One of the most important investments many people make is the purchase of their home or business premises. If something happens to it, the repercussions can be immense. Seeing your property after a fire or flood is a traumatic experience.
Thankfully, fire, water, and mold damage can be mitigated and restored by an experienced company specializing in emergency restoration.
Many property owners wonder what emergency mitigation and restoration is and whether it is necessary. It’s good to understand what these emergencies involve and how timely mitigation benefits your most important investment, so that you are prepared should it ever come to that.
Natural disasters happen: be prepared
A natural disaster at home can be overwhelming.
Water can flood parts or whole segments of a house and destroy electrical devices, clothes, furniture, and the floor, among others. If left unattended, water damage can also lead to mold and cause long-term damage.
Fire can burn ceilings, windows, and belongings and cause smoke damage that is particularly difficult to get rid of. Even as you put out the fire, the retardants and chemicals that fire extinguishers use can be hazardous and hard to clean.
What should you do in case of a natural disaster?
In the event of a natural disaster, the first step is to make sure everyone in your household or business is safe and accounted for.
Then, call the fire department if there is a fire. Turn off the water mains in case a ruptured pipe is causing water damage. In both cases, shut down the electrical main: fire melting cables can be as deadly as water leaking into light switches and power outlets.
The next step is to leave the house and call a reputable and trustworthy emergency restoration company.
When should I call my insurance company after a natural disaster?
Right after you call your insurance company, ask an emergency restoration company to assess the damage without interfering in any way with the actual damage. The restoration company can be onsite within a couple hours or less, whereas it may take the insurance company a few days to come out. While you are working with the restoration company, the insurance company can start their process and determine policy limitations, if any. If it turns out to be a small loss (less than or close to deductible), then the claim can be withdrawn at no consequence.
The company’s experts will come to appraise the damage: for instance, fire damage usually involves water damage, as water hoses are used to put out the fire. Experts will know whether mold will develop in the flooded parts of the building.
The emergency restoration experts will give you a general idea about the potential cost and their thoughts on what an insurance company is bound to cover. This can save you a lot of money—and hassle—down the road.
Do not clean up before the insurance company has inspected the property
Homeowners should never clean up before the insurance company has come to assess the damage. Insurance investigators need to see the whole damage without any prior intervention.
Once the danger is over and the insurance company has inspected the damage, a homeowner can begin with emergency mitigation and emergency restoration.
If it is not a significant loss, the restoration company will take photos. If given permission by the homeowner, they can work with the insurance company directly to determine the needed scope of work and resolve the damage according to the coverages of your policy.
What is the difference between emergency mitigation and restoration?
While some use the terms interchangeably, they mean quite different things.
What is emergency mitigation?
Emergency mitigation involves stopping any further damage to the house from fire, water, or the elements.
Emergency mitigation requires specialists to remove damaged furniture, debris, and damaged materials like drywall and flooring. Mitigation is also about ensuring the home’s structural stability and protecting its integrity—and your safety—by boarding broken windows and preventing any further damage.
If parts of the building such as the roof, windows, or the entrance door are exposed to the elements, emergency mitigation makes sure these are provisionally fixed until emergency restoration begins.
Emergency mitigation is all about stopping further damage to the building.
What is emergency restoration?
Emergency restoration involves returning the building to its former condition.
It covers everything from repairing the damage to cleaning, fixing, painting, or doing anything else that is necessary to make the building once again safe, habitable, and pleasing to the eye.
How do you restore a water-damaged house?
Water emergency mitigation requires a thorough inspection and assessment of the damage.
An expert will know where you may have hidden water damage, beyond what you can see at first glance. Specialists can detect hidden moisture. They will make sure that the water extraction process starts immediately: the sooner the water is extracted, the less the water damage or risk from mold.
Once the initial inspection is complete, the restoration crew will follow these steps:
1. Water extraction
Water mitigation means extracting the water from the house with powerful pumps that remove the standing water.
Places such as basements are particularly difficult to extract water from. Unfortunately, they are also the most prone to water and mold damage.
Be prepared for the fact that some of your belongings will be discarded. Damaged parts of the house such as wet ceiling panels will have to be replaced. To ensure your safety, restoration crews also pay extra attention to the electrical system, plugs, and cables that may have been damaged.
2. Drying and dehumidifying after water damage
Once all water has been removed, the emergency mitigation crew will start the drying and dehumidifying process.
The drying process goes further than drying the belongings that were salvaged. The crew will also dry wooden floors, carpets, and anything that can be restored. A mitigation company will also make sure that any lingering moisture is dried and will monitor the moisture levels to make sure that there is no underlying problem.
3. Mold and residual moisture monitoring
Moisture monitoring is necessary to confirm there is no mold.
If any mold is found, the emergency mitigation crew will take care of the problem and clean up with the appropriate equipment and detergents.
A professional emergency mitigation service will also ensure your safety by checking for category 3 water, aka black water. This contains unsanitary agents, harmful bacteria, and fungi that can lead to infections, illnesses, and long-term respiratory problems. If you come into contact with black water you risk even more serious health risks and even death.
4. Sanitizing, deodorizing, disinfecting
If the water came from outdoors or from a broken sewage pipe, or if black water is found, the property will require disinfection to make it safe and clean for habitation.
Once all water damage has been mitigated, the emergency restoration company will sanitize and deodorize the property, to verify there is no lingering moisture smell and that your house is once again suitable for living.
How do you restore a fire-damaged house?
In case of fire, mitigation deals with two important consequences: water damage and smoke damage.
The fire mitigation crew will first inspect and evaluate the damage to the building structure and to your belongings by both the water used to put out the fire and the smoke.
The specialists will then make an inventory of what is salvageable and what is not.
They will dispose of everything that is beyond repair or cleaning. This includes belongings, burnt floorboards, carpets, and other features. Fire-damaged areas of the house will be cordoned off from the rest of the house so that restoration work can begin there.
The crew will then remove all soot from any salvageable items and return them to their previous condition.
Once the initial fire inspection is complete, the steps below will be followed:
1. Water damage during a fire
The water used to put out a fire often causes its own damage. This water can linger on, especially in basements and behind walls, and cause mold.
A professional mitigation company will remove water with powerful pumps and will verify there is no lingering moisture or mold in the house.
2. Smoke damage during a fire
Smoke infiltrates everything and needs specialized equipment to get rid of.
Specialized fire mitigation companies know there are different types of smoke such as wet, dry, or soot smoke. These require different approaches during the cleaning process.
The fire mitigation crew will use specialized equipment that absorbs soot and smoke from walls, floors, ceilings, and other surfaces. The crew has the appropriate material and equipment to remove smoke odor from buildings and make them livable and pleasant again.
Lingering smoke can permeate a building and linger on for a long time, making it highly detrimental to people’s health. Therefore, it is essential to remove it immediately and effectively.
Smoke deodorization is an essential step in making your home safe again.
3. Cleaning up fire retardant chemicals
A crucial step of fire mitigation involves cleaning up the fire retardant chemicals used to put out the fire.
While these chemicals are very good for limiting a fire, they should not be breathed in. A professional team knows how to clean up them and make your home safe to live in once again.
4. Restoring the damage
Once all of the above is complete, it is time for the restoration. In some cases, the fire damage is extensive and requires significant structural reconstruction.
Fire restoration involves repairing all the damaged parts of the house such as windows, ceilings, wooden floors, wooden beams, doors, etc.
Experienced emergency restoration experts will guide you through the reconstruction process.
Make the most out of a disaster
Natural disasters are called emergencies for a reason: they are distressing events. But they can also be an opportunity for you to make the changes you have been dreaming about.
If your insurance company pays for the restoration, you can invest a little extra money to make the improvements and changes you have been meaning to. A more modern kitchen? A remodeled bathroom? A new wooden floor? Perhaps a flood or a fire can be the extra push you need to make your dream home come true.
Whatever your need after a natural disaster, Valley Restoration and Construction can help. Our emergency mitigation & restoration crews will restore your house to its pristine condition. Contact us online or call us now on 970-964-4437!
Having pets around the house is always fun and enjoyable: they keep us company, play with children, and cuddle nicely on the sofa. Dogs look at you with those adorable puppy eyes that make you melt. Cats can be so persistent that you will agree to open the entrance door for the hundredth time, in case they do decide to go for a stroll around the yard.
But what do you do when your guests are allergic to cat hair? Or, even worse, if you are allergic to your dog?
With a few careful steps and adjustments, a house can be safe for pets and humans alike. Let’s take a look at how we can improve the quality of living in our house while having pets.
Is your guest allergic to dogs?
Many people suffer from pet allergies. Others just don’t like the hair and pet dander lying around the house. Whichever group you belong to, there are plenty of tricks to make your house as allergen-free as possible.
Carpets: pet allergens magnets
We all love a nicely carpeted house. Carpets and rugs make a house feel homely and welcoming. They also keep it warm during winter and are a pleasure to walk on barefoot.
However, they are also the leading place where mites, pet dander, pet hair, and other unwelcome and dirty substances linger on.
When people walk on carpets, the allergens are set free with every step. Carpets hold on to mud, dander, feces, and mud. These are all things we do not want in our house.
The obvious choice is to remove carpets and rugs from the house if there are animals walking around. However, if this is impossible, then the next best thing is to clean carpets thoroughly on a regular basis.
Steam-cleaning carpets is a good way to get rid of allergens. Another helpful approach is to vacuum clean the house with a vacuum cleaner that is fitted with a HEPA filter. HEPA filters trap harmful particles and allergens. A cleaner fitted with an activated carbon filter will remove even more allergens and particles from your carpets.
How can I reduce dust and pet hair at home?
A good way to clean your house from floating allergens is by ventilating your house to clean the air, either by opening the windows when the weather is good or by installing a good ventilation system.
An air purifier equipped with a HEPA filter will clean the air in your house by sucking and capturing the harmful particles and pathogens.
How do you control pet dander?
Bathing your dog(s) on a regular basis is beneficial because all the dirt, dust, and dander are washed away, instead of lingering on your upholstery or carpets.
Regularly brushing your pet’s coat is also a good way to control the allergens in your house.
Similarly, cleaning the litter box regularly and investing in hypoallergenic litter can be helpful.
Houses need to be safe for the sake of the animals but also yours. There are a few key things that every homeowner can do to make sure their house is secure with a pet around.
Pets and electrical cords
Cats and dogs love to play. Indeed, that’s one of the reasons why we want them in our lives.
However, electrical cords are not toys. Cats and dogs can risk electrocution if they chew or grab cords with their teeth or paws. Worse, entangled and chewed electrical cords are a fire hazard.
Make sure your electrical cords are well-insulated from dogs and cats and out of their reach.
Pets and house plants
We all love house plants: they add a natural touch to every home.
However, some indoor plants can be toxic to animals if ingested.
If your animals are curious by nature and like chewing and trying new things, make sure the plants you have indoors are safe for them. Otherwise, it’s better to remove them.
Pets and candles
Candles are always romantic, either during the festive days or all year round. We like to light up a candle in the evening indoors or even outdoors, on a nice warm day. But they can also be a fire danger.
Never leave your lit candles unattended around your pets.
Your pets may push them, grab them, or drop them on something inflammable.
Hide your garbage!
Cats and dogs are curious by nature. If your pet likes to search through your garbage bins, you may need to limit access to them. Either place the bins in a cupboard or equip them with a lid that pets cannot open.
Secure your furniture!
Cats love to climb and chase imaginary mice around the house. That includes jumping on curtains, the kitchen shelves, and furniture.
Although this can be exhilarating for the cats, there is also a safety concern that homeowners need to take care of. All furniture should be secured on the walls so that there is no danger of it falling on the floor and landing on someone’s head. Similarly, curtains and curtain rods should be safely installed on walls.
Life with a pet is fun and highly entertaining. With a few adjustments, your home can be a safe, secure, and clean environment for both you and your four-legged companions.
If you need help cleaning up after your pets, Valley Restoration and Construction can help! We have the know-how to restore your house to its pristine condition. We also specialize in tile-floor and HVAC duct cleaning. Contact us now online or call us on 970-964-4437!
Few things are more valuable than the air we breathe. But how clean is the air in your house, especially in the winter?
During the winter months, most of us spend a lot of time indoors as going out can often be a bit challenging. Spending time at home with our loved ones is lovely. So is sitting by the fireplace or cooking. However, all this also means that we breathe in air that has not been renewed or cleaned.
Smoke from the fireplace or the stove, steam from the cooker, or dust from the carpets can produce harmful particles in the air we breathe. Even burning candles, while romantic, harms the air we breathe.
So, how can we make sure that, even in the winter, the air in our house is as clean and fresh as possible?
How dirty is the air in our houses?
The air in our houses can often be dirtier than the outside air.
There is a surprising amount of potential pollutants inside a house. For instance, pets can spread pet dander and hair into the air. Mold can develop in the bathroom due to leakage or poor ventilation. An open fireplace will circulate smoke and ash particles through the house. A gas cooker may have an undetectable leak that compromises the quality and purity of the air. And the ventilation system might not be working properly, failing to clean the air around the house.
Here are some things you can do to keep the air clean around the house.
The easiest way to clean the air in the house is to clean the house itself.
Dusting and vacuuming remove harmful particles and mites from rugs and carpets. Vacuum curtains and other textiles such as throws and cushions, especially if animals sit on them.
Cleaning surfaces like tables, chairs and other furniture with a damp—but not wet—cloth removes dust and other allergens.
Remember that, some cleaning products may contain harmful chemicals that can trigger your allergies. You may prefer to choose natural cleaning products such as vinegar or soda or opt for shop-bought nontoxic cleaning products.
Our first impulse in winter is to keep our windows shut. It makes absolute sense because we don’t want the cold air from outside entering our house.
However, opening the windows, even for a few minutes, is a great way to clean the air inside the house.
Choose a day where outside humidity is low and open the windows to get some fresh air inside the house. Try to open several windows: the resulting draft will clean the air throughout the house.
Pets are a lot of fun. They are also a source of allergens, but that’s no reason to get rid of Fido!
If you are concerned about the quality and cleanliness of your house air, brush your dog’s coat on a regular basis. This will remove excess hair, which would otherwise fall on the carpets and rugs. Bathing your dog regularly also minimizes pet dander and other airborne particles.
Cleaning the dog’s paws after a walk in the park will limit the accumulation of mud and traces of feces on your floors.
Mold is an important cause of poor air inside the house.
Mold tends to develop under sinks, around pipes, and in places in contact with water. It’s a good idea to check your bathroom for leaks and any wet and damp areas. If you see black spots, it could mean that you have a mold problem. Try cleaning the spots with bleach.
The best solution is prevention: check regularly your plants, pots, and drip trays under the fridge for mold growth.
Also, check your shower curtain in the bathroom for signs of mold. If you see any, clean the spots with bleach or detergent, or wash the shower curtain in the washing machine.
Ventilation is the best way to circulate clean air in your house. However, you need to make sure that your ventilation system works properly and the vents are clean from dust.
Clean regularly the filters in the ventilation system: dirty filters cannot clean the air properly and may even worsen the problem.
Air purifiers and dehumidifiers
Air purifiers with the appropriate filters can clean up the air around your house quickly and thoroughly. You can purchase an air purifier with HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters. These clean the air more efficiently from toxins and pollutants. Also, some air purifiers have activated charcoal to remove odors—something that is always helpful.
Think about installing a dehumidifier to lower the humidity inside the house: lower humidity means less mold.
Lower house humidity also prevents the development of mites, as they thrive in high-humidity conditions.
Gas leakages can go unnoticed but can severely harm the quality of our indoor air and may ultimately be dangerous to our health.
Test regularly the carbon monoxide levels in your house: carbon monoxide levels increase when the fuel (gas) is not burnt completely and fully, leaving residue.
Household appliances such as gas fires, central heating, and cookers can be leaking carbon monoxide. It’s a good idea to have all your gas appliances checked every year to make sure that they are efficient and burn the fuel properly.
Things to avoid
While cleaning, vacuuming and ventilating are very good instincts to keep your house air clean, you can also be pro-active by avoiding certain practices.
The first and foremost is that no smoking should be allowed in the house. Smoking is the primary source of dirty air in a house.
Another helpful step is to take off your shoes when entering the house. Our shoes can bring in the house dirt, mud, feces and many pathogens that we would probably prefer to leave outside our house.
Burning candles is a very comforting habit but it pollutes the air in the house because of the smoke it produces. If you don’t want to avoid it completely, it would be good to limit the use of candles.
Air fresheners are chemicals that mask the smell without cleaning the air. Although they can smell wonderful, they don’t really have a purpose in cleaning the air in your house. If anything, they are adding more chemicals to your indoor areas.
If you suffer from severe allergies, it might be good to consider taking off wall-to-wall carpeting and large rugs from your house. No matter how well and how often you vacuum them—even with a HEPA vacuum cleaner—dust mites and allergens are bound to stick to their surfaces, aggravating allergies and asthma attacks.
And if you get fed up cleaning your house on your own, Valley Restoration and Construction can help! We have the know-how to restore your house to its pristine condition. We also specialize in tile-floor and HVAC duct cleaning. Contact us online or call us now on 970-964-4437!
Few people enjoy the vacuuming, mopping, dusting, and washing associated with cleaning. Cleaning with children running around, however, is even less fun—and much more stressful! Is there any way to make it a little easier?
Involving children in the cleaning process can actually be enjoyable: it can keep young children occupied. It can also teach them some valuable and practical lessons for the future. And, most importantly, your house will be clean without you keeling over with exhaustion.
You may be surprised by how much young children and toddlers want to participate in household chores. It gives them a sense of self-worth and confidence and makes them feel they are old and can master responsibilities in the house. Take advantage of this willingness; it won’t last forever!
Cleaning your house with children
Carpet-cleaning or asbestos removal may be a bit hard for kids. Even toddlers can, however, pick up toys and put them back in their respective boxes. If the boxes are colorful, you can teach toddlers the colors by asking them to separate their toys and put them in specific colored boxes.
They can also perform simple tasks such as cleaning mirrors and windows. Even if they leave a few smudges, your mirrors and windows will be cleaner than before, when they ran their chocolate-covered fingers on them.
Dusting is also something children can do. Dusting lowers the levels of dust and allergens in the house, which is a very good cleaning instinct. Direct your children to surfaces empty of decorations and relatively low-lying so that they can safely reach them. Discourage toddlers from climbing on ladders, as this can be dangerous.
You can also teach children to air their bedroom. Bringing fresh air in your house means fewer allergens, cleaner air, and less mold. Ask them to open their bedroom window and then explain to them they have to count to ten five times before they close their window again. As a bonus, this will keep them occupied for a while and out of mischief.
Folding laundry can also become a game with children. Ask them to organize the clean laundry according to color. Most children enjoy color-coordinating and this can be fun for them, while it will save you time from cleaning and tidying up.
Garden chores and children
Children love the outdoors. Make the most of it by giving your children simple and easy tasks to perform around the garden.
Children can rake a small path or gather the fallen leaves from the bottom parts of the gutters, thus unblocking them. Try finding a small rake that fits your child’s size. You can also ask them to cut dead flowers from flower beds and pots, thus de-cluttering the garden. Just keep an eye on them so that they don’t accidentally uproot your prized magnolias.
Children are amazingly observant and they are incredible at noticing things that are lower to the ground. You can invite them to take a look around the house and look for anything that seems broken, missing, or in need of mending. They might spot a broken tile on a low roof, a stone that needs fixing on the garden path or a gutter getting loose. This whole detection activity can be both a game for them and a lifesaver for your house.
Is it time to Marie Kondo your house? The more clutter in your house, the more things that gather dust and hinder any attempt at cleaning.
Toys, clothes, bikes, and any other things that your children are not using can be given away to charity. Sit down with your child and ask them to decide which toys they do not play with anymore so that you can donate them.
Decluttering can both help your future cleaning and teach your children the beauty of helping others.
Set some ground rules
It’s an inevitable fact of life. With children around, there will always be clutter, crumbs, and crayons lying around the house. However, you can save some precious time—and preserve your sanity—by setting up some ground rules. These will also be essential for keeping your house clean and tidy at all times.
The first rule is, no eating in the bedrooms or on the sofa. Crumbs attract insects. “Don’t let the bed bugs bite” sounds particularly sinister when there are actual bugs in your mattress. Similarly, eating on the living-room sofa is an accident waiting to happen. Cleaning a dirty sofa can be hard unless you hire a specialist cleaner.
No eating or drinking while walking around. Carpets are notoriously difficult to clean, even without crumbs. Adding crumbs to the dirty mix can make your carpets hard to clean and a breeding ground for dust, insects, and allergens. Moreover, spilled orange juice on a white carpet (not to mention cranberry juice) will take a long time to clean and the smell may linger on forever. Eating and drinking are for the dining table.
Only draw and paint in specific areas. Drawing is something that children love but crayons can end up everywhere and anywhere. They also tend to leave unsightly smudges that, again, may require a cleaning specialist. Prepare special areas or a specific table for drawing and painting. Place there all the crayons, pencils, markers, and papers, so that your children know this is the place where they will find all their painting materials.
Helping with the pet
If you have a pet in the family, you already know that pets are fun but also a big source of mess and dirt. Ask your children to brush your pet’s fur. A clean fur is better for the animal’s health and also holds fewer allergens and dust. Also, pets will shed less if frequently brushed.
After a walk in the rain, ask your children to clean your dog’s paws with some tissue. This means you will have fewer mud stains on your carpets.
Finally, children can help with cleaning the areas around the feeding bowls of dogs and cats, which tend to get messy.
Preventive cleaning tasks
Cleaning is necessary but it doesn’t have to be hard. Making sure you have fewer things to clean is the clever thing to do.
Set up a shoe rack at the entrance of your home for all shoes to go there. The lower shoe racks could be dedicated to your children’s shoes. Teach your children to put their shoes there once they have entered the house. This way, your carpets and floors will stay cleaner longer. Besides, it’s healthier to wear slippers rather than shoes in the house. Shoes bring dirt, bacteria, mud, and even feces from the street into your house. It’s best to avoid bringing these into your house.
And if you get truly fed up trying to clean the house on your own, Valley Restoration and Construction can help! We have the know-how to restore your carpets to their original luster. We also specialize in tile-floor and HVAC duct cleaning. Contact us online or call us now on 970-964-4437!
The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year and with good reason: festivities, lights, decorations… not to mention all the treats that make most of us go on a diet come January.
Children, in particular, love the lights and all the indoor and outdoor decorations that give the holidays an extra sparkle. But every year we hear of terrible accidents involving such decorations. Christmas trees alone have been known to cause over 13 million dollars worth of fire and property damage every year. This damage doesn’t include accidents with menorah candles, electrical issues with string lights, or kitchen fires!
How can we ensure that our festive days are full of joy and empty of tears?
Trees and Fire Don’t Match
If you are putting up a Christmas tree, make sure it is far away from the fireplace and any candles. For good measure, have a fire extinguisher close by or mark in your mind the closest fire extinguisher to the tree.
When choosing a fake tree, confirm that its label states that it is fire-resistant. Even so, don’t put it near a fireplace or any heating device. Secure its base to make sure your tree is not unsteady and save it from crashing on children… or cats.
If you opted for a live tree, remember that they can be highly flammable due to their sap. Also, remember to water it! Most conifers require cold to thrive. Placing a few ice cubes once a day will go a long way toward making your tree happy.
Avoid Fragile And Inedible Decorations
When it comes to decorations, unbreakable ornaments are invaluable. They will not break and are safe for crawling toddlers and mischievous pets.
Speaking of decorations, remember that young children tend to put everything and anything in their mouths. If you have a toddler at home, it’s best to invest in large, unbreakable ornaments that have no detachable small parts.
If you have any decorations that look like candy but are not, remember that said toddlers like to taste things. Avoid them until your children are old enough to understand what is real food and what is not.
Also, remember that certain plants can be poisonous when ingested: poinsettias, mistletoe, and holly can be potentially poisonous. Keep them out of reach of children and pets.
Candles are synonymous with the holidays. But they can also be a fire hazard! Whether you’re using a Kwanzaa kinara, a Haunnukah menorah, or an Advent candle, be sure to keep an eye on the candle’s flame.
Place candles somewhere where children and pets have no access.
Never leave an unattended candle burning; before leaving the house or going to bed, blow them out.
When opening presents and enjoying the presence of your loved ones, make sure you don’t knock candles off the table. Make sure the table or shelf they are on is stable, sturdy, and not wobbly.
Regarding your yard, make sure that you have cleaned any ice from the paths. It’s also good to rake any fallen leaves from garden paths and patios because people may slip on them.
Double-check that tree branches are sturdy and properly trimmed; if they fall, they could drag your Christmas lights with them.
The Fire Is So Delightful
Fire is delightful as long as it stays in the fireplace. Be careful about what you burn in it. Wrapping paper can catch fire instantly and spread fire sparkles.
Don’t burn your live tree at the end of the season in your fireplace; the burnt tree sap may build up on the chimney and clog it. A house reeking of smoke is not quite so delightful anymore.
Another fire hazard comes from overloaded power outlets. If you’re lucky, overloading will only shut off your power. If there is no circuit breaker, however, overloading could cause overheating. An overheated wire tends to melt, leading to fire… and not the delightful kind.
Light, Bulbs, Action
When it comes to lights, indoor lights are different from outdoor ones. Confirm you are using the proper ones for each situation. Don’t try using interior lights in an exterior environment unless the product specifically states the lights can be used outdoors.
When buying new lights, make sure they have been tested by the professionals who made them for safety. The packaging or a quick internet search will tell you if they’ve been lab tested by the ETL/ITSNA or UL.
Because plastic deteriorates over time, take a look at your lights if you have been using the same ones for a few years. Plastic polymerizes with time, making it fragile and exposing the wires underneath. Cracked insulation can lead to sparks; not the best idea when your lights are in contact with a tree branch. Make sure there are no exposed wires and the electric cord is not twisted.
Also, check your bulbs. If any bulbs are broken, change them after taking your lights out of the power socket.
Don’t run light cords at a long distance over the floor: these are accidents waiting to happen. If you’re so committed to tripping up your family, you may as well scatter banana peels around the tree.
Lights for external use are weather- and rain-resistant. When putting them up, don’t use nails or screws. You could drill the cord or wires by accident and damage the cord insulation. Use hooks and strings instead. If you’re plugging in exterior lighting, make sure it’s plugged into a GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter protected receptacle) outlet to protect from electrical shock.
If you are putting lights high up, make sure your ladder is safely positioned. It’s good to have another person helping you because bending and stretching on a ladder can be dangerous. It would be a pity to spend your holidays in crutches!
Also, remember to tightly fasten your lights and any outdoor decorations. Winter winds can blow them away and into Santa’s path. Wouldn’t it be a shame to get no presents because Santa was unable to reach your chimney?
Finally, don’t leave your lights on overnight. A simple timer will ensure they burn only for as long as you can enjoy them. Leaving them overnight is a fire hazzard – and pretty bad for the environment.
So, stay safe and enjoy the holiday season! And if you need any help with your holiday preparations (or any other time of the year), Valley Restoration and Construction can help! Contact us online or call us on 970-964-4437. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for fire and flood emergencies.
Winter is right around the corner, meaning any gardeners need to prep their gardens for biting cold air and snow.
For many, it’s hard to find the motivation to winterize your garden after all your hard work for the past two seasons. However, that doesn’t diminish the importance of preparing your garden for the colder months.
So, what are the things you’ll need to prepare?
Preparing the Structures and Tools
Pathways, tools, garden beds, and watering systems should all be considered when getting ready for the winter.
- Pathways: If you want to minimize excessive pavement cracking or isle slipperiness, try to clear out these pathways after most of the leaves have fallen. Clear pavements with a stiff broom or brush and some water. You can simply rake dirt or gravel paths to get rid of debris.
- Buildings: Autumn is a good time to repair any issues with your fencing or greenhouse since you no longer have to worry about the plants themselves. Pests and decaying wood should be treated or replaced as necessary.
- Water features: From waterfalls to ponds to fountains, it’s important to unclog any filtering or drainage systems and turn off any water that may run through the system’s piping. If you have a pond, fall is a great time to clean it out. However, it’s also important to keep the pond at a temperature that will keep it from freezing if you have fish inside!
- Lighting: This is purely aesthetic rather than necessary but it can make a big difference to your garden. People often find it relaxing to have decorative lights during the winter so their garden space doesn’t look so empty without all of the plants to fill it.
- Watering Systems: Taking the necessary steps to prepare your garden’s drip systems, hoses, and sprinklers is more important than you think. Not doing this could cause issues with piping and even lead to your watering systems breaking.
- Tools: Since you don’t have to care for your plants during winter, this is a great time to care for your tools. Sharpening and cleaning your gardening tools helps ensure a longer lifespan and more effective use in the future.
FAQ’s on Prepping the Garden Itself
- “What should I add to the soil in the fall?” Preparing your soil for spring by adding various kinds of nutrients in the fall can give these components more time to break down and become part of the soil when spring rolls around. Try adding bone meal, compost or manure, rock phosphate, and other plant-worthy nutrients and minerals.
- “Should I cover my garden in the winter?” Yes! There are many ways to cover your crops, though. Planting certain plants meant to last through the winter can help you avoid soil erosion as well as add nutrients to the soil. Covering a bed with compost first, then mulch can also protect the soil. Finally, you can cover your garden beds by snugly placing a simple mesh gardening cloth on the garden bed. Don’t forget to also wrap the trees!
If you experience any home disasters during the winter months (or any other time of the year), Valley Restoration and Construction can help! Contact us online or call us on 970-964-4437. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for fire and flood emergencies.