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Why Fire Safety Training Matters for Your Company

12/10/2019 (Permalink)

Even if your office is fully stocked with alarms, sprinklers, and extinguishers, these safety measures are less effective if your workforce doesn’t understand emergency procedures. By implementing routine fire drills and training from a professional, you’ll prepare all your employees to stay safe during an emergency. Here is more information about why fire safety maintenance is necessary.

How Should Your Employees Be Trained for Fire Safety?          

To contain small fires, such as microwave accidents, every employee should know how to use a fire extinguisher. A brief training demonstration could save your company from costly property damage and potential staff endangerment. For larger fires that can’t be eliminated with an extinguisher, everyone should know the quickest way to evacuate the building.

To prevent injuries, you must undergo fire drills, which will force your staff to act like an emergency is occurring in your building. Every employee should move quickly toward the nearest exit, helping those who may have limited mobility. By teaching your workforce to act calmly under pressure, you’ll minimize the chances of chaotic rushing that could lead to trampling.

Most importantly, having an evacuation plan is required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and nearly all businesses should have regular fire drills as per the state of Wisconsin fire code. A professional will help you comply with the law.

Breaking Through The Panic When You Need Water Damage Restoration

12/6/2019 (Permalink)

You were just relaxing at home when all of a sudden, there was a loud clunk and then a rushing sound as water began to pour into your basement. Maybe the rains came and didn’t stop for so long that the ground became saturated and water seeped into your living room. It could have been an unnoticed leak behind the walls, or even improperly sealed doors. But whatever the cause of unwanted moisture in your home, the result is the same – water damage that destroys property and creates a breeding ground for all sorts of nasty stuff.

When this happens, we feel panic because the water needs to be stopped and removed as quickly as possible to minimize the damage. The longer it sits around – or worse, continues to flow – the more significant the health hazards.

We know it’s an insane time, but we’re here to help guide you through the process, from important first steps to finding and engaging excellent water damage restoration services. Take a deep breath, center yourself, and then get started. The following steps will prepare you to safely address water damage in your home.

Stop or contain the flow of water if possible 

If the cause is a burst pipe, locate the main water valve and turn it off. This is also helpful if you have a leaky pipe that is merely dripping, but if it is in an accessible area, you can choose to catch the drops in a bucket rather than cut off water to the entire home. If you’ve had a flood, discover where most of the water is entering and try to divert the flow with strategically placed sandbags.

Turn off electricity 

When you have standing water, it can be a good safety precaution to cut power to the affected areas of the home. Before you step into any standing water, check to see if electricity is flowing through it by lightly grazing the water with the back of your hand. If you feel any tingling at all, evacuate the home and call for emergency services. You may also want to have an electrician come to check out the system before turning the power back on.

Call a reputable water damage restoration company 

The best companies are ones that are available 24/7 to assess the damage, quote a price for necessary services, and schedule the work to be done quickly. If there has been flooding in the area, the most reliable providers will get booked up fast, so get on their schedule as soon as possible. Also beware of companies that spring up overnight after natural disasters; they are likely not prepared or qualified to perform the work.

Deal with the standing water 

Bailing out standing water and overseeing the drying process is part of the package that your water damage restoration company will offer you. If you want to get started right away, you can begin removing standing water with a wet/dry vacuum or with buckets. However, flood waters are often contaminated with dangerous germs and the collected water needs to be dumped carefully so that it doesn’t flow back into your home. For these reasons, it may be best to wait for the professionals. If you do decide to begin the work yourself, be sure to wear protective gear.

Increase the ventilation

Good air flow is critical for drying out a home that has been flooded. If it’s not raining, open the windows to release moisture as it evaporates. If you still have power, run multiple fans as well as a dehumidifier. The more air you can move through the area, the faster it will dry. Don’t worry about this too much if you don’t have power – your water damage experts will have a plan for ventilation.

Remove wet possessions

It is likely that certain possessions will be destroyed by the water, especially things made of paper. If you have important files that got wet, each page should be laid out separately to dry. Though they will be warped and wrinkled, you may still be able to read the information. Books should be thrown away as water can remain trapped in the bindings and easily grow mold. 

Items made of metal dry quickly but may later rust around joints, and wooden items will have to be assessed after drying to determine if they are still structurally sound. Cloth that can be washed and dried, either on a line or in the dryer, should be safe to keep.

Relax and wait for help

The days or possibly weeks ahead will be stressful, especially if you have to vacate your home during repairs. Even if you can stay home, water damage restoration can be disruptive to your routine. Once you have done all you can to salvage as many possessions as possible, take some time to rest and recuperate. Take the family out for a comforting meal or snuggle together in one room to read. If you’ve had to leave home, enjoy the amenities offered by your hotel. Family bonding is one bright side to a disaster situation.

If you have experienced water damage, you know it is a serious hassle to manage. There will be time, money, and possessions lost in the effort to recover. Just try not to panic as that can freeze you in your tracks when time is of the essence. It’s also really important that you do engage a water damage restoration firm to make your home safe again. Dangerous mold grows easily in areas that have been flooded, and certain structures including support beams and drywall can become unsound. The whole situation stinks, but rest assured that there are qualified professionals in your area that can help make your house a home again.  

Weathering the storm: how your business can mitigate natural disasters

12/6/2019 (Permalink)

2017 was the seventh most active hurricane season in the historical record dating to 1851 and was the most active season since 2005.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a lot of activity this hurricane season, with as many as 16 named storms. This follows a historic 2017 hurricane season, which precipitated the most costly year on record for insurers, according to Swiss Re.

A savvy use of technology combined with equally savvy advanced planning can help companies prepare for the worst and expedite their recovery after a storm clears. Technology for storm preparation and recovery is steadily expanding in sophistication and utility, from drones that can navigate the interiors of flooded buildings to artificial intelligence-enabled applications that enhance modeling and speed claims processes.

Claims: The quicker, the better

Whether Fortune 500 firms or small businesses, companies share a common goal when it comes to recovery after a hurricane or other major natural disaster: They want to replace lost inventory, infrastructure, stores, offices and plants; ensure their employees are safe; and get back to normal operations as soon as possible.

Being able to file an advance claim — or, for that matter, help employees begin their own rebuilding process — hinges on how quickly and efficiently companies can gather the information and documentation needed in the chaotic aftermath of a major natural disaster.

In a recent Marsh survey, more than 80 percent of respondents indicated they would consider changing insurers or other advisers based on their ability to provide claims management innovations.

In a recent Marsh survey, more than 80 percent of respondents indicated they would consider changing insurers or other advisers based on their ability to provide claims management innovations.

Leveraging technology, from drones to social media, can be crucial to prioritizing company response actions, speeding up the claims process and getting the money needed to begin rebuilding, while also enabling employees to file their own claims for lost or damaged cars and homes.

Visual intelligence

Visual intelligence made a big difference in accelerating organizations’ recovery after hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria last year. In Houston, one hospital, flooded in the aftermath of Harvey, was able to use drones to capture evidence of the damage the water had wrought, with footage of the waterline along the complex.

In the Florida Keys, a retailer gathered critical information on the condition of its stores by leveraging imagery acquired via fixed-wing aircraft with sensitive imaging technology to document hurricane damage to all of its stores.

The flyovers helped the retailer take stock of the damage at each location and focus its recovery efforts on swiftly reopening undamaged stores while simultaneously directing restoration teams to the one location where Irma had blown the roof off.

The value of drones

Drones, aerial intelligence surveillance reconnaissance (hovering drones), fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and satellites can gather crucial information from devastated areas far faster than people on the ground. Drones also can save employees or adjusters from having to enter still-hazardous areas and scramble up on rickety roofs and other structures to check damage.

Deploying directly over the top of facilities sometimes can be a cause for concern to risk managers, but 360-degree panoramas developed through the clever processing of drone footage can offer detailed intelligence from a safe distance at the site perimeter.

3D imagery, in turn, provides a far fuller picture of damage than traditional photographic images, while a plane or drone equipped with thermal technology can spot flooding and roof damage at night or when it otherwise might be hard to see.

A plane or drone equipped with thermal technology can spot flooding and roof damage at night or when it otherwise might be hard to see.

And thanks to advances in battery power and operator navigation technology, drones are starting to be used to inspect building interiors. In a recent case in the United Kingdom, a drone was used to inspect the fire-ravaged interior of a commercial building full of high-value machinery, safely performing what otherwise would have been a potentially risky job for an employee or contractor.

Don’t forget public information sources

While drones and other aerial technologies are exciting, companies also can glean crucial intelligence about the condition of their facilities through careful monitoring of public sources of information, such as Twitter, Facebook, other online platforms, and even closed-circuit television cameras.

All of these techniques can help businesses resolve claims, recover from storms and return to normal operations more quickly.

For example, a retailer with a $24 million store loss may be able to get an advance payment of $10 million on undisputed costs if it can show its insurer through video or photographic evidence that a return to work is impossible or that a location is a complete loss.

Is it worth having your own capacity?

As companies consider using visual intelligence technology to gather critical storm damage information, they’ll need to decide whether to hire an outside vendor or build up in-house capabilities. Some companies, especially in the energy sector, have invested heavily in building out their own visual intelligence capabilities.

Hiring seasoned drone pilots or training employees to handle this technology, however, can be an expensive process. Investing in external contractors might be the better course of action so that you can draw on precisely the right technologies and analysis.

If you work with an outside vendor, make sure its personnel are fully versed in regulations and the practical operational requirements for deploying any type of aerial technology in disaster situations, when emergency responders may be controlling airspace. You also may want to consider a vendor’s overseas reach, in case Caribbean territories are once again in the spotlight in 2018.

Working at street level

This survey technology need not be airborne. If streets are passable, then Lidar, a laser scanner system, can be mounted on the roof of a van and instantaneously can take millions of measurements as it drives through a neighborhood to create 3D models. Put on a boat, the same device — coupled with an optical camera — could provide crucial documentation of a flooded neighborhood.

If streets are passable, then Lidar can be mounted on the roof of a van and instantaneously can take millions of measurements as it drives through a neighborhood.

Insurers more often are on the scene with mobile claims units that travel into storm-damaged areas to help homeowners and others file their claims, but they’re using technology in other ways. As some insurers allow customers to process claims via text messaging, email and mobile apps, images of flooded or otherwise damaged homes and cars can give employees stranded in shelters or hotels the ability to start the claims process before they eventually return home.

Similarly, receipts and other documentation can be transmitted digitally. Behind the scenes, sophisticated software and artificial intelligence can help insurers process the incoming data and build the claim file.

Staying in touch with employees

Meanwhile, employers will want to establish a way to communicate vital information to employees after a storm hits and keep tabs on their well-being. Because major hurricanes severely can disrupt communications networks, you’ll want to establish at least three methods through which employees can get the information they need and report back to the company on their status.

One increasingly popular method is to hire a third-party mass notification vendor to handle such critical communications. In the event of a major storm or other emergency, the messaging service will reach out to employees by email, phone and text.

The messages also may ask employees to register whether they are OK. This can provide a quick snapshot on how employees are faring and how many will be able to return to work.

With hurricane season upon us, new technologies can help businesses and individuals better prioritize their efforts, more efficiently collect information in support of claims payments from insurers, and accelerate a return to normal operations.

How Can Wind Mitigation Protect Your Home and Family During Severe Winds?

12/6/2019 (Permalink)

How Can Wind Mitigation Protect Your Home and Family During Severe Winds?

Wind is an unpredictable element that can threaten your home and safety. During periods of high wind, air currents can fluctuate and change directions without warning, placing pressure on all parts of a structure and potentially pulling it apart or lifting it from its foundation. When wind speeds climb, pieces of debris can also become dangerous — crashing into your home with significant force and potentially breaking through it and endangering your loved ones. But there are steps you can take to increase your safety with wind mitigation.

Protect Your Home from Wind Storm Damage

Traditional Homes

  • Keep your home firmly anchored in high winds, have anchor bolts with heavy-gauge, square bolt washers installed to connect your floor to the foundation.
  • Reinforce the rest of the frame by connecting wall and floor components with properly installed plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), and attach roof trusses or rafters to the walls with metal connectors.
    • On existing homes, this can be done when replacing siding.

Manufactured Homes

  • Manufactured homes are more prone to damage from high winds as a result of non-permanent foundations.
  • Inspect all straps and tie-downs regularly for rust, weakness or wear, and have repairs made immediately.

Make Your Home Less Vulnerable to Wind Damage

Windows

  • Install windows rated for the wind speeds in your region.
  • For the best protection in hurricane-prone areas, install impact-resistant permanent shutters that meet applicable building code approved standards.

Doors

  • To better resist wind pressure and flying debris, make sure your entry doors are solid wood or hollow metal.
  • All entry doors should have three hinges and a dead bolt lock with at least a one-inch bolt throw length.
  • Door framing should be securely anchored to the wall structure using fasteners that are at least three inches long.
  • If you have double-entry doors, secure the inactive door with head and foot bolts that extend through the door header and into the subfloor.
  • Patio doors should be made of impact-resistant safety glass.
  • Shuttering doors offers extra protection.

Garage Doors

  • Install doors rated for the wind speeds in your region.
  • If building a new home in a hurricane-prone area, consider installing horizontally braced, single-wide garage doors instead of double-wide doors.
  • For existing homes, check with your garage door manufacturer for availability of retrofit bracing kits.
  • Be aware that your garage door panels, especially if double-wide, may require both horizontal and vertical bracing to ensure stability.
  • You can also protect your garage door with a shutter or screen rated for wind pressure and debris impact.

Roofing

  • Strong winds can cause shingles to peel off, especially if edge shingles are not well secured or the adhesive on their tabs has failed.
    • A roofing professional can evaluate your roof, and if needed, additional roofing cement can be added under each tab to help keep the shingles attached during a high-wind event.
  • The shingles should be attached to roof decking of solid 5/8' thick plywood.
  • The roof decking should be attached to the roof framing using 8d ring shank nails, and a secondary water barrier created by installing self-adhering flashing tape over the joints in the roof deck.
  • For greater resistance to wind uplift, apply a bead of construction adhesive along both sides of the intersection between the roof decking and the rafters or trusses; your roofing professional can provide you with information about additional safeguards.

Soffits

  • To help anchor the soffits, the exposed siding under your roof rafters to your home, have a professional apply a bead of polyurethane sealant between the wall and the trim into which the soffit panels are inserted.
  • You can also apply a dollop of caulk in the V-shaped hole where the joint between two soffit panels meets the trim.

Safe Rooms

  • Designate a place in your home that will protect your family from injuries caused by broken windows and flying debris.
  • The basement is often the best location for a safe room; otherwise, locate the room on the interior, ground floor of your home.
  • An experienced contractor can equip your safe room with reinforced floors, walls and ceilings, regardless of whether you have a new or existing home.

Landscaping

  • Avoid using gravel or rock landscaping materials, which can be hazardous when airborne. Shredded bark can be an attractive and less dangerous alternative.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) broadcasts official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To tune into these NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) broadcasts, you’ll need an NOAA Weather Radio Receiver. These are available at many retail outlets.

When preparing your home for seasonal winds, it's also important to review your insurance coverage.

7 Must-Have Items For Your Storm Emergency Kit

12/6/2019 (Permalink)

7 Must-Have Items For Your Storm Emergency Kit

When it comes to hurricanes and tornadoes, you can't be too prepared. Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to November 30, and while tornadoes can occur any time of the year, peak season is May and early June for the Southern Plains, early spring for the Gulf Coast, and June and July in the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest. No matter where you live, it's never too early to gather supplies and put together your storm emergency kit. Use these helpful hacks to create your own storm emergency kit with items you probably already have around your house.

  1. The Basics: Of course, no hurricane emergency kit would be complete without first-aid supplies, personal medications, non-perishable food for a minimum of three-to-five days (including baby formula), clean water, toilet paper, soap, emergency blankets, matches, and a flashlight with extra batteries. These are also the first to fly off the shelves as soon as a hurricane watch is issued.

    Pro Tip:Make sure to include a manual can opener in your kit for your non-perishable food items.
  1. Bleach: You should have at least a gallon of clean water per person per day for three-to-five days in your emergency kit. But if you're running low on clean drinking water and can't boil any, the CDCrecommends that you use unscented household bleach as a method of water purification. Add one-eighth of a teaspoon of unscented bleach to a gallon of water, mix it well, and let it stand for at least 30 minutes before drinking.

    Pro Tip:Do not use bleach that is six months or older, and be sure to open windows or doors to get fresh air when using bleach.
  1. Goggles, Work Gloves and Breathing Masks: If you have damage during a hurricane or tornado, this protective gear will come in handy during cleanup. It can help keep you from being contaminated by exposure to harmful materials like lead, asbestos, cement, or mold.
  1. Trash Bags: There are several ways that trash bags can come in handy during a hurricane or tornado emergency. In addition to their obvious function, you can wear trash bags as rain ponchos, use them as temporary tarps, or to collect rainwater. And since they don't have an expiration date, you can stock up.
  1. NOAA Weather Radio (NWR): A battery-powered All Hazards NOAA Radio is a must-have in a weather emergency. With over 1000 stations across the 50 states4, it provides 24/7 live updates from the National Weather Service on weather and emergency information. You can also get live updates from the NWR on the FEMA app, but only if you have cell service and a charged battery.

    Pro Tip:Don't wait until a storm emergency to buy a NWR receiver, because that's when stores sell out. If you can't get a NWR, a hand crank or battery-powered radio with extra batteries works too.
  1. Hand Tools: You probably already have a screwdriver, wrench, and pliers in your home (if not, read 10 Things Every Handy Homeowner's Toolkit Should Have), so you'll want to keep them handy in your emergency kit. You may need a wrench or pliers for turning off utilities, and a screwdriver to remove storm shutters from your windows after a hurricane.

    Pro Tip:Familiarize yourself with your home's utilities and know how to access the water, gas, and power shut-off valves in advance.
  2. Home Inventory:

Creating a list of your belongings is an extremely important step in emergency storm and claims preparedness. Take stock of everything in your home, so you have it documented before a hurricane or tornado is approaching. Having this record will make the claims process much easier if damage occurs.

Now that you know what should be in your emergency storm kit, you can get a head start on stocking yours with the non-perishables and tools you hope you won't need. It'll save you a hectic trip to the store and ensure you’re ready for the next storm that comes your way.

4 Types of Fire Alarms for Your Business

12/2/2019 (Permalink)

You only want the best when it comes to choosing a fire detector for your commercial building. Fire alarm protection systems safeguard your property against smoke and fire threats, preventing injuries and damage. There are many types of alarms available on the market. To help you make an informed decision, here are some of the most popular choices and how they work.

Different Fire Alarm Protection Systems

Heat Detectors

Heat detectors respond when a fire raises the temperature of a room. These alarms are triggered once temperatures rise above 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Since they only function as a heat-sensitive unit, they're meant to supplement smoke alarms to improve fire detection. For the best response, have heat detectors installed in areas where fumes and smoke are likely to collect, such as rooms without windows.

Ionization Smoke Alarms

Fire alarm protection system Ionization smoke alarms are best at detecting abrupt fires. The ionization chambers inside these fire alarm protection systems contain traces of radioactive particles that trigger when smoke enters the unit. Since these alarms are more sensitive to smoke, they can create false positives when someone burns their food in a microwave, for example.

Photoelectric Smoke Alarms

Photoelectric alarms are useful for detecting smoldering fires that create a lot of smoke. The inner components contain light beams aimed toward sensors. When smoke particles enter the chamber, the light beam inside is refracted from the sensor, activating the alarm. It's recommended placing these fire protection systems in areas with low dust buildup, since dust particles are known to accidentally trigger them.

Dual-Sensor Smoke Alarms

When you combine the sensors from ionization and photoelectric fire detection systems, you get dual-sensor smoke alarms. These types of fire alarms protect your building from both smoldering and lightly flaming fires. Since most models are designed to activate when both sensors are triggered, you'll get less false alarms than with single-sensor fire alarms. However, dual-sensor units may respond slower, causing a delay in response if a fire occurs.

3 Workplaces at an Increased Fire Risk

11/19/2019 (Permalink)

Restaurant table with glasses on top. Some work places have increased fire risk.

Some workplaces contain materials and systems that make them more susceptible to fires. If you manage a commercial space that is at risk, you must have fire extinguishers and safety designs in place to prevent costly accidents. Understanding some of the potential dangers in your workplace will also help you stay safe. Here’s a guide to some of the spaces that are at an increased risk and how to minimize it.

Commercial Establishments That Are at Risk for Fires

  1. Restaurants

Most restaurants use open flames and produce a lot of cooking grease and oils. This combination is a common cause of many residential and commercial fires. To avoid issues, always have fire extinguishers handy and ensure employees know how to operate them. You must also have your restaurant’s grease trap and hood cleaned(6 Steps to a Professional Kitchen Hood Cleaning) to avoid accumulation and promote ventilation. Staff should never leave open flames unattended.

  1. Offices

fire extinguishers Paper documents, electronics, as well as overloaded power strips, outlets, and circuits leave offices at risk for fire. A damaged power cable or overheated strip could create a spark, so always inspect your wiring for damage and excess heat. If desks at your workplace have been relying on extension cords in the long term, consider having additional outlets installed. You should also have fire extinguishers placed throughout the office, as well as alarm protection systems(Commercial Fire Sprinkler Systems Myths). A workplace safety plan should also be in place so employees know what to do in an emergency situation.

  1. Industrial Plants

Several flammable chemicals are used in manufacturing and material treatment, which is why industrial plants are at increased fire risk. Combustible materials such as fuel need to be carefully monitored and stored in a well-ventilated room. Employees should be trained to handle chemicals and operate any machinery that involves open flames. Having a fire suppression system in place will ensure issues are quickly spotted and dealt with. If you manage a warehouse, have fire safety maintenance professionals routinely test your equipment to make sure it’s operational.

Should you have a fire and are in need of clean up services or just have questions about the process, call SERVPRO od The Saint Croix Valley at 715-381-2266. Our staff of professionals are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for emergency commercial and residential mitigation services.

3 Mistakes to Avoid During a Workplace Fire

10/21/2019 (Permalink)

Fire in a workplace Don't get stuck in a hot situation, have a plan ready when you need it.

Making sure fire extinguishers are accessible and smoke alarms are maintained are crucial steps to take as an employer. If a fire does erupt in your workplace, it’s natural for people to panic. Unfortunately, this can lead to common mistakes that aggravate the situation. To ensure everyone makes it out of the building safely during an emergency, here are a few safety guidelines to remind your staff of during fire training.

What Not to Do During a Workplace Fire

  1. Break Windows

Smoke inhalation is a threat to those inside the building. In an effort to access fresh air, some people might open windows or break the glass. However, when oxygenated air from outside rushes in, the intensity of the fire will build more quickly.

As smoke and heat rise, everyone should stay close to the ground and crawl to the exits to avoid fumes. If exits are blocked, put wet towels under the doors to keep out the smoke instead of opening windows.

  1. Fail to Use Emergency Exits

fire extinguishers. When a fire starts, people might try to evacuate the building the same way they got in. However, you shouldn’t open any doors leading to the main corridors, especially if the handles are warm to the touch. Flames could be on the other side of these, and opening them could feed more oxygen to the fire and expose people to smoke.

To keep the fire from spreading, instruct your staff to use only emergency exit doors, stairwells, and fire escapes.

  1. Forget to Alert Others

When they hear the fire alarm protection system, some people may think it’s just a test. If they don’t smell smoke or feel the heat, they might fail to take action.

To protect everyone in the workplace, people who see the flames or smoke should yell “fire” to alert others that it is not a drill. Those trained to use fire extinguishers can try to control the blaze while others call emergency services for help. If anyone in the workplace has mobility difficulties, assign someone to ensure they can get out safely during your safety plan design.

To ensure your staff is prepared for any emergency situation, reach out to SERVPRO of The Saint Croix Valley. We have been helping many commercial customers set up Emergency Ready Plans and have been in the St Croix Valley for over 10 years. Call 715-381-2266 for your free commercial ERP today.

6 Steps to a Professional Kitchen Hood Cleaning

9/25/2019 (Permalink)

Regular cleanings of restaurant kitchen hood vents are an essential part of any fire safety maintenance plan. Without regular attention, oil and other debris can build up in the hood, exhaust fan, filters and ductwork, significantly increasing the chances of a grease fire. Undergoing a hood cleaning twice a year will help you meet the National Fire Protection Agency’s (NFPA) standards for reducing the risk of fire. This process typically takes between three and six hours. To help you prepare for your upcoming appointment, here’s a guide to what to expect during this procedure.

What Happens During a Professional Hood Cleaning?

  1. Kitchen Prep

Hood cleaning may create a mess, so the cleaning company will begin by prepping the kitchen for the process. This includes turning off pilot lights and gas valves, covering appliances, and removing any items that could potentially get contaminated by the cleaning chemicals and dirty water. The cleaning crew will also remove all filters and disassemble any wall-mounted hoods and fans for cleaning.

  1. Filter Cleaning

Kitchen exhaust filters often become caked in grease and grime. The hood cleaning process involves removing the filters and soaking them in a cleaning solution to loosen the hardened grease. After several hours, the filters are power-washed and then reinstalled.

  1. Fan Cleaning

Kitchen exhaust fans are another place where grease builds up. Fire safety maintenance requires the fans to be removed for a thorough cleaning from top to bottom to reduce hidden hazards. The crew will spray the fan with degreasing chemicals and then scrub the blades clean by hand and power washing. Before the fans are reinstalled, the entire system is inspected and the fan belts replaced to ensure it’s in working order.

  1. Vent & Ductwork Inspection

NFPA guidelines require that all exhaust duct systems be cleaned and degreased regularly, so a thorough hood cleaning includes manually scraping any solidified grease from the vents and ducts before spraying on chemicals to dissolve the remaining grease. After a final scrub, the vents and ductwork are inspected to ensure they comply with NFPA rules.

  1. Power Washing

Once the fans, vents, and filters are clean, the crew will tackle the kitchen hoods themselves. This begins with manually scraping congealed grease from the hood, and then applying a degreasing cleaning chemical to loosen any remaining residue. After 30 to 60 minutes, the cleaners power-wash the hood with hot water, leaving it clean and free of grease that could start a fire.

  1. Inspection & Documentation

The final step of the process happens once the crew has restored the kitchen to its prior condition. This is when the process will be documented and your technician will apply a certification sticker to the unit. This tells health inspectors and insurance companies that you are in compliance NFPA guidelines and have worked with licensed fire protection services to ensure the safety of your kitchen.

 If your restaurant kitchen hood needs cleaning, call SERVPRO of The Saint Croix Valley at 715-381-2266. Our trained professionals can help many of your professional cleaning and mitigation needs.

Facts About Mold

9/11/2019 (Permalink)

For more than a decade, mold has been in the news. People are talking about the effect on population health and damage to the building. But what are the risks and issues?

The available science on molds and their potential health effects remains under study, but considerable progress has been made. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the World Health Organization and Health Canada all agree that living or working in a building with mold damage results in increased risk of respiratory disease. Although there are several guidance documents available, there are no accepted national or international standards for mold investigation, evaluation or remediation. AIHA, however, has worked to translate the advice from the previously mentioned government agencies into state-of-the-art inspection and sampling protocols, such as AIHA’s Recogni?tion, Evaluation and Control of Indoor Mold? book, also known as the Green Book. If properly used, these methods are suitable for assessing hidden contamination and directing essential visual inspections. For health outcomes, there are no available exposure assessment methods that can provide useful information for individuals. This is primarily due to the fact that each person’s response to mold exposure is unique.

The scientific complexities surrounding this issue would be a huge challenge but the truth is that other, less scientific, difficulties dwarf them. Media attention on this topic often creates emotionally charged circumstances, making scientific and professional judgment, as well as reasoned dialogue on this subject, very difficult. In some instances, building owners have been known to ignore or dismiss potentially serious problems. Many indoor air quality (IAQ) problems have nothing to do with mold, and buildings seldom have only one indoor environmental quality problem. It is essential to consider multiple sources of building IAQ problems instead of focusing on just mold concerns. In other instances, building occupants or public officials armed with mold sampling reports of dubious quality have reacted with alarm to potential threats, making risk communication very difficult.

Public and occupational health practice is rarely an exact science. Prevention always poses the challenge of making tough and often costly decisions with incomplete information or understanding.

The Facts about Mold: For Everyone 

What is mold?

The term “mold” is a colloquial term for a group of filamentous fungi that are common on food or wet materials. This includes the green Penicillium species that produces penicillin, and fungi that spoil our bread, fruit, cheese and crops. Most of these are Ascomycetes that produce a lot of spores.

The majority of the molds that grow on damp building materials are found in the soil and are adapted to grow on a wide variety of materials. Outdoors, molds live in the soil, on plants, and on dead or decaying matter. There are thousands of species of mold and they can be any color. Different mold species are adapted to different moisture conditions ranging from very wet to just damp. Many times, mold can be detected by a musty odor. Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold growths (colonies) under the right conditions. All of us are exposed to a variety of fungal spores daily in the air we breathe, both outdoors and indoors.

How mold gets into a house or building

Mold and fungal spores occur naturally outdoors, where fungi are the earth’s most important recyclers. Indoors, mold needs moisture to grow; it becomes a problem only where there is water damage, elevated and prolonged humidity, or dampness. Common sources of excessive indoor moisture that can lead to mold problems include:

  • flooding from surface waters (i.e., overflowing rivers) or from severe storms;
  • roof leaks from damaged or missing roofing materials, ice dams or blocked gutters;
  • storm-driven rain through window frames, exterior walls or door assemblies;
  • leaking pipes, sewer back-ups or overflows;
  • damp basements or crawl spaces due to a high-water table or poorly managed rainwater drainage; and
  • condensation on cold surfaces.

How to prevent mold growth

The key to preventing and stopping indoor mold growth is to control excessive moisture and condensation. Keeping susceptible areas in the home clean and dry is critical. In general, mold will not grow indoors without water, dampness or excessive moisture.

Three main factors contribute to condensation of water on building surfaces:

  • Relative Humidity: Condensation occurs when the air is saturated with water and it cannot hold any more moisture. For example, steam generated from bathroom showers or from cooking can fill up the air with moisture, which will then condense into drops of water on cooler surfaces, such as mirrors and windows. Where possible, localized sources of humidity, such as clothes dryers, should be directly vented to the outdoors. To lower indoor humidity during warm, humid weather, air conditioners and/or dehumidifiers should be used. In chronically damp areas such as basements or crawlspaces, it is often recommended that dehumidifiers be used to maintain humidity levels below 60 percent.
  • Temperature: Warm air holds more moisture than cold air. Condensation occurs when warm humid air comes into contact with a cold surface and the moisture condenses into water. This can often be seen on single-pane windows, where water condenses and then runs down, causing the wood frames and sills to rot and the wall under the windows to blister. Condensation can occur on exterior walls, particularly north-facing walls, if they are not properly insulated. Other chronically cold surfaces, such as cold-water pipes, should be covered with insulation to help prevent condensation.
  • Poor Ventilation: Indoor humidity can build up if there is not enough ventilation and exchange of indoor and outdoor air. Where there is little or no air movement, such as behind dressers and cabinets, surfaces can remain cooler than surrounding areas, which can lead to increased condensation and mold growth. It is recommended that the area be ventilated and the occupants use exhaust fans (vented to the outdoors) to remove moisture from high-humidity areas, particularly in bathrooms, kitchens and laundry areas. Furniture should be moved slightly away from walls so that air can freely pass behind it. Air should be allowed to circulate between rooms and regularly ventilate to remove humid air. Fans should be used as needed.

Other things that can be done are to clean and repair gutters regularly, make sure the ground slopes down and away from the home’s foundation and keep air conditioner drip pans and drain lines clean. In addition, in air-conditioned buildings in hot and humid climates, vinyl wall coverings on the interior sides of exterior walls should not be used, as these materials can trap moisture, resulting in mold growth underneath them.

In the case of floods or leaking pipes, any standing water should be promptly removed and water-damaged materials should either be dried out and cleaned, or removed and replaced. Porous materials that are wet for more than 48 hours are likely to produce mold growth and should be discarded. In instances where the water damage is extensive, it is recommended that professional help, such as a commercial restoration company, be consulted.

If you have had mold growth from these conditions please call us at SERVPRO of the Saint Croix Valley 715-781-2266. Our professionals, combine with industry standard technology and experience can help mediate needs quickly and professionally.