Electrical Safety in the Office and at Home.
No one ever wants to deal with the aftermath of a fire, so take these precautions to prevent dealing with a devastating loss.
Consumer electronic products are more prevalent than ever. Research indicates that the average household owns more than twenty-five consumer electronic products. With all of today’s technology, it can prove challenging to safely maintain power to all of our electronic devices. Electrical outlets are easy to overload and as a result, may become hazardous. While adding a power strip or extension cord seems like an easy solution to a lack of electrical outlets, the wiring in some buildings often isn’t capable of supporting too many high-powered electronic appliances.
Older office buildings and homes, in particular, often suffer from lack of electrical outlets. The temptation is to simply add a power strip or plug in an extension cord from across the room. Even in newer office buildings and homes, it can be all too easy to overload a single outlet with power hungry machines such as computers, printers, scanners and monitors.
When an employee or resident overloads an electrical outlet, that means more current is running through the outlet than it can handle. This causes the outlet to overheat, which may lead to an electrical fire. According to a 2008 National Fire Protection Association study, electrical distribution and lighting equipment are involved in more than 24,000 home structure fires per year. These fires resulted in an average of 320 deaths per year and an estimated $700 million in property damage per year.
If an electrical fire should occur, get safely away from the fire and call your fire department. If you choose to use an extinguisher on the fire, never let the fire get between you and a safe exit, and never let use water to extinguish an electrical fire. Class C fire extinguishers use a non-conductive extinguishing agent and should not cause electrical shock.
To help prevent this and other electrical hazards, refer to the list below (provided by Electrical Safety Foundation International).
- If you must use a power strip, use a name brand product from a reputable retailer. Low-quality or counterfeit power strips may contain wiring that isn’t adequate to carry the load.
- Place power strips where there is plenty of air circulation to disperse the heat.
- Never attempt to plug grounded (three-pronged) cords into an ungrounded (two-pronged) outlet.
- Do not bind, kink or know electrical cords.
National Preparedness Month: Plan to Stay in Business
photo by ready.gov
As a business owner or manager, you are a leader in your community and have the opportunity to set an example for your employees, customers, and community to follow.
This year, for National Preparedness Month during the month of September, join your community in preparing for emergencies and disasters of all types, and leading efforts to encourage the community as a whole to become more prepared.
Disasters not only devastate individuals and neighborhoods, but entire communities, including businesses of all sizes. As an employer in your community, having a business continuity plan can help protect your company, its employees, and its infrastructure, and maximizes your chances of recovery after an emergency or disaster.
Ready Business askes companies to take three simple steps:
- Plan to stay in business
- Encourage your employees to become Ready;
- Protect your investment
Tips to help Businesses be Ready
Ready Business, an extension of Ready Campaign, helps business owners and managers of small and medium-sized businesses prepare their employees, operations and assets in the event of an emergency. At Ready.gov/business, companies can find vital information on how to get started preparing their and addressing their unique needs during an emergency.
- Update and Distribute Emergency Contact Information to your Employees. Additionally, you can create and distribute a list of important emergency numbers in the areas you do business.
- Organize an Emergency Preparedness Procedures review with employees to review your company’s emergency plans.
- Conduct Office Evacuation/Shelter-in-Place Exercises and Drills. Once completed, evaluate how well they worked and if additional training or exercises are needed.
- Put Emergency Items on Display. Showcase an Emergency Supply Kit in your break room or other high-traffic locations and encourage employees to get their own Emergency Supply Kits for their homes.
Carbon Monoxide - A Silent Killer
You can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, but at high levels, it can kill a person in minutes. Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels, like gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, etc. burn incompletely.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, hundreds of people die accidentally every year from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning as a result of improperly used or malfunctioning fuel burning appliances. Even more die from CO produced by idling cars.
The EPA says prevention is the key to avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning. Protect yourself with these tips:
- Have fuel-burning appliances, like oil and gas furnaces, gas or kerosene heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves, inspected by a trained professional at the beginning of every heating season.
- Install audible CO detectors; in homes, place them outside of each sleeping area.
- Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi or generator in an enclosed area, like a garage. Even if the door is open, the CO may not be properly ventilated.
- Do not idle a car inside a garage.
- Before using a fireplace, make sure the flue is open of proper ventilation.
Are You Prepared for Severe Weather?
While we are all excited that summer is finally here, SERVPRO of Omaha Southwest wants to remind you to be prepared for severe weather season. In 2016, severe weather and climate disaster events across the United States, claimed the lives of 245 people.
As a national sponsor of the Red Cross Ready Rating Program and a premier fire and water restoration provider, SERVPRO of Omaha Southwest wants you to be prepared for dangerous weather events.
A few simple actions will increase your readiness today:
Check the weather forecast regularly. Know when there is an increased risk of severe weather in your area.
Obtain a NOAA Weather Radio. You can purchase a weather radio from the Red Cross store at https://www.redcrossstore.org/home or from Midland at https://midlandusa.com/product-category/weather/ or local stores such as Hy-Vee, Bakers, Shopko, and others.
Learn about Wireless Emergency Alerts. These are emergency messages sent by authorized government-alerting authorities through your mobile carrier. Government partners include local and state public safety agencies, FEMA, the FCC, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Weather Service. Visit www.ctia.org/wea to learn more about Wireless Emergency Alerts, including how to determine of your mobile device is WEA-capable.
Learn more about severe weather safety. The Red Cross is an excellent source of severe weather safety and warning information and tools. Visit www.redcross.org/prepare to learn more about preparedness for disasters of all kind. Be sure to check out the app store for the FREE Red Cross Tornado App.
If you experience storm damage, call the professionals at SERVPRO of Omaha Southwest at 402-408-0134. We are here to help 24 x 7.
Does Your Insurance Cover This?
Trust the professionals at SERVPRO of Omaha Southwest to clean sewage backup like this.
Fall and spring tend to be our wettest seasons making our homes most susceptible to the backup of sewer or drain lines. While these events don't occur often, when they do, the problem can be a small disaster. Did you know a standard homeowner's insurance policy excludes coverage for such an event?
It's true. The backup of sewer and drains as well as the failure of a sump pump is excluded. The damage you sustain from either of these problems will not be covered and you'll be responsible to pay for the loss and the clean up. If you have a finished basement, or use your basement area for storage, you shouldn't go without this coverage endorsement.
Heavy rains can trigger a backup. A storm sewer backs up into your home and usually comes in through a sump well, washtubs in the basement, or toilets in the basement. However, the damage can happen anywhere in the house. Sump pump failures normally occur from power outages or motor failures. Sump pumps run on electricity and during a bad storm many times the power goes out. That's when you need the sump pump the most, to pump the heavy water from the rain out of the basement.
The damage can be quite costly. Normally damage occurs in the basement, which houses the mechanical systems of the house such as: washer and dryer, furnace, hot water tank and the numerous items people store there. Water or sewage usually destroys anything it comes in contact with. For the thousands of dollars in damage, it would be well worth purchasing the additional coverage with your homeowner's policy to cover such an event.
Be sure to ask your agent about this coverage to make sure you already have it on your policy or to purchase it. This coverage can often be purchased as an endorsement on its own, or with an endorsement that will expand/increase other coverages on the policy. The additional cost runs between $25 and $50 annually. Well worth the peace of mind. The key is to ask your agent or company what your best option is.
If you experience sewer or water damage at your home, SERVPRO of Omaha Southwest is here to hellp 24x7. Call us at 402-408-0134.
Using Portable Fire Extinguishers
Portable fire extinguishers can be life and property saving tools when used correctly. In order to operate an extinguisher, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests remembering the word PASS:
- Pull the pin. Hold the nozzle pointing away from you and release the locking mechanism.
- Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze the level slowly and evenly.
- Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.
Read the instructions on the fire extinguisher and become familiar with then before a fire breaks out. Remember, extinguishers do have limitations. It is also important to ensure you have the correct type of extinguisher for your facility. To find more information on choosing the appropriate class of extinguisher, please visit the NFPA website at www.nfpa.org.
We are here to help 24x7. Call us at 402-408-0134
Water Damage Tips - What To Do Until Help Arrives
A break in a small pipe like this can lead to a big problem. Call SERVPRO of Omaha Southwest 402-408-0134. We are here to help 24x7.
Winter has officially arrived in Omaha and it has brought sub-zero temperatures to prove it. The deep-freeze typically ushers in a high volume of frozen pipes, sometimes leaving property owners waiting days instead of hours for help to clean up their property.
At times like these, we receive several calls seeking advice on what to do until help arrives. The answer depends on whether the water is clean or contaminated. Generally speaking, water from a supply line is considered clean, while water from drains is considered contaminated. There are exceptions to this general guideline.
If you are unsure of the classification of water affecting your property, consult your water damage experts at SERVPRO of Omaha Southwest at 402-408-0134 and we will help as best we can.
CLEAN Water Damage Tips
- Shut off the source of the water if possible or contact a qualified party to stop the water source.
- Turn off circuit breakers for wet areas of the building, when access to the power distribution panel is safe from electrical shock.
- Remove as much excess water as possible my mopping and blotting.
- Wipe excess water from wood furniture after removing lamps and tabletop items.
- Remove and prop up wet upholstery cushions for even drying.
- Place aluminum foid or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting.
- Remove to a safe, dry place any paintings, art objects, computers, documents and other materials that are valuable or sensitive to moisture.
- Use wooden clothespins to keep furniture skirting off damp floors.
- Hang draperies with coated hangars to avoid contact with wet carpeting or floors.
- Hang furs and leather goods to dry separately at room temperature.
- Enter rooms with standing water where electrical shock hazards may exist.
- Enter affected areas of electrical outlets, switches, circuit breakers or electrical equipment are exposed to water. Always avoid electrical shock hazards.
- Leave books, newspapers, magazines or other colored items on wet carpets or floors to cause staining.
- Leave Oriental rugs or other colored rugs on wet wall-to-wall carpets to cause staining.
- Use your household vacuum cleaner to remove water, possibly causing electrical shock or damage to the vacuum cleaner.
- Turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet or enter rooms where ceilings are sagging from retained water.
CONTAMINATED Water Damage Tips
- Avoid all contact with sewage and items contaminated by sewage.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after contact with contaminated items.
- Spread contaminated water by walking unnecessarily on damaged or wet areas.
- Turn on HVAC system if there is a possibility of spreading contaminated air.
- Use household fans to dry the structure and spread contaminants.
- Use products for personal hygiene and cleanliness if exposed to the contaminated areas.
The most important thing to remember is that if you have any questions or require help; call the professionals at SERVPRO of Omaha Southwest at 402-408-0134. We are here to help 24x7.
Home Heating Fire Safety in Omaha
SERVPRO of Omaha Southwest cleaned up after this Omaha-Area heating fire.
The change in season means an increase in the use of supplemental home heating, and an increase in home heating fires. An October 2013 report from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) using date from 2007-2011 reveals some sobering statistics:
- Space heaters accounted for 33% of home heating fires and 81% of home heating deaths.
- The leading factor contributing in home heating fires was failure to clean (primarily creosote) from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.
- The leading factor contributing to ignition in 53% of fatal home heating fires was having flammable items too close to heating equipment.
With these statistics in mind, here are some tips for safe home heating:
- Always use protective screens to keep sparks and embers inside the firebox.
- Ensure the air inlet is free from debris and obstructions.
- Keep combustible decorations or furniture away from heat source.
- Burn only seasoned wood, never rubbish or scraps of treated lumber.
- Check the iron and steel components for cracks or degradation from the fire's heat and replace those that are bad.
- Close a dollar bill in the door at various spots around the frame. If you can pull it out easily the gaskets are won and should be changed.
- Set woodstoves on hearth rugs made of spark resistant material.
- Plug heaters directly into a wall socket and not into extension cords.
- Unplug heaters when they are not in use.
- Do not place heaters in walkways or in locations where they could be easily knocked over and ensure heaters are equipped with a tip-over switch.
- Keep clothing, furniture, draperies, paper and other items at least three feet away from the space heater.
- Use only electric heaters equipped with a thermostat or an automatic shut off switch.
- Do not hide cords under rugs or carpets. Placing anything on top of the cord could cause the cord to overheat, and can cause a fire.
- Leave appropriate and recommended amount of space surrounding a space heater.
The trusted professionals at SERVPRO of Omaha Southwest hope you have a safe and happy Christmas season.
If you have questions or need help, please call us 24x7 at 402-408-0134