. With training on how to implement these new processes, your staff can seamlessly follow the steps in your business continuity plan without incident.

Update the Plan as Needed

When you perform trial runs with your staff, be open to changing your plan if specific steps aren’t efficient. Disasters are unpredictable and additional issues may arise when you’re dealing with an emergency. 

Remain flexible and ready to update your business continuity plan with each situation. For example, if a disaster caused water damage and you need to close the office for professional mold removal, you may need to revise your continuity plan to include work-from-home procedures for your staff.

Technological and natural disasters can bring your business to its knees. However, with a comprehensive, realistic, and flexible business continuity plan in place, you’ll ensure your customers are satisfied and your employees are productive, even after a disaster.

Prepping Your Home Before a Natural Disaster

10/20/2020 (Permalink)

A deputy fire chief in protective gear stands in front of the scene of a disaster, pointing and shouting an instruction. When you’re prepared for a natural disaster, you can help keep your family safe and possibly prevent damage to your home.

How to Prepare a Home for a Natural Disaster

In 2019, the U.S. experienced a total of 90 natural disasters, according to Statistica. Severe thunderstorm damage alone caused economic losses of $27 billion in the U.S. throughout the year. No matter where you live, you’re not immune to some type of dangerous natural disaster.

While you can’t stop a natural disaster from heading straight towards you, you can prepare yourself and your home for the event. Review this article to learn more about the effects of disasters and what preventative actions you should take to get ready for an event in your area.

Types of Natural Disasters

Before you can prepare for a natural disaster, it’s important to understand the types of events you could experience in your area. Learn more about your location and the specific natural disasters your community is prone to experiencing. Sign up for emergency text, phone call, or email alerts through FEMA, the Red Cross, or a local disaster agency in your area.

You can also review a natural disaster risk map to better understand the risks in your current environment. The Natural Center for Disaster Preparedness provides an online natural hazard risk map that allows you to learn more about the events that may occur in your area. Different hazards require different preventative measures, so it’s crucial to identify the natural disasters you may be susceptible to first.

Earthquakes

An earthquake occurs when two areas of the Earth’s tectonic plates slide past and grind against one another, causing the ground to shake. Earthquakes can occur in any state in the U.S., as long as a fault line is present. Before an earthquake, it’s important to secure large furniture and repair any cracks in your home’s walls or foundation.

Wildfire

Wildfires generally begin when wooded areas are exposed to flames from humans or lightning strikes. With dry conditions and wind, these small fires can spread and become uncontrollable, threatening nearby homes. Prepare your home for potential wildfires by clearing dry brush from around the exterior and clearing dry leaves from your rain gutters.

Flood

Floods occur when too much water is present in one area, either via rain, tsunami, hurricane, or another natural disaster. Homes and livelihoods are threatened when local waterways can’t handle the excess water. Storm flooding restoration can be extensive, depending on the damage. To prepare your home for a flood, ensure your electrical system isn’t on the ground level, and consider purchasing flood insurance.

Tornado

Severe thunderstorms cause tornadoes to form without much warning. These funnel-like clouds extend from the storm to the ground and produce powerful and damaging winds. Identify your safe room in the middle of your home and use a weather radio for updates on a tornado’s location. If you live in a mobile home, evacuate at the first signs of a tornado. 

Storms and Hurricanes 

While severe storms can pop up in any region, hurricanes are mainly experienced in coastal states. A hurricane may bring high wind, storm surges, and heavy rainfall but you should have plenty of warning before the storm hits your area. To prepare, board your windows, and remove or secure debris around your home.

Make a Plan

An emergency or natural disaster may induce panic and irrational thinking. However, if you have a plan in place for an emergency, you’ll be able to think more clearly and prevent or reduce damage or injury.

Emergency Action Plan

When there’s an imminent threat in your area, implement your emergency action plan. Your plan should provide an outline of the steps you need to take to prepare for the event. To create your own emergency action plan, you should:

  • Know your evacuation route.
  • Identify shelters in your area that meet your family’s needs.
  • Have a clearly defined communication strategy with your family and neighbors.
  • Learn how and when to shut off utilities to your home, if needed.
  • Make an evacuation and care plan for your pets.

Disaster Recovery Plan

After a natural disaster, you may need to begin the repair and rebuilding process. Since this process can be overwhelming, it’s important to create a disaster recovery plan that includes steps to get your home back in order. This plan should include:

  • Emergency contact information.
  • Help and resource contact information.
  • Your insurance policies and company contact information.
  • Steps for cleaning your home.
  • Contact information for a professional restoration company.

Depending on the disaster that occurred, you may need assistance remediating smoke and fire damage in your home. Water damage from flooding should be professionally addressed right away. If this damage isn’t repaired, you may need to hire a mold remediation specialist to clear out unhealthy mold spores from your home.

Preventative Infrastructure and Practices

Once you've identified the natural disasters that your area is prone to experiencing, implement preventive practices to prepare your property and family for these events. When you apply preventive infrastructures and practices, you can prevent damage and injury if a natural disaster occurs. 

Depending on the events that are likely to occur in your area, you should consider:

  • Creating retaining walls.
  • Installing hurricane-resistant windows.
  • Planting fire-resistant landscaping.
  • Bolting down and securing heavy objects or outdoor furniture.
  • Sealing cracks in your foundation.
  • Removing debris from around your home.

Finances, Insurance, and Important Documents

One of the best ways to prepare for a natural disaster is to review your insurance policy. Ensure it provides coverage for the events that are likely to occur in your area. You may need to increase coverage or purchase additional policies, such as a flood insurance policy, to ensure you’re properly covered. 

Create an emergency fund that you can use if a natural disaster occurs. With this fund, you can pay for unexpected expenses, such as food, shelter, or repairs that aren’t covered under your insurance. Your important documents, such as your insurance policy, identification documents, and bank account information, should be stored in a safe location and taken with you in the event of an emergency.

Build an Emergency Kit

During an emergency, you may need to evacuate your home quickly. If you stay home, you may lose power and access to a local grocery store or other conveniences. 

Build an emergency kit before a disaster occurs so you’re prepared for this scenario. The items you stock in your kit should depend on your needs and the event that you think will occur but may include:

  • Flashlights.
    • Non-perishable food items.
  • Water.
    • A weather radio.
    • Extra batteries.
  • Medications.
  • Important documents.
  • A first-aid kit.
  • Supplies for children and/or pets.

Store your items in a bag or kit that’s easy to grab if you’re in a hurry to evacuate your home.

Some natural disasters are unpredictable, which is why it’s so important to prepare for emergencies ahead of time. When you create emergency action and disaster recovery plans and prepare your property for natural disasters, you can prevent severe damages and keep your family safe.

Water-Saving Tips for Commercial Buildings

10/20/2020 (Permalink)

A row of stainless steel water faucets set in a grey brick wall, with one faucet emitting a few clear droplets of water. As a business owner, you can save money and increase sustainability with water-saving technology.

How to Reduce the Water Consumption of Your Business

As a business owner, you’re always on the hunt for ways to save money and increase sustainability. Your commercial building’s water consumption may not be the first thing you think of when contemplating money-saving strategies. However, when you integrate water-saving technology with your daily business operations, you’ll experience several benefits, including:

  • Making your business more efficient and sustainable.
  • Lowering utility bills.
  • Finding it easier to prepare for natural disasters.
  • Lowering your risk for water damage or mold.

Offices use about 9% of the total water utilized by commercial and institutional buildings, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Most of the water in offices is used for heating and cooling, landscaping, and restrooms. 

For the sustainability of the world’s water supply, it’s crucial that commercial building owners address water consumption issues and implement water-saving technology. Review the information below to learn more about the technology you can invest in to make your business more water-efficient.

Invest in Commercial Water-Saving Technology

Commercial buildings are known for using a lot of water, but there are several technologies and ways to make them more efficient. Implementing one or more of the following technologies will help your business use less water.

Commercial Water-Saving Devices and Technology

When you install a sensor that keeps track of water usage, you’ll have a better idea of when and where your building is consuming the most water. A water pressure regulator is also helpful because it records the current water pressure within your plumbing system. 

High water pressure wastes water and can damage your pipes. A burst pipe may result in flooding, which requires the assistance of a commercial restoration company. If it’s not addressed properly, dangerous mold may grow, requiring mold removal services. Ensuring your pressure is correct and efficient saves you from these threats and reduces your utility bill. Additionally, even a step as simple as installing low-flow faucets and toilets can cut water use in half, or even more.

Landscaping irrigation is usually the culprit for much of the water usage in commercial buildings — as much as half of all irrigation water may be wasted due to evaporation, runoff, or inefficient watering practices. Timed irrigation systems can be set to turn on at night when the sun won’t evaporate the water off the grass. 

You should also consider installing a rain sensor in your irrigation system. If the system senses that it recently rained, it’ll skip a watering cycle since the grass already received the moisture it needed.

Grey Water Systems for Commercial Buildings

Clean water pumps into a commercial building and after it’s used, it’s released into the sewage system. The water that’s released is classified as black water, which is considered unsanitary and could be toxic without treatment. 

Greywater is the wastewater used in sinks, showers, or washing machines. It’s also usually released to a water treatment plant after use and although it’s not technically sanitary, it carries less risk of being toxic or contaminated. Since greywater isn’t as unhealthy or dangerous, commercial buildings may adapt their own greywater recycling systems that allow them to reclaim the water so it can be used again. 

When a greywater system is installed, it separates this water from black water. Then, it uses a thorough treatment and filtering system that may include sand filters, aeration, and pressure filtration. The clean water is placed in a storage tank and released for usage.

You must consult with an engineer and your local water authority before installing a greywater system. While this system is an expensive investment, reclaiming greywater is an efficient way to save money and reduce water consumption substantially over time.

Water-Saving Plumbing

If you’re focused on reducing water consumption, there are several water-saving plumbing options available. Be sure you’re paying close attention to plumbing leaks and repairing damages promptly. This alleviates the costs of repair, such as mold remediation after sustaining water damages. You could also consider:

  • Plumbing insulation: Pipes that aren’t insulated can take a while to heat water. When a user turns on the hot water tap, they’ll need to let the water run until it finally reaches the desired temperature. With insulation, the time you wait for the water to get hot is sufficiently reduced, which also reduces needless water waste.
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures: You can install low-flow plumbing fixtures to sinks and toilets without installing an entirely new plumbing system in the building. With low-flow fixtures, less water flows through the fixtures when they’re turned on, cutting down on consumption and making workers more mindful of water usage.
  • Energy Star appliances: If you have a dishwasher, washer, or other appliances, consider replacing them with upgraded Energy Star models. These appliances are rated to use less water during operation without sacrificing performance.

Additionally, consider replacing your aerators or installing water-free urinals to reduce water consumption in your commercial building.

Harvesting Rainwater

Most of the time, stormwater causes damage because it is associated with flooding. However, if you have the capacity to install a rainwater harvesting system, you can use this stormwater as landscape irrigation. Consult with an engineer and your local water authority to decide if the costs of system implementation are worth the collection in your area. 

Depending on the size and layout of your commercial building, you may be able to install large barrels that collect rainwater. The water usually needs to be filtered for oils before it can be used for irrigation or other purposes. Plant low-water plants so your system effectively uses the rainwater that’s been collected. 

Boiler Blowdowns and Cooling Towers

During the boiler blowdown process, water is removed from the boiler to minimize corrosion and scale. With automated blowdown controls, the system slows down the rate of blowdown to ensure water isn’t wasted. An automated blowdown process also prevents fluctuations in the frequency of blowdowns so the amount of water used is better controlled.

A cooling tower removes heat from a commercial building’s air conditioning unit by evaporating condenser water. To prevent your cooling tower from wasting water, consider installing a tower that uses stormwater instead of freshwater. Ensure your cooling tower is well-maintained and in good condition so it doesn’t needlessly wastewater throughout the process.

Although commercial buildings are synonymous with high water consumption, there are ways to ensure your business isn’t wasting this precious resource. When you implement one or more of these water-saving technologies, you’ll save money and invest in the sustainability of your building.

Tips for Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home

10/20/2020 (Permalink)

A pair of blue-gloved hands, one using a spray bottle of cleaning solution and the other using a paper towel to wipe surfaces When you use a disinfectant, you remove and kill both bacteria and germs.

Tips for Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home

On an average day, 85% of women and 71% of men spent at least some time at home doing household activities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You eat, sleep, relax, and entertain in your home, so its cleanliness is key to your health and enjoyment. 

A study published in the Journal of Environmental Health analyzed 22 average households for mold, bacteria, and dirt. The study found countless bacteria present in seemingly clean homes, including Escherichia Coli and Staphylococcus Aureus. Learning how to properly clean and disinfect your home is important to the health and safety of your household.

Cleaning vs Disinfecting

While many people use the terms “cleaning” and “disinfecting” interchangeably, there are differences between the two terms. When you clean surfaces in your home, you’re reducing the number of germs and bacteria present.

When you disinfect your home’s surfaces, you’re removing and killing the germs and bacteria. Sanitizing is another word that’s frequently used when it comes to killing germs. Some products are labeled as “sanitizers” instead of disinfectants. 

When you use these products properly, they help reduce and eliminate bacteria on the surfaces in your home. However, disinfectants are generally more effective at killing mold, bacteria, and germs so it’s important to choose the proper cleaner.

Read the Label

To ensure your disinfectant does its job effectively, follow the instructions on the label. Not only do these instructions make sure that the product functions properly, but they also save your home surfaces from potential damage. Some products may advise you to dilute them with water before use.

There are many disinfectants on the market so choosing the right product may seem overwhelming. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers a list of approved home disinfectants that are known for their effectiveness and safety. When you choose a registered disinfectant, you know the product is proven to work and safe for your home.

Using Home Disinfectants

The disinfectant dilution process can be dangerous if you're not careful. When diluting your cleaning product, follow the instructions on the label and be sure to:

  • Wear protective gloves and eyewear.
  • Complete the process in a room with adequate ventilation.
  • Only use the amount of product listed on the label.
  • Label your new diluted solution clearly.
  • Avoid mixing other products or chemicals together.
  • Use room-temperature water, unless otherwise specified.
  • Keep your cleaning products out of reach of children and pets.

If a household member has asthma or is particularly vulnerable to chemicals, only dilute disinfectants when they’re not close by.

Tips for Disinfecting Different Rooms

Different rooms, surfaces, and sections in your home may require unique attention to be sufficiently disinfected. Before addressing the areas in your home you plan to disinfect, it’s important to acquire the proper supplies. 

Consider what’s the most convenient for you, your cleaning goals, and the surfaces you’re disinfecting when choosing supplies. You may need wipes, sponges, paper towels, or hand towels. You may need different supplies or disinfectants for each area of your home.

Kitchen 

You generally use your kitchen several times every day to prepare food. Since food can carry harmful bacteria, such as salmonella, it’s crucial to keep frequently-touched surfaces clean. 

Disinfecting wipes are an easy way to clean your kitchen since you can wipe down areas, then throw out the wipes. It’s important to wipe cabinet handles and drawer handles to kill bacteria and viruses. Glassware and dishes should also be cleaned thoroughly after every use.

Living Room 

Your living room is full of soft surfaces, such as your couch and pillows. Most hard-surface disinfectants can harm these materials so you’ll need cleaning products designed for soft surfaces instead.

Other surfaces, such as your coffee table and light switches, should also be disinfected regularly. Read the label on your disinfectant to ensure it’s safe to use on these surfaces and follow the directions carefully. 

Bathroom 

Since the bathroom is exposed to bodily fluids on a daily basis, it must be properly disinfected. Use a disinfectant on the sink, faucet handles, shower, toilet, and tub. Clean frequently-touched surfaces, such as the light switches and toilet handle. 

Inspect your bathroom for water damage, which may occur if the tub or toilet isn’t sealed properly. If left untreated, water damage can lead to dangerous mold growth, which may require professional restoration services to remove harmful spores and more established mold growth that cannot be managed with routine surface treatment.

Bedroom

You may need a special disinfecting spray to address soft surfaces, such as your mattress and pillows. Clean and disinfect your bedroom furniture, paying close attention to drawer pulls and other frequently-touched surfaces. You likely walk around in your bedroom barefoot, so it’s also important to disinfect the floor.

HVAC, Ventilation, Filtration

Your HVAC system circulates air inside your home so it’s important that it’s clean. If your home ever experienced a fire and had smoke damage, have the ducts remediated, and cleaned thoroughly. 

Change out your HVAC filters regularly and consider purchasing the highest-rated filter that’s recommended for your system. This reduces your exposure to allergens and airborne bacteria.

Tips for Disinfecting Household Items

Different types of surfaces in your home also require different treatments for adequate disinfection. It’s important to use cleaners that are safe for these surfaces but that are also effective at killing bacteria and viruses.

Soft Surfaces, Washable, and Non-Washable Fabrics

If your soft surfaces are safe for the washing machine, such as sheets and pillowcases, complete the cleaning cycle with warm water and dry the items thoroughly. Read the label on your disinfectant and if it’s safe for soft surfaces, such as carpet, consider spraying it on, letting it sit, then vacuuming. You can also use soap and water if the disinfectant isn’t recommended for those surfaces.

Electronics

The buttons on electronics are touched frequently, so properly disinfecting them is crucial. Consider installing a plastic cover on your tablet, remote, or keyboard, so you can easily wipe it down with disinfectant. 

Disinfectant sprays with at least 70% alcohol are generally effective at killing bacteria on electronics. However, it’s important to review the manufacturer’s label to ensure the spray won't damage your items.

Laundry

When you wash your clothes, towels, or linens, use the warmest setting that’s still safe for your items. Dry your laundry thoroughly to prevent bacteria from growing. Wipe down your clothes hamper with a safe disinfectant regularly. 

Using the proper disinfectants ensures you kill the bacteria, germs, and viruses that can cause illness. When you keep your home disinfected, you and your family members can enjoy a healthy, safe, and clean environment.

Cast Iron Pipe Water Damage and Lawsuits

10/19/2020 (Permalink)

cast iron pipe lawsuit in Florida - image of cast iron pipes on floor Iron pipes could have corrosion on the inside that can reduce water quality and slow the flow of water.

In Florida, there are increasing numbers of homeowners filing a lawsuit related to cast-iron plumbing in their homes that have failed, leading to water damage, leaking sewage, drain clogs, and even pest infestations. These are homes that were built before 1975 with cast iron pipes that have since deteriorated. Unfortunately, many homeowners who have filed claims with their insurance company are being denied coverage or receiving far less than the damage caused because the company claims the problem was “normal wear and tear” or that damage caused by water is not covered under the policy.

The Problem with Cast Iron Plumbing

Today, homes are built with PVC piping which are pipes made of a hard plastic material known as polyvinyl chloride. However, before 1975, Florida homes were built using cast iron plumbing, which was supposed to have a lifespan of up to 75 years. When these pipes were installed, builders did not take into account the extreme humidity in Florida which has led the pipes to fail much sooner than they should have. Humidity speeds corrosion and leads to damaged pipes. In fact, homeowners began having problems with the cast iron plumbing within 25 years, half the expected lifespan of the plumbing. It is estimated that over two million homes in Florida have this type of piping and all of them will need to have the cast iron pipes replaced in the near future.



Signs Your Pipes are Failing

There are telltale signs that will let you know if your pipes are failing. You may notice that your sinks or tubs drain slower than normal or that your plumbing has developed leaks. If water backs up in your toilet or drains, your pipes may be starting to fail. Broken, cracked, discolored, or raised floor tiles are also a sign that you may have a leak due to faulty piping. Water stains on your carpet or pest infestations are also symptoms of pipe problems. If you notice foul smells in your home, you may want to have your piping checked as well.



Pest Infestations

Many homeowners are unaware that there are pests that can access your plumbing which can result in an infestation in your home. If your pipes are leaking, standing water can accumulate and become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, flies, and dragonflies. Standing water is also a great place for parasites and bacteria to thrive. Hidden plumbing leaks can create a perfect environment for other types of pests as well. Rodents and bugs like dark, damp spaces which means a plumbing leak under your home could provide them with the perfect place to lay eggs or build a nest. Termites are attracted to damp wood and could cause tremendous damage. Cockroaches are also attracted to water as well as organic debris. They have been known to actually clog sink traps by getting into the plumbing system. Rodents like squirrels, gophers, rats, and mice can enter your home through vents in the roof, your sewer system, or gaps in your crawl space. Once they are inside, they can easily climb plumbing pipes and leave debris inside, leading to clogs. A rodent can also die inside a pipe, leading to a serious backup and expensive repairs. If your pipes are failing, gaps and leaks provide access to your plumbing system by all types of pests.



Cast Iron Pipe Issues

The average homeowner understands that they are required to perform regular maintenance on their home. For most, this means cleaning gutters regularly, replacing HVAC filters, repairing visible damage, and replacing roof shingles. However, when it comes to a cast-iron plumbing failure, the average homeowner may have no idea that the pipe even has a problem. Because the majority of a home’s plumbing fixtures are hidden, you may have no idea that you have cast iron pipe in your home. In addition, being able to see the outside of the pipe may not be enough. Iron pipes could have corrosion on the inside that can reduce water quality and slow the flow of water.



Insurance Company Denials

One of the reasons homeowners are filing lawsuits is because their insurance companies are denying claims related to cast-iron pipes. Water damage is a tricky subject for insurance companies. Most will cover damage caused by a water problem that could not be foreseen, such as a broken toilet or washer hose. They usually do not cover damage that can be related to homeowner negligence or water that seeps for a significant period. That means a pipe that bursts in your home suddenly may be covered but not one that failed simply because it was old. Insurance policies often do not cover flood damage, like when a river overflows and they usually do not cover sewage backups or water seeping into your basement from the ground. You want to read your homeowners policy to see what clauses exist. If yours states that it will not cover “losses due to wear and tear on pipes,” they will more than likely not cover damage caused by a faulty cast iron pipe and you may need to talk to a lawyer about a lawsuit. However, there is a chance your policy may have a loophole that will work in your favor, but it may take an attorney to find that loophole or the threat of a lawsuit to get the insurance company to cover the damage.



How to Deal with Water Damage

If you suffer water damage, you need to take immediate action. First, try to remove excess water by mopping and blotting. Unplug and remove all electrical appliances, such as lamps. Remove furnishings and prop cushions in a dry location. Turn on ceiling fans, unless the ceiling is wet, and, if you have them, window or floor fans, making sure to keep them away from standing water. You do not want to leave the wet fabric in place, you need to remove it to a dry area as quickly as possible, Books, magazines, and colored rugs should also be removed. Never use your household vacuum to remove water. If you have a wet-dry vacuum, you may use that to remove excess water. Do not enter rooms if the ceiling is sagging from water damage. It is critical to get the water cleaned as fast as possible in order to minimize the damage and reduce the costs of repair.

Water damage can be devastating. A water leak on your second floor could result in damaged ceilings on lower levels as well as damaged floors on the level where the leak occurred. If your home was built before 1975, it is possible that the leak was caused by a faulty cast iron pipe. If your insurance company denies your claim, you should contact an attorney to discuss the possibility of a lawsuit. You may also want to reach out to a company that will help you deal with the aftermath of a water leak. SERVPRO of Winter Park offers 24/7 emergency service and can get a technician out to minimize your damage as much as possible. We use advanced equipment and techniques designed to dry your property. Not only will we address your water damage quickly, but we will also deodorize and sanitize the area as well. Contact us today by calling or visiting us online to learn more about the many services we offer, including water damage, sewage backup cleanup as well as mold remediation.

How to Stop Damage from a Window Leak in Orlando

6/12/2020 (Permalink)

water entry from window during rain SERVPRO Has the Devices and Equipment to Keep Your House Dry

Water Damage Can Escalate Fast - Orlando Can Count SERVPRO

If you have identified a leak in one of your windows, it can lead to water damage in Orlando. Take steps to fix it quickly. If left to deteriorate, the problem will turn into something much more difficult to repair. It is very easy for invading water to cause additional damage and wood rot, so waste no time and call in an expert water damage team, if necessary.

Identify the Source
The first step is always to try and uncover the spot where the water is making its way inside. While this might sound simple, it can be very tricky. Just because you find water pooling in a particular spot on the sill or around the drywall, this does not mean that this area is the point of intrusion. Water will run with gravity, often quite far from its source. Take a close look at the whole window, focusing mainly on the frame, sash, and the edges of the glass. Carefully examine the caulking around the perimeter, because degradation of this material is a common cause of leaks

A lot of windows only show signs of leakage if the rain outside is bad or there is a storm, so you may have trouble finding the source in dry conditions. You can, however, ask a helper to step outside and spray the window with water (from a bucket, hose, etc.), so that you have a better chance of discovering the water damaged problem area. SERVPRO can check with a moisture meter for hidden wet areas within the window area or adjoining walls and ceiling. Dehumidifiers and air movers can be placed to pull out moisture and increase evaporation. 

Fix the Leak for Good
The only way to tell if you can repair the leak alone is to identify its source and assess how serious it is. If the water is entering in the flashing, above the window, it will need to be removed and upgraded. Or, you may need to replace the caulking around the window. If you are not confident about the outcome, call in a professional to do the repairs.

Water damage can appear in many forms. If water wicks into porous material like drywall or ceiling tiles, it usually has to be discarded. We recommend hiring a leak detector or plumber to find and stop the leak from the source. For any amount of standing water and/or moisture, it may be wise to call in SERVPRO for an assessment of the problem and suggestions for remediation. Don't allow a small quantity of water to cascade into a major, expensive water damaging event. We can restore water damage "Like it never even happened."

Highly-Trained Water Restoration Specialists

We are water damage specialists. SERVPRO of Winter Park gets your property in College Park, Orlando, and Baldwin dry and back to pre-water damage condition. We are ready 24/7 to help. (407) 678-5391

Smoke Damage Restoration in Winter Park

6/12/2020 (Permalink)

smoke damage in bedroom After a fire strikes your residential property, there are a plethora of tasks that you must complete to expedite the remediation process.

Brief Overview 

After a fire strikes your residential property, there are a plethora of tasks that you must complete to expedite the remediation process. One of the most crucial tasks that you will need to attend to is Winter Park smoke damage restoration. Often, homeowners believe that completing a do-it-yourself project is advisable because it will save them time and money. However, this is almost never the case. In fact, hiring a professional smoke damage restoration company is the best route to take because these individuals possess the experience and equipment necessary to optimize the remediation process. Learn more about smoke damage restoration and the importance of hiring a professional company by reviewing the following data: 

Performing The Fire Damage Assessment
One of the most significant components of the Winter Park smoke damage remediation process is completing a fire damage assessment on your property. This work will help determine the extent of the damage done by smoke and fire. The best way to get the process started is to contact your insurance company and a smoke damage restoration company. These individuals will be able to inspect your property and provide you with a cost estimate for the cleanup and repair processes. If you can obtain a referral to a restoration company by your insurance company, the two companies will likely be able to work together to create a fair settlement. If this happens, you will probably pay less money out of pocket for remediation services.

Cleaning Your Home
After completing a detailed assessment, professional restoration companies will start cleaning up the fire damage in your residential property. Dehumidifiers will help absorb excess water. Smoke damage restoration experts will also utilize cleaners and deodorizers to remove soot and smoke from your property. 

Contact SERVPRO Today
Winter Park smoke damage restoration is a complex, complicated process that should be left to the professionals. When you start looking for a team of trained experts to assist you, trust the talented technicians of SERVPRO. We offer round the clock emergency services and work with speed and skill to resolve all smoke issues as quickly as possible. Call us immediately at (407) 678-5391 to attain the excellent, expedient smoke damage restoration services you deserve. 

Locally Owned Company with National Resources

As a locally owned and operated business, SERVPRO of Winter Park is strategically located to respond quickly to your smoke or fire damage event. When a major fire or disaster event occurs, we can call upon our national network of 1,650 SERVPRO Franchises and special Disaster Recovery Teams if we need additional resources or personnel.

We are here in Winter Park and are ready to help you. Just call us. (407) 678-5391

Downtown Orlando Commercial Fire Damage Advice

6/12/2020 (Permalink)

fire trucks in downtown orlando There are steps you can take to make sure your downtown Orlando business is as safe as possible from the threat of a fire.

SERVPRO Offers Fire Damage Preventative Tips For A Downtown Orlando Business

Fire damage to a commercial enterprise can be catastrophic on the property damage issue and of closing the doors to clients and customers. A commercial property owner, having to deal with this unexpected extreme event, needs all the help he can get. The fact that the fire can force a business owner to stop temporarily operating or even shut down permanently can result in deep financial consequences. However, learning more about business fire prevention and what steps to handle them can limit business owners from experiencing substantial financial loss, stress, and the complete destruction of their property. Discover more about these important issues by referring to the quick reference guide provided for you below compliments of SERVPRO.

What Causes Business Fires? A wide range of factors can cause business fires.
- fire from an adjoining commercial property or suite
- an electrical fire, or commercial kitchen flare-up
- lightning strike, very prevalent in the Orlando area
- natural disasters like earthquakes, more likely a sinkhole

Business Interruption Insurance
Typically, companies who are not able to survive following a fire fail to do so because they did not have business interruption insurance. While companies who do purchase this insurance may find it challenging to recover fully, it is still easier for them to get back to business. Thus, although the insurance typically costs 10% more than a business owner's standard premium, the investment is considered to be a prudent and practical one. And SERVPRO is usually at the top of the list of preferred vendors for many insurance and property management companies. We can coordinate a restoration plan with your insurance adjuster and help manage the insurance claim, reducing your stress.

Fire Prevention Strategies
In addition to investing in business interruption insurance, business owners should implement the following fire prevention strategies:
- Do not store flammable items in an open spot. Keep an organized stockroom and inventory storage area to prevent damage from fire.
- Check quarterly that your smoke alarms are functioning properly, and if installed, working fire-suppressant sprinkler system.
- Develop and implement a thorough, effective fire evacuation plan, have lighted exit signs, and no blockage of emergency exit doors.
- Make sure that your appliances, electronics, and machinery are shut off when closed, if possible.
- Ensure that all fire extinguishers and emergency directions are in viewable and accessible locations, emergency phone numbers visible
- Make sure that your backup drives and critical paperwork are kept in a fireproof safe or cloud storage.

Call SERVPRO Today
Unfortunately, even extensive planning cannot prevent your commercial property from possible fire damage in Downtown Orlando. A lot can happen in this thriving environment. However, if disaster strikes, the professionals of SERVPRO can provide you with the fire damage restoration services that get your property and business back into operation. Our IICRC-certified technicians offer a fast response. And we can mitigate the water, smoke and fire damage and handle the restoration project, saving you money. From start to completion, our goal is to get your doors reopened in minimal time and cost. "Like it never even happened."

Commercial Restoration Presents Unique Challenges

SERVPRO of Winter Park has the equipment, experience, and training to handle large commercial fire damage emergencies in Downtown Orlando, a big box fire in Winter Park, or even a small motel in College Park. Because we are faster to any disaster, we respond 24/7 to all calls. 407 678-5391

Storm Damage Experts in Winter Park

6/12/2020 (Permalink)

tree fell through Florida home SERVPRO is ready to deal with any size storm damage. Call today!

Quick Response and High Standards Will Leave you Satisfied after Remediation

When heavy rains and high winds hit hard, property destruction and loss can be devastating to you as a homeowner. Structural damage to the exterior of your home is followed by interior devastation from water and winds. Storm damage is rarely isolated to just a few buildings in an area adding the challenge of finding a restoration company that can respond swiftly to your needs to an already anxiety-provoking situation. SERVPRO delivers the help you need swiftly even when a local disaster is widespread as we are able to call upon a network of over 1,650 franchises nationwide to respond if the need is great. 
 
Storm damage in Orlando can feel overwhelming, but your fear and panic will disappear when our team of professionals responds to your water, wind, and flooding repair and restoration needs. Your particular situation is of paramount importance to us, and you need not worry that your repairs and restoration will take a back seat even when many in your area are struggling to recover from the same issues you face. Choosing our company puts in motion a vast support system, but our local ownership means you will receive a personalized approach to your particular situation, efficiently returning your home back to its pre-storm condition just “Like it never even happened.” 
 
Placing your trust in SERVPRO for your storm damage needs will reap you benefits that less qualified companies simply cannot deliver. We use state of the art equipment to clean, repair, and restore your home and in the process, we also restore your and your family’s peace of mind. Our technicians are highly trained and qualified, current in the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) for any procedure needed to bring your home back to the comfortable and comforting refuge you deserve. We also work closely with your insurance company, ensuring that all the work necessary is approved and compensated according to the terms of your policy. Our high standards and relentless drive to do the job on time while meeting local specifications means you and your family will quickly return to the quiet enjoyment of your house and neighborhood. We are not satisfied until you are happily back in your restored dwelling. 
 
Once you make sure that your family is safe after a major storm, your first call should be to SERVPRO of Winter Park. Dial (407) 678-5391 24/7 and begin the road to recovery by scheduling an inspection with our storm damage experts.