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Fire Prevention Profile: Kitchen Fires

10/10/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Fire Prevention Profile: Kitchen Fires A stove that caught fire in the Green Bay area

Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires in the United States and the dangers only rise as we get into the holiday season. So, (since October is Fire Prevention Month) now is a good time to learn more about these incidents and what you can do to prevent them.

The statistics when it comes to kitchen fires are stark. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking accounts for about 47% of home fires, 20% of fire-related deaths and 45% of the fire-related injuries reported across the country each year. The NFPA says Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and then Christmas Eve.

Luckily, there are many simple steps home chefs can take to avoid these fires. One big step? Always watch what you’re cooking. The NFPA tells us one third of kitchen fires happen when a person leaves the equipment they’re using unattended. So, particularly if you’re using the stove top, stay in the kitchen and watch closely. If you’re using the oven, experts advise checking in regularly.

It’s important to remember, kitchen fires don’t just happen when food burns, anything flammable can catch fire if it’s too close to the heat. So, keep anything like oven mitts, dish cloths and paper towels AWAY from heat sources.

We have saved the BIGGEST culprit of cooking fires for last: frying. The NFPA says frying dominates the cooking fire problem. So, the Association has some advice you’ll want to follow this holiday season (and, of course, all year long):

  • Always stay in the kitchen when frying.
  • If you see smoke coming off the food you’re frying, turn off the burner or safely remove the pan from the burner. Smoke it a sign the oil is too hot.
  • Slowly heat the oil to the temperature you need.
  • Add food to the oil gently so that it does not splatter.
  • Always keep a lid beside your pan. If the pan does catch fire, cover it with the lid and turn off the banner. Let the oil cool before removing the lid again.
  • NEVER put water on a grease fire. If a fire starts to spread, leave the house immediately and call 911.

Now you know a little bit more about how to stand the heat and stay in the kitchen SAFELY. Team SERVPRO of West Brown County wishes everyone in the Green Bay area and beyond a very safe and happy holiday season!

Fire Prevention Profile: October is Fire Prevention Month

10/4/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Fire Prevention Profile: October is Fire Prevention Month October is Fire Prevention Month

October is National Fire Prevention Month and we at SERVPRO of West Brown County want to ensure you are staying safe this month and all year long.

And in that spirit, we will be posting Fire Prevention Profiles each Friday in October.

For this first profile, we will provide some general prevention tips. The second week we will talk about preventing kitchen fires, the third week we’ll cover electrical fire prevention and the final fire prevention profile will discuss home heating safety and how that relates to fire prevention.

So, diving in to this week, the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA, provides a theme each year for fire prevention and 2018’s theme is “Look. Listen. Learn. Be Aware. Fire can happen anywhere.”

So here is what the NFPA advises:

  • LOOK – look for places in your home fires could start. Identify any possible hazards and take care of them.
  • LISTEN – listen for the sound of your smoke alarm. If you hear the smoke alarm, leave the building immediately. You only have minutes, sometimes seconds to escape the smoke and flames safely once you hear the alarm.
  • LEARN – learn (and teach your family) two ways out of every room and make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily and are free of clutter.

This is also a great time of year to PREPARE for emergencies! In case you didn’t see our Preparedness Profiles from last month, they are all still in our blog archives, which you can find easily on our website and our social media pages. You can find out more about preparing for evacuations, pet safety in emergencies and proper use of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

And always remember, if a fire should damage your home or business, SERVPRO of West Brown County is always here for you. You can reach us, day or night, at 920-434-8224.

Preparedness Profile: Emergency Finances

9/26/2018 (Permalink)

Water Damage Preparedness Profile: Emergency Finances It's a good idea to have an emergency "piggy bank."

For our final Preparedness Profile as September (AKA National Preparedness Month) comes to an end, we’d like to talk to you about emergency finances.

Being ready for a disaster doesn’t just mean having a plan in place, or creating an emergency kit, it means making sure your bank account and insurance policies are ready if worse comes to worst.

Having your finances in place is so important, because disasters can be devastating financially. For example, Ready.gov, says that just one inch of water in your home during a flooding situation can cause $25,000 worth of damage.

Now, it’s unlikely that you have (or can get) a spare $25,000 in your bank account on short notice and that’s why it’s so important you make sure you have any insurance coverage you might need. Have a conversation with your insurance agent about your policy. What possible holes exist in your coverage? What might you need if disaster strikes?

There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to insurance that only a professional can help with. For example, did you know that most homeowners’ and renters’ insurance does NOT cover flood damage? You often need an additional flood insurance policy. Even if you don’t live near a body of water, the experts say, anywhere it rains it can flood.

In addition to having the right insurance coverage, it’s also a good idea to have SOME money set aside for a disaster, or emergency situation. This will ensure you can still care for your family if something prevents you from working.

Ready.gov advises putting aside a little bit of money each month in a savings account that is only to be used in case of emergencies. The website also advises you have any paychecks or benefit checks directly deposited into your bank account to ensure you continue to receive your money in the midst of any disasters.

In addition, Ready.gov has a list of identifying and financial documents you’ll want copies of in case of emergencies. Those documents include:

  • Photo ID
  • Birth certificates for all household members
  • Social Security card
  • Any military ID
  • Pet ID tags
  • Housing payment records
  • Insurance policies
  • Proof of income
  • Tax documents
  • Health records
  • Health insurance documents
  • Immunization records
  • Prescriptions

It’s likely no surprise disaster situations can be costly, but if you plan ahead you can offset those costs and ease any burdens that might come your way.

Jim Knopf Named 'Ambassador of the Year'

9/25/2018 (Permalink)

Community Jim Knopf Named 'Ambassador of the Year' Jim gives a speech after receiving the award for 'Ambassador of the Year.'

At SERVPRO of West Brown County we love to highlight the good work our employees do both on and off the clock. And you’ve probably noticed we spend a lot of time talking about our Sales and Marketing Manager Jim Knopf.

Jim is constantly volunteering with community organizations to make the Green Bay area a better place.

One project that is particularly important to Jim is his work as an Ambassador for the Greater Green Bay Chamber of Commerce.

As an Ambassador Jim volunteers his time to help the Chamber reach out to current and new members and to make sure Chamber members are getting the most out of their membership benefits. You can also see Jim out and about in his green jacket helping at ribbon cuttings and other big Chamber events.

Last week the Chamber recognized the great work Jim does by honoring him with the “Ambassador of the Year” award. This is so exciting for us and we could not be prouder of Jim’s commitment.

Renae Schlies, the Vice President of Membership for the Chamber, spoke with us about why Jim was chosen for this honor.

Schlies explained that the top six Ambassadors were chosen on a point system and they were asked to fill out an application to be Ambassador of the year. From there, the Chamber’s membership committee used a scoring rubric to vote on the best candidate.

Schlies told us what makes Jim a good Ambassador, writing in an email, “Jim is a great ambassador for many reasons.  He is very giving of his time to the chamber.   He comes to almost all of the ribbon cuttings and events. We can always rely on him to support our members and our overall mission.  He often refers people to the chamber and bringing in new members.  He helps organize the ribbon cuttings and makes sure that everyone feels welcome at events such as the Business After Hours.  He is also very giving of his time in the community for other non-profits.  He is a very valuable volunteer/advocate for the chamber. We are fortunate to have him as part of the ambassador group.”

As for Jim, he was thrilled with the recognition. He is very excited and extremely thankful for the award and said that every one of his fellow Ambassadors who were up for it were more than worthy.

In his own words Jim said, “Winning the Ambassador of the Year Award is not just about winning the title, it makes me realize the work I do as a volunteer is a huge privilege, I have the backing of my company (SERVPRO of East/West Brown County). I get the opportunity to network with new and existing companies on behalf of the Chamber and, at the same time, get a chance to talk about what I do.  I feel connected to my community and that I am making a difference through this work.”

SERVPRO of West Brown County is so proud of Jim and the team members are so lucky to call him a co-worker. We have no doubt he will continue this great volunteerism for years to come.

Preparedness Profile: Sound the Alarm

9/19/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage 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

9/18/2018 (Permalink)

Community 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?

9/12/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Preparedness Profile: If Disaster Strikes, Will You Be Ready? Be prepared.

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

9/5/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage 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

9/5/2018 (Permalink)

Commercial 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

8/28/2018 (Permalink)

Community 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!