OOPS!... I Forgot!
Guess who forgot to disconnect the hose from the outside spigot last fall?! Guess who didn’t turn the water off to that outside spigot?!... Hmmm… What might we expect when we go to use that spigot and/or hose this spring?!!!
Living in the Midwest, we can pretty well be assured that we will have a stretch of several days during our winters that not only DON’T get above freezing, but also dip well below zero – sometimes for days at a time. What happens to water pipes in exterior walls during these cold snaps? The water in them can freeze and then cause a break. If you have had the misfortune of having this happen during the cold of winter, you know that this can be a very traumatic experience.
A water damage at any time of year is an unwelcome intrusion into the comfort of your daily living. If you have experienced this, then you know how unsettling such a disaster can feel!
So, let’s get back to that outside water situation… If you have unfortunately left that hose or spigot unattended since last year’s warmer weather, then prepare yourself – and your home – for the possibility of trouble. As you prepare to turn the water on for the first time, have another person in the basement to watch for water coming into the house rather than going out. That way you are prepared to turn the water off at the source and avoid an excessive amount of water inside when you needed it outside. You will know that you have a problem that needs a plumber’s professional attention. If all of the water continues to flow outside, count your blessings and your good fortune!
Remember that SERVPRO of Rockford is here to help when disaster strikes. We will make it “Like it never event happened.”
Do you remember that Christmas when…
This time of year brings fond memories for most of us, maybe a wish and prayer for better times that may be fading from our community Covid memories. Among those memories are often the sights, sounds, tastes and fragrances of the Holidays: wood burning in the fireplace, scented candles bringing ambient light to the rooms where loved ones gather, turkey roasting in the oven, cookies baking on well-seasoned pans used from generation to generation – yes, I still have some of my grandmother’s pans! – bells ringing on street corners, snow-covered lawns and fields and rooftops…
We pray that your memories are not those of tragedy. We certainly know some who have lost loved ones during the holiday season. We hope that you know they would like to see you remember them in family traditions, joyful carols and festive gatherings. Know that they wish to see your joy, peace and love for one another. Honor their memories in festive celebrations, laughter and good cheer!
We also know too well that disasters know no holiday! There may be memories that are not so fond: sparks from a fireplace that lit the carpet; candles left unattended that sent burning wax flaming across wooden tables and fabric table coverings; cookies, cakes or pies left in the oven that burned – it doesn’t just happen to Sharon Weiss (memes); candy making that overflows the pot, lighting a fire as it spills over the burner on the stovetop; the turkey fryer that cooks the siding on the house; Christmas decorations with damaged cords that start electrical fires; fresh-cut trees that have been allowed to become too dry and seem to spontaneously combust. We hope that none of these things have ever happened to you to cause fire to your homes or businesses. We pray that they will not happen to you this year or ever in the future.
Please be safe in enjoying your holidays!... But know that we are always there 24/7/365 to take your disaster and make it “Like it never even happened.”
You’ve got that Giving Feeling…
Often at this time of year, we find ourselves with a more giving spirit. This extends not only to family and friends, but to organizations that we recognize as doing great work in our communities. Most of us see and hear the bell-ringers at the Salvation Army red kettles on the street corners and outside the places we shop. We know from direct and indirect experience and from charitable giving reports that our donations are used for valuable and successful programs to help those in need. Here in Rockford, we know that the Rockford Rescue Mission also is recognized the same way. There are many churches and local non-profit service organizations that provide a wide array of other much-needed assistance to give those seeking help with food, shelter, clothing, healthcare and other life needs to sustain them through difficult times.
Over the past few years, panhandlers have become more prevalent on busy Rockford street corners. They tug at our heartstrings, making us feel selfish and uncaring if we don’t offer money to keep them warm and fed. It may seem like a very kind and generous thing to do, but it is strongly discouraged by those who work in services to the homeless population. Your money may be putting them at risk! You have no control over how that handout is used. We would like to believe it is used for food or shelter, medicine or clothing to protect them from the elements, as many of these folks are homeless. The cruel reality is that your generous donation mostly goes to feed habits: alcohol and drugs – not just baseline street drugs, but hard drugs. Panhandling in traffic also places them in jeopardy of injury and even death. It is a very rare person that can win a battle with an automobile or truck.
For more information, talk to someone from a local service agency. Please take a few moments to go to the link below in order to inform yourself before you simply hand over money:
Our recommendation to those of you who are in this giving spirit would be to offer a gift card to a restaurant close to that street and to set someone in the direction of local services, such as Salvation Army, Miss Carly’s, Rockford Rescue Mission, Shelter Care Ministries or Rockford MELD (for women and children). These have emergency services available and can personalize the assistance of the individual’s needs. Or if you feel exceptionally generous, the hotel down the next block might very willingly accept a donation for overnight lodging for some of those street folks! I would hope that these suggestions should keep both you and the panhandler at less risk.
Thank you, Rockford, for your generous spirit through the Holidays and during the remainder of the year!
The Sentinel Speaks
Good morning! I'm back at my post as the Morning Sentinel watching to make sure all stays safe in my neighborhood... Or else!... Ekspeshly while my mom is gone. (My grammama is taking dictation today and she's the reason Paws for Penny is so late.)
When ya go away, frenns, do ya have someone take care of stuff ya left behind, like yer house? That's important. How would ya know if the rain came in or if yer water machines made a really bad mess? (Did ya know ya should turn off the water to those machines when ya leave?) If ya come home and find a bad, bad mess, call my people. They are real life Action Heroes that will make bad water stuff "Like it never even happened."
See ya next week! Til then, watch yer stuff!
Come visit me on my people's Facebook page. Every Friday they give me space for my very own spot, "Paws for Penny."
(Grammama has been trying to help me clean up my grammar. How did I do this week?)
What is Bio-remediation?
What is bioremediation?
There are many forms of trauma that would be induced by any kind of disaster, or a physically, psychologically or emotionally challenging experience. In coming to the aid of our customers, we recognize that they are in distress and we wish to make the situation as reassuring as possible. Within the range of services offered, our staff is available to address some of the most challenging and disquieting of situations.
There are unfortunate occasions where death or injury are involved, such as a crime scene, the violent taking of life – whether perpetrated or self-inflicted – or perhaps an unattended death of a loved one or neighbor. This may also include situations where someone who is ill loses blood or other body fluids or an injury that causes excessive bleeding occurs in a home or business. Due to the possible presence of infectious or bio-contaminant elements, these circumstances require professional assistance (bioremediation) in cleaning and disposal of biological matter.
The conscientious staff at SERVPRO of Rockford is specially trained and certified to provide the proper, hygienic care andcleaning of any contaminated surfaces or items and the proper disposal of items that cannot be cleaned. Our team is very efficient and thorough, promising that the site will hold no threat of contamination or residue. You can expect the most compassionate, discreet and professional care from our experienced staff.
SERVPRO of Rockford is locally owned and is fully invested in our community. We offer this as assurance that each and every person can expect the personal care and attention deserved. We know that these are very traumatic and emotionally painful situations and we are here to lessen the burden.
For assistance at such difficult moments, please call us to ease your concerns and discomforts. We will gladly share information about the products – EPA approved – our processes and our team’s training, experience and certifications. Let us help you through these difficult and painful circumstances.
Pork Chops on the Barbeque
Who doesn’t love grilled pork chops!
Pork Chops on the Barbeque…
Steaks on the Grill…
MmmMmm… What a Thrill!
Finally!... Winter seems to be completely finished with its intrusive coming and going this Spring! It is time to enjoy the outdoors. And that means bringing some of the cooking outdoors, too. As you pull out that grill and dust it off – and chase out the mice that may have moved in over the past few months – make sure you refresh safety protocols for enjoying this traditional seasonal activity:
- Keep all grills and fire pits away from flammables: furniture, decking, dried vegetation, etc.
- Place grill away from buildings when in use. Even if fire doesn’t occur to siding, melting, warping and discoloration can happen if too close to a heat source.
- Use only approved fire-starting products when preparing your fire. DO NOT use gasoline!
- Make sure all of your cooking accessories are kept away from heat source in order to avoid melting or burning: hot-mitts, tongs, spatulas, serving plates, etc.
- Have water at the ready in case sparks or coals travel from their container to flammables.
- Keep seating and persons a safe distance from the heat source. Smoke, soot and sparks can cause a great amount of discomfort, as can the possible excess heat.
- If not using green sticks or metal forks or skewers for cooking over an open flame, make certain that dried wood cooking utensils are soaked for about 30 minutes to avoid fires.
- Avoid loose clothing, tie back long hair and tuck ties and strings from clothing – like hooded sweatshirts – when working around a heat source, especially an open flame.
- We all love a fire at an early age. We seem to be drawn by its flicker, brightness and dance. Watch young children carefully around this tantalizing spectacle.
Now that you have reviewed what needs to be done to keep your outdoor cooking venture safe, ENJOY!... And maybe have a little extra on hand in case your grill skills are a little rusty and there is a bit more char than you might wish.
Raccoons… And ‘possums… And squirrels… Oh, my!!
Vermin are everywhere!
Yes, these critters are quite cute!... BUT, do you really want them hiding in your home?! Some of them find their way into your attics when the weather turns cold in early winter and you may not even know they are there. You are probably thinking those little paw-steps are very large mice. Raccoons and possums can be very quiet during their winter semi-hibernation. These animals may make their way into these spaces as they are seeking safe nesting sites for the birthing and raising of their young. It is truly astounding how a tiny hole in siding, soffits, facia or roofing can be opened up by those little paws to make a grander entrance to your home – attics, walls, ceilings, crawl-spaces, etc. And oh, what a mess they make!!
So, if they have come to live with you, what can you do about this? If you know when they leave to get outside for feeding, you can take that time to patch in their entrance/exit sites while they are away. Upon their return, it is not unheard of them working hard enough to break into your well-planned attempts to keep them out. The best way to solve the issue permanently is to trap them. Professional disclaimer time: you will probably not want to do this yourself! You will want to find a licensed wildlife removal service. If this service does humane trapping and release, please make certain they release your houseguests many miles from their current habitat. You don’t want them returning to your house – or your neighbors’.
The mess they leave behind – also referred to as “raccoon latrines” – can cause serious health concerns. Things to consider are parasites – especially roundworms –, viruses, bacteria, and other microbial elements. Each one of these needs to be attended in order to return your home to a healthy, human-inhabitable condition, as many of these cross species to humans. Our staff is fully trained and certified to clean up after your critter houseguests.
If this is a disaster that has occurred in your home or commercial building, we can make it “Like it never even happened.” Call us. We can help you find someone to remove these “cuties,” talk with your insurance company about the restoration work needed and get your home back to full health.
Spring is here!... Or is it?!...
I do believe we are hosting the “50 Shades of Winter” this year! Well, eventually, we will be looking to get outdoors and work in our yards. It can be an exciting time, watching the flower bulbs planted last fall poke gentle shoots through the soil. They are generally determined enough and tough enough to weather a bit of continued cold. But what about that hose you forgot to disconnect from the outside water spigot last fall? Or what about the lawn sprinkler system that didn’t get drained properly? Or the outside water that didn’t get completely shut off before winter set in?
For as bitter cold as it was for a couple weeks in February, we would advise caution as you begin to use your outdoor water sources this spring. You may discover that winter did some damage, causing cracks or breakage of water lines. Often this means that water begins to spew into basements, sometimes at a great amount of volume and pressure. Since some of us don’t necessarily venture into our basements on a daily basis, this could come as quite a shock – and disaster!
As you turn on water for outdoor use, might we suggest that you have someone in the basement at the same time that could quickly shut off the water source? If there is a break, time is of the essence. This would reduce the amount of damage to the indoor, household space – and its contents, equipment and appliances. If you don’t have the extra set of eyes and hands, make a visit yourself shortly after turning on that water.
If you have any questions or concerns, please remember that we are here to help, to make your disaster “Like it never even happened.”
How Not to Burn Your House Down with a Space Heater
“How Not to Burn Down Your House With a Space Heater”
A recent article in the New York Times cited a personal near-disaster with a space heater by the author. This is scary stuff! And it happens so much more than most of us realize: there are an estimated 25,000 fires in homes and apartments due to space heaters each year; this causes more than 300 deaths; over 6,000 trips to the emergency room are attributed to such fires. In spite of these numbers, if we follow the do’s and don’t’s of use, space heaters are a safe way to supplement heat in small or specific spaces.
In confined spaces, electric, radiant and convection heaters are better options than combustion heat systems. Keep in mind that all heat production still causes heat and therefore, carries risk. These heaters are much safer now than what were manufactured in the past. They have better insulation. They have smaller grates to discourage small fingers and objects from coming into contact with the heat source. Many models are thermostatically controlled, so they shut off when a programmed temperature is reached. Sensors may detect blocked air passages. Some models have tip-over switches that shut the unit down if it is not flat on the ground.
Home or personal use space heaters must be approved by an independent testing laboratory for safety. Most recognized are Intertek (ETL) and Underwriters (UL). If you do not see a validation on the product, do not take a risk on it.
At this time, there are few space heaters with smart-home capabilities. Please consult Wirecutter’s for their picks of those that are available. It is recommended that you do not use a standard timing device for your heater. Due to the electrical demand of these products and the heat generated, timer devices are not designed for this usage. If your heater does not have a timer or you are insistent on commanding through voice activation, a plug-in smart outlet may offer some assistance. Wirecutter’s suggests Wemo Mini.
Go ahead! Use that space heater!... But… Here are some Safety Tips:
- Don’t crowd the unit. The 3ft rule is strongly suggested: keep the unit at lease 3ft away from combustible materials such as bedding, draperies, papers, clothing, etc.
- Examine the condition of the electrical cord. If it is frayed or damaged in any way, do not use. Also, it is not recommended to use extension cords, power strips, timers or multi connector plugs. Use only a wall outlet. Added layers of connection can overload the circuit or create additional resistance that can cause heat buildup, possibly resulting in a fire or internal electrical damage. If you must use an extension cord, make certain that it is a minimum of 14-guage.
- Make certain that the “plug is snug!” The heater must be plugged into the wall outlet securely, unable to come loose or fall out. If the power cord or wall outlet becomes hot to the touch, unplug the unit and consult an electrician. There is a problem!
- The heater should be placed on the floor in a very stable position, in a spot where it is unlikely to get knocked over. Do not set on a table, chair or any surface that is or could become unstable.
- Do not use the heating unit in or near water, or if you are wet. Otherwise, you will be shocked as a result… Literally, shocked!!
- Do not “hide” cords under rugs, furniture or carpets. This can prevent the heat from escaping that is created by the resistance in the electrical cord. Be careful not to pinch, bend or crimp the cord. This can impede the electrical current and contribute to the buildup of heat and energy.
- Make certain that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly.
- Use a space heater designed for the space you have determined. Too large of a unit will overheat the space and use more electrical resources than necessary.
- Train and teach everyone in the household the proper use, operation and care of the unit. Small children should be taught to stay away for safety purposes. Turn the unit off when asleep, in a different room or when unable to keep an eye on it.
- For combustion heaters, use the right kind of fuel. Substitutions can cause a fire and the malfunctioning of the unit. Never use fuel-burning units in a closed environment, such as your home. Proper ventilation is crucial when used in an enclosure.
Stay warm this winter. Space heaters afford us intimate heat sources in an environment that may not meet our individual needs for comfort. Most of all, stay safe!
“In the warm yellow glow of the Christmas Candles
I see the magic of Christmas shining bright, shining bright…”
From Christmas Candles by Breen, LeVeen, Sampson
The fragrance and ambience of candles have long-outlived their pragmatic use as a source of light in our modern world. Yet, they continue to be a part of almost every household, especially at the Holidays: so many fragrances, so many shapes and styles to suit the occasions!
As you enjoy the warmth of candlelight and the sensory pleasure of the seasonal aromas, we wish for you to be safe burning your candles. There is no need for many to be concerned about burning candles on Christmas trees, but please be cautious throughout your decorated homes. Fires caused by burning candles have destroyed more than one family’s holiday season.
Please be vigilant in your use of candles, making sure to always keep an eye on them as they burn:
- Keep from touching other decorations, i.e., greens, ribbons, silk flowers.
- Try to use candles in containers: jars, votive glass, etc.
- Place columns, 3-wicked candles, tapers and other free-standing candles on a fire-resistant tray or in a bowl. Monitor the wax flow that may occur as the edge cracks.
Not all candles are created equal. Many inexpensive candles contain inorganic materials that, when burned, can send toxins into the air of our enclosed spaces. They often give off more soot, too. Quality soy candles and fragrances from essential oils will still release soot into the air, but generally burn cleaner. Keeping any burning candle away from walls and ceilings will reduce the chance of soot residue staining those surfaces.
A candle’s flame is often seen as Holy Fire. Please, let’s keep it that way. May your holidays, however you celebrate, be merry and blessed!