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Earthquake Tips: Are you ready?

With the recent earthquakes in Southern California, we are reminded that here in the Pacific Northwest, an earthquake, let alone the earthquake of all earthquakes, could hit at any time. We can’t control when and where we will be when it hits, but we can control how prepared we are. Read on for what to do in preparation, during, and after a quake strikes.

BEFORE  

  • Secure. Take the time to secure large furniture against walls, such as TV’s, dressers, cabinets, along with objects that hang on walls.  Store heavy and fragile objects on lower shelves. 
  • Practice. Rehearse “drop, cover, and hold on” with your family and coworkers. Drop to your hands and knees, cover your neck with your arms. Crawl only as far as you need to reach cover from falling materials. Hold onto any sturdy furniture until the shaking stops. 
  • Communicate. Create a family communications plan that has an out-of-state contact. Plan where to meet if you get separated. 
  • Prepare. Put together a supply kit that has enough food and water for at least three days, a flashlight, a fire extinguisher, and a whistle. Consider each person’s specific needs, including medications, care items for babies and small children, or pet care items. Include extra batteries and charging devices for phones. 
  • Protect. Consider getting an earthquake insurance policy. Standard homeowner’s insurance does not cover earthquake damage.  
  • Inspect. Is your home’s foundation in good shape? Correct any structural issues now to avoid a collapse in the event of an earthquake.

DURING 

  • “Drop, cover, and hold on” like you practiced above. 
  • If in bed, stay there and cover your head and neck with a pillow. 
  • If inside, stay there until shaking stops. Do not run outside. 
  • If in a vehicle, stop in a clear area that is away from buildings, trees, overpasses, underpasses, or utility wires. 
  • If you are in a high-rise building, expect fire alarms and sprinklers to go off. Do not use elevators. 
  • If near slopes, cliffs, or mountains, be alert for falling rocks and landslides.

AFTER 

  • Expect aftershocks. 
  • Check yourself for injuries, and then help others if able. 
  • If in a damaged building, go outside and quickly move away from the building.  
  • Do not enter damaged buildings. 
  • If you are trapped, cover your mouth. Send a text, bang on a pipe or wall, or blow a whistle to call for help instead of shouting. 
  • If you are in an area that may experience tsunamis, go inland or to higher ground as soon as shaking stops. 
  • Save phone calls for emergencies. 
  • Once safe, monitor local news reports via battery operated radio, TV, social media, and cell phone text alerts for emergency information and instructions.  
  • When it comes time to clean-up, wear protective clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, work gloves, and study, thick soled shoes during clean-up. Do not attempt to remove heavy debris by yourself. 

For more information, visit: https://www.ready.gov/earthquakes. There’s no better time than now to prepare!

Workplace Fire Safety

Do you know what to do in the event of a fire?

Does your employer have a fire safety plan in place? If you are the employer; do your employees know what to do in the case of a fire? Chances are, your fire escape/safety plans haven’t been discussed recently, and there’s no time like now to make sure everyone’s on the same page. Obviously, it’s smart to have a plan in place, but sometimes it’s required by law. Are you compliant?

Tips for employers:

  • Take time to educate your employees about fire hazards in the workplace.
  • Include fire safety training when training new employees.
  • Alert the staff of any changes to the plan.
  • Post the plan around the office in multiple visible places.
  • Conduct fire drills regularly.
  • Keep fire equipment in plain sight and regularly check that they are up-to-date.
  • Have an alarm system, both visual and audible. Schedule to change out the batteries regularly.
  • Go over rules for smoking, including where to smoke and how to properly dispose of cigarettes. Schedule proper cleaning and maintenance of heat producing equipment.
  • Appoint a fire safety leader.

Tips for employees:

      • Keep your work-space clean and free of clutter, including trash and recycling.
  • Keep your electrical cords organized, and replace any damaged ones.
  • Pay attention to any machinery that could overheat.
  • Do not overload circuits, including power strips.
  • If you use a space heater, do not plug it into a power strip, and unplug it when not in use.
  • Smoke safely in designated areas.
  • Be familiar with your fire safety/escape plan, and know where the fire equipment (pull stations, extinguishers, etc.) are located.
  • Follow building security measures, such as locking up at night, to help prevent arson fires.

ServiceMaster’s Luis J.

Meet this week’s Master of Disaster from the remediation and water crew, Luis!

ServiceMaster’s Rob S.

Meet this week’s Master of Disaster from the Water Crew, Rob!

Flood Damage – Don’t wait to mitigate

When your home or business floods, it’s important to start the drying process as soon as possible to prevent any further damage. ServiceMaster of Tacoma is on-call 24/7/365 to perform emergency services, so you don’t have to wait to mitigate. 

Our technicians use the latest and greatest methods and technology in anti-microbial application, drying/air movement, dehumidifying and monitoring, cleaning, sanitizing and odor removal. 

Our coordinators work with insurance companies daily, so you benefit from our claims process expertise.

  

ServiceMaster’s Amy D.

Meet this week’s Master of Disaster, Amy!

Professional Mold Removal

There is more to mold remediation than removing the visible mold. If you suspect you have some sort of growth but it isn’t visible, you should get your home tested before hiring a mold removal specialist such as ServiceMaster Restore. 

If there is already mold growing on your walls, there is probably more growing behind them. Don’t wait to mitigate!  

Trying to take care of it yourself might not take care of the whole problem. It could actually make matters worse by releasing mold spores into the air and causing additional risk.  

You can count on ServiceMaster of Tacoma to meet your mold removal needs, even in tight areas like crawlspaces or attics. Our certified technicians have the resources and experience to deal with mold problems of all sizes. 

Don’t know what to do next? We do.  

ServiceMaster’s Haden B.

Meet this week’s Master of Disaster, all the way from South Carolina, Haden!

Assessing Water Damage at a Manufactured Home

What is a manufactured home?

Mobile home.

Modular home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A manufactured home is constructed in a controlled environment, primarily inside of a manufacturing facility, and therefore not exposed to outside elements like rain, snow, sun, etc. There are two subcategories of manufactured homes: mobile and modular. A mobile home is built, and remains, on a frame with wheels for transporting. A modular home is built on a frame and then transported to a location and placed on a permanent foundation. When it comes to insurance policies, a mobile home policy is written specifically as a mobile home policy, and a modular home can be written as either a standard homeowner policy or a mobile home policy.

Things to consider when you come across a manufactured home damaged by water:

  • Cabinets often are lower grade with stapled joints or vinyl wrapping on cheap lightweight or processed wood. It might be smart to consider replacement as opposed to restoration. 
  • Trim, baseboards, chair rails, etc. can have varying degrees of quality as well. Often, they are made of lightweight wood such as balsa and then wrapped with vinyl, and depending on saturation, will need to be replaced.  
  • Flooring material such as carpet and vinyl are manufactured specifically for mobile and modular homes and are made in 15-foot-wide rolls, whereas the normal width is 12 feet. The benefit is that the extra width eliminates flooring seams. Carpeting is typically lower grade and installed before walls are put in. It’s recommended to remove lower grade carpeting when water damaged. Vinyl flooring is typically a “floating floor”, only adhered around the edge, and is easily removed for drying of the sub-floor.  
  • There are three types of sub-floor that could be used: pressed board, OSB, and plywood. When wet, pressed board subfloors typically swell and become structurally compromised and are likely to require replacement. They also mold easily. OSB sub-floors are stronger and easier to dry. If they have been wet for a long time, they could also become structurally compromised. Lastly, plywood sub-floors are the sturdiest and least vulnerable but are harder to dry.
  • HVAC systems can be any of the following: Normal metal ducts, thin metal ducts, foil faced cardboard, and insulated wire wrapped flex tubing. Typically heating vents are flat on the floor, which means that it is more probable that water found its way into the HVAC system. Manufactured homes often have corrugated or flexible venting that may need to be replaced after it gets wet or contaminated. 
  • The belly, or underbelly, is usually made of a polytype material that is placed under the home between the I-beams and the floor joists. It usually encloses the flooring, ductwork, piping, and insulation. When the underbelly is in good condition, it will act as a barrier, trapping water from water damage that’s incurred inside. This makes it almost always necessary to cut the belly in order to remove any wet insulation and allow trapped water to escape.  
  • Older manufactured homes don’t always have a full range of electrical service or power supply. Typically, they only have 100-123 amps in total. They may or may not have a 220-amp supply. Electrical outlets in HUD homes are not attached to studs in the walls. This means that if the wall is wet, caution needs to be taken when using the outlet because it could easily pull out of the drywall. 
  • Mobile home skirting is difficult to match for replacement panels and should be handled with care. For crawlspace access, look for a skirting panel that has been previously removed or ask the homeowner if they have already might have opened the skirting. Most crawl spaces are not clean and difficult to access.

When assessing water damage at a manufactured home, first note the age and condition of the home, and how this could affect the dry-down techniques and the restoration vs. Replacement factor. Be sure to communicate this with the adjuster.  

Don’t wait to mitigate! You have a better chance of saving money, maintaining customer satisfaction, and an improved loss ratio. 

 Need to get the job started? Contact us to get scheduled.

ServiceMaster’s Taylor R.

Meet this week’s Master of Disaster, Taylor R.!