Recent Fire Damage Posts
Keep Your Family Safe From Fire
Minimize Your Risks
The good news: Over the past several decades, deaths from home fires in the U.S. have steadily gone down – from 5,200 in 1980 to 2,820 in 2018, according to Injury Facts.
But even one death from a preventable fire is too many. While fire doesn't discriminate by age, it is the third leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14. In 2017, 127 children in this age group died from fire and smoke inhalation.
When cooking, make fire safety a priority by keeping these tips in mind:
- Be alert; if you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the oven or stovetop
- Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food
- When simmering, baking or roasting, check the food regularly, remain in the kitchen while cooking and use a timer
- Keep anything that can catch fire away from your stovetop
Heating is the second leading cause of home fires. Follow these tips from the American Red Cross:
- Keep all flammables, like paper, clothing, bedding, drapes or rugs, at least 3 feet from a space heater, stove or fireplace
- Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended; turn off heaters and make sure fireplace embers are extinguished before leaving the room
- If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, nonflammable surface, like ceramic tile, not on a rug or carpet
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters
- When buying a space heater, look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over
In addition to cooking, other top causes of fire include smoking, electrical problems and candles. To minimize risks:
- Institute a “no smoking” policy in the house
- Check all cords and replace any that are frayed or have bare wires
- Switch to flameless candles
- Keep matches and lighters high and out of children’s reach in a locked cabinet
Working Smoke Alarms Are a Must
About three out of five fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or working smoke alarms. Smoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan providing early warning reducing your risk of dying in a fire. The National Fire Protection Association recommends you:
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas on the ceiling or high on the wall
- Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen, at least 10 feet from the stove, to reduce false alarms
- Use special alarms with strobe lights and bed shakers for people who are hard of hearing or deaf
- Test smoke alarms monthly
- Replace batteries annually, and change the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector at the same time
- Replace smoke alarms that are 10 or more years old
Make an Escape Plan
A home fire is reported every 88 seconds. Once the smoke alarm sounds, a fire can spread quickly, leaving only a minute or two to escape. That's why it's so important to have a home escape plan.
Start by drawing a map for your home and following these guidelines from the NFPA:
- Plan two ways to escape from each room
- Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily
- Identify secondary routes – a window onto an adjacent roof or a collapsible ladder from upper-story windows
- If you live in a multi-story building, plan to use the stairs – never the elevator
- Designate an outside meeting place a safe distance from the house where everyone should meet
Now Practice Your Home Fire Escape Plan
A safety observance developed by Nationwide in partnership with NSC and other organizations, is held during Fire Prevention Week in October. Everyone – even children – need to know your family escape plan in case of a fire. The National Fire Protection Association indicates that 71% of Americans have a home fire escape plan but only 47% have practiced it. Practice your fire drill with everyone in the house at night and during the day, twice a year.
- Practice getting out with your eyes closed, crawling low to the floor and keeping your mouth covered
- Practice closing doors behind you
- Practice how to “stop, drop and roll” if your clothes catch on fire
- Practice testing door handles to see if they are hot before opening them
- Teach children never to hide during a fire, and how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them
When and How to Use Fire Extinguisher
Always put your safety first; if you are not confident in your ability to use a fire extinguisher, get out and call 9-1-1. The American Red Cross cautions you to evaluate the situation and ensure:
- Everyone has left or is leaving the home
- The fire department has been called
- The fire is small, not spreading, and there is not much smoke
- Your back is to an exit you can use quickly
Learn about the different types of fire extinguishers; not all will work on every fire. For home use, the National Fire Protection Association recommends a multi-purpose device large enough to put out a small fire but not so heavy that it will be difficult to handle.
Review the instructions once a year. If you need to use a fire extinguisher, there won’t be time to learn how to do it.
Cooking and heating are the leading causes of home fires and fire injuries, and winter months are the peak time for fire-related deaths. Now is the perfect time to review and practice fire safety.
If you or a loved one experiences the catastrophic effects of a fire, call SERVPRO of Baldwin and Monroe at 478-452-8000.
5 Critical Facts and Stats on Restaurant Fires
1. According to the NFPA, approximately 61% of all restaurant fires between 2010 and 2014 were caused by cooking – with cooking equipment or materials being the most frequent items initially ignited and therefore the cause of the fire. This makes up three out of five fires and 38% of direct property damage.
It makes sense that cooking equipment results in the most number of fires and property damage for eating and drinking establishments since it is a constant source of heat and fuel throughout the day. A major factor to also consider is why these fires aren’t properly contained or how they spread to the point of resulting in direct property damage. This leads us to our next important fact.
2. Approximately 22% of these fires were a result of failure to clean, 14% electrical failure or malfunction, 12% mechanical failure or malfunction and 8% unattended equipment.
If cooking appliances are not cleaned and maintained at regular intervals, excessive grease can build on surrounding surfaces. These collections of grease buildup exist very close to the cooking surfaces, and if not removed can present a dangerous fire hazard. As well, failure to properly clean your commercial kitchen and associated vents and ductwork can cause large amounts of liquid grease to accumulate and has been directly related to the leading cause of eating establishment structure fires. This truly details the importance of keeping your commercial kitchen clean and maintained.
3. Deep fryers were involved in one of five fires (21%), ranges or cooktops in 14% of fires, cooking grills in 6%, and ovens or rotisserie ovens in 5%.
Deep fryers deal with hot oil and grease more than any other piece of cooking equipment. This statistic illustrates how grease and vaporized oils are powerful fire igniters and fuel sources for uncontained fires. Proper maintenance and cleaning of deep fryers are essential to proper operation and to prevent misuse that could lead to a fire.
4. These fires resulted in direct property damage of $165 million annually.
Excluding the potential lives and injuries affected as a result of the fire, your property and livelihood are at stake. The more neglected and grease laden your kitchen is, the more likely the fire can spread to other parts of the building, or worse, to a building nearby. According to national averages, flame damages often remain contained to the building of origin where the fire started, but not the object that caught fire. This means that oftentimes other cooking equipment or property not directly involved in the fire become damaged. The cost of replacing equipment or restoring structural damage far exceeds the cost of regular equipment and vent hood cleaning.
5. In eating or drinking establishments, direct property damage per reported fire was 75% lower when wet pipe sprinklers were present, compared to fires with no automatic extinguishing equipment present.
Outside of required services, current codes, or “grandfathered” buildings, it is important to note how important it is to have fire preventative services/equipment in place. It is a direct factor in saving property as well as lives.
IN SUMMARY, it’s important to have your kitchen equipment and exhaust system regularly inspected to ensure you are up to current fire safety codes. By sticking to a routine maintenance schedule both for your cooking equipment and for your hood, vents, and ductwork, you are keeping your employees, patrons, building, and community safe.
Source: NFPA Research – Structure Fires in Eating and Drinking Establishments.
Keeping Your Pet Fire Safe
Prepare your pet for a fire emergency!
Keeping Your Pet Fire Safe
Your pets are a part of your family, and as such, it’s only natural that you’d want to protect them in the event a fire occurs in your home. Unfortunately, many homeowners fail to include their dog, cat, or other pet in their family fire emergency plan, leading to heartbreaking outcomes. However, by preparing your pet for fire emergencies early on, you can keep your furry friend safe from harm. These extra precautions are sometimes as simple as:
- Taking a few common fire prevention precautions
- Training your pet to respond to your voice
- Setting up a proper safe space for your pet while you’re away.
Reducing Fire Hazards
It’s estimated that unattended pets are responsible for almost 1,000 house fires annually. Ensure that you’re not leaving any open flames, such as candles, unattended, remove your stove’s knobs while you’re away so they can’t be turned by curious paws, and consider securing your pet in a safe place while you’re not around to supervise them.
Prepare for Disasters
If a fire does start on your lot, you and your pet both need to be prepared. First, ensure that you have fire emergency supplies such as food and medication for your pet on hand. Pet preparation can also be made just a bit easier if you take the time to teach your pet to come running when they hear you call their name.
When You’re Not Home
Fires happen when you least expect them, including when you’re not at home. That’s why you need to make it easy for rescue services to help your pet if this situation does arise. Keep your pet on a collar, keep a leash nearby and secure them somewhere near the door while you’re away. Furthermore, keep your vaccination and pet ownership records in a fire box.
Preparing your pet for a fire emergency can take a bit of time and patience, but in the end, it’s well worth it if it means keeping your companion safe.
Protect Your Hotel With These Fire Prevention Tactics
A hotel fire can be devastating for your business
Prevent A Fire Before They Become A Problem
A hotel fire can be devastating for your business. It endangers guests and staff, causes expensive damage, and ruins your reputation within the Monroe, GA community. These consequences are why it is important to not just combat fires but also prevent them. The following practices can help you stop fires before they become a problem.
Create a Risk Assessment Plan
Just as you would make an emergency plan to respond to an ongoing fire, you should also work on a prevention plan. The biggest part of prevention is risk assessment, which is carried out through the following steps:
- Detect hazards such as malfunctioning appliances and flammable objects
- List the most vulnerable people
- Apply different prevention methods
- Record the results
- Continue tests and updates
The more risks you detect and neutralize, the more you will reduce the chances of a fire. Keep your guests and workers safe with proper planning.
Train Staff and Assign Roles
A fire prevention plan is only effective when your staff knows how to execute it. Your employees should know how to find potential hazards and report them, as well as proper housekeeping and repair techniques that can prevent a hotel fire. They should also know other basics such as alarm operation, evacuation routes, and contact information for firefighters and fire restoration services. Appoint some of your safety-trained employees as fire wardens who can lead the guests during a fire.
Maintain Equipment as Necessary
Your hotel has plenty of electrical and mechanical equipment that serves multiple purposes. Unfortunately, it can also malfunction and create a fire. This possibility is why your staff should always maintain the facility's devices in a timely manner. Keep records of these procedures to know when the next service is due. Maintenance and repairs should also be prioritized on emergency exit doors, fire alarms, and extinguishers.
As someone in the hospitality industry, it is your responsibility to keep everyone safe from dangers like a hotel fire. Take the initiative in preventing fires to accomplish this goal and ensure your facility's success.
How To Prevent a Grease Fire and What To Do When One Happens
Home accidents most commonly occur in the kitchen. Among these incidents, a grease fire is particularly destructive. Here are a few ways to stop one from happening in yours, along with how to proceed should a fire break out.
Inhibit a greasy inferno from erupting in your cooking space by:
- Always attending an operating stove
- Removing anything flammable from the immediate area
- Only cooking while sober and fully awake
- Having pan lids and an extinguisher nearby
- Restricting children from entering the stove’s proximity
- Heating oil gradually
- Adding food slowly to minimize grease splatter
- Removing moisture from food before submerging it
Ignorance of safety measures could result in an unruly blaze. If an out-of-control grease fire causes damage to your house, hire a company specializing in residential fire restoration to repair the charring and conduct a professional fire cleanup.
Extinguishing Procedures and Related Safety Tips
Place a metal lid or cookie sheet over wayward flames to smother the burning, leaving it untouched until it has cooled. If your fire is manageable, baking soda or salt can be used to snuff it out. Have a Class B dry chemical fire extinguisher within reach for instances where neither of these options is available or adequate.
Never attempt to extinguish an oil-based fire with water. Such attempts make splashes that can easily spread flames. Flour and baking powder are equally dangerous, as they feed fires instead of ending them.
As soon as your burn zone is contained, switch off the heating source. Let full pots and pans remain in place since scorching oils could easily spill. Shepherd everyone outside, remembering to close the door behind you. Bring your phone and dial 911 once everybody has reached safety.
Even minor grease fires have the potential to create severe structural damage. In addition to knowing how to react after such a crisis erupts, become familiar with how to prevent one.
How Commercial Insurance Can Help After a Fire
How Commercial Insurance Can Help After a Fire
If a fire damages your business, the loss can be devastating. Fortunately, commercial insurance can ease the financial burden.
Coverage varies depending on your provider and particular policy. It is important to discuss your policy with your agent so that you know exactly what is covered. In general, though, insurance is likely to cover expenses stemming from the following causes:
- Fire-extinguishing efforts: broken windows, water damage, etc.
- Fire-fighting fees
When purchasing or updating your policy, make sure that it covers everything you would want to replace if damaged by fire, including the building itself, machinery and inventory. Remember that there are likely exclusions to your coverage. For example, your policy may not cover liability. This means it would not pay for damage to your neighbor’s building caused by a fire originating on your property.
After incurring fire damage, you should call your commercial insurance provider for specific instructions on filing a claim. However, there are certain steps that will apply in most situations. Before you experience a loss of any kind, it is important to make an inventory. Make a list of purchase dates and prices of equipment, software, machinery and everything else covered by your policy. Take video or photographic evidence of all the items. Keep the photos and list in cloud storage or in a secure off-site location. After the fire has been extinguished, take photos or video of the damage before beginning repairs. Be sure to get as much detail as possible. If you are doing a video walkthrough of the damage, it may help to narrate and explain what the damaged items are. Accurate records of the covered property before and after damage ensures the insurance company has the information that they need to adequately reimburse you.
While commercial insurance can help your business recover financially, you may also need help with the cleanup and repairs. A certified restoration company can help you get your business back to preloss condition.
Fire Damage Statistics that will blow your mind!
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the top five causes of fires in commercial facilities are issues with cooking equipment, heating units, electrical/lighting issues, smoking materials and intentional fire starting.
Here’s a brief look at fire damage statistics, courtesy of the NFPA:
From 2010-2014 there were an estimated 7,410 fires in food services facilities, which caused annual losses of $165 million in property damage. Cooking equipment was the root cause of over 60% of those fires with electrical malfunctions the next highest cause.
On average, 13,570 structure fires in stores and merchant properties each year, resulting in $604 million in property damage. The average fire damage comes to $73,800 per facility. Electrical issues are the primary cause of these fires.
Each year the NFPA estimates there are 3,520 hotel/motel fires. The main source of hotels fires the kitchens. Whether it’s the individual rooms’ kitchenette or the main kitchen of the hotel, 2 out of every 5 hotel fires start here. Annual property damage estimates for the hospitality industry are around $84 million.
Education facilities have on average 4,980 structure fires resulting from cooking equipment issues in the cafeterias to intentionally set fires. These fires cause around $70 million annually. Seventy percent of educational facilities that have fire losses are nurseries, elementary, middle and high schools.
5,750 healthcare facilities succumb to fire damage each year, with an astounding $50.4 billion in property damage. A breakdown of healthcare structure fires show 48% are in nursing homes, 22% in mental health facilities, 20% in hospitals and 11% in doctors offices.
While they don’t have information specially for Property Management companies, they do have information about office properties which include several general businesses such as banks, engineering firms, research office and more. Office property fire damage has an annual estimate of $112 million with the top 3 fire sources being cooking equipment (6%), intentionally set (20%) and electrical/lighting (12%).
SERVPRO is here to help you recover from life's disasters. Don't hesitate to call! We are always here to help.
Knowing these Fire Prevention Tips could Save a Life!
Fire Safety Guide: Fire Prevention and How to Prepare for a Fire Emergency
Waking up to smoke and flames is one of the worst things that can happen to your family and home. Over 365,000 fires and 2,650 civilian deaths occur every year, resulting in $7 billion in property damage. The worst part is that most home fires are preventable. Keep your family and your home safe with just a little fire safety preparation and prevention. From creating a fire escape plan to making sure your smoke detectors are working properly, these fire safety tips are easy to learn and practice in your home.
How to prevent home fires
U.S. fire departments respond to a home fire every 86 seconds. That’s over 1,000 fires a day. Home fires can occur for a variety of reasons, but many are preventable. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires, accounting for over half of home fires in 2015, followed by heating equipment, electrical malfunction, intentional fires and smoking materials. Home fires are not 100 percent preventable. Though, you can take necessary steps today to reduce your risk of home fires. Here’s how:
- Install and maintain smoke alarms on every floor of your home and within every bedroom. Roughly 50% of home fire deaths occur during the night while people are sleeping.
- Never leave food cooking unattended, especially deep fryers and other frying equipment.
- Avoid using portable and fixed space heaters, as heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fire deaths.
- Have a fire plan that gets you out of your home in less than two minutes and practice it.
- Avoid smoking in the house.
Electrical safety & home fire prevention
Electrical malfunctions are one of the leading causes of home fires. Make sure that you hire a qualified electrician to make any changes in your home. In addition, be sure to check electrical cords regularly, and make sure cords do not run across doorways or under carpets where they could be damaged. Remember to limit the number of plugs you have in an electrical outlet or power strip. Overloading an electrical outlet can not only trip a breaker, but it could also start a fire. Additionally, only use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage for each lamp. Your lamps and light fixtures should have a sticker that indicates the maximum wattage light bulb you may use.
Testing your smoke detector could save your life
Every smoke alarm should be tested monthly by pushing the “test” button and batteries should be changed when needed. It is best to always have at least one spare battery. If your smoke alarm ever “chirps,” it is time to replace the battery immediately. Most smoke alarm failures occur because of a missing or disconnected battery or a dead battery.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that three out of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires where there were non-working smoke detectors or no smoke detectors at all. Having the proper fire safety equipment in your home can truly save your life. There are many brands and types of smoke alarms you can choose from. You can purchase a smoke detector with a full home security system and have it monitored through a provider’s monitoring center. When choosing the best smoke alarm, look for one that meets the Underwriters Laboratories Standard with the UL label on the packaging.
Where to install smoke detectors
The NFPA recommends installing a smoke alarm on every floor, including the basement, and inside every sleeping room. Smoke alarms should be mounted high on a wall not more than a foot from the ceiling or on the ceiling. Remember, smoke rises.
- Kitchen: It is critical to mount smoke alarms in the kitchen at least 10 feet from any cooking appliance to minimize false alarms when cooking.
- Basement: Smoke alarms in the basement should be installed on the ceiling near the bottom step of the stairs up to the first floor.
How to use a fire extinguisher
Fire extinguishers are helpful for putting out small fires. You can contact your local fire department for fire extinguisher training. Or, follow these simple recommendations from the U.S. Fire Administration. To operate a fire extinguisher, remember the word “PASS:”
- Pull the pin. Hold the fire extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you and remove the pin to unlock it.
- Aim low. Point the nozzle at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
- Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.
Fire extinguishers should be checked regularly and tested by a professional every few years.
Different types of fire extinguishers
It’s also useful to know that there are five different types of fire extinguishers for putting out different kinds of fires.
- Class A extinguishers: for use on materials like cloth, wood, and paper.
- Class B extinguishers: for use on combustible and flammable liquids like oil, gasoline, and grease.
- Class C extinguishers: best for electrical equipment and appliances like stoves, televisions, and computers.
- Class D extinguishers: for use with flammable metals.
- Class K extinguishers: best for cooking oils commonly found in commercial kitchens, including vegetable oil.
Most dwellings have a multipurpose extinguisher that covers Classes A, B, and C. You can purchase these types of fire extinguishers at any home improvement store.
Create an fire escape plan with your family
Home fires can rapidly spread, and every second counts. Having a plan in place where you and your family can get out of the house in under two minutes once the alarm sounds is critical for your family’s safety.
Everyone in your family should know how to dial 9-1-1 in the case of emergency. In addition, teach your children what a smoke alarms sounds like and what to do if they hear one. You should also establish and practice a fire escape plan, especially if you have small children. Here some tips for creating your fire escape plan:
- Draw a floor plan of your entire house that shows all the doors and windows.
- Show and discuss the plan with everyone in the house.
- Identify at least two ways out of every room, if possible. This could be through doors or windows.
- Once outside, everyone should meet at an agreed upon meeting place a safe distance from the house. It could be the mailbox or the neighbor’s fence. Just make sure it is easy for young children to get there.
You can also download a kid-friendly fire escape planning worksheet from the National Fire Protection Association and complete it with your family.
Basic fire safety tips for kids and families
Help your family stay safe in the event of a fire. Do not let children play with matches, lighters or candles. Keep these items up and away from young children. In addition, teach your kids these basic fire safety tips to help ensure they know what to do during a fire emergency.
- Teach children that if a doorknob is hot, you should NOT open the door.
- Teach children how to “Stop, Drop, and Roll.”
- Teach your kids to crawl on their hands and knees if they see smoke.
- Take your child to the fire house to meet a firefighter. This way, they learn what a firefighter looks like in their fire gear.
- Teach your child to never hide under the bed or in the closet.
There’s no 100 percent guarantee that a fire will never happen in your home. That’s why it pays to be prepared and take steps to reduce the risk of a home fire. Follow the three “P’s” – prevent, plan, and practice. Make sure your home has working smoke alarms, your family has a fire escape plan, and you have practiced it.
House Cooking Fire Prevention Tips
Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries. Ranges or cooktops cause 62% of home fires according to the National Fire Protection Association. Learn how to stay safe with these tips.
- Keep anything that can catch fire away from your stove top.
- Always unplug counter top alliances when not in use.
- Make sure you have, and test, GFCI receptacles in your kitchen to prevent shock and electrocution.
- Double check that everything is off when you finish cooking.
- Prevent fires by keeping your oven and stove top clean of grease and dust.
- Never leave the kitchen while cooking.
- Never cook while sleepy, drinking alcohol, or taking medication that makes you drowsy.
- Never disable a smoke alarm while cooking.
- Never use a cooking stove to heat your home.
If you experience a grease fire, soot damage or worse, fire damage, call the professionals at SERVPRO of Baldwin and Monroe. We are always here to help.
3 Simple Facts About Smoke Damage
A house fire is terrifying. After evacuating the home and calling the fire department, you and your loved ones are forced to wait outside as the rescue team fights to extinguish the flames and save your home from burning down. Once the firefighters are able to put out the fire and have determined that it’s structurally sound enough for you to go back inside, you breathe a sigh of relief, believing that your home is safe again. Unfortunately, this probably is not the case. In fact, smoke damage can be a serious hazard to your health and can create problems for your home – both now and down the road. In order to demonstrate this point, we’ve put together a list of three important facts about smoke damage, and what you should do to secure your home after a fire.
Smoke Damage Can Make You Sick
House fires lead to thick, heavy smoke and soot because there is so much upholstered furniture, carpeting, curtains, clothing, and other household items that act as fuel. This soot and smoke can linger inside of the home for a very long time after the fire has been extinguished and can lead to serious health problems. Not only is soot very toxic, but it is also quite tiny in size at just 2.5 microns (compare that to a dust particle which is 40 microns in size!). Because they are so small, these particles can easily penetrate an inhabitant’s lungs, skin, and even eyes. The most minor problems may include watery eyes or a runny nose, while others may develop a persistent cough, upper respiratory problems, complications related to heart conditions, and a compromised immune system. If you want to make sure that you and your loved ones are able to safely return to living inside of your home, you absolutely must seek out the assistance of a professional fire restoration service like SERVPRO. Companies like these have the ability to come into your house and evaluate the level of damage done by smoke and other combustion by-products. From here, they can safely and effectively remove smoke particles from the home so that the air is clean and safe once more.
Smoke Damage Causes Discoloration
If you want your home to look great even after a fire, you can’t afford to sit around and ignore the effects of smoke damage. After just a few days, ash and soot will lead to the permanent discoloration of walls and ceilings, including wood and vinyl. In addition to this, the ash can also cause any metal within your home to start corroding, both leading to discoloration and decreased structural integrity. In order to prevent this from happening to your home, it’s important that you hire a fire restoration company like SERVPRO as soon as possible. The earlier the service is able to start working on your home, the more likely it is that they’ll be able to prevent permanent damage.
Smoke Damage Stinks – Literally!
If you’ve ever been to a bonfire, you know how pungent the smell of smoke can be. Even after washing your hair, you may still be able to detect the odor of the bonfire for days after the fact. Imagine how strong the smell of a house fire can be – and how long-lasting! Because of the intensity of these types of fires, the smell of smoke can linger inside of a home for years if it isn’t addressed right away. This is not only unpleasant for you and your family, but it can also decrease the overall value of your home, making it much more difficult for you to sell in the future. Once again, it’s absolutely vital that you seek professional help in cleaning and removing smoke damage from your home immediately after a fire occurs.
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.