Archived Fire Damage Blog Posts
Do you remember that Christmas when…
This time of year brings fond memories for most of us, maybe a wish and prayer for better times that may be fading from our community Covid memories. Among those memories are often the sights, sounds, tastes and fragrances of the Holidays: wood burning in the fireplace, scented candles bringing ambient light to the rooms where loved ones gather, turkey roasting in the oven, cookies baking on well-seasoned pans used from generation to generation – yes, I still have some of my grandmother’s pans! – bells ringing on street corners, snow-covered lawns and fields and rooftops…
We pray that your memories are not those of tragedy. We certainly know some who have lost loved ones during the holiday season. We hope that you know they would like to see you remember them in family traditions, joyful carols and festive gatherings. Know that they wish to see your joy, peace and love for one another. Honor their memories in festive celebrations, laughter and good cheer!
We also know too well that disasters know no holiday! There may be memories that are not so fond: sparks from a fireplace that lit the carpet; candles left unattended that sent burning wax flaming across wooden tables and fabric table coverings; cookies, cakes or pies left in the oven that burned – it doesn’t just happen to Sharon Weiss (memes); candy making that overflows the pot, lighting a fire as it spills over the burner on the stovetop; the turkey fryer that cooks the siding on the house; Christmas decorations with damaged cords that start electrical fires; fresh-cut trees that have been allowed to become too dry and seem to spontaneously combust. We hope that none of these things have ever happened to you to cause fire to your homes or businesses. We pray that they will not happen to you this year or ever in the future.
Please be safe in enjoying your holidays!... But know that we are always there 24/7/365 to take your disaster and make it “Like it never even happened.”
Pork Chops on the Barbeque
Who doesn’t love grilled pork chops!
Pork Chops on the Barbeque…
Steaks on the Grill…
MmmMmm… What a Thrill!
Finally!... Winter seems to be completely finished with its intrusive coming and going this Spring! It is time to enjoy the outdoors. And that means bringing some of the cooking outdoors, too. As you pull out that grill and dust it off – and chase out the mice that may have moved in over the past few months – make sure you refresh safety protocols for enjoying this traditional seasonal activity:
- Keep all grills and fire pits away from flammables: furniture, decking, dried vegetation, etc.
- Place grill away from buildings when in use. Even if fire doesn’t occur to siding, melting, warping and discoloration can happen if too close to a heat source.
- Use only approved fire-starting products when preparing your fire. DO NOT use gasoline!
- Make sure all of your cooking accessories are kept away from heat source in order to avoid melting or burning: hot-mitts, tongs, spatulas, serving plates, etc.
- Have water at the ready in case sparks or coals travel from their container to flammables.
- Keep seating and persons a safe distance from the heat source. Smoke, soot and sparks can cause a great amount of discomfort, as can the possible excess heat.
- If not using green sticks or metal forks or skewers for cooking over an open flame, make certain that dried wood cooking utensils are soaked for about 30 minutes to avoid fires.
- Avoid loose clothing, tie back long hair and tuck ties and strings from clothing – like hooded sweatshirts – when working around a heat source, especially an open flame.
- We all love a fire at an early age. We seem to be drawn by its flicker, brightness and dance. Watch young children carefully around this tantalizing spectacle.
Now that you have reviewed what needs to be done to keep your outdoor cooking venture safe, ENJOY!... And maybe have a little extra on hand in case your grill skills are a little rusty and there is a bit more char than you might wish.
How Not to Burn Your House Down with a Space Heater
“How Not to Burn Down Your House With a Space Heater”
A recent article in the New York Times cited a personal near-disaster with a space heater by the author. This is scary stuff! And it happens so much more than most of us realize: there are an estimated 25,000 fires in homes and apartments due to space heaters each year; this causes more than 300 deaths; over 6,000 trips to the emergency room are attributed to such fires. In spite of these numbers, if we follow the do’s and don’t’s of use, space heaters are a safe way to supplement heat in small or specific spaces.
In confined spaces, electric, radiant and convection heaters are better options than combustion heat systems. Keep in mind that all heat production still causes heat and therefore, carries risk. These heaters are much safer now than what were manufactured in the past. They have better insulation. They have smaller grates to discourage small fingers and objects from coming into contact with the heat source. Many models are thermostatically controlled, so they shut off when a programmed temperature is reached. Sensors may detect blocked air passages. Some models have tip-over switches that shut the unit down if it is not flat on the ground.
Home or personal use space heaters must be approved by an independent testing laboratory for safety. Most recognized are Intertek (ETL) and Underwriters (UL). If you do not see a validation on the product, do not take a risk on it.
At this time, there are few space heaters with smart-home capabilities. Please consult Wirecutter’s for their picks of those that are available. It is recommended that you do not use a standard timing device for your heater. Due to the electrical demand of these products and the heat generated, timer devices are not designed for this usage. If your heater does not have a timer or you are insistent on commanding through voice activation, a plug-in smart outlet may offer some assistance. Wirecutter’s suggests Wemo Mini.
Go ahead! Use that space heater!... But… Here are some Safety Tips:
- Don’t crowd the unit. The 3ft rule is strongly suggested: keep the unit at lease 3ft away from combustible materials such as bedding, draperies, papers, clothing, etc.
- Examine the condition of the electrical cord. If it is frayed or damaged in any way, do not use. Also, it is not recommended to use extension cords, power strips, timers or multi connector plugs. Use only a wall outlet. Added layers of connection can overload the circuit or create additional resistance that can cause heat buildup, possibly resulting in a fire or internal electrical damage. If you must use an extension cord, make certain that it is a minimum of 14-guage.
- Make certain that the “plug is snug!” The heater must be plugged into the wall outlet securely, unable to come loose or fall out. If the power cord or wall outlet becomes hot to the touch, unplug the unit and consult an electrician. There is a problem!
- The heater should be placed on the floor in a very stable position, in a spot where it is unlikely to get knocked over. Do not set on a table, chair or any surface that is or could become unstable.
- Do not use the heating unit in or near water, or if you are wet. Otherwise, you will be shocked as a result… Literally, shocked!!
- Do not “hide” cords under rugs, furniture or carpets. This can prevent the heat from escaping that is created by the resistance in the electrical cord. Be careful not to pinch, bend or crimp the cord. This can impede the electrical current and contribute to the buildup of heat and energy.
- Make certain that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly.
- Use a space heater designed for the space you have determined. Too large of a unit will overheat the space and use more electrical resources than necessary.
- Train and teach everyone in the household the proper use, operation and care of the unit. Small children should be taught to stay away for safety purposes. Turn the unit off when asleep, in a different room or when unable to keep an eye on it.
- For combustion heaters, use the right kind of fuel. Substitutions can cause a fire and the malfunctioning of the unit. Never use fuel-burning units in a closed environment, such as your home. Proper ventilation is crucial when used in an enclosure.
Stay warm this winter. Space heaters afford us intimate heat sources in an environment that may not meet our individual needs for comfort. Most of all, stay safe!
“In the warm yellow glow of the Christmas Candles
I see the magic of Christmas shining bright, shining bright…”
From Christmas Candles by Breen, LeVeen, Sampson
The fragrance and ambience of candles have long-outlived their pragmatic use as a source of light in our modern world. Yet, they continue to be a part of almost every household, especially at the Holidays: so many fragrances, so many shapes and styles to suit the occasions!
As you enjoy the warmth of candlelight and the sensory pleasure of the seasonal aromas, we wish for you to be safe burning your candles. There is no need for many to be concerned about burning candles on Christmas trees, but please be cautious throughout your decorated homes. Fires caused by burning candles have destroyed more than one family’s holiday season.
Please be vigilant in your use of candles, making sure to always keep an eye on them as they burn:
- Keep from touching other decorations, i.e., greens, ribbons, silk flowers.
- Try to use candles in containers: jars, votive glass, etc.
- Place columns, 3-wicked candles, tapers and other free-standing candles on a fire-resistant tray or in a bowl. Monitor the wax flow that may occur as the edge cracks.
Not all candles are created equal. Many inexpensive candles contain inorganic materials that, when burned, can send toxins into the air of our enclosed spaces. They often give off more soot, too. Quality soy candles and fragrances from essential oils will still release soot into the air, but generally burn cleaner. Keeping any burning candle away from walls and ceilings will reduce the chance of soot residue staining those surfaces.
A candle’s flame is often seen as Holy Fire. Please, let’s keep it that way. May your holidays, however you celebrate, be merry and blessed!
O, Christmas Tree!
O, Christmas Tree!
O, Christmas Tree! O, Christmas Tree! How lovely are your branches…
Families are decorating their holiday trees, many purchasing fresh trees, some for the first time. They are lovely and fragrant and offer a wonderful touch of nostalgia, often remembering the holidays at the grandparents.
If you are enjoying a fresh tree, please remember that they need special attention. Place it away from heat sources to keep it from drying to quickly – and from possibly catching fire.
Place it out of traffic patterns in your home in order avoid tripping hazards of a bump in the night. So many times, the furniture is rearranged to make the appropriate space for the tree in the room and family members must retrain themselves to new traffic patterns.
Beware of electrical hazards! Although a fresh tree, as it dries throughout the season, is at greater risk of catching fire with faulty wires in strings of lights, artificial trees are not exempt from this danger. Make certain that all wires are in good condition before hanging them on the tree. If it is a pre-lit tree, check the safety of those wrapped wires and connections.
No matter what type of tree you are using to decorate for the holidays, DO NOT OVERLOAD CIRCUITS!! This is one sure way to set things ablaze and ruin the holidays.
When leaving the house for holiday shopping or other festivities, it is a wise thing to unplug or turn off the holiday electrical elements: cords, strings of lights, the train set under the tree, etc.
Enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the Holidays!
We wish you Happiness and many Blessings in the coming year!
May 2021 bring us good health and a return to the loved ones we are missing!
Falling for Leaf Burning
For some of us, fall is the favorite time of year. There is a crispness in the air that rouses a sluggish body from the stifling days of heat and high humidity. The colors of fall foliage fill the air with almost fluorescent colors. The smells are pungent as Mother Nature drops leaves, seeds and nuts to find their new homes to ready for winter shelter and new life in the spring. There are apples and cider and pumpkins and squash and heady spices used in baking and mulling. And for many, there is the fall ritual of burning leaves.
With any type of burning, SERVPRO of Rockford would like you to remain safe in this leaf-burning activity:
- Where will you burn that hefty pile? Make certain that it is far enough away from buildings and other flammable materials.
- Be prepared! Make certain that you have a handy water supply, a metal rake to keep the leaves contained and a shovel to control escaping flaming materials.
- Be courteous of neighbors. Smoke that smells delightful to our senses, may contribute to another’s allergies, including asthmatic responses. Also, don’t burn with a breeze towards the neighbor’s house.
- Don’t burn on a windy day! This will send sparks and burning leaves to places you will not wish them to be, placing your property and possibly the neighbor's at risk.
- Be aware of local regulations regarding burning. Each community or county has its own regulations. Here are the links for the City of Rockford and Winnebago County:
Stay safe and enjoy your fall activities!