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Pet Fire Safety

Protecting Your Pets From Potential Danger

Home fires are the most preventable disaster that can occur.

The best way to protect your pets from the dangers of a fire is to include them in your family fire plan. This includes having their own disaster supplies kit as well as arranging in advance for a safe place keep them if you need to leave your home for a long period of time.

When you practice your home escape plan, practice taking your pets with you. Train them to come to you when you call.

In the event of a disaster, if you must evacuate, the most important thing you can do to protect your pets is to evacuate them, too. But remember: never delay escape or endanger yourself or family to rescue a family pet.

Prevent Your Pets From Starting Fires

The National Fire Protection Association estimates that nearly 1,000 home fires each year are accidentally started by the homeowners’ pets.

The American Kennel Club and ADT Security Services have joined forces to provide the following tips:

  • Extinguish Open Flames – Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Make sure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.
  • Invest in Flameless Candles – These candles contain a light bulb rather than an open flame, and take the danger out of your pet knocking over a candle. Cats are notorious for starting fires when their tails turn over lit candles.
  • Secure Young Pets – keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home such as in crates or behind baby gates in secure areas.

Help Firefighters Help Your Pets

  • Keep pets near entrances when away from home. Keep collars on pets and leashes at the ready in case firefighters need to rescue your pet. When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them.
  • Stick a pet alert window cling and write down the number of pets inside your house and attach the static cling to a front window. This critical information saves rescuers time when locating your pets. Make sure to keep the number of pets listed on them updated.
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Mould, Left Untreated, Brings Respiratory Infection

Mold, Left Untreated, Brings Respiratory Infection

Often times, most people do not notice mold in their home until it can’t be ignored any longer. That means that some people could have been exposed to dangerous levels of  mold without getting the medical assistance that they need. It is, however, rare for mold to cause permanent problems in people, but it is still imperative to know what a mold-related illness looks like. 

Whether you’re at home, an apartment, office building, or public location, anyone can be affected by mold. Although it is rare, the early symptoms of mold exposure can be dismissed as seasonal allergies, getting a cold, or another everyday illness. These symptoms may include sneezing, eye irritation, and coughing. If you leave mold untreated, it will get worse and could lead to respiratory infections. It is essential to pay attentions to the signs that your body is giving you, and equally important to know the conditions of your surroundings where you may suspect there to be mold. 

Mold isn’t just found indoors – it can be outside too. It’s important to know how you can be exposed to it. You should become familiar with the best practices for minimizing your exposure risk and how to address mold should you come into contact with it. 

You can be exposed to mold in the following locations: 

  • Places prone to extra moisture
  • Doorways
  • Windows
  • Bathrooms
  • Around pipe and roof leaks

Mold can be brought into your house from outside through: 

  • Doors
  • Shoes
  • Pets

What can mold really do to your health?

In 2009, the World Health Organization released their guidelines for indoor air quality.

Some people are more sensitive and susceptible to mold exposure.  Though it can start with nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing and general allergy-like symptoms, those with a weakened immune system or with increased/prolonged exposure can find themselves with conditions like asthma or serious lung infections.

If you think you’ve been exposed to mold and begin to show any of these symptoms, please seek medical attention promptly. This can be as general as over-the-counter allergy medicine or as targeted as prescription medicine specifically ordered to treat an infection. The National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health stresses guidelines for mold and exposure indoors and its effects on those exposed.

You’ve found mould, now what?

Are you consistently checking your house or building for mold? If you can find mold locations before it gets worse, you are able to control it and minimize the damage it could cause to you, your family, and your business. 

If you find mold in your home, you not only need to clean it up immediately! You also need to determine the cause of the mold itself.  Where is the moisture coming from that is creating the mold? Look for leaks, water damage, wet spots, condensation, and other precursors for mold. The issue needs to be resolved so that once the mold is removed, it will not be a recurring issue.

Never try to remove mold yourself unless it’s found in your bathroom, like the mold and mildew found in and around your tub or shower. Instead, call Thomasville Homes Restoration at (410) 360-1075 and let us take care of your mold remediation needs.

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Tree and Shrub Maintenance Calendar

Trees and shrubs form the framework of your landscape. Their beauty, shape, size, foliage, and flowers are important elements of a welcoming and inviting space in which to live and play.

Whether you’ve planted trees and shrubs on your property or inherited them from a previous owner, it’s important to keep up with their care so they live their longest, most beautiful and productive lives. Or maybe you have a blank slate and wonder how much time and effort it will take to plant and tend trees and shrubs. Use this tree and shrub maintenance calendar as your guide.

Spring and Autumn: Time to Plant Trees & Shrubs

In most parts of North America, early spring — while deciduous trees are still leafless and dormant — is the best time to plant. Autumn or winter planting is recommended in areas where summers are extreme and winters are mild, such as parts of the South and West.

Spring is the only time you should plant bare-root trees in northern climates.

Balled-and-burlapped trees should be dug from nurseries in early spring and can be planted in yards in spring or early summer.

Container-grown trees can be planted successfully almost any time of the year, except when the ground is frozen.

There are a few exceptions. Trees with active, late-winter sap flow, such as birch and sugar maple, should be planted after their sap flow ends, just as the leaf buds begin to unfold.

Fleshy-root trees such as magnolias should be planted after their leaves have expanded slightly.

Evergreens are best planted in early autumn, after summer heat is gone but early enough to get established before winter sets in.

Although you can plant trees and shrubs almost any time the ground can be worked with a spade, avoid planting in late spring, right before hot summer weather, and in very late fall, because roots may not have enough time to get established before winter weather.

Spring, Summer, and Autumn: No Staking Necessary

Although you may see some staked or guy-wired trees, in general you should avoid staking. Here’s why:

Trees need to move and bend with the wind to develop strength. When they’re staked, they don’t develop strong trunks from the stake on down. They also are more subject to breakage from wind because the entire tree isn’t allowed to move as much. Rubbing and girdling from stakes and ties can affect the trunk as well, creating wounds that are susceptible to attacks from diseases or pests. The tree may also grow too fast with an underdeveloped root system.

There are a few exceptions. Bare-root and large balled-and-burlapped trees may not be able to support themselves at first, especially in windy settings. After planting, watch the tree to see if it tips or leans; if so, it may need temporary anchor staking.

Each tree needs at least three stakes. Broad, soft tie materials (such as nylon stockings or elastic webbing) are fastened from the tree to the stake. Avoid using wire, string, or other materials that can cut into the trunk.

Remove the stakes as soon as possible. Research shows that almost all trees staked for more than two years have a higher probability for breakage.

Autumn and Winter: Wrapping

Tree wrapping in winter months protects against sunscald, not cold. It’s unnecessary for most trees, but it’s helpful in protecting young, thin-bark trees, such maples and fruit trees, for the first winter or two after planting.

A rule of thumb is to wrap the tree at Thanksgiving and remove the wrap at the spring equinox (around March 20). Always remove tree wrap in spring to avoid a spot where insects can gather and disease can take hold.

To protect established trees from winter critters, create a barrier fence a couple of feet away from the trunk using stakes and mesh screen or plastic tree wrap. You can wrap the trunk itself with chicken wire or plastic wrap that has air holes for circulation, or a plastic drainage tube slit down the side to loosely cover the trunk.

Again, always remove any barriers in the spring.

Protect evergreens from drying winds and sunscald with burlap screening or wrapping on the south, southwest, and windward sides. Antidessicant sprays can help but may not be fully effective in all cases.

Spring, Summer, and Autumn: Watering

During the first year after planting, water is the most important element in tree and shrub survival. Always water deeply and thoroughly, even if less frequently; avoid frequent, shallow watering, as the roots will travel to the surface to receive the water and won’t establish themselves deeper.

Place a hose at the base of the tree and allow a trickle of water to flow for at least 15 minutes. Shrubs can be watered for less time. If you have sandy soil, water more frequently; if you have heavy, clay soil, allow more time between waterings.

Autumn is the most important time to water trees and shrubs, especially evergreens. Water during the growing season during periods of drought, particularly the first year or two while the plants are getting established.

Spring, Summer, and Autumn: Fertilizing

Good news: Fertilizing is one thing you probably don’t need to do! Most soils have enough nutrients to grow trees and shrubs. Only fertilize for specific elements when a soil test indicates nutrients are missing.

Spring, Summer, and Autumn: Mulching

A 2- to 3-inch-deep ring of mulch that extends to the drip line of a tree (the reach of the branches) is a great way to conserve moisture and suppress weeds that compete with tree roots for water and nutrients. Keep the depth of the mulch at 4 inches or less to avoid trapping too much moisture, which can kill roots.

Organic mulches such as shredded or chipped bark decompose, adding nutrients to the soil.

Mulch is also helpful in keeping lawn mowers and other equipment away from trunks.

Avoid mulch “volcanoes” where mulch is placed in a cone shape directly against the trunk of a newly planted tree. Too much mulch directly against the bark causes rot, circling roots, and disease problems.

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If you would like more information about Thomasville Homes Restoration, or to get a quote, give us a call at (410) 360-1075.

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Don’t Let A Power Outage Hurt Your Business

Don’t Let A Power Outage Hurt Your Business

When businesses create plans to keep them going in the event of a disaster, they often think big. Huge storms, intense blizzards, fires, and floods are often prepared for the most when a business creates a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). While these disasters can disrupt your business, a small power outage can be just as problematic if you’re not prepared. Here’s what to do to make sure your company isn’t halted when a power outage occurs.

Power outages are one of the only disasters that can strike just about anywhere in the United States. If you are in Seattle chances are tropical storms are not going to be an issue and if you’re in Miami you aren’t going to fret over a blizzard, but losing power can occur anywhere, at any time and without warning.

A Department of Energy report noted that power outages cost American businesses nearly $150 billion in 2014 and added that increasing demand for energy coupled with an aging infrastructure could see the number of blackouts increase. While weather-related events are the most common cause of power outages in the U.S., it is far from the only thing that can disrupt energy service.

Since this is a problem that will continue to plague businesses, especially those ones that are unprepared, it’s important to be ready should a blackout strike. Here are a few things you should consider when it comes to power outages.

Power outages hurt in more ways than you think

The most notable issue a business faces when a power outage occurs is an inability to work. Employees often times sit around unable to do anything until the power is turned back on. Once the power does return, additional time is needed to safely turn everything back on and to check if all your files are still there.

There are also numerous indirect consequences that your business may face either during or after a power outage. These include a loss of revenue from potential sales, a decrease in customer satisfaction and a drop in your company’s reputation. The more your company is prepared for a power outage, the better continuity you will see and the less damage will be done. While it may be impossible to completely avoid issues caused by blackouts, you can minimize their impact.

Be ready in case of an outage

One of the biggest sources of frustration for employees during a blackout is losing files they had been working on. Autosave features do help prevent this but sometimes you’ll still lose that one important note or sentence you didn’t have the chance to save. Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) are one way to buy your employees a little extra time should the power go out. You’re able to plug your computer into these devices and they will operate as a battery when the power goes out. The life of these power stations is anywhere from ten minutes to an hour for some models which should give you enough time to save your work and properly shutdown your computer.

If you want to stay in business during a power outage, a standby commercial generator can help. These normally run on propane or natural gas and immediately switch on as soon as your main power supply goes out. If you aren’t concerned about the lights but want to keep your employees productive, equipping them 4G enabled devices with Office 365 or Google Apps will let them continue to work on files that have been saved and stored on the cloud.

Always test your outage plans

Regardless of what your company’s plans are during a power outage, you will need to test them on a regular basis to ensure everything runs smoothly when the real thing does happen. If you utilize a UPS or standby generator, you will want to test these out every six months at the very least to make sure they function properly. If your business has special plans for what employees need to do during a power outage, you should run a practice drill on a yearly basis to ensure everyone is up to speed on their duties.

They key to business continuity is preparation. Let our team of experts help prepare your business for anything thrown its way in 2018 and beyond.

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If you would like more information about Thomasville Homes Restoration, or to get a quote, give us a call at (410) 360-1075.

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Hoarding and Fire Safety

Hoarding and Fire Safety

Compulsive Hoarding can lead to a dangerous situation for not only you, but also for firefighters in the event of a house fire. 

One concern from fire departments is the chaotic nature of the material in many hoarding situations, where windows and exits can be blocked, which makes a fire attack and rescue difficult. 

The excessive amount of materials and items in homes poses a significant threat to firefighters fighting fires and responding to other emergencies in these homes and to residents and neighbors. Quite often, the local fire department will be contacted to help deal with this serious issue. Studies suggest that 3-5% of the population are compulsive hoarders, and fire departments must become familiar with this issue and be prepared to effectively handle it. 

What is hoarding?
Hoarding is defined as collecting or keeping large amounts of various items in the home due to strong urges to save them or distress experienced when discarding them. Many rooms in the home are so filled with possessions that residents can no longer use the rooms as designed. The home is so overloaded with things that everyday living is compromised.

Why do people become hoarders?
Hoarding is a mental disorder that can be genetic in nature, triggered by traumatic events, or a symptom of another disorder, such as depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, or dementia. Studies have found that hoarding usually begins in early adolescence and gets worse as a person ages. It is more common among older adults.

Why is hoarding an issue for the fire service?

1. Hoarding can be a fire hazard. Many occupants die in fires in these homes. Often, blocked exits prevent escape from the home. In addition, many people who are hoarding are injured when they trip over things or when materials fall on them.

2. Responding firefighters can be put at risk due to obstructed exits, falling objects, and excessive fire loading that can lead to collapse. Hoarding makes fighting fires and searching for occupants far more difficult.

3. Those living adjacent to an occupied structure can be quickly affected when a fire occurs, due to excessive smoke and fire conditions.

For more information, visit www.nfpa.org

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If you would like more information about Thomasville Homes Restoration, or to get a quote, give us a call at (410) 360-1075.

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How to Clean Your Dryer Vent and Other Quick Tips

Protect Your Clothes and Possibly Your Home and Family — With These Easy Tips

When you don’t take care of your dryer, you can run into several issues including longer dry times, which leads to shrunken clothes and heat-damaged fabrics. It can also increase your electric bills and cost you more money since the dryer is the least energy efficient appliance in your home!

Another symptom of poor dryer maintenance is that your dryer’s automatic cycles may become uncalibrated which leads to damp clothes or over-dried clothing. 

Finally, a dryer that has not been maintained is a serious fire hazard. Statistics show that nearly 7,000 fires, 200 injuries, and 10 deaths are attributed to dryer fires every year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Clogged dryer vents are the leading cause of the blazes. 

Here’s how to get the most our of your dryer when it comes to performance, efficiency, and safety in a few simple steps: 

  1. Empty the Lint Screen

    This needs to happen every time you use the dryer. Every Single Time. If you allow lint to build up on the screen, headed dryer air won’t move through the machine, which will extend drying times.

  1. Clean the Dryer Vent

    Even if you empty the lint screen every time you use the dryer, small fibers will still get through the trap and into your dryer vent. Over time, this lint can slowly begin to accumulate, to the point where even the smallest of sparks could lead to a serious fire inside the dryer vent. That’s why it’s essential to empty out the dryer vent every few months, depending on how much you use your dryer.

    It’s a pretty simple task, assuming you can just pull the dryer away from the wall a few feet. Always unplug the dryer from the power source or disconnect it from your circuit breaker. Then, separate the vent from the dryer and use a vacuum to clean it out.

  2. Clean the Moisture Sensors

    Most high-quality dryers all have moisture sensors that work with auto-dry cycles to determine how damp the laundry is, and to turn off the machine when the clothes are dry. After use, these sensors can get covered with film, especially if you are using dryer sheets. This buildup prevents the dryer from knowing when your laundry is dry, leaving it damp or over-dried.

    To fix this, clean the sensors with a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol a few times a year. The sensors are located just inside the dryer, underneath the door. Look for thin metal bars, about 6” long, with a slight curve that follows the contour of the door. Check your owner’s manual for their exact location.

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If you would like more information about Thomasville Homes Restoration, or to get a quote, give us a call at (410) 360-1075.