Recent Fire Damage Posts

Fire Safety Tips for the Winter

12/18/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Fire Safety Tips for the Winter Fire Safety Tips for the Winter

Winter is one of the most dangerous seasons  due to the need to heat your home, cook large meals, and decorate for the holidays.

Half of all winter house fires occur between December and February; over 905 people die in winter home fires each year, according to the National Fire Incident Reporting System. Two-thirds of those fires occur in single and multifamily homes. During the winter months cooking triggers most house fires, while heating equipment is the culprit of one in seven house fires and one in five winter house fire deaths. More than one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles, so be sure to keep all candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.

Keep this checklist from the U.S. Fire Administration handy around your home to keep you and your family safe.

What you should know about home cooking safety:

  • Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.
  • 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 stovetop.

If you have a cooking fire:

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 9-1-1 or 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 stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.

  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

For More Information: https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Top-causes-of-fire/Cooking

Safety Considerations for Heating Your Home:

  • Only plug one heat-producing electrical appliance in at a time in an electrical socket (such as a space heater).
  • Make sure your space heater can automatically turn off in case it tips over.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators or space heaters.
  • Close wood stove doors unless stoking the fire or adding wood or pellets.
  • Get a qualified professional to inspect your chimney and vents every year.
  • Install a metal or heat tempered screen around your fireplace.
  • Store cooled ashes at least 10 feet from your home in a tightly sealed metal container.
  • Make sure to have a carbon monoxide alarm installed and test it at least once per month.
  • Store portable generators away from windows and as far away as possible from your house.
  • Shovel snow at least three feet away from fire hydrants to be sure firefighters can get to them quickly if the need arises.

Fireplace Maintenance and Safety

12/18/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Fireplace Maintenance and Safety Fireplace Maintenance and Safety

Enjoying a warm, cozy fire requires a clean, safe fireplace.

Here are 15 tips for keeping it that way:  

    • Fireplaces should not be used as furnaces. Use a fireplace for a short-duration fire — no longer than five hours.
    • Keep the glass open to allow air to be drawn up to cool the chimney, but keep the screen closed to prevent sparks from jumping onto the carpeting.
    • Never leave a fire unattended when children are in the house. Adults, even if near, should not allow children to play near or with fire tools and equipment.
    • Open a window when using the fireplace to prevent the room from becoming smoky. The air coming in from the window will go up the chimney.
    • Before making a fire, open the glass doors, pull aside the screen curtains, and place the kindling, newspaper and logs inside. Next, open the damper and a window. The window needs to be open only a few inches. You can check to make sure the smoke will go up the chimney properly by lighting a match, quickly blowing it out and watching the smoke to see whether it's going up and out.
    • Keep a nonflammable rug (available at fireplace-supply stores) in front of the fireplace so that sparks won't melt or otherwise damage your carpeting.
    • Use fireplace tools to handle burning logs. Never use your hands.
    • Use a chimney cap to prevent water damage, to keep animals from nesting and to keep debris from blocking the chimney and causing carbon monoxide to flow into the house.
    • Use a spark arrester to help prevent sparks from flying out, which could start a fire on the roof or lawn.
    • Glass doors may develop tough stains from flames and heat. To clean them, make sure the glass doors are cool, then scrape off any thick gunk deposits with a razor blade. Add a squirt of liquid dishwashing detergent to a bucket of warm water, or add a cup of vinegar to a gallon of water. Spray or sponge the cleaner on, and then wipe it away with newspaper (which is lint-free).
    • Fireplace coals can remain hot enough to start a fire for up to three days, so always wait at least that long before removing the ashes. At that point, close the damper to prevent cold air in the flue from stirring up excess dust while you're removing the ashes. Be sure to wear a dust mask and open a window in the same room as the fireplace to prevent negative air pressure. Use a shovel to scoop the ashes into a metal container. Store the container far from combustible materials and surfaces and wood floors.
    • Never use a vacuum to clean up ashes, because live coals may remain in those ashes.
    • Have a certified Chimney Technician inspect and clean the chimney when necessary. The chimney should be checked at least once a year or after about 80 fires.
    • Clean the firebox (the area where the logs burn) at least once a week during the months you use it, when ash builds up. Leave about an inch of ash because it acts as insulation, allowing the coals to heat faster and retain the heat easier. Keep the firebox completely clean during the months when the fireplace is not in use.
  • To clean an exterior slate hearth, wash, dry and coat it with lemon oil every six weeks to make it shine. For cleaning exterior brick hearths, buy a brick cleaner at a fireplace shop.

7 Ways to Prepare for a Home Fire

12/18/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage 7 Ways to Prepare for a Home Fire 7 Ways to Prepare for a Home Fire

The 7 Ways to Prepare for a Home Fire

1. Install the right number of smoke alarms. Test them once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year.

2. Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.

3. Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home and know the family meeting spot outside of your home.

4. Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another.

5. Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year. Press the smoke alarm test button or yell “Fire“ to alert everyone that they must get out.

6. Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.

7. Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.

Find more at www.redcross.org

Grill Safety

12/18/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Grill Safety Grill Safety

Every year, 7,000 Americans are injured while using backyard barbecue 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, then rubbing it on the hoses and connections. When you turn the gas on, with the grill lid open, 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 to 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; a deadly, colorless, and odorless gas. That gas needs to vent in fresh air or it can kill you, your family, and your pets.

Fire Prevention in the Outdoors

12/18/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Fire Prevention in the Outdoors Fire Prevention in the Outdoors

Unlike many natural disasters, most wildfires are caused by people—and can be prevented by people, too. People in fire-prone areas should plan ahead and prepare to evacuate with little notice. Here are some tips on how to prevent wildfires and what to do if you're caught in the middle of one.

How to Prevent a Wildfire

  • Contact 911, your local fire department, or the park service if you notice an unattended or out-of-control fire.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended. Completely extinguish the fire—by dousing it with water and stirring the ashes until cold—before sleeping or leaving the campsite.
  • When camping, take care when using and fueling lanterns, stoves, and heaters. Make sure lighting and heating devices are cool before refueling.
  • Avoid spilling flammable liquids and store fuel away from appliances.
  • Do not discard cigarettes, matches, and smoking materials from moving vehicles, or anywhere on park grounds. Be certain to completely extinguish cigarettes before disposing of them.
  • Follow local ordinances when burning yard waste. Avoid backyard burning in windy conditions, and keep a shovel, water, and fire retardant nearby to keep fires in check. Remove all flammables from yard when burning.
  • Evacuation Tips

  • If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Know your evacuation route ahead of time and prepare an evacuation checklist and emergency supplies.
  • Wear protective clothing and footwear to protect yourself from flying sparks and ashes.
  • Holiday Home Safety

    12/18/2018 (Permalink)

    Fire Damage Holiday Home Safety Holiday Home Safety

    Safety for Holiday Decorating

      • One of every four home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.
      • On average, one of every 32 reported home Christmas tree fires results in a death compared to an average of one death per 143 total reported home fires.
      • A heat source too close to the tree causes one in every four Christmas tree fires. So keep your Christmas tree away from heat sources and room exits.
      • The top three days for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Christmas Eve.
      • Candles start two out of five home decoration structure fires.
      • Water your live Christmas tree daily to keep it from becoming dry.
      • Only use decorations that are flame-retardant or not flammable.
      • Check holiday lights each year for frayed wires or excessive wear.
      • Don’t link more than three strands of holiday lights.
      • Never leave a burning candle unattended. Consider using battery-operated flameless candles.

    Find more information at www.usfa.fema.gov