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Recovering Emotionally From A Major Fire

Fire do more than just damage buildings and homes.  They cause quite a bit of emotional distress as well.  If you are a victim of fire or are helping one, you personally understand the grief, anxiety, and helplessness that can result.  Treasured items such as pictures, heirlooms, and keepsakes are often priceless.  While other items such as important documents, work files, and certificates require tedious efforts to replace.  Furthermore, one’s sense of security can wane after a destructive fire leading to a wide range of reactionary emotions.

How can you recover from the flurry of emotions that can come upon you after a major fire?  Below are some proven tips that may help you to do so.

Coping & Recovering

Never underestimate the stress and challenges that can come with evacuating, relocating, and rebuild your life after a major fire.  It is often better to plan each stage in small step so that you do not become overwhelmed easily.  Recovering from a major fire usually requires time, so prep yourself mentally to be patient.  Additionally, consider the following:

  • Try to get a good amount of rest every day. Stress is compounded when your sleep pattern is altered.
  • Avoid turning to alcohol or other mood-altering drinks or drugs (unless they are prescribed by your physician).
  • Make use of family and community support. When you have an opportunity talk to a listening ear about your experience.  Also, listening to others who have had similar disasters may give you a different perspective about your tragedy.
  • Exercise, meditate or involve yourself in a hobby during waiting periods (times when you cannot advance your recovery project). Doing so will help you to avoid worrying about your situation.
  • Never try to suppress how you feel. If you need to cry, do so.  Just try to figure out healthy and helpful ways to release or redirect your emotions.

Over the years, we have aided several families and businesses with fire disaster recoveries.  Are you experiencing the effects of a life changing fire?  Give us a call.  ACR Services DKI is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  (866) 789-4379

 

Getting Organized After a Fire

Dealing with the after effect of a major fire to your home or business can be overwhelming and stressful.  Over a series of weeks, you’ll likely be in contact with several entities who’ll need you (or your chosen representative) to provide a variety of information.  If you have a family or several employees to communicate with as well, you can imagine how hectic a fire recovery can be.  Over the years ACR Services DKI has assisted families and businesses in Oxnard, Camarillo, Malibu, Santa Barbara, Thousand Oaks, Ventura and Westlake Village, California to recover from major fires.  The best thing that you can do to reduce stress after a fire is to get organized. Below are a few after fire disaster organizational tips that may come in handy.

Build a Fire Recovery Folder

If you are going to be the main contact for your fire recovery, keeping a record of documents is one of the best ways to operate.  Whether you keep a digital folder (like an Evernote or OneNote file) or a physical binder, be sure to keep it updated regularly with more than just paperwork and receipts.  Include notes from conversations with your insurance agent and the restoration service provider of your choice.  Let anyone you are involved with in your recovery process know that you are taking notes and ask for names of who you are speaking with for your files.  Record the date and time of your conversations.

Miscommunications can mean serious setbacks in terms of when and how your fire recovery takes place.  So it is vital to communicate effectively with your insurance agency and restoration provider.  At ACR Service DKI, we eliminate communication misfires by contacting your insurance provider on your behalf.  Our team also can handle any tedious paperwork for you and simply have you review it before submitting it to your insurance agency.  ACR Services DKI is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Call us at (866) 789-4379 for assistance.

Preparing For The 2016 Wildfire Season

Wildfire seasons are always tragic, causing a great demand for fire damage restoration services.  If you are in or near a wildfire area, you probably know that preparation is not optional—it can save your life. About $28.5 million was spent by San Diego County during 2014 for wildfire response. This year’s season has an even worse outlook, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Because the state missed out on torrential rains, conditions for wildfires are much higher than the norm.  ACR Services DKI stays in a state of readiness to help families and businesses prepare and recover from wildfire emergencies.  Our service area includes Oxnard, Camarillo, Malibu, Santa Barbara, Thousand Oaks, Ventura and Westlake Village, California.

With dry soil and low mountain snowpack, there are reportedly 2 million households that are at risk, falling in between high to extreme levels of risks. So, are you sure you are prepared for the upcoming San Diego County Wildfire Season?

Take Time to Prepare

Detailed information is provided every year, and reminders are also distributed to help you avoid being a wildfire victim. Reviewing and checking your property’s perimeters so you can take all of the proper actions to try to prevent being a fire victim. Being properly prepared may save more than your property, it could also save your life. Consider the following preventative measures:

  • Keep your lawn mowed its grass at a maximum height of 4 inches. Rake up of any dead leaves, grasses, plants, or weeds.
  • Remove all pine needles, leaves, and other flammable debris from your gutters and roof.
  • Make sure you trim any dead tree branches that hang over your roof and make sure a 10 gap rests between trees.
  • Don’t leave exposed woodpiles. Use flame resistant storage containers.
  • Any shrubs or plants should be removed from your wooden deck and window areas.
  • Don’t mow when it is windy or very dry. Mow when the dew point is at its highest, which is before 10 a.m.

Have an enjoyable summer that is prosperous and safe. Take the wildfire season seriously and help your neighbors if they are having difficulty getting ready. Only a community effort can help limit the damages and weather the season. When it comes to San Diego fire water damage restoration, you can rely on All Seasons Restoration.

ACR Services DKI is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Call us at (866) 789-4379 for assistance.

 

The Why and How of Mold Abatement

Mold (those fuzzy patches of green, black, brown, and other colors) can spring up just about anywhere there is sufficient moisture.  That can be a humid bath, kitchen, or laundry room or the result of a tub overflow, plumbing leak, or flooding.  Prompt professional treatment is vital in order to avoid health issues and building damage.  It’s also important to keep in mind that many severe mold problems are completely hidden from view.

What is Mold

Mold is a type of fungus that needs only dampness and a bit of food to grow.  That food can be wallpaper, the paper on drywall, wood, cloth, and more.  Not a plant it doesn’t need light to grow, and actually prefers dark places.  Growing just about everywhere outdoors it spreads through invisibly small spores that float through the air.  Easily brought indoors those spores can reach just about anywhere, including inside air ducts and within walls.

There are many different species of mold, each with its own particular health hazards and best treatment.  The most notorious is black mold.  Spreading quickly, expanding rapidly, and releasing harmful toxins.

Hidden Problems

Severe mold outbreaks can occur completely hidden, often under carpet or inside walls.  It’s most common in high-humidity areas such as baths and crawl spaces, but can happen just about anywhere.  If you’ve experienced a plumbing leak or flooding of any sort, a professional inspection is highly recommended as harmful growth can happen in as little as 1 to 3 days with no visible symptoms.

Symptoms

Beyond visible signs, you may notice musty odors.  Hidden mold is especially insidious as your only evidence may be health issues that you might assume have some other cause.  Mold releases allergens and many species also release various toxins.  So you may notice an increase in allergies, asthma triggers, and/or symptoms that mimic a cold or flu.  You and your family may also experience eye, nose, throat, or skin irritation.  Vigilance is vital, as prolonged exposure to toxins can lead to serious organ damage.  If you have any suspicions at all, it’s time for expert inspection and testing.

Mold Remediation

Physical mold removal itself is straightforward, but that’s surrounded by some highly technical procedures.  Due to the significant health hazards and the possibility of spreading rather than eliminating the problem, the industry is highly regulated.  Mold removal should be performed only by licensed companies with certified technicians and all of the necessary equipment.

Preparation and Precautions

The first step is expert inspection and testing to determine the extent of the problem, the species involved, and best mold remediation method.  Next comes isolation to prevent spores, allergens, and toxins from spreading to other areas of the building.  This step includes installing plastic sheeting as barriers, negative air pressure exhausting to the outdoors, and continually running HEPA air filters to remove microscopic contaminants from the air.  Worker protection is paramount, and includes protective clothing, gloves, and special face masks.

Mold Removal

The actual mold removal may use one or more methods including antimicrobial wipe down, sanding, wire brushing, and HEPA vacuuming depending on circumstances such as the type of materials affected and the specific species of mold.  Removal must be thorough and absolute complete to avoid regrowth, and affected porous materials such as drywall must be replaced.  All materials and debris should be removed from the isolated work area in sealed plastic bags to prevent spread, and then disposed of properly as hazardous waste.

Restoration

Once follow-up testing gives the all-clear, repairs can be completed.  In some situations building materials may be sealed against moisture, and odor removal treatments may be called for.

Prevention

There are several actions homeowners can take to prevent mold problems.  If you’ve already experienced and outbreak they’re especially important after mold abatement services.

  • Assure adequate ventilation in areas such as baths, kitchens, and laundry rooms.
  • Maintain indoor humidity at or below 45%.  You may want to purchase an inexpensive meter and make a few checks throughout the year.
  • Make sure that there are no roof leaks and that windows and doors properly seal out moisture.

 

5 Things Needed to Save Your Home from Water Damage

Although we are at the end of the rain season and El Nino’s fury was less than furious, there are still a  number of ways that your home can suffer from water damage.  Soil types that are acidic slowly corrode metal pipes eventually leading to pipe bursts and cracking.  Also, drain backups, foundation shifts, and miscellaneous plumbing stressors can result in water damage.

Water damage can be incredibly stressful, especially when you’re unsure of the extent of the damage. When in doubt, call a professional.  ACR Services DKI assess and repairs water, mold, wind and fire damage.  Take a look at a few of our projects to see how we can help you.

Even if you haven’t received water damage, these five must know tips will help prepare you in the event that you receive water damage.

Flood Damage and Water Damage Have Different Insurance Policies

According to Mary Simms, a spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the number of Californian flood insurance policies rose by 30 percent between August 2015 and January 2016.  However, water from a flood and water from a burst pipe are two different types of damage. If you live in an area that has a high chance of experiencing a flood, then you more than likely already have a separate policy through the National Flood Insurance Policy. When you report a claim to your insurance company, make sure you tell them whether the water damage is from a flood or water damage so that they can adjust your claim accordingly.

Your Insurance May Not Cover All Types of Water Damage

It may be a good idea to look over your insurance policy and find out exactly what it covers. Not all water damage is covered by all companies. In fact, most policies cover sudden damage, but they don’t cover damage that occurs from poor maintenance, such as a slow leak that causes damage over time.

It’s Better to Fix Water Damage Sooner Rather Than Later

When your property has suffered water damage, you have a very short window to fix it. Water damage can lead to mold growth, which creates several health risks. It can take as little as 24 to 48 hours for mold to start growing on a wet carpet or drywall. Once mold begins growing on your property, you may have to hire a professional mold remediation service to treat and remove it safely.

Inform Your Insurance Company As Soon As You Spot the Damage

When you discover water damage, contact your insurance company immediately. They will guide you through the early steps of the process and help make sure you do what you need to prevent the damage from spreading.

Don’t Ignore the Pollution Level of the Water

Water damage is categorized by the level of pollution in the water.

  • Category 1 – The water comes from a clean source, such as a dishwasher.
  • Category 2 – The water can make some sick through touching it. This water may contain bacteria.
  • Category 3 – The water is contaminated and contact with it can cause illness or death. This water usually comes from sewage backup or an overflowing toilet.

Be mindful of the fact that even if the source of the water is category 1, it can still come into contact with pollutants that will elevate it to category 2 or 3.

ACR Services DKI is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Call us at (866) 789-4379 for assistance.

 

Smoke Odor Removal

After any fire, smoke and odor removal are an important part of the clean up.  You may get used to the smell, but it can be a reminder of a very traumatic time whenever you return from a vacation or business trip.  And your guests will always notice.  Even a small kitchen fire calls for professional treatment.

Besides the smell, smoke and soot are corrosive and can even damage metals and electronics.  So it’s vital to know where to look and how to properly clean away smoke, soot,and ash.  If not taken care of immediately, various compounds penetrate so deeply into porous building materials that they can never be removed.  Trying to mask odors, whether from fires, mold, or pet stains are at best a temporary solution.

Smoke Travel

We normally think of smoke as always moving upward, but actually it can travel in unexpected ways.  And that includes a tendency to go towards cooler areas not involved in the fire.  It affects drapery, furniture, bedding and mattresses, clothes, and even carpet.  It will settle in ductwork, where heating and air conditioning fans will distribute tiny particles throughout the building.  Just think about how cigarette smoke used to permeate everything.

Types of Smoke

Different kinds of fires produce different kinds of smoke depending on the burning temperatures and what’s burning.  The main types are dry smoke, wet smoke, and protein smoke.  Each behaves differently and requires different treatments for proper removal.  Most smoke is corrosive, damaging the surface of just about any kind of metal, and that includes both the insides and outsides of personal electronics, household appliance, and business machines.

Lingering Smoke Odor

Just about every type of smoke includes compounds that penetrate into porous materials such as fabrics, wood, drywall, and even unglazed ceramics.  That occurs quickly, and it will soon have penetrated so deeply that neither extraction techniques nor neutralizing treatments can reach it.  From there it will slowly “outgas,” causing lingering odors that can last for years.

Professional Smoke and Odor Removal

You should be starting to see why experience and expertise are so important in smoke odor removal.  Special processes, compounds, and equipment are necessary if further damage and ongoing problems are to be avoided.  And that work needs to be done as soon as possible.

The world-leading organization IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification) sets standards for the cleaning and restoration industry.  Any service you hire should be licensed, insured, and hold IICRC certifications in whatever work you need done.

Surface Cleaning

A thorough wiping, often with specially formulated cleaning solutions, can take care of smoke and soot on non-porous surfaces and belongings.  The latest in chemistry has also produced odor removal products that can penetrate and neutralize odors in porous materials.  They are usually followed by applying some sort of sealant as the process is rarely 100% effective.  Also keep in mind that smoke and other odors may penetrate too deeply for this type of treatment.

Blasting

“Blasting” is often used as part of the fire damage restoration process.  It’s not what it might sound like — it’s named after sand blasting, not explosions!  Soda blasting uses the same baking soda compound you may already be using to keep odors out of your refrigerator.  It’s sprayed with enough force that it removes char while absorbing odor-causing chemicals.  Dry ice blasting is also effective, and evaporates so that there’s no clean up afterward.

Ozone and Hydroxyl

Producing ozone using a very bright ultraviolet light or high-voltage electricity is also effective in removing odors of just about any type, as the reactive ozone breaks down their compounds.  It is sufficiently hazardous, however, that the building can’t be occupied during treatment and must be thoroughly ventilated afterward.  Another type of generator also uses UV light, but creates hydroxyl instead.  These generators must be kept close to the various odor sources, but can be safely used while the building is occupied or other restoration work is being performed.

 

Dealing With Water Damage

Many people are surprised by the amount of water damage that can occur from even a small problem such as a bathtub spill or plumbing leak.  One of the main reasons for this is that although harm begins right away it progresses slowly, hidden out of sight.

Flooding can come from a variety of plumbing issues such as a ruptured old pipe, leaking valve, burst water heater, or faulty appliance as well as from natural sources.  Here in Southern California flooding is rare, but heavy rains do occur.  So besides maintaining your plumbing, keep your gutters and down spouts clean and be sure that grading and landscaping cause water to flow away from your home or place of business rather than towards it.

What Sorts of Damage?

Water penetrates quickly and deeply into any porous building material.  That includes carpet and padding, wood flooring, and sub-flooring.  It can also wick up walls, as far as a foot or more.  Although you may be able to quickly dry out surface wetness,there will still be lingering moisture within and under the carpet and inside of walls.

In as little as 24 hours excess moisture can lead to extensive mold growth.  That can be completely unseen, as mold is a type of fungus that doesn’t need light to grow.  But wherever it is, it can quickly pose a serious health hazard and slowly damage many building materials.  Moisture itself causes wood to swell, warp, and split with the potential even for structural damage.  Most drywall (such as sheet rock and gypsum board) also swells, and then disintegrates.  Even with prompt water damage removal it’s often necessary to replace the lower parts of interior walls along with the carpet and padding.

What You Should Do?

If the source is a plumbing fault, the first step of course is to shut off the water supply using the valve at the water meter near the street or near the supply entrance to your building.  The next step is to shut off electricity to the area to remove the shock hazard.  If the source is a backed up toilet or sewer, your do-it-yourself efforts stop here.  Only professionals with proper protection should deal with those unsanitary conditions.  Otherwise, drain or pump out any standing water.  Then remove furnishings, draperies, and possessions so that they can dry out faster.  For minor flooding affecting only part of a room you can then use a towel or other absorbent material with pressure from your hands or feet to soak up as much wetness as possible.  You may want to lift up part of the carpet to speed drying and consider renting a wet-vac.  For anything more than a limited area you really need professional water damage restoration.  Otherwise the odds are against you and you’re likely to face serious mold and expensive damage a few days or a couple of weeks down the line.  By the time your realize it, it’s already to late.

Professional Water Damage Removal

Time is of the essence, so call certified experts such as those at ACR Services DKI immediately.  Sometimes even a few hours can make a difference in how much water damage restoration has to be done.  We’re available 24/7 for emergency service with a certified, thoroughly trained, and experienced crew.

Our powerful pumps remove exposed water as quickly as possible, then our special extraction equipment removes as much remaining wetness as possible — sometimes as much as twice that of wet-vacs.  Then our expertise really comes in to play when we deploy powerful air movers, refrigerant dehumidifiers, and other specialized equipment to dry out deep-down moisture.  Professionals like us can cut several days off that all-critical time to get the structure and contents down to acceptable moisture and humidity levels.  And we’ll continually monitor the situation to be sure that everything is proceeding as fast as possible and that structural drying is complete before we leave.  We’ll wrap up with mold remediation and odor treatments and any needed water damage restoration repairs.

Understanding Water Damage

Okay the worst has happened—your home is inundated with water. After you call a restoration professional for help and get your family situated, it would be a good idea to gain a better understanding of everything you can about water damage. Let’s start by considering three main concepts.

The Water Removal Process

Every water removal job begins with categorizing the type of water that is inundating the property. Each of the three types of water must be cleaned differently; therefore, understanding the water type is essential to building a process. The three water types are as follows:

  1. Clean Water (white water) refers to water that does not present any health threats. Usually the source of this water is a broken water line, overflowing toilet, sink, or appliance malfunction.
  2. Gray water denotes water that contains a number of biological toxins that pose health hazards. Continual exposure or consumption will cause health risks.
  3. Black water is wastewater. It contains urine and fecal matter in addition to pathogens.

Once the water type is determined, steps are formulated to remove the water from the property properly. Care is taken to remove all traces of moisture, which usually involves a dehumidification procedure. Lastly, items such as fabrics, carpets, dry wall and other materials that absorb water are dried and tested for structural strength.

Water Damage & Mold

Because mold spores float through the air, any elongated presence of moisture will likely result in mildew and mold growth. Mold and mildew can cause mild to acute health problems—especially to children, the elderly, and those who suffer from allergies. When mold is found in a home or business that is water damaged, restorers will take preemptive measures to make sure that the affected areas are completely rid of mold.
If disaster reaches you, follow the strict direction of Cal FIRE or municipal authorities. If your home has been struck by disaster, give us a call. We are available 24/7 to begin your fire damage restoration. We have long service record throughout the Riverside, San Bernardino, & Los Angeles communities in fire damage repair, smoke damage removal, and fire damage removal.