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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.

house fire

What to Do After a House Fire

What Should You Do After a House Fire?

house fireHow many times have you doubted whether or not you left the stove on? Curling iron? Did you leave any candles lit? Did you put out that cigarette all the way? We try to be as careful as we can when it comes to fire safety but unfortunately accidents do happen. It can take a while to get over the loss you suffer if you become a victim of fire damage. It can be very emotionally draining but there are things you can do to make the recovery process easier when disaster strikes.

Don’t Go Back In After a Fire

Safety is the most important thing when it comes to the moments after fire damage.  You’ll be tempted to run inside to see what can be salvaged. Don’t do it. Only fire fighters and emergency responders will be able to tell you when or if it’s safe to return to a fire damaged structure. Nothing is worth risking your life for.

Call Your Insurance Agent

Before we talk about this step, it’s important to note how important insurance is.  It’s a good idea to be fully covered. Make sure to get a policy that will cover you in case of a fire. If you have coverage, contact your insurance agent first.  Not only will they tell you what you need to do in order to get money to repair your damages, they can help assist you with immediate action.

Immediate Fixes

Once the fire crew has given the all clear, you will want to do a few specific things first.  If you had a sprinkler system go off you will need to start pumping out water. Cover any damaged windows and doors.  If the damage leaves you feeling overwhelmed, get a hold of your agent.  They can guide you through the process.

Make a List of What Needs Replaced

Many insurance agents will ask that you do make a list of your valuable belongings before any type of damage happens. It is a good idea to keep an up to date list because it will save you a headache if the worst happens. If you didn’t already have one, take a survey of your belongings so you can know the amount of loss you need to report to your insurance agency.

Save Your Receipts

Anything that you buy to repair your home after fire damage has the potential for reimbursement from your insurance company but you do need those receipts. If fire damage has made your home unlivable ask a friend or family member for a safe place to store all of your documentation. It will come in handy later.

Start Replacing Valuable Documents

There are a lot of things you’ll be thinking about after the fire.  Family heirlooms, jewelry, furniture; these are all things to worry about, but they might not be as important as you think.  Don’t forget about important documents you owned.  Look for birth certificates, social security cards, passports, credit cards and other important documents.  You don’t want to end up needing them only to find you don’t have them anymore.  Replacing them is very time consuming.  You want to get started as soon as possible.

The most important thing to remember when recovering from fire damage is to try and stay calm.  The safety of you and your family come first.  You can replace anything else. Rely on professionals like insurance agents to do the hard stuff for you, after all it’s their job.  And when you’re ready to get your house restored, be sure to get in touch.

what to save

What to Save

What to Save After A House Fire

Before a professional fire damage restoration team can clean up after a house fire, you have to decide what to save.  This is often the most difficult part.  If the fire was put out with water, you’ll also need to contend with water damage.  Fortunately, you can save most of your belongings.  Just make sure to follow the safety rules before you throw anything away.

Food items

Its important to be cautious while dealing with the food situation.   First, throw away any burned food.  Food exposed to heat can become a nesting ground for bacteria, so throw away anything exposed to the heat, smoke, or ash.  Trash dented, rusted, or bulging canned foods.  Its better to be safe then risk getting food poisoning.

Refrigerated Food

A properly sealed refrigerator will keep cold for about four hours without power, so you might be able to save the food in it.  If your refrigerator was not damaged in the fire, check its contents. Confirm that the food is still cold and that no soot got in. Otherwise, a good rule of thumb is simply, “if in doubt, throw it out.”

Frozen Food

Any food in the freezer can be used if it still has ice crystals on it and if it still feels cold and hard. If not, discard it. Again, whenever in doubt, discard it.

Medicines and Cosmetics

It’s tempting to try and save medicines because they’re so expensive, but you have to be careful.  You don’t want to put anything harmful in your body.  Inspect medications and cosmetics carefully.  Save them only if they’re clean of soot, dust, and any chemicals used to extinguish the fire.

Clothes and Textiles

You can easily save clothes and textiles.  Discard these materials only if burnt, otherwise simply clean and disinfect them. Be extra cautious with clothing for babies and children.

Other Contents

You can save most other contents of your home.  Clean and disinfect them to make sure they’re soot and dust free.

Let Us Help

Alpine Cleaning and Restoration are experts in fire damage restoration and are there to help you if you need it.  Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you need any help.  Our staff is on call 24/7 to help you.