Recent Fire Damage Posts

Fireplace and Portable Heating Safety Tips

3/22/2019 (Permalink)

Did you know? 50% of all residential heating-related fires are reported during the months of December, January and February.

Keep the following safety tips in mind to help reduce your risk of a heating-related fire. 

  • 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 heaters.
  • 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 a safe distance away from your home. 
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed. 
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer's instructions. 
  • Test smoke alarms monthly. 

If your property does suffer fire damage, contact SERVPRO of Northwest Bergen to help make it "Like it never even happened."

Top Three DO's and DON'Ts after a fire disaster

3/7/2019 (Permalink)

These tips will assist you in taking proper action until SERVPRO of Northwest Bergen technicians arrive. Follow these Do's and Don'ts to help reduce the damage and increase the chances of a successful restoration.

DO:

  1. Limit Movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpet.
  2. Keep hands clean. Soot on hands can further soil upholstery, walls and woodwork.
  3. Place dry, colorfast towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpet traffic areas. 

DON'T:

  1. Do not attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces without first contacting SERVPRO.
  2. Do not attempt to clean electrical appliances that may have been close to fire, heat or water without first consulting an authorized repair service.
  3. Do not turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet, wiring may be wet or damaged and cause electrical shock, and air movement may create secondary damage. 

After any fire damage situation, your primary focus should be safety first:

  • Is it safe to stay in the house?
  • Electrical and "slip and fall" hazards are some of the most prevalent concerns.
  • Only do activities that are safe for you to perform.
  • Wet materials can be VERY heavy. Be careful!

Carbon Monoxide: A silent cold weather killer

2/12/2019 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Carbon Monoxide: A silent cold weather killer CO Alarm

Carbon Monoxide is a gas you cannot see, taste, or smell. According to ready.gov, an average of 430 Americans die each year from unintentional carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Often times, it is the result of faulty, improperly used, or vented consumer products like furnaces, ranges, water heaters, room heaters and engine-powered equipment such as portable generators. There are precautions you can take to help protect yourself, your family and your employees from deadly CO fumes. Reduce CO fumes exposure in your home or workplace by performing regular maintenance on equipment and appliances that can produce CO. Install carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the home, including outside bedrooms. Consider having all fuel-burning heating equipment and chimneys serviced annually by a professional. Use portable generators only in well ventilated areas away from openings to prevent fumes from entering the home/building. Visit usfa.fema.gov for more info on CO safety. 

Smoke Alarms: Life Savers

2/7/2019 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Smoke Alarms: Life Savers Fire Alarms

Smoke alarms save lives when properly installed and maintained, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

In homes, smoke alarms should be in every bedroom and on every level, including the basement. In office and commercial environments, check your state requirements or contact your local Fire Marshall to help ensure all codes are met.

Test smoke alarms monthly using the test button. Smoke alarms with non-replaceable batteries need the entire smoke alarms unit replaced every ten years. If the alarm chirps signaling low battery, take the proper steps to replace the unit or the batteries immediately. Never disable or remove the battery from an alarm. Almost half the fires where smoke alarms were present but did not activate had missing or disconnected batteries (NFPA)

In larger commercial facilities, hard wired or wireless smoke alarms offer benefits such as not needing to be tested as often and activating throughout the entire building if smoke is detected in just one area (NFPA)

If you need help installing, testing, or changing batteries in your smoke alarms, contact your local fire department, an electrician or the American Red Cross. 

Be sure your home or workplace has a fire emergency escape plan in place and conduct regular drills to ensure proper execution of the plan. The NFPA website  is a good resource for information. 

If your home or business has suffered damage from a fire SERVPRO of Northwest Bergen has the experience and equipment to clean and restore your property. Learn about our services here Fire cleanup and restorations services.

Home Fires Occur More Often in Winter Months

1/11/2019 (Permalink)

Did you know?

Home fires occur more often during the winter than in any other season. 

A home or business fire can be a very stressful event. Damage to personal belongings and the contents of the building is just one concern. Timely mitigation is key to controlling damage, while reducing downtime and recovery costs. 

Be Prepared!

  • Install Smoke Alarms- on every level of your home
  • Test Smoke Alarms at least once a month
  • Replace batteries at least once a year
  • Replace all smoke alarms every 10 years

Kitchen Cautions: Safety Tips

11/1/2018 (Permalink)

Each November, families gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, which includes cooking large dinners, but if you don't practice safe cooking habits your holiday could become hazardous very quickly. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. The leading cause of fires is unattended cooking. Here are some useful tips to avoid cooking fires:

  • Be on ALERT! If you are sleepy or consumed alcohol don't use the stove.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food.
  • If you are simmering, baking or roasting food, check it regularly, and 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, and towels) away from the stovetop.

If you have a cooking fire, consider the following safety protocols to help keep your family safe.

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 911 or the local fire department after you leave.
  • For an oven fire turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
  • 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 fire. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stove-top. Leave the pan covered until it is cooled completely. 

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Fires Are Preventable

10/4/2018 (Permalink)

When it comes to your home or business property, there are certain safety precautions that can be taken to help prevent fires. 

Electrical and Appliance Safety

  • Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately ad do not run cords under rugs of furniture. 
  • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never try to force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
  • Immediately shut-off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker.

Fireplace and Woodstoves

  • Inspect and clean woodstove pipes and chimneys annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions
  • Use a fireplace screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks. 
  • Make sure the fire is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house. 

Source: ready.gov

Summer Grilling Safety

8/23/2018 (Permalink)

Every year, approximately 7,000 Americans are injured while using backyard BBQ grills. It's usually a case of good products used incorrectly.

Do:

1. Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your house. Farther is even better. This includes portions attached to your house like carports, garages and porches. Grills should not be used underneath wooden overhangs either, as the fire could flare up into the structure above. This applies to both charcoal and gas grills.

2. Clean your grill regularly. If you allow grease and fat to build up on your grill, they provide more fuel for a fire. Grease is a major source of flare ups.

3. Check for gas leaks. You can make sure no gas is leaking from your gas grill by making a solution of half liquid dish soap and half water and rubbing it on the hoses and connections. Then, turn the gas on (with the grill lid open.) If the soap forms large bubbles, that's a sign that the hoses have tiny holes or that the connections are not tight enough.

4. Keep decorations away from your grill. Decorations like hanging baskets, pillows and umbrellas look pretty AND provide fuel for a fire. To make matters worse, today's decor is mostly made of artificial fibers that burn fast and hot, making this tip even more important.

5. Keep a spray bottle of water handy. That way, if you have a minor flare-up you can spray it with the water to instantly calm it. The bonus of this tip is that water won't harm your food, so dinner won't be ruined!

6. Keep a fire extinguisher within a couple steps of your grill. And KNOW HOW TO USE IT. If you are unsure how to use the extinguisher, don't waste time fiddling with it before calling 911. Firefighters say many fire deaths occur when people try to fight a fire themselves instead of calling for expert help and letting the fire department do its job.

Don't:

7. Turn on the gas while your grill lid is closed. NEVER do this. It causes gas to build up inside your grill, and when you do light it and open it, a fireball can explode in your face. 

8. Leave a grill unattended. Fires double in size every minute. Plan ahead so that all of your other food prep chores are done and you can focus on grilling.

9. Overload your grill with food. This applies especially fatty meats. The basic reason for this tip is that if too much fat drips on the flames at once, it can cause a large flare-up that could light nearby things on fire.

10. Use a grill indoors. People often think it will be safe to use a grill, especially a small one, indoors. NOT TRUE. In addition to the fire hazard, grills release carbon monoxide, the deadly colorless, odorless gas. That gas needs to vent in fresh air or it can kill you, your family and pets.

Smoke Alarms: Life Savers

8/23/2018 (Permalink)

Smoke alarms save lives when properly installed and maintained, according to the National Fire Protection Assoc. (NFPA). 

Follow these tips:

  1. In homes, smoke alarms should be in every bedroom and on every level, including the basement. In office and commercial environments, check your state requirements or contact your local Fire Marshall to help ensure all codes are met. 
  2. Test Smoke alarms monthly using the test button. Smoke alarms with non-replaceable batteries need the entire smoke alarm unit replaced every ten years. Other smoke alarms need batteries replaced every year and the unit replaced every ten years. If the alarm chirps signaling low battery, take the proper steps to replace the unit or batteries immediately. Never disable or remove the battery from an alarm. Almost half of fires where smoke alarms are present but did not activate had missing or disconnected batteries. (source NFPA)
  3. In larger commercial facilities, hard wired or wireless smoke alarms offer benefits such as not needing to be tested as often and activating throughout the entire building is smoke is detected in just one area. (source NFPA)

If you need help installing, testing or changing batteries in your smoke alarm, contact your local fire department, electrician or the American Red Cross.

(Source: Restoration Newsline Vol.29, Issue 9)

Fire Safety Tips

5/24/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Fire Safety Tips Fire Escape Plan

Follow these Fire Safety and Prevention Tips 

Fire prevention should be your first concern. The next best thing is to make sure everyone in the household knows what to do if there is a fire in the home. 

  • Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your home and test them monthly.
  • Know two ways out of every room in your home.
  • Create a home fire escape plan, practice it at least twice a year.
  • Identify a meeting place outside your home for your family or anyone who lives in the home. 
  • Don't Wait, Check the Date-Replace smoke alarms every 10 years. 
  • Store matches and Lighters safely, mainly out of the reach of children. Also, make sure you store them in locations where combustion or exposure to flames might be an issue.
  • Practice proper cooking safety. Don't leave cooking food unattended, have a working fire extinguisher in the kitchen, keep children and pets away from the kitchen while cooking. 
  • Be careful with all open flames, never leave them unattended. 
  • Generators should always be used outside the home. Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur when a generator is not working or vented properly. 

The key is to reduce risks by practicing fire safety in your home, while there are no guarantees taking these steps will help prevent fires and keep your family safe. 

Light the Night Safely

11/30/2017 (Permalink)

Pretty lights, candles, and decorations are just a few of the items bringing charm and cheer to the holiday season-however, if they are not used carefully your holidays may go from festive to frightening. 

The American Red Cross offers the following safety tips to help greatly reduce the fire risk in your home or business this holiday season.

Place Christmas trees, candles and other holiday decorations at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators and heat vents.

Make sure that light strings and other holiday decorations are in good working condition. Do not use anything with frayed electrical cords and always follow the manufacture's instructions.

Always unplug your tree and holiday lights before leaving the property or going to bed. 

Never use lit candles to decorate a tree. Always extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to bed.

At SERVPRO we wish you a Merry and Safe Holiday Season!

The Behavior of SMOKE

11/27/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage The Behavior of SMOKE Fire Cleanup and Restoration

The damage to your property following a fire can often be complicated due to the unique behavior of smoke.

There are two different types of smoke--wet and dry. As a result, there are different typed of soot residue after a fire.

SERVPRO technicians are thoroughly trained in fire cleanup and restoration, and know the different types of smoke and its behavior patterns. Knowing this information is vital to proper restoration. Before restoration begins, the technicians will survey the loss to determine the extent of impact from fire, smoke, heat, and moisture on the building materials and contents. The soot will then be tested to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. Pretesting determines the proper cleaning method and allows us to focus on your precious items. 

Smoke can penetrate various cavities within the structure, causing hidden damage and odor. Our knowledge of building systems helps us to investigate how far smoke damage may have spread. The following are additional facts you may not know about smoke.

  • Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
  • Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor. 
  • The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.

Types of Smoke:

Wet Smoke (Plastic and Rubber) Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.

Dry Smoke (Paper and Wood) Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke dries. 

Protein Fire Residue (Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire) Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor. 

Fuel Oil Soot (Furnace Puff Backs) While "puff backs" can create havoc for homeowners, SERVPRO technicians can, in most cases restore the contents and structure quickly. 

Other Types (Tear gas, fingerprint powder, and fire extinguisher residue) Special loss situations require special care.

Our technicians are trained to handle even the toughest losses. And make any smoke disaster "Like it never even happened."

Can You Escape In Under 2 Minutes?

11/13/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Can You Escape In Under 2 Minutes? Fire Restoration and Cleanup

Every Second Counts during a fire.

Fire experts agree, people have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it's too late to get out.* In a matter of moments, a small flame can become a major fire, making it critical to be prepared and have an escape plan in place. Once a plan is developed, it is critical everyone in the home understands the plan; the best way to do this is by practicing the escape plan at least twice a year. Increase your chance of surviving a fire by ensuring you have working smoke detectors in place, building an escape plan, and then practicing the escape plan. The following are a few tips to help you develop a plan.

Draw a map of each level of your home and show all doors and windows. Find two ways to get out of each room. Make sure all doors and windows that lead outside open easily.

Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second or third floors. Only purchase collapsible escape ladders evaluated by recognized testing laboratory.

Choose an outside meeting place a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they've escaped. Mark this place on your escape plan map.

Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can't help them. Plan for everyone in your home with special considerations for elderly or disabled individuals.

Practice your escape plan during the day and nighttime.

*Tips provided by the American Red Cross

Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out

10/17/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out Fire Prevention and Restoration

October is Fire Prevention Month and an excellent time to examine the emergency preparedness plans for your home and business.

  1. Do you have a fire escape plan?
  2. Have you changed your Smoke Alarm batteries within the last year?
  3. Are you prepared? 

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) sets aside a designated week each October to focus on Fire Prevention. This years theme is "Every Second Counts: Plan 2 ways out!" 

According to the NFPA, once the fire alarm goes off "you have less than two minutes to get out safely," yet only 8% of people surveyed said getting out was the first thought after hearing the alarm. Creating, implementing, and practicing a fire escape plan for your home or business may be the difference between safety and tragedy. Make your plan today. Visit http://www.nfpa.org/fpw

Every Second Counts-October is Fire Prevention Month

9/26/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Every Second Counts-October is Fire Prevention Month American Red Cross Fire Escape Plan

Every Second counts during a fire.

Fire experts agree; people have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home. That is why every second counts, it is critical to be prepared and have an escape plan in place. Once a plan is developed, it is important that everyone in the home understands the plan. The best way to do this is to practice the escape plan at least twice a year. 

A survey by the American Red Cross shows only 26% of families have a fire escape plan in place. 

Here are a few suggestions to help you develop an emergency escape plan. 

  • Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second and third floors. Only purchase collapsible escape ladders evaluated by a recognized testing laboratory. (Store them by the window)
  • Choose an outside meeting place a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they've escaped, emergency personnel will also be able to see you. Make sure to mark this on your plan. 
  • Teach children how to escape on their own in case you cannot help them. 
  • Practice your plan twice a year during the day and at night. 

Increase your chance of surviving a fire by having working smoke/fire detectors in place, developing an escape plan, and then practicing the plan with the family. 

At SERVPRO our priority is your safety. We are here to help you to prepare for possible disasters, and restore your home after a disaster strikes.

October is fire Prevention Month

9/29/2016 (Permalink)

Fire Damage October is fire Prevention Month Fire, soot and smoke cleanup and restoration

WHAT TO DO UNTIL HELP ARRIVES

A fire can leave behind soot, smoke damage and a host of other problems. Ceilings, walls, woodwork, carpeting, and floors will often need a thorough professional cleaning. If your home or business suffers a fire, it is important to take the appropriate steps to prevent further damage. The following tips may help reduce damage and increase chances of a successful restoration.

Do:
  • Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpet. 
  • Keep hands clean. Soot on hands can further soil upholstery, walls and woodwork.
  • Place dry, colorfast towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpet traffic areas. 
  • If electricity is off, empty freezer/refrigerator completely and prop doors open to help prevent odor.
  • Wipe soot from chrome kitchen/bathroom faucets, trim and appliances, then protect these surfaces with a light coating of lubricant.
  • If heat is off during the winter, pour RV antifreeze in sinks, toilet bowls, holding tanks and tubs to avoid freezing pipes and fixtures. 
  • Change HVAC filters; leave system off until a trained professional can check the system. 
  • Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers to stop particles of soot from getting in or out of the HVAC system.
Don't:
  • Don't attempt to wash walls, painted surfaces, furniture or carpets. Instead call SERVPRO.
  • Do not attempt to clean electrical appliances before consulting authorized repair service.
  • Do not consume any food or beverages that may have been stored close to fire, heat or water, as it may be contaminated. 
  • Do not turn on ceiling fans. Wiring may be wet or damaged and cause electrical shock.
  • Don't send garments to the dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set in smoke odor. 

Heating Hazards

1/5/2016 (Permalink)

The winter season is in full swing! 50% of all residential heating-related fires are reported during the months of December, January and February. 

SERVPRO handles Fire, Smoke and Soot cleanup and restoration.  The first steps taken in a disaster situation can mean the difference between recovery and total loss.

SERVPRO professionals help meet the real needs of insurers and property owners by supplying reliable and consistent service. 

Did You Know? December is the peak time of Year for Home Candle Fires.

12/1/2015 (Permalink)

Candles, pretty lights and decorations are just a few of the items that add to the charm and cheer of the holiday season, however, if not used carefully your holidays may go from festive to frightening.

SERVPRO handles Fire, Smoke and Soot cleanup and restoration.  The first steps taken in a disaster situation can mean the difference between recovery and total loss.

SERVPRO professionals help meet the real needs of insurers and property owners by supplying reliable and consistent service.