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What Causes Fires in a Commercial Building

5/21/2021 (Permalink)

Fire safety is a serious matter. It requires you to ensure that your office environment and commercial building is well prepared. Even a tiny spark can go on to destroy a building, its contents, and worse, hurt those who may be inside.

Once the fire starts spreading, it will become difficult for you to control if you did not take the right fire safety precautions earlier. Today, modern fire fighting methods have helped to curb the consequences of a raging fire. But that should not make you complacent.

WHAT CAUSES FIRE IN A COMMERCIAL BUILDING?

There are many reasons why fire can break inside a commercial building. Let’s talk about some of the most common causes of fire.

1. HEATING EQUIPMENT

Commercial buildings have furnaces, radiators and boilers that can often lead to situations where the building becomes overheated. This can cause fire, mostly in industrial properties.

2. SMOKING

We have seen many cases where the fire was the result of careless smoking or not disposing of the smoking materials properly. We will talk about this more later.

3. COOKING

If your commercial building has a pantry or a kitchen, there can be chances where flammable materials like oil and grease can catch fire.

4. ARSON

Arson is a fire that has been intentionally started by a person, often, but not always, using highly flammable substances. These deliberate fires can cause harm to the people inside the building or to the building itself. A good security system is the best safeguard against arsonists.

5. ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT

If you have installed low-quality electrical equipment that has become overloaded, you definitely stand a high chance of fire breaking out in your building.

Health Risks of DIY Sewage Flood Cleanup

5/21/2021 (Permalink)

Health Risks of DIY Sewage Flood Cleanup

Sewage consists of greywater (from utilities like sinks, tubs, showers, and dishwashers) or worse – black water. It’s the water used to flush toilets mixed with the human waste that it flushes away. Sewage backup in your home can result from different causes – clogs in the home’s drain pipes, tree roots, damaged sewer lines, and more.

Sewage, especially black water, contains contaminants ranging from parasites and viruses to bacteria and fungi. Contact with sewage without wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and following proper procedures is a serious threat to your health. There’s the risk of contracting over a dozen diseases, such as hepatitis A and encephalitis.

However, the greatest danger is not the risk of disease but the risk of electrocution or explosion. Never enter a flooded area or light matches until the utility companies have shut off the electric and gas service. If you detect or smell gas, immediately evacuate your home and notify the gas company.

You should also never enter your home if you did not turn off the main power switch before flooding. Touching electrical lines, wires, equipment, and fixtures during and after a flood can be dangerous even with the power switched off.

Why Sewage Flood Cleanup Requires Professional Restoration

Water damage is a progressive issue, so the longer you wait to deal with standing water, the greater the damage to your home. Your carpets, your furniture, your walls, and much more, will be compromised without quick and proper intervention.

Furthermore, sewage flood restoration poses unique challenges and genuine dangers. Professional restoration technicians use the proper equipment and follow standard safety procedures and remediation techniques that typical homeowners would not normally access.

In a nutshell, here’s what professionals do to restore your property:

  • Pump out contaminated water and remove debris
  • Identify and address the origin of the sewage backup
  • Remove and replace damaged drywall and floors if necessary
  • Use industrial dehumidifiers and air scrubbers to speed up the drying process
  • Sanitize the area using specialized cleaners and procedures; this helps eliminate bacteria and mold to prevent health risks and preserve infrastructure and belongings.

An experienced restoration company can also help with the insurance claims process.

Things You Must Know: Plumbing Leaks

5/21/2021 (Permalink)

You don't need to know everything about plumbing, but it's important to understand the basics, especially when it comes to leaks.

Wrap your pipes in heat.The important feature is the exterior piping. If the cold-water pipes touch the exterior portion of the building, when the water isn't being used and the temperature is very cold, most likely the pipes will freeze. The only time water won't freeze is when it's moving, so it's is a good idea to leave all the faucets open while you're away from home for any length of time. The best thing you can do, however, is insulate the whole space.

You may not know what's right, but you can usually spot what's wrong. Take a quick look at any visible pipes in your house, just to keep up on what's going on with them. Homeowners often don't routinely check; then a puddle of water appears in the basement, damaging their valuables, and they had no inkling that anything was amiss. You can look at the pipes in your basement and have no idea what you're looking at, but if you see rust, buckling or drops of water, you'll definitely know something's wrong.

A stuffed sink can easily spring a leak. Under your kitchen sink, just take a peek every once in a while and see if there are any drips. It's always a good idea to take a look.

A leaky water heater is a dead water heater. The biggest problem is that the lining wears away and you get water dripping from the base. If a lot of water is dripping, call the manufacturer and provide the model number; you may get lucky and find that the product is still under warranty. When you do change the water heater, try to install a pan under it.

Trace the trap leak back to the wall. When you have a leak, often it may be on the back side, where it actually connects to the wall, in which case you'll have to disassemble the drain work. Oftentimes you can even tighten it with your hands to see whether the leaking stops. If it doesn't, just use a wrench to tighten it up a little.

Washers and o-rings are much cheaper than a new fixture. If a washer is worn, even though you squeeze it, you may still get a drip if it's defective. You have to remove what's defective, put in a new washer, retighten it, put the handle back on and test it out.

Signs of Water Damage in Your Home

5/21/2021 (Permalink)

CHECKING FOR WATER DAMAGE SIGNS INSIDE YOUR HOME

Inside the home, look for the following for signs of water damage:

  • Water rings on the ceiling or walls pointing to a leak in the pipes. While rings may be easier to notice, keep an eye out for smaller water stains on the ceiling or walls which are also common. Regularly go through your home and make a note of areas that are close to plumbing. If you're unable to see any water rings or stains but suspect a leak, listen for water leaks within the walls at night when the ambient noise is at its lowest.
  • Soft or sagging spots on the floor, especially near the tub, shower, sinks. The spots may also be caused by leaking appliances in need of repair such as dishwashers, washing machines or a water heater.
  • Cracked or warped tile, laminate or wood flooring. Water damage happens to all types of flooring and can lead to warping, splitting, or cracking as the water seeps in. While cracked or warped flooring may be easy to notice, you may not notice wet flooring, especially if it's in the corners of the room or in areas of your home that you don't frequent. Go out of your way to regularly inspect these areas and look out for any wet patches in rooms with carpeting, since minor water damage is often difficult to notice there.
  • Look in the cabinet under the sink for watermarks, warping and discoloration that may indicate leaking pipes. Damp cabinets or mold are sure signs that there is a leaking pipe nearby. Call a professional as soon as possible to get the issue fixed. This small repair cost may save you larger costs and trouble down the line.
  • Pay attention to any apparently new repairs to ceilings, walls and windows. Are there patch jobs? Does there appear to be areas with heavier paint? These "quick fixes" may be hiding water damage spots.
  • Check for rust on the hot water heater. These can indicate a previous or current leak and any leak can mean water damage.
  • Trust your sense of smell. If there is a mildew or musty smell, it's likely there was water damage and now there may be a potential mold issue that will require mold remediation.

Fire Safety For Kids

5/20/2021 (Permalink)

A home fire is a devastating event, and one that you never count on happening. Your children are most at risk when this disaster occurs. In fact, children under five are twice as likely as other people to die in a home fire. Tragically, many home fires are started by children playing with dangerous household items – especially lighters and matches. Taking sensible precautions in the home and teaching your child how to escape from a fire can help your family avoid this type of heartbreak. 

Prevent Your Child from Starting Fires

The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that 300 people are killed and $280 million in property is destroyed each year as the result of children playing with fire.

  • Keep matches, lighters and other ignitable substances in a secured location out of your child’s reach. Only use lighters with child-resistant features.
  • Invest in flameless candles. These candles contain a light bulb rather than an open flame, and take the danger out of your child knocking over a candle.
Help Your Child Survive a Fire
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. 
  • Once a month check whether each alarm in the home is working properly by pushing the test button. 
  • Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year. Immediately install a new battery if an alarm chirps, warning the battery is low.
  • Teach your children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
  • Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home, and where to meet up outside..
  • Practice your fire escape plan at least twice a year and at different times of the day. Practice waking up to smoke alarms, low crawling and meeting outside. Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
  • Emphasize “get out, stay out.” Only professional firefighters should enter a building that is on fire—even if other family members, pets or prized possessions are inside.
  • Use quick-release devices on barred windows and doors. Security bars without release devices can trap you in a deadly fire. If you have security bars on your windows, be sure one window in each sleeping room has a release device.
  • Consider getting escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second or third floor. Learn how to use them, and store them near the windows. 
  • Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.

How to Protect Your Commercial Property From Flood Damage.

5/20/2021 (Permalink)

As a business owner, there is only so much you can do to protect your building from water damage. But sometimes what you can do is the difference between rebuilding and a close call. If your commercial property is located in a flood zone, near a body of water, or in an area with large amounts of rainfall, it’s important that you take the precautionary steps to prevent flood damage from occurring in your building. Use these tips to get you started.

How to Protect Your Commercial Property from Flood Damage

  1. Smart construction and design of your building.  

    The first step is to make sure that your commercial property is not located in a flood zone. If it is, take extra precautionary measures when constructing the building, like making sure the building is watertight. Consider elevating the building if it’s near water. Install hurricane-glass windows and doors, as well as storm shutters for extra protection.

  2. Roof and gutter cleaning. 

    Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear of any and all debris. Pay special attention to removing clogs and larger debris like branches or birds’ nests. Clear your roof of any branches, grime, dirt, and debris as well. Be sure the roof is in good repair by sealing up any gaps, cracks, and holes.

  3. Get commercial flood insurance. 

    Before you open your business, make sure you get flood insurance. Most insurance plans don’t automatically cover flood damage, business interruption, and lost revenue. When obtaining flood insurance, make sure you add this coverage into the plan. For more information, check out FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program. 

  4. Use a board up service and/or a commercial flood barrier. 

    It never hurts to be prepared. If you know there is a natural disaster or severe weather headed your way, call a professional to board up your windows and vulnerable areas of your building to protect from flood waters, flying debris, and high winds. Using a flood barrier will create a dam-like effect around your building, protecting it from rising water. These measures may cost a little more upfront, but will save you time, money, and the overwhelming struggle of having to deal with closing your business to rebuild a damaged structure later on.

  5. Create a business continuity plan. 

    A business continuity plan addresses concerns should anything unexpected arise, like massive flooding or other emergencies. Not only does a continuity plan prepare your company in case a natural disaster should occur, but it also provides a succession plan should anything happen to the current leaders of the business, like sudden illness or death. The plan should also give instructions on how to proceed in the event of a lawsuit, labor dispute, or distribution issue. Analyze your business to understand the processes in place that require your company to run efficiently. Identify any flood risks, assess critical business processes and the partners that support them, and where to store backup equipment to keep your business running should anything happen. Consider create a business Continuity plan to help you specifically identify the current and potential pitfalls within your company’s processes to resolve them before they turn into crises, as well as successful disaster recovery planning

Preparing Commercial Buildings for Hurricane Season

5/20/2021 (Permalink)

Understand Your Risks
The four key trademarks of a hurricane are high wind speeds, storm surges, torrential rains, and tornadoes – any one of them can put your business at risk during a storm. The FEMA Flood Map Service Center provides a range of information to help you determine how susceptible your business is to flooding and storm surge damage. An inspection by a licensed professional can help you assess the threat to your facility from high winds and whether a retrofit is needed to reduce vulnerabilities.

Know Your Disaster Response
Although most major commercial and industrial organizations have well-established disaster response plans in place, conducting an audit of your emergency strategy is never a bad idea. Before a storm hits, be sure to:

  • Review the company’s property insurance policy to ensure the business is adequately covered against major storm damage. Back this up with photographs or videos of the business premises, taken from all angles. This will help substantiate insurance claims, if necessary, at a later date.
  • Remind staff of all hurricane-related policies and procedures, and inform essential employees of their specific roles and responsibilities in the event of an emergency.
  • Make sure all emergency supplies are adequately stocked. This could include generators, sandbags, hand tools, and other essential items your business might need during a prolonged power outage and flooding.
  • Revisit plans for protecting computer files to make certain critical data is secured through a backup system.

As a Storm Approaches
As soon as a warning is issued for a hurricane or tropical storm, property managers should check the facility’s interior and exterior surroundings and take appropriate safety measures.

  • Bring in exterior displays and remove any outdoor signs or other items that could become airborne in high winds. Board up glass doors and windows or tape an “X” over them to prevent shattering.
  • Disconnect all electrical devices except for refrigerators. Experts also recommend turning off electricity (except for those circuits running refrigeration) at the power supply box.
  • Clear all desk or work surfaces of small items, and take down all loosely secured items hung on the walls.
  • Move equipment and furniture away from windows. For maximum security, relocate critical files and equipment to the innermost rooms of the office building.
  • Make sure key employees know the processes and procedures that will need to take place before allowing people back in the building once the storm has passed.
  • Shut down non-critical building systems when all employees are evacuated.

After a Storm Passes
Personnel should wait to return to the building until authorities indicate it is safe to do so. A designated emergency response team should then conduct an assessment of the property before allowing people back onto the premises. These individuals can help identify any structural damages or hazards that may need to be addressed before the building can be occupied.

BEFORE A FLOOD

5/19/2021 (Permalink)

Take steps to protect your home, family, and financial security throughout the year, and take extra precautions when flooding is predicted in your area.

Be alert.

  • Monitor your surroundings.
  • Monitor NOAA Weather Radio, local television and radio stations. 

If a flash flood warning is issued for your area: Climb to safety immediately.

  • Flash floods develop quickly. Do not wait until you see rising water.
  • Get out of low areas subject to flooding.
  • If driving, do not drive through flooded roadways!

Assemble disaster supplies:

  • Drinking water – Fill clean containers.
  • Food that requires no refrigeration or cooking.
  • Cash.
  • Medications and first aid supplies.
  • Clothing, toiletries.
  • Battery-powered radio.
  • Flashlights.
  • Extra batteries.
  • Important documents: insurance papers, medical records, bank account numbers.

Be prepared to evacuate.

  • Identify places to go.
  • Identify alternative travel routes that are not prone to flooding.
  • Plan what to do with your pets.
  • Fill your car’s gas tank.
  • If told to leave, do so quickly.

Review your Family Disaster Plan.

  • Discuss flood plans with your family.
  • Decide where you will meet if separated.
  • Designate a contact person who can be reached if family members get separated. Make sure every family member has the contact information.

Protect your property.

  • Move valuables and furniture to higher levels.
  • Move hazardous materials (such as paint, oil, pesticides, and cleaning supplies) to higher locations.
  • Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch them if you are wet or standing in water.
  • Bring outside possessions indoors or tie them down securely. This includes lawn furniture, garbage cans, and other movable objects.
  • Seal vents to basements to prevent flooding.

DURING A FLOOD

5/19/2021 (Permalink)

Be alert.

  • Monitor your surroundings.
  • Monitor NOAA Weather Radio, local television and radio stations.

Don’t drive unless you have to.
If you must drive, travel with care.

  • Make sure your vehicle has enough fuel.
  • Follow recommended routes. DO NOT sight-see.
  • Avoid disaster areas. Your presence might hamper rescue or other emergency operations and put you at further risk.
  • Watch for washed out roads, earth slides, and downed trees or power lines.
  • Be especially cautious at night, when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • If the vehicle stalls, abandon it.
  • If water rises around your car, leave the vehicle immediately. Climb to higher ground as quickly as possible.

NEVER drive through flooded roadways. STOP! 

  • The roadbed may be washed out.
  • You can lose control of your vehicle in only a few inches of water.
  • Your car may float. Vehicles can be swept away by less than 2 feet of water.
  • Do not drive around a barricade. Turn around and go another way!

Get to high ground – Climb to safety!

  • Get out of low areas that may be subject to flooding.
  • Avoid already-flooded areas and do not attempt to cross flowing water.
  • Stay away from power lines and electrical wires.

Evacuate immediately, if you think you are at risk or are advised to do so!

  • Act quickly. Save yourself, not your belongings.
  • Move to a safe area before access is cut off by rising water.
  • Families should use only one vehicle to avoid getting separated and reduce traffic jams.
  • Shut off water, gas, and electrical services before leaving.
  • Secure your home: lock all doors and windows.
  • If directed to a specific location, go there.

Never try to walk or swim through flowing water.

  • If flowing water is above your ankles, STOP! Turn around and go another way.
  • If it is moving swiftly, water 6 inches deep can knock you off your feet.
  • Be aware that people have been swept away wading through flood waters.
  • NEVER allow children to play around high water, storm drains, creeks, or rivers.

Shut off the electricity at the circuit breakers.
If someone falls in or is trapped in flood water:

  • Do not go after the victim!
  • Use a floatation device. If possible throw the victim something to help them float, such as a spare tire, large ball, or foam ice chest.
  • Call 911. Call for assistance and give the correct location information.

Steps to Take After a Flood

5/19/2021 (Permalink)

Wait until it is safe to return.

  • Monitor NOAA Weather Radio or local television and radio stations.
  • Do not return to flooded areas until authorities indicate it is safe to do so.
  • Do not visit disaster areas following a flood. Your presence may hamper urgent emergency response and rescue operations.

Travel with care.

  • Follow recommended routes. DO NOT sight-see.
  • Watch for washed out roads, earth slides, and downed trees or power lines.
  • Stay away from downed power lines.

If a building was flooded, check for safety before entering.

  • Do not enter a building if it is still flooded or surrounded by floodwater.
  • Check for structural damage. Inspect foundations for cracks or other damage.
  • Turn off any outside gas lines at the meter tank.
  • Do not enter a building that has flooded until local building officials have inspected it for safety.

Use extreme caution when entering buildings.

  • Wear sturdy shoes. The most common injury following a disaster is cut feet.
  • Use ONLY battery-powered lighting. Flammable material may be present.
  • Look for fire hazards (such as damaged gas lines, flooded electrical circuits, or submerged furnaces).
  • Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. If possible turn off the gas at the outside main valve. Call the gas company.
  • Report broken utility lines to appropriate authorities.
  • Check for electrical system damage (sparks, broken or frayed wires, or the smell of burning insulation). Turn off the electricity at the main circuit breaker if you can reach it without stepping in water.
  • Examine walls, floors, doors, windows, and ceilings for risk of collapsing.
  • Watch out for animals that might have entered with the floodwaters.
  • Let the building air out to remove foul odors or escaping gas.

Take pictures of the damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance claims.

Get professional help.

  • Seek necessary medical care. Do not neglect minor wounds or illnesses.
  • Food, clothing, shelter, and first aid are available from the American Red Cross.
  • If the gas has been turned off for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
  • Have an electrician check the electrical system and appliances.
  • Wells should be pumped out and the water tested for purity before drinking.