Recent Fire Damage Posts
Our House Is On Fire: A Walk Through, Part 1
Our house is on fire.
Those are some of the last words you want to hear out of your spouse’s mouth, yet here I was listening to them through the phone at work. I’m fairly certain I broke many laws on the drive home. I knew he and our son were safe because it was the middle of the afternoon and we were all gone to our respective places doing what we do every day. Our dog though, he was at home. Trapped. I was frantically dialing my mom repeatedly until she picked up so I could have her check on the dog. (Don’t worry, my mom was already with him and the fireman who was giving him oxygen. Good Samaritans kicked in the door to rescue him and after a brief stay at the vet he was on the mend.)
When you hear those words there is a period of time that surreal envelopes you. You’re in a fog and moving by an unseen force. Once you set eyes on your house, your home - the place you raised your children and your family celebrated life - and you see the many fire fighters working diligently to put out the flames or giving oxygen to your animals that were able to be saved, that surrealness gives way to grief. Very heavy grief. You hear the shattering glass and can picture which item it is that’s breaking. You hear the firefighters tearing cabinets off the walls and your grandmother’s dishes hitting what was once your kitchen floor. You hear them tearing into walls to make sure they got the fire completely out. There is nothing that can prepare you for this feeling.
So, what would be the first thing you do in a situation like this? What are the things that should be at the top of your to-do list, right now? This is what I did:
- Collect yourself - Now is not the time for emotions to control you. Take a deep breath, accept what has happened, and get to work.
- Find your fireproof safe - If you have one, locate your fireproof safe and remove your important documents and items to take with you.
- Call your insurance company - Call your insurance company and file a claim. They will give you a claim number and more than likely let you know an adjuster will contact you once the claim has been assigned. They may also have an inspection done to determine the cause of the fire to determine coverage for the loss.
- Alternative Living Expenses - Make sure you ask your insurance company about Alternative Living Expenses. If you have it on your policy, your insurance company should be able to help you secure housing. You’re going to need somewhere to stay. Depending on how bad your damage is, it may take several months before you are able to move back home. The fire department will also give you information on Red Cross and ask if you’d like them to contact them on your behalf.
- Get it boarded up/tarped - Arrange to have the home secured. More than likely windows and/or doors have been blown out or kicked in and your roof may have been affected. You’ll need to secure the home to protect whatever you may have that is salvageable from falling victim to the weather or someone entering the property.
- Call your doctor and pharmacy - Contact your doctor’s office and pharmacy regarding your medications. Any medication you had may not be able to be used any longer. Your doctor and pharmacy can help you make that determination and get those prescriptions replaced.
- Have utilities shut off - The fire chief will let you know when they are satisfied the fire is completely out and have a final discussion with you before they leave. Be sure to ask if the power and gas will need to be shut off or if they had already ordered it to be done. If you have a small kitchen fire that fills up your home with smoke and doesn't do any other damage this won’t be necessary. For a larger fire, say a total loss, you will definitely want to make sure this is done.
- Give yourself time - Allow yourself time to grieve. This is part of the process people don’t usually talk about. When it comes to fires with a lot of damage or a total loss, you’ve just experienced a major life change and loss. You will feel a whole host of emotions and there is going to be grief, and quite possibly a lot of it. Give yourself time, process it, but don’t dwell in it. The longer you stay in that phase the harder it’s going to be to do what you need to do.
Fire Bug Out Bags
Have you ever heard of a Bug Bag? A Bug out bag is something you can grab in a hurry to help you survive. One of the best reasons to have a bug out bag is in the case of a home fire. Why you may ask? Well, home fire can start with just a small flame and turn into a fully engulfed structure in just a matter of minutes leaving you only seconds to escape.
A Bug Out Bag can be as elaborate or as simple as you wish but for the purpose of this article we are suggesting to keep it simple. This bag should be kept within reach, such as next to your AND your children's beds. If a fire was to strike in the middle of the night you want quick access.
In the bag you should consider some type of fire hood. On the high-end is the iEvac Certified Smoke/Fire Hood. It protects against toxic gasses such as carbon monoxide (the number one cause of death and injury in a fire), smoke, hydrogen sulfide, chlorine, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, sulfur dioxide, tear gas and more. There are several options out there and a little research goes a long way.
Next we suggest a fire Blanket and a Flashlight.
Another great addition is a whistle! I know this may sound strange but if you are trapped and can not escape on your own blowing a simple whistle will help to alert firemen to where you are located.
This bag is simply for you to get out alive!
Remember to have a plan!
Talk to your children !
Practice your escape routes!
And most importantly ALWAYS Make sure you have working smoke detectors in you home.
Deep Fried Turkey
If you have ever had deep fried turkey you might never want to go back to oven roasted again. There is just something about the crispy skin and the juicy meat that just melts in your mouth. If you are considering trying this method out for the first time, make sure you do your research. It is a delicious end result but you don't want to burn your house down in the process!
Here's a few safety tips:
1. Always use your turkey fryer outdoors, away from anything flammable.
2. Place fryer on a flat surface.
3.Place the propane tank and fryer so that any wind blows the heat away from the heat source.
5. NEVER overfill the fryer, the container must be large enough to hold the turkey with enough oil to cover it.
4. Make sure your Turkey is thawed completely. Thoroughly pat the turkey dry as hot oil and water will cause extreme splattering.
5. Turn Off the heat source before placing the turkey into the hot oil, this way if they oil does overflow there is no flame to ignite. Once Turkey is safely in the oil you can then again lite the burner.
6.Check the oil temperature frequently. If the oil begins to smoke, immediately turn the gas supply OFF. (If you don't watch it carefully, the oil may catch fire).
7. Never leave your fryer unattended.
The oil will remain dangerously hot for quite some time after you have turned off your burner and removed your turkey. Please keep children and pets away from hot oil!
These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. And as always follow the manufactures recommendations on the turkey fryer.
Prevent Kitchen Fires
It is that time of year again. Holiday madness, holiday parties, fun, food and drink. One thing to be mindful of as we are preparing our holiday feasts is safety in the kitchen. Kitchen fires seem to peak during the holidays. Take a minute to revue these 10 simple steps to help keep your holiday dinner from going up in flames.
1. Never leave your cooking unattended – stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If you have to leave the kitchen, even for a second, turn off the stove.
2. Check your food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking.
3. Use a timer so you’ll remember that the stove or oven is on.
4. Don’t wear loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.
5. Keep the kids away from the cooking area. Enforce a “kid-free zone” and make them stay at least three feet away from the stove.
6. Keep anything that can catch fire - pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from your stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
7. Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
8. Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen. Contact your local fire department to take training on the proper use of extinguishers.
9. Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
10. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year.
Leave The Cleaning To us
Recently I was reading an article written on the IICRC web site. I found it very informative. The Institute of Cleaning, Restoration Certification( IICRC) is a certification and standard-setting nonprofit organization for the inspection, cleaning and restoration industries. The IICRC serves serves the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and Japan, in partnership with regional and international trade associations.
Why Professionals Should Clean Smoke Damage From A Fire
When the firefighters leave, it may seem like the danger has passed and the home is safe from further destruction, but without professionals to help clean the smoke damage, the building will never return to normal. While the principles behind fire restoration are fairly simple, it requires a lot of experience and manpower to perform adequately, and this means that it shouldn’t be attempted by a homeowner on his or her own.
While fire is always the immediate danger, once it is gone, what it leaves behind will continue to affect the house. Ash and smoke, if left unhindered, will cause extensive corrosion, etching and discoloration, not to mention lingering powerful odors. Professionals that clean fire and smoke damage can stop this before it becomes a major problem, assuming they are contacted soon enough. There are many companies out there that advertise their ability to restore areas affected by fire, but only those with proper training and certification should be considered. The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) is the main oversight agency in this industry. The IICRC requires its registrants to take extensive coursework before earning their certification. This is a symbol of excellence, and those that uphold the standards that have been set can be contacted through the IICRC.
These professionals can clean smoke damage and restore items affected by a fire, but they must be brought to the site as soon as possible to halt the ongoing issues that ash residue can cause. The first thing that ash does to the home is discolor most surfaces. Anything that is made of plastic or was close to the fire will start discoloring within minutes, and within several hours, fiberglass and finishes on appliances will begin to yellow. Metals may also tarnish. After a few days pass, the ash will cause walls to discolor permanently, along with clothing and upholstery. Wood and vinyl will need to be refinished or replaced, and metal will start corroding.
If a professional isn’t hired to clean smoke and fire damage, the costs for restoration will skyrocket after a few weeks. Metals may need to be replaced, carpet will permanently discolor and glass may be severely etched, which will necessitate replacement. It will also become apparent that the odors caused by the disaster may still be present and intense enough to be distracting. Because ash is acidic, the longer it takes to hire experts, the more destruction it will cause.
The first thing a trained, certified, professional company will do when on site is to identify all affected materials and the source of any odors. The only way to properly clean smoke and fire damage is to be extremely thorough. Ash residue is easily disturbed and can spread through the building with ease, causing nearly everything to need restoration. The experts will identify what can and cannot be salvaged, and will remove any built-up ash residue that is coating surfaces. Over time, ash builds up in layers, and may eventually form into a lacquer-like consistency. Once this is done, the restorers will locate the source of the odor, and treat it with specialized detergents that are formulated for neutralizing this kind of odor. Once materials are treated, they may be sealed off to prevent any further odor from permeating the air in the future.
This entire process is very detailed, and hiring a professional that can be trusted to do the job right is imperative.
Christmas Fire Safety Tips
Christmas Fire Safety Tips
With the Christmas holiday upon us, now is a good time to review some fire safety tips to help you and your family stay safe while celebrating the holiday. With the hustle and bustle of the holiday also comes dinners with family, candles, decorations, and don’t forget the Christmas tree! Some simple prevention steps can aid in helping you prevent a fire in your home.
- Did you know that half of holiday decoration fires are due to decorations being placed too close to a heat source? Make sure when you decorate to keep those decorations a safe distance from fireplaces, candles, stoves, and any other heat source.
- Be sure you check out those lights before you hang them. Look for frayed or damaged cords, if your lights have them throw them away!
- If you prefer a live tree, make sure you water it every day. A dry tree is a dangerous tree.
- If you use candles, consider the flameless option. They can give the same ambiance as a real candle and there are even ones that smell! If you do use the real thing, make sure they are in stable holders and are put somewhere they can’t be knocked over or are placed too close to something which may catch fire.
- Keep an eye on that stove and be careful of wearing loose clothing while cooking. Accidents happen and a too flowy sleeve or robe arm can be easily caught by a stovetop flame.
- Let’s talk turkey…deep fried turkey. If your preference is a deep fried bird, make sure you thoroughly thaw it before dunking it in the hot oil. It will cause spatter that often leads to fire, and if you’re in the garage that’s not good.
- Speaking of the garage, you probably shouldn’t be frying that bird in the garage. Find an open spot a safe distance away from structures.
For more fire safety tips visit usfa.fema.gov
Stay Warm, Stay Safe
There is something about the winter months and curling up with a good book by the fireplace. But did you know that heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths? With a few simple safety tips and precautions you can prevent most heating fires from happening. Like They say " An ounce of Prevention is worth a pound of cure"!
- Keep anything that can burn atleast three-feet away fromheating equipment, like thefurnace, fireplace, woodstove, or portable space heater.Have a three-foot “kid-free zone”around open fires and space heaters.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
- Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned andinspected every year by a qualified professional.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off whenleaving the room or going to bed.
- Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
- Test smoke alarms monthly.
New Years And Home Safety
With the start of a New Year many of us are focused on making resolutions to live a healthier lifestyle. Many of us will try new diets or begin an exercise program, which is great start to a healthier, happier, you but a having a safe home can be just as important to your health. As you embark on this New Year try to keep a few simple things in mind.
1) First make sure you test your smoke detectors monthly and replace the batteries at least once a year.
2) Clean out the lint from the vents and the pipe behind your dryer. Check them often to assure they are clean. Although this may not sound like a big deal lint is highly combustible and is responsible for more than 15,000 structure fires each year.
3) Change your furnace filters at least every three months, more often if you have pets or allergies.
4) Make sure you have a fire escape plan and be sure to practice it with your family often.
5) Be prepared to handle any home emergency by keeping your local SERVPRO® franchise contact information on hand.
Oh Christmas Tree
Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas tree!
Form many people the best part of the Holiday season is not the Christmas office parties or the family get-togethers. It may not even be the holiday shopping or the cookies! No, for some the Holiday season is all about finding that perfect tree! In many homes Christmas trees are hailed as the centerpiece to their Holiday Celebration. With that being said, we must remember that Christmas tree fires do happen.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that local fire departments respond to an average of 250 Christmas tree related fires each year. It is for this reason that it is so important to follow a few simple steps before buying and decorating that Perfect Tree!
1) When choosing a live tree, make sure the needles are fresh and green. Give the tree a good shake and make sure the needles are not falling off.
2) Make sure your tree has a fresh cut on the bottom to allow your tree to absorb the water it’s going to need
3) Keep your tree well-watered. A fresh cut tree can soak up to a gallon a day. Plain tap water is sufficient there is no need to add sugar or aspirin or any other additive to it.
4) Place your tree at least 3 feet from all heating sources such as fire places, radiators, candles heat vents or lights. Your tree does not need to be kept warm.
5)Make sure your tree is not blocking any exits
6)Before decorating your tree make sure all strands of lights are carefully checked. All wires should be free of breaks or frays. No cracked sockets or loose connection. Make sure you only connect the recommended
7) Make sure all lights are unplugged or turned off before going to bed or leaving home.
And Last but not least remember if a disaster does strike, SERVPRO of Sylvania/West Toledo is open 24/7 and we help make it “Like it never even happened”!