Monday, March 14, 2011

Part V & VI: New Jersey Tips - Cleaning Up After a Flood

Part V - Decontaminate Buildings and Contents

• Remove loose dirt and debris from affected surfaces, using a po

wer hose.

• Use a combination of household bleach (1/2 cup bleach per gallon of water)

and soap or detergent to wash down walls, floors, and other contaminated areas, including exterior surfaces.

• Keep the surface wet for 5-15 minutes.

• Rinse thoroughly with a power hose to remove any residue. This will eliminate fungal problems and their dangers.

• Follow directions on containers and take particular note of warnings. Do not mix cleaning compounds containing ammonia with bleach.

• Remove heating and cooling registers and ducts, then hose the ducts to prevent contamination from blowing through the ducts at a later date. After hosing duct work, wash with a disinfectant or sanitizer that is phenolic or pine-oil based. If ducts are in concrete or otherwise inaccessible, have them cleaned professionally.

• Discard clothing, carpets, upholstered furniture, and similar items if they cannot be cleaned and disinfected.

• Take immediate action to minimize the growth of molds and fungi:

  • Inventory all flooded areas so that every water-damaged area is identified, treated, and cleaned.
  • Remove and dispose of all wet ceiling tiles and drywall within 24 hours of water contact.
  • Remove and replace all drywall and insulation up to 12 inches above the water line.
  • Dry all wet light fixtures.
  • Replace water-damaged furniture, including wood, or clean it with a 10% bleach solution. (Note: be sure to verify that bleach will not discolor or damage surfaces before application. When in doubt, test in a small hidden area before general application.) Discard furniture made of or with particle board or pressed board. Treat fabrics as you would carpeting (see below).
  • Leave all cabinets and drawers open to facilitate air flow for drying. Treat surfaces of cabinets and drawers with the dilute bleach solution.
  • Remove and discard all non-essential wet files and paper. Remove essential paper to a location where it can be dried, photocopied, and discarded.
  • If a large amount of paper cannot be dried within 24 hours, rinse essential files with clean water and freeze them temporarily until proper drying can take place. (Freezing will prevent mold growth.)
  • Immediately remove as much water as possible from wet carpeting, using a water vacuum.
  • After wet vacuuming, shampoo the carpet with a 10% bleach solution twice within a thirty minute period. Begin shampooing immediately after wet vacuuming. Spot test an inconspicuous area before proceeding.
  • Rinse the carpet with clear water to remove the bleach, and ensure that the carpet is totally dry within 12-24 hours of treatment.
  • If the carpet fades with the bleach solution, then dry the carpet immediately and treat it with an alternate biocide. Consult a public health official, microbiologist, or industrial hygienist to determine the right biocide.
  • When any form of biocide (including bleach) is used, increase air circulation and ventilation.
  • Use dehumidifiers and air conditioning to speed the drying process.
  • If odors or complaints of health effects exist after the clean up, consult an industrial hygienist or environmental microbiologist to determine the need for bioaerosol testing.

Part VI - Ensure Worker Safety During Clean-Up

Stress, Long Hours, and Fatigue Increase the Risks for Injuries and Illness

Continued long hours of work, combined with emotional and physical exhaustion and losses from damaged homes and temporary job layoffs, can create a highly stressful situation for flood cleanup workers. Workers exposed to these stressful conditions have an increased risk of injury and emotional crisis, and are more vulnerable to stress-induced illnesses and disease. Emotional support from family members, neighbors, and local mental health professionals can help to prevent more serious stress-related problems in the difficult months ahead. People working in all phases of flood cleanup can reduce their risks of injury and illness in several ways:

• Set priorities for cleanup tasks and pace the work over several days (or weeks). Avoid exhaustion.

• Resume a normal sleep schedule as quickly as possible. Get plenty of rest and take frequent rest breaks before exhaustion builds up.

• Take advantage of disaster relief programs and services in your community.

• Be alert to emotional exhaustion or strain. When family members and neighbors are unavailable for emotional support, consult professionals at community health and mental health centers.

Be Ready to Provide First Aid

First aid, even for minor cuts and burns, is extremely important when exposure to waters potentially contaminated with human, animal, or toxic wastes exists. Immediately clean out all open wounds and cuts with soap and clean water. Most cuts, except minor scratches, sustained during flood cleanup activities will warrant treatment to prevent tetanus. If you are injured, contact a physician to determine the necessary type of treatment.

Provide Assistance to Employees and Their Families

• Employees may be stranded at your facility. Be prepared with food, water, blankets, transportation, radios, etc.

• Good communication is essential. Help your employees stay in touch with their families. Provide frequent updates about the status of the flood, community recovery, and your plans for recovery.

• If necessary, help your employees secure shelter, medical care, food, water, clothing, cash, transportation, disaster aid, etc., for themselves and their families. The recovery of your business depends on the availability of your workers.

• Provide information and assistance to help employees and their families deal with injuries or deaths, or with damage to their homes and property (see attached).

Provide Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment

For most work in flooded areas, you will need the following personal protective equipment: hard hats, goggles, heavy work gloves, respirators, and watertight boots with steel toe and insole (not just steel shank). Excessive noise from equipment such as chain saws, backhoes, tractors, pavement breakers, blowers, and dryers may cause ringing in the ears and subsequent hearing damage. If you are working with any noise over which you must shout to be heard, wear earplugs or other hearing protection devices.

Ensure Electrical Safety

Use extreme caution while working with electrical equipment, attempting to restore power, or clearing areas near downed power lines. These steps may save your life:

• Treat all power lines as energized until you have followed the required procedures for de-energizing and testing them with an appropriate testing device. Do not rely on “fuzzing” to determine if a power line has been de-energized.

• Verifying that a line is not energized may not ensure your safety. You must also ground lines on both the load and supply sides of the work area. Grounding is necessary to protect you from the hazards of feedback electrical energy from a secondary power source, such as a portable generator.

• When restoring power in underground vaults, added precautions are necessary to prevent explosions. As vaults containing electrical connections are drained or pumped out, and as connections are energized, explosive gases may form. Follow appropriate regulations for working in confined spaces.

• When using gasoline and diesel generators to supply power, switch the main breaker or fuse on the service panel to the “off ” position prior to starting the generator. This will prevent inadvertent energization of power lines from “backfeed” electrical energy from the generators, and will help to protect utility line workers from possible electrocution. If clearing or other work must be performed near a downed power line, contact the utility company to discuss de-energizing and grounding or shielding of power lines. Extreme caution is necessary when moving ladders and other equipment near overhead power lines to avoid contact.

Be Cautious About Carbon Monoxide

Flood cleanup activities may involve the use of gasoline- or diesel-powered pumps, generators, and pressure washers. Because these devices release carbon monoxide, a deadly, colorless, odorless gas, operate all gasoline powered devices outdoors and never bring them indoors. It is virtually impossible to assess adequate ventilation.

Prevent Musculoskeletal Injuries

Cleanup workers are at risk for developing serious musculoskeletal injuries to the hands, back, knees, and shoulders. Special attention is needed to avoid back injuries associated with manual lifting and handling of equipment or debris and building materials. To help prevent injury, use teams of two or more people to move bulky objects, avoid lifting any material that weighs more than 50 pounds (per person), and use proper automated-assist lifting devices.

Prevent Thermal Stress

Heat. When clean-up takes place during warm weather, workers are at serious risk for developing heat stress. Excessive exposure to hot environments can cause a variety of heat-related problems, including heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and fainting. To reduce the potential for heat stress, drink a glass of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes and wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Additionally, incorporate work-rest cycles into work routines, work during the cooler hours of the day, when possible, or distribute the workload evenly throughout the day. When air conditioning is unavailable, open windows and use fans.

Cold. Standing or working in water which is cooler than 75ºF (24ºC) will remove body heat more rapidly than it can be replaced, resulting in hypothermia. To reduce the risk of hypothermia, wear high rubber boots, ensure that clothing and boots have adequate insulation, avoid working alone, take frequent breaks out of the water, and change into dry clothing when possible.

Ensure Safe Work in Confined Spaces

If you are required to work in a boiler, furnace, pipeline, pit, pumping station, septic tank, sewage digester, storage tank, utility vault, well, or similar enclosure, you should be aware of the hazards of working in confined spaces. Toxic gases, a lack of oxygen, or explosive conditions may exist in the confined area, resulting in a potentially deadly atmosphere. Because many toxic gases and vapors cannot be seen or smelled, never trust your senses to determine if safe entry is possible. Never enter a confined space, even to rescue a fellow worker, unless you have been properly trained! If you do not have the proper training and equipment, contact your local fire department for assistance.

Ensure That Only Trained Workers Operate Heavy Equipment

Only people who are properly trained should operate heavy equipment (such as bulldozers, backhoes, and tractors).

Be Aware of Agricultural Hazards

If you are involved in cleanup efforts on or near farms, you may face these additional hazards:

Confined Spaces on Farms. Molding or fermenting agricultural materials in confined spaces may generate large amounts of toxic gases which could cause lung damage or death if inhaled. Turn on fans or blowers in silos and other storage areas at least 30 minutes before entering and leave them on while working. Never open an oxygen-limiting silo if heating is suspected. Also, never enter these areas alone, and always use a full body safety harness.

Respiratory Hazards. Wet hay, grain, silage, compost, and other organic/agricultural materials often grow large amounts of bacteria and mold during warm weather. Breathing these organisms and the organic dust produced

may cause lung disease. Use proper engineering controls, including adequate fresh air ventilation. When exposure to organic dust cannot be avoided, use NIOSH-certified air-purifying respirators with high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to reduce the risk.

Fire Hazard of Stored Hay. Wet hay will mold very quickly. The biological processes involved in the formation of bacteria and mold can cause the hay to undergo spontaneous combustion. Monitor wet hay for odors, hot and damp areas, and rising vapors. If you detect these hazards, remove the wet hay from the building.

Sources of Information and Assistance

Do you carry a Flood policy for your NJ home or NJ Business? Have you reviewed your flood coverage since you took out your policy? Do you know you can purchase flood insurance even if you are not in a flood zone? These are just a few of the questions that Eastern Insurors can answer to make sure you are properly protected in case of a natural disaster, fire or any other event. Give us a call 800.269.3203 or email Eastern Insurors with any of your insurance questions. You can visit us online for more information on flood insurance here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Part III & IV: New Jersey Tips - Cleaning Up After a Flood

Part III - Dangers of Contamination

Flood waters pick up sewage and chemicals from roads, farms and factories. If your property has been flooded, protect everyone's health by cleaning up right away. Assume that anything touched by floodwater is contaminated. Mud left by floodwater can contain chemicals from sources as varied as your garden chemicals, to a neighbor’s propane tank, to the oven cleaner you stored in the kitchen. Homes with flood damage may have damp areas where molds, mildews, and other organisms will grow quickly.

Part IV - Identify Damage and Begin Clean-Up of Building Contents

Document the Damage

• Once it is safe to enter the building, make a preliminary tour of all affected areas. Wear protective clothing.

• Do not move equipment or other objects without documenting their location and condition.

• Use a digital camera or video camera to record conditions of structure, equipment, and furnishings. Make sure images clearly record the damage.

• Make notes and voice recordings to accompany the photographs.

• For Business - Assign staff to keep written records of contacts with insurance agents and other investigators, staff decisions on retrieval and salvage, and costs associated with cleanup and salvage.

• Make visual, written, and voice records for each step of salvage procedures.

Begin Clean-Up After the flood waters have subsided, start to clean and disinfect the building. However, don’t work in or around any flood-damaged building until it has been examined and certified as safe for work by a qualified person.

• Remove standing water from the facility. Use a mop, squeegee, absorbent materials, or a wet/dry vacuum cleaner.

• Begin draining the basement in stages, about a third of the water volume each day. Pumping out water too quickly may cause structural damage.

• Provide air movement and control humidity. Keep the building cool.

• Remove as much mud as possible. Once you’ve checked the water system for leaks, hose down the inside of the building and its contents. It’s best to use an attachment that sprays soap to wash and rinse the walls, floors, furniture, sockets, electrical boxes and other major items that got muddy.

• Clean and dry damaged equipment and property (take care of the most important pieces first). Take special steps with documents and computer files.

• Dispose of all debris properly. Follow all applicable regulations regarding hazardous wastes, disposal, and recycling. If necessary, contract with a hazardous waste firm for proper handling of hazardous materials.

• If necessary, contract with a disaster recovery consultant to complete the necessary cleanup and restoration.

Do you carry a Flood policy for your NJ Home or NJ Business? Have you reviewed your flood coverage since you took out your policy? Do you know you can purchase flood insurance even if you are not in a flood zone?These are just a few of the questions that Eastern Insurors can answer to make sure you are properly protected in case of a natural disaster, fire or any other event. Give us a call at 800.269.3203 or email Eastern Insurors with any of your insurance questions. You can visit us online for more information on flood insurance here. Check back with us tomorrow for part 5 of our 6 part series on flood safety.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Part II: New Jersey Tips - Cleaning Up After a Flood

Part II - Secure the Buildings and Utilities Before You Enter Your Home or Business

• Before entering the building, check for structural damage.

• Don’t go in if there is any chance that the building, or parts of it, may collapse.

• Carefully check to make sure porch roofs and overhangs still have all their supports.

• If you see damage, a building inspector or contractor should check the building before you enter.

• Once you are certain that the building is structurally safe to enter, make sure the electricity is turned off before you enter.

• Enter the building carefully. If the door sticks at the top, it could mean your ceiling is ready to fall. If you force the door open, wait outside the doorway in case debris falls. Check the ceiling for signs of sagging. Wind, rain, or deep flooding may wet plaster or wallboard. It is very heavy, and will be dangerous if it falls.

• Upon entering the building, do not use matches, cigarette lighters, or any other open flames, since gas may be trapped inside. Use an explosion-proof flashlight or chemical light stick to light your way.

• If you suspect a gas leak or smell gas, or if you hear blowing or hissing, open a window, leave the building and premises immediately, and call the gas company from a outside. Do not re-enter the building.

• Be aware of the dangers of electrical shock and the possibility of injuries caused by hidden sharp objects.

• Look out for animals, especially snakes. Animals lose their homes in floods, too. They may seek shelter in your building. Seek the assistance of an animal control officer to remove unwanted animals.

Do you carry a Flood policy for your NJ Home or NJ Business? Have you reviewed your flood coverage since you took out your policy? Do you know you can purchase flood insurance even if you are not in a flood zone?These are just a few of the questions that Eastern Insurors can answer to make sure you are properly protected in case of a natural disaster, fire or any other event. Give us a call at 800.269.3203 or email Eastern Insurors with any of your insurance questions. You can visit us online for more information on flood insurance here. Check back with us tomorrow for part 2 of our 6 part series on flood safety.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

New Jersey Tips - Cleaning Up After a Flood

With the melting snow, heavy rain and over-flowing rivers and streams, many of us will be faced with cleaning up our house and business after a flood. Cleaning up a flood-ravaged home or business – one of the first steps toward recovery – can be a difficult and disheartening task. It can also be dangerous.

Part I - Getting Around Safely

• Emergency workers will be assisting people in flooded areas. You can help them by staying off the roads and out of the way. Keep listening to the radio for news about what to do, where to go, or places to avoid.

• Roads may still be closed because they have been damaged or are covered by water. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways. Barricades have been placed for your protection. If you come upon a barricade or a flooded road, turn around and go another way. Don’t try to assess the depth of the water on a road. If the road is covered, don’t cross it. Don’t drive over low-water bridges.

• If your vehicle stalls, get away from it and get to higher ground. A car will float in as little as two feet of water. More people drown in their cars than anywhere else.

• Remember that standing water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.

• Be careful walking around. Flooding may have caused familiar places to change, and steps and floors are often slippery with mud.

• Do not walk through flooded areas. As little as six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet.

• Stay away from areas subject to additional flooding, such as low areas, stream beds, and ditches.

• Stay on firm ground.

• Be especially careful at night or in dark conditions when it is harder to see flood dangers.

• Flooded areas can be covered with debris, including nails and broken glass. Flood waters and debris may hide live animals or animal carcasses, and flood waters are often contaminated with biohazards (sewage, medical waste,

animal waste and carcasses) or other hazardous materials (fuels, asbestos, farm chemicals, etc.). Wear appropriate personal protective equipment if you must come in contact with flood waters.

• To reduce the risk of drowning; avoid working alone, and wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket when you are working in or near flood waters.

Do you carry a Flood policy for your NJ Home or NJ Business? Have you reviewed your flood coverage since you took out your policy? Do you know you can purchase flood insurance even if you are not in a flood zone? These are just a few of the questions that Eastern Insurors can answer to make sure you are properly protected in case of a natural disaster, fire or any other event. Give us a call at 800.269.3203 or email Eastern Insurors with any of your insurance questions. You can visit us online for more information on flood insurance here. Check back with us tomorrow for part 2 of our 6 part series on flood safety.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Important Safety Warning for NJ Landscapers

Attention All New Jersey Landscapers!

As your NJ Landscaping business heats up we wanted to let you know of a potential problem that could arise as your crews fill up your gas containers before heading out for their daily work. An unusual number of fires have occurred during the filling of portable gasoline containers when the containers are in the back of pick-up trucks that are equipped with plastic bed liners. Incidents of this nature have occurred with both metal and plastic portable containers.

How Does the Bed Liner Cause a Problem?

A bed liner is a polyvinyl plastic lining that fits inside the bed of a pick-up truck to protect the vehicle’s surface from wear and tear. The bed liner provides excellent insulation, preventing static electricity from bleeding off the gasoline container, to the truck body, through the truck tires, and off to the ground. A static charge can accumulate on the gasoline container in either of two ways. First, as the vehicle travels from one place to another, a charge can accumulate from the friction of the can sliding on the pickup bed. Second, when fuel is dispensed into a portable container, static electricity is generated by the flow of fuel through the hose, or by the free fall of fuel into the container.

The bed liner isolates the portable container from the metal body of the pickup truck (through which the static charge would normally be dissipated) thus allowing the charge to build and the container to hold the charge. When the fuel nozzle touches the container, a spark can occur, igniting accumulated gasoline vapors, and causing a fire or explosion.

To Ensure Your Safety When Dispensing Fuel Into Portable Containers

  • Dispense fuel only into an approved portable container.
  • Remove the approved container from the vehicle and place it on the ground a safe distance away from the vehicle, other customers, and traffic.
  • Do not fill a portable container while it is inside a vehicle, in a vehicle’s trunk, in a pick-up bed, or on any other surface other than the ground. This includes pick-up trucks, sports utility trucks, vans, marine crafts, and others.
  • Bring the fill nozzle in contact with the inside of the fill opening before operating the nozzle. Maintain contact until the filling operation is complete.
  • Never use the latch-open device, equipped on some dispensing nozzles, to fill a portable container.
  • Don’t smoke while pumping gasoline.

At Eastern Insurors, we partner with out New Jersey Landscaping clients to provide them with only the best business insurance coverages at the most affordable rates. We also keep you up to date on important information to help you avoid potential insurance claims. An independent insurance agent like Eastern Insurors can help you determine the price, coverage and service that best meet your needs. Visit our website, call us at 800.269.3203 or email us at for a free, no-obligation insurance review with premiums from over 15 insurance companies.