Why Commercial Buildings should use professional cleaners to battle COVID-19
As we continue to battle through the COVID-19 pandemic. Commercial buildings have been doing a great job of continuing to implement different measures for keeping the people in those facilities safe. Here are the reasons why a commercial building may consider or need to bring in a professional cleaning staff to battle against COVID-19
Having an Emergency Response Plan.
As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout our community, more people are going to be exposed and test positive for the disease. What will your workplace do when that happens? If there is a massive outbreak of COVID-19 in your workplace, a response needs to be in place so that 1) employees can be safe and 2) work can resume without a fear of infection from the work environment.
A proactive plan should be developed that includes preventative measures to reduce potential exposure and also reactive measures for when exposure happens, and a COVID-19 positive person enters the workspace. This second situation, one where a person has potentially left the virus in the workplace, is one where a professional cleaning staff should be considered.
While normal custodial staff are equipped to handle regular cleaning operations, COVID-19 is different. This highly infectious disease could be transmitted to an unprepared custodial staff if they are not trained in wearing proper protective equipment (PPE) and if they are exposed, it opens a legal gray area in which they can claim they were knowingly exposed to biological contamination without the right equipment.
At SERVPRO of Minot we equip all our technicians with the right PPE, which includes gloves, respirators, and full suits for protection. Additionally, we have high-grade that have been recommended for CDC use against COVID-19. This combined with full coverage insurance for our technicians allows us to confidently send them into a biologically contaminated space.
Give us a call today to talk about setting up an emergency COVID-19 response plan. This will allow you to have a response plan in place to battle the spread of COVID-19 if it should enter your workplace.
How to Properly Test Your Smoke Alarm
While it is a task that is quite boring, monotonous and can be seen as a waste of time, testing your smoke alarm can literally be a life or death decision. So while yes, it is boring, this simple task can save the lives of you, your family, your pets, and your home. Here is the proper way to test your smoke alarm to keep everything you love, safe.
Make sure you can hear the alarm from everywhere in your home.
Have someone stand in the room farthest away from the alarm, with the door closed to make sure the sound is audible. If they can hear it clearly, you’re good to go, if not, you can try replacing the batteries to improve hearing or you can buy another detector to place in a better spot.
To test the alarm, it is as simple as holding the test button and waiting for the piercing noise to ring out, confirming the batteries and sound are working correctly. This does not test whether or not the alarm is properly detecting smoke, however.
Testing smoke alarms by using smoke should be done a few times a year, safely, in order to ensure proper functioning of the detector. After warning the members of the house that you are testing the alarm, strike a match and then blow it out, holding the match about a foot away from the detector. The smoke given off, should be enough to trigger the alarm, if not, repeat a few times to see if you can set it off. If there is still no response from the alarm, replace the batteries and try again. Remembering it may take a minute or two before the alarm will sound.
Safely testing your smoke alarms is a mundane task, but as a homeowner it is your responsibility to make sure your home is safe along with everyone in it.
Secure your Home before your Summer Vacation
Prevent water damage while you are on your getaway.
As we make our way through the summer, you may be going on a summer trip. If so, here are some simple ways to make sure you come home to your home safe and sound, and not a watery nightmare.
Do an Inspection
As you are packing the car and getting ready to head out, do a quick inspection of your home to ensure you are ready to leave. Turn off the water main, and drain the existing water from sinks, toilets, and outdoor spigots. Once the water main is switched off, turn on faucets, spigots, and flush toilets until water no longer flows out.
Other places to inspect:
- Pipes under every sink.
- Water heater.
- Seals around windows (in case it rains).
- Appliance hoses: washing machine, dishwasher, and ice maker.
- Sump pump. Dump a bucket of water into the sump pump to ensure it's working. Make sure to listen to its motor running as well.
- Toilet tanks. Look for cracks that may worsen and leak while you're gone.
Have someone check on your home
Give a set of keys to a trusted family member, friend, or neighbor and have them check on your home periodically while you are gone. The amount of times they should check in depends on the length of your trip, but it should be at least twice a week. Once water damage occurs, letting it stagnate for days at a time can multiply the cleanup costs tremendously. Show your house sitter all bathrooms, where the water main is, and other areas at risk of water damage. Leaving a check list for them will make sure they don’t miss any subtle leaks or moisture.
Leave heating and cooling systems running as normal, these allow air flow through your home and prevent humidity from building up. They also will keep pipes from freezing if there is a sudden temperature drop one night, which is more of a risk during the fall and winter months than in summer.
Enjoy your trip!
If you do a thorough inspection, take proactive safety measures and leave someone to look over your home, then you have done more than enough to ensure you won’t suffer from water damage. Although anything is possible, and even the most cautious plan can still not prevent water damage, you shouldn’t worry about the safety of your home while on vacation. Take steps to prepare and then enjoy your time away!
Water Damage Response Tips
You are going to panic initially when you realize your home has suffered water damage. Once you give us a call, we can quickly send technicians out to begin remediation on damaged property. Before we arrive, instead of panicking, you can take steps yourself to prevent further damage. These steps should only be used if the water damage is caused by clean water. If you have suffered damage from sewer, toilet, or other contaminated water sources, stay away from the scene as it may have adverse health effects.
Here are tips for what you can do to prevent further water damage to your home, until our trained technicians can make it to you.
- Shut off the water source if it can be done safely.
- Remove any excess water by mopping or using towels.
- Remove and pop up we upholstery cushions for drying. Do not put cushion covers in washing machine.
- Place aluminum foil or wood blocks under furniture legs.
- Hang furs and leather goods separately at room temperature.
- Remove colored rugs from wet carpeting.
- Do not use a regular vacuum to try and remove excess water.
- If water damage is in the ceiling, do not turn on lights or overhead fans. And keep out of rooms where the ceiling is beginning to sag from holding water.
Four tips for Fireworks Safety this 4th
The Fourth of July is one of the biggest holidays of the year. It perfectly captures summer season activities with hiking, boating, barbecuing, being out in the sun, and shooting off fireworks. This upcoming weekend is sure to be full of fun outdoors and with friends and family, even as we are still in the midst of COVID-19. To make sure it stays full of fun, here are four safety tips to enjoy the holiday to the fullest.
Keep Sparklers Away from Children
Although they are advertised as the perfect children’s firework, sparklers are not safe for children to be waiving around. As they burn at over 2,200 degrees they are susceptible to light clothing on fire and severely burn anything that is accidentally touched. Over 25% of all emergency visits from fireworks are caused by sparklers and for children under 5 they account for almost half of all injuries.
Be Prepared for the Worst
There is an assumption that an accident caused from fireworks are from mishandling or from a lack of common sense and that “It would never happen to me.” This is a dangerous mindset to have as fireworks are extremely unpredictable and even the best experts in the world have malfunctions occasionally. This is why you should have equipment ready and waiting in case a firework does lead to an accident.
Materials to gather before lighting off the first rocket should include:
A bucket of water and/or garden hose, remember to soak used fireworks before disposal
- Shovels and rakes
- Fire Extinguisher
- First aid kit
- Burn cream
Use Your Best Judgement
Never forget, fireworks at their core are explosives and that means they should be taken seriously at all times. Don’t let someone who is consuming alcohol to handle fireworks. Likewise, don’t use any fireworks without clear instructions and only buy from legitimate fireworks dealers.
The Fourth of July should be a celebration and making sure fireworks are handled safely is the best way to make sure it is enjoyable.
Take Precautions for COVID
Independence day is a great holiday to have fun with health precautions. Having an outdoor celebration will allow natural social distancing, flow of air, and UV protection from sunlight. Enjoy the weekend, but make sure to keep everyone safe.
Have different people and groups prepare their own food. Don’t have a buffet style setup where everyone is touching and sharing the same food.
Pack cleaning supplies to make sure any high touch spots can be sanitized quickly.
Utilize the outdoors. Avoid long periods of time inside homes or garages and try and spend time in parks, backyards, and out on the water.
We hope everyone stays safe and has a wonderful 4th of July weekend!
Why we Test For Mold
We are the only mold remediation company in the Minot area which tests for mold to confirm removal!
Mold is one of the most challenging projects we encounter. This is due to the location of mold being in dark, hard to reach areas such as basements or behind dry wall and flooring. Which means that our remediation efforts are hard to judge just by sight and the only way to truly know how much of an impact was made, it to test the air quality.
Mold releases spores into the air which then accumulate on organic, wet material to grow the mold that we see. While these spores are everywhere and basically harmless, mold infected areas such as basements become hot spots for spores as they stay in the stagnant air flow of the basement and multiply into dangerous levels. If unchecked, these hot spots can lead to extreme mold growth which damages surrounding organic material such as support beams and frames, along with potential health risks.
To make sure we remove all spores and thereby the ensuing growth, we conduct a series of tests in and out of the area. Before we begin work, we test both the suspected growth area along with an area we know is not impacted to develop a control. Within 24 hours we have the results from the test and know what kind of mold is growing in the area and the associated health effects that come with that type of mold.
Once we have finished our mold remediation, which involves removing and replacing impacted materials, applying synthetic products to prevent future growth, and using filtered vacuums to remove airborne spores, we then test the area afterwards to ensure all mold material was removed.
We are the only mold remediation company in the Minot area which tests for mold to confirm removal.
By testing, we remove any doubt as to the effectiveness of our efforts, and make sure the customer is not wasting money. With most types of cleaning you can see whether or not you were successful, but with mold there is no way to be sure without testing, which is why we encourage the use whenever we are called to do mold remediation.
How to Be Safe During a Lightning Storm
Hundreds of thousands of people are struck by lightning each year. So, while you are unlikely to be struck, there is still a significant threat which should not be ignored. Even though there is no way to be 100% safe from lightning, even if you are indoors, there are steps you can take that will decrease your chance of injury.
Being indoors does not mean you fully protected. There is a myth that you are completely safe from lightning if you are indoors. While being inside is the best way to remain safe during a lightning storm, you should follow these steps to make sure you are as safe as possible.
- Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.
- Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths, and faucets.
- Stay away from windows and doors and stay off porches.
- Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.
- Stay away from windows which can have projectiles flung through them by the storm
Being outside is the most dangerous place to be during a lightning storm. If you are outside and see a storm coming towards you, head for the nearest building and shelter inside. Stay inside until the storm passes or it dies down enough to get somewhere safer. While there are suggested tips for what to do during a lightning storm, your safest option is always to keep moving towards a stable building. Never stay under a tree or park shelter. A good measure for if a building is safe is if it has both electricity and plumbing that will protect from electric strikes. If you are unable to get inside a substantial building, get inside a vehicle and park away from tall pointed structures such as trees or telephone poles.
Odd Places You Find Mold Growth in Your Home
Where to check for mold in your house
Mold can be found in many unusual spots in your home. If left to grow, mold can become a dangerous problem for your home’s value, your health, and as a cosmetic eye sore. Here are some places to check and clean to avoid these problems.
Your Toothbrush Holder
While your toothbrush gets replaced every few months (hopefully), your toothbrush holder is in an ideal location for mold growth. The moist environment of the bathroom combined with the wide array of germs from your mouth create the perfect location for mold growth. A few times a year, you should clean and disinfect your entire toothbrush holder.
Specifically, your dishwasher and clothes washer are susceptible to mold growth. Check behind and underneath them to see if the darkness and moisture has caused growth. You can then clean the area before it grow into the walls and flooring, which is more costly to remove and repair. Also check INSIDE your appliances. Look under coverings and around rubber moisture seals to expose mold which has developed inside the machine where the cleaning process does not reach.
If you overwater your plants there is a tendency for mold growth underneath where the sunlight does not reach. While this may actually be good for your plant, it is not worth the risk. Be careful not to overdue the watering and if you notice mold, try repotting the plants and putting it in direct sunlight for a few days
Outdoor Rugs and Floor mats
Floor mats invite mold buildup underneath as the organic material from the rug, when wet, creates a dark, moist environment with enough air flow to sustain mold growth but not enough to dry it out. By regularly cleaning your rugs or simply flipping them over and leaving them in the sun for a day, you can prevent mold buildup which can spread throughout your entry ways, steps, and porches.
Preparing for a Tornado in North Dakota
North Dakota Tornado Preparedness
North Dakota is known for its tornadoes. With an average of over 20 per year, it is a common occurrence within our state. Although most of these cause little to no damage and are hardly even noticed, there are some that cause massive devastation, such as the 1957 tornado in Fargo which resulted in $26 million in property damage ($236 million in 2020 USD) along with 12 fatalities. While the 1957 tornado was by far the worst to hit the state, smaller ones can cause damage to your home, vehicle, and business if you are not prepared.
The CDC recommends these three tips for tornado preparedness.
- Be Ready
- Be aware of Weather Conditions
- Know where to shelter
This means having an emergency kit ready that has batteries, first-aid supplies, flashlights, food/water, and a battery-operated TV or radio. Have a plan for you and your family which you go over and practice to make sure that it can be put into action immediately.
Be aware of weather conditions
Paying attention to weather reports will give you advanced warning of incoming storms. On your smartphone, you can have notifications turned on that alert you of bad weather. Additionally, you can watch for these weather patterns that indicate a tornado may be incoming.
- A dark or green-colored sky
- A large, dark, low-lying cloud
- Large hail
- A loud roar that sounds like a freight train
Know where to shelter
As a storm hits, you need to be able to shelter to keep yourself safe, best practices involve:
- Go to the basement or an inside room without windows on the lowest floor (bathroom, closet, center hallway).
- Avoid windows.
- For added protection get under something sturdy (a heavy table or workbench). Cover your body with a blanket, sleeping bag or mattress. Protect your head with anything available.
- Do not stay in a mobile home.
- If you are outside or in a car, find a stable building to get behind and move only when it is safe.
What is a Sump Pump?
Your Home's Best Defense Against Water Damage!
You will almost never think about your sump pump, unless it is broken, and that is the way it should be. A sump pump has one purpose and that is to make sure you never think about it because it is doing its job perfectly of keeping your home dry and safe. So, what is a sump pump?
Below your basement is a catch basin that is designed to accumulate water from around your home so that it does not seep inside the foundation, this basin is known as a sump. When the water accumulation begins to fill the sump, a pump is used to move the water out of the basin and into a storm drain this pump, the sump pump, keeps water out of your basement, leaving it dry.
There are different types of sump pumps, some are automatic while others need to be manually operated. There are also submersible sump pumps, pedestal, battery operated, water-powered, and a variety of other types. What type of pump you should have depends on your budget, preferences, and the environment around your house.
A sump pump is your home’s best defense against water damage. While it can’t prevent damage from broken pipes, leaks in the roof, or appliance malfunctions, a sump pump can prevent water around your home from causing any problems. Without a sump pump, your basement could have constant influx of moisture which would cause weak floors and walls, odors, and mold growth. A worst-case scenario would be a completely flooded basement because there was nothing pumping the water out.
Keeping your sump pump in proper working condition is crucial, having a broken pump is no better than not having one. Typically, a sump pump is good for 5-10 years and will either need replaced or repaired afterwards. Hopefully, once you set it in place you won’t have to think about it until after those 5-10 years, when it is time for replacement. How do you know when to replace a sump pump? If it is making unusually loud noises this could be due to several factors, including debris jams, worn out parts, or from constant use. If you are concerned about your sump pumps condition, test it by dumping water around the pump and seeing if it starts automatically and drains the water quickly. If it appears to be operating incorrectly, contact a service provider or replace it, you don’t want to wait to do this as you never know when a heavy rainfall could occur.