Time: The Most Valuable Resource in Document Restoration

Time: The Most Valuable Resource in Document Restoration

When your business is affected by a flood or fire, it can be devastating and highly stressful. More than that, such disasters can disrupt operations, especially if important documents are permanently damaged. If documents are damaged by water or fire, they can sometimes be restored or digitized in order to save the information and keep your business on track. But this is only a possibility if businesses have a plan in place for disasters and act fast. Time is the most valuable resource in document restoration.

Time is of the Essence

When important documents are damaged, particularly by water, it’s vital to act fast. The longer that documents sit untreated, the more likely the damage will be irreversible. So when quick decision making is so important, having a plan created ahead of time is the best way to guarantee fast action occurs.

Keys to Your Organization’s Disaster Reaction Plan

The most important aspect of any organization’s disaster reaction plan is the part that protects employees and anyone else inside the building. There must be clear steps for evacuation that will protect anyone inside the facility. It’s also important to assign certain people within the company or organization with the responsibility of directing people during disasters, which tend to be stressful. Employees are an organization’s most important asset. Your organization’s plan should outline how the company plans to communicate with its staff and provide support before, during, and after an incident. Once you can ensure the safety of people, the next step is protecting your company’s other valuable assets: sensitive documents, expensive equipment, and other important items. With employees being the number one priority, protecting those valuable assets usually comes with preventative measures and responsive measures. In other words, protect people during the disastrous event and take steps to protect items before and after. Preventative measures can include keeping valuable items in fire-proof and water-proof containers or safes. Responsive measures start with putting someone in charge of the restoration efforts who knows exactly what to do. While paying someone to be an expert in a situation that might never happen isn’t practical, starting a partnership with a company with the technology and expertise to move quickly in disastrous circumstances is more than practical. It’s essential.

Trusting AMRestore as Your Disaster Response Partner

AMRestore offers emergency response and an impressive fleet of drying and climate control equipment. Our industry-leading restoration technology combined with our highly experienced team means that you can trust us to take the right steps to get things back to normal and restore your most important documents and equipment.

To start your partnership with AMRestore, an industry leader in emergency drying and restoration, contact us today.

Reopening Schools and Universities: ASHRAE Releases Guidelines

Reopening Schools and Universities: ASHRAE Releases Guidelines

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers, typically referred to as ASHRAE, released a technical resource regarding the reopening of schools and universities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. They stated their position as, “Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning [HVAC] systems, can reduce airborne exposures.”

The full resource is available on the ASHRAE website. ASHRAE states the purpose of the guide in the introduction: “This guidance has been formulated to help designers retrofit and plan for the improvement of indoor air quality and to slow the transmission of viruses via the HVAC systems. The underlying effort of the designer should be to increase outside air to the spaces and treat return air.  The designer should also be concerned with mechanical filtration of the supply air and maintaining indoor comfort as defined by the design temperature and relative humidity.” The resource continues with two checklists for the fall start of classes. The first checklist includes a review or air systems and past indoor air quality issues, general inspection of spaces in order to identify concerns for water leaks or mold growth, and checks for implementing sanitary practices.

The second checklist focuses on HVAC systems. It starts, “Maintain proper indoor air temperature and humidity to maintain human comfort, reduce potential for spread of airborne pathogens and limit potential for mold growth in building structure and finishes (refer to ASHRAE Standard 55, recommended temperature ranges of 68-78 degrees F dry bulb depending on operating condition and other factors, recommend limiting maximum RH to 60%). Consider consulting with a local professional engineer to determine appropriate minimum RH levels based on local climate conditions, type of construction and age of the building under consideration. Recommend minimum RH of 40% if appropriate for building. Consider the addition of humidification equipment only when reviewed by a design professional to verify minimum RH set points will not adversely impact building or occupants by contributing to condensation and possible biological growth in building envelope. Trend and monitor temperature and humidity levels in each space to the extent possible and within the capability of BAS, portable data loggers and handheld instruments.” The checklist also recommends reviewing airflows, verifying the function of filtration systems on mechanical equipment, ventilation, performing an initial airflow flush by running the HVAC system on occupied for a week prior to building occupation, and ensuring that domestic water systems are ready for use.

The resource continues, recommending different frequencies for verifications and checks on certain systems and sections packed with useful information. When it comes to administrations following these checklists and getting ready to reopen the schools and universities, AMRestore can provide dehumidification equipment, portable air treatment units, and other technology to help schools and universities follow these guidelines. In these challenging times, it’s important that measures are taken to ensure the safety of students, faculty, and staff as we start the 2020-2021 school year.

Contact us to learn more.

Rapid Restoration is Key for Preserving History, Art, Culture

Rapid Restoration is Key for Preserving History, Art, Culture

Political activist, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator Marcus Garvey once stated, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.” As such, valuable historical texts, books, documents, artworks, and ancient artifacts enable future generations to learn about their past, enabling discoveries of humankind’s triumphs and foibles over the years, engendering understanding that will allow for a better future.

Thus, after a flood or other disaster, it’s critical for museums, churches, libraries, municipalities, archives, and historical societies to quickly and properly restore their most valuable historical items to avoid further damage and decay. This preservation process, an essential part of document management, begins with choosing the right restoration partner.

Preserving Archival Material is Important for Historical and Cultural Reasons

Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, when it comes to historical collections, conservation and preservation are two different concepts. In general, conservation refers to proactive steps taken to ensure the proper physical treatment of individual damaged items. For example, a fragile historical document that had been incorrectly framed by an amateur might be mounted on acid-free paper and put behind UV-resistant glass to ensure it does not degrade further.

On the other hand, the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works defines preservation as activities that minimize chemical and physical deterioration and damage and prevent loss of informational content. This broad concept includes not only disaster planning, but also activities such as treatment, replacement, or reformatting that address existing damage.

To ensure the permanence of their collections, earlier, less technologically advanced generations simply recorded the words of historical documents by publishing them; but as technology advanced, archivists began to use microfilm as a medium for preservation and document management. However, by the mid-20th century, rather than just capturing or copying the information, archivists increasingly saw the value in preserving the original documents themselves before they deteriorated.

These Materials Have Commercial Value as Well

The term intrinsic value is used by the National Archives and Records Service to describe historical materials with qualities and characteristics that should be retained in their original physical form, rather than as copies. Of course, these records may have significant monetary value as well—that’s why historical documents are routinely appraised for insurance replacement, probate, donation, purchase, sale, historical, and research purposes.

So, when disaster strikes, the monetary losses can be devastating, such as the numerous examples of water-related library disasters. In 1975, for instance, the Case Western Reserve University Library was flooded, saturating and muddying approximately 40,000 books and 50,000 maps, resulting in a recovery cost of $540,000. And when floods struck Prague in August 2002, extensive collections in more than 40 libraries were destroyed and damaged—the damage to the National Library alone was estimated at $11,000,000.

Items of Cultural Relevance Exist in a Variety of Locations

Of course, valuable documents aren’t found only in libraries and museums. Municipal buildings, churches, historical societies, and other institutions may house rare and irreplaceable records as well. Literature, maps, letters, genealogy records, business contracts, and photographs are just a few of the cultural and historical archives that may be represented in these collections. And these documents need not always be connected with famous people or events to prove valuable. Just as important to historians is the record of everyday life within a culture, including rituals, religion, foods, art, and other facets that make a culture unique. Unfortunately, many of these documents may not be cataloged and may be stored in various offices, storerooms, boxes, and cabinets, or in even more out-of-the-way spots, such as under a staircase or in the attic.

Disaster Planning and a Restoration Partner are Integral When Disaster Strikes

Responding quickly to damage from water or other emergencies requires a disaster plan. A number of document recovery solutions, such as vacuum freeze drying, desiccant air drying, and cleaning and sterilization, can be employed to reverse much of the damage. When documents can’t be salvaged, digital imaging can often be used to capture the information contained in damaged records. To determine the best course of action in performing document management, it’s vital to employ the services of a restoration specialist partner with extensive experience in restoration. AmRestore is that partner.

By combining the passion for helping others with both experience and technology, the experts at AmRestore maintain high standards in service delivery. AmRestore maintains a local presence on the East Coast that enables quick response and unparalleled restoration of valuable archives. To find out more about how AmRestore can help with disaster recovery planning, contact us today.

Mold Loves Empty School Buildings, AMRestore Kicks It Out

Mold Loves Empty School Buildings, AMRestore Kicks It Out

Mold can be a problem in any building, but at a university, it can be particularly serious. However, testing buildings for mold, particularly on a large busy campus, can be time-consuming, expensive, and unreliable. Since the best defense against a mold problem is prevention or at least early diagnosis, a comprehensive maintenance and remediation plan is a must to keep students safe, and buildings operational.

The number one cause of mold is dampness, so it is paramount to keep potentially moldy spaces dry. If there is a leak or seasonal dampness, this must be addressed as soon as possible, since mold can cause serious health issues, or make certain pre-existing health conditions worse. Since mold spores are most likely to be inhaled, the potential health issues include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory issues. This makes preventing mold an important consideration for schools and universities, particularly in dorm buildings.

Mold is a common occurrence and can grow anywhere that moisture and oxygen are found. This makes it virtually impossible to eliminate all the mold spores in an indoor environment. Inside, mold can lie dormant in dusty areas only to be disturbed by movement, even something like routine vacuuming or cleaning. Because of this resilience, controlling indoor moisture and ventilation is the most effective way to prevent or remediate mold growth.

Schools and universities are particularly at risk due to the age and construction of many campus buildings. Mold is more than happy to grow on wood, paper, old cardboard, gypsum (drywall), old carpeting, and even dust. Many old schools and university buildings haven’t always had the best upkeep and as these old building materials break down, they become the perfect place for mold to grow.

But mold also needs moisture and oxygen. Many of these older buildings have aging plumbing and HVAC systems that leak water or coolant, creating the perfect damp environment. Buildings built between the 1970s and 1990s also tend to feature better sealing than buildings that came before but may lack adequate ventilation leading to moisture buildup. Moisture can also come from leaky roofs, gutters, and groundwater that collects under older buildings.

Once the mold has been detected it must be addressed immediately, both to prevent possible health issues and to keep it from spreading. The moldy space must be dried and controlled with the proper commercial equipment, including desiccant dehumidifiers. Depending on the composition of the materials the mold has grown on, they must be remediated or removed and replaced. Once space has been cleared of mold great care should be taken to keep the space dry and ventilated, otherwise, there is a good chance that the mold will return.

Working to prevent mold by increasing ventilation and dehumidifying the air can save you a great deal of time and money in the long run and protect students from potential health hazards. Older buildings are particularly at risk, and in turn, the risk to students in residential buildings such as dorms is far greater. Many universities have dealt with mold issues in dorms and classrooms, costing them thousands of dollars and displacing hundreds of students. In the last few years, Florida StateThe University of Louisville, and The University of South Carolina have all had to relocate students while dealing with mold issues that could have been prevented with better maintenance and ventilation.

Since mold grows naturally wherever it can find moisture and oxygen, it can be extremely difficult to fight, particularly when older buildings create the perfect environment for mold to thrive. Since mold is a health hazard, it is paramount that mold be prevented or, should it appear, be addressed quickly and effectively. AMRestore specializes in and has experience working to prevent dangerous mold growth. We have all the tools and expertise needed to overcome any mold issue. Learn more about AMRestore’s mold removal for universities today.

Document Preservation and Recovery: Experts Must Work Together to Keep Materials In Ideal Condition

Document Preservation and Recovery: Experts Must Work Together to Keep Materials In Ideal Condition

The ability to write down what has happened in the past is uniquely human. Until the current digital age, the majority of history was recorded with ink and paper. As historical documents get older and older, organizations are working to preserve them.

Paper documents are a vital element of human history, with origins that can be traced back to some of the earliest civilizations. As such, prolonging their lifespan is of great importance. Playing a large role in the continued preservation of documents is the Smithsonian Institution Archives (SIA). According to the SIA, environmental factors, including temperature, humidity, light, and air quality, are recognized agents of deterioration known to negatively impact the integrity of paper documentation. Therefore, maintaining the environment in which they reside is a fundamental aspect of preservation.[1] But a true understanding of how paper interacts with its environment is critical to ensuring its appearance and longevity.

How Temperature and Humidity Effect Paper

One of the biggest culprits of paper deterioration is temperature. Heat incites accelerated deterioration, which doubles when the temperature rises by 18°F (10°C). And whether high or low, humidity is another ruinous foe. High relative humidity provides the moisture necessary to initiate harmful chemical reactions in materials. Further, in combination with high temperature, mold growth and insect activity may occur. Low relative humidity, on the other hand, which primarily occurs during the winter months within centrally heated buildings, can lead to desiccation and embrittlement of some materials.

According to the Northeast Document Conservation Center, archival materials are hygroscopic in nature—readily absorbing moisture from the air and releasing it.[2] As diurnal and seasonal temperature and humidity changes cause materials to expand and contract, rapid deterioration and visible damage such as cockling paper, flaking ink, warped book covers, and cracked emulsion on photographs can occur.

Proper Climate Control

For spaces that house these delicate materials, climate control is critical. Preservation is dependent upon the capability to stabilize temperatures and humidity levels. In addition, the area itself should also be climate-proofed—wall cracks should be plugged, and windows and doors should remain closed with proper sealing to prevent seepage. Experts have concurred that relative humidity should fall between the 30% to 50% range, and while there is no consensus regarding a specific “magic” temperature, most recommendations hover around 70°F. Research continues by the Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) to better understand how paper behaves in environments and how to best conserve it.

Document Preservation vs. Document Recovery

Because deterioration of materials can’t be eliminated, only slowed, the SIA and MCI center their efforts on preserving documents. Their strategies focus on learning more about how materials change and deteriorate, and discovering optimal environments to slow the process. Document recovery, however, is a different process altogether, coming into play when documentation has become the victim of water damage. At that point, it’s a race against the clock to save these ofttimes precious and valuable artifacts.

AMRestore Partners to Salvage Paper

In situations where advanced drying solutions are necessary, AMRestore can play a crucial role in restoring water damaged books and records. As a partner to the document conservation industry, AMRestore believes in the importance of document preservation. Their state-of-the-art vacuum freeze-drying chambers use negative pressure, providing the most effective restoration drying solution for paper materials. AMRestore also employs a desiccant air-dry distribution system that absorbs moisture and dehumidifies incoming air.

For over 25 years, AMRestore has teamed up with libraries, museums and government agencies to safely and effectively abet document recovery efforts. Learn more about AMRestore’s document recovery processes here.


[1] https://siarchives.si.edu/what-we-do/preservation/introduction

[2] https://www.nedcc.org/free-resources/preservation-leaflets/2.-the-environment/2.1-temperature,-relative-humidity,-light,-and-air-quality-basic-guidelines-for-preservation

SPECIALIZED COMPANY PREVENTS STAPH (MRSA) INFECTION in SPORTS EQUIPMENT

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

SPECIALIZED COMPANY PREVENTS STAPH (MRSA) INFECTION in SPORTS EQUIPMENT

Glen Burnie, Maryland, October 23, 2007 – AmRestore of Maryland to introduce the documented and patented Esporta� process designed specifically to remove the odor, contaminants and infectious organisms that can be lurking in sporting equipment and professional gear.

Infections from MRSA, or Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus have recently sickened or claimed the lives of several school age children nationwide. Staph (MRSA) infection in equipment and gear can easily be prevented with routine professional cleaning and disinfecting. Destroy the habitat deep in materials this bacterium thrives in before the colonies have a chance to multiply and spread, infecting other items and people. Independent laboratory testing has demonstrated that the patented Esporta� Wash process kills 99.9997% of the harmful bacteria in hard and soft goods while microprocessors strictly regulate the process to protect the glues, foams and plastics constructing the equipment. Simple household cleaning and alternative procedures have been proven mostly ineffective.

Will Lamb, Founder and President of AmRestore, Inc., encourages parents, schools and public officials to be proactive and protect the community. �The spread of these infectious organisms can easily be prevented with a simple three step process of always washing your hands, disinfecting common surfaces and routine cleaning and disinfecting of your equipment.� states Lamb, a father of two and resident of Anne Arundel County. �We pride ourselves on preserving health, home and harmony through equipment cleaning and decontamination services and specialized contents restoration. I want to help protect the community just as I protect my own family.�

Due to the recent outbreaks and inquires, AmRestore will initially provide specialized equipment cleaning and decontamination service directly to schools, institutions and sporting teams on a group basis. AmRestore�s experience with restoration and remediation projects combined with extensive industry certifications make them a wise choice for safely disinfecting equipment and gear. AmRestore will serve the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area in a 9000 square foot facility located strategically in Glen Burnie, Maryland will open on January 1, 2008.

For additional information on preventing infection and contamination in sporting equipment and professional gear, please visit www.amrestore.com.

About AmRestore:

AmRestore is a specialized firm focused on the restoration, cleaning and disinfecting of contents and equipment: electronics, machinery, collectibles, artwork, personal belongings, sporting goods and professional gear. AmRestore provides these specialty services primarily after a fire, smoke, wind, water or mold disaster as a subcontractor for mitigation and reconstruction companies. The unique combination of equipment and processes gives them the capability of cleaning and decontaminating sports equipment and professional gear. With the recent increase of MRSA and Staph infections locally, they can safely provide the community with peace of mind.

Contact:

Will Lamb, President
AmRestore
www.amrestore.com

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If you have any questions or comments regarding this article please contact William Lamb, President | AmRestore at will@AmRestore.com

Contents Cleaning and Restoration Guidelines

3/3/2008 – Maryland
Contents Cleaning and Restoration Guidelines

Dear Homeowner,

AmRestore values your trust in choosing us as your contents restoration specialists. We realized this is a difficult time for you and your family or associates. It is our desire to provide you with outstanding professional services along with care and understanding.

In an effort to familiarize you with the contents and personal belongings relocation process during the restoration and possible reconstruction of your home or facility, we have outlined the typical stages and procedures. 

Your Project Manager and personal contact with AmRestore, will strive to keep you informed throughout the project.

The initial stages include, but are not limited to:

Emergency Services- May include emergency electronics mitigation and corrosion control or vital items evacuation.

Pack-Out- Our Photo Inventory Team will professionally photograph, inventory and professionally pack your personal belongs or equipment.

Move-Out- Our moving team will load your belongings onto a moving truck and transport them to our secure, climate controlled Personal Property Care Center for state-of-the-art cleaning and restoration.

Based on the amount of personal belongings or equipment and the procedures required to clean and restore, each stage could take several days to complete. We strive to make the process as smooth as possible. 

You will be advised of the time the Photo Inventory Team will begin the Pack-Out process. To ensure your family or associates have the items you will need to take with you, we provide you with a Take-Along List used for collecting personal and important items. 

If items have previous damage or malfunction, please bring it to our attention and items that need emergency processing should be immediately discussed. 

We ask that a policyholder be present during the Move-Out, as a signature is required to release your contents into our care. Your contents and personal belongings are being transferred and processed locally in one of the most advanced Personal Property Care Centers in the Country. 

Your contents will be evaluated, cleaned and/or restored through a variety of proprietary processes and stored in a climate-controlled vault center.

Feel free to contact us at 800-498-8800 if you have any questions or need further assistance.

Sincerely,

The AmRestore Team

Contents Restoration Specialists

If you have any questions or comments regarding this article please contact William Lamb, President | AmRestore at will@AmRestore.com