Facts About Lightning
There is an old myth that says if there it is not raining, and there are no clouds overhead, then you're safe from lightning. However, this is simply isn't true. Lightning often strikes three miles from the center of the storm, away from the storm clouds.
The temperature of a lightning bolt is about 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about 5 times hotter than the sun. Which is why getting struck by lightning can be so damaging! The bolt of lightning can travel through a building, tree or a person and can be fatal, which is why it's very important to take cover during a lightning storm. About 2,000 people a year are killed due to lightning.
What Should You Do to Prepare for Flooding?
There are certain precautions that should be taken when flooding occurs in order to stay safe. Please consider following these steps to be safe in flooded areas:
Do not walk, drive or ride through flooded areas. You don't know what may be in the water below. It is better to use precaution and not go into the water than to risk drowning, getting hit with a sharp object, fall into an unseen hole or be taken by the fast current. Remember that only 6 inches of water can knock down an adult, less for a child.
When evacuations are necessary, list to local officials and get out while you can. This will save yourself and rescue crews from being put into dangerous situations.
When flash flooding is possible, move to higher ground. It is better to be safe than sorry. It is easier to move to higher ground before the flooding occurs than to get trapped and not be able to get out. Flash floods are the number 1 cause of weather related deaths in the US according to FEMA.
Avoid driving through flooded areas. One foot of water is enough to move a vehicle and leave you unable to control the vehicle's destination.
Avoid camping or parking along streams, rivers and creeks during heavy rainfall. These ares can quickly flood.
If you have notice of possible flooding, but sand bags around your house in areas that might allow water intrusion. You cannot stop all water intrusions, but this step might save your home from possible water damage.
Did you know that part of the reason SERVPRO can provide excellent service to clean up after water damage is because of our specialized equipment? We have equipment specifically for cleaning and drying water damage in homes and businesses.
Our franchise is stocked with different types of air movers and dehumidifiers to fit the needs of your damage. Air movers are made to be more/less powerful and to sit at different angles depending on where you need them pointed. Dehumidifiers are built to work at different temperatures and in different sized spaces. We calculate the size of the area we're trying to dry to decide how many air movers we need to use and what type/how many dehumidifiers to use in a space.
Beyond these pieces of equipment, we have extraction machines to pull up standing water or water that is soaked into carpets. This helps move the drying phase along substantially.
First Responder Terminology-Fire Damage
There may come a time when you need to have a first responder help you become safe during an emergency situation. Here is some terminology you may hear from first responders and emergency personnel regarding a fire and what it means:
Class A fire – A fire involving combustibles such as wood, paper, and other natural materials.
Class B fire – A fire involving hydrocarbons (Petroleum and natural gas).
Class C fire – An electrical fire.
Class D fire – A fire involving metals, such as sodium, magnesium, potassium, uranium, lithium, and calcium.
Remember that if the cause the of the fire is known, they may use different techniques to put the fire out to get it out faster and causing less damage. It's important to give as much information as you know about a situation.
First Responder Terminology- Fire Personnel
When you call 911 to alert them of a fire, there are many people you may come into contact with throughout the situation. The following list explains some of those people and their duties. The people you work with during and after a fire can be overwhelming to remember everyone's name and positions, so we hope this is helpful!
Company – Two or more firefighters organized as a team, led by a fire officer, and equipped to perform certain operational functions. Compare with platoon and unit.
Company officer – A fire officer, typically a lieutenant or captain, who leads a team of two or more firefighters in a company.
Dispatch – Refers to a person or place designated for handling a call for help by alerting the specific resources necessary.
Engineer – A firefighter responsible for driving the engine to the scene of the call and operation of the pumps on an engine, to provide enough water to the firefighters on the hose. The term may be either a position title or a rank; usage varies among departments (also a Chauffer).
Engine Company – A group of firefighters assigned to an apparatus with a water pump and equipped with a firehose and other tools related to fire extinguishment.
Fire inspector – A person responsible for issuing permits and enforcing the fire code, including any necessary premises inspection.
Fire marshal – Administrative investigative office for fire prevention and arson investigation. Has legal authority to enforce state and local fire laws.
Top causes of Fires in the Home
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), home fires are the leading cause of all fire deaths in the United States. For the most part, home fires are easily preventable.
Here are the top causes of home fires.
1.Cooking equipment. This may seem like a no brainer but believe it or not, cooking equipment is the leading cause of all home fires. Do not leave the stove or oven unattended while cooking. If you do need to leave the room, even for a second, make sure there are no flammable items such as dish rags,cookbooks, grease, curtains or paper products near your appliances. It’s always a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen as well, just in case.
2. Heating, the second most common cause of home fires. Most fires involving heaters are caused by portable space heaters. They may be nice and convenient but blankets, lint and other flammables can easily get caught in them. If you have to use a space heater, make sure there are no loose materials that could easily burn around it.
3. Smoking. Cigarette’s and their ashes can easily catch on curtains, bedding and clothing which can quickly result in an out of control fire. Many fires caused by smoking happen in the bedroom when someone falls asleep with a cigarette in their hand. If you must smoke, do so outside your home for the safety of everyone involved.
4. Electrical fires can happen for a variety of reasons. Here are the top four:
- Never remove the grounding plug on an appliance. Three pronged plugs exists on appliances that need extra power to operate. Get an electrician to install the proper outlet if you find this a problem in your home.
- Lamps and light fixtures. You should never install a bulb with wattage that is too high for a particular appliance. This will cause the bulb to overheat and in turn, catch the lampshade or other flammables nearby on fire. Another thing to avoid is covering your lamp shade or fixture with a cloth or paper. While it may look nice, it’s not worth the potential fire you may cause.
- Faulty cords and outdated appliances. Never use a cord that is worn or frayed. For this reason, you should also avoid running cords under rugs where they could become worn and go unnoticed for a long amount of time.
- Last but not least, outdated wiring. If your home is more than twenty years old, you may want to have a licensed electrician take a look at the wiring system. While replacing the system can get costly, it is nothing compared to a life or the belongings you could lose if the old wiring causes a fire.
Take the time to look around your house and ensure the safety of your friends and family by checking these common fire causes. Do you have a fire extinguisher? A working smoke alarm? How about a carbon monoxide detector? While it may seem tedious to check these items and think ahead, you will be able to sleep more soundly at night knowing that you and your family are safe.
Types of Fire Extinguishers
In order to understand why different fire extinguishers exist, first one needs to understand how a fire exists in general. Using the wrong extinguisher can even cause fires to re-ignite or spread in some cases.
The fire triangle is a model used to illustrate how fires start. The triangle includes 3 elements: oxygen, heat and fuel. Without these three elements, a fire cannot exist. Fire extinguishers are made to take away one or more of the three elements to cease the fire. Since there are different types of fuel involved in different fires, there are a variety of fire extinguishers one can use based on the source of the fire.
Dry Chemical is the most common fire extinguisher used today as it is effective on all types of fires and is most likely the one you have in your home or at your place of business. This type of extinguisher interrupts the chemical reaction by creating a barrier between the fuel source and the oxygen. This can be used on Class A, B and C fires.
Dry Powder extinguishers are similar to dry chemical in that they separate the fuel from the oxygen or remove the heat element of the fire. They are only used for combustible metal fires (Class D) and are ineffective on all other types of fires.
Clean Agent or Halogenated extinguishers use halon agents and halocarbon agents to interrupt the chemical reaction of the fire. Clean agent is mainly used for Class B and C however, it can be used on Class A as well. There are concerns regarding contamination when these are used which brings us to the next type of extinguisher…
Water Mist extinguishers are a newer development and extinguish the fire by taking away the heat component. These are much safer than clean agent extinguishers as no halocarbon is involved and are primarily for Class C but may be used on Class A fires as well.
Cartridge Operated Dry Chemical interrupt the chemical reaction of the three components in the fire triangle and create a barrier between the fuel and the oxygen components when used on Class A fires. This extinguisher is also effective on Class B and C fires.
Wet Chemical extinguishers are unique in that they remove the heat component and prevent re-ignition by creating a barrier. These extinguishers are used for Class K fires which typically involve deep fryers and commercial cooking operations but may also be used for Class A fires in commercial kitchens as well.
Water and Foam extinguishers not only take away the heat element but the foam separates the oxygen from the other elements. These are used in Class A fires only and should never be used in Class B or C. If used in a B or C classified fire, there is a risk of spreading and not extinguishing the fire.
Carbon Dioxide fire extinguishers remove the oxygen first and secondly, remove the heat with cold discharge. They can be used on Class B and C fires but aren’t normally effective on Class A fires.
Fire extinguishers exist for your safety but if used improperly, may cause more damage. Make sure you know what kind of fire extinguisher you have and what types of emergencies it should and should not be used for.
Keeping Yourself Safe in a Thunderstorm
Lightning from thunderstorms injures hundreds of people in the U.S. every year and kills dozens. These causalities are easily preventable if you follow these simple safety tips.
1) Listen to the radio and television for severe thunderstorm warnings. The National Weather Service issues warnings for counties and even sends out text messages now to our mobile phones when storms are on their way. Pay attention and heed their warnings for safety.
2) Remember the 30 second rule. If there is not 30 seconds in between the time you see lightning and hear thunder, it’s time to go indoors.
3) Lightning typically strikes the tallest object around so if there is a storm, move indoors if at all possible or into a hard top car if there are no buildings around.
4) Once inside, stay away from windows, plumbing and electrical. If lightning strikes outside, it can carry inside via land lines.
5) Get out of boats and away from bodies of water. If you can hear thunder than you are close enough to get struck by lightning.
6) If you are caught outside, avoid standing by tall isolated objects such as trees. Find a grouping of small trees surrounded by taller ones, avoid bodies of water, and if there is only open spaces, look for a dry low-lying area and try to make yourself the smallest target possible. Do not lay flat on the ground, rather crouch with your head between your knees. Sheds, outhouses and tents provide no safety so keep this in mind when you are hiking or camping. Always think ahead and be prepared in the event that you are caught in a thunderstorm and if possible, turn around on your trip and head home.
How Should You Prepare for a Natural Disaster?
How should you prepare for the possibility of a natural disaster?
-Prepare to be without electricity for several days. Here is a list of very basic items you should have on hand:
>You should have a couple flashlights with extra batteries. Candles and matches.
>Food that will not spoil and does not need to be heated to be eaten or kept cold.
>Plenty of bottled water. Some sources say as much as 1 gallon of water per person per day.
>Blankets and clothing stored in a plastic container that won’t get wet if flooding should occur.
>First aid kit.
>At least a week’s worth of any prescription medication and any over the counter medication you may take.
>Toiletries such as paper towels, toilet paper, shampoo, body wash, tooth paste and tooth brushes, anti-bacterial wipes, hand sanitizer.
Remember that stores and gas stations can get overwhelmingly busy when everyone is trying to prepare for a storm. Be patient and understanding during this time. It is easy to become anxious as no one truly knows what will happen in the days or hours to come.
-Watch the news and stay current on what is happening. In some areas evacuations may be necessary. It is important to know what is going on and what safety measures are being recommended.
-Create a family communication plan. In case you get separated from your loved ones, make sure you have a plan of how you would get back in touch with them. Often we hear on the news that family members were evacuated separately from one another. If this were to happen, you would want to have a plan to get back in touch with your loved ones so that you know quicker that they are alright.
-Be flexible with your plans. Circumstances may change in a moment’s notice and it is important that we remain flexible in our plans. The area you’re in may not be expecting initially to get hit with the eye of the storm. However, this can change very quickly and officials may decide to evacuate your area. You need to be prepared to do so with very little time so that you and your family can get to a safe zone.
Understanding the Types of Water Damage
Water Damage is split up into three different types of categories and four different types of classes according to the Institute of Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) which sets the industry standards for the water damage restoration and repair industry.
The following categories describe the type of water involved:
Category 1: This is water from a clean source such as faucets, toilets, tanks, drinking fountains, etc.
Category 2: Liquid in this category is sometimes called grey water. The level of contaminants in grey water may cause illness if ingested and comes from sources such as dishwasher or washing machines, sink drains and toilet overflows with some urine but no fecal matter.
Category 3: This is the most unsanitary classification as it could cause severe illness or even death if ingested. Liquid in this category is also known as black water and comes from sewer backup, flooding from rivers, streams, toilet overflow with fecal matter and stagnant liquid that has begun to grow bacteria.
The classes below describe the level of destruction.
Class 1: Only one area of the room was affected, little or no wet carpet, and water has only touched materials with a low permeance rate such as plywood or concrete. Evaporation rate is slow in this class and damage is the easiest to deal with.
Class 2: In this class, the evaporation rate is fast and water has affected the entire room, going up the wall at least a foot leaving a lot of moisture in materials.
Class 3: Liquid may have come from above and the ceilings, walls, insulation, carpet and sub-floors are all saturated and have the fastest evaporation rate.
Class 4: Specialty drying situations are placed in this class when there is enough water to completely saturate materials with very low permeance such as hardwood, brick or stone.
These categories and classes are used by the restoration industry to determine what type of plan and process should be used in each water damage situation. Ask your restoration company beforehand if their technicians are IICRC certified to ensure the highest quality and standards in the cleanup process of your home or business.