Stay safe this record breaking winter season
Millions of people in the United States are under some kind of winter warning or advisory as extreme cold, snow and ice threaten almost the entire country. The American Red Cross is responding in some regions and watching the extreme weather to determine if more help is needed.
Millions of people are without power and several states have declared emergencies. The winter blanket extends from the East Coast to the West Coast and from Texas to Maine with icy roads, power outages and dangerously low temperatures threatening to snarl traffic and paralyze cities from coast to coast.
As many as 3.2 million people are without power in Texas as record-low temperatures brought a demand for power that the state's electric grid could not keep up with. Right now, the Red Cross is helping to support warming centers across Texas by providing cots, blankets, volunteers, water and ready-to-eat meals when requested. Red Cross workers are standing by to support local responses to the storms as needed.
“The dangerously cold weather we’ve experienced over the past week is unprecedented for the state of Texas,” said Keith Rhodes, CEO, American Red Cross North Texas Region. “Amid below freezing temperatures, tens of thousands have lost access to gas and water, and millions have lost power leaving residents looking for alternative ways to keep their families warm. With additional extreme winter weather forecasted, the Red Cross is working with government and community partners to support warming centers across the region for temporary relief from the elements.”
The American Red Cross urges everyone to stay safe and stay at home if possible, and offers these steps to follow:
GET RED CROSS READY Make sure you have enough heating fuel on hand. Stay indoors and wear warm clothes. Layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing will keep you warmer than a bulky sweater. Check on relatives, neighbors and friends, particularly if they are elderly or if they live alone. Keep your vehicle’s gas tank full to keep the fuel line from freezing.
Don’t forget your pets. Bring your companion animals indoors. Create a place where your other animals can be comfortable in severe winter weather. Horses and livestock should have a shelter where they can be protected from wind, snow, ice, and rain. Grazing animals should have access to a protected supply of food and non-frozen water.
STAY SAFE OUTSIDE
• Wear layered clothing, mittens or gloves, and a hat. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
• Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from severely cold air. Avoid taking deep breaths; minimize talking.
• Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat.
• Stretch before you go out. If you go out to shovel snow, do a few stretching exercises first to reduce your chances of muscle injury.
• Avoid overexertion, such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a vehicle, or walking in deep snow. The strain may cause a heart attack. Sweating could lead to a chill and hypothermia.
• Walk carefully on snowy, icy sidewalks. Slips and falls occur frequently in winter weather, resulting in painful and sometimes disabling injuries.
• Get out of the cold immediately if the signs of hypothermia and frostbite appear.
Signs of frostbite include lack of feeling in the affected area or skin that appears waxy, is cold to the touch, or is discolored (flushed, white or gray, yellow or blue)
What to do for frostbite:
• Move the person to a warm place
• Handle the area gently; never rub the affected area
• Warm gently by soaking the affected area in warm water (100–105 degrees F) until it appears red and feels warm
• Loosely bandage the area with dry, sterile dressings
• If the person’s fingers or toes are frostbitten, place dry, sterile gauze between them to keep them separated
• Avoid breaking any blisters
• Do not allow the affected area to refreeze
• Seek professional medical care as soon as possible
Signs of hypothermia include shivering, numbness or weakness, a glassy stare, apathy or impaired judgment or loss of consciousness.
What to do for hypothermia:
• CALL 9-1-1 or the local emergency number
• Gently move the person to a warm place
• Monitor breathing and circulation
• Give rescue breathing and CPR if needed
• Remove any wet clothing and dry the person
• Warm the person slowly by wrapping in blankets or by putting dry clothing on the person.
• Hot water bottles and chemical hot packs may be used when first wrapped in a towel or blanket before applying. Do not warm the person too quickly, such as by immersing him or her in warm water.
• Warm the core first (trunk, abdomen), not the extremities (hands, feet).
IF THE POWER IS OUT
• Use flashlights in the dark — not candles.
• If you must go out during a winter storm, use public transportation if possible. Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out and roads will be congested.
• Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment.
• Turn off or disconnect any appliances and electronics that you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
• Leave one light on, so you’ll know when power is restored.
• During a prolonged outage, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to protect your food.
o First, use perishable food from the refrigerator. Perishables are safe to eat when they have a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Then, use food from the freezer.
o If the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items. Keep food in a dry, cool spot and cover it at all times.
If you are using a generator, keep it dry and don’t use it in wet conditions.
• Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Keep these devices outside away from doors, windows and vents, which could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
• Operate the generator on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure, such as under a tarp held up by poles.
• Don’t touch a generator with wet hands.
• Turn the generator off and let it cool down before refueling. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.
• Plug appliances directly into the generator. Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet.
PREVENT FROZEN PIPES
• Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
• Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
• Let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
• Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night.
• If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
How to Thaw Frozen Pipes
• If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
• Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
• Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
• Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
• Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
HOME HEATING SAFETY
• Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
• Don’t leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
• Place space heaters on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
• Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
• Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
Experts say that fire damages happen more in the winter.
With winter’s coldest months upon us, we ask that people be aware of electrical fire hazards.
In an average year, heating is the cause of 17 percent of structure fires; however, in winter, especially during the coldest months, heating fires jump to 27 percent of structure fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
Recognize Signs of Trouble
Be alert and learn to recognize signs of electrical trouble waiting to happen. Some warning signs that could lead to an electrical fire are:
- Lights flicker for no apparent reason
- You wiggle a switch and it feels “floppy” in your hand and/or the lights flicker or go on and off
- The light switch doesn’t turn the lights on or – even worse – won’t turn them off
- An unusual smell
- Discolored receptacles, switches or other electrical devices
- Sparks or noises (especially like “frying eggs)
- Frayed wires or loose connections
- Overloaded outlets, extension cords or surge protectors
- Circuit breakers trip – and be especially concerned if they won’t reset!
If you see any of these signs of electrical problems, call an electrician immediately. A qualified electrician can identify possible causes, such as short or overloaded circuits, improperly-rated fuses and breakers, and not having ground-fault protection where it’s needed to protect against shock hazards.
Winter Storms Can Cause Extra Hazards
Winter storms such as those the across the Midwest, can cause additional hazards. These include:
- Alternative heating devices such as space heaters, being used incorrectly.
- Damaged or downed utility lines.
- Water damaged appliances and utilities can be electrically charged.
- Frozen water pipes can burst and cause safety hazards.
- Leaking gas lines, damaged or leaking gas propane containers, and leaking vehicle gas tanks may explode or ignite.
- Generators are often used during power outages, but if they’re not properly used and maintained they can be hazardous.
People are always advised to follow manufacturers’ instructions and guidelines. Always use a generator or other fuel-powered machines outside of the home in a well-ventilated location, as carbon monoxide fumes are odorless and can quickly overwhelm you indoors.
Why SERVPRO you may ask???
Here in Indiana, we're no strangers to the brutal winter weather conditions. It's important to stay ahead of the game, and prepare your home to withstand these conditions. At SERVPRO of Madison, Lawrenceburg and Versailles, we see a vast amount of claims during these winter months due to roof leaks caused by ice and snow, water leaks from frozen pipes and many other winter storm related causes. We want you to be aware, even though we are leaders in the water mitigation industry, we would rather prevent the damage than clean it up.
Some of the most common causes of loss for our Southern Indiana customers are roof leaks. Do a visual inspection of your roof to look for maintenance issues or things that could make it more susceptible to hail or wind or other damage—like missing or damaged shingles or tiles on sloped roofs. Or if it’s a flat roof, look for surface bubbles in the membrane material or missing gravel. Take a walk around the home and look for overhanging trees and branches. Trim trees back and remove dead branches—things that have the potential to fall when you get high winds or heavy snowfall to keep from damaging your roof. Check downspouts and gutters to make sure that after the leaves fall the gutters get cleaned out—anything with the potential to freeze and exacerbate the problem with ice damage. Keep the drainage of the water off the roof and not clogged in the gutters.
Another common cause of water loss are frozen pipe leaks. No one wants a frozen pipe, so keep an eye on yours. Drain the outside water faucets and shut them off before the first freeze. On very cold nights, open cabinets beneath the sink to let warm air in and, if you are especially worried about freezing pipes, let a slow drip of water run through them. Resist the urge to turn down the thermostat to save money – you want to keep the pipes warm. Extreme weather is not a time to start trying to save on your energy bill, crank your heat up during those weeks, a water damage can be incredibly more costly than a few weeks of high energy usage.
Another thing to keep in mind is chimney maintenance. Make sure your chimney is ready to go before the cold weather hits by having it inspected for cracks and other dangers by a certified professional. If you had a chimney fire and didn’t know it, the professional will find evidence and recommend fixing it before use this winter. A good cleaning – and at least one during the heating season – can help reduce the chance of a chimney fire. Remember, chimney fires can spread damaging heat to the walls, leading to total losses.
SERVPRO of Madison, Lawrenceburg and Versailles hopes you don't need us this winter season, but accidents happen, and when they do we're "Here to Help" 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Contact Us Online or call (812)574-5744.
Reasons to insulate your water pipes!!!
Insulating water supply pipes in exposed areas of your home is a good idea for several reasons. In cold-winter climates, water supply pipes that are exposed to exterior walls or unheated spaces may freeze, burst, and flood your home. More than one northern family has gone south for a winter vacation, only to return to a months-long cleanup and restoration job when a single water pipe bursts. Insulating water pipes is a key element to any efforts to winterize the plumbing in the home.
Insulating water pipes can also save money on energy costs by preventing hot water pipes from losing their heat to the surrounding air. Insulating the hot water pipes leading out of your water heater, for example, can reduce heat loss and lower the costs of heating the water. Finally, insulating cold water pipes can prevent the pipes from sweating due to moisture condensation, which can reduce humidity levels in the house in the summertime.
Where to Insulate Water Pipes
Which water pipes you insulate will depend on why you are doing it. If the goal is to prevent frozen pipes, then the critical pipes to protect are those that run through unheated spaces. These are located in exterior walls, unheated garages, the floor cavities above unheated crawl spaces, unheated attics, etc. Generally speaking, it's not necessary to insulate pipes that run through interior walls or in basements that are heated. When preventing freezing is the goal, insulate both the hot- and cold-water pipes. Hot water pipes can also freeze unless water is actively running through them.
If the goal is to lower water-heating costs, then it's wise to insulate hot water pipes wherever you have access to them. This will help prevent heat from radiating away from the hot water pipes and may allow you to lower the temperature setting on your water heater.
If the goal of pipe insulation is to eliminate pipe sweating and humidity, then it is the cold water pipes that are in most need of insulation. When exposed cold pipes contact warm, humid air, condensation can form on the pipes. This condensation may drip and puddle on floors, or it may contribute to overall high humidity levels, especially in basements. Insulating the cold water pipes can prevent this condensation.
There are several strategies you can use to insulate water pipes:
- Insulating them with strips of pipe wrap
- Using foam pipe sleeves
- Adding wall insulation
- Using faucet covers on outdoor spigots
- Installing frost-proof outdoor spigots
- Insulating gaps where pipes penetrate walls
Call SERVPRO of Madison, Lawrenceburg and Versailles if you discover water damage due to a burst pipe!
Make sure your business has a plan for the uncertain.
Like the majority of commercial properties and businesses, your facility probably has an emergency exit plan in place, with illuminated signs leading occupants to safety, and even facility maps strategically placed to identify alternate routes out of the building. But have you developed a thorough contingency plan? Is the emphasis on the first 24-48 hours, to help you get back in your building as quickly as possible? SERVPRO of Madison, Lawrenceburg and Versailles can provide you assistance in developing an Emergency Ready Profile. Even better, it will be at NO COST to you.
As part of a well-thought out contingency plan, your Emergency Ready Profile will contain information you need in the event an emergency situation occurs. An added advantage to utilizing SERVPRO of Madison, Lawrenceburg and Versailles in the development of your Emergency Ready Profile, is the opportunity to coordinate a preferred provider relationship. You will be familiar with our technicians and we will be familiar with your facility and key persons of contact. These small things could make a BIG difference when an emergency situation occurs.
CONTACT US today to set up an appointment to begin your personalized Emergency Ready Profile.
Don't get Scammed by a "Storm Chaser"
Don’t get scammed by a “Storm Chaser”
Some advice from our friends at the IICRC.
1 Too-good-to-be-true prices. Often dubious restoration companies will offer low prices to grab your attention, but be wary of surprise costs that will hurt your wallet. Never let the price of the repairs be the sole criterion for choosing a restoration firm.
2 Requesting upfront cash payments. While it can be a regular practice to deposit up to one-third of the estimated price on the day repairs begin, avoid paying in cash or more than the expected payment. Pay by check or credit card, and pay the final amount only after the work is finished and you are happy with the quality of the repairs.
3 A lack of references. References are easy to check and can help you quickly identify if the company is legitimate and provides good service. Research the company online and check feedback on user-review sites such as Angie’s List or Yelp, or ask friends or business contacts if they have had any experience with the firm.
4 High-pressure tactics. Often a “storm chaser” will arrive uninvited to your door peddling their services. If the contractor is using high-pressure sales tactics, it is best to turn them away politely and shut the door. Technicians should be courteous, thoroughly explain the scope of work and answer all questions. You should never feel pressure to accept their services.
5 Lack of training. Professional cleaning and restoration firms require management and employees to engage in formal training in a variety of cleaning and restoration disciplines, and these educational efforts will be ongoing. Inquire about the formal training and certifications of technicians who will be working in your home or business. Look for organizations that require their technicians to hold certifications from organizations like the IICRC to ensure the work is done correctly.
6 Inability to show credentials. Never hesitate to ask for proof. Ask to see the individual’s certification card, business license and insurance certificate. To verify a company, you can contact the IICRC which is a not-for-profit standards-setting and credentialing body for the inspection, cleaning and restoration industry. Call the IICRC at 1-844-464-4272 to confirm the certification of any company that has contacted you.
Let us help get your Business back on its feet.
SERVPRO of Madison, Lawrenceburg and Versailles is dedicated to being an ally in helping you recover from any-sized disaster. In these historical times we understand that time is of the utmost importance. We provide 24-hour emergency services and will respond immediately to your emergency and have the training and experience to handle your restoration and cleaning needs.
- 24-Hour Emergency Service
- Fast to Any-Sized Disaster
- Highly Trained Restoration Technicians
- A trusted leader in the Restoration Industry
- Locally Owned and Operated
- Advanced Restoration and Cleaning Equipment
It's never a good time to experience a fire or water damage emergency, especially at your commercial property or business. SERVPRO of Madison, Lawrenceburg and Versailles understands that every hour spent cleaning up is an hour of lost revenue and productivity. SERVPRO professionals have the training and expertise to respond promptly for professional cleaning and emergency restoration service situations. When the need arises SERVPRO of Madison, Lawrenceburg and Versailles is your go to Restoration Company to get your property back to business.
Advice from our friends at State Farm!
Safety After Severe Storms
Know how to deal after a thunderstorm, tornado or hurricane has passed through.
Severe weather can be dangerous — flooding roads, damaging homes, down power lines and more even when the storm clouds pass. Here are some precautions to follow in the aftermath of severe storms. And remember, as with any project, beware of untrustworthy contractors who are looking to cash in on repairs.
After a Severe Thunderstorm
- Avoid driving if possible. If you have to travel, turn around if the road is flooded or blocked by debris.
- Stay away from downed power lines. Anything touching the power line can carry a charge. Report the downed line and avoid the area.
- Clean up or rope off dangerous areas. Cover hail- or wind-damaged windows with tarps and plywood until an inspector can assess the damage.
After a Tornado
- Wear appropriate clothing. Sturdy, closed-toe shoes or boots, long sleeves and gloves are best for inspecting damage and handling debris.
- Avoid using candles or torches to inspect damage. Sparks from an open flame could ignite a fire or cause a gas-related explosion in a damaged building.
- Shut off the power if you smell something burning, see frayed or sparking wires, or suspect a gas leak. Turn off the main circuit breaker and the natural gas and propane tanks.
- Use caution around debris. Sharp objects, broken glass, or exposed nails may cause injuries that could lead to infection.
After a Hurricane
- Be cautious around electronics. Do not turn on wet appliances. If appliances are plugged in, turn off the power at the circuit breaker and have an electrician inspect appliances before you use them again.
- Throw away spoiled food. Toss perishables as well as any food that has come in contact with flood or storm water.
- Avoid tap water. Public water may be contaminated after a severe storm. Use bottled water for drinking, washing hands and dishes, brushing teeth, and making ice.
This knowledge will guard you against winter mishaps.
Heating is the second leading cause of US home fires and home fire injuries and third leading cause of home fire deaths. December, January and February are the peak months for heating fires. Space heaters are the type of equipment most often involved in home heating equipment fires, accounting for more than two of every five fires (44%), as well as the vast majority of deaths and injuries in home fires caused by heating equipment.
Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, propane, etc. do not burn completely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of CO. Carbon monoxide incidents are more common during the winter months, and in residential properties.
Most of the U.S. is at risk for winter storms, which can cause dangerous and sometimes life-threatening conditions. Blinding wind-driven snow, extreme cold, icy road conditions, downed trees and power lines can all wreak havoc on our daily schedules. Home fires occur more in the winter than in any other season, and heating equipment is involved in one of every six reported home fires, and one in every five home fire deaths.
Portable generators are useful during power outages, however, many homeowners are unaware that the improper use of portable generators can be risky. The most common dangers associated with portable generators are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, electrical shock or electrocution, and fire hazards. According to a 2013 Consumer Product Safety Commission report, half of the generator-related deaths happened in the four coldest months of the year, November through February, and portable generators were involved in the majority of carbon monoxide deaths involving engine-driven tools.
December is the peak time of year for home candle fires; the top two days for home candle fires are Christmas and Christmas Eve. Each year between 2013-2017, an average of 7,900 home candle fires were reported each year.
Electrical home fires are a leading cause of home fires in the U.S. Roughly half of all home electrical fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment, while nearly another half involved other known types of equipment like washer or dryer fans, and portable or stationary space heaters.
Unpredictable Spring Weather
Spring is the time of year when many things change—including the weather. Temperatures can swing back and forth between balmy and frigid. Sunny days may be followed by a week of stormy weather. Sometimes extreme weather changes can occur even within the same day. Mark Twain once said, “In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.”
Thunderstorms cause most of the severe spring weather. They can bring lightning, tornadoes, and flooding. Whenever warm, moist air collides with cool, dry air, thunderstorms can occur. For much of the world, this happens in spring and summer.
Because spring weather is so unpredictable, you may be unprepared when severe weather hits—particularly if you live in a region that does not often experience thunderstorms, tornadoes, or flooding. And when severe weather hits unexpectedly, the risk of injury and death increases. So planning ahead makes sense; prepare for storms, floods, and tornadoes as if you know in advance they are coming, because in the spring, they very likely will.
Advance planning for thunderstorms, lightning, tornadoes, and floods requires specific safety precautions. You can follow many of the same steps that you would for all extreme weather events. Keep an emergency kit on hand. Some items to include are:
- A battery-operated flashlight, a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio, and extra batteries for both
- An emergency evacuation or shelter plan, including a map of your home and, for every type of severe weather emergency, routes to safety from each room
- A list of important personal information, including:
- telephone numbers of neighbors, family, and friends
- insurance and property information
- telephone numbers of utility companies
- medical information
- According to the American Red Cross a first aid kit may include:
- non-latex gloves
- assortment of adhesive bandages
- antibiotic ointment
- sterile gauze pads in assorted sizes
- absorbent compress dressings
- adhesive cloth tape
- aspirin packets (81 mg each)
- first aid instruction booklet
(NOTE: Customize your first aid kit to meet your individual and family needs.)
- A 3–5 day supply of bottled water and nonperishable food
- Personal hygiene items
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- An emergency kit [1.08 MB] in your car
Prepare your family members for the possibility of severe weather. Tell them where to seek appropriate shelter as soon as they are aware of an approaching storm. Practice your emergency plan for every type of severe weather. Show family members where the emergency supplies are stored, and make sure they know how to turn off the water, gas, and electricity in your home.
Often by the time we are aware of an approaching storm, we have little if any time to prepare for it. But we do know that when spring arrives, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and floods are real possibilities. So why not take the surprise factor out of severe weather and prepare yourself, your family, and your home? If thunderstorms, tornadoes, and floods do occur, you’ll be ready for them.
SOURCE: National Center for Environmental Health / Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry