House Fire

Common Causes of House Fires Over Holidays

house fireHappy Holidays

The winter seasons has a lot of holidays.  The freezing cold and shortened days makes people want to chase away the gloom.  From October to February, we have holiday after holiday, from Halloween to Valentine’s Day.  The holidays in the middle, especially Thanksgiving and the December holidays, feature big meals and family events.  It’s a wonderful time and the last thing you want is to have it spoiled by a house fire.

 

House Fire

House fires are one of the most devastating accidents you can suffer.  They could potentially destroy your entire home, along with all your possessions. Even if they don’t get that out of control, there will still be some damage from both the flames and the smoke. The best way to avoid a house fire is to prevent it.  For that, you need to know what to worry about.  Here are some of the most common causes of house fires.

1. Cooking Fires

Most house fires are caused by cooking-related incidents.  They account for about 58% and are usually caused by someone leaving a stove on.  If you want to prevent a cooking fire, be sure you always stay near your cooking equipment while it’s in use. Don’t ever walk away from the stove, even if you think it’s just for a moment.  Something as simple as leaving the room to answer a phone call can be all it takes for a fire to start.  Always use a timer.  If the timer has a loud alarm, all the better, so in case you do get distracted, you’ll have a reminder.  Always follow cooking instructions, especially when you’re cooking something big, like a Thanksgiving turkey.  Finally, make sure that you keep anything flammable away from the cooking surfaces.  Do not put anything on the stovetop and store flammable liquids and powders away from it.

2. Heating

This may come as a shock, but heating equipment gets hot.  I know, right?  Who’d have ever believed it?  That’s why heating systems are the second biggest cause of fires.  Usually this results from a failure to clean the heater or chimney.  Dust is flammable and can easily catch fire if it chokes the heater too much.  Make sure you have it cleaned every year.  Portable space heaters are also a serious risk. They get very hot and can easily set fire to nearby substances, like dirty laundry carelessly dropped on the floor, or the blankets on your bed if you set them too close.  If you set one up in your home office, be sure that it’s away from any paper.  They also need regular cleaning.  Don’t take any chances with them.

3. Electrical Fires

Electrical fires are another of the most common causes. Faulty lighting fixtures cause most electrical fires.  Either they’re installed to close to something flammable, or they’re installed incorrectly and short out.  Other causes of electrical fires include overloading outlets by plugging in too many power strips, using the wrong type of bulb for a lighting fixture, and using appliances with frayed cords.  Always have a qualified electrician install and repair your electrical systems.  And never, NEVER overload an outlet.

 

4. Open Flames

Especially over the holidays, people like to light fires. Usually in the fireplace, but you also need to worry about candles, Christmas decorations, and naughty children with matches.  If you want to start a fire in your home, make sure the fireplace and chimney are clean and clear of debris.  If you light candles, don’t leave them unattended and make sure you put them out before going to bed.  Avoid using real candles for Christmas tree decorations.  If you smoke, do not do so before going to bed, as it’s easy to fall asleep with a lit cigarette.  If a lit cigarette starts a fire in your bed, the chances of dying in a house fire go up dramatically for obvious reasons.  Finally, make sure you always store your candles, matches, and lighters in a secret place where your children can’t find them.

 

Dryer Fire5. Misuse of Appliances

Appliances are extremely convenient, but they can be a cause of fires if not used appropriately.  As electrical devices, they are subject to many of the same risks. Frayed cords can cause shorts and sparks that can light up many of the things you store in your kitchen or around the house.  Drier fires can happen if you fail to clean the lint filter.  Always make sure you follow the instructions and safety precautions on your appliances.  These will be specified in the user’s manual.

 

Don’t Forget About Fire Alarms

A working fire alarm is the difference between losing a little and losing a lot.  It can even be a life or death situation.  60% of all deaths in house fires happen in houses that don’t have proper smoke alarms.  While most homes have them built in during construction by law these days, older homes may not have them, so be sure to check up on them.  Check the batteries to make sure they are still good.  The battery life on most commercially sold fire alarms will be many years, but you still need to do tests to make sure nothing’s faulty.

 

We’re Here To Help

Alpine 100% No Smoke Smell Guarantee Seal            The best way to avoid a fire is to prevent it.  It’s easy to think that it’ll never happen to you, but it always could.  Make sure you take all the needed precautions.  If you do, you shouldn’t need to worry.  Still, nothing can guarantee a fire won’t start.   If something should go wrong, Alpine Cleaning and Restoration is here to help.  Read our handy article on what to do immediately following a house fire.  After that,  get in touch with us and we can help restore your home from any fire damage.  When we’re done, you won’t smell any traces of smoke.

Stay safe, and enjoy your holidays.

Wildfire

5 Wildfire Safety Tips

Wildfire

It’s Wildfire Season Again

You may have heard about the wildfire blazing on the Utah-Idaho border.   This is only one of as many as twenty wildfires that firefighters in Utah have responded to this year.  Already, they have burned up as much as 1500 acres of land.  Smoke from these fires has created a smoggy haze that’s fallen over cities many miles from the fire’s actual location.

Wildfires are destructive and terrifying, but they only happen in forests right?  Wrong! Last year, the most devastating fires in California all happened miles away from any forests despite the focus on forest firefighting in the media.  Urban areas are a prime target for wildfires, most often because people think they’re safe and don’t take precautions.  In the last article, we looked at some general fire safety tips.  Today, we’re going to look at five ways you can specifically protect yourself and your home from wildfires.

 

1. Secure the Area Around Your Home

A common mistake people make with fire safety is having combustible materials too close to their homes. Wildfires generate intense heat and can ignite material from as much as 100 feet away!  Therefore, it’s wise to move firewood, dead plants and dried grass, unpruned and low-hanging branches, and even wood fencing, as well as anything else that could catch fire to a minimum safe distance of at least 30 feet. If you do have a wooden fence, it’s a good idea to separate it from your home with a masonry or metal barrier to prevent a fire from spreading along the fence to your house.

But it’s also important that you don’t go overboard. Some people think creating a buffer zone means clearing out anything that might burn within the 100 foot danger area.  This is actually a mistake.  While you should definitely thin out the vegetation close to your home, be sure to leave some there.  It will help to catch the embers blown by the wind, which is the number one way that wildfires ignite houses.  Live vegetation, when kept watered, is slower to ignite than you’d think.  If enough is there to catch the embers, they are more likely to have time to cool before they can actually ignite anything.

2. Keep the Fire From Getting In

Speaking of embers, a single one is enough to light up any number of things in your home.  You need to do everything you can to keep them out.  The number one place for them to get in is through openings in the eaves and vents on your roof.  Make sure that any openings are screened.   It may seem like a little detail, but a good metal screen is often a surefire way to make sure the fire doesn’t get into your house.

Windows are another overlooked precaution.  Intense heat can go right through the glass and light up anything too close.  Replace your drapes and any furniture near the windows with heat-resistant fabrics.

Combine this with some extra planning for the outside of your house and the chances of your home surviving a wildfire increase dramatically.  And on the subject of the exterior . . .

3. Protect the Outside of Your Home

The best time to start planning on fire protection is when you first start building a house.  From the get-go, you should plan for wildfires, especially if you live in an area prone to them.  First of all, consider the location.  Putting your house near a thick stand of tress is clearly not a smart idea, but it’s also a bad idea to put your house on hilltop, or overhanging any place that a wildfire might sweep through.  These spots are just asking for your house to go up in a blaze.

When designing your home, plan to build it from fire resistant materials.  Avoid complicated shapes in the layout, as these create places for embers to fall and get stuck in.  If you build your homes with these in mind, it will greatly reduce the fire danger.

If you aren’t building a new house, try to buy one that meets these conditions.  And even if you’ve already bought your home, there are still ways to improve on it.  Consider upgrading the roof, for example.  Older homes often have wooden shingles.  These are a big mistake.  Asphalt shingles are better, but steel and tile are the safest.  If you’ve got a wood-shingled house, have the roof replaced with better materials as soon as you can.  Not only will it decrease the fire hazard, but it can also reduce your insurance rates.

4.  Work with Your Neighbors

All of these safety tips are useful, but they might not be any good if your neighbors don’t also take precautions.  In places where homes are closely packed, your house is only as fire-proof as the one next door.

Therefore, it is a good idea to form community fire plans. Get together with the people in your area and make sure everyone understands the basics of fire safety. Help them fire-proof their homes as much as you can, because if their home goes up, yours might, too. Community meetings to discuss the matter will help get everyone on board.  Don’t be afraid to remind your neighbors of fire hazards in their yards, either; chances are, they might not have realized it and will appreciate the reminder.

5. Always Have A Plan

Even with all the precautions taken, there’s no way you can absolutely guarantee your home will be protected.  Do everything you can to protect your home, but be sure that you have a plan for what to do if a wildfire gets out of control in your area.  Develop a plan for what you will do and where you will go if a wildfire gets close to your home.  Make sure that your family knows it and have practice evacuations so everybody in your home knows what to do.  It will help them stay calm if the worst should happen.

Don’t try to stay in your home if a fire gets close. There’s nothing you can do to prevent your house from burning down by staying in it.  A house can be rebuilt, but lives lost cannot be restored.  Do not take the risk.  Taking the above precautions will dramatically increase the chances of your house surviving a wildfire.  If you’ve done them, then all that remains to do is get yourself and your family to safety and hope for the best.

 

We’re Ready To Help You

Alpine 100% No Smoke Smell Guarantee Seal            We all hope that the worst doesn’t happen, but that’s not always in our control.  Even with every precaution taken, your house might still be lost or damaged in a fire. If that happens, the people at Alpine Cleaning and Restoration are here for you.  We’re the best restoration company in Utah.  As soon as the firefighters give the clear to return, you can get in touch.  We will restore your house to as good as new, if not better.  You won’t even smell the smoke!  We’ll work with your insurance agency to give you the best restoration possible.  You can rest easy knowing we’re on the job.

House Fire

Summer Fire Safety

Summer fire safety

The Heat Is On!

We’re coming up on the final month of summer, but the heat isn’t letting up just yet.  Many people think that summer is the worst season for fire danger, but according to the NFIRS, summer is actually when the lowest dangers exist.  I know it’s hard to believe that when we keep reading about the huge wildfires in California, but only about 8% of all house fires that happen occur in the summer.  Most house fires happen in December and January – often due to faulty space heaters and wood burning stoves/fire pits.  But don’t let that make you think that summer is a time you can overlook fire safety.  Here are a few things you should consider to make sure your house doesn’t go up in smoke.

Cooking Fires

By far, the most common cause of house fires is cooking and that doesn’t stop during the summer.  Nearly 32% of all house fires are caused by cooking accidents.  Never leave stoves and ovens on, even briefly, when you can’t be there to attend them.  It only takes a second for them to overheat and start a fire and if you aren’t close enough to stop it, it’ll quickly spread.  Grease and oil are particularly bad offenders on that front.  Dishrags left too near the heat are also a danger. To reduce the risk of danger, make sure you clean the cooking surfaces regularly to prevent grease from building up on them.

Air Conditioning

While faulty heating systems cause many fires, air conditioning units cause their fair share as well.  Portable and fixed AC units will sometimes have inadequate wiring for their heavy power loads, which causes short circuits.  The peak time for AC fires is between 2 and 8 PM, when they see peak usage.  Be sure to have an electrician check your AC unit to make sure the wiring is properly installed and can handle the load.

Look for ways to avoid needing to use the air conditioner all day so it won’t overheat.  Consider turning on a small fan in the room you’re using rather than running the AC all through the house if you can.  Check the AC’s filter regularly to make sure it doesn’t build up dust or debris.  And never, ever run a cord powering an AC unit under a rug or through a door.  This increases the chances of the cord being damaged, which is guaranteed to start a fire sooner or later.

Yard and Vehicle Maintenance

You’d be surprised how much this goes overlooked. During the summer, a poorly kept yard is a prime target for fires.  Loose brush and debris are highly combustible.  Be sure to clear them from your yard.  While you’re at it, trim the bushes and trees, as poorly kept branches and brambles are also prone to catching fire.  Check up on your vehicles to make sure that no hot metal parts dangle from under it.  Mufflers and exhaust pipes are chief offenders here.  Keep them raised away from the ground as much as possible and avoid parking your cars near dry brush or grass.  Be sure to avoid dragging chains, or other metal objects that could create sparks.  Keep a shovel somewhere in the yard that you can access quickly to bury a fire if you catch one starting early.

Attics

Attic fires peak in both summer and winter.  While in the winter, the cause is often faulty wiring; during the summer the cause can be just the heat itself.  Attics are often closed-off spaces with poor ventilation. Combined with the insulation surrounding them, they are prone to getting very, very hot.  Do not overstuff your attic with items, especially not combustible ones like paper.  Not only does this increase the number of things that can catch fire if it gets to hot, it provides more fuel for the fire if it does start.

It can also make it impossible for you to get at the fire with an extinguisher if you catch it early enough to stop it.  The summer months are also prone to lightning storms.  While there’s not much you can do to stop lightning from striking, you can mitigate the damage.  Unplug appliances during thunderstorms to prevent short circuits and consider installing a lightning protection system if you live in an area where lightning storms are particularly common.

General Fire Safety

The general fire safety rules are as good in summer as any other time.  Don’t overload power sockets.  Install smoke alarms and check up on their batteries regularly to make sure they work. Keep fire extinguishers in accessible places near known fire risk areas.  And in case the worst happens, always have a fire safety plan.  Make sure your children know it and practice following through on it.  The more you practice, the less likely you are to panic if a fire actually breaks out.

We’re Here To Help

Even with the best fire safety precautions, accidents can happen.  That’s why Alpine Cleaning and Restoration is on call 24/7, ready to respond at a moment’s notice.  If something should go wrong and a fire starts, get in touch.  Fire prevention starts with you, but fire cleanup starts with us.  If your home is damaged by fire, we can not only clean it up, but also restore to just as good a condition as it was before the fire. There won’t even be the scent of smoke to remind you that a fire ever happened.

That’s a promise.

holiday safety tips

Holiday Safety Tips

holiday safety tipsSafety First

Everyone loves the holidays.  Getting to meet with your family, giving (and receiving) gifts, eating good food; what’s not to love?  But you don’t want your joyous event to turn into an unexpected tragedy.  According to CNN, there are plenty of accidents that can occur around the house during the holidays, especially fires.  Every year, accidental fires kill more than 400 people and cause over $900,000 worth of property damage.  Sparing a moment’s thought for your safety can prevent it.

While enjoying your holiday will be your top concern, don’t let your fun outweigh your safety.  There are a few things you should keep in mind if you want to stay safe during the holiday season.  Here are some tips for you.

10 Safety Tips For the Holidays

  • Use a timer when cooking on the stove top or oven so you can’t forget and leave it on
  • If you have a log fire place, make sure to use the screen
  • Never burn wrapping paper, boxes, or trash in your fire place
  • Don’t leave a fire, candles, warmers, or space heaters unattended
  • Lit candles can start fires; use candle or fragrance warmers instead
  • Real Christmas trees dry out in 2 weeks- get rid of the fire hazard
  • Check holiday lights for cracked or broken bulbs, or frayed wires; don’t use them
  • Replace overheating Christmas lights
  • Never over fill a turkey fryer with grease
  • Never use “indoor lights” outdoors

Let Us Help

Alpine Cleaning and Restoration Specialists, Inc. knows that fire damage in your home can be devastating.  While we hope nothing bad happens, be sure to get in touch with us if a fire should strike.  Our disaster response team is on call 24/7 and promises a 1-hour emergency response time, so if you need us, we’ll be there.

We wish you a happy and safe Merry Christmas!

Emergency fire damage restoration

Emergency Restoration Tips

What Do You Do In an Emergency?

Fires and floods can do some pretty serious damage to your home.  Even after the dust has settled, the emergency is still only half over.  Now comes the costly and time consuming business of cleaning and restoring your home.  But where do you start?  Here are some do’s and don’ts for general emergency restoration.

Smoke and Fire Damage

Emergency fire restoration

Do’s

  • Blow off or brush-vacuum loose soot particles from upholstery, drapes, and carpets.
  • Cover carpeted traffic areas with towels or old linens to prevent additional soiling.
  • Discard open food packages. The food could be contaminated.
  • If your electrical service is off, clean out your freezer and refrigerator. Leave the doors propped open or place charcoal in the unit.
  • Send clothing with heavy smoke damage to a qualified professional dry cleaner.
  • Clean formica and chrome fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom to prevent permanent tarnishing.
  • Wipe residue from porcelain bath fixtures to prevent etching.
  • Wipe the leaves of house plants to remove smoke residue.
  • Change the air filter on your furnace if it uses forced hot air.
  • Tape cheese cloth over the intake and outlet air registers to capture any loose soot in the air. This is even more effective if the cheese cloth is damp.
  • When the outside temperature is above 60 degrees, air out the house to reduce smoke odor.

Don’ts

  • Do not attempt to wash any papered or flat painted walls without consulting your professional cleaner. Incorrect cleaning procedures will compound the soot residue problem.
  • Do not attempt to clean carpets or upholstered furniture. Incorrect procedures could also increase damage to them.
  • Do not use electrical appliances that have been close to fire or water before having them checked. They could malfunction.
  • Do not use ceiling fixtures if the ceiling is wet. A short circuit could result.
  • Do not touch anything. Soot on your hands can permeate upholstery, walls, and woodwork, causing further damage.
  • Do not eat food that has been exposed to fire or smoke.
  • Do not wait to call for professional help.

Water Damage

Emergency flood restoration

Do’s

  • When the outside temperature is above 60 degrees, use dehumidifiers if available.
  • Use fans to circulate the air and assist drying.
  • Remove as much water as possible by mopping and blotting.
  • Wipe furniture dry.
  • Lift draperies off carpet, loop through a coat hanger, and place the hanger on the drapery rod.
  • Prop up wet furniture cushions for even drying and place small wood blocks or aluminum foil under furniture legs.
  • Remove wet area rugs or other floor coverings.
  • Open furniture drawers, closet doors, and luggage to enhance drying.
  • Move photos, paintings, and art objects to a safe, dry location.
  • Remove wet fabrics and dry them as soon as possible. Hang furs and leather goods to dry separately at room temperature.
  • Remove damp books from shelves and spread them out to dry.
  • If damage occurs during a cool season, leave heat on; if in summer, use an air conditioner if available.

Don’ts

  • Do not attempt to remove chemical stains such as ink or paint.
  • NEVER operate damaged electrical appliances.
  • Do not throw away damaged wood chips or other small articles. They might be helpful for repair.
  • Do not use household cleaning products on fabrics, upholstery, or carpet without consulting a professional cleaner.

Let Us Help

When an emergency hits, response time is critical to avoid permanent damage to your home.  That’s why Alpine Cleaning and Restoration Specialists guarantees that we’ll be there within 60 minutes of your call or e-mail.  Your satisfaction is our first priority and we’ll do our best to get you back on your feet as soon as possible.  Get in touch with us today and find out how we can help you.