Archived Fire Damage Blog Posts
Fire Pit Safety
Enjoy your firepit more after following these tips.
Relaxing around a fire pit is one of the best ways to spend a summer night. They are a perfect addition to your outdoor space, but they key to having fun is staying safe. Outdoor fire pit injuries have tripled in the last few years.
Here are eight easy safety guidelines to follow to ensure you have fun without worry:
1. Choose the right location.
The first step to fire pit safety? Finding a level surface in an open area. Your fire pit should be at least 10 feet from your home, your neighbor’s yard and any plants. Overhanging branches, wooden decks, or fences are a big no-no. That means fire pits should never be beneath canopies, below covered patios or under trees.
2. Pick your fuel.
If you’re going for a nostalgic fire pit, a wood-burning pit is the way to go — enjoy the kindling and the crackling. Want fire on demand? Gas or propane pits offer a quick-lighting option. And, now, many store-bought fire pits allow you to switch between wood and gas.
3. Use the right wood.
Make sure to use seasoned hard woods. Construction materials like plywood can release toxic fumes, white soft woods can spark and pop excessively. Only use wood that’s short enough to fit entirely in your pit, so it doesn’t stick out.
4. Don’t use fuel accelerates.
Like with fireplaces, using fuel accelerates like lighter fluid is extremely unsafe. Not only can they release toxic fumes, but they can start an explosion or cause your fire to grow too quickly.
5. Buy and use a screen.
Fire pit screens are one of the best way to keep your fire in the pit. You’ll protect your guests from errant embers and sparks that could ignite dry material like clothing. Choose a screen of heat-resistant metal like cast iron or steel.
6. Always check the weather report and burn status.
Windy days are dangerous for fires, as it can unexpectedly spread. Before heading out to the fire pit, check with your county’s air quality department. When pollution levels are high, this government body may issue “no burn” restrictions to limit particulate matter and carbon dioxide levels.
7. Be smart around fire.
You wouldn’t leave your children around an unattended pool, right? Always have an adult present when the fire is burning. Don’t wear flowy clothing that could flutter into the flame. Don’t drink excessively when burning a fire. And never leave a fire pit burning overnight.
8. Alert your insurance agent.
You may need to disclose your fire pit for your homeowners insurance policy. Reach out to your Farm Bureau agent to make sure your yard and home are properly protected.
Types of Fire Extinguishers
Having access to a fire extinguisher in your home at all times is important to home safety but do you know what type of extinguisher to have ? Did you know that there are different types of fire extinguishers for different types of fires? Fire extinguishers are sorted into different categories based on the types of fire they are used on there is Class A,B, C and K fires and the fire extinguishers are labeled according to the type of fire the extinguish. Here are the types of extinguishers and the types of fires they extinguish:
Class A extinguishers are water extinguishers and are used on ordinary combustibles such as:
- And many plastics
*** Never use water extinguishers to extinguish flammable liquid fires.
*** Never use water extinguishers to extinguish an electrical fire.
Class B extinguishers are CO2 Extinguishers and are used on flammable liquids such as:
- Fires in oils
- Some paints
- And other flammable liquids
*** Never use CO2 extinguishers in a confined space, it can create a breathing hazard if proper respiratory equipment is not being used.
Class C extinguishers are a Dry Chemical Extinguisher and are used on electrical equipment such as:
- Fires in wiring
- Fuse boxes
- Energized electrical equipment
- Other electrical sources
Class K extinguishers are used for kitchen fires such as:
- Fires involving combustible cooking fluids such as oils and fats
Multipurpose extinguishers combine Class A,B,and C is a multi-purpose dry chemical extinguisher and can be used on:
Now that we have gone over the types of fire extinguishers in your home, what do you do in the event of a fire at your home?
- Call the Fire department immediately
- Make sure you have a safe exit strategy before approaching the fire. Do not allow the fire to come between you or your exit.
- Identify the proper fire extinguisher needed ( Having an A,B,C extinguisher would cover all possible scenarios)
- Use the P.A.S.S. technique to extinguish the fire . P.A.S.S. stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze and Sweep.
- Back away from the extinguished fire in case of a flare up.
- Evacuate immediately if the extinguisher is empty and /or the fire progresses past the initial stage.
If the fire is out of control or you doubt your ability to extinguish it ...EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY! The safety of you and your family is of the utmost importance, personal belongings and homes can be replaced, your life can not.
After the fire has been extinguished by you or the fire department give us a call here at SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield. We have years of experience in fire and water damage. Our team of technicians is experienced and trained in dealing with fire and water clean up. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week , 365 days a year. Call us at 847-557-1080.
Preventing Electrical Fires in your Home
Overloading circuits are a major cause of home fires
According to the National Fire Protection Association, 47,700 home fires in the U.S. are caused by electrical failures or malfunctions each year. These fires result in 418 deaths, 1,570 injuries, and $1.4 billion in property damage. Overloaded electrical circuits are a major cause of residential fires. Help lower your risk of electrical fires by not overloading your electrical system.
Overloaded circuit warning signs:
- Flickering, blinking, or dimming lights
- Frequently tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses
- Warm or discolored wall plates
- Cracking, sizzling, or buzzing from receptacles
- Burning order coming from receptacles or wall switches
- Mild shock or tingle from appliances, receptacles, or switches
When choosing lighting for your home, it is important to understand that some light switches have more functions than simply turning on lights. These added features such as timers and dimmers can make your home more convenient and efficient. If you are thinking of making a switch, contact a qualified electrician to make sure that the lighting you choose is compatible with your home. And remember, all light switches should be installed by a professional.
Don't Take These Warning Signs Lightly:
- The wall plate is hot to the touch.
- There is discoloration of or around the switch plate.
- Lights dim and/or flicker without cause.
- You hear crackling, popping, or buzzing from your outlet.
- Often Breakers trip or fuses blow when the switch is turned on.
- You detect an odor when a switch is used.
- The switch leans to one side or feels loose when operating.
- You often experience a shock when operating the switch.
- Lights get brighter or dimmer when other appliances turn on or off.
- The home is over 40 years old and has aluminum wiring, but has not recently undergone a safety inspection by an electrician.
If your lighting control points are characterized by any of the above, have your home's electrical system inspected by a qualified electrician as soon as possible.
How to prevent electrical overloads:
- Never use extension cords or multi-outlet converters for appliances
- All major appliances should be plugged directly into a wall receptacle outlet. Only plug one heat producing appliance into a receptacle outlet at a time
- A heavy reliance on extension cords is an indication that you have too few outlets to address your needs. Have a qualified electrician inspect your home and add new outlets
- Power strips only add additional outlets; they do not change the amount of power being received from the outlet
Hopefully these tips can help keep your home safe and protected from fires caused by electrical malfunction, though accidents do occur. Our crews here at SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield see a handful of electrical fires each year, especially during the summer when extra fans and a/c units are plugged in and in winter when plug in heaters are in use as well as holiday lights.
Dealing with Smoke and Soot after a Fire
SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield specializes in Fire and Odor remediation
If you’re dealing with fire damage, it’s time to call the professionals at SERVPRO of Highland Park/ Deerfield. There are several, little-known facts that are crucial to smoke damage restoration procedures. Put your health and property first by learning more about the recovery period.
Ventilation is the First Step
Immediately following a fire, focus on ventilation for the home. The professionals may not be on-site yet, but you can improve the situation right now. Open the doors and windows. Use any fans within the home to move air out of the structure. Our Technicians will bring in industrial fans for this purpose, but get the process started yourself.
Consider your health when it comes to ventilation too. Wear dust masks if you must be inside the home. Remove children, pets and older residents from the premises. The particles in the air can be irritating to some people.
Odors Don’t Dissipate on Their Own
There’s a misconception about fire damage cleanup and ventilation. You might believe that fire odors will simply dissipate with enough fans blowing in the house. Soot and other fire byproducts are chemically based substances. Unless they’re physically removed, they’ll continue to react with the drywall, wood and other materials.
Our smoke damage restoration professionals will clean, remove and service the structure as necessary. They’ll deodorize rooms with careful attention to humidity and corrosion issues. There shouldn’t be any remaining odors after a professional cleanup job. Subtle odors equate to dirty conditions that will only grow stronger over time.
Soot Moves into Every Crevice
Cleaning off the walls and ceilings is only the beginning of the fire damage cleanup process. Most people don’t realize that soot is an extremely fine particle. It floats and lands on nearly every surface. If you have light fixtures near the damaged area, be sure to remove the bulbs and clean them. Soot finds its way into the threaded base. Hazards arise if you turn the fixture on without cleaning it first. Soot can be a fire hazard if it’s not cleaned away in its entirety.
Smoke Damage Restoration Applies to Electronics and Antiques
If soot can find its way into light fixtures, your electronics might fall prey to it too. Discuss fire damage cleanup in reference to your televisions, audio receivers, and other devices. It may take time to restore these items, but it’s worth the effort when it’s done right.
Think about any antiques that you might have as well. SERVPRO restoration experts can bring these items back to life. When an antique has either sentimental or monetary value, restoring it should be part of your recovery process.
Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today 847-557-1080
Stay warm without disasters
Staying warm doesn't have to be a worry
Winter is still around so we are all still dealing with lower temperatures. Many people use alternative heat sources like fireplaces, portable space heaters, and wood burning stoves to help keep homes warm. Did you know, heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths? According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment fires cause an estimated $1 billion in direct property damage annually. Keep the following safety tips in mind to help reduce your risk of a heating-related fires in your home during the colder weather.
- 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.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Keep anything flammable at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or a portable space heater. Have a three foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heater
- Test smoke alarms monthly
- Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
If you need help cleaning up after a fire call SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield 847-557-1080
Keep the Fire in your relationship and out of your Home
Fires can start so easy and spread so quickly
Are you planning a romantic night in to show that special someone you care this month? While you prep and prepare, keep in mind that cooking equipment is the #1 cause of house fires so make sure you are keeping an eye on that delicious dish you are preparing. It only takes seconds to start a fire that can engulf your whole kitchen and put a huge damper on your special night in.
Ways to Prevent Kitchen Fires
- Make sure your smoke alarm is working
- Stay in the kitchen when cooking
- Keep potholders, towels and paper towels away from the stove top
- Turn off your burner and oven when not in use
Once you have your meal ready don’t forget some mood lighting…
Candles are always a first choice, but did you know they are among the top 5 causes of house fires. Salt lamps, fairy lights, table lamps, oil diffusers, wax warmers and flameless luminaries can help you “set the mood” without worry so your night can go exactly as planned.
If the unfortunate happens, call SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield. We are here to help clean up and rebuild after a fire with our highly trained staff and specialized equipment. We make it "Like it never even happened."
Cleaning up After a Fire: Interview with Ryan on Fire Cleaning
Nothing prepares you for a fire. SERVPRO® of Highland Park/ Deerfield understands the frustration that comes after the fire is out.
What are some of the first steps SERVPRO® takes when a homeowner or business experiences a fire?
We walk through the structure with the property owner and adjuster. We determine how much of the property is affected, how we are going to clean it, and see what can be salvaged. Then, depending on the type of fire, determine the steps needed to clean everything. Sometimes we can clean items on site if there is light soot. Other times, we carefully pack up the items, and clean them in our Gurnee facility.
Will all my contents be thrown away after a fire?
Not necessarily. It really depends on the severity of the fire. Anything highly porous may need to be thrown away. Some examples being: plastics, Tupperware, medication, and toiletries. It’s really up to the property owner to choose. We never toss anything without the owner and adjuster approval. We use a system called ContentsTrack to keep track of all the items that we store/clean in our facility. We always document all of the contents in a home with photographs and write everything down. With this system, we always know where every item is in our facility.
What type of items can be saved after a fire?
Non porous materials: glass, epoxy finished woods, ceramics, and plates are a few examples. With light smoke/soot damage we can save many items from couches, carpet, drywall, to furniture.
Can you explain the pretesting process that you go through after a fire?
We walk the entire property to see the extent of the damage. We start testing in the heavier concentrated areas and work our way out. We test the severity of the fire with a chemically treated dry sponge by testing the walls, ceilings, and contents to determine where the smoke and soot damage has migrated. We do a visual inspection to see carbon buildup in ceilings. We note the contrast of the soot build up to see the degree of damage, and this shows us the best way to clean and restore the fire damaged structure. We then determine what can be cleaned, what can’t be cleaned, and what doesn’t need to be cleaned.
How long does it take to clean up after a home has experienced a fire?
Each fire, smoke, and soot damage job is different, and we can’t give a concrete time. Each job is unique and it depends on the severity of the fire and how many contents the property has that have been affected.
- On average, packing out an entire structure usually takes a crew 2-3 days.
- Structure Cleaning, on average, with a full crew of say a single family home would be about 1-2 days.
- Average time for content cleaning takes 1-2 days.
- The reconstruction time depends on what has been affected and needs to be rebuilt.
How long have you worked for SERVPRO?
What did you do before?
What are some of the challenges?
What are some of the rewards?
Helping people in their time of need
During the process, homeowners are stressed and upset. What do you do to reassure homeowners that it will be ok?
Calm, courteous, let them know that we are there to do anything we can to help with process.
How do you manage to balance the homeowner’s needs and Insurance Needs?
We listen and communicate with the adjuster and homeowner.
How soon are you on site for Property Claims?
Depends on the customer’s schedule. If they need us to be there right away, we will be.