Space Heater Safety
Fire Caused by Space Heater
As we bid October farewell and enter November, a heated home will be more necessary than ever to provide refuge from the rapidly dropping outdoor temperatures in Harrisburg West. In addition to central heating systems, many homeowners also turn to space heaters for extra warmth. Though space heaters can create a warm and cozy indoor environment, they can also lead to irreparable destruction. According to a 2013 study published by The Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 25,000 residential fires and 300 deaths are caused annually by space heaters. Despite their potential safety hazards, you and your family can safely utilize space heaters and enjoy their warmth during the approaching cold months if you develop a basic understanding of space heater safety.
If space heaters come into contact with combustible objects, such as curtains, furniture, rugs, or clothes, a fire can ignite. In order to avoid such a disaster, at least 3 feet should separate space heaters from any kind of combustible object. It is important to keep in mind that a fire could also ignite if a space heater is knocked over. Therefore, space heaters should be kept on flat, level surfaces and away from popular pathways within the house. Before usage, always be sure to inspect the space heater for any damage to the unit itself, its cords, or plugs. In the event that you discover damage, refrain from plugging it in. Lastly, it is imperative that your space heater is never left unattended while in use. Without someone nearby who could detect the smoke, smoke smell, or observe the first flames, a fire emanating from the space heater could become dangerous and cause destruction. If you must leave the room, always be sure to properly turn off and unplug the space heater.
Exercising caution while using a space heater can help to reduce the chance of a dangerous situation arising, but it cannot eliminate the risk entirely. Therefore, having smoke detectors and alarms installed on each floor of your home would be a beneficial system to have in place in case an accident occurs. It may also be helpful to keep a close eye on children and pets in your home, as injury could result from them coming into contact with a space heater. Finally, if your space heater usage results in a fire, call SERVPRO to restore any fire damage.
Frozen rain attached to a car
Due to the colder weather, the Harrisburg West area is beginning to experience its first freezes and views of snowfall of the season. This season is prime time for freezing rain due to cold ground temperatures. When the atmosphere is warm but the ground is cold, precipitation that falls as rain is likely to freeze when it comes into contact with freezing surfaces such as roadways, bridges, or sidewalks. When this happens, the liquid freezes into ice, which can be dangerous for drivers, pedestrians, and even power lines. In order to stay as safe as possible, understanding how to handle freezing rain and which precautions to take before the storm can be beneficial.
Other forms of winter precipitation, such as snow, are not incredibly difficult to deal with, as they can be eliminated through shoveling or melted with moderate sunlight. Freezing rain, on the other hand, produces ice, which requires a stronger method for elimination. The produced ice is not always visible, which poses a threat to drivers, who may perceive the ice simply as water on the road. Driving or walking on wet surfaces is also dangerous, but both are much more challenging tasks to complete on icy surfaces. The ice that forms as a result of freezing rain can also accumulate in heavy amounts on tree branches and power lines. If too much ice builds up on top of the branches or power lines, the weight of the ice can pull them down, causing fallen branches and power outages. Until the power lines are repaired, homes and businesses can be deprived of power and therefore, heat, for potentially extended periods of time. Heavy, falling branches can also put homes and businesses at an increased risk of damage.
Prior to a storm that is predicted to produce freezing rain, it is important to take precautions in order to reduce the amount of damage and disruption that the storm will have on your life. To reduce ice on your home or business’ sidewalks or driveways, purchase salt before the storm that you can sprinkle on freezing surfaces, as it will facilitate the process of melting the ice. Next, anticipate the possibility that damaged power lines from the storm may result in power outages, as well as the chance that ice produced by the storm will impede on your ability to safely leave your home. Stocking your home with essentials, including batteries, toilet paper, bottled water, blankets, and flashlights, is a good way to ensure that you will not need to leave your home in dangerous conditions.
Owners Corner: 4th Quarter 2019
Team Wall Members
Our franchise owners, Jim and Trish, like to make sure that they are always transparent about the things going on at our SERVPRO. To do this, one of the things Trish enjoys is writing up a Quarterly recap and distributing it to our loyal customers and potential new ones. Below is the Owners Corner, written by Trish wall. Please feel free to email us directly if you have anything you would like to ask us!
Wowza. Has it been a year! Last quarter’s “Owner’s Corner” focused on the big, surprise announcement that occurred earlier this year.
Just as a quick recap, Blackstone entered into a recapitalization and long term partnership deal with SERVPRO Industries in March 2019. Blackstone did an incredible amount of market research and determined there is huge growth potential for the SERVPRO franchise system in the restoration market. This single conclusion has been THE catalyst for innovation and change for SERVPRO franchises across the country.
So how has it affected Team Wall’s business and franchises? One word… “wholeheartedly”.
In January of this year, we had a total of 3 franchises and were a month away from opening up our very first out of state office in Harrisburg, PA. Now, here we are, midway into fourth-quarter 2019, and we have acquired a total of 11 franchises and are operating in 3 locations. This is the most in SERVPRO history and Team Wall is honored and proud to pave the way for others in our franchise community.
So let’s get down to it. Where in the world is Team Wall’s SERVPRO Disaster Recovery Team? Well, here’s the rundown:
- Hunt Valley & Harford County: Our office is located in Sparks, MD; Employs over 70 people; Services Maryland, Virginia, Southern Pennsylvania, Delaware, and travels the East Coast for Catastrophic Storm Response; We offer full service mitigation and reconstruction in this office.
- Harrisburg West: Our office is located in Camp Hill, PA; Currently employs a team of 15; Services Central PA and travels the East Coast for Catastrophic Storm Response; We offer full service mitigation and reconstruction in this office.
- Metro Pittsburgh East: Our office is located in North Versailles, PA; Currently employs a team of 30; Services Western PA, Eastern Ohio, West Virginia, and travels the East Coast for Catastrophic Storm Response; We offer full service mitigation and reconstruction in this office.
Running 3 offices and a team of 115 plus employees may seem like a daunting task, but we have searched high and low for some amazing team members to help make this adventure a successful one. Please check them out in our 4th Quarter hiring class article! These added members to our team really have made a significant impact already and have been so helpful in navigating our new business model.
Expanding geographically means nothing but good things for our customers:
- Larger Geographic Territory: Operating 3 offices spaced out throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region enables us to service customers who have multiple locations as well. We can be the go-to vendor to count on no matter where a property is located.
- Larger Team: We have 4 crews in our smallest office and 15 crews in our largest… and that number is only growing. If a large influx of work affects one office, we can share resources from our others to ensure a quality and timely job is produced. These shared resources apply to production staff, equipment, office responsibilities, training, and so much more. Sharing resources and best practices makes Team Wall a more effective and reliable team no matter what region we are serving.
- Focus: Growing from 1 to 3 offices in a 250 mile radius within a mere 10 months may seem disorienting, but we have been able to focus more than ever. Focus on our processes, on our team, on our service lines, on our training programs… bottom line… on our business in every aspect. This has made our team more reactive, more knowledgeable, and completely focused on a superior customer service experience. Jim and I are focused on working “on” our business and not “in” our business. We have seen the positive impact this has made in the short term and we’re confident this will make us the restoration vendor of choice in the long term.
Looking back through this article, we have used the words “change”, “daunting”, and “disorienting”. But, we’ve also used the words “innovation”, “impact”, and “successful”.
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
We are excited to see where this road leads us and, as always, thank you for your support and loyalty as a customer!
Jim and Trish Wall
Surviving Prolonged Power Outages
Storm clouds above Carlisle
Strong storms, which can shatter windows, bash power lines with fallen trees, and cause major flooding, put our homes’ electricity at risk. A power outage can last minutes, hours, or sometimes entire days if enough damage has been sustained. With electricity, we can heat or cool our homes and preserve the refrigerated food that we buy from the grocery store. When we lose power, everyday tasks, such as communicating and grocery shopping, become significantly more complicated. While waiting for the power to return, consider these tips in order to protect your family during a prolonged power outage.
Before the Losing Power
Having a fully-powered cellphone is of the utmost importance during an emergency, considering the inability to charge your phone. Keeping your cellphone use to a minimum will help to preserve the phone’s battery life. Writing down important numbers and addresses of local hospitals or storm shelters on paper is one way to limit cell phone use. For other electronic devices, such as flashlights and radios, keep back-up batteries. As power outages limit your ability to cook or preserve perishable food, be sure to stock cabinets with non-perishable foods such as granola bars or dried fruit. Lastly, if you have any medications that require refrigeration, have a back-up refrigeration plan in place beforehand.
During the Power Outage
While our first instinct after the power goes out may be to power essential electrical appliances with a generator, generators can be deadly is used improperly. As generators emit high concentration levels of carbon monoxide, keeping your generator outside of your home or garage is crucial. If any electrical appliances are not being powered by a generator, make sure that they are unplugged in order to protect them from damage resulting from power surges. Refrain from opening freezer or refrigerator doors, as without power, refrigerators will lose their cool temperatures within several hours and spoil the food inside. Finally, it is possible to cook perishable food on a gas stove, but gas stoves cannot be used to heat your home.
From ceiling leaks to larger scale water or storm damage, remember that SERVPRO is only a phone call away and ready to help restore your home after severe storms.
Understanding Ceiling Stains
A water stain on your ceiling could be caused by a leaky pipe.
An unwanted yellow ring or streak of discolored substance is undoubtedly one of the worst discoveries to make when glancing up at the ceiling in passing. The visible markings of a water leak, these stains indicate water damage in your ceiling, which can not be expunged with a new coat of paint or averting your eyes from the stain. Ignorance will only cause the problem to grow, facilitating the growth of mold and mildew. Therefore, it is crucial that the damaged area of the ceiling is quickly remedied. However, before taking action, it may be beneficial to understand the common causes of ceiling water stains.
With a solid understanding of the common causes of these stains, the root of your ceiling’s stain can be determined, which can help identify the best course of action to take. Ceiling water stains are primarily formed from three scenarios: clogged gutters, caulking issues, and leaky pipes. If a heavy rainstorm has recently occurred, clogged gutters may be the cause of your ceiling’s water stain. When gutters overflow, rain water can seep into your home and stain ceilings. If the ceiling stain appears soon after a shower or bath was taken in your home, the stain may be due to a caulking issue. Old caulking is prone to cracking and deteriorating, which can lead to leaks when water escapes a shower or bathtub. Finally, water can leak from pipes that run throughout your home. If a dishwasher, bathtub, refrigerator, or even an air conditioner are situated directly above the stain on the next floor up, your ceiling stain may have been caused by leaky pipes. Take a moment to recall the last time someone took a shower or bath, last week’s heavy rainstorm, and the last time you ran the dishwasher. Your leak may have been connected to one of those situations.
Taking Action vs Calling a Professional
Drilling into your ceiling in order to verify the source of the leak can be a daunting task for many homeowners. If you have any hesitation, calling a professional may be the right call. With the tools, knowledge, and experience, a professional can remedy the water stain quickly and effectively.
Dave Royer - Employee Highlight
For an employee highlight we decided to aim the spotlight on our Director of Operations of our New Cumberland/Carlisle office; Dave Royer!
After his training in January of this year, he opened the doors to SERVPRO of New Cumberland/Carlisle in February and he has grown the branch from no employees to over ten in less than eight months.
His knack for leadership, work ethic, and resourcefulness has also helped assist our team in acquiring further franchises as well.
Outside of SERVPRO, Dave is a family man who enjoys spending time and doing fun things with is loved ones, especially when it involves outdoor activities. He also enjoys listening to late 90s/early 2000s alternative rock. Dave has a knack for cooking as well and has developed his own pasta recipe in which he creates his own type of noodles, leading to delicious variants of numerous meals.
We are grateful to have someone like Dave leading the charge for our New Cumberland/ Carlisle franchise and for someone with his work ethics and values help extending our company reach further!
Promoting Fire Safety in the Workplace
When it comes to home fire safety, many of know the basics: regularly testing smoke alarms, replacing batteries, and knowing the location of our fire extinguishers. Workplace fire safety, however, is a bit more of a grey area. However, informing employees of potential fire hazards, what to do if a fire ignites, and how to exit the office building can prove imperative in protecting your workplace from the potential consequences of a harmful fire.
Taking preventative measures prior to a fire can decrease the probability of your workplace undergoing significant fire damage. Be on the lookout for damaged electrical appliances such as telephones, computers, and even desk lamps, as electrical complications can cause a fire to ignite. Upon discovering a faulty electrical appliance, remove it from the office space and replace it with a piece of equipment that functions properly. In addition, fires can also be prevented by informing office workers of how to properly utilize electrical equipment. Smoke alarms should also be installed throughout the workplace so that workers can be promptly alerted of a fire, allowing them enough time to escape the office. Just as you would in your home, check that the alarms are always working properly and regularly replace their batteries. These alarms should be dispersed throughout the workplace so that the alarm is audible to every employee, regardless of their location in the building.
While it is important to take preventative measures, it is also crucial to have an emergency plan in place that can be implemented in the event of a fire. Employees should know the ins and outs of the plan, including which exit to use and where to meet outside of the building. If employees understand this plan prior to an emergency, exiting the building as efficiently as possible will be a more feasible task. Lastly, all employees should know the location of fire extinguishers in the office and be able to operate them in the event that they are faced with a fire.
Taking preventative measures, always looking for fire safety hazards, and understanding the office’s emergency escape plan can protect your workplace from a potentially devastating fire.
Hurricane Season: Are You Prepared?
Hurricane Season: Are You Prepared?
Hurricane season is quickly approaching as we near the beginning of September, ushering in the possibility of violent winds and heavy rain wreaking havoc on your home. This time of year also marks National Preparedness Month, in which homeowners nation-wide are encouraged to prepare their homes for the wrath of hurricanes and other natural disasters. Inspecting your home’s exterior and taking precautions ahead of time is key in keeping your home as safe as possible during hurricane season.
Determining your home’s risk can help in estimating how hard your home would likely be hit by a hurricane. This can be calculated by taking the location of your home into consideration. Suppose your home is located in a coastal or low-lying area. In this case, your home would be at greater risk of flooding and it would be best to take extra safety measures. You should also have a thorough understanding of how much your homeowner’s insurance covers, as some policies neglect to cover flood damage or the cost to rebuild in the event of your home being destroyed.
Inspect your roof and gutters prior to the start of hurricane season. If the condition of your roof suffers due to loose or missing shingles, it will most likely have difficulty surviving in a hurricane. Replace missing or loose shingles and consider having your roof sealed as an extra precaution. If your gutters are clogged with debris, water will have a more difficult time draining. Clear debris from the gutters so that overflowing water will drain properly and not splash onto your roof, as this could damage the roof.
The chances of water entering your home are elevated due to major flooding produced by hurricanes. This water can damage floors, walls, carpets, and surrounding objects, so keeping water away from your home is important. Positioning sandbags in front of doors can prevent flood water from entering your home. Over time, weather can erode the sealing on your home’s windows, which can cause water to seep through the windows during storms. If your window seals are broken, call a professional to sufficiently seal your windows in time for hurricane season.
Why Is My Air Conditioner Leaking?
As we near the end of August and begin the transition into fall, summer temperatures will remain for a while longer, pressuring our air conditioners to continue relieving us from the heat. The chances of your air conditioning unit leaking are increased with constant use. While a small leak may seem manageable and not immediately concerning, it can grow into a much larger issue, resulting in serious amounts of water damage if your faulty AC unit isn't repaired quickly. Without repairs, you run the risk of mold or bacteria growth and caved-in ceilings as well as other types of structural damage to walls and floors. Being able to understand the problems that lead to leaky air conditioners, such as clogged drain lines, improper installation, and frozen evaporator coils, will help you to identify the reason why your unit is leaking and how to resolve the issue.
An air conditioning unit's drain line clogs when debris, dirt, or rust accumulates within the drain line, creating a blockage that results in the drain pan overflowing. Leaking onto the pan's surroundings, objects such as carpets, floors, walls, and ceilings can be damaged. Suppose your home's AC unit was installed recently and a leak emerges. This is a common result of improper installation. When the drain line isn't secured tightly, the pipe can loosen and eventually separate from the unit, causing a leak. If your unit was not recently installed and its drain line is not blocked, your unit's air filter may be to blame. The longer an air conditioner is used, the greater the possibility of the filter filling with dirt, clogging the filter. When the filter clogs, ice forms inside of the evaporator coils and when that ice melts, the unit can leak. Replace your air filter on a regular basis in order to prevent the filter from clogging.
While you can take every preventative measure to prevent your air conditioning unit from leaking, there is always a chance that your unit could leak. In that case, turn off your AC unit and call a professional immediately after you discover a leak. Automatically shutting off the AC unit when its air filter or drain line clogs, a float switch can be installed by a professional to provide additional protection.
Home Fire Safety 101
Igniting in the blink of an eye and spreading throughout your home in a matter of minutes, household fires can leave your home in shambles. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that your family does everything necessary in order to buy time during a fire emergency. Learning which items to have in your home and how to use them to your advantage can help save time and protect your home from destruction.
Keeping at least one fire extinguisher in an accessible place in your home can help to douse a fire in its beginning stages. While there are various types of fire extinguishers in existence, there is a specific kind that is best for home use: ABC fire extinguishers. Household fires usually fall under classes A, B, or C. Class A fires signify those that are started by paper, wood, or trash. Class B fires include those instigated by flammable liquids or gases. Lastly, Class C fires indicate those started by electrical complications. Make sure that you feel comfortable using the fire extinguisher so that no time is wasted reading the instructions during a fire.
For each floor of your home, make sure that there is one smoke alarm. For additional protection, install another smoke alarm for every sleeping area. These smoke alarms pick up on smoke as soon as a fire ignites, giving your family as much time as necessary to escape and call for help. In order to guarantee that they are working sufficiently, change the batteries in your smoke alarms and test them routinely. In addition to smoke alarms, putting a carbon monoxide detector in a central location inside of your home can help to also notify your family of the presence of dangerous fumes in your home.
Enforce Safe Practices
Educating your children about basic fire safety can help to keep everyone aware and alert. Inform them of the dangers of playing with fire and keep items such as matches or lighters out of their reach. Finally, talking through what to do in the event of a fire and establishing a meeting place outside as a family can help to keep everyone calm during an emergency.