Disaster Restoration Tips for Residents

If you have suffered from fire, smoke, or water damage in your home, know that ServiceMaster RRH will be there when you need us. In the meantime, there are some ways to mitigate the water damage on your own.

Here is what you can do if you ever have water damage:

  • If the outside temperature is above 60 degrees, use dehumidifiers if you have them available.
  • Use fans to assist in drying as well as to circulate the air around the affected area.
  • Remove as much excess water as possible by mopping and blotting.
  • Wipe all the furniture dry.
  • Lift draperies off carpet, loop through a coat hanger, and place the hanger on the drapery rod to keep dry.
  • Prop up any wet furniture cushions for drying and place small wood blocks or aluminum foil under furniture legs.
  • Carefully remove wet area rugs or any other floor coverings.
  • Open furniture drawers, luggage, and closet doors to enhance the drying of contents.
  • Move belongings such as photos, paintings, and art objects to a safe, dry location.
  • Remove all wet fabrics and dry them as soon as possible. Hang furs and leather goods to dry separately and at room temperature.
  • Remove damp books from shelves and spread out to dry pages and covers.
  • If damage occurs during a cooler season, leave the heat on; if it is summer or warmer temperatures, use an air conditioner if available.

Important warnings:

  • Do not use an ordinary household vacuum to remove excess water.
  • Do not use electrical appliances while on wet floors or carpets.
  • Do not go into any rooms with standing water if the electricity is still on.
  • Do not lift tacked-down carpet without a restoration professional. Lifting the carpet incorrectly could promote shrinkage and further damage.
  • Do not wait to call a restoration professional for help. Damage from the water and bacteria growth can begin within hours.

What to do if you have smoke/fire damage:

  • Blow off or brush-vacuum loose soot particles from carpets, upholstery, and drapes.
  • Cover damp carpeting with towels or old linens to prevent additional soiling from foot traffic.
  • Discard open food packages in case of contamination.
  • If electrical service is off, clean out your refrigerator and freezers. Leave the doors propped open or place charcoal in the units.
  • Send clothing with heavy smoke damage to a qualified, professional dry cleaner who specializes in smoke damage.
  • Clean Formica and chrome fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom in order to prevent permanent tarnishing.
  • Wipe residue from all porcelain bath fixtures to prevent etching.
  • Wipe the leaves of both plastic and organic houseplants to remove smoke residue.
  • Change the air filter on your furnace, especially if it uses forced hot air.
  • Tape cheesecloth over outlet and intake air registers to capture any loose soot in the air. This is more effective if the cheesecloth is already damp.
  • If the outside temperature is above 60 degrees, make sure to air out the house to reduce smoke odor.

Important warnings:

  • Do not attempt to wash any papered or flat painted walls without consulting your professional restoration technician. Incorrect cleaning procedures could compound the soot residue and create further damage.
  • Do not attempt to clean carpets or upholstered furniture that are affected. Again, incorrect fire restoration procedures could increase fire damage.
  • Do not use electrical appliances that are in close proximity to fire or water damage before having them checked. This could cause malfunction.
  • Do not use ceiling fixtures if the ceiling is wet due to the risk of short-circuiting.
  • Do not touch anything covered in soot. Soot on your hands can permeate upholstery, walls, and woodwork, causing further fire damage.
  • Do not eat food that has been exposed to fire or smoke damage.
  • Do not wait to call for professional fire restoration help.

Health Precautions & Concerns

Bacteria & Mold Hazards Associated with Water Damage

Water damaged building interiors provide a prime environment for the growth and reproduction of mold and mildew. Mold relies on dead or decaying organic matter for food. Favorite foods for bacteria and mold are cellulose-based building material such as drywall, wood, and any soiled surface. Synthetic carpet fibers do not support microbial growth but the soils attached to these fibers do. These factors, coupled with a warm humid environment, are ideal for reproduction. Bacteria and mold can be hazardous to your health and may cause allergic reactions, arthritis, puffy eyes, chronic cough, rheumatism, asthma, depression, and headaches.

Breathing & Electrical Hazards Associated with Fire Damage

Structures affected by fire damage may have strong, potentially toxic, odors. Be sure to never enter a smoking or smoldering area without the proper breathing equipment. Fires can also compromise the building or home's electrical systems, presenting serious electrical hazards. Do not attempt to unplug burned appliances or equipment unless you are certain the power has been shut off. Failure to do so could cause electrical shock.

Residual water damage from fire fighting will add to the damage as mentioned above, creating health concerns. There may be fallen debris containing sharp surfaces and slip hazards. Emergency restoration services may be necessary to stabilize the structure, make it safe for occupancy and restoration, and mitigate against further damage.

Asbestos Safety

Federal, state, and local regulations require owners and operators of commercial buildings and structures to conduct asbestos surveys. You can rely on ServiceMaster RRH to comply with federal, state, and local EPA and OSHA regulations while performing work. For more information on regulations in Wisconsin, log on to http://www.envcap.org/srl/srl.php?srl=1&state=WI.