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Crime Scene Cleanup and Biohazards

4/2/2019 (Permalink)

Crime scene cleanup is a term applied to cleanup of blood, bodily fluids, and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). It is also referred to as biohazard remediation, because crime scenes are only a portion of the situations in which biohazard cleaning is needed. Such incidents may include accidents, suicides, homicides, and decomposition after unattended death. It could also include mass trauma, industrial accidents, infectious disease contamination, animal biohazards (e.g. feces or blood) or regulated waste transport, treatment, and disposal.

Types of cleanups

Crime scene cleanup includes blood spills following an assault, homicide or suicide. There are many different sub-segments, named primarily after additional collateral, contingency, or preconditions, regarding the presence of non-blood borne organics, toxic irritants (e.g., tear gas) or disease vectors. However, it is the legality of charging a fee for mitigating potentially harmful biohazard situations that differentiates a registered crime or trauma practitioner from any general restoration, carpet cleaning, janitorial or housekeeping service.

Business

Crime scene cleanup began primarily as a local or regional small business activity but maturity and consolidation has created some larger entities in the industry; only a few nationwide companies exist, although some national carpet cleaning and restoration companies franchises have added crime scene cleanup and biohazard removal to their services. Due to the legal and ethical complications crime scene cleanup is often its own business entity or a separate division.

Regulatory requirements

While the field of crime scene cleanup is not specifically regulated as a class, most if not all of the activities performed by biohazard cleanup teams in the United States are regulated or fall under best practice guidelines from governing and advisory bodies such as OSHA, NIOSH, DOT, and EPA. Those who hire a crime scene cleanup company should make sure that they are properly trained in applicable federal and state regulations and can provide documentation of proper biohazardous waste disposal from licensed medical waste transportation and disposal companies. If in California or Florida the client should confirm that the company is registered with the state Department of Health. A few states such as California, New York and Florida are the only states that explicitly require registration or licensing for crime scene cleanup. Other states may require biohazardous waste transport permits from the DOT.

Methods

The crime scene cleaners' work begins when the coroner's office or other official, government body releases the "scene" to the owner or other responsible parties. Only when the investigation has completely terminated on the contaminated scene may the cleaning companies begin their task.

Standard operating procedures for the crime scene cleanup field often include military-like methods for the decontamination of internal and external environments. Universal precautions recognized worldwide are the cautionary rule-of-thumb for this field of professional cleaning.

In popular culture and the media

In video games and visual media, crime scene cleanup takes center focus as the main objective in the game, Viscera Cleanup Detail.  Viscera Cleanup Detail is a PC game distributed through Steam that enables players to clean up blood and body remains after a Sci-Fi battle has occurred on a space station. Another example of crime scene cleanup in video games is Safeguard. Safeguard takes a more realistic and educational approach, enabling users to learn about the hazards of crime scene cleanup, as well as the equipment and tools used.  Safeguard also uses virtual reality to immerse users in the crime scene environment.

Somebody's Been Messing with our Head

4/1/2019 (Permalink)

Community Somebody's Been Messing with our Head April Fool's

SERVPRO of Washington/Woolwich attended a great job fair on Friday.  At Rowan University at Gloucester County.  There was 175 vendors there and a really good turn out of job seekers.  This is one of the biggest job fairs in this area and it was our honor to be asked to be a part of it.

When posting this picture, I noticed that the heads of the bobble heads were on the wrong bodies, Stormy was on Blaze and Blaze was Stormy!!  April fool's joke?  Maybe, but I found it and it won't happen again on my watch.

6 Disasters, Home/Property Insurance Won’t Cover!

3/28/2019 (Permalink)

When disaster strikes your home, Property Insurance, is supposed to be there to help you pick up the pieces. Most of the time, it does.

A Bank rate survey found that 81 percent were aware flooding is not covered by regular homeowners insurance. You may have heard earthquakes also require special coverage. Yet you may not know that there are other types of damage that are excluded from most policies as well:

Mold

At least 1,000 species of mold are common to the United States, according to the New York-based trade group the Insurance Information Institute.

Despite the threat, a standard homeowners insurance policy generally either limits coverage for mold damage or outright excludes it.

Some insurers offer an endorsement to expand coverage limits for mold claims but only if you are willing to pay more for your insurance, she says.

The best cure for mold is to prevent it from growing in the first place. If the basement floods after a rainstorm or a pipe is leaking, eliminate the moisture promptly.

Sewer backup

America’s sewer lines are rapidly aging, with some more than 100 years old. As more homes have been connected to these out-of-date lines, sewage backups have followed.

Other sources of backups include pipelines that handle both storm water and raw sewage — and become overwhelmed in rainstorms — and blockages from tree roots that work their way into sewer-line cracks.

When a sewer backs up into a home, it can damage floors, walls, furniture and electrical systems. Standard homeowners insurance does not cover sewer backups.

The Insurance Information Institute says sewer-backup damage often can be covered for an additional premium of just $40 to $50 per year.

Sinkholes

Sinkholes can seem like something out of a horror movie. For example, there was the Florida man who was swallowed up in early 2013 when a sinkhole opened without warning beneath his bedroom.

Sinkholes are sudden gaps in the earth’s surface that occur after groundwater gradually dissolves rock such as limestone and carries bits of it away, creating large pores and cracks in bedrock. Once large cavities form underground, the land above it may suddenly settle or collapse, creating the sinkhole.

In the United States, sinkholes tend to cause the most problems in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Pennsylvania, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Most home insurance policies will not cover damage associated with “earth movement,” such as an earthquake or sinkhole.

Florida is the only state in which insurers are required to provide coverage for sinkhole damage

Florida insurers must include insurance for “catastrophic ground cover collapse” — which refers to damage so severe, the home is uninhabitable — as part of standard homeowners insurance.

In every other state, earth movement is excluded from the insurance policy.

Termite infestation

Colonies of anywhere from a few hundred to several million termites can quietly and methodically devastate your home.

Wood, paper and dead plant material that is in contact with soil near the house provides termites with a ready source of food and an entry. And moisture accumulated around foundations and in poorly ventilated crawl spaces gives termites a source of water they need to survive.

Over time, termites can damage or destroy support beams and other wood features in a house. The National Pest Management Association estimates that termites cause $5 billion in damage in the U.S. each year.

If these unwanted guests cause wear and tear to your home, do not expect your insurer to bail you out.

Homeowners policies do not pay for termite damage.

Homeowners can avoid structural damage with early intervention.

Nuclear plant accidents

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, says nearly 3 million Americans live within 10 miles of an active nuclear power plant. If an accident at a nearby reactor leaves your home uninhabitable, standard homeowners insurance will not cover the claim. But that does not mean you will be unprotected.

A 1957 federal law called the Price-Anderson Act compensates people in the United States for any damage or injuries resulting from a commercial nuclear accident.

The law was called upon after the nation’s worst nuclear accident, at the Three Mile Island plant near Harrisburg, Pa., in 1979.

The insurance paid for the living expenses of families who decided to evacuate.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says an insurance pool of more than $12 billion is available to pay out claims.

Claims covered under Price-Anderson include:

  • Bodily injury.
  • Sickness.
  • Disease resulting in death.
  • Property damage and loss.

In addition, individuals evacuated from an affected area can expect reimbursement for reasonable living expenses beyond what you ordinarily pay. The coverage does not pay your mortgage, does not pay for your normal food bills.

Some acts of terrorism

The recent Boston Marathon bombings were a reminder that terror can strike at any moment.

The Insurance Information Institute says terrorist attacks using nuclear, biological, chemical or radioactive weapons are considered “acts of war” that are fundamentally uninsurable. Standard home insurance policies do not specifically reference terror attacks.

However, the policy does cover the homeowner for damage due to explosion, fire and smoke, these are the most likely types of damage a home would suffer in a terrorist incident.

If you own a condominium or co-op, the policy you carry on your individual unit will protect your structure and possessions from damage related to a terrorist attack.

However, damage to common areas — including the roof, basement, elevator, boiler and walkways — is not covered unless your board purchases separate terrorism coverage.

Termites can cause severe damage to Properties

3/28/2019 (Permalink)

Although termites are ecologically beneficial in that they break down detritus to add nutrients to soil, the same feeding behaviors that prove helpful to the ecosystem can cause severe damage to human homes. Because termites feed primarily on wood, they are capable of compromising the strength and safety of an infested structure. Termite damage can render structures unlivable until expensive repairs are conducted.

Structural property damage

Properties constructed primarily of wood are not the only structures threatened by termite activity. Properties made from other materials may also host termite infestations, as these insects are capable of traversing through plaster, metal siding and more. Termites then feed on cabinets, floors, ceilings and wooden furniture within these homes.

Because termites are often not identified before considerable damage has occurred, it is advised that homeowners experiencing a termite infestation contact a pest control professional before attempting to address the problem on their own. Professionals will conduct an inspection in order to correctly identify the problem and will then discuss possible avenues of treatment with homeowners. 

Signs of subterranean termite damage

Subterranean termites dwell underground in loose, damp soil. Although subterranean termite species in Africa are famously aggressive and known for the obvious mounds above their colonies, signs of subterranean termite damage within the United States are much less obvious.

Interior damage may not become apparent until infestations are full-blown. Termite damage sometimes appears similar to water damage. Outward signs of termite damage include buckling wood, swollen floors and ceilings, areas that appear to be suffering from slight water damage and visible mazes within walls or furniture. Termite infestations also can exude a scent similar to mildew or mold.

Subterranean termites also access above-ground food sources through mud tunnels they create from saliva, mud and feces. These tunnels are located near the foundation of infested homes.

Install termite shields. 

This can be especially helpful if you are currently constructing a home. These are metal shields put along the foundation of your home to deter termites. These should be made of a non-corroding metal with no gaps. This can prevent termites from getting access to the wood foundations or structures of your home.

Fire and Smoke Do's and Don'ts

3/27/2019 (Permalink)

 Do:

* Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpets.

* Keep hands clean. Soot on hands can further soil upholstery, walls and woodwork.

* Blow or brush vacuum loose soot particles from upholstery, drapes and carpets.

* Place clean towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpet traffic areas.

* If electricity is off, empty freezer and refrigerator completely and prop doors open.

*Clean and protect chrome on kitchen and bathroom faucets, trim and appliances with light coating of Vaseline or oil.

* Wash house plants on both sides of leaves.

* Change HVAC filter.

* Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers.

Don’t:

* Attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces without first contacting your SERVPRO Professional.

*Attempt to shampoo carpet or upholstered furniture without first consulting your SERVPRO Professional.

*Attempt to clean any electrical appliances, TV sets, radios, etc. that may have been close to fire, heat or water without first consulting your SERVPRO Professional.

* Use any canned or packaged food or beverages that may have been stored close to fire, heat or water. (They may be contaminated.)

* Turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet. Wiring may be wet or damaged.

*Send garments to ordinary dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set smoke odor.

SERVPRO of Washington/Woolwich

Fire & Water – Cleanup & Restoration

24 Hour Emergency Service

856-241-9997

How to Protect your Basement from Water Damage

3/27/2019 (Permalink)

Why SERVPRO How to Protect your Basement from Water Damage This basement had about a foot of water that needed to be extracted. The dry out process took 5 days

I just bought my first home.  Unlike most homebuyers who are looking for an open floor plan or a gourmet kitchen, my first stop was always the basement!  My favorite time to look at houses was in the rain, when I could determine if the basement was prone to flooding.  Several times, I walked into a house's basement and watched as water ran down the walls.  

Obviously, frequent water intrusion in your basement can cause issues with your foundation, and mold.  But most people don't know what to look for or how to protect their basement until after they've experienced a water damage.  What's obvious to me as someone who has worked in the restoration industry for 4 years may not be obvious to every homeowner, so here are some tips to help you stay dry!

  • Get a sump pump.  Get the sump pump rider on your insurance policy while you are at it.  If you have a sump pump and it fails, your homeowners insurance will not cover the damage.  Even if your home or business has never taken on water, it doesn't mean you are immune to it.  Get the sump pump and check that it's functioning properly regularly.
  • Consider a French drain or some other form of waterproofing.  Have a professional do the work.  Google the benefits.  You may be surprised!
  • Keep your gutters free of debris and position downspouts away from the foundation.  The goal is to drain water at least three feet away, so if necessary, consider running extensions or troughs.
  • If you haven't had your sewer inspected or your septic tank cleaned, now is a good time to do that.  During periods of prolonged, heavy rainfall, clogged sewers and over-taxed septic's are disasters waiting to happen.
  • If you have below-grade basement windows, install window covers that fasten securely to your foundation.  Clear acrylic covers allow light to enter while keeping out water.  
  • Check the age on your hot water heater.  They generally last about 10 years.  If yours has made it longer, that's not necessarily a good thing!  Don't wait for it to fail before you replace it.
  • If you use your basement for storage, build shelves at least 6 inches from the ground.  Store items in plastic bins.  Photograph everything you store down there in case you need to replace it later.  
  • If you have a finished basement, get a good-quality dehumidifier.  Consider tile floors or polished concrete over carpets.  

Let SERVPRO of Washington/Woolwich Clean Your Ducts

3/27/2019 (Permalink)

Ventilation systems can often be the biggest culprit of poor indoor air quality because many people allow HVAC systems to operate for some time without much attention or upkeep.  Your HVAC system could be circulating odors, dust, and other contaminants throughout your property.

A routine part of SERVPRO of Washington/Woolwich service is inspecting the heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit (HVAC).  Keeping the HVAC system and ductwork clean can potentially extend the life span of the equipment by allowing it to operate at peak condition, which can in turn save you money and give you cleaner air to breathe.

SERVPRO of Washington/Woolwich will inspect your HVAC system and ductwork and make recommendations about the best way to address any indoor air quality concerns.  This inspection can provide peace of mind on the health of your HVAC system and ductwork.  Benefits of servicing your HVAC unit include:

  • Helps to restore peak energy efficiency.
  • May help to eliminate offensive odors.
  • Helps reduce the potential for mold growth.

For more information on duct cleaning, or to set up an inspection or estimate, call SERVPRO of Washington/Woolwich at 856.241.9997

Mold facts

2/14/2019 (Permalink)

Microscopic mold spores naturally occur almost everywhere, both outdoors and indoors. This makes it impossible to remove all mold from a home or business. Therefore, mold remediation reduces the mold spore count back to its natural or baseline level. Some restoration businesses advertise “mold removal” and even guarantee to remove all mold, which is a fallacy. Consider the following mold facts:

* Mold is present almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors.

* Mold spores are microscopic and float along in the air and may enter your home through windows, doors, or AC/heating systems or even hitch a ride indoors on your clothing or a pet.

* Mold spores thrive on moisture. Mold spores can quickly grow into colonies when exposed to water. These colonies may produce allergens and irritants.

* Before mold remediation can begin, any sources of water or moisture must be addressed. Otherwise, the mold may return.

* Mold often produces a strong, musty odor and can lead you to possible mold problem areas.

* Even higher-than-normal indoor humidity can support mold growth. Keep indoor humidity below 45 percent.

If your home or business has a mold problem, we can inspect and assess your property and use our specialized training, equipment, and expertise to remediate your mold infestation.

The Difference When Your Ducts Are Clean..

2/8/2019 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Washington/Woolwich will inspect your HVAC system and ductwork and make recommendations about the best way to address any indoor air quality concerns.  This inspection can provide peace of mind on the health of your HVAC system and ductwork.  Benefits of servicing your HVAC unit include:

  • Helps to restore peak energy efficiency.
  • May help to eliminate offensive odors.
  • Helps reduce the potential for mold growth.

TIP:Do you want to get rid of unusual odors that linger in your kitchen sink? Freeze vinegar in ice cube trays before running them down the disposal. The ice will sharpen the disposal blades and the vinegar will kill odor-causing bacteria.

  • For more information on duct cleaning, or to set up a written inspection and estimate, call SERVPRO of Washington/Woolwich @ 856-241-9997

Mold remediation

2/8/2019 (Permalink)

Mold remediation in Washington Township NJ,

 If you have black mold covering a large area (greater than ten square feet) or mold growing in your heating and ventilation ducts, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends having a professional handle the cleanup.  It’s also best to have a professional handle the job.

SERVPRO of Washington/ Woolwich is a trusted leader in the restoration industry, and our highly trained technicians provide 24-hour emergency service. We're dedicated to responding faster to any size disaster with the training, equipment, and experience to respond to your restoration or cleaning needs. 24-Hour Emergency Service Faster to Any Size Disaster Highly Trained Restoration Technicians A Trusted Leader in the Restoration Industry Locally Owned and Operated Advanced Restoration and Cleaning Equipment Mold remediation, water damage, fire damage.