Archived Blog Posts
Having a Disaster Plan for Your Business
When your office space experiences a flood, SERVPRO of North Elmwood Park will come get you back to work in no time.
Many businesses and commercial spaces have emergency plans for what to do during a disaster, like a fire or tornado. However, all the preparations in the world cannot stop a disaster from happening so it is wise to have a course of action for what to do after.
Emergency Plans and Kits
When an emergency is happening, it can difficult to think of what to do next. It is important to have a plan in case of an evacuations for a multitude of scenarios. This will keep both you and your staff safe. It is also a good idea to have an emergency kit with first aid materials, food, and water available for those who need while you wait for emergency responders to arrive.
It is not uncommon to assume that your insurance will protect you from all types of damage that could occur to your business. Some policies do not adequately cover the full range of damage a disaster can cause. This could range from not covering the clean up of smoke and soot damage after a fire to revenue interruption. Understanding your policies and coverage before an emergency happens will help you better advocate for your business when it comes to how you will move forward.
Who to Call for Helping You Recover?
Restoration can be expensive and unfortunately insurance does not always cover all of it. There are options to help you such as disaster recovery loans that can help provide further assistance. When it comes to the actual restoration work, we know that there are plenty of options for you to choose from, but at SERVPRO of North Elmwood Park we guarantee fast and professional service from our trained staff that will help get your business back to preloss condition.
Give us a call at (708) 483-8636.
Smoke and Soot Damage
Do not let smoke damage your property.
Smoke and Soot: The Damaging After effects of a Fire
The smallest of fires, even if it isn’t at your Chicago, IL business or home, can lead to smoke damage and soot damage. Although the flames may be gone, the high acidic levels of smoke and soot can penetrate into materials and leave long-lasting effects.
Within minutes of a fire, smoke and soot are already beginning to damage your property. As soon as the fire is out and everyone is safe, making preparations for smoke cleaning and restoration are keys to getting your business back to normal. If left unchecked, the damage timeline can be extensive.
- During the first few minutes, walls, plastics and porous materials will become stained.
- Within hours, the acidic properties of soot and smoke can begin to affect metals, grout and other materials.
- After a few days, stains can become permanent, as corrosion and rust can begin forming. Porous materials, such as flooring and upholstery, will likely need to be replaced.
- As weeks go by, without proper cleaning, it can result in the loss of furniture, electronics and other supplies, as well as require more extensive repairs to walls, flooring, ceilings and other structural materials.
Tips for Fire Safety
Smoke alarms are the early warning system that reduce your risk of personal injury during a fire.
No one is ever prepared for a fire to happen in their home. The financial, physical, and emotional toll they leave behind can last longer than it takes to repair the home. Here are some best practices for fire prevention and safety:
Minimize the Risk
Having safe practices for cooking and heating can greatly reduce your chance of having a house fire. While cooking on a stove top or grilling, be mindful of what is near the heat source and never leave it unattended. Keep flammable things, such as paper, curtains, blankets, holiday decorations away from fireplaces and space heaters. Many homes are also making the switch to candle warmers and flame-less candles to keep open flames out of the reach of children.
Install Smoke Alarms
Did you know three out of five fire related deaths happen in homes without working smoke alarms? They are a crucial part in fire safety. You should have one on every level of your home, outside sleeping spaces, and inside bedrooms. If you or someone in your home is hearing impaired, look into getting smoke detectors that use strobe lights or bed shakers. Make sure to test them monthly and change the batteries once a year.
Create an Escape Plan
Once the smoke alarm goes off, you have one to two minutes to get out of the home so it is important to have a plan and that everyone knows what that plan is. Make sure you know all exit points of you home and try to have two ways to get out of a room. Make sure windows and door open easily and are not blocked. Designate a location away from the home to use as a meeting place in case you get separated. The most important thing is to practice this plan!
Fires are a frightening experience but there are things you can do to lower the chance of one happening and steps you can take to keep you and your family safe in case one does.
Tornado Safety Information
Tornadoes are a scary event that are best to be prepared for.
Here in the Midwest, we are no stranger to the weather conditions that spring and summer bring. From extreme heat waves to damage inducing thunderstorms, we have seen it all. At some point you may even be unlucky enough to experience the conditions perfect for creating a tornado. Whether you are at home or out and about, it is smart to know some information for tornado safety.
Watch vs. Warning
When you see an alert that says ‘Tornado Watch’ is means that the conditions outside are favorable for a tornado to happen. See it as you need to ‘watch’ the weather closely but one has not formed yet. A tornado warning means that one has been spotted or indicated on a weather radar as about to form and immediate action needs to take place. It is a ‘warning’ that one has formed and is close to you.
If you are under a tornado warning, it is best to get to the basement or storm cellar. If you don’t have one, get to an interior room in the house on the first floor. Make sure to stay away from any windows or doors as they could shatter and harm you. It is smart to have an emergency kit with water, flashlights, batteries, and first aid supplies available.
On the Road
While driving on the road and a tornado warning is happening, it is safest to not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a flat location or ditch to lay low in. Flying debris can cause severe injury so use your arms to protect your neck and head.
Tornado's are dangerous and can cause serious injury or death, so if one is happening, take it seriously. If your home is affected by tornado or wind damage, call SERVPRO of North Elmwood Park at (708) 483-8636.
Help Protect Your Belongings
We can help protect your home and things from further water damage.
If you are ever unlucky enough to have to suffer through water damage in your home, one of the most important things you can do is act quickly to save your belongings. Your property is important to you and to us so we would like to give some simple tips for caring for materials affected by water.
When carpets or rugs become soaked with water, how long the water sits there is usually the deciding factor in if the material will still be usable. The biggest concern with carpets and rugs is mold and mildew growth. If you are able to extract water from the carpet, do so. Or at least dry the area as much as you can before professionals are able to make it to you.
Mold is also another factor to think about when it comes to drying furniture, clothing, or paper material. To save these from permanent damage, it is best to air dry them. You can take them outside or a room with lower humidity so they dry faster. Be sure to use caution when handling documents, books, photos, or other items that become fragile when wet. They could fall apart.
When is comes to electronics, please use extreme caution. Avoid putting oneself at risk for shock or electrocution by not turning on a device that was exposed to water or is currently wet. If it is safe to do so, you can wipe the surface of the items with a towel to prevent more water from getting into the device. It is smart to also have a trained professional look into the interior of the device to more accurately assess how extensive the water damage is and if the device is salvageable.
These are all small things you can do to help save your materials after water damage. To help with more severely damaged items call SERVPRO of North Elmwood Park at (708) 483-8636 to have our professionally trained technicians come help.
Common Types of Storm Damage
Putting a trap over where the storm damage is to protect inside the home.
Even with forecasts, we know weather is not always 100% accurate and it can seem like severe storms will come out of nowhere. When storms blow through your town, they bring all sorts of conditions with them. Here are just a few of the basic types of damage a storm can cause to your home or business:
Storms bring strong gusts of wind that can harm your house in different ways. It can lift the shingles off your roof leaving it more exposed for further damage as the storm continues. Winds can also carry debris. When the debris comes in contact with your home at high speed, it can cause cracks and holes in siding or windows.
Heavy rain fall can cause flooding in the streets as well as inside your home. Water can find its way into your home from the ground level or even a crack in the roof. Water damage that sits too long can pose threats to your home’s structural integrity and potential hazard issues with mold.
Damage done by hail is quite similar to when it is done by wind. The main difference is that hail melts away so the next day it might be difficult to identify the cause. Hail damage can cause cracks and holes in siding or knock away roofing materials. It is also common for hail to shatter or cause chips in a home’s windows.
There Is Water in My Home. What Do I Do Now?
Tiled hallway with a large water puddle.
Whether this is your first time experiencing water damage or your twelfth, it is important to keep in mind that acting fast in getting it resolved is vital and can prevent problems from arising in the future. SERVPRO of North Elmwood Park has water damage specialists ready to help you get your space dried correctly and carefully. Here are some useful tips to use at the first notice of water damage:
- If possible, locate and shut off the source of water. If you are unable to, contact a qualified party, such as a plumber, to come stop the water source.
- Try to remove as much excess water as possible by mopping or blotting with towels. Never use a vacuum.
- Place wooden blocks or aluminum foil under the legs of furniture that is on wet carpet. This helps minimize the water damage affecting your fixtures.
- Move belongings, such as painting, computers, important documents, or anything not yet affected by the water to a dry location.
- Do not enter the affected spaces if there are live outlets, switches, or electrical equipment exposed to the water. Keep your distance from electrical shock hazards.
- Do not turn on ceiling fixtures, such as lights or fans, if there is water damage in the ceiling, especially if the ceiling is sagging.
If you have water or flood damage in your home or commercial space, give SERVPRO of North Elmwood Park a call at (708) 483-8636. We want to help you.
The Correct Drying Equipment is Important in Water Mitigation
SERVPRO uses the most up to date drying equipment. This is one of our large dehumidifers.
The IICRC S500 Approach to Determining Equipment Usuage
The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification S500 (IICRC) is a non-profit organization that establishes and advances the standards and certifications for the inspection, cleaning, restoration and installation industry.
The IICRC has set a guide in determining the appropriate amount of drying equipment that is needed on a water damage restoration project. The guide first determines the "class" and "category" of water.
Air movers are used to move air across the wet surfaces which helps accelerate evaporation. One air mover is normally used for every 10 to 16 linear feet of a wall. Each air mover is pointed in the same direction. In a 12 X 12 room (48 linear feet of wall space), 4 to 5 air movers would generally be used.
Dehumidification is the removal of moisture from the air. Large dehumidifiers are used to remove the moisture. The goal of the dehumidifier is to remove a certain amount of pints of water per day. The IICRC came up with a formula to determine the size and amount of dehumidifiers used.
Using the right amount of air movers and dehumidifiers is important in drying the structure as quickly as possible. After the equipment is set up and running, the damaged area should be monitored every day to assure that the area is drying correctly and that the equipment is running properly.
SERVPRO of North Elmwood Park is trained and certified by the IICRC. We follow the IICRC standards of drying and the amount of drying equipment needed.
Types of Water Category Losses
Overflowing sink is a category 1 water loss
There are three categories of water. All three of them can cause significant damages to your home, but some are easier to cleanup than others.
Category 1 Loss - Clean Water Source. This loss can come from a broken pipe, sink or bathtub overflow or broken hot water heaters. This can be cleaned up easily and as long as the area is dried properly there should be no mold issues.
Category 2 Loss - Grey Water Loss. This comes when water is mixed with chemicals like when a dishwasher overflows or a toilet that has urine in it overflows. This should be cleaned up but you need to make sure that it is also properly disinfected to kill all the microorganisms.
Category 3 Loss - Black Water Loss. The worst of all three categories. This comes from sewage back up or water that is mixed with sewage. This needs to be cleaned up by a professional to make sure it is properly disinfected. If a Category 2 loss is not disinfected properly it can become a Category 3 loss.
When you have water damage in your house, be sure to know the cause of the water and the category it falls into.
Storm Power Outage Safety Tips
In the Chicagoland area we experience our fair share of storms. In early August we had a derecho roll through and it brought thunderstorms, tornadoes, and high-speed winds across the Midwest. Many people had damage to their roofs from tree limbs and other flying debris. Even more people were left without power, some for more than a week after. If you don’t already have a generator, it could be wise to think about getting one. They are a handy tool during storm seasons just in case you lose power. The American Red Cross and SERVPRO of North Elmwood Park would like to give you a few safety tips for power outages.
- Never use a generator, grill, camp stove, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawl space, or any partially enclosed area.
- To avoid electrocution, keep the generator dry and do not use it in wet conditions. Operate it on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure, such as under a tarp held up on poles. Do not touch the generator with wet hands.
- Run the generator every few months to make sure it is still functional.
If you experience water or storm damage, call SERVPRO of North Elmwood Park at (708) 483-8636.
Best Practices For Candle Use
Being safe while using candles with reduce your risk of house fire.
Candles are a popular way to embellish a room. They look and smell amazing. Unfortunately, they are also a leading cause of house fires. We would like to give you few tips for minimizing your risk of starting a candle fire in your home.
Candles Should Not Be Left Unattended
A good first rule when using candles is to not leave them unattended. If you are leaving the house or going to sleep, you should put the candle out. If you are leaving one room to spend time in another, you can bring the candle with you or put it out. Keep an eye on children and pets around candles as they can knock them over or injure themselves.
Keep Candles in Safe Locations
When finding a new spot to place a candle, keep in mind what is near it. If there are flammable liquids, curtains, or bedding near the candle, the flame or a spark has potential of igniting these materials.
Get Proper Candle Holders
It is safer to place a candle in a holder than directly onto a surface. Many candles already come in a safe glass but some require you to place them in a different container. Just be mindful that if a container not designed for the purpose of holding candles becomes too hot, it can break or melt.
Find an Alternative
The best way to prevent a candle fire is to not use a candle. There are so many alternatives for lighting to create a similar atmosphere and alternatives for creating scents. There are even flameless candles if you really love the look of a candle.
These are good tips to keep in mind when using candles to help keep your family and your home safe.
Tips for Preparing Your Home for a Storm
Some people love to watch storms roll in, while others get nervous for a variety of reasons. You might be thinking about hail hitting your car that is parked outside or what debris the wind is carrying that could damage your house. As much as we wish we could, we cannot control the weather to make it sunny and 75°F every day. Let us give you some tips on how to make your home more prepared for storms to come.
Seal Your Roof
Making sure that your roof is in good condition is an important first step in keeping your home safe from potential storm damage. Roof seams could be sealed with a ‘peel and stick membrane’ or with a polyurethane foam to prevent cracks and leaks. Keeping your roof in good standing now is in investment in your home and the things inside of it.
Secure Your Windows and Doors
High winds put your windows and doors at risk. Doing annual checks for rusty hinges and missing or loose screws can prevent serious damage. Also making sure that your door threshold is in good condition can prevent water from getting into your home through the front door. If you live in places where hurricanes, tornadoes, or other extreme storms can happen, it is wise to invest in impact resistant windows.
If you live in a home that has fencing, or you are thinking of putting a fence in, it is important to consider how storms may impact them. You need to consider the strength and resilience of the materials and how they are installed. Fences can be struck down by strong winds or debris. Even though the less expensive option for fencing seems like the best choice right now, it might end up costing you more later.
Have an Emergency Plan
Preparation is key when it comes to minimizing loss during a storm. This goes towards your home and your family. Creating a plan with members of your house on how to stay safe can go a long way. Know what the safest place in your home is. Have a kit with batteries, food, and medical supplies. Know important phone numbers. And if you have pets, factor them into this plan as well.
Be Mindful of Loose Objects
After storms, you can usually look out on the street and see trash cans or other miscellaneous objects knocked over on the ground. Anchoring loose objects in your yard such as trampolines, grills, bikes, patio furniture, umbrellas, or inflatable above ground pools will keep them from becoming a risk that could damage your house or your neighbors.
Common Weather Alerts and What They Mean
Keeping up with weather forecasts can help you anticipate storms and be ready for any kind of alert.
Throughout the year, you will see all sorts of weather related information pop up. Alerts used to just be sirens or banners on the bottom of a television screen. Now with so many people having access to smart phones and technology, we are being exposed to more types of alerts. If you get an alert about thunderstorms, or tornado watches and warnings, do you know what they actually mean? If not, no problem. Here are some common alerts we might see in the Midwest during the summer and what they are telling us.
Watch vs. Warning vs. Advisory
The first important thing to understanding weather alerts is to know the difference between a watch, a warning, and an advisory. If you get a weather alert saying something is a watch, it means that the current weather conditions are looking like that weather event is likely to occur. A weather alert for a watch means that the weather event is currently happening or minutes away from happening. An advisory is used for when a weather condition is not as serious as needing a warning but it still likely to occur.
- Severe Thunderstorm: There is 1’’ hail and/or winds faster than 58 mph are being produced.
- Flash Flood: Heavy rain fall is causing rapid flooding of small rivers, streams, creaks, or urban areas.
- Tornado: Severe thunderstorms are occurring that are producing optimal conditions for a tornado funnel to form.
- Excessive Heat: Daytime temperatures are reaching above 105°F to 110°F for more than three hours. If happening for multiple days, it is not uncommon for widespread power outages.
You can find more information on the kinds of weather alerts on the National Weather Services website at weather.gov. If you experience damage from severe weather, give SERVPRO of North Elmwood Park a call at (708) 483-8636 and we will make it “Like it never even happened.”
Prevent a Clothes Dryer Fire
This appliance is very important in every day life but can also be very dangerous if not inspected regularly.
The following are ways to prevent a clothes dryer fire in your home:
- Inspect your outdoor vent. Check to make sure that your outdoor vent flap is not covered by snow or debris.
- Do not dry items that have been stained with volatile chemicals. Wash clothing stained with flammable chemicals more than once and do not use the dryer to dry these items, opting for a clothes line dryer.
- Don’t leave your dryer unattended. If you need to leave your home, turn off the dryer during the laundry cycle.
- Install with care. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing the vent pipe. Use a short, straight pipe that is an adequate distance from the wall. Reducing the bends in the dryer vent pipe creates fewer opportunities for lint to gather. Invest in a dryer vent fan if you have to vent your dryer over a long distance. Dryer vent fans increase the airflow through the duct every time you turn on your dryer forcing debris out.
- Remove combustibles. Cleaning supplies and other flammable liquids should not be kept near the dryer. In addition, sweep out dust in the areas around and underneath your dryer regularly.
- Use a metal dryer duct. Metal ducts are better than foil or plastic ducts for two key reasons. First, unlike foil or plastic ducts, metal ducts do not sag. This is important because sagging ducts contributes to lint build up at low points. Second, metal ducts are more likely to contain any fires that would start.
- Read clothing tags and labels. Always use caution when you are drying bath mats, padded bras, and bibs because they may contain rubber that should not be exposed to hot temperatures. Also, if the label instructs you to tumble dry an item, follow the advice and do not dry at hotter temperatures.
- After each dryer use, check your clothes. If your clothes do not feel dry or are extra hot after a normal drying cycle, then this may indicate that something is wrong. Before using the dryer again, check for a plugged vent and clean out any lint.
- Clean out the lint. Clean out the lint trap after each use and once a year hire a professional to clean out the vent pipes.
Dryers are the cause of many home fires. Be sure to check you dryer routinely in order to prevent possible fire.
What To Expect After You Call Us
Let SERVPRO of North Elmwood Park help you after a disaster.
Fast Response Time
When something has been damaged by fire, water, or mold, quick action and response is what is going to make a huge difference in the restoration. SERVPRO is open 24/7 and you can expect someone to contact you back within an hour or two about the emergency. Once we collect the necessary information, we can move ahead to scheduling a team member come out to the site.
On Site Arrival and Inspection
After the initial contact, our team could be on site within four hours to survey the type and extent of the damage. The crew member will inspect the home or building and create an estimate for the best course of action moving forward. You will receive a verbal briefing so that you are aware and understand what the next steps in the mitigation process are.
When you choose use to do your restoration project, our offices will be in contact to schedule the start of the job. We like to start as quick as possible to prevent further damage, but we understand you have a busy life so we try our best to work with your schedule. We will also work with you and your insurance company throughout the entire process.
Clean Ups After Tragedy With Care
Don't let a biohazard clean up overwhelm you.
When tragedy happens, such as a crime, not many people think about what comes after except those who are left with the mess. When a crime or other event causes a biohazard situation, you need specially trained professionals to come do the necessary job cleanup. We offer the following services at SERVPRO of Oak Park- River Forest:
- Crime scene residues
- Suicide/death accidents
- Homicide cleanups
- Blood cleanup
- Accident cleanup
- Hoarding scenes
- Animal waste/remains
- Chemical spills
- Tear gas cleanup
- Meth lab cleanup
Biohazard cleanups can include vomit, blood, or other bodily fluids. It can also be animal waste, used needles, or other anatomical waste. In order to dispose of biohazard material properly, one needs training on how to handle the waste to make sure it does not harm others. Medical professionals are trained on how to dispose and handle needle and hazardous materials. So is our crew. They wear personal protective equipment (PPE) throughout the entire job and comply with all laws on how to deal with the hazardous materials.
Our team understands that biohazard situation not only require great care for safety but they also usually require extreme sensitivity. You never know what event occurred that created the need for this type of clean up so it is important to treat each job and customer with compassion and kindness. If you are in need of any sort of biohazard cleanup, call SERVPRO of North Elmwood Park at (708) 483-8636.
Hidden Bathroom Water Damage
Water damage could be lurking in your bathroom.
The most troublesome water damage is the kind that you don’t notice until after it has already caused other significant damage. Small leaks from pipes can be silent and go unnoticed for extended periods of time. In rooms where humidity levels are already high, such as a bathroom, it can be hard to notice extra moisture. In a bathroom, a pipe in the toilet, shower, or sink could be broken. There could be grout deterioration that lets water get underneath tile or the tub. These types of damages can be hard to spot but here are some signs it may be happening to you.
If you can see mold or mildew, that usually means there is a hidden leak. It may not be a sign of extreme water damage, but it is a sign that there is some additional moisture that is aiding the mold growth. It is best practice to call water damage specialists to come look at it.
Bathroom walls are meant to take a splash of water here and there, but they are not capable of handling substantial amounts of moisture. If you see patches, stains, or cracks on the walls and ceiling, that is a sure sign of something being wrong.
If you start to notice an earthy or musty smell it is a very good indicator that there is a hidden leak somewhere. It can also be a sign that mold is growing.
If you experience any sort of water damage, or you suspect there is water damage call SERVPRO of North Elmwood Park at (708) 483- 8636.
Limit Your Building's Risk of Mold Growth
Protect your building and employees from mold.
No one want to hear that they have mold growth in their building. It can be hazardous to your employees and visitor’s health and will cost you money to remove. We would like to give you three tips that could help limit your chance of having mold spores build up in your building.
- Change HVAC Filters
Regularly changing the filter of your HVAC system can help lower the concentration of mold spores in your building's air. It is also wise to have maintenance regularly check for mold growth in the old filters, drain pans, ducts, or terminal units.
- Air Filtration
If your commercial space is able to have an air filtration or purification system running, it could further reduce your risk of mold growth. There are different types of filters that filter out smaller sized particles. While the cheaper options seem more economically efficient, they often only catch dust particles. The more expensive filters can catch the smaller mold spores.
- Regular Carpet Cleaning
Carpet and the padding underneath it are porous. These small spaces collect dirt, debris, and small mold spores. If humidity it too high or water that gets on the carpet is not dried properly, a perfect environment for mold to grow is created. To reduce the number of spores, a deep carpet cleaning or HEPA-certified vacuum can be used.
These are just some ways you can help your building avoid mold growth. You do not want to get to the point where you can notice a musty smell meaning possible mold growth. However, it is not the end of the world if mold is present. Call certified remediation and cleanup professionals to resolve it.
Protect Your Business' Pipes
Don't let your company's restrooms cause you more problems.
In commercial buildings, keeping restrooms sanitary and functional are usually top on the priority list. You can never be sure of what or how much of something someone could be trying to flush down the pipes. You may not be able to fully control what happened to the restrooms, its pipes, or septic system, but you can take a few cautionary steps to protect your property.
- Posting signs in the stalls can be beneficial for you and for visitors. A notice saying a toilet is out of order will keep someone from continuing to add to a problem before it gets fixed. A sign in the restrooms asking to put feminine hygiene products into a waste bin will keep them from clogging pipes if they get flushed.
- If your building bathrooms are frequently used, consider using a thin, single ply toilet paper. Some visitors use thicker wads of toilet paper so having the thinner paper can prevent clogged pipes.
- Having an appropriate number of trash cans in stalls and by the sink will make a huge difference. It gives visitor a better, more polite option for waste than flushing it down the toilet.
These are just few simple actions you can take to help prevent clogs and other water damages from happening to your property. On the chance you do experience water damage from clogged pipes, SERVPRO of North Elmwood Park will be able to assist you to get back up and running.