KITCHEN FIRE CLEANUP AND PRECAUTIONS

Your kitchen is a hub of daily activity. It’s a place to nourish your family, entertain friends, and even retreat for a secret midnight snack. The kitchen is the heart of any home, which is why a kitchen fire can be especially devastating. Even a small fire has the potential to cause significant damage and interrupt your daily routine. The most important thing during a fire is to protect yourself and those who depend on you. Plan and practice your fire safety plan regularly. After the fire is contained, use these tips from the experts at ServiceMaster Restore to stay safe, clean up, and get the heart of your home healthy again.

  1. Take Precautions

Even small kitchen fires can have unforeseen consequences. Follow the advice of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) (PDF) to stay safe. Even if the damage doesn’t look severe, you should have professionals check for damages in areas you can’t readily see, including the electrical system, gas lines, and ductwork. Once the fire department or safety inspector confirms it’s safe to enter your kitchen, wear gloves, masks, pants, long sleeves, and boots to prevent injuries and the transfer of grease, smoke, ash, or soot.

  1. Assess the Damage

Before moving or cleaning any items, take pictures of all the damage. Capture details and keep lists of anything impacted to support any insurance claims you make. Call your insurance company, and file your claim immediately. Your insurance provider may want to send an agent out to assess the cost of necessary repairs. Avoid cleaning or repairing damages until your insurance company completes its evaluation and says you can move forward.

  1. Tackle the Cleaning

Expansive or challenging fire damage should be handled by professionals who have the tools, processes, and experience to restore your kitchen safely, quickly and effectively. That said, there are some ways to clean up after a kitchen fire that are less likely to make the problem worse or put you in harm’s way. You should:

  • Always wear protective gear when cleaning up after a fire
  • Avoid eating or drinking around hazardous materials
  • Open windows to ventilate the area and let smoke and odors escape
  • Remove salvageable, valuable, and meaningful items first
  • Throw out debris and unsalvageable items
  • Remove kitchen cabinets and drawers to access the interior space
  • Wipe down stainless steel appliances and other metallic surfaces
  • Clean plastic and painted surfaces using an alkaline (soap-free) detergent
  • Change your air filters

Cleaning requirements will vary depending on the source and severity of the fire. Smoke and soot particles that pass through your vents can attach to fabrics and surfaces anywhere in your home – not just in the kitchen. If sprinklers went off during the fire, you’ll also need to mitigate water damage to prevent mold growth. If you aren’t sure what to consider, or need help cleaning up after a kitchen fire, call the professionals at ServiceMaster Restore. Our experienced teams are available 24/7/365 with the advanced tools and proven processes you need to get your home and life back to normal as soon as possible after any disaster.

DRYER FIRE PREVENTION TIPS: DOS AND DON’TS

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 2,900 dryer fires are reported each year. These fires lead to a staggering national average of 35 million dollars in property damage, 100 injuries, and 5 fatalities annually. With so much at risk, it’s important that you understand what causes dryer fires and how you can prevent them from happening in your own home. To protect yourself, your family, and your house, read the dryer dos and don’ts from the experts at ServiceMaster Restore®.

DO: CLEAN THE LINT FILTER

A clogged lint filter is the leading contributing factor in residential dryer fires. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that failing to clean out the lint trap causes 34 percent of reported dryer fires every year.

Each time you unload the dryer, clean out the lint trap. Before putting the next load of clothes in, double-check that the lint trap is completely clean to lower your risk of fire. A clean lint filter also allows the dryer to run more efficiently, thus drying your clothes faster while preventing your machine from overheating.

DON’T: DRY CLOTHES WITHOUT THE LINT FILTER

A dryer without its lint trap is an accident waiting to happen. The filter protects the dryer’s inner workings from collecting lint. Without this defensive shield, a buildup of lint in the ducts can easily lead to a dryer vent fire.

To lower your risk, always use your dryer with the lint trap in place. In the event that your existing lint trap is worn or develops any holes, replace it immediately at your nearest home supplies store.

DO: INSPECT THE DUCTS REGULARLY

Blocked ducts frequently cause dryer fires. To ensure your dryer is running properly, check your ducts about once a month to ensure there are no blockages. Some telltale signs that your ducts are clogged include the following indicators:

  • Your laundry is taking longer to dry
  • Exhaust air is failing to exit the vent
  • You suspect that your machine is overheating

Sometimes, a blockage occurs because the venting system is damaged. Other times, blockages may be occurring because of an accumulation of lint, animals building nests in the vents, or snow building up over the outside vents.

If you notice any blockages, clear them out before using your dryer again. To clean your ducts, simply disconnect them, remove the blockages, and reconnect. If you notice any damage to the venting system, call in a professional to repair the issue.

DON’T: OVERLOAD THE DRYER

Stuffing too many wet clothes or bedding into a dryer can cause an excess of lint to accumulate. Since lint buildup reduces a dryer’s ability to ventilate, the machine may quickly overheat and cause a fire to break out. Read your owner’s manual to determine your machine’s maximum hold to ensure you aren’t overstuffing it.

DO: REPLACE OUTDATED DUCTS

Older ducts made of plastic or foil are prone to sagging. These accordion-style ducts can easily trap lint in hard-to-reach spaces, increasing your risk of fire. To keep your home safe, replace your older models with new ducts designed with heavy-duty metal.

DON’T: LEAVE THE DRYER RUNNING UNATTENDED

Never go to sleep or leave the house while your dryer is running. If a fire breaks out, your ability to extinguish it or call emergency services right away can make all the difference between damage to your laundry room and the entire loss of your home.

Despite our best efforts as homeowners, accidents still happen. If your home has been damaged by fire and smoke, call ServiceMaster Restore. Our residential fire and smoke damage removal services can help get your life back to normal as quickly as possible. With the proper training, innovative equipment, and helpful guidance, our expert technicians will be with you every step of the way to get you back on your feet.

HOW TO USE A FIRE EXTINGUISHER

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher Video

Portable fire extinguishers are designed to help control small fires that may break out in a home, business, school or other setting. From an errant fireplace spark to an overturned candle, knowing how to properly use a fire extinguisher is essential to containing a fire and minimizing fire damage.

WHEN TO USE A FIRE EXTINGUISHER

Only attempt to use a fire extinguisher if you are not in any imminent danger. Never allow smoke, heat or fire to cut off your evacuation path. If it is safe to try and contain the fire, make sure you have the correct fire extinguisher for the job. Only use the fire extinguisher if it’s the correct one for the fire. For example, a Class A air-pressurized water (AWP) fire extinguisher can only be used on paper/wood/trash fires. It must never be used on a grease or electrical fire.

Here is a quick guide to the different types of fire extinguishers and which fires they can be used for:

 

STEPS FOR USING A FIRE EXTINGUISHER

Step 1:

Prioritize everyone’s safety.

Sound the fire alarm and call 911/fire department if appropriate. Have others in the room/building evacuate as needed and identify your own escape path.

Step 2:

Identify the type of fire and select the appropriate the fire extinguisher.

All homes should be equipped with a standard ABC fire extinguisher. This model can be used to douse Class A (wood/paper/trash), Class B (flammable liquids) and Class C (electrical) fires. A Class D fire extinguisher is needed for combustible metals. All commercial kitchens should have a Class K fire extinguisher to specifically fight any deep fryer (cooking oils/fats) fires.

Step 3:

Quickly inspect the fire extinguisher before using.

Read the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings, check that the pressure gauge needle is in the green, check for cracks along the hose and make sure the nozzle isn’t clogged.

Step 4:

Use the P.A.S.S. acronym to discharge the fire extinguisher.

  • P = Pull the pin, which also breaks the tamper seal (this is okay.)
  • A = Aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire, taking aim from about six to eight feet away.
  • S = Squeeze the handle to release the dousing (extinguishing) agent.
  • S = Sweep the hose back and forth at the base of the fire until it appears out or until the fire extinguisher is empty.

Safety tip: If using a CO2 (carbon dioxide) extinguisher, avoid touching the plastic discharge horn as it becomes extremely cold and can harm bare skin.

Step 5:

Asses the situation.

If the fire extinguisher is empty and the fire is not out, evacuate immediately. If it seems like you’re not gaining control of the fire by using the fire extinguisher, evacuate immediately. Never put your life in danger.

After the fire has been completely extinguished and it’s time to assess the damage, let ServiceMaster Restore help. Our professional teams are fully trained for all levels of smoke and fire damage remediation.

FIREWORK SAFETY

National Fireworks Safety Month occurs every June and runs through the Fourth of July to remind communities that setting off your own fireworks could be deadly. According to recent statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), over one-quarter of fires started by fireworks were reported on the Fourth of July. Almost half of the fires reported on Independence Day were started by fireworks. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) even reported that in 2016 alone, an estimated 11,000 injuries were treated at hospitals due to fireworks-related injuries, mostly to the hands, fingers, head, face and ears. That’s why it’s so important to follow the advice of the NFPA: leave the fireworks to the professionals.

If you haven’t purchased any fireworks for this year’s events, consider watching the professional displays that occur in several places around your city. That way, your friends, family and pets can stay safe from any potential injuries. However, in the event that you insist on setting off your own display, read the following fireworks safety tips from the experts at ServiceMaster Restore® first.

OBEY YOUR LOCAL LAWS.

If fireworks aren’t legal to buy in your area, they are illegal for a reason. Do not set off your own display. Instead, let the experts impress you with their safe fireworks shows. If they are legal in your area and you choose to use them, do so safely with the rest of these tips in mind.

For specific information on what is allowed in your area, here are reminders for Skagit and Whatcom County.

READ ALL DIRECTIONS AND CAUTIONARY LABELS ON THE PACKAGING.

Never light a firework without first reading its directions. Responsible usage is key to avoiding the burns, cuts, sprains, fractures or worse injuries associated with amateur fireworks. While you’re examining the packaging, pay attention to warning labels, too. As a general rule, these explosive devices aren’t intended for children to handle, and firework products typically recommend keeping pets safely inside and away from the show.

ONLY USE FIREWORKS OUTDOORS.

Setting off a firework in your home is asking for a fire. If you choose to do this, you may potentially face fire and property damage, damage to your neighbor’s property, city fines, increased risk of injury and even death. To avoid all these risks, only use fireworks outside in an open area. The space should be far away from buildings, vehicles, children and animals to keep everyone safe.

DO NOT USE FIREWORKS NEAR DRY GRASS OR FOLIAGE.

The summer sun has a way of drying out grass, leaves and plants. If recent temperatures are especially scorching, take a close look at the area where you plan to launch the fireworks. We recommend performing this examination in daylight for a full, clear understanding of the area’s risk of fire. If dry grass or foliage is found, do not light off your display there. These items will behave like kindling if touched by any stray sparks, putting you at risk of fire.

DO NOT SET OFF FIREWORKS NEAR BUILDINGS.

A rogue firework could easily set a building on fire, shatter its windows, injure residents and much more. Respect your neighbors’ properties by keeping your fireworks away from their homes and businesses. You should also keep fireworks away from power or gas lines, as these can ignite a fire upon impact. Instead, only use fireworks in a wide, open field that’s free from any dried or otherwise combustible materials.

KEEP A LARGE BUCKET OF WATER CLOSE BY.

If things go awry, it’s necessary to be prepared. During your fireworks show, make sure to always have a bucket of water, a hose or a fire extinguisher on hand. That way, if a fire starts, you can put out the flames immediately.

If you choose to set off your own fireworks displays, do your part during National Fireworks Safety Month first. Read up on all the fireworks safety tips you should know before lighting off any fireworks to prevent the worst from happening. From the members of ServiceMaster Restore, we hope you have a fun, happy and safe Fourth of July!

AFTER THE FIRE: HOW SMOKE DAMAGE CAN AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS

Even the smallest fire can wreak havoc on your business. If you don’t take prompt action after the flames have been put out, smoke damage can lead to lasting repercussions that span far beyond any damage you can visibly see on the surface. Smoke and soot contain high levels of acidity that can harm almost any material, making smoke damage repair a time-sensitive process.

SMOKE DAMAGE TIMELINE

Minutes after a fire breaks out in your commercial building, soot begins to destroy your property, making it crucial to call in restoration experts as soon as the fire is extinguished. The longer you wait, the more loss your business may have.

  • Minutes: Soot and smoke can leave a yellow stain on your walls and items made with plastic, marble and other porous materials.
  • Hours: The acidity content in soot could cause metal objects, grout and other materials to become permanently tarnished or stained.
  • Days: By this time, your walls may be permanently yellow. Metals can corrode or rust. Wooden furniture may be destroyed. Flooring, upholstery, cubicles and other items made with fabric will have to be replaced.
  • Weeks: When soot damage has a chance to permeate through your materials, it can cause permanent corrosion and even release toxic fumes into the air. Office supplies, office furniture and electronic equipment exposed to smoke damage may need to be thrown out and replaced.

AFTER THE FIRE IS OUT

Once the fire has been put out and everyone in the building is safe and accounted for, it’s time to begin the clean-up and restoration process. First and foremost, file a smoke damage insurance claim with your company’s insurance provider. Confirm with your agent if there are any filing deadlines to ensure you get everything submitted on time.

After filing a claim, call a restoration company like ServiceMaster Restore for commercial smoke damage and soot removal services. By acting fast, restoration experts can mitigate severe losses that your company may face. When they arrive on scene, you can expect our trained technicians to provide the following services:

  • Evaluate all of your furniture and equipment to assess whether damage is reversible.
  • Work with you to create a comprehensive remediation plan.
  • Thoroughly clean each of your items and surfaces.
  • Use specialized equipment and chemicals to eliminate the smell of smoke.
  • Seal surfaces to prevent the risk of re-contamination.

REDUCING SMOKE ODORS IN YOUR BUILDING

Following a fire, there are a few steps you can take before the restoration experts get there to minimize costly damage to your business. Once officials say it’s safe to enter your building, you can attempt to reduce the smell of smoke odors in your business by following these suggestions:

  • Open all doors and windows to air out the building, if the temperature is above 60 degrees.
  • Replace the air filters on your furnace if it uses forced air.
  • Tape cheesecloth over returns and supply registers to capture loose soot floating in the air.

While you’re completing these tasks, keep in mind that there are some things you should avoid doing to prevent additional damage. While you attempt to reduce smoke odors in your building, be careful not to do the following:

  • Do not touch anything in the building with your bare hands. Oils from your skin can permeate through materials like upholstery, walls and woodwork, leading to extensive damage.
  • Do not attempt to wash yellowed or damaged walls. The wrong cleaning technique could compound soot residue, so it’s best to leave the clean-up to the professionals.

Although dealing with a disaster can be stressful, know that you’re not alone. With over 65 years in the cleaning and restoration industry, the professionals at ServiceMaster Restore are committed to being at your side every step of the way. Our commercial fire and smoke damage removal services include expert processes for electronics restoration, document and data recovery, smoke and odor removal and more to completely restore your company back to its pre-loss conditions. We’ll even guide you through every step of our process to ensure you can get back to business right away.

RESIDENTIAL FIRE & WATER DAMAGE RESTORATION SERVICE

In the event of a house fire, countless gallons of water can be poured into your home. Water damage as a side effect from fire-fighting can be devastating to your floors, walls, possessions and even the structure of your house. At ServiceMaster Restore, we respond immediately using advanced equipment and techniques to remove water quickly.

Remember, the faster you get water extraction services, the less flood damage you’ll have in your home. So when the unforeseen happens, call in the experts at ServiceMaster Restore right away.

HOW TO PROTECT AGAINST WORKPLACE FIRES

Fire prevention in the workplace is a serious matter, and not just because your livelihood is on the line. A fire threatens the safety of everyone around. Luckily, there are some basic steps you can take to ensure workplace fire safety for everyone who helps keep your business running. Check out these seven expert tips to make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your business and coworkers safe.

1. Create a fire prevention plan.

Take the time to create a plan for workplace fire safety. Create guidelines for employees, make a calendar with inspection dates and important maintenance, and share it with everyone at your business.

2. Clean house.

If your place of business is cluttered up with unorganized equipment, materials, debris or paperwork, you have a fire hazard on your hands. Making a clear pathway to an exit not only removes flammable items, but also helps you get to safety. Tidy up! And don’t forget to keep the garbage or disposal areas clear.

3. Set a smoking policy.

Smoking but it also introduces potential fire hazards. Consider the following as you create a safety-minded workplace smoking policy:

  • Designate smoking and non-smoking areas.
  • Have ashtrays available and make sure people use them.
  • Keep ashtrays clean of other material and away from flammable items.
  • Clean all ashtrays regularly.

4. Install and test smoke detectors.

Smoke detectors are one of the simplest, most effective things you can do for fire prevention in the workplace. Install the best ones you can afford and inspect them regularly. Working smoke detectors can give you valuable time to react to a fire, which can make a huge difference in reducing harm to your business and the safety of your coworkers. Conduct periodic fire drills by using the test feature on your smoke alarms, to ensure that everyone knows how to react in the event of an emergency.

5. Install sprinklers.

Sprinkler systems are an effective part of any workplace fire prevention plan. Used in conjunction with a warning system like smoke detectors, automatic sprinklers can help mitigate the impacts of a fire at your business. A professional can help you design a sprinkler system configuration that addresses important or at-risk areas of your business.

6. Place and check fire extinguishers.

Like sprinklers, fire extinguishers can sometimes prevent a minor fire from turning into a major disaster. Buy enough fire extinguishers as appropriate for the size of your building, and make sure they’ll be accessible when it matters. That means no junk or equipment making them hard to reach. Putting them under cabinets or on high shelves won’t do much good when a room is full of smoke, either.

7. Check for hazards.

Make time on a regular basis to inspect equipment, areas where chemicals are stored and other identified high-risk areas. Perform maintenance on electrical equipment as soon as problems are spotted. Fires are often preventable, and the last thing you want is for your business to be destroyed by a fire that could have been averted through proactive maintenance.

Smart policies, persistent vigilance and swift action can help you avoid or mitigate fire damage at your place of business. Keep your eye on the ServiceMaster Restore® blog for more tips on how to keep your workplace safe, and know that you can always contact us if a fire does hit your business. From cleaning up smoke and ash damage to evaluating damaged office equipment, our experienced crews know what it takes to help your business get back on its feet as quickly as possible.