Recent Posts

Recovery Assistance Options for Sunnyvale, CA, Businesses That Have Suffered Property Damage

6/10/2022 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto offers important tips to help Sunnyvale, CA, businesses choose the best recovery assistance options to overcome a property damage disaster.

SERVPRO of Palo Alto provides commercial property damage cleanup and restoration services for businesses in Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, and the greater Bay area. Core services include fire, smoke, and water damage restoration services. Commercial cleaning, biohazard cleanup, trauma scene cleanup, and mold remediation round out the service menu.

Property damage can sidetrack a business, slowing or disrupting the flow of goods or services to customers. A catastrophic property damage disaster can derail a business, completely halting all business operations, interrupting the revenue cycle, and putting the company at risk of bankruptcy and ultimate failure. The economic impact of a business failure negatively impacts the owners, employees, vendors, customers and clients, the supply chain, and even city, county, and state tax revenues. Quick recovery and resumption of normal business operations and profitability are in everyone’s best interest, from the CEO to the customer.

Getting back on track and moving forward after a property damage disaster is challenging. Businesses that have proactively formulated a comprehensive recovery plan that considers every exigency must still overcome seemingly insurmountable hurdles. Here are several crucial tips for driving the business recovery process forward as quickly, as efficiently, and as economically as possible.

Tips for driving the business recovery process forward

Tip #1: Accurately assess the scope of damage and the feasibility of restoring normal business operations.

Carefully inspect the damaged areas of the facility. Immediately open the lines of communication with all insurance companies that will be involved in the recovery process. Delays can be very costly, affecting the overall cost of the physical damage restoration, the ongoing overhead, and the loss of revenue. Document damages with photos and video of the disaster scene. Archive the images, audio, and written notes in a secure but accessible cloud storage platform. In the mayhem and confusion of a large-scale disaster, a cell phone can be easily lost, destroyed, or stolen.

Realistically address the following difficult questions and issues:

  • What is a realistic timeline for the resumption of normal business operations?
  • What is the estimated cost of a rebuild?
  • Is re-opening within the financial capabilities of the company? Seek competent, independent, third-party financial advice, if needed
  • What equipment is salvageable?
  • Is the support base of neighbors, colleagues, fellow business owners, and Chambers of Commerce broad enough to help carry the physical, emotional, and financial burden through these difficult times?

Tip #2: Execute the recovery plan.

A business continuity plan is an indispensable element of doing business in the twenty-first century. Every business should have one and update it as the business grows, takes on additional liabilities, changes its business model, or reshapes its brand. A major property damage disaster is the reason for the plan in the first place. When disaster strikes, the plan must be swiftly implemented. The plan should include many elements, including:

  • Assignments: Verify that the existing staff assigned to recovery roles still possess adequate job performance competencies to fulfill their duties. IT, robotics, and HR are dynamic and ever-changing. A lateral move or a job promotion may render an employee incapable of handling previous responsibilities due to changes in technology or labor laws.
  • Public relations and lines of communication: Keep employees, customers, vendors, and media abreast of the situation. Employee and customer flight can be kept to a minimum if the lines of communication are solid and reliable. Include lenders in the communication loop.
  • Recalibration: Adapt to changing situations and quickly adjust the recovery plan to confront and overcome new challenges.
  • Future plans: Think strategically about the restored business. Will another facility be needed? How does a new location affect marketing strategy? If gross vehicle traffic was crucial, how can the lost exposure be replaced? The rental or purchase of a facility with high traffic volume could be exponentially more expensive than when the company, practice, retail outlet, or restaurant originally opened.

Tip #3: Exercise operational flexibility.

If the property is unsafe, if the business must be relocated, or if the workforce shifts to remote work, management must be creative, flexible, and patient. Customers, vendors, employees, management, and owners need time to embrace the new situation and work concertedly towards success.

Tip #4: Identify reasonable financial options to replace or repair the facility, equipment, and infrastructure.

At this point, sound financial consultation can provide lending and grant options for the damaged business.  For small businesses, the Small Business Administration is a great place to start.

Connect with a Property Damage Restoration Company before Disaster Strikes

Pre-qualify a reputable property damage cleanup and restoration company before a disaster strikes at the business, factory, office complex, or retail outlet. Include this information in the recovery plan. The professionals at SERVPRO of Palo Alto work with business owners to customize an emergency response plan.

In case of a property damage disaster in a commercial setting, SERVPRO of Palo Alto is available 24/7, 365 days a year, to help a business begin the recovery process. One phone call to one damage cleanup and restoration company at any time day or night delivers a crew on the scene in about one hour.

For more details about Sunnyvale, CA, water damage cleanup, email the office at office@SERVPROpaloalto.com or call (650) 800-3448.

Restoring Home Libraries and Collections after a Water Damage Disaster Has Occurred

6/10/2022 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto offers tips for the care and preservation of home libraries and provides water damage restoration services if the collection suffers a water damage disaster.

SERVPRO of Palo Alto provides water damage restoration and contents cleaning for water-damaged home libraries and collections. For the homeowner who has suffered a water damage disaster that has affected a prized collection, it is comforting to know that competent, skilled, and certified restoration professionals will be handling the cleanup and restoration of these valuable contents.

Californians love collecting. Motivations are varied, including the prospect that the value of the collectibles will dramatically increase as time passes. Rarity and antiquity (the age of the item) are a factor in the value of the collection. Some people create collections as a hobby simply because they enjoy the hunt. Some of the most popular things Californians collect include coins, movies, video games, books, music CDs, stamps, rocks and gems, key chains, dolls, and sports cards.

A collection of mass market paperback novels may have little or no value. On the other hand, out-of-print, rare, or vintage books could be worth a fortune. A shoebox full of old baseball cards may have a rare rookie card worth thousands of dollars. A large collection of comic books may have great sentimental value, while only a couple of the items have any real monetary value.

Restoration of Water-Damaged Libraries and Other Collections

National Park Service archivists, who preserve some of the most valuable books, documents, and other antiquities in the history of America, explain the challenges of dealing with water-damaged books: “Wet books and papers are some of the most fragile items to be salvaged from a home or library after a flood. Paper loses strength when it gets wet, and books suffer damage due to swelling. Additionally, mold may begin to grow when objects are left damp for approximately 72 hours.”

Preventative Measures

SERVPRO of Palo Alto offers advice on how to prevent damage to a personal book collection and how to clean up and restore materials should they suffer water damage. Preservation of a prized personal library or other collection begins with taking proactive steps to prevent water damage. Here are some tips to safeguard collectibles.

Tip #1: A cool, dry, dark environment is best for books and other paper documents. Mold loves moisture and warmth, and direct sunlight can fade printed materials.

Tip #2: Handle books with clean, dry hands or gloves. Dirt and oils can stain books or accelerate deterioration.

Tip #3: Keep food, pets, post-it notes, paper clips, and rubber bands away from books and documents. Food attracts destructive pests. Pets chew on books. Post-it notes, paper clips, and rubber bands can degrade or stain pages and book covers.

What to Do When Books Suffer Water Damage

Some water damage disasters are beyond human control and are unavoidable. Follow these tips when dealing with books that have suffered water damage.

Tip: Take immediate action when a water damage disaster occurs in the home, even if books and other paper collectibles are not directly affected. Close off the library from the rest of the house. The additional moisture will be absorbed by the dry covers and pages of the books if moisture levels are not quickly reduced with dehumidifiers or rapid spin fans. Place a room dehumidifier in the collection room to keep moisture levels low.

Tip: Monitor for signs of mold and mildew. Mold thrives on organic matter such as books, and a mold outbreak in the reading room could develop in as little as 24 to 48 hours.

Tip: Turn to book, document, and photograph cleaning and restoration specialists.

SERVPRO of Palo Alto provides document restoration services with the understanding that a home is the heart of a family. The SERVPRO restoration specialists strive to restore water-damaged contents such as books and documents endowed with precious, priceless memories. The team at SERVPRO of Palo Alto has helped restore legal documents, family heirloom Bibles, and other important mementos for homeowners in Menlo Park, Stanford, and Palo Alto.

Books, documents, and photographs that have suffered water damage must be handled with extreme caution. Not all items can be fully restored to pre-damaged condition. The SERVPRO team, however, is able to save many books and documents from being ruined by water damage.

The type of documents and the severity of the water damage determine which of the following options best fit the restoration needs: air-drying, dehumidification, freezer drying, vacuum freeze-drying, or vacuum thermal drying. These state-of-the-art technologies make SERVPRO of Palo Alto proficient in book and document restoration.

To learn more about water damage restoration in Menlo Park, CA, and the surrounding area, contact the office by phone at (650) 800-3448 or email office@SERVPROpaloalto.com

Tree Damage and Wildfires: The Connection between Insects and Fire Damage

6/10/2022 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto explains how bark beetles and other insects contribute to forest fires and fire damage in Palo Alto and the greater Bay area.

Known for putting the customer first, SERVPRO of Palo Alto specializes in smoke, water, and fire damage restoration services for residential and commercial properties. The team at SERVPRO of Palo Alto highlights how insects contribute to forest fires and fire damage.

Pests That Perpetrate Wildfires

Bacteria, fungi, parasitic plants, animals, humans, chemicals, high temperatures, drought, and insects can cause trees to become diseased, weakened, and vulnerable. Though tiny in size, insects in large numbers can devastate a forest very quickly.

Insects Can Be Beneficial

It is both natural and essential for a healthy forest to experience some diseases and infestations. Insects, along with bacteria and fungi, break down organic matter, which releases nutrients, creating humus. Insects pollinate plants and trees, and the insect population also includes predators that keep harmful pests in check.

Insects annually destroy more trees than wildfires. When the insect population explodes, the pests typically impact individual trees or small, scattered groups of trees, with stressed or unhealthy trees succumbing first. Stressors include drought, competition for limited amounts of water, sunlight, and nutrition. Too much water or physical damage to the tree can also stress and weaken the tree.

Healthy trees are able to fight back against an onslaught of insects. When attacked, a healthy tree produces pitch (resin or sap), so insects are drowned by the pitch. Visible signs of pitch on the bark indicate the tree is still alive and healthy. If a tree produces little or no resin during a known insect infestation, expect to find beetle larvae under the bark at the point of attack. Sadly, the tree may be dying.

Drought and Bark Beetles

An article at CAL FIRE of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention entitled “Drought and Beetles–A Killer Combination” highlights a connection between trees, the weather, and an insect that can lead to devastating wildfires:

“Little creatures, big impact… Tiny insects known as bark beetles are deadly when combined with drought. Together they’ve killed millions of trees, greatly increasing the risk of wildfire in California. When trees are weakened due to lack of water from prolonged drought, they are more susceptible to attacks from bark beetles. Once attacked, the tree will die. More than 147 million trees have already died from drought and bark beetles in California. In some communities, up to 85 percent of the forest trees have been killed. These dead trees dry out and become quick-burning fuel for wildfire. A tree’s only defense against bark beetles is sap (pitch), which is produced by a healthy tree. But when a tree is diseased or stressed by drought, it may not be able to produce enough sap to protect it from being overrun by bark beetles. Healthy trees best withstand drought and resist bark beetle attacks.”

A Deadly Duo: Bark Beetles and Engravers

The most problematic insects in California forests are bark beetles and engravers. Stressed and weakened pine and fir trees are most vulnerable to these bark-boring brutes. The two insects often work in tandem. Engravers will further weaken an already stressed and unhealthy tree. The bark beetle will follow up, killing the tree. Look for a general reddening in the tops of affected trees.

Foliage-Eating Insects

Healthy trees can withstand the partial loss of foliage. Left unchecked, foliage-feeders will defoliate a tree to the point of hindering photosynthesis which can stress or kill a tree. If a tree is compromised by the loss of foliage, bark beetles can gain a foothold and finish off the tree. Look for damaged needles and leaves. Foliage-feeders will lay their egg masses in small pouches of webs in protected areas under branches and leaves or in the bark. Twigs, buds, twigs, roots, and cones are also on the menu. Signs of trouble are an overall decline in tree vigor or severe damage to a section of the tree.

What to Do When Trouble Is Spotted

Keep an eye out for signs of trouble: reddening foliage, loss of leaves and needles, tiny holes in the bark, pitch streams, loss of bark, and loss of limbs and branches. Reach out to a reputable arborist, a forestry management company, or the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention for assistance. Stressed, unhealthy, dying, or dead trees present a massive fire hazard.

Fire Damage Prevention, Preparation, and Recovery for Bay Area Homeowners or Businesses

In 2020, the worst wildfire season on record, thousands of wildfires consumed over 4 million acres, destroying over 10,000 structures. Property damages exceeded $10 billion, and fire suppression costs more than $2 billion. The Bay area was hit particularly hard. Fire prevention strategies in and around the home or business and an emergency readiness plan are crucial.

In case of a fire damage disaster or other property damage disaster in a residential or commercial setting, SERVPRO of Palo Alto is available 24-hours a day, 365 days a year, to help homeowners and businesses clean up and restore fire, smoke, and water damage. To learn more information about fire damage restoration in Redwood City, CA, contact SERVPRO of Palo Alto by calling (650) 800-3448 or emailing office@SERVPROpaloalto.com

How to Safely React When a Smoke Alarm Activates

5/16/2022 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto offers four tips on how to react to a fire alarm alert.

SERVPRO of Palo Alto provides water and fire damage restoration services to homeowners and businesses in the Bay area. The team of professionals at SERVPRO is very involved in helping foster a culture of fire safety in the home and the workplace. Fire safety involves several crucial components:

  • Fire safety readiness
  • Fire prevention strategies
  • Fire response alertness
  • Fire damage recovery

Fire prevention is the first line of defense against a fire damage disaster. A proper response to a fire or smoke alarm alert is the best way to survive an actual fire in the home or workplace.

When the smoke alarm alerts the occupants of a home or business, they must know how to conduct themselves and be able to respond according to the training they have received. An emergency plan can be in place and fire prevention strategies up to date, but if the occupants of the home or business fail to appropriately respond to a smoke alarm, property damage, personal injury, or even loss of life could occur.

Some potentially life-saving tips for responding to a fire alarm alert.

Tip #1: Always assume the smoke alarm is real and not a false alarm.

Smoke alarms very rarely self-activate without being triggered by smoke, but that smoke may not always be from a life-threatening fire. The cause of the smoke could be a dish cooking on the stove, in which case the homeowner just needs to turn on the exhaust fan over the stove or open a door or window to let in the fresh air. Once the source of the smoke has been identified and adequately resolved, life can return to normal. Everyone can sit down at the table to enjoy a delicious meal. However, the smoke is real, and the alarm response is accurate. Even in the case of a smoking dish that is not on fire, a cooking fire could still result if the problem is not resolved.

If a fire alarm system activates in the workplace, policy dictates the response. Employees have protocols they must follow, whether the alarm is a drill, an actual fire, a prank, or a false alarm. Often included in these procedures are stringent time goals that must be met. These time markers ensure evacuation will be achieved within a safe time frame. In some work environments, a fire can spread across dust-laden rafters in seconds, and safe escape may be measured in seconds rather than minutes.

Tip #2: Remain calm, alert, and ready to act.

Stay calm, and do not panic. Remember the drills. Stay focused on the necessary and immediate tasks that must be accomplished prior to evacuation. If the smoke alarm activates in the middle of the night, safe and immediate evacuation is the top priority. Get children and pets out of the home safely while alerting first responders to the possible emergency. If the smoke alarm goes off during the day in response to a known fire from an appliance, electrical short, or a cooking fire, take immediate steps to extinguish the blaze. Extinguishing a fire is easiest and most successful when only smoke or minimal flames are involved.

When evacuating the workplace, take the time to gather personal keys, business keys, a purse or backpack, and the cell phone if the activity can be completed in seconds. Desk knickknacks, photos, or other mementos can be left behind. Most commercial buildings are outfitted with a sprinkler system that will minimize fire damage. Occupants in a multi-story complex should immediately take the designated evacuation route. Elevators may become non-operational during a fire.

Tip #3: Follow the smoke alarm response procedures.

In the case of a fire in a house or apartment, exit the structure quickly. A fire may ignite volatile substances that could explode or produce toxic fumes, so keep a safe distance. Check to make sure everyone, including pets, has been evacuated. Wait for emergency responders to arrive. Under no circumstances is anyone to re-enter the burning or smoke-filled home or apartment complex.

In the workplace, be familiar with and follow the smoke alarm response outlined in the Emergency Response Plan. Evacuation is only one part of the escape and survival portion of the plan. Some plans involve groups, crews, or teams meeting outside the facility and completing a digital or paper attendance registry to ensure everyone has exited the building. Employees are usually required to remain a safe distance from the facility. Under no circumstances are employees to re-enter a burning, smoke-filled building. Take time to notice how co-workers are doing in the stress of the moment and offer mental support and encouragement where needed.

Tip #4: Do not interfere with first responders when they arrive on the scene.

Do not hinder the efforts of or attempt to assist firefighters or other first responders. Carefully follow any instructions given by the fire crew.

When property damage affects residential or commercial buildings, SERVPRO of Palo Alto is available to respond 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. The team helps regain control of the situation quickly and begins the restoration process promptly. For more information about Sunnyvale, CA, fire and water damage restoration, call SERVPRO of Palo Alto at (650) 800-3448. The office can also be reached by emailing office@SERVPROpaloalto.com

Dealing With Mudflow-Related Property Damage, Insurance Coverage, and Damage Restoration

5/16/2022 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto offers tips to help homeowners navigate the insurance concerns of property damage from mudflows.

SERVPRO of Palo Alto provides property damage restoration for homes damaged by a mudflow. It is challenging for homeowners to navigate the complexities of the insurance claims process for the water and structural damage caused by a mudflow. To help homeowners overcome these insurance challenges, SERVPRO of Palo Alto offers four tips on how to work through the insurance claims process in the aftermath of a mudflow.

Heavy rain on soil having little or no vegetation can result in a mudslide or mudflow. Homes in areas with this type of soil condition are vulnerable. Unfortunately, a standard homeowners policy generally does not cover property damage caused by mudflow, mudslides, or earthquakes. Under certain circumstances, a rider or separate policy can be purchased to cover damage from these incidents. A policy through the National Flood Insurance Program does cover mudflow. However, the mudflow must be primarily liquid. A high concentration of vegetative debris, rocks, and sediments may disqualify a claim.

Some tips on navigating insurance concerns involving property damage from mudflows.

Tip #1: Understand what a mudflow is.

According to FEMA, “An NFIP policy covers mudflow if it meets the general definition of flooding under the standard flood insurance policy. Mudflow is defined separately as ‘a river of liquid and flowing mud on the surfaces of normally dry land areas, as when earth is carried by a current of water.’”

Tip #2: Clarify the extent of the policy’s coverage.

The best way to know if a policy in force covers mudflow damage is to consult an insurance agent and request a review of the policy. Consider these questions:

  • Are there any exclusions in the policy coverage for land movement?
  • Are there requirements to protect the property against further loss?
  • How does the insurance company define “property?”
  • Does the policy cover costs for land stabilization?

Tip #3: Do not wait until the last minute to purchase insurance that covers mudflow.

NFIP flood policies cover mudflow. A thirty-day waiting period is in effect from the date of purchase.

Tip #4: Hire a professional to handle the cleanup and restoration of mudflow damage.

The safest and quickest way to clean and restore a home damaged by a mudflow is to hire a property damage restoration company with experience in mudflow remediation. A mudflow contains water, mud, rocks, and vegetative debris most likely contaminated with pathogens from the soil, raw sewage, and toxic chemicals. Safe cleanup requires personal protective gear such as boots, protective clothing, gloves, masks or respirators, and protective eyewear or face shields to keep splash out of the eyes.

Layers of mud must be removed along with water and moisture. Commercial-grade equipment is needed to quickly tackle this heavy-duty job before advanced secondary damage occurs. Cleanup of flood- and mud-damaged items must be executed swiftly if the belongings are to be salvaged. Unfortunately, fabrics contaminated with black water must be discarded.

Once the water, mud, and moisture are removed, the damage site is disinfected, sanitized, and deodorized to make it safe for humans and pets. Certified technicians utilize advanced cleaning techniques and EPA-approved cleaning products. Restoration can begin once the site cleanup is completed.

Why SERVPRO of Palo Alto

The insurance claims process is complicated. Successfully navigating the twists and turns can prove challenging even for the seasoned professional. SERVPRO of Palo Alto is able to manage the process from beginning to end. It starts with an initial inspection and assessment of the property damage. Using the industry-standard software Xactimate, a detailed estimate documented with images and video is created and presented to the client. In many cases, SERVPRO of Palo Alto has already worked with the customer’s insurance company and knows what expectations and requirements the company has for damage restoration service providers. The SERVPRO staff handling the claims process are specially trained to handle the entire process so that the homeowner can focus on recovering from the disaster.

By taking a proactive approach and pre-qualifying SERVPRO of Palo Alto as their dedicated damage restoration company, homeowners can have peace of mind knowing that only one phone call is needed to have a team of certified and experienced professionals arrive on the scene to remediate the property damage.

When property damage occurs, home and business owners can contact SERVPRO of Palo Alto to respond rapidly to the emergency. The team is available 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. For more information about Redwood City, CA, property damage restoration services, email SERVPRO of Palo Alto at office@SERVPROpaloalto.com or call (650) 800-3448.

Six Hazards That Can Lead to Fire Damage at Restaurants in Sunnyvale, CA

5/16/2022 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto highlights six hidden fire risks that may be present in a restaurant setting.

Fire and water damage restoration services are urgently needed when a Sunnyvale, CA, business experiences property damage from fire and the efforts to extinguish the blaze. A fire at a commercial facility, such as a restaurant, can be very costly and can potentially put the business out of business.

Restaurants are especially vulnerable to fire damage and its expensive aftermath. McGowan Program Administrators, a leading writer of insurance programs, shares the following statistics: “During a four-year study by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there were 7,640 structural fires in dining and drinking establishments. These fires caused more than $246 million in property damage. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the average loss for a commercial kitchen fire is $23,000. Of those, FEMA reports 43% were a total loss, forcing the restaurant to close.”

Within a restaurant, the stove and cooking equipment are the most obvious sources of fire damage. However, restaurant owners and their employees also need to be aware of fire hazards that are less apparent as causes of and contributors to fire damage.

Six Hidden Fire Risks in Restaurants

  1. Electrical issues

The kitchen is not the only place that a restaurant fire can originate from. An electrical fire can occur anywhere in the building and could be caused by frayed electrical or extension cords, damaged outlets, overloaded circuits, aging wiring, or malfunctioning equipment.

  1. Grease buildup

Any place where grease could accumulate should be checked and cleaned regularly. Grease traps, exhaust systems, and wood-burning ovens all create the potential for grease buildup. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) provides the following maintenance and inspection requirements:

  • Grease traps: Clean four times yearly for a high-volume restaurant or two times yearly for a lower-volume restaurant
  • Exhaust system: Inspect the system four times yearly for a high-volume restaurant or two times yearly for a lower-volume restaurant
  • Wood-burning ovens or other methods of solid fuel cooking: Inspect the unit monthly

Never use water to extinguish a grease fire since grease tends to splatter when it comes in contact with water. Splashing grease can cause the fire to spread.

  1. Patron or employee smoking

When diners, staff, or vendors discard cigarettes inside a trash can, a fire could break out. Make sure that smoking receptacles are available outside the building, and if the restaurant allows its staff to smoke, establish a designated smoking area equipped with the proper cigarette disposal units.

  1. Insufficient storage space

When a restaurant does not have enough room to store supplies, items tend to overflow into the cooking area. Never keep flammable materials near heat sources or cooking equipment; instead, store flammable substances and items securely and away from heat or open flames. Investing in more storage space or better storage solutions is far less expensive than the cost of property damage loss and restoration.

  1. Fans and hood vents

Commercial kitchen hood and fan systems pull flammable vapors into the exhaust system. It is recommended that hood vents be cleaned on a nightly basis.

A restaurant equipment supplier advises, “All parts of your ventilation system must be regularly cleaned. This includes the hood, hood filters, ductwork, and upblast exhaust fan. If any one part of your kitchen hood system is dirty, it will have a domino effect on the rest of it, causing it to work inefficiently and eventually break down.”

  1. Ductwork

If a fire starts in a restaurant, the ductwork, including the HVAC system, will spread the fire quickly. Also, ductwork tends to capture flammable grease, which can exacerbate the blaze.

Restaurants are advised to keep the correct types of fire extinguishers on hand to put out different types of fires. For instance, a combustible fire requires the use of a different extinguisher than an electrical fire.

In the event that fire damages a restaurant in Sunnyvale, CA, the restaurant owner can turn to SERVPRO of Palo Alto for commercial restoration services. The full-service damage restoration company can address the initial fire damage, as well as any water damage or mold. The team can also effectively remediate smoke odors. Once SERVPRO of Palo Alto has completed the restoration process, the restaurant will be safe, clean, and ready to reopen to diners.

For more information about fire damage restoration in Sunnyvale, CA, email SERVPRO of Palo Alto at office@SERVPROpaloalto.com. The office can also be reached by phone at (650) 800-3448.

How to Keep Insects Out When Water Gets in Sunnyvale, CA Houses

4/29/2022 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto offers tips to prevent an insect invasion after water damage in a Sunnyvale, CA, home.

The team of water damage restoration specialists at SERVPRO of Palo Alto wants to alert homeowners and business owners to the connection between water damage and a pest infestation. Spring can increase the risk of water damage due to increased rainfall and a higher humidity level.

Besides weather-related water damage, there are also other causes of water damage. Burst pipes, ruptured supply lines, leaky appliances, and poor ventilation can cause or contribute to water damage. The immediate consequences of a water intrusion include:

  • Musty, moldy odors, or worse, the smell of sewage
  • Stains on walls, ceilings, baseboards, and flooring
  • Buckling and warping drywall
  • Warping and swelling wood
  • Structural wood rot

Water wastes no time in carrying out its destructive effects. In only a few hours, ceilings, walls, flooring, furniture, and personal belongings can sustain heavy damage. If the removal of bulk water and excess moisture is delayed for a day or two, the home’s structural integrity can be compromised.

A cleanup and restoration project in a situation where the damage is extensive is disruptive, inconvenient, time-consuming, stressful, and expensive. Quick action on the part of the homeowner and a rapid response from the property damage restoration company create a best-case scenario in a situation that is already fraught with difficulties.

Another often overlooked motivation to take prompt action to begin the water removal and applied structural drying is the threat of a pest infestation.

Water-Related Pest Issues

Insects, like humans, require water to survive and thrive. A case in point is the mosquito. As recently as September of 2021, mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus were discovered in Palo Alto and Mountain View, resulting in efforts to reduce the health risk by strategically spraying insecticide to kill the pests. Infestations are more likely where moisture and dampness provide a suitable environment for the insects to lay their eggs, such as over-watered lawns and house plants, settling ponds, wetlands, and stagnant kiddie and pet pools. Clogged or unlevel gutters with pooling water facilitate the spread of mosquitoes.

Other moisture-seeking invaders include ants, termites, cockroaches, earwigs, millipedes, and silverfish. The pests mentioned above may quench their thirst by chewing on the water-soaked wood in a water-damaged home. If left unchecked, the tiny insects can become a huge nuisance.

Steps to Stop Water Damage and Moisture-Seeking Pests

Step #1: Reduce moisture in the home.

By keeping moisture to a minimum, the homeowner can also keep moisture-seeking pests to a minimum in the home. Efforts can include:

  • Operating a dehumidifier in moisture-prone areas
  • Opening windows in the kitchen and bathrooms bring in fresh, dry air
  • Installing ceiling exhaust fans in the kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry room
  • Quickly mopping up small, manageable spills and run a dehumidifier or fan to dry out the water-soaked area
  • Immediately repairing faucets, plumbing connections, toilets, tubs, showers, and leaking appliances

Step #2: Identify and reduce unnecessary moisture around and under the home.

Look for potential outdoor breeding grounds for insects. Ground moisture and condensation can lead to dampness in the crawl space resulting in mold, wood rot, and mildew issues. An HVAC condensate line that evacuates too close to the foundation of a home can facilitate pest infestation. A leaking spigot is a watering hole for mosquitoes.

Moisture trapped in mulch beds and bedding straw is a prime location for thirsty Palo Alto pests. Water in flower beds, flowerpots, and rain barrels provides an oasis for water-loving pests. Faulty caulking around shower surrounds and the kitchen backsplash can create a moisture problem for the homeowner.

Insufficient slope away from the foundation can lead to excess water around the exterior of the foundation. Eventually, the moisture can seep through cracks in the foundation, flooding the crawl space or basement. Overgrown shrubs near the exterior of a home can encourage the buildup of water, and the dense branches hinder the sun from evaporating the moisture.

Step #3: Call on a property damage cleanup and restoration professional when a water damage disaster strikes.

Water damage is stressful, and uninvited pests only make the situation worse. In case of a property damage disaster in a residential or commercial setting, SERVPRO of Palo Alto offers a quick response, 24/7, 365 days a year. Rapid remediation sends uninvited pests packing before they ever have a chance to settle in.

Contact SERVPRO of Palo Alto for more details about Sunnyvale, CA, water damage cleanup. The team can be reached by email at office@SERVPROpaloalto.com or by phone at (650) 800-3448.

Flood Damage and Mudslides: What to Expect and How to Recover

4/29/2022 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto highlights the impact of a mudslide and offers seven tips on how to prepare for and protect against mudslides in Sunnyvale, CA.

After a water damage disaster resulting from severe weather, flood restoration services can prevent advanced secondary damage to the home. Floodwaters are contaminated with organic matter, raw sewage, pathogens, toxins, chemicals, and sediments. SERVPRO of Palo Alto is poised and prepared to meet the challenges presented by a natural disaster such as an earthquake, wildfire, flood, or mudslide. Contaminated muddy water and sediments can render carpeting, rugs, furniture, upholstery, and other household items unsalvageable. Items contaminated with Category Three or black water must be discarded. A quick response and rapid remediation from trained, experienced, and certified technicians can limit the extent of the damage and the overall cost of remediation.

The devastation of a mudslide can be catastrophic. Preparation and response are vital for survival and recovery. An article from a leading foundation solutions company explains the mechanics of mudslides: “Every year, mudslides and landslides cause more than $2 billion in damages to homes and businesses across the United States, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). One of the major causes of mudslides in the west is wildfires. When wildfires occur — from Colorado to Montana —  they damage the trees and plants needed to keep dirt and soil conditions moist and healthy. Without its natural ability to absorb rainfall, water sits on top of the soil and hazardous mudslides can occur without warning.”

The article explains another facet of the causes of a mudslide, stating, “Similar conditions can also happen in areas experiencing extensive dry or drought conditions followed by intense rainfall or in places where vegetation has been removed for construction. Coastal cities that experience high winds and rain from hurricanes or ice storms in the winter — from Georgia to North Carolina — are also affected by mudslides. It only takes a few inches of intense rainfall to cause one.”

These risk factors highlight the importance of early preparation in advance of such a disaster. This preparedness has a wide application inclusive of most of the United States and not just the Bay Area and Palo Alto. Proper preparation can reduce costly property damage resulting from mudslides.

Protecting Homes Against property damage resulting from mudslides

While mudslides are a natural disaster beyond the control of a single homeowner, preparedness is viable for every homeowner. An emergency plan can protect homeowners in the event of a mudslide and reduce the long-term impact on their physical well-being, their property, and their financial recovery. These recommendations form a solid foundation for a basic emergency preparedness and response plan.

#1: Keep informed on storm and emergency alerts. When severe weather threatens, turn on the weather radio. Subscribe to receive local text and email alerts.

#2: Collect items for an emergency kit and keep the kit in an accessible location known to all family members.

#3: Create and practice an emergency evacuation plan with the family. Consider pets and their needs.

#4: Improve the landscape to enhance safety and provide protection. Adjustments in the landscape layout can directly affect the impact of a mudslide on a property. A competent landscape architect can make recommendations for a home in an area prone to mudslides. These recommendations may include:

  • Diagnosing areas of the yard currently suffering from soil erosion
  • Creating berms and swales to control water flow
  • Installing erosion-control ground covers
  • Planting trees that produce large root systems to hold the soil
  • Improving the drainage system
  • Building barrier walls

A landscape architect can identify and address storm drainage issues and landscape features on adjacent properties that may contribute to a mudslide or a micro-flood.

#5: Implement immediate, short-term prevention and protection measures when severe weather is in the forecast. These strategies include:

  • Using hay bales to divert water away from the home
  • Installing plastic sheeting on bare spots or on freshly-graded areas to prevent erosion
  • Positioning sandbags in vulnerable places around the home
  • Boarding up doors and windows

#6: Review and update insurance coverage. Create a master list of valuable items, including antiques, artwork, jewelry, electronics, tools, firearms, outdoor equipment, furniture, and appliances. Include digital photos and video. Make digital copies of important documents, and keep this digital information in the cloud for easy access.

Since flooding, mudslides, and earthquakes are not covered under most homeowners' policies, consult an insurance professional to obtain adequate coverage.

#7: Pre-qualify a property damage restoration company before a disaster strikes. A natural disaster often disrupts communication systems, making it all but impossible for a homeowner to contact a storm damage cleanup and restoration company. The best time to find a storm damage restoration professional is when life is peaceful, the earth is stable underfoot, and the sky is clear. Look for the following qualifications:

  • Locally owned and operated with years of experience
  • Industry-standard IICRC cleaning and restoration certifications
  • References and great social media reviews
  • Available 24/7, 365 days a year, including holidays
  • Quick response and rapid remediation
  • Best equipment, the latest technology, advanced cleaning techniques, and EPA-approved cleaning products
  • Provides a detailed, documented estimate
  • Handles insurance claims from end-to-end

In case of a property damage disaster such as a mudslide, flood, house fire, or water intrusion in a residential or commercial setting, SERVPRO of Palo Alto is available 24-hours a day, 365 days a year to help regain control of the situation quickly and begin the restoration process. A quick response, rapid remediation, and minimal disruption enable the homeowner or business to move forward after a disaster.

To learn more about Menlo Park, CA, flood damage cleanup, contact SERVPRO of Palo Alto by calling (650) 800-3448 or by emailing office@SERVPROpaloalto.com

What IT Businesses Can Do to Prevent Water Damage Resulting from a Faulty Sprinkler System

4/29/2022 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto offers six tips to help companies with IT equipment avoid water damage from a malfunctioning sprinkler system.

Water damage from a malfunctioning sprinkler system in a commercial setting such as a manufacturing plant, distribution center, medical building, or professional office complex can have devastating consequences. SERVPRO of Palo Alto understands the challenges of providing water damage cleanup and restoration services in a setting where information technology (IT) is interwoven with the production process or the provision of services.

A fire in any commercial setting can be devastating. Damage to the facility shuts down production and the provision of services, interrupting the revenue cycle. Overhead does not suddenly cease if the business closes for days or weeks. Cleanup and restoration incur an expense even if insurance pays for the damage. Equipment must be repaired or replaced. Preventing fire damage is a top priority. The typical means of minimizing fire damage has been the installation of a traditional sprinkler system, but this strategy comes with an inherent hazard: unintended water damage.

A fire not only damages the physical plant and means of production, but fire damage can also wreck the information technology (IT) systems essential for business operations. Traditional sprinkler systems can limit the spread of a fire in a factory, but water from sprinklers can also ruin expensive hardware in an IT-based environment.

Fire-mitigation engineers explain the challenges of sprinkler systems: “As businesses move to a more technology-based environment, traditional sprinkler systems prove problematic to protecting IT equipment. Luckily, more effective options exist. Today, the installation of information technology (IT) protection is an essential part of construction design, including the IT disaster recovery plan. The recovery strategies are based on standards for buildings, hardware and data protection. The procedures are incorporated into the building design, construction planning and impact analysis. Without the proper systems, the impact of damage or loss to IT equipment can be very significant. By selecting the right sprinkler system, the damage can be prevented and controlled.”

Tips to Protect IT Equipment from Fire and Water Damage

A well-designed and properly installed sprinkler system protects the building from severe fire damage. The sprinkler system can also protect IT equipment from both fire and water damage. The tips listed below provide the information needed to understand the available options so decision-makers can select the best sprinkler system for their facility.

Tip #1. Become familiar with the various types of sprinkler systems.

System specifications are determined by three factors: geographical location, local building codes, and the desired level of protection. Each facility has its own unique needs, which will dictate the application of time delays, installation costs, and maintenance requirements and expenses.

  • Deluge system

Deluge systems discharge a spray of water over an expansive area. Multiple sensors alert personnel to an impending sprinkler activation. This delay allows the situation to be assessed and the system to be interrupted in the event of a false alarm.

  • Dry pipe systems

This option is preferable where frozen pipes present a hazard. Water is only allowed to flow through the pipes when a fire opens a valve. The time it takes for water to move through the pipes gives employees time to protect IT equipment.

  • Pre-action systems

A derivation of the dry pipe design, a pre-action system works well in situations where the presence of moisture and water can prove detrimental to the contents under the sprinkler system. Multiple sensor functionality avoids unintended activation of the fire detection system.

  • Wet pipe systems

Wet pipe systems consist of a heat-sensitive sprinkler head fitted with a check valve that signals a water release into the system.

For safety, lower insurance premiums, and best protection, full sprinkler coverage is advised. The systems mentioned above provide options for any situation.

Tip #2. Conduct regular inspections of the fire protection system.

Scheduled maintenance can detect a sprinkler system leak in its infancy. A leak releasing one drop of water every five seconds is about 12 ounces per day, plenty of water to short circuit a piece of IT equipment or an electrical panel. Identifying and resolving a small leak can avoid a big headache.

Tip #3. Integrate programmable sensors into the sprinkler system.

When the fire sprinkler system alerts the water sensors, power is automatically shut off to the IT equipment. An automatic data backup is initiated when the power disconnect command is triggered.

Tip #4. Consult with a fire suppression professional when designing, constructing, or upfitting a data center for a customized sprinkler system.

Advancements in fire suppression technology involving the use of clean agents or inert gasses offer real protection for IT equipment without the hazards or disadvantages of a water sprinkler system.

Tip #5. Comply with building codes regarding fire protection, prevention, and suppression.

Building codes and system ordinances are intended to save lives and limit property damage. Non-compliance can cost lives, lead to litigation, and result in the levying of heavy fines against the offending party.

Tip #6. Pre-qualify a water damage restoration company before a disaster strikes.

Advanced fire suppression sprinkler systems have the capacity to protect IT equipment from extensive and severe water damage. When a water damage disaster occurs, whether related to a fire, a faulty sprinkler system, a slow leak, or storm damage, a quick response to the scene and the rapid removal of water are crucial. The cleaning and restoration of IT equipment require training, equipment, skill, and speed. The water damage restoration technicians at SERVPRO of Palo Alto are trained and equipped to tackle the delicate task of cleaning and restoring electronics such as IT equipment.

Contact SERVPRO of Palo Alto for more details about commercial water damage restoration services. The office can be reached by emailing office@SERVPROpaloalto.com or calling (650) 800-3448.

Tips to Prepare for and Recover from an Earthquake in the Palo Alto Area

3/9/2022 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto gives advice on preparing for earthquakes and recovering from the resulting property damage.

SERVPRO of Palo Alto is prepared to deal with the complex property damage disaster resulting from an earthquake, including fire and smoke damage, water damage, sewage spills, mold infestation, and biohazard cleanup. In a large-scale disaster such as an earthquake, the proper training, the right equipment, and experienced and certified technicians are essential for a safe, fast, and thorough property damage cleanup and restoration after an earthquake.

Palo Alto is located near major geologic faults. This close proximity to these geologic hazards puts the city and its inhabitants at risk of personal injury and extensive property damage in the event of a major earthquake. This natural disaster risk hazard highlights the importance of being prepared.

Recent earthquakes in Southern California reinforce the need for Palo Alto residents to educate themselves on how to prepare for a sudden emergency such as an earthquake that interrupts utilities and disrupts the supply chain of goods and services to the affected areas.

Palo Alto’s location near eight major faults, including the Hayward and San Andreas faults, elevates the likelihood of an earthquake disaster. An aging and stressed infrastructure will likely suffer a more severe impact from a local seismic event.

Local officials describe the situation, stating, “Palo Alto is different from some other places because we are much denser and our buildings are older.  As such, a 7.1 earthquake would be very dangerous in our area and most likely not result in zero injuries and deaths.”

A risk assessment of the city’s vulnerability identifies three serious consequences of a powerful earthquake. Critical infrastructure would be crippled. Property damage, especially fires, would be a likely consequence. First responders would be unable to get to work, let alone stage and deploy to meet essential needs. These factors further demonstrate the need for residents to be prepared for an earthquake disaster.

Tips to Prepare for an Earthquake Disaster

1. Create a Ready Plan.

A well-rounded disaster preparation and survival plan accomplish many goals. Residents who have a plan know what to do and how to react in the event of an earthquake. After the earthquake, they will have the basic supplies needed to survive if the infrastructure fails and the supply chain collapses. A solid plan can give a family or business the assurance and confidence needed to overcome the challenges presented by a major catastrophe such as an earthquake.

Components of this plan should include the following action steps:

  • Identify safe areas in each room.
  • Conduct training sessions on the “drop, cover, and hold on” method for earthquake survival.
  • Purchase and learn how to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Know how to shut off utilities such as water, electricity, and natural gas.
  • Designate a safe meeting place to gather at after the earthquake.
  • Have an online and an offline communication strategy that involves cell phones, walkie-talkies, and written notes.

2. Stay alert and informed.

Connect to the information stream by registering for AlertSCC, the emergency notification system that sends out alerts to Santa Clara County residents, businesses, and employees. Visit the city’s website for updates. Call the emergency hotline at (650)-329-2420 for pre-recorded updates.

3. Stockpile survival supplies.

These supplies include first aid items, a solar-powered emergency radio, an alternate energy source, non-perishable foodstuffs, drinking water, a water filter, medications, and hygiene products.

4. Network and volunteer.

Community will be the key to overcoming the challenges resulting from a natural disaster such as an earthquake. A wide array of volunteer organizations is available for interested residents who want to make a difference.

Tips for Recovering from an Earthquake

Preparation prior to an earthquake is necessary for safety, security, and survival. When the earthquake is over, recovery becomes a top priority. As with any disaster, large or small, cleanup and restoration are essential to recovery. Efforts to contact and qualify a reputable, competent property damage restoration company can prove futile in the chaos, confusion, and stress of an earthquake or other natural disaster.

The best course of action is to pre-qualify a property damage restoration company as a part of the Ready Plan. Listed below are some crucial points to consider.

  1. The company should be a reputable, trusted member of the business community.
  2. Technicians should have multiple certifications in areas such as water damage cleanup, fire and smoke damage cleanup, sewage cleanup, and biohazard cleanup. They should also use the best equipment, latest technology, and advanced cleaning and restoration techniques.
  3. The company needs to be able to scale to the size of the disaster. A company like SERVPRO of Palo Alto has a nationwide network of SERVPRO franchisees to call upon for assistance. An army of support can be quickly and efficiently mobilized and dispatched to the disaster area.
  4. Make sure that the restoration company can handle the insurance claims process from start to finish. A reputable company will conduct a thorough inspection of the property, assess the damage, and provide a detailed estimate documented with written notes, photos, and video.
  5. Choose a company that is available 24/7, 365 days a year, including holidays and natural disasters. A rapid response can avoid advanced secondary damage such as mold, structural damage, and contamination from gray and black water.

SERVPRO of Palo Alto is locally owned and operated, and technicians understand the benefits and complexities of living in a beautiful city in an earthquake-prone region of California.

To learn more about the Sunnyvale, CA, damage restoration company, call SERVPRO of Palo Alto at (650) 800-3448. The office can also be contacted by email at office@SERVPROpaloalto.com