A recent report from the U.S. Fire Administration shows home electrical fires claim the lives of 280 Americans each year and injure over 1,000 more. Overloaded circuits and extension cords cause many electrical fires in the home or workplace.
Electrical fires occur most during the winter months due to the increased time spent indoors, which also increases the use of lighting, heating and appliances.
Many electrical fires can be avoided if basic safety precautions are taken. Review the following safety tips to reduce your risk of an electrical fire:
- Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.
- Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately.
- Replace any electrical tool or appliance if it overheats, shorts out, causes even small electric shocks, or gives off smoke or sparks.
- If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
- Use electrical extension cords wisely; never overload extension cords or wall sockets.
Source: U.S. Fire Administration
Heating Your Home Safely
Practicing a few basic home heating tips can reduce your chances of coming home to this.
The change in season means an increase in the use of supplemental home heating, and an increase in home heating fires. An October 2013 report from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) using date from 2007-2011 reveals some sobering statistics:
• Space heaters accounted for 33% of home heating fires and 81% of home heating deaths.
• The leading factor contributing in home heating fires was failure to clean (primarily creosote) from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.
• The leading factor contributing to ignition in 53% of fatal home heating fires was having flammable items too close to heating equipment.
With these statistics in mind, here are some tips for safe home heating:
• Always use protective screens to keep sparks and embers inside the firebox.
• Ensure the air inlet is free from debris and obstructions.
• Keep combustible decorations or furniture away from heat source.
• Burn only seasoned wood, never rubbish or scraps of treated lumber.
• Check the iron and steel components for cracks or degradation from the fire's heat and replace those that are bad.
• Close a dollar bill in the door at various spots around the frame. If you can pull it out easily the gaskets are won and should be changed.
• Set woodstoves on hearth rugs made of spark resistant material.
• Plug heaters directly into a wall socket and not into extension cords.
• Unplug heaters when they are not in use.
• Do not place heaters in walkways or in locations where they could be easily knocked over and ensure heaters are equipped with a tip-over switch.
• Keep clothing, furniture, draperies, paper and other items at least three feet away from the space heater.
• Use only electric heaters equipped with a thermostat or an automatic shut off switch.
• Do not hide cords under rugs or carpets. Placing anything on top of the cord could cause the cord to overheat, and can cause a fire.
• Leave appropriate and recommended amount of space surrounding a space heater.
The trusted professionals at SERVPRO of Sarpy County hope you have a safe and happy fall season.
If you have questions or need help, please call us 24x7 at 402-291-3355
Practice Extreme Caution When Dealing with Contaminated Water.
SERVPRO of Sarpy County Professionals understand how disruptive and dangerous contaminated water can be and offer 24-hour emergency response.
Any water damage in your home or facility is bad. Especially when the water contains potentially harmful bacteria that can affect the health of occupants and the value of your property. Toilet overflows, sewage backups and other black water intrusions are more than nasty, smelly messes; these biohazards damages also introduce harmful microorganisms into your building, as well as the moisture necessary to ensure their continued growth.
Sewage damage poses serious health risks to anyone exposed to the contaminated water. The danger arises from various harmful substances, including parasites that can cause intestinal disease. Some common risks are Hepatitis A, E-coli and Salmonella. This grossly unsanitary water is often referred to as “black water.” Building occupants should practice precautionary and safety measures at all times when dealing with the threat of black water.
Safety Tips for Building and Home Occupants.
- Avoid all contact with sewage and items contaminated by sewage.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after contact with contaminated items
- Spread contaminated water by walking unnecessarily on damaged or wet areas and by tracking the contamination elsewhere.
- Turn on the HVAC system if impacted by water. The HVAC system could spread contaminated air to other parts of the building.
- Use household fans to dry the structure which could possibly spread contaminants.
- Use products for personal hygiene and cleanliness if they have been exposed to the contaminated areas.
- Consume food or drink that has been exposed to the contaminated areas.
A mop and common cleaning products may not be enough for the black water intrusions. SERVPRO of Sarpy County is trained to safely clean and restore your home or facility, utilizing the following procedures:
- Identify the Source/Type of Water.
- Measure Temperature and Humidity for Drying Analysis.
- Survey the Extent of Damage and Inspect the Premises.
- Perform Emergency Water Extraction.
- Move and Block Furniture.
- Provide Floor Service.
- Inspect Carpet and Padding.
- Apply Necessary Treatments Including Disinfectants and Deodorizers.
- Utilize and Monitor Drying Equipment.
- Dispose of Refuse.
Under normal circumstances, a trained, uniformed restoration technician arrives on-site within four hours of loss notification to begin emergency mitigation services. By responding quickly with a full line of water cleanup and restoration services, SERVPRO® of Sarpy County can help you regain control quickly through proper drying, deodorization and protection of your facility and contents. Abiding by OSHA guidelines and all applicable health regulations, SERVPRO® of Sarpy County removes moisture, sewage and contaminants, disinfecting and deodorizing as they safely clean and dry your building and restore contents. So, before you risk your health trying to clean up the damage, call your local SERVPRO® of Sarpy County cleanup and restoration professionals or dial 402-291-3355.
Wildfire Facts and Safety Tips
The trusted professionals at SERVPRO of Sarpy County hope you have a safe and happy fall season
National Geographic shares, “On average, more than 100,000 wildfires, clear 4 to 5 million acres of land in the U.S. every year. In recent years, wildfires have burned up to 9 million acres of land.”
As of September 10, 2017, the National Interagency Fire Center (nifc) reported 47,981 wildland fires responsible for burning over 8 million acres of land. The same time period last year claimed 42,280 fires burning 4,745,957 acres of land.
In 2008, 29 states had more than 10,000 acres scorched by wildfires as a total of 5.2 million acres burned across the country. Though thousands of wildfires are started every year by natural causes – such as lightning strikes – many more are man-made disasters. It is reported that four out of five wildfires are started by human error. Because they tend to occur in more populated areas, man-made wildfires can be more dangerous than natural fires. Though we may never be able to fully eliminate wildfires, steps are available that we can take to help lessen the danger of damage to our homes and businesses. SERVPRO® of Sarpy County / Omaha Southwest encourages you to follow these safety tips:
- Remove debris from under decks and insides gutters.
- Replace highly flammable vegetation such as pine, eucalyptus, junipers and fir trees with lower growing, les flammable species. Check with your local garden store or fire department for suggestions.
- When camping, take care when using and fueling lanterns, stoves, and heaters. Make sure lighting and heating devices are cool before refueling. Avoid spilling flammable liquids and store fuel away from appliances.
- Always build fires away from nearby trees or shrubs.
- Do not discard cigarettes, matches, or smoking materials from moving vehicles, or anywhere on park grounds. Be certain to completely extinguish cigarettes before disposing of them.
- Follow local ordinances when burning yard waste. Avoid backyard burning in windy conditions, and keep a shovel, water, and fire retardant nearby to keep fires in check. Remove all flammables from yard when burning.
- Create a 30-foot safety zone around the house or business, clearing all flammable and combustible objects.
If you have questions or need help, please call us 24x7 at 402-291-3355
What To Do Until Help Arrives – Fire/Smoke Damage
When fires happen, a lot can happen in the panic. Following these tips can ease the burden.
At times like these, we receive several calls seeking advice on what to do until help arrives. The answer depends on whether the water is clean or contaminated. Generally speaking, water from a supply line is considered clean, while water from drains is considered contaminated. There are exceptions to this general guideline.
If you are unsure of the classification of water affecting your property, consult your water damage experts at SERVPRO of Sarpy County at 402-291-3355 and we will help as best we can.
- Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpet.
- Keep hands clean. Soot on hands can further soil upholstery, walls, and woodwork.
- Place dry, colorfast towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery, and carpet traffic areas.
- If electricity is off, empty freezer and refrigerator completely and prop doors open to help prevent odor.
- Wipe soot from chrome on kitchen and bathroom faucets, trim, and appliances, then protect these surfaces with a light coating of lubricant.
- If heat is off during winter, pour RV antifreeze in sinks, toilet bowls, holding tanks, and tubs to avoid freezing pipes and fixtures.
- Wash both sides of leaves on house plants.
- Change HVAC filter, but leave system off until a trained professional can check the system.
- Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers to stop particles of soot from getting in or out of the HVAC system.
- Attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces.
- Attempt to shampoo carpet or upholstered furniture.
- Attempt to clean any electrical appliances (TV sets, radios, etc.) that may have been close to fire, heat, or water without first consulting an authorized repair service.
- Consume any food or beverages that may have been stored close to fire, heat, or water. (They may be contaminated)
- Turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet. Wiring may be wet or damaged and cause electrical shock, and air movement may create secondary damage.
- Send garments to the dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set smoke odor.
National Preparedness Month: Do you have a plan?
photo by ready.gov
How quickly you company can get back to business after a tornado, fire, or flood often depends on the emergency planning done today. The regular occurrence of natural disasters demonstrates the importance of being prepared for any emergency. While each situation is unique, your organization can be better prepared if you plan carefully, put emergency procedures in place, and practice for all kinds of emergencies. The following are basic measures business owners and managers can take to begin preparing. A commitment to begin planning today will help support your employees, customers, the community, local economy, and even the country. It also protects your business investment and gives your company a better chance for survival.
Develop a Business Continuity Plan.
Your organization’s risk needs will vary depending on the specific industry, size, scope and location. Begin by reviewing your business process flow chart, if one exists, to identify operations critical to survival and recovery. Carefully assess your internal and external functions to determine which staff, materials, procedures and equipment are absolutely necessary to keep the business operating. You should also establish procedures for succession of management.
Review Insurance Coverage.
Inadequate insurance coverage can lead to major financial loss if your business is damaged, destroyed or simply interrupted for a period of time. Insurance policies vary; check with your agent or provider about things such as physical losses, flood coverage and business interruption. Understand what your policy does and does not cover.
Prepare you Emergency Plan.
Your employees and co-workers are your business’ most valuable asset. Communication is central before, during and after a disaster. Include emergency information in newsletters, on your company intranet, in periodic employee e-mails and/or other communication tools.
Practice the Emergency Plan.
Some disasters will require employees to leave the workplace quickly. The ability to evacuate workers, customers, and visitors effectively can save lives. If your business operates out of more than one location, establish evacuation procedures for each individual building. If your company is in a high-rise building, an industrial park, or even a small strip mall, it is important to coordinate a practice with other tenants or businesses to avoid confusion and potential gridlock.
Secure Your Facility and Equipment.
Install fire extinguishers, smoke alarms and detectors in appropriate places. Secure all entry and exit points and plan for mail safety. Plan what you will do if your building, plant or store is not unusable. Secure valuable equipment.
Improve Cyber Security.
Protecting your data and information systems may require specialized expertise, but even the smallest business can be better prepared. Use anti-virus software and keep it up-to-date. Don’t open e-mails from unknown sources. Use hard-to-guess passwords. Protect your computer from intruders by using firewalls. Back up your computer data and download security protection updates known as patches regularly.
If disaster strikes, will you be ready? It is important to prepare before a disaster occurs. Consider the following steps to help you better prepare for an emergency situation.
- Sign up for local alerts and warnings, download apps, and/or check access for wireless emergency alerts.
- Develop and test emergency communication plans.
- Assemble or update emergency plans.
- Learn about local hazards and conduct a drill to practice emergency response actions.
- Participate in a preparedness discussion, training, or class.
- Collect and safeguard critical documents.
- Plan with neighbors to help each other and share resources.
- Documents property and obtain appropriate insurance for relevant hazards.
- Make property improvements to reduce potential injury and property damage.
- Hold a scenario-based continuity of operations tabletop exercise for your organization.
Carbon Monoxide - A Silent Killer
You can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, but at high levels, it can kill a person in minutes. Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide, or CO, is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas, created when fuels, like gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas and propane burn incompletely.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning. It is estimated another 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to CO poisoning. All people and animals are at risk for CO poisoning, with some groups—including unborn babies, infants, and people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems—being more susceptible to the effects of carbon monoxide.
An excess of CO, leading to CO poisoning, can result from faulty furnaces or other heating appliances, portable generators, water heaters, clothes dryers, or idling cars left running in garages.
Taking some basic, precautionary steps can help eliminate the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Protect yourself by reviewing the following tips, provided by the United States Fire Administration.
- Have fuel-burning appliances, like oil and gas furnaces, gas or kerosene heaters, fireplaces, and wood stoves inspected by a trained professional every year.
- Open the damper for proper ventilation before using a fireplace. Never use your oven or stovetop to heat your home.
- Make sure all fuel-burning vented equipment is vented to the outside to avoid CO poisoning. Keep the venting for exhaust clear and unblocked.
- If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Never run a vehicle or other fueled engine doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not blocked with snow, ice, or other materials.
- Make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow and other debris.
- Only barbecue outside, away from all doors, windows, vents, and other building openings. Some grills can produce CO gas. Never use grills inside the home or the garage, even if the doors are open.
- Use portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from all doors, windows, vents, and other building openings to prevent exhaust fumes from entering the home.
Tornado Cleanup in the Omaha Metro
SERVPRO of Sarpy County was called upon to secure and restore this storm-damaged home in the Omaha-Metro area.
On Friday June 16, 2017, a severe thunderstorm tore through Omaha and Sarpy County with two tornadoes developing in Bellevue as confirmed by National Weather Service. An F2 tornado hit the Hyda Hills and Two Springs neighborhoods particularly hard, damaging many houses and causing significant wind and water damage.
SERVPRO of Sarpy County has been working around the clock to help those effected by this major storm event. Our office staff continues to take calls day and night, maintaining a list of those in need of our services and managing the logistics of the recovery effort, while our crews are working long hours to help those in need.
SERVPRO of Sarpy County understands that tornado damage is a very traumatic event and is stressful for everyone affected. We are here to help ease the hardship as we continue to assist affected households and businesses.
If you need help or have questions, call the experts at SERVPRO of Sarpy County any time day or night at 402-291-3355.
Summer Fire Safety and Preparedness
SERVPRO of Sarpy County is here to help 24x7. Call us at 402-291-3355
Summer is finally here! The kids are excited that summer break is here. They are busy enjoying the city pool and riding their bikes. Your family summer vacation plans are in place.
Amid the are many things to enjoy this summer, SERVPRO of Sarpy County would like to remind you to add fire safety and preparedness to your to-do list.
Statistics show that home fires claim the life of one child every day and approximately 16 children are injured from fires or burns every hour. Over 85% of all fire-related deaths are due to home fires, which spread quickly and often leave as little as 2 minutes to escape.
Some top fire safety tips:
• Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and in every sleeping area.
• Teach kids to never play with matches and lighters and store these up and away from children.
• Create and practice a home fire escape plan with 2 ways out of your house. Make fire escape practice a fun game for the kids by having a race to see how fast they can escape and practice often. The better prepared your kids are, the better chance they have to escape.
• Teach your children to get low and get out when they hear the smoke alarm.
• Use common sense in the kitchen. Pay attention when cooking and never leave a hot oven or cooktop unattended.
Don't forget to check out the Red Cross fire safety checklist on their website.
Your friends at SERVPRO of Sarpy County wish you a safe, happy summer.
Be Storm Smart, Be Storm Ready
SERVPRO of Sarpy County reminds you to Be Ready
Severe weather can happen anytime, anywhere. Each year, Americans cope with an average of:
- 10,000 severe thunderstorms
- 5,000 floods or flash floods
- 1,000 tornadoes
- 2 land falling deadly hurricanes
Approximately 98 percent of all presidentially declared disasters are weather-related, leading to around 500 deaths per year and nearly $15 billion in damage*. Knowing your risk of severe weather, taking a few actions and being an example to others are just a few steps you can take to be better prepared to save your life and assist in saving the lives of others.
Know your risk. The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you, your business and your family. Check the weather forecast regularly, obtain a NOAA Weather Radio, and learn about Wireless Emergency Alerts. Severe weather comes in many forms and your shelter plan should include all types of local hazards.
Take Action. Take the next step in severe weather preparedness by creating a communication plan for your home and business. Put together or purchase an emergency kit. Keep important papers and valuables in a safe place.
Be an Example. Once you have taken action to prepare for severe weather, share your story with co-workers and family and friends on Facebook or Twitter. Your preparedness story will inspire others to do the same.
Build an Emergency Supply Kit:
- Water (one gallon per person per day)
- Food (non-perishable 3-day supply)
- Manual can opener
- Battery operated radio, preferably a NOAA Weather Radio
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust masks or bandanas
- Plastic sheeting, garbage bags and duct tape
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Hygiene items
- Important documents; copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account information
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
NOTE: Statistics gathered from www.stormready.noaa.gov