Recent Posts

Home fires can be dangerously hot

9/30/2020 (Permalink)

A person walking over hot coals It takes a brave soul to walk over these hot coals, knowing the temperatures contained within.

It’s a cool autumn evening, and you are sitting in front of a fireplace fire.  The temperature of the fire in the fireplace is greater than 500 degrees Fahrenheit.  Or perhaps you are standing next to the grate where the output of the furnace is.  That temperature is about 120 degrees Fahrenheit.  But, what temperatures are we talking about when there’s a house fire?

Once a room catches on fire, temperatures inside that room rise dramatically fast.  A minute or so after the room is ablaze, the temperature at floor level reaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit, 600 degrees at head level, and over 1100 degrees at ceiling level.  For comparison:

  • Tin melts at 232 degrees
  • Lead melts at 327 degrees
  • Wood and paper products catch fire at 450 degrees
  • Gasoline catches fire at 480 degrees
  • Aluminum melts at 660 degrees
  • Glass becomes malleable at 1020 degrees
  • And charcoal burns at 2000 degrees.

If you are caught in a home fire, you should:

  • Try and stay calm
  • Crawl low on the floor, where the temperatures will not scorch your lungs
  • Feel doors before opening. If they are hot, there could be flames on the other side
  • If your clothes catch on fire, cover your face and roll around, trying to smother the flames.
  • If your escape routes are all cut off, go back to a room, close the doors, block the vents and around the door with towels, linen, etc, and signal for help

Once the flames are out, and everyone is safe, there’s a mess to clean up.  SERVPRO of Bedford Park/Burbank is here to help!  Call the experts in cleaning at: 708-430-3600.

SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank in Louisiana

9/24/2020 (Permalink)

Vast destruction from Hurricane Laura A scene from Lake Charles, Louisiana, showing some of the vast devastation Hurricane Laura brought to the area.

Towards the end of August, Hurricane Laura struck the US gulf coast, coming ashore near Lake Charles, Louisiana.  As you would expect, much damage and destruction from not only the high winds, but heavy rainfall and strong storm surge affected the area.

SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank is part of the SERVPRO Storm Team network, ready to go out and help those with storm damages such as this.  Not long after the storm exited the area, we got the call to go down to Louisiana, and help as many as we can.

As with Hurricane Michael (hitting the Florida panhandle in October, 2018), our franchise was one of a few chosen to go right where the action happened, this time in Lake Charles.

With two truckloads of equipment and crews, we descended into the area of destruction.  During the drive down there, inspections are scheduled so we can "hit the ground running" the very next day.

Sometimes, both crews work together to work on a commercial property, while other times smaller homes are scheduled, where the crews can work separately and complete two homes in a single day.

Our experience with these types of storms is a big plus, because homeowners have never dealt with anything close to what they have in front of them.

How far can smoke travel?

9/22/2020 (Permalink)

Satellite image of smoke from California reaching the midwest Smoke from the California wildfires has dampened our sunshine the last couple of weeks.

Unfortunately, you had a fire in your home.  It could have been a kitchen fire, with its sticky residues because of the animal fats that were burning.  Perhaps it was a dryer fire.  Or maybe it was a fireplace fire that got a bit out of control, with light soot and ash that seems to get everywhere.  Even though the flames were contained to one or two rooms, how far did the smoke travel?

Smoke and soot use the hot air escaping the flames to travel about.  Because hot air is much lighter than cool air, it travels up towards the ceiling quickly.  Then the air currents will move the smoke anywhere throughout the home as the air currents allow.

Because smoke and soot follow these air currents, they will get into very tiny cracks and crevices; into drawers, closets, rooms, and wall cavities, even though doors are closed and drawers are shut.  These areas are not airtight, so it doesn’t take much to push smoke and soot particles into the tiniest of places.

As the air currents get further from the actual fire, they lose some punch and don’t flow as quickly.  The soot particles then become too heavy for the air to keep them up, so they land on the closest flat surfaces.  Counters, desks, sills, etc are the most common areas for these particles to land.

As to the original question: How far will smoke travel?  The answer is quite evident this month, as several days in a row we saw smoke from the California wildfires mask some of our sunshine.  That milky haze in the sky was actually smoke that has travelled hundreds of miles on the jet stream.  Smoke has even made it to the east coast, where New York City had some smoke from California in their skies.

Smoke damage in your home?  Call the cleaning experts at SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank at 708-430-3600.  We have the proper tools to check for smoke, and know how to clean it once it’s been identified.

What does mold eat?

8/10/2020 (Permalink)

Mold on drywall in a laundry room Lots of mold in this room, but its not attacking everything.

Mold will eat any organic items, items in your home, such as:  drywall, cardboard, insulation, wood, and paper.  Mold cannot consume materials such as: concrete, plastic, steel, or glass.

Mold spores are everywhere, floating around until it encounters moist organic material.  Once it does, it will root in and begin to consume.  As long as there's a food source and moisture, mold will continue unchecked.

In the picture below, you see that mold has attacked the drywall behind the wash machine.  This room was from a closed house, and had very high humidity in it for a long period of time.  But, the mold has not rooted in to the plastic covering near the pipes, the metal wash machine itself, nor the glass container or even the counter top.  Though there was plenty of moisture available, these items are not organic.

If you see mold in your home, don't panic!  Simply call the mold experts at SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank at 708-430-3600 to schedule an inspection.

Why are fans used to help dry a structure?

8/6/2020 (Permalink)

Series of fans placed to dry wet structure A series of fans, along with a dehumidifier, set up to dry structure fast.

Your home suffered water damages, whether it was from a leaky pipe, sump pump failure, seepage, bathtub overflow, roof damage, flooding, or whatever.  Once it’s safe to enter that area(s), the first thing you need to do is get rid of the excess water.  Once that’s been accomplished, then you remove wet contents and furniture.  And, depending on what type of water damage you had, some compromised structure may need to be removed (drywalls, ceiling, flooring).  Then, fans are set up to help dry the area.  Why are fans used?

Nature is constantly trying to balance itself.  Wind blows between storm systems.  Fog is released from cool, moist ground into the warm night air during spring and fall.  And nature tries to balance the difference from the drier air and the wet damaged areas inside your home.  Fans are thereby set up to help speed up the process.

As air is forced over and around a wet object, nature will pull some of that moisture to the edge of the material, where it then gets whisked away to join the air.  If there are only fans in the room, the room will quickly become very humid, and the remaining walls and ceiling will begin to condensate.  That’s why when SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank sets up a series of fans to help dry an area, there’s always a dehumidifier strategically placed to collect that moist air and dispose of it correctly, in a sink, bathtub, or even outside.  With that moisture removed from the room, it dries much quicker than if it was left to dry on its own.

If you have suffered water damage inside your home or business, and would like the experts to dry it out quickly and efficiently, call SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank at 708-430-3600.

Storm events in our area

7/21/2020 (Permalink)

A tornado over a farm field A tornado is just one of the many weather events than can encompass the area.

Storm.

When you hear the word "storm", does your mind immediately go to: dark clouds, high winds, heavy rain, and hail?  With the exception of dark clouds, each of the others is a storm event in among itself.

NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) along with NWS (National Weather Service), has compiled a list of storm events; weather events that cause property destruction or causality.  Besides what is listed above, some of the other possible weather events in this area include:

  • Blizzard
  • Dense Fog
  • Drought
  • Excessive Heat
  • Extreme Cold
  • Flood
  • Lake Effect Snow
  • Rip Currents
  • Seiche
  • Tornado

Drought is on the list, even though you would think it's because of a LACK of storms.

A seiche is a lake event, where waves (caused by high winds, earthquake, or some external happening) bounce off the opposite shoreline and return back to where it started.  It happens on Lake Michigan many times, but rarely does it cause serious issues.

Illinois averages about 47 tornadoes each year, which is more than Alabama (42), Missouri (39), Louisiana (37) and Arkansas (32), places you would think would have more tornadoes each year than Illinois.

If your home or business suffered a weather event, and you need help cleaning it up, call the cleanup experts at SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank, at 708-430-3600.

Disinfecting equipment for further use

6/25/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank technician disinfecting an air mover. Each piece of equipment is disinfected before going to a new job site.

Here technician Luis is disinfecting equipment that just came back from a job site.  Each piece of equipment, air movers (fans), dehumidifiers, etc, are disinfected before going back out to another job.

SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank is doing its part to limit exposures to COVID-19 to homeowners and businesses by cleaning equipment used to mitigate water, fire, or smoke damages in structures as they come back to our shop from previous jobs.  Assuring that each piece of machinery brought into your home or business has been thoroughly cleaned with hospital grade cleaners puts one less thing a homeowner or property manager has to worry about after a disaster.

SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank not only cleans its own equipment for COVID-19, but we’ve also deep cleaned and disinfected several businesses to help prevent the spread.  From airport control towers, to large manufacturing plants, and local insurance offices, or municipal buildings, SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank has been attuned to the latest procedures and protocols to help prevent the spread of the virus.

If your business had an employee (or employees) test positive for COVID-19, and would like areas of your business disinfected, call the experts at SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank at 708-430-3600 and set up a walk through of your facility.

Lightning Data

6/23/2020 (Permalink)

Bolt of lightning hitting a tree from a distant storm Lightning can strike quickly and "out of the blue". Here, a bolt originates from a distant storm.

When you think of lightning, you think of summer storms, but lightning can happen even in a snowstorm.  On average, there are approximately 1800 thunderstorms at any time throughout the world.  Further, there are about 44 lightning bolts every second worldwide.

In a previous blog, “Lightning facts and myths”, we discussed some of the fallacies people fall into when thinking about lightning.  In this blog, we will go over more facts and statistics.

An actual lightning bolt is about the size of a nickel, wrapped in intense light as it speeds through the sky.  A bolt may reach 53,540 degrees, which is five times hotter than the sun’s surface of 10,340 degrees.  Also, a bolt can reach speeds approaching 220,000,000 mph, which is one third of the speed of light.  The ensuing thunder travels at about 750 mph.

On average, 60 US citizens die each year due to lightning.  Most of those are associated with sporting events (golf, fishing, stadium events).

Lightning causes, on average, about 22,600 house fires each year in the US.  That may not sound like a lot, but that is 2.58 fires each hour.

Some lightning don’ts:

  • Don’t stay outside. Inside a structure will provide you the best protection from getting hit by a bolt.  The saying goes: “When thunder roars, go indoors!”
  • Don’t use water during a storm. Whether showering, washing dishes, or bathing, if lightning should strike your house, it could travel through the water pipes and cause injury.
  • Don’t use electronics that are plugged in. Again, if your house is hit, it could travel through the wiring and shock you.  Phones and video games are the best suspects here, particularly if they have wires.
  • Don’t huddle under trees. Trees may offer some protection from the rain, but little to no protection from a lightning strike.
  • Don’t press your luck when it comes to sports. Thinking you have time to finish one more hole in golf, or this half inning in baseball, can be disastrous.  See the first point above.

Here we grow again!

6/15/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank's newest box truck You'll see this box truck in the community, en route to helping yet another customer!

Great news!  SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank has recently added a new truck to its fleet, so it can better serve the community! 

This box truck will be outfitted with a mounted extraction machine, powerful enough to extract water from carpets in the basement, even when the truck is parked on the street!  Its shelves will be loaded with all types of equipment, from fans and dehumidifiers to dry contents and structure inside your home or business, to machines used to remove odors and "clean" the air.  It will also carry tools for demolition, if any is needed, such as to cut and remove parts of walls or flooring.

All the trucks at SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank are staged, ready to go as soon as possible when disaster strikes.  These trucks, and crews, are ready to roll, available 24/7/365, so if something happens and you need a disaster cleaned up immediately, a call to 708-430-3600 will get the ball rolling.  You don't have to wait until 8:00 the next weekday morning to call.

Being able to assist the community with cleanup concerns quickly and efficiently is what SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank is all about.  So, don't delay.  Call today!

Can smoke from a fire be dangerous?

6/9/2020 (Permalink)

A house fire being fought by firemen Where there's fire, there's smoke. Is there anything dangerous inside the smoke?

It’s a chilly evening, and you have a roaring fire going in the fireplace.  There is a little bit of smoke that doesn’t quite make it up the chimney.   The room smells pretty good.  Are there any dangerous chemicals or particulates inside the smoke?

Now, that roaring fireplace fire gets out of hand, and the room catches on fire.  There is a lot of smoke.  Are there any differences in the composition of the two smokes?

Both smoke and ash are the byproduct of materials that do not completely burn in a fire.  One reason the material does not burn completely is that the oxygen source may have been cut off; fires need oxygen to burn.  Another possible reason materials did not burn is that the fuel source may have been hindered (like firemen throwing water on a fire).

There are many items and chemicals in smoke.  Just a few of them are:

  • Carbon (from the physical burning of materials)
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Acidic Gases
  • Benzene
  • Stryrene
  • Ash
  • Water Vapors

All materials, whether natural or man-made, have some water content in them.  As the fire consumes that material, water vapor is released.  The chemicals that are also released in fires, attach themselves to the water vapors and are carried away with the wind currents.

Fighting a house fire should be left to the professionals, the firefighters.  You should exit a building that is burning as quickly and safely as possible.  But, sitting downwind of a fireplace or fire pit fire and breathing in the smoke, can also be dangerous.  This is true, especially if you have heart, lung, or breathing issues.  Wearing a dust mask, or even a surgical mask, will not offer much protection. 

If your home suffered some smoke damage, whether from a fireplace fire that got a bit out of hand, or a room or house fire, call the experts at fire cleanup, SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank.  We have the knowledge and protocols to save all items that can be restored, safely and quickly.