How to Avoid Christmas Tree Fires This Holiday Season

A beautifully dressed Christmas tree is often the focal point of your home's holiday décor, but it's important to make sure that all those gorgeous decorations don't create a Christmas tree fire hazard. According to a report from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an average of 210 home structure fires occurred annually between 2009 and 2013, resulting in $17.5 million in direct property damage each year. As you decorate your home for the holiday season – especially if you're using a real tree – reduce your risk of a Christmas tree fire with these easy tips from the fire restoration experts at ServiceMaster of Calgary.

Artificial Trees

  • Only purchase an artificial tree that has been certified and labeled by an independent testing laboratory as "flame retardant". 

Real Trees 

To reduce the risk of Christmas tree fire hazards when using a real tree, consider the following safety tips:

  • Only choose a tree with fresh, green needles that don't fall off when touched or gently shaken
  • Cut two inches from the base of the tree before placing it in a stand
  • Keep your tree watered so it doesn't dry out

Remember: Dry, un-watered trees catch fire more easily. Watch the Christmas tree fire video below to see how quickly a dry, un-watered tree can catch fire. 

Whether your tree is real or artificial, the location of your Christmas tree can either increase or decrease the potential risk of fires. To reduce the risk of a Christmas tree fire, always keep your tree at least 3 feet away from any heat source, including fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, heat vents or radiators.  A quarter of all Christmas tree fires were caused by some type of heat source too close to the tree. To make it easy to escape and protect yourself in the event of a fire, make sure your Christmas tree does not block any exits or pose a tripping hazard. 

Holiday lights add a bright touch to any home's holiday décor, whether they're wrapped around trees, garlands and wreaths strung on the inside of a window or draped across cabinets, banisters, and mantles.  However, if you ignore basic string light safety protocols, the risk of a fire starting increases. In fact, electrical problems from decorative lights, wiring, cords or plugs sparked one in every three home Christmas tree fires. Avoid starting a fire with all those beautiful lights by following these easy tips:

  • Use lights that have been tested for indoor use by an independent testing lab
  • Never use light strands labeled for outdoor use on an indoor Christmas tree or anywhere else inside
  • Check all strands for cracks, frays and damage before use
  • Connect no more than three strands of mini-lights together
  • Don't overload your outlets or power strips
  • Never run an extension cord under your rugs
  • Always turn the Christmas tree lights off when sleeping or away from home
  • Only decorate your tree and home with flame retardant and flame resistant decorations
  • Never decorate a Christmas tree with real, lit candles

Use these simple safety precautions to avoid a Christmas tree fire this season. If, despite your best efforts, your home does suffer a fire emergency and you need help with repairs or restoration, trust the professional team at ServiceMaster of Calgary to come up with a customized fire clean and remediation plan. We're here 24/7/365 to help ensure your holidays stay both safe and stress-free.

Water Damage? Don't Know What to Do Next? We Do!

When fire, smoke or water unexpectedly damage your home, the first steps you take could mean the difference between a small cleanup and a more costly and time-consuming restoration. 

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First Steps after Water Damage occurs:

WHAT TO DO

  • Damage from water and bacteria growth can begin within hours. Call for professional help.
  • Remove as much water as possible by mopping and blotting.
  • Remove wet area rugs or other floor coverings not permanently attached. Do not attempt to start removing your wall-to-wall carpet.
  • Lift draperies off the floor, loop through a plastic coat hanger and place the hanger on the drapery rod.
  • Wipe furniture, prop up wet furniture cushions for even drying and place aluminum foil under furniture legs.
  • Move photos, paintings and art objects to a safe, dry location.
  • Do not remove books from shelves. Instead, pack them tightly to prevent warping of pages until a restoration professional can begin this specialized drying.
  • Open drawers, closets and cabinet doors to enhance drying.

WHAT NOT TO DO

  • Do not enter a room with standing water until electricity has been turned off.
  • Do not use a regular household vacuum to remove water.
  • Do not lift tacked-down carpet without professional help.
  • Do not use electrical appliances while on wet carpet or flooring. 
  • Do not disturb visible mold.

Knowing when to call in a professional can also save you time in getting your life back to normal and money by preventing further damage to your home.

ServiceMaster of Calgary’s team of restoration professionals are here to help return your home to normal as quickly as possible while restoring your peace of mind that the job was done right.

 

Fire Damage? Don't Know What To Do Next? We Do

When fire, smoke or water unexpectedly damage your home, the first steps you take could mean the difference between a small cleanup and a more costly and time-consuming restoration. 

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First Steps after FIRE or SMOKE Damage:

WHAT TO DO

  • Corrosive by-products can cause irreversible etching in as few as 72 hours. Call for professional help.
  • If the temperature is above 60°F, air out the house to reduce smoke odor.
  • Clean Formica, chrome, porcelain and aluminum fixtures to prevent permanent tarnishing or etching.
  • Change the air filter on your furnace if it uses forced air.
  • Tape damp cheesecloth over returns and supply registers to capture loose soot in the air.
  • Discard any open food packages.
  • If the electricity is off, clean out the refrigerator and leave doors propped open.
  • Send clothing with heavy smoke damage to a qualified restoration dry cleaner.

WHAT NOT TO DO

  • Do not touch anything with your bare hands. Oil from your hands can permeate upholstery, walls and woodwork, causing additional damage.
  • Do not wash walls. Incorrect cleaning could compound the soot residue.
  • Do not attempt to clean carpets or upholstered furniture.
  • Do not use electrical appliances until having them checked.
  • Do not use ceiling fixtures if the ceiling is wet.

Knowing when to call in a professional can also save you time in getting your life back to normal and money by preventing further damage to your home.

ServiceMaster of Calgary’s team of restoration professionals are here to help return your home to normal as quickly as possible while restoring your peace of mind that the job was done right.

DIY DANGER: BLACK MOLD CLEAN UP

When your home gets a case of mold, your first instinct might be to clean it yourself. Common types of mold which can grow out of control indoors are Stacybotrys chartarum and Stachybotrys chlorohalonata – also informally known as “black mold”. Trying to figure out how to clean up black mold on your own, however, is a dangerous idea for homeowners. You face a real possibility of not fully correcting the problem, and in the process you can expose yourself and others to a variety of health hazards.

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At ServiceMaster of Calgary, we know who know how to remediate mold effectively and efficiently. As experts we, also, know what can go wrong when you try on your own. Read on as we break down why removing black mold is a job best left to the professionals.

Risks Associated with Removing Black Mold

First and foremost, it's important to realize that black mold can lead to health problems such as respiratory distress, headaches, eye irritation and other symptoms of mold sensitivity. Those with allergies, asthma and compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable to health threats from black mold and the toxins it can create. It's no wonder why professional crews use respirators, full-body suits and other specialized equipment to limit their exposure.

In addition to taking into account the obvious health risks, a residential mold removal service knows exactly how to tackle a black mold outbreak and is able to completely eradicate your mold problem with equipment and proven techniques. They're experts in the multitude of scenarios and ways in which black mold can pose trouble to a homeowner intent on DIY mold cleanup. Here are just a few:

1. Mold that covers a large area. As Health Canada points out, the size of your mold infestation will influence the equipment and methods needed to properly contain it. The larger the contamination, the more complex a cleanup can be. An expert will know the best way to tackle the mold infestation based on its size, location, cause and other factors.

 Keep in mind that improper cleanup of a small outbreak can actually make things worse by releasing mold spores into the air, failing to address the root cause and other common mistakes that homeowners can make.  Let a pro handle the job right the first time.

2. Mold that develops after flooding. If you've experienced a flood in your home, from a burst pipe, faulty appliance or roof leak, you might assume that once you've cleaned up the standing water you're all set.  If any mold develops later it can appear and spread quickly even in small areas impacted by flooding. Without fully eradicating the black mold outbreak and completely eliminating its source of moisture, the problem won't go away. That's where the experience and know-how of a professional comes in handy.

3. Mold in your air system. If you see visible mold on your vent covers or air conditioning slats, you can try to wipe down those particular areas. However, this visible mold may be indicative of a system-wide infestation which may be circulating mold throughout your house. You need evaluation by a professional to find out if there’s a problem and take care of it from the inside out. A professional service provider knows how to detect and clean up black mold even when it's hiding inside those hard-to-reach areas.

4. Mold that's growing on wood. Sometimes moldy wood is salvageable, and other times it needs to be replaced. In many cases, moldy wood may be hiding in a part of your home that you can't see, such as inside walls or in your crawlspace. Do you know which scenario you're dealing with? An expert will.

Hopefully you never have an issue with mold in your home, but if you do, contact us for help. Our experts know exactly how to remediate mold problems of all sizes, thus helping to keep your home air quality safe for your family and your home spared from further damage. When it comes to something as tricky as removing black mold, this is one job you'll be glad you left to the professionals.

 

Here comes WINTER! Are you prepared?

Get ready Calgary!  Winter is arriving today.  The forecast calls for 15-25 cm of snow between today and Saturday.   If you are heading west of the City, the expected snowfall is closer to 40 cm.   Since most of us tend to procrastinate on getting ready for the arrival of winter (and secretly wish for warmer weather); here is some information to help prepare for those snowy commutes and winter driving conditions.

Nov 1st, 2017     TransCanada Highway near Canmore

Nov 1st, 2017     TransCanada Highway near Canmore

Do you have an emergency car kit in your vehicle?  The basic kit should include:

  • Blanket
  • Candle in a deep can and matches
  • Extra clothing and shoes
  • First aid kit with seatbelt cutter
  • Flashlight (crank or battery-powered). Replace batteries once a year.
  • Food that won't spoil (such as energy bars)
  • List of contact numbers
  • Radio (crank or battery-powered). Replace batteries once a year.
  • Small shovel, scraper and snowbrush
  • Warning light or road flares
  • Water
  • Whistle

Recommended additional items to keep in your vehicle

  • Antifreeze, windshield washer fluid
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Road maps
  • Sand, salt or cat litter (non-clumping)
  • Tow rope and jumper cables

Environment Canada offers this advice on what to do during a severe storm.   https://www.getprepared.gc.ca/cnt/hzd/svrstrms-bfr-eng.aspx

If you are using transit or car-sharing,  make sure you are prepared to wait out any unexpected delays.  Drive safe; stay warm and welcome winter to Calgary!

#yycwinter #abstorm #SMCalgary25

 

 

 

A CHECKLIST TO HELP YOU WINTERIZE YOUR HOME

Winterizing your home helps keep the heat in and the cold out, which can mean lower energy bills for you and increased spending money for all your holiday shopping. Learning how to winterize your home effectively can also help prevent damage to your property and belongings and reduce the risk of injury for you, your family and any guests who might stop by to visit. ServiceMaster Restore® wants everyone you love to stay safe and energy-efficient this winter, so we put together a checklist to help you winterize your home before the cold weather hits.

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Winterize Your Home Checklist:

Pipes

  • Drain A/C water lines to prevent freezing and turn off water directly from the shut-off valve.
  • Drain any outdoor water lines from swimming pools and sprinkler systems.
  • Detach garden hoses from spigots and drain the hoses before storing them in a protected area.
  • Insulate pipes in any unheated interior spaces like the attic, basement, crawl space, garage and under the kitchen and bathroom sinks.
  • If temperatures drop dramatically, let the faucet drip and keep cabinet doors open in the kitchen and bathroom sinks to keep your pipes from freezing.

Exterior

  • Clean out your gutters to keep snow melt running freely and prevent the formation of ice dams.
  • Caulk around the outside of windows and doors to keep cold air out of your home. Leaks around windows and doors can increase your energy costs.

Interior

  • Add interior weather-stripping around windows and doors.
  • Apply insulation film to windows to cut down on heat loss through the glass.
  • Consider adding a storm door to entryways that lead outside.
  • Use draft guards in front of doors that lead to an attached garage, multi-season room or patio.
  • Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans. In the winter, they should rotate clockwise to push warm air back down into the room.
  • Have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned, if necessary.

Insulation and HVAC

  • Make sure your home has adequate insulation, including in the crawl space, above the garage, in the basement and in the attic. Proper attic insulation will help prevent ice dams on the roof.
  • Change your air filters and have your HVAC system professionally inspected before you turn on the heat this year. Deal with any ducts or vents that need cleaning to allow for maximum indoor air quality.

Temperature

  • A must-do on every winterizing home checklist is to install and use a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats let you store and repeat multiple daily settings or override any setting manually without changing the weekly program. It's that easy. According to the Department of Energy, turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit for just eight hours can save you between 5 and 15 percent on your annual heating bill. That said, you should never set the thermostat lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid freezing the pipes.
  • If you're going to be away from home during winter for more than a day or two, don't forget to unplug your appliances, turn off all portable heaters, leave your ceiling fans running and open the doors to your kitchen and bathroom sink cabinets to allow warm air to flow around the pipes.

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, a pipe breaks or our homes suffer some other kind of unforeseeable damage during winter. If that happens, the professionals at your local ServiceMaster® Restore are here to help – 24/7/365. We're always available with expert advice, training and equipment to help you get back to normal as soon as possible.

Flood Preparedness. Are you ready?

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One of the most frequent and costly natural hazards in Canada is overland flooding.  If you aren’t aware of the term, it is when water flows overland and seeps into buildings through windows, doors and cracks. Floods have affected hundreds of thousands of Canadians and cause millions of dollars in damages each year. However, the bigger concern for many Canadian homeowners is that they aren't insured for overland flooding, and can be left to deal with expensive repairs and replacing valuables.

Climate change scientists report that severe rain storms are occurring more often in many parts of Canada, and they are expected to continue to increase in frequency and severity. Therefore, it has never been more important to make sure your home is flood ready. 

Here are just a few of the reasons to make sure you're prepared for overland flooding events.

  • If water got into your home before, it could get in again unless you take action.
  • Finished basements used as living space may have more furniture and expensive electronics, making it more important to protect your home.
  • Since overland flood damage is typically not covered by your home insurance policy, a small cost now can save you a lot of money after the flood.
  • Floods may have long-term health impacts on your family if they cause molds to grow.
  • Homes in older neighborhoods are usually more vulnerable than homes in newer neighbourhoods.

Being flood ready can save money, properties and lives. There are lots of things you can do to reduce potentially expensive damage from overland flooding. Some are relatively quick and easy.

  1. Put sealant around basement windows and the base of ground-level doors.
  2. Install flood shields or barriers for basement windows and doors.
  3. Raise large appliances in the basement above the potential water level from a flood.
  4. Secure furnaces, water heaters, and/or oil tanks so they won’t tip over in a flood.
  5. Check that all basement flood drains are not blocked or covered up.
  6. Make sure your sump pump is working and install a battery-operated backup.
  7. Ensure your property is graded so that water runs away from your basement walls.
  8. Check that your roof and eavestroughs are draining properly in heavy rains.
  9. Make sure your downspouts extend at least 2 m (6 ft.) from your basement walls.
  10. Use a rain barrel to catch runoff from your roof.

ServiceMaster Restore has been helping home and business owners cope with water damage for more than 60 years. When your basement floods, call ServiceMaster Restore to handle the water extraction, drying and any necessary mold removal.

H2O No!

Water in your home is a significant problem, able to cause costly damage to your home’s structure and its contents. When a water leak occurs, your first step should be to shut off the water to minimize damage. In some cases, you might need to shut off water to a specific fixture that’s leaking. In more serious incidents, you’ll need to find the water shutoff valve for your entire house. In this post, we’ll help you understand the different types of water shutoff valves and how to use them to prevent or mitigate a flooding catastrophe.

Finding Your Water Shutoff Valves

Every plumbing fixture in your home has a water shutoff valve, and knowing the location of this valve is important should a leak occur. Generally, you can identify the valve by looking for a plastic or chrome-plated valve handle that connects to the water supply line. Look behind or under the toilet or sink, for example, to find this valve. Note that sinks usually have two shutoff valves: one for hot water and one for cold water.

Operating these valves can vary depending on their design. There may be a round or oval-shaped valve handle that you turn clockwise to close, and counterclockwise to reopen. Some modern plumbing shutoff valves may feature a flat knob that you pull out in order to close. Others may look like flat levers, which you can turn perpendicular to the supply line to reach the closed position. In many cases, operating instructions may be indicated directly on the valve.

For the best protection, you’ll want to identify where to find the water shutoff valve for your entire home.Locations vary from residence to residence, but many homes feature a main shutoff valve inside the building, and where this valve is located depends on your type of residence. If you have a basement, your main shutoff valve may be located by the front foundation wall. Although there is no standard location, homes on slabs may include the main water shutoff valve by the water heater or the kitchen sink.

If you can’t find the main water shutoff valve inside your home, head to your water meter. Your water meter will likely be located close to the street in an underground box. It may also be under a metal plate in your driveway, yard or sidewalk. Once you open the meter, you should see a top shutoff valve that can stop water flow to your house.

Tip: As with other types of shutoff valves, your main water valve can usually be turned clockwise or perpendicular to the line in order to turn off your entire water supply.

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 Understanding When to Shut Off Water

Now that you know where to find water shutoff valves in your house and how to operate them, it’s important to be aware of the situations when you might want to shut off your water. To begin with, it’s a good idea to turn off the water as soon as you notice a leak, no matter how minor. If the leak is clearly coming from a specific plumbing fixture, you can shut off water to that fixture to stop the water flow. On the other hand, if leaking is significant or you can’t identify the source of the leak, you should use the main water shutoff valve for the entire house.

Make sure every family member knows where these shutoff valves are located so that a minor water incident doesn’t result in major damage. Consider writing out instructions so everyone in the household knows how to act if they spot a leak. Test these values at least twice a year to ensure proper operation. Finally, when you’re heading out of town, use these valves to shut off water flow so that you don’t come home to water damage or a flood.

Don’t wait for an emergency. Identify where and how to turn off your home’s water supply so you can minimize the potential damage to your home and possessions. If you notice signs of water damage inside your home, contact the experienced professionals at ServiceMaster Restore® to safely and effectively clean up the mess before dangerous mold or structural damage sets in.

Enjoy your BBQ by Following These Safety Tips

When the weather gets warmer, it’s always fun to gather with friends and family for an outdoor cookout. After all, nothing spells spring or summer like the smell of burgers, steaks, hot dogs and chopped veggies fresh off the grill – until something starts burning, that is. 

While gas and charcoal grills are an easy way to cook up large amounts of delicious food, they can also pose a fire danger to your property and family. By following a few simple BBQ safety tips, you can prevent injury while keeping your home and surrounding property safe. Learn the most important grill safety tips from the experts at ServiceMaster of Calgary Restore® to keep your property out of harm’s way the next time you smoke, sizzle or sauté outside.

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Practice Good Grilling Habits

Whatever kind of grill you use, there are a few simple things you can do to reduce your risk of fire or injury. Here are some basic grilling safety tips to follow:

•Set your grill up a safe distance away from structures and overhangs, including your main building, shed, garage, trees and other potentially flammable objects.

•Never use your grill inside, in a tent or under an outdoor awning or carport. Doing so can pose a serious fire hazard and potentially cause carbon monoxide poisoning if you’re using a gas grill.

•Light your gas or charcoal grill using special long-length lighters or long matches to avoid getting burned. Keep all ignition sources out of the reach of children.

•Never leave an actively burning grill unattended, and let your grill fully cool before you cover or store it.

•Clean your grill thoroughly and often to reduce flammable buildup inside.

Be Aware of Proper Charcoal Grill Safety

Many people swear by the taste of food cooked on a classic charcoal grill. This popular way of cooking is fun, but it also poses unique fire risks of its own. Keep these important BBQ safety tips in mind if you own or use a charcoal grill:

•Only add enough charcoal to cover the bottom of the grill. Don’t pile too much inside since it could cause ashes and sparks to become airborne, possibly catching nearby objects or even your home on fire.

•Store extra charcoal in a secure place away from other potential fire hazards, and preferably in an airtight metal container.

•Only use starter fluid specifically designed for charcoal. Apply it to cold coals only, and don’t add extra fluid once the grill is lit. Otherwise, the flames could get too high, resulting in possible burns or an uncontained fire.

•Empty your used ashes only when they have fully cooled. Never store or dispose of them in a garbage can or leave them on a deck. Even when cooled, ashes can still cause a fire. It’s best to dump them on garden soil or contain them in a metal receptacle for proper disposal.

Use your Gas Grill Wisely

Gas grills are convenient and easy to use, and require less refueling than charcoal grills. But gas grills are also susceptible to fire risks, so it’s important to be aware of how to properly operate your gas grill. Remember these safety tips if you own a gas grill:

•Open the lid before lighting the grill. This allows oxygen to escape and reduces the risk of fire or even explosion.

•Check your grill’s gas line and tank fittings regularly for leaks. You can do this by brushing soapy water around these areas. If you see bubbles emerge, there could be a leak somewhere. Replace any damaged/leaking parts and make any other needed repairs before using the grill.

•If you have spare gas cylinders, never store them under a stairway or the eaves of your home. Place them upright and outside, away from any structures to minimize fire risks.

•Turn off your grill using the controls first, then close off the gas line at the tank. This helps to ensure any excess gas can escape safely.

If you happen to experience a fire during BBQ season, the professionals at ServiceMaster of Calgary Restore® are always available to help. We hope you never need to make that call but if you do, we’re available 24/7/365 to  assist you.

Electrical Safety Before, During and After a Flood

Disaster response isn’t always straightforward. Among the less obvious risks to consider during a water emergency is the potential for damage or injury caused by compromised electrical systems and components. From electrical fires to electric shock and even death, the dangers associated with live electricity during and following a flood should be taken seriously.

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While any disaster can introduce electrical safety hazards, the mixture of water and electricity is notoriously potent. Whether due to a natural flood event or a water leak in your home or commercial building, any flooding incident requires specific electrical safety precautions. Read the electrical safety tips from ServiceMaster Restore to protect your people and property before and after a flood.

Electrical Safety During a Flood

Among all the risks posed by flooding, the dangers associated with your electrical system are some of the most severe. It’s critically important to treat all electrical appliances, equipment, and outlets with caution. Keep these electrical safety tips in mind whenever you’re dealing with an active flooding situation:

  • Never step in standing water that covers electrical outlets or devices – the water could already be charged with a lethal amount of electric current.
  • If you see downed power lines, avoid them, and notify your local power provider immediately.
  • Avoid any areas where you see sparks or hear popping or buzzing noises.
  • Be on alert for an acrid or "burning plastic" smell, which could indicate an electrical fire.
  • Do not attempt to operate electrical equipment or appliances that have come into contact with water until a certified electrician says it’s safe.
  • Follow all the electrical safety precautions from the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI).

Electrical Safety After a Flood

In addition to mold, bacteria and structural weaknesses that can result from prolonged exposure to lingering water, your electrical system and components remain vulnerable as long as moisture is present. Beyond the lingering risk of electric shock or electrical fires, rust and corrosion from excess water can damage these elements beyond repair.

After any flooding event, you should consult a certified electrician or inspector to determine the extent of damage to your electrical system. You may have to replace a number of components, such as:

  • Wiring, circuitry, switches and outlets
  • Fixtures
  • HVAC equipment and water heaters
  • Major appliances, especially anything with a motor
  • Electronics

Once the electrical hazards are contained, contact a team of water mitigation professionals who can safely assess the extent of the water damage and create a plan to restore your home or business to normal as soon as possible.

Electrical Fire Safety Inspections and Awareness

Of course, the need to observe safe practices around electrical systems isn’t limited to disaster situations. Watch our short video to learn how to reduce the electrical fire safety risks at your home or business right now.

 

The electrical systems and equipment in your building are complex, powerful and potentially dangerous. Although the risks increase with floods and other water disasters, electrical malfunctions and emergencies can occur at any time. Follow the electrical safety tips from ServiceMaster Restore to keep yourself and others safe.

ServiceMaster of Calgary is 25!!


25 years ago, it started with just one person, Rob Ordman.  Now, we have a team of over sixty.  To celebrate Service Master of Calgary's 25th birthday, owners Rob and Beth Ordman invited all of their staff to celebrate with them last Friday, May 12th at Wurst on 4th St SW.  Guests were greeted by photographer, Jeff Miles, for a photo on the red carpet before joining the rest of the festivities.  Everyone mingled, shared stories and enjoyed the tremendous appetizers served during the cocktail hour.  There was a small presentation in the middle of the evening where 2 people were presented with their Certificate of Appreciation for Long Service.  Rob Ordman presented Jim Bourlon with his 15-year award and ruby pin.  Then, Christina Schapansky (SM Calgary's longest serving employee) presented Rob Ordman with his 25-year award and diamond pin.  There was an amazing buffet dinner served of salads, spaetzle, salmon, roast beef and topped off with a dessert buffet. The evening was capped off with a group photo to commemorate the 25th anniversary! Thanks to Rob and Beth for a great evening!  Here's to another 25 years!

How to Form a Family Emergency Plan

Your family is your number one priority, especially in emergency situations. You may not be able to predict and plan for every possible scenario, but you can create a family emergency plan that will prepare your family and help keep you safe in a range of circumstances.

Family preparedness is about more than protection against actual emergencies. You’ll gain everyday peace of mind knowing that you and your family have a clear strategy in place to stay safe, calm and ready if disaster strikes.

Start a Discussion

Have a conversation with the members of your family about the importance of being safe and prepared in emergencies. Encourage kids to participate by asking them to brainstorm different kinds of emergency situations and natural disasters. Begin the planning process by exploring the most common disasters in your area.

Make Your Family Emergency Plan

Some emergencies, such as house fires, call for immediate evacuation. Others, like tornadoes and other unpredictable storms, often mean taking shelter in the safety of your home. Your family emergency plan should help prepare you for both.

Follow these steps to create a comprehensive family preparedness plan:

  1. Establish shelters and meeting places.

When choosing your shelter, pick a place away from windows and exposure to the outside. Basements and closets are generally the safest options, along with specially designed safe rooms. Your shelter should be equipped with emergency supplies, clear of obstacles and ready for use at all times.

In case you need to evacuate, identify at least two primary exits, and keep these areas clear of obstacles, too. Designate a neighbor’s front yard or another safe outdoor location nearby as the family meeting place.

  1. Collect essential information.

Make a list of emergency contacts, and make sure your family has access to the information. Use the Family Emergency Plan template from Ready.gov to get started. Keep records of important medical, insurance, and identification information in your shelter so they’re safe and easy to access. Make sure your kids know how to call 9-1-1, and help them memorize important emergency phone numbers in case of evacuation or separation.

  1. Create an emergency kit.

Start with a large plastic storage container, and clearly mark it as the family emergency kit. Inside, stash enough supplies to help you and your family survive for at least three days.

Your family’s emergency kit should include:

  • Non-perishable food
  • Bottled water
  • Blankets
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Important medications
  • And other emergency preparedness kit items

Ask your kids what items they think are important in an emergency, and discuss their suggestions so they can learn how to prioritize in a crisis. Have your kids help pack the kit so they see everything that goes in to emergency preparation and safety.

Don’t forget about Fido! Stash pet food, bowls, extra leashes, ID tags, medications, and carriers or crates for your four-legged family members, as well.

Put Your Plan into Action

Review your family emergency plan and safety procedures together regularly, and practice executing your plan at least twice a year. Imagine hypothetical situations that will help you respond to specific emergencies. Set a timer to continually work on improving how long it takes everyone to reach your designated shelter or meeting place. In home fire drills, you can practice crawling on the ground to avoid smoke or block off certain areas to focus on alternate escape routes. The more scenarios you practice, the better prepared you will be.

Family preparedness will help keep you and your loved ones safe in the event of a crisis. Make your family emergency plan today, and start practicing so you’re ready to respond if and when disaster strikes.

 

May 7 to 13th is Emergency Preparedness Week!

Do you have your 72 Hour Emergency Kit?  What about your Car Kit?  You should also have a Grab-and-Go bag.  If you have pets, you might need special items for them so consider an emergency bag for your pets.  

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Visit www.GetPrepared.ca for more resources to help you and your family prepare your 72 Hour emergency kits. You will also find lots of other information there to help your family face a range of emergencies.  

Remember, it is important to:

  • Know the risks - By knowing the risks specific to our community and region, it can help us be better prepared.
  • Make a plan - It will help us and our family know what to do.
  • Get an emergency kit - During an emergency - we all need some basic supplies.  We may need to get by without power or tap water.  Be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours in an emergency.

ServiceMaster of Calgary Sponsors NASA Race Bibs For Next 3 Years

ServiceMaster of Calgary has committed to supporting the Nakiska Alpine Ski Association for the next 3 years by sponsoring race bibs for their SARC program.  Our owners, Rob and Beth Ordman, also donate their time as part of NASA's team of race officials; even after their own kids have long been retired from racing. 

ServiceMaster of Calgary will proudly display the #1 Bib presented To Rob and Beth Ordman as a token of NASA's appreciation in our office.

ServiceMaster of Calgary will proudly display the #1 Bib presented To Rob and Beth Ordman as a token of NASA's appreciation in our office.

Check Smoke Detectors Before an Emergency

How to Inspect Your Smoke Alarms

Regularly checking smoke alarms is a basic part of home and building maintenance that will help keep your home or business safe. Smoke detector checks are a necessary and effective way to protect your building and the people in it from smoke and fire emergencies, and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to keep yours working properly.

Use the tips below to ensure your smoke detectors are up to snuff. In a true fire emergency, working smoke detectors could mean the difference between life and death. Check your smoke detectors today to keep your home or business as safe as possible.

Why Check Smoke Detectors?

There aren’t many items in your home or office that can actually save lives in a fire emergency, but smoke alarms are one of them. In fact, residential fires are more than twice as likely to turn deadly in homes without working smoke detectors, according to the National Fire Prevention Association.

Providing as much time as possible to escape the premises is of paramount importance during a fire, whether it’s a large commercial facility that takes extra time to evacuate or a small family home full of people who are fast asleep. In a fire emergency, working smoke alarms offer a critical early warning that can directly impact the survival of the people you care about.

Tips on Checking Smoke Alarms

While smoke detector technology is more advanced and reliable than ever, it’s still important to inspect and test yours regularly. Follow these tips from the experts at ServiceMaster Restore to conduct a proper smoke detector check in your home or office. Enjoy everyday peace of mind knowing that you’ll have essential, life-saving support when you need it most.

  1. Test monthly. Check every smoke alarm in the building at least once a month using the integrated test button.
  2. Change the batteries. If your smoke detectors include a removable battery, replace it at least once a year. Don’t wait until your alarms start chirping to install fresh batteries. Set a reminder, and always stay protected.
  3. Replace alarms every 10 years. Replace the entire smoke detector apparatus every 10 years to ensure you have the latest technology and best protection available. Non-removable lithium batteries only have a 10-year guarantee, so even “long-life” smoke alarms need to be replaced after 10 years.
  4. Be in compliance. The NFPA maintains fire prevention codes and requirements for all types of occupancies. Explore the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code and the Life Safety Code from NFPA to ensure you have the latest information and are in compliance.
  5. Follow the instructions. The manufacturer of your smoke detectors will provide model-specific instructions for maintaining and checking the smoke alarms in your home or business. Keep all documentation so you can refer to it as needed.

A fire can wreak havoc on any home or business. While the remediation professionals at ServiceMaster Restore are here to help you recover from smoke or fire damage to your home or business, it’s up to you to ensure the proper safety procedures and equipment are in place to keep your family and co-workers safe in the midst of an emergency. Checking smoke alarms regularly and correctly is a critical, simple measure you can take to help save lives should the unexpected occur.

ServiceMaster Sponsors the 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts!

The 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts starts this weekend.

We are gearing up as the Diamond sponsor and we’re thrilled to be a part of this great Canadian tradition that will take place February 18th – 26th in St. Catharines, Ontario. In recognition of our major sponsorship of the event, ServiceMaster Restore Day is being held on Thursday, February 23rd.

Be sure to tune into TSN throughout the nine days to watch the Tournament and to see the digital rink board that features the ServiceMaster Restore iconic van in with a 30 second animated piece.

There will be a special hospitality night on our sponsor day at the HeartStop Lounge and a Toque Toss at Saturday night’s draw during the final championship weekend. Staff members will be on the ice throwing ServiceMaster Restore hats into the audience between commercial breaks. We also have the honour of presenting a toque to Bill Hudgins - 90 years old, avid fan and competitive curler. Bill represented Northern Ontario in the 1956 Brier and was a repeat champion of competitive bonspiels.

We are looking forward to this special event in St. Catharines.  If you are watching on TV, keep your eye open for us - and if you are in St. Catharines, we hope you attend and catch one of our great toques next Saturday night!

Limiting Mould Growth in the Winter Months

Cold and wet winter months can create the perfect atmosphere for mold to grow. When water from rain, sleet and snow during the winter months gets tracked inside, the increased moisture can create more humid conditions inside your home, allowing mold to grow more quickly.

Luckily, there are a few easy ways to reduce and control mold growth in your home this season. Read these tips from ServiceMaster Restore® to as safe and mold-free as possible.

Tips to Control Mold Growth in Winter

  • Keep indoor humidity below 45%. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the best way to control indoor mold growth is to carefully monitor and maintain your home’s moisture level. If the humidity in your home rises, look for the sources of added moisture and address the problem as soon as possible. Place a dehumidifier in these rooms to lower the moisture level until a permanent solution is found.
  • Set ceiling fans in reverse. Your fans should turn counterclockwise in the summer and clockwise in the winter. If you set your ceiling fans to turn clockwise during chilly winter months, you will pull cold air up and draw the warmer air downward, which can both save you money on energy bills and keep your home a bit warmer. Good air circulation will also keep condensation from building up on cold walls and windows, where it can be a potential source of mold growth.
  • Use exhaust fans in the bathroom, kitchen and other areas of the home that frequently accumulate excessive moisture. Good air circulation can help ensure that moisture doesn’t have a chance to sit and promote mold growth.
  • Clean and repair roof gutters regularly, especially if there is an abundance of dead leaves stuck in them. While you’re at it, make sure that the area around the downspouts is graded, so that any water coming off your roof flows away from your foundation, rather than sitting close to your home where it can pool and contribute to mold growth.

Call a professional. If you can’t readily see a moisture problem but you find traces of mold growing in your home, it may be time to seek professional help from the experts at ServiceMaster Restore®. Our home restoration specialists have the training, experience and equipment to treat, reduce and control mold safely and effectively so your home can become your personal safe haven again. Let us use our proven expertise to create a comprehensive mould remediation plan that can prevent long-term damage to your home and health.