Recent Fire Damage Posts
Fall Fire Prevention Tips
With the cooler temperatures of fall just around the corner, it is a good idea to revisit fire prevention and safety tips that are specific to this time of year. As you focus more and more on staying warm, you’ll also want to focus on staying safe while enjoying this season.
- Checkups. Your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors will need a change of batteries so they can stay on duty. Take a look at your fire extinguishers to ensure they are fully charged and in good working order.
- HVAC. Call your local certified HVAC technician and have them come clean, inspect and service your central heating system to avoid potential issues.
- Space heaters. Practice safety when using space heaters by:
- Making sure any unit is surrounded by at least three feet of empty space
- Never using these units to dry clothing or other objects
- Keep any space heater away from furniture or drapery
- Always turn these units off when you go to bed or leave the house
- Fireplaces. Practice fireplace safety using these tips:
- Your chimney should be inspected yearly
- Employ a certified chimney sweep to clean your chimney in early fall, every year
- Repair all cracks in your fireplace
- Use screens to keep sparks and debris inside your fireplace
- NEVER use gasoline to start a fire in your fireplace
- NEVER leave your fire unattended
- Store any combustible materials at least three feet away from the fireplace
- Holiday decorations. Enjoy the holidays safely by taking these precautions:
- Use flashlights instead of burning candles in your Jack-O-Lanterns
- Halloween costumes should be constructed with fire-retardant materials, as should all holiday decorations.
- Make sure that all extension cords and holiday lights have been tested by an approved organization - pay attention to labeling.
- Teach your family fire safety:
- Make sure even young children know how to call 911.
- Establish a fire escape plan for your family, and practice it until everyone is sure they know what to do, and where to meet.
- “Stop, drop, and roll” needs to be taught to everyone and practiced.
- Outdoor fire safety for fall:
- Clear your rain gutters and roof of debris buildup
- Find the outdoor burning regulations for your area, and never illegally burn leaves or other outdoor debris
Here at SERVPRO of Northwest/South Grand Rapids, we care about the safety of your family. Call us for help with fire or water damage, or when you are experiencing issues with mold or mildew. We’re always here to help.
How to Clean Up Smoke Damage in Your Home
Enjoy a smoke-free home!
Cleaning up smoke damage in your home is extremely important, but unfortunately, it won’t be as easy as opening a window and letting things air out. The acidic nature of smoke and soot makes them difficult to remove. However, they both contain unpleasant odors and particles that are harmful to breathe, so it’s important to clean them up completely to maintain a healthy living environment. Here at SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids, we have years of fire damage clean-up experience, and over the years, we’ve picked up a few helpful tips that we’re sharing today:
What You’ll Need
One item you may have to buy is a dry-cleaning sponge, but many other helpful cleaning products can probably be found around your home. A sponge, however, is very important for smoke damage removal, so we encourage you not to neglect adding this effective cleaning tool to your list of supplies. We recommend you acquire the following:
- Rubbing alcohol/paint thinner
- Degreaser / commercial soot remover
- Vacuum (ideally a strong shop-vac) with an upholstery attachment
- Bucket / hot water
- Dry-cleaning sponge (chemical sponge)
- Clean rags
After obtaining the cleaning tools above, here are a few next steps:
Ventilate. The first thing you need to do is ventilate the house to get fresh air flowing; be sure to open all the doors and windows in the home. You also can use fans to encourage airflow. Additionally, turn off your HVAC system to prevent smoke and soot from spreading.
Use Protection. Before you clean your house, make sure to protect yourself properly. Soot, smoke, and debris can be dangerous to inhale, so wear a respirator if there is significant soot in the damaged area. Long pants and sleeves will protect your skin, and wearing gloves and eye protection can help save your eyes and hands. Since you will be freeing soot as you clean, it’s important to lay down floor protection and remove any furniture or household objects that are not damaged. If the damaged area is small, you can simply cover furniture with plastic or sheets, but if you’re cleaning an entire room, it’s wise to remove clean items and even seal off other rooms that were not affected. Be mindful of the shoes you’re wearing so you don’t track soot stains into other rooms.
Vacuum It Up. Soot and smoke damage usually come in one ugly, smelly package, so remove loose soot particles with a vacuum with an upholstery attachment. A shop-vac with strong suction power is best for this task. Lightly brush the affected area with the brush attachment, vacuuming up the loose particles. Be gentle and avoid scrubbing, which can make stains worse.
Use The Sponge. After performing the steps above, it’s time to use that dry-cleaning sponge (chemical sponge) to wipe up the soot and smoke stains; these sponges use special chemicals to lift stains from walls. Never use soot cleaner or water before you use a dry-cleaning sponge or you could spread the soot, making it impossible to remove with a chemical sponge. Begin by wiping the walls gently with the dry-cleaning sponge, and turn the sponge to a different side as it gets soiled so that you are always using a clean surface. When all sides are soiled, slice off the dirty sides with a knife to reveal fresh surfaces beneath, or use a new sponge. Make sure you use a wiping motion the entire time because when you scrub the stains, you spread them and work the soot deeper into the surface.
Use Liquid Cleaners. After you remove as much soot as possible with the dry-cleaning sponge, you can use commercial soot/smoke remover (follow the manufacturer’s directions), rubbing alcohol, white vinegar or paint thinner and a clean rag. Soak the rag in your preferred cleaner and wipe the walls throughout the damaged room. Even if there is no sign of soot or smoke damage, it’s important to wipe every surface in the room, including light bulbs. Next, you’ll want to use TSP, dish soap or degreaser in a gallon of hot water to wash the walls with a rag or sponge; just a few teaspoons should be enough. Use the same wiping motion you used with the dry-cleaning sponge. You may need to use a combination or repeated treatments of these chemical cleaners depending on how bad the damage is. As the rag gets dirty, rinse it out in the bucket or use a new rag. The same applies to your cleaning water. Refresh your water when it gets black or smells like smoke. Once you’ve completed washing the room with your chosen cleaner, wipe the walls again with fresh water and a clean rag to remove any remaining cleaning products.
Dry It Up. Dry the clean surfaces with a clean rag. You can use fans to speed this process up if necessary. You will probably still smell smoke odors, as they can take a few days to a few weeks to dissipate. Identify materials that can easily absorb odors, such as upholstered furniture or area rugs, and place these items together in a separate room or outdoors to see if the smell dissipates after a few days. You may want to consider throwing out the items you can stand to part with. Getting your carpeting, curtains, and furniture professionally cleaned will also help with lingering smoke odors. Don’t forget to replace your HVAC filters, which may be circulating smoky air in your home.
Cleaning your home after smoke or soot damage can be a difficult job. If you need assistance, SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids is here to help. With IICRC-certified techniques and state-of-the-art equipment, our trustworthy experts are the best in the fire damage restoration industry.
Fire Prevention Tips for your Office
Having proper equipment to prevent fires is important.
Studies have shown that most business fires occur while the premises are not populated, between the hours of 7 pm and 7 am, causing a large amount of damage. Commercial fires, caused by cooking equipment, are also potentially devastating, but surprisingly, the most damaging ones start in an office environment! Here are some fire prevention tips to help lower the odds your office is affected by fire.
Have A Plan. Designating someone as your “safety officer” is one step you can take that will really help. He or she can take the lead in establishing appropriate escape routes and meeting places, and setting up appropriate emergency procedures, as well. Your employees should be aware that the safety officer is in charge during any emergency and will be the one responsible for contacting emergency personnel, keeping track of employees, and assisting with providing information on equipment and chemicals kept in your office. An up-to-date emergency contact list should always be available at your place of business, and you should designate someone to be in charge of contacting family members or next-of-kin, in case of injury or a missing person.
Have Proper Equipment. There are specific items you will need to have on hand in advance of a fire, such as fire extinguishers and smoke alarms, and these are required through local building codes, so they should be present. Alarms and extinguishers need to be inspected monthly and replaced when necessary. You will also want to have a fully-stocked first aid kit and bottled water on hand, as well as flashlights, just in case.
Hold Regular Drills. Your safety officer should schedule regular drills and training to make sure everyone is well-versed in what to do in case of an emergency, such as an office fire. During these drills, new emergency response information can be shared to keep everyone up to date.
Follow these Preventive Tips to prevent a fire in the first place:
- Follow manufacturers’ recommendations for maximum volt/wattage load for surge protectors, power strips and adapters, and ask your electrician to periodically inspect these items and outlets for potential overload.
- Replace frayed power cords and never run them under rugs or carpeting. Use cord protectors, instead.
- Unplug appliances (coffeemakers, microwaves) and other equipment not in use at the end of the day and over the weekend.
- Replace appliances that feel warm or hot to touch.
- Ask the fire marshal to inspect chemical and equipment storage areas periodically to ensure proper ventilation and stowage.
- Store hazardous materials according to manufacturers’ instructions and OSHA regulations. Clearly mark these items to help emergency personnel identify and stabilize them.
- Don’t prop fire doors open or block exits with furniture or boxes.
- Don’t allow paper and other trash to accumulate outside of garbage or recycling receptacles, and never store this material near hot equipment, electrical outlets or the smoking areas.
- Don’t permit employees to burn candles, scented oils, etc. in their personal work areas.
Our SERVPRO of South and North West Grand Rapids team is here to help you in the event of damage from fire or water. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and we are mold prevention and remediation specialists, too!
PLAN AHEAD Southwest Grand Rapids: May is Wildfire Community Preparedness Day
Wildfires happen! Join together to prevent with them.
In 2017, there were 66,131 wildfires in the U.S., which burned 9.7 million acres, according to National Centers for Environment Information (NOAA).
Help reduce your community’s wildfire risk by participating in a local event for Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. To see a project map to locate local events, or for more information and resources to host your own event, visit wildfireprepday.org.
On Saturday, May 5, 2018 the NFPA celebrates national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. At a time when wildfires are causing more damage to homes and businesses each year, Preparedness Day is a reminder that there are many things we can do to be prepared for wildfire. The event serves as means to inspire and encourage people of all ages to plan and participate in a risk reduction or wildfire preparedness activity that makes there community a safer place to live.
If a wildfire affects your home or business, contact SERVPRO® of Southwest Grand Rapids at 616-662-9700 today for 24-hour emergency service.
When you gather for dinner don't let fire ruin your supper
When your following your favorite recipe to cook, follow this safety recipe as well. Stay SAFE!
Every year families gather to celebrate special occasions by preparing a delicious feast, but if you don’t practice safe cooking habits, your occasion could become hazardous very quickly. According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. It is important to be alert to prevent cooking fires.
- 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 the stovetop.
If you have a cooking fire, consider the following safety protocols to help keep you and your family safe.
- 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.
- 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 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.
SERVPRO® of Southwest Grand Rapids Professionals wish you a safe and happy family gathering.
Southwest Grand Rapids BBQ Hazards to avoid
Keep your grill at least 10 feet from any structure.
Summer is synonymous with barbecues, parades and fireworks displays; but along with all the festivities are plenty of visits to emergency rooms, especially during July. Each year, an average of 230 people are injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents, according to the U.S. Consumer
Product Safety Commission. In addition to causing injury, fireworks are also responsible for thousands of house fires each year with millions of dollars in property damage.
There is nothing like firing up the grill during the summer months! Did you know, July is the peak month for grill fires? A backyard barbecue can become dangerous if safety precautions aren’t considered. SERVPRO® of Southwest Grand Rapids want you to have an enjoyable and safe summer. Consider the following tips to ensure your summer celebrations are disaster-free!
- Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
- The grill should be placed away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
- Keep children and pets away from grill area.
- Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill. Never leave your grill unattended.
- When using a charcoal grill, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.
- Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear.
- Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire.
- Children should never pick up left over fireworks as they may still be active.
- The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display conducted by trained professionals.
If you are affected by a fire contact SERVPRO® of Southwest Grand Rapids at 616-662-9700 for emergency services for your home or business.
The Importance of Cleaning Dryer Vents to prevent fires
Don't let lint ruin your home!
How often do you clean your dryer vent? Is this something you think about when you do your annual spring cleaning? Dryer lint is a great resource to save in a container to make fire starters for camping or outdoor fires. However it can wreak havoc in your home if you leave it in your dryer.
According to FEMA, failure to clean home dryers causes 34% of home dryer fires. Home dryer fires cause $35 million in property loss and can even cause injury or death.
To reduce the risk of these fires happening in your or your insured’s home or business ensure the following:
- Clean your Lint filter after every use
- Vacuum out the vent hose from the dryer
- Keep debris clear from around and under the dryer
- Keep vent flap clear of obstructions (such as: piled up lent, snow, a bird’s nest and potential obstacles)
For more information on cleaning dryer vents contact SERVPRO® of Southwest Grand Rapids at 616-662-9700 today.
Destroy Odors with DEODORIZATION in Southwest Grand Rapids
Let the professionals remove the odor from your home! We know how to attack source.
Even a small fire can cause odors for years to come if the affected areas are not properly cleaned and deodorized. Fire, smoke and soot damage in your home or business can create unpleasant and potentially permanent problems.
Other odors that may require deodorization:
- Cigarette Smoke
- Pet Odors
As various materials burn, the smoke produced travels throughout the structure, leaving odorous residues and deposits on surfaces and in hard-to-reach places. Unless fast, professional action is taken, these residues and deposits can cause permanent damage to contents and may result in resurfacing odors.
With technicians certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration (IICRC), SERVPRO® of Southwest Grand Rapids provides specialized services that can rid your home or business of offensive odors left by fire or smoke damage. Our technicians do not cover up lingering odors with a fragrance; they seek out and remove the sources of the odor. Once the source is found, SERVPRO® own proprietary line of cleaning products is used to treat and prevent the odor from returning. Any restorable item in affected areas will also be professionally cleaned and deodorized, including furniture, draperies and upholstery, electronics, art, flooring, walls, ceilings, HVAC air ducts, and more.
Our trained professional will explain the various deodorization methods available and which will work best for you.
If you or a neighbor suffer a fire damage or some other accident and require deodorization services, contact SERVPRO® of Southwest Grand Rapids at 616-662-9700 today for 24-hour service. Whether it’s fire, water, or mold damage, or just a stubborn odor that refuses to go away, we’ll help make it “Like it never even happened.”
Test every month, change battery every year and replace every 10 years.
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, outside each sleeping area, and on every level, including the basement. Extra smoke alarms may be needed in large homes.
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 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 the batteries immediately. Never disable or remove the battery from an alarm. Almost half of fires where smoke alarms were present but did not activate had missing or disconnected batteries (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 has a fire emergency plan in place and conduct regular fire drills with your family. For more information on Emergency Preparedness, contact SERVPRO® of Southwest Grand Rapids Professional at 616-662-9700.
* 7 People die every day from a home fire.
* 36 People suffer injuries as a result of home fires every day.
* $7 BILLION in property damage occurs every year.
Portable Fire Extinguishers
SERVPRO of Southwest Grand Rapids cleans up the mess after the extinguisher is dispensed.
Portable fire extinguishers can be life and property saving tools when used correctly. Read the instructions on the fire extinguisher and become familiar with them before a fire breaks out. In order to operate an extinguisher, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests remembering the word PASS:
Pull the pin. Hold the nozzle pointing away from you and release the locking mechanism.
Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.
Help people decide when to use a fire extinguisher
Fire extinguishers can be helpful on a small fire. Consider providing a checklist to help people prepare to use a fire extinguisher on a potential fire.
- Have I alerted others in the building that there’s a fire?
- Has someone called the fire department?
- Am I physically able to use a fire extinguisher?
- Is the fire small and contained in a single object (like a pan or a wastebasket)?
- Am I safe from the fire’s toxic smoke?
- Do I have a clear escape route?
- Use a fire extinguisher when all of these questions are answered “yes.” If you’re unsure about whether or not it’s safe to use a fire extinguisher, and for all other situations, alert others, leave the building, and call 911 from a mobile or neighbor’s phone. It is not recommended that children use fire extinguishers.
Visit US Fire Administration for more information on Choosing and using Fire extinguishers.
Southwest Grand Rapids, Smoke and Soot Cleanup
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, SERVPRO of Southwest Grand Rapids, 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.
Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire
- Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor.
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 Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today – 616-662-9700