Recent Fire Damage Posts
October is Fire Prevention Month!
Aftermath of Honolulu apartment complex showing fire damage due to negligence
As we enter the middle of October, it is important for everyone to be aware of what they can do to protect their home and family in a time of emergency. October is Fire Prevention Month!
The goal of fire prevention is to educate the public to take precautions to prevent potentially harmful fires and become educated about surviving them.
Below are a few tips and reminders:
Stop, drop and roll...
If one's clothing catches on fire, the most effective method of extinguishing the fire is to stop, drop to the ground, and roll back and forth to smother the flame. Running around will simply fan the flames.
Smoke detectors save lives!!!
- Working smoke detectors reduce the chances of death in a fire by half.
- Nearly 900 lives could be saved annually if every home had working smoke detectors.
- Even just one smoke detector reduces the chances of death by almost half.
- Nearly half of all fire survivors remember hearing their smoke alarm.
- Deaths due to fire have decreased by half since the invention of the smoke detector.
- Most deaths due to fire occur at night when people are sleeping.
Smoke detector maintenance!!!
- The most common cause of smoke detector failure is missing or disconnected batteries.
- Nuisance alarms are the most common reason for deliberately disconnecting batteries.
- Missing, disconnected, or dead batteries account for 73% of smoke detector failures.
- There are more homes with no working smoke detectors than there are homes without any smoke detectors at all. There are millions of homes in each category.
- Smoke detectors should be installed on every level of your home.
- Change your batteries twice a year.
- Clean your detectors also.
- Replace the entire unit every ten years.
- Disconnecting your batteries, for any reason, is dangerous and illegal.
Don't just leave to do something else...
One of the most common reasons for fires is how people often leave stoves, ovens, toasters, clothing irons, barbecues, and candles unattended.
Now, we've covered some important facts about fire safety for the home, don't forget about your business...
Oh, and DON'T forget about fire extinguishers!!
Fire extinguishers are active fire protection devices used to extinguish or control small fires, often in emergency situations. It is not intended for use on an out-of-control fire, such as one which has reached the ceiling, endangers the user (i.e., no escape route, smoke, explosion hazard, etc.), or otherwise requires the expertise of a fire department.
Things to Check for if Lightning Strikes Your Home
Lightning is a dramatic display from a thunderstorm, but it can also cause serious complications. Fires, damage to structures and damage to electrical
How Lightning Is Made
All thunderstorms are electrically charged, and this is what serves as a catalyst for every clap of thunder and bolt of lightning. When we see lightning, it is actually the thunderstorm offloading some of its energy, either through the clouds creating thunder or in the direction of the Earth.
Air is not an ideal conductor, which is why lightning often strikes through an object as it heads toward the ground. This is what makes homes so vulnerable and easily damaged by lightning strikes.Things to Check if Lightning Strikes Your Home
Because a home is full of wiring and water, lightning can travel easily through these things and cause extensive damage along the way. If your home has been struck, here’s what to check for:
1. Hot spots within walls. At around 500,000 degrees, lightning is often hot enough to ignite a house immediately upon striking. Additionally, it can cause damage to wiring so severe that it makes a fire likely to occur within the walls in the future. An electrician can perform an inspection to check for hotspots and make recommendations for repairs.
2. Damaged electronics. The voltage produced by a lightning strike is far more than what household electronics are designed to handle, and they can be severely damaged if they are plugged in when lightning strikes. Surge protectors can prevent damage from occurring, and you should always thoroughly check electronics after a strike.
3. Structure damage. The powerful shock waves that produce thunder can also produce damage when lightning strikes the ground. Because shock waves have been known to crack foundations and shatter windows, it is wise to inspect the home after a storm dissipates.
If your home has been affected by storm damages or lightning-related fires, give us a call today! We are experts in damage cleanup and can restore your damage quickly.
Facts about Smoke and Soot
Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.
Smoke and soot facts:
- 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.
Different Types of Smoke
There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, we will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Here is some additional information:
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 rises.
Our Fire Damage Restoration Services
Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions. We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage. We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.
Have smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement.
Smoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast. Working smoke alarms give you early warning so you can get outside quickly.
- A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home. Install alarms in the basement. Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one sounds, they all sound.
- Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
- Test all smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
- Today’s smoke alarms will be more technologically advanced to respond to a multitude of fire conditions, yet mitigate false alarms.
- A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the stove.
- People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms. These alarms have strobe lights and bed shakers.
- Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.
- Smoke alarms are an important part of a home fire escape plan.
According to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 96% of American homes have at least one smoke alarm, no smoke alarms were present or none operated in two out of five (41%) of the reported home fires between 2003-2006. Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
Tens Things You Should Know To Prevent Kitchen Fires
Did you know the kitchen is where more home fires occur than anywhere else in the house and that cooking is the number one cause of home fires? The American Red Cross has steps everyone can follow to avoid a cooking fire:
1. Never leave cooking food unattended – stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If you have to leave the kitchen, even for a second, turn off the stove.
2. Check your food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking.
3. Use a timer so you’ll remember that the stove or oven is on.
4. Don’t wear loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.
5. Keep the kids away from the cooking area. Enforce a “kid-free zone” and make them stay at least three feet away from the stove.
6. Keep anything that can catch fire - pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from your stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
7. Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
8. Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen. Contact your local fire department to take training on the proper use of extinguishers.
9. Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
10. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year.
Smoking is a leading cause of home fire deaths.
Don't let your world go up in smoke. Home fires ARE preventable and here are a few helpful tips:
- Smoke outside. Many things in your home can catch on fire if they touch something hot like a cigarette or ashes. It is always safer to smoke outside.
- Put cigarettes out all the way. Do this every time. Don’t walk away from lit cigarettes and other smoking materials. Put water on the ashes and butts to make sure they are really out before you put them in the trash.
- Be alert. Do not smoke after taking medicine that makes you tired. You may not be able to prevent or escape from a fire if you are sleepy or have taken medicine that makes you tired.
- Never smoke around medical oxygen. Medical oxygen can explode if a flame or spark is near. Even if the oxygen is turned off, it can still catch on fire.
- Never smoke in bed. Mattresses and bedding can catch on fire easily. Do not smoke in bed because you might fall asleep with a lit cigarette.
- Put your cigarette out in an ashtray or bucket with sand. Use ashtrays with a wide base so they won’t tip over and start a fire.
About half of all home electrical fires involve home electrical wiring
Electrical fires in our homes claim the lives of some 280 Americans each year and injure 1,000 more. Some of these fires are caused by electrical system failures, but many more are caused by incorrectly installed wiring and overloaded circuits and extension cords. FEMA and the U.S. Fire Administration would like you to know that there are simple steps you can take to prevent the loss of life and property resulting from electrical fires.
- Plug only one heat-producing appliance (such as a coffee maker, space heater, or microwave) directly into a wall outlet at a time.
- Extension cords should only be used temporarily. Have an electrician install additional wall outlets where you need them.
- Never use an extension cord with a heat-producing appliance.
- Don’t overload extension cords or wall outlets.
- Check your electrical cords. If they are cracked or damaged, replace them. Don’t try to repair them.
- Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage on the lamp or fixture.
- Electrical work should only be done by a qualified electrician.
Educating your child about Fire
Make an escape plan
It is important to have a plan when there are children in the home. Children sometimes need help getting out of the house, and they may not know how to escape or what to do unless an adult shows them.
- Have a plan for young children who cannot get outside by themselves. You will need to wake babies and very young children and help them get out. In your plan, talk about who will help each child get out safely.
- Know two ways out of every room. It is important to find two ways out of every room in the house, in case one exit is blocked or dangerous to use.
- Choose a meeting place outside the home. Children should know what to do when they hear a smoke alarm and there is no adult around. Help them practice going to the outside meeting place. Teach them to never go back inside a building that is on fire.
Keep children safe from fire and burns
Some children are curious about fire. There are simple steps you can take to keep you and the people you love safer from fire and burns.
- Keep children 3 feet away from anything that can get hot. Space heaters and stove-tops can cause terrible burns. Keep children at least 3 feet away from stoves, heaters or anything that gets hot.
- Keep smoking materials locked up in a high place. Never leave cigarette lighters or matches where children can reach them.
- Never play with lighters or matches when you are with your children. Children may try to do the same things they see you do.
Every day Americans experience the horror of fire but most people don't understand fire.
Fire is FAST!
There is little time! In less than 30 seconds a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house or for it to be engulfed in flames. Most deadly fires occur in the home when people are asleep. If you wake up to a fire, you won't have time to grab valuables because fire spreads too quickly and the smoke is too thick. There is only time to escape.
Fire is HOT!
Heat is more threatening than flames. A fire's heat alone can kill. Room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling this super-hot air will scorch your lungs. This heat can melt clothes to your skin. In five minutes, a room can get so hot that everything in it ignites at once: this is called flashover.
Fire is DARK!
Fire isn't bright, it's pitch black. Fire starts bright, but quickly produces black smoke and complete darkness. If you wake up to a fire you may be blinded, disoriented and unable to find your way around the home you've lived in for years.
Fire is DEADLY!
Smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames do. Fire uses up the oxygen you need and produces smoke and poisonous gases that kill. Breathing even small amounts of smoke and toxic gases can make you drowsy, disoriented and short of breath. The odorless, colorless fumes can lull you into a deep sleep before the flames reach your door. You may not wake up in time to escape.
Only when we know the true nature of fire can we prepare our families and ourselves
HELP DO YOUR PART BY PREVENTING WILDFIRE
Each year, about 0.5% of Hawaii's total land area burns each year, equal to or greater than the proportion burned of any other US state. Over 98% of wildfires are human caused. Human ignitions coupled with an increasing amount of nonnative, fire-prone grasses and shrubs and a warming, drying climate have greatly increased the wildfire problem.
BE ALERT AND PREPARED!
- Clear leaves & debris from gutters and roof
- Maintain 6 inches in between siding and ground
- Cover combustible materials next to and under home
- Protect windows - clear vegetation, close them when the fire comes
- Create defensible space within 100 feet of home or up to boundary line
- Keep grass short
- Keep tree branches high off ground
- Clear brush & leaf piles
- Create & practice a family evacuation plan
- Include assisting neighbors w/ special needs in your evacuation plans
- Make sure fire vehicles and personnel can defend your home from all sides
- Make sure hydrants, pools, & water tanks are accessible
MOST IMPORTANTLY CALL 911 THEN SERVPRO OF EAST HONOLULU 808-395-9545 FOR ALL YOUR RESTORING NEEDS
5 Common Causes of Electrical Fire
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, in 2014, electrical fires accounted for 6.3 percent, nearly 24,000 fires, of all residential fires, 11 percent of the fires where someone died and 7 percent of the fires where someone was injured.
The months with the most electrical fires are December and January due to increased use of heating appliances and lights. Most electrical fires start in the bedroom, but the highest number of fatalities occur with fires located in the living room, family room and den.
Some electrical fires happen because of problems in house wiring or appliance failure, but many occur due to mistakes that homeowners make like overloading electrical outlets or extension cords.
Here are the 5 most common causes of electrical fires.
1. Faulty outlets, appliances
Most electrical fires are caused by faulty electrical outlets and old, outdated appliances. Other fires are started by faults in appliance cords, receptacles and switches. Never use an appliance with a worn or frayed cord which can send heat onto combustible surfaces like floors, curtains, and rugs that can start a fire.
Running cords under rugs is another cause of electrical fires. Removing the grounding plug from a cord so it can be used in a two-prong electrical outlet can also cause a fire. The reason appliances have the extra prong is so they can be only used in outlets that can handle the extra amount of electricity that these appliances draw.
2. Light fixtures
Light fixtures, lamps and light bulbs are another common reason for electrical fires. Installing a bulb with a wattage that is too high for the lamps and light fixtures is a leading cause of electrical fires. Always check the maximum recommended bulb wattage on any lighting fixture or lamp and never go over the recommended amount.
Another cause of fire is placing materials like cloth or paper over a lampshade. The material heats up and ignites, causing a fire. Faulty lamps and light fixtures also frequently result in fires.
3. Extension cords
Misuse of extension cords is another electrical fire cause. Appliances should be plugged directly into outlet and not plugged into an extension cord for any length of time. Only use extension cords as a temporary measure. If you do not have the appropriate type of outlets for your appliances, hire an electrician to install new ones.
4. Space heaters
Because these types of heaters are portable, many times people put them too close to combustible surfaces such as curtains, beds, clothing, chairs, couches and rugs. Coil space heaters are especially dangerous in this regard because the coils become so hot they will almost instantaneously ignite any nearby flammable surface.
If you do use space heaters, use the radiator-type that diffuse heat over the entire surface of the appliance. These are less likely to ignite flammable items, but should still be kept away from them.
Outdated wiring often causes electrical fires. If a home is over 20 years old, it may not have the wiring capacity to handle the increased amounts of electrical appliances in today’s average home, such as computers, wide-screen televisions, video and gaming players, microwaves and air conditioners.
Breakers should be triggered when circuits get overloaded by too much electricity, but outdated breaker boxes often have worn connectors that do not work, causing the system to overload and start an electrical fire.
How to minimize damage after a fire
What To Do After A Fire
- Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpets.
- Keep hands clean so as not to further soil upholstery, walls and woodwork.
- Place clean towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpet traffic areas.
- If electricity is off, empty freezer and refrigerator and prop doors open.
- Clean and protect chrome with light coating of petroleum jelly or oil.
- Wash houseplants on both sides of leaves.
- Change HVAC filter.
- Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers.
What NOT To Do After A Fire
- Don't attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces or shampoo carpet or upholstery without contacting your SERVPRO Franchise Professional.
- Don't attempt to clean any electrical appliances that may have been close to fire, heat or water without consulting an authorized repair service.
- Don't use any canned or packaged food or beverages that may have been stored near the fire, heat or water.
- Don't turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet. The wiring may be damaged.
- Don't send garments to an ordinary dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set smoke odor.