Vandalism and graffiti on your property can be very frustrating and upsetting. It can range from relatively minor pranks to mischievous destruction of property. Simple acts of vandalism, like breaking a window, can often cause significant water and mold damage issue if not addressed in a timely manner.
Here are some tips in case vandals do strike your property.
- Hose or wash egg or other residue damage from building exterior as soon as possible.
- Carefully vacuum glass particles from carpets and upholstery.
- Save containers revealing the ingredients of products used in vandalism damage.
- Record all damage and photograph when possible.
- Attempt to remove ink, paint or cosmetic stains.
- Operate damaged lamps or appliances.
- Discard broken or damaged pieces from porcelain, furniture or other contents that may be used for repair.
Preventing Frozen Pipes for Businesses
Cold temperatures can reach areas of your facility that you cannot see or seldom visit, such as:
- Crawl spaces
- Enclosed spaces (e.g., attics, lofts, roof spaces)
- Isolated storage areas
Cold weather preparedness is important to help reduce potential business interruptions and related losses resulting from cold temperatures.
Domestic Water Piping
In severe cold, water pipes have the potential to freeze and break. If safe to do so, make sure pipes that are located in isolated and/or poorly heated spaces are shut off and drained or protected with a supplemental heating source.
Protect Your Fire Protection Sprinklers
Fire protection sprinkler systems are dependent on the ability of water to flow freely when needed. Ensure that wet piping systems, which may be subject to cold temperatures, are sufficiently heated to prevent freezing.
Severe cold weather can also delay the response time of the local fire department; therefore, it is imperative to properly maintain your fire protection systems.
Lastly, if heating is lost in a building protected by wet sprinklers, it should be restored immediately. Only after exhausting all options to re-establish sufficient heat, sprinkler systems should be shut off and completely drained.
Some prevention strategies to consider:
- Properly insulate and/or provide approved heat tracing for water-filled pipes located in exterior walls or unheated spaces.
- Drain any piping that is not required during the winter months, if possible.
- Maintain a minimum temperature of 40° F (4.4° C) in building areas with processes susceptible to freezing, wet-pipe sprinkler systems, fire pump houses and dry-pipe valve enclosures.
- Ensure that anti-freeze sprinkler systems have sufficient concentration (appropriate specific gravity readings) of antifreeze to withstand freezing weather.
- Inspect dry systems to help ensure air settings are correct, air maintenance systems are in good operating condition, and any pipe closets are well insulated. If any heat tape or heating systems are being used, ensure that they are UL-listed for this specific purpose and are in good operating condition. Dry-pipe sprinkler systems low points and auxiliary drains should be opened and drained of any water or condensation.
- Any branch lines on wet sprinkler systems exposed or subject to extreme cold weather should be insulated and heat traced. Electric heat tracing should be UL-listed for this specific purpose.
- Fire pump test headers should be checked to ensure they have been properly drained.
- Fire pump and dry-pipe sprinkler system equipment rooms should be checked routinely to ensure the heaters are in good operating condition.
- The use of low temperature supervision can help to ensure rooms are being properly heated.
A Roof Leak Can Lead To Mold Damage
If you discover that your roof is leaking, it is extremely important to take prompt action to have it repaired. Not doing so may put your entire home at risk. A roof leak, even a minor one, could be an indicator of a much greater problem. Any size leak in your roof can cause a great deal of damage if it persists long enough. Make sure you do not let it continue once a leak is discovered.
Usually a roof leak will be noticed from the inside of the home when water rings or ceiling stains form on the ceiling. A leak can create an environment that can lead to ceiling instability, water intrusion through cracks or electrical receptacles, deterioration of the structure and even mold growth. Early detection and proactive maintenance can greatly reduce the damage and cost of these repairs. It may be difficult to readily identify the source of the water intrusion, which is why water rings or leaks should never be ignored.
Roofs are one of the biggest protectors of our home and over time they can become damaged due to bad weather, harsh climates and poor maintenance. The strength and longevity of a roof can also be compromised due to poor quality materials or improper installation so make sure you hire a professional company with experience who stands behind their work. When it comes to protecting your home, investing in quality materials and workmanship is always worth the cost!
What To Do If A Fire Starts In Your Apartment Building
If you live in an apartment or condominium you need to know how to get out quickly if a fire starts. Follow these steps to stay safe.
- In the event of a fire, stay calm. Move to the exit as you have practiced. Call the fire department once you are outside.
- If your door feels warm to the touch, do not attempt to open it. Call 9-1-1 and tell the dispatcher your apartment number and that you can’t open your door.
- Stuff the cracks around the door with towels, rags, bedding, or tape. Cover vents.
- Wait at a window and signal for help with a flashlight or by waving a white cloth.
- If your apartment door is cool to the touch, open it slowly. Stay low and check for smoke or fire in the hallway. If the hallway is safe, follow your building’s evacuation plan.
- Never use an elevator to escape a fire. Always use the stairs.
Wait Outside for the Fire Department
- Once you are outside, move away from the building. Give firefighters and fire trucks plenty of space.
- Stay outside. Do not go back inside for any reason.
- If you think someone is still inside, tell firefighters where you think they are.
- Wait until firefighters tell you it’s safe to go back inside.
Flood Terms And Flood Insurance
In North Alabama, we know how drastic the weather can be and how suddenly it can change. Heavy rains and flash flooding put homes and businesses in jeopardy of flooding. Harvest and Toney neighborhoods have had flooding issues this year. It is important to know the terms associated with flooding and what kind of coverage you have on your home.
- Flood Watch: Flooding is possible.
- Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground.
- Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Flash Flood Warning: A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground immediately.
Knowing About Flood Insurance:
- Regular homeowners insurance does not cover flood water damages and when purchased from you insurance company is ran through the National Flood Insurance Program.
- If there is sewage back up caused by a flood then it would be only be covered by flood insurance.
- Upon the purchase of flood insurance there is a 30 Day waiting period before the insurance kicks in, so it is important to plan ahead.
- Find out if you are in a flood plain. If you are not you want to calculate the risk of not having flood insurance.
Apartment Fire Safety Precautions
At least nine fire trucks and 50-60 firefighters and emergency personnel responded to this fire at a Huntsville apartment complex.
People living in an apartment building need to think ahead and be prepared in the event of a fire. It is important to know the fire safety features in your building and work together with neighbors to help keep the building as fire-safe as possible.
This is especially important for the Huntsville area since 36% of the city's population are renters.
Apartment Fire Statistics
- Between 2010-2015, there were 109,000 apartment fires, causing 400 deaths, 4,170 injuries and $1.3 million in property damage.
- January was the top month for apartment fires with 10,400. It was also the top month for deaths caused by these fires with 60.
- Apartment fires tend to happen in the evening hours between 3:00 -10:00 pm (46%).
Source: NFPA's "Home Structure Fires" report
If you live in an apartment or condominium you need to know how to get out quickly if a fire starts. Follow these steps to stay safe.
Building Fire Safety
- Don’t prop open exit or stairway doors. These are installed to slow the spread of heat and smoke if there is a fire.
- Speak to your apartment manager if you see a damaged smoke alarm, fire extinguisher or an emergency light that has burned out.
- Make sure your apartment has working smoke alarms. Have a smoke alarm inside each sleeping room. Tell your apartment manager if you think there is a problem with one of your smoke alarms.
- Create an escape plan. Discuss how you will get outside. Practice your plan.
- Count the number of doors there are between your apartment and the nearest fire exit. Memorize the number in case you have to find the exit in the dark. Know where all the exit doors and stairs are on your floor.
- Learn your building evacuation plan if you have one. Create and practice an escape plan for your own apartment.
Does Mold Grow In Winter?
During the winter months we have some extra time indoors to clean and organize our homes. Getting busy with those neglected areas like the attic or basement is crucial to keeping your belongings protected from mold and damage.
Moisture gets trapped in these spaces which creates the perfect recipe for microscopic spores to accumulate and mold to grow. Be sure to check your roof and in corners for leaks, run a fan for ventilation and use a dehumidifier if you need to.
If you find mold or suspect that you may have a mold problem, stay out of the affected area and call SERVPRO of North Madison County.
Remember, every mold damage scenario is different, and requires a unique solution, but the general mold remediation process stays the same.
If Your Pipes Freeze This Winter
Winter and freezing temperatures will soon arrive in the Huntsville area. It is the season where we start to see a lot of water damages due to pipes that freeze and burst.
When you realize that a pipe has burst in your home, follow these steps to minimize your damage.
1. Stop the Water Flow
Turn off the water main as soon as you notice something is wrong. The potential water loss from burst pipes in your house can be as much as 106 gallons; that’s two full baths an hour. Once the water is off, make sure you drain the lines throughout the home
2. Locate, Inspect, and Repair the Damage
Once the damage is inspected, you will determine if this is something that you can handle on your own or if you need to bring in a plumber.
3. Call the Professional Drying Company
Once the repair is made and there will be no further damage, call a professional water restoration. Areas that have been soaked in water susceptible to mold, mildew, and can cause your family unwanted illness.
The longer you wait to make these repairs the more damage will be caused. In turn, higher cost for restorations and getting your home back to normal.
Water Damage From Sewage Backup
Sewage back ups can happen to anyone! Here are a few tips to keep you safe until SERVPRO arrives to assist you with cleanup.
- Avoid all contact with sewage and items contaminated from sewage.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after contact with contaminated items.
- Spread contaminated water by walking unnecessarily on damaged or wet areas.
- Turn on the 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.
Toilets are not the only source of a sewage back up. Back ups can also happen in bath tubs and drains in the basement. If you're not sure if it's contaminated water, please call SERVPRO of North Madison County to check it out instead of inspecting it yourself.
Tips For A Power Outage
Weather-related power outages are a fact of life in North Alabama. Fortunately, most utility departments are able to respond quickly and return power as soon as possible.
Here are some tips to help you get through a power outage.
To Help Preserve your Food During a Power Outage
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. First use perishable food from the refrigerator. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the door is kept closed. Keep the door closed as much as possible. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers) that have been above 40 °F for over 2 hours.
Protecting Electrical Equipment During a Power Outage
Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics. Turn off or disconnect equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment. Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on. Turn all other light switches off.
Don’t forget about Carbon Monoxide, Be Careful!
Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
It’s always good to be prepared in the event that the power goes out. Your emergency kit should include items such as flashlights, flameless candles, matches, canned foods, water, granola bars, etc.
Huntsville and Madison County residents can check the status of a power outage online at https://www.hsvutil.org/outagemap/