Recent Fire Damage Posts
The Do’s and Don’ts with Fire and Smoke Damage.
SERVPRO of Baldwin and Monroe specializes in Fire restoration.
Fire damage can be scary , until help arrives here are some tips to help minimize damage.
- Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpet.
- Keep hands clean. Soot on hands can further soil upholstery, walls and woodwork.
- Place dry, colorfast towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpet traffic areas.
- If electricity is off, empty freezer and refrigerator completely and prop doors open to help prevent odor.
- Wipe soot from chrome on kitchen and bathroom faucets, trim and appliances, then protect these surfaces with a light coating of lubricant.
- If heat is off during winter, pour RV antifreeze in sinks, toilet bowls, holding tanks and tubs to avoid freezing pipes and fixtures.
- Wash both sides of leaves on the house plants.
- Change HVAC filter, but leave system off until a trained professional can check the system.
- Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers to stop particles of soot from getting in or out of the HVAC system.
- Attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces without first contacting SERVPRO of Baldwin and Monroe.
- Attempt to shampoo carpet or upholstered furniture without first consulting SERVPRO.
- Attempt to clean any electrical appliances (TV sets, Radios, etc.) that may have been close to fire, heat or water without first consulting an authorized repair service.
- Consume any food or beverages that may have been stored close to fire, heat or water. (They may be contaminated.)
- Turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet. Wiring may be wet or damaged and cause electrical shock, and air movement may create secondary damage.
- Send garments to the dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set in smoke odor.
Smoke Damage Clean Up in White Plains
Got Fire Damage?
When it comes to cleaning smoked-damaged contents after a residential or commercial fire, the variety of contents in a typical job requires restorers to utilize a variety of cleaning methods.
Here is a quick description of each method of content cleaning:
- Dry Cleaning - Removes light to medium nongrease-based soils.
- Wet Cleaning - Removes moderate to heavy residues. The process involves cleaning using water, with or without a cleaning agent.
- Spray and Wipe - Apply a cleaning product using a spray bottle. After spraying, wipe the surface with a clean white towel. This method is effective for materials possibly damaged if saturated with cleaning product.
- Foam Cleaning - Effective for light residues or delicate materials. Clean with the foam of a cleaning agent rather than the liquid
- Abrasive Cleaning - Agitates the surface being cleaned. Apply a cleaning product containing abrasive ingredients
- Immersion Cleaning - Dipping contents items into a bath of cleaning product. This bath is an ultrasonic tank filled with water and cleaning solution. High-frequency sound waves then create high temperatures and microscopic jet streams of fluid to agitate and scrub contents.
SERVPRO of Baldwin and Monroe recommends that you DO NOT attempt to clean smoke-damaged surfaces or contents yourself, and call the professionals at 770-267-0023.
Winter Fire Safety
Maintaining safety during the winter months is very important. Don’t let the cooler weather get your guard down.
Many people may not realize, but the risk for house fires increases dramatically during the winter months. As we spend more time indoors, particularly during the holidays, our activities put us at a higher risk. These activities include everything from decorating with lights, cooking, burning candles, and even heating our homes. Follow these winter activity tips to create a safer environment in your house this season:
- Place any heating device at least 3 feet away from anything combustible (paper, clothing, etc.)
- Don’t leave heaters on when you are home alone or while you sleep. They should never be unmonitored.
- Check cords for frays or breaks, and always turn off the heater if the cord or outlet begin to feel hot.
- Have chimneys inspected by a professional before use each year.
- Always make sure your smoke detectors are installed and working, but especially when you are going to be burning a fire.
- Keep any candles in sturdy containers that cannot be easily knocked over, and be sure to extinguish them before leaving the room.
- Be careful when using candles in decorations, make sure the flame isn’t too close to something that could ignite.
- Consider using battery operated candles to reduce your risk even further.
- Always unplug lights, or have them set up on a timer to automatically turn off.
- Keep trees away from heat vents and other heat sources.
- Make sure your tree stand can hold your tree securely, and that it can also hold about 3 days’ worth of water.
If you experience a fire at your home this winter call SERVPRO of Baldwin and Monroe anytime at 478-452-8000.
Kitchen Fire Safety and Awareness
Safety in the kitchen is very important. In the worst case scenarios give SERVPRO a call.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. Follow these tips to create a safer cooking environment:
- Be alert! If you are tired or have consumed alcohol don’t use the oven or stove.
- Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food.
- If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
- Keep anything that can catch fire – oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains – away from the stovetop.
- Keep an easily accessible fire extinguisher somewhere in your kitchen.
If you have a cooking fire, consider the following safety protocols to help keep you and your family safe.
- Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
- Call 911 or the local emergency number after you leave.
- For an oven fire turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
- If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
- Keep a lid nearby when you are cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave a pan covered until it is completely cooled. Never add water to a grease fire!
If you have experienced a kitchen fire call the professionals at SERVPRO of Baldwin and Monroe at 478-452-8000.
Carbon Monoxide: A Silent Cold Weather Killer
Never run a vehicle or other fueling engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open.
You can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, but at high levels it can kill a person in minutes. Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide (or CO) is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels, like gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, and propane burn incompletely.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, each year more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning. It is estimated another 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to CO poisoning. All people and animals are at risk for CO poisoning, with some groups including unborn babies, infants, and people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems being more susceptible to the effects of carbon monoxide. An excess of CO, leading to CO poisoning, can result from faulty furnaces or other heating appliances, portable generators, water heaters, clothes dryers, or idling cars left running in garages. Taking some basic, precautionary steps can help eliminate the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Protect yourself by reviewing the following tips provided by the United States Fire Administration.
- Have fuel-burning appliances, like oil and gas furnaces, gas or kerosene heaters, fireplaces, and wood stoves inspected by a trained professional every year.
- Open the damper for proper ventilation before using a fireplace. Never use your oven or stovetop to heat your home.
- Make sure all fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside to avoid CO poisoning. Keep the venting for exhaust clear and unblocked.
- If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Never run a vehicle or other fueling engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust of a running vehicle is not blocked with snow, ice, or other materials.
- Make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow and other debris.
- Only use barbecue grills outside, away from all doors, windows, vents, and other building openings. Some grills can produce CO gas. Never use grills inside the home or the garage, even if the doors are open.
- Use portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from all doors, windows, vents, and other building openings to prevent exhaust fumes from entering the home.
Call SERVPRO of Baldwin and Monroe for a consultation! 478-452-8000
Smoke Alarms can save your life!
According to the National Fire Protection Association, smoke alarms save lives. Smoke alarms that are properly installed and maintained play a vital role in reducing fire deaths and injuries. If there is a fire in your home, smoke spreads fast and you need smoke alarms to give you time to get out.
Here's what you need to know!
- A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home.
- Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one sounds, they all sound.
- Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
- Test your smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
- Today’s smoke alarms will be more technologically advanced to respond to a multitude of fire conditions, yet mitigate false alarms.
- When a smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside.
- Replace all smoke alarms in your home every 10 years.
Facts and figures about smoke alarms
- In 2012-2016, smoke alarms sounded in more than half (53%) of the home fires reported to U.S. fire departments.
- Almost three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (40%) or no working smoke alarms (17%).
- No smoke alarms were present in two out of every five (40%) home fire deaths.
- The death rate per 1,000 reported home fires was more than twice as high in homes that did not have any working smoke alarms compared to the rate in homes with working smoke alarms (12.3 deaths vs. 5.7 deaths per 1,000 fires).
- In fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, more than two of every five (43%) of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries.
- Dead batteries caused one-quarter (25%) of the smoke alarm failures.
General fire safety hazards
According to the HSE, fires need three things to start – a source of ignition (heat), a source of fuel (something that burns) and oxygen:
- sources of ignition include heaters, lighting, naked flames, electrical equipment, smokers’ materials (cigarettes, matches etc), and anything else that can get very hot or cause sparks
- sources of fuel include wood, paper, plastic, rubber or foam, loose packaging materials, waste rubbish and furniture
- sources of oxygen include the air around us
What do I have to do?
Employers (and/or building owners or occupiers) must carry out a fire safety risk assessment and keep it up to date. This shares the same approach as health and safety risk assessments and can be carried out either as part of an overall risk assessment or as a separate exercise.
Based on the findings of the assessment, employers need to ensure that adequate and appropriate fire safety measures are in place to minimise the risk of injury or loss of life in the event of a fire.
To help prevent fire in the workplace, your risk assessment should identify what could cause a fire to start, ie sources of ignition (heat or sparks) and substances that burn, and the people who may be at risk.
Once you have identified the risks, you can take appropriate action to control them. Consider whether you can avoid them altogether or, if this is not possible, how you can reduce the risks and manage them. Also consider how you will protect people if there is a fire.
- Carry out a fire safety risk assessment
- Keep sources of ignition and flammable substances apart
- Avoid accidental fires, eg make sure heaters cannot be knocked over
- Ensure good housekeeping at all times, eg avoid build-up of rubbish that could burn
- Consider how to detect fires and how to warn people quickly if they start, eg installing smoke alarms and fire alarms or bells
- Have the correct fire-fighting equipment for putting a fire out quickly
- Keep fire exits and escape routes clearly marked and unobstructed at all times
- Ensure your workers receive appropriate training on procedures they need to follow, including fire drills
- Review and update your risk assessment regularly
Why Immediate Fire Damage Restoration is Important
When a fire occurs in a home, the aftermath can seem overwhelming, and if fire restoration is postponed, the destruction from smoke damage can become even worse. The longer you wait to address the damage, the more repairs you'll have to fix - which means you'll most likely have a larger bill for damages when all is said and done. You can avoid costly repairs and long-term issues if you make fire damage restoration a priority and follow the steps you'll need to get your home back to normal as soon as possible.
First, and foremost - and this is the most important step - contact the professionals at SERVPRO and they can assess the damage, give you an estimate on costs and start the cleanup process. Then contact your home insurance company to make them aware of the fire. It's essential that you enlist the help of a licensed and insured fire damage restoration company to reduce the risk of further damage to your home. They are trained to handle this type of damage and many will perform some of the following steps to help get you through the initial fire cleanup:
- Smoke and fire damage restoration services will try to save as many of your home and personal belongings (such as appliances, furniture and clothing) as they can.
- SERVPRO will document everything they remove from your home by taking pictures and/or keeping written records.
- SERVPRO will return any salvageable furniture and appliances back to your home, after the fire restoration is complete.
- SERVPRO will work quickly and carefully to get you back in your home as soon as possible, and stay in contact with you to make sure the repairs were done correctly and your home isn't experiencing any other problems.
What is Fire Damage and How Restoration Works
A fire can lead to serious and significant property damage and any number of problems that will negatively impact your quality of life and cost you a lot of money until you get them repaired. Many people don’t realize the full extent or nature of fire damage or a large number of different services offered by fire damage restoration.
Here we will look at what fire damage actually does to your property and at all the different ways it can affect you. From there, we will then look at how fire damage restoration helps to address each of these resultant issues.
In the case of a fire, the first thing you are likely to notice is that your items have been burned leading to them being destroyed. This can ruin walls, cabinets, counter tops and much more leaving them looking dilapidated and not fit for purpose.
This is the most obvious type of damage that SERVPRO will help to address. They offer full renovation services and be able to help you to redecorate your home and to replace all of your furniture, fittings, and upholstery so that your rooms look actually better than they did before the fire in many cases.
When it comes to repairing the obvious and immediate damage to your property, fire damage restoration companies will prioritize damage that could lead to further damage. A good example of this might be a burned stair case that is in danger of collapsing unless it is seen to quickly. Likewise, if you have a hole burned in your roof or in your wall then this might risk wind and rain blowing into your property and could even leave you vulnerable to trespassers and thieves. Again, this will be a very early issue that SERVPRO will look at.
In some other cases, there may be fire damage that is beyond the scope of repair companies to fix. If your furniture has been badly burned for instance, then SERVPRO may recommend that you simply dispose of it. Thankfully, SERVPRO offers this service and will remove your items for you so that there is one less job for you to do.
3 Things YOu May Want to Discard Following a Fire Damage
The loss you experience after a fire devastates your home can be painful. There is much to do and consider, especially when it comes to recovery efforts. As you start to sift through your belongings, you will likely have to decide what you must throw away. The urge to hang onto some items will probably be strong; however, there are a few that can put your health in danger once they have been exposed to the heat of a fire, and knowing which they are might protect your well-being during the recovery process.
1. Packaged or Affected Food
Food packaged in thin or porous packaging, such as cardboard, is probably not salvageable because smoke or soot may have penetrated the material and affected the food. While sealed metal cans or jars may look undamaged, the food inside them could have been heated by the fire and develop harmful bacteria. If any items like this in your pantry came into contact with high heat or flames, it is a good idea to discard them.
Both prescription and over-the-counter medications can be affected by fire. If your medicine cabinet is located close to where the flames broke out, go through them carefully and looked for any warping or charring on bottles. Heat can also change the efficacy of some medicines, so you may have to throw away those that have visible damage. Contact your pharmacist or physician about having costly prescription drugs replaced.
Makeup and other cosmetics that have suffered fire damage should be discarded because they may have taken on soot or been chemically altered by the heat. Warped containers or those covered in fire extinguisher foam are likely no longer usable. Ask your fire damage and restoration specialists about any item you are not sure about.
Knowing which items to throw away after a fire affects your home can be challenging. However, when you learn the facts about fire damage, you can protect your health as you move through the recovery process.
Tips for Homeowners Facing Fire or Smoke Damage
When disaster strikes, severe fire damage can be the most devastating thing to happen to any property. As fire becomes an increasingly prevalent threat, insurance companies are constantly trying to cut corners on fire insurance claims in an attempt to save money. After a fire, you've most likely lost some personal belongings and areas of your home are completely destroyed. The last thing you need is a homeowners' insurance company giving you a hard time regarding your claim.
First Things First, Check Your Policy
Even if you have replacement coverage for your home you actually may only have "actual cash value" for the personal items that were lost. When you call your insurance company, your agent should notify you about this and suggest buying an endorsement so that your belongings will be covered under a replacement policy.
Secure Your Property
The majority of homeowners coverage policy requires you to take reasonable steps to minimize more harm on your property. In short terms, this is known as your duty to mitigate damages. These steps are fairly small and easy to do, such as covering leaking areas with plastic wrap or turning off the water if you discover a huge pipe burst. Your insurance company will most likely pay these costs when you make your claim.
File Your Claim Immediately
Every homeowner policy will require you to report your loss as soon as possible. You will need to make a call to your agent and submit a "proof of loss claim" in which you will itemize your losses in detail and list the value of each. The longer you wait, the faller you fall down the list when it comes time for the company to send an adjuster to deal with your claim.
Always Keep Track Of Your Living Expenses
Every homeowners policy will include a loss of use clause, which entitles you to adequate reimbursement for living expenses while you're out of your home. Keep in mind, these expenses only include additional living expenses, meaning the difference between what it costs you to live on a daily basis and what it is costing you now. For example, if you ate the majority of your meals at home and your groceries cost you $400 a week and now, after a fire, you're eating out and spending $500 a week, you can claim only that additional $100.
Put a FREEZE on Winter Fires!
According to the NFPA, heating, holiday decorations, winter storms and candles all contribute to an increased risk of fire during the winter months. The NFPA and the U.S. Fire Administration are teaming up to help reduce your risk to winter fires and other hazards, including carbon monoxide and electrical fires.
Heating is the second leading cause of U.S. home fires, deaths and injuries. December, January and February are the peak months for heating fires. Space heaters are the type of equipment most often involved in home heating equipment fires, figuring in two of every five fires (40%). More statistics on heating fires.
Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, propane, etc. do not burn. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of CO. Carbon monoxide incidents are more common during the winter months, and in residential properties. More statistics on carbon monoxide incidents.
Most of the U.S. is at risk for winter storms, which can cause dangerous and sometimes life-threatening conditions. Blinding wind-driven snow, extreme cold, icy road conditions, downed trees and power lines can all wreak havoc on our daily schedules. Home fires occur more in the winter than in any other season, and heating equipment is involved in one of every six reported home fires, and one in every five home fire deaths.
Portable generators are useful during power outages, however, many homeowners are unaware that the improper use of portable generators can be risky. The most common dangers associated with portable generators are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, electrical shock or electrocution, and fire hazards. According to a 2013 Consumer Product Safety Commission report, half of the generator-related deaths happened in the four coldest months of the year, November through February, and portable generators were involved in the majority of carbon monoxide deaths involving engine-driven tools.
December is the peak time of year for home candle fires; the top four days for home candle fires are New Year’s Day, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve. Each year between 2009 and 2013, an average of 25 home candle fires were reported each day. More statistics on candle fires.
Electrical home fires are a leading cause of home fires in the U.S. Roughly half of all home electrical fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment, while nearly another half involved other known types of equipment like washer or dryer fans, and portable or stationary space heaters. More statistics on electrical fires.
Christmas tree disposal
Christmas trees are combustible items that become increasing flammable as they continue to dry out in your home. Nearly 40 percent of home fires that begin with Christmas trees occur in January. Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur they’re much more likely to be serious. More statistics on Christmas tree fires.
Fire Hazards in the Kitchen!
According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking is often a relaxing and fun task that brings family and friends together, and it provides a great way to showcase your creativity and love of good food.
But cooking is also the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. Being mindful while you cook, however, can go a long way to helping prevent these fires.
Cooking fires by the numbers
Based on 2011-2015 annual averages:
- Cooking equipment was the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries, causing 47% of home fires that resulted in 20% of the home fire deaths and 45% of the injuries.**
- Two-thirds (66%) of home cooking fires started with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.
- Clothing was the item first ignited in less than 1% of these fires, but clothing ignitions led to 18% of the home cooking equipment fire deaths.
- Ranges or cooktops accounted for the majority (62%) of home cooking fire incidents.
- Unattended equipment was a factor in one-third (33%) of reported home cooking fires and half (43%) of the associated deaths..
- Frying dominates the cooking fire problem.
- Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires.
Source: NFPA's "Home Fires Involving Cooking Equipment" report
Source**: NFPA's "Home Structure Fires" report
Fire Damage Restoration: What You Should Know
Whether it's a fire in the home or a fire in a business, fire damage can be devastating. The shock of a fire to a family or business owner can feel overwhelming, and most people don't quite know what to do. Fire damage can range in severity. From smoke damage and soot damage to serious structural deterioration, fire in a home or fire in a business is nothing to be taken lightly. Fire damage restoration is an in depth process that should be entrusted to a professional restoration company. A fire cleanup should only be carried out by skilled experts.
After a loss to fire, a restoration company should be contacted right away to determine the best course of action. Usually the first thing that will be done is to board up the damaged structure to keep curious people and animals out. Skilled experts can then begin the assessment of smoke damage, soot damage, fire damage, and water damage associated with such a loss. The severity and types of damage that have occurred will depend on the intensity of the fire and the composition of the structure. Commercial fire damage in a steel building may be limited to smoke damage, soot damage, and water damage to the interior, and require only remodeling and mitigation of the smoke smell. Fire in the home however, can often be more severe, as many homes are built of wood and filled more flammable building materials like carpets and furniture. A professional restoration company should be the only ones entrusted to assess the extent of fire damage and carry out the fire cleanup and fire damage restoration.
After the initial board up and assessment of damage the restoration company can begin the fire cleanup. This means removing any furniture or appliances damaged by the fire in the home or fire in the business. Many articles will be lost to smoke damage and soot damage, even though they have not been burned. If there was fire in a business damaged products will need to be sorted and evaluated to determine the extent of the commercial fire damage. The smoke smell will quite often never come out furniture or appliances that go through commercial fire damage or residential fires.
When all furniture and appliances have been removed the fire damage restoration process can begin. To mitigate the smoke smell the property will usually be opened up and well ventilated. Damaged drywall, carpeting, ceiling tiles and the like will be removed. Once the house or business has been properly stripped of its damaged interior, structural inspection can take place to determine what repairs are needed. The property may be left in a board up state and ventilated for a few days to diminish the smoke smell. Chemical solutions may also be used to aid the process. The fire cleanup process must be expected to take days if not weeks depending on severity, as the professionals entrusted will want to do a thorough job. Fire damage restoration is no small matter and needs to be entrusted to these skilled experts. After the property has been sufficiently cleaned the board up may be removed and the process of rebuilding and/or remodeling may begin.
What to Do After a Fire Related Loss:
-Board up the property to ensure it's inaccessible to people or animals;
-Contact your insurance company, if applicable;
-Call a professional restoration company immediately and set up a consultation;
Residential and commercial fire damage can be devastating emotionally, mentally, and financially. But home and business owners alike need to remember that they are not alone, and that there are highly skilled and trained experts ready to help them. The sooner these professionals are contacted, the sooner family life and business can get back on track. If you or someone you know has experienced a residential or commercial fire related loss, contact SERVPRO of Baldwin and Monroe!
Deodorizing following a fire damage
After a small fire in your home or business, you quickly start to assess the damages to the area. You visually inspect the furniture and walls. Even if there is no real lasting damage, there is one problematic element that tends to linger for weeks after a fire: the smell. Odor removal is an often overlooked, but significant aspect of fire restoration services.
While our SERVPRO team is well educated in restoration techniques and cleaning processes to restore areas of your home that have been damaged aesthetically by an unexpected fire, the lingering odor that remains is often something that homeowners are less concerned with initially. It becomes more and more problematic as the home is being restored, but the smoke and charring scent of the fire’s destruction remains as powerful as ever.
Fortunately, our team of technicians has state-of-the-art equipment for removing foul smells from a residence or business. Deodorizing happens through the use of dense fogging machines. The machines are capable of producing a heavy chemical fog that is sprayed throughout the entire affected area, ensuring that all of the affected structure and contents are also affected by the fog.
Though this chemical has no scent, it reacts on a molecular level with the foul-smelling odor molecules lingering in the air after the fire gets extinguished. This new chemical compound is entirely neutral, leaving behind no smell at all. The process is a far cry from traditional deodorizing techniques, which merely overpower the harsh smell with an overbearing new scent for the damaged areas. Fogging leaves the room smelling like nothing has ever happened, even if you are still in the process of restoration efforts for the damages.
Since formidable smells (like those left behind after a fire) are challenging to live with, be sure to speak with our technicians assigned to your residence about deodorizing the area as soon as possible. Fogging can happen alongside our cleaning and restoration efforts, which makes the entire process more streamlined and efficient.
Recovering from a recent fire, regardless of its size, can be a complicated process. Contact us at SERVPRO of Baldwin and Monroe to walk you through the entire restoration process and help to bring these damages back to their preloss conditions.
What to do in a fire!
Picture this: You’re sound asleep when you’re jolted awake by smoke, flames, and blaring smoke detectors. The scariest part? You and your family have less than two minutes to get out before smoke/flames engulf the building.
With so little time to think or act in the moment, it’s vital to prepare yourself with fire safety education. While we hope this scary scenario won’t ever happen to you, it could. In fact, a home fire occurs every 86 seconds in America and fires destroy almost half a million structures every year. To protect yourself, home, and loved ones, follow the fire safety guide below, so you’re prepared for the worst.
What To Do in a Fire
1. Plan an escape route.
Emergency escape plans save lives. Do you have one for your home? First, start by drawing a map of your home including windows, doors, and hallways. Identify main emergency exits like the front and back door. Come up with a primary emergency escape route and then contingency routes to follow if one way is blocked. Remember, in an actual fire, flames and smoke can make certain passageways impassable, so it’s important you think this through when planning an escape route. For instance, if you have upper floor bedrooms, you can buy fire ladders that unravel to help people escape quickly.
Once your fire escape plan is ironed out, have a fire drill. Again, use different scenarios to achieve better preparedness. For starters, have everyone lie in their beds to simulate a night fire. Then, practice escaping from common areas like the kitchen and living room. Also, consider the fact that smoke can decrease visibility significantly. Have a fire drill in complete darkness or with everyone’s eyes closed. Practice counting doors and sensing your whereabouts by touch instead of sight. The more practice you have in more scenarios, the better prepared everyone will be in an actual emergency.
2. Extinguish the fire if you can.
If a fire starts in your home, call the fire department immediately while also assessing if you can put the blaze out yourself. This is hard to advise on because the call will be up to you. However, as long as professional help is on its way, you could attempt to use a fire extinguisher to put out small flames, so they don’t flash into 5-alarm fires. Go with your gut here though. If there’s too much smoke and a lot of heat, get yourself to safety.
3. Rescue humans and pets first, belongings second.
In an actual fire, the only non replaceable items are those that are living. Resist the urge to grab your laptop or jewelry. Instead, attend to family members and pets first. Rank them in order of who needs the most help (ie. a baby or disabled family member).
If there’s enough time, you can gather important documents like your driver’s license, birth certificate, marriage or divorce certificates, and photo albums. If there isn’t, forget about it. Preserving life is much more important than saving electronics or personal effects.
4. Stop, drop, and crawl.
Often times in fires, smoke and heat are more dangerous than the flames themselves. House fires can cause areas near the ground to reach 100 degrees or more and up to 600 degrees near ceilings. If there’s heavy smoke, drop to the floor where the air is cleaner and crawl to the nearest exit. Keep a piece of clothing or a towel over your nose to filter out the smoke and prevent yourself from passing out. Smoke rises, so more breathable air will be low to the ground.
5. Never take the elevator.
You should cover this in your fire escape plan, but let us reiterate: never take an elevator during a fire! You could become trapped or suffer a fall if the elevator fails or gives out. Always use the stairs or fire escape instead of an elevator.
6. Test doorknobs.
In an actual fire, you shouldn’t walk into any room without touching the doorknobs first. If there is heat, it’s probably not safe to enter. Opening doors can also increase airflow and accelerate the rate in which fire spreads.
7. Don’t panic.
Panicking can cloud your brain and prevent you from thinking clearly. If you’re trapped in a room during a fire, take a deep breath and remember this:
- Close the door and plug up any cracks or vents with a blanket, clothes, or a towel to keep the smoke out.
- Call 911 if you have a phone to let the authorities know where you are in the building.
- If you don’t have a phone, yell for help.
- If there’s a window, hang a piece of clothing or a cloth out the window to alert emergency crews.
Fires are undoubtedly terrifying, but keeping a clear head can keep you safer. Even if you’re not trapped, you should always take a second to calm yourself and think rationally about the proper steps to get everyone out safely.
8. Get out and stay out.
Once everyone in your family is out of your house, stay out. Don’t go back inside for anything—it’s too dangerous! The firefighters will be able to go back inside to save anything they can. That’s what they train for and they have gear to protect themselves. Also, remember to stay back 75 feet or more. Explosions are uncommon but could cause you to become injured if you’re too close.
How to prevent a fire...
Now that you know what to do in an actual fire, you should know how to prevent one from happening. Here are some top tips:
- Install fire alarms and smoke detectors. Early warning systems can help you get control of a fire before it spirals out of control. Smoke detectors can also help you get out safely. Install a smoke alarm on every level and in every room of your home, and test each alarm once a month to make sure it’s working.
- Teach children the basics of fire safety and how to prevent, prepare for, and deal with a fire.
- Always keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
- Keep flammable items at least three feet away from anything hot. (e.g., fireplaces, space heaters, and ovens).
- Only smoke outside.
- Stay in the kitchen. When you’re cooking, always stay nearby in case something catches fire.
- Turn off appliances. Remember to shut off your stove when you’re done cooking.
- Extinguish controlled fires completely. This includes fireplace fires and those in fire pits in the backyard.
- Spray down surrounding areas before having an outdoor fire. If you live in a dry climate, don’t start a fire outdoors. If you do, make sure to spray down the surrounding area in case a spark lands outside of your fire pit.
- Learn about electrical fires. Electrical fires are an entirely different beast. To learn more about them, read “How to prevent electrical fires.”
Every Second Counts When It Comes to Restoring Your Property
Fire damage, no matter the size, can affect every square inch of your property. It can travel through air ducts, burn through ceilings and floors, and damage countless pieces of equipment and documents.
SERVPRO of Baldwin and Monroe has access to thousands of pieces of equipment and hundreds of personnel to help mitigate even the largest fire damage. Our experienced technicians utilize industry knowledge, training, experience, high-tech equipment, and proprietary cleaning products to perform emergency services to meet our customer’s cleaning and restoration needs.
Performed immediately following a loss in order to reduce property and content damage, our emergency services reduce claims’ expense, and minimize customer disruption.
While the types of emergency services we provide vary, our emergency response includes:
- Boarding up the structure and securing the property to help prevent intrusions.
- Drying the structure and mucking out if necessary. Water is often used to extinguish a fire, so excess water or moisture must be monitored and removed.
- Deodorization of the affected areas.
- Pre-testing and initial cleaning. Initial cleaning may help prevent additional damage caused by soot residue, and pre-testing allows the technician to determine what can be restored to help eliminate needless and costly expenses.
- Conducting building inspections to evaluate the loss site for any safety or health hazards.
Call SERVPRO of Baldwin and Monroe for all your Fire Restoration needs!
Horrific House Fire
The fire's point of origin was the attic.
A house fire can happen to anyone and what this family experienced was tragically unexpected and needless to say scary. As you can see by this picture, a fire can consume your home in seconds and leave a path of destruction. This picture shows one of many rooms consumed by this nasty fire. After speaking with the fire department, they estimated more than 14 regulation size swimming pools worth of water were used to extinguish the fire. Thankfully, SERVPRO of Baldwin and Monroe were called immediately and quickly sent the fleet to the rescue. Although the owners were devastated, they were humbled and thankful to have a company come help them in this unfortunate event. They've recently rebuilt a brand new house and have come back several times to thank us for all we did.
Fire - When you least expect it.
It'll never happen to me you say. In a Utopian world, yes - but in reality, it can happen to the best. It shows no favoritism towards ethnicity, religion, stature in the community or bank account balance. It can consume the multi-million dollar home as quickly as it can consume the run-down, abandoned shanty.
Did you know that if a fire starts in your home, you may have just two minutes to escape?
The most effective way to protect yourself and your home from fire is to identify and remove fire hazards. 60 percent of house fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms. During a home fire, working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly can save lives.
Fire Safety Tips
- Talk with all household members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.
- Test smoke alarms once a month, if they’re not working, change the batteries.
- If a fire occurs in your home, GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL for help.
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
SERVPRO has an expertly trained workforce prepared for any disaster, any time of day. You can count on us to assist in life's greatest tragedies and make it look "Like it never even happened". Here are the steps you should take to get things moving back to normal.
After the fire trucks leave, your home likely suffers from fire and smoke damage and extensive water damage from firefighting efforts. SERVPRO of Baldwin and Monroe have the specialized fire restoration training needed to restore your home to pre-fire condition.
Have Questions About Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage? Call Today!
Every fire damage event is a little different, and requires a unique solution, but the general process stays the same. The steps listed below illustrate our process for the “typical” fire damage emergency.
Step 1: Emergency Contact
The restoration process begins when you call us. Our representative will ask questions regarding the fire damage event that will help us respond immediately with the appropriate equipment and resources.
Step 2: Inspection and Fire Damage Assessment
We carefully inspect and test adjoining rooms of your property to determine the extent of the fire, smoke, and soot damage. This step is crucial to developing a plan of action.
Step 3: Immediate Board-Up and Roof-Tarp Service
Fire damage can often compromise windows, walls, and roofs. To maintain security and to protect against further damage, we can board up missing windows and walls and place tarps on damaged roofs.
Step 4: Water Removal and Drying (if water damage is present)
The water removal process begins almost immediately and removes the majority of the water. We then use dehumidifiers and air movers to remove the remaining water and complete the drying process.
Step 5: Removal of Smoke and Soot from All Surfaces
We use specialized equipment and techniques to remove smoke and soot from ceilings, walls, and other surfaces.
Step 6: Cleaning and Sanitizing
We clean, sanitize, and disinfect all of the restorable items and structures that were damaged by the fire. We use a variety of cleaning techniques to restore your belongings to pre-fire condition. We’re also trained to remove odors using industrial air scrubbers and fogging equipment.
Step 7: Restoration
Restoration is the final step—getting your home or business to its pre-fire condition. Restoration may involve minor repairs, such as replacing drywall, painting, and installing new carpet; or it may entail major repairs such as the reconstruction of various areas or rooms in a home or business.
Don't hesitate to call - we care and we're here to help.