Prepare your home
Some tips to brace your home for a winter storm:
- Clean out the gutters, disconnect and drain all outside hoses. If possible, shut off outside water valves.
- Insulate walls and attics, and caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
- Repair roof leaks and remove tree branches that could get weighed down with ice or snow and fall on your house – or your neighbor's. (Avoid liability for the latter.)
- Wrap water pipes in your basement or crawl spaces with insulation sleeves to slow heat transfer.
- Consider an insulated blanket for your hot water heater.
- If you have a fireplace, keep the flue closed when you're not using it.
- Have a contractor check your roof to see if it would sustain the weight of a heavy snowfall.
- Make sure your furniture isn't blocking your home’s heating vents.
- During cold spells, keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes, particularly those in the kitchen and bathrooms.
- Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through unheated or unprotected spaces.
- If your house will be unattended during cold periods, consider draining the water system.
- Avoid ice dams – where water from melted snow refreezes in the gutters and seeps in under the roof, soaking interior walls. Here’s how:
- Ventilate your attic.
- Insulate the attic floor well to minimize the amount of heat rising through the attic from within the house.
- Consider having a water-repellent membrane installed under your roof covering.
Cold Weather bring moisture problems
In colder weather, warm air from heating systems rises into attics, where it meets under the cold roof, often causing condensation. Mold thrives in moist and warm areas where a food source such as wood is present.
Most people think spring showers bring moisture problems, but it’s in winter that mold tends to become even more of an issue.
So proper insulation between your attic and living areas is crucial. If you’re not sure your insulation is working properly, you should have it checked.
Most homes have numerous trouble spots for mold and moisture. In homes tightly sealed for winter, warm air can’t easily escape. When windows are sealed tight, condensation tends to collect indoors on windows and even walls, creating an optimal area for mold to grow. In kitchens, steam accumulates from dishwashers. In bathrooms, showers create warm, moist conditions.
Proper ventilation in these areas of the home are crucial to prevent mold.
Homeowners also need to be aware of mold growth after a winter storm. After a storm, you need to check your home for damage from snow, ice and freezing temperatures to prevent mold from spreading into your home.
Damage can often go unnoticed until the spring thaw, but by then it may be too late because water might have infiltrated the walls of your basement, attic or other areas of your home.
Here’s a checklist to assess key parts of your home:
Roof checklist to prevent mold
- Check for any loose or missing shingles, which need to be replaced or repaired immediately.
- Inspect for leaks around chimneys, plumbing and attic vents as well as skylights.
- Remove any tree limbs that are near the roof that could potentially break and fall through your roof.
- Examine the attic and crawl space to make sure you have no leaks that could damage the ceilings.
Gutters and downspouts
- Check to make sure the gutters and downspouts are securely and properly attached to your home.
- Make sure your downspouts are cleared of leaves, branches and any other debris so that water can flow freely.
- Extend downspouts away from your home’s foundation.
Siding, windows and doors
Look over your siding to make sure nothing has come loose or is damaged.
Make sure your seals are tight on doors and windows. Check the outside caulking for any damage or leakage.
Wipe up any window condensation on inside windows, especially metal windows.
Consider replacing metal window frames and other exterior door edges with vinyl to avoid air and water leakage.
Carbon Monoxide Fact Sheet
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that is created when common fuels such as natural gas, oil, wood or coal burn incompletely. This odorless, colorless, tasteless gas is often called the “silent killer” because it is virtually undetectable without the use of detection technology like a CO alarm.
Reducing the Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:
- Have your chimney inspected by a professional every year.
- Be sure to open the damper for proper ventilation when using your fireplace.
- Make sure appliances are installed and operated according the manufacturer’s instructions and applicable local codes.
- Fuel-burning heating appliances should be inspected and serviced by a certified, licensed professional every year.
- Never use your oven, range, stovetop or clothes dryer to provide heat for your home.
- Never use barbecue grills (gas or charcoal) inside your home or garage.
- Only use portable generators outside in well-ventilated areas away from windows and doors. Never use a portable generator in any part of your home.
- If you will be using a portable generator outside your home, be sure to install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with a battery backup inside the home.
- Only use battery powered lights in tents and recreational vehicles like trailers, motor homes and boats.
- Never use fuel-burning camping equipment inside an enclosed space.
- Keep dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace vents clear of snow during and after snowstorms.
- Check to make sure that your vehicle tailpipe is not blocked by snow or ice.
- Never run a vehicle inside a garage, even if the garage doors are open. Remove the vehicle immediately after starting it.
Winter Storm Cleanup and Restoration
Cold weather, snow, and ice storms can cause severe damage to your home or business. When these types of disasters strike, immediate action is necessary to prevent additional damage to your property. SERVPRO Professionals have the winter storm experience, expertise, and the resources to remediate damage caused by winter weather.
Extreme cold weather can cause pipes to freeze and burst. In general, pipes are more likely to freeze when the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The resulting water damage can be extensive. Outdoor pipes and pipes in unheated areas of the home can freeze if they are not properly insulated or if temperatures are severely cold. SERVPRO Professionals can quickly and safely repair water damage caused by frozen pipes.
Outdoor pipes most likely to freeze include:
- Outdoor hose bibs
- Swimming pool supply lines
- Water sprinkler lines
Pipes in unheated or partially heated areas are also at risk of freezing, including:
- Crawl spaces
An ice dam is formed when snow melts unevenly on a roof and refreezes into a dam at the edge of the roof, near the eaves. This dam prevents any further snowmelt from draining off of the roof. This standing water can back up under shingles, leak into a home, and cause significant water damage to ceilings, walls, and other areas. Ice dams can also tear off gutters and loosen shingles.
Snow and ice can cause significant damage to your gutters and roof. The additional weight of snow and ice can even cause a roof to collapse. When there’s a cold snap, water can get into cracks and small spaces and expand when it freezes, causing larger cracks and more damage. The repetition of freezing and thawing cycles can cause small cracks to get larger.
Damage from Cold Weather or Winter Storm? Call Today 631-476-5300
reminds you to keep electrical safety in mind as the cooler fall weather moves many activities back indoors. The following safety tips will help you stay safe during the change of seasons:
- Safely store warm weather tools like lawn mowers and trimmers. Check cold weather tools, such as leaf and snow blowers, along with their power cords, for unusual wear and tear. Repair or replace worn tools or parts right away.
- Unplug and safely store battery chargers that won't be in use again until spring.
- Use only weatherproof electrical devices for outside activities. Protect outdoor electrical devices from moisture. Make sure electrical equipment that has been wet is inspected and reconditioned by a certified repair dealer.
- Keep dry leaves swept away from outdoor lighting, outlets and power cords.
- Make sure electric blankets are in good repair and certified by an independent testing lab such as UL, CSA or ETL. Power cords should not be frayed, cracked or cut.
- Do not tuck your electric blanket under mattresses or children, and do not put anything, such as comforters or bedspreads, on top of the blanket while it is in use.
- Never allow pets to sleep on an electric blanket.
Autumn Home Maintenance Safety Tips
Fall is the time for yard clean-ups and readying your house for the cold winter ahead. Keep these safety tips in mind as you work.
Look Up Before Pruning Trees
If you have decided that your yard needs to be spruced up by trimming your trees, be sure to look up and survey the area carefully before you start. Make careful note of where power lines are located before you set up your ladder so that it is positioned away from them.
Use Caution on Ladders
Wearing appropriate footwear is important when using a ladder; shoes or boots may be wet, causing you to slip as you climb the ladder. The ladder should be positioned on a flat surface before use. Be sure that the tools you are using are specifically designed for this purpose and are in good condition before starting work.
Clean Up Fallen Leaves
Keep your driveway and walkway clear of falling leaves. Wet leaves can create a hazard for pedestrians in the fall by making sidewalks slippery. Later in the season, snow may mix with leaves to increase the risk of falling. Homeowners should mulch or rake up fallen leaves and dispose of them according to local bylaws.
Safely Enjoy the Beauty of the Season
By keeping these important fall safety tips in mind, you can be sure you are doing everything you can to protect yourself and your family from seasonal dangers. This will leave your mind free to enjoy the beauty of this glorious season.
Fall Fire Safety Tips
As summer turns to fall, it's a good idea to refresh your memory on fall fire safety tips. Some safety tips are the same regardless of the time of year, but many safety concerns are seasonal, particularly those that involve keeping your home warm.
Time Changes Mean Battery Changes
Get in the habit of changing the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors every fall and spring when changing the clocks for Daylight Savings Time. It is also a good idea to make it standard procedure in your household to verify that all fire extinguishers are fully charged and in working order when you adjust the clocks each season.
Home Heating Tips
No matter what type of device you use to heat your home, making sure your heating devices and/or systems are in good working order is an important part of learning some fall fire safety tips. Many things can go wrong with heating equipment during the spring and summer months. Verify that everything you need to keep your home warm throughout fall and winter is in good working order before you experience the first cold snap of the season.
Central Heating System Safety Tips
- Get your central heating system cleaned, inspected and serviced by a certified HVAC (heating, venting and air conditioning) contractor every year before using it.
- If you have a gas heater, make sure that you have a sufficient quantity of fully functioning carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home.
Space Heater Safety Tips
- Make sure that any space heaters are surrounded by at least three feet of empty space.
- Never place clothing or any other objects on a space heater to dry.
- Do not place space heaters near furniture or drapery.
- Turn space heaters off when you leave the house or go to bed.
- Avoid storing any combustible items near heaters.
Fireplace Safety Tips
- Get your chimney inspected each year to make sure that it is safe.
- Hire a chimney sweep to clean out your chimney every fall.
- Repair any cracks in fireplaces.
- Use fireplace screens to keep sparks and fire debris inside the fireplace.
- Do not every use gasoline to start a fire in the fireplace.
- Never leave a fire unattended.
- Make sure that combustible materials are not stored within three feet of your fireplace.
- For natural gas fireplaces, get all connections and lines inspected before use each season.
- Remember that outdoor fireplaces can be just as dangerous as indoor units, and observe all safety precautions when using them.
Thunderstorms can be more dangerous than you think! They happen often and can cause a lot of damage to your home. Of course, there are ways to help prevent this.
To prepare for a Thunderstorm, you should do the following:
- You should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
- Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage.
- Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
- Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible).
- Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
- Unplug any electronic equipment well before the storm arrives.
Here are some facts about Thunderstorms!
- They may occur singly, in clusters or in lines.
- Some of the most severe occur when a single Thunderstorm affects one location for an extended time.
- Warm, humid conditions are highly favorable for Thunderstorm development.
In just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames.
Learn About Fires
- Fire is FAST! In less than 30 seconds a small flame can turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house or for it to be engulfed in flames.
- Fire is HOT! Heat is more threatening than flames. Room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling this super-hot air will scorch your lungs and melt clothes to your skin.
- Fire is DARK! Fire starts bright, but quickly produces black smoke and complete darkness.
- Fire is DEADLY! Smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames do. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio.
Before a Fire
Create and Practice a Fire Escape Plan
In the event of a fire, remember that every second counts, so you and your family must always be prepared. Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly.
Twice each year, practice your home fire escape plan. Some tips to consider when preparing this plan include:
- Find two ways to get out of each room in the event the primary way is blocked by fire or smoke.
- A secondary route might be a window onto a neighboring roof or a collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows.
- Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly, and that security bars can be properly opened.
- Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
- Teach children not to hide from firefighters.
A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire.
- Install both ionization AND photoelectric smoke alarms, OR dual sensor smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors.
- Test batteries monthly.
- Replace batteries in battery-powered and hard-wired smoke alarms at least once a year (except non-replaceable 10-year lithium batteries).
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, both inside and outside of sleeping areas.
- Replace the entire smoke alarm unit every 8-10 years or according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Never disable a smoke alarm while cooking – it can be a deadly mistake.
Smoke Alarm Safety for People with Access or Functional Needs
- Audible alarms for visually impaired people should pause with a small window of silence between each successive cycle so that they can listen to instructions or voices of others.
- Smoke alarms with a vibrating pad or flashing light are available for the hearing impaired. Contact your local fire department for information about obtaining a flashing or vibrating smoke alarm.
- Smoke alarms with a strobe light outside the home to catch the attention of neighbors, and emergency call systems for summoning help, are also available.
More Fire Safety Tips
- Make digital copies of valuable documents and records like birth certificates.
- Sleep with your door closed.
- Contact your local fire department for information on training on the proper use and maintenance of fire extinguishers.
- Consider installing an automatic fire sprinkler system in your residence.
During a Fire
- Crawl low under any smoke to your exit - heavy smoke and poisonous gases collect first along the ceiling.
- Before opening a door, feel the doorknob and door. If either is hot, or if there is smoke coming around the door, leave the door closed and use your second way out.
- If you open a door, open it slowly. Be ready to shut it quickly if heavy smoke or fire is present.
- If you can’t get to someone needing assistance, leave the home and call 9-1-1 or the fire department. Tell the emergency operator where the person is located.
- If pets are trapped inside your home, tell firefighters right away.
- If you can’t get out, close the door and cover vents and cracks around doors with cloth or tape to keep smoke out. Call 9-1-1 or your fire department. Say where you are and signal for help at the window with a light-colored cloth or a flashlight.
- If your clothes catch fire, stop, drop, and roll – stop immediately, drop to the ground, and cover your face with your hands. Roll over and over or back and forth until the fire is out. If you or someone else cannot stop, drop, and roll, smother the flames with a blanket or towel. Use cool water to treat the burn immediately for 3 to 5 minutes. Cover with a clean, dry cloth. Get medical help right away by calling 9-1-1 or the fire department.
Fire Escape Planning for Older Adults and People with Access or Functional Needs
- Live near an exit. You'll be safest on the ground floor if you live in an apartment building. If you live in a multi-story home, arrange to sleep on the ground floor, and near an exit.
- If you use a walker or wheelchair, check all exits to be sure you get through the doorways.
- Make any necessary accommodations, such as providing exit ramps and widening doorways, to facilitate an emergency escape.
- Speak to your family members, building manager, or neighbors about your fire safety plan and practice it with them.
- Contact your local fire department's non-emergency line and explain your special needs. Ask emergency providers to keep your special needs information on file.
- Keep a phone near your bed and be ready to call 911 or your local emergency number if a fire occurs.
After a Fire
The following checklist serves as a quick reference and guide for you to follow after a fire strikes.
- Contact your local disaster relief service, such as The Red Cross, if you need temporary housing, food and medicines.
- If you are insured, contact your insurance company for detailed instructions on protecting the property, conducting inventory and contacting fire damage restoration companies. If you are not insured, try contacting private organizations for aid and assistance.
- Check with the fire department to make sure your residence is safe to enter. Be watchful of any structural damage caused by the fire.
- The fire department should see that utilities are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site. DO NOT attempt to reconnect utilities yourself.
- Conduct an inventory of damaged property and items. Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made.
- Try to locate valuable documents and records. Refer to information on contacts and the replacement process inside this brochure.
- Begin saving receipts for any money you spend related to fire loss. The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and for verifying losses claimed on income tax.
- Notify your mortgage company of the fire.
The small things aren't always small
Water Intrusion in one room can mean water damage in another.
You reach for the towels, wet vac, mops and fans to clean up the water. The surface water is now dry and the problem is solved. Or is it?
What happened to the water that traveled into the floor, sub floors and wall? Was all the moisture caused by the incident removed? Water intrusion in a home can linger leaving subtle, yet lasting effects if not completely removed from the structure. Homeowners can remove standing water with appropriate precautions to help prevent further damage. But, how do you remove water and moisture in flooring and walls.
You are not alone. SERVPRO of Port Jefferson/Stony Brook Professionals are trained in the cleanup and care of your home following a water intrusion. Whether the intrusion occurred from a small incident or a major water event, removing excess moisture can prevent more serious damage such as microbial growth.
Before you risk doing further damage by attempting to clean up the water yourself, call the cleanup and restoration professionals 631-476-5300 No damage is too small nor too big for SERVPRO.