Recent Posts

Preventing Space Heater Fires in Livingston Parish, Lousisana

1/2/2019 (Permalink)

Approximately 25,000 house fires every year are attributed to space heaters. User error is the primary cause, although heaters without essential safety features may malfunction and pose a fire risk. Here are five ways that you can prevent a burned space heater from starting a fire in your home.

1. Keep a minimum of three feet between space heaters and combustibles. Combustibles include bedding, curtains, and upholstered furniture. You should also only operate a space heater on a hard, level, non-flammable surface.

2. Don't operate heaters unattended around pets or kids. Children, cats, and dogs don't understand the principles of fire safety.

3. Purchase a space heater with safety features. One of the best ways to prevent a burned space heater is to purchase a model that automatically shuts off when it overheats. Check the model you are considering for a safety certification label, ground fault circuit interrupter plug, and a sturdy cord that is at least six feet long. Make sure the heater has all of the features you need to stay warm while running a very low risk of fire.

4. Turn off or unplug heaters when not in use. This can reduce the risk of a fire starting when you are elsewhere in your home or away from home.

5. Avoid plugging other electronics into the same outlet as a space heater. You should also never use an extension cord, as this equipment heightens the overheating risk.

Your heater can only work as designed if it is kept in working condition. You may need to regularly clean the filter on your space heater to prevent it from overheating. In addition to following these steps, you should also test the smoke alarms in your home and replace batteries or damaged units. If a burned space heater does cause a fire, contact SERVPRO of South Livingston at (225) 667-2220.

For more information, please visit us at http://www.SERVPROlivingston.com/.

Top Causes of Residential Fires in the US

1/2/2019 (Permalink)

Of all fires reported in the U.S. every year, 31 percent happen in residential homes. That’s due to a number of factors: negligence, open flames, cooking, and more. A key to preventing fire is understanding common causes. SafeWise experts looked into where fires normally start and what sparks them, so you can better understand how to safeguard your home.

#1: Cooking

House fires happen most during dinner hours—between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. That’s because people are cooking. If you’re preparing dinner, here’s what you should remember:

  • For grease fires, only use a fire extinguisher (class B) or baking soda. Do not use water! It will spread the oil/grease and make your fire worse.
  • Never leave your food unattended. Fires only need 30 seconds to go from a small flame to an out-of-control blaze, so even going to the bathroom could endanger your home.
  • Turn off the stove and all appliances once you’re done cooking.
  • Keep everything off hot surfaces. For instance, don’t throw a dish towel on top of the stove, because it could still be hot!
  • Don’t wear baggy clothing. It could catch fire accidentally.
  • Keep the grill at least 10 feet from vegetation and the house.

#2: Heating Equipment

Almost 13% of all residential fires are caused by heating equipment. You can prevent heating equipment from catching fire by inspecting and cleaning woodstoves and chimneys, using a fireplace screen, and having your hot water heater and furnace serviced regularly. Space heaters can also cause fires if left too close to walls, drapes, and bedding. If you have a space heater, give it some room.

# 3: Electrical Equipment

Electrical equipment causes over 6 percent of house fires. Look for frayed wires, surge marks in wire, and damaged cords. If you see any exposed wires, unplug the electronic and replace it immediately. Also, keep all cords away from furniture and rugs. Running cords under rugs is dangerous.

#4: Carelessness

Mistakes happen. For house fires, negligence causes 5.8 percent of blazes. Carelessness includes not putting our cigarettes, leaving candles burning, putting heating equipment near combustible items, and more. Fire is dangerous. Never treat anything hot or on fire with anything but the utmost care.

#5: Open flame

Candles, fires in the fireplace, and outdoor bonfires are enjoyable when controlled, but disastrous when they’re not. About 4 percent of all house fires start from an open flame. You can prevent fires by always putting out flames completely, never having a bonfire on a windy day, and keeping flames away from flammable objects.

#6: Appliances

Appliances cause about 4 percent of house fires. You can decrease the chances of something malfunctioning and catching on fire by making sure it’s approved by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL). The UL has high safety standards, so you’ll know the appliance is well made.
Another way to keep appliances functioning properly is to never plug them into an extension cord or two-slot outlet. You should unplug everything when you’re away on vacation too, just in case.

#7: Intentional

Arson is a felony and can result in up to 20 years (unless deemed a misdemeanor). Alas, people still do it. Out of all house fires, 4.2 percent are intentionally set.

#8: Smoking

About 2 percent of fires are caused by cigarettes. One way you can prevent fires from cigarettes is to stop smoking them! Another is to do so outdoors and put your spent cigarette butts into water.

#9: Natural

Wildfires and those caused by lightning are unavoidable. Don’t worry though. Natural causes only account for 1.6 percent of all house fires.

Source: https://www.safewise.com/blog/the-most-common-places-that-fires-occur-in-the-home/

Flooded Streets and Vehicles: Why You Shouldn't Drive Through Floods

1/2/2019 (Permalink)

Flooded Streets and Vehicles

A flooded home is one thing. There is an understood protocol in dealing with a flooded home, and it is to stay dry and call emergency restoration services in the South Louisiana area after the damage is done. But, flooded roads offer a different and deceiving problem. A flooded street that looks intimidating to walk down may not look that scary from the inside of your vehicle, but floodwater should never be underestimated.

1. Depth of Water Can Be Deceiving

True, the water level may only be about 12 inches deep, but that level of rushing water is enough to carry a small car, and if the depth increases to 2 feet, then it can carry almost any vehicle. Despite the weight of most vehicles, it is no match to the surge and power of rushing flood water, no matter the depth.

2. Loss of Control Can Be Immediate

The second your car begins to float you have lost all control. Steering, accelerating, and breaking will do nothing to help you maneuver obstacles in the flooded street. A vehicle becomes a projectile with a passenger.

3. Water Can Flip A Vehicle

As waters rise, it is possible that your floating vehicle will roll and flip upside down, which can make it difficult and dangerous for an escape attempt. It is also important to note that the water does not have to be significantly deep to flip your vehicle. The same 12 inches that can move your car can also flip it.

4. Water Is Equally Dangerous for People

While it is dangerous to drive in a flood, it is even more dangerous to walk in a flood. That is why the essential safety and travel tips for flood zones are:

  • Stay Dry
  • Stay Safe
  • Seek Higher Ground

If you are trapped in a vehicle on a flooded street with moving water, then stay inside your car until help arrives. If your vehicle begins to flood, then move to the roof of your car, but do not enter moving water. Flood water is dangerous, and your safety is paramount.

How Can FEMA Help Storm Damage Victims Recover From the Aftermath?

1/2/2019 (Permalink)

When a natural disaster or major storm, such as a flood or tornado, sweeps through and damages an area, some of the first people on the ground work for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA, as the agency is commonly called, provides many different forms of assistance, including but not limited to the following:

  • Housing assistance (rent, home repairs, home replacement, etc.)
  • Help with repairing or replacing personal property
  • Financial assistance with funeral expenses
  • Medical, dental and childcare assistance
  • Moving and storage expenses
  • Assistance to repair or replace vehicles

In addition to helping repair physical damage, the agency also provides assistance for damages that arise as a result of the physical damage.

Unemployment and Reemployment Services

After a flooding or other natural disaster in Livingston, LA, it is not uncommon for individuals to need to relocate and/or take time off work. If an individual is forced to take time off, his or her employer may be forced to let him or her go. FEMA provides unemployment benefits and reemployment services to individuals who are forced to take time off or relocate post disaster.

Crisis Counseling

The agency also offers crisis counseling to individuals and whole communities who have suffered great loss as a result of the disaster. It does this by funding and sometimes hosting community-based outreach programs and educational services.

Disaster Legal Services

Often, the individuals who need disaster assistance are low-income. These individuals generally cannot afford legal services if they need them for their disaster related needs. The federal agency helps these individuals secure legal services when they're needed.

Additional Services

In addition to providing the aforementioned types of assistance, FEMA also partners with other government agencies, as well as non-government agencies, to meet the needs of disaster survivors. If the agency cannot meet your unique needs, you can talk with a representative to see if one of its partner agencies can. You can also talk to your local storm damage restoration team regarding types of assistance available.

Flood Water Facts

12/28/2018 (Permalink)

Across the United States, flooding is one of the most commonly widespread weather-related disasters. Whether your home or business is near a coastline, along city streets, in the mountains, near a river or even in the desert, there is always potential for flood damage.

Though you may have never experienced a flood in the past, there’s no level of security to assure that you won't in the future.  In fact, 20% of all claims paid by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) were for policies in low-risk communities. 

According to the American Red Cross (ARC), floods cause more damage in the U.S. every year than any other weather-related disaster.  The ARC offers the following safety tips:

  • Stay away from floodwaters as much as possible.  If you approach a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around, and go another way.  Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
  • If you approach a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way.  If you are caught on a flooded road and water are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.  Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Keep children out of the water.  They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.

If your home or business is ever affected by a flood, contact the professionals at SERVPRO of South Livingston Parish (225) 667-2220.  Even minor floods have the potential to cause major damage to a structure when not treated quickly and properly, and the cleanup is often an overwhelming task.  The SERVPRO system is prepared to handle any size disaster.  The sooner work begins; the sooner your home or business can return “Like it never even happened.”

Keeping Your Commercial Property Fire Ready

12/28/2018 (Permalink)

Keeping your commercial property fire ready is vital in order to avoid disaster. Your livelihood and that of your staff depends on your business, and you will want to protect it. Being ready for any kind of disaster is always a good idea. We are sharing some tips here that can help you get your property ready in the event of a fire:

Ensure that your building or suite is visibly lettered and numbered so that emergency responders can easily find your location in a timely manner. Numbers should contrast with the background used, such as black/white, while the numerals should be no less than six inches in height.

Fire extinguishers should be no more than 75 feet from work areas for easy access, and they should be mounted in a highly visible spot that is easy to get to. Make sure your extinguishers are serviced at least once a year by a licensed fire extinguisher company.

Exits need to be clearly marked with EXIT signage and should be illuminated at all times, with a battery backup for power outages. Exits should also be clear of any obstructions so that people can get out safely and quickly. Emergency lighting should be kept in working order, and the area around the building outside clear of debris and plant material, reducing the fire risk outdoors as well.

Stored materials need to be stacked at least two feet below the ceiling and be orderly. For buildings with an automatic sprinkler system, 18 inches of clearance is required, allowing smoke to collect up high, which gives people adequate time to exit and the sprinklers a clear area for their spray pattern.

Electrical outlets should have no more than one item per outlet plugged in, which may include a power strip with a circuit breaker. All electrical cords should be kept in good repair and replaced when needed.

Trash receptacles need to be kept at least five feet away from combustible roofs, windows, and door openings and not stored in the path of exits.

Have your sprinkler system tested and serviced every 12 months or less by a licensed fire sprinkler company. This practice should also be used for your fire alarm system.

If your business involves cooking foods, make sure your stove hood has been cleaned at least once every year to prevent excessive grease buildup. Ceiling exhaust fans and bathroom heater/light/fan combinations can also be a risk due to a buildup of dust and grease, resulting in increased operating temperatures.

Make sure your local fire department has valid contact information on file for your commercial property.

For more information call SERVPRO of South Livingston at (225) 667-2220. 

What to Know When Dealing With Mold Issues

12/28/2018 (Permalink)

You cannot clean up mold on your own. The EPA’s recommendation to clean up a moldy area of up to 9 square feet is to wipe it with a cloth dampened with a diluted bleach solution.

The EPA and California Department of Public Health always recommend mold consultants. They do not. In fact, minor mold situations, they say, can be handled by the resident or with janitorial staff.

Mold consultants are licensed. Mold inspectors or consultants are not licensed by the government, but instead hold credentials and memberships in trade organizations.

Mold cannot be caused by the resident. Mold accumulation can often be caused or worsened by a failing to properly ventilate a residence. Mold can build up in stuffy bathrooms or any area where the environment is humid, warm and poorly ventilated.

Insurance never covers mold. Partially true: Property insurance policies do not normally cover mold, fungus or dry rot. If a water damage incident occurs, and the damage is not discovered and ventilated soon, mold can result (and dry rot). The property insurance will normally refuse to cover the cost of mold remediation, but will still typically cover the rest of the repairs. However, if the property owner is sued because of water damage including mold, the liability part of the policy ordinarily will defend the claim.

Let the emergency contractor do everything. Because of the panic associated with mold, the normal reaction is to call emergency services contractors. Such contractors are more expensive, because of their readiness to respond almost immediately at any hour. Stopping water leakage and drying the space might require an emergency contractor. However, sometimes a plumber might be enough.

Keep demolishing walls until you find no mold. Panicked residents often ask a landlord or HOA to open walls to look for mold. However, this is almost always a waste of money. Allow demolition only of what is immediately necessary, and then seek bids for the non-emergency work.

Mold damage situations must cost at least $10,000 per occurrence. The cost of repairing water damage skyrockets due to unnecessary tests, delays in responding to the leakage (the most common cause of mold buildup), excessive demolition and using emergency contractors for everything, and foregoing competitive bids for repairs. Be more deliberate, and save money.

Step by Step Lightning Preparations

12/28/2018 (Permalink)

Lightning causes around 31 deaths in the U.S. annually (based on statistics from 2006-2016). Nationally, lightning ranks second only to flash floods in weather-related deaths.  Lightning is the most frequent important weather threat to personal safety during the thunderstorm season, and it is also the MOST UNDERRATED weather hazard. Unfortunately, Louisiana has observed several lightning fatalities and injuries.  Why?  The main reason is that people stay outside too long as thunderstorms approach or form nearby.  During the early part of the thunderstorm season, for example May and June, "dry" thunderstorms are quite common. With these types of thunderstorms, little or no precipitation reaches the ground and, as a result, people are less likely to seek shelter. While most lightning casualties occur at the beginning of an approaching storm, a significant number of lightning deaths occur after the thunderstorm has passed.  If thunder is heard, then the storm is close enough for a lightning strike.  DO NOT wait for the rain to start before seeking shelter, and do not leave shelter just because the rain has ended.

Did you know?

  • The air near a lightning strike is heated to 50,000 ° F. That is hotter than the surface of the sun!
  • The average flash could light a 100-watt light bulb for more than 3 months.
  • Lightning occurs with all thunderstorms.

It's not raining, is there still danger from being struck by lightning?  YES!  Lightning often strikes outside of the heavy rain area and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.

Will the rubber soles of my shoes or tires on my car protect me from being struck? NO! However, the steel frame of a hard-topped car provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.  Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside the car than outside.To roughly estimate the distance in miles between you and the lightning flash, count the seconds between the lightning and the thunder and divide by 5.When skies darken or thunderstorms are forecast look and listen for increasing wind, flashes of lightning, sound of thunder, and static on your am radio.  While no place is safe from lightning, some places are much safer than others. 

 When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

  1. Get inside a house, large shelter or an all-metal vehicle (not a convertible).
  2. Do not use a corded telephone during a thunderstorm.  Only use cordless or wireless phones instead.
  3. Remain clear of tall, isolated trees and telephone poles.
  4. Stay away from wire fences, clotheslines or metal pipes and rails.
  5. If you are caught outside, away from shelter, you need to get to a place of safety as quickly as possible.
  6. Wait 30 minutes after you hear the last rumble of thunder before going outside.

 What you can do...

  • Watch for signs of an approaching thunderstorm
  • Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are imminent.  This is your best way to avoid being caught in a dangerous situation
  • REMEMBER if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to a storm to be struck by lightning
  • If possible, move to a sturdy building or hard top automobile
  • If safe shelter is not available, find a low spot away from trees, fences, and poles
  • If boating or swimming, get out of boats and away from the water, get to land and find shelter immediately

We hope you never have to experience damage from lightning strike but if you ever find yourself in that situation call the experts at SERVPRO of South Livingston (225) 667-2220.

House Fire Caused by Dryer Lint

12/7/2018 (Permalink)

Dryers come equipped with a lint trap to catch and collect the lint and tiny threads that come off of clothing when residents do their laundry. Over time, larger items, such as broken zippers, can wear tiny holes into the trap. These holes can permit lint to pass through the trap and into the duct. When clogs develop in the interior of the duct, heat can build up and result in a fire. 
 
When a home or Apartment suffers fire damage because of a clogged duct or exterior vent, fire damage can occur. This is not the only way that a fire can occur, though, and clothing that ignites while in the dryer causes almost as many fires. SERVPRO technicians can help you undo the damage and restore your home.
 
Just like we remove charred materials like burnt drywall sections, wooden trim, and destroyed personal belongings, we also remove and replace ducts and vents. SERVPRO helps homeowners prevent such fires by cleaning out ductwork and all related vents. A fire can start in other ducts, unrelated to the dryer, and we can reduce the risk in these areas, also. 
 
Cleaning up and removing any destroyed materials makes it much easier for repair work to happen. Doing so also removes any dangers present that could harm you or your children. Pets can also end up injured when they wander into areas that contain fire damage. A fire, no matter how small, causes a family to experience enough stress without the added crisis of an injury. 
 
Sorting through the laundry, both unwashed and already laundered, reveals which items suffer from fire-related defects. We can often remove smoke damage on unique or one-of-a-kind clothing items. The fire's heat can also cause other problems to items in the immediate area. Drying racks and shelves can become unsightly messes, but the small endeavor of installing new ones can help make everything "Like it never even happened." 
 
Call SERVPRO of South Livingston if you need our assistance with fire cleanup. (225) 667-2220

3 Guidelines for Flood First Responders

12/7/2018 (Permalink)

How To Prepare For A Disaster Situation

If you live in or near a flood zone and plan on being a first responder, it is important to prepare for a disaster situation ahead of time. Keep these three flood response guidelines in mind.

1. Get the Recommended Immunizations

The Center for Disease Control recommends that disaster responders receive a tetanus booster if they have not been vaccinated against this disease in the last 10 years. Either the tetanus/diphtheria or tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis vaccination can be used. The CDC also recommends the Hepatitis B vaccine for responders who plan to provide medical care.

2. Wear Personal Protective Equipment

First responders should take measures to protect their skin from contaminated flood water. Wear electrically insulated watertight boots with a steel shank, toe, and insole. Hip waders can also limit exposure to standing water. A first responder should also wear thick, waterproof work gloves and safety goggles or glasses. Long pants or coveralls, a long-sleeved shirt, and a protective head covering are also suitable for flood response work. If responders expect to enter locations that may be experiencing mold growth, a respirator may also be necessary.

3. Watch Out For Moving Water

Flood water poses a threat even if it does not seem very deep. If a person slips and falls in just six inches of water moving at six miles per hour, he or she may not be able to regain footing. Vehicles may float in 12 inches of water moving at the same speed. Exercise caution and only wade through flood water that is no more than four inches deep, is not moving, and has a visible hard surface underneath.

These flood safety pointers can help to keep a first responder to a flood emergency safe. If your residence becomes flooded, document the damage and schedule a consultation with a flood damage mitigation and restoration company located in Denham Springs, LA.