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Fire Safety for Your Home Appliances

9/9/2021 (Permalink)

fire from a dryer in a closed and unventilated room Always make sure that the laundry room has proper ventilation because detergents can produce harmful gases when mixed with hot water and air.

Fires are common in the home, with one out of every six Americans experiencing a fire each year.
While many home appliances come equipped with safety features, others do not. Consumers must read the manual for their appliance and be aware of any specific safety features that it has before purchasing the product.

Why Home Appliances are Particularly Suitable for a Fire?

Home appliances are particularly suitable for a fire because of their sensitive materials.
Home appliances are made of highly flammable materials. This means that the fire can spread quickly and easily if it starts in one room.
With that said, there are a number of general safety features that you should check on all of your appliances to ensure they're safe:

  • Check the plug and make sure it's on a circuit without other appliances plugged in. This is to ensure that there is enough power for the appliance while it's running.
  • Look for the UL approval seal which assures you that the appliance has been inspected by a certified independent testing lab and meets all safety standards.
  • Check all cable connections and tighten if needed. This ensures that there are no problems with circuitry in the appliance, which could lead to a fire hazard.

And, there are also some specific tips when it comes to individual appliances:

The Refrigerator

Refrigerators are a common source of fires in the home.

It is important to follow a few safety precautions when using the refrigerator. The following are some of the important ones:

  • One of the best ways to make sure you don't start a fire is to keep your refrigerator door closed when it's not in use.
  • Keep any flammable materials away from the appliance.
  • Never store items that give off fumes, such as nail polish remover, near your fridge.
  • Keep children and pets away from an open fridge door that doesn't have a child lock on it, and do not place anything that might tempt them next to the door handle.
  • Check your kitchen for any loose wires that could become a fire hazard.

The Washing Machine and Dryer

We cannot forget about safety when using the washing machine and dryer. You need to make sure that both machines are installed in a safe place. You should carefully follow the installation instructions and keep a watchful eye out for any signs of leaks or spills around either one of them.
Since electricity and water are involved in the process, it is important to know what can happen if something goes wrong with either. Many factors can cause a fire or other injury if not careful, so here are some helpful tips for safe usage:

  • The fire safety rule is to make sure that there are no combustible materials nearby.
  • The laundry room is filled with flammable substances like fabric softener, dryer sheets, and detergent. This is why a fire extinguisher should be placed in the laundry room for protection.
  • Always make sure that the laundry room has proper ventilation because detergents can produce harmful gases when mixed with hot water and air. You should also make sure that you don’t overload the washer by using too much laundry soap or fabric softener. Overloading can lead to a buildup of excess heat which can cause a fire.
  • Try to avoid using a gas-powered dryer as much as possible.
  • Make sure you clean up the area surrounding your washing machine before use and always take care of small or medium-sized clothes separately from big ones like sheets and blankets.

Microwave Ovens

Here are some of the best precautions to take:

  • When microwaving, you should always make sure that you're in a well-ventilated area and that the microwave is at least six inches away from any other object.
  • If you are cooking anything besides plain, frozen food, then make sure to cover your dish with a lid or paper towel. Also, avoid using plastic containers as they can release chemicals into your food when heated.
  • Microwaves can emit radiation so don't stand right next to them and keep some distance between the oven and yourself while cooking.
  • Microwaves can actually create sparks and cause some fires, which becomes a serious problem if you are using metal containers for your food. Ergo, you should only be placing microwaveable items inside.
  • One of the most important safety measures for microwave ovens is to make sure they are turned off when not in use. Microwaves release strong electromagnetic waves that can easily cause a fire if precautions aren't taken.

The Dishwasher

You have to be aware of the potential fire hazards associated with using a dishwasher. For instance, you have to be careful of the risk of electrical shock if water leaks into any electrical parts or connections.

With that in mind, here are some steps for maintaining fire safety while using this important kitchen appliance:

  • Keep an eye on the dishwasher to make sure it does not overheat or get too hot
  • Clean up any spills right away
  • If the power goes off, turn off the dishwasher and do not restart it until you are sure there is no leak or spill inside
  • Do not put any combustible materials in the dishwasher.
  • Make sure that when you're looking at buying a dishwasher from a store or online that it has an automatic shut-off system - this will help stop any potential burns when opening the door after it has finished running its cycle.

The bottom line is that fires can happen in any home. But, there are a few things that you can do to make it less likely for a fire to break out.
If you keep in mind some of the most common causes of house fires, you should be able to plan for them. Here are some of the things you need to look out for:

  • Faulty electrical wiring and appliances that are not maintained or installed correctly,
  • Lack of smoke detectors,
  • Improper use or storage of flammable liquids and gases,
  • House fires caused by cooking equipment, etc.

In the Event of a Fire

It is important to have a fire escape plan and a fire extinguisher handy in the event of a fire. Above all else, do not risk your life if a fire spreads rapidly. Prioritize your safety and evacuate, then call the Orlando Fire Department immediately. After the fire, you will need the assistance of a reputable restoration company to handle your fire damage cleanup. Call SERVPRO of University, SE Orlando at (407) 678-5391 for the experts in fire damage restoration, smoke and soot cleanup, and even working with your insurance company!

Causes of Leaky Toilets and How to Prevent Water Damage

8/20/2021 (Permalink)

leaking toilet on a wood panel floor External leaks will not only lead to wet feet but also could lead to water damage in your bathroom.

Toilet Leaks and Water Damage

Toilets can develop both external and internal leaks. External leaks will not only lead to wet feet but also could lead to water damage in your bathroom. Not to mention, any leak could turn into a huge waste of water if left unattended. Here you'll learn some common causes of leaky toilets and what you can do to fix them and prevent water damage.

1. Cracked Toilet Tank


Toilets are designed to last, however, cracks can occur over time. They'll often start as a hairline crack and develop into something more serious.

Toilet tanks are constructed to withstand water pressure for a long time. But, even the best designs can develop cracks over time, especially hairline cracks in the glazing. It's important you act on these cracks immediately to prevent water damage. Don't wait until you see water penetrating the glazing since that would mean you're now facing a full-on replacement instead of a simple repair.

If you have a crack in your toilet, you'll want to call a plumber to see what action to take. While you can repair cracks yourself, you'll want to have a professional plumber take a look and advise you on the best course of action you should take. If they do tell you it's okay to fix the crack yourself, here are some basic instructions:

To fix:

  • Turn the water off
  • Dry the tank on the inside
  • Apply silicone plumbing epoxy to the crack
  • Smooth out the sealer with a putty knife
  • Let the silicone epoxy thoroughly dry
  • Fill the tank back up with water

2. Old Wax Ring


If your toilet is loose, you'll need to replace the wax ring. Also, you might have to replace the wax ring if it's old and worn down and isn't pliable anymore. This would mean the seal isn't intact any longer. So, it can cause water to flow through the base.

To prevent water damage you'll need to remedy this. You'll need to remove the old wax ring and replace it with a new one. Using a putty knife, scrape the old wax away from the opening of the drain. Be sure you remove all the old wax.

Once you scrape up all the old wax, install the new one. Be sure the plastic cone faces down toward the drain when you install it. Position the tee bolts properly on each side of the flange in the key openings.

3. Damaged Flapper


Until you flush your toilet, its tank is holding water. When you flush it, the tank's flapper lifts, allowing water to flow into the bowl from the tank. This replenishes the water supply to protect the inside of the bowl from bacteria and stains.

The flapper is a plastic or rubber part that holds the seal in order to keep water in the toilet tank. After the flapper goes back to its original resting position, water begins filling up the tank again.

Although the flapper is a simple device, it's not indestructible. As time goes on, it can:

  • Crack
  • Warp
  • Break


If this occurs, it will not be able to control the water flow any longer between the bowl and tank. And, this could lead to water leaking into the bowl from the tank, creating a trickling sound. Plumbers call this a "silent leak" since it's hard for homeowners to detect it.

You'll notice your water bill climbing if you have a silent leak. You'll want to check for water sounds that come from your toilet after flushing. You shouldn't hear any water trickling into the bowl once it fills if there's no leak.

Damaged flappers are simple and fairly cheap to repair yourself. There are toilet repair kits available where you can remove the old flapper easily from the tank and install a new one.

4. Loose Water Supply Line


If you have a loose water supply line, there will be water leaking from your toilet base constantly instead of only when you flush the toilet. To prevent water damage, check the connection where the tank and supply line are connected to ensure the rubber seal and nut are tight.

5. Bad Float


Once it reaches a specific level, water should stop flowing into the tank of your toilet. The float rests on top of the water which monitors the level of the water and disengages the supply once it reaches the required point. If the tank of your toilet overflows, you can probably blame a bad float. The good news is, a faulty float is simple to repair. In most toilets, you can easily install a replacement float since it basically slips into place with very little effort and no tools.

6. Damaged Fill Valve


If your toilet tank does overflow and the float isn't to blame, you might have a damaged or corroded fill valve. This valve controls how much water flows into the toilet tank when it's paired with the float and ensures the toilet tank is full to the precise number of gallons.

It's not difficult to replace the valve, but it's typically more complex than fixing the float. There are several pieces to a fill valve and all pieces need to be looked at to ensure they still work or if the whole fill valve unit requires replacing.

If you choose to repair this yourself, there are usually detailed instructions with most replacement valves. Since the project does require evaluating the viability of a variety of parts of the toilet, in some cases, the best way to deal with a damaged fill valve is shutting the water off and having a trained plumber look at it before you try and fix the fill valve yourself.

In the event there is water damage from your toilet leaking, you'll require professional services immediately. Aside from hiring a plumber, you can prevent further water damage by calling a restoration company. SERVPRO uses cutting-edge equipment to repair damaged property and bring it back to its original state. SERVPRO of University, SE Orlando is always updating its equipment and fleet so clients in the SE Orlando area or in other locations can have quick access to services and very skilled professionals.

Emergency Preparedness for Children: How to Prepare Your Family for Disaster Scenarios

6/29/2021 (Permalink)

Parents showing child how to be ready in an emergency Emergency preparedness is an important part of keeping your children safe. Teaching them the basics improves their ability to react to a crisis.

According to the National Household Survey, out of 5,000 polled, 47% had personal or familial experience with disasters. This statistic shows the importance of having a disaster plan for all types of disasters that may occur. Disasters can include weather events, personal injury or health crises, and break-ins, or other external threats. When creating your disaster plan, it’s important to involve all members of your household, including your children, so everyone knows what to do in an emergency event. Feeling prepared in an emergency event can help lower fear and anxiety, which can help lessen the impact, both physical and emotional, of disasters. 

Know What Your Child Is Capable of Handling

How you educate a four-year-old on emergency preparedness is going to look different than how you educate a 12-year-old. Therefore, it’s important to tailor your discussions towards your child’s emotional maturity, and their ability to understand why what you’re saying is important. 

Children Under Five

For children under five, you may want to start simply with emergency phone numbers, like 9-1-1 or a parent’s phone number. Mnemonic devices like songs can be helpful when trying to get younger children to memorize phone numbers or their home addresses.

Children Between Six and 12


For children between six and 12, you can start to incorporate a more active role in emergency preparedness. You can start to practice typical questions that emergency personnel may ask them or establish a safe meeting point, such as a grandparent’s house, in case they can’t return home. 

Teenagers

For teens, you can engage them by giving them an active role or responsibility. For example, you can put them in charge of knowing where the flashlights or candles are in the event of a blackout. Even as your children get older, it’s still important to tailor their responsibilities to their emotional maturity. Over-burdening them can cause excess stress that can be life-threatening in an emergency. Talk with your child about what they feel comfortable taking on before establishing responsibilities. 

Educate Them On How to Use 9-1-1 and Other Emergency Services

When educating your children about emergencies, stress the importance of knowing not only how, but when to dial 9-1-1. For example, a friend falling off a jungle gym and breaking a bone at a park wouldn’t be a 9-1-1 call right away. Instead, your child should find their chaperone, or drive to the nearest hospital if they are able. However, if your child’s friend has a deadly peanut allergy and ingests something made of peanuts, they should call 9-1-1 immediately, and then locate an EpiPen if there is one nearby.

The difference between these two situations is the level of danger. A broken bone isn’t typically a life-threatening situation, while anaphylactic shock can be. Discuss with your child how they can identify whether or not they are in a life-threatening situation, and whether they need to call 9-1-1.

Other emergency services and numbers important for your child to know can include:

  • A parent or guardian’s phone number;
  • Poison control;
  • Animal control;
  • Local fire and police departments;
  • Their school;
  • Locksmith. 


You can print these numbers out and leave them in a community space, so the whole family can access them. You can also program these numbers into your child’s phone if they have one, for even easier access. 

Make an Emergency Plan

Having an emergency plan and teaching emergency skills can reduce injuries, losses, and even prevent personal damage altogether. You should have a tailored emergency plan for each major type of emergency. 

Build an Emergency Kit

You can find specific resources for different types of weather events and natural disasters on the FEMA website, however, each disaster kit should include: 

  • A gallon of clean water;
  • A first aid kit;
  • At least three days of non-perishable food;
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio;
  • A whistle;
  • A flashlight; 
  • Extra batteries;
  • Face masks;
  • Clean blankets;
  • Garbage bags for personal waste;
  • Manual can opener;
  • Moist towelettes or baby wipes;
  • Cell phone chargers or backup batteries. 


If you live somewhere with heavy snow, like Alaska, you may want to have some version of this kit in your vehicle, in case you’re stranded in your car. 

Health Emergencies 

If you or your loved one has a medical condition, it’s important to discuss what to do with all family members in the event of an episode. You can also teach your children how to be ready for spontaneous health emergencies, such as if someone starts choking. This can be a good time to reinforce when and how to call 9-1-1, or other emergency services.

Skills that can help your children handle health emergencies before help arrives include:

  • Chest compressions: Chest compressions can save a life in the event of someone’s heart-stopping. Chest compressions should be applied with firm pressure, at 100 bpm. Several songs run at 100 bpm that you can teach your children to do chest compressions to, such as “Dancing Queen” by ABBA. 
  • Tying a tourniquet: A tourniquet is a tight band tied above a major wound that can help stop bleeding. It can be created using any material that can be tied tightly around the limb, such as a belt, scarf, necktie, or piece of rope. This can be a life-saving temporary solution before medical professionals arrive. 
  • The recovery position: The recovery position is a way to assist people who have fallen unconscious. The basics of the recovery position include turning someone on their side so that their airways can remain free, and pillowing their head. The Epilepsy Society has published a full video on how to execute the recovery position


Enrolling in a basic first aid course can teach you all of the above skills, as well as other important skills for a health emergency, such as the Heimlich maneuver and basic burn care. 

External Threats

External threats can include burglary, shooter threat, or hostile animals. Emergency plans for these types of threats may include:
 

  • Having an evacuation route from the home; 
  • Setting an agreed-upon family meeting place somewhere outside the home;
  • Teaching children how to notice signs of a break-in;
  • Teaching children how to remove themselves from an aggressive animal


Many schools will run safety drills that will teach children how to deal with some of these external threats. These drills can be carried over and applied at home. 

Teach them About Natural Disasters 

Natural disasters, such as fires, floods, blizzards, thunderstorms, and other major weather events are another important part of disaster preparation. The area in which you live will help determine what kind of weather events you need to be prepared for. Someone living in California will want to have an earthquake kit handy, while someone living in Oklahoma will want to be more prepared for tornadoes.

In some cases, emergency preparedness can help you reduce the amount of damage to your home and personal belongings. For example, if you live somewhere with earthquakes, you may want to bolt tall furniture like bookshelves to the wall or keep breakables in a chest, rather than on display. Other damage, like fire and smoke damage or flooding damage, may not be able to be avoided.

Teaching your children the different effects of different natural disasters can help them reduce their safety risks, and help them to prioritize saving themselves over saving objects. 

Find Creative Ways to Educate Your Children About Emergencies

Finding fun and interactive ways to teach your children about emergency preparedness can help them retain information better. As mentioned before, mnemonic devices can be a great way to teach phone numbers or acronyms. Having their direct input in creating an emergency kit, such as letting them pick out the color of the flashlight, is another way that you can get your kids involved.

Keeping your approach to emergency preparedness light and engaging is important not only to increase retention but to decrease feelings of dread or anxiety around severe topics. 

Watch Your Tone

It’s important to remain calm while doing any sort of disaster education. Sounding scared or stressed may deter children from wanting to learn valuable skills, or heighten their anxiety should an emergency occur. You can instill confidence in your child’s ability to handle a crisis by providing positive reinforcement and answering their questions honestly. 


Emergency preparedness has been proven to prevent personal injury. The National Household Survey additionally found that engaging in one emergency preparedness action is associated with engaging in others. By starting to educate your children about emergency preparedness when they’re young, you can create habits that can carry over into adulthood.

Home Inspections: What Are They, When to Conduct One, and Why They’re Important

6/29/2021 (Permalink)

qoman with magnifying glass over a house Home inspections allow future homeowners and property managers to get a better feel for what areas of the home need to be replaced.

A home inspection is a non-invasive, thorough examination conducted by professionals to get a better understanding of the current condition of the home. There are a few reasons why someone may have an inspection done. For instance, rental property managers may choose to conduct them quarterly and/or upon a tenant moving out. Others, like future home buyers, may choose to have them done before buying a home. 

What Happens During a Home Inspection?

The inspection process will vary based on what type of inspection is being conducted. For example, if the inspector is there to look over the condition of the home after a tenant has moved out, they will look for structural damage, hazards, and/or defects. 

In addition to the above, home buyer’s inspectors will also take a thorough look at the interior and exterior of the home to ensure it is up to code with local standards. If upon inspection they find anything that is not up to code, damaged, or that may need repairing, they must then report it to the buyer. 

It is important to note that it is not the inspector’s duty to repair any damage found in or around the home. Instead, they are only there to make a record of the home’s current condition — it is up to the landlord or home buyer to decide how they want to approach making any necessary repairs. 

How to Find a Home Inspector

Just as with hiring any contractor, you will want to be sure to look for a trustworthy home inspector with a good reputation. However, this can be difficult, especially since it’s hard to tell someone’s skill-level just by looking at them. Luckily there are tips to follow to help ensure you hire a reputable house inspector:

  • Just because your real estate agent referred you to someone doesn't mean they’re the best. Do your research on the inspector before hiring them;
  • Reach out to trusted family and friends who have recently purchased a home to see who they recommend;
  • Check their credentials and see who is certified by a professional organization;
  • Look at reviews online;
  • Look for someone who has many years of training under their belt.

Finding an inspector with little to no experience — or failing to hire an inspector at all — may cost you more in damage repair in the long run. 

What Do Home Inspectors Look for?

There are numerous parts of the home that an inspector will look at, regardless of the job’s purpose. This includes the:

  • Attic;
  • Basement;
  • Ceilings;
  • Doors;
  • Electrical systems;
  • Flooring;
  • Foundation;
  • HVAC systems;
  • Interior plumbing;
  • Landscaping;
  • Major appliances;
  • Roof;
  • Structural components;
  • Walls;
  • Windows. 

When observing these different spaces, the inspector will make note of any damage that is done to report back to the homeowner and/or property manager. 

What Isn’t Looked for During a Home Inspection? 

It may seem like housing inspectors look at everything from front to back. However, there are a few things that are out of their area of expertise. For example, inspectors will not look for:

  • Asbestos;
  • Lead paint;
  • Mold;
  • Pest damage.

If there are any signs of these in your home, you should call a professional that specializes in mold remediation, pest control, and asbestos removal. If there are signs of mold or asbestos, you may want to consider finding temporary housing — for these can be harmful to be around. 

How Much Do Home Inspections Cost?

The average cost of a home inspection ranges between $300 and $500. However, the pricing is subject to change depending on multiple factors. Some factors to consider when budgeting for a home inspection include:

  • The size of your home;
  • What the inspection is for;
  • What you want to be inspected;
  • When your home was built;
  • Where you live.

If anything, you can get a quote from a local inspection company to help you prepare for the cost of the inspection — keeping in mind the tips listed above when finding a local company to reach out to.   

What Happens After the Home Inspection? 

Depending on what the inspector finds, the homeowner/property manager may want to consider making a few changes to their home. For example, if they find signs of water damage — dark/wet spots, cracking in the walls, sounds of running water — they may want to consider looking into water damage restoration services

Black soot and/or lingering smells of smoke could be an indicator that the home was once damaged by smoke or fire. This may require restoration services that specialize in fire and smoke

If the home was previously damaged by flooding or storms, like visible water infiltration, broken gutters, water stains, wall cracks, cracked molding, and even crooked doors, then hiring a professional that specializes in flooding restoration services may be worth looking into. 

Other potential restoration projects would include replacing the electrical and plumbing, installing new flooring, updating the HVAC system, or even pouring new cement in the basement. 

Housing inspections are an important part of the house buying process. Without them, homeowners and property managers alike may be surprised with damages down the road that should’ve been caught earlier on. Regardless of why you need to hire an inspector, just know that it’s worth the initial cost and can save you money in the long run.

Tips for Running a Brick-and-Mortar Business: Innovative Tactics to Keep Your Physical Business Relevant In a Digital World

6/29/2021 (Permalink)

storefront of a brick-and-mortar business with door sign reading yes we are open Brick-and-mortar businesses face hardship in the digital age, yet offer unique value to consumers that keep physical stores alive in today's economy.

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a turning point for e-commerce with unprecedented growth when consumers and businesses largely went digital to meet changing social dynamics. However, the rise of e-commerce does not necessarily mean the end of brick-and-mortar, as consumers still have shopping preferences that they prefer to do in-person. 

Brick-and-mortar businesses have the opportunity to meet consumer desires but need to adopt tactics to meet modern consumer behavior and capitalize on the 65% of American shopping budgets that are still spent in-store. This article outlines essential strategies and tips that can assist brick-and-mortar companies that are looking to stay relevant to consumers in an increasingly digital world.

Create a Digital Presence

Even if the main focus of your business is your brick-and-mortar presence, physical retailers need to integrate both an on and offline presence. Your primary directive may be in-person sales, but your businesses still need to be visible and available online. 

Having a strong digital presence can provide deep insights into your customer preferences with the wide variety of digital analytics that can be gathered through online channels, social media, your websites, and even an email marketing campaign. An essential checklist for creating a digital presence includes:

  • Optimizing your website for visibility and mobile use.
  • Creating an active social media strategy and producing content for all online channels that encourages consumer engagement.
  • Designing a newsletter and email marketing campaign that provides additional value and insight into your products and business operations.

Step Up Your Customer Service Game

One of the greatest benefits to consumers who shop in physical stores is great face-to-face customer service, and the opportunity to build a shopping experience that your consumers are sure to remember. To capitalize on the valuable resource of customer experience, businesses need to refocus on customer service strategies that deliver and meet consumer expectations. This includes:

  • Maintaining a safe and clean environment.
  • Adopting new transaction and checkout processes that accommodate touchless interactions and digital payment options.
  • Providing added value through sales and coupons that compel customers to make purchases.
  • Designing personalized shopping experiences that are curated to their target audience. Examples of his may include:
    • Allowing customers to make in-store purchases but shipping the product to their residence. 
    • Providing superb customer engagement with friendly, highly knowledgeable, and trained staff.
    • Ensuring that the store is organized, comfortable, and easy to navigate.
    • Providing digital options for customers to provide feedback.
    • Creating easy-to-use return policies and customer service channels for questions and concerns about products.

Stay Current With Industry Trends

Staying up to date on industry trends can give your business insight into what your consumer preferences are, as well as what your competitors are doing to outperform you. Competitor analysis can provide deep insight into how your consumers react to changes being made and can be used to leverage critical decisions that impact how your consumers perceive, engage with, and make purchases from your business. 

Harnessing the use of big data as a resource can also support smart decision-making. Data can provide insight into your target market and beyond, opening up opportunities to find and define consumer demographics and dynamics. Data can be gathered from your online presence and website, social channels, competitive research, and more, and can be leveraged to critically think about your consumers, develop and test strategies, and support critical decision making. 

Take Pride In Your Store’s Appearance

One of the hallmark values of in-store shopping is the experience the consumer has within your store. Cleanliness is a top priority for customers, it is essential to keep your brick-and-mortar in safe and clean good repair. This may include: 

  • Creating a checklist for the most common places that need cleaning and setting a schedule to ensure that these areas are regularly maintained. This includes restrooms and high-touch surfaces such as door handles and check-out areas. 
  • Ensuring that the building itself is in good repair. This may include:
    • Replacing HVAC air filters and cleaning ducts.
    • Upkeep plumbing, mold remediation, and water damage repair from leaks.
    • Replacing burned-out interior and exterior light bulbs.
    • Inspect the property for signs of rodent or pest damage.
    • Replacing cracked or broken windows or mirrors and keeping them clean.
  • Having a safety and sanitation plan for recovering from unfortunate events or natural disasters. This may include using commercial services for fire restoration or storm damage and cleanup.

In addition to the essentials of cleanliness and safety, brick-and-mortar businesses may also consider how to arrange their store to best accommodate the consumer’s needs. Examples may include:

  • Comfortable sitting, waiting, and congregating areas outside of dressing rooms, or for customers that may need to wait while a product is being prepared.
  • Highly trained staff and information desks that can assist consumers with essential questions about products and services.
  • Open display areas where customers can engage with products and easily learn about them. 
  • Added value through expert advice or classes with a representative of the company.

A store’s atmosphere and layout will also impact consumer buying patterns. The aesthetics and design of your store are essential to the customer’s experience. The aesthetic and signage of your brick-and-mortar location should showcase your brand and image, and needs to be easy to navigate so consumers can efficiently find what they need.

Host In-Store Events

According to a survey on event marketing, 91% of overperforming businesses place great emphasis on live events as a form of marketing, and 87% of C-suite executives are leaning into and planning to invest in events in the future. Events are a cornerstone in experiential marketing that is defining the future of brick-and-mortar retail. 

In-store events directly engage customers and can create valuable memories, insight into offerings, and brand experiences. Events are an excellent way to showcase a new product or rollout, create social media buzz, and provide consumers what they are looking for most: a great experience.

Events may include launch parties, holiday and milestone celebrations, sales and coupon offerings, meet-up groups, classes, and workshops. Creating a great in-store event is more than putting out party tables and decor — it should have a specific focus and goal that creates value for the customer. 

Create a Customer Loyalty Program

A survey conducted on consumer mindsets and customer loyalty showed that:

  • 51% of respondents enjoyed loyalty programs and noted that loyalty programs encouraged them to “like” the brand or company more.
  • 49% of respondents felt they get significant value from loyalty programs.
  • 46% of loyalty programs make the respondents feel like an exclusive group of valuable customers.
  • 40% of respondents noted that loyalty programs were a key decision-maker for them to choose that specific retailer or brand.

Customer loyalty programs can be a great addition to a brand’s digital presence through the use of apps, email marketing, and providing a great experience. Creating a valuable loyalty program should incorporate the use of consumer data to ensure the program delivers the greatest value and can be utilized in tandem with other digital and in-store event marketing efforts.

7 Ways to Prepare Your Business for Extreme Weather

6/29/2021 (Permalink)

men boarding up windows in front of a store With a disaster plan, open communication, safety systems, proper insurance, and disaster resources you can equip your business for extreme weather.

Small business owners have a lot to juggle and one critical aspect is extreme weather preparation. A United States Federal Reserve small business survey found that 40% of small businesses do not reopen after experiencing a major disaster. As a small business owner, it is important to consider the different ways that a large disaster can hurt your business.

A continuity plan outlines the different measures you have in place to ensure that your business stays operating. Creating a continuity plan for your small business is a good safety blanket. Businesses need to consider all of the ways to prepare their business for extreme weather to protect their business, employees, and customers. Below is a list of different methods for doing so.

1.  Protect Your Employees

Your business is not the only aspect at risk for extreme weather. First and foremost, you need to think about what you can do to protect your employees. The first step to this is assessing your risks. Different areas are more susceptible to different types of extreme weather. Analyze the extreme weather risks where your business is located. You can utilize the online National Risk Index for Natural Hazards (NRI) for better insight into the different types of extreme weather your business may be exposed to. Once you have an understanding of your risks, then you can better plan for the following:

    • Creating an evacuation procedure: Your evacuation procedure should fluctuate depending on the type of extreme weather. Extreme weather can be frightening and stressful — be sure to write down your evacuation procedure and keep it in an accessible area;
    • Establishing onsite and offsite meeting areas: You should determine both onsite and offsite meeting areas. If there was a building fire, you would want to evacuate the building. But if there was a tornado, you would want to get down into the basement or storm cellar. Consider creating a map of the building with arrows pointing where to go in case of each respective risk;
  • Create a disaster supply kit: In some cases, staying in the business may be the safest option. Be sure to build or purchase a disaster supply kit that includes things like food, water, flashlights/batteries, maps, flares, and a first aid kit. Be sure to place this in a safe, accessible place.

2. Install Safety Systems to Protect Your Property

It is good to be prepared for any type of weather, but you should prioritize safety systems based on what you’re at risk for. Consider the following safety systems:

  • Storm shutters: Storm shutters can be used to protect your windows from being broken by flying objects during high winds;
  • Surge protectors: A surge protector helps protect your electronics from power surges that can occur during extreme weather; 
  • Generators/backup power supply: Extreme weather can often take down power poles leaving entire neighborhoods and cities without power. When you have a generator or some form of backup power supply, you can reduce potential downtime and make your business a viable place to wait out the storm;
  • Storm cellar: When you have a storm cellar, you and your employees (and potentially customers) all have a place to hide out and wait out the storm in a more secured area;
  • Secured tarps: If you store any of your inventory outdoors, you may want to get tarps to protect your inventory from the elements;
  • Utilize building treatments and materials: There are treatments and materials like double pane glass, fire-retardant wood, and weather-resistant roofing to better equip your building to withstand weather and natural disasters.

3. Secure Important Documents

If you have boxes upon boxes of important business documents, or you rely heavily on digital data, you will want to be sure to backup your documents. Extreme weather may damage or destroy important documents entirely. Listed below are several options for securing important documents:

  • Use a scanner and make digital copies;
  • Utilize cloud storage;
  • Make physical copies and store offsite.

4. Educate Your Employees On Safety Procedures

Spend time educating your employees on the different safety procedures that you have in place. This should be a new-hire requirement and you can also schedule recurring safety procedure meetings to keep employees prepared. 

It can be a good idea to have drills to go through what an actual emergency would look like and what employees should do. Training videos are also another viable option for educating your employees. Consider getting your safety procedures in writing as well and supplying your employees with them. 

5. Communication Is Key

If your workplace becomes unsafe, you want to be sure that you can communicate that with your staff and your customers. Sending out mass emails or mass texts can be a great way to send weather warnings, and having clearly labeled exits and other signage can help direct employees and customers if they are in the store when extreme weather strikes. It is a good idea to use a loudspeaker to issue instructions for your customers and staff to follow. Social media can also be a good tool for communicating. You can post weather warnings and store closure warnings. 

In the case that a powerline is knocked down, try to communicate via text message. Text messages do not operate in the same way that phone calls do, so in a pinch, you are more likely to get ahold of someone with a text message than a phone call.

6. Review Your Company’s Insurance Policy

Be sure you have a good understanding of what your insurance policy covers and what it does not. All businesses need liability insurance and that will generally cover things like customers, staff, and property damage. Liability insurance doesn’t cover any operational losses and in some cases, you may need additional coverage for natural disaster protection. 

For the least amount out of pocket, assess your risk for specific types of extreme weather and purchase additional coverage where you are most susceptible. You should consider getting business interruption insurance to protect against loss of income after a disaster.

7. Know What to Do After a Storm

Different storms cause different types and amounts of damage. After a natural disaster, there are certain things to consider before reopening. As soon as the storm clears, you will want to document everything for an insurance claim. During this time you’ll want to communicate with your staff, customers, and any stakeholders in your business. Once you have talked to your insurance company, you may need to use different restoration and repair services — for example:

Be sure to keep all track of all of your restoration and repair expenses for insurance and tax purposes. If you are in a situation where you can’t afford to pay for out-of-pocket repairs, there are several organizations and sites designed to help small businesses with disaster relief — a few examples are:

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA).

Top 5 Causes of Commercial Property Damage and How to Prevent Them

6/29/2021 (Permalink)

surveillance camera in a store aisle. Commercial property damage is almost inevitable in the many ways it can occur. However, there are ways to reduce the amount of damage done.

Even though residential and commercial properties are both at risk of property damage, how to prevent either from happening will be two different experiences. Businesses have to protect their merchandise, employees, storefront, and everything in between, whereas homeowners, must protect their families, their homes, and personal belongings. 

This doesn’t go to say that commercial properties have more at stake than residential properties. However, it does mean that the steps they have to take to prevent damage from occurring can be more tedious than those protecting their homes. 

Let’s take a closer look at the top five reasons why damage to commercial property occurs and how to prevent it. 

1. Theft and Burglary

Unfortunately, business theft and burglary aren’t uncommon. One study conducted found that external theft and shoplifting make up 35.5% of lost sales. Another study surveying 24 different shoplifters discovered that 29% of them found it was “very easy” to steal from a business. In fact, 8.8% of small businesses were victims of burglary in 2016.

The difference between theft and burglary is easy to identify. Theft is “the act of stealing” or “an unlawful taking,” whereas burglary is “the act of breaking and entering a dwelling at night to commit a felony (such as theft).” However, it is important to note that burglary can happen at any time of the day, not just at night. 

Those who burglarize a business often leave behind commercial property damage. Luckily there are ways to prevent damage to your commercial property caused by thieves and burglars.  

What to Do About It

Here are burglary prevention tips that every commercial property owner should know:

  • Double-check that every entry point is locked before closing down for the day;
  • Hide your safe in a secure location;
  • Install more light fixtures around your building; 
  • Invest in more security cameras both in and outside of your business;
  • Keep track of the keys/only let trusted personnel have access to the keys;
  • Keep the premises tidy;
  • Move valuable inventory away from the windows;
  • Replace traditional glass in the windows and doors with shatterproof glass.

Another way to deter burglars is by giving people the illusion that someone is still occupying the building. This can be done by posting a photo of you in the building after hours on your social media or leaving a light on. 

2. Water Damage

If your commercial property is an area that is prone to storms and flooding, then you may be all too familiar with water damage. Even using too much water in your facility can cause leaks, drainage issues, and water spillage. This is why it’s important to take preventative measures and limit your building’s water consumption by investing in commercial water-saving technology. 

If your property has already been impacted by water damage, then you may want to consider looking into flooding and water damage restoration services. Doing so not only improves the appearance of your building but can help prevent these issues from occurring in the future as well. 

What to Do About It

You can’t prevent storms from happening, but you can prepare your business for the next case of extreme weather. This includes:

  • Installing safety systems like structural support, surge protectors, storm shutters, and backup generators;
  • Securing important documents in a high and dry location;
  • Communicating with employees and customers if your store is not safe;
  • Having easy access to details of your company’s insurance policy. 

Educating your employees on your business’s continuity plan is another great way to help them understand how to recover from a natural disaster

3. Smoke/Fire Damage

There are multiple ways in which a fire may break out in your business — kitchen fires, fires outside of your business, or even electrical fires. Structural damage, smoke/soot damage to the walls, scorch marks, and a lingering smell of smoke can cause business owners to shut down until the fire damage restoration process is complete. Which, depending on the severity of the damage, can take days or even weeks. This is why it is crucial to have fire safety protocols set in place. 

What to Do About It 

As a business owner, it is your duty to create an emergency plan that helps you prepare for unexpected occurrences such as fires. Some things to consider adding to your fire safety plan include:

  • Ensuring windows can be opened and screens can be removed;
  • Frequently checking for damaged or overloaded electrical outlets, cords, and cables;
  • Keeping flammable materials away from electrical equipment;
  • Maintaining the cleanliness of the workspace and equipment;
  • Making sure smoke alarms and fire sprinklers work properly;
  • Never leave portable heating devices unattended;
  • Planning and practicing escape routes and posting them clearly around the building. 

4. Wind Damage

Wind and hail damage can be sudden, yet impactful. Fallen trees, shattered windows, and missing shingles are common results of severe wind and hail. Some insurance plans will cover the damage, but it is up to you as a business owner to set a plan in place that helps reduce the impact. 

What to Do About It

The weather itself can’t be prevented. But you can follow the below tips to help reduce the amount of damage done to your property. 

  • Educate your employees on wind and hail safety — instructing them to stay away from the windows during an intense wind storm;
  • Inspect the roof for damage after storms and make repairs as needed;
  • Install impact-resistant windows;
  • Make sure any loose equipment left outdoors is secure.

5. Vandalism

Vandalism is “damage done to someone else’s property, simply for the sake of causing damage.” Typically, those who partake in vandalism do so with the malicious intent of defacing personal property — not to steal. The most common types of vandalism that occur on commercial properties include:

  • Billboard defacement;
  • Broken windows;
  • Sign damage;
  • Spray painting;
  • Trash dumping. 

What to Do About It

The ways to prevent vandalism from happening are similar to those that can help prevent theft and/or burglary:

  • Increase the number of surveillance cameras outside of the building;
  • Repair any weaknesses in the exterior of your building (holes in fences, burnt light bulbs, and remove any foliage blocking security cameras);
  • Use anti-graffiti paint on the building’s exterior;
  • Build a great relationship with local authorities.

Not every cause of damage can be prevented, but there are ways you can reduce the amount of damage that is done. Following the steps above can help ensure that your commercial property takes on less damage — even during the biggest storms.

Why SERVPRO: Getting Your Business Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned

6/22/2021 (Permalink)

Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned sticker on business door Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned certification is offered to those businesses who commit to high standards of cleanliness and quality performance.

What It Means for Businesses to Be "Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned"

Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned certification is offered to those businesses who commit to high standards of cleanliness and quality performance, ensuring your facility is safe, healthy, and productive. The certificate is designed to address the need for secure locations, clean and safe access, and a commitment to compliance with all state and federal health and safety standards. It's also a great option for those looking to upgrade their facilities and ensure that all their guests, partners, and the general public receives a consistent level of clean and sanitation service from their business. SERVPRO has had a long history of helping to eliminate sanitation safety and quality hazards in the workplace and the customer experience.

SERVPRO's Commitment to Excellence

What does Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned mean to their customers? The company is dedicated to hiring highly qualified technicians who receive continual training. Each Certified SERVPRO technician must complete at least 25 hours of training on cleaning equipment, appliances, vehicles, engines, and the end-user. The company is dedicated to hiring highly qualified technicians who receive continual training. Each Certified SERVPRO technician must complete at least 25 hours of training on cleaning equipment, appliances, vehicles, engines, and the end-user. Authentic Services – Each Certified SERVPRO technician must be a public power or municipal utility member to qualify for Clean Sweep.

The SERVPRO Cleaning Process

A Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned logo communicates the quality of service, care, and safety their technicians bring to their customers. They have made it a habit to ensure that they are the first to see a brand-new color every time they start a job. Their customers' expectations are extremely high, and the distinction of Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned signifies their commitment to excellence.

As the leader in the cleaning industry for over half a century, SERVPRO understands the challenges associated with maintaining high standards of quality, safety, and efficacy in the cleaning process. As the cleaning industry evolves, so must the cleaning process. That's why SERVPRO has made the bold decision to institute a standardized cleaning process that uses the most effective cleaning methods to help make clients' properties as clean as possible while saving clients the time, effort, and expense of other methods.

To earn the SERVPRO Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned Seal, clients must submit a written complaint, set forth the details of their job, and include a variety of inspection pictures and specifications, like the color of the carpeting and the exact color of the cleaning products.

SERVPRO Cleaned Risk Mitigation

Program (RMMP) guarantees that their technicians will meet or exceed the industry standards for cleaning facilities, water and ventilation systems, and potentially hazardous areas. Not only are they 100% guaranteed a comprehensive clean, but they are also 100% guaranteed to save your company money.

In addition to meeting industry standards, Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned's five levels provide each client with a meaningful level of confidence. The different levels of certification provide options to meet different requirements and budgets for your company. These levels include:

  • Fresh & Energized
  • Trusted & Committed
  • Expert & Led
  • Expert & Optimized

The distinct advantage of Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned lies in their deep reservoir of expertise, research, and technology that has fueled all their SERVPRO Cleaned brand services. Through the extensive use of their specialized equipment and years of cleaning experience, they guarantee that you will find us to be the ultimate one-stop shop for any complex cleaning needs you may have.

For nearly 20 years, the SERVPRO Cleaned brand has been the industry leader in innovative cleaning, restoration, sanitation, and recycling equipment for industries such as car washes, storage facilities, amusement parks, schools, healthcare, food processing, restaurants, animal care facilities, manufacturing, and numerous sectors.

Conclusion

COVID-19 should never be a total-failure alert or a total-failure scenario. Even if you do not get a perfect score on every item, you can still achieve outstanding results. If your employees perform exceptionally well, what does that tell you? Their job as an industry is to set the right expectations, which is precisely what Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned does.

The more they know about what happens in the CRE and industrial cleaning industries, the more they want to share the information to create a safer work environment. As they do, they continue to build a bigger and better picture of how industrial cleaning agents are used and learn what else they can do to keep the products on the market safer for their clients and customers.

Why SERVPRO: CDC Approved Benefect Botanical Decon 30

6/22/2021 (Permalink)

bottles of Benefect Decon30 on shelf Benefect Decon 30 is a CDC-approved product for disinfecting to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Cleaning is vitally important. Everything in the modern world has to look good. You want to have interior spaces that are warm and inviting. You want spaces that immediately make people feel at home. At our company, SERVPRO, we get your needs. We work hard each day to come up with solutions that make any space look good and feel even better. We're always in search of new products that will bring everything you need and want. We know that you rely on us to help. That is why we are pleased to announce our plans to use a product that we know gets results every single time.


Benefect Botanical Decon 30

With this goal in mind, we are pleased to announce we are using a product known as Benefect Botanical Decon 30. Benefect Botanical Decon 30 is our cleaning product of choice for our clients. There are many reasons why we are using this product to help our clients cope with the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic.

The Benefits of this product include:

  • Pleasing scent,
  • Works Fast,
  • Nothing Synthetic,
  • Eliminates Odors,
  • Totally Safe.

A Nice Scent

One of the very best things about using Benefect Botanical Decon 30 is that it has a nice scent. Some products leave your entire home or place of business with an unwanted chemical feel. That can make any cleaning job off-putting when the cleaners are finished with the job. This product eliminates this problem. When our clients walk into a space when we're done, they're left with a scent that pleases the senses and leaves them feeling happy. That makes this an ideal product for any room in your home or your place of business right now.

Fast Working

Another great thing about the use of this product is that it works fast. When we come to your home or your place of business, this allows us to work as fast as possible. Unlike some other products on the market, this is one product that does the job really quickly. A standard disinfectant can take as long as ten minutes to work. This one does the entire job in a mere thirty seconds. That makes it easy for our team to work fast and get the results you want when you hire us.

A Pure Substance

The CDC-approved Benefect Botanical Decon 30 is so useful in part because it is a pure cleaning material. There are no synthetic fragrances in it. The same is true of dyes and bleaches. This is a totally all-natural substance. That means there are no harsh chemicals or unwanted residue that have to be cleaned up after it is used on any surface. It uses a component of thyme oil that is known to be safe and pleasing. This is why we find this an ideal product to use when we're on your site to clean up.

Eliminates Odor

Unpleasant odors are the last thing you want in any space. Lingering odors can make it hard to occupy spaces and get things done. Benefect Botanical Decon 30 gets rid of the odors in your spaces. Many water loss problems happen in the kitchen where there lots of odors. This product will help ensure that such odors are gone after we're done cleaning. That means your workers and you can return to work when our work in the kitchen is done. Food preparation is a snap when you're not battling vapors that make you feel uncomfortable.

A Safe Product

When we're on-site, you don't need to evacuate your workers or leave your home just so we can get the job done. Benefect Botanical Decon 30 is safe for our workers and safe for everyone at work as well as your entire family. We don't need to bring in PPE to clean your spaces. We also don't need to rinse or wipe surfaces once we're done with the task we've been asked to complete. This is our promise to you as we work to get the job done for you today.

Drying After a Water Damage Event

6/22/2021 (Permalink)

drying equipment placed in a gym after water damage A professional restoration team will know how much equipment to place for proper drying, as well as how to achieve the fastest drying times.

Water damage is a serious threat to your home. Even something as small as a leak from a sink could have serious consequences for the health of your family. One part of the restoration process after water damage is drying. It's easily the most vital part of the recovery process. Here's why.

What is the Drying Process?

The drying process is one of the first steps taken for water damage restoration. It takes place after the water has been removed from the area. Drying can take anywhere from a few hours, for small water problems, to a few weeks, for larger water problems. It depends on how long the problem persisted and the location of the water damage.

Certain materials take longer to dry. Wood, for example, absorbs water. If wood isn't allowed to dry by air or through other means, then it can take several days, if not weeks, for the wood to be fully dried.

Insulation is another material that can take a very long time to dry. It's built to absorb and trap moisture. Too much moisture, like that from water damage, can soak it right to the middle. It can easily take weeks before insulation is fully dry.

There are a few steps you can take to help the drying process occur faster.

DIY Drying You Can Do On Your Own

A professional should always be around to take care of the heavy-duty drying process. However, there are a few things you can do that can make their job easier. The first is to open up windows and doors. In order for something to dry, it needs airflow. Opening up windows and doors provides air circulation throughout the area.

You don't want to open the windows if it's raining or especially humid outside. This will only bring further moisture into the home.

Another thing you can do to help the drying process is to remove any molding or baseboards that you have in the area. Baseboards, especially, can collect moisture that sits at the bottom of it or between it and the wall. Removing the molding and baseboard gives those areas a chance to dry out.

If you have a dehumidifier, then it's also a good idea to have that running. Dehumidifiers will remove the moisture from the air. It will draw any moisture from the walls, wood, or other materials, too.

Wallpaper should also be removed. Most types of wallpaper are designed to trap or hold moisture within it. The problem is that it can cause the wallpaper to sag and keep the moisture trapped in the wall. Removing wallpaper will keep the wet material from making contact with the wall. It will also help dry out the wall, itself.

Why The Drying Process Needs to Occur Quickly

You may wonder why there's such an emphasis on quick drying. The reason has to do with the spread of mold and damage. Water expands quickly. As soon as it seeps through one material, it's onto the next.

Water is also the breeding ground for mold. When water and insulation mix, mold is especially happy. It can feed on insulation and have a warm and moist environment in which to grow.

The faster that you can dry an area out, the less likely you are to have mold growth. At the very least, it will help stop the spread of mold. Black mold is the primary culprit behind water damage. It's dangerous to breathe and can make certain situations unlivable.

If you don't dry your home quickly enough, then the mold may overtake your home. You may be forced to vacate the home until a mold remover can take care of the house for you.

Water also damages wood. The longer that water is able to access the wood, the weaker the material becomes. Your home may become unstable. Parts of it may need to be rebuilt in order to provide structural security.

Order Professional Drying Services

Clearly, drying after water damage is important. The speed with which drying occurs can determine how expensive your repair is, how much damage is done, and whether or not your home remains habitable. At SERVPRO, we have the expertise you need to keep your home safe after water damage. Call us to get started.