Recent Fire Damage Posts
FIRE DAMAGE - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
FIRE & SMOKE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Some FAQs about Fire & Smoke Damage
Fire and Smoke damage is not as rare as you may think. Those who are affected by a fire and contact us for help with the restoration process often have similar questions regarding what to do after. Some of those questions and answers are provided below.
Can I go back into my home to get my belongings after a fire damage?
We suggest an expert determine the safety of any home or building. While you may not see a risk in checking the fire damage in your home, it may be dangerous, or pose a hazard to your health.
What will happen to my items left in the home?
Your insurance agent may deem some that are safe be stored. If so, our technicians would remove those items and safely store them. Items damaged due to the smoke damage from the fire would need to be disposed of properly, which our technicians will also do.
Do you board up our home?
Yes, we can. SERVPRO of Northwest Charlotte can board up a home safety and securely to prevent possible theft after a fire damage has occurred.
Can I stay in my home after a fire?
Insurance adjusters will make this determination usually based on damage, but common sense will sometimes tell you to stay elsewhere. If a small situation is centered in one room and did not affect other areas, you may be able to safely stay.
Can we clean the fire or smoke damage ourselves?
Most people think fire or smoke damage can be easily cleaned. There are actually strict standards for fire restoration set forth by the IICRC, which all professional fire restoration companies follow to make sure your home is properly restored. While you may think you can do it, if you lack the proper training and experience, you are taking all responsibility for future hazards and problems that may occur.
The Do's and Don'ts of Grilling Season
1. Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your house. Farther is even better. This includes portions attached to your house like carports, garages and porches. Grills should not be used underneath wooden overhangs either, as the fire could flare up into the structure above. This applies to both charcoal and gas grills.
2. Clean your grill regularly. If you allow grease and fat to build up on your grill, they provide more fuel for a fire. Grease is a major source of flare ups.
3. Check for gas leaks. You can make sure no gas is leaking from your gas grill by making a solution of half liquid dish soap and half water and rubbing it on the hoses and connections. Then, turn the gas on (with the grill lid open.) If the soap forms large bubbles, that's a sign that the hoses have tiny holes or that the connections are not tight enough.
4. Keep decorations away from your grill. Decorations like hanging baskets, pillows and umbrellas look pretty AND provide fuel for a fire. To make matters worse, today's decor is mostly made of artificial fibers that burn fast and hot, making this tip even more important.
5. Keep a spray bottle of water handy. That way, if you have a minor flare-up you can spray it with the water to instantly calm it. The bonus of this tip is that water won't harm your food, so dinner won't be ruined!
6. Keep a fire extinguisher within a couple steps of your grill. And KNOW HOW TO USE IT. If you are unsure how to use the extinguisher, don't waste time fiddling with it before calling 911. Firefighters say many fire deaths occur when people try to fight a fire themselves instead of calling for expert help and letting the fire department do its job.
7. Turn on the gas while your grill lid is closed. NEVER do this. It causes gas to build up inside your grill, and when you do light it and open it, a fireball can explode in your face.
8. Leave a grill unattended. Fires double in size every minute. Plan ahead so that all of your other food prep chores are done and you can focus on grilling.
9. Overload your grill with food. This applies especially fatty meats. The basic reason for this tip is that if too much fat drips on the flames at once, it can cause a large flare-up that could light nearby things on fire.
10. Use a grill indoors. People often think it will be safe to use a grill, especially a small one, indoors. NOT TRUE. In addition to the fire hazard, grills release carbon monoxide, the deadly colorless, odorless gas. That gas needs to vent in fresh air or it can kill you, your family and pets.
Most Common Areas in Your Home for a Fire to Start
Places and Items Prone to Fire and Smoke Damage
It's important to identify areas, objects and circumstances that are more likely to be fire hazards than others, to help prevent any home fires and keep your house up-to-date on safety practices. Keep fire extinguishers in the kitchen, garage, and near any appliances that use heat/electricity. It's also a good idea (if not required by code) to have smoke detectors in every room of the house – especially bedrooms – and to check them at least once a month to make sure the devices are working properly.
It's crucial to practice home fire safety in the kitchen because it's the place where most home fires originate. In fact, half of all residential fires start in the kitchen due to appliances that utilize heat/electricity, cooking-related incidents (such as an unattended oven/stovetop), or fabric and material (a dishcloth, for example) that's too close to heat. A dirty oven/stovetop that has a lot of baked-on grease and residue is another fire safety hazard, as it can easily cause grease fires.
Most homes have a number of appliances, many of which operate with electricity, gas or heat (or some combination of these) and can be potential fire hazards. Older appliances (15 years or older) are particularly prone to fire damage especially if they aren't regularly cleaned/inspected and properly maintained. It's a good idea to only run appliances when you're at home to avoid having to deal with any safety issues or fire restoration, in the unexpected case that they overheat and/or ignite.
- Dryers – Lint, fiber and dust buildup in dryers is one of the main causes of a laundry room fire. Make sure to keep vents and filters clean by removing any lint after each use and to clean out the lint from the hose connected to the back of the dryer at least once a year.
- Dishwashers – Heating elements in the dishwasher raise the water temperature and help dry the dishes. These mechanisms can overheat and catch fire, especially in older models or if the dishwasher has faulty parts.
- Microwaves – Although they are convenient, microwaves can be dangerous if you heat food or materials (such as aluminum foil, Styrofoam or certain plastic containers) that are flammable. You could end up with a fire or even smoke damage if not quickly extinguished.
- Toasters/Toaster Ovens – The electrical elements inside a toaster can start to become faulty over time and may not turn off, which could start a fire. Crumbs can accumulate and become stuck at the bottom of the toaster, so make sure to clean it regularly to prevent a fire and never leave these appliances unsupervised when in use.
There are many potential fire hazards in bedrooms – bedding, curtains, plush items, mattresses – which make this room a high risk for fire damage. Mattresses made after 2007 are flame-retardant and comply with higher safety standards. Most mattresses made before 2007 usually aren't up to code with the Federal Mattress Flammability Standard, so you may want to consider upgrading to a new one. Incorporate home fire safety by installing smoke alarms in each bedroom and make a fire escape plan that includes two ways to exit the room (usually through the door and a window).
4. CHIMNEYS AND FIREPLACES
Some common issues that arise with chimneys and fireplaces include structural problems which can cause temperatures to burn too high, or chimney liners that are loose or have become detached which can cause burning embers and ash to escape to combustible areas in walls, attics and roofs. Keep chimneys and fireplaces cleaned and maintained. You should have them inspected and professionally cleaned at least once a year or when there is a quarter-inch buildup of creosote or soot. Rugs, tapestries and other fabrics that are too close to the fireplace can easily ignite. Prevent this by keeping cloth items away from the fireplace and always keep a spark screen in front of the fireplace.
5. LIVING ROOM
Like bedrooms, living rooms contain many potentially flammable items – electronics, drapes/curtains, furniture – which could easily catch fire and spread it rapidly. One of the leading fire hazards in living rooms are candles. Never leave a burning candle unattended and make sure it’s kept away from flammable/combustible objects.
You may be able to handle some of the fire cleanup on your own, such as ventilating your home by opening all of the windows and washing all of your clothes and fabric items that have been exposed to fire and smoke damage. However, for larger cleanup and restoration tasks, it's probably best to hire a professional fire restoration company.
Fire Damage - Where to Begin
About 380,000 people needed fire damage repair in their homes after an accidental or unintentional fire, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Fire Administration. Cooking accidents, heating issues, and electrical malfunctions account for close to 70% of all residential home fires. If you need fire or smoke damage repairs, there are some steps you can take before calling a professional fire and smoke restoration specialist to make your home safer. The fire department determines whether it is safe to stay in your home or not.
Fire Damage Repair
Often, with smoke and fire damage, there is also water damage hidden behind the walls. After a fire, call a professional fire damage repair company to ease your worries and take care of all the heavy cleaning, drywall replacing, and mold and mildew preventative maintenance. However, follow these steps to start the fire damage repair yourself. First, put on some protective clothing including rubber gloves, protective eyewear, and a face mask to prevent breathing any debris particles.
- Soot that has collected like dust requires a special vacuum. You should avoid using your own household vacuum.
- Use the following formula to clean surfaces. Pick up some TSP, or trisodium phosphate, and mix 5-tablespoons into 1-gallon of water with 1-cup detergent or bleach. Wash the floors and walls in small sections and complete the ceiling last. To prevent mold, rinse off this solution and dry at least 24-hours before you try repainting.
- You can wash clothes with TSP, about 5-tablespoons per load, and detergent to remove the smoke odor.
- Wash kitchen utensils and cooking items in hot soapy water.
- Wipe down leather furniture and bags with a wet cloth followed by a dry wipe using a dry cloth. Keep them in a cool dark place while drying and use saddle soap on dried items.
Removing fire damage, soot, and smoke from walls, ceilings, and floors is a not a simple task. Take the following steps to minimize the risk of fire and smoke damage to your home in the future.
- Electrical - Check and replace damaged electrical outlets, plugs, cords, and wires regularly and do not keep them covered or pinched against a wall. Avoid overloading your homes circuit system and use surge protectors rather than unprotected power strips.
- Kitchen – Often overlooked as part of a kitchen setup is the fire extinguisher. Keep one in close reach and prepare yourself to use it. Most ovens have a self-cleaning button; use it regularly to prevent buildup. Keep the stovetop clean to minimize grease fires.
- Appliances - A clothes dryer holds lint and many other appliances with a fan or motor suck in dust and other particles. Clear the filter of lint after each load and the dryer vent often. Clean under all appliances regularly to prevent buildup.
- Other fire causes include smoking, placing grills less than 10 feet away from your home, and children’s curiosity.
After you start your own fire damage repairs, contacting a professional fire damage company helps ensure proper repairs to your property, as well as mold and mildew prevention.
What Happens to My Belongings After A Fire
Here’s a look at how it all works:
- The Packout: A crew will come in and methodically box up your home, room by room, using a careful labeling and organization system.
- Cleaning: Restoration companies with full contents restoration capabilities have a large assembly line process for cleaning. It also means your items will all be inventoried and carefully kept track of during each step of the cleaning process.
While the cleaning process varies depending on the item, you can rest assured that only proven effective techniques are used that won’t do further damage to your items. For hard goods like dishes, they will be thoroughly washed and dried. If there is a noticeable odor, they will be placed in a special room with equipment that has the ability to remove that odor. For textiles like clothing, they will be carefully washed using unique odor and stain removal solutions, dried, and pressed, then carefully boxed back up.
There are also proven processes in place to restore expensive electronics like computers and even restore meaningful items full of sentimental value like photos or books.
- Stored during restoration: Depending on the severity of the fire, your contents may need to be stored at our facility while your property is restored. Again, rest assured your items have been carefully inventoried and will be stored in a climate-controlled environment until your home is livable again.
- Items returned: This has to be the most exciting part of the process, right? Just as crews carefully boxed up items by room, the boxes will be strategically returned to those rooms for you, rugs placed back in their original places, and window treatments rehung.
Protection For Businesses When Fire Damages Causes Closure
What Does Business Interruption Coverage Cover?
If your building catches fire, your property insurance coverage may help you replace the building, your desks and copiers, and inventory from your warehouse. It may also cover the cost of hiring a fire restoration company. However, this type of coverage doesn't cover your lost revenue. What does interruption insurance cover?
• Employee wages and other routine operating expenses
• Profits you would have earned if your business hadn't been affected by fire
• Costs related to moving to a temporary location
• Lease payments for the property affected by the fire
• Loan and tax payments
What Isn't Covered by Interruption Coverage?
It's important to understand that there are exclusions to this type of coverage. For example, some fire restoration services may be covered, but the expenses that result from a flood or earthquake probably won't be covered.Water damages are often paid for out of your business budget. Other costs that may not be covered include
• Utilities, which are usually stopped after a disaster
• Undocumented income, such as a recent increase in income
• Losses due to voluntary or partial closures
• Losses related to power outages and downed power lines
Prevent Winter Fires
Prevent Winter Fires
Preventing Winter Fires
Most home fires happen during the winter season. Follow these fire safety tips to keep your home and family safe:
- Keep area around heating equipment clear of flammables.
- If you use a fireplace, have the chimney swept yearly, use a sturdy screen to stop sparks and store ashes outside at least 10 feet away from the house.
- Use space heaters with automatic shut-offs and keep pets & children 3 feet away.
- Test smoke & carbon monoxide alarms and make sure batteries are fresh.
- Keep a fire extinguisher on each floor and teach family members how to use it.
- Keep baking soda by the stove to combat grease 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 completely. 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 three days for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year’s Day, and New Year’s Eve. Each year between 2012 and 2016, an average of 8,200 home candle fires were reported each year. 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.