Recent Fire Damage Posts

Serve Up Fire Safety In The Kitchen

10/5/2020 (Permalink)

October is Fire Prevention Month and an excellent time to examine the emergency preparedness plans for your home and business, including your fire escape plan. Do you have a fire escape plan? Have you changed your smoke alarm batteries within the last year? Are you prepared for whatever happens? The National Fire Protection Association sets aside a designated week each October to focus on fire prevention. Fire Prevention Week is October 4-10, 2020. The 2020 theme is "Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!" This topic works to educate everyone about the simple but important actions they can take to keep themselves, and those around them, safe in the kitchen.  Did you know? Cooking is the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries, according to NFPA. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of fires in the kitchen. Once a fire alarm goes off, you only have less than two minutes to get out safely, yet only 8 percent of people surveyed said getting out was the first thought they had after hearing a fire alarm go off. Make a fire escape plan today! 

Keep Fall Fire Free

10/5/2020 (Permalink)

The fall season brings cooler temperatures, beautiful colors, and an abundance of outdoor activities. Plan ahead this season to help ensure it is safe and fire-free.  Fall decorations, like dried flowers and cornstalks, are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations away from open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.  Keep emergency exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes. Teach children to stay away from open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop, and roll if their clothing catches fire. Remember safety first when choosing a Halloween costume. Consider avoiding billowing fabric. It is safest to use a flashlight or battery operated candle in a jack-o-lantern. Use extreme caution if using a real candle. And most importantly, as your follow these safety guidelines, make sure to have fun and enjoy helping all neighbors and friends to stay safe too!

Kitchen Cautions

10/5/2020 (Permalink)

Each year, around the holidays, families gather together to celebrate by preparing a delicious feast. However, not everyone practices safe cooking habits.  According to the National Fire Protection Agency, cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and injuries. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. It's important to be alert to prevent holiday cooking fires. If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, do not use the stovetop or oven.  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 the food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.  Keep anything that can catch fire, like oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, or hand towels, away from the stovetop. 

Cooking Fires

7/30/2020 (Permalink)

Cooking fires are among the most common types of house fires, causing around 48 percent of all residential fires. They are often caused by greases that become overheated on a stove or in an oven. (About 600 degrees Fahrenheit, on average.) When it reaches that point, it's usually too late. Thoroughly clean your cookware to prevent grease from building up over time.  Portable cooking appliances, such as toasters and electric griddles can also be a source of fires. Never leave these portable appliances unsupervised, and make sure they are cool to the touch when storing them away.  Toasters should be regularly cleaned of crumbs that might ignite if they build up inside the appliance.  During the outdoor cooking season, barbecue grills left unattended on a wooden deck or near the exterior walls of a home can also be a source of fire.  A heated grill next to a wooden fence can easily cause fire, and grills have been known to ignite the exterior walls of a home or garage if positioned too close.

Electrical Fires

7/30/2020 (Permalink)

Various types of electrical faults in home wiring cause about 51,000 fires each year, accounting for nearly 500 deaths, 1,400 injuries, and about $1.3 billion in property damage according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International.  Most typically, electric fires occur because of short circuits causing arcing (sparking) that ignites building materials, or from circuits that are overloaded with current, causing wires to overheat.  Electrical problems account for about 10 percent of all residential fires, but this type of fire is often deadly, accounting for almost 19 percent of deaths due to home fire.  This is likely because electrical fires often ignite in hidden locations and build into major fires before residents are aware of them.  And such fires frequently may ignite while residents are sleeping. Properly installed electrical systems are very safe, with a number of built-in protective features, but old, faulty wiring systems can be susceptible to short circuits and overloading. It's a good idea to have your wiring checked out by a professional electrician, especially if you live in an older home.

The Behavior of Smoke

12/2/2019 (Permalink)

The damage to your property following a fire can often be complicated due to the unique behavior of smoke.  There are two different types of smoke - wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Your SERVPRO of High Point professionals are thoroughly trained in fire cleanup and know the different types of smoke and their behavior patterns.  Before work begins, SERVPRO of High Point will survey the loss to determine the extent of impact from fire, smoke, heat, and moisture on the building materials and its contents.  The soot will then be tested to determine which type of smoke damage occurred.  Pretesting determines the proper cleaning method and allows your SERVPRO professionals to focus on saving your precious items.  Smoke can penetrate various cavities within the structure, causing hidden damage and odor.  Our knowledge of building systems helps us investigate how far smoke damage may have spread.

Facts About Smoke

12/2/2019 (Permalink)

Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.  Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.  The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.  There are various types of smoke that may be in play in a fire.  There is what is called Wet Smoke. This is made up of plastic and rubber.  Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky and smeary.  Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.  Then there is Dry Smoke.  This is made up of paper and wood.  Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises, therefore smoke rises.  Protein Fire Residue is the third type of smoke.  This is produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire.  It is virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, and has an extreme pungent odor.  Fuel Oil Soot is our final type of smoke. This involves furnace puff backs.  While "puff backs" can create havoc for homeowners, in most cases SERVPRO of High Point can restore the contents and structure quickly.

Cooking Over The Holidays

12/2/2019 (Permalink)

Did you know that cooking is the main cause of home fires and injuries? To steer clear of these types of tragedies, remember to never leave cooking food unattended.  Stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling, or broiling food. You must check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while kitchen equipment is in use.  Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.  Remember to keep small children away from the cooking area.  Enforce a " kid free zone" and make them stay at least three feet away from the stove and oven.  Keep anything flammable like pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels away from the stove, oven or other appliances in the kitchen that generates heat.  

Safety First

12/2/2019 (Permalink)

As the holiday season is officially upon us, there are several safety tips that we must remember to ensure that all of our memories are fond ones.  When cooking, do not wear loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.  Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease build-up.  Purchase a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen year round.  Contact the local fire department for training on the proper use of fire extinguishers if you are unsure.  Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving home to make sure all kitchen appliances like stoves, ovens, and toasters are turned off.  Install a smoke alarm near the kitchen,on each level of the home,near sleeping areas, and inside and outside of bedrooms. Use the test button to check it is working properly every month.  Replace the batteries at least once a year.

Celebrate Safely

12/2/2019 (Permalink)

Pretty lights, candles, and decorations are just a few of the items bringing charm and cheer to the holiday season. However, if they are not used carefully your holidays may go from festive to frightening.  Make sure to place Christmas trees, candles, and other holiday decorations at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents and candles.  Make sure light strings and other holiday decorations are in good condition.  Do not use anything with frayed electrical cords and always follow the manufacturer's instructions.  Always unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving your property or going to bed.Never use lit candles to decorate a tree. Use only sturdy tree stands designed not to tip over. Keep curious pets and children away from Christmas trees. And finally, designate one person to walk around your property to ensure all candles and smoking materials are properly extinguished after guests leave.

Plan and Practice Your Escape!

10/3/2019 (Permalink)

October is Fire Prevention Month and an excellent time to examine the emergency preparedness plans for your home and business, including your fire escape plan.  Do you have a fire escape plan?  Have you changed your smoke alarm batteries within the last year?  Are you prepared if a disaster strikes? The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) sets aside a designated week each October to focus on fire prevention.  The 2019 theme is "Not Every Hero Wears A Cape. Plan and Practice your Escape!"  According to the NFPA, once the fire alarm goes off, "you could have less than one to two minutes to escape safely", yet only 8 percent of people surveyed said getting out was their first thought after hearing a fire alarm.  Creating, implementing, and practicing a fire escape plan for your home or business may be the difference between safety and tragedy.  Make a plan today! Escape planning and practice can help you make the most of the time you have, giving everyone in your home or business enough time to get out.

Every Second Counts

10/3/2019 (Permalink)

Every second counts during a fire. Fire experts agree; people have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it's too late to get out.  In a matter of moments, a small flame can become a major fire, making it critical to be prepared and have an escape plan in place.  A survey conducted by the American Red Cross shows only 26 percent of families and businesses have developed and practiced a fire escape plan.  Once a plan is developed, it is critical everyone in the home or office understands the plan.  The best way to do this is by practicing the escape plan at least twice a year.  Increase your chance of surviving a fire by ensuring you have working smoke detectors in place, building an escape plan, and then practicing it.  Your professionals at SERVPRO of High Point want you to stay safe, informed, and prepared to help ensure you are ready for any disaster that comes your way.

Preparing For A Fire

10/3/2019 (Permalink)

In preparing for a fire, you need to draw a map of each level of your home or business and show all the doors and all the windows.  Find two ways to get out of each room.  Make sure all doors and windows that lead outside open easily.  Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second and third floors.  Only purchase collapsible escape ladders evaluated by a recognized testing laboratory.  Store them near the window where they will be used.  Choose an outside meeting place a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they've escaped. Make sure to mark the location of the meeting area on your escape plan.  Teach children how to escape on their own in case you cannot help them.  Plan for everyone in your home or office, with special considerations for the elderly or disabled individuals.  SERVPRO of High Point wants you to stay safe, informed, and prepared to help ensure you are ready for any disaster that comes your way.

Always Celebrate Safely

7/15/2019 (Permalink)

The fourth of July is a time to celebrate with friends and family at a barbeque or picnic. With traditions like fireworks and bonfires, there may be some potential dangers along the way.  In order to celebrate safely when it comes to these events, consider the following tips provided by the U.S. Fire Administration.  The best way to enjoy fireworks is to view public fireworks displays put on by professionals.  If you plan to use fireworks, ensure that they are legal in your area.  Always read the directions and warning labels on fireworks.  If a device is not marked with the contents, directions, and a warning label, do not light it.  Supervise children around fireworks at all times.  Stand several feet away from lit fireworks.  If a firework does not go off, do not stand over it to investigate.  Pour water over it and dispose of it.

National Pet Fire Safety Day

7/15/2019 (Permalink)

National Pet Fire Safety Day is observed annually on July 15th.  Just like fire drills, pets need consideration when preparing for unexpected fire emergencies.  Our pets are as much a part of our family as any other member.  This day stresses the importance of protecting them.  Taking preventable measures now can both save your home and your pet.  Many times our pets can cause a fire if we don't take the proper steps.  Extinguish open flames.   Pets are curious and certainly not cautious.  Wagging tails haphazardly knock over candles.  Curious kitties will paw at sizzling grease, quickly sending a kitchen up in flames.  Remove knobs from the stove.  When not in use, they can get accidently turned on.  Consider flameless candles for ambiance and backup lighting in the event of a power outage.  Replace glass water bowls with metal or plastic.  Outside on wooden decks, they can heat up and actually start a fire.  Store leashes and collars near the entrance of your home.  When away, have your pets in the main living area for easy rescue.  Secure young pets when away from home.  This can help avoid fire hazards.  Pet kennels or in a pet-proofed room are options.  Fire alert window clings helps firefighters identifying the room your pets are located and identify the number of pets in the home.  Add one to the window of the room you keep your pets when you are away.  Keep it updated with the number of pets who reside with you and your current phone number.  And finally, have a plan when you are home.  Know which family members will be responsible for each pet.

Smoke Alarms

1/30/2019 (Permalink)

Smoke alarms save lives when properly installed and maintained, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).  In homes, smoke alarms should be in every bedroom and on every level, including the basement.  Test smoke alarms monthly using the test button.  Smoke alarms with non-replaceable batteries need the entire smoke alarm unit replaced every ten years.  Other alarms need batteries replaced every year and the unit replaced every ten years.  If the alarm chirps signaling low battery, take the proper steps to replace the unit or the batteries immediately.  Never disable or remove the battery from an alarm.  Almost half of fires where smoke alarms were present but did not activate had missing or disconnected batteries.  If you need help installing, testing, or changing batteries in your smoke alarms, contact your local fire department, an electrician, or the American Red Cross. 

October Is Fire Prevention Month

10/24/2018 (Permalink)

October is Fire Prevention Month - a perfect time to examine emergency preparedness plans for your home and business, including your fire escape plan. Do you have a fire escape plan? Have you changed your smoke alarm batteries within the last year? The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) designates a week each October to focus on fire prevention awareness. The 2018 theme is "Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere." This theme hopes to create awarenes in the steps necessary to reduce the chance of a fire and how to react in the event a fire does happen. The NFPA states the following: "LOOK" for places fire could start. Identify potential hazards and take care of them. "LISTEN" for the sound of the smoke alarm. "LEARN" two ways out of every room and make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily and are free of clutter.

What To Do If You Have Fire and Smoke Damage

10/19/2018 (Permalink)

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 the winter, pour RV antifreeze in sinks, toilet bowls, holding tanks, and tubs, to avoid freezing pipes and fixtures. Wash both sides of leaves on house plants. Change the HVAC filter, but leave the 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.

Destroy Odors With Deodorization

6/25/2018 (Permalink)

Even a small fire can cause odors for years to come if the affected areas are not properly cleaned and deodorized. Fire, smoke, and soot damage in your home or business can create unpleasant and potentially permanent problems. As various materials burn, the smoke produced travels throughout the structure, leaving odorous residues and deposits on surfaces and in hard-to-reach places. Unless fast, professional action is taken, these residues and deposits can cause permanent damage to contents and may result in resurfacing odors. With technicians certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration (IICRC), SERVPRO of High Point provides specialized services that can rid your home or business of offensive odors left by fire or smoke damage. SERVPRO of High Point does not cover up lingering odors with a fragrance; they seek out and remove the sources of the odor. If you suffer from a fire damage or some other accident and require deodorization services, contact SERVPRO of High Point. Whether it's fire, water, or mold damage, or just a stubborn odor that refuses to go away, we'll make it "Like it never even happened."

Dangers Of Fireworks...

6/18/2018 (Permalink)

FIREWORKS SAFETY!!! It's fireworks season! According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), an average of 18,500 fires are started every year by fireworks. This includes 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16,900 outside and other fires. "These fires caused an average of three deaths, 40 civilian injuries, and an average of $43 million in direct property damage", says the NFPA. Do you think sparklers are the safe way to go ? NOPE: they account for about a fourth of emergency room fireworks injuries. STAY SAFE THIS SUMMER by paying close attention to children at firework events, and avoiding the use of consumer fireworks. It is always suggested to go to an approved fire works display as to minimize any harm that may come to you and your family.  

CELEBRATE SAFELY WITH A RECIPE FOR SAFETY

10/23/2017 (Permalink)

Each November, families father to celebrate Thanksgiving by preparing a delicious feast, but if you don’t practice safe cooking habits, your holiday could become hazardous very quickly. 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. It’s important to be alert to prevent cooking fires. 

  • Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stovetop.
  • 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 stovetop.

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 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep 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’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.

Your local SERVPRO Franchise Professionals wish you a safe and happy holiday season.

                       DID YOU KNOW?

Thanksgiving is the leading day for home cooking fires, with three times the average number.

Protein Fires Are A Unique Challenge

10/17/2017 (Permalink)

Protein Fire Pot

Contrary to most house fires that occur, the typical kitchen fire or “protein fire” produce little visible smoke residue. Protein fires create an especially unique restoration challenge. The low level of heat reduces the animal fat and food protein and leaves a thin layer of film on surfaces. Many homeowners mistakenly underestimate the damage as there may be little or no black residue that you would expect to see after a typical fire. The layer of film that is produced from these fires can create a rancid strong odor that also compromises the structure and contents. These protein residues penetrate cabinets, drawers, air ducts, furniture, clothing, draperies etc. Here are some important facts regarding this type of fire.

  1. Protein fires generally leave little visible residue that can sometimes be overlooked at first.
  2. They create a significantly more repugnant smell than most other fires.
  3. The nature of the burn causes the odor to permeate structure and furniture even more completely than other fires.
  4. Require extremely thorough cleaning by a trained professional to remove the odor.
  5. Sometimes require a sealing agent or even repainting to completely eradicate the odor.
  6. May require multiple attempts and methods to achieve customer satisfaction.

It is also important to recognize that perception of odor is highly individual. There are no tools available to “measure” smell, and as a result, a homeowner may perceive odors that technicians or even neighbors cannot. Often, because of the strong link between smell and memory, a homeowner may experience “phantom odors” where the memory of the event causes reproduction of the odor even after thorough cleaning. It takes extensive cleaning of walls, floors, ceilings and contents of the home to rid the home of these odors and should be handled by professional cleaning and restoration company no matter what size of job.

Fire Extinguisher Tips

10/17/2017 (Permalink)

Fire

Make sure when choosing a fire extinguisher for your home or business that you choose the right class of extinguisher for the job.  Fire extinguishers are broken into classes and each class is designed to extinguish different types of fires.  Here are the different classes of extinguishers:

Class A – This is the most common extinguisher and can be used to put out fires in ordinary combustibles such as cloth, wood, rubber, paper and many plastics.

Class B – Used on fires involving flammable liquids such as grease, gasoline and oil.

Class C – Designed for fires involving appliances, tools, or other equipment electrically charged or plugged in.

Class D – For use on flammable metals; often specific for the type of metal in question.  These are typically found only in factories working with these metals.

Class K – Intended for use on fires that involve vegetable oils, animal oils, or fats in cooking appliances.  These extinguishers are generally found in commercial kitchens, but are becoming more popular in the residential market for use in kitchens.

***Information provided by the National Fire Protection Association.

Holy Smoke!!!

10/17/2017 (Permalink)

Occasionally, you may have smoke damage in your home that seems harmless.  Some examples of these incidents are burning a dinner, “puff-backs” from a furnace, smoke from a candle or lamp, or even a small fire from an appliance that you are to put out quickly with an extinguisher…but what about the smoke?  Experienced fire restoration professionals know that areas seemingly unaffected by fire damage are still a danger to homeowners. Smoke can penetrate within cavities of the structure, causing hidden damage and odor.  Smoke can coat your entire home with soot and leave toxic residues that can act as an irritant if not properly cleaned and can cause health issues.  Now, before I go further, I would like to point out that planning ahead to prevent fires in the home is the best thing you can do.

Here are some things you may not know about smoke: 

  • Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
  •  Smoke flows around plumbing systems, using holes around pipes and your HVAC duct work to go from floor to floor and throughout your home.
  • There are several types of smoke which affect how it acts and determines what type of cleaning process is required.

Types of smoke include:

  • Wet smoke – results from smoldering fires with low heat.  Residues are sticky, smeary and with pungent odors.  Smoke webs can be difficult to clean.
  • Dry Smoke – results from fast burning fires at high temperatures. Residues are often dry, powdery, small, non-smeary smoke particles.
  • Protein Smoke – here’s your burning chicken. Virtually invisible residues that discolor paints and varnishes.  Extreme pungent odor.
  • Fuel-Oil Soot Smoke – this is a result of a furnace malfunction (commonly known as a “puff-back”)

When having someone clean up smoke damage in your home, it’s important that they perform an inspection and do pretesting.  A fire damage restoration professional should determine the extent of the smoke and fire damage, make sure unaffected areas are protected, determine which materials can be restored and which need to be replaced, and the most effective cleaning methods.  These steps also allow the focus to be on saving precious items and keepsakes for you.