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4 Ways to Prepare Your Business For a Fire

12/30/2019 (Permalink)

Testing a smoke alarm Test smoke alarms regularly

4 Ways to Prepare Your Business For a Fire

While it might not be fun to think about a fire occurring in your Philadelphia, PA, building, proper fire preparation is necessary to keep both your business and your employees safe in case of emergency. There are many things that you should consider when preparing for this type of situation. The following are a few steps you can take.

1. Test Smoke Alarms Regularly

Keeping your smoke alarms maintained is an important part of disaster preparation. You will need to have at least one alarm on each floor of the building, but you may need more depending on its size. These should be tested monthly to ensure they are working. If they use replaceable batteries, these should be changed every 6 to 12 months.

2. Create an Escape Plan

If an emergency happens, you need to make sure everyone knows how to get out of the building safely. You should locate any possible exits, including windows on lower floors, and create multiple routes from each area. Practicing at least twice a year will help the plan stick in everyone’s memory.

3. Back-Up Important Data

When creating a fire preparation plan, don’t forget to consider your equipment. Fire, smoke and water from hoses can all cause significant, and sometimes permanent, damage to electronic devices. To keep your data safe, you should make backups of important files. You can upload digital files to cloud storage as well as making physical copies.

4. Purchase an Insurance Policy

If your building suffers from fire damage, the repairs you will need can be costly. You can also lose work hours, and therefore profits, during the restoration process. Having the right insurance policy can help your business with the financial aspects of a disaster.
Fire preparation can help limit the negative impact of an emergency, but it cannot completely prevent damage to your building. To return it to its previous condition quickly, you should hire a cleanup and restoration company to perform mitigation and repairs. They will be able to complete the job in a reasonable time without sacrificing the quality of their work.

3 Things Every Business Continuity Plan Should Have

12/21/2019 (Permalink)

Paper with words BCP Business Continuity Plan For a business in a place like Philadelphia, PA, when storms are frequent, having a continuity plan in place can help save a lot of time

Three Things Every Business Should Include in Their Plan

For a business in a place like Philadelphia, PA, when storms are frequent, having a continuity plan in place can help save a lot of time. Here are three things every business should include in their plan.

1. Emergency Numbers

One of the things many experts recommend including in an emergency plan are important phone numbers, as well as the numbers of any emergency service you may need. These may include the number of your insurance provider, but you may also want to consider keeping contact information for a storm damage restoration service. This will allow you to save time as you will already know who to contact if damage to the property were to occur.

2. Operation Procedures

Many businesses choose to include operation procedures in their continuity plan. This helps insure that a company can stay open if flooding disrupts daily operations. Some things to consider include backups for data, other ways to access the company server if the computers go down, alternate locations to work at, and if one office space can be shared while another is under repair.

3. Insurance Information

In many cases storm damage will be covered under your commercial insurance policy for the building. It’s important for you to know exactly what’s in this policy so you can make sure you have the coverage you need, so you may wish to include this information with your plan. You may also want to include the number for your agent, as well as a list of any specifically insured items or equipment.
When constructing a continuity plan for your business it’s important to remember to include the numbers of emergency services you may need, including that of a restoration professional. You will also want to create steps for how to keep the company operating in a variety of scenarios, and information your insurance may need.

5 Steps for Flushing a Water Heater

12/9/2019 (Permalink)

Hand attaches hose to a home water heater to perform maintenance When flushing your water heater it’s important to follow the correct procedure to avoid causing damage to the unit

5 Steps for Flushing a Water Heater

There are a number of reasons you may want to flush a water heater in your Philadelphia, PA, home. This can be an important part of keeping your heater in working order. Here are five steps to follow.

1. Turn the Heater Off
When performing a water heater flush it’s important to turn the unit off before starting. This will help prevent possible injury from the pilot light or electric heating element.

2. Prepare the Drainage Space
Connect the hose to the tank and place the open end into a drain or other area that can handle any water or sediment removed by the flush. Many people run the hose into a driveway, or drainage ditch. If you can’t direct the water outdoors you may choose to use a large bucket.

3. Flush the Heater Tank
Now it’s time to flush the water heater. Open the drain valve to release the water in the tank. You may also want to turn the hot water faucet in the kitchen or utility sink on to help with the flow. After the first flush you can turn off the water supply line and allow the tank to drain until empty. Repeat this process as needed to ensure all sediment has been washed out of the tank.

4. Inspect the Unit
Once the tank has been flushed and any sediment removed you may wish to inspect it for damage. A damage unit should be repaired or replaced according to manufacturer's instructions. If there is any water damage to the area around the tank a restoration professional should be called.

5. Refill the Heater Tank
Once you have inspected the tank for any damages you can refill the tank by turning the supply line back on. As air is flushed from the system you may see some sputtering action in the water coming from the open faucet, but as the tank is filled and air removed the stream should return to normal.
When flushing your water heater it’s important to follow the correct procedure to avoid causing damage to the unit. If you do find damage a professional may be able to help.

What To Throw Away After a Fire

11/27/2019 (Permalink)

a kitchen with burned walls Remember that your first priority after a fire is to make sure you and your family members are safe.

A fire in your home leaves you with a lot of fire damage cleanup and concerns about what can be saved and what must be thrown away. It can be frustrating to toss out items of sentimental value or to dump items that don't appear to be damaged. However, there are several things that you must throw away, even if they look fine:

Non-perishable food exposed to high heat, smoke, chemicals, or flames
Perishable food exposed to the same or left at room temperature for more than two hours
Medications with warped or charred packaging
Makeup and other cosmetics with affected packaging
Burned or smoky-smelling clothing and bedding

An Official Warning

The U.S. Fire Administration reminds homeowners that even when items haven't been damaged directly by flames, smoke from the fire as well as water and chemicals from the firefighters pose hazards. Even if you want to save your belongings, it may be much safer to throw away and then replace them. As you sort through your belongings work with firefighters and fire damage and remediation professionals to help you make those tough decisions.

What You Can't See Can Hurt You

It may help you to realize that the dirty water left after a fire often contains contaminants and other health hazards. The soot and smoke odors are reminders of the unseen chemicals that linger in the air. It makes sense that you wouldn't want to wear or eat anything that was contaminated by smoke, chemicals, or flames. High temperatures may cause items to spoil, so they aren't safe for use or consumption.

This is as important after the flames are out as it is when you first hear your alarms sounding. When you're in doubt about the safety of the belongings in your Philadelphia, PA home, "throw away" to keep risks at bay.

3 Home Fire Causes and Mitigation Tips

11/27/2019 (Permalink)

Gas stove top lit Never leave your stove or oven unattended as it can take seconds for something to burn or catch fire.

Fire Causes and Mitigation Tips

There are a few causes that could lead to a home fire in Philadelphia, PA. Fortunately, a local fire damage restoration professional can take care of any fire cleaning that may be needed. However, knowing fire causes and mitigation tips may help you keep your home safe from the start. Here are three of the most common.

1. Electrical Malfunction

Once of the possible fire causes in the home comes from an electrical malfunction. This is one reason it’s best to ensure your wiring is up to code. Another possible source is every day appliances. Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for maintenance and cleaning, and if you see any damage to the unit discontinue use until you can have it replaced or repaired. Common culprits include dryers, toasters, lamps, and other heat using appliances.

2. Open Flame

A more common cause of a home fire is the use of open flame. This can be anything from a fireplace, to a candle, to a lit cigarette. Never leave these unattended, and ensure they are properly put out when you are done with their use. It’s also a good idea to keep the area around these clear of any debris and to keep them away from children or pets.

3. Cooking

Another common cause for fire comes from cooking. Never leave your stove or oven unattended as it can take seconds for something to burn or catch fire. For this reason you should also keep your cook top clean and clear of any debris. It’s also best to keep a fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen in case something should happen.

Knowing the causes of a possible home fire may help you take mitigation steps ahead of time. Remember to properly maintain your appliances and have them repaired or replaced when necessary. Also never leave an open flame unattended, and pay attention to your stove or oven when cooking. If you do experience fire damage a restoration professional can help.

Gobble up Safety for Thanksgiving

11/25/2019 (Permalink)

Body of a turkey as a green air mover wearing a hat and tail feathers. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at SERVPRO of South Philadelphia

For most, the kitchen is the heart of the home, especially during the holidays.  Keeping fire safety a priority when cooking during this joyful, yet hectic time of year.  We have picked out the top tips to remember when preparing for the big event.  

  • Do not leave kitchen unattended while food is cooking either on the stove, or in the oven.  Don't burn the dinner!
  • Keep the floor clear of any bags, or toys that would cause a tripping hazard.
  • Kids should stay at least 3 feet away from the stove and any hot liquids that may splatter.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working properly for all of the heavy cooking about to be done in your kitchen.
  • Wrap up any loose electrical wires that are not in use.  These can easily get snagged while in transportation of other dishes.  Wires in use such as an electric knife, coffee maker, or plate warmer wires should also not be hanging.

Source: NFPA's Fire Analysis & Research Division

What It Takes To Clean After a Storm

11/14/2019 (Permalink)

A technician wearing protective equipment and bagging up debris Technician cleaning up after storm damage in Philadelphia, PA

Cleaning Requirements That Often Appear On a Flood Cleanup Checklist

When a storm in Philadelphia, PA, floods your home, you may not know where to start the cleanup process. The good news is that flood restoration experts can assess your property and put together a list of tasks that must be completed during mitigation. Here are some common cleaning requirements that often appear on a flood cleanup checklist.

Water and Debris Removal

The first hurdle in the flood clean process is getting the damaging elements out of your home. Experts may use several tools to do this:

  • Industrial pumps
  • Trash pumps
  • Truck mounts

Once technicians have taken out everything that contributes to the damage, they can get a better idea of what needs to be trashed and what can be repaired.

Item Assessment

Because floodwater from a storm is probably highly contaminated, everything it touches must be cleaned or tossed. The cleaning requirements differ for every item in your home. Items that can be submerged in water should be boiled and left to air dry in a clean location. Other items may require strong disinfectants to clean the surfaces. The experts you hire may even be able to salvage your electronics or documents with gamma radiation or freeze-drying techniques.

Structural Cleaning

Once all items have been removed for cleaning or disposal, technicians can start on the structure of the house itself. Part of your walls may have to be removed if they were touched by the contaminated water, as the drywall is likely to have been saturated with bacteria. A flood disinfectant can be used on harder, less porous surfaces. Everything in your home must be cleaned before you can safely inhabit the space again.
The cleaning requirements for your home after a flood may be extensive, but they are necessary to fully restore your house. Restoration experts can give you an itemized checklist of everything that must be done to make your home livable again.

Bonfire Safety Tips

11/12/2019 (Permalink)

Hand hold a portable fire extinguisher Make sure you have a fire extinguisher in case of an emergency.

October and November are normally the months when the weather begins to transition from cool to cold in many parts of the United States. Building a nice, toasty bonfire in the backyard is a great way to take some of the chill out of the frosty air. Of course, where there’s fire, there’s also the potential risk of a disaster occurring. The following tips can ensure a safe, fun evening while gathered around the bonfire with family and friends.

  • Choosing a fire pit — Unless you have a huge backyard with multiple acres of property, you’ll probably be using some type of fire pit for building your fire. Whether you prefer a built-in or portable model, be sure to select one that isn’t too large for the area. The pit should be at least 10 feet away from structures and combustible materials. Also make sure you have room for a seating area that is large enough for proper comfort and ventilation.
  • Check the weather — Make sure you check the forecast before lighting your fire. You’ll want to avoid starting a bonfire during extremely windy conditions, as a strong breeze could blow sparks onto nearby surfaces or people.
  • Starting the fire — Never use accelerants such as gasoline or lighter fluid to start or re-light your bonfire, as these create fumes, and could even cause the fire to burn out of control. Use a lighter to light crumpled pieces of paper covered with small sticks to get the fire started, and then add larger sticks and eventually a log or two to keep it burning. Never throw fireworks, batteries or other combustible items into a burning fire.
  • Have proper fire extinguishing equipment nearby — Make sure you have a fire extinguisher, garden hose and water source nearby in case of an emergency. Avoid fulling up a bucket of water, as that creates a prime mosquito breeding area. Instead, fill a bucket with sand. Sand can be used as an alternative to water to help extinguish a fire.
  • Wear appropriate clothing — Wear non-flammable clothing when starting, sitting by or extinguishing the fire. Also wear hard-soled shoes instead of rubber sneakers or flip flops, as leaping sparks could cause them to ignite. And never go barefoot around a bonfire!
  • Keep an eye on alcohol consumption — If you and your guests are enjoying an adult beverage or two around the bonfire, be mindful of your consumption. Too much alcohol can lead to clumsiness and careless behavior, such as getting too close to the fire or tossing in the wrong items.
  • Closely monitor children and pets — Kids and pets are likely to be attracted to your bonfire. Teach your kids a safe path to walk that keeps them far away from the burning fire. Fit your pets with glow-in-the-dark collars to more easily track their movements, or better yet, keep them inside.
  • Putting out the fire — When the evening is winding down, and you’ve let the fire burn out, use a shovel to spread out the ashes and let them cool down. Slowly pour water over the ashes and monitor them closely to be sure that no burning embers remain. Place the cooled ashes in a metal can that is designated for ash storage only.

Source: Mosquito Magnet

When is the last time your business had a high dusting?

11/5/2019 (Permalink)

Technician on an extended green scissor lift with a HEPA vacuum removing dust. Technician on an extended green scissor lift with a HEPA vacuum removing dust.

It's not everyday that we are able to clean the higher than normal places within the building.  These often get overlooked and forgotten about as time goes on.  A lot of dust can build up over time and cause not only the appearance to alter, but it can affect the air quality in your business.

Our technicians have cleaned numerous high ceiling objects such as decorative sculptures, diffusers, food court signage, and chandeliers.  They use a HEPA vacuum to make sure that the fine particles are removed after the dust is gone.  In this case we have pictured, they use a HEPA back pack so they have more room on the scissor lift for other equipment if need be. 

After reading this, if you think it's time to schedule your business to have a high dusting cleaning, call SERVPRO of South Philadelphia today! 215-243-0430

The Power of Damaging Winds

10/27/2019 (Permalink)

Tree uprooted from the ground, laying on the front yard and sidewalk of a homeowner's house. Uprooted tree from high winds

What are damaging winds? 

Damaging winds are often called “straight-line” winds to differentiate the damage they cause from tornado damage.  Strong thunderstorm winds can come from a number of different processes.  Most thunderstorm winds that cause damage at the ground are a result of outflow generated by a thunderstorm downdraft.  Damaging winds are classified as those exceeding 50-60 mph.

Straight-line wind is a term used to define any thunderstorm wind that is not associated with rotation, and is used mainly to differentiate from tornadic winds.

downdraft is a small-scale column of air that rapidly sinks toward the ground.

macroburst is an outward burst of strong winds at or near the surface with horizontal dimensions larger than 4 km (2.5 mi) and occurs when a strong downdraft reaches the surface. To visualize this process, imagine the way water comes out of a faucet and hits the bottom of a sink. The column of water is the downdraft and the outward spray at the bottom of the sink is the macroburst. Macroburst winds may begin over a smaller area and then spread out over a wider area, sometimes producing damage similar to a tornado. Although usually associated with thunderstorms, macrobursts can occur with showers too weak to produce thunder.