Five Precautions To Take If You Live In A Fire Danger Period

Five Precautions To Take If You Live In A Fire Danger Period

If you live in an area prone to fires, it’s important to be aware of the risk and take steps to mitigate it. From knowing the USDA fire danger levels to making sure you’re covered if a fire does impact your home, here are five precautions to take if you live in a fire danger period.

1. Know The Fire Danger Levels

The USDA classifies fire danger into five levels. You’ve probably seen the signs featuring Smokey Bear when visiting public lands. It’s a good idea to pay attention to the fire danger level and adjust your activities accordingly.

When fire danger is low or moderate, fires do not ignite easily, and they are easy to control. Once the fire danger level reaches high, fires can ignite easily and spread rapidly. As the danger level increases, fires become more difficult to control and last longer.

If you live in an area with a high fire level or above, campfires and brush fires can easily escape and become dangerous wildfires.

2. Prepare Your Home

Maintaining your home with the possibility of wildfire in mind can help protect it. Keep your roof and gutters clean. Debris such as pine needles or leaves can easily ignite. Make sure your shingles are in good shape and replace any that are loose or missing. That way, embers won’t be as likely to get through. Use wire mesh on attic vents and below patios and decks to prevent embers from entering. Finally, remove all items stored beneath decks and anything flammable from the walls.

3. Think About Your Landscaping

Colorado State University recommends making use of defensible space and planting native species within it. They define defensible space as room for firefighters to do their jobs. In fact, firefighters may pass by houses that do not have adequate defensible space in consideration of the danger to them and the likelihood of being able to save the structure.

Plants near your home should be lower and more widely spaced than those that grow farther away. Using decorative gravel or stone can slow the spread of fire and should be used for the first three to five feet from the house. Use mulch to conserve moisture and prioritize which plants will be saved in a drought. Keep your grass mowed and consider using ground cover plants.

If you plant wildflowers, make sure there is a wide space between the beds. Similarly, any shrubs used in landscaping should be low-growing and non-resinous. Space them apart from one another and away from trees, where they could become ladder fuels. Do not plant trees near structures. Sticking to native species is best. Aspen or narrow-leaf cottonwood are good choices, but it’s important to pick up leaves when they fall to reduce available fuel.

4. Consult With Professionals

The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends contacting local professionals like the forestry office and fire department for information about local laws, building codes, and protection measures.

It’s important to make sure your house is as fire resistant as possible. Consult with a professional about replacing materials that are not suitable. Roofs should be made with non-combustible material, like slate, metal, or fiberglass. Siding should be similarly fire resistant. Consider making use of metal, brick, concrete, and rock. Windows should have dual or triple-pane thermal glass, and any shutters or drapes should also be fire resistant.

If you have a chimney, make sure a spark arrestor is in place. Eaves, porches, and sundecks should all be enclosed to prevent trapping heat and embers. Even your patio furniture should be non-combustible. When in doubt, consult with a professional so you can be sure your home is as fire resistant as it can be.

5. Know Your Policy

If you live in an area prone to wildfires, make sure you know what your policy covers. Standard insurance policies will pay to repair or rebuild your home, replace your belongings, and reimburse you for living expenses like hotel rooms or meals out. However, coverage amounts vary. Make sure you have enough insurance to protect you, keep an up-to-date inventory of your possessions, and keep copies of important papers off site.

Being prepared ahead of time can set your mind at ease. If the worst does happen and your home is damaged by fire or smoke, call ECOS immediately. We work well with all insurance companies and take pictures to document the damage and repairs.

Does Your Insurer Impact The Coverage You Need

Does Your Insurer Impact The Coverage You Need?

Imagine you come home one day to see a raccoon climb out of your attic vent and scurry down a tree. You hurry inside to investigate and find that the raccoon has done considerable damage to your attic. Will your homeowner’s insurance pay to fix it? Coverage varies.

What’s Covered?

Homeowner’s insurance generally covers damage to the structure of your home from things like fires and storms. If lightning strikes your home, the damage will be covered. Similarly, if a tree falls on your roof, your insurance will pay to fix it.

When you get beyond the basics, though, coverage varies. Insurers may cover different amounts of damage. They may also offer additional coverage that can be added to your policy. Often, homeowners don’t realize some damage isn’t covered until after it has already occurred.

Floods and Sewage

Most areas of the country are prone to storms. Although lightning damage is covered by standard policies, if the same storm causes your basement to flood, the damage to your basement will not be covered.

Along the same lines, if flooding causes your sump pump to fail or sewage to back up into your house, that’s usually not covered by standard policies either.

If you live in an area where flooding occurs, even infrequently, it’s a good idea to purchase flood insurance. Many insurers also offer coverage for sewer backup. Paying a small fee now helps you avoid footing the entire bill for cleanup later.

Earthquakes

Like floods, earthquakes are often left out of standard homeowner’s policies. If earthquakes are a concern where you live, it’s smart to purchase coverage that will allow you to repair damage or rebuild your home if necessary.

Mold

Mold is a serious problem that can damage the structural integrity of your home. It also poses a health hazard to you and your family. Unfortunately, the coverage provided by insurers varies widely.

Some insurers only cover mold if it is caused by specific perils listed in your policy. Others offer more broad coverage that pays for mold damage unless the cause is explicitly excluded.

Coverage for mold is often confusing, and many insurers attempt to exclude it altogether. It’s wise to ask your agent about specific scenarios to get an idea of what is covered under the policy you’re considering.

Animals

If we return to the scenario this post opened with, the good news is because it was a raccoon, there’s a good chance the damage is covered. However, there are exceptions. If your insurer finds that the raccoon was nesting in your attic for a prolonged period of time and you made no attempts to block its access, you may not be covered.

Unlike damage from raccoons, rodent damage is virtually never covered. If you have a rat, mouse, or squirrel problem, odds are you’re on your own. In contrast, if a deer crashes into your bay window or a bear pulls your door open and raids your cabinets, you’re probably covered.

When it comes to damage from animals, the damage usually needs to have happened in a single event. If it happened over time, your insurer may say you could have taken steps to prevent the damage.

If you live in a wooded area, where wildlife is plentiful, we recommend talking to your insurance agent to see what types of animal damage are covered by your policy.

ECOS has over a decade of experience working with insurance companies to get our clients covered. Whether you’re experiencing damage from water, animals, mold, or fire, we are happy to help you navigate the often-confusing process of getting insurance claims approved.

In the event that damage is not covered by your insurer, ECOS will work with you on the most cost-effective method of cleaning and restoring your home to a healthy environment. If your home has been damaged, don’t wait for problems to get worse. Call ECOS today.

Common Water Damage to Homes

The Most Common Damage Done To Homes With Water

Your home is your sanctuary, and it’s also a significant investment. Water is a constant threat that has the potential to do profound damage to your home. Below, we discuss the most common ways water damages homes and how to avoid four common plumbing issues that lead to them.

1. Broken Or Clogged Pipes

Plumbing is necessary for us to live healthy and comfortable lives, but when pipes break or become clogged, thousands of gallons of water could leak into your home. According to one report of the most expensive insurance claims made by homeowners, water damage from plumbing and appliances made up 19% of all claims.

The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors recommends regularly checking your pipes to make sure they aren’t leaking, dripping, or clogged. Additionally, make sure you know where your shut-off valves are. Labeling them can help you use them quickly to minimize water damage if a leak occurs.

2. Frozen Water Lines

Plumbing issues aren’t limited to leaky pipes and clogged drains. The weather presents its own set of issues, particularly in the winter. Water expands as it freezes, and that means your pipes may burst.

It’s wise to take steps to prevent your pipes from freezing. The American Red Cross recommends adding insulation to unheated spaces, removing and draining outdoor hoses, and draining swimming pool and sprinkler lines before winter.

Once cold weather arrives, leave cabinet doors open to allow warm air to enter spaces around pipes. Leaving the cold water dripping also helps keep pipes from freezing. It’s also a good idea to leave your heat on while you’re away and keep it turned up at night.

If your pipes do freeze, thaw them with a hair dryer or heating pad. Do not attempt to use propane, kerosene, blow torches, or similar devices. These pose fire and carbon monoxide risks to you and your family.

3. Appliance Failures

Many of the appliances in our homes use or produce water, including the refrigerator, washing machine, dishwasher, air conditioner, and hot water heater. If these appliances fail, water can leak into your home.

The Insurance Information Institute suggests checking the hoses leading to your appliances on an annual basis. Replace any that are cracked, and get new hoses every five to seven years.

4. Sump Pump Failure

Homes with basements often have a sump pump. Sump pumps are designed to move water out of your basement and away from your foundation. However, if your sump pump fails, your basement can become flooded.

Since sump pumps run on electricity, a power outage is a common reason for failure. Having a generator can help get you through a power outage.

Sump pumps may also fail if they are the wrong size. Have a professional inspect your sump pump to make sure it can adequately address your home’s needs.

Dirt and debris can also clog your pump. Your sump pump should be serviced every six months to ensure it is working properly.

Getting Help With Water Damage

As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We always recommend taking steps to prevent water damage. However, emergencies happen, and if you experience a leak, we are here to help.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can clean up and repair the damage yourself. It only takes 24-48 hours for mold to colonize, putting you and your family at risk. Additionally, if sewage is a problem, bacteria and other pathogens become an immediate concern.

ECOS is here to help. We are on call 24-hours a day and seven days a week. If you are experiencing a leak or suspect water damage, give us a call. We’ll work quickly to minimize the damage done to your home and restore it to a healthy and safe environment.

Bad Air Quality Health Risks

Bad Air Quality – How To Evaluate The Health Risks

If you’ve had headaches, itchy eyes, or sinus congestion, you probably just chalked it up to a cold or allergies. That could be the case. However, people often fail to consider air quality as a possible cause. Read on to see how the air in your home could be making you sick.

What Causes Bad Air Quality?

According to one article, people spend an estimated 90% of their time indoors. That means it’s crucial that the air we breathe when we’re indoors is clean.

There are many factors that change the air quality in our homes and other buildings. Pet dander, mold spores, and dust mites can build up, especially in the winter. Outdoor pollution can enter through ventilation systems, and moisture can find its way inside.

The things we use to clean and heat our homes can harm indoor air quality, too. The habits and behaviors of occupants also matter. For example, it’s well known that smoking creates a health hazard inside.

How Do I Know If Bad Air Quality Is Making Me Sick?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, you may experience symptoms after just one exposure to bad indoor air. Your eyes, nose, and throat may feel irritated. You might feel dizzy or fatigued, and you may have a headache.

Clearly, the symptoms listed above are vague and can be caused by a variety of illnesses. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to when they happen. If you feel better after leaving the building, there’s a good chance your symptoms are caused by bad indoor air quality.

Long-Term Problems

Sometimes, bad indoor air quality causes health problems years after the fact. Repeated exposure to bad air quality over a long period of time also leads to serious health problems for some.

Respiratory diseases, cancer, and heart disease can all be caused by bad indoor air. Since these diseases are often fatal, it’s important to address indoor air quality issues as soon as possible.

What Can You Do About Bad Indoor Air Quality?

There are some easy steps you can take to improve indoor air quality. First, keep your home clean. Vacuuming, clearing clutter, and washing bedding and drapery all cut down on allergens.

Choosing to install hard flooring rather than carpeting can also be helpful. If you do have a carpet, make sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter, and use it several times a week.

Change filters in heating and cooling systems regularly and let fresh air in whenever possible. Consider purchasing an air purifier to help clean the air and a dehumidifier if damp areas are a problem.

Other Considerations

Bad indoor air quality impacts some people more severely than others. Vulnerable people like children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible.

Many times, the source of bad indoor air quality is invisible. Radon is a gas that can be a problem in some areas. Carbon monoxide is emitted by gas heaters and stoves, leaking chimneys, furnaces, and tobacco products.

Construction materials and furnishings can also pose a danger. If your home was built before the 1980s, it may contain asbestos. Formaldehyde is used in furnishings, building materials, and household products. There are often higher concentrations of formaldehyde indoors. Both formaldehyde and asbestos can cause serious health problems, including cancer.

Seeking Help From A Professional

It’s a good idea to have your home checked by a professional, particularly if you are experiencing symptoms consistent with bad indoor air quality. Professionals have the knowledge and equipment to deal with dangerous contaminants like asbestos and radon.

If you need help identifying the source of your bad indoor air quality or in remedying the problem, give ECOS a call. We have a live operator available 24/7, and our equipment is safe for the people and pets in your home.

Hoarder Cleanup

Six Things You Can Get Help With When Cleaning Up Hoarding

If you are faced with the task of cleaning up a hoarding situation, the sheer volume of objects in the home can be overwhelming. The good news is help is available to you. Below, we discuss six things you can get help with when cleaning up hoarding.

1. Therapy

One thing that’s important to recognize is that people who hoard are suffering from a recognized mental disorder. As such, getting appropriate therapy is crucial. Simply removing all their possessions will not fix the problem and may subject them to a great deal of emotional stress.

Here at ECOS, we work with the family and the therapist to ensure people are treated with respect throughout the process of returning their home to a healthy environment. If you or someone you love suffers from hoarding, reach out to a licensed therapist for help.

2. Cleaning Up With Respect To Feelings

When cleanup begins, it’s important to remember that the person suffering from hoarding experiences anxiety over parting with their possessions, even things that seem meaningless or like trash to others. Cleaning up after hoarding requires a specific process that respects that anxiety yet still restores the home to cleanliness.

At ECOS, we have over 12 years of experience cleaning up hoarding. We work with professionals and ensure that everyone is treated with respect and sensitivity throughout the process.

3. Sorting

While someone from outside the situation may look at a hoarded home as a giant pile of trash, for the person who hoards, it is all valuable in some way. As a result, necessary documentation, family heirlooms, and the like can be mixed in with other items or even trash.

Sorting through the items in the home is important so that items that are truly valuable are saved. Additionally, remember that the person who has hoarded must be involved in the process and able to make decisions. Forcefully removing a person’s possessions will cause emotional distress.

When you are ready to begin the process, having a professional cleaning company help will ease the burden and speed up the process of restoring the home.

4. Safety

An important consideration of cleaning up hoarding is the safety of everyone involved. Hoarding may mask structural problems, leaks, or dangerous mold. Additionally, there can be pathogens from large amounts of bacteria in the home.

A professional cleaning company has the equipment to handle the job safely. They will also recognize any problems that need to be addressed. Once the home is clean, any necessary repairs can be made by appropriate professionals.

5. Trash Removal

Often, there is a huge amount of trash in a home that has been hoarded. It’s far beyond what you can set out on the curb for pickup.

Getting help from a cleaning company keeps you from being overwhelmed with all the trash that has to be thrown away. A cleaning company can bag, remove, and haul all the trash away for you.

6. Repairs

Heavy furniture, piles of books, magazines, etc. can weaken a home’s structural integrity. Spills and leaks may cause beams and floors to rot. There can be pest invasions, as well. These are things beyond the average homeowner’s experience.

After cleaning, it’s important to restore the home to safety. For structural repairs, call a licensed contractor. If pests are a problem, reach out to a pest removal company for assistance.

Hoarding creates a daunting situation for both the people who hoard and their loved ones. Embarrassment may prevent people from calling for help, but help is available. If you or your loved one need help cleaning up after hoarding, consider giving ECOS a call.

You can learn more about our hoarding cleanup service here. Rest assured we will treat you and your loved ones with dignity.

 

The Environmental Hazard That Is Hoarding

Judging by the popularity of Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, many of us have too much clutter in our homes. For about 2%-6% of the population, however, the clutter interferes with daily living.

Hoarding is now a recognized mental health disorder, in which a person accumulates excessive possessions and feels distress when parting with them. We have begun to recognize the emotional impacts of hoarding, but it’s important that we also think about how hoarding affects the environment.

Hoarding is a Community Health Issue

Hoarding can affect the air quality within a home. Many times, so much clutter builds up that it becomes impossible to properly clean. Irritants such as mold, dust, ammonia, and pet dander increase to unhealthy levels. That can lead to breathing problems for people who live in or visit the home.

The buildup of trash, food, and filth invites pests into the home. Fleas, rats, bedbugs, roaches, and the like may infest the property. The crowded conditions also make extermination more challenging.

Hoarding of all types can create exposure to disease, but animal hoarding is of particular concern. In such cases urine, feces, and sometimes even dead animals build up in the home. Diseases and parasites can spread to humans and become a threat to everyone in the area.

People who hoard often live in unhealthy conditions, with malfunctioning heating and cooling systems or broken appliances. They are too embarrassed to call a professional to help, so the situation only gets worse.

Emergencies and Disasters

Hoarding directly causes some emergencies. It may also prevent first responders from being able to help residents during an emergency or disaster. Additionally, hoarding puts neighbors at risk when it occurs close to other homes or apartments.

Hoarding creates a risk of fire due to clutter coming in contact with heat sources. Once a fire starts, the amount of flammable material causes it to burn hot and spread quickly. Burning materials may also release toxic fumes. Blocked pathways make it difficult for firefighters to enter the home. Residents also have trouble escaping, so many occupants die in such fires.

The weight of hoarded objects may weaken the structural integrity of the buildings that store them. Many homes are simply not designed to hold a lot of heavy things, like furniture and books. Spilled liquids, leaking roofs, or broken pipes may also damage the home. Over time, that can cause the building to collapse.

Pollution

Obviously, all that stuff has to go somewhere. The objects that were hoarded impact the environment whether a home is cleaned out, lost to fire, or collapses. Rotting food releases methane gas. Plastic takes a very long time to break down. It is filling our oceans. Smoke from fires releases toxins and carbon dioxide. Improper sanitation may lead to contamination of water and soil. In short, hoarding affects us all.

We need a clean environment inside and outside of our homes to be healthy. It is in our best interests to address hoarding, but it must be done with care and compassion. Simply throwing away everything in a hoarder’s home will not solve the problem. Doing so without permission may ruin your relationship. It will always cause distress. In fact, the experience can be so traumatic, it is thought to have led to the death of some people.

If you or your loved ones need help with hoarding, give Ecos Environmental and Disaster Restoration a call. We will work with the family, therapist, and person suffering from hoarding. You can trust us to treat you with respect and compassion. We’ll discretely restore your property to a safe environment.

Image: Pexels

 

 

Weather damage to property

How To Claim Insurance From Weather Damage To Your Property

Water damage, winter storms and spring thaws cause weather damage to your property. How do you file a claim due to that loss appropriately?

In 2015, winter storms led to about $3.5 billion in insured claim losses. Weather patterns shift, and increasingly, bring harsh conditions to areas that didn’t experience a severe level of weather activity previously. The good news is that most homes and businesses are properly insured and can receive coverage and compensation for losses through their insurance company.

Insurance Claims and Weather-Related Loss

Weather-related loss can occur in many ways. The most frequent causes of weather damage include:

  • Water damage
  • Sudden thaws leading to floods
  • Roof damage
  • Hail damage
  • Fallen trees
  • Freezing pipes
  • Sewer backup
  • Wind damage
  • Displacement caused by power failure

Your insurance company should cover most of these types of weather damage. However, your insurance company does not typically cover flood damage. Thus, you need to look into obtaining national flood insurance in the future, and the FEMA website offers a great resource for research.

In the event of liability, your home insurance typically covers liability. One of your first steps should involve contacting your insurance company, even when you think you are not at fault. So, don’t try to resolve the issue yourself. You pay the insurance company to help you in times like these.

Your insurance company also has relationships with emergency contractors and clean-up experts who can step in to help you resolve the issue quickly and safely. ECOS Environmental has years of experience in doing just that. We can help you document the damage and repair through every step of the claim process.

Document and Prevent Further Damage

Waiting for the insurance company to step in? You still have a responsibility to prevent further damage to the property.

It’s normal to feel anxious and want to get started immediately. First, look around and access. Start taking photos, videos and notes about what you notice on your property. Where has damage occurred? What are the dates and times involved? What is the value of damaged materials and electronics in your home? Do you know the date of purchase? Keep track of receipts and records of any money spent.

The where, what, when and why becomes important as the insurance company reviews the claim. This scenario is where restoration and clean-up experts like ECOS Environmental really shine and offer support. When weather damage follows an emergency, our crews often reach the site faster than the insurance company can.

Keeping Up With Your Weather Damage Claim

Always contact your insurance company any time you notice weather damage or are accused of responsibility for damage to another’s property. Access and document the damage, gathering information. Additionally, keep a claim log about who you speak to regarding the damage, noting the status, date and time. Note every contact.

So, always check with your insurance provider before throwing out damaged items. Take photos before discarding if your municipality requires you to get rid of damaged materials for safety. This documentation process will also help you when it comes time to submit an inventory to the insurance company.

Sign up for text alerts from your insurance provider, so you can keep up with the status of your weather damage claim. This step will help you keep track of when an estimate becomes available or when a payment is issued.

Your home insurance policy should offer you the best possible coverage and support your best interests. Consequently, don’t take on extensive costs that you hold no responsibility for or cause more damage by resolving the issue yourself.

Always go through the proper channels. Contact ECOS Environmental to make sure every step in the claims and clean-up process is impeccably handled. You will come out on top safely, more informed and save more money.

Mold Remediation

Renovating: Dealing With Hidden Mold

Most folks know that mold needs moisture to grow indoors. You commonly find mold growth occurring after a flood, in a damp basement or as a result of your roof leaking. However, mold is sneaky, and many people end up dealing with hidden mold while renovating.

Experts suggest that hidden mold can be present in up to 60% of homes. When you see a bit of mold, you spritz, wipe and move on. However, the problem can be deeper than you assume. That cracked and leaking ceiling or broken pipe often leads to mold spreading. Out of sight, out of mind.

You Must Take Mold Seriously

Mold is different than concerns you may have with a house with old lead-based paint or asbestos. These are single contaminants that have definable and determinable health risks, such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. Researchers are still getting to know mold, but current findings reveal serious, long-term concerns for those with hidden mold.

Toxic mold exposure may pose issues with memory loss, trouble concentrating, insomnia and confusion. Mold exposure can contribute to symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can also cause upper respiratory tract symptoms in adults and children. Black mold is toxigenic, and symptoms of mold poisoning often occur as flu-like symptoms.

It is important to test for hidden mold through a certified inspector before you begin the renovation process. You should hire an expert renovator who is experienced in dealing with mold.

Dealing With Hidden Mold

Uneducated renovators and home and business owners who remain unaware of the mold effects and continue with renovation risk the health of others. You must understand what mold removal entails so that you don’t further contaminate or damage the structure and cause harm to those you care about.

Microbial air sampling is conducted if experts suspect mold. It’s not visible after the initial inspection. This type of sampling helps to locate hidden mold behind walls and other structures. A combination of moisture readings and surface or bulk sampling can help determine how far colonization may spread.

Mold remediation costs soar when you attempt to remove the visible areas of mold only to find more hidden. Some insurance companies now cap off what they will and won’t cover when it comes to mold. However, a certified expert gets the job done the first time and can afford more flexible payment terms. They also offer documentation assistance for insurance purposes.
cross contamination. Containing the area experiencing mold growth is important. Always practice safety measures, such as wearing goggles, a dust mask and rubber gloves.

Porous and Non-Porous Materials

Don’t treat contaminated porous materials with bleach. Bleach kills a large degree of germs,  but it doesn’t have the same effect on mold. Adding bleach adds moisture which encourages mold growth. The toxic nature of bleach may prove dangerous when not used with care.

Has mold infected porous materials, such as drywall, carpet and ceiling tiles? The best practice is to double bag and dispose of it. Containment helps prevent cross-contamination.

It’s safer to brush or scrub mold contamination off non-porous materials. Then, you will need to utilize a HEPA vacuum to stop mold particulates from taking to the air. Airborne particulates are a common way that mold spreads. You can spray anti-microbial solutions on non-porous surfaces to prevent mold growth.

Mold may be present in up to 60% of homes, and it’s difficult to determine how deeply mold may penetrate a structure. Hidden mold is more frequent in homes and businesses than you may suspect.

Avoid cross-contamination by focusing on mold containment. Contact ECOS Environmental today for thorough mold testing and removal assistance.

Flood Clean Up

Cleaning Up After Flooding 5 Steps You Need To Take

The floodwaters begin to recede. Understandably, you want to get back into your home or business to clean up and rebuild. However, rebuilding too quickly can mean you skip over significant damage and endanger those in the building.

Otherwise, persistent and hazardous issues such as infestations, mold growth and structural deterioration will present safety and health problems that can cost you more money in the long run. Don’t trust that flood water or materials damaged by flooding are safe. Here are the five steps you need to take after flooding to clean up.

1.Contact Professionals to Report and Assess

After flood water recedes, contact the professionals to report and assess the conditions following the flood. Do contact your insurance company as soon as possible, but also don’t neglect to contact disaster restoration professionals to assist with the documentation and restoration process.

ECOS Environmental is experienced with working with insurance companies and their standards. We will stay with you from start to finish. We know how to safely and effectively clean up all kinds of disasters and will restore your home or business with care.

People say that fire is both destructive and creative, but water seeps. It seeps through everything, including your ceiling, drywall, floors and walls.

2. Protect Yourself When Entering

There are some aspects of cleanup that you can safely DIY but never charge into a structure without it being cleared as safe by the experts and authorities.

Cracked foundations and broken floors obviously present hazards. Always turn the electricity off before going into a room with standing water. Also, don’t turn on electrical appliances while standing on wet flooring or carpeting. Never disturb mold, which can form within 48 hours of flooding.

Wear protective gear when you enter the building. Wear masks, waterproof boots and long sleeve clothing.

3. Start Cleaning ASAP

Begin the cleanup process once the building is cleared for you to enter safely. The degree to which you can contribute personally to the cleanup process depends on the degree of damage and concerns for potential health hazards. You don’t and shouldn’t do all the cleanup on your own.

Contact with floodwater and damaged materials endangers your life. It takes a long time, and you can’t work to support yourself and loved ones while cleaning up. If you DIY the cleanup, always wear protective gear. Only what is reasonable and safe for you and your health, such as wiping down surfaces and opening windows.

One of the first and easiest steps that you can DIY is to dry out the contents of the property completely. Focus on items that won’t retain harmful bacteria and mold. You will throw those items away. Many non-porous materials can be salvaged, so take the items outside to dry in the sunlight. Dehumidifiers and fans will help air out the property to prepare for restoration efforts.

4. Exercise Caution with Mold Damage

Where there is moisture, you will most likely find mold. After flooding, mold can quickly develop as soon as 24 hours after water comes in contact with a surface. Please wear a mask when you re-enter a building.

Soap and bleach can help address some mold issues, on the surface, but the problem area can “grow” deeper. Experts can offer you a free estimate and plan for addressing the damage.

5. Address Necessary Repairs Before Restoration

Part of the cleanup process means addressing the necessary repairs before you leap into the restoration process. The early stages of your cleanup efforts must focus on getting everything clean and dry while working with your insurance company and flood cleanup and restoration experts.

Following that, you should address the necessary repairs before restoration. Seal up all leaks and prevent further issues with moisture, especially for future prevention. If you are in a high-risk flood zone, you can investigate the possibility of elevating your home or installing a flood barrier after you take care of those must-do repairs.

Contact ECOS Environmental to guide you through the flood cleanup and restoration process from start to finish.

Is There Sewage In Your Flood Water?

“It’s just water,” you think. What could go wrong if you just decided to dip a toe into the flood water and work your way to the other side? The water doesn’t look too deep or radioactive from afar.

That standing water looks passive enough, but flood waters pose various risks and may threaten you with injury, chemical hazards and infectious diseases. Don’t try to downplay the risks. Even if the current won’t carry you away, you still need to worry about the possibility of sewage in your flood water.

Sewage Can Leak Into Water During a Flood

According to the Scientific American, sewage floods are more likely to happen in the coming years as heavy rains increase. Between 1895 and 2011, rainfall has increased by two inches each year, and it’s only going to continue rising. In 2016, Baton Rouge, Louisiana faced a deluge of 20 inches of rain within 72 hours, necessitating 30,000 rescues.

Many families end up waiting until the flood hits their front door to evacuate, and then they have to do it by boat. What do they end up seeing and treading through? Raw sewage.

That’s what happened to folks in Baton Rouge. The city’s piping, booster systems and life stations were built around a century ago, and the system couldn’t handle the torrential downpour leading to what is known as a “sanitary sewer overflow” — or unsanitary, rather. Do you know how old the pipes are in your neighborhood? It’s worth looking into.

Cities are responsible for adhering to the Clean Water Act. Older systems are designed with fixed degrees of water and rainfall in mind, but more flexible systems need developing.

Outfall points release the sewage into larger bodies of water, but sometimes, shallow slopes don’t allow for proper flushing. In New York City alone, three billion gallons are released into just one stream — the Newton Creek. Find out about how your city treats and tests its water by visiting your government website and asking direct questions.

How Can You Get Ill From Sewage in Flood Water?

Fortunately, most modern people are good about washing their hands after using the restroom and cautious of spreading possibly infectious viruses and diseases. However, sewage in the flood water can spread fecal-oral diseases from the organisms that are released into the water.

These diseases spread from touching dirty hands to your mouth. Spreading can occur by direct contact with the flood water, sewage or someone who becomes sick with disease. You can also become sick by indirect contact with the flood water when you touch damaged furniture, toys or other items or consume food exposed to sewage-contaminated water.

If infected, you may experience nausea, cramps, fever, headache, vomiting and diarrhea. You should contact your doctor if you experience these symptoms for more than 48 hours.

That’s why it’s important to avoid contact with flood water as a rule of thumb in general. Find a sanitary facility to shower or bathe if you do come into indirect or direct contact with flood water. The incubation period for many fecal-oral diseases consists of one to three days.

Safety Practices Regarding Sewer Contaminated Flood Water

Reduce your risk of contamination and illness by avoiding flood water altogether. If you come in contact with a flooded area, wash yourself with clean soap and water as soon as possible.

Always wash your hands after you use the toilet or eat. Keep your hands under the clean water for at least twenty seconds as you scrub.

For decontamination of objects, in many cases, you can use about eight tablespoons of laundry bleach per gallon of water to preserve some toys and other household objects. Always discard cloth objects, such as clothes, plush toys or pillows.

Use gloves, masks and proper clothing to avoid contact with the water as you clean and throw away the trash. Open up the windows for ventilation.

These tips will help you get through light flooding, but even when the water doesn’t look too deep, you never know what sewage might linger in your flood water — chances are, it’s there.

Don’t risk your health. Contact ECOS Environmental to help clean up, sanitize and restore the area, documenting every step of the process for insurance purposes for you.