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Burn Bans: Everything You Need to Know

12/5/2022 (Permalink)

Wildfires Check your local news if you live in an area with a lot of wildfires.

Burn Bans: Everything You Need to Know

You've just had a long day, and all you want to do is relax. One of your favorite ways to relax is to start a fire in your backyard fire pit and enjoy the peace and quiet. But then your neighbor knocks on your door and tells you that there's a burn ban in effect for your county. What does this mean exactly? How do I know if my county has issued one? And what about those "exceptions" I keep hearing about?

What is a burn ban?

A burn ban is a restriction on open fires, like campfires and backyard fires. A burn ban is issued by the fire marshal of each county. When a burn ban is in place, it prohibits all open burning and other activities that could start wildfires.

Burn bans are typically issued during the summer to help prevent wildfires from starting due to dry conditions, high winds, and low humidity levels. During a burn ban you should not:

  • Start a fire of any kind (even in approved containers).
  • Have bonfires or campfires outside of designated areas (such as recreational areas).

Why do we have burn bans?

A burn ban helps prevent wildfires by reducing the risk of injury from sparks or embers being blown by the wind onto dry vegetation that may accidentally start a fire. In addition to wildfire prevention, a burn ban also reduces smoke in your neighborhood (although this may be inconvenient for you). It also helps minimize the chance that a fire will spread to other properties and threaten life or property in those areas.

When are burn bans issued?

When it comes to burn bans, the conditions that may lead to a ban are not always predictable. In general, if there is a high risk of wildfire and the weather is hot and dry, a burn ban will likely be issued. The best way to know when a burn ban is in effect is simply by looking at your local news station or checking their website.

However, since this information can change quickly depending on how fast conditions change (like how quickly it gets windy), you should always check with your local fire department before starting any fires outdoors.

Who issues burn bans?

A burn ban is a restriction on outdoor burning, and the authority to issue one is typically at the discretion of a state fire marshal or local fire chief. This person may also be able to issue a temporary ban if they see smoke or smell smoke in their area as well. If you hear about a burn ban in your area, it's best to check with your county sheriff and/or emergency management coordinator to see if this applies to you.

How do I find out if there's a burn ban in my county?

Start by checking the local news. Typically this will be your newspaper or other print media. If you live in an area with a lot of wildfires, you might have a regular burn ban updates section in the paper that tells people when they can and cannot use their grills and fire pits. You can also check with your county sheriff's office. Many counties have websites that list current burn bans as well as any new ones that are put into effect. You can also call them directly if you don't want to go online right now (or if we've already told you that their website is down).

What does a countywide burn ban prohibit?

  • No open burning, including campfires and charcoal grills.
  • You can’t smoke outside of your home or vehicle.
  • You can't light fireworks or sparklers during a burn ban, even if they're legal where you live (and they may be).
  • You also shouldn't use anything that creates an open flame, like fire pits, tiki torches, or fireworks during a burn ban (even though it's perfectly legal to use them under normal circumstances).
  • No welding or cutting metal outdoors

Does a countywide burn ban affect me if I live within the city limits of an incorporated town or city?

If you live within the city limits of an incorporated town or city, you must follow the burn ban issued by that city or town. If you live in a rural area, you must follow the burn ban issued by your county.

A burn ban is a serious thing, and you should take it seriously. If there is a countywide burn ban in effect, it means that there are restrictions on how you can use your fireplace or wood-burning stove. The outdoors can be quite lovely during the winter months, so staying indoors to keep warm doesn't always seem like such a bad idea. But if you want to stay warm without breaking the law and potentially putting yourself or others at risk of injury or death (especially when children are involved), then make sure you know all about burn bans before trying anything else!

If your Haines City home suffers from a fire getting out of control, particularly during a burn ban, give SERVPRO of Haines City/Polk City a call. We will be there to help you restore! 

Everything You Need to Know about an Overflowing Toilet

11/2/2022 (Permalink)

Clogged toilet with toilet paper If you have a clogged toilet and it overflows then you need to take some immediate steps to avoid further damage.

Everything You Need to Know about an Overflowing Toilet

If you have a clogged toilet and it overflows in your Haines City, FL home, then you need to take some immediate steps to avoid further damage. You can fix this at home with a plunger or auger but first, let’s understand why toilets overflow in the first place. In this blog, we will discuss the basics of an overflowing toilet, how to stop it, and how to fix it (if necessary).

Toilet Overflow Basics

A toilet bowl overflow occurs when water flows past the trap seal in your bathroom and goes into the floor drain instead of back into the tank of your commode. The most common causes of this problem are clogs or poor sealant around the bottom of your waste pipe. These can be caused by old age, loose connections between pipes under your bathroom flooring, or even foreign objects such as toys that were flushed down toilets accidentally by children playing in the bathroom. Regardless of how it happened though, if it still hasn't been fixed by now then you probably need professional help. 

How to Stop It

Start by shutting off the water supply valve and flush the toilet. Check if the water has stopped flowing, then remove any wet or soiled items from around your toilet and bathroom floor as soon as possible (if you're not sure what type of carpeting you have, test a small area by rubbing some soapy water on it; if it's latex-backed, you can blot up most spills with paper towels).

If the water has not yet overflowed from the bowl, use a sponge or rags to soak up as much of it as possible. If you do not have a bucket handy, consider using a towel or rag to catch any remaining water. While this method is less effective and messier than using a bucket/mop, it's better than nothing if a suitable container isn't available.

Do not touch the water with your bare hands! If there is any doubt about whether or not the toilet overflow was caused by an overflowing toilet bowl rather than an overflowing drain line (see Section 1), you should wear gloves when handling anything wet in order to avoid coming into contact with fecal matter—which could lead to infection if ingested.

If the overflow is caused by a clogged toilet, try plunging it to unclog any blockages that are caught in the trap way below. To do this, place your plunger into the bowl of water and push down on one side of it until you feel it start to seal against the surface of the drain. Then, pull up slightly and press down again. Repeat these steps until water no longer flows out through your sink or bathtub faucet.

If your plunger does not clear the blockage, you may need to use a toilet auger to clear the blockage causing the overflow. The auger will be able to reach further into the trap way than a plunger can!

If you've followed these steps and your toilet is still overflowing, it might be time to call a SERVPRO of Haines City/Polk City. Don't wait until tomorrow, call us today!

Flood Risk

7/1/2022 (Permalink)

If you’re in the process of buying a house or you’re looking for a new homeowners insurance policy, you might be familiar with what a flood zone is. If you don’t know what they are, you might want to start reading up on them.

Zoning for Floods?

A flood zone is an area in a specific geographical space that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has determined has at least some risk of flooding. There are four primary types of zones, which correlate to the severity or category of excessive water events that can occur in that area.

  • Moderate to Low-Risk Areas
  • High-Risk Areas
  • High Risk – Coastal Areas
  • Undetermined Risk Areas

How to Find Your Zone

Each area’s zones are depicted on a community's Flood Insurance Rate Map, also known as FIRM, which can be found online at https://www.fema.gov/flood-insurance-rate-map-firm. You can also contact your local municipality or look on their website, most cities will have zoning information available online. You can try searching for the term “flood elevation certificate” for faster results. 

Some people may think that these zones can only be found next to a large body of water or along a river or stream, but that’s not the case. Houses that are nowhere near a body of water can experience a flood if there’s a large rain storm. 

Emergency Preparedness

Knowing what kind of flood zone you live in can also be helpful for storage options and emergency preparedness. If you live in a high-risk zone, for example, you probably don’t want to put boxes directly on the floor, and you might want to increase the number of your emergency supplies. 

If you weren’t aware that your home is potentially at risk for a flood, and a storm causes water-related damage, you should contact a storm damage specialist in your area to determine your best course of action and get the damage repaired as quickly as possible.

When Storms or Floods hit, SERVPRO is ready!

6/22/2022 (Permalink)

When Storms or Floods hit, SERVPRO is ready! 

SERVPRO specializes in storm and flood damage restoration. Our crews are highly trained and we use specialized equipment to restore your property to its pre-storm condition.

Faster Response

Since we are locally owned and operated, we are able to respond quicker with the right resources, which is extremely important. A fast response lessens the damage, limits further damage, and reduces the restoration cost.

Resources to Handle Floods and Storms

When storms hit, we can scale our resources to handle a large storm or flooding disaster.  We can access equipment and personnel from a network of 1,800 franchises across the country and elite Disaster Recovery Teams that are strategically located throughout the United States.



Cleaning requirements After a Home Flood

6/22/2022 (Permalink)

There are certain cleaning requirements you need to follow when sanitizing your home after a flood. You need the right flood disinfectant, and you must take steps to prevent the buildup of mold.

A flood clean is lengthy and complicated. It can also be dangerous if you are not properly protected. Before you start washing and drying everything, you need the proper safety gear. This includes:

  • Boots
  • Pants
  • Long sleeves
  • Elastic gloves
  • Face masks
  • Goggles

You also need to know how to clean the various rooms of your home. Different items need to be cared for in different ways. Below are the basic cleaning requirements and techniques for restoring your flood-damaged house.

Applying Disinfectant

To prevent the spread of bacteria throughout your home, you need to disinfect any surfaces. Start by scrubbing these surfaces with hot water and a powerful cleaner. Then apply a disinfectant. You can create your own by combining a gallon of water with a quarter-cup of chlorine bleach.

Cleaning the Kitchen

Metal items such as pots, utensils, and pans should not be cleaned with bleach. Instead, disinfect them by boiling them in water for 10 minutes. A bleach solution can be used on china, glass, porcelain, and enamel items, however. Be sure to disinfect your counters and cupboards before putting dishes away.

Saving Your Valuables

Some items, such as mattresses, stuffed animals, and toys, may have to be thrown away after a flood. However, you may be able to freeze books and photographs after wiping off excess mud. You can then thaw them and take them to an expert for cleaning.

Most floods cause complex damage that one person cannot handle by himself. If you do start the process alone, be sure to follow the above cleaning requirements. However, your best bet is to contact a company that provides emergency restoration services. Professionals can safely clean up your home and dry your belongings.



Leading Causes of Fires - How to Avoid

6/20/2022 (Permalink)

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires & injuries in the U.S. Cooking fires often result from unattended cooking and human error, rather than mechanical failure of stoves or ovens. Although it is important to make sure your appliances are functioning properly and kept up to date, it is equally important to cook with caution and never get too comfortable in the kitchen.  

Heating is the second leading cause of residential fires. However, heating fires are a larger problem in single-family homes than in apartments. Unlike apartments, the heating systems in single-family homes are often not professionally maintained. Make sure your heating systems are being professionally regulated during the colder seasons. 

Although accidents happen, it is important to be prepared and alert in order to minimize these changes before they occur. Here are a few simple safety precautions to take to decrease the possibility of a fire. 

  • Keep flammables away from ignition sources.
  • Utilize flammable storage cabinets.
  • Know your chemical properties.
  • Do not block fire extinguishers with equipment.
  • Utilize those with electrical expertise/installations/assistance.
  • Do not overload outlets - use a track plug.
  • Practice good housekeeping techniques in the lab/office/work area.
  • Inspect wires for possible damage and replace them as needed.

Fire Extinguisher Safety

6/20/2022 (Permalink)

An in-home fire can be devastating, especially if the fire is not quickly put out. It is critical that homeowners understand the value of having and knowing how to use a fire extinguisher. 

There are numerous types of fire extinguishers and it is important to make sure you are using the correct one to prevent major damage. When deciding which kind to use, you may consider what types of fires are most likely to occur in that area. For example, to extinguish a kitchen fire caused by grease, you may want to have a Type B extinguisher. It can also be helpful to have extinguishers that can put out various types of fires.

It is appropriate to place extinguishers in areas that are prone to fires. Common locations to place a fire extinguisher can include garages, where gasoline could catch fire, kitchens, where grease may cause a fire, and near electrical equipment that could spark a fire. Not placing it in certain locations could result in major damage that necessitates help from fire damage restoration. 

It is important to act fast when extinguishing a fire. The acronym P.A.S.S. can be helpful to remember when learning how to use an extinguisher. P.A.S.S. stands for pull, aim, squeeze and sweep; when using an extinguisher, a person should pull the pin in order to break the seal, aim toward the lowest part of the fire, squeeze the extinguisher’s handle, and then sweep back and forth to fully extinguish the fire. 

Knowing how to use extinguishers can help you feel more prepared to handle a fire in your home. It’s often wise to know what type of fire extinguisher to use in different situations, how many extinguishers you should have in your home, and how to use an extinguisher.

SERVPRO Using New Sanitizing Practices

6/20/2022 (Permalink)

Our industrial hygienists are out on the front lines battling COVID-19. Our team, led by John Carter, is working with existing clients and public health officials to develop cleaning protocols to decontaminate buildings impacted by the virus. They are dedicated to working with other front-line workers and personnel fighting this pandemic. We want to thank everyone currently working hard to make our communities safe for all of us again.

SERVPRO of Haines City/Polk City is a Florida State licensed Certified Building Contractor, Mold, and Mold Assessor. We are IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification) certified in Fire/Water/Mold clean-up & restoration. Call us at 863-236-3553, we are always here to help.

Commercial Clean Services

6/18/2022 (Permalink)

If you are a business owner or run a particular business that receives a lot of visitors and foot traffic, you know how important it is to keep your business looking clean and in good shape. A lot of times, you don't have the time to worry about the common wear and tear that gradually soils your office.

When grime, odor, and moisture challenges go beyond the scope of your regular janitorial staff, you should call SERVPRO for prompt service. Whether it’s removing an odor problem or deep cleaning flooring or carpets, you can rely on us to make your workspace look its very best.

SERVPRO of Haines City/ Polk City offers cleaning services ranging from cleaning restaurant hoods to removing biohazard contaminants. We have the specialized training and products to get your property back to business. Our cleaning services include the following:

  • Air Ducts and HVAC
  • Biohazard and Sewage
  • Trauma and Crime Scene
  • Carpet and Upholstery
  • Drapes and Blinds
  • Ceilings, Walls, and Hard Floors
  • Odor Removal and Deodorization
  • Vandalism

How to Keep Mold and Moisture Out of Your HVAC System

6/17/2022 (Permalink)

Tips and Tricks From SERVPRO to Keeping Mold and Moisture Out Of Your HVAC System

In the warm summer heat, it's easy to build up moisture; especially when it gets sticky, muggy and humid. When this happens, you naturally crank the A.C., reach for something cold, and kick back in your lazy chair. The problem is, when you're relaxing and enjoying the nice cold breeze, mold is spreading through your ducts, vents, and HVAC system, leaving a nasty haze of mold that you can smell all over the house. If you're running a business, your customers could smell it too- which is why you should always call our service professionals to deal with the problem as soon as possible. 

How Does Mold Get in The HVAC System? 

Mold damage is no laughing matter. Mold, fungus, and other bacteria are in their perfect environment when they're trapped in your HVAC system. It's dark, warm, moist, closed in, and humid, meaning that spores can grow practically unabated. You'll notice more and more scent as heat and humidity is generated from outside and pulled through your ducts. 

When this moist air gets in your air system, it collects within and above your HVAC units. At this point, the spores of mold and other fungi easily rise through the air, setting up colonies as your condenser forces them up through the duct system. These aren't the only cases of mold that we've seen at SERVPRO; we've seen mold stick to people's clothes or shoes, and it's all brought inside by excess humidity caused by rainfall. 

Here Are a Few Tips on How to Remove Mold From Your HVAC System 

  1. Continue to clean and maintain your HVAC system, even when you aren't using it. Check the ducts for wet spots, and regularly check and maintain your HVAC filter. 
  2. Double check the drainage systems on your HVAC for mold. Allow for "dry-out" areas where the drainage comes out to prevent excess moisture. 
  3. Get dehumidifiers for your home. They are ideal for collecting excess humidity, and they help with the temperature inside your house, too. 
  4. Always insulate your pipes, walls, and ceilings. Use caulking for cracks to control cracks and leaks. 
  5. Contrary to common beliefs, keep your windows closed when it's hot outside. Humidity, dust, and dampness easily travel inside.