Some Causes of Common House Fires
Cooking Equipment--The kitchen is a source of intense heat in a home, from the stove to the oven and beyond. A splatter from a hot pan can lead to a fire under the wrong circumstances. Most fires in the kitchen happen because people get distracted and walk away while cooking.
*To prevent this: Stay in the kitchen while you are cooking, and keep flammable products away from hot surfaces at all times.
Smoking Cigarettes--Cigarettes can easily lead to fires because they are literally burning on one end. Whether you smoke inside or outside, you could be putting your home at risk. This is especially true during the dry months of the year when fires are more likely to erupt.
*To prevent this: Avoid smoking in the home, and make sure you dispose of all cigarettes in a deep ashtray. Keep the ashtray away from anything flammable, and never stomp out your cigarette on the grass.
Electrical Equipment--The appliances in your home can ignite a fire if they are not wired properly, or if they are too close to flammable materials. If you have older appliances in your home, it would be wise to replace them to avoid fires.
*To prevent this: Watch for loose or frayed wires on the electrical equipment in your home. Avoid draping towels or curtains over plugs, and do not plug in too many appliances to one extension cord.
Children--If a child is old enough to reach a set of matches and/or a lighter, he’s going to see what it does out of curiosity. You must be careful about leaving your children near a possible cause of fires, and you must keep an eye on them even if they are old enough to play on their own.
*To prevent this: Make sure all fire starters are put away in a place your child cannot access. Also be careful about open outlets and electrical equipment in a child’s room.
Flammable Liquids--Fuels, paints, thinners, solvents, and other flammable liquids can easily ignite a fire in your home. This could happen in the heat of the summer or from a simple spark of static electricity, depending on how the chemicals are stored.
*To prevent this: Store all flammable liquids in approved containers, and keep them away from heat sources. Ideally, keep them outside in a well-ventilated area.
Important Factors in Fire Damage Restoration
Most people do not realize how extensive fire damage restoration is until they gave to go through it. Putting out the fire is only the beginning. There are many other tasks that come into play. Let’s take a look at four important factors in fire damage restoration so you know what to look out for if you ever encountered this situation.
Timing Is Crucial
With anything related to fire or water damage, you need to act sooner rather than later. The water that was used to put out the fire will quickly start to grow mold in your house. The longer you let that set, the more likely you are to have major health and respiratory problems as a result of the mold. Act fast, and get the help you need right away. This is not something you want to wait on.
Smoke Is Just As Much Of A Problem As Fire
Smoke damage in the house is usually a bigger problem than fire damage because smoke has the ability to reach a much broader area. Even though the damage while maybe at the surface, it is something that needs to be cleaned out to ensure that the home is healthy and safe to be in. If you’re doing any kind of restoration work on your own, you have to think about the smoke effected area, not just the area that the fire burned in.
Damage Isn’t Always Visible
Even though you might be able to see a big hole in the floor where the fire was, you might not be able to see the mold spores growing in the support beams in your home or the smoke that is setting in the back of your drywall. These are all factors that can impact the health of your home over time. That is why it’s often best to get a professional to come out and thoroughly inspect your home after fire damage. You want to make sure that you tackle every problem, even if you can’t see it on the surface.
Prevention Is The Key To Long Term Success
If you have encountered fire damage, you want to make sure that your restoration efforts will help you avoid fire in the future. For instance, if your fire was a result of faulty electrical wiring, you need to make sure that your home is properly wired after the restoration it to protect yourself from another fire in the future.
Signs of Potential Water Damage
Water damage is not always visible on the surface. You might be able to see a flooded basement or a busted pipe in your bathroom, however, you might not see a slow leak inside your wall that can lead to big problems later on. In order to avoid these big problems with water damage in the future, you will need to watch for signs of issues as soon as they come up. Here are some important indicators of water damage in your home:
High Water Bills--If you notice that your water bills are unusually high, that might be due to a leak in your piping that you cannot see at this time. The water is slowly seeping out through your pipes, and you have to pay for every drop that you’re not using. It might be wise to get a plumbing inspection at this time to identify where the leak might be coming from and what you can do to fix it.
Decreased Water Pressure--If the pressure coming from your faucet and your shower head doesn’t feel as powerful as it used to be, you again might have a leak in your system. This is the water is escaping through the leak and not shooting through the pipe as powerfully as it normally would. Other factors to consider are a change in your faucet or showerhead itself, as that may result in less water trickling through to you. If you haven’t made any changes in your home, find a professional that can help you identify the problem.
Difficulty Breathing--If you or someone in your home is having a hard time breathing, that may be the result of mold built up on the inside of your walls. It’s always a good idea to have your house regularly checked for mold because it is a problem that can grow rapidly and be very difficult to control.
Mold Spores--If you notice mold on your walls, that is most likely a sign of excess moisture underneath the drywall or somewhere in the room. This mold might not penetrate far and it might not be an indication of an inner problem, but if you cut into the drywall and see that it is spread all along the back, chances are you have a leak in your piping that you don’t know about yet. If the mold has traveled from the back of your drywall to the front, the problem is pretty large needs to be dealt with right away.
**Keep a close eye on everything that happened in your home, and you will be able to prevent extensive water damage before it happens.
Leave it to the Pros
Mold removal seems like a simple process at the surface. Splash a little bleach on the visible mold spores and enjoy a lifetime of clean air…right? Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple – not by a long shot. Before you create more work for yourself later on, you may want to work with a professional mold removal company to tackle the mold in your home or office. Here is a look at why mold removal is best left to the pros.
Mold Spores Aren’t Always Visible
In most cases, mold spores are not visible on the surface. You may not think of treating your mold until you see it on the walls, ceilings, or floors, but it has probably been lurking behind the scenes for quite some time. A water damage restoration company, like SERVPRO of North Elkhart County, can assess your property for hidden mold and treat the root of the problem. If you only treat what you can see, you will be fighting mold for years to come.
Mold Treatment Requires Special Tools
To properly treat your home for mold, you need special equipment to eliminate the spores and the moisture they feed on. Most at-home mold removal guides say to use bleach for treatment, but doing so will actually make the mold worse. The mold uses the water in the bleach to spread and contaminate your house even further. Instead of risking the chance of making the problem worse, trust SERVPRO of North Elkhart County to take care of the mold for you. They will have the tools they need to truly get rid of the problem, not just mask it.
FACT: Speed Matters In Mold Removal!
The Environmental Protection Agency says that water removal needs to take place within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
Mold Prevention Is A Must
Simply removing the existing mold isn’t enough. In order to have a truly successful experience, you need to go through mold prevention as well. Ask yourself: What caused the mold in the first place? A leaky pipe? Excessive humidity? A faulty washer and dryer? A bad seal?
Let the pros inspect your home for causes of mold so they can recommend repairs you need to make. Through fast-acting water removal and proper mold prevention, you can eliminate mold problems in your property and improve your air quality at the same time.
You deserve to breathe easy – literally! Let the professionals take care of your mold problem and show you how to prevent it from happening to your home.
What Not to do After Commercial Water Damage
With the crazy weather and the past flooding here in Elkhart County, here is some useful ideas on how to protect your business assets after commercial water damage.
Here’s what not to do after commercial water damage:
- Do not enter a room with standing water in it until all electricity has been turned off. Live wires touching water can electrify the water, making standing water in the room very dangerous. Make sure all electricity is disconnected or off prior to entering a room with standing water.
- Do not use regular household vacuum to remove water. Regular household vacuums are not meant to handle large volumes of water. Sucking up standing water with a household vacuum will definitely break it and potentially cause it to short circuit.
- Do not attempt to lift tacked down carpet without professional help. Wet carpet is very heavy. Not only could your hurt yourself trying to remove damp carpet but also contains tacks that can hurt you if you are not trained in pulling it up correctly.
- Do not use electrical appliances when carpet or flooring is still wet. Exposure to water can cause electrical appliances to short circuit or fail. Since they are not manufactured to be “water proof”, water can easily get into vulnerable areas in the appliances and greatly increase you chance of electrocution or fire.
- Do not touch or disturb any visible mold. Mold spreads very easily. Mold caused by water is dangerous to you and can have harmful health effects. Make sure you call a mold damage specialist to handle the cleanup and removal of mold so as to not cause harm to yourself or your employees.
While most of the water has dried out from the recent flooding, we want you to keep these points in mind so that you can be water damage smart the next time heavy rains come around!
Protect Your Business From Scary Commercial Water Damage
Your family depends on your business. So do your employees, as well as your customers and community. So the thought of commercial water damage caused by extreme weather or plumbing failure is scary. But you don’t have to be scared. A little planning and a few precautions will help you breathe a little easier, knowing you’re ready for any commercial water damage!
Start by asking yourself, “What if?”
That’s a powerful question when it comes to reducing commercial water damage risk. For instance, what if a water main bursts and floods your office? This always leads to more questions, such as how will you ensure the safety of your employees and customers? Or how will you prevent or eliminate business disruptions that might result in cash flow problems? How will you communicate with employees during emergencies or periods of disruption (say, when a pipe bursts and requires the main power to be shut off during repairs)? Make notes of your answers to all your questions, because organizing this information is the basis for the next key step in preventing and minimizing commercial water damage: making a plan.
Now put your thinking into action to craft an emergency plan for your business. A good emergency plan should provide for the safety of all people who could enter your business, as well as set forth processes and procedures for carrying on with business during a variety of challenges. It should include:
- an emergency contact list (accessible from off-site)
- emergency procedures
- emergency staffing instructions
- vendor lists and contact info
- data backup plans and other resources to support business operations in case you have to temporarily or permanently relocate your business operations.
Routinely inspect all visible plumbing, test basement sump pumps, check exterior gutters and downspouts, muck out drainage ditches and storm drains and ensure roof structures are in good repair. Commercial property managers generally agree that a water leak on a commercial property is the most costly problem you can have, often costing thousands of dollars to mitigate, once the problem develops. Good property maintenance can lop off a big chunk of commercial water damage risk, so don’t cut corners on repairs.
Preparing Your Elkhart Home for Storms
Spring storms can cause a number of issues in your home, such as fallen tree branches and water damage. By preparing for the storms early, you can minimize the damage to your property.
- Invest in flood insurance
* If a storm gets our of hand and leads to flooding in your home, flood insurance will cover the cost of your water damage repairs.
- Prune your trees
* Dead or rotting tree branches are susceptible to falling during storms; it is best to cut these off before so that they do not cause any damage to the roof, siding, windows, or even the car(s). That is also a great way of protecting your family as well. Proper tree pruning can also improve the way the trees bloom in the heart of spring and summer.
- Use surge protectors for electronic devices
* Replace your your standard power strips with surge protectors so that your electronics are protected in the middle of a storm. If lightening strikes your roof or a flood occurs in your house, surge protectors will give you the best possible chance of preserving your computer, television, and game consoles. Consider unplugging any electronics you are not using so they do not have live electrical currents in the middle of a storm.
- Prepare an emergency kit
* If you have an emergency kit for winter with non-perishable food, water, and first aid supplies. Keep this kit for the spring as well. Make sure it includes candles, matches, flashlights, batteries, and anything else you can think of that will be needed during a power outage.
Are You prepared for Winter Storms?
Winter storms can bring freezing rain, ice, snow, high winds, or a combination of these conditions. Extreme winter weather can immobilize an entire region. Ice and heavy snowfall can knock out heat, power, and communication services. A winter storm occurs when there is significant precipitation and the temperature is low enough that precipitation forms as sleet or snow, or when rain turns to ice.
A winter storm can range from freezing rain and ice, to moderate snowfall over a few hours to a blizzard that last for several days, or be a combination of several winter weather conditions. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures. Planning and preparing can help you manage the impact of a winter storm and keep you and your family safe. A sustained power outage can have a significant impact on people who require electricity to power medical equipment, so make sure that you have a pan to take care of yourself and your family during an outage.
How to Prepare for a Winter Storm
Prepare now in case a winter storm hits and you are home for several days without power and heat.
• Prepare by gathering emergency supplies, making a family plan, and discussing emergency notifications and expectations with your workplace and/or schools.
• Install battery-powered or battery back-up carbon monoxide detectors.
• If you have access to an OUTSIDE generator, have an electric cord long enough to keep the generator at least 20 feet from any door, window, or vent.
• Make specific plans for how you will avoid driving.
Be alert to changing weather conditions using local alerts, radio, and other news sources for information and instructions. Stay indoors and avoid driving as much as possible.
• If the power goes out, close off unused rooms to consolidate and retain heat.
• Wear layered clothing and use blankets or sleeping bags to stay warm.
• Bring pets inside.
• NEVER use generators, outdoor heating or cooking equipment, such as a grill, camp stove, or a gasoline or propane heater, indoors.
• NEVER heat a home with a stove.
• If driving is absolutely necessary, keep disaster supplies in your vehicle, make sure your vehicle is properly equipped, and use extra precaution on the roads.
• Limit your time outdoors. If you are outside, protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing several layers of warm, loose-fitting, light-weight clothing.
Why Are There So Many More Fires Around The Winter Months
1st off with less daylight available people are turning there indoor lights on much earlier and using more of them for longer periods. 2nd people are using electric blankets and space heaters often on under designed circuits then what is required. 3rd the physical wood structure of a home becomes drier or moister which can contribute to electrical fires under the right conditions. 4th holidays bring with them a vast array of decorations etc that also help to increase the electrical load on circuits that may already be showing signs of deterioration. 5th poor judgment by residents who ignore warning signs and do not follow recommended codes and safety rules.
Then there are electric blankets, a great way to warm up a bed in a cold room. But they also contribute to many fires when allowed to get old and brittle and or damaged by being put under a doorway, rug furniture or get damaged by a pet.
But as a homeowner, you have to keep on top of things, too.
The No. 1 priority: Have working smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. (About a quarter of all house fires start in the bedroom.) And test them! You should test your smoke alarms every month — no exceptions — and change the batteries twice a year.
You have to make sure your home’s electrical system can safely handle the extra load, because it’s way too easy for bad wiring to cause an electrical fire. In fact, most home fires are caused by poorly maintained electrical and heating/cooling systems. So get them checked by the right pros!
Have your home’s electrical system checked at least every four years, and if you bought a house that’s 15 years old or older, bring in a licensed electrical contractor as soon as possible, especially if the basement is finished. Too many homeowners think they can do their own electrical, and unfortunately, many of them have done. How do you know if everything is up to code? If there’s knob-and-tube wiring? Or aluminum wiring mixed with copper? Or if the person who did the work knew what they were doing?
Have a licensed electrical contractor do an audit of the entire house. They’ll make sure all the electrical work is up to code and that all the connections are tight.
Fire prevention is not something you can put off, or that you can get around to doing when you have the time. Because the truth is, we don’t know when a fire can start in a home, and then it’s too late.
Keep safe, make it right and please, folks, make sure all your smoke alarms are working … today!