Changes in Office Space Procedures & Cleaning Practices due to COVID-19
As states are beginning to reopen and lift some of the restrictions set in place for the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are assessing how and when they’re going to reopen. Many are tasked with not only navigating the guidelines set forth by their state but are also working to establish an entirely new way of doing business. Regardless of industry, every business in America has had to make difficult but necessary decisions to develop a strategic plan of action for reopening.
For some, it’s allowing employees to continue to work from home for the remainder of the year. For others, it’s implementing a phased approach of reintroducing both employees and customers to their business environment. For all, a plan that involves a high standard of cleanliness and sanitation is of the utmost importance. Transparency and clear communication of reopening plans, both internally and externally, is proving to be critical for success and support during these trying times.
SERVPRO recently surveyed business owners and upper-level managers who work for organizations with 500+ employees. The questions covered how they are keeping their work environment clean and their employees and customers safe. The responses are illustrated in the included graphic here.
It’s clear that most businesses are listening to the CDC guidelines and recommendations and placing a higher emphasis on cleanliness and sanitation—for not only their employees to feel safe, but for the safety of their customers as well. These actions and higher standards are becoming the new norm in nearly every industry worldwide and will pave the way for the future of hygienic standards in business overall.
Commercial Mold Damage Tips
If your commercial building recently experienced water damages, you're probably unsure of the next step. Not only are you worried about property damage from the water, but you also have to worry about mold in your business. Mold can affect indoor air quality, can cause significant property damage, and can cause a foul smell that even the best deodorization techniques can't get rid of! Follow these tips if you're dealing with residential or commercial mold.
- Get Rid of Moisture - This is the very first step! Before the mold can be properly addressed, as much moisture as possible needs to be removed. If there is standing water, it can be dangerous to walk into your home or commercial property, so please make sure you can safely enter the building or structure.
- Protect Yourself - You just never really know what can be floating around in standing water that can hurt you. For example, electrical wiring. You don't want to endure an electrical shock. Once you know you can safely enter, protect yourself by wearing protective clothing, such as gloves and a face mask.
- Hire a Professional - The best thing you can do is leave it to the experts. Rely on a team of professionals to help get your home or business back in tip-top shape. Experts can come in and assess the true extent of the damage and help ensure all of the molds are properly remediated. We promise it could save you a lot of time, money, and headaches in the future.
SERVPRO of McAllen is ready to help you ensure your commercial property is cleaned and ready to support your business. Give our team a call at 956.631.0348
Tips for Fireplace Safety
A poorly maintained or improperly used fireplace can be dangerous. Here’s how to enjoy your fire safely.
4 tips for fireplace safety
1. Have your fireplace cleaned and inspected regularly
According to the National Fire Protection Association, 28 percent of heating fires are caused by failing to clean equipment, especially chimneys. Over time, creosote (a sticky, flammable substance that’s released when wood’s burned) can build up in the chimney. If the creosote isn’t removed, a chimney fire can result. This is not only dangerous in itself, but it can also cause damage to the chimney, increasing the risk that flames will reach the frame of the house.
Debris such as fallen leaves and animal nests should also be removed, since they can restrict airflow and cause carbon monoxide to back up into the house. (Besides, if your chimney’s blocked, how’ll Santa get in?)
If you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove, you should have the chimney professionally inspected at least once a year (before you use it). Ask for a Level 1 inspection, which involves a visual examination of readily accessible parts of the chimney. The inspector will ensure the chimney is sturdy and perform any necessary cleaning.
Have a gas fireplace instead of a wood-burning one? You should still get a regular inspection, as corrosive deposits can build up and prevent your fireplace from venting efficiently. Debris can block this type of chimney as well.
2. Burn only dry, seasoned wood
Properly seasoned firewood contains around 20 percent water. Freshly cut wood can contain up to 45 percent water, so it takes a lot of heat to get it to catch fire (which means less heat inside your house). Burning wet wood also creates large amounts of smoke and causes creosote to build up more rapidly.
To be properly seasoned, firewood must be cut to length and allowed to dry for at least 6 months (up to a year in damp climates) before being burned. If you’ve gathered a stockpile of wood, be sure to protect it from rain and snow. If you’re buying wood to burn, look for dark edges with visible cracks. Well-seasoned firewood’s fairly lightweight and makes a clear, sharp sound when clapped together.
Resist the temptation to toss wrapping paper, cardboard boxes, or foam containers into the fireplace. Paper and cardboard can cause flames to burn too high, while foam releases toxic smoke and particles into the air.
3. Make sure your damper’s properly adjusted
The fireplace damper is a plate or valve that controls airflow in your chimney. When the fireplace isn’t in use, keep the damper closed completely to prevent heat from escaping. When lighting the fire, open the damper wide to help create a good blaze and get smoke flowing up the chimney. Once the fire’s burning well, partially close the damper to keep in warmth while still allowing smoke to escape.
4. Install and regularly check carbon monoxide detectors
Burning wood creates carbon monoxide (a poisonous gas) — but this poses little danger if your chimney’s properly maintained and free from obstructions and if your damper’s letting smoke out. Nonetheless, it’s wise to install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors close to your fireplace as well as in your bedrooms.
Now that you know how to use your fireplace safely, you can relax, toast some marshmallows, and find other way to winterize your home.
Understanding the Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Each year in America, unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning claims more than 500 lives and sends another 15,200 people to the hospital emergency rooms around the country for treatment. These accidents tend to peak during the winter months, but there are several everyday items that can put you and your family at risk, too. Read on for some simple steps you can take to help protect yourself or your customers from deadly carbon monoxide fumes.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
An odorless, colorless and toxic gas, carbon monoxide cannot be seen, tasted or smelled. Since it is often impossible to detect, CO can cause harm or become fatal before you realize it is in your home. When exposed to lower levels of CO, the gas causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu, including headaches, dizziness, disorientation,nausea and fatigue.
It's also important to note the effects of CO exposure can vary greatly from person to person depending in age, health, and the concentration and length of exposure.
Where does it come from?
- Gas-fired appliances
- Charcoal grills
- Wood-burning furnaces or fireplaces
Consider installing at least one carbon monoxide alarm with an audible warning signal. The ideal placement for these alarms is near the sleeping areas of your home. Since CO alarms measure CO levels over time, the alarm will sound before an average, healthy adult would be experiencing symptoms. If you are not experiencing symptoms when the alarm sounds, please consider ventilating the home and contacting a service professional to check the CO level. If you are experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning, experts say to evacuate immediately and contact emergency personnel.
If you drive a vehicle with a tailgate or rear hatch and are travelling with he hatch open, make certain to open vents or windows to create adequate airflow. And, of course, never run your vehicle inside your garage with the door closed. Even with doors open, refrain from running your vehicle for extended periods of time, as garages with a door on only one side often do not provide adequate air flow.
Restoring Your Commercial or Residential Property
Flooding and water damage events in commercial properties are often complex with numerous issues that require a knowledgeable and flexible response. Whether we’re dealing with a relatively small water cleanup scenario or a large scale event, we work quickly to assess each unique situation and isolate the damaged area. In many instances, normal operations can continue in a temporary space while we restore your facility.
Restoring Commercial Properties Presents Unique Challenges
Our professionals are trained to be mindful of legal and environmental concerns and strive to fully restore the damaged area while working within your budgetary constraints. We understand that every hour spent cleaning up is an hour of lost revenue and productivity. So when an emergency situation arises in your business, give us a call and we’ll be there fast with the help you need.
About SERVPRO Of McAllen
SERVPRO of McAllen specializes in the cleanup and restoration of commercial and residential property after a water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.
Be Prepared When a Storm Hits Your Property
Sever Weather can happen at any time, anywhere. Being prepared to act quickly is very important when it comes to staying safe during a weather event. Below are tips to help you be prepared for a storm.
Know Your Risk
- The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you, your business an your family. Check the weather forecast regularly, obtain a NOAA Weather Radio, and learn about Wireless Emergency Alerts. Severe weather comes in many forms and your shelter plan should include all types of local hazards.
- Take the Next step in sever weather preparedness by creating a communications plan for your home and business. Put together or purchase an emergency kit. Keep important papers and valuables in a safe place.
Be an Example
- once you have taken action to prepare for severe weather, share your story with co-workers and family and friends on Facebook or Twitter. Your preparedness story will inspire others to do the same
Commercial Cleanings in the Time of Covid-19
Thousands of restaurants, retailers, and offices have remained shuttered for over two months to combat the spread of COVID-19. Reopening your business safely is critical from both a health and financial standpoint moving forward into this “new normal”. Staying ahead of the curve requires business leaders to be proactive; instituting new protocols of how employees interact with customers and most importantly assuring patrons that they’re not at increase risk of contracting coronavirus in your establishments.
Before opening cleanings and late-night disinfecting is a great deal to ask from your workforce especially as they adapt to the guidelines set by the CDC. Leading your business includes protecting the health of your employees and of your customers choosing to patronize your business with the continuing threat of coronavirus. Therefore, it’s your responsibility for the necessary actions to protect their health and safety. Your local SERVPRO of McAllen has partnered with multiple businesses and organizations in the last two months as they’ve taken proactive steps to safeguard the health of their employees.
Along with SERVPRO’s experience, we’re equipped with the equipment to efficiently execute your pre-cleaning or post-cleaning to grant you and your staff peace of mind during these uncertain times.
If your home or business is in need of our services whether for fire, water, or mold damage; perhaps even deep cleaning services, call the experts today – SERVPRO of McAllen, (956) 631-0348.
Protecting Your Business During The Upcoming Winter Season
Winter Season is on its way to the RGV
Often times when discussing property damage, people often refer to their homes which makes sense since the home is where the heart is”. Nevertheless, if you own a property for business purposes whether it be an office, retail shop, restaurant, etc. It’s important to be concerned with that financial investment as well as being that the weather doesn’t pick and choose which buildings to impact.
With the winter season upon us, many business owners will close for a week, or two to spend time with loved ones and honestly, probably take a break from running a business. Being away from the office though for a substantial amount of time may result in unattended consequences one you and your staff return after the holiday. If Snow and ice storms occur it can render your property inaccessible leading to you being unable to evaluate any damage until local municipalities clear the roads. Water damage may happen from the interior as well as pipes may burst due to freezing temperatures and lack of water flow.
Being aware of these possibilities is the responsibility of any business owner and taking a few simple steps may help reduce the likelihood of the situations happening as stated above.
- Plan for the possibility of a weather event cutting off your access to your property. Are there any other routes to gain access to your property and see if there are any of your staff members that live near your property to check on it regularly during the holiday break
- It may be best to leave a faucet slightly turned on in order to keep water flowing through your pipes in order to prevent the possibility of your pipes bursting.
Electric Fire Prevention For the Winter Season
Christmas Lights Hanging on Homes Roof
The holiday season is in full swing and homeowners will decorate their homes inside and out with an assortment of lights and decorations to contribute to the overall atmosphere of the residence. With the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, it is very easy to lose track of everything going on; forgetting the finer details that will help the family, and keep a safe home. Increasing the electrical utilization of a home inevitable increases the likelihood of any residence catching on fire and following these tips may equip to fully enjoy this holiday season.
All electrical equipment purchased or utilized is required to have a statement on the box stating this equipment is acceptable to use by the federal government. Utilizing government-approved equipment for decorations is a key step and not doing so can put familys at risk. If the equipment instructions specify for indoor or outdoor use it is paramount to follow those instructions and not just take it under advisement.
Be sure when setting up lights and decorations that they’re placed away from any standing water or snow to reduce the risk of causing an electrical fire to any residence. The placing of electric equipment near any standing water may also cause electrocution. Also, keep any Christmas decorations away from community power lines to reduce the likelihood of over-usage.
Lastly, turn off the Christmas decorations or unplug them completely when sleeping or leaving any residence for an extended period of time. Although an inconvenience the inability to respond immediately if a fire was to occur when the amount to more damage overall.
Did You Know There are Four Different Types of Fires?
Flames Grow During the Stages of a Fire
By basic definition, Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products. (Slower oxidative processes like rusting or digestion are not included by this definition)
By most standards including according to the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA), there are 4 stages of a fire. These stages are incipient, growth, fully developed, and decay. The following is a brief overview of each stage.
Incipient – This first stage begins when heat, oxygen and a fuel source combine and have a chemical reaction resulting in a fire. This is also known as “ignition” and is usually represented by a very small fire which often (and hopefully) goes out on its own before the following stages are reached. Recognizing a fire in this stage provides your best chance at suppression or escape.
Growth – The growth stage is where the structures fire load and oxygen are used as fuel for the fire. There are numerous factors affecting the growth stage including where the fire started, what combustibles are near it, ceiling height, and the potential for “thermal layering”. It is during this shortest of the 4 stages when a deadly “flashover” can occur; potentially trapping, injuring, or killing firefighters.
Fully Developed – When the growth stage has reached its max and all combustible materials have been ignited, a fire is then considered fully developed. This is the hottest phase of a fire and the most dangerous for anybody trapped within.
Decay – The longest stage of a fire, is usually the decay stage. It is characterized by a significant decrease in oxygen or fuel, putting an end to the fire. Two common dangers during this stage are first – the existence of non-flaming combustibles, which can potentially start a new fire if not fully extinguished. Second, there is the danger of a backdraft when oxygen is reintroduced to a volatile, confined space.
If you’re home or business has experienced fire damage then call us, SERVPRO of McAllen at 956-631-0348. We are available 24/7 and 365 to assist you with cleaning up, salvaging, and restoring your property.