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Summer Storm Safety

3/23/2021 (Permalink)

Storm Safety Picture of thunderstorm occurring

Summer arrived with greenery and colorful flowers. However, the season can also bring severe weather. The American Red Cross wants everyone to know what steps they can take to stay safe if dangerous weather is predicted for their community.

TORNADOES Summer can be the peak season for tornado activity. Tornadoes occur mostly on warm days between 3:00 and 9:00 p.m. However, tornadoes can occur anywhere, at any time of the year, at any time of the day. The Red Cross has safety steps people should take now to be ready if a tornado warning is issued for someone’s neighborhood:

  • Know your community’s warning system.
  • Pick a safe room in your home where family members can gather if a tornado is headed your way. This should be a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
  • Prepare for strong winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees.
  • Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.
  • Know the tornado danger signs – dark, often greenish clouds, a wall cloud, cloud of debris, large hail, a funnel cloud or a roaring noise.

THUNDERSTORMS Thunderstorms are most likely to happen in the spring and summer, during the afternoon and evening. However, like tornadoes, they can happen anywhere, at any hour of the day. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people every year that tornadoes or hurricanes. The Red Cross has steps you can take if a thunderstorm is predicted for your area:

  • If thunder roars, go indoors. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning.
  • Watch for storm signs like darkening skies, flashes of lightning or increasing winds.
  • Postpone any outdoor activities. Many people who are struck by lightning are not where it is raining.
  • Take shelter in a substantial building or a vehicle with the windows closed. Shutter windows and close outside doors securely. Stay away from windows.
  • Do not take a bath, shower or use plumbing.

FLOODING Summer can be a time of year for flooding. Communities in the Midwest and south have already seen floodwaters inundate neighborhoods. Snow melt and heavy spring rains fill rivers and streams and flooding can occur. Flash floods occur suddenly when water rises rapidly along a stream or low-lying area. People should be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and head for higher ground when a flood or flash flood warning is issued. Other safety steps include

  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
  • If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.

WOW! What a Winter

3/10/2021 (Permalink)

Wow! What a Winter! 

Spring is just around the corner. Are you ready?
With spring comes more rain, as if we needed any more. That leaves only a few weeks to be ready for summer.
As we are all very aware, this has been a brutal winter. I recommend taking a close inspection of your facilities. With the winds, heavy rains, snow and the below normal cold there is good chance damage was done.  Preventative maintenance check list
• Door and window seals
• Rain gutters
• Rain gutter drains
• Roof
• Flashing around chimneys
• Roof drains
• Clear yard debris
• Clean parking lot drains
• Clear all exterior drains   When inspecting the roof, look for broken or missing shingles or any damaged components. Check the flashing around any pipes or vents that come through the roof. The rain gutters need to be clear of debris.
When inspecting the exterior walls of your building, look for any damage to the siding, deteriorated or missing caulking around the doors and windows, then make all necessary repairs.
Take a walk around the foundation, checking the condition of the vents, making sure the drain systems are free of debris and the grade allows the water run away from the building.  Preventative maintenance check list
• Foundation grading
• Leaking plumbing
• Missing insulation
• Clean the area around the sump pump
• Test the sump pump
• Check the foundation vents
• Make sure the vapor barrier is intact
• Check for pests
• Make sure the plumbing is properly insulated

Spend some time in the crawl space look for standing water, leaking pipes, pests or fallen insulation.
If you have any questions or need help in any of these areas, let me know and I will gladly be of assistance. As a FREE service, we would be happy to meet with you and your maintenance staff to discuss which areas to check, and the red flags that can alert you to issues before they affect your business. 
The Tip of the Month Quiz 

1. When inspecting the roof what are you looking for?
2. Can mold form inside walls if moisture seeps in?
3. Can standing water under a building cause health concerns? 

Spring Storm Safety

3/4/2021 (Permalink)

Picture of high winds while raining Spring Storm Safety

Be Aware of the Weather Conditions

The most important thing you can do is to stay aware of weather conditions in the areas that you will be traveling. Tune into the local radio stations, watch the weather channel, or go to weather-related websites that will cover the area along your route. Awareness is essential part of spring storm safety, not only during tornado season, but during the winter as well, when snow and ice can make the roads a serious danger. Staying informed of any potential for severe weather will help you plan a safe route.

Stay Out (or Get Out) of the Danger Zone

If you can, stay away from any potential dangerous weather by planning your route accordingly. If your route goes through an area that shows a potential for storms, check the map and find a route that helps you avoid the situation entirely. If your destination is in the area of the storm, see if you can leave early to miss the storm or wait it out until the potential for hazardous weather has passed. It may not always be possible, but being proactive and avoiding the hazardous conditions altogether is the best way to stay safe during storms and tornadoes.

Stay Away from Overpasses!

If you do find yourself in a storm, never go for the myth of hiding under an overpass. For years, drivers believed this is one of the best places to wait out a storm, but in fact it’s one of the worst. Overpasses can become wind-tunnels, interacting with a tornado to create even more powerful winds. Stay away from overpasses, whether you’re in your cab or on the ground. Which brings us to another topic: whether or not to leave your truck...

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

This topic is highly-debated among truckers in the industry. Some swear by staying in your cab, while others advocate leaving the truck and seeking low ground like a ditch or valley. It seems the best answer depends on the situation itself. Sometimes, it may be best to stay put and let the cab be your shelter, while other situations call for leaving the truck. However, if there is real shelter nearby, like a building or home, this option is always better than staying in your truck or hiding in a ditch.

Benefits of Staying in the Truck

Inside your cab, the truck will act as your shelter, protecting you from hail, lightening, and debris. Keep your seatbelt on, as this will protect you if the winds become strong enough to overturn your vehicle. You should also crouch below the line of the windshield to protect yourself from flying debris.

Benefits of Getting Out

Getting out and hiding in a ditch puts you below the strongest winds and flying debris. If winds hit your truck hard enough, it could overturn, in which case you will be thankful you’re not inside. If you choose to get out, make sure you are far enough away from the truck in case it is pushed over.

In the end, it really comes down to being informed and aware. The #1, undisputed spring storm safety tip for truckers is to avoid the severe weather altogether. Yes, you need to do your job and be a dependable trucker, but taking risks with your life just to make your delivery is simply not worth it.

No reasonable person will be upset with you because you chose to avoid severe weather. In fact, most people will applaud your regard for safety.

Deductible Dilemma

1/18/2021 (Permalink)

Deductible Dilemma

Just last week SERVPRO of Southern McHenry County received a call from Mrs. homeowner who had a dishwasher malfunction on the main level. She was told to by her insurance provider to call us to inspect the damage. The water proceeded to obey the laws of gravity and went into the basement below affecting the drywall ceiling and a small amount of flooring. She had laminate flooring in the kitchen on the main level. SERVPRO arranged to come by after 5:00 PM when she was home from work. Enter Mr. homeowner on stage left. The following conversation followed the lines of "well I don't really see that much damage," and "I don’t want to pay a deductible". SERVPRO stressed that our visit, even on after hours time, was FREE of charge. In the end, SERVPRO was not allowed to look at the loss. So what next? It is a fact that before the sub floor under the laminate in the kitchen dries, there will be mold growth. It is highly likely that there will be mold growth on the back side of the ceiling drywall in the basement and walls behind the main level kitchen cabinets before it dries. At this point, any material removed by a mitigation company would result in full replacement. If we had to pull any laminate flooring in the kitchen, all the corresponding laminate in the kitchen/dining room, and living room would be replaced to match. Any drywall removal would result in new drywall, texture, and painting of all the affected area. All affected materials left in place would be dried to eliminate the chance for mold growth. So, two weeks down the road, maybe something starts to smell. If SERVPRO is called back, the loss then is considered not sudden and catastrophic as the homeowners decided not to take action. There is a very high probability of absolutely no coverage at all at this point and the homeowner is stuck with paying out of pocket, or permanent home damage. In addition, SERVPRO documents the drying process, keeps all photos and drying logs in a file, and leaves the homeowner with drying documentation. Now, when the home is sold and water damage has to be disclosed, the potential buyers can see it was handled professionally and the sale can proceed. Remember, free is free, let SERVPRO at least help you determine your best options.  

How to Prepare Your Home for Winter

12/21/2020 (Permalink)

Frozen water in gutter It’s time to prepare your home for colder winter months. Preparing for the change in season can help save energy and prevent costly damage.

As winter fast approaches, it’s time to start preparing your home for the colder months of the year. Problems you may not have noticed during the rest of the year can become a bigger issue as the weather starts to shift. Properly preparing for the change in season can help you save energy and prevent costly damage.

Prepare Your Pipes

The last thing you want during the winter months is a frozen pipe. Water expands when it freezes, which can result in burst pipes, flooding, and major water damage.

Leaky pipes can lead to expensive problems if they’re left untreated when winter comes. Watch for telltale signs of leaky pipes such as unexplained high water use or water damage. If you suspect you might have a leak, get your home inspected.

If you have any pipes in unheated or uninsulated areas of your home, make sure to wrap the pipes with heat tape or pipe insulation.

If you plan to head south for the winter or go out of town for an extended period of time, you may want to consider shutting off the water completely and hiring a service to drain your pipes.

Shut Off Exterior Faucets

Don’t forget your exterior water systems. If you don’t properly drain water from your exterior faucets/pipes, they may freeze, expand, and cause damage. Disconnect garden hoses, and drain the water out of the faucets. Unless you have frost-proof faucets, you’ll need to use the shut-off valve located inside your house.

Inspect Your Heating Systems

Before the first frost, have your HVAC system inspected. This will allow you to identify potential problems early and enjoy energy savings throughout the winter months. Make sure to vacuum out the vents, replace furnace filters if needed, and check for issues like leaks, cracks, or an underperforming system.

Inspect and clean your fireplace and chimney as well. You’ll want both in top shape for those cozy nights next to the fire.

Reverse Your Fan

During the summer months, most fans turn counter clockwise, which allows the slightly angled blades to push air down. This creates a wind-chill effect, which cools down the occupants of the room.

Warm air rises, which unfortunately means the warmest part of a room is well above you. If you can force the cooler air upward, you can push the warmer air down to your level and not have to turn the heat on quite as high. If you reverse the fan to rotate clockwise, it will pull up the cooler air from the bottom of the room toward the ceiling, which will force the warmer air in the upper part of the room down.

Clear Your Gutters

It’s always a good idea to clean out the gutters, but it’s especially important right before winter. The fall months, while beautiful, come with a lot of natural debris. Unfortunately, fallen leaves, twigs, and pine needles can clog up gutters and cause ice dams and icicles in the winter. Regularly clear out the debris to prepare for winter.

Examine Your Roof

Even small leaks in your roof can cost you in both utilities and greater damage to your roof. Clear the debris off your roof, and take a look at its current condition. Watch for damaged or missing shingles, any pooled water, or other signs of potential roof damage.

Seal Your Doors and Windows

Check your weather stripping and re-caulk around doorways or windows as necessary. If gaps between siding and a window or doorframe are bigger than the width of a nickel, it’s time to re-caulk. Make sure you use caulk that’s recommended for home exterior use.

Whether you find problems while preparing your home or it sustains winter-related water damage, SERVPRO® of Southern McHenry County is here to help.

We offer 24/7 emergency service, and we can help prepare your home or restore water damage “Like it never even happened.” Call us at 847-516-1600.

How Long Do You Have to Escape a House Fire?

12/17/2020 (Permalink)

How long do you have to escape a house fire? It's way less time than you think.

Everyone knows not to dawdle if their house is on fire, but you may believe you have some time to make a safe exit. Well, think again.

Gail McGovern, the president of the Red Cross reveals that you only have two (just two!) minutes to get out of your home before you might get stuck in the flames. This is because it only takes about five minutes for a fire to consume your entire house. And with one in seven people dying in a house fire each day, there's little room for error.

Practicing fire safety certainly requires vigilance, but it doesn't take too much effort to avoid a tragedy. First, make sure you have smoke alarms in your home (5 million American homes don't). You need one in every bedroom, one outside every sleeping area, and at least one on every floor. Make sure the detectors are working and refresh their batteries when you change the clocks for the beginning and end of Daylight Saving Time.

Also, it's important to practice fire drills with your family. You should go over possible routes to get out of your house fast, and consider getting escape ladders for any rooms on upper floors. Choose a meeting place outside that's a safe distance from your home.

And of course, you should take steps to prevent fires from happening in the first place. Watch the video to learn which common mistakes you might be making.

When fire and water damage strikes, a fast response is critical. We’re dedicated to responding immediately, day or night, to your Southern McHenry County home or business. A faster response helps to prevent secondary damage and to reduce cost.

We are available to assist you 24/7/365.

The Benefits of Interruption Coverage

12/9/2020 (Permalink)

4 Ways an Interruption Policy Can Protect Your Business

A fire or flood in your commercial property in Southern McHenry County, can leave you scrambling not only for the money to repair your building and the surrounding area but also for the revenue to pay the bills while operations are slowed or suspended. Interruption insurance covers the costs of your basic operations. It can mean the difference between slowing business down for a little while and going out of business altogether. Here are four ways an interruption policy can protect your business.

1. Income Compensation

Your business interruption policy is likely to replace most of the income you would have earned during the designated time. The amount you are eligible to receive often depends on financial statements and projections from your company. It protects your business from going bankrupt while you are getting back to normal.

2. Temporary Relocation

If the repairs your building needs are extensive, you may have to relocate your operations for a little while. Interruption insurance will often cover the expense involved in doing so. It may pay rent and utilities for an additional business operations center so that productivity does not have to suffer.

3. Utilities and Property-Related Expense

While fire restoration services are underway, you may still have to pay for basic utilities and property tax or rent in your own building that is being repaired. If that is the case, you will need an interruption policy that can pay those costs.

4. Employee Payroll

Just as your coverage protects you, you want to protect your employees. Many workers fear that their jobs will be in danger when the building is in jeopardy. An excellent business interruption policy supports you by supporting your staff and covering their paychecks.

Your interruption insurance allows you to protect your business while leaving yourself plenty of time to make sure repairs are done expertly and thoroughly. With proper coverage, you don't have to rush the recovery process.

5 Reasons to Request the Professionals

12/8/2020 (Permalink)

Picture of Product Storage 5 Reasons to Request the Professionals

Water damage can be a minor irritant or a major problem, and even the minor irritants can become major issues if left untreated. Here are five basic reasons why you should dispense with the “do it yourself” approach and call in a professional.

  • We can spot the small stuff. Not all sources of water damage are immediately apparent, and a good water damage mitigation company will be able to look at your home and determine from where the next major problem might come. Taking care of it now will save a lot of money in the long run.
  • We explain the processes we use. A professional water restoration company will be able to explain in detail the procedure that they are going to utilize to remove the water, dry out the property, repair and restore everything that was damaged, and the steps to be taken to ensure that there are no long term issues.  Water damage repair and restoration can be an expensive project in virtually any scenario, so you want to be sure of exactly what you are paying for and the results that you should logically expect to see.
  • You get a comprehensive treatment. It is almost never just the area directly affected by water that is the problem. Proper restoration treatment means being able to identify all the problems associated with the water damage and taking the steps to correct them. Some of these problems may be easily overlooked unless the technician is properly trained on what to look for and how to deal with it.
  • A pro will take the measures necessary to prevent future damage. This would include informing you of necessary repairs, bringing in the subcontractors needed for the repairs, or perhaps treating the humidity level in a home to ward off mold growth. You want a company that can take these steps.
  • A professional restoration company will recognize small problems and take care of them before they become major issues. One sunken floorboard can be repaired but left unattended may soon become a whole series of sunken boards. A pro understands the signs around your home that point to future issues.

Holiday Decoration Safety Tips

12/2/2020 (Permalink)

If your home, like millions of other households in the U.S., includes a Christmas tree and festive holiday decorations, you should be aware that the breathtaking beauty of the decorations also comes with a fire risk. That is why Rick Isaacson, CEO of SERVPRO Industries, Inc., is offering helpful tips to local residents.

“Basking in the glow of a warm fire or relaxing in a festively decorated home or office building may actually present a formula for a hazardous situation if you don’t take the proper precautions,” Isaacson said. “We want to show local residents how to keep their night before Christmas from becoming a nightmare before Christmas!”

Candles and Christmas trees have been reported to be two of the contributing factors of fires during the winter months. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, Christmas trees account for an estimated 200 fires annually and cause more than $6 million in property damage. Candles alone cause an estimated 15,600 fires each year, causing 1,270 injuries and more than $539 million in property damage. December is the peak month for candle fires, and Christmas is the peak day.

The following are a few tips for the members of the local community to consider when putting up and maintaining their holiday decorations:

  • Do not overload power outlets with holiday lights. Pay close attention to the manufacturer’s instructions on the number of lights you can string together.
  • Consider using battery-operated flameless candles.
  • Be careful not to splatter wax when extinguishing a candle.
  • Use flashlights instead of candles for emergency lighting.
  • Do not purchase a Christmas tree that is dry or dropping needles excessively. Be sure to water your Christmas tree regularly.
  • Do not use strings of lights that are worn, frayed, manually spliced or broken.
  • If you purchase an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled fire-retardant.
  • Do not link more than three light strands unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Be sure to periodically check the wires; they should not be warm to the touch.

“While holiday decorations can provide plenty of charm and cheer with assorted bright lights, Christmas trees and life-size Santa Claus figures, it is our responsibility to inform residents of potential dangers. We, too, want to see the glowing lights that are symbols of the winter holiday season, but we also want the community to be safe.” Isaacson said. “No matter what local residents’ reasons are for celebrating this month, we want everyone to enjoy the month of December safely.”

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Where did SERVPRO get its green color?

11/27/2020 (Permalink)

Picture of Green trucks SERVPRO Green

The restoration crews of SERVPRO of Southern McHenry County are always close by, helping to recover disasters in your area from fire, water and mold loss.  It’s hard to miss our green service vehicles as they drive through your local community.  But where did the green color come from?

In the early 1970s, the founders of SERVPRO® used a color chip paint sample chart to identify the most eye-catching color.  It was a highly technical process.  The founders showed the chart to as many people as they could and asked, “Which color on this chart would be impossible to miss?”  By a wide margin, the color most identified was 1970 rally green, a color used on Porsche 911 automobiles.

Now used on entire fleets of vehicles in every SERVPRO franchise across the nation from production vans to disaster recovery storm trailers, our vehicles are prepared for any size disaster.