Know What Steps to Take as Spring Storms Occur
Beautiful Spring... It can also bring major storm activity and being prepared to protect yourself, your home and contents is important.
Green grass, colorful flowers, relaxing rain showers and distant, whispering rumbles of thunder. But it isn't always this peaceful. Consider the notes below, Northeast Ohio, and take to safe steps when dangerous weather is predicted for Summit County, Portage County and/or Canton.
Tornadoes- Spring can be the peak season for tornado activity. Tornadoes occur mostly on warm spring days between 3:00 and 9:00 p.m. However, tornadoes can occur anywhere, at any time of the year, at any time of the day.
The Red Cross has safety steps people should take now to be ready if a tornado warning is issued for someone’s neighborhood:
- Download the free Red Cross tornado app for mobile devices. The tornado app puts everything you need to know to stay safe in a tornado at your fingertips. The app can be downloaded from the iTunes or Google Play stores by searching for American Red Cross.
- Know your community’s warning system.
- Pick a safe room in your home where family members can gather if a tornado is headed your way. This should be a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
- Prepare for strong winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees.
- Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.
- Know the tornado danger signs – dark, often greenish clouds, a wall cloud, cloud of debris, large hail, a funnel cloud or a roaring noise.
Thunderstorms- Thunderstorms are most likely to happen in the spring and summer, during the afternoon and evening. However, like tornadoes, they can happen anywhere, at any hour of the day. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people every year that tornadoes or hurricanes.
The Red Cross has steps you can take if a thunderstorm is predicted for your area:
- If thunder roars, go indoors. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning.
- Watch for storm signs like darkening skies, flashes of lightning or increasing winds.
Postpone any outdoor activities. Many people who are struck by lightning are not where it is raining.
- Take shelter in a substantial building or a vehicle with the windows closed. Shutter windows and close outside doors securely. Stay away from windows.
- Do not take a bath, shower or use plumbing.
If you are outside or driving, there are things you should do to remain safe. Information can be found with the following link discussing what to do before, during and after a thunderstorm.
Flooding-Spring can be a time of year for flooding. Communities in the Midwest and south have already seen floodwaters inundate neighborhoods. Snow melt and heavy spring rains fill rivers and streams and flooding can occur. Flash floods occur suddenly when water rises rapidly along a stream or low-lying area. People should be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and head for higher ground when a flood or flash flood warning is issued.
Other safety steps include:
- Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
- If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
- Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
Heed this advice as the Spring weather begins ! Stay safe, Northeast Ohio !
Storm Damage ? Call SERVPRO of Portage County at our 24/7 Emergency Service line - 330-677-4483 or Request Help Online
Safety Tips When Preventing House Fires
Have Questions? Call Us Today – 800-648-1212
For our last blog post, "Homeowners policy. Fire coverage. What do I need?," we covered the following:
Insurance coverage is very important in protecting your home and belongings.
Know what you own- document everything in a video. Educate yourself on the policy you are buying and choose your agent based on your needs.
We also want you to consider the five most common causes of house fires:
- Cooking equipment
- Heating equipment
- Electrical distribution and lighting equipment
- Intentional fires
- Smoking materials
In this blog post we will explain how you can reduce the risk of a fire starting in your home.
- Cooking equipment.
- Be alert when cooking and don’t leave food unattended
- DO NOT throw water on a grease fire- put a lid on the pan or powdery material such as baking soda to smother the fire
- If an oven fire flares up, turn the oven off and leave the door shut until the fire extinguishes itself
- Keep clothing, pot holders, paper towels and other flammable items away from fires
- Keep working smoke detectors in the house, and have a fire extinguisher nearby just in case
Electrical distribution and lighting equipment.
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater
- Maintain a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters
- Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home
- If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes; keep children and pets away from space heaters
- Make sure your fireplace is properly cleaned and checked before the cold weather season starts.
- Keep the fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs
- Make sure wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys, and furnaces are professionally inspected and cleaned once a year
- Don’t overload outlets or electrical cords
- Make sure you have the right cord for the job – inside cords for inside, heavy duty/outside cords for outdoor use
- Don’t leave Christmas lights, Christmas trees, or halogen lights on overnight, or when not at home
- Consider having an electrician perform an annual checkup of your home’s wiring
- Consider what could burn
- Remove overgrown vegetation
- Remove abandoned cars
- Secure vacant homes
- Watch for kids
- Get to know your neighborhood
- Report suspicious activity
- Work with your community
- Watch local businesses
- Organize a watch program
- Install and test smoke alarms
- Call 911
- If you smoke, consider smoking outside
- Use wide, sturdy ashtrays to catch butts and ashes
- Look for cigarette butts under furniture and between seat cushions to make sure no lit butts have fallen someplace where they can’t be seen
- This one might be obvious, but nonetheless, don’t smoke in bed, when you’re tired, or around medical oxygen
- Never leave a candle burning near flammable items
- Never leave a candle burning in a child’s room or an unoccupied room
- Make sure candles fit securing into candle holders so they won’t tip over
- Blow out any candles before leaving a room or going to sleep
You can follow every piece of advice above, and the chances are positive that you’ll avoid any type of fire in your home. However, even though the risk is greatly reduced, accidents still happen.
The bottom line is that you need to make sure you have enough coverage in the event of a major loss.
Does your home have fire damage ? Call SERVPRO of Portage County's 24/7 Emergency Service line at 330-677-4483 or Request Help Online
Homeowners policy. Fire coverage. What do I need?
In Ohio alone, there were 105 home fire fatalities reported in 2016.
A home fire is reported every 90 seconds in the United States.
One death occurs every 2 hours and 35 minutes, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Now is the time to review your coverage, Northeast Ohio.
But first, consider the five most common causes of house fires:
- Cooking equipment is the number one source of home fires and the second leading cause of home fire deaths – usually leaving pots or pans unattended on the stove while you run away to do something for “just a minute.” The NFPA says that 47% of all house fires start this way.
- Heating equipment accounts for 15% of home fires, specifically this time of year. Trying to heat the home with space heaters or chimneys that aren't properly cleaned are the leading causes of heating equipment fires.
- Electrical distribution and lighting equipment account for approximately 9% of home fires, and can come from a number of different origins. They can be caused by an equipment malfunction, from an overloaded circuit or extension cord, or from an overheated light bulb, space heater, washer, dryer or other appliance.
- Intentional fires account for approximately 8% of home fires. The majority of these fires are started outside but still average $1 billion in direct property damage.
- Smoking materials are on a downward trend, however, they still account for 5% of home fires and are the leading cause of home fire deaths.
Other common causes include candles, children playing with fire, and Christmas trees.
*Stay tuned for our next blog post covering House Fire Safety Tips for each "cause of fire" listed above.
Taking precaution will reduce the risk of a fire starting in your home, but the bottom line is you need to make sure you have enough coverage in the event of a major fire loss.
Fire insurance is a necessary part of your homeowners policy. If you have a comprehensive homeowners policy, fire coverage will be included. However, there are many different providers and policies, therefore a variety of coverage limits, deductibles and exclusions defining what is, and is not, covered.
If your property is insured for actual cash value, your fire coverage may be less than what is needed to replace your damaged structures and items.
You can, and should, very seriously consider insuring your property with replacement value coverage instead. This type of coverage will cover the cost of rebuilding a house similar to your previous one after a fire, and provides funds to replace damaged appliances, clothing, and furniture with new items.
KNOW WHAT YOU OWN. We highly recommend you do a video recording of your full house and document your contents.
Your homeowners policy provides the following coverage options to protect your home from fire (check your policy to make sure you understand any exclusions):
- Covers the structure of your home
- Covers additional structures on your property, including sheds, garages and outbuildings
- Insures the contents, or your personal belongings, in each of the structures, including furniture, appliances, electronics, clothes, etc.
- Provides for living expenses if a fire displaces you and your family for a period of time, including rent or hotel expenses
Choosing the right insurance company is incredibly important, but even more important is selecting the best insurance agency to service your needs, and educating yourself on what you are buying.
Does your home have fire damage ? Call SERVPRO of Portage County for help - 330-677-4483 or Request Help Online.
Asbestos and the Work Place
Non-adherence to OSHA standards could result in larger jury awards against non-compliant companies.
1972, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act into law- asbestos risks have beset the industry with decades of health-related liability issues, resulting in ripple effects for insurers. Congress created the Federal Occupational Safe and Health Administration (OSHA), which remains at the forefront of employee safety and has had a significant impact on modern U.S. asbestos litigation.
Beyond the immediate consequences of a regulatory violation, OSHA standards impact today's asbestos litigation in three important ways:
- OSHA violations are often cited by plaintiff's counsel arguing for the imposition of a higher degree of culpability
- OSHA's applicability can allow certain knowledge to be legally imputed to a defendant (irrespective of what the defendant actually knew)
- Because OSHA's regulations control the actions of employers and their employees’ workplace, the adherence or non-adherence to OSHA standards may give rise to arguments for apportioning greater liability to defendants in physical control of the plaintiff's work space.
The current OSHA standard for workplace exposures to asbestos is .1f/cc and has been in effect since 1994.
FEMA Publishes Guidance for Handling Flood Losses
There's no easy solution.
The 2017 Hurricane Season was a brutal one. Seventeen named storms struck the United States causing a record-setting $200 billion in damage.
Much of this damage occurred not from high winds or storm surges, but from extended heavy rains that triggered major flooding.
In an effort to facilitate prompt post-inspection advance payments to policyholders, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published an outline of steps, serving as guidance for handling flood losses.
- Report the loss to your insurance agent or the insurance carrier, who will in turn assign an adjusting firm who provides an adjuster to assist you with presenting the support for your loss.
- The adjuster inspects the property (scoping visit) and may ask if you wish to request an advance payment from your insurer; the adjuster will send you a detailed room-by-room unit-cost estimate of damage and a proof of loss form. If you agree, the proof of loss form should be signed to and sworn to, and upon your insurer's review and agreement, the loss is settled.
- If you do not agree, you should work with your adjuster to find a dollar amount for the covered loss that can be agreed on. Also, working with your general contractor is helpful.
- If you are unable to reach an agreement with the adjuster, you should contact your adjuster's supervisor by calling the adjusting firm.
- The supervisor should work with you to find a dollar amount for the covered loss that can be agreed on.
- If you are unable to reach an agreement with the adjuster's supervisor, you should contact your insurance carrier's claims department to discuss the amount difference or coverage issue with the claim examiner.
- If you are unable to reach an agreement with the claims examiner, you should complete a proof of loss form for the total amount you are requesting (the disputed amount plus any additional amount), and then send the signed and sworn-to proof of loss form with documentation to support the additional amount you are requesting, directly to the insurance carrier claim examiner.
- If the insurer agrees with your documentation, they will pay the amount you are requesting; or they may provide the adjusting firm with their recommendation which may lead to an additional payable amount and a new Proof of Loss. If the insurer disagrees, they will issue payment for any undisputed amount, and a written denial letter will be sent to you fully explaining the reasons for the disallowance (denial) of your claim or any portion of your claim.
- If you agree with the denial or no longer dispute the decision, the loss is settled.
- For any denial of payment, in whole or in part, which you are disputing, three options remain:
- You may send an amended Proof of Loss with supporting documentation back to the claim examiner; see STEP 8
- You may submit a formal Appeal to FEMA
- A written appeal letter must be sent to FEMA within 60 days of your insurer's denial letter, along with a copy of the denial letter and the documentation you have to support your appeal.
- You may file a lawsuit against your insurer
- A lawsuit must be filed within one year of your insurer's first written denial letter and only in U.S. District Court in the district where the property is located at the time of the loss
- However, once you file a lawsuit, you may no longer appeal your claim to FEMA or file an amended Proof of Loss with your insurer.
Storm or water damage ? Call SERVPRO of Portage County's 24/7 Emergency Service line - 330-677-4483 or Request Help Online
With Spring Comes Thunderstorms- Are You Ready ?
When lightning strikes near a power line, it increases the electrical current. The extra burst of electricity can lead to computer & appliance damage.
Did you know that 50% of businesses never reopen after a fire or water disaster? SERVPRO of Portage County is available 24 hours a day to get YOUR business back up and running, "Like it never even happened."
Thunderstorms are absolutely something to be conscious for. 6.5% of all property claims are due to lightning strikes. Wood and other flammable building materials can easily be ignited when lightning comes in contact or passes through them. In addition, high winds, heavy rain and flooding from a thunderstorm can destroy a business in minutes.
If not prepared for a quick recovery, the lost revenue of your business could mean closure.
That is why SERVPRO has local franchises across the nation. When an emergency situation arises, call one of our highly trained professionals, certified in water, fire and mold clean up and restoration.
SERVPRO of Portage County can provide:
- Over 40 years of experience as leading fire and water cleanup and restoration providers.
- There are over 1,500 franchises servicing 48 states.
- More locations for faster responses.
- Quick response time to help ensure the damage is contained and the restoration process begins promptly.
- Large loss capabilities - no fire or water damage is too big.
When the next storm hits Portage County, Ohio, call the professionals at SERVPRO of Portage County - 330-677-4483, or Request Help Online.
Also consider joining our Emergency Ready Program and reduce business interruption following a disaster. Call for details.
Overlooking Water Leaks in Your Home- A Mold Threat
DO NOT overlook water leaks in your home. Beware of mold.
A Chubb survey revealed the majority of homeowners do not view internal water leak damage as the most concerning home threat.
Chubb North America Personal Risk Services Division President, Fran O'Brien, said "the time between when a leak occurs and when it's discovered is the single greatest factor in determining the amount of damage."
Nearly 80 percent of homeowners overlook the threat of costly water leaks while on vacation, Chubb survey found. Something to consider as families leave for Spring vacation.
And on top of the drip, drip, drip of what could start as a minor leak, depending on the duration of your Spring vacation, the drip, drip, drip could result in not only water damage to your home, but mold damage as well. For information on how that works, refer to our blog post, 5 Levels of Mold Remediation.
If you'd like to know more about Chubb's survey, click here to visit their site.
Mold Damage ? Water Damage ? Call SERVPRO of Portage County's 24/7 Emergency Service Line at 330-677-4483, or Request Help Online.
Flooding Rains and Toxic Spills, Beware, Ohio
With floods becoming more frequent, the risk of toxic spills has increased too, experts warn.
"A report by The New York Times found that of the more than 21,600 facilities across the country that handle large quantities of toxic materials, over 1,400 are in areas the Federal Emergency Management Agency considers to have a high risk of flooding.
The proximity of these chemical sites to areas prone to flooding is a relic from a time when industrial operations benefited from being close to rivers and oceans – the bodies of water allowed for transportation, trade, or even a ready supply of cooling water.
Experts believe that this outdated business practice could lead to a major environmental and health disaster." Excerpt from: Insurance Business Magazine
Reported by the Cleveland Patch in their Feb. 8, 2018 article, Toxic Waste Being Reduced In Cuyahoga, Across Ohio, while Cleveland is one of the top five states with the most toxic releases, reports from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show less toxic waste is being released. Also reported, Ohio is seeing a new low in toxic waste being disposed.
"There was 102 million pounds of toxic waste disposed of in the Buckeye State in 2016, the lowest total since at least 2003," the author, Chris Mosby, writes.
"Cuyahoga County had about 7 million pounds of waste to dispose of in 2016. More than 47 million pounds of waste was either disposed of, recycled, treated, used for energy recovery or source reduction."
The EPA said the majority of compounds released in our country falls into the "other" category. The largest identified compound being zinc, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reports very little is known about the long-term effects of exposure to zinc.
As Cleveland and surrounding counties are prone to Lake Erie's floods and lake-effect weather, we must continue the movements Ohio is making to improve our toxic waste disposals.
Twelve Things You Can Do to Prepare for Spring
Done with Winter ? Prep for Spring ? Here are 12 things you can do to prepare your home.
- Clean your rain gutters.
Wind, animals, and gravity bring sticks, leaves, and other organic matter into your rain gutters, and chances are yours have accumulated their share of detritus over the winter. That's bad news for your home: When downspouts are clogged, rainwater can spill out of your gutters and around the perimeter of your house, putting it at risk for leaks and flooding. Get ready for spring showers by removing the mess from your gutters to ensure that the water will flow freely. Check out our blog post Rain Gutters and Water Problems for clues you may have a problem.
- Change filters.
To maintain optimal air quality in your home, it’s a good idea to replace your HVAC system's air filter seasonally as well as the filter in your kitchen range hood. While you're at it, consider changing the filters in your water purification system. Depending on your water, you might not need to change these as often as your HVAC filters, but it's not a bad idea to check them now. So, go ahead and welcome spring with new filters all around to keep your home clean and fresh, and your appliances in good working order. Need help ? See what SERVPRO of Portage County can do to help with our Air Duct and HVAC Cleaning Services.
- Check vents.
As snow melts away from your home’s foundation, it’s a good time to check any vents along the foundation or in the attic. Look for missing or damaged screens, debris, signs of insect or rodent infestation, or other issues, and correct them before they have a chance to become bigger problems later in the season.
- Service the Lawn Mower.
Get your lawn mower ready for the season with a tune-up. If you didn’t do it in the fall, now’s the time to drain and replace oil, sharpen the blades, remove caked-on grass and mud, and lubricate moving parts.
- Prep the gas grill.
After a long winter spent cooped up indoors, you're probably eager for a sunny day and a burger hot off the grill. Get your outdoor cooking station ready for spring by scraping away any rust spots that developed over the winter, cleaning the grill inside and out, and checking the fuel tank hose for damage.
- Clean Backyard Furniture
As the weather warms up, outdoor entertaining may be just around the corner. Prepare for warmer days ahead by thoroughly hosing down all backyard furniture—chairs, tables, and lounge chairs—wiping away cobwebs, and bringing outdoor chair cushions out of winter storage.
- Pamper the Lawn
Once the danger of frost has passed and your grass starts to come out of winter dormancy, it’s time to jump-start your spring lawn-care routine. Address winter damage to your turf by seeding bare patches—although if you do reseed at this time of year, you should avoid spring applications of chemical weed or crabgrass treatments, which can harm new grass. Then get a head start on weed prevention by manually removing broad-leaf weeds before they have a chance to multiply. For cool-season grasses, spread a light application of fertilizer in early spring; for warm-season grasses, fertilization can wait until late spring or early summer.
- Groom Shrubs and Trees
Winter storms can be hard on your landscaping, resulting in broken tree limbs, ragged shrubs, and a garden full of organic debris. Get your yard ready for spring by removing broken or damaged branches, pruning summer-blooming trees and shrubs like butterfly bush and crepe myrtle, and raking up fallen leaves. For information on our Storm Damage services, click here.
- Check the Roof
Take advantage of the sun’s return to check your roof for cracked or missing shingles or tiles, and examine flashing around vents and the chimney for damage. While you’re at it, have the chimney cleaned and inspected by a professional.
- Plant Bulbs
Spring is the ideal time to plant summer-blooming flowers, which include beauties like dahlias and gladioli. Go ahead and get them into the ground as soon as the danger of frost has passed.
- Clean Windows
Winter storms and rain can leave your windows streaked and dirty. Improve your view of mellower weather and let more sun into the house by cleaning windows, both inside and out. Storm Damage ? Click here.
- Test Alarms
Let the change of season be your reminder to test all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors for proper functioning. Change batteries if necessary. Alarms can malfunction as they age, so if yours are older than seven years, consider replacing them.
Happy Spring, Portage County ! In need of SERVPRO of Portage County services ? Questions ? Visit our website or call us at - 330-677-4483
Is Your Business Ready?
When disaster strikes, getting help is now quicker and easier using the SERVPRO Ready Plan.
The best way to reduce business interruption following a disaster is to PLAN for it NOW.
The statistics uncovered by industry research say as many as 50% of businesses may never recover following a disaster. Of the businesses that survive, the majority had a preparedness plan in place.
SERVPRO's Emergency Ready Profile for YOUR business will minimize business interruption by having an immediate plan of action. With a no cost assessment of your facility, the program's profile includes your emergency contacts, all shut off valves and their locations, priority areas of your facility and more.
The SERVPRO Ready Plan provides solutions in advance of an emergency so that during the emergency you are "Ready for whatever happens."
Your business will receive the benefit of over 40 years of experience in reducing the impact of any natural or man-made disaster. Call now and take the next step in protecting and growing your business.
SERVPRO of Portage County - 800-648-1212
And now with the SERVPRO Ready Plan Mobile App, help is at your fingertips. Call now and ask how to get started.