Recent Fire Damage Posts
Holiday Decorations Safety
While watching television the other day I saw a commercial for a famous candle company. The hook in the ad was “This what the holidays smell like.” It immediately reminded me of the countless fires we have responded to over the years during the holiday season. So many were started by candle accidents and very quickly the smell of the holidays changed from Cinnamon Apple Pie to charred wood and melted plastic.
According to the National Fire Protection Association there are over 400 fires annually in the U.S. that are traced back to holiday decorations including festive candles. About 55% of all holiday related fires are started by candles in the month of December. Christmas tree fires are another large cause for holiday fires. Christmas tree fires are over four time deadlier than an average fire according to the NFPA.
From candle safety, decorative lights and Christmas trees, our partners at the American Red Cross have some good tips for all kinds of holiday hazards.
- Never use candles near trees, curtains or drapes or any other flammable items.
- When displaying a tree, cut off about two inches off the trunk and put the tree in a sturdy, water-holding stand. Keep the stand filled with water so the tree does not dry out quickly.
- Stand your tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources. Make sure the tree does not block foot traffic or doorways.
- If you use an artificial tree, choose one that is tested and labeled as fire resistant. Artificial trees with built-in electrical systems should have the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label.
- Only use indoor lights indoors (and outdoor lights only outdoors). Look for the UL label. Check lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, and loose connections. Replace or repair any damaged light sets.
- Use no more than three light sets on any one extension cord. Extension cords should be placed against the wall to avoid tripping hazards, but do not run cords under rugs, around furniture legs or across doorways.
- Turn off all lights on trees and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. Unplug extension cords when not in use.
All of us at the SERVPRO of Carthage & Joplin hope you all have a great and SAFE holiday season.
Char Your Dinner, Not Your Home!
Summer time for many of us means spending time with family and friends outdoors. SERVPRO of Carthage – Joplin wants to make sure these activities are conducted in a safe way in the Joplin area. Each year we respond to property damage claims caused by grills or outdoor fires. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission over 8,700 of Americans are injured annually by mishaps with outdoor grills. Each year grills are linked as the cause to over 8,900 structure fires with property damage totaling millions of dollars. Here are a few tips from the National Fire Protection Association that can help you enjoy outdoor fire in a safe way.
BBQ purest will tell you charcoal is the only way to go and these type of grills and smokers are common because of that. Never use any product other than starter fluid designed specifically for charcoal grills. Once the charcoal has been lit, the starter fluid needs to be put away; never add fluid to coals after they are lit.
Gas or propane grills offer their own safety issues. Always check hose connections to insure there are no leaks. It is probably a good idea to use soapy water to periodically check the hose for leaks. No matter which style of grill you are using always make sure the grill is a safe distance from any structure. Weber Grills recommends a minimum of two feet between your grill and any combustible materials on their website. Always be aware of hot coals or ambers that may escape the cooking area or fire box.
When enjoying a fire pit or any other outdoor fire follow the same guidelines when lighting the fire as you would when using a charcoal grill. Remember to keep in mind wind speeds and direction before enjoying an outdoor fire.
We hope these tips help you enjoy a fun and safe summer of grilling and evenings around the fire. Mishaps do happen even when precautions are taken. If you experience fire damage to your home because of fire of any kind please call us immediately. SERVPRO has the training and experience to make it "Like it never even happened.”
3 Facts About Smoke Alarms
Fire damage to a home in Oronogo, MO.
Three Important Facts About Smoke Alarms
Did you know that many Oronogo, MO, homes don’t have a working smoke alarm in each of their bedrooms? While newly constructed homes are required to have alarms in order to pass inspection, many older homes don’t have them. According to the National Fire Protection Association, your risk of dying in a home fire is reduced by 50% if you have functioning smoke detectors. Here are three important facts about smoke alarms.
1. Smoke Alarms Save Lives
Most people don’t anticipate being involved in a home fire. Unfortunately, home fires often happen during the night when homeowners are asleep; therefore, it’s essential to have a working smoke detector in every bedroom and outside every sleeping area. There should also be smoke alarms in the basement, even if no one sleeps downstairs. To increase your level of protection, make sure your alarms are interconnected. Therefore, if one alarm sounds then the rest will also beep.
2. Smoke Alarms Should Be Tested
Once you’ve installed a smoke alarm in every room of your home, test them each month. While new alarms should work for many years, it’s still advised to test them monthly. Simply stand on a stool or ladder and press the test button. This simple test will ensure that your smoke detectors are in good working condition.
3. Smoke Alarms Need To Be Replaced
Most homeowners are unaware that smoke detectors need to be replaced; fortunately, there is a simple way to check them. Take the alarm off of the ceiling or wall and check the manufacture date. The date will likely be located on the back of the alarm. If the manufacture date is older than 10 years, your alarm needs to be replaced. If it’s less than 10 years old, place the alarm back on the ceiling or wall.
The risk of injury and death can be greatly reduced when homeowners have a working smoke alarm in every room of their home. If your Oronogo, MO, experiences any type of fire damage, fire restoration specialists are available to help.
Fire Extinguisher Class Identification
Did you know there are different classes of fire extinguishers for different types of materials and fires? For example, if you had an electrical fire, you would want to use a CO2 extinguisher. Using a foam spray or water-based extinguisher would be disastrous. To help you distinguish which one is right for you, the information below will explain what class of extinguishers is suitable for each scenario.
- Class A – Ordinary Combustibles. Suitable for cloth, wood, rubber, paper, and most plastic.
- Class B – Flammable Liquids. Used on grease, gas, oil or oil-based paints, or other flammable liquids.
- Class C – Electrical Equipment. Primarily for appliance fires, tools, machinery.
- Class D – Combustible Metals. Suitable for flammable metals, typically found in factories.
- Class ABC – Filled with mono ammonium phosphate and is suitable for all three classes (ABC).
- Class K – Combustible Cooking. Commercial kitchens, cafeterias, restaurants, etc. that use a lot of vegetable oils and animal fats.
For additional information, you can visit https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/extinguishers.html
Annual Fireplace Maintenance & Creosote Buildup Prevention
Apart from cooking, the second highest cause of home fires is from heating sources, such as fireplaces, furnaces, and small electric heating units. A buildup of creosote in the chimney or stovepipe is the biggest offender.
What exactly is Creosote? Creosote is a buildup of flammable material caused from burning wood and is highly combustible. When the temperature dips below 250 degrees, the gases buildup inside the chimney or stovepipe and form a sooty layer. This first layer is easy to remove by sweeping the chimney with a chimney brush. However, if left to build up, that layer can turn into a harder, flakier substance that lines the flue and is much more difficult to remove. A drill and rotary loop on a rod will be needed to clean the flue properly at this point. If not cleaned, this buildup continues to thicken and will start to look like tar dripping down the inside of your flue/chimney - this is what results in a chimney fire.
- To help prevent creosote buildup in your flue, you should only burn seasoned firewood. Firewood that has been left to dry for 6-12 months burns hotter and has less moisture which causes smoke, which then causes creosote. Wet firewood also decreases the amount of heat so you are just wasting energy.
- Air flow is extremely important when burning wood in your fireplace. If you have glass doors, keep them open to allow proper air flow so your fire can burn hotter. A hotter fire burns more combustible gas resulting in less buildup in the chimney.
- Try and avoid burning artificial logs, these have a large amount of combustible gases.
- Hire a professional chimney cleaner to inspect and maintain your fireplace and chimney every year.
- If you should suffer from smoke or fire damage, call SERVPRO. We will make it “Like it never even happened.”
Winter Weather Survival Tips - Be Fire Smart
Peak months for home electrical fires are November through March. Typically, these are from lighting equipment or faulty electrical wiring. However, these risks are increased through the use of fireplaces, portable space heaters, dry Christmas trees/decorations, and candles. Did you know that December has the highest number of home fires caused by candles; Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s being the highest days of the year? Play it smart and follow our tips to reduce your risk of a home fire this season.
- Never use an extension cord for plugging in a space heater. Always plug directly into an outlet.
- Keep anything flammable away from any heat source, such as a portable space heater or your fireplace. Never leave them unattended.
- Only one electrical, heat-producing appliance should be plugged into an outlet at a time.
- Never place your candles near fabric, curtains, tablecloths, and bedding – keep them 12’ away. Flameless candles are even better!
- Always place cooled fireplace ash in a metal container with a lid. Store this container 10- feet away from your house outside - never inside.
- Replace the batteries and test all of your smoke detectors and CO monitors to ensure they are working properly.
- Have your chimney and fireplace cleaned and inspected each year by a qualified professional.
- Burn only dry and seasoned fire wood.
- Check that your Christmas lights are not old, frayed/pinched, or have exposed internal wiring before placing on your tree or around your house. Turn off your lights before going to bed or leaving for any length of time.
- Ensure you Christmas tree is watered regularly to prevent it from drying out. Dry trees are highly flammable!
- Check that your faux Christmas tree has the label “Fire Resistant”.
- If you have a fire hydrant, keep snow and ice from building up and around it in the event of a fire emergency.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, or in an easily accessible area. Check to make sure it hasn’t been damaged or needs recharging.
Check Your Smoke Detectors
Smoke rising to a smoke detector
A lot of people check their smoke detectors monthly, some only check the batteries when the time changes and some know theirs works simply because it goes off nearly every time they cook. I will not tell you which category I am in, but I do know mine works.
The National Fire Protection Association recommends you have a smoke detector in each bedroom, outside any sleeping quarters and on every level of the house, basement included. It may seem excessive to some, but the notice you have, the more time you have to get yourself and your family to safety.
You should make it a habit to check the smoke detectors every single month and change the batteries when you change your clocks twice a year.
Do not forget that smoke detectors are only good for 10 years and should be replaced accordingly.
If you do not change the batteries in your smoke detector twice a year, be mindful of any random beeps or chirps. When the battery is dying it will make a sound every couple of minutes or so. Please do not ignore this as it is reminding you to replace the battery and this could ultimately save your life and the lives of the ones you love.
Cleaning Contents After A Fire
Boxed items being stored in our warehouse.
When you go through something devastating, such as a home fire, there are many emotions that you generally process. We strive to make that process a bit easier with the mentality in place that we will work to restore all that we can instead of having to completely replace all of it. We know there are some things that cannot be replaced such as family heirlooms and those special sentimental pieces.
Our fire team will go in and help you make a list of the contents of the home and make a report of items in your home; they take a room by room inventory, including pictures, to help better understand what can be restored and this can also be beneficial in most insurance claims.
Once we have the list, the team can pack up the items that are to be restored and move it all back to the warehouse where the items are then cleaned to the condition it was before the fire using a few different types of cleaning methods, determined by the item itself. Not all things are made the same and some things require special care and attention than others during the cleaning process.
When the items have been cleaned, they are boxed up and can be stored in our dry, temperature-regulated warehouse until the customer is ready to have the items moved to their home.