Protect Against Rainstorm Damage
Santa Clara County Rainstorms
The heavy rains and horrific mudslides that devastated large swathes of Montecito in Santa Barbara County last January left death and destruction in their wake as mud and debris swept through the streets, leaving 21 people dead and thousands of homes and businesses damaged. Because all of California has experienced rain storms at one time or another (including the heavy rains last winter in Northern California, causing thousands in San Jose and surrounding areas to evacuate), water damage preparedness is essential to protecting what we hold dear.
What does this tell us, as residents of Santa Clara County, including those of us in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, and Redwood City? It tells us that we need to be prepared at all times for water damage that can occur due to heavy rains in Northern California by taking several key steps. In addition, we also need to have a reliable restoration company like SERVPRO of Palo Alto to assist in damage restoration and water mitigation after the fact.
How can homeowners and business owners protect their property from water damage in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, and Redwood City? There are several steps to take to minimize water damage due to heavy rains and winds.
First, make sure to maintain clean gutters. Clear your gutters of leaves and twigs that may have accumulated throughout the year. Do this at least twice a year, if not more. If you don’t keep your gutters clean, debris build-up slows the flow of water to the drains and leads to overflowing.
Another important step to take when safeguarding your home or business against water damage is protecting against electricity issues. During heavy rainstorms, it’s imperative to make sure that all electrical appliances are stored or moved upstairs, where water is can’t reach them. Don’t go near the fuse box and ensure that all sockets are covered and turned off. Water and electricity can cause major problems.
Next, don’t forget to check your sealant. Make sure that any gaps or holes in the sealant surrounding your doors and windows are filled in, especially if you live in an area that gets hammered by heavy downpours. Otherwise, rain will seep into the building, causing all sorts of problems requiring water damage mitigation. Inspect your sealant regularly, because regular upkeep will greatly reduce the impact of sealant erosion.
Cover air vents. As you may have already experienced, air vents are one of the most common ways that water can get into a house or business. If the forecast calls for heavy rain, or if you’re at risk of flooding, make sure that you cover your air vents from both the outside and the inside with thick plastic sheeting.
What happens if you take these protective measures before heavy rains hit and you still have water damage? Sometimes, no matter what you do, Mother Nature can still cause water damage (or mold damage due to water damage) requiring water restoration, mold restoration and mold mitigation in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, and Redwood City. Not all is lost. First call a reputable damage restoration company like SERVPRO of Palo Alto. SERVPRO of Palo Alto’s expertly trained restoration technicians are trained to take care of water damage and mold mitigation due to flash flooding and heavy rains. They serve the following areas of Santa Clara County: Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, and Redwood City, and have taken on water damage jobs both large and small. In addition, their customers give SERVPRO of Palo Alto excellent reviews for their quick, efficient, and high-quality water restoration work and mold mitigation work.
Here’s what one happy SERVPRO of Palo Alto customer has to say about her experience with water damage and subsequent water damage mitigation performed by SERVPRO:
“These guys are the best at what they do... I had major water damage in my house and they came in right away with a plan to address the issue. Jessie was my project manager, absolutely wonderful and professional. He was there for me every step of the way, answered all of my calls no matter the time, could not have asked for a better manager to handle my situation. I highly recommend Jessie and his team. Thank you guys, could not have gotten through my terrible situation without you!!” - Mary L., Newark, CA
Get your property ready for heavy rainstorms that inevitably occur in our area of Santa Clara County. Then, call us today for a quick, no-cost estimate for any water damage, large or small, that needs water restoration at (650) 800-3448.
Protect Your Home From Flooding
SERVPRO of Palo Alto can take care of water damage
As you already know, if you’re a homeowner, you have a lot of responsibility to protect your home from both natural disasters and made-made issues. While you can’t predict natural disasters like flooding, you can help protect your home from water damage due to severe rains and floods. According to FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, floods are the most common and most expensive natural disaster in the U.S., and no state is immune to the effects of flash flooding. Flash flooding happens everywhere, causing water damage requiring water restoration and mold mitigation services (because water leads to mold damage) including in places like Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, and Redwood City, California.
Heavy rains have hit Santa Clara County, California in prior years, and you just never know when that might happen again. But you can guarantee on heavy rains coming when you least expect it. Here are a few tips from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, or IBHS, that you, as a homeowner, can help use to protect your home from flooding to help minimize water damage that can cause ruined carpets, wrecked appliances, and irreversibly damaged family heirlooms and keepsakes. Just one inch of water can cause significant damage. One inch!
Before doing any of the below, you need to first find out your home’s flood level, which is an official measure of how high floodwaters could rise where you live. You’ll find this information by checking the online flood maps on FEMA’s website or by asking your home insurance agent.
Safeguard in-home electrical and climate systems
It’s important to safeguard your electrical and climate systems. Make sure to raise switches, sockets, circuit breakers, and wiring at least a foot above the expected flood level in your area. And don’t forget to modify your furnace and water heater so they sit above your property’s flood level instead of at or below it.
Anchor and raise outdoor power equipment
Again, you have to think of your property’s flood level. Fuel tanks, air-conditioning units, and power generators should be anchored and raised above your flood level. If not, unanchored fuel tanks can break free, and severed supply lines will contaminate surrounding ground, creating an even larger problem. Any electrical power units and generators should never sit on the ground. Water will render them useless.
Modify water valves
A flooded sewer system can cause sewage to back up into your home, which is both distressing and dangerous to your family’s health. Install an interior or exterior backflow valve to prevent the sewage from spreading all over your house. The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, or FLASH, recommends gate valves that you have to operate by hand. Their benefit is that they provide stronger seals than flap or check valves, which open automatically to allow water to flow out and then close when water tries to get in.Install these valves on all pipes entering the house, advises FLASH.
Figure out how water flows around your house
The angle of the ground (called slope or grading) can direct water to or away from your house. Obviously, it’s best if the home was built so that water drains away from the building, but that’s not the case for all homes, particularly older ones. Just check it out during a regular rainstorm to see how the water flows around your house.
Take on-the spot actions as soon as you anticipate flooding during a rainstorm
- Clear gutters, drains and downspouts (This should be done regularly at least twice a year.)
- Move furniture, rugs, electronics and other belongings to upper floors, or at least raise them off a ground floor or out of a basement, if you have one.
- Shut off electricity at the breaker panel, and make sure everyone in the house knows how to do this!
- Elevate major appliances onto concrete blocks if they’re potentially in harm’s way from flooding. You don’t want to have to repair or replace expensive appliances every time there’s a major rainstorm.
What happens if you do most of these actionable items and still have water damage? It’s very possible. First call a reputable damage restoration company like SERVPRO of Palo Alto. SERVPRO of Palo Alto’s expertly trained restoration technicians are trained to take care of water damage and mold mitigation due to flash flooding and heavy rains. They serve the following areas of Santa Clara County: Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, and Redwood City, and have taken on water damage jobs both large and small. In addition, their customers give SERVPRO of Palo Alto excellent reviews for their quick, efficient, and high-quality water restoration work and mold mitigation work. Call today for a quick, no-cost estimate at (650) 800-3448.
Wildfire Safety Tips for California Residents Part 2
Northern California Fire Damage
The new year has started, and with it should be taking proactive steps to help prevent fires - both in the home from kitchen accidents and electrical shorts to threats from outside the home that result in wildfires. The end of 2017 saw massive wildfires in Napa Valley and Sonoma counties, Ventura county, and Los Angeles as we wrote about in Part 1 of this blog post. Let’s learn our lesson and do what we can to prevent and minimize fire damage where we live and where SERVPRO of Palo Alto serves: Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton and Redwood City in Santa Clara County, California.
Because weather conditions are drier and hotter every year, and because many people are careless with their cigarettes and bonfires, fire damage in California becomes a reality for many California residents of Santa Clara county. Almost 70,000 wildfires occurred in the United States just in the last two years, destroying over 4,000 standing structures, including businesses and homes. You can’t necessarily fight back an out-of-control wildfire that’s threatening your home or business, but you can take steps to protect yourself and your property.
In addition to the top 7 ways to prep for a home fire - which includes installing the correct number of smoke alarms, teaching children about smoke alarm protocol, having at least two escape routes from your home in the case of a fire, and practicing escaping at least twice a year - the Red Cross gives you these wildfire-specific tips that you can use in the case of wildfires in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton and Redwood City in Santa Clara County, California.
These are important steps you can take to help reduce the risk of fire damage and smoke or soot damage to your home from a wildfire, such as those that have recently burned in both Northern California and Southern California.
Before a Wildfire
Defend your property in the case of a wildfire. One of the first steps you limiting the fire fuel sources around your home or business.
30 Feet or less from your property
- Clear combustible materials such as dried leaves and pine needles.
- Cut down any tree limbs that are 15 feet or closer to the ground. This helps prevent the fire from spreading into your property’s tree line.
- Remove any vines or vegetation that is on the side of your structure or property.
- Store any flammable lawn furniture during the off season.
- Choose non-flammable decor for your landscaping, such as gravel instead of wood chips.
Within 100 to 30 feet from your property
- Create “fuel breaks” in your property. Fuel breaks can help stop the spread of a fire. Examples are gravel pathways or driveways.
- Cut any trees branches that are 8 feet or closer to the ground.
- Clear combustible vegetation.
Within 200 to 100 feet from your home
- Place stacked firewood or scrap wood no closer to your property line.
- Continue to clear combustible vegetation.
- Plant trees far enough apart so their branches do not touch, and trim branches that do touch.
- Prepare your home or business for a wildfire. If possible, use Class A roofing material. This includes tile, slate, or asphalt. You can also use Class B pressure-treated shingles or shakes.
- Consider installing fire sprinklers. In some areas, fire sprinklers are mandatory for businesses.
Outside your home, make sure your garden hose is long enough have enough to reach any part of your property. Make sure that the fire department can access water sources such as swimming pools, ponds, lakes, wells, and fire hydrants.
Create an emergency escape plan. Speak to city or county officials to learn what the evacuation route is for your area, and discuss this evacuation route with everyone in your family and your employees. Ensure family members who live nearby know the route and have means of transportation. Also, sign up for emergency text or alert messages from your city or neighborhood. And importantly, don’t forget to create an emergency kit.
During a Wildfire
- Prepare to evacuate.
- Listen to emergency channels or follow your city’s social media to keep up on the status of the fire.
- Keep your emergency kit handy so you can evacuate quickly.
After a Wildfire
- Return to your home or business only when it is safe, and when officials declare it safe to do so.
- Watch out for ash pits and hot spots. These are holes filled with hot ashes left by burned trees. Even after a fire is extinguished, small fires can flare up without warning.
- Check your house and surrounding property for hot spots and extinguish them immediately. Also, be on the lookout for ash pits.
- Document the damage. Take photos and video and make a written list documenting your damaged property. Contact your insurance company immediately to report the damage.
- Call a respected restoration company like SERVPRO of Palo Alto to help mitigate fire damage, smoke damage, soot damage, and water damage quickly, professionally, and efficiently.
Wildfires are some of the most destructive forces of nature. There isn’t much that can be done to deter a wildfire’s path. But luckily, there are ways to help mitigate fire damage, smoke and soot damage, and water damage from fire-fighting efforts to keep your loved ones and employees safe.
If you already have suffered fire damage and need fire restoration or smoke and soot restoration, please call SERVPRO of Palo Alto at (650) 800-3448 for a free estimate. Our highly trained technicians use advanced equipment to make it “Like it never even happened.”
Fire in Palo Alto Mixed Use Building Causes Water Damage
Mixed-use commercial/residential building hallway that suffered water damage.
Over 20 units in a Palo Alto mixed-use property that included medical offices, other commercial businesses, and residential units suffered water damage due to a sprinkler system activation.
The sprinkler system was activated due to a fire in one of the residential apartment units. Luckily, SERVPRO of Palo Alto was on the scene right away and set up air dryers, dehumidifiers, and other drying equipment to help restore the property.
Because SERVPRO of Palo Alto's highly trained technicians were on job quickly, they were able to start the water restoration process quickly, minimizing damage to the drywall and flooring in the units.
SERVPRO of Palo Alto is a highly-rated water restoration company, fire restoration company, and smoke/soot restoration company. In addition, SERVPRO of Palo Alto offers cleanup services.
For 24-7 service and free estimates, please call SERVPRO of Palo Alto at (650) 800-3448 for any and all water damage, fire damage, smoke or soot damage you may experience. We are always here to help!
Fire Safety Tips for California Residents
Fire Safety Tips
With the fires that raged in Napa Valley and Sonoma county, and the ones that are currently active in Ventura county and in Los Angeles, fire safety, both from wildfires and accidental home fires, is a real concern for millions of California residents, including those in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton and Redwood City in Santa Clara County, California.
Due to a combination of reasons, including weather conditions (including lack of rain and lack of humidity), increasing temperatures (global warming), and simple human error or carelessness (tossed cigarettes, illegal bonfires, intentional fire-setting), wildfires have been increasing in number and intensity in recent years. This means that experiencing fire damage is a real possibility for many Californians, including those in many parts of Santa Clara County, California.
There’s also the danger of fires starting in your home from electrical shorts or kitchen fires (the most common cause of in-home fires). According to The Red Cross, “If a fire starts in your home you may have as little as two minutes to escape. During a fire, early warning from a working smoke alarm plus a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly can save lives.” Two minutes! That’s barely enough time to grab your pets and a couple of beloved belongings and escape. Not to mention dealing with the worry about your home due to fire damage because of fires in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton or Redwood City.
Here are the top 7 ways to prepare for a home fire from redcross.org:
- Install the correct number of smoke alarms. Install a smoke detector inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. On levels without bedrooms, install alarms in the living room (or den or family room) or near the stairway to the upper level, or in both locations. Test your smoke alarm or smoke detector once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
- Teach children what smoke alarms sound like, and teach them what to do when they hear one. Practice with them twice-yearly.
- Ensure that all household members know at least two ways to escape from every room of your home, and that you determine a family meeting spot outside of your home in the case of a fire.
- Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another or cannot meet at the predetermined family meeting spot.
- Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year, and at random times. Press the smoke alarm test button or yell “Fire“ to alert everyone that they must get out.
- Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1, no matter how young.
- Teach family members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.
The Red Cross also recommends you follow these fire-safe habits:
- Keep items that can catch on fire, like flammable clothing, paper, toys, etc. at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as space heaters.
- Smoking paraphernalia is the leading cause of residential fire deaths in the United States. Please do not smoke. If you have to smoke, take precautions: Smoke outside, choose fire-safe cigarettes, don’t smoke in bed, don’t smoke when drowsy or medicated, or if anyone in the home is using oxygen. That’s a disaster waiting to happen.
- Use deep, sturdy ashtrays and douse cigarette and cigar butts with water before disposal.
- Talk to children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.
- Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended, even for a minute.
Following these fire-safe habits won’t protect you against wildfires, but there are steps you can take to help reduce the risk of fire damage to your home from a wildfire, such as those that have recently been burning in both Northern California and Southern California.
In the last two years, over 67,000 wildfires have been reported across the country each year, many in California. Yearly, wildfires destroy over 4,000 structures, with 3,000 of them residential. As real estate development expands into forests and grasslands, the chances of wildfire related property damage goes up.
You can’t fight back a wildfire that is encroaching on your home or business, but you can take steps to protect yourself and your property. Learn how you can help protect your home or business from a wildfire. Keep you and your family safe and know how and when to evacuate. Learn more in the second part of this blog post, to be continued next week.
If you already have suffered fire damage and need fire restoration, please call SERVPRO of Palo Alto at (650) 800-3448 for a free estimate. Our highly trained technicians use advanced equipment to make it “Like it never even happened.”
How to Prevent Mold
Mold Remediation in Palo Alto
We here at SERVPRO of Palo Alto know the kind of problems mold can cause to both people and property. Not only is it unsightly, but uncontrolled indoor mold can cause health problems ranging from mild to serious, depending on the extent of mold and on the health and/or ages of a home's occupants. If you have mold remediation needs, give us a call. SERVPRO of Palo Alto technicians are highly trained and certified in mold restoration, mold remediation, and mold cleanup. To help prevent mold in and around your house, read the tips below.
First, what is mold, exactly?
Mold is a type of fungi that lives everywhere. There are at least 300,000 mold species that can spread by disbursing spores that lie dormant until conditions are right for growth. As a homeowner, mold prevention means controlling the conditions that promote mold growth, which means keeping things dry. Mold multiplies where conditions are wet or damp, such as in a bathroom or after a flood or water leakage. If you control the moisture in your home, you hold the key to mold prevention.
How does mold affect your health?
People sensitive to mold, especially those with poor or underdeveloped immune systems (infants, the elderly, those with autoimmune disorders), may suffer minor to serious conditions such as: nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation when exposed to mold. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath. Some people with chronic lung illnesses may develop mold infections in their lungs, requiring long-term medical care.
Mold thrives and grows where conditions are wet or damp, so as a homeowner, the key to mold prevention is controlling the moisture in your home. With a little effort, you can help prevent mold in your basement, crawlspace, or common areas like the kitchen or bathroom. Here are some tips to keep mold in and around your home at bay.
- Control indoor humidity – the ideal relative humidity is at 30 to 50, but if you live in a high humidity area, you probably need a portable dehumidifier, which can remove up to nine gallons of water a day from the air of a basement or house. However, this can cost quite a bit in electricity, so look for models with an Energy Star seal.
- Ventilate humidity-producing appliances such as your clothes dryer and stove to the outside. It’s obvious with the clothes dryer, but stoves also produce water vapor and will increase the humidity unless vented to the outside. When buying a new stove or renovating your kitchen, a gas stove with a hood is preferable.
- When you take a long, hot shower, keep the bathroom fan on or open the window. Use exhaust fans or open windows when cooking or washing dishes.
- Insulate cold water pipes to prevent condensation that will add moisture to the environment.
- Fix plumbing leaks as soon as possible and dry things like any flooring or carpeting thoroughly. Use a dehumidifier if necessary.
- If you spot mold inside your house, clean it from hard surfaces with commercial mold removal products or a bleach solution of 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. CAUTION: Never ever mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners because the toxic fumes will create a severe health hazard.
- Keep mold prevention in mind when remodeling or decorating by avoiding the use of carpet in bathrooms and basements where they are likely to absorb moisture.
- Make sure the ground slopes away from the building foundation, so that water doesn’t seep into the basement or crawlspace. If water puddles around the foundation after a heavy rain, you may have a problem with leaks and potential mold formation.
- Clean and repair roof gutters regularly. Clean gutters at least every six months--more if you live in an especially rainy area. Make sure the gutter downspouts direct water away from the house.
- Keep air conditioning drain lines flowing well and away from the house.
Do you still have problems with mold? SERVPRO of Palo Alto can help! SERVPRO of Palo Alto technicians are highly trained to properly clean and restore your house so that it feels like home again. We are experts at mold remediation. We can make it "Like it never even happened." Call us at (650) 800-3448 for a free estimate and fast service.
Northern California Wildfires
Northern California Wildfires
Northern California is currently experiencing the worst wildfires in California history. Over 160,000 acres of Napa and Sonoma counties, beloved wine regions of the state, have been assaulted by over 20 fires, including the Nuns-Norbbom, Atlas, Tubbs, Pressley, Partrick, Mendocino Lake Complex, and Pocket Fires for the past week, with very little containment. The cities of Santa Rosa and Calistoga have been particularly hard hit. Over 30 people have perished, with over 400 more missing as of Thursday, October 12th, and entire neighborhoods have gone up in flames. Though no one knows how these massive fires started, one thing everyone agrees on is that life will never be the same for these residents and businesses.
The rest of Northern California--from Fresno to the Bay Area to Sacramento--isn’t remaining unscathed. Palo Alto, Atherton, and Redwood City are also feeling the effects of California wine country wildfires. Though these cities aren’t experiencing the massive destruction wildfires can bring, they are experiencing the aftermath of fire, including falling ash and soot, in addition to hazardous fumes. This means unhealthy air quality. Strong and gusty winds continue to spread smoke throughout the Bay Area as the result of these massive wildfires in Napa and Sonoma counties, and are expected to spread smoke and drive ash for multiple days on end.
With what some are calling 2017 the worst wildfire season in California history, the question remains: How do we recover? How can you and your home or business come back from fire damage, smoke damage, or soot damage?
After the Fire: Fire Restoration
Experts in fire restoration like those SERVPRO of Palo Alto have the answer. With years of experience in fire cleanup, smoke and soot cleanup, and fire damage restoration, SERVPRO of Palo Alto can make your home like new again, “Like it never even happened.”
After an economic and emotional loss such as that resulting from fire or smoke and soot damage, it’s important for individuals and businesses to turn to experts in fire restoration to restore their homes or structures quickly and efficiently.
What many don’t realize is that with fire damage also comes water damage from firefighting efforts, which is why SERVPRO experts count the following among its ranks:
- Fire & Smoke Restoration Technician
- Odor Control Technician
- Upholstery & Fabric Cleaning Technician
- Water Damage Restoration Technician
The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) certifies and sets the standards for the cleaning and restoration industries. Our SERVPRO of Palo Alto experts study IICRC standards and best practices in water restoration, fire restoration, mold remediation, carpet and upholstery cleaning, and other cleaning and restoration services.
And SERVPRO of Palo Alto deals directly with your insurance company to ensure coverage for your fire loss or water loss. A 24-hour fire restoration company, SERVPRO of Palo Alto will come out at any hour for an estimate, and will work day and night to help restore your home or business to its previous condition.
Residents and businesses in Sonoma and Napa Valley will have a lot to deal with once these wildfires die down, and the business of getting back to normal starts. Because of the extent of these fires, particularly in Calistoga and Santa Rosa, calling on experts in fire restoration, smoke cleanup, and water mitigation to help restore structures after fire damage and water damage is especially important.
Preventative Steps to Protect your Property
If your home hasn’t been affected by wildfire, and you want to do what you can to help protect your property from future fires, check out the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) key steps to take:
- Thin out and maintained the vegetation around your property, by creating safety zones around your house by reducing or replacing most of the flammable vegetation.
- Remove all combustible materials away from your house, such as firewood, gas grills and propane tanks.
- Make sure your roof is made of noncombustible and fire resistant materials such as single ply membranes, fiberglass shingles, slate, metal, clay, and concrete tile.
- Enclose sundecks and porches enclosed, as well as eaves and overhangs. Clear leaves, trash and other fire hazards away from decks and porches.
- Clean out gutters on a regular basis, since debris can be ignited by wind-blown embers. If used, gutter covers should be noncombustible.
- Cover house vents such as attic vents, soffit vents, or other openings with ¼ inch or smaller corrosion-resistant wire mesh. For chimneys and stovepipes, cover using 12-gauge spark arrestors or woven wire mesh.
- Use fire resistant house siding such as stucco, metal, brick and cement, concrete and rock. Treat wood siding with UL-approved fire retardant chemicals (though these treatments are not permanent).
- Treat windows to reduce fire risk. Recommended are dual or triple-paned thermal glass and fire resistant shutters or drapes. Tempered glass windows and noncombustible awnings can also help reduce your risk.
SERVPRO of Palo Alto is standing by to assist homes and commercial buildings in Northern California affected by the current devastating fires. Call us at (650) 800-3448 for immediate assistance for residential and commercial fire and water restoration and fire and smoke cleaning services.
Planning Halloween the SERVPRO way!
From all of us at SERVPRO of Palo Alto, we wish you a SPOOK-TACULAR and SAFE Halloween!
October is here, and department stores are stocking up on pumpkins, costumes, and candy to prepare for Halloween on October 31st. Halloween is an exciting holiday for most families—even pets join in for the clever costumes and trick-or-treating excitement. At SERVPRO of Palo Alto, we urge our customers who celebrate this holiday to take the necessary precautions to make it safe. Every year, Halloween fires occur, affecting hundreds of home structures due to candles, decorations, or unsafe costumes, and causing fire damage and smoke damage, requiring extensive fire restoration. Most holiday fire hazards can be avoided by taking safety precautions, and by a little extra planning to ensure this year’s Halloween remains fire-free and enjoyable for all.
The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) statistics show that from 2009-2013, an average of 860 home structure fires occurred, causing an average of one death, 41 injuries, and $13 million in direct property damage per year. These fires usually occur from flammable decoration being placed too close to a heat source. Forty-one percent of these incidents were started by candles; one-fifth began in the living room, family room, or den.
Below are some Halloween safety tips provided by the NFPA to ensure that this year’s trick-or-treating does not turn into a horror story.
- When choosing a costume, stay away from billowing or long, trailing fabric. If you’re making your own costume, choose material that won't easily ignite if it comes into contact with heat or flame. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so they can see out.
- Provide children with flashlights to light their paths, or give them glow sticks as part of their costume.
- Dried flowers, cornstalks, and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations well away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.
- Use a flashlight or battery-operated candles in a Jack-o-lantern. If you insist on using a real candle, practice extreme caution. Make sure children are supervised at all times when candles are lit. When lighting candles inside Jack-o-lanterns, use long, fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far enough out of way trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, walkways and yards.
- If you choose to use candle decorations, make sure to keep them well attended at all times.
- Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.
- Tell children to stay away from open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop, and roll if their clothing catches fire. (Have them practice stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out.)
- Use flashlights as alternatives to candles or torch lights when decorating walkways and yards. They are much safer for trick-or-treaters, whose costumes may brush against the lighting.
- If your children are going to Halloween parties at others’ homes, have them look for ways out of the home and plan how they would get out in an emergency.
- Children should always go trick-or-treating with a responsible adult.
- Remind children to stay together as a group when walking from house to house.
- Review how to safely cross a street with your child. Look left, right, and left again to be sure no cars are approaching before crossing the street.
- Make (and enforce) the rule that children not eat any treat until it has been brought home and examined by an adult.
As part of your Halloween pre-planning, download our Emergency Ready APP to your phone or tablet to create a personalized plan in case of an emergency. The app is free and easy to use. If you have any questions or damage to your property, please feel free to call us at (650) 800-3448.
Download the app today!
SERVPRO of Palo Alto
2625 Middlefield Road #557 Palo Alto, CA 94306(650) 800-3448
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Mexico Earthquake- Wake-up Call for Californians
On Tuesday, September 19, 2017, a powerful earthquake struck the south of Mexico in Puebla State, 123 kilometers from Mexico City. This earthquake should serve as a wake-up call to all Californians, as seismologists have been waiting for a possible devastating earthquake to occur in California. The San Andreas Fault and six other significant fault zones are present in the Bay Area: the Calaveras Fault, Concord-Green Valley Fault, Greenville Fault, Hayward Fault, Rodgers Creek Fault, and San Gregorio Fault.
If and when that big one hits us, a tsunami could also be a real threat to us, and might even come through the Bay side to impact Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and the surrounding areas. Once these waves enter your home, the waters are deemed Category 3 flood waters, and everything impacted by the waves would be deemed unsalvageable.
After a catastrophic situation has impacted our community, SERVPRO of Palo Alto has the ability to rally equipment and crews to quickly respond to storm damage of any magnitude. Trust SERVPRO to restore the water damage your structure can suffer from a major storm. We can handle water damage restoration after flooding, thunderstorms, earthquakes, and any natural disaster. Our crew will take care of your restoration, water mitigation, and any mold remediation needed after a big storm. SERVPRO of Palo Alto would be one of the first responders in such a disaster, and would be there to help clean up and dry out your commercial or residential property if affected.
If you experience any kind of storm damage, be sure to call us first at SERVPRO of Palo Alto by dialing 650-800-3448.
Storms Can Cause Flooding to Your Palo Alto Home
After a storm or natural disaster, the aftermath can be detrimental to you both emotionally and financially. Storm cleanup and water damage restoration to your property can be stressful without the help of qualified technicians leading the way. With storm season approaching us, rain and high winds can affect Palo Alto and other parts of the Bay Area. When these winter storms occur, there’s a possibly of power outages in your area due to winds knocking down electrical poles or other causes.
It is important for families to be prepared for a power outage that may last for several hours or days after a heavy storm. The National Public Service campaign, Ready Campaign, has shared the following tips regarding power outage:
Before a Power Outage:
- Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit, including a flashlight, batteries, casa, and first aid supplies.
- Make sure you have alternate charging methods for your phone or any device that requires power.
- Charge cell phones and any battery powered devices.
- Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door is located and know how to operate it.
- Learn about the emergency plans that have been establish in your community.
During a Power Outage:
- Avoid using candles which can cause fires. Only use flashlight for emergency lighting.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for about four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.
- Put on layers of warm clothing if it is cold outside. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors.
- Only use generators away from your home, and NEVER run a generator inside a home or garage, or connect it to your home’s electrical system. Consult an electrician or engineer before purchasing and installing a generator.
After a Power Outage:
- Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures of 40*F (4*C) for two hours or more. When in doubt, throw it away.
- If food in freezer is colder than 40*F and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it.
- Contact your doctor if you’re concerned about medication having spoiled.
- Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
- Choose foods your family will eat.
- Remember any special dietary needs.
- Avoid foods that will make you thirsty.
The following items are suggested when selecting emergency food supplies. You may already have many of these on hand.
- Salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals, and canned foods with high liquid content
- Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables and a can opener
- Protein or fruit bars
- Dry cereal or granola
- Peanut butter
- Dried fruit
- Canned juices
- Non-perishable pasteurized milk
- High energy foods
- Food for infants
- Comfort/stress foods
- Don’t forget to pack a can opener and other utensils needed!
For more information and tips on how to prepare for and respond to an emergency visit
SERVPRO of Palo Alto has the experience, the expertise, and the advanced training that enables us to get your property restored quickly and thoroughly. For your emergency restoration services call us 24/7 for prompt service. (650) 800-3448.