As a resident of Philadelphia, the Democratic National Convention has come to an end and with it, thousands and thousands of visitors will be leaving the city and doing so without incident. First handedly, I watched protestors peacefully demonstrate while others yelled at police and all the while, the men and women in blue said nothing and kept composed. At Broad and Pattison Avenue, the city truly looked like nothing I’ve ever seen before, with people sleeping in tents in FDR park, a farming protestor walking with an alpaca, hundreds of flags in various colors and an eight foot fence stretching all the way to the Navy Yard. Along the streets, hundreds of police officers stood by, keeping the mass crowds in order while enduring the first major heat wave of the summer. Real feel temperatures were over one hundred degrees, and through all the people, the emotions and the fact that the DNC didn’t want a uniformed officer to be shown on camera, the police department maintained the streets to be safe. They endured shouts from frustrated pedestrians and motorists because of the heavy traffic and road closures, and still kept composed and did a fantastic job. So we would like to thank the Police department and all members of law enforcement who worked the long hours in the heat to keep the streets, the residents and even the protestors safe during this convention.
The response to mold claims by the insurance industry significantly changed the risk management and insurance needs of restoration contractors. Insurance claims for mold damages exploded onto the scene between 2000 and 2001. The short-term benefit to restoration contractors was a sudden surge in demand for mold remediation services and a seemingly endless supply of money from insurance companies to pay them. Unfortunately for the insurance companies, they had not anticipated “toxic mold” claims and had not priced their policies accordingly.
In response to surging toxic mold damage claims the insurance industry implemented their mold risk management strategy: risk avoidance. Insurance companies avoid mold risk by issuing over one hundred million mold exclusions and limitations annually. These exclusions can be characterized as universal mold exclusions. Although mold exclusions and limitations are not standardized and vary a greatly in scope, they are universally applied in virtually all forms of property and liability insurance. By implementing a mold risk avoidance strategy, the insurance industry was able to dump billions of dollars of mold related damage losses back into the economy.
This was successfully accomplished without a rate reduction or a whimper of protest from insurance buyers, lenders or insurance regulators. Score a big win for the insurance companies! But the insurance industry’s success in managing its mold loss exposure only increases the risk of uninsured mold losses for all of their policyholders and insureds. California, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin
The introduction of universal mold exclusions had four major impacts on the restoration business.
- Property owners now have a lot less insurance coverage to pay for mold losses than they once had. This decreases the overall demand for mold remediation services.
- Without insurance to cover mold damages, property owners will seek more qualified firms to perform mold remediations. This increases demand for the more professional, better- trained remediation firms.
- The potential liability loss exposure of a contractor is increased because property owners may need to seek outside sources of funding (liability lawsuits) to pay for their mold losses.
- Contractors no longer have insurance for mold damages in their General Liability insurance policies because all of these policies now have mold exclusions. For this reason restoration contractors now need to purchase separate Contractors Pollution Liability insurance to fill the gap in their business liability insurance protection.
It is important to remember that floods caused by rain can occur anywhere, with floodwaters rising gradually or flash floods striking suddenly. Water is a powerful force that can easily overtake vehicles and people.
Safety tips for driving in heavy rain:
- If you must drive in the rain, drive slowly and steadily. Pull over and stop if it is raining so hard that you cannot see.
- DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH FLOODWATERS!
- Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control or possible stalling.
- One foot of water will float most vehicles.
- Two feet of rushing water can sweep away most vehicles — including SUVs and pick-ups.
- Stay away from water that electrical or power lines have fallen into; electric current passes through water easily.
- Stay off your cell phone unless you must report severe injuries or call for help.
Safety tips for walking or cycling on urban trails:
- When rain is falling, it’s best not to walk or bike near a river or stream, even on Denver’s paved urban bike and walking trails; water flow can quickly increase and flooding can occur without notice.
- Move to higher ground and never go into a culvert! If you are on a streamside trail during a rainstorm use the alternate trail up to street level to avoid underpasses and culverts.
- NEVER take shelter in a culvert, under a bridge, or in an enclosed space, especially in low elevations by rivers and streams. Always go to higher ground out of the flow of water.
- Do not walk or bike through moving water. Six inches of moving water can cause a person to fall.
- If lightning is present, do not stand under or near an isolated tree or group of trees.
- Never allow children to play around streams, drainage ditches or viaducts, storm drains or flooded areas.
Localized street flooding:
- In underpasses and some areas that are geographical low-points, water cannot be expected to disappear down the storm inlets instantly; the pace and volume of the rainfall may be too quick and too great to immediately drain off. It takes time for the system to accommodate the rainfall.
- If you know that your street tends to flood because it is located in a low point, be sure to move your vehicles to higher ground whenever rain is forecast.
Wood framed windows can be very appealing as the craftsmanship of wood is far better than metal capping. But maintenance for these types of windows is vital, otherwise water damage may seep in and cause damage not only to the exterior wood, but also to the interior walls. Pictured below is such a case. The wood framing on the exterior was being neglected, and now water seeped in behind the framing and stucco and damaged the interior walls and sheathing. The remedy for this type of water damage will now include removing not only the framing, but also the stucco so that the sheathing can be replaced since it’s compromised.
What is dehydration?
Dehydration can be a serious heat-related disease, as well as being a dangerous side effect of diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. Children and persons over the age of 60 are particularly susceptible to dehydration.
What causes dehydration?
Under normal conditions, we all lose body water daily through sweat, tears, breathing, urine, and stool. In a healthy person, this water is replaced by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water. When a person becomes so sick with fever, diarrhea, or vomiting, or if an individual is overexposed to the sun and not drinking enough water, dehydration occurs. This is caused when the body loses water content and essential body salts, such as sodium, potassium, calcium bicarbonate, and phosphate. Occasionally, dehydration can be caused by drugs, such as diuretics, which deplete body fluids and electrolytes. Whatever the cause, dehydration should be treated as soon as possible.
What are the symptoms of dehydration?
The following are the most common symptoms of dehydration. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- Less-frequent urination
- Dry skin
- Dry mouth and mucous membranes
- Increased heart rate and breathing
In children, additional symptoms may include:
- Dry mouth and tongue
- No tears when crying
- No wet diapers for more than three hours
- Sunken abdomen, eyes, or cheeks
- High fever
- Skin that does not flatten when pinched and released
The symptoms of dehydration may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
Heatstroke is a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. This most serious form of heat injury, heatstroke can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher. Heatstroke requires emergency treatment. Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death.
Heatstroke symptoms include:
- High body temperature. A body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher is the main sign of heatstroke.
- Altered mental state or behavior. Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures and coma can all result from heatstroke.
- Alteration in sweating. In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, in heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel moist.
- Nausea and vomiting. You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit.
- Flushed skin. Your skin may turn red as your body temperature increases.
- Rapid breathing. Your breathing may become rapid and shallow.
- Racing heart rate. Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body.
- Headache. Your head may throb.
Heatstroke can occur as a result of:
- Exposure to a hot environment. In a type of heatstroke, called nonexertional or classic heatstroke, being in a hot environment leads to a rise in body temperature. This type of heatstroke typically occurs after exposure to hot, humid weather, especially for prolonged periods, such as two or three days. It occurs most often in older adults and in people with chronic illness.
- Strenuous activity. Exertional heatstroke is caused by an increase in body temperature brought on by intense physical activity in hot weather. Anyone exercising or working in hot weather can get exertional heatstroke, but it’s most likely to occur if you’re not used to high temperatures.
- Wearing excess clothing that prevents sweat from evaporating easily and cooling your body
- Drinking alcohol, which can affect your body’s ability to regulate your temperature
- Becoming dehydrated by not drinking enough water to replenish fluids lost through sweating
Ammonia (NH3) is an invisible compound gas. When a cat’s metabolism breaks down urea, it produces ammonia as a toxic waste eliminated through urine. A small amount of ammonia exposure to humans is common, as ammonia is also found in cleaners, textiles, woodworking, soil, air, water and other animal waste. Cat litter is absorbent enough to contain ammonia in clean litter boxes, but larger quantities that accumulate in unkempt conditions can pose some risk, especially to the elderly and young children, and persons with compromised immune systems or already developed respiratory ailments, like asthma.
The risk of ammonia to human health depends on the concentration and duration of exposure. Significant risk is more common in industrial situations, when persons are exposed to large concentrations of ammonia over long periods of time. While a cat may live upwards of 20 years, thus exposing its owner to years dealing with a litter box, concentrations of ammonia in clean litter is minimal. Nevertheless, knowledge of symptoms will help minimize risk.
Respiratory exposure is the most common route of ammonia exposure. If inhaled, ammonia can cause acute symptoms such as headaches, coughing, sore throat, dizziness, runny or burning nose, and a burning respiratory tract. Higher concentrations of ammonia exposure can cause bronchial conditions (such as shortness of breath, pneumonia and asthma), pulmonary edema, and in severe cases, death. If exposed, move to a well ventilated area. Eye exposure to ammonia fumes can cause itching, burning and tearing, and in severe cases, blindness. If exposed, rinse eyes well with water. Skin exposure can cause itching, burning, and stinging, and in severe cases, blistering and frost bite. If exposed, wash area thoroughly with water and soap. Ingesting ammonia can cause damage to the stomach, mouth and throat, and can cause systemic poisoning. If exposed, drink water or milk to dilute the concentration of ammonia. If significantly exposed or just concerned, contact a medical professional for further medical help or information.
Dust mites are members of the spider family. They live in carpet, upholstery, and fabric, and they thrive on human skin scale, animal dander, and trace nutrients. They need humidity to live, but they cannot drink water. The ideal temperature range for dust mites to live is 59-95ºF (15-35ºC) with relative humidity ranging from 55%-85%. Generally, the more humid an area, the more dust mites you’ll find.
It is the fecal matter of the dust mites that causes allergy problems. Common reactions to high levels of dust mite fecal matter include asthma and rhinitis. The approximate number of people in the United States suffering from allergies (not necessarily caused by dust mites) is 50 million and continuing to rise.
There are many products sold to reduce mite population in homes. Although many products do reduce the level of dust mite population, these products do not reduce it enough to have an effect on the clinical symptoms of allergies. The real reduction of clinical symptoms of allergies can be attributed to reduction in humidity, not the products available on the market.
A study was done in Dayton, Ohio in 1995, which tested home humidity levels on dust mite populations. It was discovered that the homes with the air conditioning on and dehumidification set up were the homes with the least amount of dust mites (after 4 weeks, there were zero live mites counted). The second best were the homes with only air conditioning and no dehumidification. The third of course were the homes without any air conditioning and no dehumidification; these homes had the highest levels of dust mites.
The conclusion is that when indoor humidity is kept below 50% Rh, evidence indicates that the mite population does not grow on significant levels. Constant dehumidification is needed to keep Rh below 50%.
The lower the humidity, the drier the air. This may cause severe stuffiness and cold symptoms in many adults and children, which is not necessarily good. However, it is preferred to allergies caused by dust mite fecal matter.
To eradicate dust mites you will need to do the following:
- Maintain a relative humidity below 50%
- Clean all soft goods (upholstery, bedding, clothing) in hot water. Use dryer set at the highest setting possible to dry clothes.
Having you HVAC system serviced every year is important not only for the life of the system itself, but to prevent failures like this. The condensation line backed up and caused water damage in this basement for a few days prior to anyone taking notice. It required the carpeting and pad to be removed and walls to be demoed.