Fire Prevention Week: Plan Two Ways Out
It's Fire Prevention Week! This year the National Fire Protection Association is reiterating the importance of planning at least two ways out when creating your fire escape plan.
About only half of Americans have developed a home fire escape plan - a quarter of those have never even practiced it. Planning (and practicing!) an escape route from your home can be the difference between life and death if there is ever a fire in your home. A regularly practiced fire escape plan can ensure that everyone in the home knows what to do and where to go when there's a fire.
Home fires can spread very quickly, and that is why it is so important to plan at least two ways out of every room. If the fire spreads and blocks your first path out, you need to be able to react quickly and move on to plan B.
Your home fire escape plan should include working smoke alarms on every level of the home, as well as in every bedroom. There should be two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window. The escape plan should also include a clear path to an outdoor meeting place (like a tree or mailbox) that is a safe distance from the home. Once you've created your home escape plan, be sure to practice it at least twice a year with all members of the household, including pets!
The Myths About Mold
When it comes to mold, there are a lot of misconceptions and misinformation that can lead to confusion for homeowners. Just the mention of the word "mold" can cause people to panic. While mold can be a very serious problem and should be taken seriously, it is important to have all the facts to be able to discern myth from fact so that you can make proper and informed decisions when necessary.
- "Bleach Kills Mold"
While bleach may be able to kill some types of mold on non-porous surfaces, it is unclear whether or not bleach can kill all types of mold, or if it can kill mold on porous surfaces like wood. Bleach is also a very corrosive agent and can pose its own health risks if used to kill mold. It's best to leave it to the professionals.
- "You Don't Have To Remove Mold If You Kill It"
Even if you are able to kill mold, you may not have removed the allergens that live in the mold. They can still be present even if the mold is killed. To fully protect yourself, removal of the affected areas is often necessary. You have to be careful not to spread the mold spores throughout your home when removing areas affected with mold. Professionals, like us, know how to set proper containment so that the mold allergens don't spread and further contaminate your home.
- "A Little Mold Is Nothing To Worry About"
If mold has become visible in your home, then chances are it has been growing for some time. Once mold becomes visible, it is important that you have the situation looked at, as there is more than likely more mold behind the surface.
- "Mold Remediation Is Easy To Do On Your Own"
This is usually not the case. Small areas of mold can sometimes be handled rather easily, but if the problem appears to be pervasive, it is best to call a professional. SERVPRO is always "Here to help!"
September Is National Preparedness Month: What Are You Doing To Be Prepared?
National Preparedness Month is officially here!
Now is the perfect time to start talking about all the ways in which you can be prepared!
Have you and your family sat down and discussed an emergency plan at home?
If not, you should plan a time this month to all sit down together and come up with an emergency plan! Plan out various escape routes in the event there is a fire or some other disaster in your home. This is especially important to do if you live in an area of Southern California where wildfires are common - September does bring the Santa Ana winds after all! When making plans for escape routes and for evacuations, don't forget to include your pets! If you do any practice escape drills, practice with your pets; You don't want to forget about your furry friends!
You should also be sure to create an emergency pack if you don't already have one. An emergency pack can be used if your home loses power or if you are forced to evacuate your home. Not sure what to put in your kit? We've already created a list for you here.
Know the facts.
Disasters can be pretty scary, especially when they're unexpected. Take some time this month to learn about various disasters that can happen where you live. Ready.gov has a list with information regarding most forms of disasters.The more you know, the more prepared you'll be. Being prepared can help you remain calm when disaster strikes!
College Campus: Dorm Safety Tips
For many college students, living in a dorm during their freshman year of college is the first time they’ve lived away from home and, subsequently, without the supervision of their parents/guardians. Before heading off for their first year of dorm living, new college students should read over this list of safety tips and take a few minutes to make sure that they are living in a fire-safe environment. It’s probably beneficial for returning college students to give this list a read through too; whether living in the dorms or off campus, safety tips should not be overlooked.
Learn the building’s evacuation plan.
If you’re living on campus, chances are your dorm will have an emergency evacuation plan. Once you’re all settled into your new home, take some time to familiarize yourself with the building and learn the evacuation routes. Practice multiple escape routes in the event that your first option is obstructed during an emergency. Most college campus buildings should have an evacuation plan posted on each floor. If you live off campus, have an escape plan of your own with at least two ways out of each room. Knowing what to do before an emergency happens can help you to protect yourself as well as others.
Don’t overload your room’s electrical outlets.
Most electrical outlets in dorms are designed to handle a specific amperage. It’s best not to try to push them to their capacity by using too many multi-plug devices. Your school may also have policies restricting the use/plug-in of certain appliances. These limitations are meant to limit the number of potential electrical and fire hazards in your dorm. If you ever notice any scorched marks or burning odors around an electrical outlet, stop using that outlet and inform someone of the problem right away.
Cook with care.
Be careful when cooking in your dorm or in the dorm’s community kitchen. Cooking equipment is involved in 86 percent of dormitory fires. If you do not have a kitchen in your dorm, then you should follow the school’s guidelines on what sort of plug-in cooking equipment is permitted for use in the dorms. Always be careful with electric frying pans, toasters, toaster ovens, microwaves, etc. Never leave your dorm when cooking appliances are in use.
Respect open flame policies.
Most schools don’t allow you to smoke or burn candles or incense in the dorms. If you do smoke, be sure to do so in the designated areas on campus (most likely away from buildings). If your school does not allow smoking on campus, then you should follow that policy. Avoid burning candles or incense in your dorm room. If you burn them for the smell, try using essential oil diffusers to create a pleasant aroma in the dorm. You can also buy battery operated flame-less candles for the same flickering light/ambiance that a candle provides, but without the fire hazard. If you do still choose to burn candles or incense in your dorm, never leave them unattended and keep them away from flammable materials.
Don’t tamper with fire safety features in your dorm.
Most dorms should have smoke detectors. It is important that you do not cover them with any decorations in your dorm. Additionally, do not remove the batteries in your dorm’s smoke detector. It will send a signal to Public Safety to investigate the source of the problem. It is also important to have fresh batteries in your smoke detector so that it can properly do its job to keep you safe. If your dorm has a sprinkler system in place, don’t hang any decorations on it. Sprinklers are there to help put out a fire before firefighters can get there. They are especially important if your dorm is on an upper level as it can be more difficult for firefighters to get to the flames.
Be mindful of clutter and how you decorate your dorm.
While decorating your dorm is how you can display your personality or bring some of home to school with you, it can also become potential fuel for a fire. Every poster or tapestry you hang on the wall, or piece of decor you hang from the ceiling, can be considered a fire hazard. Some schools may limit the amount of wall space that can be covered in your dorm, or may prohibit hanging things from the ceiling. Even if there are no restrictions, it would be wise to limit the amount of decor you hang in your room as well as to keep clutter to a minimum. Additionally, avoid draping materials over hot items like lamps that could potentially cause ignition. Furniture should also be kept away from the room’s heat source to reduce the risk of fire.
What You Should Know About Thunderstorms
They may not happen often in Orange County, but they do occur from time to time and it’s important to be prepared in the event that they cause flooding in your home or business. Thunderstorms typically bring a lot more rain than a typical shower that we’ll see in Southern California. Because of this, many homes may experience flooding when thunderstorms do occur.
What to do:
We’ve been experiencing record breaking heat throughout Southern California this summer. If that heat is paired with high humidity, that could mean thunderstorms. Check that your home is prepared for heavy rainfall now, before rain hits. Maintain regular maintenance of your roof, gutters, downspouts, etc., and take care of any needed repairs right away. If and when there is a thunderstorm in your area, keep an eye on your home for any signs of a water leak. If you do experience a leak, call someone to come out and have it fixed right away, and give SERVPRO of Tustin a call to begin the dry-out process. Water damage left untreated can become an even bigger problem.
Another possible issue when there are thunderstorms is lightning. Your home may be out of harm’s way in terms of rain and water damage, but it could still be in range of a lightning strike. Though chances are low that lightning will strike your home, it is still a possibility. A lightning strike could unfortunately start a fire in your home. Be sure to have an emergency plan for your whole family in case there is a fire. SERVPRO of Tustin can also take care of restoration for fire damage should that be needed. There is not much to do to prevent a lightning strike to your home. If you want you can invest in a lightning rod or lightning protection for any tree that is taller than your home.
Hopefully if we do get any thunderstorms this summer, your home will be ready. We’re always here to help!
5 Common Causes of Water Damage in Orange County
Unlike other parts of the country, rain isn't the main cause of water damage in homes and other buildings in Orange County. Get to know some of the common causes of water damage so that you can do what you can to prevent it from happening on your property.
- Broken Pipes – A broken pipe can do a lot of damage to your home in just a short amount of time. Before you know it, gallons short amount of time. Before you know of water could be spewing through your home. Pay close attention to any leaks, drips, and signs of deterioration. Have a plumber come out to your house for regular maintenance, and if there ever is a broken pipe, you can always turn the water off before the plumber arrives in order to avoid further damage.
- Pinhole Leaks – common if a home has copper plumbing, a pinhole leak is a puncture of a copper pipe due to corrosion. If your home has a copper water system, check your pipes for signs of corrosion often.
- Old/Faulty Appliances – If your fridge or washing machines aren’t maintained well, or have gotten too old, they could start to leak and create a significant amount of water damage in your home. It’s especially important to keep an eye on the appliances in your kitchen, as water damage caused by your fridge or dish washer can affect not just your floor, but your cabinets as well. Often times, leaks that go undetected for some time will cause significant water damage behind cabinets, which in turn can lead to mold if the problem goes unnoticed for an extended period.
- Roof Leaks – We don’t typically see much rain here in Southern California, but when we do, a lot of homeowners tend to suffer water damage due to roof leaks. Check your roofs frequently and take care of any maintenance or repairs while the weather is still sunny. That way you won’t have to worry about your home flooding next time a storm hits.
- Accidents – Sometimes luck just isn’t on your side and one tiny mistake can lead to a big problem. A clogged toilet or too much soap in the dishwasher or washing machine can have water coming across your bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room. These parts of the home are generally better equipped than the rest of the house to handle a larger spill, but water moves fast and could potentially cause damage to the walls, ceiling, or other rooms in the home. If an accident ever does occur that you think calls for a professional, call SERVPRO of Tustin and we’ll make it"Like it never even happened."
Campfire Safety 101
Choose between these four kinds of kindling when building your fire
Enjoying the great outdoors during the summertime can be fun. Nothing says summer quite like sitting around the campfire sharing stories and making s’mores. But that campfire is also a huge responsibility. Everyone in California knows the damage a wildfire can bring, so before you go out and make a campfire, it’s important you learn how to be safe when building your campfire or bonfire, whether in the woods or in your backyard.
PICK THE RIGHT CAMPFIRE LOCATION
- If the campground or area where you are prohibits campfires, then DO NOT build one. Digging pits can be prohibited due to any number of various concerns. Whatever the reason, there is a reason – so be sure to follow the rules.
- DO NOT build a campfire under hazardous or dry conditions. Dry air increases the risk of wildfires.
- If there is an existing fire ring or pit, then use that. If not, choose a site that is at least 15 feet from tent walls, trees, shrubs, or other flammable objects. Be mindful of low hanging branches.
- When building a campfire or bonfire, choose a location that is open and away from heavy fuels such as logs, brush, or decaying leaves.
- Always be aware of wind strength and direction. If the wind picks up and direction changes, there could suddenly be embers and ashes flying into easily flammable areas. Choose a spot that is protected from gusts of wind.
HOW TO PREPARE A CAMPFIRE PIT
There may not always be a campfire pit already prepared when you arrive on a campsite. If that’s the case, don’t panic! Follow these simple steps to preparing your own fire pit.
- Start off by clearing an area that is 10 feet in diameter around the campsite. Remove any grass, twigs, leaves, or firewood while you do so.
- Dig a pit about one foot deep in the dirt or sand.
- Circle the pit with rocks and you’re ready to go!
BUILDING YOUR CAMPFIRE
Your pit is ready, now it’s time to build your fire!
- Before you do anything, make sure you have a source of water, a bucket, and a shovel nearby at all times.
- You’ll have to gather three types of wood from the ground. Tinder can be small twigs and dry leaves, grass, and needles. For kindling you should look for sticks smaller than 1″ around. Your fuel will be larger pieces of wood. Keep these stacked upwind and away from the fire.
NEVER cut whole trees or branches, dead or alive. Live materials won’t burn, and you’ll also be damaging the forest. Dead standing trees can often be homes for birds or other wildlife.
- Loosely pile a few handfuls of your tinder in the center of the fire pit.
- Add the kindling in one of four methods: Teepee, Lean-to, Cross, or Log Cabin.
- Ignite the tinder with a match or lighter. (If you use a match, wait until it is cold to discard it onto the fire)
- As the fire grows, continue to add more tinder.
- Blow lightly at the base of the fire.
- Add kindling and fuel (the larger firewood) to the keep the fire going.
- Now that you have built your fire, keep it small and under control.
EXTINGUISHING YOUR CAMPFIRE
- If possible, allow the wood to burn completely to ash.
- Pour A LOT of water onto the fire. Drown ALL embers, not just the red ones. Keep pouring until the hissing sound stops.
- If you do not have water, stir dirt and sand into the embers with a shovel to bury the fire.
- Using your shovel, scrape any remaining sticks and logs to remove any embers. Make sure there aren’t any embers are exposed or still smoldering.
- Continue to add water, dirt or, sand, and stir with a shovel until all material is cool.
- If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.
There you have it! Have fun but most importantly, be safe when building a campfire!!
The Summer Heat May Be Affecting Your Home’s Appliances
You know those hot summer days when you can feel the sun sucking away all your energy? Well, the same thing can happen to your household appliances during the summer too. When the weather gets hot, there are some preventative measures you can take to protect the systems and appliances in your home.
The higher temperatures outside can create a buildup of moisture on your appliances inside. This extra moisture can cause appliances to degrade faster, and can potentially cause electrical shocks. Appliances can also sweat, causing water to settle around cords and wires. It can also flood the interior of the system, which can potentially lead to mold.
You also must be wary of your appliances overheating. Appliances may have higher surface temperatures, and can lose function when overheated, or require more electricity to work properly. Most appliances use more energy during summer months because they have to work even harder to maintain a cool temperature themselves.
AC Units often have to work harder in the summer because in addition to cooling your home, they also work to remove moisture from the air. Consider installing a dehumidifier with your HVAC system, or using one in rooms where it gets hottest. The dehumidifier can remove moisture from the air and allow the Air Conditioner to work solely on cooling your home.
You should also maintain regular cleaning/maintenance of your unit’s filters and coils in order to ensure that it is working properly. The same should go for your fridge/freezer. Dirty coils can lead to overheating, which could leave you without an AC unit or a fridge.
Your fridge should also be kept somewhere cool (avoid hot garages). Once you find the right place for your fridge, be sure to give it ample breathing room. The fridge needs enough room to release heat, but you don’t want that heat to become trapped and cause the unit to overheat and stop working.
You should maintain regular upkeep and maintenance of all of your household appliances all year long, but it's especially important to be mindful of how they can be affected in this summer heat. Should you require emergency services, call SERVPRO of Tustin 24/7 at 714-480-1340
Tips for Preventing Water Damage in Your Apartment Community
With so many shared walls and spaces, water damage in an apartment community can get messy pretty quickly. Of course you can never know when an emergency situation will occur, but it’s in your best interest as a property manager, as well as in the best interest of your residents, to always be ahead of the game. Take these measures today to prevent water damage tomorrow.
- Check On Aging Appliances Regularly – If the property you manage includes a fridge, dishwasher, and/or washer/dryer in unit, you should closely monitor the age of the appliances as well as routinely checking them for cracked or damaged hoses or connections. Washer hoses should be replaced about every five years. It’s a good idea to replace washers and dryers before there’s a problem. It may cost more money now, but it could save you a lot of money and a headache or two in the future.
- Repair Old or Damaged Roofs When It’s Dry – Don’t wait for a big rain storm to find out that the roofing at your unit(s) needs replacing. Make routine checkups to monitor the condition of the roof(s) at your property. Make time and room in the budget to make any replacements or upgrades necessary during the dry season so that you can avoid water damage in the wet season.
- Stay in Touch with Your Residents and Know When they’re Traveling – Many people go on vacations during the summer. Talk to your residents about having their water shut off while they’re gone or, alternatively, having someone check on their apartment from time to time while they’re gone. If a water leak occurs while they’re away and no one is checking in, a small problem could potentially turn into something much worse.
- Clear Downspouts Consistently – This is especially important if there are a lot of large trees throughout your apartment community. When leaves, branches, and other debris clog the gutters, the risk of flooding is increased. Clear all debris from the gutters frequently. If you know a storm is about to hit, make sure everything is clear and that water is being effectively carried away from the building.
- Apply Dry-Proofing Methods – One cost effective way to prevent large scale water damage in low-lying areas is to apply waterproofing coatings and sealings. You can also elevate electrical equipment at least three feet off of the floor and install waterproof structures around circuits and electrical breakers.
- Check For HVAC System Blockages – If the line that moves condensation from the HVAC system is backed up, it can create serious water damage. Backed up water can seep through ceilings and through light fixtures or in between walls. When water leaks between walls, it can go undetected and result in mold damage in addition to water damage.
How to Keep Your Pets Safe in the Event of a Fire
Approximately 500,000 pets are affected by house fires each year. Many house fires are caused by pets, especially when left home alone. Read over these tips to help prevent any accidental fire started by your pets and for keeping your pets safe in the event there is a fire in your home. Make sure you include your dog, cat, or other pets in your family's emergency plan.
Prevent Your Pets From Starting A Fire
- Beware of candles and other open flames. Dogs are curious creatures and may take interest in a flickering flame. If you do have any open flames in your home at any time, be sure to never leave them unattended and to keep an eye on your pets. If you're using a fireplace, consider getting a fireplace screen to protect pets when sleeping in front of the fire. Also make sure the fire is completely out before heading out or going to bed. Small sparks and coals can get through a screen.
- Secure wires and cords. Pets are often tempted to chew on loose wires and cords. Exposed wires can be a fire hazard, so consider securing any electrical objects so that their cords are out of reach.
- Don't use glass bowls for your pets' water. When filtered and heated through glass, the sun's rays can ignite the wood beneath the bowl and set a deck in flames. Try using a stainless steel or ceramic bowl instead.
Keep Your Pets Safe After/During A Fire
- Place a pet fire sticker on the door or window. In the event of a fire when you're away, having a pet sticker will help rescuers know how many pets to look for, saving valuable time and hopefully your pets.
- Use monitored smoke detectors. Pets left home alone can't escape on their own when there's a fire. Monitored smoke detectors contact emergency responders when you're not home and add an extra layer of protection beyond that of battery-operated smoke alarms.
- Keep pets near entrances when you're away from home. Keep collars (with ID tags) on your pets at all times and leave leashes by the entrance or somewhere easy to find in an emergency. This will help firefighters to find and rescue your pets when they arrive.
- Know where your pets' hiding spots are. It's important that you can find your pets quickly if there's a fire. Know where your pets like to sleep and especially where they like to go when they are scared or anxious (under the bed or hidden in a quiet corner of the house somewhere)
- Have an emergency plan in place and make sure everyone in the house knows what to do in the event of a fire. Know who will be in charge of getting your pets outside safely. Have someone in charge of leashes and pet carriers so that they can be safely secured once you're outside. In the event that you can't find your pet when exiting, leave doors and windows open on your way out and call to them so that they come out on their own.
- Practice fire drills with your pets. It is important to include your pets in the family fire drills. Practice finding them and getting out of the house. Also practice the "open access" scenario where you leave an exit open (preferably the one they're most comfortable with) and call to them to come out of the home. The more you practice, the more likely they are to come out in the event of an actual fire.
If you have any questions or require restoration services due to fire damage in your home, call SERVPRO of Tustin at (714)480-1340. Our crews are available 24/7 for services.