Seasonal Tips

Fire Safety Tips to Prevent Fires This Summer

During the summer, many people enjoy the weather with outdoor activities like cookouts, camping, and bonfires.  Each of these activities are a fun way to gather with friends and family, but they also each have inherent fire dangers.  The danger of these potential fire hazards may slip your mind when you are enjoying yourself and getting caught up in the festivities at a backyard cookout or bonfire.  However, it is very important to be mindful of these dangers and follow good fire safety practices to prevent a pleasant cookout from turning into a disaster.  The most effective fire prevention is responsible action.  The following fire safety tips will help you prevent fires as you enjoy your summer.

Grilling Safety

Fire Safety Tipes - Grilling Safety - ServiceMaster in Minneapolis, MNFew activities really capture the essence of summer like a backyard cookout.  Summer cookouts are a tradition that are normally held to celebrate holidays like Memorial Day and the 4th of July, graduations, or just the fact that it’s summer.  With so many people, children, and pets walking around your backyard during a cookout, it is very important to take fire safety precautions, whether you are using a gas or charcoal grill.  Please review the following grilling safety tips before your next cookout:

  • Put your grill in an open, well ventilated area a safe distance from trees and structures like your home, garage, or shed.
  • Wear tight-fitting clothing.
  • For gas grills, check the connections in the fuel line between the gas tank and the grill before starting it.
  • For charcoal grills, only use the recommended amount of lighter fluid and never add lighter fluid once the grill is lit.
  • Never leave a lit grill unattended and keep children and pets away from the grill.
  • Drain all meat of liquids or marinades before putting them on the grill because they can cause the flames to flare up.
  • Cover the grill if the flames become too big, do not try to control the flames with water.
  • Clean the grill and your utensils before and after each use.
  • Do not dispose of used charcoal until the coals have cooled completely. Covering the charcoal with water is a good way to ensure it is extinguished.

Campfire/ Bonfire Safety

Fire Safety Tipes - Campfire Safety - ServiceMaster in Minneapolis, MNSitting around the fire, whether at a campsite or in your backyard, is a great way to socialize with friends and family on summer nights.  Regardless of where you build the fire, you must keep these fire safety tips in mind:

  • If you are at a campground or a park, make sure you follow their rules regarding fires.
  • Build your fire in a safe and open location, away from trees, bushes, tents, homes, garages, gazebos, or anything else that can go up in flames.
  • Fires must be built in fire pits. Parks and campgrounds that allow fires will have pits that you can use.  If you are planning on hosting bonfires in your backyard, build a fire pit first.
  • Try to refrain from using gas or lighter fluid to start or fuel the fire, and don’t store these objects anywhere near the fire.
  • Do not let the flames get too large or out of control. Keep the fire small and never leave it unattended.
  • Make sure you have the means to extinguish the fire before starting it. You can put out campfires and bonfires by dumping water on them and shoveling dirt over the embers.

Burn Bans

It is important to pay attention to any burn bans in your area.  Burn bans are put into effect during the summer if the weather conditions increase the risk of a fire.  These bans typically cover material burning and not recreational fires, but the details of the ban could change according to the weather conditions.  In most areas of Minnesota, you need to get a burning permit for material burning.  Check with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for more information on burning restrictions and permits.

Fireworks Safety

Fireworks SafetyFireworks are probably the only thing more synonymous with the 4th of July than backyard cookouts.  People across the U.S. celebrate Independence Day with a variety of fireworks and every year, thousands of Americans are injured due to firework accidents and mishaps.  It is very important to use fireworks with the utmost safety to prevent injuries and fires.

  • We urge you to use legal fireworks. The state of Minnesota bans fireworks that fly or explode which include bottle rockets, fire crackers, and mortars.  The most serious firework related injuries are caused by illegal fireworks.  Not only are legal fireworks safer to use, but using them will also prevent you from getting in trouble.
  • Do your research into what types of fireworks are legal as well as how to use them safely. Follow all directions and warning labels that come with the fireworks.
  • Always supervise children when lighting fireworks. If you don’t feel comfortable letting children play with fireworks, then don’t.  The majority of those injured by fireworks are boys age 14 and under.
  • Light fireworks somewhere safe outside, away from dry grass or foliage.
  • Make sure your spectators are a safe distance from the fireworks.
  • Only light one firework at a time, and make sure you move a safe distance away immediately after lighting it.
  • If a firework doesn’t go off when lit, dump water on it and throw it away.

As you enjoy the festivities that the summer has to offer, make sure you follow these fire safety and prevention tips when necessary.  Responsible fire safety will keep your summer activities fun and exciting and help prevent serious accidents that could result in injuries and property damage.  If you do experience a fire on your property this summer, make sure you call our professionals at ServiceMaster Professional Services as soon as possible for fire and smoke damage restoration services.  The fire damage restoration experts of SVMPS will work diligently to salvage as much of your property as possible, and we also provide deodorization to remove smoke odors.

Tips to Prevent Vandalism on your Property

To most people, the summer is a time for fun things like cookouts, baseball, vacations, various outdoor activities, and enjoying the fact that it is not winter.  Unfortunately, the summer is also the season of vandalism.  Acts of vandalism always increase during the summer as they are generally committed by adolescents who are restless on their summer vacations.  The property damage that results from vandalism costs homeowners millions of dollars each year to repair.  While it is unrealistic to make your home impervious to vandalism, there are some things you can do around your home to greatly discourage it.  The following home security tips can help you protect your home from vandalism by making it a difficult or undesirable target.

Install Security Lights

Vandals often work under the cover of darkness which makes bright security lights a very effective deterrent.  You should install security lights around the outside of your property that have motion sensors so they will turn on as soon as someone approaches your home.  In many cases, motion sensor lights are enough to startle and deter a would-be vandal.

Install Unbreakable Glass and Light Fixtures

Tips to prevent vandalism on your property in Minneapolis, MNLights expose vandals, so naturally a determined vandal will try to break your lights to bring back the darkness.  You can take this option away from them by installing light fixtures with unbreakable glass.  These light fixtures are much more difficult and time consuming for a vandal to destroy which will help discourage them from vandalizing your property.  You can also install your security lights in places that are difficult to reach like high up on the side of your house or garage.

Install a Fence

Installing a fence around your property is a major deterrent for vandals and intruders.  You can choose to fence in your entire yard or put fences around the vulnerable areas of your property.  Make sure the fence is a style that is difficult to climb and put up No Trespassing signs to let potential vandals know that you are serious about protecting your home.

Plant Strategically Placed Shrubs and Bushes

Dense bushes and shrubs planted close to your home make it much harder for vandals to approach.  Plant bushes near possible targets for vandals such as decks or balconies so that they cannot easily reach them.  You can also plant bushes near your windows for added protection and privacy.

Lock Security Gates and Doors

This may seem simple enough, but it is easy to forget to lock every door and gate around your property.  Sometimes a locked gate is all it takes to discourage a vandal.  Make a routine out of checking the doors and gates around your property to ensure that they are locked.

Clean Up and Repair the Effects of Vandalism Immediately

Vandalism Cleaning in Minneapolis MN - ServiceMasterOne of the biggest motivators for a vandal is having their work seen by many people.  They are amused by the angry reactions to the damage and brag about their work to their peers.  This validates the act in a way and may encourage the individual to commit more acts of vandalism.  Failure to clean up the damage also sends the message that your home is an easy target.  Make sure you clean up your property immediately to deny them this satisfaction.  Vandalism cleaning may involve cleaning up debris like eggs or toilet paper, graffiti removal, or even reconstruction in extreme cases.

Report Vandalism to the Police

Acts of vandalism are commonly underreported to the police.  People may not file a report if the vandalism didn’t result in serious damage or if they see the incident as just “kids being kids.”  However, you should file police reports for vandalism because it is the job of law enforcement to respond to crimes such as these.  Reporting vandalism will also discourage vandals because it sends the message that they will face consequences.  Your home will be a less desirable target if would-be vandals know that you call the police.

Support Programs for Adolescents in your Community

Many acts of vandalism are spontaneous and occur when young people are bored and restless.  If the young people in your community have something constructive to fill their time, they will be much less likely to lash out with acts of vandalism.  Community programs and activities provide a safe haven for kids and adolescents during the summer.  These programs not only give young people something to do, but also positively impact them in many ways by helping them make new friends and discover new activities.  There are several ways you can support youth programs in your community from donating your time and money to starting a new program.

As the summer approaches, review this list and see what you can do to protect your home from vandalism.  Implementing just a few of these home security tips can help you deter vandalism and avoid the headache of dealing with the aftermath.  If your home or business in the Minneapolis, MN area is damaged by an act of vandalism, you must react right away to cleanup and repair the damage.  Our technicians at ServiceMaster Professional Services provide vandalism cleaning services to remove debris such as eggs and graffiti as well as repair damage to your home.  You can reach us at (800) 245-4622 to respond to the damage.

Steps to Protect your Home from Storm Damage This Spring

The Twin Cities are prone to major storms at any time of year, but the spring season brings several different weather conditions that can cause major property damage like thunderstorms, hail, high winds, and tornadoes.  Extreme weather is usually quite predictable but sometimes it is impossible to tell just how damaging a storm will be until it hits.  With the high possibility of adverse weather conditions in the spring, residents in the St. Paul and Minneapolis area are advised to take preventative actions to protect their homes from storm damage.  Storms that involve strong wind and flooding can cause serious damage to your home but by following these storm preparation tips, you can prevent extensive damage.

Trim Large or Dead Tree Branches

Storm Damage Restoration during this spring - ServiceMaster in Minneapolis, MNStrong wind from a tornado or thunderstorm has the potential to blow off large or dead tree branches and even uproot entire trees.  If a tree or tree branch falls on nearby powerlines or your home or car, it can cause very extensive damage and even serious injuries.  Inspect the trees around your property and look for loose, dead, or large tree branches.  You should pay special attention to tree branches that are close to your home, garage, or vehicle because they are the biggest threat to cause damage.  Remove tree branches that look like a threat to snap or fall off and consider trimming back branches that are too close to the house.  Trimming tree branches can be a difficult and dangerous job so make sure you call a professional if you cannot do it yourself.

Secure Loose Items in Your Yard

Many homeowners have various items in their yards including outdoor furniture, lawn ornaments, grills, toys, and gardening equipment.  During a severe storm, these items become very dangerous as strong winds can make them into projectiles and send them flying into your home, garage, car, and even your neighbor’s home.  You must clear all these items from your yard if there is an impending storm and either take them inside your home or store them in your garage or shed.  This is an easy way to prevent excessive storm damage.

Inspect the Roof and Gutters

It is very common for rain and wind to cause damage to the roof of a home during a severe storm.  Strong winds can dislodge shingles and large areas of the roof, which allows rain in the house, as well as cause damage to the gutters which affects drainage.  You must inspect your roof as soon as possible this spring to check for loose or damaged shingles, cracks in the flashing or soffit, and issues with the gutters.  Repairing the damage on your roof will help prevent wind damage from a storm as well as leaks from heavy rain.  It is usually best to have your roof inspected and repaired by a professional.

Inspect your Windows

The windows of your home are vulnerable during severe storms because they may leak if they are poorly sealed and they can be shattered by strong winds.  Make sure your windows are properly sealed to keep out wind and moisture and consider getting new windows if they are old and not sealing properly.  New windows are much less likely to leak and there are windows available made of powerful glass that can withstand high winds.  You can also install metal or plastic storm shutters over your windows for extra protection.

Protect your Home from Flooding

Storm-Damage-Repair-for-Minneapolis-and-St-Cloud-MNIndoor flooding is one of the most common effects of severe weather and it can lead to severe damage in your home as well as mold growth.  Flood prevention is an important part of storm preparation to make sure rain and moisture stay out of your home.  Check your basement and foundation for leaks or cracks that could allow water into the home and seal them with caulk.  Installing a sump pump to remove excess water is a highly effective way to prevent flooding in your basement.  You should also make sure that your gutters drain rain water away from your home because any buildup of water near your home can cause flooding.

Have a Backup Power Source

Severe storms tend to knock out the power which is not only inconvenient, but also potentially dangerous.  Without power, the food in your refrigerator or freezer can go bad and if your cellphone battery dies, you will not be able to recharge it to make emergency calls.  The other major issue caused by the loss of power is that the sump pump will stop working.  This can result in significant basement flooding which leads to extensive structural damage and creates the right conditions for mold or mildew.  The power in your area could be out for hours or days, making it important to invest in a home generator to provide backup power.  With a backup power source, you can keep your sump pump running and ensure that your refrigerator will keep your food fresh until the electricity is restored.

Call the Storm Damage Restoration Professionals

As soon as the weather permits, get outside and prepare your home for severe weather this spring with these storm damage prevention tips.  Completing these actions could mean the difference between expensive storm damage and no damage at all.  As mentioned earlier, the severity of storms may be difficult to predict and you could end up with storm damage even after taking these precautions.  If your home in the St. Cloud and Minneapolis area sustains damage in a storm, make sure you contact ServiceMaster Professional Services immediately for our storm damage restoration services.  Our technicians provide excellent storm damage repair and will ensure that your home is restored to its original condition.  Give us a call 24 hours a day at (800) 245-4622 for storm damage emergencies.

ServiceMaster Professional Services Helped Provide Flood Damage Relief in Houston, TX

In April 2016, Houston, TX and the surrounding area experienced substantial flooding that caused damage to many homes and businesses.  The flooding affected over 1000 homes and resulted in over $5 billion in damage.  For mini-catastrophes such as the Houston flooding, ServiceMasters all over the U.S. are ready to respond and dispatch a team of highly trained technicians to help those who have experienced damage to their homes or businesses.  ServiceMaster Professional Services (SVMPS) responded to the Houston flooding by dispatching a team of our own technicians to help out with the flood cleanup.

ServiceMaster-Provides-Flood-Damage-Relief-for-Houston-TXWhile in Houston, our team did a phenomenal job working with both the customers and adjusters to ensure that homes and businesses were effectively restored from the flood damage, and that the damage was covered by insurance.  Our number one goal in Houston was to help out property owners any way we could to restore some peace of mind following the disaster while not worrying as much about our financial bottom line.  There were many occasions when neighbors approached our crew for help because they had nowhere else to turn.  We were willing to help in any way possible, including providing sound advice to help reassure them that their homes were safe for their families.

The technicians of SVMPS showed extreme dedication while providing flood damage restoration in Houston.  Many of our technicians put in a string of 12-16 hour days and had to be called off the job to ensure that they get some rest.  This shows a keen understanding of why we were in Houston and cars_going_through_flood_water_in_texasa commitment to our basic principles of handling each project with care, compassion, and empathy for the property owner.

In Houston, we teamed up with technicians from three other ServiceMaster franchises and went door to door to make sure that everyone was OK and did not need professional assistance.  Our technicians showed incredible flexibility through an adverse situation as we tried to plan out and manage the flood damage restoration the best we could.

At SVMPS, we are proud to be part of ServiceMaster’s catastrophic response network and help out for mini-catastrophes anywhere in the U.S.  If your home or business sustains damage from a flood in the Minneapolis area, call SVMPS right away at (800) 245-4622 for flood and water damage restoration.

10 Tips to Keep Your Home Cool without Using the Air Conditioner

The summer season has finally arrived and while the summer is a time for fun outdoor activities, it is also a time for beating the heat within your home.  Many areas of the U.S. are already experiencing hot weather and the temperature is going to continue to rise as we get deeper into the summer.  This makes it important to find a way to efficiently cool your home.  A lot of homeowners cool their homes with central air conditioning but the electric bills from running the air conditioner nonstop can get pretty high.  If you are concerned with your energy bills from running your air conditioner too much or if you don’t have central air conditioning, these home cooling tips will help you keep your home at a comfortable temperature during the hottest months.

  1. Shut your Curtains and Blinds

Much of the heat in your home is caused by the sunlight that enters through the window.  While it is nice to let natural light into your home, the heat of the sun’s rays is actually intensified as it passes through the glass window panes which can raise the temperature by as much as 20 degrees.  Keeping your curtains and blinds shut will keep out extra heat from the sunlight and even lower your energy bills.

  1. Inspect your Doors and Windows

At this early stage of the summer, it is wise to inspect your windows and doors to make sure they shut, lock, and seal properly.  Poor seals around your windows and doors not only let more heat into your home, but also let the cool air out.  If you find any issues with the sealing or locks of your doors and windows, fix your locks and have the doors or windows resealed.

  1. Keep your home cool with ceiling fansUse Fans Wisely

Ceiling fans and other portable cooling fans are the most common alternatives to an air conditioner.  However, you must know how to get the most cooling power out of your fans for the desired effect.  Ceiling fans must be adjusted so that they run counter-clockwise in the summer because this rotation creates a downdraft that will make the room feel cooler.  You can make the breeze from portable fans feel cooler by positioning a bowl with ice or an icepack in front of the fan so that it cools the air from the fan as it passes over.

  1. Use Bathroom Fans and Take Cooler Showers

There is a high level of moisture in your bathroom, especially after a hot shower.  The steamy humidity that results from a hot shower can make a warm home even more uncomfortable and the condensation that forms on the walls and ceiling can lead to additional problems such as water damage and mold.  Turning on the fan in your bathroom after a shower will remove some of the moisture in the air.  You can also prevent this by taking cooler showers which actually feels good on a hot day.

  1. Use CFL Lights

Traditional incandescent light bulbs emit most of their energy as heat while compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are more energy efficient with lower heat.  Replacing your incandescent bulbs with CFLs will slightly decrease the temperature in your home and help lower your energy bills.

  1. Save Household Chores for the Evening

Many household chores such as laundry or dishes require the use of large appliances that create heat as they run.  Waiting until the evening when the temperature is cooler to run your dishwasher, washing machine, or dryer will help keep the temperature in your home lower during the hottest part of the day.

  1. Keep your home cool - open the windowsOpen your Windows at Night

Even on the hottest summer day, the temperature can be cool and refreshing at night.  If the temperature cools to an acceptable level at night, open your windows to let in a fresh breeze.  You can also strategically place your fans near the open windows to create a wind tunnel that will cool your home even more.

  1. Change your Cooking Habits

Cooking with your stove or oven can drastically increase the temperature in your home so try some alternatives such as grilling outside or using the microwave.  You do not need a backyard barbecue or gathering as an excuse to use your grill and many people live in an area where they can only grill for half the year, so make sure you get some good use out of it before packing it in for the winter.  If you must cook inside, these tips will help you minimize the heat:

  • Keep pots covered
  • Always use an exhaust fan to lower the heat
  • Turn off the oven a couple minutes before your food is ready
  • Avoid opening your oven during cooking, check on your food through the glass on the door
  1. Keep your Body Cool

While the above mentioned tips can help keep your home cool during a heat wave, it is also important to make sure you keep your body cool.  There are so many ways to keep yourself cool such as wearing breathable clothing, changing your bedsheets from thick flannel sheets to cooler cotton sheets, taking cooler showers, and staying hydrated with cold drinks.  If the heat in your home becomes too much, applying a washcloth wet with cold water to your neck or wrists can bring some relief

  1. Keep your Pets Cool

The summer heat doesn’t just make us uncomfortable, it has an effect on your pets too.  Dogs and cats especially feel the effects of the heat and prolonged exposure can cause them to develop heatstroke.  The symptoms of heatstroke include glazed eyes, heavy panting or difficulty breathing, salivation, excessive thirst, and lethargy and it can even lead to seizures or unconsciousness.  You can help prevent heatstroke and keep your pets cool this summer with the following tips:

  • Keep the humidity in your home low because too much moisture can prevent pets from cooling themselves effectively.
  • Keep their exercise limited on hot days to prevent dehydration and breathing difficulties.
  • A fan is not enough to cool down your pets, make sure you do more to cool your home.
  • Your dog must have plenty of shaded areas and water when outside.

As the summer heats up, make sure your home doesn’t with these tips.  These home cooling tips are effective for controlling the temperature in homes without central air conditioning and they can also help homes with central air by allowing the air conditioner to run less frequently.  Beating the heat in your home creates a safer and more comfortable environment as extreme heat and humidity can lead to health problems, especially among children and the elderly.  Do not let the heat take over your home this summer, follow these tips to keep it outside where it belongs.

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