Fall Fire Prevention Tips
With the cooler temperatures of fall just around the corner, it is a good idea to revisit fire prevention and safety tips that are specific to this time of year. As you focus more and more on staying warm, you’ll also want to focus on staying safe while enjoying this season.
- Checkups. Your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors will need a change of batteries so they can stay on duty. Take a look at your fire extinguishers to ensure they are fully charged and in good working order.
- HVAC. Call your local certified HVAC technician and have them come clean, inspect and service your central heating system to avoid potential issues.
- Space heaters. Practice safety when using space heaters by:
- Making sure any unit is surrounded by at least three feet of empty space
- Never using these units to dry clothing or other objects
- Keep any space heater away from furniture or drapery
- Always turn these units off when you go to bed or leave the house
- Fireplaces. Practice fireplace safety using these tips:
- Your chimney should be inspected yearly
- Employ a certified chimney sweep to clean your chimney in early fall, every year
- Repair all cracks in your fireplace
- Use screens to keep sparks and debris inside your fireplace
- NEVER use gasoline to start a fire in your fireplace
- NEVER leave your fire unattended
- Store any combustible materials at least three feet away from the fireplace
- Holiday decorations. Enjoy the holidays safely by taking these precautions:
- Use flashlights instead of burning candles in your Jack-O-Lanterns
- Halloween costumes should be constructed with fire-retardant materials, as should all holiday decorations.
- Make sure that all extension cords and holiday lights have been tested by an approved organization - pay attention to labeling.
- Teach your family fire safety:
- Make sure even young children know how to call 911.
- Establish a fire escape plan for your family, and practice it until everyone is sure they know what to do, and where to meet.
- “Stop, drop, and roll” needs to be taught to everyone and practiced.
- Outdoor fire safety for fall:
- Clear your rain gutters and roof of debris buildup
- Find the outdoor burning regulations for your area, and never illegally burn leaves or other outdoor debris
Here at SERVPRO of Northwest/South Grand Rapids, we care about the safety of your family. Call us for help with fire or water damage, or when you are experiencing issues with mold or mildew. We’re always here to help.
How To Prevent Mold Damage In Your Commercial Building
You’ve worked hard to get where you are, and as a savvy business owner, you want to do everything possible to protect your enterprise. Routine preventive maintenance is one of the main methods to keep everything in great shape and operating smoothly. This gives your roofing, exterior doors and windows, parking areas, warehousing and storage, and office space the attention they need. You’ve thought of everything….or have you?
Today we would like to share some tips on preventing mold in your commercial building:
- Be aware. Mold can grow quickly in unexpected places. Create an inspection plan for your business that is designed to be done on a routine basis. Search for signs of mold in damp, high moisture areas, and look for spotty or fuzzy stains on walls, floors, and carpeting. Take note of musty smells, too. Request your cleaning crew to notify you of any specific areas they think may be at risk.
- Timely repair. Make sure any issues in your building are taken care of right away, especially leaks and water damage. Damaged roofing, unsealed windows and door frames, and cracked foundations are all risks for the establishment of a mold colony.
- Damp air. Your geographic location may mean that you are always dealing with high humidity, and since damp air encourages mold to grow, you may want to install dehumidifiers in your commercial building.
- Clean air. You can reduce the transfer of mold spores throughout your commercial property by cleaning and maintaining your HVAC system and air ducts properly and regularly.
We’re there. Every commercial property is different, so you may need to consult a mold remediation specialist for help in creating a customized plan that will fit the needs of your structure and your business. Working with a company that has experience handling mold and mildew issues will ensure that this expensive and harmful situation won’t cause problems for you, now or in the future. The SERVPRO of Northwest/South Grand Rapids team is always here to help, and we respond faster to any disaster, large or small!
Cleaning Your Commercial Office Building
A thorough cleaning will rid your commercial office building of the dust and grime of summer, bringing a clean and refreshed feel to your workplace as well as positively impacting your business’ profitability and your workers’ productivity. Commercial cleaning is a bit different than residential cleaning since it will call for more in-depth cleaning processes and better organization. You have a lot of people, and aspects, to think of.
Let your employees know that a cleaning process will be beginning, and inform them what that process will look like. If there are any possible interruptions in tools or workflow, you will want to let them know and get their feedback on how to handle these situations. Make sure they are aware of the cleaning products that will be used in case there are possible irritations or allergies that some may experience. Many people prefer to be exposed to more eco-friendly products these days, so that’s an option that will make everyone happy.
Provide employees with a schedule so that they know exactly what to expect as your cleaning process moves forward. If it will be necessary for them to box up any of their work items, let them know as far in advance as possible so that they can plan for the event.
The key areas you will want to focus on include:
- Deep-clean carpets to remove stains.
- Move file cabinets, conference tables, desks, and other large furniture items to clean the entire floor.
- Clean flooring baseboards and corners with a high-powered vacuum.
- Buff and scrub tile and concrete.
- Consider re-finishing and re-sealing floors for a renewed appearance.
- Look for fire hazards on the floor. Remove any floor or stairway blockages.
- Observe tile for breaks, dents, or cracks, and consider replacing broken tile or redoing the flooring.
- Look for chipped paint and cracks, and decide if you need to repaint. If the cracks are large, you may want to have a professional inspect for damage.
- Clean all windows to remove dust and marks, cleaning both outside and inside. For tall or high windows, hire a professional window cleaning service.
- Dust and wash the drapes and blinds. This area is usually forgotten in weekly cleanings.
- Dust ceiling corners, light fixtures, and tops of doors.
- Clean the grout in between the tiles.
- Sanitize and deep clean all surfaces with bleach-based products.
- Re-caulk in areas of cracking or splitting.
- Bleach the inside of toilet bowls. Rub the external of the toilet bowls with a sanitizing cleanser.
- Wash the floor baseboards around toilets and urinals.
- Wash all trash-cans.
- Replace all toilet paper, soap, and other usables.
- Look for signs of mold or mildew, which is more common in high-humidity environments like bathrooms. Remove any mildew immediately.
Cleaning your commercial office building can be a big job. Here at SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids, we can help you get your cleaning projects done in record time. Call us today for your commercial office building needs.
How To Prevent Storm Damage To Your Business
Lightning strikes during thunderstorms can cause significant damage to your home and property.
Falling trees, fire, high wind and hail storms often cause damage to roofing and other vulnerable parts of your property. Safety should always be your primary concern to prevent storm damage to your business.
- Roofing. The best way to prevent unnecessary damages is to ensure that your roof is in the best shape possible before storm season hits. After a storm, any initial roof assessment should be completed from the ground as you want to make sure you are safe. If you suspect damage to your shingles or structure, contact a professional immediately. Make sure everyone vacates the premises in the event of major roof damage.
- Landscaping. Before the stormy season, have your landscaping trimmed back and remove all dead or dying vegetation. This will help to lessen the risk of flying branches or falling trees.
- Parking Areas. Keeping your parking areas in good repair will mean that after a storm, your clients will still be able to get to you. Potholes and flooding in your parking lot will keep everyone away, including your workforce.
- Walkways. Heavy storms can undercut walkways, making them dangerous for pedestrians, and that’s something you definitely want to avoid. Have them updated and strengthened before heavy weather, and take a good look at them after a storm moves through the area. If you need a second pair of eyes, call a professional storm damage cleanup company for help.
Storms and inclement weather can bring wind damage, heavy rain, and flooding that can devastate any business in a matter of minutes. There’s never a convenient time for flooding or water damage to strike, and storms don’t just strike during regular business hours; that’s why SERVPRO Franchise Professionals offer 24-hour emergency service 365 days of the year.
The SERVPRO Disaster Recovery Team can provide help whether your property has experienced a tornado, hurricane, blizzard or flood. The SERVPRO System has a network of strategically positioned storm teams on standby should a disaster strike near you. Here at SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids, we are always prepared for the unpredictable.
Preparing Your Grand Rapids Home For Fall
As summer comes to a close, it’s a good idea to think ahead to the colder months coming to our area. Getting your home ready for fall and winter’s colder temperatures and harsher weather conditions while it’s still warm and pleasant will make your life a lot easier and leave you with plenty of time to enjoy the coziness of your house during the holidays. Weather may be unpredictable during the fall here in Grand Rapids, but you won’t have to worry about it if you prepare your home for fall now! Here are some preparations to consider:
- Gutters. Remove dead leaves and debris from your gutters and drainpipes. This will prevent clogging during wetter weather. Drain all outdoor faucets ahead of freezing weather now, as well.
- Chimney and Fireplace. Clear out leftover ash and charred wood from the fireplace, and contact a professional to clean the chimney. Ask the chimney cleaning company to make sure your damper can be closed properly so that drafts of cold air won’t be coming into your home during fall and winter months.
- Heating System. Check your home’s heating vents to make sure they won’t be blocked by furniture, floor coverings, or curtains, and dust them as well. All filters should be changed, and now is a great time to have a professional come and make that annual system checkup.
- Air Conditioners. Unplug any removable window air conditioners, cleaning them thoroughly before putting them in storage.
- Drafts. Examine all your windows and doors for cracks. If you find any, have them sealed now so that you can stay warm and save energy this fall and winter. You’ll be saving both time and money here!
- Storm Windows. Removable screens should be taken down and cleaned, stored and replaced with storm windows.
- Water Heater. Drain the water heater and clean out any debris that may have settled in the tank.
If you need help with the job of preparing your home for fall, just call the professional team here at SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids. We have the expertise and the equipment needed to get the job done right.
How to Clean Up Smoke Damage in Your Home
Enjoy a smoke-free home!
Cleaning up smoke damage in your home is extremely important, but unfortunately, it won’t be as easy as opening a window and letting things air out. The acidic nature of smoke and soot makes them difficult to remove. However, they both contain unpleasant odors and particles that are harmful to breathe, so it’s important to clean them up completely to maintain a healthy living environment. Here at SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids, we have years of fire damage clean-up experience, and over the years, we’ve picked up a few helpful tips that we’re sharing today:
What You’ll Need
One item you may have to buy is a dry-cleaning sponge, but many other helpful cleaning products can probably be found around your home. A sponge, however, is very important for smoke damage removal, so we encourage you not to neglect adding this effective cleaning tool to your list of supplies. We recommend you acquire the following:
- Rubbing alcohol/paint thinner
- Degreaser / commercial soot remover
- Vacuum (ideally a strong shop-vac) with an upholstery attachment
- Bucket / hot water
- Dry-cleaning sponge (chemical sponge)
- Clean rags
After obtaining the cleaning tools above, here are a few next steps:
Ventilate. The first thing you need to do is ventilate the house to get fresh air flowing; be sure to open all the doors and windows in the home. You also can use fans to encourage airflow. Additionally, turn off your HVAC system to prevent smoke and soot from spreading.
Use Protection. Before you clean your house, make sure to protect yourself properly. Soot, smoke, and debris can be dangerous to inhale, so wear a respirator if there is significant soot in the damaged area. Long pants and sleeves will protect your skin, and wearing gloves and eye protection can help save your eyes and hands. Since you will be freeing soot as you clean, it’s important to lay down floor protection and remove any furniture or household objects that are not damaged. If the damaged area is small, you can simply cover furniture with plastic or sheets, but if you’re cleaning an entire room, it’s wise to remove clean items and even seal off other rooms that were not affected. Be mindful of the shoes you’re wearing so you don’t track soot stains into other rooms.
Vacuum It Up. Soot and smoke damage usually come in one ugly, smelly package, so remove loose soot particles with a vacuum with an upholstery attachment. A shop-vac with strong suction power is best for this task. Lightly brush the affected area with the brush attachment, vacuuming up the loose particles. Be gentle and avoid scrubbing, which can make stains worse.
Use The Sponge. After performing the steps above, it’s time to use that dry-cleaning sponge (chemical sponge) to wipe up the soot and smoke stains; these sponges use special chemicals to lift stains from walls. Never use soot cleaner or water before you use a dry-cleaning sponge or you could spread the soot, making it impossible to remove with a chemical sponge. Begin by wiping the walls gently with the dry-cleaning sponge, and turn the sponge to a different side as it gets soiled so that you are always using a clean surface. When all sides are soiled, slice off the dirty sides with a knife to reveal fresh surfaces beneath, or use a new sponge. Make sure you use a wiping motion the entire time because when you scrub the stains, you spread them and work the soot deeper into the surface.
Use Liquid Cleaners. After you remove as much soot as possible with the dry-cleaning sponge, you can use commercial soot/smoke remover (follow the manufacturer’s directions), rubbing alcohol, white vinegar or paint thinner and a clean rag. Soak the rag in your preferred cleaner and wipe the walls throughout the damaged room. Even if there is no sign of soot or smoke damage, it’s important to wipe every surface in the room, including light bulbs. Next, you’ll want to use TSP, dish soap or degreaser in a gallon of hot water to wash the walls with a rag or sponge; just a few teaspoons should be enough. Use the same wiping motion you used with the dry-cleaning sponge. You may need to use a combination or repeated treatments of these chemical cleaners depending on how bad the damage is. As the rag gets dirty, rinse it out in the bucket or use a new rag. The same applies to your cleaning water. Refresh your water when it gets black or smells like smoke. Once you’ve completed washing the room with your chosen cleaner, wipe the walls again with fresh water and a clean rag to remove any remaining cleaning products.
Dry It Up. Dry the clean surfaces with a clean rag. You can use fans to speed this process up if necessary. You will probably still smell smoke odors, as they can take a few days to a few weeks to dissipate. Identify materials that can easily absorb odors, such as upholstered furniture or area rugs, and place these items together in a separate room or outdoors to see if the smell dissipates after a few days. You may want to consider throwing out the items you can stand to part with. Getting your carpeting, curtains, and furniture professionally cleaned will also help with lingering smoke odors. Don’t forget to replace your HVAC filters, which may be circulating smoky air in your home.
Cleaning your home after smoke or soot damage can be a difficult job. If you need assistance, SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids is here to help. With IICRC-certified techniques and state-of-the-art equipment, our trustworthy experts are the best in the fire damage restoration industry.
Storm Damage Prevention Advice for Your Home
Prepare for storms before they hit!
No homeowner gets to choose when a storm is headed his way, but a smart homeowner can choose to be ready for any kind of inclement weather. Today we’re sharing some advice for you that will help to reduce and prevent storm damage from adversely affecting your home and property.
- Roofing. Regular roofing inspections will help you identify issues like minor leaks or missing shingles, allowing you to get them repaired right away. This will help you avoid serious structural damages when severe weather arrives. If your home does suffer storm damage, you can call us here at SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids to schedule repair and cleanup.
- Landscaping. Hard winds and heavy rain will accompany the storms of summer, and dead tree branches, unhealthy vegetation, and unstable trees can cause damage to your property under these conditions. We recommend regularly trimming your plants and trees, removing dead or dying limbs and plants wherever necessary. Replace plantings if some are removed by storms to prevent erosion from heavy rains, too.
- Storm Windows. Invest in high-quality storm windows to prevent leaks and other storm damage. These do a great job of protecting window glass, adding an extra layer of safety to your home’s interior against the wind and rain.
- Entrance and Parking. Keep your driveway and your entrance in good repair, replacing buckling concrete or stepping stones and filling in potholes ahead of inclement weather. Your friends and family’s safety is important to you, we know, and this important step goes a long way towards ensuring that no one gets hurt during the storms of summer.
- Basements. Keep an eye on all low lying areas of your home, like your basement. This is where leaks will show up and often go unnoticed, so taking a close look before and after wet weather will help you spot a problem right away.
For more tips on preventing storm damage, contact us here at SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids for assistance. We specialize in cleanup from water and fire damage, no matter the size. We are also mold remediation specialists. Visit us online for a complete list of our services. You can call us at (616) 662-9700 at any hour for assistance. We’re available 24/7.
5 Ways to Prevent Water Damage In Your Commercial Building
Be on guard against water damage—it can happen at any time!
As a wise business owner, you know that damage prevention is always going to save you both time and money, and preventing damage from water is one of the most important prevention focuses you can have. Water damage is at the top of the list of mishaps a business can suffer from and the cleanup for this kind of event can be extensive, so today we want to share five ways to prevent water damage in your commercial building.
- REGULAR MAINTENANCE. This is the number one way to prevent damage from water. Whether we are talking about the drainage areas for your entrances and your parking lots, or we are discussing leaks and floods in kitchen and bathroom areas, many times you can avoid these kinds of events through regular maintenance. Identify the areas on and around your premises that are the biggest risk, and schedule regular inspections and repairs for these areas.
- VIGILANCE. Instruct your workforce to say something if they see something. When an area is damp that should not be, something needs to be communicated. Additionally, when equipment that uses water, like dishwashers or commercial kitchen sinks, is not functioning properly, encourage your employees to let you know right away.
- WEATHER. If the weather news people are projecting a wet season, make it part of your daily routine to look around your grounds for overflowing ditches or gutters after heavy rains and storms. Take note of standing water, too. Issues like these can cause erosion and potholes, not to mention breed mosquitoes.
- RESTAURANTS/CAFES. If you own a restaurant or cafe, make sure the kitchen flooring is always properly taken care of to avoid water damage down the road. Closing after a long, busy evening can be stressful, but it’s not the time to cut corners when it comes to getting everything into shape for the next day.
- IMMEDIATE CLEANUP. If you have a flooding event, large or small, it is always going to be a good idea to get it cleaned up and dried completely as soon as possible.
If you need help with a cleanup for water damage, large or small, here at SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids we are always ready to help. You can call us at (616) 662-9700
for assistance with fire damage and mold remediation, too.
Fire Prevention Tips for your Office
Having proper equipment to prevent fires is important.
Studies have shown that most business fires occur while the premises are not populated, between the hours of 7 pm and 7 am, causing a large amount of damage. Commercial fires, caused by cooking equipment, are also potentially devastating, but surprisingly, the most damaging ones start in an office environment! Here are some fire prevention tips to help lower the odds your office is affected by fire.
Have A Plan. Designating someone as your “safety officer” is one step you can take that will really help. He or she can take the lead in establishing appropriate escape routes and meeting places, and setting up appropriate emergency procedures, as well. Your employees should be aware that the safety officer is in charge during any emergency and will be the one responsible for contacting emergency personnel, keeping track of employees, and assisting with providing information on equipment and chemicals kept in your office. An up-to-date emergency contact list should always be available at your place of business, and you should designate someone to be in charge of contacting family members or next-of-kin, in case of injury or a missing person.
Have Proper Equipment. There are specific items you will need to have on hand in advance of a fire, such as fire extinguishers and smoke alarms, and these are required through local building codes, so they should be present. Alarms and extinguishers need to be inspected monthly and replaced when necessary. You will also want to have a fully-stocked first aid kit and bottled water on hand, as well as flashlights, just in case.
Hold Regular Drills. Your safety officer should schedule regular drills and training to make sure everyone is well-versed in what to do in case of an emergency, such as an office fire. During these drills, new emergency response information can be shared to keep everyone up to date.
Follow these Preventive Tips to prevent a fire in the first place:
- Follow manufacturers’ recommendations for maximum volt/wattage load for surge protectors, power strips and adapters, and ask your electrician to periodically inspect these items and outlets for potential overload.
- Replace frayed power cords and never run them under rugs or carpeting. Use cord protectors, instead.
- Unplug appliances (coffeemakers, microwaves) and other equipment not in use at the end of the day and over the weekend.
- Replace appliances that feel warm or hot to touch.
- Ask the fire marshal to inspect chemical and equipment storage areas periodically to ensure proper ventilation and stowage.
- Store hazardous materials according to manufacturers’ instructions and OSHA regulations. Clearly mark these items to help emergency personnel identify and stabilize them.
- Don’t prop fire doors open or block exits with furniture or boxes.
- Don’t allow paper and other trash to accumulate outside of garbage or recycling receptacles, and never store this material near hot equipment, electrical outlets or the smoking areas.
- Don’t permit employees to burn candles, scented oils, etc. in their personal work areas.
Our SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids team is here to help you in the event of damage from fire or water. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and we are mold prevention and remediation specialists, too!
The 3 Most Common Places to Check for Mold Growth
Make it a habit to regularly check under your sink for mold growth.
Mold. The mere mention of the word brings to mind all the unpleasant aspects of this organism - the unsightly black, red, or gray spots that appear, its odors, and the allergic reactions that many people experience when mold moves in. We all know that it can be very beneficial, though, by helping to create various cheeses and alleviate sickness, for example. But when we find it in our home or business, we forget about its benefits.
Keeping an eye out for mold growth in your house or place of business is a great way to prevent a colony from becoming established, protecting your possessions and the people you care about from being negatively impacted by its arrival.
Here are three of the most common places you will find mold:
Under The Sink. Sinks often spring small leaks, and we may not even realize it for quite some time. A tiny leak in the darkness of a cabinet or at the base of a sink pedestal that goes unnoticed is prime real estate for a mold colony. When you are doing your regular inspections, this type of space is the first place you should check for mold growth.
Behind Appliances. The refrigerator, dishwasher, and washer are heavily used household items that involve large amounts of water, of course. They can also spring small leaks easily, and unless you look behind them or under them, you might never notice. These areas are also perfect places for mold spores to settle down.
Basements/Low-Lying Areas. Low-lying areas and basements can often experience damp conditions, especially during warm, wet weather. Windows that are not properly caulked, or roofing and rain gutters that haven’t been properly maintained, can allow water to reach these areas and create the dampness that mold just loves to inhabit.
When it comes to mold, remember that the SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids team is here to help. We are mold prevention and remediation specialists! We are also experienced in the areas of fire and water damage, too, and we’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.