Recent Biohazard Posts
Know the Lingo
When vandalism happens to your home or business SERVPRO can make the aftermath, "Like it never even happened."
What is lingo?
It is the language used by a certain group to communicate commonly used word or words to describe a situation. If you are out of the loop with the slang used by a group then it is nearly impossible for you to understand the conversation taking place. The same can be said for homeowners discussing their insurance policies with a carrier, agent or adjuster. Sometimes our job includes being the bridge between the customer and the insurance adjuster. With so many restoration companies to pick from why choose us? It's simple, we are here to help you!
Recently, we were called out to property in East Falmouth that had been broken into while the family was away. The homeowners had called their insurance carrier and the local authorities to report the break in and damage done. Once the police were finished with processing the crime scene and the insurance adjuster had determined the cost of the damage it was our turn to restore the property. Some of the damage included the finger printing powder used by the officers to investigate the crime scene along with the evidence of broken glass, the blood associated with the broken glass and the fire extinguisher residue that was sprayed by the criminals throughout the premises. But the mess did not end there. It was apparent that the party had made its way into the backyard where more damage was done to a fence and shed. In an instance like this one there were so many parties involved in this claim that the property owner felt overwhelmed. We helped them with the process and though the trauma of the vandalism will never go away completely our team helped to make the damage, “Like it never even happened.”
To better help property owners with these types of situations below is a cheat sheet to help with the lingo needed to reclaim your life after a property damage. We hope that by defining the following "lingo” when dealing with a property damage there is a sense of knowledge and we all know that knowledge is power.
- Dwelling protection. This coverage typically covers your home and attached structures, like a deck or garage. The key word here is “attached.” I shed or fence may not be covered under a dwelling policy.
- Personal property protection. From furniture to electronics, this coverage may help pay to replace belongings that are stolen or damaged by a covered loss. You are going to want to make sure you have a list of these items along with appraisals of their value.
- Other structures protection. This coverage may help pay to repair or replace structures on your property that aren't attached to your home, like a fence, detached garage or shed, if they are damaged by a covered peril. Note: as mentioned above this is not considered dwelling protection.
- Family liability protection. Accidents can happen. Liability coverage may help protect you if someone is injured on your property and you are found legally responsible for damages. Just because someone is family doesn’t mean you aren’t at risk of being sued.
- Guest medical protection. If a visitor is injured at your home, this coverage may help pay for their resulting medical expenses. This coverage is a must if you’re the family that is planning the big party after graduation to celebration.
- Additional living expenses. This coverage may help you pay for temporary increased living costs, such as hotel bills, if you are unable to stay in your home after a fire or other covered loss. We often get asked about this coverage. It’s important to know you have the right to housing if you are unable to stay at your property due to harmful conditions.
- Deductible. This is basically the amount “deducted” from an insured loss and represent a sharing of the risk between the insurance company and the policyholder. What is my deductible is by far our #1 question from insurers. Look for more information about deductibles with our next blog posting, Know Your Deductible.
The Dirty Secrets of a Mice Infestation
Mice Infestation cleanup by SERVPRO of Upper Cape Cod & The Islands.
With the warm days of Spring come the chores of mulching the flower beds and cleaning the yard up after the winter. Pulling out the outdoor furniture and stacking wood for those parties are other essentials for preparing for the Summer season. Humans are not the only ones who prepare for the upcoming season. However, in many cases property owners find that soon it is discovered that they need to evict wildlife after an unknown "winter rental." The fact they they have made their way into properties for the winter results in a problem for property owners, especially if the issue is a mice infestation rather than just one unwanted guest there are usually many more than you see.
Because these rodents are without a skeletal system, they can easily maneuver into tiny spaces to gain entrance to a building. Once they are in, they get behind walls, in attics, basements and crawlspaces where fluffy pink insulation provides the ideal spot for nesting. If you think rabbits multiply, mice can double in population just as easily.
Once you begin to see evidence of the rodents—usually in the form of tiny black feces no bigger than a sesame seed or holes chewed out of food containers in the pantry—you are going to have to address the problem. While getting rid of one or two mice is a one-person job, getting rid of the mess of many requires the expertise of a professional. While exterminators can come in and eradicate the property of the mice infestation, that is where their job ends—leaving the property owner with the clean up. And if there were a significant number of mice inside the structure, the damage and the clean up are going to be far more than just picking up a few droppings or throwing out food from the pantry.Hint: If you suspect a mice infestation, contact a professional immediately.
How To Deter Mice From Entering Your Home
- Install door sweeps on exterior doors and seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home or building.
- Do not leave doors open and this includes the bulkhead.
- Keep trash in secure buckets outside and away from the house.
- Dispose of trash on a regular basis.
- Store firewood at least 20 feet from the home or building.
SERVPRO recently has been called onto jobs where the rodents had a field day, practically establishing an entire condominium complex inside the rafters of the basement. They damaged the insulation and contaminated large portions of the property. Our team comes in and removes the killed rodents—exterminators usually set traps containing poison that, once eaten, kill the creatures immediately which leaves a pungent odor. We also dispose of their feces and any contaminated insulation. Lastly we, sanitizing the framing and studs and replacing the insulation, making it “Like it Never Even Happened.” If you would like help with this type of situation please contact us SERVPRO of Upper Cape Cod & The Islands.
Sewage Backup in Nantucket Home Causes Grief to One Family
Sewage backup in a crawlspace can lead to strong odors and health issues for those who live in the home.
In our line of work, we realize our customers face emergencies like water damages or biohazards that take them by surprise. When they choose us to solve those problems for them, we are gratified in so many ways.
We received a call in August from a property manager on Nantucket who knew of a family who had discovered septic waste had backed up under their house and into a crawlspace. The heat of the summer intensified the odor from the black water, which was seeping into their living space.
To make the circumstances more of a challenge, some of the backup was under the bedroom of their disabled child. They feared for the health and well-being of their son and the prospect of packing up the items needed for his care and relocating everyone in the family, pushed this situation into a crisis. They needed help urgently, and having never encountered this type of problem, they turned to their friend who was a local property manager for advice.
We often receive calls from property managers when they are faced with emergencies at the properties they are trusted to protect. This property manager had worked with us on previous occasions, was happy with the service that SERVPRO of Upper Cape Cod and the Islands provided to his clients (our customers) and even though the family was not his customer, he offered to help.
The property manager called our office and explained the problem, putting us in contact with our customer. We dispatched our crew who visited the job site that afternoon and, upon arrival, discovered some areas in the crawlspace had a clearance height of just 12 inches. Our Crew Chief suited up in protective gear and crawled into the mire to assess the degree of the biohazard. It was clear that it would not only require a couple of days to extract the large amount of sewage, clean-up, disinfect and dry out, but that we would need special equipment to clean up the tight areas.
We keep our warehouses on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard fully stocked with equipment, chemicals and supplies, so we are ready to tackle jobs quickly. To the relief of our customers, we were able to clean-up of this sewage back-up quickly. Their son did not have to be relocated and life could go back to normal...making this biohazard like it never even happened.
Mice Infestation can be a Headache for Martha's Vineyard Property Owners
SERVPRO of Upper Cape Cod and The Islands has the training, protective gear, and equipment necessary to safely clean and restore mice infestation.
Mice infestation can be a headache for property owners on Cape Cod and the Islands. With the cooler days of autumn come the chores of raking leaves and cleaning the gutters for the winter. Storing outdoor furniture and stacking wood are other essentials for preparing for the colder season. Lastly, we make sure that everything is properly secured in our backyards for those foul weathered days on the way. Humans are not the only ones who prepare for the upcoming season. Our dogs prepare by putting on their winter coats; some wildlife get ready by storing up food for the colder days. Some—mice, for example—will plan for the upcoming winter by finding a cozy place to build their nests. And that often results in a problem for property owners. Tips: What you can do until help arrives.
Because these rodents are without a skeletal system, they can easily maneuver into tiny spaces to gain entrance to a building. Once they are in, they get behind walls, in attics, basements and crawlspaces where fluffy pink insulation provides the ideal spot for nesting. If you think rabbits multiply, mice can double in population just as easily, quickly infesting a building.
Once you begin to see evidence of mice infestation—usually in the form of tiny black feces no bigger than a sesame seed or holes chewed out of food containers in the pantry—you are going to have to address the problem. While getting rid of one or two mice is a one-person job, getting rid of many requires the expertise of a professional. While exterminators can come in and eradicate the property of the mice infestation, that is where their job ends—leaving the property owner with the cleanup. And if there were a significant number of mice inside the structure, the damage and the cleanup are going to be far more than just picking up a few droppings or throwing out food from the pantry.
We have been called onto jobs where a mice infestation had occurred, practically establishing an entire condominium complex inside the rafters of the basement. They damaged the insulation and contaminated large portions of the property. Our team came in removed the killed rodents—exterminators usually set traps that contain poison that once eaten kill the creatures immediately which leaves a pungent odor. We also disposed of their feces and any contaminated insulation. Lastly, we sanitized the framing and studs and replaced the insulation, making it “Like it never even happened.”
Hint: If you suspect a mice infestation, contact a professional immediately.
How To Deter Mice From Entering Your Home
· Install door sweeps on exterior doors and seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home or building.
· Do not leave doors open and this includes the bulkhead.
· Keep trash in secure buckets outside & away from the house.
· Dispose of trash on a regular basis.
· Store firewood at least 20 feet from the home or building.
Vandalism in Harwich, MA more than Just Malicious Mischief
Vandalism cleanup may be covered under your insurance policy.
While it took the three bears nearly a full day to determine that Goldilocks had broken into their house and had been sitting in their chairs, eating their porridge, and sleeping in their beds, in real life it typically takes the average homeowner less than a few minutes to discover that their home has been vandalized.
Victims of this crime will tell you that it leaves them feeling violated and vulnerable. While the motivation behind most house breaks is robbery, many of those crimes involve some degree of property damage and even vandalism. Oftentimes, vandals will break into a house and use it as a place to stay during a cold winter. Called squatters, these vandals can do a certain degree of damage to the home. The worst damage, however, has come from teen offenders.
Properties with vandalism by teenagers who used the vacant house as a place to party and hang out can be a property owner's nightmare. But they went well beyond just hanging out and drinking beer. The kids threw parties, broke glass, set off the fire extinguishers throughout the property and left the refrigerator doors open so all the food spoiled, leaving a pungent odor behind. The cleanup from this type of vandalism required much more than just a good scrubbing to make it “Like it never even happened.”
Hint: Our services to cleanup the vandalism were covered by the property owner's insurance policy. Check your policy to see if you have this type of coverage too.
Our Advice: Consider purchasing an alarm system or hiring a caretaker (one that comes with references from people you know and trust is the best) to check on your property on a regular basis. Both of these are great ways to protect your property while you are away… not only from unwanted guests but also other hidden problems like water damage.
What to do if you believe your home has been broken into.Contact the police immediately.Do not touch anything. Leave the home. If the suspects are still in the house, it can be dangerous to confront them. Call a professional cleaning company to help with the cleanup.
Raccoon Family are the unwanted guests in an Osterville, MA Home
This raccoon may look cute but you can't imagine the damage that he can do to your home!
The only thing worse than your teenage son or daughter throwing a party in your home for a hundred of their closest friends might be a family of raccoons squatting in your summer home over the winter. If this scenario sounds highly unlikely, keep on reading because that is exactly what happened to one of our customers.
He had just arrived at his Osterville home, planning to open it for the summer. When he opened the front door and saw the destruction in his home, he was shocked. A house full of frat boys with an unlimited supply of alcohol couldn’t have done more damage than this family of raccoons. Tips for Property Owners
With paws that act as human hands and fingers with the dexterity of a great surgeon, raccoons can get into anything they want—cabinet doors, refrigerators—nothing is out of reach. The vandalism was almost beyond words. They broke into the pantry and cabinets. The animals ripped holes in the wall to get at the insulation. They drank from the toilet and defecated throughout the house. Urine-soaked drywall caused a bedroom ceiling to cave in. The critters' paw prints could be seen on the walls throughout the house and on the central fireplace, providing the evidence of how they broke into the home. The animals even slept in the beds.
We arrived on the scene ready to begin the cleanup process but soon discovered that the work would have to wait. The vermin were still making their way back into the house and they had to be caught and completely removed from the area before we could start cleaning.
Hint: The best method for removing raccoons is with a trap baited with food.
One of the biggest concerns with this type of damage was the potential health issue. Raccoons are the primary host of Baylisascaris procyonis, a roundworm that can be harmful to people. Roundworm eggs are passed in the feces of infected raccoons, and people become infected when they breathe in the eggs. Anyone who is exposed to environments where raccoons frequent is potentially at risk. Wearing respirators to protect themselves, my team began the arduous process of making that scene of immense destruction, “Like it never even happened.”
Hint: Most insurance companies do not cover the damages caused by vermin getting into the house.
How to clean up after a raccoon has gotten into your home!
- Take care to avoid contaminating hands and clothes.
- Wear disposable gloves.
- Wear rubber boots that can be scrubbed or cover your shoes with disposable booties that can be thrown away, so that you do not bring eggs into your household.
- Wear a N95-rated respirator if working in a confined space to prevent accidental ingestion of eggs or other harmful materials.
- Feces and material contaminated with raccoon feces should be removed and burned, buried, or bagged and placed in the trash to be sent to a landfill.
Hoarding: It's More than Clutter
It's a dirty job but we will work with you to determine what is of value or needs to be thrown away.
As the owner of a restoration company, I am usually one of the first people on the scene of a property damage. When someone experiences damage to their home, there is an emotional part that comes into play and I can’t help but to be affected and even become emotionally involved. As a result, there are some jobs that I carry with me. I remember the people I served and think about them from to time, and hope that in whatever way I could, I made some kind of an impact on their lives.
The other day, I happened to think about a customer I met a few years ago. We received a call came from the facilities manager of a residential community for adults 55 years and older. One of the residents living there had died and the manager wanted us to come in and clean up the unit. The deceased’s husband was living in a nursing and their daughter was flying in from Arizona.
We immediately went to the job and began cleaning the affected areas, the master bedroom and bathroom. The carpet had been stained from body fluids and it was clear to see that the woman had been in distress for a while. When her daughter arrived, I could see the pain on her face and knew that she was completely overwhelmed by everything that she had to address. She had to tell her dad about her mother’s death, she had to make funeral arrangements, and she had to grieve. She assumed that she would have to pay for our services out of her mother’s estate. I explained to her that the job was most likely covered by her mother’s homeowner’s insurance but I could also see that calling the insurance agent was the last thing on her mind. I couldn’t minimize her emotional pain but I could step in and help a bit with handling the logistics of this clean up. And so I did. I told her to focus on taking care of her dad and making the arrangements for the funeral and I would handle everything concerning the clean up and insurance. I contacted the agent who filed the claim for damages and I went back to the unit later to meet with the adjuster. We even helped clean up the basement of the unit so it could be prepared for sale.
Some would say I went the “extra mile” to help this customer but I disagree. This woman had just suffered the worst loss imaginable. I consider what I did to be a part of the human condition—to reach out and help a person in a time of need. I often think of this customer and hope that she is doing well; that she passed the nursing exams she was studying for when her mother died. Most of all I hope that, in some small way, I helped to ease her burden during a very difficult time.
Sewage Backup in Nantucket, MA
Sewage backup in the crawlspace of this Nantucket, MA home had the homeowner calling SERVPRO of Upper Cape Cod & the Islands to fix the issue.
Upon arrival our knowledgeable and trained professionals started immediately on cleaning and fixing the issue for this homeowner. The owner stated that SERVPRO of Upper Cape Cod & the Islands did "another high quality, excellent job" for him.