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If you're not always prepared, are you prepared at all?

9/4/2019 (Permalink)

A Storm warning sign Pay close attention to storm warnings - keep new channels on and weather apps up to date as they issue notifications for your area.

Even though we live a safe distance from the coast, there is a chance of a tropical storm or hurricane making its way to the Chapin, SC. In the event that a powerful storm does make it to the Midlands of South Carolina, the last thing you want to think about is where you put that box of batteries or whether you have enough food for you and your family. The SERVPRO family recommends preparing for situations that might leave you without power, water and even shelter. To prep for any situation and the aftermath review these top tips:

  1. Put Together an Emergency Kit

Evacuation orders can be issued at any time - If you’re required or even voluntarily choose to leave your home in a hurry, you'll want some necessities handy. Keep the following supplies, recommended by FEMA, in a portable container in the area of your house where you'll take shelter:

  • Three days' worth of food (nonperishable)
  • Water (at least a gallon per family member)
  • Battery powered (or hand crank) flashlights and radio
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Trash bags and duct tape, along with a dust mask
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Regional maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter, or solar charger
  • Moist towelettes and any personal sanitation or specific family needs, like pet supplies
  • Prescription medication along with some generics in case they’re needed

(For additional recommendations, be sure to check out ready.gov)

We also suggest having smaller versions of your kit stocked with a few necessities like walking shoes, snacks, and a flashlight at work. In general, you'll also need enough cash on hand for five days of basic needs (gas and food), but any amount of ready money will help if ATMs are down.

Once you have your supplies together, it pays to go through them at least once a year too, to weed out expired food and batteries.

  1. Make an Action Plan

When things get chaotic, you want to make sure that every family member knows what to do. We suggest designating two meeting places (one close by and one a little further away in your neighborhood) and hang a map with the spots marked near your emergency kit.

It also pays to have important contacts written down if the power goes out and there's nowhere to charge your cell phone. Make a mini contact list — ready.gov has templates you can print out — with important numbers that everyone can stow in their wallets. Leave a copy in your emergency kit, too. Establish a plan for checking in with relatives in case local lines get jammed. Text messages will often go through, even when phone lines are clogged.

  1. Prep Your Home

If the power goes out and you have time, unplug appliances and electronics and turn off air conditioners, whether you stay or go. This will prevent damage when the electricity surges back on. Leave one lamp on so you'll know when the power's back.

How you store food can also make a difference when it comes to salvaging items afterwards, according to the FSIS. If there's a chance of flooding, be sure to store dry goods in waterproof containers high enough that they will be safely out of the way of contaminated water.

Grouping food together in the freezer can help it stay colder longer in the case of a power outage. If you have advanced warning, freeze any items you don't need right away, like leftovers, milk, and fresh meat and poultry to keep them at a safe temperature longer and stock your freezer with as much ice as you can fit. Coolers stocked with ice can also be helpful if the power is out for more than four hours.

Though you'll want to minimize the amount you open and close your refrigerator door once the power goes out, FSIS recommends keeping an appliance thermometer in your fridge and freezer to help you determine if food is safe to eat. The refrigerator temperature should be lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer temperature should be below zero degrees Fahrenheit.

After the Emergency

Coming home after a major disaster can be daunting. Call SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork to help you in the event your home is affected. NEVER enter a home that has been struck by heavy debris or fallen trees.

Renting? Make Sure You're Covered.

9/3/2019 (Permalink)

Owning rental property can be a very lucrative investment. If you’re lucky you might even make a small fortune with very little effort. But rental properties can also drain you, physically and financially. Allowing tenants to rent your property for any period of time should be done with great caution. Contacting references, performing credit checks and verifying the identity of those applying and planning to live in your investments, are simple yet critical steps you should consider taking if you own and manage rental properties.

In your own home, if something goes wrong, you’re able to respond in the way that you see fit. Say a pipe bursts, you know (hopefully) where your main water shut-off valve is and you’re able to stop further damage from occurring. In rental properties this is not always the case. This brings us to the importance of INSURANCE! As an organization that works daily with insurance adjusters, agents and homeowners filing claims with their homeowners’ policies, we see both sides of the industry and we understand the frustration when finding out your coverage is not what you had hoped for.

Rental property insurance should be one of the most researched decisions you make in beginning your rental investment venture. If you’ve convinced yourself that nothing will go wrong, nothing will break and surely nobody will vandalize your property, think again. It will inevitably happen, and likely when you’re least prepared or unable to get to the home in time to help the tenants. Review your policy carefully with your agent to ensure that all aspects of the property have coverage, this may take some time but will surely save you a headache in the event of a disaster.

It would also be wise to promote or even require that your tenants have a renters insurance policy. This covers their personal belongings, in most policies. Young and inexperienced renters often assume that your insurance covers their furniture, electronics, etc. Sadly, this is not the case and they face hardship when trying to replace what might have been damaged in a fire, water or mold situation.

As always, if you do find yourself with water, fire, mold or vandalism in your rental property – give SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork a call (803) 749-0178

Protecting Your Business After A Fire

8/22/2019 (Permalink)

A burned warehouse wall This warehouse experienced a fire stemming from an ice machine. All contents, walls and ceilings were cleaned and burned materials removed.

If your Columbia, SC business has experienced a fire it’s likely that you’re unsure how to proceed.  The two most important steps of restoring any building that has experienced fire damage, no matter how large or small the fire, are:

  • Protecting the property
  • Cleaning affected areas/materials

First – Call Your Insurance Agent

One of the first calls you should make (after 911 of course) should be to your insurance agent. They can help you determine if you should file a claim or pay out of pocket for the steps necessary to restore your business. If the fire was small, let’s say a break room kitchen fire or something similar, you very well could be better off not filing a claim against your insurance. Your agent may also recommend a restoration service they know and trust to help you with the cleanup process while protecting your property from further harm.

Second – Contact a Restoration Service

Soot and smoke are extremely difficult to clean without the proper knowledge and equipment to do so. We always recommend calling a professional fire restoration service to handle this. SERVPRO of the Dutch Fork offers board-up services to secure your property and keep unwanted guests and animals out. We also offer tarping services if damage has occurred to the roof. This prevents water from gaining access to the space and causing further damage.

If water was used to extinguish the fire you may also be facing water damage, this requires a restoration company also. If the water damage is left untreated, you’ll likely be facing issues with mold down the road.

Has your business suffered fire damage? Call SERVPRO of the Dutch Fork, the trusted leader in the restoration industry for fire damage restoration.

Testing For Mold In Commercial Properties

8/21/2019 (Permalink)

As a business owner there are often times when you’d like to mutter four-letter words. Things go wrong, items get broken, money gets spent. One four-letter word we hope you never have to say, is MOLD! While fairly simple to prevent, it is often challenging to remove. Mold can cause a number of health issues to those who come in contact with it regularly. Some business owners can be shut down indefinitely if mold is discovered in their facilities.

Mold is not always green, fuzzy and highly visible. In fact, if it is visible, it’s very likely that the surface behind or under the location you’ve spotted it, is much worse. By calling SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork to come inspect your property you could be saving yourself thousands of dollars in lost revenue and repairs. We look for areas that have unusual moisture levels, soggy floors and improper ventilation. Since 1998 SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork has been blasting mold from crawl spaces, attics and every other surface brave enough to let it grow. Trusting our expertise can save you a few four-letter words.

When You Should Test For Mold:

  • If your building has experienced flooding, leaking or sewage back-up
  • If your building has a roof leak, areas that feel damp, or HVAC issues
  • If you have sported mold on any surface
  • If you are can smell foul or musty odors
  • Before you purchase, rent, or lease a commercial property
  • If you are planning to sell, renovate, or expand your commercial property

 Don't wait until it's too late. Call SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork today! (803) 749-0178

While You Were Away....

8/19/2019 (Permalink)

Post-Vacation blues are real… imagine coming home after some much needed vacation time to find your home damaged! While crime rates in the Chapin and Irmo area are fairly low, vandalism does happen! Especially in homes that are under construction or do not appear to be occupied. Storms as well as water leaks and even fires are prone to happen while you’re away. If you’re hours from home there’s not much that can be done to remediate or stop further damage…you feel helpless!

Don’t waste time trying to find the best company to help you, call the trusted professionals at SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork right away. We work quickly to stop further damage from occurring and pride ourselves on fast response times that give you peace of mind and make your home “Like it never even happened.”

In the midst of the shuffle to get out the door and on vacation time, try and follow these easy tips that can potentially save you a phone call to our office:

  • Unplug anything electronic that is not a necessity – doing so helps reduce the risk of fire
  • Locate your water main shut-off, turn the water off. If a pipe or hose bursts in your home there will be less water to flow inside if the supply line is off.
  • Ensure all doors and windows are locked and secured.
  • Let neighbors or nearby family members know you will be gone and ask that they check on it periodically to make it appear that someone is in and out.

If you return home to a mess, don’t stress, call SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork (803) 749-0178

Post-Fire Boardups

7/11/2019 (Permalink)

In a recent visit with an insurance agent I presented one of our free services to clients in need; after a residential or commercial fire SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork will board up the windows and entry ways of a structure. We offer this free of charge because the property owner is already under enough distress, why add to that? Our staff secure quality boards with our logo on them to any windows that may have been broken and doors that are compromised. The agent wanted to know why a burnt building would need such a thing?

There are several reasons why you might want to board up structural damage or windows. In addition to protecting the structure from the outdoor elements, you also help to prevent unwanted intruders.

  • If items are left in your home with unsecured entry-ways, you’re likely to fall victim to theft. It’s hard to keep sticky fingers out with a clear entrance to your home or building.
  • Chances are the water used to extinguish the fire has already created some water damage within your home or building. It could be weeks before a roof is replaced or windows installed. Exposure to additional water, wind or sun can increase the damage caused by smoke and soot.
  • Limiting the amount of unnecessary foot traffic. Soot damage is hard to clean and even harder to clean when it becomes embedded into carpeting or upholstery. Securing entrances can reduce the number of footprints you’ll see.

Talk to restoration experts at SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork, about whether boarding up is a good strategy for preventing loss and limiting damage after a fire. Your major concern is likely to be how to recover from fire damage as quickly and completely as possible. Preventing looting and exposure to the elements can make fire cleanup more successful. Don’t hesitate to call us (803) 749-0178.


When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

7/11/2019 (Permalink)

As summer approaches we look forward to a lot more fun in the sun! Kids are out of school; vacation season is in full effect and our stress levels seem to be at a low with the sudden increase of vitamin D. We’ve all been through it: you’re packing up to head to the pool or to the lake and you see dark skies on the horizon, or you find yourself outdoors when suddenly a pop-up storm arrives. Do you chance it and get a little soggy, or change your plans and opt for an indoor activity? Summertime thunderstorms are known to wreck plans but they also pose a danger to your family and your home. Ready, a division of the Department of Homeland Security offers a vast amount of insight on storm safety and what to do should you find yourself in the midst of a storm.

  • When thunder roars, go indoors! Don’t wait until the storm is directly above you. Storms can move at speeds of well over 50mph.
  • Never seek shelter under an isolated tree, tower or utility pole. Lightning likes to strike taller objects. Look for somewhere indoors or even a car. If you cannot find shelter indoors find a group of trees rather than one singular.
  • Avoid elevated areas like hills, mountains or ridges.
  • Immediately get out of and far away from bodies of water.
  • Stay away from things that conduct electricity – including wires and fences.
  • Never lie flat on the ground.
  • Locate flashlights in case of a power outage – have water and basic food close by in case the power is out for an extended period of time.

If you plan to spend any amount of time outdoors be sure to sign up for a weather app that sends you alerts when a storm or rain are imminent. Don’t cut it close when seeking shelter, give yourself enough time to get yourself and everyone with you to a safe place if you know a storm is approaching.

Faster to ANY Disaster, Guaranteed!

7/10/2019 (Permalink)

Wouldn't it be nice if everything that broke or became damaged in your home or office did so at a convenient time? While not happening at all would be even better, let's be realistic.

Murphy's Law states "whatever can go wrong, will go wrong" we feel that it's necessary to add "after-hours" to the end based on our experience with water and fire damage. Luckily SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even holidays!

Reaction time is crucial in our line of work. If a customer has water standing in their home, even a small amount, it needs to be addressed immediately. The longer water sits on surfaces, the more damage it does. SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork upholds a 1-4-8 promise:

  • Contact the homeowner/customer within 1 hour of notification of a loss
  • Onsite within 4 hours of notification to begin mitigation process
  • A written and verbal estimate of the scope of work will be provided within 8 hours of notification 

If you need our services outside of normal business hours we're available by phone. Our after-hours line is answered by a human being, no phone trees or robots here! They'll ask you a series of questions to give our technicians a better idea of what they'll need to bring when responding to your loss. In order to best help you it's important to know the answers to the following:

  • Full name of the homeowners or person responsible for the property
  • Street address of the property
  • The source of the damage
  • Year the structure was built
  • Insurance coverage information
    • If you've filed a claim already please have that number available
  • Is electricity on in the structure

We understand that when you call us, you may be feeling confused, stressed, and vulnerable. You need an expert to guide you through this crisis. SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork has the specific water damage training and experience to help you through this tough time. We specialize in water damage restoration—in fact, it's the cornerstone of our business.

What to Expect

When you call, we will ask several questions regarding your water damage emergency. These questions will help us determine what equipment and resources to bring, including how many trained SERVPRO Professionals may be needed.

Our SERVPRO Representative will ask several questions:

  • Your name and contact information
  • Your insurance information (if applicable)
  • The street address of the water-damaged home or business
  • When did the flooding or water damage occur?
  • What caused the water damage (if known)?
  • Is there electricity available (on-site)?

SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork specializes in cleanup and restoration, our staff are IICRC Certified and proficient in the use of our equipment and products. It is always best to call a professional when it comes to water and fire damage, attempting to mitigate on your own can cause more damage and become more costly. We're here for you 24/7! 

Indirect Fired Heater - Our Largest Asset

7/9/2019 (Permalink)

One of our largest pieces of equipment is the Indirect Fired Heater. While it is seldom used, it can be a lifesaver when it is needed. By providing clean, dry, hot air to aid in thawing frozen job sites, increasing ambient temperature in structures and accelerating drying times, the Indirect Fired Heater is the perfect candidate for drying a crawlspace or inside a home or building.

We recently used it to dry a crawlspace in a national forest in Columbia, SC. An overflowing water heater allowed water to spread across the flooring, into the sub-floor and ultimately into the crawlspace affecting the floor joists. Mold growth is a huge issue when moisture develops in the crawlspace. We can not emphasize enough the importance of proper drying. If it is done incorrectly you're likely to see costly structural damage later on. 

The heater is set up outside the home or building, then using ducts, the air generated from the heater is pumped into the affected space causing the drying time to reduce by 50%. The high humidity levels in South Carolina making drying a challenge but the Indirect Fired Heater makes this process significantly easier! 

Don't Let Water Damage Close Your Columbia, SC Business!

7/9/2019 (Permalink)

Flooding and water damage events at Columbia commercial properties are often complex with numerous issues that require a knowledgeable and flexible response. Whether we’re dealing with a relatively small water cleanup scenario or a large scale event, we work quickly to assess each unique situation and isolate the damaged area. In many instances, normal operations can continue in a temporary space while we restore your facility.

Restoring Commercial Properties Presents Unique Challenges

Our professionals are trained to be mindful of legal and environmental concerns and strive to fully restore the damaged area while working within your budgetary constraints. We understand that every hour spent cleaning up is an hour of lost revenue and productivity. So when an emergency situation arises in your business, give us a call and we’ll be there fast with the help you need.

About SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork

SERVPRO of The Dutch Fork specializes in the cleanup and restoration of commercial and residential property after a water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.