Home Cooking Fire Safety
Most, but not all, house fires originate from the kitchen.
Did you know that the most common cause of household fires stems from something that many of us do multiple times every day? Cooking can be the culprit of unwanted fires in the kitchen that can spread to other areas if they are not dealt with immediately. You may be wondering, without avoiding cooking, how can the chances of an unwanted fire igniting be decreased? Follow the steps below before and during cooking in order to prevent the ignition of an unwanted kitchen fire while cooking.
Before turning on the stove or the oven, make sure that your cooking space does not contain any flammable objects, such as paper towels, oven mitts, or towels. Next, be sure to clean any leftover oil, grease, or food debris that may have accumulated on stove tops or inside of ovens since the last time you cooked, as such substances can catch fire easily. In addition to ovens and stove tops, pots and pans can also include grease and oil residue from past cooking experiences. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the insides and outsides of pots and pans are cleaned thoroughly in order to prevent an undesired fire from igniting. Even though it only requires a quick moment of your time, cleaning all cooking surfaces and materials that you plan to use while cooking is a crucial step in protecting your home from a dangerous fire as a result of cooking.
When it is time to begin cooking, it is of the utmost importance that you pay attention throughout the cooking process. The chance of a fire igniting and becoming out of control increases when cooking objects are left unattended. However, it may not always be possible to keep a constant watchful eye while cooking. Therefore, if it is required that you leave the room for a moment while cooking, be sure to temporarily turn off the stove. It may also not be reasonable to be present in the kitchen for the entire period of time required when cooking something that must be baked or roasted for a significant length of time. In this case, remember to check on the cooking at a regular interval in order to decrease the chances of a fire igniting without your knowledge.
Taking preventative measures will help decrease the probability of an unwanted fire igniting while cooking, but even with our best intentions, it is still possible. If your home is equipped with functional smoke alarms and there is a fire extinguisher always kept in the kitchen, your home will be further protected. In the event that a fire breaks out, only attempt to extinguish it yourself if it is small and contained. If the fire is large and unmanageable, exit the house as quickly and safely as possible while making sure that all of the other occupants of the house also escape safely and call 911 as soon as possible. Once the fire has been contained and extinguished, remember to call SERVPRO in order to ensure a speedy and effective repair of any damage caused by the fire.
Preventing Basement Floods Due to Snowmelt
Water damage nearly always requires deep cleaning to prevent a multitude of issues.
While basement flooding is prominent during rainy seasons, it should be known that basement flooding can occur at any time during the year. Basements, regardless of whether or not they have ever previously flooded, are capable of flooding. This is largely due to the fact that basements are usually located beneath ground level. Basement flooding occurs when moisture within the ground seeps through basement walls or foundation. Snow, ice, and other frozen precipitation is dumped on the ground during the winter season. When that precipitation melts, its moisture is absorbed into the ground, which can surround basement walls with water, increasing the likelihood of flooding. In order to protect your basement from flooding due to snow melt this winter and spring, consider removing snow and ensuring that basement foundations are free from any cracks.
After a heavy snowfall, it is important to create a barrier of at least five feet between the snow and your home, as snow melt close to the home can increase the amount of moisture in the ground surrounding basement walls with moisture. Such a barrier can be created by shoveling snow away from the base of your home. Because snow that falls on roofs and overhangs can melt and fall around the base of the home, which would increase the amount of moisture in the ground surrounding the basement, it is also essential to clear snow off of those areas.
Fix Cracks in Foundation
When basement walls become cracked, the risk of flooding increases, as the cracks allow water in the ground to make its way into the basement. Flooding often leads to water damage, which can facilitate mold growth and damage objects such as walls, carpets, and furniture in a basement. Repairing these cracks is crucial in order to protect your basement from flooding due to snowmelt and all of its repercussions. For a temporary fix, cracks can be filled using epoxy. However, for a longer-lasting repair, enlisting the help of a professional may be beneficial. The chances of your basement flooding due to snowmelt can be decreased significantly if its foundation and walls are rid of any cracks.
If Your Basement Floods…
Even when one takes seemingly every preventative measure possible, there is still a chance that their basement can flood. In the event that your basement floods due to snowmelt, water needs to be removed as quickly as possible in order to avoid water damage. Minimal flooding may be able to be remedied through the utilization of a wet vacuum for water removal and dehumidifiers. Significant flooding, however, often requires professional restoration. Calling SERVPRO of Harrisburg West guarantees that your basement flood due to snowmelt will be remedied thoroughly and quickly in order to prevent any further damage.
The Emergency Ready Profile
The Emergency Ready Profile is the next step in property management security. Let us help.
The SERVPRO of Harrisburg West
Emergency READY Profile Advantage
Did you know as many as 50% of businesses never recover following a disaster? The majority of businesses that do survive had an emergency preparedness plan in place. Being fully prepared with proper planning can bring you peace of mind. When you are "Ready for whatever happens" this provides a solid level of trust with your clients and employees, so that if there is an emergency event and your business is affected by a disaster, you’ll be able to recover as quickly as possible.
By developing a SERVPRO of Harrisburg West Emergency READY Profile (ERP) for your business, you minimize business interruption by having an immediate plan of action. Knowing what to do and what to expect in advance is the key to timely mitigation and can help minimize how water and fire damage can affect your business.
- FREE Program!! We will provide an assessment of your facility at no cost to you.
This is a high quality, digital profile with no need for you to allocate funds. This program provides exceptional value with zero cost.
- A Profile Document containing critical information needed in an emergency.
Completion of your profile will only take a little time to complete without taking you away from your current work projects, but it will save a lot of time if ever needed.
- A Digital Guide to help you get back into your building after a disaster.
Having a complete, updated Emergency Ready Profile can help minimize the amount of time your business is affected by a disaster by having an immediate plan of action.
- Establishes SERVPRO of Harrisburg West as your disaster mitigation and restoration provider.
You’ll have a go-to source with a provider recognized as the industry leader right around the corner.
- Identifies the line of command for authorizing restoration work to begin.
This saves time so we can begin the work of mitigating the damage which can save you time and money.
- Provides facility details such as electrical box and water shut-off valve locations, as well as priority areas such as entrances, exits, and priority contact information.
Your team will be fully ready with a quick reference of who to call, what to do, and how to do it providing you with solutions in advance of an emergency situation so you’re "Ready for whatever happens."
Are You Ready to Get Started?
Sign up below and a representative of SERVPRO of Harrisburg West will be in contact with you in the next 24 hours.
For a consultation, E-Mail our ERP Coordinator, Colleen Kilchenstein @ Colleen@sphvhc.com with the following!
Dates and Time Available:
We thank you for your interest! Remember, creating an ERP isn't just establishing a plan for Loss Mitigation, it's establishing a Security Standard.
Job of the Quarter (Q4 2019)
SERVPRO Employee working in a local office where a pipe had burst and flooded the entire hallway.
Job of the Quarter - "One Stop Solution Shop"
Baltimore was founded 47 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1729. It's an ancient city in terms of the "new world."
In the last 291 years since the city was founded, significant progress has been made over design, engineering, and innovation. The sewage system in Baltimore city has unfortunately not made the necessary progress to bring it up to modern standards. The best summary is a post from www.cleanwateraction.org:
“Baltimore City’s sewage system was designed with dozens of Sanitary Sewer Overflow Structures: intentional release valves that allowed sewage to overflow into streams, rather than streets or people’s basements. Although this was a best practice in the early 1900’s, using streams as open sewer pipes is a significant public health and environmental threat…”
“In 2002, Baltimore City finalized a Consent Decree… outlining how it would end the chronic sewage overflows into local streams that were fouling the Inner Harbor…”
“Between 2002 and 2016, Baltimore City completed half the work that was described in the Consent Decree - but backups of sewage into homes in Baltimore grew from a minor problem to a major hazard” According to an investigation by the Baltimore Sun, in 2004, the Department of Public Works responded to 622 sewage backups and by 2015, that number had hit nearly 5000.
“When we closed those other 60 overflows that actually increased the number of basement backups that we saw in the city. Again, because the sewage has to go somewhere.” ~Department of Public Work’s General Counsel
At SERVPRO, we see sewage spills daily throughout the city and counties. Early November, we were honored to help multiple homeowners recover in all eight of their attached city row homes from a large sewage backup affecting basements. We chose this job as our "Quarter Job" not only for our quick response to completion timeline, but also because it is a great example of our full-service capabilities.
The call came to our office early on a Friday afternoon and we had crews on-site within 30 minutes to start sewage extraction from row home basements. Because drywall wicks up water as fast as 1 inch per hour and sewage qualify as water loss Category 3 (water containing unsanitary agents, harmful bacteria and fungi, causing severe discomfort or sickness), it was necessary to cut drywall and remove insulation to 2' to allow proper drying and sanitation. All content in the sewage-affected basement was removed and disposed of. Including some appliances. We are proud to be the "one-stop solution shop" for all customer problems. We handled repairing appliances for those homeowners and helped to provide even more timely solutions.
Many people don't realize that SERVPRO not only mitigates your disaster, but we'll put it all back together. "Like it never even happened," remember? That's what we did for the 8-row home basements affected by this mass sewage backup. Our mitigation teams finished and our reconstruction team moved in, replaced all contaminated insulation, installed fresh drywall, and repainted the entire basement. Our team laid new carpets, tile floors, installed new kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities, and kitchen backsplashes tiled. New doors were installed and decorated, and appliances were installed. All this, time 8 homeowners, completed in 35 days.
Our team members signed up for a dirty, messy, and labor-intensive job. However, the pride they take in bringing back people's lives quickly and efficiently couldn't be greater. That's what Team Wall's SERVPRO Disaster Recovery Team loves to do... we love being your "One Stop Solution Shop!"
Insurance Agents, Meet Matterport
The Matterport is the pinnacle of new real-estate technology
Have you ever been deceived by the amount time insurance claims take to settle? You know that time is money if you're a professional insurance broker or property manager! The cost and time involved in settling a conflict over the property is usually based on the competence and efficiency of the maintenance and repair undertaking. If you are using a contractor who is without the expertise, training and equipment to make accurate estimates, your insured or tenant's retention is at great risk. Nonetheless, if you hire the right professional to help settle your case, your estimate, fast turnaround time and quality work will give you an insight into accuracy. At the end of the day, the claim will be treated equally, efficiently and your insured or occupant will be paid.
The Matterport Introduction! The most advanced 3D camera ever made. With over 2 million spaces available, Matterport holds the largest 3D structure file database in the world. The Matterport is a game changer that can more effectively solve claims through high-definition images, accurate floor plan measurements and guided tours. Imagine walking through a house or business structure literally to evaluate damage without ever leaving your office chair! You can now!
No more sketches and your own measurements, because you have no faith in the contractor you have hired to help resolve your claim. You can now see interactive environments from several different angles as an insurer, a contractor or a property manager to calculate accurately, access three-dimensional, self-guided tours, OBJ 4 K print quality photos and comprehensive floor plans. Matterport has transformed the idea of the reconstruction and rebuilding industry as a specialized technology company that created the first end-to-end video capture device.
Employee of the Quarter (Q4 2019)
Tim is an incredible asset to our team.
This is the official write up regarding our Employee of the Quarter for SERVPRO Harrisburg West! This person was chosen because of their outstanding work and their dedication to the 7 Pillars of Success we have outlined in previous meetings. Accountability, Solutions, Team, Hustle, Quality, Consistency, and Persistence.
The Employee of The Quarter this quarter was
Paul Naugle had this to say about Tim, "Our 4th quarter of 2019 was filled with many changes, both in staffing and in growth of our business. Tim quickly stood out as someone who was willing to do whatever it took to get the job done! He didn’t shy away from any project or situation and always put his best efforts in. Tim is truly an asset to our team."
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.