Recent Posts

What are the fire damage risks from EV home recharging stations?

3/16/2023 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto offers tips on how to decrease the risk of house fires caused by the charging of electric vehicles.

SERVPRO® of Palo Alto is a leader in providing fire damage, smoke, damage, and water damage restoration services to Palo Alto and Bay area residents and businesses.

The risk of fire from charging an EV

The number of electric vehicles (EVs) is growing. The US EV market in the United States topped 6.7% by mid-summer 2022. In 2019, EVs made up just under 2% of vehicles on the road. Of the nearly 1.45 million EVs registered in the US, California boasts over 563,000 units, a 38.7% share of the EV fleet in the United States.

As with the growth of any new industry, challenges arise. Some EV owners are anxious that their EVs may create a significant fire hazard while charging at home. These fears are not groundless. Over the past few years, several major carmakers have issued recalls for some of their EVs due to fire risks.

Jane Marsh, a specialist in climate policy, sustainability, and renewable energy, comments on the house fire risks from EV charging: “While EVs may not have tanks full of combustible liquid like conventional cars, their batteries pose fire hazards. The lithium-ion batteries that power these vehicles have a high energy density and use flammable components. As a result, if something goes wrong, they could catch fire quickly and burn extremely hot. These hazards are a concern in all lithium-ion battery products, not just EVs. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported more than 25,000 overheating and fire incidents from 400 types of products using these batteries over a five-year period.”

Marsh elaborates on the specific housefire risks of charging EVs at home, stating, “Charging EVs at home, especially overnight, past their full capacity could cause overheating, leading to fires. Battery damage or electrical issues could heighten these risks. As automakers like GM aim to eliminate gas vehicle sales by 2035 and EV adoption grows, this fire hazard becomes more concerning.”

Are fires from EVs a frequent occurrence?

Incidents of EVs catching fire are not a common occurrence. In fact, EV fires are rare. Research indicates that EVs experience approximately two dozen fires for every 100,000 vehicles, while traditional fossil-fuel-based vehicles account for 1,500 fires. Manufacturer recalls of gasoline-powered cars for fire hazards significantly outnumber recalls of EVs for the same reason.

The probability of an EV causing a fire while charging at home is very low compared to home appliances such as electric stoves. Cooking accounts for roughly 474 home structure fires each day. Electric stovetops far outnumber EVs, but housefires caused by EVs are relatively lower by comparison.

Although rare, a house fire from charging an EV is still difficult to extinguish. With the increase in the number of EVs comes a greater likelihood of more fires. The practical steps listed below will reduce fire risks associated with EVs.

Step #1: Do not exceed recommended charging limits

Overcharging an EV’s battery is one of the leading causes of fire. Charging the battery to less than 100% will ensure the battery does not overheat. Fire experts advise EV owners to avoid charging their EVs overnight. If an EV needs repair, do not park it in the garage. Instead, park the car a safe distance from the house until the problems are diagnosed, and the repairs are completed.

Step #2: Have the home electrical system inspected by a licensed electrician familiar with adapting the home wiring system to accommodate an EV charger

Homeowners should have an electrician inspect their wiring before installing EV chargers to ensure they can handle the high voltages necessary to charge the vehicle. Older homes and damaged systems may be unable to charge EVs safely.

Step #3: Install fault detectors and emergency shut-off switches in electrical systems

Keep all equipment in optimal operating condition. Low fire risk, peace of mind, and uninterrupted service are the benefits of proper maintenance.

Step #4: Install safety and security devices around the EV charging station

A smoke detector can sound the alarm in case a fire occurs when the EV is charging. Keep an appropriate fire extinguisher handy in case a fire incident occurs. Never spray water on a burning EV. Immediately contact fire first responders. Keep a safe distance from the EV. Lithium-ion batteries generate intense heat and toxic fumes.

Install a discrete remote video camera for both personal safety and security purposes. The camera will allow real-time viewing of a fire incident from beginning to end, and this information could help determine the cause and nature of the fire.

Step #5: Pay attention to recalls and new trends in the EV industry

EVs and battery technology are in their infancy. As bugs are discovered and resolved, the EV owner must stay informed about new issues and new advances in relevant technology.

What to do if an EV charging fire breaks out

Once the smoke or flames are discovered, follow all safety precautions and fire suppression procedures recommended by the manufacturer. If possible, shut off the power to the charging station. Call 911.

If fire damage, smoke damage, and water damage cleanup and restoration are needed, call the trained, IICRC-certified professionals at SERVPRO of Palo Alto for assistance. The team is trained to safely clean up and restore any hazardous fire and smoke damage disaster. Crews are available 24/7, 365 days a year, including holidays.

For more information about water damage restoration in and around Linda Vista Park, Cupertino, CA, and the surrounding area, email SERVPRO of Palo Alto at or call (650) 800-3448.

Five steps to select the right insurance coverage for water-damaged electronics in case of water damage

3/16/2023 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto knows the importance of electronics in the home or business and the need for adequate policy coverage. These five steps will help the homeowner choose to cover the restoration or replacement of water-damaged electronics.

SERVPRO® of Palo Alto provides water removal for homes and businesses that have experienced water damage from a burst pipe, a flash flood, or other water damage disaster.

The selection process for choosing the best homeowners policy coverage for electronics can be challenging and confusing. The homeowner can choose a wide range of coverage limits, from a little to a lot. However, there is a pitfall the homeowner should be aware of. Policies that cover possessions, possessions insurance, might have restrictions on how much the policy pays for items of significant value.

Home electronics are a case in point. The rapid expansion in work-from-home scenarios has seen a corresponding increase in the quantity, quality, and cost of home electronics. An accurate assessment of the value of electronic devices that would be covered by a homeowners policy and the limits of the coverage deserve careful analysis. A catastrophic property damage disaster such as a fire, tornado, or flash flood could wipe out a home, the office in the home, and a small business based in the home. The right amount of coverage will ensure the house is cleaned up and restored.

The right coverage for electronics such as computers, copiers, and printers allows the homeowner, who is a remote worker or a small business owner working from home, to recover quickly and within budget. Here are some extra steps to ensure adequate coverage for electronics in the home, the remote home office, or the small business operating out of the home.

Step #1: Take a complete inventory of the electronics in the home

To be certain no device is overlooked, take an inventory. Go from room to room, making a list of everyone’s electronics. Look for the following items:

  • Mobile phones
  • Televisions & DVD players
  • Stereo systems
  • Computer equipment (including printers and scanners)
  • Tablets
  • Cameras
  • Security systems
  • Smart-Home devices

Do not be surprised if the list contains dozens of devices totaling thousands of dollars in value. The twenty-first century truly is the digital age.

Step #2: Research the value of each item

Start by looking at the receipt when the item was purchased. If the original purchase price is unavailable, determine the item’s current value by searching the internet. The original purchase price and the cash value (the value of the item after usage, the passage of time, and price declines in subsequent versions) can be significantly different. This price difference may influence the level of possessions coverage selected by the customer.

Step #3: Determine which electronics will be insured under the policy

The insured devices generally are the most expensive to replace or are crucial for business continuity and, therefore, need an immediate replacement for the home or business to continue functioning correctly and efficiently.

Step #4: Identify any possession coverage restrictions that might apply

The homeowners' policy may exclude certain electronics. These restrictions must be identified so the homeowner can decide whether to add the coverage. The worst time to discover a device is not covered is after it has been damaged or destroyed in a fire or flood.

A policy will not pay out in excess of its coverage ceiling. This payout limit can be reached very quickly if the replacement costs are very high. Powerful computers, 4K cameras, and stereo equipment can quickly bump against coverage limits.

Most policies will pay out cash value at the time of the loss. Other restrictions, such as a sub-limit for electronics, may apply. The total payout for all losses might be $50,000, but the payout for electronics may have a limit of $15,000 for electronics. Also, know what the deductibles are and how they apply.

Step #5: Obtain the right policy and gain peace of mind

Work with a reputable and trusted insurance agent to obtain the homeowners' policy best suits the circumstances.

Can electronics be cleaned up and restored?

SERVPRO of Palo Alto can provide expert electronics cleanup and restoration for electronics that have suffered fire damage, smoke damage, and water damage. Damage restoration is not recommended as a DIY project. The results could be shocking, cause a fire, or destroy the device.

When fire damage, smoke damage, or water damage disaster strikes, call the professionals at SERVPRO of Palo Alto. An IICRC-certified crew arrives on-scene in about an hour to begin the cleanup and restoration. When electronics are involved, every second counts. The longer the items are exposed to smoke, soot, and moisture, the more challenging the cleanup and restoration process will be. Consider pre-qualifying SERVPRO as the dedicated property damage restoration company for when a disaster strikes.

For more information about water removal services for residential or commercial properties like Apple Park, Cupertino, CA, call SERVPRO of Palo Alto at (650) 800-3448. The office can also be contacted by email at

Flood restoration services for homes and businesses in Sunnyvale, CA

3/16/2023 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto shares facts about flooding in California.

SERVPRO® of Palo Alto provides storm and flood restoration services for homeowners and businesses when severe weather strikes. When disaster hits close to home, reach out to the team that is tried and proven for damage disaster cleanup and restoration services in the Bay area.

California flood facts

Concern over water management in California shifts between dealing with too little water and managing too much water. The swing from drought to deluge and then back to drought can be challenging for public entities, businesses, and private citizens. Drought and flooding have a devastating impact and present significant challenges.

The size of the state, an aging public works system, numerous agencies involved in the endeavor, and the high risk of flooding make flood management very complicated and a financial drain of public and private resources. These basic facts about flooding in California and the Bay area will help residents understand and prepare for flooding in their neighborhoods and community.

Fact: Flood risk is statewide

Severe flooding has been part of California’s history from its earliest days. The “Great Flood” of 1862 is renowned for its destructive impact on homes and businesses and the loss of life. It is estimated that approximately 4,000 people, or 1% of the state’s entire population, perished in the flood event. 

Flooding is still a risk hazard in California. Flood management efforts have been extensive in modern times, but flooding is still a problem. As recently as 2017, a state of emergency was declared in 52 of California’s 58 counties. The Governor’s response was prompted by widespread damage from winter storms and flooding.

California is a beautiful state because of its magnificent mountains, verdant valleys, and stunning coastline. These geological features and the expanse of the state make the region subject to some degree of flooding. This conclusion is borne out by the reality that since the early 1990s, every one of the 58 counties in California has been declared at least one time to be a federal flood disaster area.

Research and analysis of the widespread risk hazards of flooding reveal the vulnerability of the state to flood damage. One in five Californians (7.3 million), $575 billion in buildings and homes, and $7.5 billion in crops are located in areas with a 1 in 500 chance of experiencing a flood damage event in any given year.

What homeowners and businesses can do to address flood risks

Government officials and policymakers tasked with risk analysis and flood management highlight recent dramatic fluctuations in the climate: “Recent years have shown how variable California’s weather and hydrology can be. The four-year stretch of 2012 through 2015 was the driest since statewide record-keeping began in 1896. Just a year later, 2017 is on track to be among one of the wettest years on record, with precipitation in the northern part of the state registering more than 200 percent of normal at the end of February.”

By embracing a strategy that recognizes the risk of both drought and flooding, the homeowner and business owner can always be prepared. A state of constant readiness brings peace of mind during calm weather, as well as confidence in the midst of severe drought or flooding.

Start by making an emergency readiness plan for the drought and the deluge. The plan should include an evacuation plan, a meet-up strategy, long-range walkie-talkies in case phones are down, and a list of important phone numbers for basic services and contact persons. Other essentials include a well-stocked first aid kit, LED flashlights, batteries, two weather band radios, toiletries, hygiene supplies, water, imperishable food, essential medicines, and rain gear. This list is just a start. Contact the local Red Cross for more information about disaster preparedness.

In anticipation of storm damage or flood damage, prequalify a reputable, locally owned property damage cleanup and restoration company before disaster strikes. Drought brings with it both the threat of wildfire and the risk of landslides and flooding when the skies finally open up. SERVPRO of Palo Alto is locally owned. The team of fire, smoke, water, and flood damage restoration specialists is available 24/7, 365 days a year, including holidays. One call has a crew of IICRC-certified professionals arriving on the scene in about an hour. They bring the necessary equipment, state-of-the-art technology, advanced cleaning techniques, and powerful EPA-approved disinfecting, sanitizing, and deodorizing products to make the home or business clean, safe, and healthy for humans and pets.

To learn more about Sunnyvale, CA, flood restoration services, email SERVPRO of Palo Alto can also be reached by phone at (650) 800-3448.

Answering the homeowner’s questions about dealing with property damage caused by pets

2/14/2023 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto provides water damage restoration and fire damage restoration services to homes in the Cupertino, CA, area.

SERVPRO® of Palo Alto provides fire and water damage restoration for property damage to homes in the Palo Alto area, including property damage caused by pets in the house. Pets, especially dogs, are popular in Palo Alto and the surrounding Bay area. A recent estimate in 2018 suggested that there were between 120,000 and 150,000 dogs in San Francisco. Immediately, the question arises: “What if my pet causes a fire damage or water damage disaster in my home?” Before answering the question, take a look at how pets of all kinds can cause a property damage disaster in a home or apartment. An awareness of how vulnerable a structure is when the dog (or cat) is home alone will make the homeowner think twice about leaving a pet unsupervised, even if the pet owner is at home.

Dogs and cats, the most popular domestic pets, can be curious. Dogs can cause the most damage, especially if the dog is large. Here are some innovative ways the family pet can cause havoc in the home or property by just being what they are: the family pet.

  1. Pets can cause a fire in the kitchen by causing items cooking on the stove to spill and ignite on the burners. A dog’s sense of smell is much more sensitive than a human’s. If the kitchen is outside and a grill is in use, do not be surprised to find a host of dogs (or cats) lurking around for a handout from the chef or for a full meal when the chef steps inside for just a moment. If a fire breaks out and damages the deck, siding, and awning, will insurance pay for damages?
  2. Pets can chew through electrical cords, which can cause an electrical fire and deliver a shock to the dog, cat, ferret, or pet rat. Both tame and wild, mice and rats love to chew electrical wires. Skunks, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, and other critters that make their way into the attic will chew on just about anything, including electrical wiring, which can result in an electrical fire.
  3. Pets can pull over light fixtures, the television or computer screen, and Christmas decorations, including Christmas lights.
  4. Pets can chew through plumbing, such as toilet tank supply lines and faucet supply lines.
  5. Make sure the water cooler is stable and securely attached to the wall with braces. A large dog can easily topple a free-standing water cooler. Twenty to thirty gallons of water can cover many square feet in the kitchen, den, and laundry room.
  6. Beware of leaving lighted candles in reach of pets (and children) to prevent a curious pet from overturning the burning candle and causing a fire.
  7. The irrigation and landscape lighting systems are not safe when the family dog is bored, hungry, thirsty, frightened by the sprinklers, or irritated when the lighting system begins to turn on at sunset.

Pets will lick, sniff, chew, push, pull, shake, shred, jostle, topple, or damage all manner of items, most likely when their owners are away from home.

Pet-caused disasters are often complex disaster scenes

If a dog or other pet causes a fire damage disaster, severe smoke damage will also likely occur. If the residence or apartment is outfitted with a fire sprinkler system, the water damage may be throughout the entire structure. If the fire department responds and rolls out the hoses, each hose can spray several hundred gallons of water per minute into the burning structure. Flowing at just over 70 mph, the force of the blast of water can cause severe damage to a home or business.

Does insurance coverage include property damage caused by pets?

These guidelines are subject to the terms of an individual’s policy. For clarity, consult with an insurance agent.

  • A typical homeowners policy does not cover damage in the home or the property caused by the owner’s pets. Under the policy, the homeowner’s pet is considered to be under the control of the homeowner, and responsibility for damages rests with the owner of the pet.
  • If the policy owner’s pet damages someone else’s property, the policy may cover those damages. The other person may sue for damages.

Case study: Fish tank water damage disaster

A large fish tank provides a delightful distraction for patients waiting to be seen by a doctor, dentist, or other health care provider. Smaller versions can be found in many homes in Palo Alto and the Bay area. A tropical fish tank can cost thousands of dollars to build and populate with fish. What if something catastrophic happens, such as an earthquake that sends the aquarium crashing to the floor in a wave of water, broken glass, and flopping fish?

Insurance industry experts offer the following helpful guidelines: “Water damage is typically covered by homeowners insurance policies, as long as it wasn’t the result of your own negligence. Most standard policies list water damage as what’s called a covered peril. That means there’s a good chance your insurer would reimburse you for the damage caused by a broken fish tank. Under a standard policy, the tank itself is covered if it was destroyed by one of the covered perils listed in a homeowners policy, such as fire.”

When disaster strikes, turn to the team of IICRC-certified professionals at SERVPRO of Palo Alto for fire damage, smoke damage, and water damage cleanup and restoration. Crews arrive at the damaged property in about an hour, 24/7, 365 days a year, including holidays. The rapid response and quick cleanup process help get life back to normal as soon as possible.

For more information about water damage restoration services in North Whisman, Mountain View, CA, and nearby areas, contact SERVPRO of Palo Alto by phone at (650) 800-3448 or email at

Fire sprinkler malfunctions: Five common causes and how to address the resulting water damage

2/14/2023 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto explains how fire sprinkler systems can malfunction, causing serious water damage in a commercial setting.

SERVPRO® of Palo Alto is a local leader in property damage cleanup and restoration, including water removal, dehumidification, disinfection, and deodorizing. These services are vital when a fire sprinkler system leaks or accidentally activates, flooding an office space, retail unit, or manufacturing facility with foul-smelling, stagnant water.

The discovery and diagnosis of an issue with the fire sprinkler system largely depend on the presence or absence of water dripping from a sprinkler head. The small, almost imperceptible leak may be the only clue the system has an issue or is about to experience a catastrophic failure. Even the tiniest leak calls for immediate attention. Otherwise, the consequences, an unintentional activation of the sprinkler system, would be disastrous.

These warning signs indicate the need to have the fire sprinkler system inspected by a professional well acquainted with the maintenance and repair of a fire sprinkler system.

1. Equipment issues

A leak left unrepaired can lead to the failure of the fire protection equipment. A leak in a dry system will cause the compressor to run continuously in an effort to keep water out of the pipes. The compressor will eventually overheat if the leak is not discovered and repaired. The system can activate without provocation if the situation persists.

2. Corrosive activity

Another warning sign of a current or impending leak is corrosion. According to fire safety experts, “Microbiologically influenced corrosion was thought to be the primary cause of fire sprinkler corrosion for many years. But the real culprit is oxygen. If you come across a rotten egg smell, discolored water, rusting, or an obstruction, then corrosion may have caused the leak.”

Begin the search for a possible leak. If a leak is discovered, make an appointment for a professional to conduct an on-site inspection and assessment of the fire protection system. Eliminating the existing corrosion and resolving the water leak will extend the life of the system and keep the facility safe under the umbrella of the sprinkler system’s protection.

3. Visible physical damage to sprinkler heads or pipes

Regular inspections and casual observations should take note not only of apparent leaks, stagnant odors, and discoloration but also of visible physical damage to the system. Custodial staff and service crews may damage sprinkler heads while cleaning the facility or repairing other damage. An impact from a scissor lift or a forklift can also compromise the integrity of the fire protection system. Damaged sprinklers, crooked or crimped pipes, and leaks along joints and fittings need immediate attention. A fire protection system is built to withstand some measure of punishment in the work environment, but this does not mean the system is indestructible. A fire sprinkler system may be finicky to maintain at times. However, if the system fails when a fire breaks out, a manufacturing facility of several hundred thousand square feet can become engulfed in flames in minutes, not hours. The fire sprinkler system should be respected and protected for its lifesaving capabilities.

4. A string of failed inspections

Fire protection systems are typically required to undergo annual inspections. The inspections are intended to identify leaks, corrosion, and damage to sprinkler heads and pipes. Deficiencies should be quickly repaired, and timely upgrades and replacements will keep the system ready in case of fire. The inspections also instill confidence in the system's integrity to function properly. A string of failed inspections without the needed performance of repairs and maintenance will allow for issues to compound over time. The only incident worse than an unintended activation is a failed activation in the event of a fire.

5. Frozen pipes

Ice is the enemy of the wet pipe fire protection system. A facility with a wet pipe system should maintain temperatures at or above 40 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent water in the pipes from freezing. Frozen water expands. The dynamic force of ice can rupture pipes, crack housings, and damage pipe joints. If the system freezes, the damage to the pipes and sprinkler heads could be catastrophic. If the system thaws when the facility is closed for the weekend, Monday morning could surprise the person tasked with opening the facility. It is imperative to keep the facility warm enough to prevent freezing. Close any windows, doors, or shipping bays that might allow heat to escape and cold air to enter. The solution for areas of the facility where temperatures regularly dip below freezing is installing a dry pipe fire protection system.

How to handle leaks or an accidental activation

An accidental activation can flood a professional office, retail space, or manufacturing unit with hundreds of gallons of water in just minutes. When circumstances demand a rapid response and a quick cleanup and restoration project, turn to a property damage cleanup and restoration leader, SERVPRO of Palo Alto. Utilizing powerful wet/dry vacuums and dehumidifiers, the team of IICRC-certified technicians can remove the water, dry out the remaining moisture, and get the facility up and running very quickly. Available 24/7, 365 days a year, including holidays, the SERVPRO team can be on-site in about an hour to begin the water damage cleanup project. SERVPRO can also handle the insurance claims process from end to end.

To learn more about water removal services in Old Mountain View, Mountain View, CA, and nearby areas, call SERVPRO of Palo Alto at (650) 800-3448. The office can also be contacted by emailing

The communication plan: An important strategy for staying safe during a flood damage disaster

2/14/2023 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto highlights a seven-step plan to ensure effective communication during an earthquake, wildfire, or flash flood.

SERVPRO® of Palo Alto provides flood restoration services to homeowners and businesses in the Bay area. When disaster strikes, preparedness is the key to successfully maneuvering the challenges that might arise.

A property damage disaster such as an earthquake, wildfire, or flash flood gives residents in the affected area little warning to prepare for and respond to appropriately. This suddenness of a natural disaster necessitates that residents be prepared in advance to respond to the immediate effects of the disaster. If the disaster is a flash flood, roads may be impassable, public utilities may be temporarily offline, and families and friends may be separated.

An emergency response plan is essential for survival when a disaster strikes. One of the most critical components of a ready plan is a solid communication plan. Communication brings people together, reduces chaos and confusion, calms and comforts those in distress, and enables victims to take control of a terrible situation.

An action plan, a communication strategy, and a central meeting place in case the family becomes separated are critical in the aftermath of a disaster. These tips will help families face the challenges of wildfire, earthquake, severe weather, or flash flood.

Components of a communication strategy

A strategy is a carefully thought-out plan with specific goals in mind. A “communication strategy” is a plan to ensure everyone is able to communicate with each other in a worst-case scenario. All hindrances, setbacks, and hurdles are taken into consideration, and Workarounds are put in place. Effective communication will prevent chaos and confusion. Effective communication brings comfort, calm, and direction. Communication saves lives. Listed below are some important steps to follow when formulating a communication strategy.

Step #1: Create a contact list

Creating a contact list is the foundation of an effective communication strategy. Include the full name, date of birth, physical address, cell phone number, email address, and social media links. Some contacts on the list may have landlines. Provide a hard copy for each person. Store the information on the cloud so it can be accessed with multiple devices such as a cell phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer.

Provide contact information for the following:

  • family members
  • schools and daycares
  • family doctors, local hospitals, and preferred urgent care centers
  • insurance providers
  • service providers (mechanic, electrician, HVAC, plumber, property damage restoration company)
  • primary distant contact

To choose a distant primary contact, identify a person in another region of the United States. In a large-scale, regional disaster, the lines of communication may be overwhelmed or offline. A long-distance contact may be easier to reach by phone than a friend or family member in the next town or county. The central contact can help family members connect, share information, and meet up at a location disclosed by the distant contact. Make sure the person agrees to take on the responsibility. Be sure to add their contact information to the contact list. Highlight their name as the designated distant contact in case of an emergency. Include them in emergency drills.

Step #2: Be familiar with the emergency plans for schools, daycares, and employers that involve family members

Even though technology can detect severe weather and alert people about the danger, a natural disaster can still strike at any time, with little warning. Family members could be at work, school, daycare, dance class, soccer, music lessons, or Taekwondo. Obtain a copy of the emergency response plan for each activity and review it with the children. If the extracurricular activity lacks a disaster response strategy, be the parent or guardian to help the institution or group create a plan. Review each plan with the family. Sign up to receive emergency text alerts from each child’s daycare or school.

Step #3: Set up meeting places in case the family is separated

With designated meeting places to fit different scenarios, everyone will know where to meet up. Take nothing for granted. In the event of a natural disaster, send everyone involved in the communication plan a text notifying them of where the meeting place is.

Interior meeting space: The space should be a small room with no windows in the interior of the structure. A bathroom or closet is recommended.

Outside meeting space: If the home must be evacuated, exterior options include a neighbor’s house or the end of the drive. Meeting places further away from the home could include a hospital, convenience store, library, or fire station.

Distant meeting place: In case of a large-scale disaster such as an earthquake or tsunami, coordinate with a friend or family member in another community.

Step #4: Document and distribute the plan

Make copies of the communication plan and give it to family members and other parties who might need the information. Store the information on the cloud. Text and email everyone the link to the document.

Step #5: Conduct simulated drills with the entire family.

Practice several times a year with the children in the family. Familiarity with the action plan will reduce stress, confusion, and fear when and if a disaster strikes.

Step #6: Update the plan at least once a year

Schedule a time to review, update, and redistribute the communication strategy to all involved parties. Details and locations may change from year to year, but accuracy can save lives and prevent injuries.

Step #7: Pre-qualify the restoration professionals at SERVPRO of Palo Alto

Include their contact information in the emergency response plan and the communication contact list. When a fire damage, smoke damage, water damage, or flood damage disaster strikes, contact the team at SERVPRO of Palo Alto. Crews are available 24/7, 365 days a year, including holidays. IICRC-certified technicians arrive on-scene in about an hour, and the rapid response gets life back to normal as soon as possible.

For more information about flood restoration services in Stambaugh Heller Redwood City, CA, and nearby areas, contact SERVPRO of Palo Alto by phone at (650) 800-3448 or email at

Fires and fire damage: Answering eleven frequently asked questions

1/25/2023 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO® of Palo Alto answers the common questions that Cupertino, CA, homeowners are asking about fire and fire damage.

The fire damage and water damage restoration experts at SERVPRO of Palo Alto are answering frequently asked questions about house fires and fire damage. Ignorance about the common causes of house fires puts the occupants of a home at great risk. A cooking fire on the stove can erupt into a full-fledged blaze that has the potential to engulf the entire structure in a couple of minutes or less. A healthy realization of how fast a fire can spread can save lives. When people realize they have little time to gather belongings and even less time to escape with their lives, no time will be wasted in evacuating the structure and ensuring everyone is not only out of the home but also at a safe distance. Here are some common questions frequently asked about house fires and fire damage.

How significant of a problem are home fires in the United States?

House fires pose a significant safety hazard in the US. According to recent statistics from the Red Cross, teams from the organization responded to nearly 75,000 disasters around the US. More than nine out of ten (93%) were related to a fire event. The tragedy is that many of these fire-related disasters could have been prevented.

Do home fires seem to be on the increase?

Regrettably, the answer to this FAQ is yes. Across the country, residential fires have seen an uptick of 8% in recent years. The typical cost to clean up and restore a fire-damaged home is approaching $20,000. The Red Cross disaster response rate has increased by at least 10% over the last two decades.

Are house fires more frequent during certain times of the year?

No time of the year is totally immune to fire risks. The fall and winter experience a greater frequency of house fires. Understandably, December and January are peak months for house fires. The weekends see an increase in fire outbreaks, with a peak between 6:00 pm and 7:00 pm.

Where in the home do most fires have their origin?

The kitchen is the “hot spot” where most house fires originate, followed by wherever the wood stove or fireplace is located. The majority of house fire fatalities result from fires caused by smoking.

Who is at the greatest risk of dying in a house fire?

When a house fire erupts, the most vulnerable occupants in the home are adults over 65 and children under five.

What is the best way to prepare for a potential house fire?

Once a fire erupts, occupants have a window of about two minutes to escape the blaze safely. The key to survival is an early warning with smoke detectors. Delayed notification significantly reduces the time window for a safe escape. Install high-quality smoke detectors outside each bedroom and on each level of the home or apartment. The best safety practice is installing smoke alarms in the bedrooms if someone decides to sleep with the door closed.

Are smoke detectors enough to keep everyone safe?

Faulty smoke alarms are worthless. Test the devices at least once a month to ensure they are working. Change the batteries at least once a year. For optimal safety, replace smoke detectors every ten years.

Is a fire extinguisher complicated to operate?

While fire extinguishers require some training and practice to be effective, the device can buy precious time to escape a house fire safely. Proper training can be obtained from a local fire department.

Should multi-story dwellings have escape ladders?

A fire escape ladder can save lives when a fire suddenly erupts, cuts off avenues of escape, and leaves little or no time to evacuate the home. The escape ladder is worth the risk when all avenues of escape are blocked except a window.

Can a homeowner create an effective fire escape plan?

The typical homeowner is capable of formulating a lifesaving fire escape plan.

Step #1: Designate two avenues of escape from every room.

Step #2: Store escape ladders near each window where the distance to the ground requires the assistance of an escape ladder.

Step #3: Assign a meeting place that is a safe distance from the home.

Step #4: Explain the plan and solicit helpful feedback—follow-up instruction with actual drills.

Never re-enter a burning home. The smoke and flames can overwhelm a person in seconds.

Is it possible to pre-qualify a damage restoration company before a fire, smoke, or water damage disaster has occurred?

The best time to reach out to a fire and water damage restoration company is before disaster strikes. SERVPRO strongly recommends homeowners and businesses begin this relationship before fire and smoke billow out of the roof and windows. The team of experienced, IICRC-certified technicians responds 24/7, 365 days a year, including holidays, with a response time of about an hour or so. A specially trained technician will prepare a detailed, well-documented estimate with images and video. SERVPRO of Palo Alto can handle the insurance claims process from beginning to end. The rapid response and quick cleanup get life back to normal as soon as possible.

To learn more about Apple Park, Cupertino, CA, water damage restoration services, email SERVPRO of Palo Alto at or call (650) 800-3448.

How to handle insurance claims for a water damage disaster

1/25/2023 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO® of Palo Alto recognizes that the insurance claims process can be a nightmare for the homeowner or business owner suffering a water damage disaster. The damage restoration company outlines three steps to help work through the claims process.

SERVPRO of Palo Alto helps people turn their world right side up when a water damage disaster has turned it upside down, and water removal services are needed. The disruption, inconvenience, and stress are overwhelming. These three key steps will help homeowners or business owners near Linda Vista Park, Cupertino, CA, who have been affected by a water damage disaster, navigate the insurance claims process during the cleanup and restoration journey.

A water damage insurance claim has many moving parts requiring an overall understanding of the claims process, attention to detail, accurate reporting, and timely follow-up. The process is complicated, and a glitch could be costly and unnecessarily delay the restoration process.

Step #1. Documentation

Thoroughly document the disaster scene with a written description, images, and video. Documentation of the unaffected areas is advised, as well. A cell phone is a handy companion in this step. Upload the information to the cloud for safekeeping and easy access for all involved parties.

Step #2. Pack out

Water-damaged belongings in a flooded home must be relocated for cleanup and restoration of the contents and the structure. The risk of muscle or joint injury is high. Wet contents can sustain further damage when being moved, and delays in cleaning can cause the items to become unsalvageable. Too often, proper documentation is compromised in a rush to relocate the items to another location. The search for a suitable storage unit, most likely one that is climate-controlled, may prove fruitless. A standard homeowner’s policy will cover water and storm damage, pack-out, and storage expenses. There is no need to risk injury or to compound the burden caused by the water damage disaster.

Step #3. Cleanup and restoration

When a supply line bursts, a dishwasher leaks, a toilet overflows, or sewage backs up into the home, conditions can quickly become messy. Excess water must be removed with powerful wet/dry vacuums, and industrial-strength dehumidifiers reduce moisture to acceptable levels. Non-salvageable items are removed from the site and discarded. The homeowner who discards items without proper documentation or approval from the insurance company could suffer heavy financial loss. Cleaning, disinfecting, sanitizing, and deodorizing require advanced cleaning techniques and EPA-approved products safe for humans and pets. Cleanup and restoration necessitate personal protective gear such as masks, respirators, gloves, face shields, or protective eyewear.

The importance of pre-qualifying a property damage professional

The optimal time to contact a property damage cleanup and restoration company about their services is before a fire, smoke, or water damage disaster occurs. It is not 2:00 in the morning when water is spewing from a water supply line to the washing machine, or the smoke alarms are blaring throughout the home. When the homeowner pre-qualifies with a restoration company before disaster strikes, the chaos, confusion, and anxiety of a property damage disaster exist only as a “what if” scenario that prompts phone calls to various property damage restoration companies.

When pre-qualifying a damage restoration company, ask key questions

1. How long has the company been in business?

Experience and longevity can only be achieved over time. A company that has existed for twenty years has gained valuable experience. A business that fails to provide top-quality service will most likely fail the test of time. What are others saying about the cleanup and restoration company? Positive reviews validate the company’s integrity.

2. Is the business locally owned and operated?

When the restoration company owner lives in the community and hires employees from the community, the staff and technicians care about the community. The people the team serves share life in the community. Property damage restoration becomes personal.

3. Is the local business a member of a larger franchise family?

Does the franchise have a track record of excellent service? The backing of a large franchise family makes it possible for the local entity to scale to address any size disaster rapidly.

4. Are technicians IICRC-certified?

Technicians with these certifications have been through a rigorous training program that teaches and trains participants in the industry’s best practices for cleanup and restoration.

5. Are crews available 24/7, 365 days a year, including holidays?

Many fire, smoke, and water damage disasters occur on weekends and holidays when activities in and around the home increase.

6. How long does it take for a crew to arrive on the scene once the initial contact has been made?

Rapid response and quick cleanup should be top-priority since immediate action is crucial to prevent advanced secondary damage. SERVPRO of Palo Alto immediately dispatches a crew to the disaster scene and boasts a response time second to none.

7. Will a detailed, thoroughly documented estimate be provided to the customer?

8. Can the company be able to handle the insurance claims process from end to end, including documentation validating that the job has been completed?

Trust the restoration experts at SERVPRO of Palo Alto for water, fire, storm, and commercial damage restoration. They offer twenty-four-hour emergency service, rapid response and quick cleanup, and highly trained restoration technicians.

To learn more about water removal and water damage restoration services, contact SERVPRO of Palo Alto by phone at (650) 800-3448 or by email at

The importance of exercising caution with electricity after storms and flood damage

1/25/2023 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO® of Palo Alto offers tips on proper electrical safety after storms have flooded the home and neighborhood.

SERVPRO of Palo Alto provides the storm and flood restoration services homeowners and businesses need when facing storm damage and flooding in Palo Alto and the surrounding Bay area. Storm damage and flooding can create an unsafe environment for people in affected areas. The disaster zone may encompass an entire state, as in the case of a hurricane. In other cases, the affected area may be as small as a neighborhood if the culprit is a stalled thunderstorm. Raging floodwaters, washed-out roadways, bridges, downed trees, and power lines are some of the dangers of severe weather. People in a flood zone should make every effort to stay safe. Electrical hazards are often unseen, silent, and sudden, allowing little or no time for the victim to respond, recover or retreat. Follow these tips to protect against electrical hazards during severe weather and flooding.

Tip #1: Practice extreme caution around downed power lines

Assume a downed power line is or may become charged with electricity without warning. Inform the power company of the incident. Stay away from overhead power lines with equipment such as a ladder, metal pole, or tree limb.

Avoid driving through water possibly electrified by fallen power lines. If a power line snaps and falls onto a vehicle, the driver should remain inside the vehicle. If possible, drive out from under the power line. Do not touch the ignition switch if the vehicle should stall. Caution bystanders to avoid touching the vehicle and the power line. Water puddles around the vehicle can electrocute anyone who comes into contact with the water. Only first responders should approach the vehicle.

Tip #2: Exercise great care when dealing with electrical issues in a home or business after storm damage or flooding.

Shut off the power at the main breaker before dealing with water-damaged electrical circuits and equipment. If access to the main power switch requires standing in water, secure the services of a licensed electrician to manage the task and resolve any risk hazards.

  • Wait to enter the storm-damaged or flood-damaged structure until emergency personnel declares the scene safe.
  • Before being plugged in and turned on, all electrical equipment and appliances should be thoroughly dried and tested by a certified professional.
  • Do not touch or operate appliances or power tools while standing in water or on soaked carpeting.

Pay attention to these electrical hazard warning signs:

  • frayed wiring
  • sparks or popping noise when the power is turned on
  • the odor of burning plastic or wood
  • smoke and flames coming from electrical circuits, appliances, or the HVAC system

Shut off the power if any of these danger signs are noticed. The safest and best action is to hire an electrician to inspect, diagnose, and resolve the issue.

Tip #3: Follow the instructions when using a generator

A generator can make life much easier and safer during a power outage. Have a knowledgeable, certified electrician make the necessary upgrades to the electrical system before using a power generator. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions before using the generator. Stay safe. The inappropriate use of a generator can create a significant fire hazard or endanger utility employees working to restore power in the area.

Electrical shock: What to do

The CDC provides instructions for helping someone who has suffered an electric shock: “Look first. Don’t touch. The person may still be in contact with the electrical source. Touching the person may pass the current through you. Call or have someone else call 911 or emergency medical help. Turn off the source of electricity if possible. If not, move the source away from you and the affected person using a non-conducting object made of cardboard, plastic, or wood. Once the person is free of the source of electricity, check the person’s breathing and pulse. If either has stopped or seems dangerously slow or shallow, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately. If the person is faint or pale or shows other signs of shock, lay him or her down with the head slightly lower than the trunk of the body and the legs elevated. Don’t touch burns, break blisters, or remove burned clothing. Electrical shock may cause burns inside the body, so be sure the person is taken to a doctor.”

After the storm passes and the floodwaters recede

Severe weather can cause extensive storm damage and flood damage, affecting hundreds of homes and businesses. The impact zone may be as large as several states, disturbing the lives of millions of residents. Whether the scope of the disaster is large or small, the damage, hazards, and disruptions are real and pressing. The time to choose a property damage cleanup and restoration company is before the floodwaters rise, trees topple, power poles snap, and the lights go out. At this stage of the disaster, hundreds if not thousands of people will be clogging the phone lines searching for companies to remove the excess water, dry out the remaining moisture, clean up the mess, and restore the damaged contents and structure to their pre-disaster condition. Pre-qualify a dedicated property damage cleanup and restoration company when the skies are clear, the weather is calm, and life is relatively peaceful.

Locally owned and operated, SERVPRO of Palo Alto is available 24/7, 365 days a year, including holidays, to tackle any size or type of disaster. Crews can arrive on-scene in about an hour or so with the latest equipment, cutting-edge technology, advanced cleaning techniques, and EPA-approved cleaning, disinfecting, and deodorizing products. Technicians are trained, experienced, and IICRC-certified. A rapid response is only one phone call away, no matter what time, night, or day.

For more information about flood restoration services in Sunnyvale, CA, and the surrounding area, contact the office by phone at (650) 800-3448 or email at

Seven tips for a safe holiday cooking experience untouched by fire damage

1/2/2023 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO® of Palo Alto warns Redwood City, CA, homeowners about the increased potential for fire damage in the kitchen during the holiday season.

The team at SERVPRO of Palo Alto wants everyone to have a happy and safe holiday season, free from seasonal hazards and restoration of a fire-damaged home. Knowing that people will be cooking and entertaining during the season, SERVPRO of Palo Alto offers these tips on how to stay safe in the kitchen.

The holiday season is hectic, running here and there, buying presents, racing to holiday parties, and preparing food for family gatherings and the big games. One place to slow down, pay attention, and take precautions is in the kitchen. One of the leading causes of house fires and personal injury is unattended dishes cooking on the stove. A phone call, a text that needs an immediate response, a crying child, a pet who needs attention, guests at the door, or other interruptions and distractions can make safe cooking very difficult. A ruined meal, burn or scald injuries, or even a full-blown cooking fire can result if the cook fails to juggle everything in the kitchen and the home successfully.

The holidays see a spike in home cooking fires. Amid the festivities and celebrations, families need to take the time to create a fire safety plan or review their existing fire safety plan. Two essential components of a simple fire safety plan are evacuation routes and fire extinguishers. Precautions should also be taken to avoid personal injuries such as scalds and burns.

Whether the cooking involves preparing a side dish or a three-course meal for a family gathering, kitchen fires and personal injury can be avoided by following safe cooking tips.

  1. Cooking is a complex activity involving many items. Food packages, paper towels, potholders, oven mitts, and dish towels can readily catch fire when placed too close to a hot burner. Stay safe by keeping flammable articles away from hot burners.
  2. Dress for safety. Long, flowing sleeves and bulky clothing create a fire hazard. If possible, wear clothing made of natural fibers when cooking. An apron keeps clothing clean and safe. Clothing made of highly flammable fibers should not be worn while cooking, especially if open flames are involved. Be aware that long hair can present a safety hazard when cooking on a gas stove or preparing dishes that flame up.
  3. Unattended cooking is the top cause of home fires. Stay with a cooking meal. Too frequently, items cooking in the oven are forgotten and end up charred. The shrill scream of the smoke detectors and the acrid smell of a burnt roast can be avoided by setting a timer as a reminder to check the dish baking or broiling in the oven frequently.
  4. Avoid trip-and-fall and slip-and-fall incidents while cooking by keeping the floor clear of any fall hazards that could send the cook to the emergency room. Also, keep pets in another room or their kennel while the chef cooks the meal. When inspecting a hot dish on the stovetop, a pet can receive serious burns and scalds to its paws, tongue, and nose.

Liquids such as water, olive oil, wines, and condiments are often used in cooking. Spillage is unavoidable. Clean up spills and splatters to avoid slip-and-fall injuries. Traffic in and through the kitchen should be kept to a minimum for optimal safety during the cooking experience.

  1. Alertness in the kitchen is a key to safety. An exhausted, drowsy cook needs a nap or a break. Let someone else take the tongs if the hectic week and limited sleep are too overwhelming to stay focused, alert, and safe.
  2. Exercise extreme caution when handling hot liquids and foods. Clear the kitchen before removing the large, steaming casserole from the oven. Hot pans, pots, serving dishes, steam, and splashes can cause severe scalds and burns.
  3. Set the table for safety. Position the hot soup, steaming chili, and sizzling casseroles in the center of the table. These foods are less likely to be spilled if they are out of the way of elbows. Also, put these hot items on the table before guests are seated.

A cooking fire can get out of hand in seconds. Even if the damage is limited to the kitchen area around the stove, the smoke damage can still permeate the home. If the fire department responded or multiple fire extinguishers were discharged, the fire damage cleanup is much more than a simple DIY project. A rapid response and quick cleanup from an IICRC-certified crew from SERVPRO of Palo Alto can get the holiday celebrations back on schedule. Powerful equipment, cutting-edge technology, advanced cleaning techniques, and EPA-approved cleaning products give the team the advantage when tackling seasonal property damage disasters.

Contact SERVPRO of Palo Alto to learn more about seasonal hazards and restoration services in and around Apple Park, One Apple Park Way, Cupertino, CA 95014. The property damage restoration company can be reached by phone at (650) 800-3448 or by email at