Spring into Action: Prepare Your Household with a Storm Checklist
Spring has officially arrived! That means severe weather is more likely to appear at a moment’s notice throughout this part of the region.
Between the rain, hail, tornadoes, and additional elements, the possibility of experiencing extensive damage to your home and property is likely at some point during your residency. One action you can take ahead of time is being prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws in your path.
The best way to do so is to start with a storm checklist for each season. This allows members of your household to be better prepared if faced with an unexpected weather emergency.
What should you put on your Spring Storm Checklist?
According to Farmers’ Almanac, you should do the following:
- Trim and Prune Trees - Remove dead branches that could end up being dangerous projectiles in a severe storm and cause damage not covered by your homeowner’s insurance. Are any hovering near the power source to your home? Most arborists recommend that trees and limbs be at least 10 feet away from your home. Hire one to come out and identify any problem areas. Or enlist a knowledgeable friend.
- Ensure Sump Pumps are Working - Spring runoff and torrential rainstorms can all result in flooded basements. Make sure your pumps are running smoothly so they can do their job when you need them.
- Secure Backyard Items - Your backyard oasis can turn into a danger zone in a severe storm. High winds can turn unsecured items into missiles. If you’ve received a warning that a severe storm is approaching, move these items—patio furniture, lawn chairs, propane tanks, and grills, flags and poles, bird feeders, and potted or hanging plants—inside your home, shed, or garage if possible. If you can’t bring furniture or heavy items in, try using a rope or garden hose to tie them down securely.
Other safety tips to consider:
- Know your town’s evacuation route and where shelters are located. If you must evacuate at a moment’s notice, you do not want to be searching for information.
- Know your community’s warning system. And be sure everyone in the family is aware of what the signal sounds like.
- Be sure you are receiving severe weather alerts on your cell phone. Most cell phones are automatically equipped with emergency alerts. Check with your carrier.
Regardless of the type of storm damage your residence encounters, call on SERVPRO of San Marcos/New Braunfels at (830) 625-0578. We are experienced in storm and flood damage restoration. We are Here to Help®
It's National Pet ID Week
Whether you have an “indoor” or “outdoor” pet, it is always a good idea to have them wear an ID tag all the time. Various sudden events can cause you to separate from your pet, including natural disasters and escapes from a fire emergency.
Three reasons your family pet needs to have an ID tag:
- ID Tags are Easy to Read - One thing that makes ID tags great is how they display your contact information. Most ID tags have your pet’s name and your information in readable text, ensuring that anyone who finds your pet will be able to call you. A microchip is also an essential form of identification, but it needs to be scanned at a shelter or with a veterinarian. This makes the process a little more complicated than just reading your information on a tag. Some emerging ID tags also include a digital profile that details your pet’s medical history, contact information, and other valuable data. First responders may be able to use these profiles to identify further your pet, where they come from, and any disabilities or conditions they may have.
- ID Tags Show Your Pet Is Not a Stray - Most people will refuse to go near or handle a stray animal. Stray animals generally do not have any external identification, so if your pet lacks an ID tag, they may be mistaken as a stray. An animal with an ID tag and collar, on the other hand, lets others know that they are a pet (a member of someone’s family). This may encourage strangers to stop and help a pet get back home as soon as possible.
- Your Pet Can Return Home on Their Own – Our team at SERVPRO of San Marcos/New Braunfels know how disasters and other unforeseen events are inevitable. Because of this, your pet may become separated from you before you realize it. Your pet’s ID tag contains your contact information, so it is easier for strangers to identify and locate you quickly.
Make sure the tags are still readable with your cell phone number and address. Also, check to see that the information on their tag is up to date.
Fire Prevention Tips for Businesses in Comal County
The last thing you want to ever worry about as a business owner is an unexpected fire occurring in your property.
Besides a fire causing severe damage to equipment, you have materials and personal belongings on the premises to also consider. Focusing on fire risk assessment, fire prevention, and staff education can help reduce your chance of fire and smoke damage.
Some helpful tips that might save additional emotional and financial distress for you as the business owner and the wellbeing of your employees are:
- Create a Fire Plan - Make sure your employees know what to do if there is a fire, including calling 911 immediately. Conduct a fire drill at least once a year to keep employees aware of your workplace fire safety protocol.
- Choose a Safety Officer for Each Shift - Designate a person as your office’s fire prevention officer. Their duties will include constituting escape routes and meeting points for employees, as well as keeping all of your safety plans, equipment, and information updated.
- Install a Sprinkler System if Not Already in Place - Sprinkler systems are cost effective and the best way to fight the spread of a fire in a business with properly installed and maintained systems being 95% effective according to the National Fire Protection Association .
- Regularly Inspect and Replace Wiring. Check power cords regularly for fraying, broken connectors, or cracked insulation. These need to be replaced immediately. Only use one extension cord per outlet and follow manufacturer recommendations for maximum wattage when using power strips. Avoid plugs cluttering around one outlet, as it could lead to an overload.
If your business experiences a fire loss, call the fire and water damage restoration experts and we will respond immediately to get you back to business. SERVPRO of San Marcos/New Braunfels is able 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us at (830) 625-0578.
Storm Insurance: What is Business Income Coverage?
February brought some very unexpected winter storms across the entire state of Texas. From the rolling outages to losing access to running water, the Lone Star State's commercial properties began to face a new set of challenges, unlike ones they have never experienced before when dealt with tornadoes or hurricanes.
How do business owners get their company up and running if they sustained storm damages so severe the structure was unsafe for employees and customers?
Insurance companies offer Business Income Coverage for a situation just like the one that took place over six days.
According to Farmers Insurance, your policy helps replace the income lost when you have business income coverage while your company is closed. Depending on the amount of coverage you choose, this benefit can help you keep up with payroll, taxes, and other operating expenses until you reopen for business.
Some of the benefits of having this type of insurance are:
- Business income coverage is designed to help keep you in business following a loss or disaster.
- Your coverage helps replace income lost due to a fire, severe weather, or another covered event.
- It can help you meet operating expenses while the company is closed for repairs or rebuilding.
- You can select coverage for periods up to three years.
Now is a time to be proactive if you haven't already checked into coverage that not only benefits your business but employees and customers that look to you for services.
Congratulations to SERVPRO for Being #10 in Entrepreneur's Franchise 500 Annual List
Employees gather to do a company photo shoot to celebrate SERVPRO landing the #10 spot on Entrepreneur's Franchise 500 annual list.
SERVPRO of San Marcos/New Braunfels wanted to participate in the fun challenge Corporate announced was taking place to celebrate SERVPRO landing the #10 spot in the Franchise 500 annual list of top franchises in business.
For the first time since 2016, SERVPRO, a cleanup and restoration franchise company, has been named a Top 10 overall franchise opportunity in the nation by Entrepreneur Magazine, as well as the #1 position in the cleaning and restoration industry for nearly 20 years in a row.
“In 2020, SERVPRO franchises across the U.S. and Canada responded to numerous natural disasters such as hurricanes along the Gulf Coast and East Coast and wildfires in the West. But it was the launch of SERVPRO’s new disinfecting and COVID-19 cleanup service that tested and proved the company’s resolve,” CEO Rick Isaacson said.
Since this is such a massive accomplishment for our company, we thought of an exciting way to get our employees involved by celebrating with a few unique photos. We planned on executing that idea with the help of the talented Danny Devers from Devers 3D Solutions, a local expert on using some of the latest technology to capture images for personal and commercial use.
Danny is the Founder & CEO of Devers 3D Solutions. He has been involved with technology all his life and brings a diversified skill set to the business opportunities he peruses.
Devers 3D Solutions focuses on the following services:
- 3D Virtual Scanning
- Floor Plans
- Teaser Videos
- Aerial Photos for Events
Their vision is to bring 3D technology solutions to the consumers with an emphasis on affordability, so consumers can embrace the technology transition that the industry is going through in buying and selling property and capturing those places we loved.
As you can see from the drone footage, Danny did an incredible job capturing our team in what we felt was a true salute to our SERVPRO family for achieving such a high honor.
To learn more about Devers 3D Solutions and see the fantastic gallery of pictures from Danny’s work, visit: http://deveron3d.com/
Protecting Your Employees and Patrons During Spring Weather Emergencies
Spring begins March 1, and if you are a business owner in Comal County, this typically means warm-weather activities will start to bring in those seasonal tourists. This also means having employees help keep things running smoothly in your establishment during this peak season.
However, with changing seasons, along comes the unexpected weather hazards that could disrupt your business with little to no warning.
According to weather.gov some of the Spring weather hazards include:
As a business owner, it is essential to have a severe weather policy in writing and communicate it to all your employees during various times of the year to effectively have them follow out those policies in a safe manner.
A few examples of what could be implemented in your weather policy are:
- When should outdoor workers seek shelter indoors when there is a threat of thunderstorms and/or lightning?
- Should employees try to intervene if customers want to leave your business in the middle of a threatening severe weather warning (ex. Tornado spotted in the area or high-water levels making travel unsafe)
- If the power goes out, how are the employees expected to handle the customers still on the premises, or if the power does not come back on in a timely fashion, what next?
Training your employees on how to guide patrons to where they need to take shelter or even vacate the property immediately will not only ease your employee's minds, but your customer will put more thought into returning to your place of business because you, as the owner, made a plan that included looking out for their safety.
Fires Are Not the Only Hazard of Keeping Warm During Winter Weather Conditions
As people in Texas face a winter-related crisis, most do not realize attempting to keep their residence warm during a time states are experiencing rotating power outages can lead to dire consequences if not careful.
Home fires aren't the only danger to happen when unsafe practices take place out of desperation to keep warm. Carbon Monoxide poisoning is just as harmful and potentially deadly.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death if inhaled.
When power outages occur during emergencies such as hurricanes or winter storms, the use of alternative sources of fuel or electricity for heating, cooling, or cooking can cause CO to build up in a home, garage, or camper and to poison the people and animals inside.
The sad part is that every year, more than 400 people die in the U. S. from accidental non-fire-related CO poisoning.
The CDC has some helpful tips to prevent your family from being a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning are:
- Never use a gas range or oven to heat a home.
- Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
- Never use a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside your home, basement, or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent. Use an extension cord that is more than 20 feet long to keep the generator at a safe distance.
- When using a generator, use a battery-powered or battery backup CO detector in your home.
- Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented. Keep vents and flues free of debris, especially if winds are high. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.
- Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.
- If conditions are too hot or too cold, seek shelter with friends or at a community shelter.
- If CO poisoning is suspected, call 911 or your local Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 or consult a health care professional right away.
One vital thing to note is every home should have at least one working carbon monoxide detector. The detector’s batteries should be checked at least twice annually, at the same time smoke detector batteries are checked.
State of Emergency: What Does This Mean for Local Texas Residents?
Blankets of snow appeared after the recent shift with weather conditions; a very unexpected occurrence in the climate that made it necessary for Governor Greg Abbott to take immediate action in all citizens' best interest. He announced yesterday evening that the White House issued a Federal Emergency Declaration for Texas in response to the severe winter weather areas across the state are experiencing.
If you have never experienced a State of Emergency, it can cause you a little bit of uncertainty about what this means for you and your loved ones.
A state of emergency or emergency powers is a situation in which a government is empowered to put through policies that it would typically not be permitted to do for the safety and protection of their citizens.
A disaster declaration was issued in all 254 counties in response to severe winter weather impacting Texas.
You can read the Governor’s Declaration here: https://gov.texas.gov/uploads/files/press/DISASTER_severe_weather_FINAL_02-12-2021.pdf
What can you and your family do now that the temperatures will remain at a record time low over the next few days?
- Continue listening to local news for updated information and instructions. Access to some parts of the community may be limited, or roads may be blocked.
- Help people who require special assistance—infants, elderly people, those without transportation, large families who may need additional help in an emergency situation, people with disabilities, and the people who care for them.
- Avoid driving and other travel until conditions have improved.
- Avoid overexertion. Heart attacks from shoveling heavy snow are a leading cause of death during the winter.
- Check on your animals and ensure that their access to food and water is unimpeded by drifted snow, ice, or other obstacles.
- If you are using a portable generator, take precautions against carbon monoxide poisoning, electrocution, and fire.
Remember to stay warm and safe during what will be remembered as the Winter Storm of 2021.
Power Outages: When Storms Affect Your Residence
Experiencing severe storms in our area can lead to one of the most significant factors preventing residents from the task of recovering and assessing their property damage, which is power outages. Being without power for a short or extended period can be a costly factor for some homeowners.
Knowing how to prepare for a power outage can help your family salvage more of your resources.
- Invest in flashlights, a battery-operated radio, and, of course, extra batteries. There are even lanterns used for camping that double as a phone charger. Remember to check your items occasionally to ensure they're all functioning and store them together for easy access.
- Always have bottled water and a variety of snacks that do not require refrigeration.
- An easy-to-miss but crucial consideration: if you have medication that needs to be refrigerated, remember to ask your pharmacist for information on storing it during a power outage.
Tips for your family once the power is out:
- Don't open the refrigerator or freezer door if you can help it. Refrigerated food can stay cold (and safe for consumption) for up to 4 hours, while frozen food can last up to 48 hours if the freezer is densely packed (or 24 hours if it's not as full). For more on food safety in an emergency, check out these guidelines from the USDA.
- To avoid a power surge when the electricity returns, turn off computers, TVs, and other nonessential electronics. But be sure to leave a light on so you'll know when the power is restored.
- If someone has medical equipment that requires electricity, call for help or get them to a place where the power is working.
In the aftermath of a power outage due to harsh weather, practice extreme caution if you go outside to survey the damages after a storm.
Remember that fallen trees or other wreckage can hide downed or hanging electrical wires. Always assume that a downed line is a live line and highly dangerous.
SERVPRO of San Marcos/New Braunfels knows your family's well being is your number one priority and wants everyone to be safe. Allow us to be there to help eliminate some of the burdens you're facing in the aftermath of any storm destruction inflicted upon your home.
We have trained technicians on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, ready to take action when needed. If water affects the structure of your home in the middle of the night, our crew will be there for you to start the recovery work immediately.
If you need emergency clean up or restoration work, call us any time at (830) 625- 0578.
Prevent Frozen Pipes with These Helpful Tips
Weather is ever-changing in Texas. So, when temperatures in the Comal County area begin to drop below 32 °F, water pipes can freeze, burst, and cause a great deal of damage.
To help protect your home, residents are strongly advised to take the following steps during a freeze:
1) Heat your home! If you leave for the day (or an extended period), do not turn the heat completely off. Please turn it on and set the temperature to the lowest setting you wish (65 °F is recommended). Remember, if this is the first time you have used your heater in a while, you may notice a burning smell. Once the heat comes on, any collected dust burns off, and the odor passes through your air vents. The smell should go away after a while. We understand that this may be alarming, but rest assured this is completely normal.
2) Let your faucets drip! Run both hot and cold water in a very fine stream in each of your home’s faucets: kitchen sink, bathroom sinks, bathtubs, showers, etc.
3) Leave the cabinet doors under all sinks open so that the pipes will be ventilated with warm air. Leaving the bathroom and kitchen doors open helps too.
Precautionary efforts like those listed are essential to avoid the more drastic measure of temporarily cutting off the water and draining the lines to prevent damage from bursting pipes.
When water damage does strike, a fast response is critical. Day or night, Comal County residents can expect us to respond immediately to their water emergency. Call SERVPRO of San Marcos/New Braunfels at (830) 625-0578.