Stay Warm and Safe: Heating Equipment Safety Tips
At SERVPRO, we've seen the aftermath of heating equipment-related incidents, which can lead to fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, and property damage. To keep your home cozy and safe, we're sharing essential heating equipment safety tips in this blog post.
- Regular Maintenance
Regular maintenance is essential for keeping your heating equipment in good working condition. Ensure that your heating system is inspected, cleaned, and serviced by a professional at least once a year. This includes furnaces, boilers, and chimneys.
- Check for Carbon Monoxide Leaks
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that can be emitted from heating equipment. Install CO detectors in your home, particularly in areas near heating equipment, bedrooms, and common spaces. Test these detectors regularly and replace their batteries as needed.
- Ventilation Matters
Proper ventilation is crucial for heating equipment that uses combustion. Ensure that chimneys and flues are clear of obstructions, such as nests or debris, to allow the safe escape of exhaust gases. An obstructed vent can lead to a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide.
- Flammable Material Safety
Keep all flammable materials, such as paper, clothing, and furniture, away from heating equipment. Maintain a safe clearance distance to prevent the risk of fires. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for the minimum clearance required.
- Space Heater Safety
If you use space heaters, exercise caution. Place them on a stable, non-flammable surface and keep them away from combustible materials. Use space heaters with an automatic shutoff feature, which turns off the unit if it tips over.
- Electrical Safety
For electric heaters, inspect cords and plugs regularly for damage. Do not overload electrical outlets with multiple heating appliances. Ensure that you're using the appropriate extension cords for the heater's power requirements.
- Maintain Smoke and Fire Alarms
Test smoke and fire alarms in your home regularly, and replace the batteries as needed. Install alarms near heating equipment, bedrooms, and common areas. These alarms can provide early warning in case of a fire.
- Chimney Cleaning
If you have a fireplace, it's essential to have the chimney cleaned and inspected annually by a professional chimney sweep. Creosote buildup and debris in the chimney can pose a fire hazard.
- Keep Combustibles at a Distance
Keep all combustibles, such as firewood, newspapers, and cleaning supplies, a safe distance from heating equipment. Avoid using the top of a furnace or stove for storage.
- Emergency Shut-Off
Know the location of the emergency shut-off switch for your heating equipment. If you suspect a problem, such as a gas leak or an equipment malfunction, use this switch to turn off the heating system and contact a professional for assistance.
- Fire Extinguisher
Have a fire extinguisher in your home and ensure that it's easily accessible. Know how to use it in case of a small fire. In the event of a larger fire, evacuate your home and call 911.
- Insulation and Sealing
Proper insulation and sealing in your home help retain heat, reducing the need to overwork heating equipment. Check for drafts around doors and windows and add insulation in your attic and walls to maintain a comfortable temperature.
Heating equipment is essential for staying warm during the colder months, but it must be used with safety in mind. By following these heating equipment safety tips, you can ensure a cozy, warm, and most importantly, safe living environment for you and your family. If you suspect a problem, or have suffered damage due to heating equipment, call SERVPRO today and our team of experts will get you back to normal tomorrow.
Protect Your Home from Winter Fires
Home Winter Fire Protecting
Most home fires in South Carolina happen during the winter season. Follow these fire safety tips to keep your home and family safe:
- Keep area around heating equipment clear of flammables.
- If you use a fireplace, have the chimney swept yearly, use a sturdy screen to stop sparks and store ashes outside at least 10 feet away from the house.
- Use space heaters with automatic shut-offs and keep pets & children 3 feet away.
- Test smoke & carbon monoxide alarms and make sure batteries are fresh.
- Keep a fire extinguisher on each floor and teach family members how to use it.
- Keep baking soda by the stove to combat grease fires.
December is the peak time of year for home candle fires; the top three days for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year’s Day, and New Year’s Eve.
Heating is the second leading cause of U.S. home fires, deaths and injuries. December, January and February are the peak months for heating fires.
Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, propane, etc. do not burn completely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of CO. Carbon monoxide incidents are more common during the winter months, and in residential properties.
Home fires occur more in the winter than in any other season, and heating equipment is involved in one of every six reported home fires, and one in every five home fire deaths.
Portable generators are useful during power outages, however, many homeowners are unaware that the improper use of portable generators can be risky. The most common dangers associated with portable generators are carbon monoxide poisoning, electrical shock, and fires.
Electrical home fires are a leading cause of home fires in the United States. Almost half of all home electrical fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment, and almost another half involved other known types of equipment like washer or dryer fans, and portable or stationary space heaters.
Prevent Freezing Pipes & Protect Your Home
Protect Your Home During Winter
When temperatures drop in South Carolina, pipes can freeze due. Freezing water in your pipes expands and cold pipes contract. The result, pipe bursts and water damage. Follow these tips to keep your house safe this winter:
Indoor winterization tips
- Use pipe foam to insulate your pipes, especially those warm to the touch.
- Check and repair any attic, garage or shed leaks.
- Seal any water pipe or hose leaks.
- Be sure the temperature hot water tank is set safely, and clean your dryer vents.
- Seal the top of your fireplace if you don’t plan to use it during the winter.
- Change the batteries on any smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and make sure the equipment is working correctly.
- Replace filters throughout your house and open heating system vents.
- Flush your water heater to let any sediment run out.
- Install window insulation film and weather-stripping tape around doors and windows. For a quick fix, use a rolled-up towel or blanket to keep under door drafts at bay.
Outdoor winterization tips
- Clean your downspouts and gutters of any debris, twigs, leaves, nuts or rocks so ice can’t build up and clog them.
- Trim tree limbs around your home. When weighed down from wet snow or an ice storm, they can break or fall, causing damage to your roof, home, car or fence.
- Fill any siding and window cracks or gaps with caulk.
- Take out any window AC units and remove any debris, branches or leaves around your air conditioner condenser.
- Drain and disconnect hoses and turn off your sprinklers. If your pipes aren’t frost-proof, turn off the water valve by the spigot.
- Move outdoor furniture, grills and propane tanks away from the elements, or wrap them in tarps and bungee cords to keep them secure outside.
- Remove any moss or vegetation from your roof.
For questions, contact us anytime.
Holiday Safety During the Holidays
Holiday Home Safety
The holidays are in full swing, but before your family and friends roll into town, be sure to check if your home isholiday ready - when it comes to fire and electrical safety? The National Fire Protection Association claims that electrical issues are responsible for one in three Christmas fires. You can prevent fires in your home by following these easy recommendations before the weekend.
- Check your lights. In fact, look over each string for signs of damage including a frayed cord, defective or rusted sockets, detached connections or exposed wires. If your bulbs need to be replaced, be sure to use the same voltage in order to reduce any risk of the bulbs overheating, melting or sparking and causing a fire. If possible, be sure to use light strands that are UL listed.
- Limit the number of connected strands. Be sure not to attach more than three strings together at one time or the chances of fire will increase.
- Location. One cause of Christmas tree fires is when a tree is located too close to a heat source such as a heat vent, fireplace, wood stove, furnace or candle(s). Make sure your tree is at least three feet from any heat source. In addition, make sure your tree is not blocking an exit in your home.
- Water daily. Be sure to water your tree daily, and take it down once it begins to dry out.
- Know your chimney health. If you are not certain of the safety of your chimney, it is better not to burn a fire. A nice alternative is to light candles inside the fireplace or cover logs with a safe strand of lights (see recommendations above) for a festive effect.
- Open the flue. Before starting a fire, be sure that you have opened the flue to the chimney.
- Remove potential fire hazards. Also before starting a fire, make sure to remove any greenery from the mantle or from around the fireplace.
- Use a screen. A screen will eliminate flying embers which could potentially start a fire or cause injury to a loved one or pet.
- Throw away wrapping paper. Reduce the urge to throw wrapping paper into the fire as it can cause an unexpected flash fire. It is better to dispose of the wrapping paper in a proper trash bag or can.
By paying attention to these few extra details right now, you will ensure nothing steals the magic of the season for you and your loved ones.
Our wishes you and your family a safe and happy holiday season. Remember that in the event of an emergency, call us 24/7.
Is it Time to Winterize your Home?
Winterizing your Home
As cooler temperatures arrive, have you taken the opportunity to make sure your home is correctly winterized? Home winterization is not only the process of preparing and protecting a home or building from potentially freezing temperatures but also protecting it from the effects that such freezing temperatures could have including pipe bursts and water damage. Most homes are built to withstand the typical temperatures in which they reside. However, cold temperatures over a while can still test the ability to withstand such elements.
Make sure you’ve completed these quick and easy recommendations to prevent a temperature-related disaster.
- Turn up the inside heat temperature by a few degrees. Even though this may raise your utility bill a few dollars, it will save you the potentially large expense of disaster recovery.
- If the weather is calling for freezing temperatures, be sure to turn any sink, bath, and outside faucets to a drip to prevent them from freezing.
- Also if there is going to be freezing temperatures, open cabinets underneath sinks so that the heat can keep the pipes warm. You can also wrap your pipes in insulation for an extra measure of protection.
- Whether your home or business is occupied or empty, never completely turn off the heat. To prevent freezing or other damage, buildings need to be at least 55 degrees even if they are empty.
- If your home or business is in an older building, there is an increased risk of air drafts that allows the cold temperatures to enter. Be sure to block such drafts. Plastic winter insulation kits are available for drafty windows. Caulk or weather stripping can also help with drafts.
- Make sure that your vents can flow freely without being blocked by furniture or any other obstruction.
- Change your filters if needed to ensure your heat is working properly. Heat that is working improperly can be a risk for fire, carbon monoxide, and more.
- Make sure your fans are reversed to a clockwise rotation for them to rotate the warm air towards the ceiling downward and into the room.
- Be sure your gutters are free of leaves and any other blockages. Otherwise, excess water can freeze and cause unwanted damage to your property including water falling down the side of the house and saturating the ground around your foundation, along the walls, and in your basement. Also, Ice dams could cause major water damage to your roof, siding, and inside your walls.
- Replace any loose shingles on your roof. If the roof is exposed to rain or snow, your home is subject to water damage.
By taking these measures now, your property will be winter-ready for the elements of the season before disaster strikes.
However, should you suffer damages, we are available 24/7.
SERVPRO is Available Around the Clock to Help you Restore Your Home After a Fire.
Most homeowners in Rock Hill & York County know that restoring their home after a fire takes time. The flames, smoke, and extinguishing agents left behind by the fire and first responders can leave your home in disarray. Do not let the mess intimidate you; instead, call a company certified to handle these situations.
Only a professional group can help mitigate your loss as it helps you salvage, remove, and restore your home and your personal belongings.
For our Rock Hill & York County neighbors, fire damage restoration is a phone call away. Our SERVPRO team is available around the clock because we recognize that emergencies happen day and night. Our Green Fleet is ready to spring into action, assess the incident's impact, and create an action plan for your home. Our goal is to erase this disruption from your life by doing a conscientious and thorough job of restoring your home.
How do I decide what to keep and what to toss after a fire?
Looking at the soot sitting on your furniture, books, and decor may leave a hopeless feeling in your heart, but don't jump to conclusions until you consult our SERVPRO experts. At its fingertips, our team has different options to restore documents, electronics, and flooring, among others. Fires also leave behind an acrid smell, which our team can address as well. At the core of our restoration process, we focus on the following-
Use of chemical agents to loosen soot and dirt while protecting the surface itself. Once the process of emulsion occurs, removing debris becomes easier.
Use deodorizing agents to neutralize and kill any smell molecules lingering in your home, including those that traveled through your ventilation system.
Use of extraction equipment to remove any remaining water used to extinguish the fire.
Our team at SERVPRO of Rock Hill & York County is looking out for you when you need it the most. Call us at (803) 324-5780 when disaster strikes and let us leave your home, "Like it never even happened."
Training of our SERVPRO Technicians
At SERVPRO, we take pride in sending highly trained technicians to service our York County locations. Each of our technicians is IICRC Certified and is required to maintain that certification. Our technicians are trained to look for damages that may not be visible to the naked eye and utilize state-of-the-art equipment to locate damages.
SERVPRO of Rock Hill & York County requires our employees to undergo initial and ongoing continuing education. Our training program includes the following:
- IICRC Training
- Employee Certification Training
- Initial Franchise Training
- Continuing Education Classes
IICRC Training and Certification
The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) certifies and sets the standards for the cleaning and restoration industries. Our Professionals study IICRC standards and best practices in water restoration, fire restoration, mold remediation, carpet and upholstery cleaning, and other cleaning and restoration courses.
Employee Certification Training
The Employee Certification Training is a voluntary, self-paced program designed for SERVPRO Franchise employees. Certification is awarded after the successful completion of course materials and an examination. Modules include:
- Crew Training
- Fire Restoration
- Water Restoration
- Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning
Initial Franchise Training
A 15-day hands-on course at the SERVPRO Corporate Training Facility is the foundation of the SERVPRO training program. This course is primarily for new Franchise owners and covers many restoration topics:
- Fire Restoration
- Water Restoration
- Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning
- Mold Mitigation
Ongoing education and e-learnings are provided through web-based training. This voluntary program is designed to keep our office staff and technicians up-to-speed on industry standards. It allows us to provide high-quality service and support that our residential and commercial business customers expect.
What To Do After a Business Fire
A fire to your York County business can leave your property vulnerable. Fortunately, installing a security fence and taking other safety measures can help keep your property safe from vandals and wildlife.
Securing the Property
After the fire has been extinguished, do not return to the property until the fire department says it is safe to do so. Once you have access to your property, taking the following actions can help you protect your business:
- Install a security fence
- Board up broken windows and other openings
- Tarp over damaged areas of the roof
In addition to damage from the fire itself, the firefighters may have broken windows or created other openings during their fire-extinguishing efforts. Therefore, the building could have several entry points for vandals and wildlife. It is important to board up or tarp over these areas. Installing a fence adds another layer of protection. If damage occurs after the fire has been extinguished and the insurance company determines the damage resulted from the building not being properly secured, they may deny that portion of the claim. If anyone enters the property, even without permission, and gets injured, the business could be held liable.
Restoring the Property
After the property has been secured, it is time to document the damage and begin restoration. Take a detailed photo or video evidence for the insurance company so that they can adequately assess the property. Then remove the water from the fire-suppression efforts. Do this as quickly as possible because mold can begin to grow within 24 hours. Next, clean the smoke and soot from the surfaces. Clean and sanitize affected areas. Throw everything away that cannot be fully dried and cleaned. Finally, begin repairing and replacing damaged items.
From installing a security fence to smoke cleaning, taking care of your commercial property after a fire can be a complicated endeavor. Fortunately, a certified restoration service can help you get your business back to normal quickly and safely.
Why Professionals Should Exclusively Handle Smoke and Fire Damage
If you have suffered fire damage you may think you can read a few manuals and be able to clean the mess up yourself. But if you attempt that, you may be costing yourself valuable possessions and thousands of dollars in additional restoration fees. Fire clean up is a complicated process that should only be handled by professionals.
Just because the firefighters are gone doesn’t mean that everything is safe. The building is not back to normal until professionals have restored it. The process sounds simple but the job requires a lot of experience and manpower to adequately restore a burnt building. A homeowner should never attempt.
While the fire may be the immediate danger, the remnants of the fire will continue to affect the house. If ash and smoke is left untreated, it can cause extended corrosion, etching and discoloration, and powerful lingering odors. Professionals that have the right training and experience can stop this from happening before it becomes a major problem if they’re called in a timely manner.
Many companies claim to have the ability to restore buildings that have suffered fire damage but only those that have the right training and certification, like SERVPRO, should be considered. The agency that oversees these qualified companies is the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). To earn their certification, registrants must complete extensive coursework preparing them for on-site restoration.
If professionals are called in immediately, they can clean up and restore the building to its original state but if not, they may not be able to salvage all the damage. The first thing that ash does is to discolor most surfaces. Within minutes, anything that’s made of plastic or was located near the fire will begin discoloration. Fiberglass and finishes that are on appliances will begin to yellow within hours of the fire being extinguished. Also within the first few hours, metals may begin to tarnish. After the first few days, the ash will cause the permanent discoloration of walls, clothing, and upholstery. All wood or vinyl furnishings throughout the building will need to be either refinished or replaced and metal will start corroding within the first few days.
The state of the building’s appliances and furnishings will be significantly impacted during the first few days if professionals are not immediately called in to clean up and restore the building but that’s not the only trouble that can be avoided. The cost of restoration will be significantly less if you call them as soon as possible. This is because you may need to replace metals, the carpets will be permanently discolored, and glass will be severely etched and need to be replaced. It’s possible that odors that have been caused by the fire may still be present and may be intense enough that it may distract people in the building. And because ash is acidic, the longer it takes for the professionals to arrive on the scene the more permanent damage will be caused.
When the professionals first arrive on the scene, the first thing that they’ll do is to identify all affected materials and the source of any odors. The only way that they can clean the smoke and fire damage so that the building is restored to its original state is to be extremely thorough in their investigation. Ash residue can very easily be disturbed and spread throughout the building forcing everything it comes in contact with to need restoration. The professionals that arrive on the scene will be able to identify what can and what can’t be salvaged.
Over time, ash builds up into layers and it can eventually form into a lacquer-like consistency. So when the professionals arrive, they will remove the build-up of ash residue that’s coating the building.
The professional restorers will also locate the source of any odors caused by the fire and treat it with specialized detergents that are formulated specifically to neutralize these kinds of odors. Once the professionals are done treating the odors, they may seal the building off to prevent any further odor from spreading through the air.
After a fire it may be tempting to attempt to clean the building, especially if there doesn’t appear to be that much damage. However, that decision can have negative lasting effects. If you have fire damage and need cleanup and restoration, call SERVPRO to ensure a safe and quality restoration.
Insuring Your Home Against Fire Damage
A fire is probably the most devastating event that can occur in your home. A small fire can quickly become an inferno and spread until all of your belongings are destroyed. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 2013 saw 387,000 residential fires in the U.S. causing $7 billion worth of damage.
The NFPA says that there are numerous causes of fires in the home ranging from kitchen appliances being left on to lightning strikes. Even if you do all you can to prevent a fire from occurring in your home, sometimes they are unpreventable. So it’s important that homeowners protect their property investments with the proper insurance.
Fire Insurance Coverage
Depending on what type of property insurance you have, you may already be covered for a fire. Providers offer different coverage options so it’s important that you review your details carefully and understand exactly what kind of protection you have.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average fire claim is in excess of $37,150. The two most common ways to insure your home against fires are standard home insurance and dwelling fire coverage.
Standard Home Insurance
If you are a homeowner, your mortgage likely required you to purchase a homeowners insurance policy. These standard home insurance policies typically cover fire damage. They might also protect your personal contents such as furniture, electronics, or other personal possessions.
Many policies will also include loss of use coverage. If your home becomes uninhabitable due to a claim that is covered by your policy, your loss of use coverage will kick in. Under this type of coverage, the insurance company may reimburse you for your extra living expenses while your home is in the process of being either repaired or rebuilt.
If you live in an apartment or if you rent your home, the landlord likely will have purchased coverage for the building. However, you’ll be responsible for protecting your own belongings. Standard renters policies are relatively cheap and can provide coverage for your personal property in the event of a fire.
Dwelling Fire Coverage
Dwelling fire coverage is generally less comprehensive than standard home insurance. Similar to standard home insurance it protects the building itself and other structures on the property. It also generally offers loss of use coverage if you have to relocate for a period of time. However, this type of insurance doesn’t cover your personal belongings or personal liability protection. Dwelling fire coverage is generally best used to protect a vacation home or a vacant home where you’ll have less of your personal belongings around.
How to File a Claim
Before filing your claim on a fire, you should take photos of the damage. Having the proper documentation available can make the process of filing the claim go much smoother.
After you have all the damage surveyed and documented, it’s time to contact the insurer and file the claim. The insurer will send a claims adjuster to your property to assess the damage and put together a cost estimate.
Once the claims adjuster has finished assessing the damage the repairs can begin on the property. Depending on the damage, repairs to your property could take anywhere from weeks to months to complete. Throughout the ordeal, it’s important to stay organized. Keep all emails, invoices, estimates, and any other documentation you may have received that relates to the damage.
Another way to make the process smoother is to have a full, up-to-date inventory detailing all of the items in your home. If you happen to lose everything in the fire, this inventory can help you to remember all of the items that you need replaced. In case your list happens to be destroyed in the fire as well, you should keep an electronic copy of the inventory that you can pull up if needed. If you prefer, there are some home inventory apps that you can download on your smartphone.
Prevent Fires Before They Start
No matter how prepared you are, a fire always has the potential to occur. But basic knowledge of fire safety can significantly reduce the chances that one will destroy your home. It’s important that you have basic fire safety knowledge and outfit your home with fire safety equipment.
Smoke alarms, sprinkler systems, and fire extinguishers can prevent a small fire from turning into flames that engulf your home. Having fire safety equipment can also help you to save money on your home insurance premium. Many home insurance providers will offer discounts if you have smoke alarms and sprinkler systems installed in your home.
It’s also important to make sure your entire family understand the basics of fire safety. Some basics to include are an evacuation plan, knowledge of potential fire causes, and a copy of the NFPA’s tips from the fire safety information section of their website.
Regardless of how prepared you are, a fire is always a possibility in your home. So it’s important to have insurance that will cover you should something happen. If you do suffer a fire, have the professionals at SERVPRO come and restore your home and possessions.