Recent Fire Damage Posts
Top causes of home fires
Fires can happen quickly in any part of your home, including this garage.
Now that we're in the fall season, and the holidays fast approaching, chances increase that you may suffer a fire damage inside your home. Kitchen fires are more prevalent because of more cooking for the holidays. Heating issues also further chances of fires.
Let's take a look at some of the major causes of fires inside homes:
- Cooking. Cooking is far and away the most common cause of home fires in the US. It accounts for 48%* of all fires, and averages about 172,000* fires each year. Unattended cooking, having flammable materials too close to stoves or ovens are just a sample of why fires get started in the kitchen.
- Heating. Space heaters or fireplaces account for about 52,000* home fires each year. Having items too close to the heat source is just one way this may happen.
- Electrical. Accounting for an average of 35,100* home fires per year. Overloaded outlets or frayed extension cords are just two of the main culprits.
- Smoking. Falling asleep while smoking is the main cause of the 18,100* home fires in an average year.
- Candles. 8,200* yearly fires is a comparatively small number compared to the others in this list, but it can be the most easily preventable as well. Candles being knocked over, or items too close to the flame are major causes of this type of fire.
Also, 58%* of all fire injuries are caused by people either fighting the fire outright, or trying to enter/exit a fire for a rescue. Have a plan, and practice it with children, to know what to do if there is a fire in your home.
* = NFPA statistics.
Space heater safety tips
A burnt out power strip, caused by having a space heater plugged into it.
Now that the cold weather is upon us again, it may be time to bring out that portable space heater. As a refresher, here's a few safety tips:
- Check the wiring and connections. If you see any damage or fraying, do not use the space heater.
- Plug space heaters directly into the wall socket. Do not use extension cords or power strips, which can overheat over time and cause a fire.
- Place space heaters on a flat and level surface. Do not place on desks, tables, or other furniture. Also, avoid carpeting as well.
- Keep rugs, drapes, bedding, etc a minimum of three feet away from the front of a space heater.
- Do not place in a high traffic area or doorway, where it can be accidentally tipped over.
- Keep children and pets away from the space heater.
- When leaving a room or sleeping, always shut it off; never leave it unattended.
- When leaving the building to go to work, school, shopping, etc, always unplug the machine for safety.
- When storing a space heater, always make sure it cools completely before putting it in a box, closet, etc.
Supplemental heat like this can take the nip out of the air, but then again, so could a fire. Plan accordingly, so you can enjoy the former without suffering the latter.
Have you developed a fire escape plan?
NOW is the time to develop a fire safety plan, be it at work or at home.
You’re sitting in your easy chair, watching TV and having a lemonade. The kids are playing upstairs in their rooms. Suddenly, the smoke detector goes off. Do you know what to do? Do the kids know what to do?
You’re at your desk at work, checking emails from the weekend. Suddenly, the fire alarm goes off. Do you know the safest route out?
In either case, being unsure of what to do or where to go may cost valuable seconds, seconds that could mean being injured instead of being safe. If there was a plan in place, and posted (if not practiced), this situation should have a favorable outcome, healthwise.
No one plans to have a fire at work nor at home. But, you still need to be prepared in case it does happen.
At home, know the safest routes out from any room in the house. Know the place safely outside where the family should meet. And make sure the kids know the basics as well.
At work, if your business does not have a safety officer, you should take it upon yourself to know the quickest, safest routes outside. If you are several floors up, know that the elevators should be avoided, and alternate routes have to be chosen. Have a designated location where you and your coworkers can meet.
In case of a fire, getting out and safe should be your only priority. Fighting the fire should only be done if it endangers you or someone you know is trapped. No one needs to be a hero; leave the firefighting to the professionals.
Infamous fires throughout history
No one plans to have a fire, but if it happens, SERVPRO is ready to help!
Some of the more famous fires in history:
- Rome 64 AD. Approximately 70% of Rome burned, and no, Nero did not fiddle while it burned. The fiddle wasn’t invented for another 100 years. But, Nero did build a huge palace for himself on the ashes in the best section in town.
- Great Chicago Fire Oct, 1871. 250 people lost their lives, and 17,000 structures were lost. People knew they were going to lose their houses, so they dragged the furniture into the street to try and save it. It only made the fire spread faster, and clogged the streets so Fire Departments and ambulances couldn’t get through.
- Great Boston Fire Nov 1872. Only 20 were killed, and just 776 buildings were lost, but this fire still brought Boston to its knees. This fire practically took out the entire business district, and no one could work for quite some time.
- Iroquois Theater Fire Chicago Dec 1903. Just one month after it opened, a fire started above the stage, blocking the exits of the top two levels of the balcony. 602 people lost their lives.
- Our Lady of the Angels School Chicago Dec 1958. This fire started in the basement less than an hour before school was to let out for the day. By the time some teachers knew what was happening, it was already too late, as exits were blocked by fire and heat. 92 children and three nuns perished, some from injuries resulted from children jumping from upper floor windows.
- The Camp Fire California Nov 2018. By far the largest wild fire in California history, this fire consumed about 240 square miles, killed 86 people, and destroyed 18,804 structures.
- Notre Dame Cathedral Paris Apr 2019. Built in the 12th century, and repaired many times since, this structure was still mainly wood, metal, and stone. And even though they have a fireman on site 24/7/365, the fire still spread too quickly to save the spire and one of the towers. Current estimates state that repairs to the cathedral will take 20 years to complete.
What do these fires (and really all fires) have in common? Not a single person planned on having a fire at that time. Fires come with no warning whatsoever. With storms, the weatherman can predict danger ahead of time, but not with fires.
If you had a fire in your home or business, not only will you have water damages (or fire extinguisher dust for much smaller fires), but also soot will travel and accumulate in areas far away from the actual flames.
Call the experts at SERVPRO of Bedford Park/Burbank at 708-430-3600. We have the knowledge and experience to know where to look and the best way to clean it, if it can be salvaged.
Ingredients to a fire
It takes the right ingredients to create a fire.
Question: When is a fire like a cake? Just like a cake, fires need certain ingredients to complete. Remove just one of the ingredients, and it just doesn’t work.
The ingredients fires need are: fuel, heat, oxygen, and an ignition source.
Fuel: anything combustible, like paper, wood, dry grass, fabrics, etc. Generally, anything that can burn easily.
Heat: A fire needs the proper temperature range to not only start, but also to keep going once it has started.
Oxygen: Like any living creature, fire needs the right air mixture to burn.
Ignition source: Matches, lightning, a toaster, etc. Anything to bring a fuel source close to its combustion point.
Once a fire has started, people fighting the fire have to control or eliminate one of the ingredients to stop the fire. In church, an acolyte places a cup over a lit candle until the candle has used up all the available oxygen. Crews fighting wildfires start a fire break; fires well ahead of the main fire, to rob the main fire of fuel. Firefighters throw water on fires, to help lower the temperatures and possibly disperse some of the fuel. Water also turns to steam, and it may disrupt the air mixture just enough to rob the fire.
There are other blogs on this site that deals with what type of fire extinguishers you need, as well as the different types of soot and residue left behind after a fire.
If you have suffered fire or smoke damage, call the experts at SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank. 708-430-3600. We have the expertise to make it “Like it never even happened!”
Use caution in smoke filled rooms
Avoid or limit moving through heavily smoke damaged rooms such as this.
You've had a fire. Luckily, no one was injured. But, several rooms in the house suffered smoke and soot damage.
Your first reaction is to start going through your belongings, to see how much damage they have incurred during the fire. You start moving boxes around and rummage through drawers and closets.
But beware! Going from room to room could drag soot particles into rooms that did not have any initial damage. Repeated walking in soot-filled rooms could also embed the smoke particles into the carpets and flooring, making them harder (if not impossible) to clean.
Also, touching the walls, whether on purpose or by accident, could cause the smoke particles to stain the drywall permanently, because of the oils in your fingers.
We understand that you are in a hurry to check the status of your belongings. But just haphazardly checking items from room to room can cause more secondary damages than necessary.
Calling SERVPRO of Bedford Park/Burbank and scheduling an inspection is the correct option. We can walk through the home with you, assess the damaged areas, recommend options that you can do safely, and set up a cleaning plan.
Don't delay! Call us today! 708-430-3600.
Use caution when deep frying turkeys
Take extra precautions during the holiday cooking season!
The holiday season is fast approaching. Images of a golden brown turkey, stuffing, cranberries, corn, and other items on the dinner table will always bring a smile to your face. And, I'll bet if you close your eyes, you can still smell the pumpkin pie fresh from the oven, cooling in the kitchen.
But, all these preparations take a lot of work. And cooking fires are the number one cause of fires during the holiday season.
SERVPRO Bedford Park / Burbank almost always get a call from a cooking disaster on Thanksgiving or Christmas. And many times it's from deep frying a turkey.
Here are some safety tips:
- Always place your deep fryer away from your home, garage, decks, and even trees. If there's a flare up, you don't want to inadvertently catch anything nearby on fire.
- Make sure the ground the deep fryer is on is level. Uneven ground may cause tipping once the turkey's weight is added to the fryer.
- Make sure your turkey is COMPLETELY thawed. Any part of the turkey still frozen will cause dangerous flare ups.
- Make sure the turkey is dry. Any moisture or drops will cause flare ups.
- Use heavy duty oven mitts when handling the turkey or the fryer.
- Have a fire extinguisher (or 2) handy and close by.
- Have our number, 708-430-3600, already inputted into your phone, in case you need us for any fire or smoke damage.
October is Fire Prevention Month
No one plans for a fire, but you can plan FOR a fire.
In October 1871, there were many fires burning in the Midwest. The largest and deadliest was NOT the Great Chicago Fire, even though the folklore is deep with that fire, with a cow supposedly kicking over a lantern.
Since 1922, the U.S. has observed a Fire Prevention Week, the second week of the month. In 2000, we added a Fire Prevention Month.
Are you prepared for a fire, either to prevent one or escape one if one starts? Here are a few helpful tips to keep your family safe:
- There should be one on every level of your home.
- It is recommended that there be one in every bedroom, and at least one outside of sleeping areas.
- Smoke alarms should either be mounted in a ceiling, or no greater than 10" from a ceiling on top of a wall.
- Try to keep smoke alarms at least 10' from cooking areas, as there would be numerous false alarms.
- They should be cleaned periodically, and the batteries changed regularly. A good rule of thumb: when you change your clocks in the spring and fall, also change the batteries in your smoke alarms, and clean the to keep dust and grease away from openings.
- There should be one on every level of the home, plus the garage if you have one.
- There should be at least one in or near the cooking area.
- Fire extinguishers come in different purposes, so make sure you have the proper type. Type A = all purpose, while type K = kitchen use. There are other types as well.
- When using a fire extinguisher, remember PASS - Pull pin, Aim at base of fire, Squeeze trigger, Sweep from side to side.
- Have an escape plan, where there's at least two exits from every room.
- Have a meeting place outside, and away from the house, so everyone can be accounted for.
- Practice this plan with children, so they know what to do if a fire alarm goes off.
How to clean cigarette smoke
Cigarette smoke has turned this white cover gold.
What can you find in cigarette smoke? There are some toxic compounds, and some compounds that are carcinogenic. The most abundant compounds found in cigarette smoke are: tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide. You will also find traces of acetone, ammonia, benzine, and formaldehyde.
A person who smokes will not leave a great deal of smoke damage to walls, furniture, drapes, etc, from just ONE cigarette. But, over time, the smoke accumulates on these objects, and will continue to stain until it is cleaned.
Tobacco smoke will adhere to all surfaces it touches, leaving a sticky, yellowish-brown substance where the smoking has taken place. SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank can clean years of accumulated smoke residues. Also, along with the cleaning, SERVPRO will also deodorize the affected areas. In the end, it will feel clean, smell clean, and be clean!
If you know someone who needs smoking residue removed, call the experts at SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank at 708-430-3600.
Machine used to get rid of odors
Another machine to help eliminate odors.
Mother Nature cleans the outside air by using a process called hydroxyl. SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank can replicate that process indoors by using a hydroxyl generator.
A hydroxyl generator would be used to combat odors from: fire and smoke damages, deceased body situations, sewage losses, skunk or pet odors, etc. Any time you need aggressive odor removal, this machine will do the trick.
A hydroxyl generator creates radicals (molecules) that temporarily changes the molecular property of nearby air for less than two seconds. These radicals attack the odor causing particles and help cleanse the air. Because these radicals only exist for less than two seconds, they need a constant stream of air passing through the generator to completely eradicate the offending odors.
Also, because the radicals last less than two seconds, it’s safe to have people, plants, and pets in the work area. Insurance companies and homeowners both like this aspect; there is no need to shelter elsewhere when using the hydroxyl generator. Another machine used in restoration purposes, ozone, has radicals that last much longer, and is thereby unsafe to use in areas where people, plants, or pets are around.
SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank has all the latest techniques and equipment to mitigate fire or water damages, remediate mold, or handle any type of cleaning necessary to get you back to normal living again, as soon as possible. A call to: 708-430-3600 will get the process started.
Major causes of electrical fires
Electrical fires can be anything from a minor distraction to a major loss.
Electrical fires in your Chicago home or business can be from any of several sources.
- Faulty outlets. If cords plugged into an outlet falls out easily, but doesn't do that anywhere else, that outlet may need to be replaced. Over time, like anything else, normal wear and tear can cause failure.
- Light fixtures. If you use a bulb that needs too much wattage for the fixture to handle, that can cause a malfunction or an electrical fire.
- Appliances. Appliances sit in the corner, and you really only think about them when you are using them. When was the last time you checked the cords, tubing, etc? When was the last time you cleaned behind that appliance (I'm talking to you, dryer)? Check the cords, and ensure that all appliances are clean of dirt and debris.
- Extension cords. Just like outlets, normal wear and tear can cause failures. And people tend to overload extension cords during the winter holiday season. Know the capacity of that extension cord, and do not exceed that number.
- Wiring. Wiring in homes >20 years old may not be able to handle the electrical capacity of today's homes. Today's computers, big screen TVs, microwaves, etc all have more power than their predecessors. Be safe; know how much is too much for the cords, outlets, etc.
If you have suffered an electrical fire, call the clean up experts at SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank at 708-430-3600. We can handle the soot clean up and deodorization!
It's grilling season again!
Keep the fires INSIDE the grill!
If you’re anything like me, you LOVE BBQ grilling. There’s nothing as delicious as food that has been prepared on an outdoor grill.
As you get your grill and apron ready for another mouth-watering season, please remember these safety tips:
- Do NOT use an outdoor grill indoors. That includes the basement, garage, or any structure that can catch fire.
- Never leave your grill unattended. Accidents, such as pets or a gust of wind can cause the grill to tip over, and ignite nearby items on fire. Also, keep young children away from grills.
- Clean your grill when an accumulation of grease appears. Grease fires start quickly, and can get out of hand just as quickly.
- If you are using charcoal, ensure that every coal is completely out before attempting to remove it from the grill.
- If you are using propane, make sure all fittings are secure before lighting the grill.
- Always have a fire extinguisher nearby, in case fire spreads outside of the grill.
- Place the grill where the smoke will not enter an open door or window. Smoke from a grill can stick to door frames, walls, etc, and then catch other pollutants.
Have a safe grilling season, from your friends at SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank!
Smoke detectors can save your life!
This little item can alert you to danger!
As Autumn transitions into Winter, now is the time to make sure you have working smoke detectors in your home. Why? Because there are so many ways your house can host a fire:
- From having a burning log rolling out, or a missing screen allowing sparks to fly out, and catch the rug or carpet on fire.
- Tipping over and catching anything flammable nearby on fire.
- Portable heaters. Placing them too close to drapes, bedding, etc.
- Many kitchen fires occur around the holidays, as people prepare more and larger meals.
Some smoke detector safety tips:
- Ensure you have smoke detectors on every level of the house, particularly near sleeping areas.
- Do NOT take out the batteries. Studies have shown that 46% of home fires in the US are in homes with smoke detectors, but had the batteries removed.
- Explain to children what a smoke detector means, and what to do when it goes off, especially at night.
- Test smoke detectors monthly. Pick a date (like the 1st), and test each month on that date.
- Replace smoke detectors every 8-10 years.
- Change the batteries in your smoke detector when you change the clocks in the Spring/Fall. And as your changing the batteries, also take your vacuum and clean the dust from around the detector.
- Some smoke detectors now have lights to highlight your exit routes.
Check with your insurance carrier to see if they have discounts for having one or more smoke detectors in your home.
Smoke and soot particles can travel far from the actual flames. If your home has suffered some smoke damage, call SERVPRO of Bedford Park/Burbank at 708-430-3600, and we will come out, assess the damage, and clean and disinfect all the affected rooms and materials.
Winter home heating tips
Some common sense tips to keep you warm and safe this winter season.
Old Man Winter is fast approaching, bringing cold, snow, and miserable weather along with him. The following are a few home heating tips to keep you safe and warm this winter season:
- Clean out your fireplace, placing the ashes in metal containers. Always keep these containers away from your house.
- Have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional annually.
- Have your heating equipment checked by a qualified heating professional yearly.
DURING THE HEATING SEASON - GENERAL:
- Never use a stove to heat your home.
- Test smoke alarms monthly. Pick a date (the 1st, the 5th, or whatever) and check your detectors that day each month.
DURING THE HEATING SEASON - FIREPLACES:
- Keep a 3' zone around fireplaces, portable space heaters, and wood stoves. Keep items that could burn away from this zone. Explain to children the meaning of the zone to keep them safe.
- Ensure fireplaces have a screen to prevent sparks or hot ash to fly out and catch the rug, drapes, or furniture on fire.
- Ensure fire is out, and ashes cool before attempting to clean fireplaces. Place ashes in metal containers.
DURING THE HEATING SEASON - SPACE HEATERS:
- Place space heaters on a stable surface, like the floor. Do not put space heaters on a tray table or ledge, where it can easily tip or fall.
- Turn off space heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Keep pets away from space heaters.
And remember, if you are burning candles this winter season, keep anything that can burn at least 1' away from a lit candle, and extinguish all candles when leaving a room or going to bed.
Stay warm and safe this winter season, from your friends at SERVPRO Bedford Park / Burbank!
Differences in fire extinguishers
Not all fire extinguishers are created equal. Knowing the difference can save a life!
There are five different types of fire extinguishers, and each one has a specific purpose. Let's look at each type:
- Type A: This fire extinguisher is for fast burning combustibles, like wood, paper, plastics, and cloth. This is great to have around your fireplace or in your bedroom.
- Type B: Best used for flammable liquids, such as gasoline, petroleum, paints, or oils. You may wish to have this one in your garage.
- Type C: For electrical fires. If you have several motors, appliances, or transformers at your home or business, this fire extinguisher would be best.
- Type D: This fire extinguisher works best for combustible metals, such as aluminium, sodium, magnesium, or potassium. If you have a metal shop, this is one you should have around.
- Type K or Kitchen: This is best for cooking oil fires, containing animal or vegetable fats, or grease. This is ideal for your food preparation areas.
Note: fire extinguishers must be maintained annually in accordance with local, state, and federal codes and regulations. Don't take a chance; have your fire extinguisher(s) checked every year by a certified professional. You can find your local professional in the yellow pages.
In the unlikely event you have to use a fire extinguisher, remember the word PASS, which stands for:
Pull the pin.
Aim at the base of the fire.
Squeeze the trigger slowly.
Sweep the spray from side to side.
If the fire is already fully involved, a fire extinguisher should only be used as a last resort. Otherwise, get out and call 911 immediately!
Once everyone has been accounted for, and the fire is out, remember that SERVPRO Bedford Park / Burbank is ready to clean up the soot, smoke, and/or the fire extinguisher residue left behind.
Home fire aftermath: Do's & Dont's
Let the professional assess the situation, and come up with a game plan to battle this fire damage.
If your home has suffered a fire damage, here are some Do's & Dont's to help prevent further damage:
- Limit movement in your home to prevent soot particles getting embedded into your carpet or rugs.
- Saving the plants? Wash both sides of the leaves with milk. Milk neutralizes the acidic soot particles.
- Carefully wipe soot from chrome on appliances and faucets.
- Place cheesecloth over air registers to help keep soot in or out of your HVAC system.
- Touch drywall with your fingertips. The oil from your hands can set the stain permanently.
- Try to wash walls, ceilings or other painted surfaces. Again, this could actually set the stain.
- Turn on any ceiling fans if the ceiling is/was wet. The wiring may be damaged, causing an electrical shock. And, air movement may create secondary damages.
- Consume any food or medications that may have been affected by flames or heat. These may be contaminated.
SERVPRO Bedford Park / Burbank has trained personnel dealing with fire / smoke damages.
From drying structure and contents left behind by the firefighters, to cleaning up fire extinguisher residue, to removing smoke odors, a simple call to 708-430-3600 can get the process started!
Different types of fires
No signs of structural damage, but there is some smoke/soot damage in this room.
All fires are unique, from the different ignition sources to the types of materials and structure affected. The trained staff at SERVPRO of Bedford Park / Burbank can determine the type of fire and the best way to clean it up.
Different types of soot
A fire that mostly wood and paper products burn will have high heat and will create a dry soot; lots of ash that is relatively easy to clean. Think of a fireplace once the season is over, and you have to clean the ash that is left over.
A fire that has lots of rubber or plastic products that burn will have a stickier residue with a more pungent smell. This type of soot is harder to clean, and also tougher to get the odor out.
If you have a fire that has animal fats and/or proteins (like leaving chicken to cook on the stove and then forget about it until it's too late), that fire leaves a very sticky and smeary type of soot that is very difficult to clean and deodorize.
Don't take a chance trying to clean smoke or soot damage yourself; trust the experts at SERVPRO of Bedford Park / Burbank to come out and assess the damage and determine the best course of action.
Major causes of home fires
This room may not have been directly in the flames, but is covered in soot.
There are about 365,000 home fires every year, continuing a steady decline from the 1970’s, when there were about 723,000 home fires in the US.
Below is the list of causes of home fires in the US:
#5 Appliances. They account for nearly 14,000* fires every year. When was the last time you cleaned out the back of your dryer and not just the lint trap?
#4 Smoking. Smoking accounts for more than 17,000* fires every year in the US. If you must smoke, extinguish and properly discard your materials.
#3 Electrical. Electrical fires account for more than 28,000* US home fires annually. Is that old extension cord frayed or safe?
#2 Heating. More than 57,000* US home fires are traced back to heating causes. Space heaters placed too close to combustible objects are just one of the causes. Fireplace rollouts are another cause.
#1 Cooking. Cooking fires make up more than 160,000* fire calls each year in the US. Unattended cooking is one of the major causes of this fire.
Ask yourself these questions: Are all the smoke detectors in the house working properly? When did I last test them or change the batteries? When was the last time the fire extinguishers were checked?
* NFPA figures.
What you need to know about cooking fires!
Customer contacted us after they experienced a cooking fire. Thankfully everyone is fine and they are letting us to take care of the soot/smoke damage
Is that time of the year! During the holiday season, “cooking” is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Since more fires start in the kitchen than in any other part of the home it's important to be alert to prevent cooking fires!
Let’s stay safe. Follow these easy safety tips, courtesy of the NFPA National Fire Protection Association:
What you should know
- Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stove-top.
- Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food.
- If you are simmering, baking or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
- Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stove-top.
If you have a cooking fire
- Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
- Call 9-1-1or the local emergency number after you leave.
- If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
- Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stove-top. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
For an oven fire turn off the heat and keep the door closed.