5 Ways to Burglarproof Your Home While on Vacation
While you're away on vacation, a criminal may take advantage of this time to break and enter. The last thing you need while you're trying to relax is to wonder whether your home is safe. From leaving a timed light on to make it "look like you're home" to having a friend collect newspapers, here are the top five tips to safeguard your home.
1. Get an Alarm System
If you don't already have one, this is an easy way for peace of mind while you're away. Just by doing a bit of research, you can find an alarm system that works for you. Remember that thieves are also experts at their "jobs," and they know how to tell a fake alarm sign from a real one. If you are traveling often, consider installing a security camera near any entrances.
2. Take Care of Your Mail
An overflowing mailbox is a big sign to burglars that no one's been home for a while, making your house an easy target. Ask a friend or a neighbor to help you collect your mail; you can return the favor the next time they are away. Another option is to use USPS's Request Hold Mail Service to halt delivery while you're away.
3. Double-Check Before You Leave
This one might seem obvious, but it is still very important to do. Before you leave, walk around your house and make sure all the windows and doors are locked. It's also a good idea to shut your blinds and curtains so burglars can't see all the valuables you've got inside your house.
4. Let Your Neighbors Know When You'll Be Gone
Not only can your neighbors help keep an eye out for you, but they can also be a huge help with shoveling snow or mowing the lawn if you're gone for quite a while. Another idea is to ask a neighbor to park in your driveway to make it seem like someone is regularly coming home. And remember to look out for your neighbors when they go on vacation so the whole neighborhood will be safer.
5. Simulate Normal Light and Sound Patterns Using Timers
If you've seen Home Alone, one of the most iconic scenes is when Kevin is making a fake party to scare off the burglars. He uses cardboard shadow puppets, loud music, and lighting to make it seem like there are a lot of people inside the house. This is the same kind of idea but a bit simpler. You can buy a timer to turn on a light at night and do the same with a TV or radio.
POPSUGAR / MICHELLE KU
Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives
Is your smoke alarm working? The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) has lifesaving information to help you protect yourself and your loved ones!
Smoke alarms are a very important means of preventing home fire fatalities by providing an early warning signal so you have time to escape a fire. Smoke alarms are one of the best safety devices you can buy and install to protect yourself, your family and your home. According to the USFA, working smoke alarms cut the risk of fatality in reported home fires by half.
While fires can start from various sources in the home, experts say cooking is the leading cause of home fire and fire injuries. Here are a few tips for preventing kitchen fires:
• Keep an eye on what you fry;
• Be alert when cooking; and
Keep items (such as kitchen towels) that can catch fire away from cooking areas.
Here are some other helpful tips to ensure your detectors will work always properly:
- Only choose smoke detectors that are recognized by an independent testing laboratory, like UL, and keep the manufacturer's instructions handy.
- Test the smoke alarms in your home monthly using the test button.
- Smoke detectors with non-replaceable ten-year batteries are designed to remain effective for up to ten years, If the alarm chirps, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke detector right away.
- Smoke detectors with any other type of battery need a new battery at least once year. If that alarm chirps, warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.
- When replacing a battery, follow the manufacturer's list of batteries on the back of the alarm or the manufacturer's instructions. Manufacturer's instructions are specific to the batteries (brand and model) that must be used. The detector may not work properly if a different battery is used.
- Never paint smoke detectors. Paint, stickers, or other decorations could keep the alarm from working properly.
Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today – (954) 748-7887
Does Your Broward Home Have A Mold Problem?
In Broward, mold can spread through a home in as little as 48 hours.
Does Your Broward Home Have A Mold Problem?
Microscopic mold spores naturally occur almost everywhere, both outdoors and indoors. This makes it impossible to remove all mold from a home or business. Therefore, mold remediation reduces the mold spore count back to its natural or baseline level. Some restoration businesses advertise “mold removal” and even guarantee to remove all mold, which is a fallacy. Consider the following mold facts:
- Mold is present almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors.
- Mold spores are microscopic and float along in the air and may enter your home through windows, doors, or AC/heating systems or even hitch a ride indoors on your clothing or a pet.
- Mold spores thrive on moisture. Mold spores can quickly grow into colonies when exposed to water. These colonies may produce allergens and irritants.
- Before mold remediation can begin, any sources of water or moisture must be addressed. Otherwise, the mold may return.
- Mold often produces a strong, musty odor and can lead you to possible mold problem areas.
- Even higher-than-normal indoor humidity can support mold growth. Keep indoor humidity below 45 percent.
If your home or business has a mold problem, we can inspect and assess your property and use our specialized training, equipment, and expertise to remediate your mold infestation.
If You See Signs of Mold, Call Us Today – 954-748-7887
6 Unexpected Places Mold Can Hide in Your Home
Mold is sneaky. To find it, check in these unusual places that provide mold with the water and food it needs to grow.
It’s not a shock when mold shows up behind drywall after a flood or covers baseboards in damp basements. But mold can surprise you and hide in unexpected places, making it harder to detect and wipe out.
To get rid of mold, think like a fungus and search out these six moist places where mold likes to grow.
Why mold grows there: Brick crevices collect water, dirt, and other organic debris. Rusted chimney caps and faulty flashing lets in rain and snow, encouraging mold to grow.
How to wipe it out: First, replace rusted caps and fix flashing. Then, call a chimney sweep to give your chimney a thorough cleaning. A $200-$300 annual visit from a chimney sweep not only removes mold, but also keeps your chimney free of dangerous creosote and helps it operate at peak efficiency.
2. Refrigerator Drip Pans
Why mold grows there: It’s a rarely noticed place under your fridge that collects moisture and food spills, a perfect environment for mold to grow.
How to wipe it out: Cleaning drips pans should be part of your annual deep cleaning ritual. Spray the pan with a hydrogen peroxide solution (1 teaspoon hydrogen peroxide in 1 cup water). Wipe clean with a rag soaked in white vinegar. Also, clean the floor beneath the pan.
3. Front-Loading Washing Machines
Why mold grows there: The gasket around the door on front-loading washing machines often stays wet because the door is usually closed when not in use. Add some lint to the moisture, and mold happily munches and multiplies.
How to wipe it out: Wipe the gasket and glass dry before you shut the door. If you spot mold, run a hot water wash with some chlorine bleach (no clothes), which will kill the fungi.
4. Window Sashes and Seals
Why mold grows there: Condensation provides the moisture mold loves; dirt and dust supply food.
How to wipe it out: After heavy rains, open windows and wipe moisture from the bottoms of sashes and window sills. If seals between panes are failing, you’ll have to repair or replace window sashes to prevent condensation. Regularly clean windows to deprive mold of food.
Why mold grows there: When you stack dishes that are a little wet and a little cruddy, mold has the perfect environment to grow — especially if you don’t use those dishes every day.
How to wipe it out: Run moldy dishes through the dishwasher, and wipe cabinets with a vinegar-soaked rag. Completely dry dishes before you store them.
6. Air Conditioners
Why mold grows there: Air conditioning units trap dust and pollen (a good meal for mold) and grab moisture from the air. If you don’t run your AC unit at least every 24 hours in warm weather, humidity in your house climbs and mold may grow in AC ducts and drain pans, and on coils.
How to wipe it out: If mold grows in your central air conditioning unit, you’ll have to hire a mold remediation pro to clean out the system ($400-$1,000). If mold shows up in a window AC unit, remove the front plate, clean the blower with a HEPA filter vacuum, and flush out the coils and clean the drain pan with a 1:1 solution of bleach and water.
Of course, prevention is the best remedy. Run your AC for at least 10 minutes every day to keep air circulating when it’s hot and humid outside, and keep the humidity in your home below 55%.
If You See Signs of Mold,
Call Us Today – (954) 748-7887
As July 4th fast approaches, NFPA offers critical fire and electrical safety reminders about fireworks, grilling, swimming and boating
With the Fourth of July fast approaching and the summer months upon us, indulging in barbecues, holiday parties and swimming often top the list of activities to enjoy during the summer season. To help everyone do so safely, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is reminding people about potential summer fire and electrical hazards, and providing tips and recommendations to minimize them.
“By knowing where potential fire and electrical hazards exist during the summer months and taking the needed steps to prevent them, people can enjoy activities such as grilling, swimming and celebrating the Fourth of July while keeping their families, guests and homes safe,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of NFPA’s Outreach and Advocacy Division.
Following are NFPA’s summer-related safety statistics and tips:
NFPA recommends that revelers refrain from using consumer fireworks and attend public fireworks displays put on by trained professionals.
Fireworks annually cause devastating burns, injuries, fires, and even death, making them too dangerous to be used safely by consumers. On Independence Day in a typical year, fireworks account for nearly half of all reported U.S. fires, more than any other cause of fire.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) 2017 Fireworks Annual Report, fireworks were involved in an estimated 11,100 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during calendar year 2016. There were an estimated 900 emergency department-treated injuries associated with sparklers and 400 with bottle rockets. Sparklers were the most common type of fireworks causing injury to pre-schoolers, and 400 of the 900 sparkler injuries were related to children under five years old. Young adults 20 to 24 years of age had the highest estimated rate of emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries in 2016.
Grilling fire safety
All types of grills pose a risk for fires and burn injuries. According to NFPA statistics, July is the peak month for grilling fires followed by May, June and August. Roughly 9,600 home grill fires were reported per year. The leading causes were a failure to clean, using the grill too close to something that could burn or having things that could catch fire too close to the grill, and unattended grill use. Leaks were the leading cause of gas grill fires. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, 73 percent of consumers grill on the Fourth of July and 58 percent grill on Labor Day.
The following are tips for grillers:
- The grill should be placed well away the home or deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. The grill should also be a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic. Keep children and pets away from the grill area. Have a three-foot (1 meter) “kid-free zone” around the grill.
- Keep your grill clean by removing grease and fat buildup from the grates and trays below.
- Never leave your grill unattended.
Electric Shock Drowning (ESD)
Electric Shock Drowning happens when marina or onboard electrical systems leak electric current into the water. The current then passes through the body and causes paralysis. When this happens, a person can no longer swim and ultimately drowns. Here are tips for swimmers and boat owners:
Tips for swimmers
- Never swim near a marina, dock or boatyard, or near a boat while it’s running.
- Obey all “no swimming” signs on docks.
Tips for boat owners
- Avoid entering the water when launching or loading a boat. Docks or boats can leak electricity into the water causing water electrification.
- Each year, and after a major storm that affects the boat, have the boat’s electrical system inspected by a qualified marine electrician to be sure it meets the required codes of your area, including the American Boat & Yacht Council. Make the necessary repairs if recommended.
For more information, visit www.nfpa.org.
Six Things You Need to Do After a House Fire Part 1
You may think a house fire will never happen to you. But what if it does? Are you prepared?
Figuring out what to do after a home fire can be a very stressful and overwhelming process, and it can be hard to decide what to do first. With a little help from your insurance agent, though, you may be able to settle your claim more quickly and get your life back to normal.
Here are the six things you should do after a home fire.
1. Call your insurance agent immediately. You will be getting calls at all hours of the day from public adjusters and contractors who will try to offer you a deal on putting your house back together. These calls can create a lot of stress and confusion. I suggest you speak to no one but your agent to discuss your options at this point in the process.
2. Ask about restoration companies that can help with cleaning up soot, boarding up windows, and other construction. Immediately after a fire, especially if it is a minor one, you’ll need to clean up any soot or water damage. It is important to hire a reputable service to deal with these issues. Ask your agent or insurance adjuster to recommend a few different companies. They deal with these situations more often than you do and likely know of some businesses that fit your needs. Many of these restoration companies have connections to good contractors, engineers, and architects, as well.
3. Separate damaged property from undamaged property. The insurance company will need a detailed inventory list from you after they inspect the loss. Separating your damaged property from your undamaged property will make it easier for you to make a list of your damaged items. This list needs to include the date you purchased each item, the brand name, the price you paid, and the serial number, model, or description of each item. If the item was a gift, be sure to indicate that as well.
It’s a good idea to submit your receipts with this inventory list. If the receipts were destroyed in the fire, or you didn’t keep any receipts, request copies of prior bank statements. This can make obtaining duplicate receipts easier. Keep in mind that photos of any damaged items are always helpful if receipts are not available.
Six Things You Need to Do After a House Fire Part 2
4. Save undamaged property from further destruction. Any items that are not damaged should be put in a safe place, even if it means putting them in storage. Insurance adjusters are typically fair when it comes to adding additional costs for storage.
5. Cooperate fully with the insurance company’s investigation. When a fire claim is reported to an insurance company, it is given top priority. Usually the adjusters come out to see the loss within 24 to 48 hours. To help settle your claim in a timely manner and to your satisfaction, be sure you are available and on time for all meetings, that you return calls promptly, that any requested paperwork is completed as quickly as possible, and that you contact the company or your agent immediately with any questions.
6. Find somewhere to stay if you can’t live in your home. Most homeowner’s policies include “Loss of Use or Loss of Rents” coverage, which will pay for the food, clothing, and shelter that you and your family may need for a specified period of time. Keep in mind that your policy will pay for “like kind and quality” living arrangements. You may want to save the Ritz for a special occasion and instead stay in a more reasonably priced hotel.
What to do before disaster strikes
• Review your homeowner’s policy to be sure you have replacement cost coverage, loss of use coverage, and adequate dwelling coverage. The last thing you want to hear after a fire is that you were under-insured.
• Save all your receipts and put them in a metal fireproof box or in a storage facility off the premises, such as a safety deposit box. Better yet, scan the receipts and save them to a computer file. Taking a video of your entire home and the possessions within it is the next best thing to receipts. This will show the insurance company what sort of lifestyle you had prior to the claim.
• Be sure to have smoke detectors in every room of your home to ensure that everyone gets out of the house or apartment safely in the event of a fire. Have exit ladders and fire extinguishers handy, and know how to use them.
• Discuss escape strategies and plans with your family prior to a fire, and consider a fire drill to help ensure everyone’s safety.
Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today – (954) 748-7887
STORM PREPARATION INFORMATION
Taking proactive steps to protect your family and property from severe storms before they hit can save lives and minimize damage to your home or business.
Severe storms including hail storms, tornadoes, floods and hurricanes cause billions of dollars in damage in the United States every year. When big storms hit, many families find themselves disorganized and unprepared. When preparing for a storm, it is important to have a storm plan and make sure everyone in your home knows the plan, in case of emergency.
Having a plan increases your chances of keeping you and your family safe. If you live in an area prone to flooding, consider buying flood insurance, as flooding is typically not covered under most homeowners insurance policies. In order to stay safe, it is important to understand your risks and have a plan of action in place before the storm hits.
Creating Your Storm Safety Plan
The first step is to create a written disaster plan and review it with everyone in your family. Make sure everyone knows where to go and what to do in case of an emergency. Identify an emergency meeting place, such as a park, building, or other landmark near your home. If you get separated during the storm, have everyone meet at the designated location.
It is smart to assign an out-of-state friend or relative to be your family’s emergency contact person. Teach all of the adults and responsible children how to shut off utilities in your home. Shutting off gas and water mains can decrease your risk of additional damage.
Steps You Should Take to Prepare for a Storm
To prepare for a storm, each family should have an emergency kit. Since you may have to evacuate on short notice, pack your emergency kit into backpacks and have them ready to go. Everyone in the family should know exactly where the emergency kits are located.
Your emergency kit should contain:
- Battery powered flashlight
- Portable battery powered radio
- Extra batteries
- List of emergency phone numbers
- Prescriptions and essential medicines
- First aid kit
- Nonperishable emergency food
- Bottled water (1 gallon per person, per day)
- Non-electric can opener
- Disposable camera
- Credit cards and cash
- Change of clothing
- Sturdy shoes or boots
- Important papers, identification and bank information
When a severe storm is approaching, tune into a local TV or radio broadcast covering the storm and follow evacuation orders, if they are issued. Check your emergency supplies and make sure you have enough water for everyone in your home, typically 1 gallon of water per person, per day for at least 3 days. Fill up your bathtubs with clean water. Turn your refrigerator and freezer up to the maximum setting so your food will stay cold for as long as possible in the event of a power outage. If you have storm shutters on your windows, make sure they are closed and secured. If not you can use pre-cut plywood to cover exposed glass. To prevent damage from flying objects, bring outdoor furniture, tools, pots and toys in from outside. Secure important documents, photographs and other valuables in a waterproof and fireproof case.
Fill your car up with fuel and review evacuation routes. If you are ordered to evacuate, you’ll want to leave immediately, so have your emergency kits and supplies already packed in the car. Before leaving home, unplug appliances, shut off the electricity, and other utilities including water and gas main lines. If you have time, consider moving furniture, electronics and other valuables to a second floor, or elevate it the best you can to project against flooding. Secure your doors by locking and bolting them shut before you leave.
If you evacuate your home, do not leave your pets behind. If you have pets make sure they have an emergency kit with 3-5 days-worth of food and supplies, including a pet carrier, leash and current identification tags. Since most emergency shelters will not accept pets, if a severe storm is headed your way, it’s always smart to try and place your pets at a kennel, or with a friend that is out of harm’s way.
How to Stay Safe Immediately After the Storm
After the storm is over, return to your home only after you are cleared to return by authorities. Enter your home with caution.
Check for signs of gas and water leaks and damage to electrical or sewer systems. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, leave immediately, keeping doors and windows open. Call your gas company to report the problem. Stay clear of frayed electrical wires and downed power lines.
Do not drink any tap water or use tap water to prepare food until you have been notified it is safe to do so. Stay tuned in to a local radio station that is reporting status updates and recovery information.
Upon return home, use the disposable camera from your emergency kit to take initial photographs of the damage. Make sure you take pictures of any roofing, structural damage, flooding, broken windows or other debris, and make notes of anything that is broken or damaged. When it comes time to file an insurance claim, the pictures you take after the storm can go a long way in helping you recover from the storm, prove your claim is valid and getting approved for repairs as quickly as possible.
When you have settled back down, you can ensure you are treated fairly by your insurance company, avoid scams, and have your property repaired as soon as possibly by taking advantage of a free damage inspection by an experienced storm restoration contractor.
Have Storm or Flood Damage?
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Smoke and Soot Cleanup
Smoke and Soot Damage Can Cause a Pervasive Odor in Your Broward County Home.
Broward County Smoke and Soot Cleanup.
Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.
Smoke and soot facts:
- Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
- Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
- The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.
Different Types of Smoke
There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPROof SUNRISEwill test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Here is some additional information:
Wet Smoke– Plastic and Rubber
- Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.
Dry Smoke– Paper and Wood
- Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.
Protein Fire Residue– Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire
- Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor.
Our Fire Damage Restoration Services
Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions. We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage. We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.
Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today –954-748-7887
Odor Removal Options
Ozone and Hydroxyl Generator Machines
Odor removal is a critical part of almost any restoration job. There are a variety of options available from masking agents to foggers to ozone and hydroxyl generators, and so on. Today, there is a rather big inner-industry debate being waged over the benefits and dangers of those latter two options. There is a clear advantage to using machines to eliminate odors from spaces and items rather than simply trying to mask them.
This time around, odor removal experts are taking the stand to talk odor removal science to help you make an educated decision about which technology is right for your company.
Meet the Experts
What is the basic science behind your technology?
DH: Ozone is created when oxygen molecules (O2) are ‘sliced’ in half; the single oxygen atoms (O1) bond with ambient O2 molecules, creating ozone (O3 molecules). Ozone generators also produce ozone using these two principles- UV light and Corona Discharge.
RM: Manmade ozone is produced by two separate processes. One is with UVC ultraviolet light in the 185-nanometer wavelength. The second process is called corona discharge, which produces higher concentrations of ozone than UVC, for faster deodorization. Titan produces hydroxyls by subjecting humidity in the air to UVA light in the 365 to 385 nanometer wavelengths in the presence of a catalyst, usually titanium dioxide. This photocatalyst process splits an H off of H2O leaving OH – hydroxyl and an H.
TM: The Odorox technology was patented because it is the only process able to produce hydroxyl radicals that exit the chamber of the machine to eliminate odors not just in the air, but more importantly, odors that have been adsorbed by contents and structures. This is done by using multiple high energy ultraviolet lights inside the chamber of the hydroxyl machines. It converts water naturally found in the air to hydroxyl radicals, as well as oxy and peroxy- radicals that exit the machine. The hydroxyl radicals that exit the machine are able to eliminate odors, not mask or otherwise cover them up, by disassembling all of the odor molecules including those found deep inside porous materials.
How effective is your respective technology at removing the most common odors restorers see – like smoke, mold, biohazard waste, etc?
DH: The way ozone permanently neutralizes odors is by oxidation. The third oxygen atom in the molecule is loosely bonded to the stable O2 molecule, detaching itself from the O2 when it comes into contact with a receptive odor molecule. This permanently alters the molecular structure of the odor molecule, rendering it odorless. It doesn’t simply cover/mask odors with another odor, it basically removes the odor from existence.
RM: Ozone is faster than hydroxyl at removing odors but must only be used in un-occupied areas. Ozone is great at removing any organic gaseous compound once the source has been removed. Ozone is great for use on mold, mildew, smoke, VOCs, bacteria, virus, etc… Titan hydroxyl generators are not for use as surface microbial kill. They are for airborne microbial kills only, but are great for area and content deodorization.
TM: Hydroxyls are the second strongest oxidant in the world behind atomic fluorine. They are one million times more reactive than ozone, which means they break down a much broader range of odors and pathogens compared to ozone. We have yet to find an odor that Odorox cannot break apart. However, the most difficult project is typically pet urine. This is not because the ammonia is hard to break apart - it’s easy. It’s because the pets were probably there for years and the urine has soaked deep into the flooring which makes it difficult for contractors to fully remove the source. It’s important to remember that disaster-related projects are different and there are always variables to consider when assessing a project. Proper training always helps.
To know when the job is done, turn off the machines and go smell porous materials where you know the odor was present - drywall, cabinets, couches, clothes, etc. If the odor is gone, the job is done. If the odor is still there, run the machines longer or move them around.
There you have it. Both sides of the argument, and evidence proving both hydroxyl and ozone work to remove odors during restoration and remediation work.
The Ozone vs. Hydroxyl Debate
Extracted from Restoration & Remediation Magazine