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Health Risks of DIY Sewage Flood Cleanup
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.
How to Prevent Duct Contamination
Whether or not you decide to have the air ducts in your home cleaned, committing to a good preventive maintenance program is essential to minimize duct contamination.
To prevent dirt from entering the system: Use the highest efficiency air filter recommended by the manufacturer of your heating and cooling system.
Change filters regularly. If your filters become clogged, change them more frequently.
Be sure you do not have any missing filters and that air cannot bypass filters through gaps around the filter holder.
When having your heating and cooling system maintained or checked for other reasons, be sure to ask the service provider to clean cooling coils and drain pans.
During construction or renovation work that produces dust in your home, seal off supply and return registers and do not operate the heating and cooling system until after cleaning up the dust.
Remove dust and vacuum your home regularly. (Use a high efficiency vacuum (HEPA) cleaner or the highest efficiency filter bags your vacuum cleaner can take. Vacuuming can increase the amount of dust in the air during and after vacuuming as well as in your ducts).
If your heating system includes in-duct humidification equipment, be sure to operate and maintain the humidifier strictly as recommended by the manufacturer.
How to Remove Other Smells in your Home
Bad odors also linger in places like the kitchen, basement, and bathroom. They permeate areas such as carpets, fabrics, and your pets’ favorite spots. Here are budget-friendly tips for eliminating bad odors from various areas in your home:
- Remove the source of the smell. To truly fix the odor issue, identify the problem and fix it. For instance, fixing the plumbing could stop the bad smells from permeating your home.
- Wash hard surfaces, such as countertops, tables, hard floors, and walls. Use either your favorite cleaner or a mixture of half water, half white vinegar.
- Clean carpets and fabrics:
- For carpets, a simple way to eliminate odor is to use baking soda, a natural deodorizer. After the carpet is dry, sprinkle baking soda on it, then allow the baking soda to sit overnight. The next day, remove the baking soda with a vacuum cleaner.
- On upholstery, use white vinegar to absorb the odor. Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spritz it on the upholstery. Wait until the vinegar air-dries. The strong smell of vinegar, along with the musty odors, will be gone once it has dried.
- Fight kitchen smells:
- Fridge — keep an open box of baking soda in the fridge to absorb smells. For more efficiency, wipe down shelves using hydrogen peroxide and a piece of cloth.
- Garbage disposal — grind some ice, then sprinkle Borax down the disposal and rinse it with water.
- Fish and other food smells – boil a cup of vinegar on the stove to release vapors that absorb smells quickly. Wipe down the cabinets with soap and warm water.
- Garbage can — if the can itself smells, wash it with water and white vinegar. If the garbage smells, but the can isn’t full yet, remove the odors by dropping some coffee grounds in it.
- Remove bathroom odors:
- Toilet — add 1 cup of white vinegar into the bowl, wait 5 minutes, then scrub and flush.
- Sink drain — mix ½ cup of bleach and ½ cup of water and pour it down the drain. Let it stand for 1 hour and then rinse with water.
Top Extension Cord Safety Tips
Does your home have too many electrical devices and too few outlets to plug them all? Chances are you’re using extension cords to power up your electrical devices. However, electrical cords can become fire hazards when used improperly. Follow these tips to use extension cords safely:
- Purchase only cords that are approved by an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
- Fully insert the plug of an extension cord (or any plug for that matter) into an outlet.
- Check the maximum capacity of the extension cord and appliance or tool you’re using, and make sure you don’t exceed it.
- Unplug extension cords when you’re not using them. To safely unplug an extension cord, pull on the plug, NOT on the cord.
- Use extension cords only temporarily. Don’t substitute extension cords for permanent wiring.
- Don’t run extension cords through water or snow to avoid the high risk of electric shock. Keep water away from extension cords.
- Don’t run cords through ceilings, walls, doorways, or floors. Never place cords under carpets, either. Covered cords allow little heat to escape and pose a fire hazard.
- Keep cords out of the path of foot traffic to prevent tripping. Don’t leave cords dangling anywhere where they can be pulled down and tripped over.
- If you use too many extension cords, there may be too few outlets in your home. Have a qualified electrician install additional outlets to avoid using excess extension cords.
- Avoid chaining multiple extension cords – plug extension cords directly into mounted electrical receptacles. Use extension cords that are long enough for your needs.
- Inspect extension cords before using them. If a cord heats up or is damaged in any way, discard it.
- Always use extension cords with polarized and/or three-prong plugs. Don’t force a three-prong plug into two-prong outlets. Don’t remove or bend the ground pin to force a fit.
- Never use staples or nails to attach cords to a surface like a wall to prevent puncturing the cord’s insulation.
- Don’t overload extension cords with too many appliances. The cord can overheat and possibly cause a fire. Plug only one minor appliance into an extension cord.
- Plug major appliances, such as refrigerators, dryers, and washers, directly into a wall receptacle outlet.
- Never use indoor extension cords outdoors. For outside use, only use extension cords marked for outdoor use.
- When using cord-bundling devices, such as spiral wire wrap, avoid cramming cords together to prevent damaging the cord’s insulation.
When Do I Need Air Duct Cleaning Services?
Air duct cleaning services are vital if your vents contain a build-up of contaminants. This can happen due to the growth of mold in ducting, or simply by the accumulation of airborne contaminants which can settle and multiply. Air duct cleaning is also an important recovery and restoration service after incidents such as a fire, when smoke and soot particles are absorbed into the building's ductwork. If not treated and removed properly, these contaminants filter through into the building’s breathing air through HVAC systems.
Your air ducts should be cleaned if:
- There are any signs of vermin present in the ducts or building—for example, insects or rodents.
- There is mold growth in any part of your HVAC system. Mold in air ducts causes harmful particles to be circulated around the building, which is detrimental to the health of occupants.
- There is a visible build-up of dirt, dust, or debris within the vents.
- There has been a fire in the building.
- There has been a flood in the building.
- There has been extensive renovation or construction work which has caused excessive dust or dirt in the air.
Air duct cleaning also works as a proactive solution to indoor air quality issues, helping to improve airflow through ducts, as well as the quality of the air distributed. Regular cleaning of your air ducts also ensures that your system is running efficiently, improving energy usage in your home or business.
When your personal property is damaged it is always a very traumatic experience. Knowing that, our team of dedicated contents restoration professionals promises to take every measure to get your personal items back to the condition they were in before they sustained damage.
From electronics damaged by fire and smoke, to historical documents with water damage, SERVPRO of DeRidder, Leesville & Vinton.
Personal property, or contents as they are often referred to in homeowner’s policies, can take many forms. In the restoration industry we like to separate them into the following distinctions:
- Soft items (upholstered items, cloths & fabrics)
- Hard items: (wood, furnishings and/or solid surfaces)
- Electronic items
A specialist in contents restoration will deal with many different forms of content damage. The following perils affecting contents are the most common:
- Clean Water
- Fire and smoke
If contents are affected by clean water they can many times be restored. The key is that the sooner a contents restoration specialist can get on site and stop the absorption of water into contents, the better chance the contents have to be fully restored to the customer’s satisfaction.
Has Fire Damaged Your Home?
Fire damage always occurs when you least expect it. The experience of an unexpected and violent outbreak such as a fire within your home is overwhelming. At SERVPRO of DeRidder, Leesville & Vinton, we definitely understand how traumatic these occurrences are. We at SERVPRO of DeRidder, Leesville & Vinton have specially trained fire damage repair experts standing by to help you through each aspect of your fire restoration project.
Our goal, from beginning to end, is to make sure that your home or business is fully restored to its original state as if the fire never happened. We fix your fire damaged property and we aim to make the entire restoration experience as easy and worry free as possible for you. If your home suffers fire damage it is most important that you call your homeowner’s insurance company and document the damage, they will then institute a claim for the damages that are suffered.
SERVPRO of DeRidder, Leesaville & Vinton will then inspect your home or property after a fire and provide a free estimate to determine your insurance claim loss. We work hand-in-hand with your insurance adjuster so as to minimize any problems or delays in the processing of your insurance claim. Our fire restoration experts will restore and get your property back to its original state and help you get back on the road to normalcy as fast as possible.
Three Myths About Contents Restoration
After a fire or water loss, common misconceptions homeowners and carriers often have is that damaged contents cannot be restored so they should be automatically replaced, or even cashed out. These, as well as other myths related to contents restoration, lead to higher claim costs, customer service issues and customer retention issues.
Here are three misconceptions, or myths, to avoid this customer service minefield.
Myth #1: Homeowners would rather buy new contents than restore “old” contents.
While homeowners are happy to shop and add new items to what they already own, they don’t necessarily want to replace everything because that takes a lot of time and effort. Imagine the task of replacing all of the furniture, clothing, dishes, decorations; literally every item in your home. Just thinking about it is exhausting. In fact, studies show that customer service plummets when homeowners are inconvenienced.
Soft contents tend to hold more sentimental value than any other content category because they are often seasonal, purchased for a special occasion, gifted or hold a special meaning. A homeowner may have an outfit worn to a daughter’s wedding or other memorable event, a flag symbolizing military service, or a quilt that grandma hand-stitched. These sentimental items are often irreplaceable.
Myth #2: Even if there is no attempt to restore an item, it can still be replaced.
That’s simply not true. A homeowner can’t replace an item because, in their opinion, it can’t be restored; restoration must be attempted first. The only exceptions are contents that are structurally damaged or a restoration expert evaluates and designates items as non-salvage at the loss site.
Most homeowners and some carriers don’t realize that, for the vast majority of restoration companies out there, if there is an attempt to clean an item and it is not fully restored, there’s no charge for the attempted cleaning. There’s virtually nothing to lose by attempting restoration.
Yet, there is a lot to gain! When items are restored, the cost of restoration is always a better option than replacement. That’s because restoration costs, on average, are only 15 to 25 percent of an item’s value.Top of Form
Cost savings aren’t the only benefit of restoration. For a variety of reasons, many people are underinsured when it comes to contents coverage. They may have had their policy for years and haven’t increased the limits as they accumulated new things. They may have opted for less coverage in exchange for lower monthly policy payments. After a loss, this leads to policy limitation issues; so, their money goes a lot further when items can be restored versus replaced.
Myth #3: Cashing out a contents claim is a good idea.
Rather than wait for items to be restored, a homeowner may accept an offer from a carrier to “cash out” a claim. We already know that replacing items costs more than restoring items; so, by doing the math, we know that a “cash out” will not enable a homeowner to replace all their items, but does the homeowner realize that, or are they tempted by a quick payout? The carrier, too, may see the option as a way to quickly close a claim and move on to the next one.
The policyholder can replace what they use on a regular basis, but, because a homeowner rarely considers seasonal items, bedding, drapery, rugs, shoes, hats, holiday decorations and dishes, etc., they inevitably become frustrated when the amount received isn’t enough to replace all their damaged items.
The end result, either with an underinsured policyholder, or one that accepted a “cash out” settlement that quickly ran out, is “buyer’s remorse.” Rather than blame themselves for not purchasing adequate insurance coverage, or for taking the “quick and easy” payout, they usually blame their agent and carrier.
Avoiding this myth minefield by anticipating the consequences of cashing out or replacing lost contents versus less costly restoration, is the key to better customer service and reduced claim costs when dealing with contents after a loss.
When Disaster Strikes, Call SERVPRO of DeRidder, Leesville & Vinton
Whether at your home or at your business, fire, flooding or a mold outbreak can be one of the most disruptive events imaginable. At the forefront of your mind is likely a desire to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.
We’re on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, because we are all too aware that a loss can strike at any time and on any day. Our fast-responding technicians have the training and equipment to start making a difference right away, and we always hit the ground running.
We’re proud to be certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), the world’s leading restoration Standards Developing Organization (SDO)
4 Things You Can Do to Help Children Get a Sense of Normalcy Back
It’s crucial to remember that children who go through a disaster can feel intense fear that the event will happen again, continue or worsen, that the event will hurt someone they love, and that the disaster will leave them alone.
Caregivers can help children recover from traumatic events and feel less anxiety about future misfortunate events with these techniques:
- As soon as possible, resume at least some of the children’s daily routine. Something as simple as maintaining their bedtime regimen often signals to them that everything will be ok.
- Encourage children to talk about their feelings and let them know you listen by paraphrasing back to them: “So is it right to say you’re mad about the fire burning up your toys?”
- Share your plans for dealing with future crises with them. Assemble a disaster kit and include them in the process.
- Regularly practice your emergency plan with them.
Take advantage of whatever family and community support networks you have in your area for more insights and support to help children. Remember, they’re resilient, they’re also little, and the world can look awfully big and scary to them. Make sure they know they’ve got someone big on their side (you).
4 Things to Look for in a Restoration Company
When you find yourself dealing with the aftermath of a disaster, finding a qualified restoration company can be intimidating. Your property is likely damaged or destroyed, your family’s often displaced and your life feels like it’s spinning out of control. Whom should you trust? How can you know if they can handle restoring your property and will do the job right?
While some online reviews can be questionable, a good place to start is by checking Better Business Bureau listings and other sources of consumer information on restoration companies. If you see a pattern of consistently negative consumer experiences with a company, it’s probably best to look for another comany.
Unfortunately, accreditations, ratings and reviews can fail to provide a complete picture of the company. We’re talking about your property and your family, here, so you need more.
What are some other things to take into account?
Disasters don’t work around your schedule. “After hours” is meaningless when your home or business is flooded, damaged from fire or contaminated with hazardous materials. You need a restoration company that’s available and responsive any time of day, any day of the year. You need to know they’ll be there when you need them, whether it’s right after a disaster or even months. You need to know they’re not going anywhere.
In addition, if a company is made up of people who have worked in the industry for decades, chances are they do good work, treat people well and conduct themselves with integrity.
Big, national chains benefit from big buying power, automation and other sorts of mass production strategies to offer low-cost services. But a closer look at what you may be giving up for those savings can make them seem less like savings and more like sacrifices.
Local companies are your neighbors, plain and simple. They’re invested in you and your community because you are their neighbor and your community is their community. They’re in your corner. You’d better believe that makes a difference.
Look for a restoration company in your community, and you’ll find and talk to real people who will be there for you any time, day or night. And they’ll become more than your restoration company. They’ll become your friends. Who better to help you get back to normal than friends?
Be selfish. It really is about you, your family, your property. So focus on what a restoration company can do for you.
Well-trained, experienced, licensed restoration experts will exhibit a passion for helping people restore their property and lives in the wake of misfortune. They’ll have good relationships with insurance companies, other contractors, vendors, regulatory and permitting agencies, all of which will be directly to your benefit in cost and time savings. When you contact them, they will spring into action, quickly and thoroughly assess your needs and craft a plan to put things right, fast.
You’ll know a highly capable restoration team by the peace of mind you get when you know they are on top of every detail of your restoration project. If you have damage to your home or business, call SERVPRO of DeRidder, Leesville & Vinton today and rest assured that you’ll be taken care of.
Donating to CASA
SERVPRO of DeRidder, Leesville, & Vinton is very happy to have been able to donate several Sonic gift cards to the teenagers at the local CASA for Christmas this year!!
SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
The SERVPRO of DeRidder, Leesville & Vinton's Marketing Rep was very excited about being able to get out for this special marketing adventure! She was able to meet with so many local First Responders, which included, Military Police, Military Fire Fighters, along with other members of the Military, all local Police Officers, all local Fire Fighters (including the volunteer stations), Emergency Medical Technicians, and local Hospital staff, to give out gifts and information about how they could get free tickets to the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl!! This was such an amazing experience to have had the opportunity to gift so many wonderful and brave men and women who put their lives on the line everyday by doing what they can to keep everyone else safe.
Prayers during devastating Florida hurricane
SERVPRO Technician praying with a local homeless man.
Let's be thankful this holiday season for all we have and let's help those who have so much less than we do. When choosing a company to help you and your family after a devastating event, you want to go with a company that will show care to your situation, as well as to your property. That is what we strive for with our employees. This is one of our Technicians, who is currently in Florida helping with the cleanup from the disastrous hurricane Michael, kneeling down to pray with a local homeless man. Neither one of the men knew the picture was being taken, but it is things like this that make us proud of our employees at SERVPRO of DeRidder, Leesville, & Vinton.
Leesville Mardi Gras 2018
Mardi Gras Scot
SERVPRO of Deridder, Leesville & Vinton loves to have fun and we really enjoy Mardi Gras, we were very excited to be able to participate in the Leesville Mardi Gras parade earlier this month. Our General Manager, Scot Culton, and one of our Technicians represented our team, riding in our vibrant green SERVPRO golf cart. The City of Leesville received heavy rainfall all week, leading some to expect that the parade would be cancelled. Lucky for us, the rain stopped just an hour before the parade was scheduled to start. Scot and our Technician were then able to toss beads and lots of candy to the crowd as part of the Mardi Gras tradition. Needless to say, we are already looking forward to being a part of next year's festivities.
Laissez les bons temps rouler (Let the good times roll)!
Photo Credit: Rickie Smith