Archived Fire Damage Blog Posts
Fire Hazards and Dangers of Hoarding
Kitchen fire in Kirkland, WA. Don't keep flammables near stove.
Hoarding can be a fire hazard. Hoarding is defined as “a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with a hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of said items. Saving an excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value.” Staggering amounts of items crowd the space and prevents regular use and navigation. Hoarding can lead to a serious fire risk in the home. There are 5 levels of hoarding level 1 being the least severe to the 5th being most severe. Your risks of fire, water, and mold damage will start to increase starting at level 2.
How Hoarding Increases Fire Risks:
- Cooking is unsafe if flammable items are close to the stove or oven.
- If you have a movable heating unit, make sure to not put on an unstable surface. If the heater tips over into a pile, it can cause a fire.
- Space heaters and baseboard heaters can ignite nearby materials if placed against or within 3ft front or to the side.
- Electrical wiring may be old or worn from the weight of piles.
- Pests that may have accumulated can chew on wires, and damaged wires can start fires.
- Exits may be hard to get to, or completely cut off by accumulated items.
- Those living adjacent to an occupied structure can be quickly affected when a fire occurs, due to excessive smoke and fire conditions.
- Open flames from smoking materials or candles in a home with excess clutter are no recommended and are VERY dangerous. Do not put an open flame on an unstable surface and/or near excess clutter.
Why Hoarding Affects First Responders:
- Firefighters cannot effectively fight the fire or evacuate inhabitants or animals when hindered by clutter.
- First responders can become trapped, as well as hurt by piles of items that may topple over.
- When hoarded items become waterlogged by firefighting efforts, their weight is dramatically increased. This can lead to structural collapse if enough items are present.
- Hoarding can be a fire hazard.
- Often, blocked exits prevent escape from the home.
- Many people who are hoarding are injured when they trip over things or when materials fall on them. When fighting fires in a hoarding home it is hard to provide medical care. The clutter stops the search and rescue of people and pets.
How you can help reduce the risk of fire and injury:
- When talking to a person who hoards, focus on safety rather than the accumulation of clutter. Be empathetic and understanding. Consider your body language and how you speak. You should match the person’s language. If they call it hoarding, then you can call it hoarding.
- Help the residents make a home safety and escape plan. Stress the importance of clearing any pathways and exits. Walk through the plan often as to make sure that it is still clear as to new items may come into the home after you have made the route.
- Install working smoke alarms in the home. Test them at least once a month.
- Reach out to your local community resources. Talk to members of the fire department to let them know of your concerns. They may be able to connect you with members of a hoarding task force for additional help.
To have a better understanding of hoarding there is multiple resources. Take some time to learn an evaluate each situation. These are just preventive measures to take, and why you should be taking them. SERVPRO of Kirkland has experience with cluttered cleaning homes. If you or someone you know needs this level of professional cleaning, give us a call today (425) 820-0080. We provide a judgment-free and thorough cleaning of any space.
SERVPRO of Kirkland’s Do’s, Don’ts, and restoration process after A fire
House fire in Kirkland, WA.
What To Do After A Fire
- After the home has been assessed and the structural integrity of the home is not compromised Limit the movement in the home to prevent soot particles from embedding into the carpets, upholstery, rugs, or any high traffic areas.
- Place Clean towels or clean old linens over any furniture, carpet, upholstery, rugs, or any high traffic areas to prevent you from tracking any soot elsewhere in the home.
- Change the HVAC Filter as there may be debris, soot, or other foreign materials in the filter.
- If you are without electricity, make sure to empty your freezer and refrigerator and keep the doors open.
- To prevent any soot particles from entering any other air registers tape double layers of cheesecloth over the air registers.
- If you have plants in your home, make sure to wipe off both sides of the leaves.
What NOT To Do After A Fire
- Don't attempt to wash any walls, painted surfaces, or shampoo carpet or upholstery without contacting your SERVPRO of Kirkland Franchise.
- Don't attempt to clean any electrical appliances that may have been close to fire, heat or water without consulting an authorized repair service.
- Don't use any canned or packaged food or beverages that may have been stored near the fire, heat or water.
- Don't turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet or has visible damage. The wiring may be damaged.
- Don't send garments to an ordinary dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set smoke odor and ruin your clothes.
SERVPRO’s Fire Restoration Process
Every fire damage is unique, therefore, will require a unique restoration process. However, here are steps to our typical fire restoration services:
- Fire damage assessment: Our trained technicians at SERVPRO of Kirkland will thoroughly examine the house to determine the extent of the fire, soot, and smoke damage.
- Content Removal: Our SERVPRO of Kirkland contents processing technicians will help get all your belongings in order. If there are contents that are visibly damaged those will be removed first to prevent the transferal of soot particles getting on any other contents that could be salvageable. All other belongings will be removed from the home whether it is items being stored, non-salvageable, or going through a cleaning process to save what content we can.
- Water Removal: If there is water damage, we will extract any standing water and use our state-of-the-art Air Movers to dry soaked items, flooring, walls, and roof.
- Smoke and soot repair: We have the right products and techniques to remove soot from walls and other surfaces.
- Cleaning: Our skilled professionals will clean and sanitize all the restorable items damaged by the fire. We will also ensure that your home is free from the acidic fumes and odor of the fire by using a technique called thermal fogging.
If you ever need quick and professional fire restoration, do not hesitate to check out SERVPRO of Kirkland. Regardless of day or night, we are always available to help you! (425) 820-0080
Stay Safe With These Smoke Detector Tips From SERVPRO of Kirkland
Don't wait until its too late to check on your smoke detector, it could save your life!
Here's What You May Want to Know
When installing a smoke alarm in your Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, Bothell, or Woodinville home, it’s important to follow the recommendations of professionals, including fire damage restoration services, to ensure the alarm functions properly in an emergency. Here’s what you may want to know.
1. Regular Maintenance
It’s very important to maintain your smoke detectors for fire safety. Many professionals recommend checking the batteries in all alarms located in your home once a year at the very least. Usually many choose to do this at daylight savings to keep the maintenance routine consistent. Making sure your units are dust free can help prevent malfunctioning. It’s also recommended to periodically test the unit according to the manufacturer's directions to ensure functionality. With most units, there is a test button you can press to hear the alarm sound. If your alarm is malfunctioning in any way it should be replaced entirely.
2. Alarm Placement
The exact placement of a smoke alarm in your home can also be very important. It’s recommended that at the very least one alarm be placed on each floor of the building. Make sure to place an alarm in high-risk areas such as a workshop or kitchen. Most fire experts recommend that you place one alarm inside each bedroom, and one alarm outside the bedrooms as well. It may be adequate in some situations to place a single alarm outside multiple bedrooms if they share a hall or living area.
A smoke detector does have a defined operation life. Many professionals recommend the full replacement of any unit over ten years old to ensure proper functionality during the event of an emergency. Older units often have a higher risk of malfunctioning which could certainly be costly to your home and family.
When installing a smoke alarm in your home it’s important to do regular maintenance of the unit, place the alarm inside and outside each bedroom, as well as in the kitchen area, and fully replace old units. Doing all of these recommended things can help keep your home and family safe.
SERVPRO of Kirkland is Your Best Resource for Your Fire Restoration Needs
This fire started outside the home, just outside the garage. The flames and smoke took no time making it inside causing significant damage.
When the firefighters leave, it may seem like the danger has passed and the home is now safe from further destruction, but without trained professionals to help clean the smoke damage, the building may never return to normal. While the principles behind fire restoration are on the surface fairly simple, it requires a lot of experience and manpower to perform adequately, and this means that it should NOT be attempted by a homeowner on his or her own.
The trained professionals at SERVPRO of Kirkland should be called on immediately. We clean smoke damage and restore items affected by a fire to pre-fire condition, but we must be called to respond immediately to halt the ongoing issues that ash residue can cause.
We know that the only way to properly clean smoke and fire damage is to be extremely thorough. Ash residue is easily disturbed and spreads through the building with ease, causing nearly everything to need restoration.
The experts at SERVPRO of Kirkland will not only identify what can and cannot be salvaged, we will remove any built-up ash residue that is coating surfaces. Over time, ash builds up in layers, and may eventually form into a lacquer-like consistency. Once this is done, we will locate the source of the odor, and treat it with specialized detergents that are formulated for neutralizing this kind of odor. Once materials are treated, they may need to be sealed off to prevent any further odor from permeating the air in the future.
For more information on the services that SERVPRO of Kirkland provides regarding water and fire damage cleanup for your commercial or residential property, please visit us at:
Fires Are Not Planned But Your Exit Plan in Case of a Fire Should Be
Get an escape plan in place for your home and business. Make sure everyone knows it. It will save lives.
Is Your Exit Plan In Place?
Every second counts during a fire. In a matter of moments, a small flame can turn really bad, making it critical to be prepared. Having an established escape plan in place is invaluable in these situations. A survey conducted by the American Red Cross shows that only a small percentage ( 6 percent ) of families have developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. Once a plan is developed, it is critical that all family members understand the plan; the best way to do this is by practicing the escape plan at least twice a year. The following are a few good suggestions to help you develop an emergency plan for your family.
Draw a map of each, and every level of your home and make sure that it show all doors and windows. Find two different ways to emergency exit each room. Always make sure that all doors and windows that lead to the outside open easily.
Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas or bedrooms on the second and third floor. Only purchase collapsible escape ladders that have been evaluated by a recognized testing laboratory. Store them near the window where they will be best, and most easily used.
Choose an outside meeting place a safe distance away from your home where everyone can meet after they've exited. Make sure to mark the exact location of the meeting place on your escape plan.
Teach children exactly how to escape on their own in case you cannot help them.
Plan for everyone in your home with special considerations for elderly or disabled family members.
Practice your fire escape plan at night and during the daytime. To make sure that all scenarios are covered, and prepared for.
Escape Planning for Your Business
Although an emergency escape plan is not technically required for all businesses. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that you should build an emergency action plan to protect yourself, your employers, and your business during an emergency situation. OSHA has suggested the following steps when developing such a plan.
Organize an emergency preparedness procedures review with employees to review your company's emergency plans. You may wish to select an individual or team of individuals or professionals to lead and coordinate your emergency plan.
Once a plan is developed, post evacuation procedures, including routes and exits, where they are easily accessible to all employees. Established good practices are needed to ensure that all exits and routes are clearly marked and well lit, wide enough to accommodate the number of evacuation personnel, and unobstructed and clear of debris at all times.
Conduct office evacuation exercises and drills. It is important to designate a safe spot outside of the facility where employees can regroup, recover and conduct a head count. Once completed, an evaluation of how well the plan worked and if additional training or exercises are needed is very important.
Kirkland Smoke and Soot Cleanup
Smoke damage to home in Kirkland after a fire started in the kitchen.
Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.
Smoke and soot facts:
· Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
· Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
· The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.
Different Types of Smoke:
There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of Kirkland will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Here is some additional information:
Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber
· Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.
Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood
· Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.
Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire
· Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor.
Our Fire Damage Restoration Services
Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions. We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage. We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.
Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage? Call Us Today – (425) 820-0080