This Saturday, April 18th 2015 from 11:00-4:00 p.m. is a FREE Earth Day event at the Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center located just outside of Boulder in Nederland, Colorado. This is the largest Earth Day event and has been running strong for the past 15 years. It is a fun-filled day of free, action-packed entertainment and education about this magnificent planet earth. There is going to be many performances and live birds of prey, live reptiles, climate presentations and other educational opportunities for the whole family! Be sure to check out the many events happening this Saturday, April 18th 2015 at the Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center.
Floods can be extremely devastating and come almost without warning. A flood can cause damage to a home or business in many ways. The damage may be a ruined rug or floorboard, furniture, utilities, or even the buildings foundation. Cleanup after a flood can be a long and difficult process but a proper cleanup is very important. According to the EPA, failure to remove materials that have been contaminated during the flood, can severely effect your indoor air quality which can lead to long term health problems. Here is an article from Flood Safety, which has guidelines for a proper flood cleanup. We hope this information will be helpful, especially for our friends in and around the Boulder area who have been effected by recent flooding.
A Description of Typical House Flood Damages and Cleanup Requirements:
When your house floods, the water can wreak havoc on the structure of the house, your personal belongings, and the health of the inside environment. Flood waters contain many contaminants and lots of mud. High dollar items can get ruined all at once, even with just an inch of water, for example: carpeting, wallboard, appliances, and furniture. A more severe storm or deeper flood may add damage to even more expensive systems, like: ducts, the heater and air conditioner, roofing, private sewage and well systems, utilities, and the foundation.
After a flood, cleaning up is a long and hard process. Here is a list of common techniques for sanitizing and cleaning flooded items:
- First things first: call your insurance agent. If your insurance covers the damage, your agent will tell you when an adjuster will contact you. List damage and take photos or videotape as you clean. You’ll need complete records for insurance claims, applications for disaster assistance and income tax deductions.
- Contaminated mud–
Shovel out as much mud as possible, then use a garden sprayer or hose to wash away mud from hard surfaces.
- Clean and disinfect every surface. Scrub surfaces with hot water and a heavy-duty cleaner. Then disinfect with a solution of 1/4 cup chlorine bleach per gallon of water or a product that is labeled as a disinfectant to kill germs.
- In the kitchen–
- Immerse glass, porcelain, china, plastic dinnerware and enamelware for 10 minutes in a disinfecting solution of 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach per gallon of hot water. Air-dry dishes. Do not use a towel.
- Disinfect silverware, metal utensils, and pots and pans by boiling in water for 10 minutes. Chlorine bleach should not be used in this case because it reacts with many metals and causes them to darken.
- Cupboards and counters need to be cleaned and rinsed with a chlorine bleach solution before storing dishes.
- Furniture and household items–
- Take furniture, rugs, bedding and clothing outside to dry as soon as possible. Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to remove moisture or open at least two windows to ventilate with outdoor air. Use fans to circulate air in the house. If mold and mildew have already developed, brush off items outdoors to prevent scattering spores in the house. Vacuum floors, ceilings and walls to remove mildew, then wash with disinfectant. Wear a two-strap protective mask to prevent breathing mold spores.
- Mattresses should be thrown away.
- Upholstered furniture soaks up contaminants from floodwaters and should be cleaned only by a professional.
- Wood veneered furniture is usually not worth the cost and effort of repair.
Solid wood furniture can usually be restored, unless damage is severe.
- Toys and stuffed animals may have to be thrown away if they’ve been contaminated by floodwaters.
- Photographs, books and important papers can be frozen and cleaned later. They should be dried carefully and slowly. Wash the mud off and store the articles in plastic bags and put them in a frost-free freezer to protect from mildew and further damage until you have time to thaw and clean them or take them to a professional.
- Ceilings and walls–
- Wallboard acts like a sponge when wet. Remove wallboard, plaster and paneling to at least the flood level. If soaked by contaminated floodwater, it can be a permanent health hazard and should be removed. If most of the wallboard was soaked by clean rainwater, consider cutting a 4- to 12-inch-high section from the bottom and top of walls. This creates a “chimney effect” of air movement for faster drying. A reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade works well, but use only the tip of the blade and watch out for pipes, ductwork and wiring.
- Plaster and paneling can often be saved, but air must be circulated in the wall cavities to dry the studs and sills.
- The three kinds of insulation must be treated differently. Styrofoam might only need to be hosed off. Fiberglass batts should be thrown out if muddy but may be reused if dried thoroughly. Loose or blown-in cellulose should be replaced since it holds water for a long time and can lose its antifungal and fire retardant abilities.
- Electrical system–
The system must be shut off and repaired and inspected by an electrician before it can be turned back on. Wiring must be completely dried out- even behind walls. Switches, convenience outlets, light outlets, entrance panel, and junction boxes that have been under water may be filled with mud.
- Heating and cooling systems and ducts–
Will need inspection and cleaning. Flood-soaked insulation should be replaced.
Appliances will get stains, odors, silt deposits, and gritty deposits and need to be serviced, cleaned and sanitized. Running equipment before it is properly cleaned could seriously damage it and/or shock you. Professional cleaning is recommended for electronics, TVs and radios, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, and vacuum cleaners. The hard exterior can be hand cleaned. All metallic appliances that have been flooded should be properly grounded to prevent electric shock. Mud or dirt in a grounded outlet or adapter may prevent the grounding system from working, and you could be electrocuted.
- Pump out the basement–
If your basement is full or nearly full of water, pump out just 2 or 3 feet of water each day. If you drain the basement too quickly, the pressure outside the walls will be greater than the pressure inside the walls. That may make the walls and floor crack and collapse.
With wood subflooring, the floor covering (vinyl, linoleum, carpet) must be removed so the subflooring can dry thoroughly which may take several months. Open windows and doors to expose the boards to as much air as possible.
Clean and dry carpets and rugs as quickly as possible. If sewage-contaminated floodwater covered your carpeting, discard it for health safety reasons. Also discard if the carpet was under water for 24 hours or more. To clean, drape carpets and rugs outdoors and hose them down. Work a disinfecting carpet cleaner into soiled spots with a broom. To discourage mildew and odors, rinse with a solution of 2 tablespoons bleach to 1 gallon water, but don’t use this solution on wool or nylon carpets. Dry the carpet and floor thoroughly before replacing the carpet. Padding is nearly impossible to clean so should be replaced. If the carpet can’t be removed, dry it as quickly as possible using a wet/dry vacuum and dehumidifier. Use a fan to circulate air above the carpet, and if possible, lift the carpet and ventilate with fans underneath.
- Vinyl flooring and floor tile may need to be removed to allow drying of subfloor.
- Wood floors–
Wooden floors should be dried gradually. Sudden drying could cause cracking or splitting. Some restoration companies can accelerate drying time by forcing air through the fluted underside of hardwood floorboards. Remove hardwood floor boards to prevent buckling. Remove a board every few feet to reduce buckling caused by swelling. Clean and dry wood before attempting repairs.
- Roof damage and leaks–
- Defective flashing– Flashing is the sheet metal used in waterproofing roof valleys, hips and the angle between a chimney and a roof. Wet spots near a chimney or outside wall may mean the leak is caused by defective flashing, narrow flashing or loose mortar joints. Look for corroded, loose or displaced flashing on sloping roof valleys and at junctions of dormers and roof.
- Clogged downspouts or eaves– Check for choked downspouts. Accumulated water or snow on the roof above the flashing may cause a leak. Ice accumulations on eaves sometimes form ridges, which cause melting snow to back up under the shingles.
- Cracks and deterioration– Roofing (especially wood or composition shingles) usually deteriorates first on southern exposures. Check southern slopes for cracking or deterioration.
- Holes– Missing shingles or holes in the roofing may be causing wet spots. To find holes, check for a drip trail or spot of light coming through in the attic. Stick a nail, straw or wire through the hole to mark the spot on the outside.
- Private sewage systems–
Flooding of a private sewage system can be a hazardous situation for homeowners. It may lead to a back-up of sewage in the home, contaminated drinking water and lack of sanitation until the system is fixed. When flooding or saturated soil conditions persist, a private sewage system cannot function properly. Soil treatment systems for wastewater rely on aerobic (with oxygen) regions to reduce the amounts of chemicals and living organisms (viruses, bacteria and protozoa). When the soil is saturated or flooded, those hazardous materials can enter the groundwater and your drinking water supply.
What exactly is The Paw-Mazing Chase? The Paw-Mazing Chase is modeled after the television show “The Amazing Race”. However, in this game each team consists of one person and one dog, or two people and at least one dog. Each team receives a sealed envelope containing a clue. Each deciphered clue will then tell each team which store at the Table Mesa Shopping Center to go to next. There are 20 stops. The first team to finish the race wins!
The Paw-Mazing Chase will start in the Table Mesa Shopping Center in South Boulder- event registration, beginning and end will be outside Boulder’s Natural Animal Hospital. This fun-filled event will take place on Sunday, June 2nd, 2013. The cost to register is $35 per team. The winning team will receive a prize gift basket valued at over $1,000 and a new Apple iPad Mini! All proceeds benefit Canine Partners of the Rockies.
After all of the presents are unwrapped, the Yule Log is nothing but ash and your belly is full of eggnog, it’s time to do some post holiday cleaning. During the holidays Americans create 25% more trash. Pretty crazy, huh? For residents of Boulder, there is a solution. Here is a link to the Boulder Holiday Recycling Guide for 2012: http://ecocycle.org/holidayguide
This guide will show you how to recycle the most common holiday items:
- wrapping paper
- holiday trees
- old electronics
- bubble wrap
- cooking oil
- broken holiday lights
- holiday cards and envelopes
- white block foam
- packing peanuts
- leftover food
- shopping bags
- tissue paper
- cardboard boxes
Hoping everyone has a happy healthy holiday!
At last report, the Flagstaff fire was at 300 acres and burning in several directions at once. As of Tuesday night, the fire continued to burn with no containment, however no structures were threatened at that time. Nearly 30 homes have been evacuated along Flagstaff Road and Bison Drive. Pre-evacuation orders went out to 2,416 south Boulder homes in the neighborhoods of Table Mesa, Devil’s Thumb and Highland Park.
In Colorado Springs, the Waldo Canyon wildfire spread into the city overnight and officials have ordered the evacuation of more than 32,000 residents.
How you can help
Help Colorado Now is set up to receive financial donations for all wildfires in Colorado. Visit their website to make a financial donation to the charity organization of your choice. The American Red Cross Denver Chapter is currently providing support for the Boulder area fire.
Earlier this month, we covered the City of Boulder’s upcoming agenda item regarding possible regulation of plastic and paper bags. The Boulder City Council met on May 15th to discuss the range of options for regulating the use of plastic and paper bags.
During the summer of 2011 a number of community members and groups asked City Council to reduce disposable bag use in Boulder through an ordinance and began collecting petition signatures to spur the council to action. As a result, the council tasked the city staff with exploring options for achieving this goal and invited large stakeholders to take part in the exploratory phase.
Based on the research, the staff presented five possible options at the council meeting:
- Fee or tax on plastic and paper bags;
- Ban on plastic bags with a fee on paper bags;
- Ban on plastic and paper bags;
- Educational campaign only; and
- No action.
If the chosen approach was an ordinance, its scope would need to address the type of businesses it would apply to, which could include either one or a combination of the following:
- All retail businesses;
- Retail businesses over a determined size threshold;
- Businesses defined as “Food Stores” in the sales tax system;
- “Food Stores” over a determined size threshold; and/or
- Business defined as “Eating Places” in the sales tax database.
The city staff took a comprehensive approach to decide on the best option, including researching the results of other municipality’s ordinances on bags; the impact on local businesses big and small, consumer impacts and environmental impacts.
Based on their research and findings the staff recommended the following:
Option 1 – A fee on both disposable plastic and paper checkout bags
A bag tax would have to await voter approval, while a fee can be implemented in the near-term through an ordinance. This option:
- acknowledges the life cycle environmental impacts of both types of bags, supporting a shift away from disposable bag use in general and not from one type of bag to another;
- creates an effective financial incentive to change behavior;
- is acceptable to all of the large grocers since it minimizes their implementation and administrative costs;
- retains consumer choice and convenience; and
- helps offset the city costs for implementation, administration, education and strategies to minimize impacts to low income consumers and tourists.
Scope of ordinance: Apply to food stores
- targets a majority of bag use in Boulder while maximizing clarity of the ordinance;
- avoids confusion for businesses around who must comply; and
- minimizes city resources required for administration, enforcement and monitoring of exemptions and threshold levels.
As mentioned in the meeting minutes (large PDF) the staff felt that including additinoal business types would have a diminishing impact on reducing bag use and would demand more city resources to implement. The staff state that this ordinance could be expanded in the future if need be.
The meeting minutes (large PDF) includes lots of additional background and data that the city staff used in determining what course of action to recommend.
So readers, what do you think? Did the city staff make the right decision? If you were on the staff, what would you think based on the data? Do you feel that a fee on paper and plastic bags will give you an incentive to buy reusable grocery bags?
Image credit: InfinityGivingCircle - Flickr
The City of Boulder recently took public comments on the issue of regulating plastic shopping bags and potentially paper ones too. The comments came in overwhelmingly in favor of taking some action to regulate this ubiquitous accessory of consumerism. The potential regulations include a fee imposed on paper and/or plastic bags, or an outright ban.
There are numerous environmental reasons for reducing or eliminating our reliance on these bags, which are typically used only once then discarded. They take centuries or longer to biodegrade and they are one of the most common sources of litter just to name a couple.
“According to a Boulder County Waste Composition Study, 781 tons of plastic retail bags ended up in the county’s waste stream in 2010. That represents roughly 120 million plastic bags thrown away countywide.” Source
The Boulder City Council meets May 15th and is scheduled to discuss plastic bag regulations. What are your thoughts?