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Always have a plan

6/2/2020 (Permalink)

Home on fire Home on fire

SERVPRO of Columbia and Suwannee Counties hates to see anyone have any type of fire issue in their home.  Here are some tips we would recommend for making a plan to leave your home if a fire was to occur.  Fire can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you as little as one or two minutes to escape safely once the alarm sounds. Pull together everyone in your household and make a plan. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. Households with children should consider drawing a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. Also, mark the location of each smoke alarm. Here are some tips for helping you with your home fire escape plan!

  • Know the plan
    Make sure that you’re familiar with your building’s evacuation plan, which should illustrate what residents are supposed to do in the event of an emergency. The evacuation plan should be posted in places where all residents can see and review it, and the building management should hold a fire drill with occupants at least once a year. Most states also require that buildings periodically test their fire safety systems as well.  Be sure to participate when your building drills take place. When looking for an apartment or high-rise home, look for one with an automatic sprinkler system. Sprinklers can extinguish a home fire in less time that it takes for the fire department to arrive.
  • Practice is key
    Whether your building has one floor or 50, it’s essential that you and your family are prepared to respond to a fire alarm. Identify all of the exits in your building and if you are using an escape planning grid, mark them on your escape plan. Make sure to mark the various stairways too, in case one is blocked by fire.
  • Never use the elevator
    In case of fire, always use the stairs to get out, never the elevator. Make sure to practice using the stairs as part of your escape plan. If someone in your family has difficulty climbing down steps, make sure to incorporate a contingency for this into your plan.
  • Stay low
    Smoke from a fire is toxic and deadly no matter what kind of structure you live in. When you hold your fire drill, everyone in the family should practice getting low and going under the smoke to the exit. In the event of a fire, if both stairwells are filled with smoke, stay in your apartment and wait for the firefighters.
  • Seal yourself in for safety
    If you can’t exit an apartment building due to smoke or fire in the hallway, call the fire department to report your exact location and gather in a room with a window to await their arrival. Close all doors between you and the fire. Use duct tape or towels to create a seal around the door and over air vents in order to keep smoke from coming in.
  • Stay by the window
    If possible, you should open your windows at the top and the bottom so fresh air can get in. Don’t break the window – if smoke enters the room from outside the building, you won’t be able to protect yourself.
  • Signal to firefighters
    Wave a flashlight or light colored cloth at the window to let the fire department know where you are located.

Hurricane Seasons around the world

6/2/2020 (Permalink)

Hurricane from space Hurricane from space

A hurricane season is a distinct time of year when tropical cyclones (tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes) usually develop. Whenever we mention hurricane season here in the U.S. we're usually referring to the Atlantic Hurricane Season, whose storms most commonly affect us, but ours isn't the only season there is...

Hurricane Seasons Around the World

Besides the Atlantic hurricane season, 6 others exist:

  • the Eastern Pacific hurricane season
  • the Northwest Pacific typhoon season
  • the North Indian cyclone season
  • the Southwest Indian cyclone season
  • the Australian/Southeast Indian cyclone season
  • the Australian/Southwest Pacific cyclone season  

While each of the above basins has its own particular seasonal patterns of tropical cyclone activity, activity tends to peak worldwide in late summer. May is typically the least active month, and September, the most active.

Hurricane Season Predictions

Several months before the season starts, several well-known groups of meteorologists make predictions (complete with guesstimates of the number of named storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes) about how active the upcoming season will be.

Hurricane forecasts are usually issued twice: initially in April or May in advance of the June season start, then an update in August, just before the historical September peak of hurricane season.

  • The NOAA releases its initial outlook the week prior to the June 1 season start.
  • Colorado State University's Department of Atmospheric Sciences has been making and publicizing their tropical forecasts since 1984.
  • Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) (a consortium of insurance, risk management, and climate forecasting experts based out of University College London in the UK), first introduced its tropical cyclone forecasts in the late 90s and early 00s.
  • The Weather Channel is considered a relative newbie to the hurricane forecast arena.

Think Ahead for This Hurricane Season

6/1/2020 (Permalink)

Grey sky with lightening and a sign saying Hurricane Prep ARE YOU PREPARED THIS SEASON?

With Hurricane Season starting June 1st, now is the time to think ahead and get ready.

Did you know that many people believe that hurricanes are just a threat to coastal communities? The truth is that high winds, flooding, and potential tornadoes can reach residents many miles inland. For this reason, it is important everyone thinks as far ahead as possible to get ready for the upcoming hurricane season. When you are prepared and the time comes to spring into action, you will be more calm and confident because you already have a plan in place.

One thing that should be at the top of your list is learning your evacuation zones. Evacuations are more common that people think, and when you know your evacuation zone you will be ahead of the game. Also have a communication plan with any extended family members in case you need to meet somewhere.

Another thing that should also be added to your list is to check in with your insurance company. Make sure you know in advance what your deductibles are and what all (inside and outside) is covered. This includes the personal belongings in your home as well.

Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. To really think ahead you need to make sure you have your emergency supplies on hand, as well as prepare your house.

It’s never too early to stock up on emergency supplies, and the sooner you get them, the better. These supplies should include:

  • Water, one gallon per person per day (three-day minimum)
  • Food, a three-day supply of no-cook foods
  • Any medications you or any family members will need (of course a three-day minimum as well)
  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • Hand-crank or battery-powered radio with extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Cellphone charger with a backup battery or portable charger

Last, but not least, let’s get your home ready. Here is what we recommend:

  1. Trim or remove any damaged trees or limbs to keep your property safe. Hurricane winds can cause trees and branches to fall or be thrown. If you have any loose limbs, the higher the winds the higher the chance of them damaging your home or a neighbor’s home.
  2. Secure rain gutters and clean out any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your home.
  3. Secure and reinforce your windows and doors, including the garage doors. This can be done with the help of hurricane screens.
  4. Have a power backup plan! You can do this by purchasing a portable generator or installing a generator.
  5. If possible, consider building a safe room or storm shelter to protect you from high-winds, but this is best done in locations above flood levels.

Your #1 goal is to keep your family safe, second is your home or business.   Here at SERVPRO of North Clay County/Oakleaf/North Middleburg our goal is to be "Here to Help" if your home or business is affected and get you back to normal as quickly as possible.  

NOAA Predicts an Above-Normal 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season

6/1/2020 (Permalink)

List of Names for the 2020 Hurricane Season 2020 Looks to be a busy season for Hurricanes

June 1st marks the official start of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season which will continue through November. On May 21st, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published their outlook for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. NOAA predicts that the 2020 Atlantic basin hurricane season will be above-normal.

Forecasters predict a 40% chance of a near-normal season, a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10% chance of a below-normal season.

The 2020 outlook reflects several climate factors that are conducive to increased hurricane activity, including the ongoing high-activity era that has been in place since 1995. Forecasters are predicting ENSO neutral or La Niña conditions, along with warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, coupled with reduced vertical wind shear, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds, and an enhanced west African monsoon.

The 2020 outlook reflects several climate factors driving the strong likelihood for above-normal activity in the Atlantic. El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions are expected to either remain neutral or to trend toward La Nina, meaning there will not be an El Nino present to suppress hurricane activity. Also, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, coupled with reduced vertical wind shear, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds, and an enhanced west African monsoon all increase the likelihood for an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. Similar conditions have been producing more active seasons since the current high-activity era began in 1995.

For 2020, NOAA predicts a likely range of 13 to 19 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes.

With all of this in mind, remember, SERVPRO is here alongside you.    We take the same precautions each of you do.  We pray for the safety of our communities and are "Here to Help" if help is needed.

Commercial Cleaning 101: Clean, Sanitize & Sterilize

5/22/2020 (Permalink)

Cleaning products Cleaning products

What is the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting? You might be tempted to say that, there is, in fact, no difference between them. All of those terms basically mean clean something right? Hopefully you commercial cleaning company will disagree with you on this point. The language and science of cleaning has evolved, and will continue to evolve and grow more complex as the industry expands to meet the needs of an ever-changing marketplace. While it is the responsibility of your commercial cleaning company to keep up, as a Facility Manager, it is wise to have a handle on some of the basic terms. Should you be on the look out for a new commercial cleaning company, understanding some of the industry terms can help you keep prospective janitorial service companies on their toes and ask all the right questions. Have you ever wondered what the difference is between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting? Want to know what pathogens are & why your commercial cleaning company should too? We have the answers to your burning cleaning questions. We’ve put together a list of some key terms that will undoubtedly be useful to know:

Cleaning: Most of us would like to think we know this one! But surprisingly, cleaning only refers to removing visible gunk from a surface.

Mechanical Cleaning: Good, old fashioned elbow grease. Mechanical Cleaning is when you put away the fancy tools and give the surface a good scrubbing.

Sanitize: Sanitizing isn’t the same as cleaning. Think about hand sanitizer for a moment. Put it on dirty hands and they aren’t magically clean, just de-germed if you will. In your building, before a surface can be sanitized it should be cleaned. Then, an antimicrobial solution is applied for a specific dwell time to achieve the desired 99.9999% bacterial and viral kill rate.

Dwell Time: This is a word you would only know if you spend your time reading the back of cleaning products! You might not do that but we do. Dwell times refer to how long an antimicrobial or disinfectant solution must be left on a pre-cleaned surface before it can be considered sanitized or disinfected. The product needs a specific amount of time to do its intended job. This one is important because if your cleaning company is rushing through their work and not following manufacturer recommendations, you will not get as safe, healthy and effective as possible.

Sterilize: To sterilize something requires the almighty autoclave or something equally as powerful to insure a 100% kill rate on microorganisms, viruses, and any type of fungal spore. For those of you that have seen an autoclave before, you know that this isn’t a practical cleaning solution for a big, busy building and for that reason is only used on medical and dental tools as necessary.

Microorganism:The word you missed on your high school biology test has come back to haunt you. All a microorganism is is any bacteria, virus, or spore that can’t be seen without a microscope.

Pathogen: When microorganisms turn evil. Any microorganism that can cause illness or disease is a pathogen.

Hot Spots: Similar in nature to the touch point. Hot spots are areas within a building that are frequently traversed and touched, like handles, shared business machines, any surface, knob, handle, switch or the like. These areas need extra attention to make sure that they are truly clean because as they are touched often and by many, they become the perfect little hubs for the evil pathogens, those microorganisms intent on making you, your employees and building’s visitors sick.

Bactericide: When life gets to be a little too much for the bacteria. A bactericide is any solution that is specifically targeted to destroy bacteria.

Touch Points: The locations in your office or workplace that are touched the most often. Knowing the touch points in your workplace lets you know which areas need special attention because these areas see many hands and many hands see many mouths and noses which see many microorganisms, many of which are pathogens.

Team Cleaning: With team cleaning, a building is divided by duties, not zones so team members specialize. There may be one vacuum specialist, one restroom specialist, one duster and light duties specialist and similar. This specialization of members of a team creates more efficient, more consistent results and reduces training costs and equipment costs and well as increases accountability and professionalism.

Zone Cleaning: In zone cleaning a building is divided into zones, sometimes floors or areas and there is one cleaner to one zone. This is an outdated cleaning style that is inefficient because it results in duplicated equipment and inconsistent results.

Cleaning for Health: Unsurprisingly, exactly what it sounds like. Cleaning for health is not only to clean to make something visually appealing, but also to sanitize a surface to prevent the spread of those pesky pathogens and other microorganisms.

Smart Cleaning: Smart cleaning uses a detailed analysis of your building to provide customized solutions to reduced budgets and cuts by optimizing services and identifying livable service cuts and scheduling services in a way that balances your budget and building maintenance needs.

Cross Contamination: When you use the same rag on to wipe the break room lunch tables that you used on the restroom toilets, things don’t get too clean. In fact, they get even dirtier are germs, microorganisms and pathogens are spread around the various parts of your facility. This is called cross contamination and the best way to address it is with a color coded cloth system, team cleaning, proper product use like utilizing dwell times and manufacturer recommendations and other janitorial best practices.

If you have any other questions, feel free to call SERVPRO of Columbia and Suwannee Counties.

Phase 1 - Re-Open Florida

4/30/2020 (Permalink)

Florida outline, person in yellow tyvek suit and mask Phase 1 - Reopening Florida

So here is what we know about Phase 1, Re-Opening... 

* May 4th Florida will enter Phase 1 (excluding some southeast FL counties) 

1. Schools will remain in distance learning 

2. No visitors entering long term care facilities 

3. Elective surgeries will resume 

4. Restaurants will resume operations with outdoor seating (6 feet separating tables) and indoor capacity of 25% (following CDC recommended guidelines for indoor social distancing) 

5. Retail reopens with 25% indoor capacity following CDC guidelines/protocols 

6. No larger venues reopen, not specifically listed above.

No movie theaters, no gyms, no personal services (hair salons, massage therapy, barbers) and no bars. 

** Vulnerable population should continue to avoid close contact and limit outdoor activities, and following social distancing. 

** All individuals when outside should maximize physical distancing protocols 

** Social groups/gatherings remain at 10 or fewer 

** Recommendation of face masks being worn in workplaces as well as any situation which is in close proximity in public. 

Governor estimates each phase will be consistently re-evaluated and last for several weeks. 

To go to Phase 2, monitoring of hospital capacity and testing positive rates. AND monitoring symptomatic hospitalizations. 

If your business was deemed essential within the previous executive order, this phase 1 should not be impacting your operations.

How to Stop Mold Growth

4/30/2020 (Permalink)

Mold on ceiling Mold on ceiling

Where there is moisture, there is mold. And where there is mold, health effects are bound to follow, especially for people who are sensitive to it.

HOW TO STOP MOLD GROWTH IN HOUSE

  1. Control moisture. Keep the humidity level under 60 percent.
  2. Dry up wet materials quickly. It only takes mold two days to grow.
  3. Clean, disinfect, and dry surfaces prone to mold growth. A vapor steam cleaner may help.
  4. Repair leaks. Replace dilapidated old pipes. Fix leaks on the roof, walls, and foundation of the house. Unclog HVAC units drain regularly.
  5. Dry items thoroughly before storing them.
  6. Improve airflow at home. Start with opening closet doors more frequently and moving furniture far from walls to providing better ventilation to confined spaces. The more windows you can open, the better.
  7. Monitor your basement’s ventilation. Set up a foundation drain, put in a dehumidifier, insulate walls, set up a thermal plane, and let the entire room dry.

HOW TO STOP MOLD GROWTH ON WALLS

  1. Prepare the affected walls with the usual white, black or bluish patches of mold on the walls. If it has spread to adjacent areas, such as the carpet or other items, remove these from the walls and salvage whatever you can.
  2. Scrub as hard as you can. Use a mixture of one part bleach and three parts water and combine it with some hard scrubbing using a heavy-duty sponge or scrub brush. Let the solution soak in for a few minutes. In even worse cases, you may need to use this bleach mixture with a formulated mold remover. Make sure to wear rubber gloves and a respirator mask for protection and turn on the ventilation fan.
  3. Dry the walls completely.

HOW TO STOP MOLD GROWTH IN BATHROOM

  1. Remove and replace sealant or caulking affected by mold.
  2. Use effective mold-killing chemicals to clean your bathroom, such as vinegar, bleach or hydrogen peroxide to help you, but make sure not to mix any of these products to avoid a toxic outcome.
  3. Keep your bathroom doors and windows open while cleaning. This should help dry up the bathroom and take away the mold’s favorite environment.

HOW TO PREVENT MOLD GROWTH IN BATHROOM

  1. Invest in an effective fan for every bathroom at home. Vents can suck out the moisture in your bathroom and send it outside. Depending on the size of your bathroom, find a fan with the right cubic feet per minute (cfm).
  2. Use the fan properly. Turn the vent on during a bath or shower and leave it on for 30 minutes more after leaving the bathroom. Find a fan with a timer for your convenience.
  3. Use your squeegee. Make it a habit to dry up the shower walls or tub with a squeegee.
  4. Repair leaks. Once you notice leaks, fix them right away. Delaying repairs will only encourage mold to grow and take hold.
  5. Dry out everything in the bathroom. After using your sponges, loofahs, and product bottles, remove them from the shower and let them dry.
  6. Wash towels, rugs, and mat regularly.

If you have any questions, feel free to call SERVPRO of Columbia and Suwannee Counties for all your mold related questions.

A Guide for Employers!

4/29/2020 (Permalink)

Two ladies and a sign that says Covid-19 Disinfecting your Business and Protecting your Employees

As much as we are here for you if you need our services we also always attempt to advise our customers on things they can do themselves.  We are here to help!  SERVPRO of Columbia & Suwannee Counties is always interested in helping our community in anyway possible.  Here are some recommendations from the CDC.

How to clean and disinfect: 

Clean surfaces using soap and water. Practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces. High touch surfaces include: Tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc. 

Disinfect

Clean the area or item with soap and water or another detergent if it is dirty. Then, use disinfectant. Follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product.

Many products recommend:

Keeping surface wet for a period of time (see product label)
Precautions such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product. 

Download CDC Employer Guidelines 

Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol may also be used.  

Additional Considerations for Employers

• Educate workers performing cleaning, laundry, and trash pick-up to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19.
• Provide instructions on what to do if they develop symptoms within 14 days after their last possible exposure to the virus.
• Develop policies for worker protection and provide training to all cleaning staff on site prior to providing cleaning tasks.
? Training should include when to use PPE, what PPE is necessary, how to properly don (put on), use, and doff (take off) PPE, and how to properly dispose of PPE.
• Ensure workers are trained on the hazards of the cleaning chemicals used in the workplace in accordance with OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard.
• Comply with OSHA’s standards on Bloodborne Pathogens, including proper disposal of regulated waste, and PPE. 

For facilities that house people overnight:

• Follow CDC’s guidance for colleges and universities. Work with state and local health officials to determine the best way to isolate people who are sick and if temporary housing is needed.
• For guidance on cleaning and disinfecting the bedroom/bathroom for someone who is sick, review CDC’s guidance on disinfecting your home if someone is sick. The content of this email is republished from the Center for Disease Control website at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/.

Please refer to their website for more detailed information.  We provide services in Lake City and all of our surrounding counties to include Lake Butler, Fort White, MacClenny, Perry, Madison, Live Oak, LuLu, Orange Park, Oakleaf, Middleburg & White Springs.  

Preparing to "Reopen" your home or business to guests or customers?

4/24/2020 (Permalink)

Man with respirator on fogging kitchen We can give you peace of mind in your home or business moving forward from the Social Distancing to normal life again.

The coronavirus has changed what it means to clean.

In the year 2019 B.C. (Before Coronavirus), homeowners or their housekeepers could basically scrub, wipe, dust and vacuum their way to a clean house.

But now many homeowners are hiring companies with specialized tools and chemicals to disinfect their homes as a way to protect themselves and their businesses to protect not only employees but their customers.

We understand the dire need of proper disinfectant services to combat the spread of COVID-19. We offer services to deep clean and disinfect your business, school, or other commercial property as well as your own home. No more guessing whether you have cleaned that doorknob or entire wall.

Our Protocols and Certification:
- We wear protective gear (masks, gloves, protective uniforms) when necessary.  i.e. a confirmed case of Covid - 19
- We use the highest quality, approved by the CDC, sanitization products
- We are certified by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration, Restoration Industry Association

SERVPRO is outfitted with the necessary tools and skills to combat this situation and help protect your employees and clients.

Preventing the spread of the common cold and the flu at home and in the workplace

4/17/2020 (Permalink)

Sneezing Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze

SERVPRO of Columbia and Suwannee counties has been deeply entrenched with assisting local businesses with Covid-19 cleanup or pre-cleaning.

Here are some tips on how to keep from spreading a cold or flu if you have it.

-Cover coughs and Sneezes

Flu germs are believed to spread through droplets from the mouth and nose. Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Make sure to throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands straight away. If there’s no tissue handy, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow.

-Avoid touching your eyes and face

According to the CDC, flu germs can live for two to eight hours on hard surfaces. That’s why it’s so easy to pick up flu germs without knowing it. You can get infected if you touch an infected doorknob or light switch and then rub your eyes or bite your nails. Learning to keep your hands away from your face can be tough, especially for children. Remind them often, as well as yourself.

-Wash your hands often

All hand washing is not equal. For it to be effective, make sure you and your family follow these steps:

  1. Run warm water over your hands.
  2. Add soap.
  3. Scrub for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse and dry.

You can stock up on alcohol-based hand sanitizers for areas where sinks aren’t available or when you’re out and about. Store them out of the reach of young children and ensure children have adult supervision when using them. Make sure your hand sanitizers are at least 60 percent alcohol, and remember that they’re not a replacement for washing your hands with soap and warm water — they don’t tackle all germs, and don’t work on visibly dirty hands.

You’ll need to remind kids to wash up:

  • each time they use the bathroom
  • before they eat
  • after they come home from school or a play date

-Limit contact with family members or co-workers who are ill

If someone in your family does get the flu, take these steps to prevent the flu from spreading:

  • Keep the sick person at home.
  • Limit close contact between the sick person and other family members as much as you can while they’re contagious. In general, this is up to a week after they show symptoms.
  • Change sleeping arrangements, if possible.

You should also avoid sharing the following items from the sick person:

  • washcloths
  • towels
  • dishes
  • toys
  • utensils

-Clean your home and office area

Flu germs and viruses love to lurk on items you touch every day. Here are some hot spots for germs:

  • kitchen sponges
  • dishcloths
  • cutting boards
  • home desks
  • floors
  • sinks
  • toilets

Clean and disinfect these hot spots regularly. You can microwave your kitchen sponge for one minute on a high setting to zap germs. Better yet, throw it out.

If someone in your household has the flu, take special care when washing their things. Wash dishes and silverware thoroughly by hand or in the dishwasher. You don’t have to do a sick person’s laundry separately, but try to avoid scooping up an armload of items and holding them close before washing them. Use laundry soap and dry on a hot setting. Always wash your hands immediately after handling dirty laundry.