Recent Fire Damage Posts

Fireplace Safety- 4 Mistakes to Avoid This Holiday Season

1/2/2024 (Permalink)

Fireplace and Christmas tree Our commitment to helping you create a safe and secure home extends beyond our restoration services.

Stockings are hung, tree is lit, a Christmas movie is playing, cookies are being eaten- a fire in the fireplace is the last piece to tie this holiday scene together. However, when safety isn’t prioritized, this scene could quickly take a dark turn. Here are four components to your fireplace and mistakes to avoid with them-

  1. Firewood- Oak, ash, birch, hard maple, beech, hickory, pecan, dogwood, apple, and almond are all varieties of hardwoods that are acceptable for burning in your home. Any log that is covered with vines could be poison ivy- if that’s the case, the poison would release a dangerous irritant oil into the smoke. Green or unseasoned wood should also be avoided- as it can release harmful particles. Lastly, moldy or rotten wood simply will not release as much heat and therefore should be avoided too.
  2. The ashes- It’s recommended to leave a one-inch bed of ashes on the floor of a wood-burning fireplace but anything more than that needs to go. As it begins to build up, remove the excess ash regularly. To safely remove ashes, use a metal shovel and bucket. Make sure the ashes are fully cooled before throwing them away. Ashes can be thrown in the trash, added to an outdoor compost pile, or even repurposed. Some people use fireplace ashes in their gardens, make homemade cleaning remedies, or even polish silverware or fine jewelry.
  3. The flue-The component of your fireplace that protects your home from possible combustion from heat transfer is the flue. Although durable, the flue needs to be inspected regularly. Cracks and tears can allow unwanted drafts and moisture into your home and result in a steady drip down the chimney. A damaged flue can also allow creosote, a dangerous byproduct that comes from burning wood, to affect the masonry around your chimney and increase your risk of a chimney fire. An annual sweep should eliminate these hazards but regular inspections from the homeowner as an extra caution is advised.
  4. Fireplace doors-The most serious issue with fireplace doors is thermal shock breakage, which happens when there’s a major temperature difference across your doors’ surface. To avoid this, build your fires gradually and never pour cold water on hot ashes. In terms of the doors themselves, tempered glass, and ceramic glass help to promote hotter flames and prevent heat loss. Before closing, confirm your doors are specially designed to be shut with a fire burning, otherwise, the glass may shatter. Additionally, install a spark screen to protect your home from embers and sparks.

Remember a little precaution goes a long way! So as you gather around the warmth of your fireplace this holiday season, revisit this SERVPRO® checklist to make sure you’re not unintentionally inviting hazards to your home. From choosing the right firewood to maintaining your chimney flue, each component plays a crucial role in ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.

Halloween Decoration Safety

9/16/2022 (Permalink)

Halloween season is rapidly approaching. Many people have already started decorating for Halloween. Dried flowers, crepe paper, cornstalks, and decorative scarecrows may  make your home look festive for fall, but these classic decorations can also pose a scary fire risk. As fun as it is to decorate your home it is important to keep in mind some safety tips to avoid a fire from starting in your home. The National Fire Protection Association says flammable decorations are the first things to ignite in 900 reported home fires each year; two of every five of these incidents start by a candle.

One of the most important things to consider is to keep your decorations away from open flames, lightbulbs, and heaters. This may seem simple but many people forget the risks of doing this and decorate in unsafe places. One of the most common is next to or above fireplaces. It is so easy for a stray ash to end up catching a decoration on fire. Even hanging your decorations near a lightbulb can be dangerous. 

Another way to prevent fire is to check the quality of each item before you plug them in. Examining each set of lights for broken sockets, frayed wires or loose connections, and discard any damaged sets is the first step to take. Many people often try at home fixes such as tape on frayed wires. Any decoration with a frayed wire should be discarded or have a new wire installed if possible. Be careful not to overload sockets when plugging in lights and other electronic decorations. It is such an easy thing to avoid by unplugging objects that you are not using at any given time. 

A big safety tip to keep in mind is to not use open flames such as candles inside your decorations. Consider glow sticks or battery-operated candles instead of real candles when lighting your jack-o’-lanterns or other luminaries. If you do choose to use real candles it is important to light it with a utility lighter. That way you can light it right over the wick and do not have a risk of hitting the side of the decoration with the flame. You also need to be mindful of where you are putting your decorations that have candles in them. Keep lit decorations off of doorsteps, yards, and sidewalks where excited trick-or-treaters may knock them over. Moving them off of your front door step or front walkway is an easy way to avoid injury. 

The last thing to keep in mind is to make sure you do not have any decorations blocking any exits out of your home. If there is an emergency it is important to keep a clear path out. Halloween is a fun time of the year and it is important to have fun while decorating your home. Just make sure you follow these tips to help keep your home safe.

Fall Fire Safety

9/13/2022 (Permalink)

At the end of summer most people are worried about getting ready for the back to school season. What people don't think about is that this is a great time to get your home ready for the cooler months. During the winter months there are a lot of fire hazards in your home. According to the American Red Cross, there is a drastic increase in the amount of U.S house fires during this time. There are several strategies to take during the early part of the fall season to help prevent fires.

The most important thing to do is replace your smoke alarms batteries throughout the house. This is something that is very easy, yet most people forget to do it. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the risk of dying in a structure fire is 55% lower in a home with working smoke alarms. While changing the batteries, it is also a good idea to make sure your family knows where your fire extinguishers are. Having fire extinguishers in the house that still work is extremely important. Especially  as you enter the cooler months where you heat up your house on a daily basis. 

Another thing to keep in mind, especially with kids in the house is to create a fire evacuation plan. Having a plan and knowing of all the possible exits and escape routes is very beneficial ahead of time. According to the NFPA, creating a place to meet outside at a neighbor's house is an essential part of the plan. They recommend that you try out your plan at least two times per year. The more steps you take ahead of time the better as you will be prepared to act in the event of an emergency. Spending time with your family and creating a plan will pay off in the event of an emergency. SERVPRO Team McCabe  offers an ERP plan which will help you plan ahead in the event of an emergency. 

 Getting your heating system serviced each year is also an essential fire safety step. This is especially important after the summer season. There is always extra debris left behind in the vents from all the hard work your unit does cooling the house over the summer. The most important step is replacing your furnace filter on a consistent basis. It is recommended to change it every three months. It is also important to reach out to a professional when your heating system is having issues. You should also be getting your unit serviced at least one time per year for general maintenance, according to the National Fire Protection Association. SERVPRO Team McCabe can help with this, we offer duct cleaning for commercial or residential properties. 

Fireplace safety is another extremely important topic during this time of the year. When using a fireplace indoors you should always have the screen or glass door closed. It is also important to keep in mind not to store extra wood right next to the door of the fireplace. It is an easy way to spark a fire outside of the fireplace. One rule that many people often forget is leaving a fire unattended. Many people fall asleep or get distracted and leave the room while they have a fire going. This is one of the biggest causes of household fires due to fireplaces. Keeping these safety points in mind will help transition your house from the summer into the fall season in a safe way. 

Space Heater Safety

5/16/2022 (Permalink)

Every year, over 25,000 house fires can be attributed to the incorrect usage of space heaters, according to Consumer Reports.

Fighting the cold weather using these machines can be safe — referring to NFPA’s (National Fire Protection Association) “Heater Checklist” will guide you into making the correct decisions to ensure a safe home/environment for your space heater to do its work.

Some of these tips include, but are not limited to:

  • When buying a space heater, make sure that the unit has a seal from a qualified testing laboratory on it.
  • Keeping children away from these heaters will limit bodily injury and poor usage of the units.
  • Make sure the unit is placed on a solid, flat surface.
  • Allow at least 3 feet of space between the space heater and anything else, including humans. Items that tend to catch fire are: curtains, bedding or upholstered furniture.
  • Turn off the units when you leave the room or before you go to bed.

If your property has been damaged due to a fire and you suspect that your space heater was the cause, call your local SERVPRO franchise for all of your restoration needs.

We Do Board Ups!

4/18/2022 (Permalink)

After an emergency involving one's own property, whether it be a bad storm, fire or water damage, many properties need to be boarded up. Board ups are done to prevent the properties from incurring any further damage before the remediation process can begin. Board ups are one thing that should be left to the professionals. Most people are experiencing emotional trauma after an emergency involving their own property. By calling SERVPRO in for a board up, it relieves some of the stress and leaves our customers with time to deal with the accident on their own time.

Aside from the board up, we also can start the remediation and restoration process as soon as possible.  Our services are available 24/7 and we always have a crew on call ready to assist in emergency situations.

Smoke and Soot Cleanup

1/3/2022 (Permalink)

Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.  

Smoke and soot facts:

  • 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.

Different Types 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. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Here is some additional information:

Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber

  • Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.

Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood

  • Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.

Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire

  • Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor. 

Our Fire Damage Restoration Services

Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions.  We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage.  We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.

Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?

Call Us Today 

Ho! Ho! Puff?: A Cold Weather Dilemma Puff Back

12/23/2021 (Permalink)

Puff back can damage your walls, carpets, and electronics. Call SERVPRO if you need help after a Puff Back.

Crank up the heat! The colder weather is upon us and your heaters are soon going to be roaring back to life. For many of us, our heating systems will turn on flawlessly and get to work toasting our freezing feet. But for many others, the consequences of having left your heater sit unattended and inactive throughout the warm-weather months; can leave you with a costly and time-consuming mess.

Puff Backs are a result of a misfiring in your furnace. This misfire causes an explosion of soot and debris that shoot back into your home leaving your walls, furnishings, carpets and many other household items coated in a difficult-to-remove film. The explosion of soot brings to the forefront an underlying, usually simple, problem with the mechanics of your furnace such as a valve or filter in need of replacement.

However, even though the mechanical fix may be relatively simple, you won’t realize just how many things can be affected in your home by a puff back until you have one happen. The soot somehow finds a way into the smallest nooks and spaces of your home leaving you with a very difficult mess to clean up.

The best thing for you to do in this situation is to call in the professionals. The soot and debris are not only hard to clean up but may be dangerous without the proper knowledge due to the chemicals released during the explosion.

SERVPRO has a very unique, hands-on approach to dealing with puff backs which we tailor to every incident. If a puff back occurs on a porous material/surface, for example, then we are able to perform a more abrasive wet-cleaning process. However, if the soot has landed on a non-porous material/surface, then our highly-trained techs will spend the time strenuously cleaning your walls and surfaces with a dry sponge ensuring that everything in your home returns to its pre-damage condition.

Some things you may be able to do to prevent a puff back include;

Ensuring your oil-heating system is free of dust and debris

Inspect and provide service to your heating system before you need to use it

If you hear strange noises or begin to see any soot residue around your furnace, call your heating company immediately

If you are unable to perform those steps or if you find yourself standing in an inch-deep pile of soot and debris, call SERVPRO today and we’ll send our crews out to make it, “Like it never even happened.”

Cooking Safety

12/23/2021 (Permalink)

Make sure to always cook safely, accidents can happen at any time. If there's any mishap in the kitchen call SERVPRO to help.

“Cooking with Caution”

Be on Alert. Do not cook if you are sleepy or have consumed any alcohol. This can potentially create dangerous situations. Do not use the stovetop or stove if you are under the influence.

Be sure to stay in the kitchen while frying, boiling, grilling or broiling food. Always turn off the stove if you have to leave the kitchen, no matter how quick you may be.

If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in your home while it is cooking, or use a timer so you do not forget about it.

Be sure your kitchen is free of clutter and no loose items are near the stove. This reduces the chance of anything catching on fire.

If you have a small grease/ cooking fire and decide to fight the fire…

On the stovetop, smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Leave the pan to covered until it is completely cool.

If the fire is inside the oven, shut the oven off and keep the door closed.

If you have any doubt about fighting a small fire…

Just leave the house! When leaving be sure to close the door behind you to help contain the fire.

Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number from outside the house.

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