Recent Fire Damage Posts
How to Safely Set Up a Christmas Tree
Be safe with your tree!
Every year, U.S. fire departments respond to ≈160 fires that started at a Christmas tree. These fires cause injuries and death along with millions of dollars in property damage. To keep your family and home safe this holiday season, follow these tips below.
Choosing a tree
- If choosing a real tree, use one with fresh, green needles that do not fall off with normal movement.
- Remember to water your tree daily.
- If using an older tree, make sure the pieces aren’t broken and are stable enough not to fall over.
Lighting the tree
- Make sure to use indoor lights and not outdoor lights.
- Never leave lights on at night or while away from home.
- Do not use candles as lights or have near the tree, contact with a flame is not needed for ignition.
- Replace any broken or frayed lines that are on your lights.
Placing the tree
- Do not place your tree within 3ft of any heat sources such as fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or powerful lights.
- Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2” from the base of the trunk.
- Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit and isn’t in a path where people or pets could trip over it.
Christmas is a wonderful time to celebrate with friends and family, be sure to use caution and safety to have a great holiday season!
Tips for Reducing Fire and Smoke Damage
Extensive fire and soot damage before SERVPRO of Bismarck arrives
No one wants to think about the disaster that a fire has caused to their home, let alone the damage that still could happen. Here are some tips for minimizing it:
- Limit movement in your home to prevent the soot particles from being embedded into your furniture and carpets.
- Keep hands clean! Soot on your hands can further damage any items that are touched.
- Place dry towels or old linens on any furniture, rugs, or high traffic areas in your home.
- Let SERVPRO of Bismarck take care of the rest!
Our highly trained Fire Restoration Technicians are there and ready to help you get your home back into pre-fire shape, with less disruption to your home.
Let SERVPRO of Bismarck:
- Use special equipment to remove any remaining soot from the walls, ceilings and furniture.
- Get rid of any lingering odors by using industrial air scrubbers and fogging equipment.
- Restore any carpets or drywall or paint in areas that might need a touch-up.
The time after a fire can be scary and confusing, so let SERVPRO of Bismarck professionals help get your home back into shape.
How to Safely Put Out an Oven Fire
A small spark can cause a big issue!
Picture this: You're happily cooking pancakes on a Saturday morning for your kids and the bacon is sizzling away in the oven. You HAD to get the kind with the extra fat because the kids like it better than too much actual meat. Your back is turned for one second and the next thing you know BAM! All that grease from the fatty bacon and a too hot oven has caused a fire! But don't panic! Follow these tips to help put it out and minimize the damage:
- DO NOT PUT WATER ON IT OR FAN IT. Water will instantly turn to steam and fanning it with a towel will only give the grease fire more oxygen to grow and spread to the towel which could cause burns.
- Keep the oven closed! Keeping the door shut will cut off oxygen and the fire will go out on its own.
- Turn off the oven fi you can to eliminate the heat source.
Well, the bacon is inedible, the pancakes are burned, the kids are thinking the whole thing is cool to watch, and you're just happy the fire is gone with minimal damage to the kitchen. Takeout anyone?
Smoke Odor in Your Home
Smoke from wildfires covers this downtown
Fire season is upon us, and no one likes the smell of smoke everywhere you go outside. But your home should be a safe haven from the smoky smell, shouldn't it? That's not always the case. Smoke can linger for a long time if the wind isn't blowing hard enough to clear up most of the big stuff, which can cause the smoke to creep it's way into your home and into your carpets, walls and furniture. Now that smoky smell is stuck and plain air fresheners won't make it go away. That's why SERVPRO of Bismarck is her to get rid of it for you. Our trained technicians have access to several odor removal products capable of penetrating surfaces to neutralize the odor thoroughly.
Leave the smoke smell outside, and leave your home smelling smoke free with SERVPRO of Bismarck.
Fire at a Bismarck Hotel
Image captured from our 3D Matterport™ camera
Although you may expect to have problems when you stay at a hotel, you usually have an idea of what those problems will be. A bad mattress, poor breakfast, or loud neighbors. However, you do not expect a fire to ruin your stay. This is what happened at this Bismarck hotel when a case of arson left behind a sooty, smoky room.
Staying at a hotel is supposed a relaxing experience. Whether you are on a trip to relax or for work, the last thing you expect to have is a fire within the building. Thankfully, nobody was harmed, and the fire was contained to the one room.
This was one of the first jobs we used our new 3D Matterport™ camera to document the damage and create a 3D model. Having a 3D model will allow us to have the most accurate documentation of the job site and easy communication between our staff, the hotel managers, and their insurance providers. This will allow us to have quicker and better information and ensure the property gets cleaned faster, allowing the hotel to reopen that room for guests again.
Why a Fire Loss Call May Turn Into a Water Damage Claim
Fire loss may turn into water damage
While it may seem obvious when we get a fire loss claim that there will be typical signs of fire damage, burnt materials, soot, and smoke residue everywhere, you might be surprised to learn that we usually find water damage in these instances too. Whether it is a big or small fire, water damage can often come with it, creating an even larger mess and problem to clean up.
Almost all commercial buildings today have a built-in fire suppression system, like overhead sprinklers. When there is a fire, these sprinklers extinguish the blaze, but in doing so, flood the property with hundreds or thousands of gallons of water. While hopefully these sprinklers prevent further fire damage, they leave behind a different problem, in the form of water damage. While the sprinklers prevent further damage and protect anyone in the building, the water needs to be cleaned immediately. The sprinkler water is clean, coming straight from the water main and therefore can cause minimal harm if extracted immediately, as opposed to dirty water which can leave behind germs and harmful bacteria.
In residential properties, while there may be no built-in sprinklers fire fighters often create water damage when extinguishing blazes. Using high powered hoses, modern fire fighters can pump hundreds of gallons of water into a home, leaving behind a wet mess in addition to whatever fire damage happened.
Water damage is far less deadly, and dirty, when compared with a large fire loss and can be mitigated faster as well. While we hope all fires can be put out quickly, whenever we get a call about fire loss, we come prepared for water damage as well.
3 Things You Can Do Today to Prepare for a Summer Home Fire
Be prepared for possible home fires
As we head into the summer months and the temperature starts heating up, now is a great time to make sure you're ready in case the unexpected happens. Summer is the busiest season for home fires to occur. Here are three things you can do today to make sure you are ready for a home fire.
Check Fire Extinguishers
Now is a great time to check your fire extinguishers and perhaps buy more if necessary. Check the gauge at the top of the extinguisher and make sure it is properly pressurized. If an extinguisher has no pressure, return it to the manufacturer or proper dealer and purchase a new one. Make sure priority rooms in your home are within reach of a fire extinguisher. This includes the kitchen, garage, basement, utility rooms, hallways, and any other room that could be susceptible to a fire. Remember to place your extinguishers around your home so that you will be able to reach one quickly and safely, without being cut off by a potential blaze.
Make an Escape Plan
Bring your whole family together for a reminder about the escape plan in case of a fire. Have a predetermined location for everyone to meet after they've left the house. This way, it reduces family members going back into the home to look for someone, which should never be done. In the plan, be sure to determine how every family member will get out, where to meet, and plans for afterward, such as friends or family to stay with and insurance members to call.
Check Smoke Alarms
Smoke alarms should be checked annually. This is a simple step that can be done to drastically help prevent fire damage and loss of life. Make sure the alarm is fully functional by pressing the test button until a sharp piercing noise can be heard. If no noise is made, replace the battery and try again. If there is still no noise, replace the whole unit.
As we head into the summer months, be sure to take steps to protect your home and family from an unexpected fire.
3 Tips for Fire Prevention
Read these tips to avoid an accidental fire
358,500 homes experience a structural fire each year (NFPA). This is a heartbreaking statistic so we wanted to share three quick tips you can use to prevent a fire in your home.
Leave Space Around Heat Sources
No matter how you heat your home, it is important to leave room around the source of heat for each room. Dry materials can combust without directly touching a hot object. Items like clothes, papers, furniture, and pet/baby toys should be kept away from hot air that could heat them to the point of combustion.
Don't Sleep with Space Heaters On
Leaving a space heater on at night is a recipe for disaster. Anything from a wiring failure, manufacturer defect, or a pet knocking it over, could be the cause of a fire. While we all love to sleep in a warm, cozy room, running a space heater at night is a bad option. Instead, run it a few hours before you go to sleep to heat up the air.
Clean Cooking Surfaces and Range Hoods
Grease builds up quickly in the kitchen, especially those that use a lot of oils or butters to cook. Make sure to clean off your stovetop and oven to prevent buildup of grease on these surfaces. Additionally, clean the range hood which is a forgotten surface that builds up grease and dirt quickly.
As we approach colder weather and we start firing up the furnace to heat our homes, remember these tips for protecting your home.
Tips for Cooking with Oil
Be safe around hot oil!
The number one cause of house fires is from cooking. The heat we use to cook our food can be dangerous when we are careless or leave a hot surface unattended. Cooking with oil is especially dangerous due to the volatility of hot oil. Below is a list of best practices for cooking with oil to make sure you and your home stay safe.
Never Leave a Hot Frying Pan Unattended
A fire can quickly ignite and become uncontrollable within seconds. Leaving the kitchen for even a short time can be disastrous for your home.
Smoking Oil is Dangerous
Is you are heating up oil and it begins to smoke, this is a warning sign. Immediately turn off the stovetop and wait at least 15 minutes for the surface to cool. If possible, safely move pan from burner and set on a unheated burner or other surface.
Keep a Lid Nearby
If a fire does happen, place the lid over the pan to suppress the fire. Do not throw water onto the hot oil as the water will instantly boil and set off a burst of hot oil and water that can only spread the fire.
Cooking with oil is a quick way to make all of your favorite foods and recipes. Using caution, you can have a wonderful meal with no worries. Be sure to exercise safety when cooking at all times and hopefully you will never have to worry about cleaning up a fire in your home.
What to Do if a Fire Starts in the Kitchen
A scenario that everyone fears happening - you're cooking your meal in the kitchen when suddenly there is a big burst of energy and flames erupt! What happens next could mean the difference between your safety, your family, and your home. Here are some tips on what to do if there is ever a fire in your kitchen:
- Grease fires cannot be put out with water. If you are using cooking oil or cooking foods that give off large amounts of grease and they ignite into a fire, throwing water on that fire will only cause it to vaporize into steam which can cause burns to yourself as well as increase the flare of the fire. Instead, try to cover the flame with a lid or dish that will cut off oxygen supply and eventually put out the flame. If you can safely turn off the heat source, that will help as well.
- If there is a fire in your oven or microwave, do not open the door. Instead, turn off the heat source and let the flame die out on its own. Opening the door can allow fresh oxygen to reignite the flame which would otherwise die out.
- Do not try to put the fire out by swatting at it with a towel or cloth. This will only fan it and increase the possibility of it spreading onto that towel or cloth. Instead, try smothering it with a large, wet towel. Quickly soak the towel and cover the whole pan with to try to put out the flames. If it is already too big of a fire, this will not work.
- Make sure to have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen that is easily accessible. This is your best bet for putting out the fire before it causes any further damage as well as the safest option for you.
The one thing you should remember about kitchen fires is that you should never try to be a hero. You will know almost immediately whether you can put the fire out and should call 911 if you have any doubts about if you will be successful. Even a small fire can spread quickly and waiting for it to get out of control can be the difference between having a smoky kitchen and suffering from catastrophic fire damage. If you can not contain the fire immediately, call 911 for help.
How to Properly Test Your Smoke Alarm
Don't forget about the smoke alarm!
While it is a task that is quite boring, monotonous and may seem like a waste of time, testing your smoke alarm can literally be a life or death decision. So while yes, it is boring, this simple task can save the lives of you, your family, your pets, and your home. Here is the proper way to test your smoke alarm to keep everything you love safe.
Make Sure You Can Hear the Alarm from Everywhere in Your Home
Have someone stand in the room farthest away from the alarm with the door closed to make sure the sound is audible. If they can hear it clearly, you are good to go. If not, you can try replacing the batteries to improve hearing or you can buy another detector to place in a better spot.
To test the alarm, it's as simple as holding the test button and waiting for that piercing noise to ring out, confirming the batteries and sound are working correctly. However, this does not test whether or not the alarm is detecting smoke properly.
Testing smoke alarms using smoke should be done a few times a year, safely, in order to ensure proper functioning of the detector. After warning the members of the house that you are testing the alarm, strike and match and then blow it out, holding the match about a foot away from the detector. The smoke given off should be enough to trigger the alarm. If not, repeat a few times to see if you're able to set it off. If there is still no response from the alarm, replace the batteries and try again. Remember, it may take a few minutes before the alarm will sound.
Safely testing your smoke alarms is a mundane task. But as a homeowner, it is your responsibility to make sure your home is safe along with everyone in it.
The Danger of Smoking to Your Home
Don't smoke in your home!
For years, smoking has been known to have negative consequences to your health, but what about the health of your home? Although smoking inside in public areas has been outlawed for some years, smoking inside is still common in many households across the U.S. Besides the health consequences for smoking, your home can also suffer damages as well.
Smoking is the leading cause of death in home fires, with an average of 590 deaths annually and 1,130 injuries. Fires caused by smoking materials happen mostly in bedrooms (34%) and living rooms (43%), are areas where flammable materials such as blankets, carpets, and couch fibers are liable to catch fire if they are exposed to a flame from a cigarette.
Smoking is generally viewed as only harmful to oneself, or through secondhand smoke. However, if a fire breaks out from smoking, this damages the home and endangers the lives of everyone who lives there.
When trying to resell a home, one that has been occupied by a smoker can be tough to sell. The smell from cigarettes is a tough one to remove and simply cleaning the carpet is not always the solution. The smell of smoke can get trapped in cupboards, vents, and even along the ceiling. All of this combines to reduce the home value by almost 29%. This reduced value is sure to keep rising in severity as smoking becomes less common is society.
How to Clean
Smoke is one of the most challenging smell to get out of your home. Anyone who has burnt their dinner knows the smell can linger for hours. Years of smoking inside is even harder to restore a fresh smell. When dealing with smoke, simply spraying an air freshener or cleaning the carpet will likely not do anything to help.
Cleaning the walls and ceilings with a cleaning solution is a great start, followed by a deep cleaning of the carpets and floors. Oftentimes you may need to professionally clean your air ducts. The smoke smell can get stuck in your ducts, furnace, and air conditioning units, which will need to be fully removed to keep the smell from circulating throughout your home.
NFPA (Jan. 2019) Home Fires Started by Smoking. NFPA.com. Marty Ahrens.
Realtor Magazine. (July, 2018) How Much Cigarette Smoke Decreases Resale Value.
What Do I Do if There is a Fire?
As the local leader in restoration for fire damage, SERVPRO of Bismarck wants to keep you informed of ways to prevent fire from having a devastating impact on your life.
Here are some tips from The Red Cross:
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
- Test smoke alarms every month. If they are not working, change the batteries.
- Talk with all family members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.
- If a fire occurs inside your home, GET OUT, STAY OUT, and CALL FOR HELP. Never go back inside for anything or anyone.
"Who should I contact if a fire happens?"
- Immediately dial 911 and have first responders there as soon as possible.
- Make sure anyone who was in the house is out. DO NOT go back into a burning building for people, pets, or belongings. Nothing is as important as your safety.
- Once the fire as been extinguished, contact your insurance provider and see what your policy covers.
- Have them contact us, SERVPRO of Bismarck, and we will work with them for you to make sure everything is restored back to perfect condition.
Where to Place Your Fire Extinguishers
Fires are chaotic, unexpected and costly emergencies that impact millions of people each year. In 2018, a US fire department responded to a call every 24 seconds. While we never expect to have a fire, it is an event that impacts 1 in 3,000 households across the country. Hopefully, you will never have to be the victim of a house fire, but you should always be prepared. One of the best things you can do to prepare yourself is to have fire extinguishers available in your house and make sure they are placed in optimal areas to combat any flames.
Before you begin positioning your fire extinguishers, first make sure they are good working order. Make sure the locking pin, located on the handle, is intact and the seal is unbroken. Check the pressure gauge to see if it is still at full capacity and then look for any leaks for damage on the body, handle, or nozzle. Having a certified fire extinguisher inspector look over your units once a year is always recommended. Once you are sure that your fire extinguishers are fully operational you can begin to place them in areas for the best use.
The kitchen is the most common place for home fires to start. With the stove, microwave and other appliances all clustered together, cooking is the cause for 44% of home fires. You should place your fire extinguishers in an unblocked area of the kitchen that is not next to the stove or other appliances. The last thing you want to try to do is reach through flames to get your fire extinguisher. If possible, place it near the center of the room and by a hallway or door so that those entering the room can access it.
Another great place to have an extinguisher is in your shop or garage. This is an area where you likely have stored flammable materials such as gasoline, oils, and painting materials. This, in combination with power tools, can make the garage or shop a mandatory area for having a fire extinguisher. Again, make sure it is stored in a highly visible area that is not blocked or covered.
Now that we are moving into the summer months, you should have a fire extinguisher available at all of your recreation areas. If you are grilling or using a firepit in your backyard, having a fire extinguisher is a must. In addition, having a fire extinguisher in your vehicle for going to the lake, park, or camping trip is a smart move in ensuring everyone can be safe and have fun.
While you can have a fire extinguisher in almost every room in your house, these areas should be prioritized immediately. Making sure you are able to reach a fire extinguisher in under 10 seconds can allow you to contain the damage and save lives. Take a look at your home or business and see where you are vulnerable to a fire and take action to prevent a catastrophe from happening.
How to Make Sure Your Family Has a Safe Campfire this Summer
With summer approaching fast and being able to go down to the lake, park, or backyard and sit around a warm fire while making s'mores will be a welcome treat. However, making sure it is done safely will prevent a hard year from becoming even worse. Here are some tips to make sure your fire is safe this year.
The three things you need to make sure your fire is safe are:
- The right location
- Proper maintenance
- Fire extinguisher
When choosing the right location for a fire, you should make sure there is nothing in the immediate surrounding area that could catch fire. There should be 10 feet of cleared space around your fire site and nothing overhead such as tree branches or a building overhang, which could be damaged by smoke. Make sure that the location you are using for your fire does not have a burn ban or fire warning in effect so that you are safe from any kind of legal trouble and you know the risk of having a fire. If at a formal campground, look for a fire pit or designated campfire area.
Proper maintenance begins before you ever start your fire. Making sure you have all the materials you need before starting the fire is a key to safety. All fires should have a bucket of water nearby and a shovel or other tools for putting it out. Having a fire extinguisher nearby is near guaranteed way to prevent most fires from ever getting out of control in the first place.
After your fire is started, make sure that someone is always watching over it. Never leave your fire unattended as there are a million different possibilities for something bad to happen. Proper maintenance also means proper behavior with the fire. Do not throw cans, glass bottles or aerosols into the fire as they could shatter and explode sending hot, sharp projectiles all over the area. Likewise, do not allow young children to play too close or throw any objects into the fire.
Maintain the fire by providing the proper amount of fuel. Do not add too much wood or fire igniter as you can easily make a blaze bigger than you can handle. On the other hand, do not let the fire have too little fuel as the more times you have to restart it, the more chances there are that a mistake happens with ignition.
Once it is time to put the fire out, make sure it is really out. A large portion of fire accidents occur after the fire was thought to be put out. Pour the bucket of water you brought with you onto the coals. Then stir the coals around with a shovel or rake and add more water if they are still not cold. Keep stirring until you are able to touch the coals with your bare hand. If the whole family is involved, this whole process should only take a few minutes and be a fun activity to do together while practicing fire safety.
Fire Safety with Pets
Keep your furry friend safe in the event of a fire!
Pets are a part of the family, and we want to make sure that they are safe in case of an emergency. We check our smoke alarms regularly and have escape plans for ourselves, but what about our pets? Here are some tips to keep you and your furry friend safe:
Check your home for potential fire risks.
- Are there exposed wires or outlets?
Are there candles lit?
Do you have smoking materials going on?
Do you have flammable materials, like gasoline, in the house?
Do not leave your pet alone with a lit candle or space heater.
It is important to keep pets away from lit candles, space heaters and other fire sources. Pets have been known to chew on electrical cords and candles, causing fires that could be easily prevented.
If you are going out of town or leaving your pet alone in the house for an extended period of time, please make sure that a responsible adult is available to watch over your pet while you are away. There are many good alternatives to leaving them alone such as boarding facilities, friends and family members who will check in on them daily.
It is also important when bringing home new appliances such as lamps or heating units (such as space heaters) that they do not get too close to any combustible materials such as curtains or furniture so there is no possibility for accidental contact with fire sources if something were dropped.
Ensure that all smoke alarms are working properly.
Check batteries regularly.
Replace batteries as needed.
Make sure smoke alarms are installed in all bedrooms, hallways and on every level of the house.
Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years.
Test your smoke alarms monthly.
Keep cords and wires out of reach of pets.
Thick cords are more commonly used than thin ones, and they're a particular danger to cats. Cord protectors are available for use on electrical cords that run along the floor, but if you don't have them available at home or work, keep them out of reach by taping the cord up onto walls or taping it behind furniture. You should also consider putting plastic covers over exposed electrical outlets so your pet won't stick their little paws into them and receive an electric shock.
You may want to take extra steps when it comes to cables and wires in your home: it's easy for pets to chew on these things! If there's anything in particular that seems too tempting for your pet(s), try covering it with tape until the problem is resolved -- this will probably be pretty effective at deterring them from chewing on said object!
Practice your pet's fire escape plan as often as possible so they will remember it in case of an emergency situation.
Practice your pet's fire escape plan as often as possible so they will remember it in case of an emergency situation.
Practice in different locations in the house, including outside the house.
Practice under different weather conditions and times of day.
Check your pet's ID tags. If they have disappeared, replace them immediately with new ones that have your current contact information.
Teach older pets (over 7 years) to wear a collar with identification tags at all times, even if they aren't going out of the house or yard.
Make sure everyone in your household knows where the key is located for the door leading outside of the house that leads to any area where a pet may be kept outside at night or under other circumstances when you are unable to monitor them personally during all waking hours (e.g., when you go on vacation).
The most important thing is to be prepared for a fire. Make sure that you have an escape plan with your pets, and practice it regularly so that everyone in the household knows what to do in case of an emergency. You should also take steps to prevent fires from starting—for instance, keeping candles away from pets’ access and keeping wires and cords out of reach can go a long way toward preventing accidents. Finally, don’t forget about smoke alarms: these devices are critical because they alert people when there is danger nearby!