fire safety month

Fire Safety Month

October is National Fire Prevention Month

House fires are every homeowner’s worst nightmare. Fires can start in an instant, spread quickly, and cause severe damage to your home and belongings.

Fortunately, many fires can be prevented. October is National Fire Prevention Month, which makes now the perfect time to get up to speed on what you can do to keep your home and your family safe from fires. It will only take a few minutes to develop strong fire prevention practices and an effective emergency response plan for your home.

Fire Prevention

The best way to protect your home from fire damage is to make sure a fire never starts in the first place. Preventing a fire requires looking through your home for potential hazards and looking at your own habits for risky behaviors.

Following these general practices can reduce the risk of a house fire:

  • Install smoke detectors in every room of the house and test them monthly.
  • Consider installing fire sprinklers. In homes where sprinklers were present, 97% of fires are contained to the room they start in.
  • Always clean your washer and dryer, paying close attention to any lint screens.
  • Use caution with gasoline and propane tanks and equipment in the home.
  • Keep matches and lighters where children can’t find or reach them.
  • Store combustible materials in well-ventilated areas away from heat sources.
  • Keep fire extinguishers in rooms where fires are likely to start, like the kitchen or rooms with a fireplace. Make sure the fire extinguisher has not expired.

Kitchen Fires

cooking-fire-safety

Many fires are caused by preventable mistakes. According to FEMA, one out of every three house fires starts in the kitchen. Unsafe cooking practices and leaving the oven or stove unattended are often the cause of kitchen fires.

Here are some tips to prevent kitchen fires:

  • Always stay in the kitchen when you are cooking food.
  • When using oil, especially when frying, avoid moving the cooking vessel and throwing food into it—doing so could cause oil to splash onto the hot stovetop and start a grease fire.
  • Make sure anything that can catch fire—things like dish rags, curtains, and paper towels—are far away from the stovetop.
  • When cooking in the oven always set a timer so you don’t forget about your food.
  • Keep a lid nearby when cooking on the stovetop. You can use the lid to contain and smother small grease fires before they spread.

Home Candle Fires

The National Fire Protection Association says Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day are the top three days for candle fires in the United States. Roughly 8,700 structure fires were caused per year by candles from 2011-2015, resulting in $295 million in annual property damage.

Here’s how you can prevent a candle fire:

  • Always blow out candles when you leave the room and never burn candles in the bedroom or when you may fall asleep.
  • Keep candles a minimum of 1 foot from anything flammable.
  • Make sure you use sturdy candle holders placed on a sturdy surface like a table.
  • Never let candles burn all the way down to their holder.
  • Don’t use candles when the power goes out. Have flashlights or battery-powered lanterns ready for use instead.
  • Never light candles if oxygen tanks are used in your home.
  • Keep lit candles out of the reach of small children and pets.

Electrical Fires

Electrical distribution and lighting equipment are the #1 cause of direct property damage and the #3 major cause of home fires. Between 2011-2015, 34,000 house fires per year were caused by electrical systems or lighting.

To prevent electrical fires, it is important that all electrical work in the home is done by a qualified electrician. This includes installing new outlets, running wire, and inspections when buying or remodeling a home. Replace all frayed or exposed wires and loose plugs.

Always call an electrician if you frequently blow fuses or trip circuit breakers in your home. In addition, contact an electrician if you feel a tingling sensation when you touch an appliance, an appliance produces a burning or rubbery smell, or lights flicker or dim. Also watch out for discoloration or sparks from wall outlets.

Extension cords can cause electrical fires. This is especially true when they run across doorways or under carpets. This increases the likelihood of extension cords becoming damaged. If you are using extension cords in the home, consider having an electrician install more outlets in your home. Never overload an outlet or extension cord, especially when using high-energy appliances like toasters.

Heating Fires

The winter brings cold weather, and with it heating fires. Almost half of all heating fires in the U.S. occur from December to February. Over a four-year period, heating fires caused 480 deaths and $1.1 billion in property damage in homes across the country.

Heating equipment that can cause fires to include furnaces, wood stoves, fireplaces, and portable space heaters.

When using heating equipment, follow these tips to prevent a fire:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet from heating equipment.
  • Always have professionals install equipment like water heaters or central heating. Use stationary heating equipment in accordance with local building codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys inspected and cleaned annually.
  • Always use the right fuel for fuel-burning heaters. The manufacturer’s manual will tell you which fuel to use.
  • Always turn off space heaters when leaving the room or going to bed. It is a good idea to use a space heater with a timer function and automatic shut-off switch for if it is accidentally kicked over.
  • When using a fireplace, use a screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Allow all ashes to cool before putting them in a metal container for disposal.

What to do when there is a fire in your home?

You should always have a plan in place before a fire starts. Make sure everyone in your family knows what to do if there is a house fire. It helps to draw a map of your home with every door and window marked. Know two ways out of every room and make sure all doors and windows are easy to open. Establish an outside meeting place a safe distance from the home, like a mailbox or tree.

Once you have a fire escape plan in place, practice it. You should practice escaping from a house fire twice a year, at night and during the day. Make sure children are capable of escaping from the home on their own. If there are elderly, infants, or people with mobility issues in your home, assign one member of the household to help them escape.

If you have pets in your home, consider getting a front door or window decal that will tell firefighters how many dogs, cats, birds, or other animals are in the home.

If you hear a smoke alarm or see a fire:

  • Get out of the home as quickly as possible when you hear a smoke alarm. Stay out of the home and never go back in to look for people or pets.
  • Once you are safely out of the home, call 9-1-1 or get a neighbor to call the fire department.
  • If there is smoke, stay low to the ground to prevent smoke inhalation.
  • When leaving a room with a fire in it, close the door behind you to contain the fire.
  • If you are trapped in a room with a fire outside, feel the door and only open it if it is not warm.
  • If a fire is blocking your escape route, close all doors between you and the fire. Wave a white sheet out of your window so firefighters can see you and rescue you when they get there. This may be the best plan of action for people living in high-rise apartment buildings.

fire prevention month

Take fire safety into your own hands

Ultimately, you are responsible for keeping your home and family safe from a fire. By using fire-prevention tactics and fire-preparedness training, you can stop an accident from becoming a tragedy. Remember to make regular checks of your home to make sure all rooms are fire-safe and discuss fire safety with your family on a regular basis.

Ten Ways To Reduce The Risk Of A House Fire

A fire in the home is a very bad experience. There are, however, some preventative measure homeowners can take to reduce the risks of fire. Here are 10 of those ways:

  1. Don’t waste money on the special cleaning logs at the grocery store that claim to clean the inside of the chimney, because they don’t work. Instead hire a professional chimney cleaning service that can actually remove the dangerous creosote buildup.
  2. Never leave a fire smoldering when going to bed at night. Always make sure that it’s completely extinguished, otherwise the embers may throw sparks and cause a fire.
  3. Always use a safety screen in front of the fireplace, because wood can crackle and pop while burning, which can send hot embers flying out onto the floor around the hearth.
  4. Don’t throw flammable items like newspapers and wrapping paper onto the burning logs. Even though it’s fun to watch the flames roar and burning paper float around, the risk of spreading the fire to places other than the fireplace is significant.
  5. Outdoor fire pits should be kept at distance from the house. Even though it may mean longer walks back to the kitchen to get more beer or marshmallows, at least you’re more likely to still have a kitchen should something go wrong.
  6. If you’re having trouble getting a fire started, never, EVER use gasoline as a fire starting aid.
  7. Never pile extra wood on top of a burning fire in an effort to avoid getting back up to put more on later. Adding too much fuel to the fire can cause the flames to get out of control, and it may be too hot to approach when it comes time to manage the growing fire.
  8. Even though they cast a soft romantic glow, only burn candles in moderation, and never leave them unattended.
  9. Stove tops and ovens shouldn’t be used as extra storage space, especially gas burning units. The pilot lights burn continuously, and it’s easy to forget there are items in there when turning on the oven to preheat.
  10. Open windows in the kitchen can allow fresh air to blow through, but that breeze can also send paper towels and napkins flying into the open flames of a gas stove top. Keep the windows closed when the fires are lit.

If you have experienced smoke or fire damage  in your Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill / Cary home contact us today. In addition to being restoration specialists we are North Carolina licensed general contractors who can tackle any job.

Cleaning Up Smoke Damage After A Fire

If you have experienced smoke or fire damage  in your Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill / Cary home contact us today. In addition to being restoration specialists we are North Carolina licensed general contractors who can tackle any job.

Professional Restoration Services can help homeowners that have had damage done to their homes by fire or water, even under the worst circumstances. But in order to achieve the best results it’s important that they contact us immediately after the fire is extinguished.

The smoke and ash residue left behind mixes with the water used to put out the fire and turns into an acidic, black mess. This acid can further damage any surface that it’s in contact with, making a bad situation even worse.

The only way to prevent further destruction of the home and it’s contents  is with a thorough cleaning, using professional grade chemicals designed to neutralize the acid and stop it from reacting with the walls, floors, ceilings, furniture, appliances, and other personal belonging.

This type of clean up isn’t easy, and isn’t something that a typical home or business owner is equipped to handle on their own. The restoration technicians at PRS are trained and experienced professionals with access to special equipment and cleansing  products designed specifically to handle smoke and ash damage.

Even though the fire is out, the immediate urgency of the damage isn’t over. The ash residue is already working to further damage your home, which is why we are prepared to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our staff will show up quickly and begin working immediately on a full-scale cleanup.

After a fire it is likely that smoke odors will fill the entire home, and we can provide equipment designed to not only vent the foul smelling air out of the house, but clean the source of the odor so that it doesn’t return in the future. This is a difficult task, and requires the used of thermal foggers and other sophisticated odor removal equipment.

If your home has been damage by a fire, and you need help cleaning up the mess left behind, contact us today. We’ll work with you and your insurance company in order to keep the out of pocket costs to an absolute minimum. Your home will be completely restored back to it’s normal state in as little as a few days.

The Most Likely Places You’ll Find Smoke Damage After A Fire

If you have experienced smoke or fire damage in your Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill / Cary home contact us today. In addition to being restoration specialists, we are North Carolina licensed general contractors who can tackle any job.

Smoke gets everywhere, even places the fire didn’t. But some places are more likely to have smoke damage than others, and some of them may be surprising.

Because of hot air rises, smoke damage is most commonly found directly above where the fire burned. Unless there was a strong air current flowing through the building, a majority of the smoke residue is usually on the ceiling just above the fire.

If the fire is near an open door or window, the rising smoke will damage the areas just above those openings. The hot air will collect near the ceiling, spread out towards the edges of the room until an opening it found, and the pour outwards and upwards, bringing black smoke and soot with it.

Smoke damage can often be found in bizarre and unexpected places, such as inside closed cabinets,  drawers, and closets, or other places that would appear to be closed off. The reason for this is a bit counter-intuitive. In the open areas around the fire, the heat generated moves the air quite a bit, which stirs up all of the microscopic particles that make up smoke and soot. But the air inside the enclosed spaced in much cooler, and less turbulent. This allows the particles to settle, creating the dark stains seen after a fire.

Because smoke tends to collect in these cooler areas it’s common to find stains in places that are insulated, even slightly, from the direct heat of the flames. Smoke damage is often seen on walls covered with curtains, drapes, or even paintings.

Rubbing your socks on the carpet generates static electricity, which can make your hair stand on end. Well, as smoke particles circulate in the air, they rub against one another and generate the same ionic forces. This causes them to cling to certain types of surfaces that attract charged particles, such as metal nail heads just below the surface of the walls or ceilings, or on cobwebs strung up in the corners of the room. Some synthetic materials, like plastics and pieces of vinyl, also collect free-floating smoke particles in the air.

Like the old saying goes, out of sight, out of mind. Homeowners very seldom think about the insides of their air ducts, mostly because they are so difficult to access, and never see the light of day. But that’s exactly where the HVAC system is blowing all of the smoke and soot, where it’s going to settle. But every time the system turns on, some of those particles are going to be swept back into the air, and blown all throughout the house.

Cleaning up smoke damage after a fire is a job best done by trained professionals. Call us today, 24/7, and well help you get started on recovering from damage after a fire.

Why Cleaning Smoke Damage Is So Difficult

If you have experienced smoke or fire damage in your Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill / Cary home contact us today. In addition to being restoration specialists, we are North Carolina licensed general contractors who can tackle any job.

Following a fire, there is a lot of cleanup and rebuilding to be done. Anything that is sufficiently damaged by flames obviously needs to be replaced outright. But many items and surfaces in the home may not appear to be very damages at all. It’s easy to assume that they can be ignored, or simply treated with a mild cleaning.

Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth. After a fire, nearly every exposed surface through the entire house needs to be treated a cleaned thoroughly in order to prevent continuing damage, as well as the persistent smell of smoke that seems to linger forever.

The are many reasons for this process, beginning with the chemical makeup of smoke and ash. Once they mix with water they become very acidic. Not enough to instantly melt your metal appliances, but enough to slowly corrode just about every surface in your home that comes in contact with the caustic mix.

Not only does this need to be cleaned up quickly, but it needs to be cleaned up properly. Soap and water, or any other grocery store cleaner aren’t going to do the job correctly. Much of the obvious stain may disappear with enough scrubbing, the chemicals that will do the most damage will seep deep down into the floors, walls, ceilings, and any other porous surface where it will continue to eat away for weeks or months.

Once they are soaked in, they will also cause nauseating odors to fill the home. Air fresheners won’t be able to cover the smell, and opening a window only blows away the small temporarily. To fix the issues, the source of the odor needs to be eliminated, which is just as difficult as cleaning the smoke damage.

Smoke damage cleaning is, perhaps, the most complicated form of treatment for a homeowner to accomplish them. Not only does it take a thorough approach and deep remediation of nearly every surface in the building, it can only be done effectively if the areas behind the building’s walls receive treatment as well. This is a massive challenge to anyone but certified professionals, as these experts have the know-how, manpower, and equipment to complete the task properly.

In some ways smoke is a lot of dust, as it’s incredibly fine particles of ash suspended in the air, waiting to settle onto any surface it touches. But unlike dust, smoke can permanently stain surfaces, and can’t be easily wiped away with a damp cloth. It may be tempting to cover these stains with a coat of paint, but that just buries the problem, it doesn’t eliminate it.

The technicians at PRS are trained professionals that work around the clock to fix these types of issues quickly and permanently. We’ll show up fast and begin working, not just on repairing your home, but with your insurance company, too. It’s our goal to make sure that insurance will cover as much of the work as possible and to keep the homeowners out of pocket costs to a minimum.

Health Hazards Posed By Fire Damage

If you have experienced fire damage in or around Raleigh contact us today to get your home back in order as quickly as possible. We are locally owned and operated and have been restoring home in the area for years.

It’s highly understandable for a homeowner to be concerned about his or her house and personal property after a fire, but it’s also important to be concerned about their health. Not all health hazards of a fire are posed by the heat of the flames and smoke inhalation. Some of the risks can stick around for weeks or months after the fire is put out.

The heat generated by a fire affects different materials in different ways. Things made out of plastics or other synthetic chemicals can melt, and release toxic fumes into the air that, when inhaled, can cause serious lung and tissue damage. These fumes aren’t just released by the fire, but for days afterward.

Soot and smoke are both comprised of microscopically tiny particles that are just a single micron in diameter, less than .1% the width of a human hair. They are so small that even the best HVAC filters can’t capture them, meaning that as the heating and air conditioning circulates air throughout the home, the tiny toxic particles are spreading to each and every room.

Not only does this lead to a nasty, persistent odor throughout the house, but it creates a health hazard for anyone that’s inside, breathing in tiny particles that can stick to the inside of the lungs and airways. There they can cause tissue damage, and possibly even lead to diseases or cancer.

Most homes are primarily constructed out of wood, even if the exterior is encased with bricks, stucco, or vinyl siding. When treated lumber inside the home burns it releases a wide range of incredibly dangerous gasses including methane, carbon monoxide, benzene, sulfur dioxide, formaldehyde, formic acid, acetic acid, and traces of heavy metals.

These chemicals are harmful if inhaled, but can also settle onto surfaces throughout the home, like carpets, furniture, kitchen and bathroom counters, and walls. There they can lie hidden until disturbed, where they are then redistributed into the air to be inhaled at a later time.

In order to keep your family safe and healthy after a house fire, contact PRS. We’re trained and experienced professionals capable of cleaning all of the harmful toxins and chemicals from your home that most cleaning supplies are designed to handle, and that most cleaning services aren’t trained to look for. We’ll even clean the places that most services don’t think to ever look, like the insides of the air ducts, where chemicals can get circulated through the entire home.

Summer Season Is Fire Season

If you have experienced fire damage in or around Raleigh contact us today to get your home back in order as quickly as possible. We are locally owned and operated and have been restoring home in the area for years.

Between the months of May and September, many homeowners become damages by fire. The reason that the summer months are so much more dangerous for fire hazards is that when people are grilling outside, lighting insect-repelling candles in their yards, sitting around fire pits, and setting off fireworks. These are all fire based activities that rarely take place in the colder months, and can cause quite a lot of damage to a home when things go wrong.

When a fire happens, it’s not just the fire itself that causes the damage. The smoke that it creates sticks to and penetrates just about anything it comes in contact with. It leaves behind a dark, ugly stain that’s difficult, if not impossible to clean off. There’s also a terrible smokey smell that doesn’t go away either. Most of the time, any surface or item that has smoke damage needs to be completely replaced in order to get rid of both the discoloration and odor.

Also, the water used to put out the fire causes problems of its own. As it soaks into the home, it can carry with it the ash created by the fire. When mixed together, the ask and water make a very corrosive substance that will eat away at wood, glass, and even metal. Even on its own, water can be very destructive. It can promote the growth of mold, mildew, and other microbial life forms that weaken the structure of the house, as well as pose a health risk to those living inside.

Anyone of these issues is difficult to solve on your own, and it’s very likely that in the event of a fire, you’re going to experience all three. It’s best to call in a professional team that knows the best ways of treating these types of problems and can do so while working with your insurance company in an effort to keep your out of pocket costs to a minimum.

If your home has suffered any form of damage due to a fire, it’s recommended that you contact PRS today. We’re available 24/7 through our emergency hotline at 919-467-1991. Our trained and certified professionals will arrive fast, determine the severity of the damage, and get to work restoring your home to it’s prime.

Steps To Take While Waiting For The Restoration Professionals To Arrive

Water damage can be caused by nature or by indoor plumbing, but no matter its source, the damage to your home can be severe. You should always contact a professional restoration service provider to make sure that the damage is handled properly, and your home is made safe for your family to live in. But in the mean time, there are several things that you can do while you wait for the pros to arrive.

The first and most important step is to stay safe. In some severe situations, contaminated floodwater or electrical hazards may make the home unsafe to occupy. If it’s not safe, wait outside until help arrives. Even slippery floors can pose a safety risk, so always err on the side of caution.

If possible, attempt to remove any excess water. Buckets, mops, and towels can help eliminate some of the water that standing on the surface. It may not seem like much, but by removing the big puddles, you’re preventing it from seeping further into your home, where it can become a more difficult problem to deal with.

Move any valuable items to safety, such as books, or family heirlooms. Furniture and appliances may be expensive, but they are also easily replaced, and will likely be covered by your insurance. Focus on the items that are irreplaceable and priceless to you.

Avoid turning on any electrical appliances, including fans, heaters, and vacuum cleaners. While they may appear to be helpful in the cleanup process, the electrical hazard that they pose could potentially make the situation much worse by either injuring someone or shorting out and causing a fire.

Additionally, attempting to use a vacuum cleaner to soak up or dry out the water is also going to spread bacteria and other microbes into the air, where they can potentially cause serious health issues, while also contaminating and ruining the machine.

Remove wet rugs from hard floorings, such as hardwood, vinyl, or laminate. The water they trap under them will slowly seep into the floor, and cause damage to the sub-flooring. Also, some rugs may have dyes and colorants that could bleed and stain the flooring below.

Any kitchenware, such as dishes and utensils, should be collected and sterilized with a strong bleach mixture. Both biological and chemical contaminants can stick to them even after they are dry, and may cause health problems in the future.

If there’s ever any kind of water damage to your home or business, it’s recommended that you contact PRS today. We’re available 24/7 through our emergency hot-line at 919-467-1991. Our trained and certified professionals will be able to determine the severity of the damage and work with your insurance company to keep your out of pocket costs to a minimum.

Will I lose Coverage After Making A Claim On My Home Owner’s Insurance?

We get asked all the time if making a claim on your homeowner’s insurance raises the chances of getting dropped from coverage. Unfortunately, no matter who you ask, there’s no clear answer to that question. Even insurance adjusters and agents can’t say one way or the other. The good news is that we’ve seen a lot of different situations over the many years we’ve been in business, and we can share the facts that we do have with you.

If your Cary, Apex, Raleigh, Durham or Chapel Hill home has serious damage due to fire, wind, or water, call us immediately at 919-467-1991. We will show up soon and work fast to stop any further damage and begin the restoration process. We can work with your insurance company to make sure you pay as little as possible. We’re available around the clock, 7 days a week.

What makes answering this question so difficult is how many situations we’ve seen that seem to be in direct opposition from one another. Some of our customers have made multiple claims for water damage in just a few short years, and still haven’t been dropped from coverage. Other customers, who had been with their insurance companies for over twenty years, have been dropped after a single, reasonable claim. Why these two scenarios played out the way they did is based on a mathematical formula, which is a total mystery known only to the insurance companies.

A well reasoned but unverified hypothesis on why this happens is that insurance companies break their clients into geographical sections, like neighborhoods, or towns. If one particular section happens to be over insured and could cost the business money in the event of a claim, they may start cutting costs any way they can, even if that means cutting off long-term, loyal customers. If that’s the case, then you get dropped from coverage has almost nothing to do with you or your home.

What we can say for certain is that multiple claims within 2-3 year period will raise your chances of getting dropped, but there’s no guarantee that it will happen. In the event that it does, though, it may be a blessing in disguise. Occasionally we hear from our customers that after getting dropped, they found better rates from a competing insurance company. Since they weren’t actively shopping around, they would never have found out about the opportunity for saving money had they not been dropped in the first place.

If there’s ever any kind of damage to your home that you think warrants an insurance claim, it’s recommended that you contact a professional. We’re available 24/7 through our emergency hot-line at 919-467-1991. Our trained and certified professionals will be able to determine the severity of the damage and work with your insurance company to keep your out of pocket costs to a minimum. As licensed contractors, we’ll not only be able to rip out all of the damaged drywall, and any other affected structure, we can rebuild your home as good as new.

Should You Call Insurance or Restoration Company First?

When dealing with fire, smoke, or water damage to your home, the first thing you should do is contact Professional Restoration Services on our 24/7 emergency hotline at 919-467-1991. Our goal is to stop any ongoing damage, repair any existing damage, and return your home to top condition.

Our trained professionals will be able to assess the situation and determine whether or not an insurance claim is necessary. For some minor problems, it may only require a plumber or painter to fix something, costing you less than the deductible for your insurance policy. This may save you from filing a claim that can potentially be used against you in the future. Your rates may go up, or you may get dropped from coverage completely.

While a small leak from a household appliance may not be a big deal, it’s hard to know how far the damage extends without proper testing with specialty tools, like moisture meters and infrared cameras.

Calling your insurance company first may have some negative consequences that you may not be aware of. Most insurance companies have a list of 3rd party contractors that they work with on a regular basis. The relationship between these companies often leads to the contractors having the insurance companies best interests in mind, and not yours. This means that you’ll get the cheapest repairs possible, and not the most appropriate.

Fortunately, you have the right to choose which company you like handle these situations. That means that you can choose a company like PRS that will have your best interests in mind, and the insurance company can’t fight you on it, even if doing the job the right way costs them more money.

If your home has water, fire, or smoke damage, call us today on our 24/7 emergency hotline at 919-467-1991. We’ll work with you and your insurance company to put your home back in order and keep your out of pocket costs to a minimum.


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