Recent Fire Damage Posts

Soot and Smoke Residue

1/8/2020 (Permalink)

What is in the Smoke Residue/Soot? All materials involved in a fire cause odors. Typically, soot is representative of what has burned, but may include byproducts that at first seem unrelated to the original material. For example, hydrogen cyanide is a byproduct of burning wool. When wood burns it can produce manganese and benzene. As many products as there are in the world, there are an equal number of byproducts produced in a fire. Each fire is different based on the contents of what has burned during the event. Organic and inorganic materials produce different types of smoke residue or soot. These residues may be present on surfaces that conservators may be tasked with treating. Burnt organic material produces soot that is hard to see and often has a very pungent odor. This is known as protein smoke. It can discolor paints and varnishes. Protein smoke can disperse over large areas and attach itself to everything. How the fire burns and how much moisture is in the air while the fire burns, plays a role in soot deposition on articles. The amount of moisture in the air is a key component in whether the smoke that is produced is wet or dry. There are several types of smoke or soot, which may be present on a surface that conservators might be tasked with treating: Wet Smoke—can present as a sticky residue or soot, and is often associated with a smoldering type of fire and often will have a strong odor. Dry Smoke—associated with a fast-burning fire and occurs at high temperatures. Protein—often present in soot, usually invisible, it can discolor paints and varnishes and often has a very pungent odor. Protein odors could be caused by food on the stove burning slowly or other sources. The slow burn allows the protein to disperse and attach itself to everything, producing a strong odor.

Aftermath of a Fire

1/8/2020 (Permalink)

After the Fire! Returning to Normal A fire will change your life in many ways. Knowing where to begin and who can help you is important. The U.S. Fire Administration hopes you find this information useful in your journey to return to normal. What to Expect A fire in a home can cause serious damage. The building and many of the things in your home may have been badly damaged by flames, heat, smoke and water. You will find that things the fire did not burn up are now ruined by smoke and soggy with water used to put out the flames. Anything that you want to save or reuse will need to be carefully cleaned. The firefighters may have cut holes in the walls of the building to look for any hidden flames. They may even have cut holes in the roof to let out the heat and smoke. Cleanup will take time and patience. If your home had a home fire sprinkler system, you will find little damage from flames, heat, smoke and water. If you plan to rebuild your home, now is the time to think about installing sprinklers.

IMPORTANT Tips When In An Emergency House Fire!

12/5/2019 (Permalink)

A firefighter with a hat on next to a white truck and fire in the background and the SERVPRO logo at the top center Call SERVPRO of River Oaks today at 713-666-9222.

Things to do when in a house fire

*Leave valuables behind: When in a fire, never delay to find the best possible escape route from a burning house to find valuables. You could always notify the fire safety officers when they arrive of such valuables describing their last known location.

*Stop, Drop and Roll: If your clothes catches fire, do not run, simply drop to the floor and roll over your back to extinguish the fire. Always crawl and remain close to the ground to keep you away from the high temperature, and thick smoke from the fire. Stay low, until you escape the burning house.

*Cover your nose: Cover your nostril with a shirt or a damp towel during a house fire; this will prevent smoke from entering your lungs. Also cover the faces of children as much as possible, especially when helping out to get them to safety.

Lastly do not run into a room filled with smoke or flames, doing that means running into massive danger.

Smoke Alarm Safety

12/5/2019 (Permalink)

A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire.

  • Install both ionization AND photoelectric smoke alarms, OR dual sensor smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors.
  • Test batteries monthly.
  • Replace batteries in battery-powered and hard-wired smoke alarms at least once a year (except non-replaceable 10-year lithium batteries).
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, both inside and outside of sleeping areas.
  • Replace the entire smoke alarm unit every 8-10 years or according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Never disable a smoke alarm while cooking – it can be a deadly mistake.

Smoke Alarm Safety for People with Access or Functional Needs

  • Audible alarms for visually impaired people should pause with a small window of silence between each successive cycle so that they can listen to instructions or voices of others.
  • Smoke alarms with a vibrating pad or flashing light are available for the hearing impaired. Contact your local fire department for information about obtaining a flashing or vibrating smoke alarm.
  • Smoke alarms with a strobe light outside the home to catch the attention of neighbors, and emergency call systems for summoning help, are also available

You Need A Fire Escape Plan ASAP!

9/4/2019 (Permalink)

Drawing of a fire escape plan with every room of the house lbled and arrows pointing where to go. Call SERVPRO of River Oaks today. We are Here To Help! 713-666-9222

House fires are unpredictable. As much as we try to prevent them, sometimes the unthinkable happens and a little spark from faulty wiring you didn’t know about can leave your home engulfed in flames. When this happens, do your and your family have a plan for getting out of your home and to a safe meeting point? A fire escape plan is an invaluable tool to make sure you and your family knows just what to do incase of a fire.

  1. Take a weekend and draw up a floor plan of your home for a visual to plan out a fire escape route. Walk through your home with your floor plan and note all the possible exit routes.
  2. Keep leashes and carriers by the door, and make sure your pet always wears her collar and tags if she escapes during the chaos. Note where your pet goes when scared to tell a firefighter if you don’t have the opportunity to get them out. Train your pet to come when they’re called.
  3. Choose a meeting place away from your home like a neighbor’s mailbox, sign post, or light post and mark the spot on your map.
  4. Do a tour with your entire family to make sure that they understand the plan.

In case the inevitable has happened, give SERVPRO of River Oaks a call at 713-666-9222

Being Prepared is Key

9/4/2019 (Permalink)

Five fire hydrants on the floor outside of a building with the SERVPRO logo at the top Call SERVPRO @ 713-666-9222!

Knowing how fires start can help you come up with a plan to prevent them. Preparation is a key aspect of avoiding any disaster. Use these tips to help you figure our how you can prepare your home or business and avoid fire damage.

  • Around 50% of home fires are due to cooking accidents. You can avoid fire damage in the kitchen by making sure you keep a fire extinguisher somewhere easy to reach and making sure you know how to use it. Also, make sure that you never leave a hot appliance unattended; always pay attention to what you are doing!
  • Over 15% of residential fires are caused by electrical appliances malfunctioning or other issues with electrical components of the house such as the heating system. With this in mind, make sure that you have your home inspected often to make sure everything is working as it should. Especially at the turn of seasons when you may not have used your heater or air conditioner in a while.
  • California, Texas, and Georgia lead the nation in fire deaths in 2016. Having plan to get out of your house in an emergency is one of the most important things you can do to keep your family safe. Make sure the plan includes instructions for everyone – including pets – to get out safely in case a fire occurs, and practice the plan so that your family will know exactly what to do.

Do You Have The Right Smoke Detector?

1/16/2019 (Permalink)

Having a smoke detector in your home is critical to making sure you and your family are safe. You should have one in every bedroom and on every floor of your home. You probably already knew how important these little alarms are, but do you know how to make sure that your smoke detector is a good one?

Smoke detectors can come in any size and shape, and they can be as cheap as $5 or as expensive as $150, so with all of these options, how do you know what to choose? First, there are two different types of detectors: ionized and photoelectric. Some devices are a combination of these two types. Ionized smoke detectors work best when there are actual flames present. They are quick to sound the alarm when a lot of heat is produced. Photoelectric smoke detectors work well with fires that start slow and tend to smolder and create a lot of smoke. Smoldering fires like these are usually pretty silent, so people do not always notice them at first; some people will actually develop breathing problems and pass out before they realize that a fire is occurring.

Both types of alarms are designed to detect fire no matter what, and both will be sufficient to get you and your loved ones out of the house in time as long as you keep up with maintenance such as testing the alarms and replacing batteries when needed. If you feel the need, you can put a mixture of the two types of alarms throughout your house. Regardless of what type you choose, make sure you have them in the kitchen, bedrooms, and any other important places in your home.

If your house or office suffers from a fire loss, call SERVPRO® of River Oaks today at 713-666-9222

Tips to Prevent Winter Home Fires

1/2/2019 (Permalink)

The winter season is here and with it comes shorter days and lower temperatures. No matter where you live, winter brings a change in the weather. In an effort to keep our homes and workplaces cozy, many people use alternative heat sources like fire places, portable space heaters, and wood burning stoves. Did you know, heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths? According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment fires cause estimated $1 billion in direct property damage annually. Keep the following safety tips in mind to help reduce your risk of a heating-related fire. 

  • Keep anything flammable at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or a portable space heater. Have a three foot "kid-free zone" around open fires and space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.

50% of all residential heating-related fires are reported during the months of December, January and February.

  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturers instructions.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly.

If your property suffers from fire damage, contact SERVPRO of River Oaks to help make it "Like it never even happened."

Did I Buy The Right Smoke Detector?

12/4/2018 (Permalink)

Having a smoke detector in your home is vital to making sure you and your family are safe. You should have one in every bedroom and on every floor of your home. You probably already knew how important these little alarms are, but do you know how to make sure that your smoke detector is a good one?

Smoke detectors can come in any size and shape, and they can be as cheap as $5 or as expensive as $150, so with all of these options, how do you know what to choose? First, there are two different types of detectors: ionized and photoelectric. Some devices are a combination of these two types.

Ionized smoke detectors work best when there are actual flames present. They are quick to sound the alarm when a lot of heat is produced.

Photoelectric smoke detectors work well with fires that start slow and tend to smolder and create a lot of smoke. Smoldering fires like these are usually pretty silent, so people do not always notice them at first; some people will actually develop breathing problems and pass out before they realize that a fire is occurring.

Both types of alarms are designed to detect fire no matter what, and both will be sufficient to get you and your loved ones out of the house in time as long as you keep up with maintenance such as testing the alarms and replacing batteries when needed. If you feel the need, you can put a mixture of the two types of alarms throughout your house. Regardless of what type you choose, make sure you have them in the kitchen, bedrooms, and any other important places in your home.

If your house or office suffers from a fire loss, call SERVPRO® of River Oaks today at (713) 666-9222.

Is Your Family Prepared For A Home Fire?

12/4/2018 (Permalink)

Every second counts during a fire. Fire experts agree, people have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out.*

In a matter of moments, a small flame can become a major fire, making it critical to be prepared with an escape plan in place. A survey conducted by the American Red Cross shows only 26 percent of families have developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. Once a plan is developed, it is critical that everyone in the home understands the plan; the best way to do this is by practicing the escape plan at least twice a year. Increase your chance of surviving a fire by ensuring you have working smoke detectors in place, building an escape plan, and then practicing the escape plan. The following are a few steps to help you develop an emergency escape plan:

Draw a map of each level of your home and show all doors and windows. Find two ways to get out of each room. Make sure all doors and windows that lead outside open easily.

Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second and third floors. Only purchase collapsible escape ladders evaluated by a recognized testing laboratory. Store them near the window where they will be used.

Choose an outside meeting place a safe distance from your home where everyone can meet after they’ve escaped. Make sure to mark the meeting location on your escape plan. Teach children how to escape on their own in case you cannot help them. Plan for everyone in your home with special considerations for elderly or disabled individuals. Practice your fire escape plan at night and during the daytime. SERVPRO of River Oaks wants you to stay safe and prepare now to ensure you are ready for any disaster.

*Tips provided by American Red Cross and National Fire Protection Association

4 Ways to Clean Belongings After a Fire

9/26/2018 (Permalink)

Watching your Houston, TX  home burn can leave you with an ache in your heart. Not only do you have to deal with a massive insurance claim, but there's a good chance you'll end up losing some of your treasured possessions. When you work with a fire damage cleanup crew, some of your smoke-damaged belongings may get saved. Content cleaning is a delicate art that can take the following shapes.

1. Dry-Cleaning: Clothes, furniture and other porous items often have to be cleaned with a dry-cleaning method. This helps remove the smoke and soot that built up during the fire. If you try to wash your clothes on a normal cycle, you may end up causing more damage. The soot has to be removed from the textiles before you can return to a typical cleaning method.


2. Ultrasonic: Non-porous items can go through a more vigorous cleaning than materials that soak up water. The ultrasonic treatment incorporates ultrasound and a cleaning solvent to rid your belongings of soot.


3. High-Pressure Water: If the ultrasonic machine is not big enough for some of your non-porous furniture, the professionals may choose to use high-pressure water. This only works on non-porous items because they won't soak up the excess water.


4. Odor Removal: Smoke isn't the only thing that can cling to your possessions. The odor after a fire can be a long-term reminder of what you went through. After dry-cleaning, ultrasonic or high-pressure water methods have been put in place, you may want to do some sort of odor removal too. Professionals often use thermal fogging or ozone treatments to rid your home of the funky smell.

After a fire, you want to get everything back to normal as soon as possible. This means you need to clean your belongings. If the cleaning process takes longer than expected, you can also use content storage to get your dirty, smelly items out of the house until they're clean.

5 Ways To Ensure Your Ready For A Home Fire

9/26/2018 (Permalink)

 

Most people take active measures to prevent house fires, but not many people have implemented fire preparation techniques. Yet, fire prep is just as important as fire prevention, and in fact may be more so when it comes to protecting your home and loved ones. If you have yet to create fire safety procedures, it’s time to do so. Below are five things you can do to get started:

• Test your smoke alarms.
• Plan an evacuation route.
• Teach your children what to do in the event of a home fire.
• Create a communication strategy.
• Practice.

Test Your Alarms

Though your smoke alarms should inform you when they’re low on batteries, it doesn’t hurt to check them periodically. Test them once a month, and to err on the side of caution, replace their batteries at least once a year.

Plan an Evacuation Route

This should be at the top of your fire preparation list. Identify all possible exits for each room in the home and make sure that each family member is aware of where those exits are. Designate a family meeting spot outside.

Teach Your Children

If you have young children, show them what the fire alarm sounds like and advise them on what to do if they hear one. Inform them of evacuation routes as well.

Plan a Way To Communicate

Put together an emergency contact list and make sure that all family members know who to contact if they cannot find one another. Have your young children memorize important phone numbers, beginning with 911.

Practice

The best way to ensure that all family members know what to do in the event of an emergency is to practice. Host a fire drill every couple of months and devise different scenarios. In doing so, you can increase the odds that everyone knows what to do and how to escape in a real emergency.

Your Houston, TX restoration team or local fire department can review your fire preparation plan and provide additional tips for how to improve it. Don’t cut corners when it comes to fire safety and start planning today.