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Habits That Cause House Fires

2/24/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Southern McHenry County has the specialized fire restoration training and experience to quickly restore your home to pre-fire condition.

8 Bad Habits That Could Burn Your House Down

Your everyday routine could be putting your family at risk.

Fire safety is a hot-button topic (pun intended) — and rightly so. During a recent five-year study by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to 1,000 home fires every day, on average. That's 42 every hour, causing roughly $228 in damage each second.

"The majority of home fires can be prevented by taking some very simple steps," says Lorraine Carli of the NFPA. Start today by considering all of the little things you do that can put you at big risk.

  1. Crowding appliances together

"When you don't leave space around electrical appliances, you're not allowing the heat they generate to dissipate," says Rachel Rothman, Technical Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. All major appliances should be plugged directly into a wall outlet — rather than using extension cords or power strips to clump them in the same area — according to Carli. "More than one heat-producing appliance in an outlet at a time risks overloading the wiring, putting you at risk for an electrical fire.

Another safety tip: "Sign up to get recall notices on your major appliances at, " advises Rothman. "Every now and again products are recalled that have been found to be potentially dangerous due to overheating."

  1. Walking away from food cooking in the kitchen

Cooking (chiefly, unattended cooking) is by far the leading cause of home fires. "It only takes a few seconds for abandoned cooking to catch fire," says Carli. Frying is the riskiest, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. You may want to avoid the technique on Thanksgiving: it's the top day for home cooking fires.

  1. Daisy-chaining extension cords

"Connecting cords overloads them, which can cause a short circuit that can result in a fire," says Carli, noting that extension cords are only meant to be a temporary solution. "If you need more outlets, seek a qualified electrician to install some."

And never assume that your power strip has built-in surge protection. "In general, power strips are not designed to regulate power flow or block surges," says Rothman. Plugs that do not have a UL, CSA-US or ETL-US mark should be avoided.

  1. Making do with damaged or worn out cords

Using compromised cords can cause electric shock as well as increase your fire risk if heat from the wires comes in contact with anything that can burn, says Carli, who recommends replacing any cords. As Bruce Springsteen sings, "you can't start a fire without a spark." And in less than 30 seconds, the USFA reveals, "a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire."

  1. Leaving home with an electrical appliance running

"You should never have an appliance on that is not properly tended to, especially if leaving the house," says Rothman. The exception? Crockpots. "They're OK," says Carli, noting that "the food does not get hot enough or boil to cause a big fire concern."

  1. Ignoring the lint that needs to be cleaned out from the dryer

According to the USFA, 2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause $35 million in property loss. Thirty-four percent of those blazes were caused because the homeowner didn't clean the dryer. "Lint that collects on the filter, around the drum, and in the vents, can catch fire from the heat of the dryer," says Carli. "Without cleaning, the lint builds up and then the heat can't escape." Clean your lint filter regularly, but also check your dryer hose for lint clogs at least once a year.

  1. Leaving a lit candle unattended

It sounds simple but bears repeating considering how much damage even a single votive can do. "Candles can be blown over or knocked over by pets," says Carli. "Use sturdy holders and extinguish them when you leave the room."

  1. Putting off cleaning the chimney

"Creosote, the oily substance that builds up when you burn things in your fireplace, is a leading cause of chimney fires," says Carli. "Have chimneys inspected on a yearly basis and cleaned as needed." But never toss fireplace ashes in the trash before they're 100 percent cool (and that could take a few days). Rothman advises, "Put water on the ashes to make sure they are really out."

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. Call 847-516-1600.

Three Tips How to Protect Your Business During an Thunderstorm

2/23/2020 (Permalink)

When thunderstorms march across Southern McHenry County, they can cause serious damage to your business. Power outages, downed tree limbs and flooding from a torrential rain storm are all possibilities. However, there are several strategies you can use to protect your business and employees from harm when these storms appear.

  1. Keep Your Lightning Rod Maintained

If your business is located in a tall building that may attract lightning, then maintaining the lightning rod can be essential. Have the rod checked annually for damage and ask your certification professionals to verify that it is up to code. If your business is located in an area where lightning is common, it is wise to have the unit cleaned and inspected at least twice a year.

  1. Maintain All Trees on the Property

High winds can turn tree limbs into projectiles that may shatter your building’s windows and cause serious injury to your customers or employees. While trees can add aesthetic beauty to your property, take care to have them trimmed and maintained so dead branches do not detach and strike people entering your business below. Trimming trees away from your building’s power lines can protect its power source during a thunderstorm, where they might otherwise become entangled.

  1. Have a Flood Plan in Place

A heavy rain storm can cause flooding, which can happen suddenly and cause a considerable amount of damage to your business. Having a flood plan in place can prevent this, especially in the case of mitigation services. Contacting a storm damage and flood cleanup service before the wet season can be a wise choice because if your building should experience flooding, you will have help on hand right away instead of trying to find it during a disaster.

Your Southern McHenry County business can take a pounding during a rain storm that includes wind or hail. Knowing how to protect your employees, customers and property can give you an edge over bad weather, no matter when it might happen.

Call SERVPRO of Southern McHenry County at 847-516-1600 to have an Emergency Ready Profile (ERP) done for your business.

WEATHER ALERTS: Tools to keep you safe

2/3/2020 (Permalink)

Picture of Alert Screen on Mobile Phne Alert Bad Weather

One of the best precautions you can take is to purchase a good quality weather radio. A weather radio is designed to alert you to potentially dangerous weather situations, like an approaching tornado. It allows you to be warned ahead of storms, providing you time to seek shelter. A weather radio is the most reliable source for weather alerts.

Weather radios have made many advancements over the years and are very affordable. Most basic weather radios average around $30 and can be programmed to only alert you for the weather alerts you chose.

When shopping for a weather radio, look for the following key features.

  • Reviewable alerts (you can scroll through alerts and turn off the siren for alerts you do not wish to hear).
  • Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) alert programming (alerts when specific counties are threatened, ensuring you only receive alerts for your county).
  • Ease of programming

If you need help programming your weather radio, you can always contact your local National Weather Service Office or additional information, including county codes for you state, visit the NOAA Weather Radio website at

Understanding WEAS

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are emergency messages sent by authorized government alerting authorities through your mobile carrier. Government partners include local and state public safety agencies, FEMA, the FCC, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Weather Service. Alerts received at the right time can help keep you safe during an emergency. With WEA, alerts can be sent to your mobile device when you may be in harm’s way, without need to download an app or subscribe to a service. WEA may share:

  • Extreme weather warnings
  • Local emergencies requiring evacuation or immediate action.
  • AMBER Alerts
  • Presidential Alerts during a national emergency

A WEA will look like a text message. The WEA message will typically show the type and time of alert, any action you should take, and the agency issuing the alert. The message will be no more than 90 characters.

Visit to learn more about Wireless Emergency Alerts, including how to determine if your mobile device is WEA-capable.

What you need to know before filing a claim on your home…

1/31/2020 (Permalink)

Filing an Insurance Claim

When a disaster hits your home, you usually panic and call your agent or insurance company to file a claim. Sometimes that isn’t a good idea because your deductible may be higher than the damage itself. It is best to get an estimate from a restoration company like SERVPRO of Southern McHenry County before you call to file a claim.

Here are some basic rules to follow when filing a claim:

  • Check with your agent or assigned adjuster to verify you’re covered for the claim. After heavy rains and hurricanes, many homeowners think they have flood insurance. Traditional homeowners insurance does not cover water damage caused by floods. It is a separate coverage underwritten by the federal government through the National Flood Insurance Program. If you file a claim with your insurance company for something that isn’t covered, the claim itself doesn’t go away from your record.
  • If you’re a consistent claimant, your rates are going to be high. It isn’t unusual for a homeowner to file up to two claims in a 10-year period, but more than one or two in a three-year time span and the insurance company will think you’re a high risk.
  • Don’t submit claims for what is really a home maintenance project (small incidents). Also, a better maintained home will get better premiums.
  • Call a restoration company like SERVPRO of Southern McHenry County to provide free estimates on your damages. They will let you know if the damage is less or more than your deductible. Based on their estimates, you can decide whether or not to file a claim.

Contact your local SERVPRO of Southern McHenry County for free estimates on damages related to water, fire or mold in your home or business.

Mold Remediation Services Available For Home/Commercial Property Owners In McHenry County

1/31/2020 (Permalink)

Are You A Commercial Property Owner Dealing with Mold Damage? SERVPRO is Here to Assist! 

Mold remediation for a business like yours, for the majority of restoration companies, is an after thought. They lump services in with those provided for home recovery, when in fact there is a major difference in business preparations and the restoration process itself.

To properly treat your McHenry County area property for mold damage, it may be necessary to work during non-peak hours to limit interruptions to normal business operations. When dealing with mold that affects your motel guests, remaining operating during remediation is imperative. The company you choose needs to understand and have the knowledge to protect employees and customers from exposure.

You want access to someone like SERVPRO with all of the resources, equipment, personnel, and experience necessary to perform at a maximum level. Our technicians take every precaution to restrict access to contaminated areas, keeping you informed after each night, advancing your remediation process as quickly and efficiently as possible.

SERVPRO has an entire section devoted to helping businesses just like yours recover after disaster strikes. With experience in every major type of catastrophic event known to man, we can provide you with the services you need to help keep your motel up and running.

Our containment methods prevent exposure to additional areas, containing shower corner mold when possible to avoid additional growth. We also have access to air movers, scrubbers, infrared moisture detectors, hygrometers, and water extraction equipment necessary to perform any services required to get the job done right.

SERVPRO technicians explain our remediation process entirely, giving you exceptional insight into how mold operates and how everyone that works for you can help prevent these problems from reoccurring. Our staff knows how important your business is and we make every effort to show how much we care during every interaction.

Removing mold from your motel rooms can be easy, or it can be hard. The longer you wait to make a call for help, the more losses you experience. With the right company, your mold remediation services go off without a hitch. They can even help remove odors that develop and completely deodorize the entire space.

Locally Owned Company with National Resources

Contact SERVPRO of Southern McHenry County for full details, or to schedule your initial inspection today. Help is only a phone call away. 847-516-1600


What items are salvageable from blood contamination

1/13/2020 (Permalink)

It happens, someone we know has been involved in a gun, knife or other sharp item incident. Whether it happens to be a kitchen accident or an accidental discharge on a firearm, SERVPRO knows how to handle any situation.

There are many items that can be cleaned by a professional that had previous blood contamination. Here is a short list of what cannot be saved:

Some Electronics – Depending on the type and how far the contamination went down into the item will come into play. You cannot wipe off just the outside and say it is good to go. If blood falls between the vents of the item there is a chance it could land on a circuit board and cause a short at minimum or Cause a fire. This is a very serious issue that should be handled by a professional.

Soft Goods/Certain Textiles – Some can be cleaned depending on the material make, age and contamination level. Certain items like pillows or stuffed animals will need to be dissembled, filling removed, exterior cleaned and put back together with clean materials.

Engineered Wood/ Press wood - Any wood item that has been modified where contamination has come in contact with an unfinished surface cannot be cleaned. This is due to the many cavities that pressboard and engineered wood have. Natural/Solid wood can be treated and sanded to remove the affected areas, then re-stained to match existing colors.

Carpet/Pad – If at any time there is blood contamination that has soaked through to the carpet or pad the area must be removed! There is no way to guarantee that the carpet and pad are fully decontaminated.

Knowing The Professional Mold Remediation Standards

1/10/2020 (Permalink)

In 2008, the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification released its first book on professional mold remediation standards, officially known as the BSR-IICRC S520. The 56-page guide for technicians who face the challenges of correcting fungus contamination as part of their job is currently under revision and an updated version is expected to be released later this year.

The IICRC S520 followed on the heels of the Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration S500. First published in 1994, the S500 details procedures for the restoration of structures, systems and contents damaged by water. Although the IICRC S500 also recognized the problem of mold contamination resulting from water damage, the guide does not discuss fungal infestation in depth. Consequently, the IICRC realized there was a need to develop a reference guide designed to accompany remediators in the field, and the idea of the IICRC S520 was born.

After three years of gathering the input and applicable knowledge of industry professionals, health experts and trade associations (among the many voices that contributed to the project), the Standard for Professional Mold Remediation S520 was ready for publication. The IICRC S520 in its original form remains accurate in content, IICRC officials say, but constant advancements in technology and new research discoveries make the S520 a living project subject to ongoing changes.

Some of the topics covered in the IICRC guide to professional mold remediation standards include principles of mold remediation; equipment, tools and materials required for the job; building and material science; safety and health; administrative procedures, documentation and risk management, and limitations, complexities, complications and conflicts.

A draft of the S520 is currently open for informal peer review and comments and can be accessed through the IICRC website.


Hoarding Cleanup with Biohazard Contaminants in Algonquin/Lake In The Hills

1/10/2020 (Permalink)

Garbage in Hoarder House  Garbage in Hoarder House

Do you know someone in your life that may be a hoarder?

We are often called to clean and restore properties with hoarding conditions after a water, fire, or mold damage.  Many hoarding situations require biohazard or specialized bloodborne pathogen cleanup, depending on the items being hoarded.  No matter the situation, our team has the experience to handle different hoarding situations, even before a damage has occurred.

Hoarding can create cramped living conditions and fill a home to its capacity.  Often, only narrow pathways are available to move from room to room, and the number of items prevents the use of normal living space.  Accumulation can be in every room of the house and may spread to the garage, vehicles, and yard.

Hazards associated with hoarding include:

  • A fire hazard due to blocked exits and excessive smoke
  • Unsanitary conditions that pose a risk to health
  • Injury or being trapped by shifting or falling items
  • Relationship conflicts, including loneliness and social isolation
  • Financial problems
  • Legal issues such as eviction

SERVPRO of Southern McHenry County offers hoarding cleanup, including situations with bloodborne pathogens.  We are a full-service cleanup and restoration company. We can:

  • Inventory, sort, and pack items of value
  • If needed, kept items will be transported to our facility for storage
  • Gather and dispose of items that require being thrown away
  • Identification and cleanup of hazardous contaminants
  • Deep clean of the entire home, including the garage and yard
  • If any part of the property is permanently damaged, our reconstruction team will rebuild it.
  • If requested, we can provide our services in unmarked vehicles for your privacy.

When hoarding begins to seriously affect the daily life of your friend or loved one, we’re to help.   SERVPRO of Southern McHenry has over 19-years of experience remediating water, fire, and mold damage.  We service Southern McHenry County and all surrounding Algonquin and Lake in the Hills communities.  We can be reached 24/7 at 847-516-1600.  

“Like it never even happened.” only happens here.


Mayo Clinic

NFPA National Fire Prevention Association

Holiday Decoration Safety Tips

12/20/2019 (Permalink)

Picture of Christmas tree on fire Simple Christmas tree mistake that could cause a devastating fire

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.

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, SERVPRO wants 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 flame less 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. 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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Fire or Water Damage? Let SERVPRO be your hero!

Source of Picture: U.S. Consumer Product  Safety Commission

Working with Insurance Adjusters After a Fire  

12/20/2019 (Permalink)

Picture of Adjuster taking Pictures Taking photos of the damage during an inspection helps for building an estimate and even providing documentation to your adjuster.

Experiencing a fire in your Southern McHenry County home is a possibility that no homeowner wants to consider, however, it is a possibility that occurs more frequently than you may think. There are many causes of fires and they can occur any day, without warning, and cause an overwhelming amount of damage and prolonged effects on your property. Aside from the stress of dealing with a fire itself, the aftermath and process of restoring your property can be equally stressful as well.

The Process with Your Insurance Adjuster

SERVPRO of Southern McHenry County knows how stressful these situations can be and works to make the fire damage restoration process as smooth as possible. Not only do we work to communicate clearly and constantly with you throughout the actual restoration process, but we also communicate with your insurance company and adjuster to help determine which areas of your property require professional restoration services and what items are a loss. Our team works closely with you and your adjuster to make the right determinations and provide the necessary information to get your claim going as quickly as possible.

Fast and Comprehensive Estimate

Working quickly and accurately to provide you and your adjuster with an estimate plays a crucial part in expediting the process of your claim. Our team inspects all of the damage to your home, visible and nonvisible, in order to determine the best course of action for restoration and the amount of equipment, personnel, and time needed to complete the project.

Fire Damage Restoration Process

Once your claims are filed and you are covered by your insurance company, our fire restoration team can get started with the fire damage restoration process and work to get your property restored and functional once again. The length of this process can fluctuate based on the severity of the fire and components affected.

Our crew works diligently to make sure the appropriate measures get taken to overcome all of the damage that your home experienced from the recent fire. If you are facing fire damages in your home, you can trust SERVPRO of Southern McHenry County professional team to help you get going in the right direction. Give us a call at any time or day at (847) 516-1600.