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Water Damage Prevention

9/3/2019 (Permalink)

Recovering from water damage is time consuming, aggravating and costly. These are all good reasons to take precautions to lessen the chances of your property being damaged by water or to reduce that amount of damage.

One way to prevent water damage is as easy as occasionally checking your plumbing system for leaks, including pipes and faucets in sinks, toilets, showers and bathtubs.

In particular, look for discoloration around sinks, as this may be an indication of a leaking pipe. For extra protection, re-caulk around sinks.

Preventing and repairing small problems, such as a toilet leak, could save you a lot of time and money in the long run. A leak left unchecked often requires the expertise of a professional to fix the damage.

Also, inspect the area surrounding water heaters and air conditioning units for wet spots. As preventative maintenance, have your air conditioner inspected by a professional at least once a year.

Sump pumps also should be checked for problems a few times a year.

On the outside of your home, regularly inspect your roof and gutter systems for problems.

Signs of water problems in your roofing system are broken or cracked shingles, damaged chimneys and vents, deterioration in roofing valleys and/or water stains on your ceilings. Detecting these minor problems early on can keep major problems from developing in the future. Serious roof damage can be very difficult and expensive to fix.

For your gutters, make sure they are free of debris, such as leaves and sticks. Consider installing gutter shields to prevent debris build up. Downspouts should be pointed away from your building to stop water accumulation at your home's foundation.

Here is a list of some steps you can take to remediate water damage before the professionals arrive:

  • Remove standing water from the interior of your property. Try sweeping it outdoors, and then wet-vac the remainder.
  • Relocate wet carpet and other water-logged items to a sunny area, if possible, to aid in the dry-out process.
  • If possible, run a dehumidifier to help prevent mold growth and speed the drying process.
  • Move debris and other items damaged beyond repair to the exterior of your property for easy pick up by trash haulers.
  • Transfer valuables to a safe and dry place.
  • Document property damage in writing and take photos, if possible, for insurance claim purposes and for the restoration professionals.

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Campfire Safety Tips You Should Always Keep in Mind

8/7/2019 (Permalink)

When you are out camping, you have to light a campfire. Campfires are an important aspect of a camping trip where you roast marshmallows, share campfire stories, and create countless memories that last a lifetime. However, when camping and cooking, there is one thing that is of utmost importance: campfire safety.

Even a small campfire can potentially become an unmanageable and dangerous wildfire, causing some serious damage if not handled with care. Therefore, to make sure your camping adventure is disaster-free and full of great memories, it is important for you to follow these campfire safety tips on your next camping trip.

Scout for Pits Watchfully

Thinking about campfire safety even before lighting the fire is the first step to ensure a disaster-free trip. Therefore, when searching for a fire pit, you need to make sure there are no bushes nearby and it's not located under any low branches.

Keep Water Nearby

A new piece of wood or even a gust of wind may result in your fire growing larger than expected. However, by having water or dirt (along with a shovel) on hand, you can put out or reduce the flames quite effectively.

Safety Proof Your Fire Pit

Sure, most campgrounds have a fire pit already dug, but there are a few extra measures you should take:

- Keep all flammable items, including pressurized containers and aerosol cans away from the campfire.

- Keep the fire pit clear from all kinds of debris, including grass, garbage, and leaves.

- Circle the pit with big rocks or a metal ring to keep the fire under control and within the borders.

Moreover, you can also ask your campground ranger if you have any questions or concerns. Campfire safety is their top priority too (obviously), and they can check to ensure whether or not the pit is ready for use.

Watch the Fire

You must keep an eye on the fire at all times, especially if there are children and pets walking or sitting nearby. Ensuring the fire is built properly from the beginning is important as it will allow you to create a fire at a rate that is controllable and safe. Here are some things you should keep in mind:

- Do not use flammable liquids, as they can quickly become uncontrollable.

- Using small sticks, start a fire, and then place the wood around it. Add dry, larger pieces as it continues to grow.

Put Out the Fire before Bedtime

This one is a given. You need to extinguish the fire when it's time for bed, and this can be done by throwing dirt or slowly trickling water onto the fire. To ensure another fire does not start, stir the embers around a little.

Keep the campfire safety tips in mind, and rest assured your camping trip will be fun and safe.

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Important Ways to Reduce the Risk of a Smoking-Related Fire

8/7/2019 (Permalink)

Who doesn't know smoking cigarettes or other smoking material is bad for you? Even though the focus of lung and heart health is correct, some fail to realize that smoking is a genuine fire hazard for home owners, renters, business operators and more as well. Smoking is the scrooge responsible for the majority of house and other structure fires. It is also the number one trigger of wild and forest fires. Fires caused by smokers result in devastating damages and losses - including tragic and irreplaceable loss of life.

Home insurance professionals remind policyholders that although there is coverage for fire accidents resulting from smoking, losses will generally not be completely compensated for after a related claim has been filed.

The best way to reduce the risks of a fire associated with smoking is to take the following easy course of action brought to you by the insurance industry.

8 Ways Smokers can Reduce the Risk of Property Fire

  1. Never-ever smoke while resting in bed. If you fall asleep. Studies indicate that many people fall asleep with the cigarette in hand, leading to fire spreading from the sheets, mattress and bed onto the entire home.
  2. Don't light up after swallowing medicine with warnings about drowsiness occurring. You can find yourself in the same situation as the smoker in bed that drifts off and starts a fire.
  3. Always extinguish your cigarette before discarding it. Live embers can easily spark a fire.
  4. Do not clear out ashtrays that have recently been used into a garbage receptacle where things can easily spark into a full-fledged fire. Used-cigarettes, the hot ash emanating from them and matches used to light up can be the dangerous catalyst for fire once they come in contact with combustible matter.
  5. Be aware of your surroundings and when smoking do not go near incendiary places like gas stations - or items that can spark easily, such as gas, paints, aerosol cans, paper reading material and easy-to-explode medical oxygen tanks.
  6. Never place an ashtray next to flammable things or upon a window where the wind can blow its contents about, setting the stage for a fire.
  7. When outside, always dispose of your cigarettes and smoking material properly into a wide ashtray, receptacle containing water or sand.
  8. Be extremely careful to put cigarettes and related smoking material out of the way so that children cannot get their hands on them.

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The Effects of a Flood on Your Home

8/7/2019 (Permalink)

Most people believe fire can cause the most damage to their home. However, water damage can be just as costly and devastating to your home as fire damage. One flood can ruin your home forever, especially if your home does not undergo proper water damage restoration after being flooded. Floods can damage your home both cosmetically and structurally.

Most floods occur during storms, such as hurricanes, or during the spring time when the snow melts. However, many homes are flooded by over run sewage systems or other human caused floods. These types of floods enter your home from the outside. The flood water seeps through your walls causing damage to your drywall, insulation and even your electrical systems. If your home is not properly repaired after this type of damage it will most likely start to grow dangerous mold inside the walls. Your home may also start to smell due to the water damage.

Wood frame homes that have been flooded may also start to have structural damage. Wood frames that have been saturated with flood water may start to warp and rot, leading to costly repairs and permanent damage to your home.

After your walls have been damaged by flood water you will most likely have to remove the drywall and insulation and replace them with new materials. If your walls were textured, you will have to retexture your walls before repainting them. Flooding can also damage the outside of your home as well. The outside walls of your home may need to be resided, retextured or have the stucco replaced.

Once the flood water has made its way inside your home it begins to damage your flooring. Carpets will become saturated and, if they are not restored properly, will have to be replaced. However, if carpets are restored and dried properly by a water damage restoration specialist, they may be able to be salvaged. But remember, it's always best to discard carpet that has been affected by water not considered to have come from a clean source. Any baseboards you have in your home will also most likely need to be replaced after they have come into contact with flood water.

Other types of flooding such as toilet overflows, will start to damage your home from the inside. However, in cases of extreme flooding, these types of flooding can also damage your walls.

Floods can also cause damage to any cabinetry in your kitchen or bathrooms. Cheaper quality cabinets made from particle board will usually have to be replaced because they will fall apart. Appliances that touch the floor such as dishwashers, stoves and washing machines may have to be replaced due to flood damage as well.

It is important to remember that while many people think of flood water as just being water, it has much more in it. Flood water is filled with chemicals, dirt, human waste and debris that can find its way into your home if it is flooded.

The best way to save your home and prevent costly repairs after it has been flooded is to call a licensed water damage restoration specialist. A good water damage restoration company will act quickly to prevent further damage and return your home to normal.

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Lafayette, Moraga, and Orinda 24 Hour Emergency Water Damage Service

7/2/2019 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Lafayette/Moraga/Orinda is available 24 hours a day for water emergencies, large or small. When you are dealing with water damage, immediate action is crucial. A delay of just a few hours can greatly increase the severity of the water damage.

We Answer the Phone Ready to Help Call Today – 925-299-1323

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 Lafayette/Moraga/Orinda 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)?

About SERVPRO of Lafayette/Moraga/Orinda

SERVPRO of Lafayette/Moraga/Orinda specializes in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property after a fire, smoke or 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.

Storm Preparedness - Securing Outside Your Home

6/3/2019 (Permalink)

There's a powerful storm coming your way. You've got some major securing to do. The inside of your home has already been secured, including supplies, food and water. Now you've got to secure the outside of your home. We'll go from most important to least important.

Consider the largest items outside. These are the ones with no cover at all. Cars , boats, ATVs, lawn and toy furniture-so many things. Move all vehicles, including all items of similar size, to at least 30 feet from the house. Put your vehicles in gear and engage the hand break. Boats should have their biminis or sails taken down and loose items on deck taken below. ATVs, outside appliances and yard maintenance machines should be tied down. Uh-huh. You heard right. Find a lot of rope.

This includes lawn furniture and large toy contraptions. Get a sharp knife to quickly cut the lengths you need. Tie these things together, when possible, and then tie them to the house. Sounds freaky. But you've got to if it's a very strong storm. Make sure there's no give on the rope for everything you tie down. And let me tell you, I didn't know how to tie strong knots until this. You've gotta learn what you've gotta learn. Make it happen.

Some tips here. If it's a very severe storm, leave the littlest crack on one window of each of your vehicles. Check again and ensure that all motorized vehicles, including ATVs, are left in gear and their breaks engaged. Plug the drain for your boat and fill it to halfway with water. Do the same for other large items that are also able to hold water. This will keep their "feet" on the ground and prevent them from being rolled over. Tables should be turned upside down and chairs piled on top of them. What you're doing is creating bulk and weight wherever you can. This will help to keep them on the ground.

All things hanging have got to be taken down. Plants in pots, decorations, art or anything that is not already secured to an immobile structure. This includes canopies and tarps. Any and all loose items you may have straggling around. Smaller toys, all types of gear, tools, especially the sharp ones. Barbeque grills, whatever. If you can move it, so can the storm. Piles of wood left where they are? Piles of anything that can become airborne need your attention. You so don't want flying projectiles. Secure them all and then, only then can you relax. But, wait! The garden!

Most amateur horticulturalists will surely consider their gardens to be more important than anything else outside the house. But, honestly, when it comes to danger, a hard "anything" will hurt more than a flying plant (well, probably not a cactus). If the plant is in a pot that stands higher than two feet, lay it on the ground on its side. If the plants are on stilts or on pedestals, take them down. Put all of these close together.

Drape some sort of netting over them. Nets allow wind to pass through them but will also hold whatever's under them fairly in place. Tuna nets are a personal favorite. Sections can be cut out of a roll to accommodate every plot of garden that you've got. Try it. If you don't secure them, you'll have to bring them indoors. Otherwise, they may be gone when it's all over. You'll have to decide what you're willing to let go.

Keep in mind that the trimming of large trees takes some consideration. If you've got large trees around your home, and you love your trees, you've got to trim them down. At the very least, remove dead and dying branches. Then immediately get them off the property. These are large flying projectiles waiting to happen. Don't risk it.

In the midst of a strong storm, when it's bedlam outside, you really don't want to have to go out there to tie down something you hear being bashed around and breaking into things. Plan ahead. Give yourself time to do these things before the storm arrives.

It's kind of funny when you think about the whole thing. In the process of securing outside your home, you're actually cleaning up all around the house. Think about it. You're removing everything that can fly that isn't necessary for your livelihood. Whatever has been in queue for months will likely get tossed. All the things lying around will disappear. It's nearly immaculate.

Now you could choose not to remove or secure all of these loose items. You could. Just keep in mind that the storm will probably disperse it all for you, whether you like it or not. Many things that are unsecured you'll likely never see again. When you do a good job and secure well, you'll be secure and without concern the entire time. That's the best and safest way to endure a storm. Worry free.

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Successfully Preparing For A Severe Storm

6/3/2019 (Permalink)

Weather conditions are known to place a tremendous amount of stress on consumers whenever a threat arises. Different types of storms and severe conditions leave people and property vulnerable to damage and conditions that are difficult to recover from. Anyone dealing with this issue should know the basics of successfully preparing for a severe storm to prevent major damages and issues from occurring on their property.

Storm preparations are usually performed in particular regard to the consumer while balancing what is needed for the family and safeguarding of personal assets. People focus on the ability to ensure that worst case scenarios are able to be survived through while also being able to avoid having to contend with significant damages once the storm has passed. Completing this process in a thorough and effective manner is crucial for any type of event.

Consumers are offered a tremendous array of guidelines and helpful hints when researching storm preparedness techniques. Many of the pieces of information available to people are quite unique in regard to circumstances and sources of ownership that are quite difficult to apply to personal situations. Concentrating on the most common yet successful processes helps anyone through their efforts in an effective manner.

Storm severity is the most initial and pertinent aspect of preparations for any consumer to understand. Each weather event is unique in regard to propensity for damage and the specific conditions that will be present throughout its entirety. Paying attention to weather reports and what is discussed in relation to the event is all that is necessary for this phase of the process.

Consulting with insurance carriers is also an essential proponent of the process. Insurance policies on any investment that has been made are usually specific in regard to the types of incidents and damages that are covered. Many providers also have preparedness guidelines to follow that help people consolidate in their efforts.

Clearing the yard of any potential hazards is also critical to complete. Lawn chairs and other loose objects that are able to be carried by the wind are among the leading sources of window shattering and roof damages. Removing these hazards and clearing the entire property prevents these issues from occurring.

Vehicle protection is often forgotten about by consumers during their preparations. A car cover is designed to suit the protective needs that people have when they are unable to find room in their garage. Various grades of quality and protection are offered to suit various weather conditions.

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Fire Alarm Systems - Advances in Fire Alarms Will Help Save Lives and Prevent Commercial Loss

6/3/2019 (Permalink)

Prior to fire alarms, smoke detectors were primarily the main indicator for alerting the occupants of a building to a fire. Before that, only an individual calling the fire department may have resulted in minimal loss of property and life. Today fire alarm systems have evolved into complicated networks. With more recent advances, fire alarms have improved diagnostics which only aid in the reliability of the alarm system.

Even though current smoke detectors and heads are more sensitive to detecting fires and heat than systems from even as recent as 2005, improvements are constantly being made from the development of addressable heads to touch screen or touchpad panels. These advances have allowed owners, monitoring agencies and fire departments greater ability in responding to true alarms instead of false alarms.

An addressable head is a recent development in fire detection and locating. Before addressable heads, fire alarm panels would merely display the general location of the fire by identifying a generic zone. For small business owners with only a couple of thousand feet of space, this may be satisfactory, however, for a larger space such as a storage facility, school, assisted living or hospital facility, this can literally be a life saver.

There are several other components available to a commercial facility. Indicator appliances, part of many fire alarm systems, help identify whether a building is occupied. Many times this particular feature would be useful, especially in a school or assisted living facility. Electromagnetic door holders can be very effective with regards to securing or isolating sections of a building, thereby slowing the advance of a fire. The manner in which an electromagnetic door holder functions is when an alarm is activated, the electromagnetic contact holding the door open is de-energized, which in turn causes the door to swing freely shut. Many alarms panels are available with touch panels or touchpad screens. By simplifying the user interface in this manner, it allows companies to train their employees on the use and understanding of the fire alarm and security systems quickly and efficiently.

Every commercial business or institution could benefit from investing in a new fire alarm control system or updating the existing alarm system. At a bare minimum, an inspection needs to be performed annually. In many cases particular industries, such as restaurants or food related facilities, hospitals and schools are generally required by law to have an inspection done more frequently. Along with an inspection, fire suppression systems are also required to be inspected. Even though the components and fittings of a fire suppression system may not have been activated, the parts do receive wear and tear in certain conditions and need to be adjusted periodically.

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Fire Safety - 7 Essential Tips to Teach Children in Avoiding Fires & Remaining Safe in an Emergency

5/6/2019 (Permalink)

It is the primary responsibility of child care providers like teachers and parents to teach children about fire prevention and safety. It is an all year round concern especially that fires often happen inside the home. Teaching basic fire protection techniques in children will definitely increase their chances in surviving this tragedy. Here are 7 fundamental tips kids can learn about safety in fires.

1. Have an escape route planned.
In planning for an escape route for your family, it is important to have two methods to escape in each part of the house. This is done in the likelihood that your other exit is blocked or bursting in flames. Remind the children to never to leave things that can obstruct passageway to an exit. Fire safety techniques also include teaching children how to cover their face and use a towel in grabbing items to prevent burning themselves.

2. Instruct children how to dial 911 or the fire emergency number.
Knowing the local number for the fire department is significant. Emphasize this by letting them practice using an unplugged phone.

3. Teach children about escape ladders and finding their way out without lights on.
If your house has a second floor, escape ladders should be placed near the windows. Let your children practice using this fire safety exit. If there are small children, then let them practice from the first floor window so they will have a clear idea on what to expect in case a fire does break out. It is anticipated that a power outage can occur in a fire breakout. Teach your children how to find their way into the dark by blindfolding him and letting him feel his way into a room.

4. Provide them with basic information on smoke detectors and fire alarms.
Teach children about fire prevention equipment like smoke detectors and fire alarms. They should be able to associate the sound of an alarm with the need of evacuating themselves out of the house. Regularly check these devices and change batteries to ensure that it is operating properly.

5. Teach them how to stop, drop and roll if their clothes catch fire.
There is a possibility that a child may catch fire with his clothes. Make them understand the stop, drop, and roll technique to decrease risk of burn injuries.

6. Practice fire drill exercise with your kids monthly.
Fire drills with your whole family every month is one way of ensuring they are ready and equipped with the basic fire safety skills.

7. Clearly instruct your children to never go back to the burning house no matter what.
Tragedies often happen when survivors of a fire go back to the burning house to save someone else. Instill in your children to never return inside the house under any circumstances even if a member of the family or a pet is still missing. Report this to the professional firefighters to avoid further injuries or deaths.

It is always a good idea for parents to talk to their children on what they can do to escape a fire emergency. Different families may have different strategies but what is most important is that they know the fundamentals techniques in surviving a fire. Remember that being prepared will definitely save you and your children's lives.

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What Would You Do in a Wild Fire?

5/6/2019 (Permalink)

If you watch the TV or read the papers, you know it's time for the wildfires! As the heat rises, and the vegetation dries, we're only a spark away from disaster. Will you be ready?

If you live on a remote hillside, or in a valley, prairie or forest where flammable vegetation is plentiful, you could be vulnerable to wildfires. These fires are usually triggered by lightning or accidents.

1. Fire facts:

  • Once a fire starts in a rural area, it is hard to control. Wildland firefighters are trained to protect natural resources, not our homes or buildings. The fact that many homes are located far from fire stations, causes longer emergency response times. Within a matter of minutes, an entire home can be destroyed by fire. Limited water supply in rural areas can make fire fighting difficult. Homes that are secluded and surrounded by woods and brush fuel fires.

2. Be prepared and have a fire safety and evacuation plan:

  • Practice fire escape and evacuation plans.
  • Mark the entrance to your property with address signs that are clearly visible from the road.
  • Know which local emergency services to call and have those numbers posted near telephones.
  • Provide access for emergency vehicles at least 12 feet wide with turnaround space.

3. Tips for making your property fire resistant:

  • Keep lawns cut, leaves raked, and the roof and rain-gutters free from leaves and sticks.
  • Keep Stacked firewood at least 30 feet away from your home.
  • Store flammable things in metal containers outside the home at least 30 feet away from buildings and wooden fences.
  • Create a "defensible space" by thinning trees within 30 feet around your house.
  • Landscape with more fire resistant plants to prevent fire from spreading quickly. For example, hardwood trees are more fire-resistant than pine, evergreen, eucalyptus, or fir trees.
  • Make sure water sources, such as hydrants, ponds, swimming pools and wells, can be reached by the fire department.

4. Protect your home:

  • Use a fire resistant or protective roofing materials like stone, brick and metal to protect your home.
  • Cover all exterior vents, attics and eaves with metal mesh screens to prevent debris from collecting and to help keep sparks out.
  • Install multi-pane windows, tempered safety glass or fireproof shutters. This helps to protect large windows from heat.
  • Use fire-resistant draperies.
  • Have chimneys, wood stoves and all heating systems inspected and cleaned every year.
  • Insulate chimneys and place "spark arresters" on top.
    NOTE: The chimney should be at least three feet above the roof, and be sure to remove branches around the chimney, or any that hang over.

5. Follow local burning laws:

  • Do not burn trash or other yard waste without knowing local burning laws.
  • Before burning anything in a wooded area, make sure you notify local authorities and obtain a burning permit.
  • Use an approved incinerator with a safety lid or covering with holes no larger than 3/4 inches.
  • Create at least a 10-foot clearing before burning debris.
  • Have a fire extinguisher or garden hose on hand when burning.

6. If a wildfire threatens your home (and you have time), consider this:


  • Shut off gas at the meter. Turn off pilot lights.
  • Open fireplace damper. Close fireplace screens.
  • Close windows, vents, doors, blinds or noncombustible window coverings. Remove flammable drapes.
  • Move furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding-glass doors.
  • Close all interior doors and windows to prevent drafts.
  • Gather people and pets into one room. Make plans to care for your pets if you must evacuate.
  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Leave the key in the ignition and the car doors unlocked. Close garage windows and doors.


  • Seal attic and ground vents.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • Place combustible patio furniture inside.
  • Connect garden hose to outside taps. Place lawn sprinklers on the roof and near above-ground fuel tanks. Wet the roof.
  • Wet or remove shrubs within 15 feet of the home.
  • Gather fire tools such as a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, bucket, and shovel.

7. If you are advised to evacuate, do it! Don't wait. Choose a route away from the fire.

The secret of dealing with all disasters is being prepared!!! With a lot of thought and preparation, situations that may have been deadly, can often be dealt with safely.

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