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Business Fire Prevention Tips

1/15/2021 (Permalink)

   A fire can cause severe damage to business equipment, materials, and structures. As a business owner, focusing on fire risk assessment, fire prevention, and staff education can help reduce your chance of fire and smoke damage. Here are three tips to help:

Have fire protection equipment

  • If you have an automatic sprinkler system in place, this will provide primary fire protection for your business.
  • Standard fire safety practices call for smoke detectors and fire extinguishers on every floor. Employees should be aware of the location of fire extinguishers on each floor.
  • Your best bet is multipurpose extinguishers, which will douse most small fires with ease, without shorting out your electronics.

  Not only are your employees part of your team, they’re also essential assets to your business. These tips can help prevent them from being injured in a fire.

  • Fire Plan. Make sure your employees know what to do if there's a fire, including calling 911 immediately. Conduct a fire drill at least once a year to keep employees aware of your workplace fire safety protocol.
  • Have a Safety Officer. Designate a person as your office’s fire prevention officer. Their duties will include escape routes for employees, as well as keeping all of your safety plans, equipment, and information updated.
  • Install a Sprinkler System. Sprinkler systems are cost effective and the best way to fight the spread of a fire in a business with properly installed and maintained systems being 95% effective according to the National Fire Protection Association.
  • Leave Space for Appliances. Leave some room behind appliances that heat up, like coffee machines and computers, to allow them to cool down. Keep all of your business appliances away from combustible materials, like paper or cloth. If possible, unplug these appliances at the end of the day as most business fires occur after typical operating hours.
  • Regularly Replace Wiring. Check power cords regularly for fraying, broken connectors, or cracked insulation. These need to be replaced immediately. Only use one extension cord per outlet and follow manufacturer recommendations for maximum wattage when using power strips. Avoid “octopus wiring,” when wires and plugs clutter around one outlet, as it could lead to an overload.
  • Evacuation Plan. In larger buildings, post a fire evacuation plan in several spots around the workplace. Never include elevators in an evacuation plan; always use the stairs. Businesses with disabled employees should develop a detailed evacuation for those employees needing additional assistance in an emergency.
  • First Aid. In case of fire injuries, your employees should be familiar with the location of the first-aid kit, which should be kept where possible hazards can occur most, such as in the kitchen.

If you suffer the misfortune of a fire at your business – call SERVPRO of Sussex County today at 302-856-9768.

Winter Water Worries

1/12/2021 (Permalink)

  Many people own their second home in Sussex County, DE.  When the weather begins to turn cooler; most will leave and return in the late spring or early summer.  During this time is when most cold weather water issues occur.

  Frozen pipes—resulting in broken pipes—is the greatest cause of water damage in winter, on average costing $18,000 per homeowner claim, and leading to significant waste of water. Frozen ground increases the downward force on pipes from the outside.  The following are tips to help you avoid winter water worries.

How do I drain my home's water pipes for winter?

  1. Shut off themain water ...
  2. Drain pipesof water. ...
  3. Force the water ...
  4. Drain ...
  5. Extra Protection: Pour anti-freeze into all sink and bathtub drains. ...
  6. When you are ready to use the wateragain, turn on the main water valve and let each fixture run until the pipes are full.

What do you do when water freezes in your house?

How to fix frozen pipes:

  1. Keep your faucet open. ...
  2. Apply heat to the section of the pipe that is frozen. ...
  3. Know what not to do. ...
  4. Continue applying heat until waterflow returns to normal. ...
  5. Takeswift action if the frozen pipes are located inside an exterior wall.

What should you do to winterize your home?

  1. Adjust your thermostat. ...
  2. Shutoff the water at the main shut off valve in your house. ...
  3. Turn offyour gas line to prevent a gas leak or other gas related incident.
  4. Bundle the houseup tight! ...
  5. Unplug everything. ...
  6. Tell your neighbors. ...
  7. Stop the mail. ...
  8. Check your sump pump.

SERVPRO of Sussex County is standing by 24/7/365 to assist with any residential or commercial water damage – call us today at 302-856-9768!

3 Most Common Causes of House Fires

1/6/2021 (Permalink)

3 Most Common Causes of House Fires

  The National Fire Protection Association reports that there are as many as 400,000 house fires every year in the United States. Take precautions to prevent the most common cause of house fires, and consider a home safe to protect your most valued possessions as your last line of defense, just in case.

Cooking Fires

The #1 cause of house fires, accounting for 42% of reported incidents, is cooking. Open flames from the stove and intense heat in the oven easily result in a fire when unsupervised. Most often food or cooking tools catch fire and quickly lose control. While giving up cooking all together may be a bit extreme, paying extra attention and never leaving the kitchen while preparing food is an easy way to reduce this risk.

Heating Equipment

Space Heaters should be used if only a small portion of your home needs heated.  Keep all space heaters away from anything that could easily catch fire; such as curtains, laundry, blankets and furniture.  For central heating systems; it is always a good idea to have them maintained manually by a professional.  Also – please be mindful of carbon monoxide danger when using any fuel burning device.

Faulty Wiring

Most of us never think about all of the wires in our home. Unfortunately, faulty wiring is the third leading cause of house fires in the U.S. Typical signs of wiring deficiencies include dimming lights, frequent blown fuses and the inability to use multiple electrical appliances at the same time.   

It should go without saying; but the minimal investment in a reliable smoke detector is always a proper step in deterring home fires.

If you should suffer the misfortune of any sized fire in your home; we at SERVPRO of Sussex County stand ready to offer the most professional remediation and re-build services available.

5 Holiday Fire Hazards

12/16/2020 (Permalink)

5 Holiday Fire Hazards

Check the Basics

Make sure your smoke detectors are up-to-date and have working batteries by testing each one. If you have a detector that keeps going off, fix the problem. Smoke-alarm malfunctions are typically caused by dust that has collected inside or nuisance triggers, such as cooking fumes or bathroom steam. First, clean the unit by removing the cover and vacuuming it out. Replace the cover and press the test button to ensure that it's working. If the problem persists, relocate the unit farther away from sources of steam or smoke.

Keep fire extinguishers on each floor, near exits, and where you can easily grab them. Learn how to choose and use fire extinguishers and how to create a fire plan with your family.

Heating Up the Room

As the temperature drops, boilers, fireplaces, radiators, and space heaters are cranked up. Heating equipment is the second-greatest cause of home fires each year, reports the NFPA. Keep space heaters at least 3 feet (but preferably in a different room) from items that might easily burn, including upholstery and the Christmas tree.

Before lighting the fireplace, make sure your damper is open. Use a protective screen or grate in front to keep sparks from escaping.

Kitchen Fires

The heart of the home can get chaotic when you're prepping a big family feast. It's easy to become distracted and forget about a simmering pot. Unattended cooking is the No. 1 cause of kitchen fires, says the NFPA, and Thanksgiving is the peak day of the year.

The best line of defense is to stay present in the room while you are cooking. Next, be sure to keep clutter to a minimum, and store combustible items, such as towels, plastic or cardboard food containers, and cooking utensils, away from the stove.

The Christmas Tree

Each year, U.S. fire departments respond to more than 200 home fires involving Christmas trees, says the NFPA. The key to avoid joining that statistic is to keep your tree from becoming dehydrated. Choose the freshest tree possible, and set it up at least 3 feet from any heat source, such as a radiator, space heater, fireplace, or furnace. Be sure to cut the bottom inch or so of your tree's trunk, fill the stand with water as soon as the tree is upright, and refill it daily. You may be surprised to see just how much water the tree "drinks" every day.

Overpacked Outlets

Decorative lights give many homes and neighborhoods a festive glow during long winter nights. Just be careful not to overcrowd outlets. Electrical malfunctions, called shorts or arc faults, are the cause of half of all devastating residential fires. Install an Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) outlet to detect and automatically shut down an arcing circuit.

Social Distance

12/16/2020 (Permalink)

Social Distance

For more than the last twenty years; man has developed technology that has made him more self- sufficient. The computer and the smart phone have given us answers to everything from the weather to medical advice. As a society, we seem to have all the information we need at our fingertips and the ease and speed with which we solve our problems is amazing. We even use these devices to connect socially with our friends and family. The power of the individual to thrive outside of the social group has never been more apparent. Then, in mid-February we found out just how very little we really know.

A tiny micro-organism called the coronavirus or COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill. A virus that has infected millions of people worldwide and killed hundreds of thousands has left us all frightened and looking for answers. Answers we cannot find on our phones or computers. I am 57 years old and I thought that 9/11 would be the defining historical moment of my life – but I may have been wrong.

Each day I rise and seem surprised that the sun is still shining and birds are still singing as I rush to the TV to check the up-tick in the number of infections and deaths and any promise of the vaccine. We have been introduced to a new concept known as “social-distancing”. I would think we would be better at this practice since most of us have very little human contact since the devices took over our lives. But the truth is we are struggling with this and people are not listening, meanwhile the virus grows stronger.

In a world and in an era where some are booking flights to Mars – our greatest minds are struggling with this crisis. The world has become a much smaller place almost overnight as we see our brethren in other countries braving the same nightmare. We have been forced to lay aside our politics and differences and focus on one common interest – our lives and the lives of everyone we love. It is a shame that sometimes only fear and horror seem to motivate our unity. There is a lesson here and I know it will become very apparent to all once this plague ends. Hopefully, we will never be the same “distant” society.

Making Lemonade

12/16/2020 (Permalink)

Making Lemonade

  There is an old saying that goes something like this “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”  This is intended to be a blog about the new cleaning services offered by SERVPRO of Sussex County – so what exactly do I mean when I say that proverbial phrase.   It means that as of March of 2020; most of us were concerned about the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic and it affected many individuals and business adversely.  In fact, sadly, many have still not reached recovery and may not until late 2021 or later.  Some might say that the entire world was dealing with a bunch of lemons.  The proverb was originally intended to encourage optimism in the face of challenges or “lemons” and to approach them with a can-do attitude.

  With many business closing and struggling; SERVPRO of Sussex County was offered a status of being an essential business so fortunately; we all kept our jobs and not only did we keep them but we added about 10 more employees to our staff by making lemonade.  The obvious role all SERVPRO franchises was to immediately offer bio-hazard clean-up to those who may have been or may be affected or infected.  As our efforts to fight the viral beast unfolded; we began to see a spike in our cleaning business and not just the CSC program.  We saw that the CSC program was actually yielding clients who not only wanted our efforts to fight Covid-19 – but to also assist in keeping their businesses and residences pristine and sanitized on a regular basis.

  I am not making light of Covid-19 – that is not my intention; and I have had family members who have suffered with the virus.  My point is that when it appears that life has dealt us a bad hand and there is no easy solution – we must think outside the box and created opportunities and not wait for them to come to us.  If you have any cleaning needs – please call us at 302-856-9768 or visit:

Winter / Water Safety Tips

12/14/2020 (Permalink)

Winter Water Safety Tips

The seasons are changing and as the days get shorter, it’s time to ready your home for the coming winter season. These four winter safety tips will help you stay warm and safe.

  • Winterize Your Pipes
  • During the winter, outside water can freeze and burst exterior pipes. Take precautions to prevent frozen pipes by disconnecting all garden hoses and draining any water left in outdoor spigots. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, drain it as well.
  • If temperatures will drop below freezing overnight, leave exterior faucets trickling to avoid the pressure buildup that causes burst pipes. You can also avoid frozen and burst pipes inside your house by insulating your home and pipes.

Before the first snowfall, check your roof for damaged, loose, or missing shingles that may leak when snow melts or during severe storms. Make sure seals around chimneys and vent stacks are intact as well. If they aren’t, you can make repairs yourself or hire a handyman.

Regularly clear your roof of snow this season. And remove all leaves, pine needles, and other roof debris as these can hold moisture and rot during winter weather if left unattended.

Icicles look enchanting, but they present risk of injury and ice dams—which damage the outside of your home and cause meltwater to get inside. Ice dams occur when there are air leaks in your home or inadequate insulation in your attic.  If you already have icicles on your home, there’s no need to be a hero. Hiring a professional to remove them is the safest route.

During winter weather conditions, remove snow and ice from sidewalks and driveways. Prepare for snow by stocking up on snow shovels and giving your snow blower or plow a tune-up. After it snows, immediately plow or shovel all trafficked areas. If you go the shoveling route, invest in an ergonomic handle, lift with your legs (not your back), and push snow rather than lift it. Take frequent breaks away from the wind chill to let your body warm up and your muscles relax.

If you have any concerns about water problems – please call SERVPRO of Sussex County 302-856-976 or visit:

Pipe Dreams and Nightmares

11/30/2020 (Permalink)

Pipe Dreams and Nightmares

  The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety states that the most common cause of property damage during frigid winter weather is frozen pipes that burst.  In fact, the average cost of such an event is estimated at $5.000.00 or more.  Over time; global warming may decrease this threat, however that make take many decades or centuries. What can you do now to prevent those pipes from freezing?

  Obviously, the pipes that are most exposed and located in unheated areas are more at risk than those located in a temperature controlled environment.  But even pipes running through cabinets and exterior walls are at risk.

  Once the temperature begins to drop, there are efforts you can apply to hopefully minimize this risk.  The temperature “Alert Level” is at 20 degrees Fahrenheit.  When the outdoor temperature reaches this level you will want to take the following steps:

  • Keep your garage doors closed. Especially is water supply lines are located there.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the pipes.
  • Let the cold water drip from your faucets served from exposed pipes. Even a trickle will do the trick.
  • Keep your thermostat set at the same temperature during both day and night. (Here is where you have to ask yourself: Is a slight increase in my electric bill worth possibly saving you up to or more than $5,000.00? – probably so.)
  • If you plan to be away during cold weather – leave your heat on – set the temperature no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • For a more long term solution – add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Applying pipe insulation is also a good preventive measure and since it is about 50 cents per linear foot – it is cheap as well.

If by chance you incur water damage from frozen broken pipes or another cause; the first thing you should do is call SERVPRO of Sussex County at 302-856-9768 and we can offer remediation and get you and your home back to normal. You may also visit our website at

Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Business if Someone is Sick

11/5/2020 (Permalink)

Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Business if Someone is Sick

As you can imagine; the ongoing pandemic is causing a great deal of stress in our business community.   Since the common goal is to open safely and remain sanitized; most businesses do not have the staff, products or experience to combat this invisible foe.  What we offer below is a description of what the EPA and CDC recommend is what we offer when you call SERVPRO of Sussex County and request the CSC Service.

  • Close off areas used by the person who is sick.
  • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
  • Wait 24 hours before you clean or disinfect. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
  • Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person who is sick, such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment like tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, and ATM machines.
  • Vacuum the space if needed. Use a vacuum equipped with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, if available.
    • Do not vacuum a room or space that has people in it. Wait until the room or space is empty to vacuum, such as at night, for common spaces, or during the day for private rooms.
    • Wear disposable gloves to clean and disinfect. For soft (porous) surfaces such as carpeted floors or rugs, clean the surface with detergents or cleaners appropriate for use on these surfaces, according to the textile’s label. After cleaning, disinfect with an appropriate EPA-registered disinfectant on List N: Disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2external icon.
    • Temporarily turn off in-room, window-mounted, or on-wall recirculation HVAC to avoid contamination of the HVAC units.
    • Do NOT deactivate central HVAC systems. These systems tend to provide better filtration capabilities and introduce outdoor air into the areas that they serve.
    • Consider temporarily turning off room fans and the central HVAC system that services the room or space, so that particles that escape from vacuuming will not circulate throughout the facility.
  • Once area has been appropriately disinfected, it can be opened for use.
    • Workers without close contact with the person who is sick can return to work immediately after disinfection.
  • If more than 7 days since the person who is sick visited or used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary.

SAFETY - Business Priority Number One

11/4/2020 (Permalink)

Safety – Business Priority Number One

There is no doubt; 2020 has been a very challenging year for almost everyone.  Whether you, a family member or friend has contracted COVID-19 or not; our society will surely never be the same.  This is especially the case for businesses.  As retailers, restaurants and bars still struggle to re-open – they all share the same primary concern – SAFETY.  Safety for their staff as well as their patrons.

Locally, SERVPRO of Sussex County has responded to hundreds of calls from local businesses who are trying to deal with the virus and stay open for business.  Our CSC – Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned Service has been extremely successful and we are seeing a great deal of satisfaction with those who have used this service.  We applaud those businesses who are following proper protocol and applying the rules set forth by our state.  Our CSC service has offered reassurance to those business owners who have had an employee or patron test positive; and has given them a plan to re-open quickly and with confidence.

Unlike our usual common adversaries such as water, fire and mold – this infectious, invisible threat can occur anywhere and cost businesses a great deal or revenue in down time and applying an ongoing defense against this enemy.  If your neighbor has a water or mold problem – that situation is typically contained to one area or location.  With COVID-19 – this is not the case – your neighbor, friends and family can be affected.

Typically, a strong defense is the best approach to a fluid situation such as the pandemic has created.  If you are a business owner and are concerned about public safety – call SERVPRO of Sussex County at 302-856-9768 or visit us at