The Aftermath of Wildfire: Flash Floods
Flooding in Mt. Rainier National Park
Summer in Western Montana always promises county fairs and rodeos, outdoor folk festivals, and the treasured huckleberry season, but it also often brings about two natural hazards that can cut down our summer fun: thunderstorms and forest fires.
Even on years like this, where we’ve been lucky enough not to spend our August days hiding from smoke, the damage our mountains routinely see from wildfires makes the Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys particularly susceptible to flash flooding. Fire changes the landscape through which it burns, greatly reducing or even eliminating ground vegetation. That vegetation typically plays an important part in helping to absorb water from rainfall, and with it gone, water is left to flow freely and rapidly down steep terrain. Fires also leave behind ash and debris which, combined with heavy rain, can create mudflows that may reach structures miles away from the original site of the fire.
Because the risk of flash flooding is ongoing – an area affected by wildfire can take up to five years to adequately begin to recover ground vegetation – knowledge and prior planning are the most important components of your family and your home’s emergency toolkit. According to the National Weather Service, “half an inch of rainfall in less than an hour is sufficient to cause flash flooding.” You don’t want to wait until those summer thunderstorms strike to think about flood insurance, and you should always have an evacuation plan in case your home is affected. Ready.gov provides more information on how to build an emergency supply kit, and in the event that your home is damaged by flash flooding this summer, SERVPRO of Missoula is here for you.
The Benefits of HVAC and Air Duct Cleaning
Keeping ducts free of dust and debris may help reduce your energy bill and improve air quality in your home.
HVAC systems are often the biggest culprit in poor indoor air quality. The air inside your Western Montana home is full of tiny particles like dust, pollen and pet dander. When your furnace or air conditioner draws air, it also pulls in airborne particles. Over time, these contaminants can build up inside the ducts, reducing air flow and re-circulating throughout your living space.
Like furnaces and air conditioners, air ducts require proper cleaning and maintenance to perform at their best. Keeping ducts free of dust and debris can also help reduce your energy bill and improve air quality in your home. More frequent duct cleaning is recommended if you have indoor pets, or are sensitive to indoor air quality. You should also have your ducts cleaned if you have recently renovated your home, as this will increase the amount of dust in your forced air system.
Air duct cleaning clears debris from your HVAC air ducts, registers, grilles, and other components of an HVAC system and provides these benefits for you and your home:
- Creates a cleaner living environment
- Reduces allergens and irritants
- Helps your family breathe easier
- Removes unpleasant smells and odors
- Improves air flow efficiency
Duct cleaning is not an easy job. Doing it right takes specialized equipment in the hands of skilled professionals like ours at SERVPRO of Missoula. Call us at 406-327-9500 for more information.
Missoula Area Water Damage Restoration
Call SERVPRO of Missoula today to see what we can do for you!
SERVPRO of Missoula is here to help you with your loss. Whether you are staring down a flooded basement, a leaky supply line or smoke damage from a neighboring forest fire, we are prepared to help you with any loss! From multi-story commercial fire damage to one-room mold damage, SERVPRO has the experienced technicians and high tech, commercial grade drying equipment to get you back to normal.
SERVPRO of Missoula is available 24 hours, 7 days a week. Our immediate, professional response helps to minimize any secondary damage that may occur. We know how nail-biting, hair-pulling and overwhelming losses can be. We work hand in hand with your insurance company from the beginning of the claims process through to final billing and paperwork so you don’t have to. We will always keep you informed of the job process and schedule – we will be there when we say we will!
SERVPRO of Missoula can only be as good as our people. Our technicians are extensively trained on the most current industry standards and our number one priority on any loss is safety! All of our employees are also required to undergo intensive screening during the hiring process so you can rest assured that we only hire the highest quality staff. It’s difficult enough to deal with a loss without the added stress of wondering who you are entrusting to be in your home or business.
It’s important to choose a company who is well versed in all types of losses and has the proper experience, training and equipment to help make your loss, “Like it never even happened.” SERVPRO is here for you when you need us! Until then, we will always have this blog for you to read!
SERVPRO of Missoula - Emergency Water Damage
SERVPRO of Missoula - We respond to your emergency water damage 24/7/365!
SERVPRO of Missoula is available 24 hours a day for water emergencies, large or small. When you are dealing with water damage, immediate action is crucial. A delay of just a few hours can greatly increase the severity of the water damage.
We Answer the Phone Ready to Help
Call Today - 406-327-9500
We understand that when you call us, you may be feeling confused, stressed, and vulnerable. You need an expert to guide you through this crisis. SERVPRO of Missoula has the specific water damage training and experience to help you through this tough time. We specialize in water damage restoration—in fact, it's the cornerstone of our business.
What to Expect
When you call, we will ask several questions regarding your water damage emergency. These questions will help us determine what equipment and resources to bring, including how many trained SERVPRO Professionals may be needed.
Our SERVPRO Representative will ask several questions:
- Your name and contact information
- Your insurance information (if applicable)
- The street address of the water-damaged home or business
- When did the flooding or water damage occur?
- What caused the water damage (if known)?
- Is there electricity available (on-site)?
About SERVPRO of Missoula
SERVPRO of Missoula specializes in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property after a fire, smoke or water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.
Indoor Air Quality in your Missoula Home or Business
SERVPRO of Missoula can help with your indoor air quality issues! Musty odors? Damp crawlspace or basement? Call us today at 406-327-9500!
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention offers tips and statistics to help educate people on the health risks associated with repeated exposure to mold infested environments;
“Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, or none at all. Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, molds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions. Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold. These people should stay away from areas that are likely to have mold, such as compost piles, cut grass, and wooded areas.
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.”
Heed the following tips from the CDC and see https://www.cdc.gov/mold/ for more information:
- Controlling humidity levels;
- Promptly fixing leaky roofs, windows, and pipes;
- Thoroughly cleaning and drying after flooding;
- Ventilating shower, laundry, and cooking areas.
If mold is growing in your home, you need to clean up the mold and fix the moisture problem. Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of household laundry bleach in 1 gallon of water.
Mold growth, which often looks like spots, can be many different colors, and can smell musty. If you can see or smell mold, a health risk may be present. You do not need to know the type of mold growing in your home, and CDC does not recommend or perform routine sampling for molds. No matter what type of mold is present, you should remove it. Since the effect of mold on people can vary greatly, either because of the amount or type of mold, you can not rely on sampling and culturing to know your health risk. Also, good sampling for mold can be expensive, and standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable quantity of mold have not been set. The best practice is to remove the mold and work to prevent future growth.
If you choose to use bleach to clean up mold:
- Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.
- Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
- Wear non-porous gloves and protective eye wear.
- If the area to be cleaned is more than 10 square feet, consult the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide titled Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings. Although focused on schools and commercial buildings, this document also applies to other building types. You can get it by going to the EPA web site at https://www.epa.gov/mold/mold-remediation-schools-and-commercial-buildings-guide.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach or any other cleaning product.
If you suspect an air quality issue in your home or business, call SERVPRO of Missoula at 406-327-9500 to see what we can do for you. We are standing by with trained technicians and state of the art filtration and cleaning equipment to help you from the simplest duct cleaning to full scale mold remediation.
Wildfire and Smoke Damage in Western Montana
SERVPRO of Missoula has a large inventory of filtering and cleaning equipment and the trained staff to go with it!
With all of these wildfires throughout our beautiful Montana, it’s time to talk about smoke damage. SERVPRO of Missoula is here to help with soot, smoke or fire damage your property may have incurred. There are different types of smoke damaged losses. Wildfires will burn mostly natural materials, but sometime when wildfires burn man-made materials, it can leave soot particles which are more difficult to remove. Our highly trained technicians will pretest all soot residues to determine the best method of cleaning to help ensure no lingering odors.
Even if your property didn’t suffer fire damage, there may be soot particles and residues left to clean. If cleaned improperly, the odor and effects can linger long after the fire has gone. Our technicians use the latest technology to ensure your property is smelling fresh and clean. Soot is sneaky and can get inside your home even when windows and doors are closed. Your HVAC unit and air ducts usually hold large amounts of soot and disperse it throughout the house. Our technicians will thoroughly inspect your HVAC units along with your air ducts for soot particles and remove the particles so no further damage is incurred. SERVPRO of Missoula wants to help you and your property’s damage to make it “Like it never even happened.”
Preparing your home for a vacation during cold weather
Failure to clear snow can cause an ice dam to form, allowing water to enter the attic space, flooding the exterior walls.
The change in seasons requires a few items homeowners can check to help get ready. Check to make sure hoses are disconnected from exterior faucets, even if they are frost-free faucets. Leaving a hose connected increases the possibility of a frozen hose bib, which can rupture inside the exterior wall of your Western Montana area home and cause flooding.
Make sure the thermostat is set to an appropriate temperature if you’re planning on being away from home over the holidays. Open cabinet doors for cabinets that have plumbing, especially on exterior walls to make sure the temperature stays above freezing. Have a professional check and service your furnace for proper operation and signs of potential failure.
If you are planning on being away from home for an extended period of time it is a good idea to have a plumber winterize the plumbing system. If winterizing isn’t possible, turning off the water main can be a good way to ensure that if a problem does arise, it doesn’t cause too much damage before it is located.
If the unfortunate does happen, be sure to give us a call here at SERVRPRO of Missoula at 406-327-9500. We have highly trained technicians and top of line drying technology to help restore your Missoula home or business after a flood. Call us today to see what we can do for you!
Fire Safety Tips
Follow these tips to help keep your home and loved ones safe.
Ensuring adequate placement of smoke detectors in your home or office is critical in keeping the occupants safe. Non-working smoke alarms are often caused by missing or disconnected batteries. With such grave consequences attributed to such a small oversight, it’s a good idea to check smoke alarm operation every 30 days.
The National Fire Protection Association reports that:
- In 2009-2013, smoke alarms sounded in more than half (53%) of the home fires reported to U.S. fire departments.
- Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
- No smoke alarms were present in more than one-third (38%) of the home fire deaths.
- One of every five (21%) of the home fire deaths, smoke alarms were present but did not sound.
- In reported home fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, almost half (46%) of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries. Nuisance alarms were the leading reason for disconnected smoke alarms.
- A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home. Install alarms in the basement. Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one sounds, they all sound.
- Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
- It is best to use interconnected smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds they all sound.
- Test all smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
- Today’s smoke alarms will be more technologically advanced to respond to a multitude of fire conditions, yet mitigate false alarms.
- A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the stove.
- People who are hard-of-hearing or deafcan use special alarms. These alarms have strobe lights and bed shakers.
- Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.
- Smoke alarms are an important part of a home fire escape plan.
- See https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Smoke-alarms for more information
Following these tips can help keep your loved ones safe. If you experience a smoke or fire damage in your Missoula home or business, call SERVPRO of Missoula at 406-327-9500 to clean and restore your home to preloss condition. We have highly trained technicians and top of line equipment to help clean and repair your fire loss, no matter how large or small.
Simple Steps for an Insurance Home Inventory
You might have already taken stock of the big things, but in an emergency, could you do a mental household inventory list and name all your valuables? That's why it's important to do a home inventory. For peace of mind, and for insurance purposes, a home inventory is just a smart move. It can help you decide how much and what type of homeowners' insurance to buy and help speed up the claims process. It may sound like a daunting task, but it is one that will be worth the time should you ever need it. Where do you start?
- Starting a Household Inventory –Get organized, have a method to the madness
You'll want to document things like the insides of your tool boxes and closets and it will be easier to do when they are tidied up. Map out your course by move through your household methodically, this will decrease your chances of missing important items. Don’t forget to include your attic, garage and sheds.
- Making a Home Inventory List- Document Everything
Photography is your friend; go from room to room, taking pictures or even a video to help you as you go. Make special note of your most valuable items (jewelry, antiques, electronics) and where you keep them. It's also helpful to keep receipts and to note the serial numbers for items that have them.
There are also many apps available to help you do this. Your insurance may have offer and app or a free tool to help collect the information you will need.
The type of items you’ll want to include on your household inventory list would be:
Furnishings, Appliances, Electronics, Lawn and Garden, Antiques and Collectibles.
Details to include about the items on your household inventory list:
- Provide a general description of the inventory item
- List the quantity of those items
- Note the date each item was purchased
- Specify how much you paid for each item on your inventory list
- Store It Somewhere Safe
Resist the urge to keep your inventory list at home. Some safer alternatives would be to print a copy and keep it in a safety deposit box, or on the Cloud. Whatever you do, don't put your home address on your inventory list (in-case it falls into the wrong hands), and don’t keep your only record of your possessions on your property.
- Maintaining Your Home Inventory List- Update it Frequently
Whenever you make a big purchase, or even just every couple of years, reevaluate. This is also a good excuse to de-clutter as you go. Remember, an out-of-date home inventory could hold up the claims process at a time when that's the last thing you need.
Where there's smoke, SERVPRO of Missoula can help
Even if your property isn't damaged by fire, residual soot and smoke odor can linger long after a fire has been in the area.
Fire season will soon be upon us in Western Montana. A wildfire can cause more than just the damage that you see. If fire damages your property, it can throw your life into chaos. SERVPRO Franchise Professionals are dedicated to restoring your damaged property back to preloss condition and helping your life get back to normal.
Even if your property didn’t suffer fire damage, there may be soot particles and residues left to clean up. If cleaned improperly, the odor and effects can linger long after the fire has been put out. From the structure itself to the contents inside, your Franchise Professionals use the latest technology and training to leave your property smelling fresh and clean.
Tips from FEMA for when wildfire threatens:
- Wear protective clothing.
- Take your Emergency Supply Kit.
- Lock your home or business.
- Tell someone when you left and where you are going.
- Choose a route away from fire hazards.
- Close windows, vents, doors, blinds, or noncombustible window coverings.
- Shut off all utilities, if possible.
- Open fireplace damper. Close fireplace screens.
- Move flammable furniture into the center of the home.
- Turn on a light in each room to increase the visibility of your home.
- Seal attic and ground vents with precut noncombustible coverings.
- Turn off propane tanks.
- Place combustible patio furniture inside. Connect the garden hose to outside taps.
- Place lawn sprinklers on the roof and near above ground fuel tanks.
- Wet or remove shrubs within 15 feet of the home or business.
- Gather fire tools.
For more detailed wildfire safety tips visit FEMA’s website at www.ready.gov
When wildfire takes control of your life, SERVPRO of Missoula is here to help you take it back. Our trained professionals can give you peace of mind by helping make it “Like it never even happened.” Don’t fear, we are here! Call us today at 406-327-9500 to see how we can help.