Tag Archives: emergency

The Flu and Other Cold Viruses

Helping to stop the spread of the Flu and other cold viruses

Flu

The recent Coronavirus outbreak is certainly testing our preparedness and response to possible pandemics. It’s a serious reminder to how quickly things can escalate when it comes to viruses that can be spread person-to-person. Flu season comes every year with reminders on good practices to help prevent the potentially fatal illness, but it seems the cautions have heightened with the news of the new danger that’s traveling the globe. Even if you’re not quite ready to start stocking up to prepare for the possibility of a mandatory 2-week quarantine, you should at least start really working on improving your day-to-day practices to help prevent the spread of many illnesses. Here are some ideas to help you that.

Are you washing your hands for a full 20 seconds?

Set a timer on your phone for 20 seconds and while it runs see how many times you can hum happy birthday before the alarm goes off. Use that a measure to how long you should be washing your hands every time.

To work or not to work?

If you wake up and you’re obviously suffering from some illness like a cold or the flu then please do everyone a favor and unless you’re leaving to seek treatment, stay home. Rest up. Keep up on the fluids. Your co-workers should even thank you for considering their health too by you not wanting to risk sharing your illness with them.

When was the last time you cleaned your keys?

I’d bet if there’s two things you touch throughout the entire day it’s your phone and your keys. That includes touching them after or while visiting public places that are known to be breeding grounds for bacteria and that have surfaces to share viruses. Don’t just wash your hands after visiting these places, but also clean your phone and your keys that you probably touched in the meantime.

Clean, clean, clean…

Hopefully you all have at least that one person at your workplace that as soon as a sniffle is heard they are all around the place with the disinfectant spray or wipes. Why not make a schedule where someone is assigned to the beginning and end of every day to wipe all of the common surfaces? Each individual should wipe down their own pens, pencils, phones, staplers, etc. Wipe down common surfaces at home too.

Air purifiers & humidifiers for the win.

You can disinfect surfaces, but how do you clean the air? Air purifiers can be great at reducing harmful airborne germs and allergens, and studies have shown that keeping a relative humidity of more than 40% can reduce the flu virus survival rate. Between those two units and keeping up on changing your air filters you are making a significant increase in air quality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A week of hurricane preparation: Crucial steps to take

Hurricanes are a risk that all southern and eastern coastal communities are in danger of. The storms can form and can strengthen rapidly leaving little time for proper preparation. This list details things you can do within a week to help get your family and your home ready for the impact.

Waves_Storm

INSURANCE:

  • Pull out your insurance documents. Make note of your coverage limits and your deductibles. Consider how much you’d need to cover the cost to replace your home’s structure, your personal belongings and your automobile. Call your agent(s) to confirm that you understand everything correctly.
  • Make a video inventory of your entire house including inside drawers, closets, etc. For higher priced and valuable items make sure to get the make/model, serial number and any other information that would be required to prove the value. Upload the video(s) to the cloud.

Extra Tip: Anyone with a child renting their own place should make sure that they have an active renter’s insurance policy and that they follow these same steps.
EVACUATION:

  • Much like an emergency kit but not in place of, pack everyone in your household a bag or suitcase with everything they would need for 2-3 days such as outfits, chargers, weather gear, etc. Critical medicine, food and water should be in every bag in case one gets lost. Don’t forget to pack one for your animals!
  • Make sure everyone has a phone list of emergency contacts (at least each other, a local contact and a contact that is out of the area). These should be programmed into phones and a printed copy should be in every bag with instructions on where to go if you get split up. You should have a safe place planned locally and another safe place to meet should you have to evacuate.

Extra Tip: When cell service is bad a text message may go through when a phone call won’t. Plan basic, short text messages to be shared among your emergency contacts such as “Safe. At Mimi’s”.
PROPERTY:

  • Take any movable items outside your home and move them inside. For items that are too heavy or large to move in, use cables or chains to secure them down so they can’t be blown around.
  • Consider purchasing a heavy-duty gasoline container to be filled and stored it in a cool, well-ventilated area. You don’t want to wait for an evacuation order to start running vehicles and gas cans to the station. Not only could the station run out of fuel before you get there, waiting would take precious time from other preparations and delay your departure.
  • Prepare to board up. Measure all window and glass door openings (include the framing). Purchase plywood pieces and pre-cut them to fit your measurements. Some lumber stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s may even have a panel saw and can cut them for you. Grab a box of screws and a drill if you don’t have one.

Extra Tip: Consider purchasing a generator. If you do purchase one, first test all your carbon monoxide detectors, then pick a safe place that you’ll be able to run it. The running place should be outside in a well ventilated are (no garages or basements!), that is dry and where you can quickly connect to it. Watch this video by Lowe’s for some other important generator tips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaLamTvTQc0
Questions? Concerns? Recommendations? Give us a call or send us an e-mail. We’re happy to help!

Cleaning up after Cape Cod’s tornadoes

When you think of Cape Cod, Massachusetts what sort of weather dangers come to mind? Hurricanes and Nor’easters are common answers, but “tornado” isn’t common at all. Seeing the aftermath of this week’s high grade EF1s that impacted Yarmouth, Dennis, Harwich, Chatham and surrounding areas, that may change. Although Cape Cod wasn’t specifically prepared for the sudden impact of the rare weather event, the response of the towns and first responders was fantastic and thankfully no serious injuries have been reported.South Dennis, MA Tornado Weather 7/23/19

Once the storm had passed the sun came out for a moment allowing us a quick peek of blue sky. Although that tempted people to want to walk about and survey the aftereffects, local authorities urged everyone to stay inside. The hours after a natural disaster are the most crucial for restoration efforts. Immediate dangers need to be assessed, unsafe/impassible roads need to be blocked off and detour points need to be established, medial emergency responders need to be able to safely navigate the labyrinth of streets, utility emergency responders need the limited routes as clear as possible as they work to assess services, and as the tree blockades are found they need to be accessed quickly by fellers (because no one in need of an ambulance wants them stuck in a labyrinth of downed trees!). In addition to all that, downed wires are deadly and until they’ve been identified and secured it’s simply not safe.

Cape Cod Tornado Damage Willow Tree Uproots in Brewster, MAWith any natural disaster first you assess and secure, then clean-up and restore. Any serious wind event brings a surge of calls to professional restoration companies from property owners who’ve had trees fall on their home or business. The first thing to do is remove the tree from the structure. Once that is safely done and the tree is on the ground it’s important to immediately board-up any openings it created. After the property has been secured then it’s time to assess the interior damage.

When it comes to insurance coverage this is where things can vary significantly from owner to owner. The deductible on a policy is the portion you are personally responsible for paying out of pocket on a claim. Some policies have a special wind deductible that is different than the standard policy deductible (and often quite larger). If you have a wind deductible on your policy and the wind of the storm toppled a tree on your home then that’s the deductible you’ll be looking at paying with your claim. Other policies may narrow the criteria of the special deductible to hurricanes and named storms, not all wind events. An interesting exclusion we’ve run into on some calls is that although some insurance companies may include the cost to remove the tree from the structure in the claim, removing the tree from the property may not be included and then it’s up to the homeowner to get it chopped up and moved away (or stacked to season for cozy winter fires). These variables and this week’s storm are reasons why our monthly maintenance checklist schedule has you review the different deductibles of your policies with your agent at least once a year.

Cape Cod Tornado Wind downs Brewster Tree at Farm The support and acts of kindness seen and heard around the community have our hearts overflowing. Let’s keep that strength showing. If you see a first responder, thank them. If you’re still without power, be patient. Crews are still working around the clock to get you back up and running. A smile and snack will help them do that more than any complaint ever will. If you’ve offered a helping hand, even something as simple as checking in on your elderly or ill neighbors, thank you!

Have any questions about emergency board-up services or natural disaster response? Send us a message or give us a call! Sharing and supporting the #CapeStrong spirit? Show us on Facebook or Twitter! @whalenrestoration @whalenservices

 

Burst Pipes! Preventing, Thawing & Fixing

Brrr, what a cold snap!

Picture_Whalen Blizzard (7)

Not only is it below 32 degrees F, with the wind chill and the heavy rain yesterday we have a recipe for severe pipe freezing. You can take a few simple steps to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting, but if it’s too late there are other steps you can take to lessen the damage they cause.

To Prevent Frozen Pipes

  • If the property is only a seasonal property used in the warmer months, winterize it when not in use.
  • If you’re going away for a few days turn the water main off and open your faucets.
  • Keep your thermostat no lower than 65 degrees F day and night. Make sure you have enough fuel for your heating system, and have the system checked annually by a licensed professional.
  • Keep all your interior doors open so warm air can easily circulate. Open doors to cabinets that have plumbing running in them.
  • Make sure any exterior walls that have plumbing in them are insulated.
  • For pipes in un-heated areas, wrap them with insulation. Self-sealing foam insulation is easy to install, comes in different sizes to suit your pipes and is very affordable! Don’t forget the corners. They make special pieces for those, or you can miter the corners of straight pieces and foam tape the joint.
  • Seal any holes to the outside of your home (like where you may have had to drill for cable wire access) with expanding foam or calking.
  • Before freezing temperatures hit, make sure to shut off exterior water supplies like outdoor spigots and showers.
  • Install frost-free spigots. After installation you should still shut off the water supply and drain them before the temperatures start to dip below freezing.
  • SMART Tip: Install water detection sensors and/or smart thermostats. Something to keep an eye on things while you can’t, and alert you if something does go wrong.

To Thaw Frozen Pipes

Maybe the cold snap came as a surprise, or maybe the heating system failed at just the wrong time. Whatever caused the pipes to freeze, there are things you can do to property thaw them and hopefully avoid any breaks.

  • If you turn on the faucet and water doesn’t flow out, the plumbing is probably frozen. Leave the faucet open.
  • If you’re not sure where the freeze is, or if you can’t get to the frozen area, call a licensed plumber.
  • If you know where the freeze is and can easily access it, make sure to thaw it slowly and very carefully. Start by turning up the thermostat to increase warmth in the area.
  • SLOWLY apply heat to the frozen section of the pipe. A hair dryer would work well. You could also use a heat gun, but NEVER use an open flame device. Once the water is able to start working its way past the freeze it will help unfreeze the section. If you’re successful you should hear the water finally running out of the open faucet. Double check for any leaks!

What to do with Burst Pipes

First off, don’t panic. These things happen, and there are professionals who can help you with this exact situation.

  • Start by turning the water off at the main. If you can’t get to the main, you can call the town and request that it be shut off at the street. Assess if your heat and electricity are working (as long as you can do so safely!).
  • Call a licensed plumber to fix the broken pipe.
  • Call a property damage restoration specialist to help you with emergency mitigation services (Whalen Restoration Services to the rescue!). You’ll want the water extracted, any wet structure treated with an antimicrobial treatment, and you may need some drying equipment to run for days.
  • If the water has affected your electricity, call an electrician to get that back up and running so you can power lights and drying equipment.
  • If the water has affected your heating system (or if the system failing was what allowed the pipes to freeze) have a professional assess it and get it back up and running as soon as possible to prevent any additional damage from the cold.
  • Call your insurance company and report the claim.

Now these may not be in the exact order that you’ll need to do them, but it’s a great checklist.

Questions? Concerns? Reach out to us! We’re happy to help!

Flooding on Cape Cod

We’ve seen many storms and some pretty nasty winters the last few years here on Cape Cod, but last week was certainly something different for the area. While locals braced themselves for a storm after sustaining a long cold snap they didn’t quite expect to be facing such a major flood situation.

Provincetown’s high tide just after noon measured a whole 4’ higher than the previous tide, hitting a total height of over 10’ and turning Commercial Street into a river. Not only did the tides raise, the groundwater level rose so places like dirt crawlspaces flooded and all of the melting snow didn’t drain completely into the ground. Some areas reported surges that exceeded those of the historic Blizzard of ’78!

Eastham, MA Storm Surge Flooding

Not only were areas of the Cape being devastated with storm surge and groundwater damage, the warmer temperatures thawed homes with frozen pipes causing water damage in other areas.  We can’t stress enough the importance of winterizing your home if you’re going to be away for an extended period of time. Even if it’s just a short while, make sure someone checks in on it, that your water is off and that your heat is on. Open your cabinets under sinks to allow for the warm air to flow to the plumbing. If you’re away often, purchase a water detector for damage prone areas like the basement to alert you as soon as water is detected, and Wi-Fi enabled thermostats so you can monitor the temperature in the house.  These things help you act fast when disaster strikes so you can minimize the amount of damage you sustain.

Complicating matters even further were the power outages. Most heating systems rely on electricity to work so when the storm knocked out power to areas it also knocked out the heat. Later that night temperatures dropped to a deep freeze.  It was a recipe for disaster. Pipes were even freezing in homes that were primary to the residents and the heat was on. It was really that cold, and the wind was that strong that it froze pipes in their exterior walls and ceilings.

Although there are a lot of areas where homeowners are required to purchase flood insurance because of their location on FEMA’s flood maps those policies don’t cover damaged contents. Think of all of the things that people keep in their basements; seasonal clothes, pantry items, extra furniture, etc. Finished basements could be entire bedrooms, offices and TV rooms. Flood insurance at least covers damage to burners and electrical equipment, but the cost to not only replace but dispose of all of the contents can be in the thousands.

“25% of homes with flood claims each year are in low risk zones.”

It has been a real eye opener. As restoration efforts continue and our crews remain available round-the-clock for emergency services we hope that everyone really takes a look at the measures they have in place for such disasters to protect themselves, their business and their homes from future events. It’s obvious the weather patterns continue to change, and the storms seem to be getting stronger, so please, stay safe out there and make sure you prepare for all of the possibilities.