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One thing becomes very obvious during major flooding events like Hurricane Sandy: Many people do not understand the basics of drying. Do-it-yourselfers (DIY) will attempt to use consumer cleaning products, fans or airmovers, but this will not give them the results they’re hoping for.
But who can blame them? At times like this, access to restoration services can be limited. At Dri-Eaz following Hurricane Sandy, we received a flurry of inquiries. One caller said he had rented Dri-Eaz airmovers and wanted to know how to dry out his crawlspace before the rental period expired. He admitted that he hadn’t rented a dehumidifier “because the rental charge was too high.”
At Legend Brands we always counsel people to work with a professional restoration firm, but we know that access to professionals during a large-scale disaster will be limited. The task then becomes helping the homeowner make the structure habitable with the tools they can access, in losses that are likely to be complicated by the presence of bacterial and fungal organisms.
Of course, it is potentially dangerous for people without training to attempt to address such issues. Most people have limited understanding of how water wicks through a structure, what it takes to properly dry materials or that materials can feel dry to the touch but be saturated inside.
And, homeowners and small business owners often forget to consider whether they may have occupants with compromised immune systems. Do they themselves have the physical strength to remove damaged materials, or even the ability to dispose of affected materials properly? And is the right equipment even available?
Help the well-meaning DIYers understand it is to their advantage to leave the restoration work to a professional who has the right products, equipment, technical knowledge and resources. It is safer for everyone.
Become the local expert
How can you best serve your market in the aftermath of a local disaster? Develop a message in your market for these types of events. Offer your firm as an educational resource to help property owners minimize damage.
Remember that many building trade contractors may not have the experience and knowledge to properly handle water restoration projects. But during major flooding events, they will surely be asked to take on the task.
Work to position your company as the go-to firm for technical advice and expertise among contractors. Consider offering technical newsletters or “tech tip” e-mails to create awareness.
If you are proactive about educating the public, people will turn to you for advice and suggestions. You can still be a significant resource to your local market — even when every truck and airmover and dehu has been deployed.
Make yourself available, and they will remember your company as the go-to restoration resource the next time they need restoration work.
Brandon Burton is the technical education manager for the Restoration Sciences Academy (RSA), a part of Legend Brands. He has served the restoration community for more than 15 years as an IICRC instructor, ANSI/IICRC S500 chair, RIA restoration council member and many other industry roles. You can contact Burton at BrandonB@RSA-HQ.com.