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Protecting Your Pets from a Home Fire

9/21/2022 (Permalink)

pet dog Make sure your family is aware of the pet fire safety plan.

When it comes to house fire prevention, most people have a plan. But does your home fire safety plan include your pet? Pets are a part of the family. We care for them as we would a child. The most important thing to do to protect your pets, is to evacuate with them. However, it is important to never delay escape or endanger yourself or family to rescue a pet.

Before Fire

  • Install smoke detectors and fire alarms. Ensure your home is equipped with fire extinguishers.
  • Prevent your pet from starting a home fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost 1,000 home fires per year are accidentally started by a pet. You can minimize your chance of a pet-started home fire by: extinguishing open flames before leaving the house; protect stove knobs with covers; secure young pets in a crate or within a safe boundary like a baby gate.
  • Keep collars on and leashes handy. Always leave collars on pets. Keep leashes handy should emergency personnel need to rescue your beloved pet. If your pet is crated, keep the crate near an entrance to your home.
  • Attach a pet alert window sticker to your front window. These handy window clings are available at most pet stores. The sticker or cling allows you to include critical information such as the number of pets within the home.
  • Note where your pet likes to hide. In an emergency situation, knowing your pet’s location will save time and ensure a safe escape for all.
  • Have the number and address of your animal hospital handy.
  • Practice your escape plan with your pet. Include your pet in fire and safety drills. Train your pet to come when you call them. Ensure they are comfortable in a crate so you can grab them and go.
  • Take a pet first aid training. The American Red Cross offers a cat and dog first aid course online.

During Fire

  • In the event of emergency evacuation, take pets within you when possible. However, if you or your family are in immediate danger, you should not delay escape to rescue a pet.
  • Immediately inform responders if your pet is still inside. If it is unsafe to evacuate with your pet, first responders will look for your pet.
  • Bring leash and carrier. If there is no time to secure your pet prior to escape, you should attach a leash or put them in a carrier once safely outside.
  • Never go inside a burning house. If you cannot find your pet, leave the door open and call them from a safe distance.

After Fire

  • Check your pet for injury and smoke inhalation. Once you are safe from a home fire, it’s time to assess your pet. If your pet is having trouble breathing, ask rescue personnel about pet oxygen masks. If you have taken a pet first aid class, you will be better equipped to handle this situation.
  • Have your pet examined by a veterinarian or emergency animal hospital. Smoke inhalation can cause injuries and death to your pet.
  • Find a loving home to temporarily house your pet if you are no longer able to. Ask your veterinarian for recommended boarding facilities, or find a family member to care for your pets.

Make sure your family is aware of the pet fire safety plan. Run fire drills and regularly check fire safety equipment. Knowing the plan will safe valuable time in case of an emergency.

Spotting Water Damage on Your Roof

9/1/2022 (Permalink)

roof water damage Checking for signs of roof water damage is critical to maintaining the integrity of your home.

Homeowners have to pay a lot of money to keep their homes well maintained and properly functional. One of the biggest expenses typically comes in 20-30 years after the home is built, and that expense is roof replacement. Most homeowners will do anything possible to avoid replacing their roofs. From patching up issues to keeping their roofs free from tree branches and other hazards, it is important to keep up with roof maintenance in order to circumvent costly issues in the future.

Checking for signs of roof water damage is critical to maintaining the integrity of your home. In doing so, many homeowners are able to not only prevent major issues from occurring, but they are also able to address problems right away and save both time and money. The following are some of the most notable signs of water damage on your roof:

Gutter Issues

When a roof has water damage you can often find granules in the gutters. Granules are tiny particles composed of crushed stone or other materials that are used in roof shingles. Finding a notable about of granules in your gutter is a possible sign that you have roof water damage.

Damage Shingles

Wear and tear is inevitable when it comes to roof shingles. If you spot a lot of damaged or cracked shingles, it may be a sign that water damage is occurring or imminent.

Ceiling or Exterior Walls Have Water Spots

If you see rusty or brown spots along your ceilings or exterior walls it is likely due to some kind of water damage, particularly coming from the roof. You may also notice that the ceilings or walls are bubbling, warped, or otherwise compromised. This is something that should be addressed as soon as possible.

Additionally, soft wood decking and roof debris can both be indications of water damage on your roof. Be sure to take a proactive approach by conducting regular roof maintenance. Most importantly, if any of the above signs are identified in your home, you need to contact water damage specialists right away. At SERVPRO of North Palm Beach County we have decades of experience in water damage restoration. Contact our office today to learn more.

Commercial Carpet Cleaning for Your Business

8/23/2022 (Permalink)

carpet The fallout of dirty carpets in a commercial business is far-reaching.

Whether you work in an office building, in retail, or in the restaurant industry, foot traffic in your place of business is inevitable. With more foot traffic comes more germs and these germs need to be dealt with in order to run a clean and safe business. The post-pandemic world means that a lot of business are positioning themselves as “clean and sanitized”, and promoting themselves accordingly. As such, commercial carpet cleaning is critical to maintain a safe environment for your customers as well as your staff.

The fallout of dirty carpets in a commercial business is far-reaching. First of all, uncleaned carpeting will accumulate harmful germs and bacteria. Not only will this create an unhygienic environment for patrons and internal staff, but it could potentially lead to health issues down the road. In addition, dirty carpeting sends the wrong message. Customers make a decision about your business almost instantly when they step foot inside of the building. A dirty carpet will offer a negative connotation with your business, and in turn, impact sales.

Regularly cleaning your commercial property is especially important in office buildings. While it may be invisible to the naked eye, carpets amass things like dirt, skin flakes, and germs over time. Since most office building flooring is carpet, it is critical to reach out to a commercial carpet cleaning company at least twice a year. Your employees will appreciate and benefit from a clean working environment.

When looking to hire a professional commercial carpet cleaning company there are a few things to keep in mind. The commercial cleaning company should be experienced, trained, and have a good reputation throughout the local community. SERVPRO of North Palm Beach County checks all of those boxes. From large warehouses to small offices spaces, our commercial carpet cleaning experts are prepared for anything. Call us today to schedule an appointment!

FIU Simulates 200 mph Hurricanes to Prepare for Extreme Weather

7/15/2022 (Permalink)

storm damage on home With the goal of saving more homes, these researchers hope to change the way that builders think about construction, materials, and more.

Floridians have seen some of the world’s most massive hurricanes over the years. And while the 2022 hurricane season has been rather quiet thus far, South Florida residents are always looking for ways to protect their homes in the event of a major storm. That’s why students at Florida International University (FIU) turned to the “Wall of Wind”, 12 gigantic fans that serve to simulate the strength of a major hurricane.

Located inside of an airplane hangar, this newly developed engineering lab will help to test the design and build of structures to eventually play a role in building stronger houses in Florida. The university’s Extreme Events Institute is excited to use this research in an attempt to address the inevitable impact of climate change.

According to the institute’s director, Richard Olson, “I want to be seeing research and testing in the 170-, 190-mph range. A lot of the research is at lower wind speeds, but I need to be changing to extreme wind speeds because that’s where nature is going. Who wants to be explaining in 20 years, ‘Ya—I knew this was coming but we didn’t do anything about it.’”

While critics would say that testing 200-mph wind speeds is a waste of time, these researchers know that this threat is real. For instance, Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas with 185 mph winds in 2019 and Hurricane Patricia brought 215 mph winds to Mexico in 2015. These hurricanes prove that this type of testing is necessary and important.

With the goal of saving more homes, these researchers hope to change the way that builders think about construction, materials, and more when it comes to building homes in South Florida. Storm damage has threatened the lives and homes of Floridians for many, many years, and these engineers at FIU may have unlocked a new method of thinking that will ultimately result in powerful change.

How To Recognize Mold Growth in Your Home

6/14/2022 (Permalink)

bathroom mold Mold growth is a major nuisance for homeowners, so recognizing the signs of mold right away is key.

Mold issues are something that all South Florida homeowners try to avoid. The combination of warm climates and humidity creates a wonderful atmosphere for mildew to flourish, leaving many Floridians frustrated and desperately seeking an answer. The reality is that the best way to deal with mold growth is to recognize it immediately in order to prevent spreading and stop it in its tracks. Mold is defined as a fungus whose purpose is to decompose dead organisms and other substances.

Mold spores are the culprit for rapid spreading, as they allow mold to easily spread through the air. Since dealing with mold once it spread is a headache, the best action to take is to be a proactive homeowner. This means diligently looking out for signs of mold growth. The following are the best ways to recognize mold growth in your home, particularly in bathrooms and the kitchen:

  • Musty and earthy odors
  • Look for visible mold spots, appearing in a variety of colors such as green, black, white, and sometimes spotted
  • Mold may appear to have a texture such as velvet, leathery, or cotton
  • When water damage or moisture is present mold growth is more likely, so keep an eye out for standing water, condensation, leaks, or water stains)
  • If a surface appears cracked, warped, or peeled there may be a mold issue

Mold growth is a major nuisance for homeowners, so recognizing the signs of mold right away is key. Remember to consistently check for mold growth symptoms in places like the kitchen or bathrooms, as those areas are prone to mold damage. As always, if you do recognize a mold problem in your home we are here to help. At SERVPRO of North Palm Beach County we have over 34 years of experience in mold damage restoration. Contact us today to learn more.

Avoiding Kitchen Fires in Your Home

6/1/2022 (Permalink)

kitchen fire Cooking is the leading cause of home fires, accounting for an estimated half of reported home fires.

People often refer to the kitchen as the heart of the home. It’s the place where families congregate and satiate. Think about how much time your family spends in the kitchen. Since the kitchen plays a vital role in our lives, it is imperative to make it a safe space. Your kitchen may pose a great risk to your family. In fact, cooking is the leading cause of home fires, accounting for an estimated half of reported home fires.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), United States fire departments responded to approximately 172,900 home fires per year in the previous few years resulting from cooking. These fires caused more than $1 billion in direct property fire damage per year.

The following steps will help you to be proactive in protecting your home and family from kitchen fires.

Never Leave Cooking Unattended

The NFPA lists unattended cooking as the leading cause of cooking fires and deaths. The best advice is to only cook when you actually have time to cook. Never put something on the stove while tending to other activities. Moreover, you should never leave the home while your oven is on. When cooking on the stove or in the oven, always set a timer.

Install and Test Smoke Alarms

While smoke alarms do not prevent home kitchen fires, they are an excellent precaution. Your smoke alarms should double as carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. One type of alarm will not substitute for the other. It is essential to have both or a combination alarm. Make sure smoke alarms are UL rated, well-maintained, and properly installed. New smoke alarms have a sealed 10-year battery that is non-replaceable and non-removable. If you are using a smoke alarm with removable batteries, change them twice per year. Install alarms on every level of your home, including basements, and where you sleep. Test alarms and clean regularly by dusting or vacuuming.

Fire Safety Equipment

In addition to smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, equip your kitchen with a fire extinguisher. Read the directions and check on a monthly basis to ensure you are prepared to use it in an emergency. Ensure you are knowledgeable about when and how to use a fire extinguisher. It is important to note that most kitchen fires should NOT be doused with water. The majority of home kitchen fires initiate from grease or electrical appliances. Water will make a grease or electrical fire worse. The best way to put out a kitchen fire, other than when an extinguisher is used, is to cover the fire with either a lid or baking sheet, or by pouring a box of baking soda on top.

Keep Flammable Items Away from the Heat

Clear your workspace prior to starting each time you cook. Dishtowels, oven mitts, paper products, etc. should never be near your heat source. Loose-fitting clothing poses a similar risk; roll up sleeves and tuck in flowy articles of clothing prior to the start of cooking. A flammable object can cause a home kitchen fire even if it is not making direct contact with the flame. Always keep your cooking areas clean and free of clutter.

Cooking Temperatures

Be mindful of cooking temperatures, particularly when using oil for frying foods. Stay cognizant of the flashpoint, when the oil is hot enough to ignite on its own.

Escape Plan

Think about your fire escape plan. In an emergency, thoughts can be unclear and panicky. Your escape route should be well thought out and practiced. Consider all scenarios to best prepare your family.

When in doubt, evacuate your home, close all doors on your way out, and call 911. Fire departments are best equipped to deal with an emergency fire situation. It is important to act quickly to minimize fire damage. Above all, most home kitchen fires are preventable. Keep the heart of your home and your precious family safe by proactive preparation.

Recognizing Leaky Pipes in Your Home

5/17/2022 (Permalink)

leaky pipes Early detection can save you thousands in water damage from leaking pipes.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asserts that water leaks in the home account for almost 10,000 gallons of water wasted each year. Water leaks lead to costly water damage. Many of these leaks are from worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaky valves. Often, these types of leaks are easy and inexpensive to fix which can save homeowners approximately 10 percent on their water bills. Unfortunately, leaky pipes can be difficult to spot since they are in hidden locations like walls and under sinks. The trick is knowing the signs and what to do should you find a leak in your home. Early detection can save your home from further, costly water damage.

Here are signs that you might have a leaking pipe and what to do should you spot one.

Abnormally High Water Bill

If your water bill drastically increases for no apparent reason, it is likely that you have a water leak somewhere in your house. Even a minor leak, can waste thousands of gallons of water and impact your water bill. The Environmental Protection Agency advises homeowners to check their water usage during January or February. If a family of four uses more than 12,000 gallons per month, there is most likely a serious leak (or leaks) in the home.

Water Meter Reveals a Leak

Check your water meter’s leak indicator to see if it is moving. If the dial is moving, you most likely have a leak. You can also check your water usage when the house is empty. Note the numbers on the water meter before leaving and upon return. If the meter has moved, you have a leak.

Reduced Water Pressure

When you have a leaking pipe, less water is running through the pipes. If there is a sudden decrease in water pressure, it may indicate a leak somewhere throughout the pipes.

Water Stains and Damaged Ceilings

Look up at your ceiling. Are there any discolorations or dark spots? These spots are usually a sign on leakage. If the dark spot is below a bathroom, you have evidence of the most probable source of the leak. If the damage is to the ceiling on the top floor of the house, it often indicates a leak in the roof. Visible water damage to the ceiling means the leak has been present for a while. In this circumstance, it is essential that you address the problem as soon as it is discovered.

Floor Stains

Discoloration, warping, and bubbling of your floor is another tell-tale mark of a leaky pipe. Fix the pipes and then address the flooring underneath.

Foundation Cracks

Cracks in the foundation of your home may be from water damage. However, not all foundation cracks arise from leaky pipes. Time and wear and tear may be the source of the cracks. Still, you should have it looked at by a professional.

Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew is often visible and odorous. It is the result of moisture or standing water. Mold and mildew presents as black or dark green spots and emits a musty smell. If left untreated, it will grow and spread causing further damage. Do not ignore a musty odor in your house. Find the cause and resolve the problem immediately.

Running or Dripping Water Noises

Listen to your home. Trickling or dripping water sounds are an indicator that there is a problem with the plumbing. Call a water damage specialist and have it looked at right away.

When dealing with leaking pipes, time is of the essence. Have the situation evaluated and addressed as quickly as possible. Early detection can save you thousands in water damage from leaking pipes. Use these guidelines to ensure your home is safe from devastating damage.

Is Your Business Ready for Hurricane Season?

5/6/2022 (Permalink)

emergency plan Save money and save your business by addressing risks before the impending threat of a hurricane.

The 2022 hurricane season is just around the corner. You probably have a plan in place for protecting your home, but is your business safe? A hurricane preparedness plan is an essential part of being a responsible small business owner. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asserts that nearly 40 percent of small businesses never reopen after a disaster. With statistics like this working against small businesses, it is more important than ever to have a hurricane preparedness plan in place.

Protect Your Property from Storm Damage

  • Install shutters to protect windows and doors.
  • Clear the exterior of items that could blow away or cause damage. Remove and relocate nonessential equipment to a secure indoor location.
  • Disconnect main electricity to the facility and shut off natural gas supply. This will protect against fire damage.
  • Check fuel in generators, business vehicles, and fire pumps.
  • Check the roof, gutters, irrigation systems, etc. as you would prepare your home to minimize storm damage to the property.
  • Since many standard insurance policies do not cover flooding, including storm surge flooding, inquire about flood insurance for your small business.

Collect and Protect Company Records and Important Documents

  • Adopt a process for saving business documents virtually. Scan documents to the computer. Back up computers onto the cloud, an external hard drive, etc. Store external hard drive in a secure and waterproof location.
  • Make paper copies of essential business documents that are not easily produced such as insurance documents, tax returns, legal contracts, accounting documents, etc. Seal these documents in waterproof containers.
  • Keep copies of important documents in a secure, offsite location.
  • Identify business contacts that are essential to running the business operations. Such contacts may include employees, insurance company, attorneys, accountants, suppliers, banks, etc. Make sure the contact information is accessible from any location.

Establish Preparedness Policies for Personnel     

  • Establish a policy for which employees will be responsible for each part of your preparedness plan.
  • Practice hurricane drills where all employees rehearse their role in preparing for a storm.
  • Keep an essentials toolkit in your facility, including: water, food, masks, flashlight, first aid kit, etc. Should any personnel be onsite during or post-storm, these items will prove to be extremely useful.
  • Develop an emergency communications plan to connect with your employees during and/or post-storm.
  • Establish a plan for employee payroll and time off post-hurricane.

Keep Your Customers Informed During and After a Storm

  • Communicate with customers both during and after a hurricane. Open communication will maintain a trusted business relationship between the parties. You do not want to lose your customers should your small business face temporary or extended closings following a storm.
  • Have customer contact information accessible.
  • Respond promptly to customers.

Storm Continuity Plan

  • Plan how your small business will operate in the face of various emergency scenarios. For example, your company should brainstorm how it will handle limited power, storm clean-up, storm damage, extended closures, etc.
  • Divide responsibilities among employees.
  • Determine essential operations.
  • Educate and train your staff in regards to emergency plans and responsibilities.

Finally, a plan cannot be effective unless it is well thought-out, communicated, and practiced. Assess and address potential risks. Do not be afraid to run drills. Involve your employees in the process. Together, you can increase your small business’s odds of survival by having a disaster plan in place. Save money and save your business by addressing risks before the impending threat of a hurricane.

In the event that your small business suffers storm damage, SERVPRO of North Palm Beach County is here for you. Contact our storm damage experts today to learn more!

Preparing Your Backyard for a Big Storm

4/26/2022 (Permalink)

backyard of house With the 2022 hurricane season quickly approaching, it’s time to prepare your backyard for that big storm.

That seemingly innocent lawn chair, low-hanging branch, pool umbrella, or kiddie toy may pose a greater threat than think. These common items, combined with the right amount of wind, can cause tremendous damage, including water damage, during a large storm or hurricane. South Florida storms are not to be taken lightly. With the 2022 hurricane season quickly approaching, it’s time to prepare your backyard for that big storm.

Hurricane season begins on June 1st and last throughout the month of November, with peak season between mid-August and late October. South Florida frequently finds itself in the path of these destructive storms. Learning how to secure your home and yard in the face of damaging winds, storm surges, and floods will save you money, time, and stress. Start preparing your yard by checking trees, drains, projectiles, and pools using the following list:

Tree Prep Before a Storm

  • Check for dead or damaged trees, branches, and roots. A dead or damaged tree, or part thereof, is more likely to fall off during a storm forming a potentially dangerous projectile.
  • Trim and remove dead and damaged tree parts regularly.
  • Clean up and secure all lose yard debris.
  • Palms do not need to be pruned prior to a hurricane. Never remove healthy fronds from the palms.
  • Potted plants and trees should be moved indoors.
  • Pick produce from vegetable and fruit trees if close to ripe. This includes coconuts or large palm seeds from palm trees.
  • Secure or bring inside all yard tools.

Drainage Concerns Before a Big Storm

  • Remove all debris from storm drains. If storm waters cannot flow correctly, it can cause flooding which will lead to water damage.
  • Inspect runoff areas to ensure the water has somewhere to go.
  • Turn off your irrigation systems or sprinklers. If possible, shut off the water at a main line.
  • Clean out your rain gutters. Remove all debris and properly dispose twigs, leaves, etc.
  • Check that your rain gutters are securely attached.

Removing Projectiles Before a Big Storm

  • Bring in all outdoor furniture, garbage cans, yard decor, flags, wind chimes, and any other items that are not tied down securely.
  • Have a plan for which items will be brought in and those items that require secure fastening.
  • Dispose of broken or unnecessary items that pose a hazard. Ex. Old flower pots, wood, etc.
  • Have a plan in place for safe and secure storage of things like swing sets, compost bins, grills, doghouses.

Preparing Your Pool Before a Big Storm

  • Never empty your pool! This could lead to structural damage and possibly even lift the pool off its foundation.
  • Turn off power to heaters, pumps, lights, filters to conserve energy during the storm and minimize the risk of problems, including water damage, post-storm.
  • Bring in all pool toys, umbrellas, furniture, etc.
  • Securely fasten all large items.

A thorough plan and list will ensure effective preparedness, minimize stress, and keep you and your family safe from those impending South Florida storms. As always, when a big storm is coming SERVPRO of North Palm Beach County is your go-to resource for storm damage restoration or water damage repairs. Contact our office today to speak with an expert!

Where the Customer Experience Matters Most

4/19/2022 (Permalink)

teamwork Simply put, customer service matters at SERVPRO of North Palm Beach County and we would be honored to show you how.

Businesses both large and small often talk about the importance of customer service. In fact, many write about it in their mission statements and company objectives, placing a special emphasis on customer service values and principles. But how many of those organizations actually follow through? At SERVPRO of North Palm Beach County, improving the customer experience is something that we take very seriously.

When an emergency occurs, whether it be water damage, fire damage, mold growth, or a major storm, we know that our customers are in a vulnerable state. With this in mind, we recognize that when a customer reaches out to us it is our number one priority to ensure that they feel heard, understood, and are spoken to in a respectful manner. We have applied this approach for more than 34 years and, in doing so, have carved out a place for our company in our local community.

When people think of SERVPRO of North Palm Beach County, they think of our core customer service principles:

  • Listening
  • Kindness
  • Patience
  • Communication
  • Understanding
  • Attention to detail
  • Continual learning
  • Encouragement of feedback

With these pillars forming the foundation of our damage restoration company, we have found success in both business and in community. When our phone rings, the caller knows that they are reaching an organization who is prompt, efficient, and highly skilled. We work diligently to continually educate ourselves in best damage restoration practices, we invest in the newest, most effective equipment, and we inspire our employees to join us in our pursuit of giving back to the community.

Simply put, customer service matters at SERVPRO of North Palm Beach County and we would be honored to show you how. Contact our North Palm Beach office today to learn more about our services and our commitment to unmatched customer service.