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Tips for Keeping Your Lawn Healthy and Safe During Hurricane Season

6/17/2021 (Permalink)

wet lawn It is crucial to prepare your lawn in order to keep it healthy during South Florida hurricane season.

With high power winds, intense rains, and an extreme potential for flooding, hurricanes can easily ruin your lawn and surrounding property. While you may not be able to prevent a hurricane from hitting your area, there are certain things you can do to ensure your property survives with the smallest amount of damage possible. It is crucial to prepare your lawn in order to keep it healthy during South Florida hurricane season.

1. Keep Trees Pruned

The process of pruning, getting rid of dead or unwanted branches from tress, is a key part of preparing your lawn for Florida’s hurricane season. With hurricane winds exceeding 74 mph, it is important to prune your branches before the storm in order to prevent them from flying through the air and potentially into your home. Dead or decaying branches can become hazards if the hurricane winds tear them off of the trees. However, it is important to keep the healthy branches intact to provide stability to the tree and keep it from toppling over.

2. Remove Any Items from the Yard

To prevent items flying around your yard and causing any damage, all yard décor and small potted plants should be brought inside the house in preparation for a hurricane. If items, such as large plants, are too big to move, lay them sideways and try to secure them to the ground. Any lawn decorations, toys, wind chimes, or anything else that could easily get picked up by the wind, should all be moved inside.

3. Turn Sprinklers Off

Due to the fact that it can be extremely detrimental to over water plants, you should make sure your sprinklers are turned off your lawn does not receive any extra water during or after the hurricane. The heavy rainfall that comes with hurricanes can potentially lead to diseases that weaken the roots of your plant. With this, the heavy winds from the hurricane could uproot the plants on your lawn. Even though most sprinkler system will automatically turn off during rainfall, it is important to manually turn them off before a storm until your lawn is no longer oversaturated.

4. Inspect Your Drainage System

It is crucial to make sure your drainage system is working properly in order to keep your lawn healthy. As mentioned above, over-watering your lawn can be very harmful, so its vital to make sure it is draining correctly. Any standing water after the storm can also damage your lawn. You should check for any debris that could block the drain and make sure water has a clear path to follow in order to prevent further erosion.

Hotspots for Mold Growth in Your Home

6/3/2021 (Permalink)

Moist mold and fungus in window and frame Mold requires a dark, humid, and moist environment to grow, which can be found in many places around the house.

According to the documentary “Moldy”, the first ever documentary about toxic mold, 50% of all homes in the Unites States have mold related issues. Additionally, 28% of the population in the United States are genetically predisposed to mold-related health effects. Moldy demonstrated how mold is commonly found lurking in leaking roofs, incorrectly installed showers, and many other places within the home. 

Mold requires a dark, humid, and moist environment to grow, which can be found in many places around the house. The best way to prevent mold grow is to be aware of the hotspots in your home and know how to prevent and treat the substance.

Here are the most common hotspots for mold growth in the home.

Bathrooms

Bathrooms are definitely present some of the biggest risk for mold growth in your house. Due to excess amounts of moisture, levels of humidity, and insufficient ventilation, the conditions become very susceptible for mold to grow. The most common places in the bathroom include shower stalls, around bathtubs, and underneath and behind toilet tanks but can also be found on tiles, shampoo bottles, loofahs, shower curtains, or any place where water can pool.

Because most bathroom fans do not ventilate the room properly, you should try to leave the fan on for 20 minutes after a shower to prevent mold growth.

Kitchens

Similar to the bathroom, there are many places within the kitchen that has optimal conditions for mold growth, such as underneath kitchen sinks or refrigerators. Especially under the kitchen sink, residue from food and sponges can act for a catalyst for mold growth, in addition for plenty of moisture. Additionally, the fridge provides a place with food, water, and darkness where mold can easily grow. This mold can often be removed with some cleaner, but if the issue is not going away it may be a part of a bigger problem.

Carpeting

Carpeting in your home can easily capture and retain dirt, and with the combination of potential flooding or leaks, this can easily become a hotspot for mold in your home.

To avoid mold growth under carpeting, try to make sure your carpet is free of any excess moisture, has access to proper airflow, and that any potential leaks or spills are taken care of immediately. Unfortunately, if your carpet becomes invested with mold, it will likely need to be removed and replaces.  

Air Conditioning Units

Mold growth is especially problematic in air conditioning and other ventilation systems because the air movement can easily spread the mold to other parts of your home. As the air conditioning works, moisture and dust are pulled into the machine, and with no access to light, it becomes a perfect place for mold to grow. If there is mold in your air conditioning unit, every time the unit is on it can blow tiny and invisible mold spores into the room, spreading it to other areas. This can be avoided by frequently cleaning and replacing the air filter in your unit.

Top Causes of Kitchen Fires at Home

5/24/2021 (Permalink)

Fire In Pan At Home Even though accidents do happen, by knowing the most common causes of kitchen fires, you can learn the best ways to prevent them.

The majority of fires that occur in the home start in the kitchen. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are more than 350,000 home fires each year in the U.S., leading to more than 2,500 deaths and $7.2 billion in direct property damage. In addition to this, cooking presents the highest risk for a home fire, with around 50% of home fires starting in the kitchen. Tragically, major holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, Easter, and Christmas Eve are some of the peak days for home fires, when more cooking than usual takes place in the home. Even though accidents do happen, by knowing the most common causes of kitchen fires, you can learn the best ways to prevent them.

Here are the top causes of kitchen fires in the home:

Kitchen Appliances

While all kitchen appliances can all present themselves as fire hazards, the most common place for a fire to start in the home is on a stove top. When cooking on the stove top, always be sure to stay alert and do not leave any food unattended.

Additionally, it is important keep your kitchen appliances well-maintained. A faulty appliance can possibly result in overheating or create sparks, which could be the start of an electrical fire. As a general rule, after 10 years of use your appliances should be inspected to check for any potential hazards.

Extreme Cooking Temperatures

Attempting to cook your food at a temperate higher than recommended can lead to your food in flames. Even if you’re running short on time, do not attempt to set the oven temperate higher to cook food faster. If your food sets ablaze, this can have deadly consequences.

Flammable Objects in the Kitchen

Objects that can catch and spread present a major fire hazard in the kitchen. When cooking, you should ensure that there are no curtains, towel racks, hand towels, wooden utensils, fabric oven mitts and pot holders, or even paper towel dispensers too close to any burners that could ignite and spread any flames.

Frying Oil

If you are cooking with oil, be sure to take extra safety precautions as oil can spread fires at an extreme rate. When using oil in a pan, only use enough to cover the bottom of the pan and, if you are deep-frying, try to use a controlled deep-fryer rather than oil in a pot.

What Causes a Sewer Backup in Your Home?

5/14/2021 (Permalink)

water backed up Knowing the causes of sewer backup in your home can ensure you are treating the problem correctly.

Just like many other functions in your home, when your sewer lines are working properly you often never give them a second thought. However, as soon as one of the pipes become obstructed and blocked, major damage to your home can occur. The dark liquid that forms as sewage can contain toxic waste and chemicals that are a major health hazard to humans or animals.

Knowing the causes of sewer backup in your home can ensure you are treating the problem correctly.

What are the main causes of sewer backup?

Clogs

Clogs within the main sewer line or pipes are one of the most common causes of sewer backup. This can be a result of anything that goes down into the pipes, such as toilet paper, hair, soap scum and grease. If there is only one toilet that is presenting an issue, it is probably just a clogged drain. However, if there is sewage backup every time you flush, you are probably dealing with some blockage within the main sewer line.

The easiest way to prevent this is to be cautious of the items that are being flushed down the toilet or the garbage disposal. Avoid putting napkins, diapers, and feminine hygiene products that could all risk clogging the pipes in your toilet.

Tree Roots

Another very common cause of sewer backup are tree roots interfering with pipes. Especially within older homes, it is possible for tree roots to cause a hole in the pipe by crashing into it or even crush the pipe itself by growing around it. Even if you don’t see any trees immediately nearby, it is possible that the tree roots have crossed property lines underground and may be located far away from the trunk itself.

If you can hear gurgling noises from your toilet or your drain is slow to flush, these can both be clues that tree roots are the source of the issue. If this the problem, the tree roots will need to be killed and the pipes replaces

Damaged Sewer Lines

Before plastic sewer lines became the norm, pipes were often constructed from iron and clay piping which were susceptible to lots of wear and tear over time. Old and damaged sewer pipes are another common cause of sewer backup.

Heavy Rainfall

Additionally, if there are large amounts of rainfall and flooding near your home, the sewer lines in your city can become overburdened and the water can head into the connected sewer lines.

With any sign of sewer backup, it is important to seek help immediately, no matter the cause!

9 Ways for Your Small Business to Boost Sales This Summer

5/3/2021 (Permalink)

tropical beach with sunbathing accessories What tactics can be used to keep the business thriving by attracting new customers and encouraging returning customers to make purchases?

Summer is right around the corner and that can spell trouble for a lot of small business in South Florida. While we are hopefully reaching the end of the pandemic, those businesses who were able to survive are likely thinking about how they can maintain sales this summer. In South Florida, the snowbirds tend to exit this month and that means that there are a lot less people in the Sunshine State, meaning a lot less potential customers.

While the thought of less Florida residents seems scary for some business owners, it is important to remember that the summer months also bring in a lot of out of town travelers. So, how can business owners in South prepare now to ensure that their stores are able to survive the summer? What tactics can be used to keep the business thriving by attracting new customers and encouraging returning customers to make purchases?

The following are some important tips for small business owners to keep in mind this summer:

  1. Run a summer-only promotion and use social media to spread the word
  2. Sponsor a local event in the community
  3. Create a sales competition within the office to encourage employees to really push themselves
  4. Launch a loyalty program for past customers
  5. Create a content calendar to map out how you will push certain inventory during the summer months
  6. Host events in the store that focus on particular items
  7. Consider partnering with another local business to cross-promote product lines
  8. Communicate the store’s COVID-friendly safety policies
  9. Use email marketing to communicate with customers that inspire repeat purchases

The dreaded summer slow months are difficult for many small business owners in South Florida. However, with a plan in place the likelihood of surviving increases tremendously. At SERVPRO of North Palm Beach County, we are proud to support all of the small businesses in our community.

Protecting Your Backyard from Storm Damage

4/26/2021 (Permalink)

idyllic sunny backyard with lots of plants and tree with boho hippie hanging chair Before the damage is irreparable, it is important to be prepare your home and backyard from these storms.

No matter where you live, your house can be at risk of a major storm. All types of natural disasters, such as hurricanes or tornadoes, can wreak havoc on your home. While you may not be able to do anything about high-speed winds, there are certain steps you can take as a homeowner to minimize backyard destruction. Before the damage is irreparable, it is important to be prepare your home and backyard from these storms.

Here are a few tips to prepare your backyard from storm damage:

Be Smart About Planting Trees

In order to ensure you can be as prepared as possible for a storm, you should start by choosing the right trees to plant as a preventative step. “Florida Fancy” trees grow well in the Florida climate and are more hurricane resistant. According to research at the University of Florida, homeowners should avoid planting, trees that are shallow rooted in soft soil because they have a tendency to topple over in high winds. These trees could cause more backyard damage than others. Also, it is important to be cautious about where the trees are planted, making sure that the mature height will not interfere with fences, buildings, or powerlines.

Check All Trees and Shrubs

While it may be too late to consider the type of tree planted, you can inspect your plants for any rotting or damaged branches and roots. Dead branches and trees can easily fall in a storm and cause major damage. Also take time to remove any coconuts or large palm seeds, which can be potential hazards if they fall from a high up.

Check Drainage Areas

In case of heavy rain and flooding, you should make sure that all debris is removed from the storm drains and the path is clear. If there is something blocking water from being drained, there is an increased risk of flooding which can ruin your house and backyard.

Remove Any Storm Hazards

If there is any type of storm approaching, it is crucial to remove any objects outside that can get picked up by the wind or ruined by the elements. This often includes items such as toys, plants, lawn/patio furniture, pool items or anything else that is unable to be secured to the ground. It is also recommended by The South Florida Water Management District to do a running a check of the yard to determine whether any debris in your swales or drainage systems might prevent water from flowing away from your property.

Preventing Mold Growth in Your Shower

4/20/2021 (Permalink)

moldy bathtub To keep every room in your house safe, clean, and healthy and prevent structural damage, it is absolutely crucial to take action steps to prevent mold

No matter what, every bathroom will accumulate moisture, which can eventually lead to mold. By reducing this moisture, you can reduce the chance of mold growth in your bathroom and especially shower. To keep every room in your house safe, clean, and healthy and prevent structural damage, it is absolutely crucial to take action steps to prevent mold growth.

Here some very easy steps to prevent mold growth in your shower:

Get an Effective Fan and Makes Sure it Works Properly

A working fan is the first step in preventing mold growth in your bathroom and shower. These fans work by sucking in moisture from the bathroom and sending it outside.  Make sure your fan is large enough to sufficiently cover the space of your bathroom. A good rule of thumb in deciding this is to multiply the square footage of the room by 1.1 if your ceiling is 8ft or 1.5 for 9ft. Additionally, you should run the fan during your shower and for a half an hour after to prevent any leftover moisture from growing mold.

Get Rid of Any Excess Water

To prevent the spread of mold or mildew before it starts, you should mop up any extra water as soon as possible. A great way to do this is with a squeegee, a tool with a flat, smooth rubber blade that is used to remove liquid on a flat surface. By just taking one minute to use a squeegee after a bath or shower, you can reduce the amount of moisture in your bathroom by 75%. This is a great way to reduce moisture and thereby prevent mold growth.

Fix all Leaks

Different from large pools of water, small leaks can build up over time that leads to ton of extra moisture. As soon as you notice a leak in your bathroom or shower, you should try to remedy the problem as soon as possible. Putting off these repairs can let this moisture build over time. Waiting to fix a leak will only lead to more problems in the long run.

Keep It Clean

As intuitive as it sounds, keeping your bathroom and shower clean is another way to prevent mold growth. You should regularly clean your bathroom to keep the room sanitary and mold-free. This also including cleaning the items within your shower. Places like the bottom of shampoo bottles can be a sneaky place for mold to grow.

At the end of the day, the best way to deal with mold in your shower is trying to prevent it from growing in the first place. This is done by reducing the potential of moisture to diminish any potential of mold growth.

How To Make a Fire Escape Plan for Your Family

4/12/2021 (Permalink)

family plan While all buildings need to have a fire escape plan, the most important place to prepare for is your home.

Being prepared in case of a fire is one of the best things you can do to keep your family safe. Smoke detectors, fire alarms and escape plans are all crucial steps to prepare for an accidental fire in your home. While all buildings need to have a fire escape plan, the most important place to prepare for is your home, especially if you’re living with young children. Everyone should be on the same page in terms of your escape route.

Reacting to the Fire

In an intense situation like a fire, it is important to act quickly and follow certain protocol. The first step in any fire escape plan is deciding how to react when a smoke alarm goes off or a fire is spotted. Within only minutes, a small flame can become a widespread fire so it is important that everyone knows how to keep themselves safe.

When exiting the building, it is important to drop to the floor to avoid the smoke that is rising. When moving around, keep low and crawl to the primary fire exit and try to keep your face covered with any clothing or piece of cloth. If any handle is hot, it is not safe to enter the room. Even though the official safety recommendation is to exit the building on your own as soon as possible, every parent is going to save their child, so it is important to factor that into your escape plan. Once you are outside, do not reenter the building under any circumstance.

Mapping Your Escape

After setting the expectations during an emergency, it is important to map out the route you and your loved ones can take. Print out a full layout of your home and make a note where everyone sleeps and where all possible exits are. With this information, you can draw out the primary exits, which are the quickest options, everyone can take and the secondary exists if those are blocked. Make sure that everyone is aware of every the exists, including windows.

Meeting Up

It is very important to choose one spot that everyone will safely meet up with when outside. If everyone is in the same place. This will make it easy to see if everyone has made outside and prevent anyone from unnecessarily running back into the building. A good choice for this location is a tree sear the side of the road at the end of the driveway with an unobstructed view of the house. Make sure every child and adult is aware of where this meeting point is located. As soon as you reach this meeting point, call 911 for help.

Rehearsing Your Fire Escape Plan

In order to be best prepared in case of an emergency, it is important to rehearse your family’s fire escape plan. After first hearing the smoke detector, everyone’s should be focused on safely heading to the meeting place. You should check your smoke detector batteries every month, and this is a great time to go over your fire safety plan. Especially for children, reiteration is very important.  Making a fire plan is easy and in case of an emergency, can save lives.

Signs of Roof Water Damage

3/25/2021 (Permalink)

Roof leakage, water damaged ceiling roof and stain on ceiling Here are the top 5 signs to look for to see if your roof has experienced water damage.

Many homeowners believe that their roof is in great condition, until it starts to leak and the damage is already done. In order to prevent this major destruction before it occurs, it is crucial to be alert of early signs of water damage. Identifying early signs of water damage to your roof can save you time and money, while ensuring the health and safety of your family.

Here are the top 5 signs to look for to see if your roof has experienced water damage.

Water Spots on the Ceiling or Exterior Walls

Different types of water spots may appear that indicate roof water damage. This is usually the most common sign of roof water damage because it is the easiest to spot. Sometimes these marks may appear brown or “rusty” which can indicate a new or previous leak.

Some other interior signs to be aware of include swollen walls or ceilings, which may appear in a bubble-like form, and often occurs as a result of collected moisture from water. Additionally, s more subtle sign of interior water damage can include decorative features, such as wallpaper, baseboards, and trim, separating from the walls. This is usually a result of excess moisture that causes wallpaper to lose its stickiness and peel off the wall or if the walls/celling is slightly swelled from moisture and the trim and baseboards are slowly separating. Any wet stains or irregular formations on the ceiling or walls may be indicative of a slow leak that is currently spreading.

If you notice any type of spot or marking that does not belong on your roof, it is a telltale sign of water damage and you should investigate the problem immediately and/or contact a professional repair company to come inspect the problem.

Gutters Filled with Granule

Granules, small particles that are made up of crushed stone and other materials, are used to create shingles for roofs. While that roof shingles will lose granules occasionally due to aging or storms, if there if a significant amount of granule in the gutter after rain it is a clear sign of water damage and a sign that your shingles need to be replaced.

Damaged or Cracked Shingles

Like dealing with granule above, there is natural wear and tear that is to be expected for shingles over time. Extreme levels of rainwater and gusts of wind can lead to missing, cracked, bent, and curled shingles. Damaged shingles can lead your roof vulnerable for more harm and it is important to make sure they are intact.

Soft or Spongy Wood Decking

If any wood decking is left soft or spongey after rain, it is a clear sign of long-term water damage. Overtime, this can lead to serious rotting and susceptible to more leaks in the future. It is very important to have any soft wood decking addressed.

Roof Debris

Finally, if there is any level of debris on the roof, there is a high change there is damage that could worsen in the future. Many times, debris, like branches, may cover up the damage so it not possible to see the full effect.

Because your roof is constantly exposed to natural elements, deterioration over the years is to be expected. However, catching any of these signs early and having a professional come to expect your roof can prevent major destruction in the future.

Social Media Marketing Advice for Small Business Owners

3/16/2021 (Permalink)

close up on man hand using tab pad on laptop No matter the size of your business, with social media there is unlimited potential to connect to new and existing customers, establish your brand, an

While trying to grow your small business, it is absolutely crucial to harness the power of social media marketing. On any given day, there are 4.2 billion active social media users. Especially a for a small business, these billions of users present an opportunity to connect with potential consumers and foster these relationships, create an online presence to build brand awareness, and generate profit.

Here are 10 pieces of key advice to tackle social media marketing:

Plan Your Social Media Goals

To make the most out of your social media, create a game plan for different platforms. With clear goals, you will be able to measure your return on investment and objectively evaluate your progress. Make sure your goals are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-specific.) If your brand is already utilizing social media, conduct an audit of current metrics and evaluate areas that need improvement.

Another great tool to take advantage of in terms of planning is a social media calendar. Instead of random posting, curated and targeted content is key is building a brand and a strong online presence. Many online accounts follow the 80/20 rules, meaning that 80% of your content aims to inform, educate, or entertain and the other 20% consists of promoting or selling your products.

Know Your Audience

The world of social media can be overwhelming, so it is very important understand your target consumer and the best ways to reach them. The first step of this can be deciding which platforms are most useful for your brand. There are many demographics online where you can learn about the age range and other characteristics of social media users per platform.

Also, use analytics to investigate data on your consumers to see who is interacting with you online. With a defined target audience, your company will be able to decide if Instagram, Facebook, or Tiktok, or maybe a combination of the three, is the best way to reach your audience.

Build a Community

One of the most beneficial uses of social media for a small business is creating a loyal group of customers. You can use features on Instagram, Facebook, and Tiktok to engage and interact with your followers, answering questions and building a sense of trust and community. This can be done by partnering with micro-influencers, responding to comments, reposting stories of your followers, and using polls.

In additional to building a loyal fan base, social media sites measure engagement on your posts which fuels the algorithm. By creating community and conversation online, you will gain increased exposure on the platform. Establishing these relationships can also produce brand loyalty and increased sales over time.

Keep Up with the Competition

Social media is constantly evolving, and it is important to keep up with what others are posting.  Additionally, learning from what others have done with their social media channels can be a great starting point by learning what does and does not work. Establishing relationships with other brands can also lead to mutually beneficial posts.

No matter the size of your business, with social media there is unlimited potential to connect to new and existing customers, establish your brand, and grow your profits.