Preparedness Profile: Sound the Alarm
Smoke alarm photo courtesy of the CDC.
There is no reason to be alarmed by this week’s Preparedness Profile! We’re simply talking about some of the important alarms/detectors you should have in your home to ensure your family’s safety.
Those include: smoke, carbon monoxide and radon detectors.
At this point, it’s likely you have at least one smoke detector in your home. These are designed to sound an alarm when smoke is in the vicinity of the detector. However, one alarm is not enough to ensure your safety, especially if that device is not working.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has a few tips when it comes to installing and maintaining smoke alarms in your home:
- Install smoke alarms in each bedroom.
- Install smoke alarms outside each sleeping area.
- Install smoke alarms on each level of your home, including your basement.
- On levels without bedrooms, install alarms in living rooms or dens and/or at the bottom of staircases.
- Smoke alarms should be mounted high on walls or on ceilings.
- Smoke alarms should be at least 10 feet from any cooking appliances to prevent them being set off by cooking.
- Test your alarms once a month to ensure they’re working.
- Change batteries at least once a year. If you have ten-year battery-operated alarms, make sure to buy new ones every ten years.
- The alarms will chirp if the batteries are low.
- Keep alarms clean and follow all manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance.
According to the NFPA, about 3 out of every 5 fire-related deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms.
The bottom line: smoke alarms save lives. So, make them a top priority in your home.
Now we move on to carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that is known as the “invisible killer.” The NFPA says the deadly gas is created when fuels like wood, propane and gas burn incompletely.
A large amount of carbon monoxide can kill a person in a short amount of time, while a small amount of the gas can kill a person over a longer amount of time. This is why CO detectors/alarms are so important for your home.
The tips for CO alarms are similar as those for smoke alarms. The NFPA advises:
- Install CO alarms in a central location outside each sleeping area.
- Install CO alarms on every floor of the home, including basement.
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions for installations and placement.
- Test batteries once a month, replace yearly (or if the alarm chirps, signaling low battery)
- If the alarm sounds immediately move all people and pets out of the home and call for emergency responders.
Remember: because carbon monoxide is invisible to the senses you will not be able to tell if It’s in your house. That means you need an alarm to do that for you!
And finally, we are talking radon. Radon is probably the least talked about behind smoke and carbon monoxide, but it poses significant dangers too.
According to the CDC, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking, resulting in about 20,000 deaths every year.
Like CO, radon is a colorless gas that you cannot see or taste. The CDC explains that radon occurs naturally in the ground and is created when radioactive metals like uranium, thorium, or radium break down. The gas can then seep into your home through cracks and crevices.
The CDC says you should test your home for radon levels. You can do so using a kit, which you can buy online or in most home improvement stores. If your test shows high radon levels you can make changes to your home to lower those levels, like sealing up cracks. The CDC does recommend hiring a professional to make those changes, however, if you’re not an expert yourself.
These are just three easy things you can do to ensure your home is safe for you and your family. So, take the opportunity to get into the spirit of National Preparedness Month and make sure you have all the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors your home needs and do a radon test for good measure!
Remember, you’ll have a lot less cause for alarm in the future if you take the steps to prepare now!
Reminders for Farm Safety Week 2018
Farm Safety Week
At SERVPRO of West Brown County, we serve more than just Green Bay and the surrounding cities. We know our community includes a lot of rural and farm areas. That's why National Farm Safety Week (September 16th-22nd, 2018) is so important to us.
And knowing that, we would like to take a moment to talk about safety on the farm. Farmers are some of the most hard-working, conscientious people out there and we understand they take safety very seriously each and every day. However, it never hurts to go through some of the big safety issues every once in a while!
The National Farmers Union (NFU) has a lot of great information for farm workers to stay safe and healthy while on the job. The NFU provides advice for several, potentially, dangerous situations on the farm.
Here are a few of those situations, with some safety reminders:
- Grain Bins – According to the NFU, Grain Bins accidents are a leading concern on farms. People can sink into, or become trapped by grain, leading to suffocation and other injuries. The NFU advises:
- Drying and cooling grain properly to ensure it stays in good condition, flowing smoothly.
- Be knowledgeable about proper grain bin entry procedures.
- Stay clear of grain augurs in operation.
- Use lock out mechanism to shut off power to augurs.
- “Tag Out” to ensure other works know someone is in the bins.
- Tractors – Tractors are an essential tool of the trade for farmers, but they can pose risks from accidents and rollovers. So, it’s important to take this advice:
- Ensure rollover protection structures are installed on all tractors (particularly those predating 1985).
- ALWAYS wear your seatbelt.
- ATVs – Like tractors, ATVs are often essential for farm work. They help workers get from point a to point b in an efficient manner. However, they also pose accident and rollover risks. So, remember:
- Children under 16 should never operate ATVs with engines over 90 CC.
- You must follow all the manufacturer’s safety guidelines.
- Single riders only…do not carry passengers.
- Wear a helmet.
- Ensure the ATV has lights and reflectors on it to ensure visibility.
- Livestock – Many Northeast Wisconsin farms are home to livestock like cows and pigs. These animals bring hazards with them, just like equipment can. The key is knowing how to handle them.
- Make sure to provide all herding animals with gentle guidance. Be a dominant, gentle leader. The NFU says cows, for example, follow simple commands like a hand on the back.
- Respect an animal’s “flight zone.” This is the area of personal space in which the animal is comfortable. It’s often 5-25 feet around the animal, depending on how often it’s handled.
- NEVER trust a bull. Always be on alert around bulls and work with the in two-person teams.
- Chemicals – Handling different chemicals often comes with the territory on farms. So, to avoid illness or injury, follow the NFU’s guidelines for doing so safely:
- Get proper training on the chemicals.
- Read any relevant safety material.
- Wear protective equipment like gloves and goggles, when necessary.
- Store chemicals safely.
- Always wash your hands after handling chemicals, even if you were wearing gloves!
- Fatigue -According to the National Farmers Union, the number one danger on a farm is fatigue. Being over-tired paves the way for accidents and injuries that might not happen otherwise. So be sure to get your rest!
So, during Farm Safety Week (and always), we ask that our local famers stay safe out there and know that we appreciate all you do!
Preparedness Profile: If Disaster Strikes, Will You Be Ready?
In our line of work we know disasters can strike at any time and they can often leave devastation behind.
So, in this week’s Preparedness Profile, we’re asking you this question: If Disaster Strikes, Will You Be Ready?”
We know it’s not always easy to answer ‘yes’ and mean it fully, but there are some easy steps you can follow to be as ready as possible:
- Sign up for local alerts – You can get often get text messages, emails or phone calls about emergencies from your city or county. You can also sign up for alerts or download smart phone apps from organizations like FEMA and the National Weather Service.
- Develop and test emergency plans – Know how your family will get out of the house in case of a fire or flood, know where your family will meet if you can’t go home, talk with neighbors about how you can work together. Run drills of all of these plans.
- Assemble emergency supplies – Have a kit ready with things like non-perishable food, water, medications and important documents.
- Know your local hazards – What are the risks where you live? How can you prepare for those specific risks? For example, in Wisconsin we experience natural disasters like blizzards, tornadoes and floods. How would you react in each of those unique situations?
- Collect and safeguard critical documents – Have copies of documents like birth certificates, passports, car titles and house deeds in a safe location, out of harm’s way. Know where they are so you can grab them and go at a moment’s notice.
- Protect your property – Take photos of your property and valuables for insurance purposes, make any necessary improvements to your property to make it safer in case of disaster and make sure you have all the insurance coverage you need.
At SERVPRO of West Brown County our business is helping people recover after disasters of all kinds from storms, to fires, to floods. We want you to stay safe and protect your family and property.
If the worst happens and you need our help in the wake of any emergency, remember we are a locally-owned business with the backing of a billion-dollar brand. There are 1,700 SERVPRO franchises and they are ready to assist us and you, should the need ever be that great.
Be safe. Be prepared.
And know you can get in touch with us, day or night, at 920-434-8224.
Hard Rain Means Hard Work
A photo from just one of the businesses our team has been working at during the rain storms.
If you live or work in Northeast Wisconsin, you’ve no doubt been affected in some way by the recent, intense rain storms we’ve been experiencing. Whether it’s a slow commute due to flooded streets, or worse, flooding in your own home or business, it’s been a difficult few weeks for everyone in the Green Bay area.
It’s no surprise that, in our line of work, the SERVPRO of East Brown County Team has been faced with a lot of hard work thanks to the extreme weather.
We have received numerous calls each day since the end of August from people across the area asking for help with flooding in homes and businesses. Our technicians have been working around the clock to help those who need it. While many enjoyed end of summer barbecues and parties over the Labor Day weekend, we had crews drying up flood waters without a day of rest.
The schedule became so hectic at times that even the office workers AND the franchise owners have been working alongside technicians to get the jobs done. At those times, the only person left in the office was our office manager who stayed behind to answer the never-ending calls and solve the maze of scheduling issues.
At one point we even had to request additional drying equipment, like fans, from out of state to keep up with the demand. This is due to the fact all of Wisconsin has been experiencing flooding, with southern parts of the state even worse off than our own.
And even with all this labor, we have a waiting list of people who still need help. Believe us, if you are on that list we have not forgotten about you. We are doing our very best to ensure we can assist as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, without sacrificing any of the quality of our work.
We know that as hard as our crews are working, the emotional and physical toll this devastation has taken on our clients is even harder to deal with. We want those who are struggling right know to know that we are here for you. We will do our very best to see you through this extremely difficult time and get your life and property back to normal again.
We are not sharing this story to complain about the job our team needs to do right now, because our team doesn’t complain. We tackle each project in front of us until it is complete, because we love the work we do. We love helping people who need it. We’re in the business of being there for you when you need us most.
Preparedness Profile: Business Continuity Plan
A flooded office space.
September is National Preparedness Month all across the United States. In an effort to help you be more prepared, we’re putting together a different “Preparedness Profile” each week this month.
For the first week, we’re talking about how business owners can plan and be prepared in the event of a disaster. Just like a family needs to plan for things like fires and floods: how they will get out of the house if dangerous conditions occur, what items they will need in an emergency and what insurance they might need to cover any losses; a business needs to do the same.
The key to taking care of your investment and employees is to create a business continuity plan. The SERVPRO team cannot recommend this enough. Having a plan will ensure everyone’s safety and ensure that you can get back to work as soon as possible. This also helps ensure you will lose as little productivity as possible.
According to ready.gov, there are four main steps to creating a business continuity plan:
- Do a Business Impact Analysis
- Ask how a disaster would affect your business’s ability to function.
- Would there be a loss of production? How long? How will that loss affect the bottom line?
- What equipment (like computers or machinery) might be affected? How can you protect those ahead of time.
- Come up with Recovery Strategies
- What resources can you fall back on? Do you have another location to work from, for example?
- Who will you turn to for help in the recovery? Will you call on SERVPRO to clean up, for example?
- Can work be done remotely?
- Develop Your Plan
- Organize a recovery team among your employees.
- Make sure you have any necessary insurance to replace what could be lost.
- What resources will your business need during the recovery process, in the hours, days, weeks and months that follow a disaster?
- Create a relocation plan, if necessary.
- Test Your Plan
- Run emergency drills with your employees to ensure they know what to do in the event of unsafe conditions like fire or biohazard spills.
- Encourage your employees to consider how they would react and work after a disaster.
- Run through your plans. Will they work? If not, come up with a new plan.
At SERVPRO we ask that, as a business owner, you plan to stay in business, encourage your employees to be ready and protect your investment. Planning ahead can help make all of this possible.
As a business leader, you are a community leader. You can set a good example for your community by having a disaster plan. If you do it, that will encourage others to do it too. And that will make everyone safer.
And SERVPRO of West Brown County can help you in all of this planning by doing an Emergency Readiness Profile (ERP) for your business, free of charge. The ERP is a document that you can refer to in a disaster situation to know things like the first responders you need to contact, the areas of the building that might be affected by a particular incident and the chain of command in an emergency.
Call us anytime to schedule an ERP at 920-434-8224 and make sure you are prepared for the worst.
Heading Back to School Safely
School Bus photo courtesy of FEMA
As the nights grow cooler and the leaves begin to turn, it’s hard not to notice more school buses and backpacks out and about.
August is winding down and it is, of course, back to school season! Depending on who you are it’s a time of year that brings joy or dread, but either way it’s here.
And as the students of all ages head back to the classroom, we wanted to provide some safety reminders for this incredibly busy time of year.
For students, parents and anyone else who will be out and about, it’s important to remember traffic on the roads and sidewalks will be increasing very soon! So, be sure to pay extra close attention. Here are a few tips from the National Safety Council (NSC):
- For Children Walking to School:
- Walk on the sidewalk. If you must walk on the road, walk facing traffic.
- Look both ways before crossing the street.
- Do not walk and text or talk on the phone.
- Do not run out in front of parked cars.
- For Children Biking to School:
- Always wear a helmet.
- Follow the rules of the road: obey stop signs and lights, ride single file on the right side of the road, stop before crossing the street and walk the bike across.
- Use hand signals when making turns.
- Wear bright/reflective clothing.
- For Children Riding the Bus:
- Stand at least six feet away from the curb while waiting for the bus.
- Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before approaching it.
- Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before standing to exit.
- If you must cross the street in front of the bus, walk far enough in front of it to be able to see whether traffic from the other direction has stopped.
- For Drivers:
- Don’t block crosswalks.
- Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.
- Take extra care and slow down in school zones.
- Never pass a vehicle stopped to pick up pedestrians.
- Never pass a school bus that is picking up or dropping off students.
Getting to school poses dangers on the road, but parents will want to be aware of possible dangers during the school day itself. For example, the NSC asks parents to be sure to buy their children proper backpacks to avoid any back pain or injuries. The council also advises parents run through playground and recess safety reminders with their young children.
From all of us at SERVPRO of West Brown County, we wish you a very safe, fun and happy back to school!
Meet Scott Coates: Production Technician at SERVPRO of West Brown County
For this week’s profile for team SERVPRO of West Brown County, allow us to introduce production technician Scott Coates. Scott has worked here for about two years.
As a production technician, Scott is part of the team that will help clean up and restore properties following disasters like fires, floods, mold and biohazard incidents. Scott also performs general cleaning at corporate locations. His specialties are in demolition and cleaning.
Scott says he enjoys working for SERVPRO of West Brown County, first of all, because of the people he works with. He says it’s a really good team of co-workers. Scott also enjoys the work itself and getting to help customers who are going through tough times.
Scott is originally from Green Bay and he still lives here with his wife Tammy and four stepchildren. Scott and Tammy have been married for almost five years (they’ll be celebrating their anniversary in November)!
When he’s not working, Scott likes to hang out at home, watching sports like football. You’re also likely to see him out taking his dog for a walk.
Scott says he likes living in Wisconsin, because his family is here.
Continuous Training for SERVPRO Team
SERVPRO fleet with mascots Stormy and Blaze
The idea of training is certainly something anyone in any field can relate to: you’re hired into a new job, you get training to learn that job. It’s a pretty similar situation across the board.
What sets the SERVPRO of West Brown County team apart from some, however, is that our training never stops. New employees are trained and so are veterans. Our industry is always changing, so there is always something new to learn to make our work better. And our technicians also benefit from refreshers on the topics that don’t change!
When it comes to training, there are several kinds our techs go through. The big training comes from the IICRC, the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification. The IICRC is an international, governing body that sets the standards for best practices in restoration and remediation work.
Our technicians and attend IICRC classes and receive certifications across a range of topics including water restoration and mitigation, fire restoration and mold remediation.
But the training does not stop with the IICRC. Our team goes through weekly training sessions in house, right in our Howard location.
Once a week, techs will learn about a different production subject to ensure they’re knowledgeable about the latest and greatest techniques.
Techs will also go through a safety training session on a different topic each week. This ensures our team stays safe while working in your home or business. Safety training also ensures our team members keep you, the client, safe while working in your home or business.
If you ever need our services in the Green Bay area, you can trust our team will be well-trained and well-informed. Call us any time at 920-434-8224.
On the Road Again: Sales Routes and SERVPRO
A Sales and Marketing car
If you live in Northeast Wisconsin, you may have noticed SERVPRO’s bright green trucks and cars out on the roadways.
You may assume those vehicles are filled with expert technicians and equipment on the way to help clean up and restore a home or business.
Much of the time you’d be right in that assumption. However, there are other SERVPRO of West Brown County team members who hit the road every day: the sales and marketing staff.
Business owners, managers and those in the insurance field are the most likely to run into Jim, Bill or Alex out and about.
Those three SERVPRO employees complete what are called “sales routes” during the weekdays as part of their jobs. Who you see depends on what kind of business you’re in. For example, if you work in insurance, you’re going to see Jim; if you work in property management, you’re going to see Bill; and if you’re a small business owner of, say, a café or veterinary hospital, you’re probably going to see Alex.
The goal of the sales routes is for our marketing folks to stop into specific businesses and explain the work SERVPRO does. It’s a way for you to get to know us before you need us. One day they might come to talk to you about flood damage recovery. Another day they might come in to talk to you about mold prevention.
You’ll probably only see them stopping in once every few months to say hello and bring you some new information. If you’re busy the day they stop by, Jim, Bill or Alex will simply leave the information on your desk (as well as a little present or two!) and get out of your hair so you can get back to work. If you’re not busy and you want to stop and chat, they’d love to talk about SERVPRO, of course, and fun things like the events your business has planned or your families and pets!
So, be on the lookout for the SERVPRO sales and marketing staff and if you see them out in the community, please say hello!
If one of those three does not already come to visit your business, but you’d like them to visit, or at least learn more about the work our team of technicians do, you can call SERVPRO of West Brown County any time at 920-434-8224! Just ask for Jim, Bill or Alex and one of them will help you out!
It's the Water You Don't See
It's the Water You Don't See
When your home or business experiences a major flood, chances are you’ll notice it.
A few inches of water in your basement, an overflowing toilet or a broken sprinkler are tough to overlook and so is the damage they cause.
However, there is a culprit that might not make a big splash, but can cause serious structural and indoor air quality issues: the water you don’t see.
Sometimes you might have hidden leaks or humidity issues that can start small and grow large in their destruction over time. The little leaks might turn into large deluges or wear away at structures, the humidity could make conditions right for mold growth and bad odors.
As a home or business owner, you want to be on the lookout for these sneaky sources of water loss. You also want to make sure that, if you do experience a large flood, to get it cleaned up properly. Improper water cleanup can leave those hidden problems behind.
This is where SERVPRO of West Brown County comes into the picture. We have the knowledge and experience clean up water damage of any size and get it done right the first time.
We also have the proper equipment to find any moisture lurking out of sight and do away with it.
For example, we have moisture sensors, which are used to detect moisture in carpets, baseboards and walls. We have moisture meters that we use to test the actual moisture content of materials. The meters allow our technicians to accurately monitor the drying process. Our team also has thermohygrometers on hand to measure temperature and relative humidity, which ensures techs can calculate and create an environment that is most conducive to drying.
And if hidden water leads to bad odors in your business, we have the tools necessary to take care of those as well.
Some examples are ultra low-volume foggers and thermal foggers. The ultra low-volume foggers atomize liquid deodorizing agents, producing a fine mist that can penetrate the site where odor-causing residues accumulate. The thermal foggers dispense solvent-based products by creating a dense fog. The fog consists of tiny particles of deodorant solution that attach to and neutralize odor-causing particles.
The lesson here is to be aware that water losses can be hiding in your home or business and if you find them, you can count on us to fix them.
Call SERVPRO of West Brown County at 920-499-7050.