From 2011-2015, USA fire departments responded to an estimated average of 170,200 home structure fires that involved cooking equipment. Forty-seven (47 %) percent of reported homes structure fires were caused by cooking. Never leave pots and pans unattended on the stove--don't forget to turn the oven off after the baking is completed; double check yourself. Don't believe that running up the street to the convenience store for 5 minutes and leaving flames on, yet low, on the stove, is safe--it's not. For instance, boiling water on the stove, and then going off to check the laundry. The laundry is finished, and you become distracted, wanting to fold the clothes while they are still hot out of the dryer. In an effort to save time later, and complete the task, you continue on to another area of the home, to put all the folded clothes away. How much time has passed? How high was that flame on the stove? How much water was in the pot? It could be long enough to evaporate all the water in the pot, and the flame continues on without the benefit of water in the pot. Most fires are not total losses, and most fires are kitchen fires, however, no one wants to have a fire experience in their lives.
We hope Spring brings you more flowers and less showers, but if you experience water damage in your home or auto, we are here to help with solutions. When it becomes warmer, and we park outside, we may forget to close those windows, and then there is a massive, heavy over night rain storm. Our vehicle becomes water saturated. Then you may begin to have an itchy nose, and smell that mold smell. Next, you vacuum, and put the little scent tree on your rearview mirror--but oh, that smell. The same situation of leaving that open window in the house, and then, oh, that smell! We live in such a damp geographical region, thankful for our abundant drinking water source, but--mold is everywhere, and our mold estimates are free.
Heavy winds can damage literally hundreds of trees and create dangerous conditions. Additionally, heavy winds can cause power outages. Being proactive, and having a first aid kit--with fresh, non-expired products--both in your home and vehicles, walking your property during fair weather days, looking for ill and diseased trees, or hanging or cracked branches which are extremely large and heavy. If you note any of these things, seek out estimates to address and solve these problem trees BEFORE heavy, inclement weather arrives. Also, consider how you and your family would function if you lost power due to heavy winds. Do you have candles and flash lights with working batteries, and an extra sets of batteries? Blankets, and dry or pre-packaged food supplies for 2 or 3 days? Don't forget water--assume one gallon per day for each person and animal.
With all the cold weather, it is hard to conceptualize that spring is nearly here. Purging the home and garage twice a year helps eliminate headaches down the road. Plan for sections, or rooms, and work in phases, so it won't be overwhelmingly time consuming. Work from the top down, inside to outside, to avoid getting what you just cleaned dirty again.
Do one room, or just one area at a time. The satisfaction of seeing one room sparkle will inspire to do more. When tidying, reduce trips around the house by temporarily depositing items in one spot. Don't forget to scrub the shower stall. Make small repairs. If you're not handy, hire someone. Invest in good rubber or vinyl gloves to protect your skin and nails.
Dust before vacuuming or cleaning the floor--floor work kicks up the dust. Household rags are invaluable for jobs requiring a damp cloth – natural fibres work best. Buy mops with a squeeze mechanism (great for vinyl, linoleum or ceramic tile floors) and a decent-size heavy-duty pail. Use a Swiffer for light dusting, or your favorite broom or vacuum attachment to clean hardwood floors. Then damp-mop with a mild cleaner such as Murphy Oil Soap.
When Pipes Freeze
When temperatures drop and stay below 32 degrees for a full three days, it is highly likely that pipes can freeze. The following thaw that comes along after the freeze is when the pipes are likely to burst, and the result is not only a broken pipe, but water damage. Water damage to floors, carpets, dry wall and plaster, personal property, and appliances. The damage list can--sadly--go on and on. Remember, during the frigid, wintery season that you do NOT drop the thermostat below 58 degrees when you go out, and if the building is much older, a light drip, drip in both cold and hot spigots in all locations in the home. Make sure you know where your water main shut off is in your home. Also, does it turn easily? If no, a little spritz of WD-40 on the valve to help it move easily in the event there is an issue where the water main must be shut off, you won't be struggling with an uncooperative valve in an emergency.
Prevent Christmas Tree Fires
There are certain types of fires and injuries associated with holiday decorating, and are much more common during this season. Look for a Christmas tree that is fresh, and has green needles that don't fall out. Brownish needles mean the tree is dried out and more prone to catch fire. Test your lights out BEFORE you add them to the tree for any irregularities. Water your tree daily to prevent it from drying out. Consider the behavior of pets and small children when laying out your tree area. Keep your tree at least 3 feet away from any heat source, such as a fireplace, radiator, candles or lights. Always turn off lights on a tree before going to bed, or leaving your home. And it is a very wise and practical idea--if you haven't checked lately--that you check to confirm that your smoke alarm(s) are working properly. Remember, safety first.
Where does all the stuff come from? And more importantly, how can we--as individuals and families--manage all the stuff? SERVPRO of WEST HILLS helps individuals and families when the stuff gets totally out of control. We assist on HOARDER clean outs. Estimates are free. Even now, with some many communications being electronic in nature, there is still a mountain of paper and things out in our Universe. Some tools to help manage, or prevent, the build up of stuff in our homes and worlds may be getting a home shredder and using it every single day in conjunction with the US mail delivery. Also, remembering to send out boxes and magazines with bi-weekly recycle pick ups can help diminish the pile up of paper. No recycle pick up? Magazines and periodicals can be donated to hair salons, etc. Blocking out an hour of time a week, to go through things: clothes, shoes, knickknacks, papers and other items, and being realistic about whether they are needed or used, and then unneeded items can be donated to charity, or perhaps friends or family may enjoy receiving the items.
This is a frank discussion about proper attic and roof ventilation in order to prevent the onset of mold issues and shingle warranties in your properties. All modern construction should be code inspected to ensure that the proper ventilation was done at the time of construction, but, sadly, often doesn't due to inspections missing these critical observations. Older homes should be evaluated to ensure that proper ventilation is in place and working sufficiently, and the ventilation system(s) should be upgraded whenever there is going to be a probability of having new roof installations. Remember too, to pay attention to the chimney. Flashing can become loose over time, and there may be less obvious leaks related to the chimney. Mold must eat, and it feeds on moisture.
Purging one's office or living space several times a year helps diminish the build up of clutter, and saves time when cleaning. It's amazing the volume of mail that arrives on a daily basis. Where does all the paper, magazines, knickknacks, and general stuff come from anyway? When piles of paper, magazines, files, and other paper materials become too high, they can hide visibility to the walls and other surroundings. These piles can hide spots from water leaks--for instance. Blocking out small windows of time--since we are all so very busy these days--to attack particular pieces of furniture, or target a certain room. Perhaps a good rule of thumb might be: if it hasn't been used or worn in one year, it can be placed in the "Out" pile. Select a Purging "season," and then do your Purging annually or quarterly.
Electric Shock Drownings
Watch Those Storm Event Skies
Don't let summer fun turn to tragedy. Electric shock drownings are a hidden danger in swimming pools, hot tubs and spas, and around boats, marinas, and launch ramps.
Electric shock drowning (ESD) can occur when faulty wiring sends an electrical current into the water. The current then passes through the body, causing paralysis, and results in drowning.
Life saving measures such as ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection and all grounding and bonding systems are functioning properly.
Just a reminder that with such a rainy summer season this year, keep your eye on the sky for incoming storm events and rain. Thunder and lightening are best seen from inside the house, not inside the pool or hot tub. Error on the side of caution, and get out of the water.