Recent Posts

Fire Safety and Your Pet

10/11/2021 (Permalink)

Pet Fire Safety

According to an article on the American Red Cross website, the National Fire Protection Association estimates that one thousand (1000) house fires can be attributed to pets each year.  With this fact in mind they compiled a list of helpful, best practices to protect your home, your family and pet. 

  • Have a Home Fire Escape Plan and include your pets. Formulating and implementing an escape plan is simple and requires little time.  Simply diagram exit and escape routes.  Create a meeting spot.  Plan for second story egress, elderly, children and pets.  Make sure everyone knows their role and responsibility.  Practice your escape plan twice a year.
  • Make sure you have proper working smoke detectors. Have monitored smoke detectors that are tied to a central station.  Check batteries of detectors monthly.  Make sure all occupants of the home know the sound of the alarm.
  • Place a sticker on door or window to alert fire fighters of how many pets are in the home.
  • Keep pets near an exit door so they can be easily found and rescued.
  • Keep pets away from open flames like candles and fire places. Never leave pet unattended where there is an open flame.
  • Crate young or untrained pets to prevent them from chewing electrical wires and causing a fire.
  • Remove knobs from stoves to prevent accidently turning on a stove eye.
  • Keep a collar on your pet to aid in rescue if necessary.
  • Prepare a disaster or displacement kit for your pets.
  • Pre-plan a location to house your pets if you have a fire and are displaced.
  • Never delay your escape from a burning building to save your pet.

Teaching Your Kids About Preparedness

9/24/2021 (Permalink)

Teaching Your Kids About Preparedness

September has been deemed by the United States government as National Preparedness Month.  The purpose of this month is to become educated and to prepare for disasters and emergencies such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and tropical storms.  Having a plan is essential in easing the traumatic affects disasters impose on you and your family.  The weekly theme for September 19-25th is teaching kids about preparedness. 

It is natural for children to be fearful in the midst of a traumatizing natural disaster, but preventive educational planning can ease their fears and empower them to be an asset when the time comes for the plan to be implemented.

Key questions children should know the answers to in time of an emergency are:

  • Who to call- have a category in the cell phone listed- in case of emergency
  • Where to meet if separated from parents or guardians
  • Where the emergency kit is located
  • What things to avoid

There are numerous tools including games on the Ready.gov site to teach these lessons in a fun manner.  Planning ahead is preparing to succeed.

National Preparedness Month - Are You Tech Ready?

9/21/2021 (Permalink)

National Preparedness Month - Are You Prepared?

September has been designated as National Preparedness Month, bringing awareness for the need to have an effective plan for you, your family and business in the event of an emergency or natural disaster.  Weather emergencies such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and severe thunderstorms can impact you, your family and business, through disruption of power, impassable roads due to flooding or downed trees, loss of essential services such as clean water and access to food.  Additionally, severe property damage can impact safety when the damage makes the building unsafe for habitation.   There can also be loss of communication services when cell towers are damaged.  In a concerted effort by Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) this government entity has compiled numerous resources on their site at ready.gov to inform the public how to be prepared if and when an emergency happens. 

One important category to consider in being emergency ready is planning for your technical equipment including cell phones, computers and laptops.  Several key points to consider when dealing with tech issues are:

  • Text rather than call when attempting to communicate with family and loved ones. Cell towers may be overwhelmed making it easier to communicate via text as texting uses less bandwidth.
  • Back up computers
  • Charge your smartphone, tablets and laptops prior to the storm
  • Have back up power supplies
  • Scan critical documents into your computer and save to a password protected jump drive.
  • Make sure to have a phone charger in your automobile.
  • Find open shelters by texting SHELTER to 43362
  • Sign up for the FEMA app to get weather information

Get additional information at https://www.ready.gov/get-tech-ready

Commercial Vandalism Cleanup

9/10/2021 (Permalink)

Commercial Vandalism Cleanup

A brick through a window, a discharged fire extinguisher and graffiti can have an extreme economic impact on a commercial business.  There are numerous safety issues along with the negative image it portrays and lost revenue.  In some instances cleanup of certain vandalized chemicals extends beyond the capacity of the regular maintenance staff, requiring specialized equipment and training to safely return the environment to its preloss condition.  For these reasons commercial businesses should have SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County on speed dial.

SERVPRO technicians are highly trained to deal with situations involving vandalism, including board up of broken windows, graffiti removal, mercury and fire extinguisher dust cleanup.   In addition to having the proper equipment, SERVPRO has their own product line to deal with specific situations and make the vandalized area "Like it never even happened."   Safety is the top priority along with quickly addressing the problem so the business can return to regular operations.  Quality workmanship and fair pricing are additional reasons to call SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County when a vandalism situation occurs.   We can be reached at (919) 596-1242.

Critical Actions that Every Local Employer Should Take Right Now

9/10/2021 (Permalink)

Reduce Risk, Increase Resilience, and Ensure Business Continuity During Disasters

Critical Actions that Every Local Employer Should Take Right Now

Reduce Risk, Increase Resilience, and Ensure Business Continuity During Disasters

By Katie Loovis on September 1, 2021

Presented by SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County

It’s not if, but when your business will face a disruption. Manmade and natural disasters can cause prolonged interruptions to your internet, electricity, or water supply - critical infrastructure for your business operations and success.

Providers, including Duke Energy and Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA), are making significant investments to improve the continuity of your business during disasters, but what are YOU doing?

Below are critical actions that every local employer should take right now to reduce risk, increase resilience, and ensure business continuity during disasters. This list is informed with input and feedback from expert guest speakers during The Chamber’s June 2021 Risk and Resilience Forum (watch the discussion).

PREPARE NOW 

The time to prepare is now, not once the disaster happens.

There’s no such thing as being too small. Chatham County Government suffered a prolonged cyber-attack and data breach last year, our community has already navigated two very real water disruptions with severe negative local business impact (2017, 2018), and we are in hurricane season (e.g., Hurricane Ida in New Orleans).

Get clear NOW on what you will do across several very likely scenarios, including a cyber-attack and prolonged water or power outages. An investment of time and resources now will save you money and headache in the long run.

Emergency Ready Plan

Fifty percent 50% of all businesses that experience a catastrophic loss such as major water damage, (i.e.) flood or fire never reopen.  Having a plan is planning to succeed in the midst of adversity.  SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County offers an Emergency Ready Plan which compiles critical shut-offs such as electric, gas and water, along with key contacts and emergency services in a no cost app to aid business in times of crisis.  The Emergency Ready Plan or (ERP) comes with a free site assessment to locate and photo document shut-offs and install the app on computers and mobile phones.  This invaluable service allows businesses to respond quickly in the event of an emergency to minimize the economic impact and deploy needed help to get the business up and running as quick as possible.  To schedule your ERP, call 919-596-1242.

CYBER

For cyber, prevention is key. Steve Newton, Director of Emergency Management for Chatham County Government, provided a riveting first-hand account at our forum describing how he led the county’s response to a cyber-attack that involved encryption of data, ransom, and data breach in 2020 and lasted 77 days. (Watch Steve’s presentation, beginning at the 1:08:30-mark.)

Steve recommends every local business go through an exercise, called “RANP,” which is an acronym for a) Recognize, b) Alert, c) Notify, and d) Protect. You and your colleagues should ask yourselves:

  • How will you recognize indictors of compromise (what system do you have in place so you will know when you are having a cyber-security incident)? Chatham County Government had devices that were monitoring traffic coming in and out of the network, which signaled a compromise.
  • How will you be alerted, especially when it’s likely to take place at two in the morning?
  • Who will you notify within your organization and across your network of vendors and work groups?
  • What initial steps will you take to protect your network and ensure continuity of operations and mission-essential functions (like payroll). Note: unplugging everything may not be the correct answer.

Antwine Jackson, President of Enitech IT Support and Consulting, reinforced Steve’s point that hackers are smart. Antwine shared a story of a nonprofit that was compromised. The hacker lurked in the controller’s emails for 90 days before pouncing on a wire transfer process and intercepting $300,000.

Cyber security incidents are like car accidents, according to Antwine, and you’ll eventually be part of one. Five years ago, his advice would have been to have a good backup of your system. Now, that is insufficient. In addition to a backup system, the best defense is also proper employee awareness and training. Enitech recommends every employee should have:

  • Password complexity,
  • not use the same passwords on every platform, and
  • Multifactor authentication.

Antwine also recommends organizations purchase cyber liability insurance. Our Chamber recommends you consider booking a consultation with Enitech or another IT provider for prevention support now. This is worth your time.

WATER

For water, you should know that OWASA has 400 miles of drinking water pipe with many risk factors to the supply, including aging infrastructure and potential contractor damage. According to Todd Taylor, Executive Director of OWASA, 30 years ago OWASA had approximately 50 breaks per 100 miles (or 200 breaks/year), but with strategic investments and improvements, OWASA has brought the break rate down to approximately 10 breaks per 100 miles (or 40 breaks/year). Ongoing improvements prioritize repairs for higher consequence potential breaks, but breaks are inevitable.

OWASA recommends local businesses scenario-plan for 4–6-hour periods of interrupted water supply and sewer service. Our Chamber recommends you also plan for multi-day interruptions, as happened in 2017 and 2018.

Victoria Hudson is the Environmental Health Director for Orange County Government and the Health Department is the authority that would issue a “do not drink,” “do not use,” and/or “boil” order in times of water disruption and compromise. While OWASA is working to improve their response time and isolate breaks to prevent prolonged scenarios, lengthy “do not drink” and “do not use order” were issued in 2017 and 2018, causing substantial community, healthcare, and business disruption. This worst-case scenario could happen again, and for that reason, our Chamber recommends businesses scenario plan for that as well.

The Health Department recommends local businesses establish formal variances and/or incident agreement plans with a known alternative water supply (i.e., a brewery with tanked water) to mitigate water disruptions and ensure business continuity. 

A water outage does not have to mean business closure. Contact Victoria’s office for protocols.(Watch Todd and Victoria’s remarks., which starts at the 44:25-mark)

ENERGY

For energy, you should know that the electric grid is one of the most complicated machines ever created, with millions of components that are being changed and fixed as we use it and managed often with smart technology.

Duke Energy generates the electricity from a variety of fuel sources, transmits the power to communities, and distributes it to your business (this is referred to as “end-to-end” responsibility of an integrated utility).

There are many threats to the reliability of your power, including weather, trees and animals, physical threats, and even the overall demand for energy (if it’s not properly managed). Duke Energy is investing to modernize the grid and make it more reliable. This is in line with a clarion call to improve our grid system nationwide (CNN Analysis: "It's time to pay serious attention to the power grid")

The Duke Energy director of government affairs, energy, and the environment, Mark McIntire, shared updates along with his colleague Jeff Brooks, power delivery and grid improvement communication manager. (Watch conversation with Mark and Jeff from Duke Energy, which begins at the 13:29-mark.)

If the power goes out, do you know what you will do to ensure the continuity of your business operations? As you consider emergency response items, such as a generator, you can and should also take advantage of energy saving resources. Schedule an energy saver assessment now.

CHAMBER CONNECTIONS

Overall, the relationships you build and the action steps you take now can and will help preserve and protect your business when the disaster strikes. Chamber members like Enitech IT Support and Consulting and SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County are well-equipped to help you prepare for and respond to disasters. 

Think SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County for Commercial Biohazards and Trauma

9/1/2021 (Permalink)

Biohazard or trauma emergency call SERVPRO

When most people think about SERVPRO they about water and fire damage clean up.  Although water and fire damage cleanup are the cornerstones of the brand’s service portfolio, additional services like biohazard and vandalism cleaning are specialties also provided.   A biohazard or trauma emergency can dramatically impact a commercial work environment.  Having a company that specialized in how to properly clean the structure or affected contents is paramount to safety and getting the workplace operational.

In most cases, a company’s regular janitorial staff is not equipped to properly clean biohazards and trauma which may involve toxic chemicals like mercury or bodily fluids such as blood.  There are serious health risks associated with dealing with biohazards and trauma events and proper protective gear, training procedures and disposal processes are required to restore the structure back to the condition prior to the event occurrence.  There are also state and local laws that must be followed regarding disposal to prevent significant fines and possible imprisonment. 

Should your business experience a biohazard or trauma emergency call SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County at 919-596-1242.

Can a Water Intrusion Impact Indoor Air Quality?

8/20/2021 (Permalink)

Can a Water Intrusion Impact Indoor Air Quality?

Is there a correlation between the air we breath inside our homes or workplace environments and a water intrusion?   This question has a layered answer that is dependent on how the water intrusion is handled.  

A water intrusion, for example, from a burst hot water tank in an apartment, home, or workplace that is properly mitigated will have no impact on the indoor air quality.   The key to this or any other water intrusion and its impact on the indoor air quality is totally based on how quickly the structure is dried and if it properly dried out according to IICRC S500 standards for structural drying.  A properly mitigated and dried structure not only addresses the visible water but addresses bound water that seeps behind wall boards, quarter round molding, water that seeps into drywall or walls, water trapped in studs and floor joists or water that that is trapped beneath vinyl, tile, laminate, or hardwood flooring.  When bound or trapped water is not properly mitigated, meaning dried properly, microbial, or fungal growth will occur, and the spores released from these microorganisms will have an affect on the indoor air quality.

A true professional water restoration company will use the proper moisture reading equipment to map out where the water intruded and take the necessary steps to dry the structure according the IICRC S500 standards.   Then, and only then can you be assured that the water intrusion will not lead to mold or microbial growth that will impact the indoor air quality.

SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County provides 24/7 service for any water emergency.  Call us at 919-596-1242 if your home or office has a water intrusion.

Why SERVPRO? Scalability!

8/13/2021 (Permalink)

Why SERVPRO? Scalability!

Why SERVPRO? Scalability!

Scalability is the ability to ramp up resources and manpower to meet situational demands.  Why should this matter when selecting a restoration company?  The answer is simple, when you need help you need a company that has the resources and manpower to meet your needs right then.  SERVPRO’s franchise system allows every franchise to meet their client’s individual and specific needs, by having a support system that can accommodate even the largest loss. 

An individual franchise will have the employees and equipment to handle many large losses, but when they receive a call for assistance for an extremely large-scale water emergency on a high rise building with twenty-six floors and the water damage occurs on the twenty-fifth floor affecting ten floors and over eighty rooms the neighboring SERVPRO franchises unite.  With a single call to their surrounding SERVPRO franchises the individual franchise that received the emergency call can scale up through the combined efforts of the surrounding franchises working on one accord to make that large scale water emergency, "Like it never even happened."

Additionally, SERVPRO franchises can scale up even more by calling corporate headquarters to activate a large loss response team that specializes in national emergencies.  Scalability is one of the major ways SERVPRO differs from other restoration companies.   So when you ask, Why SERVPRO?  Scalability is at the top of the list.

Ready for Whatever Happens: Power of the Commercial ERP

8/6/2021 (Permalink)

Ready for Whatever Happens: Power of the Commercial ERP

I can’t remember where I first heard this saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  When I first heard it is irrelevant compared to the truth held in the statement.  This is ever so true when it comes to commercial businesses having a plan when catastrophe strikes.  Whether it is a supply line on a toilet, a burst pipe in a wall, an activated sprinkler head, or a fire in the break room, each can have a devastating impact on business continuation.   Knowledge is power and equipping essential onsite employees with knowledge of where emergency shut offs are and how to shut off that utility to minimize property damage and decrease the economic impact is prudent.  It is also a sign of forethought to know who to call to restore your property to preloss condition.  All these things and more are easily accomplished with the SERVPRO Ready Plan.

The SERVPRO Ready Plan is a powerful application which:

  • Documents critical information in the event of an emergency
  • Identifies the chain of command for work authorization
  • Provides facility details such as shut-off valves, priority areas and pertinent contact information.
  • Establishes your local SERVPRO franchise as your disaster mitigation and restoration provider.
  • It is a 100% free mobile application that works on both Android and Apple platforms. Facility assessment and set-up in a no cost service provided by your local SERVPRO franchise.

Call SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County to get your Emergency Ready Plan in place.  (919) 596-1242

Inherited Hoarder Home – How Can SERVPRO Help?

8/6/2021 (Permalink)

Inherited Hoarder Home – How Can SERVPRO Help?

There have been numerous instances where a realtor or new recipient of an inherited property that needs help with the massive accumulation of contents inside the dwelling, calls to inquire if SERVPRO can help. The answer to these inquiries is a resounding - “yes.”  SERVPRO provides debris removal, pack out services, cleaning and restoration services.  There are unique issues and concerns that make dealing with a hoarder situation a specialty service such as safety, biohazards, molds, pests and malodors. 

Safety is the first priority in dealing with any hoarder situation.  During the initial assessment all safety measures are addressed to keep SERVPRO technicians safe and to assure that once work is complete the property will be safe of the perils we are contracted to address. 

Biohazards are common in hoarder situations due to unsanitary conditions caused due to trash accumulation, human and pet fecal matter, and pest infestations.  Deceased animal carcasses are sometimes found in hoarder homes.

Mold is also common in hoarder homes due to unaddressed water intrusions, and high humidity due blocked ventilation because of the accumulation of items preventing air flow and proper dehumidification.

With the large accumulation of contents coupled with unaddressed home maintenance and unsanitary conditions make the home attractive to pests such as bugs and rodents.  SERVPRO is not in the pest control business, but we are happy to refer a qualified pest control specialist or hire a company ourselves and include their services in our estimate. 

Finally, malodors will be addressed so the property can smell fresh once the other issues have been addressed.

SERVPRO of South Durham and Orange County is the company to call in the North Carolina Triangle if you inherit a property that has hoarder issues which must be addressed prior to being able to be safely occupied or sold.  Call us at 919-596-1242.