Recent Fire Damage Posts
Thanksgiving Cooking Fires
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires. In 2017, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,600 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving. Following are some tips from the NFPA on how to stay safe and prevent a fire from ruining your holiday.
- Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stove top.
- Stay in the home when cooking your turkey, and check on it frequently.
- Make sure children stay away from the stove.
- Keep knives out of the reach of children.
- Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
- Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children.
- Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, purses, or bags.
- Make sure your smoke alarms are working. If not, your batteries may need changed.
We hope you have a safe Thanksgiving but if a fire should happen to you over the holidays don’t hesitate to call the professionals at SERVPRO of Burlington. We are available 24/7 to assist you!
Getting your Home Winter Ready
Although we are still in the fall season it’s never too early to think about getting your home winter ready. The following tips will help you prepare to ready your home for when that cold and blustery winter weather arrives.
- Check your home’s heating and air conditioning system- It is recommended to change your filter at this time so your furnace can continue to run smoothly.
- Caulk around windows and doors- If the gaps between siding and window or door frames are bigger than the width of a nickel, you need to reapply exterior caulk. Also, make sure to check the joints as well.
- Check your drainage- Check and make sure the soil around your foundation hasn’t settled. This can cause water to pool and eventually end up in your basement causing a bigger problem.
- Clean your gutters- Once your trees are pretty much free of leaves tend to your gutters. A clogged gutter can cause any moisture such as rain and snow to run down the side of your home, speeding up the deterioration of your exterior.
- Clean your chimney and order firewood- Keeping your chimney and vents clean with help prevent chimney fires and also helps to prevent carbon monoxide from creeping into your home.
- Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors- Now is a good time to change those batteries to ensure they are in good working order.
- Drain outside faucets- If there is no water in the lines than you won’t run into the issue of them breaking and causing an even bigger problem.
- Last but certainly not least, restock winter essentials such as salt or ice melt.
Burning Leaves Safely
Fall is finally upon us after a rainy and hot summer. This time of year means leaves falling from the trees and piling in your yard. The following are some tips to follow if you want to take the route of burning your leaves.
- Contact the fire department to see if there is a good day to burn and if you need to obtain any special permits as each town is different. A good rule of advice to follow is to only burn when skies are clear and wind speed doesn’t exceed 15 miles per hour.
- Rake the leaves into a manageable pile with 6 feet clear in every direction. Light a small branch with a match and then place it among the leaves. It is not advised to use gasoline or fire starters to ignite leaves as it can sometimes cause a large unmanageable fire.
- Constantly supervise and keep a garden hose and/or a multipurpose fire extinguisher just in case the fire gets out of hand.
- Hose the fire down once it burns out just to make sure you put out any embers that might still be glowing.
- Once the fire is completely out gather up the ash safely and properly dispose of it. You can place the ashes in a metal container to reduce the risk of an out of control fire.
Have a safe and fun fall!
This is a phone charger that was plugged in and shorted out causing this to happen.
Let’s talk about phone charger safety for a minute. While I know it is convenient to leave your charger plugged into the wall at all times it is typically not recommended. Even when they are not being used they are constantly drawing power and this could lead to a small chance of a fire due to either heat buildup or short circuit. Although this tends to happen more when a charger is being used. Another way this can happen is if there is an excess amount of moisture in the air which can short circuit the transformer. Not only can this create a fire hazard it also wastes energy which in turn means you are paying for electricity you are not really using.
Should you want to leave them plugged in it is recommended to use a power strip as they work as surge protectors and you can turn them off when not in use. Another important thing to consider is when you are charging make sure you allow for adequate ventilation so they don’t overheat. It is not recommended to charge them under a pillow, on a bed, or on a couch.
Thanks to SERVPRO of Dubuque for the picture!
In our area we have seen an increase in garage fires. Every year, there are 6,600 garage fires in homes that result in an average of $457 million in property loss with the leading cause being electrical malfunction. The following are some tips to follow to help prevent a garage fire from happening to you.
- Store oil, gasoline, paints, propane and varnishes in a shed away from your home.
- Keep items that can burn on shelves away from appliances.
- Plug only one charging appliance into an outlet.
- Don’t use an extension cord when charging an appliance.
- Keep the garage tidy and remove clutter.
- Install a heat alarm as these will sound if the temperature rises too high.
- Do not use or install solid-fuel burning devices such as wood, pellet, or coal in garages where gasoline and other flammable vapors may be present.
Daylight Saving Time
According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. Also, 71% of smoke alarms that failed to operate had missing, disconnected or dead batteries. A good way to remember to check them is to do it when Daylight Saving Time starts and ends since you have to change your clocks forward or backward. Also at these times it is important to check your carbon monoxide detectors, if you have them, and change batteries if needed. So, this weekend when we Spring forward check your smoke detectors and change batteries if needed. Smoke alarms play a vital role in reducing deaths and injuries as long as you properly maintain them. Check those detectors and don’t forget to spring forward an hour this weekend!
Heating Safety Tips
According to the National Fire Protection Association, half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February. The following are some tips from the NFPA to help prevent these kinds of fires.
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
- Have a three-foot "kid-free zone" around open fires or 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 and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving 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.
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
Space Heater Safety
While space heaters can help save you money on your energy bills there are a few things you need to keep in mind when deciding to go this route.
- Buy a space heater that is rated for your need. A heater that is too large for a certain area can lead to higher energy bills due to it consuming lots of energy. On the other hand, if you buy one that is rated too small for your space it will have to work harder to heat the space.
- It's suggested that you place your space heater at least three feet away from furniture, window treatments, bedding, clothing, rugs, and other combustibles. There is a chance a fire can start if these items touch the heating element of the space heater. Also make sure to place the space heater on a hard level surface so there is less chance of it tipping over.
- Make sure the heater you purchase carries a label from either UL, ETL, or CSA. These are safety consulting and certification companies.
- It is a good idea to purchase a space heater that has tip-over and overheat protection. A heater that has tip-over protection will automatically shut off if it tips over for any reason. Overheat protection is when the space heater uses a temperature sensor and when an unsafe temperature is detected, there is a switch that automatically shuts off the unit.
- Plug the space heater directly into an outlet instead of an extension cord. There is an increased risk of fires if plugged into an extension cord.
- Frequently clean and maintain it to ensure it's working safely. Wiping it down is also important as this helps reduce the amount of dust and allergens that can spread.
- Turn off and unplug the space heater if not in use to reduce the chance of a fire.
- Last but not least keep heaters away from water such as in a bathroom or a damp basement.
Smoke and Soot Damage
Not only can a fire cause damage to your home but smoke and soot can as well. During a fire and minutes after it has been extinguished, soot and smoke can spread quickly throughout your home and settle. If not responded to immediately it can discolor certain items and stain. Wood may need refinishing. Walls will begin to yellow and not only that but your clothes might be permanently stained. The restoration process becomes more difficult if your house/items are left untreated for weeks. Another important thing to consider is that the chemicals from whatever went up in flames can be detrimental to your health.
While a fire can be devastating let us here at SERVPRO of Burlington help make it "Like it never even happened." Our IICRC technicians are certified in fire restoration and will handle your home with professionalism and care.
SERVPRO of Burlington
Grease fires are the most dangerous when it comes to cooking fires and are responsible for 1 in every 5 home fire deaths. I will give you some tips on how to prevent and put out grease fires. These tips could help save your or a loved one's life.
- Before you start cooking make sure burner is cool and wipe up any spills.
- Pay attention to heat ratings for cooking oil. Some oils can be heated more than others before catching fire so if you are cooking and notice the oil start to smoke that means it is close to catching fire.
- As soon as you start to see it smoke carefully remove the pan from the heat source.
- Avoid heating grease before putting food into it because when you drop food in it can make the grease splash out which in turn can cause grease burns or it can also hit the heat source and catch fire.
- Carefully clean spills as soon as they happen by first removing food from heat source, turning off heat source, and waiting for burner to cool.
- When deep frying make sure you use a pan or cooking container big enough.
- Use a utensil that will allow you to put the food into the grease without dropping and without your hands coming close to the hot grease.
- Use a screen that covers the pan to reduce the chance of splatters outside the pan.
- If you are a new or inexperienced cook do not attempt to deep fry for the first time unless you have an experienced cook with you.
- NEVER add water to grease.
Putting out a grease fire
- Turn off source of heat
- Do NOT pour water on it. Water and oil do not mix and when you add water it will sink right to the bottom and evaporate instantly, spreading flaming oil everywhere.
- Attempt to remove all oxygen from the flame. Cover with another pot or baking pan.
- If you can't cover it, dump lots of baking soda on it.
With the warmer weather comes grilling season and therefore an increased chance of fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, on average 8,900 home fires are started by grills each year. These type of fires peak in July, followed by May, June, and August. The following are some tips to help keep this type of fire from happening to you.
- Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors
- They should be placed away from the home or deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches
- Children and pets should be at least three feet away from the grill area
- Clean your grill regularly
- Never leave your grill unattended while cooking
- Check regularly for gas leaks
- Don't move the grill once it is lit
- Wait until the grill is cooled before storing or covering
Should your house catch on fire due to a grill, call the professionals at SERVPRO of Burlington. We are available 24/7 to respond to your home and can help get your property back to pre-fire condition.
Smoke Detectors Can Save Lives
Research on fires has demonstrated that fires can spread much more quickly today due to modern furnishings than in the past when more natural materials were used. Due to this it is important to have the right number of smoke alarms that are placed properly throughout your home so you have ample time to escape should a fire happen to you.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. More than one-third of home fire deaths result from fires in which no smoke alarms are present. The risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms.
Here is some useful information when it comes to installing smoke alarms in your home:
- Ideally you should install smoke alarms inside each bedroom and on every level of the home, even the basement
- Smoke alarms should be installed at least 10 feet away from a cooking appliance to minimize false alarms
- Mount smoke alarms high on walls or ceilings
- Installing smoke alarms near windows, door, or ducts may cause drafts to interfere with their operation
- Never paint smoke alarms
- Keep manufacturer's instructions for reference
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button. If the alarm chirps on a smoke detector with a non-replaceable 10 year battery you need to replace the entire smoke alarm right away. Other smoke detectors need a new battery at least once a year and if they start chirping replace the battery right away.
- Last but not least make sure everyone in your home understands the sound of the smoke alarm and knows what to do in case it sounds
Fires can be devastating when they happen to you or a loved one. In a matter of mere minutes a residence can be engulfed in flames. Here are some tips to help you prepare ahead of time so you know what to do just in case a fire happens to you.
1. Make sure you install smoke alarms on every level of your home and check them monthly to make sure they work properly
2. Have a working fire extinguisher
3. Keep matches and lighters up high away from children and make sure they know what a smoke alarm sounds like and what to do when it goes off
4. Plan two escape routes and a meeting spot outside the home and make sure all household members know this information. Practice escaping twice a year.
5. Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1
6. Take pictures to document what you own so you can show the insurance company in case a fire happens to you
7. Sleep with your door closed
8. Teach household members to stop, drop, and roll if their clothes should catch on fire
Winter House Fires
December, January, and February are the peak months for heating fires. There are things that you can do to prevent these fires from happening to you. Make sure you blow out candles when you leave a room and keep them out of reach of children and pets. If you use a space heater make sure you plug it directly into an outlet and not an extension cord. Also make sure to keep them away from curtains, bedding, and furniture. Don't leave your oven unattended when cooking or use it to heat your house. Last but not least don't forget about items in your garage and if you're able to; store flammable items in a shed away from the home. If unable to do that you can install a heat alarm that will sound if the temperature raises too high. Stay safe this winter!
What Does Soot and Smoke do?
This is a heavily soot saturated bathroom
Smoke and soot is inevitable when there is a fire and it often causes just as much damage. Soot begins to settle into the structure and its contents nearly immediately. It can discolor certain items and stain if action is not taken quickly. Within hours of a fire, the damages become more difficult to restore. Wood may need refinishing, walls begin to yellow, and clothing might be permanently stained. If the house/items are left untreated for weeks, they become more permanently damaged and restoration the process becomes increasingly difficult.
Fires can be devastating and life changing. Let the SERVPRO professionals make it "Like it never even happened." Our IICRC technicians are certified in fire restoration and will handle your home with professionalism and care.
SERVPRO of Burlington 319-754-8050
Kitchen Fire Facts
This photo shows a kitchen fire loss that caused extensive damage.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, from 2010-2014 firefighters responded to an estimated 166,100 home fires caused by cooking or involving cooking equipment. The leading cause of these fires included unattended cooking. As a result there were 480 civilian deaths and 5,540 injuries. NFPA also reports that cooking fires accounted for 1.1 billion dollars of direct property damage. It is alarming how fast a kitchen fire can start and then spread throughout your home. The damages usually extend to the entire house even when the source is isolated to one part of the house. Smoke and soot will travel to all areas of the structure. When a fire starts, it is crucial to protect yourself and call 911 or your local fire department. Injuries are likely to occur when you try to fight the fire on your own. Always be careful when cooking to be watchful of burners. Don't leave cooking food unattended and stay safe.