Recent Fire Damage Posts

The Impacts of Hoarding During a Fire Emergency in Ottawa, KS

5/14/2021 (Permalink)

     Hoarding is a condition where a person has persistent difficulty discarding personal possessions. The large amount of possessions fill the home and prevent the normal use of the space. Living space becomes cluttered. It may be unusable. Hoarding brings distress and emotional concerns.

Why Hoarding Increases Fire Risks:

  1. Cooking is unsafe if flammable items are too close to the stove or oven.
  2. Heating units may be too close to things that can burn. They might be placed on unstable surfaces. If a heater tips over into a pile, it can cause a fire.
  3. Electrical wiring may be old or worn from the weight of piles. Pests could chew on wires. Damaged wires can start fires.
  4. Open flames from smoking materials or candles in a home with excess clutter are very dangerous.
  5. Blocked pathways and exits may hinder escape from a fire.

How Hoarding Impacts First Responders:

  1. Hoarding puts first responders in harm's way. Firefighters cannot move swiftly through a home filled with clutter.
  2. Responders can be trapped in home when exits are blocked. They can be injured by objects falling from piles.
  3. The weight of the stored items, especially if water is added to put out a fire, can lead to building collapse.
  4. Fighting fires is very risky in a hoarding home. It is hard to enter the home to provide medical care. The clutter impedes the search and rescue of people and pets.

Ways Can You Help Reduce the Risk of Fire Injury:

  1. When talking to a person who hoards, focus on safety rather than the clutter.
  2. Be empathetic. Match the person's language. If they call it hoarding, then you can call it hoarding.
  3. Help the residents make a home safety and escape plan. Stress the importance of clear pathways and exits. Practice the plan often. Exit routes may change as new items are brought into the home.
  4. Install working smoke alarms in the home. Test them at least once a month.
  5. Reach out to community resources. Talk to members of the fire department to alert them of your concerns. They may be able to connect you with members of a hoarding task force.
  6. SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa has experience in cleaning hoarding homes. It is a sad situation every time we need to supply this service. Hoarding is a specialty cleaning situation and many times involves some sort of bio-hazard situation. PPE is a must in these incidents and should not be completed by family members or friends.

     SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa is an area leader in specialty cleaning. If a family member is struggling and you need help, call us today at 785-690-7373.

Celebrate Safely This Holiday Season in Lawrence, KS

4/16/2021 (Permalink)

Pretty lights, candles, and decorations are just a few of the other items bringing charm and cheer to the holiday season- however, if they are not used carefully your holidays may go from festive to frightening.

The American Red Cross offers the following safety tips to help greatly reduce the fire risk in your home or business this holiday season.

  • Place Christmas trees, candles, and other holiday decorations at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents, and candles.
  • Make sure light strings and other holiday decorations are in good condition. Do not use anything with frayed electrical cords and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Always unplug the tree and holiday lights before leaving the property or going to bed.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate a tree. Always extinguish candles before leaving the room or before going to bed.
  • Use only sturdy tree stands designed to not tip over. Keep curious pets and children away from Christmas trees.
  • Keep anything that can catch on fire- like pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper, or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains- away from your stove top.
  • Designate one person to walk around your property to ensure all candles and smoking materials are properly extinguished after guests leave.

Did you know the top three days for home candle fires are Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve? Follow these tips to help keep your property and family safe this holiday season and call SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa if you are in need of water or fire remediation services.

Insuring your Lawrence, KS Home against Fire Damage

4/2/2021 (Permalink)

Fire Insurance Coverage

      Depending on what type of property insurance you have, you may already be covered for a fire. Providers offer different coverage options so it’s important that you review your details carefully and understand exactly what kind of protection you have.

      According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average fire claim is in excess of $37,150. The two most common ways to insure your home against fires are standard home insurance and dwelling fire coverage.

Standard Home Insurance

      If you are a Lawrence homeowner, your mortgage likely requires you to purchase a homeowners insurance policy. These standard home insurance policies typically cover fire damage. They might also protect your personal contents such as furniture, electronics, or other personal possessions.

      Many policies will also include loss of use coverage. If your Lawrence home becomes uninhabitable due to a claim that is covered in your policy, your loss of use coverage will kick in. Under this type of coverage, the insurance company may reimburse you for your extra living expenses while your home is in the process of being either repaired or rebuilt.

      If you live in an apartment or if you rent your home, the landlord likely will have purchased coverage for the building. However, you’ll be responsible for protecting your own belongings. Standard renters policies are relatively cheap and can provide coverage for your personal property in the event of a fire.

Dwelling Fire Coverage

      Dwelling fire coverage is generally less comprehensive than standard home insurance. Similar to standard home insurance it protects the building itself and other structures on the property. It also generally offers loss of use coverage if you have to relocate for a period of time. However, this type of insurance doesn’t cover your personal belongings or personal liability protection. Dwelling fire coverage is generally best used to protect a vacation home or a vacant home where you’ll have less of your personal belongings around.

How to File a Claim

      Before filing your claim on a fire, you should take photos of the damage. Having the proper documentation available can make the process of filing the claim go much smoother.

      After you have all the damage surveyed and documented, it’s time to contact the insurer and file the claim. The insurer will send a claims adjuster to your Lawrence property to assess the damage and put together a cost estimate.

      Once the claims adjuster has finished assessing the damage the repairs can begin on the property. Depending on the damage, repairs to your property could take anywhere from weeks to months to complete. Throughout the ordeal, it’s important to stay organized. Keep all emails, invoices, estimates, and any other documentation you may have received that relates to the damage.

      Another way to make the process smoother is to have a full, up-to-date inventory detailing all of the items in your home. If you happen to lose everything in the fire, this inventory can help you to remember all the items that you need replaced. In case your list happens to be destroyed in the fire as well, you should keep an electronic copy of the inventory that you can pull up if needed. If you prefer, there are some home inventory apps that you can download on your smartphone.

Prevent Fires before They Start

      No matter how prepared you are, a fire always has the potential to occur. But basic knowledge of fire safety can significantly reduce the chances that one will destroy your home. It’s important that you have basic fire safety knowledge and outfit your home with fire safety equipment.

      Smoke alarms, sprinkler systems, and fire extinguishers can prevent a small fire from turning into flames that engulf your home. Having fire safety equipment can also help you to save money on your home insurance premium. Many home insurance providers will offer discounts if you have smoke alarms and sprinkler systems installed in your Lawrence home.

      It’s also important to make sure your entire family understands the basics of fire safety. Some basics to include are an evacuation plan, knowledge of potential fire causes, and a copy of the NFPA’s tips from the fire safety information section of their website.

      Regardless of how prepared you are, a fire is always a possibility in your home. So it’s important to have insurance that will cover you should something happen. If you do suffer a fire, have the professionals at SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa come and restore your home and possessions.

Safety First before the Feast in Eudora, KS

2/12/2021 (Permalink)

Each November, families gather to celebrate Thanksgiving by preparing a delicious feast, but if you don’t practice safe cooking habits, your happy holiday could quickly become hazardous in a blink of an eye. According to the NFPA, cooking is the main cause of home fires and injuries, with the Thanksgiving holiday being the peak day for cooking-related fire emergencies. Review the following safety tips to help ensure you can enjoy a safe holiday in Lawrence.

  • Never leave cooking food unattended- stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling, or boiling food. If someone must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, they should turn off the stove.
  • Check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while kitchen equipment is in use. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
  • Keep small children away from the cooking area. Enforce a “kid-free zone” and make them stay at least three feet away from the stove and oven.
  • Keep anything flammable like pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels away from the stove, oven, or other appliances in the kitchen that generate heat.
  • Do not wear loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.
  • Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease build-up.
  • Purchase a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen year round. Contact the local fire department for training on the proper use of fire extinguishers if you are unsure.
  • Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all kitchen appliances like the stove, ovens, and toasters are turned off.
  • Install a smoke alarm near the kitchen, on each level of the home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside of bedrooms. Use the test button to check it is working properly every month. Replace the batteries at least once a year.

Using a Portable Fire Extinguisher in Wellsville, KS

2/5/2021 (Permalink)

A portable fire extinguisher can be a life and property saving tool when used correctly. In order to operate a fire extinguisher, the 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 fire extinguisher at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
  • Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.

Read the instructions on the fire extinguisher and become familiar with them before a fire breaks out. Encourage your family members and co-workers to do the same.

Remember, extinguishers do have their limitations! It is also important to ensure you have the correct type of extinguisher for your home or facility.

  • Class A- This is the most common extinguisher and can be used to put out fires in ordinary combustibles such as cloth, wood, rubber, paper, and many plastics.
  • Class B- Used on fires involving flammable liquids, such as grease, gasoline, and oil.
  • Class C- Designed for fires involving appliances, tools, or other equipment electronically energized or plugged in.
  • Class D- For use on flammable metals; often specific for the type of metal in question. These are typically found in factories.

Class K- Intended for use on fires that involve vegetable oils, animal oils, or fats in cooking appliances. Generally found in commercial kitchens.

The Behavior of Smoke in Lawrence, KS

1/15/2021 (Permalink)

The damage to your property following a fire can often be complicated due to the unique behavior 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.

SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa professionals are thoroughly trained in fire cleanup and restoration and know the different types of smoke and their behavior patterns. Knowing this information is vital to proper restoration. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa will survey the loss to determine the extent of impact from fire, smoke, heat, and moisture on the building materials and its contents. The soot will then be tested to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. Pretesting determines the proper cleaning method and allows SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa to focus on saving your precious items.

SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa knows smoke can penetrate various cavities within the structure, causing hidden damage and odor. Our knowledge of building systems helps us investigate how far smoke damage may have spread. The following Points are additional facts you may not know about smoke.

  • 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.

Types of Smoke:

  • Wet Smoke. (Plastic and Rubber) Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, and 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.
  • Fuel Oil Soot. (Furnace puff backs) While “puff backs” can create havoc for homeowners, SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa can, in most cases, restore the contents and structure quickly.
  • Other Types. (Tear gas, fingerprint powder, and fire extinguisher residue) Special loss situations require special care.

SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa is trained to handle even the toughest of losses. If your home or business suffers fire or smoke damage, contact SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa to help make it “Like it never even happened.”

Fires in the Kitchen in Ottawa, KS

1/8/2021 (Permalink)

        Did you know cooking equipment is the leading cause of residential fires? As the holiday season begins and you find yourself in the kitchen more often while hosting friends and family, fire precautions should be top of mind.

      A property owner experiences a flood of emotions when a fire ravages their business or home. Fear, uncertainty, stress, and doubt about the future of the property and their livelihood can be overwhelming to the property owner long after the flames have been extinguished and the smoke has cleared.

     After the first wave of heroes have rescued the property, let SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa help you restore it to its preloss condition. Combining rapid response, the utmost professionalism, and open communication through the entire job process, we strive to restore not only the Lawrence home or business structure, but the customer’s peace of mind as well.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) offers the following eye-opening statistics on structure fires:

  • 482,030 structure fires were reported in the U.S. in 2018.
  • These fires caused $9.9 billion in property damages.
  • One structure fire was reported every 48 seconds.

     If the unthinkable happens and a fire strikes your business or home, give the experts at SERVPRO of Lawrence/Ottawa a call, 785-690-7373.

Preventing Electrical Fires in Lawrence, KS

11/6/2020 (Permalink)

Preventing Electrical Fires with Nine Easy Tips

     In today’s society, people are working overtime to meet the pressures of daily life. With technology and electronic accessories being an inescapable part of day-to-day activities, it means that electricity is in high-demand, and it is working around the clock in the home setting.   

     Children need their cell phones charges at all times to keep in touch with their parents, and adults use their computers late into the night to complete work assignments. When work and school are done, dinner needs to be cooked with the appliances in the kitchen and the family likes to unwind with television, video games, music, and a multitude of various electronic devices. In addition, electricity is needed to heat and cool the home and run light fixtures.

     Undoubtedly, Lawrence homes today are generating a tremendous amount of electricity, and the greater the electric load, the greater the risk of electrical-related fires. It should be noted that, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), electrical fires cause approximately 51,000 fires in the home that result in close to 500 deaths and more than 1,400 injuries, and approximately $1.3 billion in property damage per year. Following are nine safety measures one can adhere to in order to reduce the risk of electrical fires in one’s Lawrence home:

  1. On a regular basis, have the home inspected for loose wires, shorts, and faulty wiring that increase the risk of potential electrical fires, as electrical wiring eventually needs to be replaced. This is especially pertinent if one lives in an older home. Signs that faulty wiring is a pressing issue and can include flickering lamps, buzzing outlets, or outlets that spark when an electronic device is plugged in. If one of these indications occurs, do not delay in hiring a certified electrician to give the home an inspection to determine if the wiring is safe or if it is in need of rewiring.
  2. Install a smoke detector on every level of the Lawrence home and inside each bedroom. It is vital to make sure the smoke detectors are working properly by testing them every month. Test the detectors to ensure that all members of the home know the sound of the smoke detector. Also, create a plan so that the entire family knows what to do in case of an actual fire. Once a plan is in place, practice each aspect of fire-escape strategy to guarantee its success.
  3. Utilize safety measures with electric cords. This includes replacing cords that are loose, frayed, or contain cracks.  Never place cords in areas that receive a large volume of foot traffic, such as under mates or carpeting. Avoid tacking cords to surfaces with nails or staples. If an extension cord is being used on a long-term basis, consider having outlets installed by a certified electrician nearer to your electronic devices.
  4. Only use the correct wattage light bulbs in all fixtures. If the wattage is higher than the requirement noted on the lamp or appliance, replace the bulbs immediately. Firmly secure light bulbs in the socket to safeguard them from overheating.
  5. Use surge protectors to guard appliances and other electronics in your Lawrence and Ottawa home. ESFI says it is important that homeowners use a surge protector that is equivalent to the equipment one has while keeping in mind that they only protect the items that are directly plugged into them. Note that there are two basic types of surge protectors: the power strip accompanied by a surge protector and the wall-mount surge protector. When buying a surge protector, locate one that has the Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) mark of approval and always avoid overloading it. As with wiring, surge protectors will eventually need to be replaced, especially if the home experiences a large surge or frequent power surges.
  6. Store flammables away from electrical appliances. It is helpful to establish a safe, designated area for flammable chemicals in your home.
  7. As the average daily temperature declines, portable space heaters run a high risk of electrical fires. Other risks include lamps, blow dryers, hair straighteners, and clothing irons.  Any object made of fabric, such as towels and bath mats, can quickly ignite and spread fire rapidly.
  8. Place a fire extinguisher in all major rooms of the home, such as kitchen, bedrooms, and laundry room. The National Fire Protection Association suggests a multi-purpose extinguisher that carries an “A, B, C” combination classification while also carrying the label of an independent testing laboratory. Have all family members read the instructions on how to use the fire extinguisher. Extinguishers are useful in containing small fires until the fire department arrives, but the first priority should be getting one’s family out of the home safely.
  9. Arcs cause numerous electrical fires every year, but this can be combated by installing Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) breaker in the home. Arcs in the home’s electrical system occur when an electrical current flows through an inadvertent path generating a sudden, high temperature in electrical wires.  When this happens, the extreme temperatures can easily ignite other combustible materials surrounding it, such as wood or insulation. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association says having an AFCI breaker offers greater fire protection for homeowners than a standard circuit breaker. An AFCI monitors the circuits in your Lawrence home for the presence of hazardous arcing conditions and instantly disconnects the damaged circuit before the arc has time to build enough heat to cause a fire. As of 2008, the National Electrical Code has required new homes to have AFCI protection, but the code varies from state to state, and older homes are at a greater risk due to aging electrical wiring. As always, have a qualified electrician install the AFCI

     Reducing the risk of electrical fires in one’s Lawrence home is relatively simple, but the safety benefits are worth a great deal of peace-of-mind.

Having a Plan During a House Fire in Wellsville, KS

10/12/2020 (Permalink)

Kids safety tips- stop, drop and roll, don't hide from the fire, stay low and crawl Teach your kids these tips about fire.

Does your family have a plan during a house fire?

   Your kids’ safety is of utmost importance. You teach your children to look both ways before crossing the street and to stay away from strangers. But, as a parent and homeowner in Lawrence/ Ottawa, do you educate your children on what to do in a home fire? When a fire emergency occurs, every second counts. Have a fire escape plan and practice it with your children. Review the tips below to educate your family. 

Practice a Fire Escape Plan

   Teach and practice the following techniques with your children during a non-emergency, so your family knows what to do in the case of a home fire:

  • If the smoke alarm sounds at night, roll to the edge of the bed face down, place the closest hand to the floor and slide off the bed. 
  • Crawl to avoid smoke in the air on knees and forearms with head down, or crawl like a snake. 
  • Check doors before opening by feeling for heat. If hot, find another way out of the room. If warm or cool, open slowly and check for fire. Close doors as you go. 
  • Create and practice an escape route and agree on an outdoor meeting place. If trapped, go to the window, open it, climb out if possible or yell for help. Once out of the house, do not return inside for any reason. 

Preventative Measures for Kids

    Aside from teaching and practicing the above techniques, follow these kids’ safety tips:

  • Maintain at least one functioning smoke detector at each level of your home. Teach your children that the alarm sound means there is fire and smoke in the house. 
  • Keep lighters and matches out of the reach of young children. Instruct older children not to play with these or other flammable objects, such as candles. 

   By teaching and practicing the above tips with your children in Lawrence/Ottawa, your family is prepared for a home fire. Once your kids’ safety is secured and the fire is out, contact a fire restoration specialist and your homeowner’s insurance agent to begin the process of returning your home to preloss condition.