September is Disaster Preparedness Month

Remember the blizzard of 2014 when nearly 12 inches of snow fell in less than 24 hours, and grounded many people to their homes? For nearly a week, time stood still, some lost power and we learned about being prepared.
It’s true that disasters don’t happen everyday, but given Indiana’s seasonal climate, it’s not impossible to experience flooding, tornados and even massive snowstorms like the blizzard of 2014. Therefore, being prepared pays.Blizzard
September is National Disaster Preparedness Month, and a good time to share our five tips for preparing your family and home for disasters. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but we hope these tips will get you thinking about what’s most important when it comes to protecting your most valuable assets.

Develop your plan, know the risks

Your first goal in disaster preparedness includes making a plan, developing roles and responsibilities for each family member, and not forgetting pets. It’s also a great time to check your insurance policy, and have home maintenance completed. However, perhaps the most important step is taking action. The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes features a disaster risk map that can identify the most likely perils for your state.

Identify vulnerability, make home improvements

When disaster strikes, you want to ensure your home is airtight. After all, a safe home not only decreases vulnerabilities and saves money, but it also protects against the unthinkable.
It’s easy to assume nothing will happen, but disasters such as floods, tornados and snowstorms that are common in Indiana can quickly become a nightmare. Consequently, we always recommend a home assessment, and making improvements before it’s too late. Consider installing storm doors and shutters, building a safe room or inspecting to your roof.  As well, it’s always wise to devise a plan for what might happen should you lose power. For instance, do you have a back-up generator? Enough water? Batteries? Given Indiana’s seasons, these small, yet mighty protections could be safeguarding you and your family against possible property damage.

Make a kit

Being prepared, and ensuring your family’s safety is essential. This means along with developing an emergency plan, you also should organize a kit consisting of water, food, medicines and first aid, a battery-powered or hand-cranking radio, extra batteries, a flashlight, whistle, cellphone and cash.  Although this is a basic list, additional items to include can be found on Ready.gov. We cannot stress the importance of being proactive.

Create an inventory, be organized

Although it seems tedious, taking inventory and making a catalog of your personal property is necessary. Think of it this way: When a disaster of any kind strikes, you want to establish normalcy. This critical step could help in getting fair insurance reimbursements and simplifying the recovery process. Also, if disaster aid is needed, your catalog will make your application process seamless.

Practice makes perfect

Our final step includes implementing your emergency plan with a simulation exercise. By this, we mean addressing emergency communications, planning your exit strategy, and determining how to turn off utilities. Addressing these tasks not only identifies weak areas, but it’s also helpful in starting conversations about disaster preparedness.
When it comes to preparing your home and family for a disaster, being informed, prepared and proactive goes a long way in weathering the so-called storm. Disaster preparation takes time, and it’s true that plans don’t materialize overnight. But, taking initiative now during the calm before can offer you peace of mind later. Don’t wait. Act now.
For more tips on preparing your family and home for disasters, visit the American Red Cross and the Centers For Disease Control.

Mold facts from the experts

Mold. That discolored, fuzzy-looking fungus that lives both inside and out, and spreads quickly in humidity. While some molds can be beneficial to the environment, when it comes to personal property, mold can be a real pest.
Yes, we said a four-letter word that no business or homeowner ever wants to hear, and unfortunately, we weren’t referring to pest. Mold causes several issues, including property damage and sickness if not treated immediately.  Even worse, once mold has made its new home, it can become difficult to treat. But, there is hope, and Hays+Sons can get your home or business back to life – without further damage or stress.

What causes mold?

Black MoldMold usually forms in warm, dark spaces, resulting from appliance and pipe leaks, or even a spill that goes untouched.  If left untreated, the potential for mold to grow and spread is likely. According to the Centers for Disease Control, mold can spread within 72 hours following a leak. Therefore, it’s important to call a professional and immediately address the problem. Hays+Sons employs experts who carry the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), and are trained in mold remediation. Together with a third party sampling company, these experts will conduct a thorough and meticulous removal process. It’s our business, and we’re all about working with you to reduce the stress that often comes when disaster strikes. This is our approach.

Time for “dry” cleaning

When leaks are sprung, time is of the essence, and drying the area quickly is critical to stop the growth and spread of mold.  
“In our experience, we have learned that people sometimes assume everything is fine if the area looks dry. But, just as time is important in addressing mold, it also can take weeks for an area to completely dry,” says Booby Slaymon, a Hays+Sons project and mold manager. “This creates moisture behind walls, baseboards or in the carpet — and it’s a favorable environment for mold.”
Before every job, we inspect the area, and recommend the best course of action. Following approval from you and your insurance company, we use HEPA vacs, fans and dehumidifiers to restore order and return your property to pristine shape.  To do this, we will employ the help of a HEPA filtration system on every job because it is a means of containing and preventing cross-contamination.
Along with establishing filtration, our experts will establish critical barriers and calculate the number of needed air changes per hour.
“We will always have at least four per hour,” says Slaymon. And following every job, we will recommend that customers have their air ducts cleaned and maintained by a licensed professional.”

What you should know

Mold is not only damaging to property, but if ignored, it can be hazardous to your health.  Specifically, black mold or “toxic mold,” which is visible by its dark color, can wreak havoc not only in homes and businesses, but it could also be what’s making you sick. If you’ve had recent property damage and are now experiencing symptoms, it could be a sign of black mold. Do not assume this will leave by doing nothing. Likewise, if you are pregnant, a senior citizen or have an immune-suppressive condition, call us, your doctor, and be mold-aware with these ten facts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.   
It goes without saying – mold, and its effects on homes and businesses are devastating. While we hope you never have to deal with it, if and when disaster strikes and mold follows, we’ll be ready to help 24/7 – and we won’t be offended if you say that four-letter word.