Hurricanes In Hampton Roads
Are you prepared!!
Just about everyone living in the Hampton Roads area has had to deal with the effects of a hurricane at one point or another. In just the past 15 years, Hampton Roads has been hit by Hurricane Floyd in 1999, Hurricane Isabel in 2003, and Hurricane Irene in 2011. Anyone who was in the area for these storms knows the destruction that comes in the wake of these storms. Even though there is nothing we can do to prevent storms of this magnitude, there are a lot of things that we can do to better prepare ourselves to deal with them. The first step is to be knowledgeable.
We have been very lucky in years past to have not had any major storms. By all accounts, we were in for a very busy hurricane season. While we are just now entering the peak of the season, we have not seen anything major hit land. Although we have been free and clear, it doesn’t mean we are out of the woods yet. Just last year Hurricane Sandy hit in October. Looking back at 2001, Hurricane Chantal kicked off the hurricane season in September and was followed up by 15 named storms, including nine hurricanes.
So what does this mean for Hampton Roads? It means we are not quite out of the woods yet but we are in the home stretch. Don’t let this period of inactivity lull you to sleep. It is more important than ever to have a plan and to be prepared. You can go to www.ready.gov for more information on making an emergency plan.
Roanoke Valley Floods
Removing some of the wall after the water damage
A couple years ago, Roanoke Valley got hit very hard with storms. The rain from the storms turned out to be too much for the rivers and lakes in the area and flooded them. As a result, most people in the area found themselves underwater.
This is where SERVPRO of Norfolk comes in. We sent our storm team up to Roanoke for the week to help out. In the picture you can start to see the extent of the water damage. The water made its way almost halfway up the walls. Our techs were able to do a great deal towards getting Roanoke back to normal.
If the first storm wasn't bad enough, halfway through the restoration process, Roanoke got hit once again with a series of storms. Fortunately, it wasn't quite as bad and the SERVPRO of Norfolk team was able to act fast to mitigate any damage.
Keeping Up with Your Commercial Maintenance Needs
A/C condensation line with algae buildup.
It’s very important to keep up with your commercial maintenance needs because this can prevent damages to your property. Things like checking your hot water heater to see when the last time it was replaced or checking the condensation lines coming from your air conditioning unit are quick and easy preventative measures. These are just some of the things you can check to prevent damages to your home.
Most water damages come from a preventable source such as your hot water heater or air conditioning condensation line. With hot water heaters you should replace them every 8–12 years. Replacement will vary with the severity of your local weather, the design of the unit, quality of installation, and the maintenance your unit has received. With an air conditioner condensation line we would recommend cleaning it once a year to maintain a blockage free line.
There are plenty of websites that explain how to do these things yourself but we would recommend that if you are not a professional, you should hire a professional to perform maintenance on your home. Performing these two quick and easy checks can go a long way in preventing any potential issues.
REMEMBER to call SERVPRO of Norfolk at 757-625-1245 when you need help.
Power Outage Affects Hampton Roads
Is your commercial property prepared.
Due to the humid weather lately, Hampton roads has experienced many severe thunderstorms. This has, in turn, caused both residential homes as well as commercial business to experience outages.
Thousands were without power in Virginia Beach on the night of July 15, 2015 after a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for some areas on the Southside. According to Dominion Virginia Power, more than 2,000 customers in Virginia Beach experienced a power outage. Just after midnight, that number had been reduced to about 1,500 customers and the estimated restoration time was 3 a.m.
Here are some tips that will prove to be helpful if a power outage looks likely.
To prepare for a power outage you should do the following:
•To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
•Follow energy conservation measures to keep the use of electricity as low as possible, which can help power companies avoid imposing rolling power outages.
•Fill plastic containers with water and place them in the refrigerator and freezer if there's room. Leave about an inch of space inside each one, because water expands as it freezes. This chilled or frozen water will help keep food cold during a temporary power outage, by displacing air that can warm up quickly with water or ice that keeps cold for several hours without additional refrigeration.
•Be aware that most medication that requires refrigeration can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem. If unsure, check with your physician or pharmacist.
•Keep your car tank at least half full because gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
•Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it. Garage doors can be heavy, so know that you may need help to lift it.
•Keep a key to your house with you if you regularly use the garage as the primary means of entering your home, in case the garage door will not open.
Always remember SERVPRO of Norfolk is here to help by calling 757-625-1245.
Fall Brings Cool Weather, Changing Leaves, and Increased Risk
This Fall, in between the Halloween candy and turkey dinners, take some time to be prepared.
There is a chill in the air, beautiful colors outside, football on the TV, and an abundance of decorations to be put up. With everything going on in the fall, it is easy to forget that autumn can be a dangerous time for fires. It is very important to be prepared and aware of your surroundings.
As you start to put up the decorations for Halloween and Thanksgiving, remember that dried flowers, cornstalks, and bales of straw are all highly flammable. Pair this with the candle-lit Jack-O-Lanterns along with other open flames and there is a recipe for disaster. It is very important to be careful and think about the way you decorate. Be sure to keep any flames far away from anything even remotely flammable. It is also very important to keep all exits clear of all decorations.
SERVPRO of Portsmouth isn’t the only one stressing fire prevention in the fall. Each October, the National Fire Protection Association observes Fire Prevention Week. It is a week designated to encourage people to evaluate their surroundings and make sure that they have a plan in place in the event of a fire. It’s a great time for schools and families to teach children about fire safety.
Even if you don’t have children, take some time this month to make sure you have a plan in place. Make sure you have up to date fire extinguishers at the ready and fresh batteries in your smoke detectors. Always remember, no one ever expects a fire to happen. A good plan and fast action can turn a total loss into a small claim.
Living in a high-rise building can protect you from a handful of different disasters. Unfortunately, they don’t make you any less at risk from a fire. Although high rise buildings are more likely to have fire protection systems in place, they face additional challenges that low-rise buildings may not. Complex evacuation strategies, limited fire department accessibility, smoke movement, fire control, and longer egress times and distance are just some of the unique challenges that these buildings may face in the event of a fire. The multiple floors of a high-rise building create the cumulative effect of requiring great numbers of persons to travel great vertical distances on stairs in order to evacuate the building.
People working or residing in high-rise apartment, condominium, and office buildings need to be fully prepared in the event of a fire. Be sure that you are working closely with your neighbors, landlord and co-workers to ensure everyone is aware of the proper fire safety procedures and features in your building in the event of a fire.
Does your building have fire extinguishers and/or sprinklers? Do you know where the fire alarms are located? Do you have an evacuation plan posted in designated areas of the building? SERVPRO offers a complimentary ERP (Emergency Ready Program) for your business that provides an immediate plan of action in the event a fire or other disaster should occur. For more information, contact your local SERVPRO Franchise or go to: https://ready.SERVPRO.com/home/readyprogram
The following are a few essential free resource tips and guidelines from the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) on how to prevent fires & be prepared in case a fire should occur.
Guidelines to Developing Emergency Action Plans for All-Hazard Emergencies in High-Rise Office Buildings
Download NFPA's free safety tip sheet on high-rise buildings.
See more NFPA tips for escape planning in tall buildings.
The Polar Vortex and What to Expect in Winter Seasons
Polar vortexes, or polar cyclones as they are sometimes called, are climatological features that hover near the poles year-round. These cold-core low-pressure areas strengthen in the winter and weaken in the summer. Strengthening storm systems within the troposphere (the lowest portion of the Earth’s atmosphere) can act to intensify the polar vortex by significantly cooling the poles. A portion of the polar vortex can be fragmented and plunge over Canada, the Midwestern, Central, Southern and Northeastern United States. This alteration in the polar vortex can occur due to the displacement of the polar jet stream.
An example of this alteration would be the significant northwestern push of the polar jet stream over the Western part of the United States this past winter. This is different than the El Nino and La Nina weather occurrences, which are based on the water temperatures and air pressure in the Pacific Ocean that we have seen in the past. So, will the polar vortex have an effect on the upcoming winter?
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, this winter the East Coast will be colder with normal to above-normal snowfall. The coldest periods will be late December through early January and the snowiest periods will be mid-January to early February. Accuweather predicts a soggy, stormy end of the year for the Southeast as a result of the effects of El Nino and even suggests that there may be snow in December. We will have to see if it rains or only sprinkles this winter.
So it sounds like the Hampton Roads area will need to prepare for a cold and wet winter. Get your sweaters out, stock up on hot cocoa and prepare your home. Have the chimney inspected, check to see that your pipes are insulated, remember to turn your faucets to a slow, constant drip if the temperatures will be below 20?, disconnect the garden hoses, check all of the weather stripping around your windows and doors, and replace your HVAC filters. All of these things will help keep you and your home safe and minimize any possible damages that could be caused by the sudden drops in temperature.
Although we haven’t seen a whole lot of cold weather so far this winter, it looks like it could still be just around the corner. If it does hit, we probably will not see the same effects as we did on January 21, 1985 when the temperatures dropped to 3 degrees below zero in Norfolk making it the coldest day in the history of Hampton Roads.
Burst Pipes and the Polar Vortex
Burst pipe in attic saturates flooring throughout house.
As a polar vortex rolled across the United States in early January, there was a point when it was 120 degrees colder in Minnesota than it was in Hampton Roads. Take a second to think about that. Although temperatures in Hampton Roads dropped quickly, we didn't get it as bad as other areas. Unfortunately for homeowners in our area, the drop was still enough to wreak havoc with their pipes. Restoration companies were soon overwhelmed with calls about burst pipes and flooded houses. Although it does seem like some of these burst pipes were inevitable, there are a few precautions that you can take to avoid a major loss next time the temperature drops.
Insulating your pipes is inexpensive compared to the cost of a water damage and is easy to do yourself. This is the first step when preparing your house for cold weather.
Insulate Everything Else
Make sure there is plenty of insulation in your attic and crawlspace. This will keep everything in your house warmer including your pipes.
When you know that there is going to be a big temperature drop, like the recent polar vortex, don't give water a chance to freeze by running it. The smallest stream from a faucet will keep the water moving and prevent freezing. This is especially important to do with faucets that are served by exposed pipes.
Keep Garage Door Closed
If there are pipes in your garage, you need to keep it as warm as possible. Do not leave it open and try to open it only when absolutely needed.
Remove, Drain, and Store Hoses
Water in hoses can freeze and start a chain reaction that will lead back into your house. Prevent this by removing all hoses from the house and draining them.
Open cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom to get some warmer air moving beneath your sinks.
Keep House Temperature Consistent
Most people drop the temperature in their house down at night. When temperatures are especially cold, it is best to keep the house at a higher consistent temperature. The price of heat is nothing compared to the price of a burst pipe.
Set Temperature When Out of Town
If you will be out of town during the winter, make sure to keep the temperature of your house above 55 degrees at the very least.
Following these simple steps can go a long way in preventing a major water damage. For the losses that cannot be prevented, remember to call SERVPRO of Norfolk at 757-625-1245!
Truth about Mold
Mold is one of the most common problems that homeowners face. It develops quickly, growing as fast as 24 to 48 hours within the home when water or moisture is present (which is why it’s a common problem following a water loss and in moisture-prone areas of the home like crawlspaces and basements).
But despite everything that is known about mold, there are still a lot of misconceptions. Here’s a look at some facts and some myths about mold and mold remediation:
Fact: There are far too many species of mold and fungi to identify.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that there are anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of mold and fungi species – far too many to identify. However, some of the most common found in homes are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria and Aspergillus.
Fiction: Mold is always visible.
Many think that just because they can’t see it, it’s not there. Seeing isn’t believing when it comes to mold, as not all types of mold are visible. Therefore, it’s best to rely on smell to detect mold. If you smell a musty odor, there’s likely mold present.
Fact: Mold can lead to health complications.
Although not everyone is affected when exposed to mold, all molds have the potential to cause illness or distress, especially among people who already have respiratory issues. Common symptoms associated with mold exposure include coughing, watery eyes, congestion, headaches and even memory loss and dizziness. Most recently, researchers at Rutgers University have discovered that mold exposure can lead to Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms.
Fiction: Once mold is remediated, it won’t come back.
The only way to completely eliminate mold from returning is to solve the moisture or water problem that caused the mold to grow in the first place.
As you can see, mold is a serious, often misunderstood problem that can grow even more problematic if it isn’t taken care of properly. That’s why SERVPRO of Norfolk follows the IICRC S520 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation and are trained to remediate mold using the latest, most effective techniques. For more information, contact SERVPRO of Norfolk today 757-625-1245.
Mold Issues? Let SERVPRO of Norfolk Help
Mold remediation is one of our primary areas of expertise here at SERVPRO of Norfolk. We have the training and experience to contain the infestation, scrub health-threatening spores out of the air, remove the contaminated materials, and help prevent future microbial growth.
A Moldy Situation
Imagine you were cleaning out a storage closet at work, and you found mold growing on the back wall. Most likely this year, an ice dam supplied the water that created an ideal situation for microbes to grow in this closet. Once you identified and resolved the source of the leak, you would still want to contact a professional to mitigate the mold and ensure healthy air for your employees and customers to breathe.
Containing the Infestation
When SERVPRO® franchise professionals begin a mold job, our first concern is to contain the mold infestation. The mold you can see is only a small part of the danger posed to building occupants. Mold reproduces by releasing invisible spores into the air. These spores pose the real hazard for those who breathe the air in the infested building. Therefore, we begin by preventing air from the contaminated area traveling to other parts of the building.
Scrubbing Mold Out of the Air
Each job is unique in its challenges and solutions. However, in most cases, a SERVPRO® mold mitigation team will set up a containment barrier and create a “negative air” situation inside the infested area. A “negative air” situation is essentially a vacuum that ensures air only flows into and not out of the contained area while the air scrubbers filter the spores and other contaminants from the air.
Removing Contaminated Materials
Organic materials like drywall, carpeting, and ceiling tiles must be removed and discarded once they become contaminated with mold. This is why we encourage people to contact us immediately after a water loss to dry all the materials before microbial growth begins. Blowing a fan across moldy materials hoping to dry them and save them spreads mold spores in the air and increases the health risk to building occupants.
Inhibiting Future Growth
SERVPRO® franchise professionals can never promise to prevent all future mold growth. Mold spores are everywhere in the atmosphere, and they take root and thrive whenever they find the perfect mix of moisture, food (organic materials) and temperature. However, our team does have several products that discourage microbial growth. Once your moldy materials have been removed and the air has been scrubbed to reduce the concentration of spores, we can apply one of these anti-microbial agents to help protect your building’s structural elements.
Call SERVPRO® for Mold ASAP
When you see mold, remember you cannot see the biggest threat that mold presents. Contact SERVPRO of Norfolk's mold remediation team at 757-625-1245 for a free estimate and good advice about protecting yourself and other building occupants until the mold is removed and the air is clean again.