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Coffee Makers: How to Make Sure They Are Properly Cleaned

3/7/2019 (Permalink)

Chances are you don't clean your coffee maker as often as you should. In fact, 50 percent of these household machines contain yeast and mold, according to one survey. That makes it more germ-infested than your average bathroom faucet handle.

To make sure you don't drink up any of the germs or coliform bacteria this appliance has been known to grow, we asked Caolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute of Home Appliances & Cleaning Lab, how to keep your machine clean and your coffee tasting great. It's essential to follow these three rules: 


1. Wash removable parts with dish soap after every use.


"This is important because it helps remove coffee, grinds and oil that are left behind," said Forte. "You can hand-wash at the sink with warm and soapy water, but usually, the pieces are dishwasher-safe. And don't forget to wipe down the outside and the warming plate where spills can burn on." She also recommends leaving the reservoir's lid open so it can dry out completely after each use — germs love moisture!


2. De-calcify your machine every month with vinegar.

Over time, hard water minerals can build up in your machine's inner workings, and you may notice that your coffee takes longer to drip. To get things back in tip-top shape, you need to cleanse and de-calcify the machine. Forte's trick: good ole reliable white vinegar.

Fill the reservoir with equal parts vinegar and water and place a paper filter into the machine's empty basket. Position the pot in place and "brew" the solution halfway. Turn off the machine and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then, turn the coffee maker back on, finish the brewing and dump the full pot of vinegar and water. Rinse everything out by putting in a new paper filter and brewing a full pot of clean water. Repeat once.


3. Make your carafe sparkle again with rice.

You should always wash your carafe after each use, but if it's looking dingy over time, fill it with warm, sudsy water and a little rice. Swirl the mixture to loosen any gunk. Use a scrub sponge to remove debris and rinse well.

Southern California Experiences Odd Lightning Storm

3/6/2019 (Permalink)

(CNN) - Residents in Southern California may have thought they were elsewhere in the United States as they witnessed a powerful display of lightning in the night sky Tuesday.

Approximately 2,200 lightning strikes hit the area stretching from Santa Barbara County to LA County, according to Curt Kaplan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.A strong batch of thunderstorms created "lightning storms," the NWS Los Angeles said -- prompting the agency to alert residents to take precautions as they peeked at the power of mother nature. Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara Fire's public information officer, captured dramatic bolts of lightning over Santa Barbara. The pictures resembled a scene one would see in Florida, which has been dubbed the lightning capital of the US.  

What's driving this strange weather pattern?

Meteorologists called this phenomenon the Atmospheric River, where the jet stream is coming further south and pushing an abundant amount of moisture into the area, Kaplan said. But this strange event, is just another weird weather occurrence this winter -- the area last month had a dusting of snow along the coastline in areas including Malibu. "For Southern California, it's unusual," Kaplan told CNN. Lightning typically hits the area in the deserts during the summer monsoonal season.

CNN's Paul Vercammen contributed to this report

Mold Enters South Carolina School District

3/4/2019 (Permalink)

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WPDE) — The Horry County School District has been in the seat since mold was found at St. James Elementary School. It quickly started an outcry from parents.


ABC 15 News is digging deeper into the mold issues across the school district. Through a Freedom of Information Act Request, we found five other schools have had some form of mold spores found within the past six months.

That brings the number to six: St James Middle and High Schools, Conway Middle and High Schools, The Academy for the Arts Science and Technology and Aynor High School.


The HCSD is comprised of 52 schools, with about 7.8 million square footage of facilities.

ABC 15's Sydney Glenn sat down with the spokesperson for the district, Lisa Bourcier, to find out how air quality testing is mandated in the district.

“There is no mandates for the testing, and some school districts don’t do indoor air quality testing, but we kind of take it on a case-by-case basis," she said.

It begins with a work order, Bourcier said, and those usually come from staff members.

“Usually when a work order is put in, it’s information to the best of their ability of what they are witnessing or seeing or what the complaint is," she said.

The complaints can range from a bad smell, to a water leak or a stained ceiling tile.

Next, it is determined what needs to be done. In some cases, an air quality test is ordered.

The testing has been preformed since at least 2012, Bourcier said.

The complaints and issues at each school vary, but a common issue in the reports obtained by ABC 15 News were staining around HVAC units.

“Roofs can be an issue, as well as HVAC systems. A lot of times if you see a stained ceiling tile, sometimes the pipes are sweating. It’s not a leak but it’s sweating. We do live in South Carolina, and the humidity plays a big component when you have to deal with indoor air quality and you have to make sure your systems are set," Bourcier said.

Each challenge was met with recommendations from the air quality tester, Palmetto EHS. Cleaning was a solution offered in each report, among other things. Bourcier said all tasks recommended were done.

“Cleaning is an issue. So, we need to make sure everything is cleaned well and the filters are changed out appropriately, which we do have a company when we change out air filters. And again, just making sure those maintenance issues aren’t going out too far," she said.

In terms of follow up, air quality testing being done, and like has been done at St. James Elementary, Bourcier said it is on a case-by-case basis.

The school district is looking to hire a company to help determine best practices when it comes to preventing and dealing with air quality issues and possibly help set district wide standards. The company would also be able to do air quality testing and basically serve as a consultant, Bourcier said. This idea will be discussed and decided on in the upcoming months.

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Scooters May Be Delayed In Philadelphia

3/4/2019 (Permalink)

Advocates, including champions on the City Council, say they will reduce car traffic, but the mayor's transportation safety office is recommending a cautious approach to allowing dockless electric scooters on Philadelphia streets.

At a city hearing on Wednesday, Chris Puchalsky, director of policy and strategic initiatives at the Mayor’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability (OTIS), said scooter crash deaths, while small in number, vastly outnumber those from bike-sharing programs, according to WHYY. Four have died in scooter crashes in the U.S. in the past year, compared to two in bike shares since nine years ago, when such programs began operating.

WHYY cited data from Consumer Reports, showing about 1,500 people injured in e-scooter crashes in the US since 2017.

Other officials believe there is a need for urgency. “This is a type of transportation that we should be moving forward with … especially based on the fact that it will reduce people’s use of cars as a mode of transportation,” Councilman Derek Green said at the council hearing, HYY reported.

Automobiles have their own dangers: the number of pedestrian traffic fatalities is on the increase nationally, the Governors Highway Safety Association states in its most recent report. The report has Philadelphia among the top states for increases in pedestrian traffic deaths.

E-scooter makers Lime, Bird and Spin, all privately held companies, were present at the hearing to make their case for e-scooters' safety and transportation benefits.

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Prepare For Disaster Before it Happens

2/22/2019 (Permalink)

As many as 50% of businesses may never recover following a disaster, according to the latest industry research. Of the businesses that survive, the overwhelming majority of them had a preparedness plan in place. Pre-planning can serve as an insurance policy aimed at peace of mind. By developing a SERVPRO® Emergency READY Profile for your business, you minimize business interruption by having an immediate plan of action. Knowing what to do and what to expect in advance is the key to timely mitigation and can help minimize how water and fire damage can affect your business.

Are You Ready? Preparation is a key component for making it through any size disaster, whether it’s a small water leak, a large fire or an area flood. The best time for planning for such events is not when the event happens, but well before it happens. No one ever plans on a disaster, but you can plan for it. Now is the time to ask yourself, “Are you ready for whatever could happen?” The SERVPRO® Emergency READY Profile is a start up approach that provides the critical information needed to begin mitigation and recovery services. It is designed to serve as a quick reference of important building and contact information. By working with SERVPRO’s Emergency READY Profile, your business will receive the benefit of over 40 years of experience in reducing the impact of any natural or man-made disaster. SERVPRO® is a leader in water and fire damage response and can help you quickly get your property back in working order.

  • A no cost assessment of your facility.
    This means there is no need to allocate funds, giving you a great value at no cost.
  • A concise Profile Document that contains only the critical information needed in the event of an emergency.
    It will only take a little time to complete and will not take you away from current projects. But it will save a lot of time if ever needed.
  • A guide to help you get back into your building following a disaster.
    This can help minimize the amount of time your business is inactive by having an immediate plan of action.
  • Establishes your local SERVPRO Franchise Professional as your disaster mitigation and restoration provider.
    You have a provider that is recognized as an industry leader and close by.
  • Identification of the line of command for authorizing work to begin.
    This saves time so we can begin the work of mitigating the damage which can save you time and money.
  • Provides facility details such as shut-off valve locations, priority areas and priority contact information.
    Having a quick reference of what to do, how to do it and who to call provides solutions in advance of an emergency so that during the emergency you are "Ready for whatever happens."

Smoke Behavior is No Joke

2/22/2019 (Permalink)

Fire losses and the damage they leave behind can be an incredibly complex job to deal with. This is caused largely by the behavior of smoke. When our SERVPRO of Overbrook/Wynnefield professionals respond to a call for a fire job, their initial goal is to determine the extent of damage from fire itself, smoke, heat, and moisture. Not only do we deal with damage to building structures, but we work to clean a building's contents and your belongings as well.

Our SERVPRO trained professionals are trained to understand how smoke penetrates various cavities within the structure, causing hidden damage and odor. Our teams knowledge of building systems helps them investigate how far smoke damage may have spread. We know it can be stressful when you don't understand the issues facing your home, so take a moment to read up on the different kinds of smoke and soot that could potentially effect your property.

While there are technically only two different types of smoke - wet and dry, there are varying types of soot residue after a fire. Here's a handy glossary of smoke and soot types that might come in handy if you're ever faced with the misfortune of dealing with a property fire:

Wet smoke (plastic & rubber): Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. These smoke webs are more difficult to clean.

Dry smoke (paper & wood): Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises and thus so does the smoke

Protein fire residue (caused by evaporation of material instead of fire): Virtually invisible discolors paints and varnishes, extremely pungent odor

Fuel oil soot (furnace puff backs): While "puff backs" can create havoc for homeowners, SERVPRO can, in most cases, restore your contents and your Baltimore structure quickly (thanks to their training)

Additionally, we do deal with tear gas, fingerprint powder, and fire extinguisher resides. These special situations require special care and evaluation.

Understanding and having the ability to differentiate between these different types of smoke and soot is part of SERVPRO's specific training which makes us a cut above any other Baltimore local restoration team. Trusting company to care about your home like you do can seem daunting and feel impossible, but when it comes to SERVPRO, trust that you're always in good hands. We make it, "Like it never even happened."

National Preparedness Month

2/22/2019 (Permalink)

During an emergency, the last thing you should worry about is what to do next. Every second matters during an unexpected, emergency situation which is why this year’s National Preparedness Month theme is, “Don’t Wait, Communicate!”

SERVPRO of Main Line/Bala Cynwood would like to encourage everyone in our community to develop a game plan! Residential or commercial? It doesn’t matter! Everyone should master a set of steps to perform during an emergency and answer important questions ahead of time such as; Who will be in charge of contacting 911? Who will gather everyone to a safe location? What is the best escape method in an emergency? Etc. These questions are imperative to the safety and well being of our co-workers or families.

Everyone’s focus this month should be towards developing a disaster plan or what we at SERVPRO like to call an ERP (Emergency Communication Plan). In line with the “Don’t Wait, Communicate!” theme of this year’s National Preparedness Month, SERVPRO of Main Line/Bala Cynwood would like to suggest developing an Emergency Communication Plan for your home or business. Several steps, listed below, can help get you started on this plan:

  1. Collect all of your important contact information such as; family doctor, medical facilities, local family members, schools and service providers. Compile all of this information into one, hard-copy, easily accessible sheet. *Waterproof the sheet if possible!*
  2. Share copies of this sheet with everyone within the household/business. 
  3. Develop a fire/emergency escape plan that includes the safest escape routes, layout of home or business, safe meeting place and what to do if contact is lost.
  4. On a monthly basis review/practice all of the important contact information and emergency escape plan.

As always, SERVPRO is #heretohelp in any emergency or disaster situation. Although September is coming to an end it is never too late to be prepared! We encourage everyone to call us today to learn more about National Preparedness Month or about our free Emergency Ready Profiles!

How to Keep Warehouse Workers Warm

2/20/2019 (Permalink)

Tips for Staying Warm in a Warehouse During the Winter

Unfortunately, it’s the nature of a warehouse to be cold during the winter. With large loading doors opening and closing frequently during the day and night, it can seem nearly impossible to keep your warehouse warm during winter. Not only is this problematic from a facility management standpoint, but it can also create a less than comfortable workspace that is challenging for your workers. There are ways, however, to combat the cold in your warehouse during the winter, lower your utility bills, improve productivity, and provide a comfortable environment for your employees.


During the winter, especially in colder climates, it isn’t going to be possible to keep your warehouse at a comfortable 72 degrees. Your loading bay doors will need to be open regularly, which allows cold air to come into the warehouse, keeping the temperatures low. However, there are ways that you can increase warmth in your warehouse, creating a more comfortable place to work.

  1. Check the Doors. If the loading doors don’t need to be open all the time, make sure that they are closed. This is the easiest way to keep your warehouse at a more comfortable winter temperature. Doors that need to be open on a more constant basis can be fitted with plastic sheeting that will allow easy movement through the door, but provide some barrier from the elements outside. Before it gets too cold, it’s also a good idea to make sure that your loading area doors are well sealed. This will reduce drafts, making a better barrier for your warehouse when the doors are closed. Finally, make sure that your doors are maintained and the motors to lift the doors are functioning properly. This will reduce the likelihood that a door will get stuck open when the weather is poor.
  2. Improve Warehouse Airflow. Airflow patterns in warehouses can be challenging. There are a lot of barriers that disrupt smooth airflow through your warehouse, and high ceilings tend to hold on to the warm air. Improving the way air moves through your warehouse can make a substantial difference in the overall climate in your facility. There are few ways that this can be accomplished.
    • Fans – this is a relatively inexpensive way to improve airflow in your warehouse. Using high volume low speed (HVLS) fans can help move warm air through your warehouse, and pull warm air away from the ceiling. Fans are low energy, so installing fans in your warehouse will not make a significant impact to your utility bills.
    • Warehouse Layout – Look at the configuration of your space. How are the shelves arranged? Do your aisles create wind tunnels? If your warehouse layout allows cold air to move easily from the doors to the rest of the building, it may be time to consider moving things around.
    • A Shelving Upgrade – This is probably the costliest way to improve airflow. If you have solid shelving, but could convert to low-profile wire shelving, you can greatly increase the airflow in your warehouse. These shelves aren’t practical for all warehouses, but they may be a good solution in the right facility.
  3. More Heaters. If you find that you have spots that are constantly cold, despite making other changes, the best solution may just be adding more heaters. New radiant heaters are highly efficient and create a good amount of heat for large spaces.
  4. Service Your HVAC System. Finally, make sure that your HVAC system is ready for the winter. Have a HVAC professional visit your facility and give your system a good tune-up and service to ensure that it is functioning as efficiently as possible.

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Portable Generator Tips

2/20/2019 (Permalink)

Although hurricanes cause more power outages in the U.S. than any other weather event, winter storms are a close second. That's according to a University of Vermont study that analyzed 22 years' worth of power outage data across the U.S. 

Worse, because winter storms often include a brutal trio of snow, ice, and freezing temperatures, the outages can last longer—and leave you more vulnerable, with impassable roads and, potentially, without power to keep the heat on.

In the aftermath of a storm, a generator is an invaluable piece of equipment that can, at the very least, help your life begin to feel normal again.

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But because you probably rarely rely on a generator, it’s easy to overlook the basic safety measures that should be routine with such equipment. It’s also easy to get preoccupied by the cleanup work that lies ahead, so you may even be tempted to run a generator in a living space if most of your house is severely water damaged and cannot be saved.

That is never an option.

Generator misuse leads to carbon monoxide deaths, injuries from close calls, and burns—all of which happen too often during power outages and storms.

“Portable generators canproduce high levels of carbon monoxide, a deadly, odorless, and colorless gas,” says Ann Marie Buerkle, acting chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Running a generator improperly can kill you in as little as 5 minutes if the concentration of carbon monoxide is high enough. On average, 66 people a year die from carbon monoxide poisoning related to using a generator improperly, according to CPSC data.

Here are CR’s essential generator safety tips to get you through a storm and the days afterward.

Have an Escape Plan Before an Emergency Happens

2/20/2019 (Permalink)

  • Practice your home fire escape plan twice a year, making the drill as realistic as possible.
  • Make arrangements in your plan for anyone in your home who has a disability.
  • Allow children to master fire escape planning and practice before holding a fire drill at night when they are sleeping. The objective is to practice, not to frighten, so telling children there will be a drill before they go to bed can be as effective as a surprise drill.
  • It's important to determine during the drill whether children and others can readily waken to the sound of the smoke alarm. If they fail to awaken, make sure that someone is assigned to wake them up as part of the drill and in a real emergency situation.
  • If your home has two floors, every family member (including children) must be able to escape from the second floor rooms. Escape ladders can be placed in or near windows to provide an additional escape route. Review the manufacturer's instructions carefully so you'll be able to use a safety ladder in an emergency. Practice setting up the ladder from a first floor window to make sure you can do it correctly and quickly. Children should only practice with a grown-up, and only from a first-story window. Store the ladder near the window, in an easily accessible location. You don't want to have to search for it during a fire.
  • Always choose the escape route that is safest – the one with the least amount of smoke and heat – but be prepared to escape under toxic smoke if necessary. When you do your fire drill, everyone in the family should practice getting low and going under the smoke to your exit.
  • Closing doors on your way out slows the spread of fire, giving you more time to safely escape.
  • In some cases, smoke or fire may prevent you from exiting your home or apartment building. To prepare for an emergency like this, practice "sealing yourself in for safety" as part of your home fire escape plan. Close all doors between you and the fire. Use duct tape or towels to seal the door cracks and cover air vents to keep smoke from coming in. If possible, open your windows at the top and bottom so fresh air can get in. Call the fire department to report your exact location. Wave a flashlight or light-colored cloth at the window to let the fire department know where you are located.

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