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How To Survive Severe Storms

12/14/2018 (Permalink)

What to do during a severe storms

  • If you are indoors, stay away from windows, doors and fireplaces.
  • You may want to go to the sheltered area that you and your family chose for your emergency plan.
  • If you are advised by officials to evacuate, do so. Take your emergency kit with you.
  • You can use a cellular telephone during a severe storm, but it's not safe to use a land-line telephone.
  • Never go out in a boat during a storm. If you are on the water and you see bad weather approaching, head for shore immediately. Always check the marine forecast before leaving for a day of boating and listen to weather reports during your cruise.
  • If you are in a car, stop the car away from trees or power lines that might fall on you). Stay there.

What to do during

Blizzards

  • When a winter storm hits, stay indoors. If you must go outside, dress for the weather. Outer clothing should be tightly woven and water-repellent. The jacket should have a hood. Wear mittens - they are warmer than gloves - and a hat, as large portion of body heat is lost through the head.
  • In wide-open areas, visibility can be virtually zero during heavy blowing snow or a blizzard. You can easily lose your way. If a blizzard strikes, do not try to walk to another building unless there is a rope to guide you or something you can follow.
  • If you must travel during a winter storm, do so during the day and let someone know your route and arrival time.
  • If your car gets stuck in a blizzard or snowstorm, remain calm and stay in your car. Allow fresh air in your car by opening the window slightly on the sheltered side - away from the wind. You can run the car engine about 10 minutes every half-hour if the exhaust system is working well. Beware of exhaust fumes and check the exhaust pipe periodically to make sure it is not blocked with snow. Remember: you can't smell potentially fatal carbon monoxide fumes.
  • To keep your hands and feet warm, exercise them periodically. In general, it is a good idea to keep moving to avoid falling asleep. If you do try to shovel the snow from around your car, avoid overexerting yourself.
  • Overexertion in the bitter cold can cause death as a result of sweating or a heart attack.
  • Keep watch for traffic or searchers.

Hail

  • Take cover when hail begins to fall. Do not go out to cover plants, cars or garden furniture or to rescue animals. Hail comes down at great speed, especially when accompanied by high winds. Although no one in Canada has ever been killed by hail, people have been seriously injured by it.
  • When a hailstorm hits, stay indoors, and keep yourself and your pets away from windows, glass doors and skylights which can shatter if hit by hailstones. Avoid using the telephone during a storm, and do not touch metal objects like stoves, radiators, metal pipes, and sinks.
  • When a hailstorm hits, find shelter and avoid underpasses or any low lying areas that may flood.

Ice storms

  • Ice from freezing rain accumulates on branches, power lines and buildings. If you must go outside when a significant amount of ice has accumulated, pay attention to branches or wires that could break due to the weight of the ice and fall on you. Ice sheets could also do the same.
  • Never touch power lines. A hanging power line could be charged (live) and you would run the risk of electrocution. Remember also that ice, branches or power lines can continue to break and fall for several hours after the end of the precipitation.
  • When freezing rain is forecast, avoid driving. Even a small amount of freezing rain can make roads extremely slippery. Wait several hours after freezing rain ends so that road maintenance crews have enough time to spread sand or salt on icy roads.
  • Rapid onsets of freezing rain combined with the risks of blizzards increase the chances for extreme hypothermia. If you live on a farm, move livestock promptly to shelter where feed is available. Forage is often temporarily inaccessible during and immediately after ice storms. Animal reactions to ice storms are similar to that of blizzards.

Lightning

  • Always take shelter during a lightning storm.
  • There is no safe place outside during a thunderstorm. Safe shelter can be found either in an enclosed building or a hard-topped vehicle.
  • If you can see lightning or hear thunder, you are in danger of being hit. Seek shelter immediately.
  • Wait 30 minutes after the last lightning strike in a severe storm before venturing outside again.
  • Do not ride bicycles, motorcycles, tractors, or golf carts. These will not protect you from a lightning strike.

Thunderstorms

  • During thunderstorms, you should also stay away from items that conduct electricity, such as corded telephones, appliances, sinks, bathtubs, radiators and metal pipes.

What To Do In A Storm

12/13/2018 (Permalink)

What to do in a storm

There are a number of things that you can do to make sure you and your property stay safe during storms. For life-threatening emergencies call 911.

What to do before the storm

Ensure you do the following before a severe storm arrives:

  • Check that loose items such as outdoor settings, umbrellas and trampolines are safely secured.
  • If it is safe to do so, check gutters, downpipes and drains are not blocked.
  • Park your car undercover and away from trees.

What to do during the storm

Ensure you do the following during a severe storm:

  • Stay indoors and away from windows.
  • If outdoors, shelter away from drains, gutters, creeks and waterways.
  • Be prepared for power outages.
  • Floodwater is dangerous – never drive, walk or ride through floodwater.
  • Floodwater is toxic – never play or swim in floodwater.

What to do after the storm

Ensure you do the following after a severe storm:

  • Check your home and property for damage.
  • Keep clear of damaged buildings, powerlines and trees.
  • Be aware of road hazards such as floodwater, debris and damaged roads or bridges.
  • Do not drive through affected areas unless it is necessary.

Floodwater After A Disaster Or Storm

12/13/2018 (Permalink)

 

Don’t drive in flooded areas — turn around, don’t drown!

Floodwater can pose a drowning risk for everyone— regardless of their ability to swim. Swiftly moving shallow water can be deadly, and even shallow standing water can be dangerous for small children.

  • Always follow warnings about flooded roads.
  • Don’t drive in flooded areas—cars or other vehicles won’t protect you from floodwaters. They can be swept away or may stall in moving water.

Stay out of floodwater.

Floodwaters contain many things that may harm health. We don’t know exactly what is in floodwater at any given point in time. Floodwater can contain:

  • Downed power lines
  • Human and livestock waste
  • Household, medical, and industrial hazardous waste (chemical, biological, and radiological)
  • Coal ash waste that can contain carcinogenic compounds such as arsenic, chromium, and mercury
  • Other contaminants that can lead to illness
  • Physical objects such as lumber, vehicles, and debris
  • Wild or stray animals such as rodents and snakes

Exposure to contaminated floodwater can cause:

  • Wound infections
  • Skin rash
  • Gastrointestinal illness
  • Tetanus
  • Leptospirosis (not common)

It is important to protect yourself from exposure to floodwater regardless of the source of contamination. The best way to protect yourself is to stay out of the water.

If you come in contact with floodwater:

  • Wash the area with soap and clean water as soon as possible. If you don’t have soap or water, use alcohol-based wipes or sanitizer.
  • Take care of wounds and seek medical attention if necessary.
  • Wash clothes contaminated with flood or sewage water in hot water and detergent before reusing them.

If you must enter floodwater, wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles.

Prevent injuries.

Floodwater may contain sharp objects, such as glass or metal fragments, that can cause injury and lead to infection. Prompt first aid can help heal small wounds and prevent infection.

If you receive a puncture wound or a wound contaminated with feces, soil, or saliva, have a health care professional determine whether a tetanus booster is necessary based on individual records.

For more information, visit: Emergency Wound Care After a Natural Disaster

Prevent infection of open wounds and rashes.

Open wounds and rashes exposed to floodwater can become infected. Vibrios, for example, are naturally occurring bacteria that live in certain coastal waters and can cause skin infections when an open wound is exposed to them. This can happen during floods. To protect yourself and your family:

  • Avoid exposure to floodwater if you have an open wound.
  • Cover clean, open wounds with a waterproof bandage to reduce chance of infection.
  • Keep open wounds as clean as possible by washing well with soap and clean water.
  • If a wound develops redness, swelling, or oozing, seek immediate medical attention.

Seek medical attention as soon as possible if:

  • There is a foreign object (soil, wood, metal, or other objects) embedded in the wound;
  • The wound is at special risk of infection (such as a dog bite or a puncture by a dirty object);
  • An old wound shows signs of becoming infected (increased pain and soreness, swelling, redness, draining, or you develop a fever).

For more information, visit: Emergency Wound Care After a Natural Disaster

Protect yourself and your loved ones from diarrheal diseases.

Be aware that floodwater may contain sewage, and eating or drinking anything contaminated by floodwater can cause diarrheal disease (such as E. coli or Salmonella infection). To protect yourself and your family:

  • Wash your hands after contact with floodwater. Also be sure to wash children’s hands with soap and water often and always before meals.
  • Do not allow children to play in floodwater areas.
  • Do not allow children to play with toys that have been contaminated by floodwater and have not been disinfected.
  • Do not bathe in water that may be contaminated with sewage or toxic chemicals. This includes rivers, streams, or lakes that are contaminated by floodwater.

For more information, visit:

Protect yourself from animal and insect bites.

Floodwater can displace animals, insects, and reptiles. To protect yourself and your family, be alert and avoid contact.

For more information, visit: Protect Yourself from Animal- and Insect-Related Hazards After a Disaster

Be aware of possible chemicals in floodwater.

Floods can cause containers of chemicals to move from their normal storage spots.

  • Don’t attempt to move propane tanks you might find— they’re dangerous and can cause a fire or explosion. If you find any, contact the police, fire department, or your State Fire Marshal’s office immediately.
  • Be extremely careful when removing car batteries. Even if they are in floodwater, car batteries may still have an electrical charge. Use insulated gloves and avoid coming in contact with any acid that may have spilled from the damaged car battery.

For more information, visit:

Avoid electrical hazards inside or outside your home.

After a hurricane, flood or other natural disaster you need to be careful to avoid electrical hazards both in your home and elsewhere.

  • Shut off electrical power and natural gas or propane tanks in your home to avoid fire, electrocution, or explosions.
  • NEVER touch a fallen power line. Call the power company to report fallen power lines. Avoid contact with overhead power lines during cleanup and other activities.
  • Do not drive through standing water if downed power lines are in the water.
  • If you believe someone has been electrocuted, call or have someone else call 911 or emergency medical help.

For more information, visit: Protect Yourself and Others From Electrical Hazards After a Disaster

https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/floodsafety.html

How To Prepare For The Next Big Storm

12/12/2018 (Permalink)

Protect people and property

Damage from a neighbor’s tree is usually covered by your insurer, not your neighbor’s.

Cover windows properly. Experts used to recommend taping windows to limit breakage to a few large pieces, rather than many smaller ones. But small and large pieces can be equally deadly. A safer bet: Keep windows shut and close blinds, shades, and drapes. Longer-term, consider impact-resistant windows or hurricane shutters (about $40 per square foot), which might also net you an insurance discount.

Secure outdoor items. High winds can turn lawn chairs, potted plants, trash cans, and other outdoor items into deadly projectiles. Move whatever you can into a garage, a shed, or a basement.

Park cars on high ground. Two feet of floodwater can carry a car away. What’s more, driving in water just 8 inches deep can ruin the engine if the water seeps in through the air intake. Park at a high elevation or on a hill—but not beneath trees.

Protect your valuables. Move what you can to higher floors if you expect flooding. Also think ahead by documenting and photographing items you’d include in an insurance claim if lost or ruined.

Stock up on essentials

Build an emergency kit. It should have a whistle to attract help, dust masks, duct tape, a wrench or pliers to turn off water if needed, flashlights and batteries, and local maps. Plan on 1 gallon of water per person per day for at least three days. Include moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation. Also consider changes of clothing and sleeping bags or blankets.

Be prepared for injuries. A first-aid kit should be stocked with bandages in various sizes, sterile dressings and gloves, hand sanitizer and antibiotic towelettes, a thermometer, pain medicines, tweezers, and scissors.

Fuel up. Fill all of your vehicles’ tanks, because gas stations could lose power. ­Remember that most gas generators ­require roughly 12 to 20 gallons of gas per day. Also figure on at least a gallon of gas for extensive chainsawing. Store all fuel away from the house.

Have the right phones. Keep at least one corded phone because cordless phones require AC power. Our post-Sandy survey also found that cell phones were more reliable than landline phones, though we lack data on differences for fiber and cable vs.older copper-wire systems. Be sure cell phones are charged. And have an out-of-town contact you can call, because long-distance phone service can be more reliable than local service during and after a storm.

Get the right foods. Frozen food may last two days without power, but refrigerated items can spoil after 4 hours. Keep at least a three-day supply of nonperishable foods such as crackers, whole-grain cereals, and canned foods. And don’t forget the manual can opener.

Check your fire extinguishers. You should have one with a minimum classification of “2-A:10-B:C” on each floor. Check the dial or pop-up pin for adequate pressure each month. Professionally repressurize extinguishers older than six years, and replace any older than 12 years.

Prepare for special needs. Tell your utility and local fire department before a storm if someone in your home uses an oxygen concentrator, ventilator, or medical bed; your power could be restored sooner. And keep a one-month supply of medication during hurricane season.

Tune in. A battery-powered or hand-cranked radio will keep you connected if your computer or the Internet is down. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radios are also handy for emergency information.

Have some ready cash. Banks and ATMs could be out of service, assuming you can get to them.

Stay safe during the storm

Find the safest place. Stay in a central room without windows. Have kids? Ease the fear factor with books, a toy or two, and if you have power or a generator, some movies and video games.

Avoid electrocution risks. Don’t use any plug-in device if flooding or wetness is nearby. Landline phones can also be a shock hazard in an electrical storm. If you must make a call during a storm, use a cell or cordless phone if possible—or use a land­line phone’s speaker mode to reduce contact with the handset. Avoid baths and showers until the storm passes. And watch out for downed power lines and live wires.

Use cars safely. Obey emergency crews and follow designated routes. If your vehicle stalls in water, shut off the ignition and seek higher ground; the leading cause of Sandy-related deaths was drowning.

Mold: What To Look For

12/11/2018 (Permalink)

Winter is here and temperatures are fluctuating, moisture is making its way into our homes in the most unexpected areas. As moisture sits and humidity rises within the home, mold begins to find its place to grow. According to Houselogic.com, the 5 most unexpected places for mold to hide in your home are chimneys, refrigerator drip pans, front-loading washing machines, dishes, and windows sashes and seals.

1. Chimneys

As rain and snow collect down in the chimney, they combine with the dirt and other particles within the brick to create a breeding ground for mold to grow. 

2.  Refrigerator drip pans

The drip pan collects moisture and food spills over time and goes unnoticed from being located under the refrigerator where most people don’t think to clean or even look.

3.  Front-loading washing machines

The seal around the door of the front-loading washing machines often stay wet from being closed when not being used, which creates a great environment for mold growth.

4. Window sashes and seals

This is the time of year when the chill of the cold weather combine with the warmth of the inside to create condensation along windows and walls. The dirt and dust particles left on these surfaces mixed with the moisture create the perfect surface area for mold to grow.

5.  Air conditioners

The air conditioning units hold the dust, pollen and moisture from the air. With the AC sitting throughout the winter, it gives mold the chance to grow and still be hidden away.

Source: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/air-quality/unexpected-places-mold-can-hide/

The Growing Problem Of Mold

12/10/2018 (Permalink)

Mold is prominent in the news. But why now? This article summarizes some salient issues involving mold, including: (a) the current status of mold “science” and regulations; (b) what causes mold within indoor environments; (c) how the presence of mold is evaluated, and its implications for exposure; and (d) basic considerations in mold remediation projects.

Media attention and the public’s perception or fear of “toxic mold exposure” hit a peak in 2001 when a Texas couple was awarded $32 million in a lawsuit {(Ballard v. Farmers Insurance Exchange, No. 99- 05252 (Travis Co., Texas, Dist. Ct)]. A December 19, 2002 Appeals Court verdict disallowed $17 million for mental anguish and punitive damages; however, the Court still awarded $4 million plus interest as well as lawyers’ fees. An appeal is expected.

Mold is prominent in the news. But why now? This article summarizes some salient issues involving mold, including: (a) the current status of mold “science” and regulations; (b) what causes mold within indoor environments; (c) how the presence of mold is evaluated, and its implications for exposure; and (d) basic considerations in mold remediation projects.

Mold: Why Now?

Actually, “mold” is a general, conversational term for visible fungal growth. It is roughly equivalent to a gardener’s use of the term “weed” for a plant growing where it is unwanted. The term “fungi” includes molds, bacteria, and viruses. Molds are the largest component of the fungal classification, so the two terms are often used interchangeably and indiscriminately. The earliest reference to mold contamination and remediation can be found in the Old Testament (Leviticus 14:33-47]). Mold is ubiquitous in the environment, and is commonly due to construction defects that cause water intrusion in buildings. Fueling media attention and the public’s concerns is the relatively poor understanding of health effects by general medical practitioners, and the lack of comprehensive regulations or standards concerning allowable exposure criteria for the numerous, known genera of fungi that are known. Add this factor to the various known species of fungi, and the research that needs to be done is staggering.

The Basics

The very presence of mold spores is normal in the environment. However, the presence of mold growth indoors is not normal and may pose health and/or comfort risks to some exposed occupants. Mold growth requires spores (“seeds”), favorable temperatures, a food supply, and moisture. Like plants, mold grows by spreading, and the release of spores. Mold easily spreads outward under favorable conditions. However, if conditions are unfavorable for growth, mold will go dormant and release spores into the air so they can find a suitable environment for survival.

Moisture, nutrients, and favorable temperatures can lead to mold growth in water-damaged materials in 24 to 48 hours. Affected materials should be dried promptly to prevent germination and subsequent mold growth. Relative humidity levels less than 30% yield little growth. Humidity levels greater than 70% yield optimal growth. Nutrients include dust, dirt, soiled surfaces, and organic building materials (e.g., wood, latex paint, drywall, and carpet). Ideal temperatures for mold growth range from 40° F to 100° F. Since this range encompasses comfort temperatures for occupied spaces with ordinary nutrients already available, it is no wonder that mold has many opportunities to propagate. This growth can result from inadequate design, installation, operation, and/or maintenance of the site, building envelope, HVAC system, and/or building. In fact, we can only really control moisture.

Status Of “Mold Science” And Regulations

Unlike workplace exposure levels for physical and chemical agents, no regulations, comprehensive standards, or guidelines currently exist for determining safe levels of mold. There is a lack of information on specific human responses to mold contaminants. Current exposure assessments are based on the judgment of an experienced industrial hygienist, or other qualified indoor air quality professional, using indoor and outdoor comparisons of fungal counts and types.

This may change shortly as a number of possible organizations emerge to shape the science of mold. They include the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), guidelines such as the “Guidelines on Assessment and Remediation of Fungi in Indoor Environments” published in April 2000 by the New York City Department Of Health, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission/Americans with Disabilities Act, and the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s (AIHA) May, 2001 “Report by the Microbial Growth Task Force.”

The lack of well accepted regulations, standards, and guidelines is the largest reason why mold litigation has faltered. Daubert/Frye challenges have been successfully used to prevent fungal testing and medical testimony from being admitted into many court cases (the Ballard case was ultimately based on insurance bad faith issues).

However, recent developments may change the information and facts that we use. The US Toxic Mold Safety & Protection Act of 2002 (HR 5040), a/k/a the “Melina Bill”, was sponsored by J. Conyers, Jr., (DMich.). The bill was introduced into Congress on June 27, 2002, and addresses mold in residential homes and government buildings. The full text is available at www.house.gov/conyers/Mold_Bill.pdf. The bill’s basic provisions include (a) establishing guidelines and defining acceptable mold levels; (b) establishing minimum training levels and requirements for the licensing of environmental inspectors and environmental laboratories; (c) providing funds to the CDC and NIH to conduct extensive research and testing to determine the range and magnitude of the black mold infestation problems; (d) providing a 50% tax credit to home owners who pay for a mold inspection, and the creation of a national database of homes found to be infested with toxic mold; (e) requiring the EPA to establish construction standards and techniques; (f) establishing mold remediation criteria; and (g) establishing a national toxic mold insurance program to protect homeowners who are victimized by toxic mold.

Various states have introduced regulatory initiatives regarding mold or indoor air quality in general. With the exception of California’s Senate Bill 732, which became effective in January 2002, these initiatives have largely stalled.

Also lacking are comprehensive standards for mold testing. In April 2002, the “Standards of Practice for the Assessment of Indoor Environmental Quality” was published by the Indoor Environmental Standards Organization (IESO). The first five standards in this document reflect commonly accepted guidelines for sampling mold on surfaces, in air, and within carpets. The last two sections, however, contain new criteria for evaluating mold colonization on surfaces, and for inspecting residential structures for mold contamination. These documents are the first of what may become a family of standards for mold investigations. ASTM International has recently announced plans to develop a “Standard Practice for Transactional Screening of Readily Observable Mold in Commercial Buildings” through its E50 Committee. The goal is to define standards of care that will: (a) establish the indicated industry standard practice; (b) improve the quality and consistency of mold screening reports; and (c) ensure that the practice of mold screening is appropriate, reasonable, and reflective of good industry practice. The E50 Committee is just forming. Their first meeting is scheduled for April, 2003, so it is unlikely that a new standard will emerge soon.

A standard exists for mold remediation. Published by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), their “IICRC S500, Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration, 2nd Edition (1999)” serves as the written body of knowledge in the water damage restoration industry.

Causes of Interior Mold Growth

Building defects leading to moisture intrusion include non-continuous vapor retarder installation; substandard flashing, roofing, waterproofing, or window installation; poor wall waterproofing; storage and handling of construction materials that contributes to their exposure to rain; the presence of construction debris; and the formation of ice dams. These defects cause moisture inside the structure which then contributes to mold growth.

A number of potentially responsible parties may be involved in building defect claims involving mold. For example, construction managers, project architects, mechanical engineers, and subcontractors may be responsible for improper design or maintenance of buildings and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems; specifying improper materials or methods; and poor workmanship. Product manufacturers may be responsible for the design and operation of equipment or building materials. Landlords, and property management companies may be responsible for failing to properly maintain the building or its systems, allowing tenant actions that lead to mold growth, or failing to disclose facts relating to water events that caused mold growth. Tenants that fail to maintain their HVAC systems properly, or engage in activities that foster mold growth are also potential parties. Water extraction (“remediation”) companies may not completely remove all moisture or mold, resulting in additional growth and contamination. Property inspection companies may fail to discover mold propagating conditions.

What Are The Potential Health Effects From Mold Exposure?

Health effects of fungal exposure are reported to include sensitization, infection, irritating effects (rashes, etc.), Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome (ODTS). Other reported toxic health effects include headaches, respiratory ailments, inhibition of the immune system, lung disease, cognitive memory loss, and brain damage. The lack of dose-response data, as well as time variability of exposure, makes it difficult to establish exposure limits such as those that currently exist for workplace chemicals. However, the Mayo Clinic and others have published studies associating dampness with cough, wheeze, asthma, and respiratory infection. Exposure may be due to spores, or the mycotoxins that fungi emit. Mold’s characteristic “musty odor” is due to these microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs) released by fungi.

Why Test?

How should one approach a mold situation to determine its impact on the health of these exposed occupants? If mold is visible, some investigators suggest that sampling is not necessary, and remediation should begin as soon as possible to correct health, structural, or aesthetic concerns. Testing during fungal investigations may be expensive. However, not performing environmental sampling leaves unanswered questions of what types (genera and species) and levels of mold were present. This information may be especially important if adverse health effects to occupants are known or suspected.

Therefore, a simple visual inspection should not be equated with a competent investigation. Mold sampling attempts to characterize typical and worst-case exposure assessments to develop a building baseline. Sampling may also be useful to maintain acceptable levels while a remediation project is on hold, or to challenge the effectiveness of a remediation project.

At best, sampling involves acquiring random grab samples. Practical considerations for environmental sampling involve: (a) making sure that the sampling actions are repeatable; (b) the availability of time, people, and appropriate sampling equipment; (c) whether the investigation should test for viable or nonviable organisms and, if viable organisms are important, whether data at the genus or species level is important; and (d) expenses.

Using an accredited laboratory services is key. Over 120 laboratories participate in the AIHA’s Environmental Microbiology Proficiency Analytical Testing Program (EMPAT). However, currently only 14 laboratories (12 in the US and two in Canada) have successfully achieved accreditation under the AIHA’s Environmental Microbiology Laboratory Accreditation Program (EMLAP). A list of EMLAP laboratories is available at http://www.aiha.org/LaboratoryServices/html/emlap.htm.

A basic sampling protocol generally involves at least one air sampling location outdoors, indoors in an anticipated high exposure (“complaint”) area, and indoors in an anticipated low exposure (“noncomplaint”) area. Air samples may be complemented by surface samples, carpet dust samples, and wall cavity samples (as appropriate) to adequately characterize mold presence. Surface sampling is a nondestructive technique that allows for the determination of possible surface contamination on walls, and content items such as furniture. Carpet dust samples help determine if poor carpet maintenance and water incursions provide organisms with moisture and a nutritional substrate to proliferate to problematic levels. Wall cavity sampling is a minimally intrusive method for determining if mold growth has occurred within walls, even though mold may not be visible.

Interpreting the Test Data

The generally accepted guidelines for interpreting mold sampling data are: (a) indoor levels should not be significantly greater than outdoor levels; (b) non-complaint areas should be less than complaint areas; and (c) in complaint areas, mold types should be consistently present. Relative levels and their relative orders of magnitude are also important. The analysis should consider the rank order assessment of mold found (e.g., those with health effects versus those that are relatively common and benign), and the presence of dominant species. Data interpretation should be performed by an industrial hygienist or other qualified indoor air quality professional.

Mold Remediation

Mold spores can be easily dispersed. Correcting significant mold conditions, which is not a job for the home handyman. Renovation is not equivalent to remediation. In addition to the standards for water restoration and remediation, some guidelines exist for mold remediation. Examples include the previously mentioned NYC DOH “Guidelines” and “Fungal Contamination in Public Buildings: a Guide to Recognition and Management” published by the Federal-Provincial Committee on Environmental and Occupational Health, Environmental Health Directorate, Health Canada ( June 1995). However, their guidance is not without controversy.

Mold remediation should only be attempted after the conditions that caused mold growth have been identified and corrected. Porous materials that show extensive mold growth should then be removed. Nonporous materials should have their surfaces cleaned to typical background levels. Moisture levels should be reduced to and maintained at levels that do not promote mold growth. The amount of contamination governs the level of containment (use of critical barriers), work practices (HEPA vacuuming, negative pressurization, wet methods), and personal protective equipment (respirators, fullbody covering) necessary to prevent the release of mold spores into unaffected areas and protect human health. Mold contaminated materials are not considered as hazardous waste.

Post-remediation validation (a/k/a “clearance”) testing should be performed after remediation activities have ceased, but before critical barriers have been removed. The first step in testing is a visual inspection to ensure that no visible dust or fungal growth exists. If it does not meet this and other qualitative criteria, the job “fails” and recleaning is required. Only if all visible mold and dust ahs been removed should environmental sampling be performed. Typically, more extensive testing is done than in pre-remediation mold testing to ensure that building occupants will have a healthy environment in which to live.

Summary

Molds are complex and can form large colonies indoors under appropriate conditions. Human exposure data causally linking health effects to molds is currently unavailable. Is the fear of “toxic mold” being overblown? Only additional scientific studies will answer that question. But one must not ignore the significance of properly managed building environments to prevent the aesthetic, structural, and potential health effects of mold growth, and the need to promptly and properly evaluate and remediate conditions where mold growth is suspected or known.

https://www.robsonforensic.com/articles/the-growing-problem-of-mold-expert-article

Keep Your Home Free Of Water Damage

12/6/2018 (Permalink)

Keeping your home dry and free from water damage and leaks is incredibly important. Water can bend and warp wood, create hazardous mold and mildew, and deteriorate materials. Most people know that frozen pipes during the winter can be a major headache and costly problem if you don’t take preventative action, but are you aware of other lurking water dangers? We’ve curated a list of top threat and actions to take to protect your house from the perils of water damage.

Washing machine hoses

The most common type of water damage with a washing machine is a blown washing machine hose. Overuse and age are two common factors that can contribute to a blown washing machine hose. Given these hoses can carry a large amount of water, a burst hose can mean serious water damage to your house. Make sure you regularly inspect your washing machine hoses for fatigue and avoid filling your washing machine with loads larger than recommended by the manufacturer.

Toilet malfunctions

Most everyone has experienced an overflowing toilet. Hopefully an overflowing toilet is a random occurrence and not a regular event.  If an overflowing toilet happens often it most likely indicates a clog. Most often a clogged toilet can be fixed by simply turning off the water source at the base of the toilet and using a plunger to remove the blockage. Make sure everyone in your household knows how to turn off the water at the toilet to avoid unnecessary water spillage in the event of a clogged toilet. Routine maintenance and inspections of your toilets 2 to 3 times per year can ensure a properly functioning toilet.

Exterior water drainage

Water drainage off your roof and through downspouts can help prevent costly damage to your foundation, basement and your yard. The simplest ways to ensure proper drainage is simply to clean your gutters and extend your downspouts away from your house. Gutter cleaning during the fall and winter are especially important as leaves fall and clog the gutters and drains. Extend downspouts 5 to 10 feet away from your house to ensure adequate drainage.

Test your submersible sump pump

Your “sub” or sump pump helps protect your house and foundation during times of heavy rain and storms by pumping accumulated water out and away from your home’s sump basin. Given sump pumps work in a time of need, it’s important to ensure it is functioning properly ahead of major storms. To test, slowly fill water into the sump pump hole and wait for the float to rise (similar to a toilet system), if your float doesn’t trigger the sump pump, you have an problem and you should contact a local plumber to help fix the issue.

Find and repair water leaks

Water can leak from virtually anywhere in your house. The roof, the shower, the water pipes throughout your house can all be sources of water leakage within the home.  It is important to find leaks early on to prevent from rotting, mold and mildew. Dark spots, bubbling or stains can be signs of a leaking pipe or roof. Flag anything out of the ordinary immediately and call a local handyman if you need help diagnosing the cause, or read more on the latest technologies for protecting your home from water damage.

Understanding The Behavior Of Smoke

12/6/2018 (Permalink)

12/5/2018

There are two different types of smoke--wet and dry. As a result, there are different typed of soot residue after a fire. SERVPRO technicians are trained in fire cleanup and restoration, and know the different types of smoke and its behavior patterns. Knowing this information is vital to proper restoration. Before restoration begins, the technicians will survey the loss to determine the extent of impact from fire, smoke, heat, and moisture on the building materials and contents. The soot will then be tested to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. Pretesting determines the proper cleaning method and allows us to focus on your precious items. 

Smoke can penetrate various cavities within the structure, causing hidden damage and odor. Our knowledge of building systems helps us to investigate how far smoke damage may have spread. The following are additional facts you may not know about smoke.

  • Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
  • Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor. 
  • The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.

Different Types of Smoke

Wet Smoke (Plastic and Rubber) Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.

Dry Smoke (Paper and Wood) Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke dries. 

Protein Fire Residue (Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire) Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor. 

Fuel Oil Soot (Furnace Puff Backs) While "puff backs" can create havoc for homeowners, SERVPRO technicians can, in most cases restore the contents and structure quickly. 

Other Types (Tear gas, fingerprint powder, and fire extinguisher residue) Special loss situations require special care.

Our technicians are trained to handle even the toughest losses. And make any smoke disaster "Like it never even happened."

SERVPRO Equipment Guide: Direct In Systems

12/5/2018 (Permalink)

SERVPROs number one priority is restoring as much of your home as is possible, not only to keep your home “home”, but also to cause minimal disturbance to your day to day life. One of the many techniques that we use to make sure that your home remains as intact as possible during the mitigation process is the Directed In system.  The Directed In system is an attachment for one of our air movers that allows for the connection of many small tubes.  The tubes are run through an affected wall or tow kick, which grants access to an area that would otherwise be accessed with demolition   The air mover then blows warm, thirsty air (created by our dehumidifiers) into the affected space, creating an environment that is optimal for drying.  The Direct In system is another way that SERVPRO of Skagit County – SERVPRO of Marysville/Arlington ensures that your home is restored to preloss condition in a timely manner. 

American Red Cross and SERVPRO Team Up!

12/5/2018 (Permalink)

We’re thrilled to be partnered with the American Red Cross as a Disaster Responder because here at SERVPRO of Skagit County, we’re always “Ready for Whatever Happens” and we want you to be too! You never know when a disaster may strike, so it is important to have an emergency preparedness kit ready to go at a moment’s notice to use at home or to take with you in the event you must evacuate.

According to our friends at the American Red Cross, you should, at minimum, have the basic supplies listed below:

  • Water: one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Food: non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home).
  • Flashlight
  • Battery powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Maps of the area

You should also consider the needs of all family members and add supplies to your kit as needed. Suggested items to help meet additional needs are:

  • Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, etc)
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Games and activities for children
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  • Two-way radios
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys
  • Manual can opener

Additional supplies to consider keeping at your home or in your emergency supply kit:

  • Whistle
  • N95 or surgical masks
  • Matches
  • Rain gear
  • Towels
  • Work gloves
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Household liquid bleach
  • Entertainment items
  • Blankets or sleeping bags

You never know when a disaster might arise.

Keep your Emergency Kit somewhere easily accessible for if and when the time comes that you need it. You should also practice fire drills with your family and plan out multiple evacuation routes should you ever need to evacuate your home.

Make sure that everyone knows what to do in case of emergency. Whether it’s the Big One, a house fire, or an unexpected storm, we want you to be “ready for whatever happens!”