Hurricanes; What exactly You Can Do in order to avoid Future Trouble for your Home and save money

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LocalNet360- June 1 is the beginning of our 2011 hurricane season that continues until the end of November. The plethora of published articles primarily focuses on how to prepare your home for an upcoming storm and also what to do during a storm. There are fewer articles about what to do following a storm and they primarily discuss cautions and instructions about how to enter your house protecting yourself from bodily injury and ensuring safety. But there are almost no articles about what the homeowner or business owner can do to prevent wholesale loss due to water and wind damage following a storm. This article highlights what the homeowner or business owner can do following a loss to prevent further significant property loss.

Mold In Your Home or Business-How to prevent damage following a Hurricane?
June 1 is here and media are covering information about what to do if you are a victim of a hurricane, tornado, or major storm.

There are numerous myths surrounding hurricanes. Several of major myths are:
• Myth #1: Hurricanes are largely concentrated on states bordering the Gulf of Mexico-Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi; although not directly on the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama and Georgia are also included. Hurricanes have a much broader reach than the ‘Gulf’ states and the entire East Coast from North and South Carolina to New York and north are recipients’ of water and wind damaged homes and businesses every hurricane season.
• Myth #2: If I suffer from a hurricane loss, it will be devastating requiring complete rebuilding of the residence or business. While damage from a major storm surge can be severe, most property will suffer loss similar to a severe storm resulting in wind and water damaged properties.
• Myth #3: All of the damage occurs as a result of the hurricane. More damage can result, not from a hurricane, but from winds and water intrusion into the damaged structure following the storm.
• Myth #4: There is little you can do until the restoration damage experts arrive. There are a number of critical activities you can do immediately that can ensure that subsequent damage to your home or business is minimized.
The greatest challenge following a hurricane or major storm is managing your emotions. The shock of the damage can be overwhelming. The hardest thing to do is to manage your emotions and focus on several tasks that will make a difference. Time is of the essence and the sooner and quicker you complete these the safer you and your possessions will be from subsequent damage.
Please note that there are some tasks that should not be attempted by anyone except an expert. If a major tree is on your house or portions of your walls that have collapsed, it is essential that you contact an expert and wait until they get to you. Also please review articles about the do and don’ts about safely returning to your home. These include:
• Wear sturdy shoes. The most common injury following a disaster is cut feet.
• Use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights when examining buildings. Examine walls, floors, doors, staircase and windows to make sure that the building is not in danger of collapsing. Watch for loose drywall or plaster and ceiling that might fall.
• Inspect foundations for cracks or other damage. Cracks and damage to a foundation can render a building uninhabitable.
• Look for fire hazards. There may be broken or leaking gas lines. Flooded electrical circuits, or submerged furnaces or electrical appliances. Flammable or explosive materials may come from upstream. Fire is the most frequent hazard following floods.
• Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas, using the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, a profession must turn it back on.
• Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wire or if you smell burning installation; turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice. Electrical equipment should be checked and dried before being returned to service.
• Check for sewage and water line damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company, and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water from undamaged water heater or by melting ice cubes.
• Check appliances. If appliances are wet, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Then unplug appliances and let them dry out. Have a professional check your appliances before using.
• Watch out for animals that may have come into buildings with the floodwaters. Use a wood or metal stick to poke through debris. Floodwaters flush many animals and snakes out of their homes.

Once you have returned to your home, the first step is to document everything on a video camera. Purchasing a small inexpensive camera, such as a Flip camera, is worthwhile because it will accurately record all of the structure and contents seamlessly. Your insurance company will send out an adjuster to record this information but, after a hurricane, this may take weeks before they are able to get to you. Therefore, before you do any work, you must document the state of your home or business. Your insurance company will rely heavily on your documentation and a video record is far superior to individual camera shots. If this is not possible, a systematic set of pictures from the outside and inside are required. On the inside, you must document both structure and content. As you enter your home start in one direction and take a picture from the outside of the room and take a picture of each side of the room and continue the same way throughout your house. All structure (walls, ceilings, floors) and content (furniture, clothing, electronics, and valuables) must be documented in the same way from room to room. Make certain that you open kitchen cabinets and drawers and document what is stored including foods and medicines.
Once the documentation is complete and you have successfully downloaded them, the next focus is to secure the building from damage from subsequent rain or wind damage. If you want to prevent costly damage you need to secure the structure.
• The roof is the first location that damage may have occurred. Tarps and ropes secured to stakes, concrete blocks, or sturdy tress will prevent addition damage to your valuables. This is the most important step.
• If there are any cracks in the walls or windows, secure them temporarily with drywall and screws.
• Inside the house, prevention of mold and mildew is critical. Drywall will turn into mold within a couple of days- and always within 6 to 7 days. If you do not have electricity, any wet soaked drywall cannot be saved. Cut any wet drywall and remove. Water soaked drywall is very heavy so cut and remove in small pieces. Please note that restoration companies will have access to large scale generators that can power equipment for your house and neighborhood so you may want to check.
• Other items that will be impossible to save without electricity for industrial dehumidifiers and fans. Carpet and carpet pad should be removed immediately. This should be done in small sections and removed safely.
• Wood and wood products can dry out safely. Tile and other stone products can be saved.

Documenting your damage, securing your structure, and removal of drywall and heavily water damaged carpets will save you money and prevent mold damage from overtaking your home or business.

As you begin to learn about the dangers and prevention pertaining to Fire, Water and Mold damage in your home or business, you will better understand what steps to take to protect your family, employees, pets, personal belongings, business records, equipment, building structure, landscaping and surrounding areas. More importantly, in addition to knowing what steps you can take to aide in prevention, many of these same techniques will help you to mitigate risks in case of an emergency related to fire, water or mold damages should they happen to you. As stated earlier in this series, the more you know about the dangers of Fire, Water and Mold, the better prepared you will be when disaster strikes and in addition to mitigating risks, you may one day help save the life of someone you love as well as yourself, because disaster can strike anyone, anywhere at any time and it is up to you to gain the knowledge to protect your family, home and business and know when to call the professionals who can only respond after the emergency strikes.

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Mary O’Hara holds a Masters of Public Health and has numerous certifications in mold remediation, fire restoration, lead remediation, and fire damage restoration. She spent 25 years as a health care executive with leading health care organizations in Minneapolis, Seattle, St Louis, and Tampa. She started her first health care related business in 2005 in Florida and is a senior partner in a Disaster Restoration Business serving Florida. In 2010, Mary added a mold assessor course and certification to assist with scientific enquiry of residential and commercial building problems.

For more information on Mold testing and/or remediation Services please visit or call:
Call: (855) 2RID MOLD (274-3665)

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