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Learning About Fire Hazards in Your Home

11/7/2018 (Permalink)

When thinking about protecting your home from fire, one way to do this is by understanding fire hazards and knowing how to identify them.

Thinking about the possibility of seeing your home damaged by fire is unpleasant, but unfortunately, it’s a harsh reality for many Americans. In this blog, we’ll be discussing two of the most common household fire hazards.

Be Careful With Candles

Did you know there were 82 deaths, 800 injuries and $295 million in direct property damage during a five-year period from 2011 to 2015? During that time period, fire departments across the United States answered an estimated 8,700 home structure fires a year that were started by candles.

There were an average of 24 home candle fires reported per day during those five years, with December being the prime time of the year for home candle fires. Candles caused 2 percent of the reported home fires, with 3 percent resulting in death and 7 percent in injuries.

Of all the candle fires during this time span, 37 percent started in the bedroom and were responsible for 36 percent of the associated deaths and 51 percent of the associated injuries.

When using a lit candle, be sure it’s kept at least 12 inches from anything that could catch fire and is in a sturdy holder that won’t easily tip over. If oxygen is being used in a home, never use a candle—and remember to never leave candles unattended. Always blow them out before leaving a room or going to sleep.

Smoking Indoors Is Risky

While cooking is the No.1 cause of home fires, smoking indoors is the No.1 cause of home fire deaths.

An estimated 17,200 home structure fires were reported in 2014 due to smoking materials like cigarettes, pipes and cigars. According to the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes, those fires resulted in 570 deaths, 1,140 injuries and $426 million in property damage.

Be sure to extinguish all cigarettes and ashes in water or sand prior to throwing them out, and keep in mind that one out of four fatal victims of smoking-material fires is not the smoker—it is the innocent bystander.

If you’re a smoker, it is safest to smoke outside, as most deaths resulted from fires that began in living rooms, family rooms or bedrooms. Fire-safe cigarettes are the best option, and a deep, sturdy ashtray should be used.

Info on Lesser-known Fire Hazards

While candles and smoking are two of the most common causes of home structure fires, there are also other lesser-known hazards that could be present in your home.

Some types of glassware in your home could actually be a fire risk. When placed in direct sunlight in front of a window, the magnified sunbeam passes through them, and could ignite a flammable object in its path. Therefore, it’s best to move glass accessories away from windows.

Sweeping or vacuuming your floors regularly and cleaning hard-to-reach areas, like behind the entertainment system, can help prevent the buildup of dust bunnies from collecting near electrical sockets and floor heaters.

Also, watch out for loose electrical outlets in your home. The movement of these loose electrical outlets could loosen the wires connected to the outlet and create dangerous arcing.

Fire and smoke damage can be devastating to homes, and in many circumstances, can also be accompanied by water damage from firefighting efforts. If your home is damaged by fire or smoke, SERVPRO® of Van Nuys South is here to help you restore your home to its original pre-fire condition.

Fire Safety Basics for Your Home

10/22/2018 (Permalink)

Did you know that every year in the United States, over 350,000 house fires occur, adding up to more than $5.5 billion in property damage? Aside from the financial loss, these fires also lead to close to 3,000 deaths and another 10,000 injuries.

Your best defense against a fire is advance preparation. It’s important that each member of your household know how to prevent fires and what actions to take if one should occur.

Start by teaching your kids basic fire safety guidelines at a young age. Let’s also consider these three other fire safety precautions you can practice together:

Come Up With a Fire Safety Plan

If there is a fire, each person in the family must know how to react and stay calm—including how to safely get out of the house and where to go once they’re out.

However, creating a plan is just the beginning.

We’ve all heard the saying, “practice makes perfect.” Regular practice of your routine will make you more likely to remember the steps if a fire breaks out.

Learn to Identify Fire Hazards

How many fire hazards would you spot if you were to look through your home? You might be surprised what you find! Take time to go through every room and your outdoor space to uncover these hazards.

  • Are your appliances are in good working condition?
  • Are your electrical cords intact and not frayed or otherwise damaged?
  • Have you overloaded your outlets and/or extension cords?
  • Are you using the correct wattage of lightbulbs in light fixtures?
  • Have you checked to ensure that electrical wiring is not covered up by rugs or carpet?
Be Safe in the Kitchen

Cooking is the biggest single cause of house fires. That’s why it’s important to be especially mindful in the kitchen.

Anyone who’s cooking needs to apprise themselves of basic cooking safety. For example:

  • Cooking when tired or otherwise unable to pay attention is not advised.
  • It is advisable to always supervise kids and teens when they are cooking.
  • Have a lid available when cooking on the stove. If a small grease fire occurs, you will be able to cover and smother the fire with the lid.
  • If the oven catches on fire, turn off the oven and keep the oven door closed.

If a kitchen fire spreads, leave the room immediately and close the door behind you.

If your family has experienced a fire and needs help restoring your home, SERVPRO® of Van Nuys South can help! Give us call to learn about our fire restoration services and what we can do for you.

How to Clean Up a Space After Hoarding

10/9/2018 (Permalink)

What is hoarding? Hoarding is a subtype of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder that causes people to resist parting with possessions, ultimately accumulating them in large quantities that can take over a home and interfere with daily functioning.

According to the International OCD Foundation, as many as 1 in 50 people have at least some level of hoarding tendencies.

It’s a serious issue that can eventually lead to dangerous conditions in a space.

As possessions and even trash are allowed to pile up in a home or commercial space, they present fire hazards, tripping hazards, and can hide pests, rodents or mold growth.

If you discover that a space you own has been used for hoarding, what should be your next move? Call in a team of specially trained professionals to make the space usable again.

<h2the-cleanup-process:a70b757925e62f6be8aa4ee8e8a9f199">Defining the Cleanup Process

While you might think that you just need to clear out the clutter and clean up, there are special considerations when it comes to a space that’s been used for hoarding.

A professional team will understand those considerations and provide a comprehensive clean-up that mitigates any safety hazards.

<h4of-dangerous-substances:a70b757925e62f6be8aa4ee8e8a9f199">Removal of Dangerous Substances

Hoarding leads to piles of clutter and other objects, which can conceal serious health-related hazards, including toxic mold growth, along with insects and rodents.

To ensure you are safely cleaning the space and not putting anyone at risk, partner with a team of professionals educated in best practices and outfitted in specialized safety gear.

<h4of-items:a70b757925e62f6be8aa4ee8e8a9f199">Removal of Items

This is likely the part of cleaning that comes to mind. This stage involves removing all clutter, including items like newspapers and even trash that’s collected over time.

Because these items can become hazardous over time, professionals will ensure safe removal. They may also need to remove objects within the space that have become contaminated over time, like carpets or kitchenware.

<h4cleaning:a70b757925e62f6be8aa4ee8e8a9f199">Complete Cleaning

After the space has been cleared out, deep-cleaning is the next step of the process.

During this cleaning, professionals will restore the space by removing all residue, odors and stains, making it usable again.

In need of a team to help restore a space where hoarding has been an issue? Contact our team at SERVPRO® of Van Nuys South, and we’ll make it like it never even happened.

3 Causes of Storm Damage in Hurricanes

10/1/2018 (Permalink)

Pacific hurricanes are not as common as on the Atlantic Coast, but they have been known to happen. Just in August, Hawaii was devastated by Hurricane Lane. California and the mild Los Angeles climate may be relatively safe from hurricanes, but if you were to travel to the East Coast, the Gulf Coast, or even Hawaii then the odds go up and it’s important to be prepared.

While hurricanes often get the most coverage, they are only one of ten common types of storm in the United States. The others are hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, snow storms, hail storms, thunderstorms, lightning storms, tropical storms, ice storms and Derecho storms.

Of the ten, Derecho storms are actually considered to be rare. Have you heard of a Derecho storm before? This storm occurs when several large storms create one giant storm that reaches speeds of 58 miles per hour (at least) and crosses 250 miles.

Hurricanes, even if more common in some areas than others, can reach far past the coast they occur on.Hurricane Sandy had a reach of over 20 states.

Since hurricanes cause so much damage, it’s vital to be familiar with the damage they cause even if they aren’t common to California.

So, how do hurricanes cause so much damage?First, by wind.

Wind accompanied by hurricanes can be linked to most damage caused by these storms. In some cases, the wind is so strong that it forms tornadoes. Wind speed commonly ranges between 74 - 155 miles per hour, strong enough to cause intense wreckage. The sturdiest of structures, even trees, are in danger from this kind of wind. Storm winds hoist up and fling debris of all sizes and shapes, which causes further destruction.

Second, by storm surge.

Have you heard of a “wall of water” caused by hurricanes? As a hurricane rages toward the coast, its winds are pushing water with it, disrupting the normal flow of tides. The winds push so much water toward the shore that it amasses high above the predicted tide level and it surges onto the shore and farther inland. As the water rushes inland, it has nowhere to drain and causes flooding. Storm surge also creates strong currents and the weight of the water is so heavy that it can cause severe damage.

Third, by flood.

As mentioned, storm surge is primary reason for floods during hurricanes. But this happens primarily on the coast. Hurricanes can cause floods 100 miles out from where the hurricane lands. This is because a hurricane is so powerful as to affect other weather systems, creating excess precipitation that is far ranging. This heavy excess rain often overwhelms an area and causes floods when it can’t drain properly.

Storm damage, caused by hurricanes or flood or otherwise, can be severe and difficult to clean up on your own. Call SERVPRO® of Van Nuys South for expert water damage restoration services.

Mold: Do You Need a Professional?

8/20/2018 (Permalink)

If you own a home, or even if you rent, you probably already know that mold is a very common household annoyance. But even though it’s common, it sometimes requires a more than common solution.

Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you need to hire professional remediation services to get rid of mold in your home.

1. Does it keep coming back?

Mold only needs a damp or humid space to grow, which means there are three common culprits in any home: bathroom, attic, or basement. The bathroom is an obvious one: there’s plenty of extra water lying around to create mold. But basements or attics often aren’t very well ventilated, which also creates ideal conditions for mold. If mold keeps returning to these spots, your problem might be more significant than you think.

2. Does it require handiwork?

Did you know that mold can grow in walls? Especially in drywall, if it’s porous or untreated. It can be hard to quickly identify mold growth in the walls, which means a mold colony can get quite large before it’s found. If it’s grown too big, the infested section of the wall has to be removed.

3. Is it causing poor health?

Just like mold is common, so are mold allergies. A little less common, but more serious, are the other respiratory issues that mold can cause. Mold has also been known to cause skin infections or irritations. Mold spores are airborne, so even if you can’t see the mold, it could still cause poor health.

If your answer was yes to any of the above questions, it’s time to call for help. Call SERVPRO® of Van Nuys South today for expert mold remediation services. SERVPRO® makes it like it never even happened.

Water Damage and Restoration

8/7/2018 (Permalink)

With many of the properties making up the Van Nuys neighborhood being constructed quite sometime ago, Many have experienced water damage caused by failed water pipes, air-conditioning units leaking, cracked water pipes from overgrown trees and earthquakes.

Since we typically cannot see these water pipes it is difficult to conduct any sort of maintenance before the leak presents a problem and we notice it after the fact. What’s worse is if you live in a condominium unit on the bottom floor, your neighbor above you could have a leak that will also affect you even if your pipes have no damage whatsoever.

When water damage affects our home it affects our lifestyle and causes anxiety and discomfort. SERVPRO Van Nuys South knows this fact and because of that we do our utmost to get in and get out leaving you with the feeling as if it never even happened.

How You Can Prevent Mold Growth Following Water Damage | SERVPRO® of Van Nuys South

8/7/2018 (Permalink)

Any home or business owner that has been affected by water damage knows what a devastating problem it is—both due to the damage it can cause and also due to the unique health hazards and risks it can present.

One of those dangerous risks is mold growth. Many negative symptoms associated with mold exposure have been reported by the CDC, and the problem is exacerbated because of how quickly mold can begin growing.

If your home has been affected by water damage and you’re concerned with mold growth, here are the steps you can take to help stop mold before it takes hold.

Before You Start

  • Take photos and videos of damage throughout for insurance claim purposes, making sure to include furniture and walls.
  • Never re-enter your building before officials have deemed it safe and are positive all water has receded.

Tips for Drying

  • Make use of fans, dehumidifiers and heaters to speed up drying time.
  • A heavy-duty, outdoor vacuum can be used before the professional cleanup crew arrives.
  • Weather permitting, open windows and doors to maximize airflow for as long as possible.

Sorting Items Exposed to Water

  • Porous materials, such as wood, upholstery and paper of any kind, should be discarded, as they can trap mold spores.
  • Due to the non-porous nature of metal, plastic and glass, they can often be cleaned, disinfected and reused.
  • It is important to note that drying carpet will not necessarily remove mold spores if they’ve already begun to grow.

A Professional Should Always Be Consulted

In some cases, carpets can be salvaged after water damage, but at minimum, experts typically recommend replacing the carpet pad. Mold is commonly associated with discolorations and foul odors, but can often lurk unnoticed long before it is seen, posing a serious danger.

While a pad replacement is less costly than a full re-carpeting of the home, only a professional can determine if this is adequate enough to keep the harmful spores from invading your home.

If you’ve encountered water damage, SERVPRO® of Van Nuys South can help you restore your home and remediate for any mold issues that arise.

Easy HVAC Maintenance | SERVPRO® of Van Nuys South

8/7/2018 (Permalink)

Every homeowner appreciates the comforts of a central heating and air system, but there’s no question about the substantial costs associated with operating them. In fact, Energy Star reports energy costs from HVAC systems make up about half of a household’s electric bill. While that’s a significant chunk of change, with a little bit of maintenance, you can make your investment extend much further.

Because the HVAC system is so important, performing regular maintenance is equally important.

Along with twice yearly professional cleaning services, homeowners should perform the following maintenance themselves and educate themselves on how their HVAC system works.

  • When the AC runs, the cooling coils in the HVAC system work to remove water from the air. Drain pans and nearby surfaces should be regularly checked for moisture accumulation to stop problems like mold and water damage before they start.
  • Change your HVAC filters every 30 to 90 days depending on the type of filter used. This will help you maintain maximum air quality and efficiency. Other ways to improve heating and cooling include using the highest-rated filter for your HVAC model and ensuring a secure fit when filters are installed.
  • Include your HVAC in your routine dusting and vacuuming to clear the dust and debris out before it has a chance to invade your air flow system. This does wonders for your HVAC cleanliness. Additionally, always use the highest efficiency filter for the vacuum and purchase one with a HEPA certification if possible.

Tip: And of course, if home renovations are causing excess dust, seal off supply and return registers in the house before the dust has a chance to infiltrate the ducts.

  • Always schedule regular maintenance checkups and cleaning. Having a professional survey your system twice per year is the best way to ensure your HVAC system is as healthy as it can be. While there are quite a few things you can do on your own for maintenance, a professional cleaning makes a marked improvement in air quality and the efficiency of your unit.

If you’d like a consultation for your HVAC system, [contact SERVPRO® of Van Nuys South today] http://www.SERVPROvannuyssouth.com/)!

The Pollution Types Relating to Water Damage | SERVPRO® of Van Nuys South

7/17/2018 (Permalink)

You can’t escape terms like “black water” and “clear water” when talking about water damage and the pollution left behind, but what do they mean? Though it’s true that black water is hazardous, there are actually three types of water damage that can all cause problems.

Because we know the devastation that lies in the aftermath of water damage, we’ve outlined the water contamination types you might encounter so you can be informed.

Classifications of Water Damage

Category 1: “Clear water,” which is the first level, refers to water originating from a source free of contaminants (aka clear). Water from leaky faucets, direct rainwater, broken inbound pipes or water supply lines are all categorized this way, and category 1 water should not pose health issues if consumed.

Category 2: Grey water, the second category, is a bit more serious. This is wastewater generated from appliance or drain overflows, as well as other types of household flooding. This water is often contaminated on its own and/or has come into contact with a variety of surfaces. Therefore, category 2 water is somewhat contaminated and can cause illness if consumed.

Category 3: Category 3 water is the most notorious and is commonly known as black water. Rising flood waters, sewage overflows or water that has begun breeding bacteria due to stagnation are all cause for concern. Black water can also lead to illness or death if consumed.

Categories Can Be Dynamic

Water damage continues to become more complicated after the initial flooding because water that starts as one category can quickly advance to another. Water that develops higher pollution levels from coming into contact with surfaces and/or breeding bacteria can become even more dangerous as time progresses.

Because this is impossible to determine solely based on appearance, professional water restoration is essential to obtaining peace of mind and a properly restored property.

If you’ve fallen victim to water damage, SERVPRO® can help! Our team of water damage professionals can get your place back to normal, faster.

Should You Make Carpet Cleaning a Priority? | SERVPRO® of Van Nuys South

7/17/2018 (Permalink)

For most homeowners, carpet cleaning is rarely considered a routine chore. While most assume that vacuuming is sufficient, it often isn’t enough for the heavier debris.

Carpet companies often require regular cleaning to maintain the manufacturer’s warranty, but there are several other reasons why carpet cleaning is a wise choice. By allowing for easier floor maintenance, extending the life of your carpet and banishing bugs and mites, carpet cleaning is a smart choice for any homeowners looking to have clean and well-maintained floors.

Still not convinced? Here are some ways that carpet cleaning can benefit your home:

Have simpler floor maintenance. Though vacuuming handles only the surface, it can happily coexist with regular carpet cleaning to make your life much easier! Regularly cleaned carpets are simpler to vacuum because the heavy-duty dirt and debris have already been removed.

Extend your carpet’s life. In remodels, carpet is often replaced for looking “tired”—often simply a result of being too dirty for too long. Every time dirty carpet is walked on, the debris becomes more embedded, working like sandpaper against the fibers and shortening the lifespan tremendously.

Remove mites and bugs. As with any other soft surface, mites and bugs are more than happy to take residence within plush carpet fibers. Thankfully, professional cleaning creates an inhospitable living environment for the critters, and staying on a regular schedule will discourage them from coming back.

Improve indoor air. Not only do carpets contain dirt, but there are also more dangerous pollutants and bacteria that might be lurking within the fibers. When doors and windows are opened, contaminants from the outside air are also brought into the home. Because vacuuming only handles surface-level debris, the other pollutants are free to degrade indoor air quality until they’re professionally removed.

Still unsure about carpet cleaning? Our team of professionals is happy to discuss why it might be right for your home!