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.

Home buring with 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 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

 

We at Alpine Cleaning and Restoration are 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

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.

While enjoying your holiday will be your top concern, don’t let your fun outweigh your safety.  There are a few simple 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
  • 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
  • Use candle or fragrance warmers instead of buring candles
  • 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
  • Christmas lights that are overheating should not be used
  • 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 happen to strike.  Our disaster response team is on call 24/7 and promises a 1-hour emergency response time.  If you need us, you can be sure that we’ll be there for you.

We wish you a happy and safe Merry Christmas!

Frozen pipes

Prevent Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes

Winter Is Upon Us

Temperatures plummeted in the aftermath of Tuesday night’s storm.  The air is now well below freezing across the whole state of Utah, creating all kinds of problems.  Heavy snow may collapse roofs.  Frozen sidewalks may lead to injuries in falls.  And there’s always that one neighbor who borrows your snowblower and never returns it (looking at you, Adrian!).  These aren’t the only problems, though.

Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes are a common problem in any winter month.  They can be difficult to thaw out and, if not fixed quickly, could burst and flood your home.  There’s nothing worse than flood damage when it comes to ruining the value of your property, so be sure to protect yourself against frozen pipes.  KSL.com has provided a useful article that provides some pretty good tips for keeping your pipes from freezing.  In addition to what KSL has to say, we’d like to add a couple of extra tips that you might find useful.

Additional Tips

  • Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer’s or installer’s directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
  • Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
  • Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.
  • Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
  • Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.
  • Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing.

Give Us A Call

With proper care, you can protect your pipes from freezing over, but there’s always the chance something else can go wrong.  If your pipes do freeze and burst, it will cause flooding when the pipes thaw out.  If you experience flooding as a result of burst pipes, get in touch with us.  We are on call 24/7 and promise a 60-minute disaster response time for just such an event.  We’ll get your house cleaned and dried before mold has a chance to set in.  Afterwards, you won’t be able to tell that any damage ever happened.

Cleaning carpets on stairs

How Often Should You Clean Your Carpets?

“How often should I clean my carpets?”

People ask this question a lot at Alpine Cleaning and Restoration.  The answer is . . . well, there really isn’t any single answer that is always correct.  There are a lot of factors that go into determining how often you should have your carpets cleaned.  How often is it used?  How many kids do you have?  Do you have any pets?  All of these questions need to be asked before you can answer the question.  To satisfy most carpet warranties, you usually need to have your carpets professionally cleaned once every 8-12 months.  This is a good guideline, but it may not be enough.

The Chart

The following chart from the IICRC S100 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Carpet Cleaning serves as a guideline for recommending cleaning frequencies for carpet. They consider traffic, soil rating, vacuuming schedules, spot cleaning schedules, and professional interim and restorative cleaning.

carpets cleaning chartAlong with regular vacuuming, professional carpet cleaning will extend the life of your carpets, so don’t neglect it.  Alpine Cleaning and Restoration Specialists recommend the chart above as a guideline for how often you should have your carpets cleaned if you want them to stay fresh and clean.

Let Us Help

Carpet cleaning is the bread and butter of Alpine Cleaning and Restoration.  Our business started with it and we have over 20 years of experience.  We pioneered a unique process that helps ensure that your carpets get clean and stay clean longer.  With our help, you can rest assured that your carpets will last for years to come, saving you time and money in the long run.  If you want Alpine Cleaning and Restoration to help you out, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.  We’re on call 24/7 to provide you with the best service possible.

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 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 intake and outlet air registers to capture any loose soot in the air. This is even more effective if the cheese cloth is damp.
  • If 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 could compound the soot residue problem.
  • Do not attempt to clean carpets or upholstered furniture. Again, incorrect procedures could increase damage.
  • 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

  • If 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 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 your professional cleaner.

Let Us Help

In an emergency, 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.

winterize your home

10 Tips to Winterize Your Home

winterize your home

As David Letterman says, “Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees.”

While fall is a beautiful season with reasonably nice weather, it is only a prelude to the frigid months of winter.  Did you know there is only one state in the United States where the temperatures have never dipped below zero?  In case you couldn’t guess, that state is Hawaii.  Since most of us aren’t blessed with the opportunity to live there, that means fall is a time to winterize your home.  You have to protect yourself against the heavy snow, the freezing temperatures, and that one guy who keeps borrowing your snow blower and not returning it.

Here are ten tips to help you winterize your home:

  • 1) Furnace Inspection

Call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace and clean ducts. Stock up on furnace filters and change them monthly. Consider switching out your thermostat for a programmable thermostat. If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly and when water appears, close them. Remove all flammable material from the area surrounding your furnace.

  • 2) Get the Fireplace Ready

Cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep out rodents and birds. If the chimney hasn’t been cleaned for a while, call a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote. Buy firewood or chop wood. Store it in a dry place away from the exterior of your home. Inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing. Check the mortar between bricks and tuckpoint, if necessary.

  • 3) Check the Exterior, Doors and Windows

Inspect exterior for crevice cracks and exposed entry points around pipes; seal them. Use weatherstripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering the home and caulk windows. Replace cracked glass in windows and, if you end up replacing the entire window, prime and paint exposed wood. If your home has a basement, consider protecting its window wells by covering them with plastic shields. Switch out summer screens with glass replacements from storage. If you have storm windows, install them.

  • 4) Inspect Roof, Gutters & Downspouts

If your weather temperature will fall below 32 degrees in the winter, adding extra insulation to the attic will prevent warm air from creeping to your roof and causing ice dams. Check flashing to ensure water cannot enter the home. Replace worn roof shingles or tiles. Clean out the gutters and use a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear away debris. Consider installing leaf guards on the gutters or extensions on the downspouts to direct water away from the home.

  • 5) Service Weather-Specific Equipment

Drain gas from lawnmowers. Service or tune-up snow blowers. Replace worn rakes and snow shovels. Clean, dry and store summer gardening equipment. Sharpen ice choppers and buy bags of ice-melt / sand.

  • 6) Check Foundations

Rake away all debris and edible vegetation from the foundation. Seal up entry points to keep small animals from crawling under the house. Tuckpoint or seal foundation cracks. Mice can slip through space as thin as a dime. Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation. Secure crawlspace entrances.

  • 7) Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Some cities require a smoke detector in every room. Buy extra smoke detector batteries and change them when daylight savings ends. Install a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and / or water heater. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work. Buy a fire extinguisher or replace an extinguisher older than 10 years.

  • 8) Prevent Plumbing Freezes

Locate your water main in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency. Drain all garden hoses. Insulate exposed plumbing pipes. Drain air conditioner pipes and, if your AC has a water shut-off valve, turn it off. If you go on vacation, leave the heat on, set to at least 55 degrees.

  • 9) Prepare Landscaping & Outdoor Surfaces

Trim trees if branches hang too close to the house or electrical wires. Ask a gardener when your trees should be pruned to prevent winter injury. Plant spring flower bulbs and lift bulbs that cannot winter over such as dahlias in areas where the ground freezes. Seal driveways, brick patios and wood decks. Don’t automatically remove dead vegetation from gardens as some provide attractive scenery in an otherwise dreary, snow-drenched yard. Move sensitive potted plants indoors or to a sheltered area.

  • 10) Prepare an Emergency Kit

Buy indoor candles and matches / lighter for use during a power shortage. Find the phone numbers for your utility companies and tape them near your phone or inside the phone book. Buy a battery back-up to protect your computer and sensitive electronic equipment. Store extra bottled water and non-perishable food supplies (including pet food, if you have a pet), blankets and a first-aid kit in a dry and easy-to-access location. Prepare an evacuation plan in the event of an emergency.

Let Us Help

Dont’ hesitate to get in contact with us if the winter months start causing you problems.  Our staff is on call 24/7 to serve all your cleaning and restoration needs.