Archived Blog Posts
When a Fire Happens
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Common households in San Antonio, TX mishaps happen all the time. However, most of these don’t involve an insurance claim. Throughout the United States, household kitchen fires occur every 18 seconds! That statistic is mind blowing! The typical scenario is when the cook becomes distracted and the stovetop is left unattended.
Phone calls, a knock at the door, children calling for their parent’s attention are all common reasons we hear for the cause.
Here at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio, we’re well equipped to react to these calls, typically, responding and on-site the day of the event.
With state-the-art cleaning supplies and chemicals partnered with industry-leading training for all our technicians, SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio can handle any size job that comes our way.
Most fire/smoke damage clean-ups take 3-5 days, involving structure cleaning of the walls, ceilings, and floors, HVAC system, and air duct cleanings.
Soot spares no one and contents is also part of the job scope when performing smoke damage mitigation cleaning. Hard surface furniture, sofas, chairs, and other upholstered items are cleaned including Bric a Brac items in drawers and cabinets. Literally, everything in the home gets cleaned. By the end of the job, the house is the cleanest it’s ever been!
We here at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio are ready for the unexpected. We’ve planned and prepared for your emergency.
Should the unexpected happen to you. Please know we’re here to make it “Like it never even happened.”
3 Ways Exterior Maintenance Can Reduce Storm Damage
Failure to address flaws with a facility's exterior can allow a strong storm to enter the facility's interior.
3 Ways Exterior Maintenance Can Help You Avoid Storm Damage
As every property manager knows, keeping up on exterior maintenance can pay big dividends. Failure to address shortcomings with the exterior of a facility can allow a strong storm to penetrate into the interior of a facility in San Antonio, TX. Therefore, a regular maintenance program by professional contractors is likely to strengthen the bottom line. A building maintained to high standards offers protection in several ways.
1. It Reduces Wind Damage.
Strong walls, a newer roof and modern windows can fight off the effects of high winds. Sustained wind gusts will seek out the weakness in a building and tear off gutters, increase the size of cracks and even break windows. A regular building inspection can locate weaknesses and schedule timely repairs.
2. It Repels Water.
Incessant rain is notorious for finding the shortcomings of a building's defenses. Looking at the roofing system should be the centerpiece of any exterior maintenance program. Any time water is allowed into a facility, it can wreak havoc with electrical systems, increase the likelihood of mold formation and break down materials. The services of a professional storm mitigation team will be needed if too much water enters.
3. It Keeps Everyone Safe.
A poorly maintained building is full of dangers for employees and customers. In the midst of a storm, items can fall from the roof and pose a threat to passersby. This could expose a company to liability lawsuits. Also, water entering the building could pose electrical shock hazards as well as increasing the possibility of trips and falls. A secure building exterior is safer for everyone.
Storms cause billions of dollars in damages every year to U.S. companies. There are numerous ways to minimize the possibility of property damage and injuries from storms. A strong exterior maintenance program is one of the best ways to ward off damage from hail, hurricanes and tornadoes. It offers an additional layer of protection for a business.
How to Care for Damage Belongings After a Flood
If you have wet documents caused by a broken pipe or flooding let a professional take care of it.
How to Handle Flood-Damaged Personal Property
You may not sit around thinking much about what would happen in the workplace if there was flooding. However, a flooded company could cause widespread damage and have a disastrous effect on your business. Along with damage to your San Antonio, TX, building, you may have severe damage to contents such as documents, furniture, and electronics. Fortunately, there are ways to salvage and restore these items.
1. Cleaning Carpets
A flooded company will likely mean that any carpet you have in the building will have extensive water damage. This can make the environment unhealthy. In some cases, you may not be able to save the carpet. But a professional flood restoration company has the equipment and techniques to clean up after many flooding incidents. Technicians will rip out the carpet and then replace the padding underneath. Using industrial-strength machines, technicians will then extract the water. Lastly, the technicians will sanitize the carpet before replacing it.
2. Dry Cleaning Furniture
Content cleaning will also apply when there is wet furniture. Using a similar process, technicians will thoroughly remove any water from water-damaged furniture. Sanitizing the surfaces will be critical too. The process will also include completely drying the furniture. This will discourage mold growth.
3. Cleaning Electronics
If you have wet computers, printers, or other electronics, don't touch them or turn them on. Let a professional handle this cleaning task. A technician will assess the extent of the damage. Often, the technician will have to disassemble the computer and clean the motherboard. This task requires a delicate and careful approach.
4. Cleaning Documents
Whether from a broken pipe or other cause, flooding can inflict a lot of damage on documents. These include files, books, maps, and other important paperwork. Freeze-drying is often the most effective technique for salvaging and restoring wet documents.
If you have a flooded company, you may experience a lot of water damage. Thankfully, professionals can clean many of the ruined items.
The Value of 24 Hour Restoration Availability
SERVPRO is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You may tackle disaster cleanup with the care and attention it deserves with our 24-hour service.
The Importance of a 24-Hour Restoration Service
Your commercial buildings need protection. Storms, fires, and other hazards can happen at any time. When disaster hits, you need to be able to respond quickly and effectively so that you can protect the structures and property that are vital to your business.
A professional restoration company with 24 hour service can help you contain the damage, even if something happens in the middle of the night. Here are some of the benefits of SERVPRO's 24/7 service in San Antonio, TX.
1. Fast Response Any Time
If a heavy storm strikes in the middle of the night and causes water damage to your building, you will need a cleanup crew on-site as quickly as possible to begin the drying and restoration process. There are many types of hazards and unexpected events that can cause damage to commercial property and the sensitive equipment and documents that your business needs in order to operate.
No matter when you need help, SERVPRO will respond to your call within 1 hour. They will be on-site in 4 hours, and they will provide a verbal briefing within 8 hours. These deadlines ensure that you will get a prompt and professional restoration whenever it is needed.
2. Get Expert Help
Disaster cleanup can be a stressful process for any business owner. You might not know the best ways to save damaged property and restore your building. The 24-hour service provided by SERVPRO includes the very best techniques and equipment for restoring damage related to mold, water, fire, and smoke. If your commercial property houses important documents, SERVPRO can safely transport them to a Document Restoration Facility that uses state-of-the-art technology to dry and restore sensitive materials.
SERVPRO is always open. 24-hour service ensures that you can approach disaster cleanup with the care and attention it deserves.
3 Tips for Conducting Effective Fire Drills at Work
Have a plan so that you can get back to business quickly and safely after a fire. SERVPRO can help you, call us!
3 Tips For Conducting Effective Workplace Fire Drills
As a business owner or manager, you care about your employees and their safety. Emergency preparedness against disaster is an important part of maintaining a safe workplace. Make sure that your employees are prepared for the event of a fire in San Antonio, TX, by using these three tips to make your fire drills more effective.
1. Start with a Plan
Before jumping into a drill, make sure that you start with a detailed plan. Here are a few items to include:
Map out evacuation routes. Keep these posted in visible areas. Mark the location of fire extinguishers.
Designate an employee to act as fire warden. Assign other responsibilities as needed, such as shutting down equipment or helping at-risk individuals out of the building.
Decide on follow-up communication. Have a system for determining whether everyone has been safely evacuated. Identify a set meeting place outside the building.
Know who you will call for fire cleanup and restoration after the emergency has passed. Have a plan so that you can get back to business quickly and safely.
2. Set Fire Drill Goals
Set specific objectives for each fire drill. These could include improving evacuation time (assign someone to clock this, such as the fire warden) or efficiently shutting down necessary equipment. Make and keep a goal for the frequency of fire drills. Plan on at least two to three each year.
3. Evaluate After the Drill
After you've completed a fire drill, take the time to debrief with your employees. Discuss what went well and make specific observations about needed improvements. Ask for feedback from everyone involved to identify any hiccups that need to be worked out before the next drill.
Drills are an important way to prepare for potential emergencies in the workplace. Make the most of your time, and that of your employees, by ensuring that your drills are effective. Plan ahead, be specific in your objectives and take the time to communicate both before and after drills.
Does Your Team Know How To Use a Fire Extinguisher?
Selecting an appropriate fire extinguisher and training your employees on how to use it can help you avoid extensive fire damage at your business.
Does Your Team Know How To Use A Fire Extinguisher?
A fire can negatively impact your business's daily operations in San Antonio, TX. Equipping your space with fire extinguishers and training your employees to operate them can prevent fires from spreading and devastating your business.
Which Extinguisher Should You Choose?
A fire can potentially break out anywhere in your business, but having multiple extinguishers throughout your premises can provide significant protection. Also, you must know which types of extinguishers can effectively address different fire causes.
- Class A extinguishers contain pressurized water that puts out fires involving solid combustibles, including paper, wood, cloth and plastic. They can help prevent fire damage in office settings containing documents, furnishing and electronics.
- Class B units can extinguish fires in industrial settings. They contain CO2 or dry foam to combat oil, petroleum, gasoline, paint, propane solvents-related fires.
- Class C units address fires due to faulty wiring or electrical malfunctions and are helpful near a fuse box or office equipment. However, they rob these fires of the oxygen that sustains them.
- The powdery agent in Class D extinguishers puts out fires involving metal substances at businesses dealing with biotech materials.
You may need to consult with a fire restoration and cleaning service to address the extensive damage resulting from a kitchen fire. However, a nearby Class K fire extinguisher can minimize flames involving fat, grease and oil. Dry and wet chemicals in these units can keep these fires from spreading by lowering the high temperatures that cause combustion.
What Are the Steps for Operating an Extinguisher?
Keeping extinguishers on your business premises is not enough to prevent fire damage. You must ensure that everyone on your staff knows how to use them by following the PASS steps as follows:
- P: Pull the unit's pin
- A: Aim the unit nozzle toward the bottom of the flames
- S: Squeeze the handle while the extinguishing agent discharge
- S: Sweep the extinguishing from side to side while it emits the extinguishing agent
Choosing an appropriate fire extinguisher and training your staff to use it can prevent help you avoid extensive fire damage at your business in San Antonio, TX.
Creating a Fire Escape Plan for Your Office
For any business, the top priority should be employee safety. Office safety guidelines should include a thorough fire escape plan.
Developing An Office Fire Escape Plan
Unfortunately, office buildings can catch fire with little warning. Constructing and practicing a fire escape plan will effectively keep your employees protected in emergencies. Ultimately, being prepared contributes to the safe guidance of occupants out of the building. Consider the following elements when building your escape plan.
Properly Prepare a Fire Escape Plan
Planning for the unexpected is essential to avoid panic when a fire breaks out. Ensuring everyone's safety is a vital part of the plan. To give employees the confidence necessary to remain calm should an emergency arise, proceed with these steps:
- Train employees on building alarm systems
- Clearly label exit routes
- Practice fire drills four times a year
- Create a chain of command for effective evacuation from the premises
Following these procedures will elicit a more favorable outcome during an emergency.
Keep Your Escape Plan Uncomplicated
It is crucial to make your emergency escape plan as straightforward as possible. Add evacuation maps near building exits with easy-to-read instructions to avoid future disarray. Taking this step provides occupants with a concrete path for a safe escape. Hang signs next to the elevators that stress the importance of taking the stairs during a fire. Keeping elevator doors closed holds oxygen away from the fire, limiting its expansion ability and giving people more time to get out.
Find a Reliable Recovery Team
Dealing with the fallout of an office fire can be devastating, both for the business and the individuals involved. When choosing a fire recovery service in San Antonio, TX, do your research. A disaster recovery team will play a vital role in promptly getting your property up and running. Your team should identify the business's priorities, establish a plan of action and work closely with insurance companies.
For any business, the top priority should be employee safety. Office safety guidelines should include a thorough fire escape plan. With the help of these safety protocols, you can offer your employees the comfort of knowing you have their well-being in mind.
4 Ways To Prepare Your Business for a Thunderstorm
In the event that one of your colleagues is injured during a storm, you'll want to know first aid.
4 Ways To Get Your Business Ready For A Storm
You're probably used to experiencing thunderstorms in your San Antonio, TX, business building. However, you may experience one or more that are potentially dangerous, possibly to the point of requiring storm damage restoration. If this occurs, you'll want to be ready. So, here are four ways to prepare your business for a thunderstorm.
1. Make a Safety Plan
One of the most important things to do in this process is to make a plan of action. First, start by conducting a walk-through of your building. You'll need to find places for everyone to go during a storm with high winds. Look for areas that are away from the following:
- Highly breakable glass
Once these spots have been located, be sure to let your employees know about each one. If you can, you may want to create signage as a reminder.
2. Keep Trees Trimmed
Trees can be dangerous during a storm, especially if some aren't kept trimmed. If a strong enough wind blew during a rain storm, a tree or its branches could fall and cause significant damage to your building. Fortunately, trimming trees allows the plants to better resist the wind.
3. Use Lightning Rods
Lightning rods serve as protection for buildings from lightning strikes. Be sure to get these rods installed if your building doesn't have any. If you do have lightning rods, get each one inspected on a regular basis. You don't want your protection to stop working during a rain storm.
4. Learn First Aid
In the event that one of your colleagues is injured during a storm, you'll want to know first aid. Be sure that you or someone reliable on your staff is knowledgeable in this regard. You'll also want to have some backups in case that individual isn't present.
Preparing for a dangerous rain storm is an important task for any business owner. No matter how high or low your area's storm risk is, be sure to give the preparation process your full attention.
Minimize Water Damage Problems With These 3 Steps
The source of water damage may be simple to repair. However, broken pipes or sewer overflows cause a slew of issues for business owners.
Water Damage Problems Can Be Reduced With These 3 Steps
When faced with a soggy mess, commercial property owners encounter a daunting and costly situation. The primary cause of water damage may be easy to fix. However, those busted pipes or sewer overflows created severe secondary conditions, leaving proprietors with multiple issues to contain and remediate. Commercial owners in San Antonio, TX, must prioritize mitigating moisture saturation to safeguard the building and reduces. The following are three things to do right away.
1. Shut Off the Water Supply
Above all, minimize the amount of fluid exposure from broken pipes or a toilet overflow. Turn the valves to the utility to the off position, cutting the flow. If the problem continues, move to the mainline, stopping all water from entering the premises.
2. Remove Soaked Items
Water damage impacts not just the building, but the materials inside. Protect belongings that are unharmed by taking them elsewhere. Then, further cut down on space’s dampness by moving saturated objects to areas where they may dry out. Heavily saturated pieces should be disposed of in the trash.
These categories are hard to decipher. Owners working with a reputable water restoration company receive help identifying what may be salvaged through content cleaning practices versus what necessitates disposal. Businesses such as SERVPRO work hard to meet national standards and provide continuing education for certified employees, ensuring they have up-to-date knowledge and equipment to get the job done well. Expert assistance is pivotal in securing the area properly.
3. Eliminate Excess Moisture
During the water cleanup phase, specialists measure the wall’s wetness using a moisture reading tool. This information allows them to know what areas of the property require additional drying. They then work to place air movers and industrial dehumidifiers in those sections. Further readings will enable them to know when the location is dry and ready to move into a cleanup phase.
When water damage occurs, it’s time to run rather than walk, seeking assistance from a company with the right equipment and experience staff to defend the structure. The faster owners get dampness under control, the better off the property is.
3 Bad Things That Happen When There’s Moisture in Your Crawl Space
A wet crawl space is a perfect location for mold to grow and start consuming organic materials.
3 Things That Go Wrong When You Have Moisture In Your Crawl Space
When there is a flood in your crawl space, the problem and the damage are clear. However, less obvious moisture can also lead to a wet crawl space and cause problems that you might not expect.
1. Higher Energy Bills
Houses with damp crawl spaces cost more to heat and cool. This is because damp air requires more energy to change the temperature, leading to higher energy bills. In other words, moisture in your crawl space can be an expensive inconvenience.
Mold loves to grow where it can find moisture. As it grows, it eats organic materials, such as wood, paper, and cardboard. Unfortunately, a wet crawl space is a perfect location for mold to grow and start consuming organic materials. Dead insects that crawled in through your vent are also a great source of food for mold. These carcasses encourage mold growth if there is just a little bit of moisture in your basement.
Moisture can seep in through vents or cracks in your foundation. Even the smallest amount can encourage mold to grow and spores to start drifting through the rest of your home. This is a problem that you need to have remedied by a water restoration company quickly. Otherwise, you could be faced with a structurally unsound home that is dangerous to live in.
Dust mites and other pests love a wet environment that your flooding crawl space can provide. Dust mites are microscopic bugs that infest your bedding, carpets, and furniture if left untreated. Additionally, you could end up with termites, spiders, mice, rats, and snakes, all of which love damp areas. Once they enter your crawl space, any of these animals can get into your home.
If you notice that you have a wet crawl space in your home in San Antonio, TX, you should be on the lookout for the associated problems. While some are inconvenient, others can be dangerous or disgusting.
How You Can Prepare for a Home Adjuster's Visit
Contact a water damage remediation service in San Antonio, TX, to begin drying everything out and keep further damage at bay.
How To Prepare For A Visit From A Home Adjuster
If you've just sustained water damage to your property, make sure to call your insurance company right away so you can begin the claims process as soon as possible. Soon after the initial call, they'll send out a home adjuster to assess the damage and file a report. Though he or she will be the one to make the official report, there are things you can do that will help move the process along faster. Here's how you can prepare ahead of time to make that happen.
Document the Damage
You know your home better than anyone, so you are not likely to miss anything that's been damaged, no matter how small. Take a detailed inventory of what's been damaged and lost — in writing, in photos and on video, if possible. You can ask the adjuster to include them in the report alongside his or her findings.
Clear a Path
Clear the way for the home adjuster to move freely around your property, so nothing will be missed. If you have to move the debris to do that, make sure you don't remove it entirely. The insurance claim needs as much evidence as possible included so that you receive the proper coverage and reimbursement.
Prevent Further Damage
Contact a water damage remediation service in San Antonio, TX, to begin drying everything out and keep further damage at bay. The team will also help you itemize and categorize the damages and losses you incurred.
Know Your Policy
Before the adjuster arrives, review your policy with your agent. You should know what is and isn't covered, the limits of your policy and when to expect reimbursement so you can start making arrangements for repairs and replacements.
When the worst happens and your home sustains serious water damage, it's nice to know you have qualified professionals in your corner. Your insurance company and the home adjuster will work with you to make sure you get the help you need and get back on your feet as soon as possible.
How To React to a Gas Leak
The best way to avoid a gas fire is to react quickly to a leak. Typically, you will identify a leak by smelling sulfur or rotten eggs.
What To Do If There Is a Gas Leak
While gas delivery systems are very safe, the pipes can still deteriorate and leak with age. A gas leak can quickly turn into a gas fire or explosion. These can quickly burn through your home and cause a lot of damage. If you want to avoid this unpleasant situation, you need to know the signs of a leak and what to do in this emergency.
What To Do if You Smell Gas
The best way to avoid a gas fire is to react quickly to a leak. Typically, you will identify a leak by smelling sulfur or rotten eggs. If you smell gas, you need to do the following:
- Leave the area and get to safety
- Call the utility provider and let them know about the leak
- Call 911 to notify fire officials
- Help others evacuate and stay clear of the area until it is proven safe
- Call a fire remediation company to help remove the smell and any potential damage from your home in San Antonio, TX.
Other Ways To Identify Gas
Most people identify natural gas by its smell. While the gas itself is odorless, a sulfur-based odorant is added to give it the associated rotten egg smell so it can easily be identified. However, this is not the only way to identify this substance. If you are outdoors, you can often see it. Any gas escaping from an underground pipeline will be recognizable by the discolored soil and dead vegetation around the line.
You can also identify a potential gas fire threat in your home by listening. If you hear a high-pitched whistle or hissing noise, there is a chance that this is caused by escaping gas from your pipes.
If you want to avoid a gas explosion or fire, you must react appropriately. Knowing the signs of a leak and what to do in this event can help you avoid devastation.
3 Tips To Prevent a Candle Fire
It only takes a matter of minutes for a candle fire to spread to other parts of your home. Call us if you need help!
3 Candle Fire Prevention Tips
Candles are a popular choice in San Antonio, TX, for lighting, décor, ceremonial uses, and even fragrance. While they can be beautiful, candles can also be dangerous. According to the National Fire Protection Association, an average of 21 candle fires are reported each day. It only takes a matter of minutes for a candle fire to spread to other parts of your home. These tips can help you use candles safely.
1. Pay Attention to Placement
Be sure to put candles in a sturdy holder or container that won’t be easily knocked over. Place the holder on a flat, sturdy surface. Choose a location that is safely away from children and pets and is at least 12 inches away from anything flammable, such as books, decorations, curtains, furniture, paper, or clothing. Avoid candles if anyone in your home uses an oxygen tank.
2. Don’t Walk Away
Never leave a burning candle unattended, especially if there are other people in the house. Keep an eye on the wax level and be sure to put the candle out before it gets too low. If the flame gets too close to the bottom of the container or side of the holder, the holder could become extremely hot or even explode, sparking a candle fire.
3. Consider Alternatives
Today, there are many options available that mimic a candle’s soft, flickering glow. Battery-operated flameless candles come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Because they don’t emit heat, these candle alternatives can be safely used just about anywhere. If scent is your primary motivation for using candles, consider using a fragrance diffuser with scented essential oils, or a plug-in air freshener. If you keep candles on hand for power outages, swap them for battery-powered flashlights. Keep fresh batteries with the flashlights to be sure you’re prepared.
A flickering candle may look lovely or smell amazing, but no candle is worth the potential injuries, smoke cleanup, and structural repairs that can accompany a candle fire.
5 Things To Expect From Damage After a Storm
This room was flooded by rising waters. If you need a storm restoration team, please contact SERVPRO.
Damage After A Storm: Here's What to Expect
If your business has experienced water damage after a flood or a storm in San Antonio, TX, it can be overwhelming to know how to begin the recovery process. Here are five things to expect as you navigate a restoration.
1. Remove Standing Water
The most important first step is to remove the standing water from the building. The longer standing water remains, the more damage it does to your property. To avoid needing to tear out every last bit of dry wall and flooring, use a water pump to remove water. For small problems, a shop vacuum might work, but for bigger floods, a more specialized pump will be needed.
2. Inspect for Safety
Once the water is gone, the entire building will need to be carefully inspected for safety. A storm restoration team will have the necessary tools to inspect the areas behind walls to see where water has infiltrated.
3. Salvage or Scrap
After a thorough safety check has been conducted, decisions need to be made about the materials in your business. Some furniture and hardwoods can be salvaged, while it is often necessary to scrap drywall and ceiling tiles. Work with professionals who can help you know what all can be salvaged before you start to tear out everything. Salvaging can save you a lot of money in repairs.
4. Dry Thoroughly
Now that you're down to bare bones, everything needs to be dried out completely in order to prevent mold growth and structural damage. Pay special attention to crawl spaces, attics, and spaces beneath porches or decks. Untended mold that grows in those areas can cause more damage down the road once you believe that the restoration process is over.
5. Restore and Restart
Finally, your property can be restored to its former glory and you can focus on getting back to work.
Don't allow a restoration to overwhelm you. Before you tear out everything, work with professional restorers to help you navigate the process.
How To Check Your Home's Alarm System
Regardless of the replacement for the battery, fire remediation experts recommend that you test each smoke alarm every month to make sure it's working
How To Examine Your Home's Security System
Despite the efforts you make to ensure your home in San Antonio, TX, is safe, no home is completely fireproof. A working smoke alarm system is a vital part of an adequate emergency preparedness system. Older smoke alarms need replacement batteries once a year, but the rules change as you upgrade your detectors. Following these inspection tips can help keep your system in top form.
First, you want to make sure all your detectors have power. The power source depends on the type of smoke detector you have in your system:
- Battery-operated detectors (9-volt batteries) should have the batteries replaced every year.
- Battery-operated detectors (lithium batteries) should be completely replaced every ten years.
- Hardwired systems should have the backup battery replaced yearly, and the detectors replaced every ten years.
Regardless of the replacement for the battery or detector, fire remediation experts recommend that you test each smoke alarm every month to make sure it's working. Don't rely strictly on a schedule. Replace faulty alarms whenever necessary.
No matter where your detectors get their power, all of them must be replaced every ten years to keep the system in shape for detecting fire damage. Checking the age of the devices in your system is easy. Remove each detector from the ceiling or wall and turn it over. The date of manufacture should be printed on the back. As long as the date is within the last ten years and the device is still working, it does not need to be replaced. Return it to its designated spot and make sure that it is linked with the rest of the system.
Testing your smoke alarm system once a month is a crucial part of home maintenance. If you have outdated detectors or your power source is not properly supporting the system, prompt maintenance can help keep you safe during a home fire.
3 Ways to Prepare Your Business for a Storm
When you know a storm is coming toward your business, you should take time to prepare your business against the probable effects.
Three Steps To Storm-Proofing Your Business
A winter storm can cause a devastating amount of damage to your business in San Antonio, TX. However, there are steps you can take to protect your business before a storm occurs.
1. Fix Small Issues Quickly
When you know a storm is coming toward your business, you may not think that it’s important to take the time to look at minor issues that are affecting your business. However, strong winds and heavy rain can turn a small issue into a major problem; a leaky pipe can result in a pipe break, for example, which could result in major water damage. If you notice minor issues before a storm, it’s often best to have these issues fixed as soon as possible to ensure these little problems don’t create disasters.
2. Assess the Landscape
Structural damage is often an unfortunate result of a winter storm. However, taking a look at the environment around your business can be an essential step in preventing structural damage. If you notice any large limbs or debris on the ground, it’s best to remove these items prior to a storm. Additionally, you may need to trim or cut any limbs that hang close to or over your business to ensure they don’t fall and damage your building during the storm.
3. Protect Important Belongings and Documents
Recovering valuable and important items after a storm can be difficult, especially if you need access to documents or other items that have been damaged. In general, it’s wise to keep important documents and items in waterproof, fire-resistant containers. Additionally, it can be helpful to make copies of these documents, both online and on paper, just in case you aren’t able to recover them after a storm.
By fixing minor issues, assessing your landscape and ensuring important items are protected, you can decrease the likelihood of a winter storm causing major damage to your business. However, if your business has already sustained damage, you may want to consider contacting storm damage restoration professionals.
SERVPRO Is the Superhero of Franchise Business Models
Whether in the office or out in the field, SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio always cares about the well-being of our clients AND our team members.
SERVPRO Is The Franchise Business Model's Superhero
Would you like to become a successful franchise owner? There are thousands of choices, but how do you pick the right one for you? Start by examining the top tier of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500 list. If you like to work with your hands, the SERVPRO franchise may be your top choice.
Entrepreneur Magazine does not casually rank franchises. Each one earns its position. The ranking of each franchise takes many attributes into account. These include its growth potential, standing in the marketplace and investment cost. There are several reasons why SERVPRO is a great franchise to own.
1. SERVPRO corporation has a vested interest in your success. Many of the top franchises sell food. Few cities or towns are going to suffer if a fast-food restaurant shuts down. As a SERVPRO franchisee in the San Antonio, TX, area, your business is locally owned and operated. However, when disaster strikes, SERVPRO responds with teams from all over the country. At times, your personnel and equipment will be part of those teams. Your local franchise is an essential piece in the disaster recovery plan.
2. Your SERVPRO team receives training and earns certification. As a franchisee, you will work in businesses and residences. You will clean and restore fire, water, flood, smoke and storm damage. You will remediate mold. As a SERVPRO employee, you will learn the proper techniques. Once you have shown proficiency, you will become IICRC certified. The IICRC is a nationally recognized certification. It documents the holder’s competence in a cleaning category.
3. The SERVPRO opportunity is moderately priced. If you wanted a burger franchise, the cost could be in the millions. With SERVPRO, the financial investment is a small fraction. However, the investment is more than about money. To be successful, you need to have passion and drive. You must believe in what you do and the people you serve.
Would you like to learn more? Visit the SERVPRO franchise opportunities website and see the available territories.
How To Clean Up a Water Heater Leak
A leaking water heater can cause damage to your home.
How To Cleanup After Water Damage
A leaking water heater can cause significant problems at a residence in San Antonio, TX. Here are the measures necessary to mitigate water damage.
Identify the Source
There are several reasons a water heater may leak. A quick inspection of the exterior may indicate one of the following issues:
- Corroded water tank
- Faulty drain valve
- Faulty temperature and pressure relief valve
- Leaky inlet and outlet connections
Even if you cannot identify the cause of a broken water heater, try to determine the source of the leak. Condensation may resemble a leak.
Turn Off the Power
Shut off a leaking water heater at the circuit breaker box or by turning off the gas dial or switch. Turn off the cold water shut-off valve located above or near the heater or the main water valve to your home. These measures can slow down a leak.
Drain the Tank
After the power and water are off, you can drain the tank to attempt a repair. There are several steps to remove water from a heater:
- Run hot water in a sink or tub
- Wait for remaining water in tank to cool
- Open the pressure relief valve
- Run a hose from the drainage spigot to a bucket
- Turn on the spigot
These steps can enable you to replace valves safely. If you do not want to drain the tank or attempt repairs yourself, contact a repair specialist or licensed plumber to work on a failed water heater.
Dry the Area
Limit water damage and the risk of mold growth by removing soaked carpets. Dry the floor and any walls exposed to the water. You may want to run a dehumidifier or use a desiccant such as silica gel. Ventilation will promote faster drying.
If a leak is extensive, contact water damage cleanup experts in San Antonio, TX. Specialists can use commercial-grade equipment to extract standing water and recommend the best approach for dealing with materials soaked by a leaking water heater.
What You Need To Know About Smoke Damage Affecting Your Business
Fire damaged a five-store business in San Antonio, TX.
The Importance Of Smoke Cleaning
When a fire occurs in your business in San Antonio, TX, you likely will want to begin the cleanup and restoration process as soon as possible. However, many business owners do not realize the impact smoke can have on a business and the importance of smoke cleaning.
1. Damage Smoke Can Cause
Though smoke does not cause structural damage to a building, can still have a drastic impact on a business. Soot and smoke damage can cause the odor of smoke to linger, and items in your building may be covered in a layer of soot as a result of the fire. In addition to the smell of smoke that can affect the building and items inside the building, some items may also be discolored.
2. How Smoke Is Removed from a Building
Even if a fire starts in a nearby building, insurance will generally cover the cost of cleaning smoke and soot. Smoke cleaning involves using different methods to clean and sanitize all surfaces, including everything from the ceiling to the floor, that have been affected by smoke. Often, air scrubbers and other devices are also used to ensure the air quality is returned to normal.
3. Time Matters
It’s often important to get rid of smoke odor and soot damage in your business as quickly as possible. The odor of smoke can permeate into walls, furniture and other items in the building, and soot can cause some items to deteriorate over time. As a result of this damage, some structures or items in your building may need to be replaced entirely. Generally, the longer soot and the odor of smoke remain in a building, the more damage is likely to occur.
Knowing how a fire can drastically affect your business and understanding why smoke cleaning is important can help you better prepare for the cleanup and restoration process. Consider working with fire cleanup professionals if your business has been affected by a fire.
Can Your Belongings Recover From Mold Growth? 3 Actions To Take During the Salvage Process
Black mold was found in a home in San Antonio, TX.
Which Items Can Be Salvaged By Professionals from Mold Damage
Moisture and high humidity can attract mold spores into your San Antonio, TX, home, where they can grow across a variety of surfaces. While mold commonly grows on building surfaces like drywall and carpeting, it can also affect your belongings, such as clothing and furniture. Mold cleaning can be difficult; however, before you throw items away, you may want to learn about which could be saved by different types of professional cleansing processes and which cannot.
1. Throw Away Porous Items
Most porous surfaces can absorb water and encourage further mold growth. As such, some items like mattresses, thick rugs and stuffed toys that already show signs of mold damage are usually not salvageable. If your child has a favorite stuffed toy that you want to attempt to save, ask your remediation technicians if they have any mold cleaning processes that may help. You may want to remember, however, that porous items affected by black mold are usually considered unsalvageable because this type of fungus is particularly hard to eradicate.
2. Freeze Documents and Books
If you have important documents and books that developed mold, place them in sealable plastic bags and store them in your freezer. Freezing these items can inhibit further mold growth and protect them until they can be inspected by an expert mold remediation and restoration company. This can salvage items like original birth certificates, wedding albums and baby books.
3. Set Aside Moldy Clothing
If you have favorite items of clothing that have been affected by mold, ask your remediation technicians about what type of options you have for salvaging them. Wet, dry and immersion cleaning may all be possible, especially for leather jackets and shoes. Some companies have access to an Esporta Machine, which cleans soft contents by removing tough odors, dirt and mold in a way that even commercial-grade units cannot.
Mold can have a devastating effect on your San Antonio, TX, home’s contents. However, professional mold cleaning processes may be able to salvage your treasured possessions, even if you believe they are beyond repair.
Dramatic Weather Changes Don't Just Confuse You...They ALSO Confuse Your HOME!
Swings in weather conditions can not only make YOUR life chaotic, but can result in moisture issues you may not even realize have affected your home!
One day it’s flip-flops, T-shirts and trips to the beach, and literally the next day it’s “Don’t we have coats and gloves around here somewhere?”…better known as, winter in Texas! It can be challenging – to say the least – to plan wardrobes and activities, not to mention the impact it can have on your home.
Yes…those dramatic temperature and moisture changes can cause your home to accumulate the moisture from condensation, in places you don’t even SEE! Just like people, buildings need to “breathe.” And when the weather changes from 84 degrees to 34 degrees in the span of 24 hours, condensation WILL naturally occur – just like what happens when a hot Texas afternoon hits an ice cold glass of sweet tea. And without a means to address that moisture, it can lead to mold growth quicker than you could ever imagine.
Improper or old seals on windows, inadequate roof or wall insulation and moisture barriers, and poor ventilation can all contribute to trapped condensation…without you even knowing it’s happening right under your very roof and without a single typical sign of a water leak! And as temperatures shift back to the normal ranges and those spaces begin to warm up, it provides the perfect cozy environment for mold to grow AND thrive.
Sometimes, it can continue for months or even years undiscovered. Eventually, you may notice a tell-tale musty odor, or a wall may show signs of discoloration or damaged texture…and THAT’S when the full story of what those sudden weather changes have done to your home, unfolds. Or, you may decide it’s time for a facelift in your space. After binge-watching HGTV shows, comparing prices, styles and features, and shopping bids, you’re finally ready for that long-awaited remodel.
Then your contractor calls with the “news” – they’ve found significant mold inside your walls, and the budget for your dream space is suddenly hijacked by mold. Obviously, you want your home to be safe, and not only remediation but updates to whatever may have caused the issue, now have taken top priority over fancy appliances, designer wall coverings and handcrafted tiles. Fortunately, our professionally trained SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio mold remediation experts have both the knowledge and equipment to properly contain and remove all affected materials.
And not only can we safely and effectively handle the mold, but also remove any remnants of that “musty” smell, with our state-of-the-art air duct cleaning and professional-level odor removal treatment. However, we all know the value of an ounce of prevention, and our in-house construction team can help you make sure your home can “breathe” properly…so YOU can breathe easy, without fear of what may lurk inside your walls and home. Let’s face it, you have enough things to deal with just trying to keep up with the crazy weather changes; your home shouldn’t have to be one of them!
What If A “Fresh Start” Leaves Something “NOT-So-Fresh” Behind?!?
Those tenants MAY have looked and acted “normal” but you never REALLY know how they used your space – until after they vacant the premises!
The approach of the end of the year means many people – and businesses – begin to make plans for a “fresh start” as the New Year dawns. For some, this takes the form of resolutions or setting tangible goals. Others’ vision takes a more tangible route, as they make a physical change by moving to a new neighborhood, city, state or country. But, regardless of the nature of these fresh starts, often it is spurred by the desire to leave a “less-than-fresh” situation behind.
Suddenly, THEIR “fresh start” becomes YOUR nightmare! For owners of tenant-occupied properties – whether a single-family residence, apartment or condo complex, or commercial space – when a vacancy occurs, it inevitably means they face the task of preparing the space for new occupants.
In some instances, this can be accomplished by a simple cosmetic updates – some paint, maybe new carpet, a few simple upgrades. Those are a property-owners’ dream come true. Unfortunately, this is all-too-often not the case. Let’s be honest, they seemed like normal people, they looked like normal people, they said all the right things…then you saw what they left behind.
One look tells you, it’s time to call in the pros! In a surprising number of cases, even a deep cleaning that would make your Grandma proud, cannot eradicate certain odors or questionable “stains” those tenants may have left behind. The same holds true for physical damage caused by water, ice, cooking and other “mysterious” on-site activities. And whether it’s a residential or commercial space, the headaches can be the same…and frequently compounded as the full extent of some “hidden” damage may be uncovered.
From biohazards to mold to smoke and other odors, it can all be handled efficiently – and professionally – by the specialized technicians on the SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio team. With our industry-leading, proprietary EPA-approved hospital-grade cleaning solutions that adhere to standards set by the CDC, no decontamination job is too daunting. And we all know mold can appear so quickly in damp environments and pose such serious hazards, you need trained remediation experts to properly contain and remove all affected materials. But to ensure all traces of the offending mold has been thoroughly eradicated, this also involves both complete air filtration and then our unequalled odor removal process.
While we’re speaking of air, don’t forget that post-construction punch list. Between dust from new sheetrock and sawdust from new floors or other installations, your air vents are now FILLED with all of those particulates…not to mention fumes from paint, adhesives, plastic coverings and any plumbing updates. A clean space does not “feel” clean if it doesn’t smell clean. And a simple spritz of an air freshener won’t do the job. Put the finishing touches on your beautiful new space, with air duct cleaning and professional-level odor removal treatment.
And, if you want to streamline the process, you can keep all of the work – from start to finish – under one roof: SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio! Not only are we your “go-to” for any sort of commercial property “disaster” issues (and we all know, some tenants definitely qualified as “disasters!”), but we also offer complete building and reconstruction services. Not only does it make it easier for rental property owners to coordinate required work and timelines, but often saves money. As a bonus, since our company has long-standing relationships with most major insurance carriers, we know how to submit claims and properly detail covered work. And, thanks to our SERVPRO credo – “Like it never even happened“ – we really can give even the MOST “less-than-fresh” space the fresh start every property owner wants…and deserves!
Deck Those Halls With Evergreen “Life”…Not An Incendiary “Light!”
We appreciate the hope and life, represented by those holiday evergreen decorations, but ALSO want to avoid turning it into an unwelcome fiery light!
Those nature-loving Druids definitively established the precedent of featuring evergreens during the holiday season. While the outside world became dormant, the aptly-named evergreen trees and foliage offered a sense of hope and celebrated the perseverance of new life that would emerge when spring arrived.
Eventually, we not only adorned and celebrated this greenery surrounding us outside, but expanded the joy by bringing nature’s winter bounty indoors. And here we are, millennia later, decking those halls with every imaginable form of evergreen…along with increasingly-elaborate decorations. Whether brightly-colored ribbons, lights that sparkle and twinkle, glistening tinsel and metallic reflectors, or a festive combination of every embellishment imaginable, we have certainly elevated that original humble Druid tree!
However, while those trees and lush garlands bring the “light” of hope during the darker days of winter, the tendency to enhance that “light” with our own forms of illumination ALSO represents some possible “dark” outcomes. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has compiled some chilling statistics involving holiday incendiary mishaps:
- One in five home decoration fires happened in December between 2015 and 2019.
- Between 2015 and 2019, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 950 house fires a year caused by Christmas decorations.
- Christmas lights and candles and other Christmas decorations were the cause of 790 of those fires, and caused an average of one death, 26 injuries and $13 million in property damage each year.
- The remaining 160 involved Christmas trees and caused an average of two deaths, 12 injuries and $10 million in damages annually.
- Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in almost half of home Christmas tree fires. Using too many, old or damaged extensions cords can overload an outlet and cause a dangerous situation.
- Nearly one in five Christmas tree fires was started by decorative lights, with eight percent started by candles.
- Roughly two of every five home Christmas tree fires started in the living room.
- Year round, more than one-third (35%) of home decoration fires were started by candles. This jumped to almost half in December when candles started 45% of such fires. Cooking started one-fifth (19%) of decoration fires.
Don’t dismay…we don’t want to put a damper on your holiday cheer! Thanks to insights gained from hard-won experience, the NFPA offers tips for you to SAFELY deck those halls:
- Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
- Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2” from the base of the trunk.
- Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights, and is not blocking an exit
- Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water DAILY.
- As Christmas trees dry out, they become more and more flammable. Thirty percent of Christmas tree fires were in January. Although Christmas tree fires are not common, they can grow very fast.
- Be careful with holiday decorations. Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant. This includes artificial trees, if that is your preferred alternative to a live evergreen.
- Keep lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn.
- Use lights that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
- Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for the number of light strands to connect.
- Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
- Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- Keep decorations away from windows and doors.
- Test your smoke alarms and tell guests about your home fire escape plan.
- Keep children and pets away from lit candles.
- Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.
- Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop.
- Ask smokers to smoke outside. Remind them to keep their smoking materials with them so young children do not touch them.
- Provide large, deep ashtrays for smokers. Wet cigarette butts with water before discarding them.
We have seen holiday joy turned into pure heartbreak in the blink of an eye, as the “go-to” experts in fire damage mitigation, remediation and restoration. And our SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio team wants you to be able to deck those halls with that evergreen “life”…while avoiding the consequences of an unexpected incendiary “light!”
At Thanksgiving, Sometimes More Than Your CUP Runneth Over!
Aside from the kitchen, the room the probably gets the MOST traffic over Thanksgiving weekend is the bathroom…which often cannot handle the “load!”
With the impending Thanksgiving weekend activities, a LOT of places will be brimming with activity over the next several days. Probably the first few that come to mind are retail outlets – for both groceries AND the upcoming Black Friday sales. And let’s not forget our hometown entrepreneurs on Shop Small Business Saturday. Fortunately, we get a bit of a break on Sunday to just watch TV, worship…and EAT. Then the internet will be abuzz transferring exabytes of data on both Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday.
Now, imagine the staffing each of these Thanksgiving extended weekend activities requires. Kind of mind boggling! However, while you would think retailers, dining and entertainment industry workers, along with law enforcement and medical personnel, will probably be preparing for a noticeably uptick, guess who ELSE will be experiencing their historically BUSIEST weekend of the year? PLUMBERS!
Aside from your kitchen (and possibly the TV/family room), what is the room likely to see the MOST use over the next 6 days? The humble (or, not-so-humble) “throne room!” Between the Thanksgiving meal – along with all of the subsequent snacking – and the football binge watching, just on Thursday and Friday alone, imagine how many visitors the bathroom will have. Now, add in any out-of-town overnight guests to that equation. Right?!? And for those who will be burning up the internet at home, possibly stretching their vacation days, that’s even MORE use for the “powder room.” Of course, we haven’t even discussed the kitchen sink or garbage disposal. Suddenly, that whole plumber thing makes a LOT of sense.
To be quite honest, an “overload” of neither is good – and both fall into that dreaded “black water” category. Each teems with all sorts of nasty bacteria and contaminants, which a good ol’ fashioned cleaning with soap-and-water just cannot mitigate. Now is the time to call in the professionals, because the health of you, your family and your loved ones is certainly nothing you want to leave to chance…or “good enough!” It’s time to call in the certified biohazard experts of SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio.
Yes, we said biohazard. Those bacteria are living, breathing, MULTIPYING organisms and any one (or, more likely more) can cause health effects! And our team has seen – and trained – for it all. One of our team members actually lived the bathroom “explosion” nightmare, and saw the entire process first-hand. It was quite the educational experience, and gave her an elevated opinion of the thoroughness and efficiency of the biohazard remediation.
The attention paid to even the most minute details, and the extraordinary lengths employed to protect the well-being of not only the human residents, but that of the pets as well, genuinely impressed our team member…just as it consistently does for each of our clients who face a particularly “nasty” situation. No matter how much something other than your cup “runneth over” this weekend, you can always count on our industry-leading biohazard techniques and experts to join plumbers this weekend on standby and ready to respond to WHATEVER “overfloweth!”
The “Extra Mile” Is Just The Starting Point For US!
For some, going the “extra mile” represents some sort of special effort. But at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio, it’s just part of our daily mindset!
We’ve all heard about a person or organization going that “extra mile” as a demonstration of either their compassion or dedication to a particular personal or professional credo. And this is usually accompanied by some sort of fanfare or recognition. Yet, this can also be viewed as equal parts inspiring and a slightly sad commentary – where doing something “extra” is so far outside the norm, it’s now noteworthy!
In fact, a major insurance company has created an entire award-winning marketing campaign based around the concept of “going the extra mile” with the now-familiar “Jake of State Farm” trying to convince customers that this is just the way they do business! And they aren’t alone in trying to capture a piece of their respective markets by demonstrating their commitment to customer service – consider the advertising of Chick-Fil-A and Lowe’s. But, again, wouldn’t it be nice if this were the practice for EVERYONE…no accolades needed?
Fortunately, we found a company where this IS “business as usual” every day – SERVPRO! When researching business opportunities (over 21 years ago, no less), our owners of SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio appreciated how closely the SERVPRO corporate model dovetailed with their personal values and business principles. With an ingrained mindset of service – c’mon, “serv” is right in the name – this company embodies the ideas of “going the extra mile” in every community from coast to coast.
So now, as a longtime locally-owned, family business, our entire team at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio takes community service and involvement seriously. We not only live and work here, but our children attend school here, our families worship here, and we add to the local economy by shopping here. So, in this quest to find new ways to augment the "SERV" part of SERVPRO, we periodically introduce new services for our community – like our brand new local e-newsletter, the SERVPRO Sentinel!
Focused on local sports, timely information for local residents, our local team members, and some entertaining features, the SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio Sentinel is published monthly to deliver some good, old-fashioned "SERVPRO Clean" fun. After all, we ALL could use a little more good news in our lives!
Not only does our SERVPRO Sentinel provide community news, but also offers helpful tips for residential and commercial customers to help avoid situations where OUR services might be required. Yes, sharing “insider information” may prevent us from getting a job after a “mishap” – and we’re actually okay with that! We would much rather assist our local neighbors in avoiding the aftermath of a disaster, than profit from a tragic misfortune. See, it’s just the SERVPRO way…and one more way that going the “extra mile” is just the beginning for OUR team!
Does “Clean” = “Sanitized” In The “New Normal”?
Every good host or hostess knows cleaning is a major step in preparing for guests…but as we adjust to the “new normal” is “clean” REALLY enough?!?
Can you be counted among the people who read the credits at the end of movies or shows? Some of us do it out of curiosity, a few count themselves as true connoisseurs, and others may just be along for the ride with a credit-reader. But, those who DO stick around for those recognitions may notice a unique addition to recent broadcasts or theatrical releases. Alongside those obscure notations – like “bee wrangler” or “garden topiary sculptor” or “location accountant” – more frequently you will see credits for “health supervisor” or “pandemic consultant” or “COVID compliance.” Just check out a few of your favorite programs, and chances are you will see it!
It makes sense, considering the close contact frequently involved in this industry. However, a “sanitized” environment isn’t just for TV or movie stars. Things like hand sanitizer on counters everywhere, varying forms of social distancing and other precautions have become common sights…something many are calling the “new normal.” And it’s not just for retail and entertainment venues. You see it in many commercial spaces both large and small, community and religious facilities, and even in our homes.
Basically, anywhere people may tend to gather. And we’re on the cusp of the biggest “gathering” time of year…for some, the first time in two years! Which means, as we approach the upcoming holiday season – with long-anticipated gatherings in both homes and workplaces – you can count on adding another item to your “to-do” event checklist this year.
For those who will be hosting any sort of social event this season, “clean” has become a top-of-mind preparation. Now, every good host or hostess knows that cleaning is job one when you’re expecting company (especially those of us who grew up in the South, where we got a “hands-on” education in cleaning under careful adult tutelage and oversight…LOTS of “oversight”). But, in today’s social climate, is “clean” REALLY enough?!?
Whether treasured family and friends, or valued business associates and clients, you want them to feel both comfortable and SAFE at your gathering. So the last thing you want is the looming threat of a biohazard putting a damper on your holiday fun! As we explained in a previous post:
“YES, the COVID virus IS a biohazard! Normally, we think in terms of toxic chemicals or weapons; we’ve all seen those movie scientists in specialized biohazard suits who arrive in those state-of-the-art mobile units ready to deal whatever mutant organism may be threatening the population. But, if you think about it, this could also describe a lot of what we’ve seen on the news over the past 18 months. So let’s break down this whole ‘biohazard’ thing as it relates to our current COVID circumstances. ‘Bio’ signifies any living organism, which definitely includes viruses. And, well...’Hazard’ is pretty self-explanatory.”
Fortunately, our trained specialists in sanitizing and disinfecting on the SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio team, have the solution – so to speak – with our new defensive pathogen cleaning program, Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned. Going way beyond standard janitorial cleaning practices, this is proactive viral pathogen cleaning defining a higher standard of clean to the places we gather.
Our program is grounded in our unique “3 Cs” approach:
- Consult: Not all businesses or spaces are the same, so we’ll tailor a bespoke cleaning program based on the unique needs of each facility or environment.
- Clean: Based on the agreed plan, an expert deep clean is initiated using our proprietary EPA-Approved Hospital-Grade cleaning solutions and always adhering to the leading level of cleaning and decontamination standards set by the CDC.
- Certify: You’ll know a business is Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned by the shield posted on their front window. Along with digital emblems and other collateral, this beacon represents their commitment to the comfort and security of their employees, customers and community. And, you can also reassure any vulnerable family members or friends planning a visit, that you want them to be safe.
So whether a neighborhood gathering or a corporate affair, call in the professionals when you want more than just “clean” – you want to protect every visitor with a space that’s been thoroughly sanitized by the NUMBER ONE choice in clean up and restoration!
What’s Scarier Than Halloween? The Looming Holiday Countdown!
Believe it or not, the holiday season countdown in ON! And the prospect of inviting guests into your “not-quite-POST-pandemic” home can be a SCARY!
As inflatable spooks, illuminated goblins, and pumpkins all aglow dot the landscape – combined with the almost non-stop advertisements for assorted haunted attractions – we can easily succumb to the “Scary Season.” However, if you want to hear something REALLY frightening, check this out: As of today (Oct. 5th) we are 50 DAYS away from Thanksgiving…80 DAYS until Christmas…87 DAYS remaining in 2021…and 130 DAYS to Super Bowl Sunday (which just happens to be the day before Valentine’s Day). Talk about some scary stuff!
This dose of reality brings may bring some extra “entertaining angst” since these could be the first gatherings in your home for two years, in many cases. Think about it, the last time you might have gathered for Thanksgiving was 2019. And how old were your kiddos when they got to go trick-or-treating in the neighborhood, school or community event? Of course, there’s the now-infamous celebration welcoming 2020…little did we know! And forget those romantic dinners out or getaways for Valentine’s Day since 2020 when lockdowns had begun to loom large worldwide.
No pressure or anything, but is your home “holiday-ready” for guests who haven’t seen your pandemic cocoon for years? Then there could be lingering additional concerns for not just “clean” but also sanitizing your lockdown environment, so you can confidently welcome visitors for those parties, celebrations, gatherings of friends and family, and anyone else who may want to join the holiday fun.
Hey, we’re just as panicked as you are! We understand the added pressures and stress the holidays, in general, can bring – and the first “big” ones for possibly two years could send your blood pressure and adrenaline soaring faster than an army of the Walking Dead! Fortunately, we have the easiest way to check that whole “safe and clean house” thing off your pre-holiday countdown.
That’s right…the trained specialists at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio. Yes, we do the “big” mitigation, remediation and restoration after major disasters. But, we ALSO do top-to-bottom cleaning, bio-hazard sanitizing and even can clean your AIR! And we do it all with environmentally safe and EPA-certified compounds – clean AND green.
SERVPRO actually takes pride in our chemists' and engineers' research and development of environmentally-friendly products. Literally, from top-to-bottom, we cover the full spectrum of cleaning agents...while keeping it "green":
- Carpet & Upholstery Green Clean: A biodegradable cleaner, that's pH neutral, it has no phosphates, dyes, fragrances, or solvents.
- All Surface Green Clean: This cleaning agent is non-toxic, as well as phosphate-free, dye and fragrance-free. Plus, its biodegradable composition allows it to break down quickly.
- Window Green Clean: A volatile organic compound compliant rapidly biodegrades, and is used premixed with soft water; it doesn’t leave spots or streaking on glass.
Even when dealing with the high levels of contamination in "black water" we still lead the field in both effectiveness AND environmental responsibility, with our exclusive SERVPROXIDE. A hospital-grade disinfectant, SERVPROXIDE is EPA-registered – with the EPA’s lowest toxicity rating! It consists of a stabilized chlorine dioxide-based agent and potent antimicrobial, yet leaves no strong odors and dissipates quickly, making it perfect for use around those who are sensitive to smells.
We proudly participate in the EPA’s Design for Environment (EPA/DFE) Initiative, with these products created exclusively for SERVPRO, and their use is only available through our trained SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio technicians. So while many might associate a “Frankenstein Green” with this time of year, you can turn everyone “pea-green” with envy when you leave the scary tasks of cleaning and sanitizing your space for this year’s holiday gatherings countdown, to the “Clean Green SERVPRO Team!”
The “Hurricane Diaries” – Part VII
With ANY force as destructive as a hurricane roars ashore, structures that were there one day can literally disappear the next!
As we – fingers crossed – began to see an end to the 2021 hurricane season, we know many are still reeling from the effects of earlier named storms along both the Gulf Coast and Atlantic seaboard. In fact, Hurricane Ida continued to leave a wake of destruction in her path as she moved up the Mississippi River valley and into neighboring states. So even as the destruction now fades from the headlines, the aftermath for residents affected by ANY storm continues for months or even years!
And this impact was experienced directly by our “Hurricane Diaries” team member, when her family personally felt the effects of Hurricane Camille when it struck the Mississippi coast in 1969. She once again shares these recollections in another “Diary” entry particularly relevant to this situation, and encourage you to check out some earlier installments chapters (Part I, II, III, IV, V and VI), then dive right in to this new chapter:
“While I’ve shared some very early childhood memories, and some very distinct career memories, of hurricanes in my lifetime, this particular one possibly had the greatest impact on me. For the first time, I had the beginnings of an understanding about ‘real’ things as I would be entering my second year of junior high school…or, at least my parents had started to discuss more ‘adult’ matters in my presence.
“Either way, I was very aware of the major upheaval that was about to happen in my life. I had a good life in La Porte, with friends and a social life, respected academic standing, and had just earned first chair clarinet in the Junior Bulldog Band. But, a job offer too good – and lucrative – for my Daddy to pass up had presented itself (especially as paying for my collegiate education loomed closer and closer), so we would be moving back to Mississippi. We had lived there during my first grade year, and half of second grade before returning to La Porte and our home my parents had built after World War II.
“However, after being absentee landlords for those 18 months, my parents were convinced they needed to sell my childhood home prior to this move. Fortunately, my father had longtime family friends just across the Singing River outside Pascagoula, MS, where he could stay while beginning his new position and searching for our new family home. My mother, my little brother and I stayed behind to get the house and yard in tip-top shape for sale.
“Remember, this was the summer of 1969; there were no picture phones, no fax machines, no desktop computers…and you PAID for every single minute of long-distance telephone calls. So my Daddy would go look at houses every weekend, sometimes even after work during the week, and take notes. He would then call Mama and describe the house, property, location, features and price. They would discuss and decide whether to make an offer or to keep looking. That level of trust STILL evokes profound feelings in me!
“Being that in-tune probably made a major contribution to their 59 years of marriage. However, despite their shared mindset, he still would NOT make a decision of this magnitude without speaking with her first! And so, began THAT weekend…
“After months of searching and discussing, he found ‘IT’ – the perfect home. Ideal location, good school system, near community stores and conveniences, and priced to move. It had charm, a sprawling fenced yard, actually close enough to school where I would be liberated finally from bus ridership! His sole focus that Sunday afternoon was reaching my mother for her final stamp of approval to finalize the purchase.
“Ironically, a heavy storm had blown through Galveston Bay earlier and left our yard quite a mess with downed limbs and lots of leaves – and this was before we had leaf-blowers. This was good, old-fashioned manual yard work. Meanwhile, my mother supervised the clean-up from her perch atop a ladder while she finished painting the eves along that front corner of the house. With no fancy answering machines (we had just gotten off a party line less than a decade before!) and no way to hear the one phone tucked away in the opposite corner of the house inside, Daddy tried in vain to get her okay.
“Having lived along the Gulf of Mexico for the majority of his life, my father was quite accustomed to weathering hurricanes. So, when they lost phone and power lines that night as Hurricane Camille roared in to their west at Pass Christian in Mississippi, my father just hunkered down with the rest of the family and waited it out. Luckily, the western Alabama coastal region was spared the worst of the storm and the next day Daddy ventured out to check on the house with his real estate agent. He had managed to get through to Mama early that morning and they had decided to make the purchase immediately, since schools would be starting SOON.
“So, Daddy and the agent made their way to the site which had so captivated my parents…and found a slab. Nothing else, no frame, no outbuildings, no fence, just a hunk of land with a big concrete slab sitting in the middle. At that point, my parents KNEW their greater angels had been working overtime on their behalf, and they had dodged a major bullet. If Mama had heard that phone, we could have been the proud owners of a slab, just like too many other residents all along the Mississippi Gulf Coast from Gulfport through to Pascagoula.
“Sadly, their predicament also became our predicament. Almost EVERYBODY needed a place to live. Our furniture and the majority of our possessions were in a storage facility, and we began our new schools in Ocean Springs (just east of Biloxi) while living in a motel room on the highway, with a nice-ish kitchenette. We finally resigned ourselves to not being able to find a home large enough for everything, and many items remained in storage for that year. And as a maturing teen, I finally understood what it was like to have to ‘carry on’ after a hurricane turns your life upside down.”
Even though the “dramatic” stories and headlines may have disappeared from news stories, you can count on both our SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio team and the teams from across the nation to stick around even when it doesn’t make headlines…because we’re committed to making it “Like it never even happened.”
When Elements Collide, The Results Are RARELY Good!
When we think of spring or autumn storms, usually the first thing that comes to mind is flooding…but fire and water can make a potent mix!
In a post we did about the rise in popularity of outdoor features, experts noted the expanded presence of both fire and water elements into these al fresco entertainment spaces. And we’re the first to admit the combination of these two lively natural forces can be mesmerizing. From a cozy fire pit with a fountain as a backdrop to an infinity-edge pool visually spilling into glowing fire features, each seems to intensify the qualities of the other.
The same holds true of a spectacular thunderstorm. The pyrotechnics of charged lightning streaking across the sky, as rain rhythmically taps around us, has captivated the human imagination for millennia. It’s truly a breathtaking phenomenon to behold…and potentially, equally dangerous!
Let’s be honest, when you hear storms, your first thought is probably flooding and water, with a secondary picture of wind or tornado damage. But we’d wager that fire probably falls completely off your radar, unless YOU’VE been personally affected. Yet, in the last month alone, three lightning strikes in the San Antonio area have been responsible for catastrophic house fires.
Carefully controlled, fire and water can be a stunning feature in any home or landscape (just picture a beautiful fire at your feet while lounging in your luxurious soaking tub). But in the hands of Mother Nature on a rampage, the results usually have a considerably more negative impact on the value of your property!
Luckily, you can take a few precautionary steps to lessen the probability of lightning strikes “lighting-up” your home…and investment. And, we found a great starting point:
“Lightning poses a major risk of property damage to both homeowners and renters by causing fires and power surges that damage electronics. The Insurance Information Institute reported lightning strikes cost $739 million in homeowners’ insurance losses in 2014, up 9.7% from 2013. What's more, the report noted the amount of claims was declining (due to lightning protection technology) and the average cost per claim was rising, as damaged electronics become more expensive…Here are four ways to protect your home from lightning:
- Use a home lightning protection system
One of the best ways for homeowners, in particular, to protect their homes from lightning is to install a home lightning protection system…Lightning protection systems can include:
- Lightning rods
- Main conductors
- Surge protectors
- Unplug electronics and appliances
In addition to causing structural fires, lightning can damage the electronics in your home. Dan Robinson of Storm Highway explained that lightning can cause power surge damage if it uses your home's electrical wiring system as its primary or secondary path. Robinson noted the electrical surge can damage even non-electrical appliances. An easy step both owners and renters can take to avoid electrical damage is to unplug any electronic devices or appliances in anticipation of a storm.
- Install transient voltage surge suppressors
There will always be times when you're not available to unplug your electronics, such as during a vacation. One way to make sure your electronics are always protected from lightning is to install transient voltage surge protectors. According to Allstate, transient voltage surge protectors are connected to computers and other electronic equipment to limit voltage to 1.5 times the normal voltage.
- Check your homeowners and renters insurance coverage
Even if you take all the precautionary steps, you will want to make sure your homeowners insurance and renters insurance plans cover damage caused by lightning. Not all insurance plans are the same, so make sure yours will cover damage done to your home and electronics. It’s especially important to make sure you are covered in case of lightning damage if you live in an area that has frequent lightning storms.
According to State Farm, the top 10 states for lightning damage insurance claims in 2014 were: Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Illinois, North Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana, Florida and Missouri. Yep…there we are, right in the mix. But, whether flood, wind OR fire damage from those storms, you can count on our trained remediation, mitigation and restoration specialists at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio. We’re experts at dealing with what happens when elements collide – whether wind, water or fire!
A Friend In Need, Is A Friend Like SERVPRO Indeed!
We’re not just “on-the-scene” after a disaster; you'll find local SERVPRO team members wading in to lend a helping hand…whenever & wherever needed!
How recently have you given some thought to the word “friend”? Usually we tend to evaluate “friends” when we feel betrayed or slighted – basically within the context of something going awry. Now, unconsciously, we have lists of people we can call in different situations: the close co-workers, the professional connections, the close acquaintances, and those “ride-or-die” best friends who are truly family.
Some favors you only ask of the closest, “You know I’d do it for you” type of friends…like for rides to/from the airport at unimaginable times, for help moving your piano into a second floor apartment, like borrowing a few bucks until payday. THOSE are the proverbial “friends in need” who honestly are “friends indeed!”
And here in the Lone Star State, we take “friendliness” very seriously. We’re encouraged to “Drive Friendly” all along our highways and byways. We keep it simple with our State Motto: “Friendship”…which actually pays homage to our “Texas” name derived from the Native American Caddo word “teyshas” meaning “friends” or “allies.” So for us, at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio, being that true “friend in need” is built right into our Texas DNA!
Now, couple that with our owners’ good fortune in finding a franchise parent company who shared this same philosophy…SERVPRO. But, considering our corporate headquarters is located in Gallatin, TN we’d expect nothing less from anything originating in the South, known for our fine hospitality, helping hands, and yes, friendliness. And this company-wide mindset can be seen nationwide, in more than 1700 franchises – each willing to jump in to help even in those “BFF favor” situations.
The company even has designated specialty Disaster Recovery Teams, and in the most recent multiple-state flooding disasters from Hurricane Ida had 200+ crews manned, equipped and ready to mobilize to assist the local franchise teams already on the ground. And this was not an isolated response scenario…as SERVPRO details:
“SERVPRO’s Disaster Recovery Team mobilizes from across the country, as needed, to support large storm events. SERVPRO’s Disaster Recovery Team has responded to large loss and storm events across the country, including:
- 2021 Winter Storm Uri
- 2020 Hurricane Laura
- 2019 Hurricane Dorian
- 2018 Camp Wildfire
- 2018 Hurricane Michael
- 2018 Hurricane Florence
- 2017 Hurricane Irma
- 2017 Hurricane Harvey
- 2016 East Tennessee Wildfires
- 2016 Hurricane Matthew
- 2016 Louisiana Flooding
- 2016 Houston Flooding
- 2015 Siberian Express
- 2014 Mid-Atlantic Flooding
- 2014 Polar Vortex
- 2013 Colorado Floods
- 2013 Alberta, Canada Floods
- 2012 Hurricane Sandy
- 2012 Hurricane Isaac
- 2011 Hurricane Irene
- Tropical Storm Lee”
Not many friends would show up in disasters like these, so we really treasure those we KNOW we can count on when you’re the “friend in need”…and it’s nice to know you can count SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio among those “friends indeed!”
The “A-B-Cs” Of “Gamma-Delta-Lambda” For SAFELY Managing Public Spaces
Do the COVID strains feel like “Greek to you”? Managing commercial properties in this pandemic landscape can be overwhelming…and why you need PROS!
Honestly, it’s hard to keep up with the constantly evolving local, state and federal mandates – not to mention the varying recommendations from health authorities – when navigating the COVID landscape. Now, with the school year starting again and students from preschoolers to college post-grad academes returning to classroom learning (some after more than 18 months), the pressure is not only the kids socially and mentally, but also on teachers AND institution administrators to balance an educationally nurturing yet clinically “sterile” environment. Quite an undertaking!
And that’s just one facet of creating new protocols for people returning to public spaces – despite the Delta surge – making the idea of staying safe once again a “top-of-mind” issue. With reported vaccination breakthrough Delta-strain cases, (as well as the growing number of cases among the unvaccinated), we’ve begun to hear talk of a possible Lambda variant…and who knows how far this mutating virus will progress down the Greek alphabet.
Even if you participated in the Greek system (or actually studied the language itself), this parade of mutations has still left many people saying, "It's all Greek to me!" Compounding THIS confusion are the "fluid" legal and civil mandates on safety protocols – especially within our schools, offices, retail and entertainment venues. Mask or no mask? Vaccination passports? Social distancing both indoors and out? Daily or weekly testing? It all has to leave those responsible for any “public” space feeling totally overwhelmed, and asking “So what steps CAN we take to protect our buildings – and the workers and visitors who inhabit these spaces daily?!?”
Well, you have experts for keeping your HVAC systems humming along, and professional security services (and even possibly on-site personnel) for protection, not to mention skilled landscapers to maintain your building exteriors, because you certainly don’t have the time or expertise to do this personally! The same holds true when dealing with a virulent biohazard like COVID.
YES, the COVID virus IS a biohazard! Normally, we think in terms of toxic chemicals or weapons; we’ve all seen those movie scientists in specialized biohazard suits, who arrive in those state-of-the-art mobile units ready to deal whatever mutant organism may be threatening the population. But, if you think about it, this could also describe a lot of what we’ve seen on the news over the past 18 months. So let’s break down this whole “biohazard” thing as it relates to our current COVID circumstances. "Bio" signifies any living organism, which definitely includes viruses. And, well..."Hazard" is pretty self-explanatory.
But you CAN take steps in the face of this new Delta surge…and whatever may be coming down the Greek alphabet line. And it all starts by calling in trained, certified biohazard experts – like SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio. With our Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned medical-grade process, you don’t have to decipher the Greek. You can just trust the pros to give you the peace of mind that YOUR commercial space is safe!
"FIRE" Is Just The Starting Point For Firefighters!
You need look no further than the sterling examples firefighters nationwide set as they dealt with the aftermath of 9-11…and so much more!
With summer outdoor activities beginning to wind down, we see more and more people return to the gym for their fitness workouts. However, aside from the aforementioned seasonal influx, we also see an increase in another group – wearing surprising outfits – on treadmills and stair climbers around this time of year. These individuals aren’t sporting sweats or joggers or even fashionable Lycra; they proudly wear up to 77 pounds of firefighter equipment!
Photographs, videos and news stories features these dedicated first responders, as well as the family and friends, who choose to symbolically honor the memory of those who fell in the wake of 9-11. Many wearing full firefighter gear, and others who may just be physically unable to bear the additional weight, ALL nonetheless commit to replicate the steps of those who climbed the 110 STORIES of the World Trade Center towers on that fateful day. Some even make it an annual ritual, which will be all the more poignant this year as we mark the 20th anniversary of the national tragedy.
We all watched in rapt horror as the events unfolded in real time, observing the surreal scenes as if it were something out of a movie…and saw the altruistic bravery of those first responders whose sole focus was saving lives, too often at the price of their own lives. And in the intervening years, we see this same selfless dedication time and again at the sites of both natural and man-made disasters.
When we hear the term “firefighter” normally we picture someone racing into a burning building or maybe someone in an ambulance or even a friendly “helper” who rescues kittens from trees. And all would be correct…but by no means complete! Yes, “fire” may be their initial reason for existence. However, these days it seems no matter the scope or nature of disaster, you will find “firefighters” among the first responders on the scene. In fact, the phrase “first responder” now immediately brings to mind fire department members.
“First responders” to the recent tragic collapse of the Miami Surfside condominium? Firefighters. “First responders” to the deadly Tennessee floods? Firefighters. “First responders” to the deadly California Montecito mudslides? Firefighters. And just this week…”first responders” to the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast in the path of Hurricane Ida? Yep – firefighters. And, of course, there are those actual fires, too, like the on-going Pacific Northwest infernos. And in each of these search-and-rescue operations, or disaster responses, they not only WILLINGLY walk (or, more aptly, run) into these situations, they do it wearing anywhere between 60 and 77 extra pounds of specialized equipment!
As disaster remediation and recovery specialists at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio, we’ve seen this dedication more times than we can count! And the upcoming 20th anniversary of 9-11 hits particularly close to home for one of our franchises – who actually were a part of the Pentagon restoration team after the Sept. 11th attack!
And although we frequently say we meet people on one of the worst days of their lives, our encounters can’t hold a candle to what firefighters see EVERY day. In our restoration work, we literally SEE what these first responders had to fight before we’re ever called. Thanks to our specialized training and equipment, in most of these scenes we really CAN make it “Like it never even happened.” However, as we prepare to commemorate the 9-11 firefighter sacrifices, we also honor those lives that can never be truly whole again…with our heartfelt thanks!
The “Hurricane Diaries” – Part VI
While our journalists DID drive through flooded streets to document the hurricane damage, it doesn’t mean they SHOULD have!
As Category 4 Hurricane Ida roared ashore in Louisiana this past weekend – on the 16th anniversary of Katrina, no less – we once again visit our team member’s storm memories. A veteran of hurricanes since her preschool days, she has chronicled some of her experiences as both a Gulf Coast resident and later, as a working journalist.
We honestly couldn’t imagine a more timely moment for another installment of her recollections in “The ‘Hurricane Diaries’”…and invite you to revisit some of her earlier chapters (Part I, II, III, and IV) and be sure to check out the first part of this particular experience in Part V before jumping into this latest continuation of her Hurricane Alicia story:
“So, there we were – me (the team hurricane Sherpa), Stephen and Chuck, along with my former editor Betsy Webber and her EXTREMELY flatulent dog – riding out the storm in the Galveston Daily News building on the edge of the island. For those who have had limited (if any) hurricane experience, it seems like these newsworthy storms tend to make landfall at night. Who knows why, but that has been my experience more times than not.
“But, in the meantime my fiancé Stephen had reconnected with several of his wire service comrades and negotiated use of their photo transmitter equipment. Mind you, this was before the internet as we now know it, pre-fax machines, so having access to a “drum” transmitter was like hitting the mother lode for a photojournalist. Reporters could use the newspaper landlines to call in their stories (yep…no cell phones or even pagers!) to their respective publications and agencies. But without the ability to send photographic evidence of the personal and property devastation, visual journalists were literally up a creek without a paddle!
“Now the REAL work could begin, as we took to the streets. Mind you, we were exhausted, soaked to the bone and had to ‘charm’ our way past roadblocks and first responders trying to protect the public. They definitely were not catching us at our best! But for journalists, this was the opportunity to shine…careers could be ‘MADE’ by coverage of a hurricane like Alicia. After all, Dan Rather earned his stripes covering Hurricane Carla decades before along the Texas coast!
“Armed with camera equipment and the ubiquitous reporter’s notebook, we documented storm surge, destroyed landmarks, streets flooded with water and random bits of debris, along with a list of evacuation shelters we braved the weather. And while the going was laboriously slow – first finding passable routes and then literally inching our way along roads that normally would have taken us to our destinations quickly, now consumed too many precious minutes – we were fueled by journalistic zeal. And not a lot of common sense! Let’s face it, heading out in a major Category 5 storm would not be considered a ‘smart move’ by most sane people.
“That’s when the full impact of Alicia REALLY hit home…especially seeing the crumbling walls on venerable Seawall buildings that had weathered many previous hurricanes. Yes, cyclonic activity and 150+ MPH winds most definitely can leave a trail of devastation in their wake, but the power of water should never be underestimated. The effects of the sheer force volumes of water, rushing over buildings and through streets, will leave the uninitiated dumbfounded!
“So, with no regard for the well-being of either ourselves or Stephen’s car, we collected insightful images and personal accounts for hours on the stormy streets. Periodically, we returned to the GDN building so Chuck could call in his stories to the Caller-Times and Stephen could develop his film and make prints in the newspaper darkroom. This was followed by the inordinately tedious task of sending out each picture INDIVIDUALLY across the AP and UPI wires…complete with his photo credit. A real career coup for a photojournalist – and yielded impressive additions to his professional portfolio!
“After about a day-and-a-half we were FINALLY able to reach our water-soaked room on the Seawall. Remarkably, some of our clothing was actually dry enough to wear. So we collected our belongings and returned to the Galveston newspaper to finish up our coverage of the storm…relieved to be wearing DRY underwear again! However, in the post-storm light, we noticed SIGNIFICANT ‘seepage’ of storm water inside Stephen’s car…even though it had been safely parked on the ‘protected’ side of the large GDN building during the worst of the storm.
“And the SMELL, once it actually started to dry out, was something ‘special!’ After we made our way back to Liz in Houston, we assessed the real water damage…and it was noticeably worse than any of us had imagined. Eventually, Stephen’s insurance company officially ‘totaled’ the vehicle, even though it was still drivable. That soaked interior and instrumentation were beyond help, and we never did get rid of that ‘storm water’ smell!”
Today, we know MANY people along the Louisiana, upper Texas and Mississippi coast are currently in the midst of similar experiences. And SERVPRO teams nationwide are already mobilizing to assist with the recovery from Hurricane Ida. If only our “Hurricane Diaries” folks had known that SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio actually has specialists in vehicle water damage remediation and restoration! It could have saved the car…although it would have made for a less engaging story!
The “Hurricane Diaries” – Part V
When a hurricane landfall is predicted, MOST folks would let something like roadblocks deter them from heading INTO a storm…but not our journalists!
It was only a matter of time before a new tropical storm hit the 2021 weather radar, and we’ve got Hurricane Fred warming up in the Caribbean bullpen now. This comes as no surprise, with an active season still predicted by the National Hurricane Center branch of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), coupled with Hurricane Elsa already earning the distinction of being the earliest fifth-named storm on record.
So, we’re presenting another installment of “The ‘Hurricane Diaries’” from our team member, who has seen more than her fair share of major storms, and shared her past first-hand experiences in “Diary” entries Part I, II, III, and IV. We encourage you to check out these accounts, as we dive into the fifth chapter:
“As I’ve mentioned before, in the early days of my career I was a working journalist and that meant following the story…regardless of the circumstances. And to be honest, usually this took us into the worst possible situations and put us in the position of encountering people on their worst days. Not only did we take these rubble-strewn – and often dangerous – paths, but we did so willingly! Eventually, some of us (like me) chose a less perilous and “grimy” career trajectory.
“However, I heartily admire those journalistic colleagues who devoted their entire professional life to continuing to ‘follow the story.’ In fact, one of the featured characters in this particular Diary entry recently finished up his career – having worked for newspapers for over 40 years. Kudos, Chuck Yarborough! But, I digress…
“It was August of 1983 and my friends (who worked at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times newspaper), along with my fiancé (an award-winning photojournalist also on the C-T staff), had all gathered in Houston to attend an extraordinarily rare reunion concert of Simon & Garfunkel at a local venue…the now-defunct Astrodome. At the time, these were the most we had EVER paid for tickets, and we were understandably excited. So there was no way we would let the “possibility” of a hurricane dampen our enthusiasm!
“My friends had even used precious vacation time for this event, and arranged a babysitter for their toddler daughter. Even reports of Hurricane Alicia heading our direction failed to deter us and we continued to make plans – even though landfall was imminently predicted for that night. Unlike those of us who grew up on the Gulf Coast and were accustomed to hurricanes, the venue and artist management teams made the decision to cancel the concert during their afternoon sound check.
“So here we were, literally all dressed up with nowhere to go. While Liz decided to go hang out with her mother (who was gladly serving as a sitter for little Brandi), the rest of us made the choice to go cover the storm. So Chuck (Liz’ husband), Stephen (my fiancé) and I packed up Stephen’s new-ish Pontiac Phoenix and headed for the ‘action’ in Galveston. Let the adventure commence!
“Now, although Stephen had covered other hurricanes and Chuck had lived in the greater Houston metro area for a number of years, I represented the sole ‘local’ member of our group…and seasoned veteran, having experienced NUMEROUS hurricanes since a toddler. My job on this particular expedition was to serve as a ‘Sherpa’ of sorts, since I knew every ‘alternate’ route covering the area from Conroe to Freeport, and also had numerous resource connections. So off we went, heading straight into Alicia’s path.
“Having gotten authorization from the Caller-Times management to cover the hurricane – since they were in town anyway (and newspapers of the era were notoriously ‘thrifty’) – Stephen and Chuck now had ‘official’ sanction to risk life and limb to, yes, ‘follow the story.’ Taking back roads to reach I-45, otherwise known as the Gulf Freeway, we emerged just north of the main causeway leading into Galveston.
“Now, a piece of hindsight advice might be to question the wisdom of being one of the ONLY cars – aside from official police and militia vehicles – heading the opposite direction of thousands of other cars and trucks! In fact, we encountered several checkpoints and had to not only display our press credentials but do some fancy talking to be allowed to proceed TOWARD the danger. Even then, it did give you a bit of a gnawing feeling to see everyone else headed in the opposite direction. But WE were intrepid journalists!
“Flooded roads? Driving rain? Storm surge? Pffft…nothing to worry about! Yeah, we were young and felt invincible – especially when fueled by journalistic adrenaline. We would learn several lessons the hard way over the next few days!
“Our first stop was at Chuck’s old stomping ground, the Galveston Daily News where I knew the News Editor who I had worked under for several years prior to her move to the GDN. Just a note on ‘Hurricane 101’ – establish a good base of operations in any area where you will be covering a disaster. So while Stephen and I began to make inroads at the newspaper, Chuck went to secure us accommodations. And that’s where things first began to ‘head south’ for our little expedition party!
“Not having actually lived and worked in the area during a major hurricane, Chuck was wholly unaware of exactly HOW powerful such a storm could actually be. So, seeking a prime vantage point, he got us a room right on the Galveston Seawall. We were right up the street from the historic landmark Flagship Hotel…the first hotel in North America located entirely over the water. The perfect spot to document all the mayhem. Yeah, this was the first mistake!
“Rising tides, torrential rains driven by hurricane-force winds, and debris already floating down major thoroughfares could not be stopped by simple brick walls or windows. Not only did our room (and ALL possessions – including changes of clothes) get soaked, but shortly after Alicia made landfall the entire façade of the Flagship began to DISINTEGRATE like a slow-motion disaster movie sequence. Yes…water can do that!
“Additionally, we were unable to even make our way back to the room to retrieve anything for DAYS! So there we were, trying to find someplace to just wait out the storm that night in the cavernous newspaper building while the electricity continued to fluctuate before going out completely. Fortunately, the GDN had back-up power and the business of journalism continued.
“We watched the building’s huge glass windows with trepidation, and found shop rags and anything else available to absorb the water seeping through the walls. And we waited until we could finally spring into action.”
We’ll pick up Debbie’s story in the next installment of The “Hurricane Diaries” next week to see how they weathered the floods, and how SERVPRO could have been of service to these young waterlogged journalists!
Are You SURE You’ve Covered ALL Your Business Bases?
Even if you THINK you’re covered for everything involved in doing business, are you REALLY sure…because one simple omission can cost you BIG!
Let’s get real for a minute; sometimes being a “grown-up” sucks, totally overwhelmed with everything an adult is actually supposed to be responsible for. Then, compound that with being responsible for not only yourself (and your family), but also everyone supported by your business if you’re an entrepreneur. So, we suck it up and do the “adult” things as we go about our daily lives.
And this starts with our conditioning – as responsible adults – to make sure we schedule all of those preventative check-ups. Health check-ups... vehicle check-ups... financial planning check-ups... and who knows how many others may apply to your life! So we don't want to add to your already-full plate, but when was the last time you did a business property and liability insurance check-up?
As a company who works daily with insurance companies, our team at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio too often sees the heartbreaking results of failing to update property coverage. Sure, you've PROBABLY covered all the bases when it comes to disasters like flood and fire. But even though you ticked all those boxes, you MAY have overlooked some vital areas!
Did you do any remodeling during the lockdown...or planning to now? The cost to recreate that new interior or façade or signage has ALSO probably increased; but have you updated your coverage to accurately reflect these financial investments? You also need to consider any equipment or facility upgrades, due to shifting business models as a result of the ever-changing COVID-related protocols. And, of course, those new pandemic electronics ALSO call for additional replacement cost coverage.
Now, when it comes to construction – whether a remodel, expansion, build-out, or breaking ground on an entirely new facility – this brings additional insurance shortfalls which can easily be overlooked…especially since it’s all going to be “temporary.” Let’s start with everyone who is actually doing the work and bringing your plans to life.
Do you have additional liability coverage for all those trades working on your property? If this is being done in conjunction with a landlord/tenant agreement, VERIFY who bears the burden for insurance coverage during this period. And if this is your building or construction site, then triple-check to make sure EVERY possible scenario has been anticipated – and covered! Additionally, you may need “interim construction” insurance since appraisals on something that does not yet exist would be guesswork, at best.
This type of insurance provides protection for theft of materials and equipment (including any on-site tools, etc. belonging to subcontractors). Nothing can be more disheartening than discovering your new plumbing and fixtures were stripped for copper, or your beautiful new walls and exteriors vandalized by graffiti…or worse. It also helps you to maintain good relationships with these skilled professionals, who you will probably be using again for either repairs or future construction.
Oh...let's not forget your landscaping and outdoor upgrades. This can span everything from a fancy flagstone sidewalk and entrance, to a new blacktop coating, stripes, bumper blocks and designated space signs in your parking lot. Added covered parking? That cost money, too – and may require a special policy rider since these outdoor improvements may NOT be covered since they are outside your actual office or structure!
And this is just a starting point...so maybe it's time to get an insurance check-up on your schedule NOW! As we’ve seen demonstrated so comically in the new Rocket Mortgage commercials featuring Tracy Morgan, “pretty sure” may NOT be good enough – especially when it comes to your business, you want to be REALLY sure!
Hey – WE Gotta Guy...Do YOU? 'Cuz Everyone WILL Need "A Guy!"
If you don't know how to do something, then you gotta have "a guy" who CAN. It feels good to have an "inside" connection when you REALLY need it!
An important life lesson we all learn at some point: If you don't know how to do something, then you gotta have a "guy" who DOES...or at least friends who "know a guy." Admit it, it feels good to have some sort of "inside" connection when you REALLY need something!
Whether it's someone who can get you deals on cars or appliances or jewelry or even a vacation, it gives us a sense of control when we can pick up the phone – or even just pop by – and know you will get both VIP treatment and a "special friends" rate. And especially in those time-sensitive or urgent situations (when we're most likely to feel as if we have absolutely ZERO control), it's comforting to know "a guy" or “gal”…right?!?
So while we've posted about being prepared for storm season AND building relationships, one of the SMARTEST moves any business owner can make is to establish their own personal "go-to" list of folks. And if you don't have pros who are experts, NOW is the time to connect...BEFORE you need them!
Now, as the "go-to" team for disaster mitigation, remediation and restoration, even our SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio has our OWN list of "guys" (and "gals") because we know nothing beats knowing your own pros. And the best part about having reliable network is not only our ability to call on them at a moment’s notice – BECAUSE we have that established relationship – but also to have a trusted list of experts to which we can proudly refer our customers!
This allows us, as business owners, to enhance our customer service offerings which translate into company growth and glowing reviews. However, it also serves us well “when the going gets tough.” Yes…we have emergencies, too! And during those times, it gives us a “life preserver” so we can get back to business serving OUR clients more quickly. And THIS is one of those “priceless” commodities in business.
We’ve seen the value of having “a guy” at our fingertips, as well as the tangible benefits for OUR business, SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio. And we also know any business owner will, too…because you NEVER know when you’ll need THAT “guy!”
When Making Your Home “Next Level” Don’t “Level-Up” Your Fire Risk!
As more people invest in taking their homes to the “next level,” many overlook a lurking fire hazard if they didn’t “level-up” the electrical system!
We know there are “glass-half-full” and “glass-half-empty” people, and we choose to be those “half-full” folks, trying to find the silver lining behind every dark cloud. And, let’s face it, the past 18 months have been a GIGANTIC thunderhead! Yet, we’ve managed to see some positive effects, such as appreciating time with our families, discovering new hobbies and interests, and taking our personal spaces to the “next level.”
Some of it could be attributed to binge-watching all of those HGTV design shows, while a lot of it could be for purely practical reasons as our homes became offices and schools and gyms and… So renovation fever swept the nation, and as things now begin to slowly open up, we continue to make improvements as many “post-COVID” lifestyles have evolved from what used to be “normal.”
It may have begun with a fresh paint color or a few new accessories, then progressed to some updated lighting fixtures and a few built-ins. The next thing you know, you have a smart home with state-of-the-art “connected” appliances and integrated entertainment systems…complete with a new wet bar, wine cooler and built-in beer tap.
Hey, you deserve it; and let’s get real, sometimes it’s a lot more enjoyable to be able to spend an evening – complete with entertainment or a meal from your gourmet kitchen – with a few friends, in the comfort of your little cocoon. No traffic, no parking, no crowds of strangers, no waiting in lines, and no expensive price tag…c’mon what’s not to like?!? And considering that your home is probably your single biggest investment, it’s never a bad idea to enhance its livability and value.
And especially if your work has remained partially (if not fully) remote, you really did need a functional dedicated space. After all, the kitchen island or dining room table could (or should) never be considered a permanent, full-time office! But, with a little home improvement wizardry, you now have a built-in desk and shelves, space for your laptop, external monitor and printer, and now, halo light, upgraded microphone and web cam for all of those remote conferences.
Now you’ve created your perfect sanctuary…ideal for work and play! However, have you also created the “perfect storm” for an electrical fire? We’re the first to admit, all of that talk about amps and wattage (aside from those tables on the side of microwave packages with time/watt instructions), leaves us pretty confused. But, one way to understand this concept actually comes from the movie “Apollo 13”…no kidding!
If you’ve never seen it, we highly recommend this gripping account of the ill-fated mission to the Moon. Anyway, the ground crew must find a way to power the astronauts’ safe return to Earth with a severely limited battery supply. They add and remove different items to arrive at the perfect mathematical amperage formula, while still ensuring the crew has enough power to perform the necessary functions for a successful re-entry. SPOILER ALERT: They do it!
Well, the electrical box for your home works in much the same way. Different appliances and electrical items in your home pull varying wattages and amps. If you’ve ever had to flip a breaker switch because it became overloaded, this is exactly why…that appliance exceeded the safe limit. The breaker switch does just what its name implies; it breaks the electrical connection to prevent it from becoming a hazard. Overloaded circuits can overheat and spark – all out of sight behind your walls.
So that spare bedroom, which transformed beautifully into a practical home office, may have only been wired for a couple of bedside lamps, maybe a small TV and alarm clock. Now you’re running computers and high-tech gadgets galore on circuits NEVER designed to carry that kind of load. And chances are, this may also be the designated space for your home’s modem box and other internet connectivity hubs. Even something as "little" as a couple of added power strips may be all it takes to push the limits of your existing electrical system.
Of course, that added wine cooler and drawer-style microwave and smart refrigerator or mesmerizing new electrical fireplace with integrated smart TV and speaker system built-in above it, have definitely enhanced your life and home. However, they may also be drawing a LOT more amps than your previous kitchen or family room. Who knows, you may have been pushing the limits of your current electrical box BEFORE…so imagine what it could be now!
Depending upon when your home was initially built, it may be time to take your electrical system to the “next level” to keep up with all of your improvements. Every time you have to run and flip the break switch, take that as a warning that something caused it to flip – and poses serious danger to you and your loved ones. For your peace of mind, start with a little detective work. If your switches are not labeled, take the time to find out which switch controls which circuits in your home – then carefully label them. Now you can pinpoint the culprit.
It could be something small, which just requires moving the offending item(s) to a different electrical switch point. Or…it could save your life! As specialists in fire damage mitigation, remediation and restoration, our SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio team has seen the heartbreaking aftermath of an electrical fire. And that’s why we would MUCH rather sow an ounce of prevention, than for you to have to call us for that pound of cure. That’s how WE take our business to the “next level”…by “leveling up” our customer service and compassion!
Are YOU Prepared To “Go With The Flow?”
Those legendary “April Showers” can’t hold a candle to the unprecedented summer rains we’ve experienced…and caught many people completely off-guard!
In Texas, we’re used to “rolling with punches” – so to speak – when it comes to summertime weather. We take the seemingly endless humid heat “like a champ”…in temperatures that have left those in the northern regions literally scorched this summer. We know how to “batten down the hatches” when multiple hurricanes place us in their diverse (yet deadly) paths. We DO have a lot of coastline, after all. And some summer thunderstorms – even those that may carry cyclone activity – are just “par for the course.”
However, these recent and unrelenting thunderstorms have left many completely stymied when both residential and commercial properties have suddenly had to learn how to “go with the flow.” And in the aftermath of these unheard of rains, many worry about what will happen when the 2021 hurricane season REALLY hits! With predictions showing another active tropical storm season and with the first named hurricane (Elsa) already in the books early in July, the prognosis for the next few months is anything but a “rosy outlook.”
Clichés aside, the adage “forewarned is forearmed” might actually be quite applicable in these circumstances. If we look at the recent home, apartment and business floods as a “dress rehearsal” for a hurricane, then we can gain some valuable knowledge which could come in quite handy in the future. And our SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio team saw the quickly escalating flood water situations, and immediately mobilized. But, just as with the “Polar Vortex” in February – even with our specialists literally working around the clock (despite many being personally affected) – there were still only 24 hours in a day.
So, as in any emergency, there IS a triage process. And knowing how to prepare beforehand can lessen the physical damage and trauma associated with any disaster, while you await the arrival of the cleaning, remediation and restoration specialists. With a proven track record as the leading response team nationwide, SERVPRO can be on the scene ready to make it "Like it never even happened,” from simply an inch of water in a garage or storage unit, to a fully-flooded house or business, we definitely have the knowledge and industry-leading equipment to help us “go with the flow” – no matter how torrential!
And once again, we had the chance to prove it when every corner of Bexar and the surrounding counties was under water. Not only did we mitigate the water damage, but also saved many of the possessions of those affected by the recent flooding storms…and gained the respect of those residents and businesses we jumped in to help.
We’re not in this business to just “do business;” we’re in this to contribute to the well-being, safety, health and prosperity of our entire community. And while we can DEFINITELY “go with the flow” we also KNOW “you do well, by doing good!”
Just Starting Out? Start With SERVPRO!
New grads may be pondering a possibly uncertain future…but regardless of the education path, SERVPRO could be your perfect step into the "real world!"
While most people may be winding down from their long holiday weekend activities, some could even be thinking about the week ahead. However, for recent grads, realizing they are now expected to join the "real world" and be "grownups" might be causing some sleepless nights and not a small degree of “So what am I supposed to do NOW?!?”
Those carefully nurtured career aspirations –involving years of study – must now translate into REAL jobs! And that can feel like a daunting task for someone just emerging from an academic cocoon. Don’t panic, yet. Believe it or not, we've all been there at some point. But, have you ever considered a future as a member of the SERVPRO family?
As a respected national company – started as a family enterprise – SERVPRO offers opportunities that would beautifully dovetail with a variety of professional goals. Headquartered in Gallatin, Tennessee (supporting coast-to-coast franchises), regardless of whether your classroom pursuits followed a creative, analytic, mechanical, sales, engineering, marketing, IT or some other service-oriented passion, SERVPRO could be your perfect step into the "real world!"
With a nationwide infrastructure of state-of-the-art web support for literally over a thousand of individual franchise sites to oversee, along with marketing materials and brand consistency creative, not to mention the constant innovations in our cutting-edge equipment, processes and materials, or the precise administrative oversight needed to ensure will always be ready to respond to ANY situation, it’s easy to see why SERVPRO represents a wealth of career paths!
Or perhaps you have a more entrepreneurial spirit? Guess what...so did OUR owners and that's why they started SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio more than 21 years ago. Offering the ideal work-life balance (with the financial ability to support their growing family of three boys), Greg and Tammie Hall will gladly tell anyone they made the RIGHT step for their careers and family. But whether a first step, or a second or third...taking the step to join the SERVPRO family is never a wrong step!
It’s NEVER Too Early To Be Prepared!
Whether hurricane, polar vortex or any other natural disaster, it’s ALWAYS a smart idea to be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws our way!
It’s THAT time of year…again! It hardly seems like a year has passed since we faced the start of another hurricane season here in Texas. Yet, once again, the first of June has rolled around and we can only hope the 2021 season doesn’t try to outdo LAST year!
Honestly, we cannot recall working our way through the entire alphabet of names and then moving into GREEK letters! But from OUR standpoint, we sure know it was memorable…and considering the stats, this comes as no surprise:
“The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active and the fifth costliest Atlantic hurricane season on record. The season also had the highest accumulated cyclone energy since 2017. In addition, it was the fifth consecutive above-average season from 2016 onward. The season featured a total of 31 tropical cyclones, all but one of which became a named storm. Of the 30 named storms, 14 developed into hurricanes, and a record-tying seven further intensified into major hurricanes. It was the second and final season to use the Greek letter storm naming system, the first being 2005. Of the 30 named storms, 11 of them made landfall in the contiguous United States, breaking the record of nine set in 1916. During the season, 27 tropical storms established a new record for the earliest formation by storm number. This season also featured a record 10 tropical cyclones that underwent rapid intensification, tying it with 1995.”
Maybe because of everything ELSE Mother Nature threw at us after that interminable hurricane season ended, it just feels like we’ve hardly gotten a respite. However, the extended polar vortex, combined with tornadic windstorms and torrential flooding rains DID give us plenty of insights and hard-won experience in being prepared! So it’s time to gird our loins – armed with valuable knowledge – and face the 2021 hurricane season head-on.
And the best way to make sure you can “weather” whatever shows up on the radar, is to be prepared BEFORE disaster looms! Even if you never need it (fingers crossed), having an Emergency Checklist and “go-bag” of everything you need, will save you valuable time – along with a bit of sanity – IF the worst-case scenario does happen.
Now this will look different for every family and household. But, everyone should have the “bare necessities” handy and either pre-packed or easily accessible if the need arises. Emergency preparedness can range from a few “well, of course” items full-on “survival in the wild” supplies. So we’ll start you off with some basics and over time (and with some “experiences”) your personal checklist and supply stockpile will evolve to suit your particular family and needs.
- Water (3 gallons/person per day)
- First Aid Kit
- Medications (prescription & OTC)
- Pet Supplies (meds, bowls, collars/leads/carriers, shot records – some shelters won’t take pets without proof of vaccinations)
- Non-Perishable Foods
- High-Energy/Stress Foods (energy bars, nuts, and of course, candy)
- Basic Tools (hammer, screwdrivers, wrench, pliers, utility knife, scissors)
- Important Personal Documents (including insurance, IDs, proof of address, medical records)
- Emergency Contacts List
- Candles, Lanterns, Matches, Flashlight(s), Batteries, Sterno, Flares/Glow Sticks (they’re not just for kids or concerts!)
- Paper Goods (toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates)
- Spare Keys/Glasses/Contacts
- Manual Can Opener, Cooking/Eating Utensils
- Weather-Appropriate Clothing (at least one change/person per day)
- Water Containers
- Portable Radio & Electronic Device Chargers
- Personal Hygiene Products
- Blankets, Tarps, Heavy-Duty Trash Bags
- Whistle (devise a signal for your family, i.e. three short blasts, long-short-long)
- Cash (remember, ATMs will probably not have power)
- Hand Sanitizer/Bleach/Gloves
- Maps (again, GPS may not be available)
- Entertainment (YES, this is important for adults & kids since cable/devices may be offline)
- AND…the cure for a million ills, DUCT TAPE!
Certainly this is NOT an exhaustive list and you will have other items specific to your particular household and life. But it does give you a good starting point. And since many of these items have an extended “shelf life” you can pack them away and have them ready to go in case of an emergency – whether evacuating or just hunkering down and trying to make the best of things in your own home. Then, after whatever “disaster” has passed, remember your local SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio is ALSO prepared to deal with whatever Mother Nature did to your home and possessions!
“Spic & Span” Pans Are Not The Only Ingredients In A “C.L.E.A.N.” Restaurant!
Just use the “C.L.E.A.N.” checklist to ensure your restaurant or neighborhood “watering hole” isn’t just to whet your whistle, but CLEAN as a whistle!
With public COVID lockdown restrictions slowly but surely relaxing, businesses which may have been shuttered for months – or even a year or more – are literally dusting off the past shutdown and ready to get back to business. And possibly the most anticipated activity will be a return to “normal” dining in favorite restaurants and local hangouts.
Yet, these environments may also be the most vulnerable to “cleanliness” issues. Of course, no five-star chef or dedicated short-order cook worth their salt (so to speak), would settle for anything less than immaculately clean cookware and prep surfaces. But we also know that “clean” in any dining environment goes WAY beyond the kitchen!
So to help you cover all the bases, we’ve put together a little mnemonic checklist to use as a starting point to once again start serving the public. Just think “C.L.E.A.N.”
Obviously, in this almost-post-COVID era, maintaining a visual – and clinical – image of cleanliness. In addition to making sure high touch-point areas can be easily and frequently cleaned, it’s important to provide “sanitation” options for your patrons.
Add an extra layer of protection and peace of mind, with prominently displayed “Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned” decals. Remember, you are the host inviting your favorite guests back; your job is to make them feel comfortable and be able to enjoy themselves!
This one may seem almost too easy. Sure, you look around your establishment every day. BUT…do you see it with “fresh” eyes, observing every little detail as a first-time guest would? Stand outside your restaurant and just look around. Does the sidewalk need to be power-washed? Are all the illuminated signs properly lit; are there missing or burned-out bulbs?
Now, walk in the front door and look UP. Are there stained ceiling tiles, dearly-departed insects in light fixtures, smoke stain from candles? And now, do the same for the floors, table and chair legs, the bottoms of any bar areas, areas that may have been bleached by sunlight. We ALL fall into the trap of walking in an “employee” entrance and just focusing on our specific area…without ever genuinely examining what impression your guests may get from their perspective!
At this point, most professional restauranteurs and culinary purveyors must be thinking: “Well, DUH!” But aside from those “high-touch” pieces of equipment, many other things get just as much use, but quietly function unnoticed. And each of them also need professional maintenance and cleaning – especially if this equipment has also been either on “sabbatical” or “limited duty.”
So while the stove top and oven may receive regular cleanings, what about that vent hood and exhaust system…including a thorough air duct scrubbing to remove any “residual” aromas that may not enhance the dining ambiance?! And don’t forget those high-moisture exposure areas. Thorough professional steam cleaning can help eradicate the infancy of mold spores and save a lot of grief (and money) later. Stainless steel backsplashes, appliances and doors can also benefit from a deep-clean to remove those invisible contaminants which may linger past a spray bottle-and-cloth wipe down. You can have the same level of sanitation as a top-tier hospital kitchen…just with tastier cuisine!
As mentioned above in the “Equipment” section, air ducts may be too easily – and frequently – overlooked in the day-in, day-out business of preparing and serving food. And most diligent management routinely ensures air filters in HVAC and exhaust systems are changed. However, you still continue to “recycle” the “dirty” air and particulates lurking throughout your systems.
The same holds true for public areas like dining rooms, restrooms, patio, porch and lanai areas, where whatever people exhale is now part of your air quality ecosystem. And yes, even those outdoor areas with any sort of “enclosure” or “covering” will still act as an air bubble, getting pulled inside every time someone opens or closes a door. But DON’T PANIC! With regular professional air duct “scrubbing” and periodic decontamination blanket fogging, you and your guests can breathe easy!
Okay, we’re the first to admit we took a little bit of liberty with “naming” this final item. But it actually DOES cover this final checkpoint quite nicely – if you’ll pardon that pun! No matter how “casual” a dining environment might be, the “theme” is somehow incorporated into the ambiance and décor. Upscale…lamps with elegant fabric or cut glass shades, luxurious window coverings, upholstered chairs and banquettes, tasteful area rugs scattered subtly about. Talk about your soft surfaces, nooks and crannies.
Even the most casual environment may have patio cushions, wall hangings and decorations and natural touches. Trust us, no feather duster or hand vac will get all of THOSE surfaces clean. The first thing any successful entrepreneur learns is when to trust the pros. That’s why you hire personable and efficient servers, affable and entertaining bar personnel and a skilled and inventive culinary team. So when it comes to making your establishment the embodiment of your vision, with whatever “niceties” you may choose, trust the total commercial cleaning pros to make sure it does truly looks “nice!”
Of course, we realize each establishment is just as unique as its owner and team, but at least this gives you a starting point to start “thinking outside of the pots and pans” and equip you to be the host or hostess with the most-est! And you can always reach out to our commercial specialists at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio and we can do a personalized survey and put together a custom plan to take your venue “spic-&-span” beyond the pans and make everything “C.L.E.A.N. as a whistle!”
Floods May Wash Away A Multitude Of Sins...But Also A LOT Of Memories!
The shock of seeing your possessions soaked and probably ruined by a flood can be overwhelming, it’s those irreplaceable items that REALLY matter!
As the old saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers”…which soon segue into hurricane and storm season. And here in Texas we know those “springtime showers” can more closely resemble tropical monsoons!
We’ve all seen the pictures and reports of possessions strewn across lawns and streets – and sometimes in even more “unlikely” places. Chances are, at SOME point even you’ve experienced major or minor flooding from those “showers.” Whether some slight interior moisture, or a full-blown gushing water flow, the impact can still be overwhelming.
Yes…you know the SERVPRO name as being synonymous with water damage remediation, restoration and repair. But you may NOT know, this “full-service” expertise extends far beyond drying floors, walls and other structural features. Don’t get us wrong, we’re extraordinarily proud of our long-standing reputation for this type of service…and continue to work diligently every day to maintain that premier standing.
However, we’re a LOT more than state-of-the-art moisture detectors, fans and dehumidifiers! So let’s get real for minute; you can replace sofas and blankets and clothes and carpets. Sure, it’s pain to have to start from scratch to refurnish one room, much less an entire household. But, the key takeaway from this is, you CAN replace that furniture and clothing and kitchenware…sometimes with a noticeable upgrade, giving you a chance to actually “correct” some of those earlier decisions you may now regret!
“Things” can be purchased…but, the “things” that have been in the family for years, the treasured photos and memory books, baby blankets and christening gowns, your grandmother’s china simply CANNOT be replaced! Honestly, nothing is more heartbreaking than discovering a box that has slowly absorbed moisture from an undetected slow leak or seeing your priceless memories water-soaked and scattered across your front lawn – or even the entire neighborhood.
Those precious items represent a lifetime of memories. And once they’re gone, there’s usually no way of getting them back. OR…is there?!? No, even the amazing experts at SERVPRO can’t retrieve the mementoes washed away by flood waters. But, if you think one of these prized items is now “gone” because of water damage, think again!
You will be amazed at the miracles our teams can perform. That’s right we have specialized restoration experts on-call, who have years of experience working exclusively with heirlooms, antiques, documents, collectibles and artwork. These professionals have built their entire careers and reputations on their abilities to bring those one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable memories back to life.
Using custom equipment, advanced restoration techniques, and intimate knowledge gained through years of experience, these professionals represent just another arm of the SERVPRO array of services. From returning water-logged books and papers to their “pre-flood” state, to restoring old family photographs, to removing all traces of water damage on inherited antiques, to eradicating stains from clothing that represents those milestone moments, our team can reclaim those memories you thought had floated away!
We take our motto “Like it never even happened,” VERY seriously at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio…and that includes preserving and restoring those irreplaceable items AND the memories they will always represent!
We Speak FLUENT “Insuranc-ese!”
Every industry and profession has its own “language” and unless you have fluency in that particular vernacular, then it’s all Greek to you!
Have you ever been out in public or at a social gathering and heard people discussing something that left you feeling like you needed a translator just to understand what they were saying? Let’s face it, EVERY industry, profession and job has its own specific “language” – some WAAAAY more convoluted than others.
For instance, if you’ve never been within a country mile of a hardware store or lumber yard, you would have no idea what somebody was talking about if they mentioned locking cams and the A, B or C sides of plywood. The same holds true for many medical and healthcare professions. A dentist mentioning gutta-percha or a surgeon their sphygmomanometer, would send most people running for the nearest dictionary…if they could even spell them!
Luckily, you don’t need to know their specific language and specialized vocabulary. You can just ask someone at the home improvement store what they mean. And, thankfully, we don’t have to understand all the technical terminology to still have a productive visit to the doctor or dentist. However, sometimes it’s impossible to avoid the “-ese” languages we may encounter as a part of our daily lives.
Be honest…do you actually READ all the “legal-ese” in every download or app agreement? If so, then you’re most definitely in the minority. We scan, scroll, and hit “AGREE” and get on with our lives. Right? Hey, it’s okay – we all have done it on one occasion or another! And normally, this poses absolutely NO problem.
However, there ARE times when you can’t just muddle through well enough to get what you need…and one classic example is insurance. It doesn’t matter if you rent or own your residence, if your car is fresh off the lot, a hand-me-down from a sibling or parent, or a dealer lease, or if you have healthcare coverage through your employer or a government exchange. Have you EVER read through those complete policies – line by line – and walked away with complete clarity?!?
Yep, the insurance and financial fields definitely have their own unique languages. And under most daily circumstances, this isn’t really an issue…UNTIL you have a “problem.” Sadly, the times of greatest stress in our lives are when we MOST need to understand what all of the “insuranc-ese” really means!
During medical or dental emergencies, chances are you are miles away from being in the proper state of mind to decipher exactly what IS or ISN’T covered. You just want a healthcare professional to make it better…NOW! And who has committed every minute detail of their car insurance coverage to memory, and can recall it in the immediate aftermath of an accident? Which brings us to your homeowner or renter insurance, and trying to figure out exactly what the protocols might be for filing a claim – while you’re STILL living in the middle of a disaster!
Especially at THESE times, wouldn’t it be nice to have your own “insurance Sherpa” to guide you through the maze of restoring your life…someone who spoke “insuranc-ese” fluently? Fortunately, our SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio franchise is a preferred vendor with most major insurance carriers – like USAA, based right here in our San Antonio hometown – and we navigate the in-and-outs of insurance claims every day.
Not only can we walk you through the steps of mitigation, remediation and restoration, but can also provide in-house teams to perform all of the work AND coordinate claim payment with your policy carrier. We understand how daunting this whole process can be, and don’t expect you to be experts in translating all of that “insuranc-ese”…that’s why it’s good to have experts like SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio who speaks it FLUENTLY!
The “Hurricane Diaries” – Part III
You hear “hurricane” and think driving rain & boats on flooded streets, but many DON’T realize hurricane-force winds can cause even MORE damage!
Lately, when someone says “storm” the majority of us IMMEDIATELY recall the grim days this past February when Arctic air invaded our normally-temperate state. However, the rising temperatures help to make those memories quickly recede. After all, spring is a time to look forward to the warm summer days ahead.
And along with the endless summer days filled with fun in the sun, the month of June also heralds the beginning of something ELSE—Hurricane Season! Experts have even started to make their predictions for the upcoming Atlantic storm season just one week into April…and it looks like we could be in for another rough ride:
“Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project released its annual hurricane season outlook on Thursday (April 8), which is predicting for an above-average season in 2021…
“The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season outlook is predicting 17 total named storms, which are two more than the 1991-2020 average; eight hurricanes, which is one more than the 1991-2020 average; and four major (category 3 or higher) hurricanes, which is one more than the 1991-2020 average, Weather.com reports.”
So it seemed like a good time for our team member to once again call on another of her hurricane memories, growing up on the Gulf Coast. We heard about her first – extraordinarily memorable – childhood experience with Hurricane Carla in “The ‘Hurricane Diaries’ – Part I & Part II” and now she’s sharing one of her storm “adventures” from her early years as a working journalist in suburban Houston:
“I had recently moved from a part-time ‘student’ position to a full-time, full-fledged, staff member of ‘The Deer Park Progress’ newspaper – one of a group of weekly suburban papers owned by a Texas publishing family. Incidentally, one brother owned all of the weeklies and biweeklies, and the other brother owned all of the daily Hartman newspapers. So for a novice journalist, this seemed like a great launch pad for what I knew would be my illustrious career. Yeah, we were all once young and naïve!
“Anyway, as the newly-minted Assistant News Editor, I was filled with zeal and ready to handle whatever was thrown my direction…to both prove my journalistic worth and earn that future Pulitzer Prize! So when Hurricane Allen blew into the Corpus Christi area, it put the Galveston Bay area (in which both my hometown of La Porte and my newspaper ‘beat’ of neighboring Deer Park) squarely in the path of the northwest ‘whiplash’ I had heard about since preschool.
“And after a rather ‘interesting’ night in my ‘grown-up’ two-story townhome apartment in nearby Pasadena, Texas – with my parents (who had evacuated from their bayfront home prone to flooded roads used for ingress and egress) AND my now live-in boyfriend (who attended law school at our mutual alma mater, the University of Houston, but my parents had ASSUMED still lived with his parents in Katy) – I was quite eager to report for work the next morning!
“And so I set out for the newspaper office, trying to navigate around all of the damage en route, and stopping to document the most striking images of Allen’s handiwork. I had learned well from an early instructor to ALWAYS have my reporter’s notebook, camera and film on-hand. Maybe THAT’S why the entire back seat of my car always looked like a combination of a rolling office, newspaper archive library and the place takeout containers and wrappers went to die?
“Downed trees, roofs blown completely askew on homes and businesses alike, recreational boats strewn on front lawns, and surreal images of entire walls missing from buildings, provided plenty of fodder for my 35mm Pentax camera. No stranger to this type of landscape, I carefully crawled through back streets and around obstacles in an effort to make it to the office. Remember, cell phones were still the stuff of James Bond and space age TV shows, back then. As a result, any smart reporter ALSO made sure to have plenty of change for pay phones in their ever-ready arsenal.
“So, in addition to trying to drive through hurricane flotsam and jetsam, I was also looking for a working pay phone! Yeah, I know, it’s a pretty laughable scene…especially decades later.
“More than two-and-a-half hours later, for what was normally a 15 minute drive (even with school zones), I was within a few short blocks from the Progress office. And THAT’S when it happened!”
We’ll pick up her story in the next installment post, to see what happens in this adventure. But, in the meantime, this picture she paints of the devastation hurricane-force winds can cause. Never underestimate the damage something as simple as an ordinary garbage can lid can do, when traveling over 65 miles per hour…let alone something MUCH larger!
NOW is the time to start planning for the upcoming season, and make sure you have the 24/7 number for SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio handy. Not only do we handle flood and rising water damage, but our expert team is also equipped to handle major storm damage caused by winds, as well. So in this upcoming hurricane season, if you find yourself with your OWN entry in The “Hurricane Diaries” then know we’re just a phone call away and ready to make it “Like it never even happened.”
The “Hurricane Diaries” – Part IV
They say “rising tides lift all boats” but mix those flood-level tides with 100+ mph hurricane-force winds & you get more than metaphors to deal with!
With the start of the annual Atlantic hurricane season just around the corner – that’s right, the first of June is less than SIX WEEKS AWAY – now is the time to start your preparations and planning, in case the worst-case scenario happens. And anyone who has spent time along the Gulf Coast knows exactly how bad that can be!
For those uninitiated into life in coastal regions during storm season, one of our team members spent her entire childhood, and many of her adult years, working and living through some of the truly epic hurricanes. For those who have never seen first-hand what really happens when a hurricane hits, she shared in her first two “Hurricane Diaries” entries those first memories (as an impressionable kindergartner), of when Hurricane Carla hit her hometown.
Fast forward almost two decades, as she began her career working for local newspapers, when she had the chance to experience the aftermath of another record-breaking storm – Hurricane Allen – from both a personal and journalistic perspective. She set the stage in her most recent entry, “The ‘Hurricane Diaries’ – Part III” and left us with something of a cliffhanger as she was trying to report for duty at her newspaper. So let’s see what happened NEXT:
“As I mentioned, after literally spending hours to travel less than 20 miles, I was within ‘spitting distance’ (gotta love those Southern colloquialisms!) of reaching my office, when fate and Hurricane Allen intervened!
“A downed tree (in full leaf, no less) had left a path on the side street where I was slowly traveling, but – I quickly found out – had ALSO completely obscured a bent stop sign. By the time I saw it, both my slightly water-logged brakes, and the brakes of the unfortunate vehicle coming up from the cross street, failed to stop the inevitable collision.
“Sadly, this was not my first post-college car – a little blue 1972 used Toyota Celica that I had paid $750 to acquire. OH NOOOO…it was my shiny new sporty red Pontiac Sunbird, which had just gotten its ‘official’ metal license plates that very week from the dealer!
“On the plus side, it was quickly and easily ruled a ‘no-fault’ situation by the local police so with no major injuries and vehicles that were able to drive, we each went on our way. And that’s how I finally arrived at the paper...dented brand new car and a knot the size of a lemon (and color of a pomegranate) on my forehead.
“However, dedicated journalists that we were, we worked throughout the day, as power and information were available and my family doctor told me via phone to advise several of my close staff member friends to watch me for signs of a concussion. To this day, I don’t know for sure whether or not I had actually sustained a concussion in the collision, but I DO know it was one heck of a headache that lasted long into that evening!
“And for this effort and dedication, my reporting and photos of local Hurricane Allen won several area and state journalism awards later that year. And – because nobody went into journalism for the money – my little ‘Rosie’ car wore that driver-side rear panel dent as a journalistic badge of honor for a number of years.
“Yet, I must give credit where credit is due, as I took a page from my college photojournalism mentor’s teachings. I remembered that people were the KEY component of true visual journalism. So I not only photographed ‘damage’ but also the resiliency of these Gulf Coast hurricane veterans and novices, alike, and documented their journey to recovery. I still firmly believe this combination of both the ‘bitter’ and ‘sweet’ accounted for those awards!
“This time spent with those victims brought to mind earlier days with my parents…both preparing for an incoming storm, as well as cleaning up the aftermath. Seeing the level of damage hurricane-force winds could inflict gave me a whole new level of respect for my Daddy, with his carefully measured, cut and labeled plywood panels for each of our home’s windows.
“At the beginning of every summer, he would bring this cache of supplies down from his workshop attic rafters and inspect each one to ensure it would be ready when the next hurricane threatened to blow into town. And, for EVERY home where we lived all along the Gulf Coast – from Alabama to Texas – one of the first things my Daddy always did was to create properly measured and cut window boards customized for that particular residence. Let me just say, Hurricane Allen gave me a newfound appreciation for his diligence!
“And seeing people not only trying to salvage their possessions but also struggling to secure their wind and water damaged properties, now gives me ADDED respect for the work and skills I’ve seen from our SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio team. Knowing that EXPERT help is just a phone call away, gives me an added layer of ‘peace of mind’ and instills me with the same sense of pride I experienced when I won those awards for hurricane coverage!”
Fortunately, here in the San Antonio metro area we rarely have to deal with the frontline effects of a hurricane landfall. However, we ALSO know that torrential rains and gale-force winds moving inland can still pack a SERIOUS punch…which is why SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio should also be included in YOUR disaster plans and preparations!
"Who You Gonna Call?" GROSS-BUSTERS!
While address books & landline “speed dials” may be relics of the past, you STILL need those “go-to” professionals ready to step-in when needed!
Let’s start with a little stroll down Memory Lane today. First, think back through your entire life and count how many times you have moved…whether across town, or to a different city, state or even country. And don’t forget to count those moves during your childhood, since they will also be applicable for this discussion.
Now, step back to those first few days, weeks and months once you’ve moved. After unpacking, chances are your biggest priority was finding those new “local” resources and vendors. Remember trying to find the “good” grocery store in your new neighborhood or city? How about looking for your closest primo coffee shop? And then there’s searching for new churches, schools, salons, gyms…see it can be exhausting!
We each have built an entire support network in our daily lives. And this goes for the younger family members, as well. They have “their” teacher, “their” friends, “their” neighborhood pals and activities, “their” doctors and “their” favorite restaurants. And with every move, they frequently have to start all over again – just like we do. Let’s just be brutally honest, moving is HARD on everyone!
One of our team members knows this better than most, and agreed to share her perspective on the “unseen” part of any move:
“As working journalists and communication professionals, my husband and I found ourselves ‘chasing’ better career opportunities across the country…which entailed a LOT of moves. Although we were both native Texans, we’d each had the occasion to live outside the Lone Star State at earlier points in our respective lives.
“However, once we met and married, this took our moves to a whole new level! In our 12 years of marriage, we moved a total of 18 – yes, 18 – TIMES! Sure, some of those moves were within the same city, moving from one home to another. Others were from one state to another. And this doesn’t even include the year we became ‘journalism gypsies’ traveling the country in a sizable travel trailer, writing and photographing stories.
“And, with the majority of these moves, it meant starting ‘from scratch.’ Yep, finding that ‘good’ grocery store, reliable stylists, new doctors and dentists, church congregations that were a good fit, honest mechanics, and most importantly, a new network of local friends, all yielded ‘mixed’ results through the years!
“Now, as a child, my mother had a little ‘flip-up’ address index. And right on the first page was a complete list of all our ‘preferred’ resources for any imaginable situation. Of course, we had doctors (including specialists), dentists, auto and boat mechanics, contracting trades, florists, stylists, school contacts, insurance agents, and anyone else you might need for pretty much ANYTHING life could throw at you. Boy, I would have given almost ANYTHING to have had something like that whenever we moved!
“Amid these renewed searches that accompanied each move, obviously we sought out the most highly-recommended local resources…and regularly patronized them. However, sometimes seeing a local franchise of a business name we ALREADY KNEW felt like a godsend.
“Up to this point, we’ve talking about those ‘day-in-day-out’ activities and locales. But, what happens if something ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ occurs??? That adds a new layer – and complications – to building a ‘go-to’ network. Fortunately, by the time we actually purchased homes in our new cities, we had the opportunity to assemble a trustworthy system of friends and service people. And this came in VERY handy at several crucial times in our transient lives!
“However, as we’ve become a more mobile society with fewer people spending their entire lives in just one city or area, that one ‘go-to’ list has evolved. Rarely do you see a written list of contacts delineated or posted somewhere. We collect contacts in our smartphones, tablets and computers…BUT, do you have an actual list of who you’re going to call when something goes awry or needs attention?
“When we had a fire in one of our homes, we would have promised someone like SERVPRO our first born for help in dealing with that mess! The same holds true for the storm damage I saw in the aftermath of hurricanes! So when I recently had an unfortunate ‘incident’ with my bathrooms, you can bet your bottom dollar, my SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio team was on my ‘speed dial!’
“And that’s one of the coolest things about SERVPRO; it’s a nationwide network with a local personal touch. So even when we were in Michigan or Ohio or Kentucky or Missouri – or anywhere else we roamed – there would be a local SERVPRO who would be ready at a moment’s notice to jump right in. We even saw tangible evidence of this powerful support system when teams from across the country mobilized to help storm-stricken Texas!”
So if you’re new to the San Antonio metropolitan area, be sure to add SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio (210-908-5544) to YOUR “go-to” comprehensive list of “who you gonna call” when things go wrong. Not only are we equipped to handle anything “gross” that may have happened in your life, but because we’re LOCAL we can also probably point you in the direction of some good tacos and margaritas!
When The...Uhhh...”Stuff” Hits A Lot MORE Than The Fan! – Part II
Sometimes a plunger and sponge alone cannot deal with the levels of contamination resulting from “stuff” hitting a lot MORE than a proverbial fan!
We recently shifted focus from “THE” water damage everyone has been talking about lately – broken pipes from the freeze – to hear the story of a home flooding disaster of a “different color”…a waste water pipe overflow!
One of our own team members had the misfortune to suffer just such an “incident” and shared her experience in the first part of this series: “When The…Uhhh…”Stuff Hits A Lot MORE Than The Fan! – Part I” and we encourage you to see how this whole story began. She left us with a bit of a cliffhanger in the previous installment, where the SERVPRO team had completed the initial assessment and clean-up. So let’s pick up with the remainder of her SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio experience:
“Now that all of their initial work was completed, THIS is when I really got the ‘SERVPRO experience.’ The team then brought in air mover, dehumidifier, and air cleaning equipment – more a dozen-and-a-half pieces specifically designed to remove ALL traces of the uhhh…’stuff’ which hit a LOT more than just a fan in my bathrooms, hallway and two bedrooms!
“Now, here’s where I’m NOT going to sugar-coat the experience. While not particularly ‘unpleasant’ it DID require a bit of adjustment to the fans, et al running 24-7 in both bathrooms, the hallway, my bedroom and the guest room. Thoughtfully, they positioned the equipment so I could still ‘navigate’ to the now properly-functioning toilets. But, the multi-toned whirrs and hums continued unabated.
“Every morning, at a mutually-arranged time (mind you, this was now the weekend!), Raul would come and take specific moisture readings to determine how much longer the equipment would need to complete the process. Fortunately, the efficiency of the various machines made fairly quick work of the problems. And while I realize EVERY situation is different, I was thrilled that mine only lasted a few days!
“When the final check-in arrived, the crew quickly and efficiently removed all of their equipment – as expertly as they had done during the set-up. Raul explained the full extent of the completed work, asked me if I had any questions, and prepared his final report for the claim submission, along with documenting photographs of their work.
“Now, the restoration team would have a clean slate! But you know the old saying, “We plan, God laughs”? Well, enter the ‘Polar Vortex’ and understandable delays in beginning my ‘cosmetic’ work…especially when you consider that some people had things a LOT worse than I did! I had working plumbing and a clean house. During those trying days during and immediately after that extended freeze, who could ask for more?!?
“But, what impressed me the MOST – as a ‘customer’ – was the level of courtesy, professionalism and respect the entire team showed me. Although I, too, was part of the SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio team, they treated me with the same level of ‘CARE’ they would provide to any other client…not like some ‘it can wait because she’s one of us’ attitude, but genuine five-star service!”
We would not wish what happened to Debbie on ANYONE, but we’re so honored that she trusted her home, her possessions, and the well-being of herself and her pets, to us. And, no matter HOW “ugly” a water damage situation may be, it’s comforting to know that SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio is there when the…uhhh…”stuff” literally hits the fan – or anything ELSE!
Spring Cleaning ISN’T Just For Grandmas…Or HOMES!
“Spring Cleaning” may bring to mind granny's annual DEEP clean or now a Marie Kondo “de-cluttering.” But commercial spaces could benefit MOST from it!
With the arrival of idyllic springtime temperatures, many just want to throw open their windows and doors to let in the fresh breezes, and embrace the new start this season represents! And for a number of us, that also means undertaking the annual ritual of “Spring Cleaning.”
This monumental set of tasks may evoke memories of our mothers or grandmothers, basically “gutting” the house and then thoroughly cleaning EVERY surface before “reassembling,” but this process has evolved over the years, and may now more closely resemble an extended Marie Kondo or Gwyneth Paltrow Goop session.
Of course, there remains the stalwart group who still engages in that “top-to-bottom” springtime rite of passage. However, did you ever think about instituting – or enhancing – this effort for your commercial spaces?!? Despite the fact these “public” or business environments see exponentially more traffic than the average home, and have a whole host of unknown variable contaminants literally walking in your door, the annual spring cleaning may be an oft-overlooked practice in commercial facilities.
For those who own or manage these spaces, you have a few options. One – just continue “business as usual” without giving much thought to the idea of a real spring cleaning. Then there’s the second choice – bribe staff with the time-tested “pizza and beer” incentive to schedule a time for the team to pull together for a day of sprucing up and cleaning. However, each of these options has inherent flaws!
With the first alternative, this could backfire in this slowly-but-surely reopening of society in the post-COVID era. If someone sees even the smallest thing, which leads them to think your entire space is not “clean,” it could cost you business…and even open you up to liability!
So, let’s move on to the second option listed. While the “beer and pizza” bribe may have been quite effective during your college and early adulthood years, it just doesn’t have quite the same appeal at the professional level, when the task involves a serious “deep” cleaning of your office, retail or community space. And, if coerced into this position, chances are the level of “clean” would NOT pass your grandma’s inspection!
At this point, you may be thinking “So what the heck am I supposed to do???” Honestly, sometimes the best answer in these situations is fairly simple – hire professionals. But, HOLD ON…not all “cleaners” are created equal!
Most assuredly, a professional janitorial service is DEFINITELY a cut above asking staff members to be responsible for this massive undertaking. That said, even the best cleaning companies can only go so far to ensure your facility is “Mom-Approved” clean. That’s when you take it to the next level…SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio clean!
Our highly-trained staff prides itself on staying up-to-date with industry-leading techniques and health standards. Going beyond the scope of anything even your regular janitorial staff may do, we’re the industry-recognized specialists in handling any – and every – thing the public can throw at your space…including things that may not have even crossed your mind!
As a little experiment, step outside your building and approach it as someone who has never been there before. Take a GOOD look at the exterior…windows, entrance, signage and the full building façade. Then examine your interior from top to bottom, as if this were your first time ever viewing the space. Had you gotten used to seeing that dinge or stain on your floor? Did you ever notice the condition of your overhead light fixtures and ceiling? How about that “odd” smell around upholstered or fabric items? This “fresh-eyes (and nose)” approach could reveal a lot of things which could REALLY benefit from a good spring cleaning!
Truthfully, why would you settle for “kinda” clean, when you can have the confidence and peace of mind that comes from a SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio clean…a “clean” good enough to pass the inspection of even the most critical eye like your Mom or Grandma, and even your customers and clients!
When The... Uhhh...”Stuff” Hits A Lot MORE Than The Fan! – Part I
Obviously, NO flood in your home or business is pleasant. But, when it happens in a bathroom the impact can FEEL like “stuff” hitting the fan!
Lately, we’ve been talking a lot about flood damage resulting from the extreme – and extended – freezing temperatures we experienced. However, just because this weather-related destruction happened, it didn’t put a stop to OTHER disasters striking…and a need for our services.
And, one of our own SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio team members recently saw the entire process – up-close-and-personal – when an “unfortunate” plumbing incident occurred in her home. This actually occurred just prior to the arrival of the “Polar Vortex”…and she’s sharing her first-hand account of being on the “receiving end” of our services:
“My pets and I had moved into a home about a month before, and were still getting settled in to our new surroundings. Aside from a few minor ‘move-in’ notations, the home had been well-maintained and professionally updated prior to our occupancy.
“Then, one evening I had an ‘interesting’ plumbing experience. The master bath toilet began to leak from the base (not overflow, as it flushed fine), and then it got a ‘colorful’ backup in the tub. I threw down some ‘rag’ towels, and made a mental note to check with the owner the following morning.
“After the tub had drained and the toilet did not appear to be leaking any longer, I put everything into the washer – for obvious reasons. I then went into my office to finish up some work. When I heard the washer stop, I headed for the utility room – and that’s when I saw it. The entire hall bathroom had back-up (toilet, tub) and was now leaking into the hall and the adjacent bedroom!
“I then went back to the site of the ‘original’ plumbing issue. The entire master bath ‘water closet’ was flooded, with several inches now in the tub, and starting to ‘ooze’ over the threshold and along the vanity base.
“Based on this, I surmised the main waste pipe for the entire house must have some sort of major blockage. The washer run-off must have caused all the waste water pipes to back-up. So I now have ‘black’ water leakage in my guest room and entire guest bath, along with the master bath area…and no real toilet options!
“You’ll notice my mention of ‘black’ water. Thanks to my time learning all about the extensive different types of remediation, mitigation and restoration services provided by my local SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio team, I now KNEW this ‘black water’ thing could get very bad, very quickly!
“Fortunately, the property owner responded immediately and dispatched a plumbing team that night. And, as we were speaking throughout the evening, I mentioned that I would also like to contact my SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio franchise to deal with this contamination.
“I let him know they would send over a rep to assess the levels of damage and contamination, carefully document it, then forward an estimate. Another stroke of good luck – the insurer for the property was USAA, where our SERVPRO franchise has a long-standing relationship and is an approved vendor.
“I emphasized that now, after working with SERVPRO and learning all about water clean-up, I now know a mop and towel don’t really cut it when it comes to contaminated water flooding. After the plumbers dealt with the immediate problem that night, they promised to return in the morning to determine the source of the obvious blockage. And, right on cue, Art from SERVPRO was here the following morning to compare notes with the plumbers.
“He took measurements and precise digital readings of all the affected areas (some of which I had not even realized in all of the hub-bub the night before!), then reviewed the scope of the work with me before leaving. The estimate was forwarded to the owner – who happens to currently reside on the West Coast – and then to USAA.
“The next thing I know my SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio team members – who fully observed all COVID precautions as well as those for possible hazardous material demolition – were at my front door. They confirmed Art’s original assessments and verified whether any additional damage may have occurred…then they got to work.
“Under the direction of Crew Chief Raul, moisture measurements were taken and ALL affected materials removed. They took every precaution and cut out impacted sections of drywall, pulled up LVP flooring and drilled holes to allow areas which may have absorbed ‘moisture’ to be reached.
“Then, came my TRUE ‘peace of mind’ – they saturated ALL affected areas with specialized disinfectant spray. And in my head, all I could think was ‘Die, nasty organisms, DIE!’ Finally, I could start to breathe easy again. But, Raul wasn’t done yet!”
And with this “cliffhanger” we’ll pick up Debbie’s story – and subsequent recovery process – in a second installment of her SERVPRO experience. So to see how this all turned out, be sure to check out the conclusion in “When The... Uhhh...’Stuff’ Hits A Lot MORE Than The Fan! – Part II,” right here on the SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio site!
Are You Ready To “Get Lit”?!? – Part II
You’re INTENTIONALLY setting a fire…so to avoid setting MORE afire, aside from your sticks and branches, make sure your pit is truly “fire-worthy!”
If there has been one positive outcome from the year-long COVID lockdown, it’s been the opportunity to genuinely connect with those closest to us. We’ve discovered the joy in spending quiet time together, sharing stories which may have otherwise been lost to our previous “busy-ness” and appreciating the simple pleasures to be found right under our own roof.
Especially after the late-season Arctic blasts and thunderous storms here in Central Texas, that urge to just get OUT has a powerful pull. And while people still continue to observe some of the social distancing and limited contact precautions, outdoor activities – especially grills and fire pits – seem tailor-made to scratch that outdoor “itch”…safely. However, while it may be COVID-safe, without taking important safety steps BEFORE you ever “get lit” your activities could really “flame-out” FAST!
In the first installment of this series on outdoor fire safety, we discussed the vital preparations to enjoy a safe grilling and outdoor cooking season. So now we move on to those other outdoor fire spaces. According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, fire pits or outdoor fireplaces are the MOST popular backyard design features! And we can definitely appreciate the appeal…not to mention their ability to enhance both lifestyles AND house values. But these benefits can literally disappear in a puff of smoke, if you fail to observe the proper safety measures.
So we’re going back to the same source we consulted for our earlier post on grilling safety – a blog post on the Nationwide Insurance site – to outline a few simple precautions to ensure no mishaps interrupt your outdoor fire pit fun:
PREPARING YOUR OUTDOOR FIRE PIT
- Make sure the ground or surface is flat and even to reduce the risk of fire escaping beyond your fire pit and clear all foliage (including grass) from the area.
- To keep your fire from causing damage, build the fire pit at least 10 FEET from your home, fences, trees, etc.
- Smooth stones from river beds may have absorbed moisture over time and can heat rapidly and explode. Instead of river stones, build your fire pit with dry, rough stones.
USING YOUR OUTDOOR FIRE PIT
- Avoid using your fire pit on windy days, since flames or embers can spread to your home, yard and nearby trees.
- Never use gasoline or kerosene to start your fire; such fuels can cause a fire to get out of control quickly. Instead, use dry wood as kindling that doesn’t extend beyond the edge of the pit.
- Even if your fire pit is small, flames can spread quickly if left unattended. Monitor the fire at all
- Make sure guests maintain a proper distance and don’t exhibit risky behavior. Keep close tabs on children and pets.
EXTINGUISHING YOUR OUTDOOR FIRE PIT
- Once you extinguish your fire with water, gently stir and spread the ashes to cool. Leave only when they’re cool to the touch.
- Keep a fire extinguisher, garden hose or bucket of sand close to douse the fire in case it gets out of hand. If you can’t put it out quickly, call 9-1-1.
We have also gathered some additional information from a Consumer Reports article on outdoor safety, focusing on fire pits:
“During the height of the pandemic lockdown, fire pits were twice as popular in online search as they've been in recent years…But here's a not-so-fun fact: There are at least 5,300 injuries per year related to fire pits or outdoor heaters that send people to the emergency room, according to 2017 data from the Consumer Products Safety Commission.
“So whether you gather around a portable fire pit, a built-in fireplace, a chiminea, or a simple stone-hedged hole in the ground, here's how to play it safe.”
- Always place a spark screen on top of the pit once you’ve built the fire.
- Keep a garden hose on hand as well to douse the flames if they get out of control.
- NEVER use a bucket of water. “Dumping water on a wood-burning fire forms a hard crust on top of remaining wood, coals, and ash, and causes a lot of water to run off,” says Chuck Roydhouse, a veteran career firefighter and president of the Chimney Safety Institute of America. “As a result, you may not quench the fire completely, and still have hot coals burning underneath the crust."
CHOOSE WOOD WISELY
- Avoid the softest woods like cedar or pine, which tend to smoke and spark, says Leroy Hite, owner of Cutting Edge Firewood in Atlanta.
- Get hardwoods like ash, hickory, and oak, which burn the longest. Hickory has a strong, classic “campfire” scent while oak is virtually odorless.
- You can also try a wood that’s moderately hard, such as cherry, which has a sweet aroma, or birch, which doesn’t smoke or spark much.
With the warming springtime days and cool evenings, we can already taste those yummy s’mores lovingly toasted around a fire pit. This is the stuff of fond memories…and a fleeting opportunity to share time with those near and dear. Just make sure those memories DON’T include a runaway fire! And, if more than your logs “get lit” then help is just a phone call away with the experienced fire restoration team at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio.
Are You Ready To “Get Lit”?!? – Part III
As Smoky the Bear says, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires”…and the damage to both nature AND your possessions an out-of-control campfire can cause!
In this installment of our series on fire safety, we venture a little further away from hearth and home. As we’ve previously addressed both grilling and backyard fire pit safety, let’s REALLY “get away from it all” at camp sites. And what would camping be without the requisite camp fire?!?
Whether you choose to really “rough it” with a tent and backpack, or opt for a “glamping” option in a luxury RV or cabin, the rules for keeping yourself and your possessions safe remain the same when it comes to building a campfire! Whereas you have a more “controlled” environment in your own backyard, in the great outdoors fire hazards will be much more plentiful…and possibly unknown to you and your fellow campers.
So we’ve gone to the ULTIMATE authority on campfire safety – Smoky the Bear! Everyone remembers that kindly bear reminding us that “Only you can prevent forest fires.” Regardless of whether you were an Eagle Scout or just beginning to explore the wonders of camping, we could all use a little refresher course from that cuddly bear.
According to the website, 87% of all wildfires were caused by humans in 2019 alone. So taking the proper safety measures before you decide to “get lit” outdoors is more important than ever:
HOW TO PICK YOUR CAMPFIRE SPOT
- DO NOT build a campfire if the campground, area or event rules prohibit them. Sometimes digging of pits may be prohibited due to archaeological or other concerns.
- DO NOT build a campfire in hazardous, dry conditions.
- FIND OUT if the campground has an existing fire ring or fire pit.
- If there is not an existing fire pit, and pits are allowed, choose a site at least 15 feet from tent walls, shrubs, trees or other flammable objects. Beware of low-hanging branches.
- Choose an open, level location away from heavy fuels such as logs, brush or decaying leaves.
- Take wind, and its direction, into account when choosing the site. Choose a spot that’s protected from gusts.
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR CAMPFIRE PIT
- Clear a 10-foot-diameter area around the site. Remove any grass, twigs, leaves and firewood.
- Dig a pit in the dirt, about a foot deep.
- Circle the pit with rocks.
- Your campfire pit is built and ready for building a campfire!
HOW TO BUILD YOUR CAMPFIRE
- First, make sure you have a source of water, a bucket and shovel nearby at all times.
- Gather three types of wood from the ground.
- Tinder: Small twigs, and dry leaves, grass & needles.
- Kindling: Sticks smaller than 1″
- Fuel: Larger pieces of wood. Keep these stacked upwind, away from the fire.
- Never cut whole trees or branches, dead or alive. Live materials won’t burn, and you’ll be damaging the forest. Dead standing trees often are homes for birds and other wildlife.
- Loosely pile a few handfuls of tinder in the center of the fire pit.
- Add kindling in one of these methods:
- Best for cooking
- Teepee: Lay the kindling over the tinder like you’re building a tent.
- Lean-to: Drive a long piece of kindling into the ground at an angle over the tinder. Lean smaller pieces of kindling against the longer piece.
Best for long-lasting campfires
- Cross: Crisscross the kindling over the tinder.
- Log Cabin: Surround your pile of tinder with kindling, stacking pieces at right angles. Top the “cabin” with the smallest kindling.
- Ignite the tinder with a match or lighter.
- Wait until the match is cold, and discard it into the fire.
- Add more tinder as the fire grows.
- Blow lightly at the base of the fire.
- Add kindling and fuel – the larger firewood – to keep the fire going.
- Keep the fire small and under control.
HOW TO MAINTAIN & EXTINGUISH YOUR CAMPFIRE
- Never cut whole trees or branches, dead or alive. Live materials won’t burn and dead standing trees — called “snags” — are often homes for birds and other wildlife.
- Once you have a strong fire going, add larger pieces of dry wood to keep it burning steadily.
- Don’t burn dangerous things like aerosol cans, pressurized containers, glass or aluminum cans. They could explode, shatter and/or create harmful fumes or dust.
- Keep your fire to a manageable size.
- Make sure children and pets are supervised near the fire. Never leave your campfire unattended.
HOW TO PROPERLY EXTINGUISH YOUR CAMPFIRE
- Allow the wood to burn completely to ash, if possible.
- Pour lots of water on the fire. Drown ALL embers, not just the red ones. Pour until hissing sound stops.
- If you do not have water, stir dirt or sand into the embers with a shovel to bury the fire.
- With your shovel, scrape any remaining sticks and logs to remove any embers. Make sure that no embers are exposed and still smoldering.
- Continue adding water, dirt or sand and stirring with a shovel until all material is cool.
- Remember: If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.
Of course, we encourage you to also review the earlier safety tips about outdoor cooking and recreational fires…because when you “play with fire” it’s deceptively easy to get “burned.” And, while we cannot undo any damage caused to Mother Nature by a runaway campfire, we DO have options for your fire and smoke damaged possessions!
Can’t get the smoke smell out of your camping gear? WE can! A fire-damaged vehicle (that was NOT “totaled”) after your expedition? Yep, we have vehicle restoration experts, TOO! That’s right, our fire damage expertise in not exclusively limited to homes or businesses…with SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio, even when your adventures get a little “too hot to handle” you can count on us to help you to once again enjoy the pleasures of “getting lit!”
Pandemic + Polar + Pipes = Pandemonium!
Take unprecedented freezing temps, combine with quarantines, then add in buildings not designed for this weather, and you have a recipe for disaster!
Recently, we discussed the “SERVPRO Way” of handling disasters…highlighting the company’s nationwide mobilization to answer an SOS from Texas in the wake of the unprecedented polar wave. And this impressive response allowed us to bring a degree of normalcy back to affected families and businesses.
However, this particular natural disaster carried with it an ADDITIONAL variable unlike any other – COVID pandemic lockdowns and quarantines! People who would have normally sought refuge elsewhere found themselves “stuck” in their frigid homes, without heat or running water, and ill-prepared for these temperatures. Businesses with heavy traffic in “pre-lockdown” times, had been shuttered for days (or weeks) on end and as a result did not realize their freezing properties had burst pipes…compounding the damage.
We saw the photos, and heard the statistics, but aside from a few of the extreme instances featured on newscasts, it can be difficult to put a personal “face” to these reports – unless it happens to YOU!
Once again, our staff member who wrote about her hurricane recollections in “Hurricane Diaries – Part I & Part II” – just happened to have a “frozen pipes” experience. Fortunately, her home escaped this fate last month here in Texas. But, she had one VERY memorable Christmas morning years ago in the horse country of Lexington, KY.
“We had recently moved from a townhome near the metro area of Lexington, KY to a sprawling cedar and stone home situated on five acres, located between two horse farms. We wanted more room for our growing young son to be able to play outdoors…and having Kentucky-bred thoroughbreds come visit us at the fences around our property was just an added bonus.
“After getting settled in during the breathtaking fall months – surrounded by the legendary ‘blue grass’ and dazzling array of autumnal colors – we prepared for our first Christmas in this picture-perfect home. A full two-story vaulted ceiling in the living room allowed us to have a truly majestic (and BIG) tree, next to the stone fireplace and visible from the rural pike (roadway) through the expansive front windows. In hindsight, we SHOULD have photographed this scene for the following year’s holiday card!
“Excitedly, we prepared for our son’s first “real” Christmas, since he was only seven weeks old the year before. And, after the Christmas Eve rituals, we put our boy to bed – with visions of sugar plums dancing in his head – then set about the extensive work of being busy Santa’s Helpers.
“Apparently, the ‘early-riser’ gene tends to skip a generation, and our son got it! So we set our alarm to make sure we were up before him and fell asleep to the scene of gently falling snow on the moonlit landscape.
“Spurred by the blaring alarm the following morning, my husband stumbled downstairs for his lifeblood – coffee – and noticed the power to his beloved coffeemaker was off. So, he went into the garage to flip the breaker…and stepped down into shin-deep ICY water!
“I heard bellowing and some DISTINCTLY ‘non-Christmas’ language! Apparently, the ‘below-the-freeze-line’ pipes we had become accustomed to in Missouri, Michigan and Ohio were NOT a ‘thing’ in this part of Kentucky. And, just like what we recently experienced in Texas, this area was not equipped for this type of weather extreme.
“Overnight, the ‘gentle’ snow had picked up volume and the temps had dropped down to the single digits and were steadily dropping below zero. My husband discovered the interior water cut-off was not stopping the flow, so there he was – in his holiday pajamas and fuzzy slippers – running out the front door and frantically digging in a foot of snow to locate the main water cut-off valve!
“So there we were, with no power or water on Christmas morning. Yes, in retrospect, I realize this sounds like something out of a wacky sitcom – and looking back, it really kind of was!
“Luckily, we still had our massive fireplace (along with an ample supply of firewood) and a good relationship with a local plumber. And, since snow and ice were not unknown commodities to local utilities, we had power restored by the next morning. Unlike some of our rural neighbors, we escaped any major damage since the burst pipe flooding was limited to the garage concrete floor. I was never so glad we had unpacked and moved everything into the house before Christmas…and would NEVER curse that steep step up from the garage into the kitchen back door!
“Of course, the clean-up involved LOTS of fans – after the temperatures rose – and some drywall replacement, along with new INSULATED pipes. However, after going through even that ‘minor’ pipe burst experience, I can genuinely sympathize with the effects of this ‘polar pandemonium’ my friends and neighbors had to experience!”
And although some of our local SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio did NOT escape the impact of this recent weather – and we will share another personal story in an upcoming post – it was nice to be able to jump in and help not only our wider community (taking an abundance of COVID-safe precautions) but our own SERVPRO family, as well!
Are You Ready To “Get Lit”?!? – Part I
A few preparatory steps BEFORE enjoying those outdoor grilling and cooking activities, can enhance the experience AND safety for everyone!
With warmer temperatures, longer days, early springtime foliage and the increased rollout of vaccines, ‘tis the season to begin enjoying all of the outdoor opportunities that await right outside our doors. Add in the sheer abandon of spring breaks, coupled with Easter and Passover festivities, to be shortly followed by Memorial Day, and you’ve got the perfect formula for outdoor fun!
And what goes better with those bucolic activities, than grilling on the BBQ, roasting marshmallows around a fire pit or sharing songs and stories during a bonfire on a camping getaway? Let’s face it, since the dawn of modern man those “fire-centric” activities have had a primal appeal.
However, BEFORE you decide it’s time to “get lit” we urge you to take a few preparatory steps! Just as we urged you to observe a few preventative measures when “fireplace season” began, enjoying that fire outdoors also requires proper safety.
So let’s start with another of those “primal urges” – food – and our beloved grills where we so lovingly cook those smoky treats. According to a blog post on the Nationwide Insurance site, “in 2013-2017 outdoor grilling caused an annual average of 10,200 home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Surprisingly, gas grills are actually the source of more home fires than charcoal grills, the association adds. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, 64% of households own a gas grill, 44% own a charcoal grill and 9% own an electric grill.” And they offer these nine tips to help you get “fired up” safely:
- Grill outside and away from any structures
Charcoal and gas grills are designed for outdoor use only. However, NFPA reports that more than one-quarter (27%) of home fires started by outdoor grills began in a courtyard, terrace or patio, and 29% started on an exterior balcony or open porch. Pay attention to overhanging tree branches when you set up your grill. And make sure you keep any aprons, towels or other fabrics away from areas with flying sparks.
- Make sure your grill is stable
Only set up your grill on a flat surface and make sure the grill can’t be tipped over. Consider using a grill pad or splatter mat underneath your grill to protect your deck or patio.
- Keep your grill clean
Remove grease or fat buildup from both the grill and the tray below the grill. If you are using a charcoal grill, allow the coals to completely cool before disposing of them in a metal container.
- Check for propane leaks on your gas grill
Before the season’s first barbecue, check the gas tank hose for leaks by applying a light soap and water solution to the hose and then turning on the gas. If there is a propane leak, the solution will bubble. Other signs of a propane leak include the smell of gas near the barbecue or a flame that won’t light.
- If the flame goes out, wait to re-light
If you are using a gas grill and the flame goes out, turn the grill and the gas off, and then wait at least five minutes to re-light it.
- Take care around the grill
Never leave a lit grill unattended. Don’t allow kids or pets to play near the grill. Never try to move a lit or hot grill, and remember the grill will stay hot for at least an hour after use.
- Use charcoal starter fluid carefully
If you use a charcoal grill, only use charcoal starter fluid. If the fire starts to go out, don’t add any starter fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire. Consider using a charcoal chimney starter, which uses newspaper to start the fire instead of starter fluid.
- Wear the right clothing
Clothing can easily catch fire, so be sure your shirt tails, sleeves or apron strings don’t dangle over the grill.
- Be prepared to put out the fire, if needed
Have baking soda on hand to control a grease fire and a fire extinguisher nearby for other fires. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, keep a bucket of sand next to the grill. NEVER use water to put out grease fire.
Nothing can spoil a beautiful springtime afternoon or evening enjoying the “fruits” of your outdoor grilling talents, than a fire that unexpectedly – and surprisingly quickly – getting out of control. So while we hope you look forward to sparking up some fiery fun in this changing season, we also understand these accidents DO happen…and SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio stands ready to help restore any unintended effects of “getting lit!”
“It’s The SERVPRO Way”
When the going gets rough – or in this case icy and cold – that’s when the nationwide SERVPRO teams REALLY get going!
Unless you’ve been on a remote trek, you heard about – and saw – the “once-in-a-generation” icy and snow storms which swept across Texas last month. And our San Antonio area homes and businesses certainly were not spared by what has been locally dubbed “snow-mageddon.”
As power grids fell like dominos and water pipes froze, the brutal conditions did not abate for days and left people to deal with impact of these conditions…while still in the midst of this frigid weather! And SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio was not immune to these effects.
While people desperately needed water damage clean-up, we not only fielded calls 24/7 but did this while our own facilities lost both power and water service. This unprecedented weather event did not slow down our dedicated teams – despite the fact that one of our production crew chiefs had broken water pipes flood HIS home!
Obviously, every SERVPRO in Texas was literally “flooded” with calls for assistance, as the damage continued to compound with each sub-freezing day. Along with plumbers, SERVPRO became the most in-demand pros and eventually had to accept they were in over their heads trying to serve everyone in need.
While willing plumbers from other regions tried to jump in to assist, the majority of property owners and managers found themselves scrambling to find someone – anyone – to help. And although these acts of goodwill did not go unappreciated, the lack of a central “clearinghouse” to prioritize and coordinate these service requests left many still floundering even weeks later. Fortunately, this was not the case with SERVPRO. Enter the SERVPRO Disaster Recovery Team!
Putting out the SOS to trained field technicians and crew chiefs nationwide, the Team marshalled these professionals, mobilized far-flung units and headed to Texas. These teams have the knowledge, equipment, and – most importantly – experience to deal with anything Mother Nature can dish out. This SERVPRO network of strategically positioned storm teams remains on standby should a disaster strike near you…available 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.
With the ability to mobilize local command centers, along with the resources of more than 1,700 franchises nationwide, no disaster is too big. Past mobilizations of the Catastrophic Storm Response Teams include:
- 2017 California wildfires
- 2017 Hurricane Irma
- 2017 Hurricane Harvey
- 2016 Hurricane Matthew
- 2015 Carolina floods
- 2014 Polar Vortex
- 2012 Sandy
- 2010 Nashville floods
- 2008 Ike
- 2007 Chicago floods
- 2007 Ohio floods
- 2007 California wildfires
- 2005 Katrina/Wilma/Rita
Our local SERVPROs have welcomed assistance from teams as far away as Montana, to ensure we can service all calls. With these added “helping hands” we encourage those who experienced property damage to call all of the local franchises, who have coordinated with the Recovery Team to dispatch personnel where needed. You will be placed on a prioritized waiting list, and the first available team will be assigned to your property.
Of course, those affected can minimize the impact by removing all damaged carpet or flooring, and any other “waterlogged” materials, so your response team can get right to work cleaning, drying and dehumidifying your space. This simple preparatory step can result in a noticeable lessening of required drying time. Many have relied upon their friends, neighbors, coworkers and members of their local church congregations to assist in these efforts. But, considering the nature of Texans, this “neighborly” attitude is just business as usual for us.
However, as any son or daughter of the Lone Star State knows, this “helping hands” attitude has been known to stop at our state line. So, why would someone from the far northwest of the U.S. trek all this way to help US?!? The owners of our SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio simply stated, “It’s just the SERVPRO way.” And for our money, that “Good Samaritan” philosophy ALONE is reason enough to always choose SERVPRO!
The Good, The Bad…And The REAL “Ugly” Of Mold
While “molds” can be quite useful in many contexts – and actually a GOOD thing – but, if it’s in your home or office it bypasses the “good” completely
A quick search of the word “mold” brought up a host of different images – and meanings. Molds for shaping desserts – good…molds for casting artwork – lovely…mold for aging cheeses – tasty…mold to create penicillin – lifesaving. Then, there’s the OTHER mold – hiding behind baseboards, creeping up walls, invading your bathroom. Something we’d say is anything BUT “appetizing” or helpful!
So while we can appreciate the tasty foods, beautiful creations and health benefits of many “molds,” NOBODY wants those nasty little organisms growing in your home or office. Not only is it unsightly (to say the very least), but the long-term effects can be a LOT worse than the cosmetic impact!
When we think of mold in this context, the phrase “black mold” immediately comes to mind. However, most people fail to realize there can be MULTIPLE types of mold lurking in your home or office…and regardless of its “color,” all types of mold should be dealt with as soon as possible and treated by professionals with the skills and equipment for proper remediation.
And make no mistake about it, time is of the essence when faced with the possible growth of mold spores. These microscopic organisms waste no time in setting up housekeeping, and when the proper conditions occur after any sort of water-related “incident” those little buggers get down to business – within 48 HOURS! After that, it doesn’t take long for them to produce just the initial allergens and irritants, and possibly causing health effects.
Now up to this point we’ve only discussed the physical side effects of mold exposure on people; this doesn’t even cover how it can affect the actual structure of your home or business. As living organisms actively-growing mold spores damage the material it lives on, thereby impairing STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY of any surface! So not only can it cause long-term ill effects on your health, but actually destroy your building.
Now that you know after water (or any excessive moisture) intrudes on your property it can promote mold growth as quickly as 48 hours, it’s important to remain vigilant and know all the facts, such as:
- Mold is present almost everywhere – indoors and outdoors
- Mold spores are microscopic, float along in the air, and may enter your home through windows, doors or HVAC systems…and even hitch a ride indoors on your clothing or pet
- Mold spores thrive on moisture and can quickly grow into colonies when exposed to water, which may produce allergens and irritants
- Before mold remediation can begin, any sources of water or moisture must be addressed, otherwise the mold may return
- Mold often produces a strong, musty odor, and that “aroma” can lead you to possible mold problem areas
- Even higher-than-normal indoor humidity can support mold growth, so it’s important to keep indoor humidity below 45%
It’s obvious that even a “little” mold is not something to take lightly…and should be handled by licensed, trained, professionals like the team at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio. Fortunately with specialized equipment and years of experience, we can remove the “bad and ugly” of any mold growth – and just leave you to breathe easy and enjoy the “good” life!
When Time Is Money, Your Business Really CANNOT “Afford” To Wait!
For every minute that passes after a commercial enterprise experiences a disaster, owners can literally count the dollars ALSO running out the door!
Legion “biz-speak” phrases pepper our working vocabularies…phrases like “think outside the box”… “there is no “I” in team”… “manage the optics”… and, the granddaddy of them all, “time is money.” However, before we excoriate these clichés – and those who use them – consider this: clichés are used to the point of becoming clichés because they DO convey valid and valuable principles!
And while some terms may fall in and out of fashion, certain nuggets remain timeless, such as the aforementioned “time is money” axiom used across all business platforms and by those of multiple experience levels and positions. Again, there’s a REASON for this! Anyone who has ever operated any business enterprise or set their sights on increased productivity, knows – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that time DOES have value and can translate into cold, hard cash.
Whether it’s waiting on delayed shipments, coping with multiple layers of bureaucratic red tape, or recovering from a disaster, that elusive element of “time” can represent a (pardon the use of yet another, nonetheless VALID, cliché) make-or-break moment for your business. And we see this daily in our business, too! Our clients need their work done NOW; and our ability to respond 24/7 is the bedrock of our business.
For our commercial clients, every minute they remain closed or hampered due to a disaster – whether flood, fire, contamination or crime has impacted their business – represents a dollar (or usually a LOT more) lost. We understand the immediacy of their needs and importance of expediency in restoring their facilities and contents back to operational levels.
If we learned nothing else from the 2020 COVID lockdowns on business, we did see the tangible evidence of how just a few weeks can be the difference between solvency and bankruptcy for any company. And while many managed to pivot (yep, there’s another one of those “words”) their business model to accommodate the restrictions, in the event of many “disasters” that is simply NOT an option.
Restaurants moved to take-out and delivery as their bottom-line “bread and butter.” However, imagine if the kitchen were destroyed by a fire or flood. No “Plan B” can account for this unforeseen turn of events. Or, what if mold is discovered in a commercial rental space – be it residential or corporate – and ALL the space is uninhabitable? Bye, bye rental income! And, in both of these examples, this translates into “bye, bye profits!”
Fortunately, for a lot of businesses, they received subsidies during the COVID crisis to assist in covering overhead and keeping them from permanently closing their doors. And, when a disaster strikes most commercial operations, they also have a “safety net” in the form of insurance to assist in the restoration. But that usually only covers the ACTUAL remediation and repairs…leaving you still holding the bag for all of that lost income DURING the restoration! And that’s when the whole “time is money” concept really comes into play.
Yes, you have the funds to mitigate your property losses – but now you’re at the mercy of your selected restoration team’s OWN timeline. At SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio, we know it’s not only about our expert training and equipment geared specifically to commercial properties, but also about a QUICK response and action! And that’s where our experience becomes a “priceless” asset, since we do this every day and have both the skilled personnel and specialized equipment to immediately get to work – to get YOUR business back to work.
So when we “get down to business” you can rest assured this isn’t just a cliché we throw around, it’s something we take to heart and have made it our mission to be able to get the needed “boots on the ground” and the “available bandwidth” to make sure YOUR business isn’t “leaving money on the table!”
“Been There, Done That…Wish I STILL Had The T-Shirt”
Alongside first responders & insurance claim specialists, don't forget the SERVPRO restoration professionals as key members of your fire response team
At some point, we’ve listened as someone recounted the story of an adventure or particular mishap, and no matter how engaged you may have been by the tale, these sorts of things usually end with the sentiment: “You just had to be there!”
Yet, even the most talented wordsmith cannot capture the excitement, the adrenalin rush or the raw emotion of actually living through something. Honestly – well, you know – you just had to be there! So when talking about things like tornadoes, hurricanes and fires, sometimes it IS best to hear it directly from someone who’s “been there, done that” and STILL wishes she had the T-shirt…our own intrepid staffer who brought us previous posts about her hurricane experiences.
“Although I’ve been through hurricanes, floods, blizzards and yes, even an earthquake, for some reason the vivid details of the fires I have personally experienced have stuck with me like nothing else. And while none was terribly devastating from a property damage or personal injury standpoint (thank goodness), the feeling of total helplessness proved more overwhelming than ANY natural disaster I’ve endured.
“But, despite a few smaller incendiary incidents in my teens and early twenties, the one we had in our big old Victorian home in Grand Rapids, MI definitely had a major impact on our household that I will never forget. Now, imagining a rambling historic home, it would be natural to think the source might have been outdated wiring, an aging fireplace or an oil-fueled furnace malfunction. Wrong! Take one second-hand apartment dryer (we were newlyweds and still using leftover appliances from our single days), put it in an upstairs room, and add a broken belt that no longer turned the dryer drum and suddenly you have a smoke-filled house – all three floors!
“Although no structural damage resulted, the 'vintage' (translated from old and ugly) wallpaper in that room definitely took a hit…as did ALL of our clothes and upstairs furniture. Let me tell you, that smell of smoke permeates EVERYTHING and can haunt you for days, and even weeks.
“We were fortunate that a couple of firefighters and our insurance agent gave us some helpful suggestions to help ‘restore’ our clothes and furniture. For days on end, we had huge batches of washable clothes soaking in a DIY concoction of household ingredients filling our huge ancient cast iron bathtub, to remove both the smoke stains AND smells. We had to cross our fingers for those treasured ‘dry-clean only’ items – and had some personal casualties among them.
“Then, there was that SMELL in the walls and the floors and the wood of our carefully collected antique furniture items. We actually had to move our mattress downstairs into the formal dining room…so much for looking and acting like ‘grown-ups’ as it looked like we’d reverted to early college décor!
“And while we had started to casually look for a home to purchase (as we had only recently moved to Grand Rapids and been leasing), the fire DEFINITELY added a new urgency to our search! Our solution to escape the smoke and fire aftermath? We MOVED!
“It even took an antique furniture repair and restoration specialist to get the smell and haze from the smoke out of all the bedroom, hallway and even downstairs foyer pieces – which we did PRIOR to bringing them into our new “old” home. Honestly, we would have given almost ANYTHING at that point in our lives to have had someone like SERVPRO experts come in and handle the whole mess. After all I’ve seen as a team member at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio, I’m amazed at how they really CAN make it "Like it never even happened."
“And, although they can’t bring back the classic ELO glitter T-shirt that unfortunately was in the dryer when the drum stopped turning (eBay, where were you THEN? Hmmm…may have to do a search now), I’ve seen with my own eyes the miracles their specialized equipment, cleaning solutions and trained techs can work! And, if and when I ever have another fire ‘incident’ it’s comforting to know that someone who cares about restoring my possessions, my home or office, my peace of mind, and my life, is just one phone call away.”
Is An Emergency EVER “Convenient”?!?
Nights? Weekends? Holidays? YEP...the SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio team will ALWAYS answer your call for help!
Have you ever given any thought to the word “emergency”? Truthfully, we RARELY give a thought to either the word or possible scenarios – other than when you might be in the midst of one! So indulge the “word nerd” in us, as we delve a bit deeper into this word.
According to Wikipedia, “An emergency is a situation that poses an immediate risk to health, life, property, or environment. Most emergencies require urgent intervention to prevent a worsening of the situation, although in some situations, mitigation may not be possible and agencies may only be able to offer palliative care for the aftermath…An incident, to be an emergency, conforms to one or more of the following if it:
- Poses an immediate threat to life, health, property, or environment
- Has already caused loss of life, health detriments, property damage, or environmental damage
- has a high probability of escalating to cause immediate danger to life, health, property, or environment”
Obviously, by its very definition, an emergency is traditionally “unexpected.” And while we can follow the old scout motto of TRYING to be prepared, any emergency typically catches us unaware. No surprise there!
If you think about it, part of what makes ANY emergency an “emergency” is the fact that whatever happened, traditionally occurs at possibly the most inconvenient time. Tires don’t get flats unless you actually have someplace to be, and burst pipes or overflowing toilets seem to ONLY happen on nights, weekends or holidays!
Fortunately, we now have an increasing number of businesses who understand the 24/7 nature of our society…like SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio. We understand that emergencies rarely strike when it’s “convenient” and that’s why we will ALWAYS be available to answer your call. And, the best part – this is just a part of our standard customer service philosophy.
So whether it’s a holiday cooking “combustion”…a “flood” of gifts AND water…or air filled with the scent of baked goods AND a furry invader, you can count on our dedicated professionals to make even the most inconvenient situation a little LESS “inconvenient!”
Can “An Ounce Of Prevention” Be Your COVID Cure?
Everyone KNOWS "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"...that $40 oil change is certainly more affordable than a $4000 new engine!
We all face unique business circumstances during this COVID-19 period, finding new ways to cope, and the public has been made acutely aware of the adverse effects across the full professional spectrum. From healthcare workers to public servants to educators to essential personnel in virtually every industry, our society has extended a level of goodwill and charity not seen in recent history. But, how long will this quality of “understanding” last? Unfortunately, this era of tolerance may already be coming to an end.
While local, regional and national agencies meticulously track both the rise and fall of diagnoses, hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19, another barometer may be a more accurate reflection of BUSINESS health. Legal firm Hunton Andrews Kurth has compiled and regularly updates their COVID-19 Lawsuit Tracker. And the numbers just may be more depressing than the actual infection rates in your area.
As of this week (11/30/2020), almost 6500 legal liability complaints have already been filed nationwide – with Texas ranking the fourth-highest (behind New York, California and Florida sequentially) at 478 open cases to date. And unlike the medical stats, these lawsuit numbers only promise to skyrocket. Aside from those “circumstance-specific” complaints (probably not applicable to a broader base of employees or contractors), one HAS emerged which could have wide-reaching ramifications:
“(an increasing number of)…Texas cases have to do with conditions of employment, including lack of PPE, exposure to COVID-19 at work, wrongful death or personal injury”
At this point, many business owners and employers could be dismissing this litigation, as they comfortably rely on the protections provided by the SAFE TO WORK Act, introduced July 27th in the U.S. Senate. The stated purpose of this legislation is to:
“To lessen the burdens on interstate commerce by discouraging insubstantial lawsuits relating to COVID–19 while preserving the ability of individuals and businesses that have suffered real injury to obtain complete relief.”
The bill even includes an added layer of insulation for entrepreneurs, wherein the protections would be applied retroactively for cases dating back to December 2019…and currently written to remain in effect until October 2024. So while many may see this as a positive indicator, others may see this as a major – negative – harbinger for spiking litigation over the next four years.
However, coupled with the announcement of Texas reaching the 1,000,000 case mark a couple of weeks ago – a dubious distinction as the first state to hit this milestone – we can only expect an attendant uptick in associated lawsuits. And according to FindLaw we will see this litigation focus on six different areas:
- Workplace/Employment Lawsuits
- Class-Action Lawsuits
- Lawsuits Against Educational Institutions
- Insurance Lawsuits
- Voting Rights Lawsuits
- Lawsuits Against Health Care Companies
Which raises the question of liability waivers – for the public AND internal team members – and exactly how much protection they may offer business owners. According to an examination done by the American Bar Association Journal:
“The COVID-19 waivers do not provide complete blanket immunity to businesses from lawsuits. The waivers may limit or prevent certain liability—like common negligence suits—and highlight safety risks to customers, but they don’t apply to intentional or wanton conduct or gross negligence claims."
Like any contract, there are different ways for a business to obtain a COVID-19 waiver. Some are hiring lawyers to craft them. Others use free or inexpensive templates downloaded from the internet.
So exactly what recourse DO businesses have in these unprecedented times?!? First, put the proper protocols in place to dovetail with the CDC recommendations. Among other measures, companies should consider:
- Performing temperature screenings on any persons entering the premises and denying access to those running a fever;
- Sending home any employees who have symptoms, reside with a person showing symptoms, or have recently traveled to areas with outbreaks;
- Requiring all persons entering the premises to wear face coverings;
- Requiring and facilitating social distancing by all persons present on the premises;
- Promoting good hygiene and sanitation practices; and
- Posting displays emphasizing the risk of contracting COVID-19 and stating the required and recommended safety measures.
Companies should also adopt a compliance policy that will allow them to verify and document they are complying with those regulations and guidelines. Those ordinances and rules are periodically updated, so companies should designate a point person(s) to monitor any revisions and ensure they are promptly implemented.
Additionally, companies should consider having all visitors (if feasible) sign a release in exchange for permission to access the premises. So long as certain criteria are satisfied, releases that relieve a party in advance of liability for its own negligence are enforceable under Texas law, and an effective release is "an absolute bar to any right of action on the released matter." Consult with an attorney to ensure the release for your business complies with Texas law.
Of course, as remediation and mitigation specialists, SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio believes in the old adage, “An ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure.” And considering the “pound of flesh” this wave of litigation may exact from entrepreneurs and business owners, the best investment could be a round of precautionary COVID-19 sanitation in spaces open to both the public, and those “non-public” areas frequented by employees, contractors and vendors.
Although announcements of daily advancements in the development and approval of effective vaccines and rapid testing capabilities may offer hope, without the proper prophylactic measures after an employee or customer tests positive for the virus, the impact on the health of your business bottom line could be affected for YEARS after the pandemic subsides.
What Happens AFTER The CSI Team Leaves?
TV rarely shows what you may face AFTER the investigation is over…and that’s where SERVPRO comes into the picture!
Frequently, we get our impressions of certain experiences almost exclusively from watching television. Think about it, we may not hike the Rockies, race a powerful piece of machinery around a track at 200+ MPH, experience the G-force pull of a jet airplane on takeoff, or sail a sleek vessel in an epic regatta race. Yet, we still have a “sense” of what these adventures may “feel” like.
Similarly, the people and events as portrayed on TV or in a movie usually do NOT follow realistic parallels with our “normal” everyday lives. Honestly, do you think ALL firefighters look like they do on television?!? And, the need to move storylines along, and build the proper dramatic arc, allows these shows to usually just skip past the more “mundane” or “boring” aspects of any event. C’mon…that’s why they invented mini-series!
So, what DOES happen during those parts of the story we never see? For instance, after an accident or other tragedy, and the investigators and their teams have now left, we usually see a quick cut to a lab, or office. And all that’s left at the ACTUAL scene is the aftermath! What happens in the lives of those left behind when they return to their home or office?!? Bet you never gave THAT a second thought during those “meanwhile-back-at-the-station” scenes. But it suddenly becomes VERY “dramatic” when it happens to you!
Although we readily acknowledge this may not be a pleasant subject to consider, should you ever be faced with the remnants of a crime scene, this suddenly becomes a MAJOR concern. So let’s circle back around to that question we asked earlier…”What happens NOW?!?”
Don’t worry, MOST people never even think about this. But, it IS good to have information if you or someone you know ever does find yourself in this position. This not only applies to those “worst-case” scenarios you’re probably already imagining, but also to the scene of burglaries, fires and other sites of legal “misadventures.” And if you’ve ever had to clean up fire extinguisher residue or fingerprint dust, you know it takes a LOT more than a few household wipes to put things back to “normal.”
However, in the case of more “dramatic” scenes, many choose to just move into a different home or business space. Yet, even if you never want to set foot in that space again, SOMEBODY has to clean it up before listing the property. And that’s where the specially-trained SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio crime scene techs enter the scene.
While Realtors in Texas are required to disclose if a major crime has occurred at the property, they do have the opportunity to showcase the home or building to prospective buyers prior to making the revelation. So it’s DEFINITELY in your best interest to have the site professionally cleaned to remove ALL traces of the “incident.” It’s much easier for buyers to pictures themselves in the space, if the “evidence” of previous occupants – and their activities – has been COMPLETELY erased!
So even though you may continue to enjoy the majority of your experience vicariously through your favorite TV shows and characters, and not see what happens AFTER those crime scene investigators have left, you now have the knowledge to fill-in-the-blanks in the story for yourself!
You Can “Breathe Easy”…By Keeping Your Air “In The Pink!”
We think about “dusting & cleaning” other parts of our space…but what about the ducts that carry the air you BREATHE?!?
Let’s face it, given the current climate, we have all become acutely aware of “cleanliness”…whether it’s in our homes, offices, schools and retail spaces. So we douse everything in hand sanitizer, meticulously spray and wipe every surface we may come into contact with, and steam clean masks and outerwear. BUT – have you thought about the quality of the air you breathe every day?!?
Try thinking about that for a minute. Kinda makes it hard to “breathe easy,” right? RELAX! A professional air duct cleaning is just the prescription you need. It’s ironic how much care we take with cleaning other things in our life, yet we don’t give a second thought to the dust, allergens, spores and pet dander in the air we literally blast into every corner of our lives.
You’ve seen what your filters look like after you do your regular changes. Now, imagine all those microscopic particles that STILL lurk in your ductwork. Air blowing tends to run in a fairly focused path through those ducts…leaving the corners, crevices and sharp twists virtually untouched, where all sorts of “interesting” things can dig in. YIKES!!!
It reminds us of all those pink “healthy” versus grey “dirty” lung pictures we’ve seen over the years. And, if you think about it, your air ducts are the pulmonary system of every interior (and, here in Texas, some exterior) space in our lives. And considering EVERYTHING in our air, that’s a lot to ask one little filter to handle!
So in the spirit of “thinking pink” this October, WE want to help keep you “breathing easy” and your air “in the pink!” For the entire month, SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio is offering 15% OFF air duct cleanings…PLUS a donation to the local Susan G. Komen Foundation of $20 per residential and $50 per commercial job for the entire month October.
If you need even more of a “win-win” scenario, consider this. With our negative pressure professional vacuum process, coupled with specially-designed “scrub brushes” to completely scour the interior of ductwork and dislodge all those lurking contaminants, you EXTEND the life of your HVAC system AND save money on monthly bills due to increased unit efficiency!
Not only do you benefit, but doing something to enhance the quality of your health ALSO benefits the health and well-being of those facing the diagnosis and aftermath of breast cancer. We want to genuinely put the “pink” into #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth…with healthy air, healthy lives, healthier and happier communities.
Honestly, we can’t think of a better way “think pink” in October…while making sure a LOT of people can “breathe easy” – not just this month, but all year long!
When Is “Stormy Weather”…NOT?!?
A little due diligence can go a LONG way to covering you when the bills for “Storm Damage” come due!
With this particularly active tropical storm season, wildfires raging on the West Coast and earthquakes and tornadoes still a concern for many, insurance coverage almost certainly has become top-of-mind for property owners and tenants, alike. However, every day across America too many people discover their particular disaster has left them without the insurance coverage they THOUGHT they had!
NOW – before we go any further – we want to emphasize we are NOT insurance agents, brokers or industry experts! We’re just a team who deals with personal catastrophes every day, and have managed to pick up some “on-the-job” knowledge…knowledge which may be valuable to you either now OR in the future.
Which brings us to the whole idea of “Storm Damage” – YES, we do restoration and remediation for storm damage, and have years of experience dealing with most anything Mother Nature can dish out. But, do YOU know what “storm damage” actually means?!? It just may come as quite a surprise!
One insurance authority gave a pretty concise definition, in laymen’s terms (because honestly, no one wants to read “insuranc-ese”) of what GENERALLY is covered under the concept of “Storm Damage”:
“Storm damage is the destructive result of weather-related events. It can include damage to the exterior of your home, such as your roof shingles blowing off after a windstorm, or the siding of your home being dented from hail. Storm damage may even affect the interior of your home, like power surge damage from a lightning strike…Storm damage insurance isn’t its own policy — it’s part of your homeowners policy.
“Typically wind or tornadoes, wildfire, ice storms, fallen trees and lightning strikes have a certain level of coverage as part of a standard policy. Make sure you understand the types of storms that are covered by your specific policy before a disaster rather than after…Usually flood and earthquakes are excluded by your standard policy.”
AGAIN, we are not recommending one carrier or type of policy over another…it’s just like panty hose, “one size” does NOT “fit all!” We just want you to be an informed consumer, and insurance coverages and legal parameters literally vary from state to state. For instance, folks along the Gulf Coast diligently write those extra checks every year for rising water and flood coverage. On the West Coast – where earthquakes, mudslides and wildfires occur all too frequently – residents, business owners and leasees MAY need an entirely separate policy to cover these “acts of God” which might normally be covered in areas where they are NOT common.
And, let’s not forget “Sheryl’s She-Shed” – the commercial that went viral! But, if you recall, Sheryl’s first call was to her insurance agent to make sure it was covered. It may come as a shock to some residents to discover their “casitas”…”she-sheds”…and “backyard man caves” are NOT covered under their “standard” policy.
Apparently, Sheryl’s husband and agent ensured that only was her oasis covered, but at “replacement cost” instead of just their initial investment. Your “vintage” kitchen stove damaged by a storm may only fetch a few dollars of reimbursement without that replacement coverage. The same holds true for those who carry renter’s insurance. Your now-water-soaked sofa, depreciated over five years, may only yield enough for a futon in today’s dollars.
It’s not JUST about “replacement,” either. Of course you want to make sure that element is part of your insurance package. But don’t forget the all-important step BETWEEN “disaster” and “shopping” – RESTORATION! Whether it’s a fire from a freak lightning strike or a flash flood from an unexpected rain storm – which, by the way, some “storm” definitions ONLY include “Named Storms” in their hurricane-related coverage – you still need experts to assess the true damage and take the proper steps to restore the environment for all your shiny new replacement possessions.
Fortunately, the team at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio has the knowledge, on-going training in the latest technology and techniques, specialized equipment and a healthy dose of compassion to bring to any disaster scene! As we’ve learned, the MOST important part is to be prepared BEFORE any “storm” strikes. And knowledge of what IS and what ISN’T covered in your life gives you the BEST weapon to deal with whatever nature throws your direction!
The “Hurricane Diaries” – Part II
Just one example of the “landscape” a 5½-year-old saw after Hurricane Carla hit her hometown!
Once more, the residents of the Texas Gulf Coast find themselves up to their waders in the remnants of yet ANOTHER named storm this year. Who could have ever imagined we’d actually run out of names by mid-September and have moved into Greek territory?!? Guess it’s just another of the squares on our 2020 Bingo cards!
So, it seemed appropriate to once again turn over the blog to our staff member, Debbie, for another of the entries in her “Hurricane Diaries.” When we last left her recollections, her family had just returned home in the aftermath of legendary Hurricane Carla and THIS was when the five-and-a-half year old began to understand WHY everyone had made such a big deal about “another hurricane.”
“As I mentioned before, in 1961 La Porte, Texas was the quintessential ‘small town’ – which just happened to be in the shadow of the one of THE fastest-growing cities in the United States. I remember the population signs marking each of the city limits, being somewhere in the low 3000s, and the MAJOR milestone years later when we finally exceeded five thousand people!
“Although my family did not live within the city limits of either La Porte, or any of the neighboring bedroom communities of Lomax, Shoreacres or Morgan’s Point, you could drive from one end of the entire ‘developed’ area to the other in less than 20 minutes – except through Shoreacres, a well-known speed trap among the local teens and lead-footed adults! So even on a ‘busy’ day, we could be from our driveway to the downtown school, library, movie theater or church parking lot in under 10 minutes.
“But, on THIS morning, it was a drive like I had never experienced. Pieces of homes, furniture, cars, trees and power line poles were strewn across even the ‘major’ thoroughfares. The familiar landscape I had known so well, no longer existed. Carla had transformed my picturesque hometown and left desolation and destruction in her wake. I was numb…and pretty sure at several points my mother told me to close my dropped jaw.
“However, even the torn-away roofing on our grocery store, hardware store and bowling alley could not prepare me for what I saw as we drove further down Old Hwy. 146 closer toward the suburban bayfront south of town – AND our home.
“I discussed earlier the devastation of many of our neighbors’ homes. But that just scratched the surface of the storm damage. Imagine driving down a decent-sized main road, then suddenly seeing a 24’ cabin cruiser with twin inboard engines SITTING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HIGHWAY! And we’re not talking tipped over in a ditch to the side. No siree, we’re talking spread broadside – perfectly upright on its keel – across the entire two-lane blacktop, with sails akimbo and some lodged in treetops.
“That can leave some indelible memories in the sponge-like brain of a youngster. Now, add a drive past the local boating club – the loftily-named Houston Yacht Club (but, as the OLDEST yacht club in the state of Texas, I guess they did have the right to put on some ‘airs’) – and seeing literal STACKS of craft one on top of the other, like a giant nautical Jenga game. Mind blown!
“First row bayfront homes now offered full water views FROM THE STREET. But probably the most bizarre sight I think I saw that day, was our neighbor’s classic Jaguar, MG, Triumph and Sunbeam finely-restored motorcars PERCHED IN TREES like a murder of crows! Between that, and the boats of all shapes and sizes – along with their equipment, rigging and sails – littering front yards, I gained a true understanding of a hurricane’s power that day.
“It’s no wonder I grew up to be a storm-chasing journalist on the Gulf Coast…something we might explore in a future diary entry! But it also gave me genuine empathy for anyone who had ever sustained any type of storm damage. Even though it may not be a classic MGA in a tree, ALL damage caused by major tropical storms is literally life-altering. In addition to this insight, I also walked into the wake of any storm with a MORE-THAN-HEALTHY respect for both the storm and those who feel the effects of its power.
“Somehow, it’s different when the nice lady who always has fresh cookies now must spread her clothes, her rugs, her draperies – basically, her LIFE – across her front lawn. You understand the real pain of the affable neighborhood doctor who now has a tree where the entire center of his home used to be. You tear-up when you see rows upon rows of pylons sticking out of the water, where neighborhood piers once hosted regular gatherings and formed the social nucleus of our little enclave.
“Those two little words ‘storm damage’ honestly seem insufficient to convey EXACTLY what this can entail. But to their credit, each one of our neighbors went through the laborious task of salvaging their lives and rebuilding their American Dream. Although this did not happen overnight, and involved a fair amount of insurance ‘discussion’ since this was BEFORE the time of federally-subsidized flood coverage, it nonetheless offered an honest insight into the indomitable nature of the human spirit…with a little (OR LOT) of help from our friends!
“I guess that’s one of the things I remember most – everyone helping, everyone pitching-in – and as a part of that effort, now I can REALLY appreciate the skills and equipment at our disposal here at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio, to mitigate the damage of any storm, of any magnitude! Who knows, maybe it was experiences just like these from my childhood that were the impetus for the original founding of that first SERVPRO back in 1967…just a few short years after Carla. Hmmmm? Just a thought!”
So as this same area from Debbie’s most recent “Diary” entry again now faces the destruction and mayhem of even a “minor” hurricane like Beta, we have a bit more insight into both the physical AND emotional devastation it can leave in its path. As Debbie has demonstrated, for us it’s REAL…we take EVERY situation to heart…we honestly CARE about these lives…and ALWAYS stand ready to lend a helping hand!
Sometimes “A Drop In The Bucket” Is ALL It Takes!
Whether it’s just that LAST drop or a flood, the long-term effects of water damage can actually be the same!
Normally, we start these little “stories” with tales of devastating natural disasters, epic freak occurrences or heartbreaking losses. Guess what, that’s NOT what we’re talking about today! Instead, let’s focus on those “little” things that just seem to add up over time…the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back”… “tipping point”… and basically we wait “for the other shoe to drop.”
In life, frequently it’s less about the “big” stuff, and increasingly about the picayune things that have a way of mounting up over the days, weeks, month or even years. Before you scoff, think about how arguments usually play out between spouses or friends. It may have STARTED with one seemingly-miniscule infraction, BUT before you know it the situation devolves into a checklist of everything that person has done over the last four decades! And this applies to more than just people!
Our possessions frequently bedevil us with the same “nit-picking” annoyances. Your laptop takes longer and longer to boot-up. As soon as you get one thing fixed on your car, within a month one of those bothersome “alerts” lights up your dashboard. Those gutters you keep promising to clean and repair, reach their limit during a rainstorm. As Roseanne Roseannadanna said: “Well, it just goes to show you, it's always something — if it’s not one thing, it's another."
And then – just like that – one day, your computer gives you the “screen of death,” your car refuses to start, and those gutters dumped water down your foundation walls. Or, it could be something as simple as that leaky faucet or tub with a slow drain. You keep meaning to take a look at them, but never quite get around to it. Sure, it’s no big deal and a “minor” irritation that it’s pretty easy to overlook…UNTIL you discover that little leak has led to BIG problems!
Maybe that leaky faucet has resulted in mold growth under your sink. Or, that gutter water that wasn’t diverted away from your house has now gotten the inside of your walls wet. Could be, that “slow” drain signaled a dangerous pipe breach under your bath. Now what?!?
We’ve seen it time and again – in all sorts of situations we encounter just as a part of “life” – where we find ourselves facing “the drop that caused the bucket to overflow.” And that ONE drop has now triggered a chain reaction of events! Water damage to floors, walls and cabinets, the discovery of mold growing inside those dark corners where we never actually look, new and “interesting” smells suddenly filling a room…all the tell-tale signs of that annoying “final drop.”
So, FIRST (and we cannot emphasize this enough!) call a licensed plumber! It’s pointless to address the effects of water damage without FIXING the cause. Of course, we can come in to restore and remediate the consequences of that water – but it will continue to happen until the SOURCE of that damage is repaired!
However, once you HAVE fixed the offending issue, your next call should be to the trusted and experienced team at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio. As the “go-to” water damage restoration and remediation specialists for over 20 years, we’ve got the knowledge, state-of-the-art equipment and on-going training to rewind the clock on the repercussions from that “final drop!” Honestly, we’ve ALLLLL been there and we understand how the “little” things in life can add-up, but experience has taught us, sometimes it’s just better to NOT wait for “the straw to break the camel’s back” or that “other shoe to drop!”
We Build “CARE” Right INTO Our Business
We KNOW you have put your life in our hands, and we will always CARE about every aspect of that life entrusted to us!
We have a unique business – we usually first meet people on one of the worst days of their life. Talk about an awkward “icebreaker” moment! After the initial exchange of pleasantries, it becomes all about the disaster. And that puts us in a position others rarely encounter at their work…much less DAILY.
Basically, our job is to just make everything “all better.” And that includes not just restoring their homes, offices and possessions back to “like it never even happened” but also trying to help them put their LIVES back together! If you think about it, our ENTIRE business is about taking care of others.
So it makes sense for “C.A.R.E.” to form the centerpiece of the SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio team philosophy. Our owners, Greg and Tammie Hall have identified the qualities that set our business apart: the C.A.R.E. Motto
“We’re personally committed because this is our business and it means everything to us to keep our promise every day to our customers and staff.”
“We remain focused on training and maintaining our level of excellence in everything we do, and SERVPRO is the recognized industry leader in restoration services.”
“Not only do we treat our customers’ homes and businesses with respect, we also expect our staff to be respectful when dealing with the public – AND each other.”
“We strive to maintain our top industry rating, as well as the trust and respect we have earned from contractors, insurance carriers and businesses, which drives us to always improve our knowledge, our skills and our resources.”
“We’re a family business, taking care of other ‘families’ – regardless of whether they’re a ‘corporate family’ or a single person with two dogs and a goldfish. Each and every one of them is important to us!”
It’s not simply about doing the job and collecting a paycheck for our team. Each and every one of our staff takes an active interest in the needs of our customers, incorporating the CARE philosophy into everything we do…from dispatch to insurance assistance to marketing and, of course, to the actual restoration and remediation. Yes, we are a business; but we’re a business who actually has CARE built right into our model and operations! Who could ask for more when your LIFE needs restoring?!?
All “Fired-Up”? CONGRATS…Or Condolences!
NO fire is a “small” fire, when it happens to you! And SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio is equipped to make it “Like it never even happened."
Have you ever thought about the word “fire”? Not just in terms of the physical element, but the WORD itself?!? It’s odd that such a “destructive” force can ALSO be used in positive terms. If your favorite sport team is having a winning season, it’s not at all uncommon to say they’re “on fire.” In fact, they could be “burning up” the field or court!
If someone is passionate or excited enough about a cause or project, we frequently say they’re “fired up” or “a ball of fire.” Or perhaps a visionary spawns a plan to revolutionize something; it might be said he’s either got “a fire in his belly” or has a mission to “set the world on fire.” All good things!
But things can QUICKLY take a turn – just like a, well, fire! If you choose to “play with fire” then you could find yourself “going from the frying pan and into the fire.” And everyone who has EVER been part of an argument knows that “adding fuel to the fire” can prove EXTREMELY hazardous! Then, there’s the one the majority of us hope to NEVER hear: “You’re fired.”
Yet, in one situation there’s no question which side of the “good-bad” fence THIS use of “fire” falls: “We had a fire.” No doubts whatsoever…this is a BAD thing. We offer sympathy and inquire if anyone was hurt. But make no mistake about it – even the “smallest” fire hurts! Even a quickly-contained fire in a kitchen skillet leaves damage. Damaged backsplash…damaged counters and cabinets…damaged floors…damaged walls…damaged sense of safety in one’s own home…yep, the damage is REAL!
Even if you manage to clean up the surface mess, that smell still lingers. Did you know that smells have the greatest power to trigger sense memories?!? So while the visible damage may be gone, the simple smell of smoke or something burning can cause you to relive the initial trauma.
Your nose and brain don’t realize the danger has already passed, and once again that “warning” sensation returns along with the same adrenaline rush. And, should the fire have been on a much larger scale, not only do you have to deal with the structural aftermath but the emotional “loss” as well. Treasured family mementos damaged by water, soot covering photos and your wedding china, furniture and clothing reeking of smoke, can feel emotionally overwhelming.
Honestly, you don’t know whether you need a restoration specialist or a trauma therapist! Sadly, our team at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio sees this all too often…and genuinely cares about restoring BOTH your possessions and home, AND your sense of well-being again. We’re experts at this; it’s what we do every day – and we do it extremely WELL! From smoke and water damage, to fine art restoration and air duct cleaning, with a healthy dose of sympathetic shoulder thrown in, we’re your one-stop shop for fire recovery. You might say we’re “fired up” about helping our neighbors make it “Like it never even happened.”
A “Defining Moment” That Defined SERVPRO
Just as the rest of the nation stepped-up in the wake of 9-11, we’re proud to say SERVPRO also joined the efforts to recover from the devastation!
Every modern generation recalls their particular “defining moment” of their era. For our grandparents and great-grandparents, chances are that moment was December 7, 1941 when they heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor. For Baby Boomers, it was probably the assassination of JFK on November 22, 1963. And for most who came of age during the 2000s, it was undoubtedly the attacks on September 11, 2001.
Each generation VIVIDLY recalls exactly where they were, and what they were doing, when they heard the news. In each instance, we sat rapt in front of either our TVs or radios, as witnesses to the unfolding horrors.
However, each of these particular “defining moments” shares a common thread – our collective, subsequent, reactions. In EVERY case, we came together and mounted overwhelming mobilized responses to the tragedies! Military recruiting stations were flooded with volunteers after Pearl Harbor. People gathered in stunned silence to comfort each other when President Kennedy died. And, the outpouring of patriotism and rush of first responders to the sites of the 9-11 crashes still fills us with pride!
And, we’re proud to say that a SERVPRO franchise team was among those front line workers at the Pentagon that fateful September…and we would like to share a snippet of the SERVPRO Decatur/Forsyth recollection:
“Following the attacks, reconstruction of the event was an enormous task. SERVPRO Franchise Professionals were called upon to assist with the cleanup and restoration on the Pentagon. Despite of the difficulties and emotions that involved the restoration, SERVPRO completed the process of drying over 300,000 square feet of property due to water pipes bursting. In addition, SERVPRO also provided fire, soot and smoke cleanup and restoration services.”
This level of dedication and service represent just one of the hallmarks of SERVPRO owners nationwide…and SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio is among them! And, although our local team was not on-site during the 9-11 aftermath, we honor those who could be counted in those legions and applaud their bravery and tireless efforts. We also take pride in the fact that the United States government trusted SERVPRO to assist in the massive restoration of the heart of our military defense operations!
So while the remembrances for 9-11 this year may be in the rearview mirror, we can strive to recapture that degree of caring service and reflect those high ideals ALL year long, in EVERY call we respond to, offering a shoulder to cry on and a path to recovery and restoration!
The “Hurricane Diaries” – Part I
It may not look like much, but this inlet of Galveston Bay was the scene of SEVERAL chapters in the "Hurricane Diaries!"
As we remembered the 120th anniversary of the epic 1900 Galveston Hurricane this week, one of our team members began to reflect on all the hurricanes she had witnessed during her years on the Gulf Coast. So…we’re turning this over to her, as she shares the first of her “Hurricane Diaries!”
“I grew up in a little Texas town, situated about halfway between Houston and Galveston, called La Porte. Although it has grown over the ensuing decades, if you hear of La Porte on the news, chances are it means our little piece of Galveston Bay is about to be slammed by a hurricane…OR something has gone terribly awry in our little nook of the Houston Ship Channel. As a result, my childhood is filled with MANY memories of hurricanes!
“La Porte has miles and miles of waterfront property, all arising out of our little Sylvan Beach – an early 1900s resort area for the elite of Houston seeking the cooling sea breezes – and is no stranger to repeated hurricane damage over the years. And neither was I!
“Even as a preschooler, one of my most vivid memories involves my parents and I packing towels around my windows and walls of MY bedroom. Our house was situated one row off of the bay, and my bedroom just happened to be facing the bay side of the house. Fortunately, in the glow of that Coleman lantern (my parents were the ‘always prepared’ types), we only had to battle condensation and NOT rising water or rain.
“A construction pro, my Daddy insisted the house be built (or, as I came to learn, the contractor thought ‘over-built’) on a foundation at least six inches higher than our neighbors…or what was considered industry standards at the time. He also clad the entire exterior with a custom brick designed with special fire and wind resistance. Now remember, this was the late 1940s and he was using his GI Bill financing to build their dream home.
“However, aside from a layer of tar paper – or some equivalent thereof – there were no weather-tight house-wrap materials, no rigid insulation boards, no fluffy pink Fiberglas or foam filling open spaces, just those ‘special’ bricks and the framing. No wonder we had condensation forming everywhere as that storm pelted our home!
“But, probably, one of the main reasons I remember that first hurricane, is because they had the audacity to use MY NAME for it – 'Debra!' The nerve…not only did it wreck a perfectly good end-of-summer, but my name was being bandied about everywhere in decidedly derogatory terms. Those memories of 'Debra' were relatively short-lived, as the next year we were at the center of one of the most legendary of modern hurricanes: 'Carla!'
“For that one we DID evacuate! We gathered up whatever preparations my parents had the insight to pack and went into 'downtown' La Porte…since we did not live in La Porte 'proper' but about two miles south along Old Hwy. 146. We gathered with other members of our church congregation in a structure on the property known simply as the 'Telephone Building.' Later I learned the Telephone Building had been built to withstand all manner of havoc and even at one point was designated a civil defense shelter. And, later it served well to house the teenage Sunday School classes – after all, it HAD withstood 'Carla!'
“And while I remember ‘camping out’ in the old Telephone Building with friends and their families, I starkly recall my Mama taking me outside our home just as the first waves of the storm leading edge were beginning to come ashore. To see the water in our streets roiling furiously over our feet, and feel the rain coming down like tiny needles, while the trees bent into shapes I had never imagined, I was instantly struck with awe over the raw power of Mother Nature.
“Fortunately, we all remained safe in that old Telephone Building, and went home after the storm had moved inland – to affect those hundreds of miles from us – to survey the damage. Even those short two or three miles literally opened my eyes (along with a dropped jaw or three) to exactly HOW bad it could be!
“Once we arrived, we saw many of our neighbors’ homes barely standing as shells or watermarks going up the walls that were still there. And, never one to be smug, my Daddy quietly whispered, ‘And THAT’S why I built our house higher!’ We had NO water in our home, and had only lost a few shingles…and a couple of trees. My parents later explained (in those days BEFORE flood insurance was even available), how many people who saw their homes flooding, would literally set their roofs on fire in hopes of getting SOME insurance coverage for their hurricane losses.
“Which leads to one more powerful hurricane memory – my Mama with a spray bottle filled with bleach, as part of her inevitable post-hurricane rituals. Daddy would take down his pre-cut, pre-measured, pre-labeled plywood window coverings and Mama would be spending the next few weeks on-alert for any moisture-related mold and drown those little spores in Clorox! To this day, the smell of bleach makes me think of her.
“After those initial two storms by the time I was in first grade, I can honestly appreciate all of the nifty equipment, modern dehumidifiers and skilled technicians we have here at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio, and I’m looking forward to learning even MORE about all of it. I only wish someone like this had been around during my early hurricane days…and I bet a lot of others do, too!”
As “eventful” as Debbie’s early hurricane experiences might have been, her “Hurricane Diaries” have MORE chapters we look forward to exploring in subsequent posts. So stay tuned for the next entry in the “Hurricane Diaries!”
The “B(e)RRRR” Months Are HERE! Are You READY?
As you prepare to cuddle up next to the fireplace, just make sure you’re not “firing up” a LOT more!
While those of us in Texas may be positively beside ourselves at the prospect of temps dropping into the 50s and 60s overnight later this week, folks in areas to our near-north will be seeing their first SNOW of the season…in September! Yep – the first of the “-ber” months has arrived and with it the hope of finally dropping out of the inhumane 100-degree daily forecasts.
And in our autumnal enthusiasm, we start stocking up on logs for the fireplace and pulling those cozy sweaters out of the moth balls. After all, if Starbucks can start serving their annual pumpkin spice beverages when it’s still 103 outside, who are we to argue?!? However, our preparations for the cooler months here in Texas bear very little resemblance to those already feverishly underway in northern climes.
From switching out spring and summer screens to winter storm windows, to putting chains on tires and making annual arrangements for snow shoveling services, these rituals may seem alien to Texans. Yet, we NEED to be doing a lot more preparation for those “-ber” months than we might think – just like our northern neighbors!
Although we may NEVER see sub-zero temperatures (except in our Sub-Zero refrigerators!), we still need to perform some basic inspections and pre-winter maintenance around our homes AND businesses. Unfortunately, fire and water hazards don’t distinguish between 50 degrees and -15 degrees in many circumstances. It doesn’t have to be freezing outside for a dirty fireplace, dormant heater or damaged roof shingles to wreak havoc!
A simple ounce or two of prevention can forestall having to endure the expense and inconvenience of a subsequent cure. Sure, it may be a pain to clean out those gutters or stick your head into the fireplace, but just imagine the AGONY of having a preventable fire ravage your home or office. And the fire itself is the only the initial blow; there WILL be the inevitable “aftershocks!” Then there’s the smoke and water damage – and the inevitable impact on documents, treasured mementos, furniture, textiles and hidden infrastructure.
Considering the effects, doesn’t that “ounce of prevention” make a LOT more sense?!? Sadly, we do understand that sometimes, no matter HOW vigilant you may be, fires still happen. And we’ve seen the heartbreak all too often. However, with our expert fire damage services – and state-of-the-art equipment designed SPECIFICALLY for this purpose – we’re equipped to not only offer a sympathetic shoulder and caring advice, but to also provide complete document, furniture, textile and interior restorations.
For SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio our slogan “Like it never even happened,” is not just some motto printed on a wall or vehicle, it’s something we take to heart! We care about each and every member of our community and never want to see anyone go through the devastation even a small fire can bring. And that’s why we want to make sure you’re ready for the “-ber” months, BEFORE you “fire-up” more than a cold-weather cuddle!
When It Rains, It Pours – In More Ways Than One!
Feel like you’re drowning? We’re the helping hand you can ALWAYS count on!
For those of us in central Texas, we can well-appreciate the value of water…or, more frequently, the lack thereof! It always seems to either be feast or famine, as we keep a watchful eye on both weather forecasts and aquifer levels – just HOPING to land somewhere in a happy middle.
So, it’s almost ironic how #WorldWaterWeek – which began Monday, Aug. 24th – just happened to include TWO named tropical storms, one of which became the strongest to ever hit the Texas/Louisiana “Golden Triangle” region when it made landfall as a Category 5! And, in an even more coincidental twist, the entire month of August also marks #NationalWaterQualityMonth… what a “one-two punch” combo.
Even as some areas experience drought-like conditions, others have an OVERABUNDANCE of water. However, as the recent victims of Hurricane Laura can attest, not ALL water is good! Whether it’s the overwhelming damage of a major tropical storm, hurricane or flood OR “just” a plumbing mishap in your own home or office, the overall effect of water damage remains the same. And, it’s NOT pretty!
The emotional impact should also NOT be underplayed. Seeing documents, photographs, files, textiles (be they clothing, drapes or rugs), furniture and other precious items, soaked and even beginning to mildew can take an even greater mental toll than the damage to the walls, ceilings and floors!
And sometimes that “simple” plumbing leak can end up being SIGNIFICANTLY “messier” than a few inches of rain water. Just as the names suggest, there are three kinds of water: “Clean” or “White Water”… “Dirty Water”… and “Black Water.” Each carries certain inherent hazards if not quickly cleaned, remediated and restored. However, both “dirty” and “black” waters actually bring contaminates right inside, with their flows! Yep…live organisms, toxic substances, and – EWWW – “waste products.” Suddenly, those three inches of water in your living room don’t seem quite so bad.
Now, regardless of the source, SOMEBODY has to clean it up. Do YOU want to tackle all of that…including all the contents, which also got drenched?!? In addition to daunting task of just the physical cleaning, a whole series of steps must be taken after any water damage to ensure everything IS truly dry, safe and restored. Fortunately, the highly-trained team at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio has the state-of-the-art, specialized, equipment – and the knowledge of its proper use – to literally make it “Like it never even happened.” And that EVEN includes “dirty” and “black” water!
That’s the kind of helping hand we can ALL use – a friend who cares enough to wade in with a lifesaver for us. So even if the “quality” of the water causing your damage might be “sub-par” you can ALWAYS count on SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio to be there…rain or shine!
Invest In That “Ounce Of Prevention” & Avoid Paying "Pounds" For The Cure!
Doesn’t it make sense to pay a LITTLE now, and avoid paying a LOT later!?!
Growing up, we ALL heard variations of certain “sage” quotes… things like “Look before you leap”… “Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched”… and, of course: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” And, for the most part, these nuggets of wisdom have shown to hold true.
Of course, we all tend to play a little “fast-and-loose” with the timing of some of these bits of advice. But, as they say: “Experience is the best teacher” and we’ve all learned a few lessons “the hard way.” Sometimes we DO get carried away by emotions, or pure excitement, or even the current state of our finances! For instance, if we DID look before we joined our friends for a skydiving party…well, you know. Or perhaps you got so excited about a new idea, maybe you didn’t put it through your normal stringent, 87-point checklist, standard “pro-con” vetting before proceeding…which might have killed a terrific opportunity.
Sure, choosing to ignore these time-tested adages does come with a degree of risk. Using our previous examples, your parachute COULD fail to open, or your idea COULD fail. But, sometimes we just have to “play the odds.” However, in other instances, the odds are NOT in our favor.
Let’s consider your personal vehicle. It probably represents one of your major investments. And thus, it’s in your best interest to protect it. For some, this means keeping every regular maintenance appointment and adhering to a strict schedule of upkeep recommended by the manufacturer. Others may take a more casual approach, making sure to get their regular oil changes and tire checks. And finally, there are those who don’t even CHECK their oil, much less change it every 3000-5000 miles, whether through indifference or financial constraints.
Now, let’s travel down the road with all three drivers. ODDS are, the owner of Car A will have fewer major repairs or issues over the years, and have a car that lasts longer. Car B has a reasonable expectation of some costlier repairs after the warranty period, but should still get quite a few years of good use. Then there is Car C – YIKES! Anyone who has either experienced this or had a parent who STRONGLY suggested the importance of oil checks and changes, knows a simple $29.25 oil change you ignored, is SUBSTANTIALLY more affordable than the consequences of throwing an engine rod! (And just in case this is all Greek to you, a thrown rod translates into having to replace the ENTIRE vehicle engine…see, there IS a reason why your Dad yelled at you about checking the oil!)
The same goes for your health, your home, and yes, even your family, friends and community. We take care of the things that genuinely MATTER to us. This even includes your finances and investments. Some investments are paper or digital portals, while others are “brick-and-mortar” properties. So to protect those investments, here’s where that “ounce of prevention” comes into play. Proper PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE not only physically enhances your building or facility, but – MOST importantly – it's that “ounce” you pay for now, to hedge your “odds” against future fines, remediation or even, GULP, lawsuits!
And talking about “paying through the nose,” we have to address the inevitable commercial liability should anyone’s health be affected by the conditions in your property. In the current COVID-19 climate, major personal injury law firms have ALREADY started running advertisements for prospective clients who believe they contracted the illness from their offices, high-rises, assisted living campuses, schools, churches, or even a neighborhood business they might have previously frequented!
Having both the peace of mind and the confidence to display that your property is CERTIFIED: SERVPRO CLEANED, protects you and the lifeblood of your business…the people who come into your building. The specially-trained, experienced (they’ve been providing this special care for YEARS, not just the last six months) technicians of SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio become that “ace up your sleeve” to tip the odds in your favor! After all, we all know: “A penny saved is a penny earned!”
What Happens When Your Investment Unexpectedly Becomes A “Fixer Upper”?!?
"Life happens"...even to investment properties. And your SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio team knows how to protect & restore YOUR investment!
Have you noticed the explosion of both programming and networks devoted exclusively to enhancing – and frequently, profiting from – real estate? Yes, we enjoy the witty banter between these celebrity rehab experts, and sure, we pick up lots of nifty ideas for our “dream home” wish list. But, virtually EVERY show ends with some type of “dollars-and-cents” recap – just to remind us that behind the “entertainment,” this is a BUSINESS!
Add in the rise of REITs and personal investment property management, and “The American Dream” represents a significant financial segment of today’s economy. And we’re not just talking about the traditional single-family home, anymore. (Although private investment in rental and rehab residential properties IS at an all-time high, thanks to HGTV and other off-shoots…including the highly-anticipated launch of Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Network, right here in the Lone Star State!)
That said, investment in larger tracts, buildings and complexes, along with other commercially-zoned areas, has seen a sharp rise. And no small measure of this can be attributed to retiring Baby Boomers – along with Gen Xers getting a head start – all seeking that “worry-free” retirement passive income. On paper, it seems like a no-brainer and many highly-respected fiduciaries include these real estate investments in their clients’ diversified portfolios. Not only does it ensure an income flow throughout retirement, but ALSO builds in a legacy wealth factor. Win-win, right?
NOT SO FAST! While commercial real estate has withstood the test of time as usually a good investment (and definitely over the long haul), for many tasked with making those management decisions, it can be anything BUT a “hands-off” scenario. Let’s paint a picture:
It’s 3 AM and you get a call from the resident property manager at a mid-size complex you own. You’ve done your due diligence, hired experienced people to handle the “day-to-day” operations, and you’re just the “big picture” guy or gal. So, when your manager calls at THAT hour, you know it’s got to be serious.
Or, maybe it’s an overnight utility worker at the other end of that call, notifying you of an “issue” on-site at that lovely professional office park you invested in. Even worse, it could be a neighbor calling about those houses you’re renovating on their street. Whether a 50-story high rise building, or something more modest, a MAJOR headache is about to spring from the other end of that phone call! It’s a major water line break, and it’s flooding YOUR property, drowning all of the contents, ruining walls and even gushing water from pipes in the ceilings.
Now what?!? It’s YOUR investment – and you did NOT sign up for this! Once the source of that problem is located and repaired, “who ya gonna call?” Let us clue you in, the Property Brothers or Martha Stewart won’t come rushing to your soggy scene! This isn’t something even the “Ghostbusters” would touch with a proton pack!
Luckily, you have an option akin to those paranormal wranglers – experts in making it "Like it never even happened." – the “Wet Busters,” if you will, at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio! See, we’re business owners, too. We UNDERSTAND the need to protect your investment. And we take pride in restoring commercial properties to their “pre-soaked” condition. Best of all, we’ll answer YOUR call at 3 AM, too. So even though you didn’t anticipate suddenly finding yourself with a “fixer upper,” you now have your OWN team on-call to make your investment, once again a good investment!
Stormy Weather On The Way? SERVPRO Is The Calm AFTER The Storm!
We're ready to help you restore the "calm" after any storm...in your home, business and life!
We've all heard about "the calm before the storm" – and anyone who has ever weathered a tropical storm or hurricane can attest to the fact there's certainly no "calm" AFTERWARD! That is, unless we're talking about the stunned silence of those surveying the post-storm devastation.
And, with Hurricane Laura gaining strength and intensity by the hour, weather forecasters desperately try to predict its path. Meanwhile, potentially-affected residents and business owners find themselves preparing for the worst...and hoping for the best. Which experience tells us, is ANYTHING but "calm!"
Probably the most frustrating part of these "pre-storm" activities (aside from actually finding the supplies you may need), is the "not-knowing" of the whole situation. Will it, or won't it? And, if it DOES, how bad will it be?!? Honestly, does any part of this sound "calm?"
So, having pretty much seen it ALL, at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio our team thinks of itself as the "calm" AFTER the storm – when it's REALLY needed! When facing the aftermath of any natural disaster, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, even unsure of where to start. Combined with possible infrastructure damage, such as no electricity or potable water, streets flooded or blocked with debris, and lack of emergency services diverted to more critical situations, you could feel paralyzed.
Fortunately, as storm recovery experts – on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – your caring neighbors at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio have the training, equipment and experience to come to the rescue! No situation proves too daunting for our team. Believe us when we say, we’ve seen it ALL…from flooded homes, to post-storm mold, and everything in between.
That’s why it’s nice to not only have someone who can help you navigate the recovery process, but a company who genuinely CARES about you, your family, your property, AND your peace of mind! After all, not everyone can say it’s "Like it never even happened," and have the expertise to actually mean it! So, whether you’re currently staring down the barrel at Hurricane Laura, or find yourself having to deal with some future storm damage, you now know who to call to help you find that “calm” AFTER the storm.
“First In Line”…Just IN TIME!
Standing on the front lines, we protect you, your business and your family because we CHOOSE to serve!
If you have ever worked within a traditional “institutional” environment, or belonged to a union or professional guild, the phrase “First in time, first in line” carries SIGNIFICANT meaning. For those unfamiliar with this philosophy, it literally has to power to determine whether or not you can work and earn a living!
See, tenure and experience carry weight; so those who have been “on-the-job” the longest, automatically have the greatest job security. But, not even THIS has been able to protect millions of workers sidelined by the COVID-19 crisis…including the usually-insulated entrepreneurs and business owners.
However, we have seen one NOTABLE exception to this concept of “first in line” as we navigate the ever-changing COVID-19 conditions. Frontline responders! That’s right – those “essential” workers who have not only kept vital healthcare facilities open to treat those afflicted by the virus (and any other maladies or emergencies), but also those who have ensured the wheels of commerce and our society continued to move forward.
Imagine heading off to work, bidding your loved ones goodbye, and having absolutely NO idea when – or IF – you would be able to see them again, KNOWING you were putting your life and their welfare on the line. How many of us would willingly step to the front of THAT line?!? Yet, those we customarily define as “first responders” such as law enforcement officers, firefighters, military personnel and emergency medical professionals, have CHOSEN to volunteer for these positions for years.
But the current COVID-19 situation has added a whole legion of people to that frontline vanguard. Teachers, who have dedicated their lives to positively shaping the entire future of our society, now face actual “life-or-death” choices. Postal workers, who took an oath to ensure that “no matter what” the mail WOULD be delivered, now must handle possibly-contaminated letters, packages and even “junk mail.” And how about those positions we normally take for granted in our “normal” everyday lives? Grocery store staff (because how ELSE would we get that toilet paper?!?), gas station personnel, pharmacists, farmers and food wholesale suppliers, skilled infrastructure monitors (after all, we need SOMEONE to keep the lights on, water flowing and internet connected) – among MANY others – have now found themselves classified as “essential” workers…and EXPECTED to do their jobs!
And one more group of “frontline heroes” may have escaped your attention. The expertly-trained remediation specialists of our SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio team. While others have had to learn how to adapt to their “new normal,” our dedicated personnel have continued to show up EVERY day, respond to EVERY call for help, walk into EVERY building and facility requiring decontamination…WILLINGLY! For us, it’s about a lot more than just collecting a paycheck; it’s about providing service and protection to our community. Just as all of those other “first-in-line” folks have placed the greater good above their own personal safety, our team takes their commitment to serve others EXTREMELY seriously!
As we rely on those who freely give of themselves – regardless of their place in the “seniority” pecking order – we take comfort in knowing those who now steadfastly stand “first in line” will be ready to serve us when we need them…and just in the nick of time!
How SERVPRO Of Northwest San Antonio Got Started
In addition to being SERVPRO owners, the Hall family are proud Aggies.
In 1999, Greg and Tammie Hall decided they wanted to go into business for themselves. Greg had worked for five years for the San Antonio Spurs, seeing David Robinson start his career with the Spurs. Greg then sold medical equipment for five years, and Tammie was a private math tutor following the birth of their first son.
One of the students that Tammie tutored was the son of the owners of another SERVPRO in San Antonio. Greg and Tammie soon became friends with Jim and Christine Preston and realized that a SERVPRO franchise was exactly the business they had been looking for. They opened SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio on May 1, 2000.
What was so appealing about the SERVPRO family was that everyone they met in the system truly wanted to help people. Greg and Tammie have a deep desire to serve their community, and they have this opportunity every day as their business goes into people's homes and work spaces. They also have built a business that has changed the lives of its employees. At SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio, you are encouraged to be a better person, look out for each other, and go out of your way for our customers. The staff is given one paid day a year simply for volunteer work. They are encouraged to find a local charity to get involved in, take a paid day off to help them, and then come back to work and tell everyone about the organization.
Greg and Tammie Hall have lived in San Antonio their entire married life, and Tammie grew up here, attending Robert E. Lee High School. They have three sons that have grown up knowing how to perform water damages, worked the Wimberly flood in 2015, and mowed the yard at the SERVPRO offices.
SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio is rooted in San Antonio and will continue to be here for all your residential and commercial needs.
When Water Damage Occurs From A "Clean" Water Source
SERVPRO has technicians ready to help you following a water damage
What can you do when you have a water damage from a clean water source?
- Stop the water source if possible or contact a qualified party to stop the water source.
- Turn off circuit breakers for wet areas of the building, as long as the access to the power distribution panel is safe from electrical shock.
- Remove as much excess water as possibly by mopping and blotting.
- Absorb excess water from wood furniture after removing lamps and tabletop items.
- Remove and lift up wet upholstery cushions to begin the drying process.
- Place aluminum foil or wood block between furniture legs and wet carpeting. This helps with colors bleeding on carpet or other surfaces.
- Move any paintings, art objects, computers, documents and other materials that are valuable or sensitive to moisture to a safe, dry area.
- Use wooden clothespins to keep furniture skirting and window coverings off damp floors.
- Hang furs and leather goods to dry separately at room temperature.
What should you NOT do when a water damage occurs?
- Enter rooms with standing water where electrical shock hazards may exist.
- Enter affected areas if electrical outlets, switches, circuit breakers or electrical equipment are exposed to water. Always avoid electrical shock hazards.
- Leave books, newspapers, magazines or other colored items on wet carpets or floors to cause staining.
- Leave Oriental rugs or other colored rugs on wet wall-to-wall carpets to cause staining.
- Use your household vacuum cleaner to remove water, possible causing electrical shock or damage to the vacuum cleaner.
- Use TV's or other appliances while standing on wet carpets or floors, especially not on wet concrete floors.
- Turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet or enter rooms where ceilings are sagging from retained water.
SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio is ALWAYS open to help your business!
Most of our waking hours are spent at work. Many of us are spending more time with our co-workers than our own families. Our work environment becomes a second home in a sense. So when our work place and work are disrupted by a sudden water or fire/smoke damage it has an impact.
Here at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio, we’re ready for any disruption to your work place. Many times, these emergency events happen at night or when no one is present. This type of emergency brings its own challenges. How do we continue to produce as a company? Is the workspace usable? Do we need to work remotely from home and if so, are we prepared for that?
Water/fire/smoke damages become at that time, the most important thing in the affected company’s world. The company’s got to get this handled and now. Time and mobilization of resources is paramount to the business getting back up and running.
SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio is specifically trained and structured for this exact call. We’re ready to react and mobilize at a moments notice. Understanding the complexities of the commercial world is necessary to meet the commercial clients expectations. The need to bring the entire warehouse with you is the goal. From personnel to equipment at the ready are what SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio is prepared for.
No one expects their work to ever be affected, but when it is having SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio on speed dial is the right move.
Please call us if you need our services at 210-521-3313
Watch Out For Mother Nature!
SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio is open and ready for you!
Mother Nature does not discriminate. She doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, tall or short. If you’re in her way watch out!
This is the feeling we have when weather affects our homes and businesses. SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio has been in business for 20 years and we’ve seen our share of storms. From Guadalupe/Comal River floods, to hurricanes and Polar Vortex’s we’ve been in the middle of restoring homes and buildings and people’s lives.
Understanding the nature of storm work is essential in delivering a good service. The customer, the victim from the storm, wants you and your team rolling in after the storm has passed, waters recede and roads are reopened. Getting to the job prepared is the core of the work. Hiring team members with a “servant's heart” is paramount to getting lives restored.
Many storms don’t happen close to home. SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio has the ability to travel to storm sites and help those in need. Our team will be separated from their families for weeks to bring Home back to our customer’s. Working with insurance carriers to give them the correct and accurate information digitally is also a benefit. Having the national brand of SERVPRO brings added comfort to our customers. They know they will be well taken care of and supported by a Fortune 500 company.
When the storm arrives in your life, remember, call SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio.
When Do You REALLY Need To Call In SERVPRO Of Northwest San Antonio?
SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio is here to help
In the current world circumstances, one of the questions we hear most often is: “When do we really need you guys to come in?”
We believe it is a very valid question! Not everyone needs a professional company to take care of their disinfection needs.
Here are 3 things to keep in mind that can help you figure out what is best for you:
1. If you’ve had no notice of an employee, tenant, or teammate being exposed or infected, your custodial staff can continue to provide cleaning. SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio also offers a precautionary cleaning with a hospital grade disinfectant as an option.
2. If you suspect your property or workplace has been exposed and your plan is to quarantine the space for 14 days, consider bringing in a professional.
3. If your property or workspace has been in contact with a person under investigation (PUI) or has been exposed to someone that has received a positive diagnosis, you will need a professional company.
- The CDC recommends usage of a labeled hospital grade disinfectant.
- Multiple products in the SERVPRO product line carry the EPA approved emerging pathogens claims.
- Unlike most janitorial companies, our staff is fully prepared for biohazard cleaning and will be in the appropriate personal protective equipment.
We believe that having the right information available helps us all make the best decision possible to keep us safe. Call us today if you need us. 210-521-3313
Golden Hammer 2019
Greg and Tammie Hall, owners of SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio, accept their award at the 2019 Contractor Connection Conference
SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio has one the Golden Hammer Award for the 6th year in a row!
We are so incredibly honored to receive the Golden Hammer Award for the 6th consecutive year! We received the esteemed award at the 2019 Contractor Connection Conference & Expo. The theme for this years’ conference was ReStore and our team truly took that to heart!
The SERVPRO of NWSA team won for excellence in customer service. We have always been able to pride ourselves in jobs being completed right the first time and meeting the highest level of quality while maintaining a friendly, can-do attitude. This attitude comes from hiring team members with a “servant’s heart” and a mission to serve those in need.
Our highly- IICRC trained staff works hard every day of the year to bring home 10’s!
Our office staff show’s excellence by answering questions, providing support and understanding how important it is to have an accurate repair estimate for our customers. To top it off, the highly- IICRC trained and certified damage restoration and production crews showed efficiency, courtesy and respect this year (and every year) leading us to win the 2019 Golden Hammer Award.
This award could not have been achieved without the hard work of a team dedicated to the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property after a fire, smoke or water damage and mold. SERVPRO Northwest San Antonio to customer service is award-winning every day!
Our highly-trained, professional, courteous crew and staff are here for you 24/7 for any emergency! You can trust your locally owned and operated SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio to take care of your home or business quickly and thoroughly "Like it never even happened."
2016 San Antonio Hail Storm
Record size hail in San Antonio, Texas
On April 12, 2016 the San Antonio area was hit with a catastrophic wind and hail storm. The storm was not forecasted and caught the entire city off guard. In the days to follow SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio was called out on 416 calls resulting from the storm. Damages to properties varied from normal hail damage to roofs, to fallen trees damaging homes and buildings to flooded homes and broken sky lights.
Our crews worked around the clock for 2 weeks without a day off, boarding up roofs and windows, drying out homes and buildings and general clean up. The scope of the storm was immense. The storm cut through the middle of San Antonio and stretched miles wide. Damage was seen from the very southern most parts of Bexar County all the way to The Texas Hill Country.
The aftermath of the storm turned out to be the largest storm event for insurance carriers with the exclusion of a hurricane. For years after the storm, properties are still being repaired and worked on. Occasionally, you will still see a blue tarp covering a roof as a reminder of the storms devastation.
In a storm event, SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio is able to remove all the debris, demo what is necessary, clean the structure, and dry it properly with all the documentation so that the homeowner can have peace of mind that it was done correctly.
This unique storm hit close to home for us. We helped our friends and neighbors in their time of need. SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio was also a source of consultation to give guidance and support to those going through a trying time.
San Antonio and South Texas is our home, and we are here to help our neighbors should a storm event occur. We are just a phone call away.
Protecting your home against fire
One of our own at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio at our cookout
As the weather is getting warmer in South Texas, many of us are heading to our patios to grill and barbecue. With fires and gas grills, SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio wants to encourage you to be safe even when you're outside.
Should you have a smoke damage in your home, SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio is fully prepared to be there if you need us. We offer fogging and ozone services to help with smoke odors. We have trained personnel on staff that can clean your walls, furniture, and structure should smoke damage appear. And in the unfortunate situation of a house fire, we are able to pack out your home, clean your contents, and store your items while your home is being rebuilt.
We love to barbecue here at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio. Enjoy the South Texas weather and be safe! Should an accident occur, give us a call 210-521-3313.
What SERVPRO Can Offer YOUR Business
Let SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio give you peace of mind at your place of business.
During this unprecedented time caused by a global pandemic, this is a reminder that we at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio are specialists in cleaning services, and we adhere to the highest cleaning and sanitation standards.
SERVPRO Northwest San Antonio is prepared to disinfect your home or business, according to protocols set forth by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. We have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work that regular janitorial staff perform on a daily basis.
The CDC encourages cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and tables. Other spaces mentioned in the CDC’s guidance for commercial spaces include: kitchen/food areas, bathrooms, schools/classrooms, offices, retail spaces, water fountains, shelving/racks, sales counters, carpet and rugs, stair handrails, elevator cars, playground equipment and fitness equipment.
The CDC recommends usage of a labeled hospital-grade disinfectant with claims against similar pathogens to the virus. Multiple products in the SERVPRO product line carry the EPA-approved emerging pathogens claims. While there is currently no product tested against this particular strain of virus, we are following all guidelines as provided by the CDC and local authorities.
Please give SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio a call if you have questions. We’re here to help in any way. 210-521-3313
Steps to take following a water damage (Part 1)
SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio has all the equipment needed to dry out your structure.
You're not alone. Call us today 210-521-3313
Flooding in your property and the ensuing water damage can devastate your home or business. Burst pipes, malfunctioning sump-pump, sewer back-up, heavy rains, and appliance malfunctions can change your life in an instant. Safety, cleanup and the costs of repair and restoration can be daunting and confusing. SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio is here to help.
Some basic advice on how to handle your safety and property in a time of flooding or water damage can make a world of difference and give you peace of mind.
1. Be Safe! First things first: make sure your property and family is safe.
During the flooding
- Evacuate. If those in the building cannot safely evacuate on their own, make sure to assist.
- Turn off the power. Water + electricity = danger. If you can safely turn off the power, do so first. If you cannot access your power without entering or standing in your flooded area, evacuate and call a professional electrician.
Upon re-entry after the flooding, continue to prioritize safety.
- Dress for the occasion: rubber boots and gloves are your best protection.
- Don’t use any glasses, dinnerware, or silverware until properly washed.
- You can place tin foil under the feet of your wooden furniture to prevent stains on your carpet.
- Pull out any area rugs that are on wet flooring.
2. Dry Out Your Home
Even after removing the standing water, best to assume your property is still damp and vulnerable to mold (especially in our San Antonio humidity). Central air conditioning can be a good first step; keep your ac system fan in the “on” position. Portable fans and dehumidifiers can also help dry out residual moisture to a certain degree. However, your greatest ally against molds, mildew, and other lingering problems is SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio. We have the professional water damage training and equipment to make sure your home is safe and dry. Don’t let a traumatic experience like flooding grow into lifelong damage. Call us right away.
SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio is available 24 hours a day for water emergencies, large or small. Immediate action can save you ongoing headaches and loss. Even a few hours can be make or break when it comes to water damage. When in doubt, there’s no harm in calling. We’re here to help.
Call Us Today - (210) 521-3313
First Steps to take following a smoke damage
Allow SERVPRO Northwest San Antonio to do what we do best!
If you've had a smoke or fire damage in your home or business, here are some helpful steps you can take before SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio arrives.
- Try to limit walking in the affected area. This can help prevent soot being distributed in non-affected areas.
- Using a dry towel, wipe the soot from chrome fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom.
- Keep your hands clean. This will limit the spread of soot on other contents.
- Open doors and windows to decrease the smoke odor.
- Clean both sides of leaves on artificial houseplants with a damp cloth.
- Switch out your HVAC filters, but wait to turn your system on until a professional checks the system.
- Tape double layers of cheesecloth or similar over your ducts and registers to prevent soot particles from spreading in your home or business.
Additionally, here are some items NOT to do before SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio arrives:
- Do not attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces
- Do not attempt to clean or work on any electrical appliances
- Do not eat or drink any food or liquid stored near the fire as it may be contaminated
- Do not attempt to shampoo or clean any upholstered furniture
- Do not turn on any ceiling fixtures if the ceiling is wet
- Do not send your damaged textiles (clothes, drapes, linens) to a cleaning company as improper cleaning could cause more damage.
SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio will eliminate smoke odor and clean your structure and contents to preloss condition. We also have electrical and textile companies that we work with that specialize in fire losses. Allow us to take care of all your needs when a fire occurs.
Call us today 210-521-3313.
SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio helping 2018 Lake LBJ flooding
Following the cleaning, the drying process begins.
In October, 2018, central Texas endured heavy rainfall which caused tremendous flooding along the Colorado River and Lake LBJ. As we are locally owned, our neighbors started getting word to head to their lakehouse and lift their boats before the water began rising.
By that Tuesday morning, many of our friends were able to prepare their homes, but many were not so lucky. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/bridge-collapses-heavy-rains-flood-central-texas-n920796
Once the area was safe to return to, SERVPRO's owners, Greg and Tammie Hall, started to visit the homes they were called out to.
One area along the Colorado River was impacted greatly. There is a condominium complex that took the brunt of the flooding. SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio was able to come into that area and work in several of the condos. This was a team effort. Our entire staff wanted to help. Everything was needed from shoveling out sludge from the lake to providing sandwiches and lunch to the homeowners and volunteers.
Many of the condo owners worked with SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio, but a few tried to do it themselves. Those that attempted to handle it themselves ended up asking for help from SERVPRO once they saw the level of cleaning that was provided. The dedication and work ethic of our staff was outstanding.
In a storm event, SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio is able to remove all the debris, demo what's necessary, clean the structure, and dry it properly with all the documentation so that the homeowner can have peace of mind that it was done correctly.
This unique storm hit close to home for us. We helped our friends and neighbors in their time of need. SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio was also a source of consultation to give guidance and support to those going through a trying time.
San Antonio and South Texas is our home, and we are here to help our neighbors should a storm event occur. We are just a phone call away.
We are Cleaning Experts
SERVPRO is Here to Help during this time of need
During this unprecedented time caused by the global pandemic of coronavirus, this is a reminder to our customers that we are specialists in cleaning services, and we adhere to the highest cleaning and sanitation standards.
We are prepared to clean and disinfect your home or business, according to protocols set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work that regular janitorial staff perform on a daily basis.
The CDC encourages cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and tables. Other spaces mentioned in the CDC's guidance for commercial space include:
- Kitchen/Food Areas
- Retail Spaces
- Water Fountains
- Sales Counters
- Carpets and Rugs
- Stair Handrails
- Elevator Cars
- Playground Equipment
- Fitness Equipment
The CDC recommends usage of a labeled hospital-grade disinfectant with claims against similar pathogens to the coronavirus. Multiple products in the SERVPRO product line carry the EPA-approved emerging pathogens claims. While there is currently no product tested against this particular strain of the coronavirus, we are following all guidelines as provided by the CDC and local authorities.
Call Today for a Proactive Cleaning
If your home or business needs deep cleaning services, call the experts today - SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio, 210-521-3313
Inspecting Mold in Northwest San Antonio
When there’s a water intrusion, like a roof leak or leaking water line, mold can become a problem in your home or business very quickly. Mold can cause health effects and can also cause significant damage to your property. Fortunately, SERVPRO® of Northwest San Antonio Professionals have the training, protective gear, and specialized equipment necessary to handle your mold problem. Although every mold damage scenario is different requiring a unique solution, the general mold remediation process stays the same. The following steps illustrate a “typical” mold removal process.
Call the Team in Green
The mold cleanup and restoration process begins when you call SERVPRO® of Northwest San Antonio. A representative will ask a series of questions to help determine the necessary equipment, resources, and personnel needed.
Inspection and Damage Assessment
Your property will be carefully inspected for signs of mold using technology designed to detect mold and hidden water sources. Mold feeds on cellulose and water and can be hidden from plain view.
Various containment procedures will be placed to prevent the spread of mold and isolate the contaminated area with physical barriers and negative air pressure to keep the mold spores from spreading during the cleanup process.
Specialized filtration equipment captures microscopic mold spores out of the air. SERVPRO® of Northwest San Antonio technicians utilize powerful air scrubbers and HEPA vacuums to prevent the spread of these mold spores while the mold remediation is in progress.
The mold remediation process depends on the amount of mold growth and the types of surfaces on which the mold appears. Antifungal and antimicrobial treatments will be used to eliminate mold colonies and help prevent new colonies from forming. Removing and disposing of mold-infested porous materials, like drywall and flooring, may be necessary to remediate heavy mold growth.
Contents and Belongings
SERVPRO® of Northwest San Antonio Professionals clean your furniture, decorative items, curtains, and other restorable items affected by mold. They use a variety of cleaning techniques to clean and sanitize your belongings. They are also trained to remove odors and deodorize using fogging equipment.
Depending on the level of mold damage, drywall, subfloors, and other building materials may be removed. Restoration may involve minor repairs, such as replacing drywall, painting, and installing new carpet; or it may entail major repairs such as the reconstruction of various areas or rooms in a home. SERVPRO® of Northwest San Antonio Professionals understand mold and mold growth and have the training and equipment to remediate mold in your home.
If You See Signs of Mold,
Call Us Today – (210) 521-3313
Fire and Water Damage Clean Up and Restoration at your Commercial Property in San Antonio
If your San Antonio business is affected by fire or water damage, it can be devastating. We know first hand that damage restoration is tough work. People call SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio very often to ask for advice on how to clean up after a fire or water damage. We are here to be the caring expert you will need to guide you through the process for restoring your commercial property.
We’ve been there to help with the restoration of many types of properties including:
- Multi-level Commercial Buildings
- Multi-tenant Facilities
- Small Office Buildings
- Shopping Malls
- Apartment Complexes
- Industrial Facilities
Our Number One Priority is to Return Damaged Property to Pre-Loss Conditions
When disaster strikes, we know your first priority is the safety and well-being of your clients. Whether it's an industrial facility or multi-family properties, our professionals are experienced in maintaining the security and safety of the facility and tenants while isolating the damage. We work efficiently to minimize the interruptions for your tenants' daily lives.
Restoring Commercial Properties Presents Unique Challenges
Our restoration professionals are trained to be mindful of legal and environmental concerns and work efficiently to fully restore the damaged area while working within your budgetary constraints. We understand that every hour spent cleaning up is an hour of lost revenue and productivity. So when an emergency situation arises in your business, give us a call and we’ll be there fast with the help you need.
About SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio
SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio specializes in the cleanup and restoration of commercial and residential property after a fire 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 and training to restore your property.
Staying Safe and Warm for the Winter Season
The winter season is here and with it comes shorter days and lower temperatures. No matter where you live, winter brings a change in the weather. Many people use alternative heat sources like fireplaces, portable space heaters, and wood burning stoves to help keep homes cozy. Did you know, heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths? According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment fires cause an estimated $1 billion in direct property damage annually.
Following safety tips to help reduce your risk of a heating-related fire.
- Keep anything flammable at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or a portable space heater.
- Have a three foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container.
- Keep the container a safe distance away from your home. Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed. Test smoke alarms monthly.
- Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
- Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
If your property does suffer fire damage, contact your SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio to help make it “Like it never even happened.”
Our Fire Damage Restoration Services
Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions. We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage. We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.
Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today – (210) 521-3313
24/7 Award Winning Service
SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio are five time winners of the Golden Hammer Award!
We worked extremely hard to earn the Golden Hammer Award five times. We are a top performer when it comes to contractor connections.
SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio prides themselves on customer service and successfully completing the job correctly the first time!
Our professionally trained specialists work 24/7!
Our office has amazing customer service. We can answer all questions and needs in order to accurately assess the right technology and personnel to your property. Our highly trained professionals attitude and customer service are why we are five time winners for the Golden Hammer Award.
We would have never won this award if it was not for the hardworking, intelligent, and kind SERVPRO professionals. Our SERVPROs team mission is to successfully help every customer in any way possible, 24/7!