Recent Fire Damage Posts

Smoke Damage and Your Insurance

12/20/2022 (Permalink)

Smoke due to severe fire SERVPRO of North Central Austin is here to help you through this difficult time.

Smoke Damage and Your Insurance

Fire and smoke damage can be devastating, especially if you weren't home at the time of the incident. The good news is that most homeowners’ insurance policies cover fire and smoke damage, so there's a good chance that you'll be able to file an insurance claim to help cover the cost of repairs. In this post, we'll go over what type of damages your policy covers and some common questions about filing a claim for fire or smoke damage.

Smoke Damage Basics

Smoke damage, like water damage and mold, can occur in a fire. Smoke damage can also occur in the aftermath of a smaller fire that does not cause structural damage. For example, if you have an electrical short in your home or apartment and it causes a small fire which burns itself out before causing much structural damage but leaves your walls blackened with soot and ash, then this would be considered smoke damage.

Fire and Smoke Damage Coverage

Any homeowner who has experienced a fire in their home will tell you that the costs of repairing damage to your home, replacing personal items lost in the fire, and paying for temporary housing while your home is being repaired can be staggering. While some insurance companies offer coverage for these expenses, it’s important to know whether or not your policy does.

The following are examples of what may be covered by a claim depending on your policy:

  • Cost of repairs to your home - If your house was damaged by fire or smoke damage you may have to pay for repairs yourself unless you have replacement cost coverage. This type of insurance provides reimbursement up to an amount specified in your policy based on current construction costs (i.e., what it would actually cost today). The amount paid out on this type of claim depends on several factors including whether any improvements were made since last year's assessment and what those improvements were (elevation requirements increase over time).
  • Replacement value - This type of insurance pays out according to current market value instead of actual cash value like some other policies do so there won't be any deductions for depreciation or wear-and-tear associated with aging property. For example: if someone buys another house after selling theirs four years later then sells again ten years later but keeps using same furniture throughout those years then even though they're just using older stuff now than when originally purchased--it'll still count toward their total contents list when determining how much money should come back from an insurance company if anything goes wrong at all during those 10 years!

Limitations to Smoke Damage Insurance

Let's be honest, the last thing you want to hear is that your insurance company has any sort of limit on claims. But like everything else in life, there are some limits to what they will cover.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Does your policy have a deductible? A deductible is the amount you have to pay before an insurance company starts paying for something. It can be a flat amount (for example $500) or it can be based on your coverage level (for example $250 for everything but car damage). If your insurer does not pay until after this deductible has been met then their obligation ends once the damage exceeds this amount. The higher your deductible, the lower your premiums will be but also remember that if you don't meet this threshold during an event then you may find yourself out of pocket for repairs yourself!
  • How much does it cost? In general more expensive items are more likely than cheaper ones because they hold more value and therefore pose a greater risk if they're damaged or destroyed by fire or smoke damage events such as hurricanes etcetera; however even things like clothing could fall under this category depending upon how many articles there were lost due to water damage caused by flooding during Hurricane Matthew last year; when someone had all their clothes washed away along with other belongings then those items would no longer constitute as luxury items because they were wiped out completely without leaving anything behind whatsoever."

Fire vs. Smoke Claims

When it comes to smoke damage claims, there is an important distinction between fire and smoke. Fire refers to actual flames and can be covered by your home insurance policy, but smoke is different. While both types of damage will leave your property looking unsightly, a fire claim can include structural damage that requires rebuilding or replacing the damaged structure—which may not be covered under your standard homeowner's policy. Smoke damage simply involves cleaning up after the fires have been extinguished and does not usually require extensive reconstruction or replacement of damaged parts.

However, if you have a separate smoke damage policy for your property—which can be purchased as part of an add-on rider to your homeowner's insurance—you may be able to file an additional claim for this type of loss as well.

If you have questions about filing an insurance claim for fire and smoke damage, contact your local insurance agent. Insurance policies vary slightly by company, but most have similar coverage options. Your agent will be able to tell you if your policy has coverage for smoke damage and should be able to answer any other questions you might have about the claims process.

We know a fire in your home is not ideal. Between the flames and the smoke and the soot, there is bound to be a plethora of problems that need to be taken care of. SERVPRO of North Central Austin is here to help you through this difficult time. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about smoke damage and fire damage restoration. We can help you file an insurance claim for fire and smoke damage. Our agents are always ready to assist you in getting your Austin home back to normal, so give us a call today!

Are Candles the Right Choice for your Home?

12/27/2021 (Permalink)

A candle can make your home in Austin, TX, feel extra home sweet home. There is something about the flame and fragrance; nostalgia, maybe? Despite its beauty, a candle flame is a fire hazard. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a candle fire accounted for 2 percent of reported residential fires (averaged over five years). Placement of candles also makes a difference; just over a third of candle fires began in bedrooms. Rather than worrying if you extinguished your candle, your family can rest easy by looking into candle alternatives.

Candles Alternatives

Thanks to innovative thinkers, candle lovers have many safe options that look and even smell like real candles, without the candle fire hazard. It is also important to ensure your family has flameless options available for power outages.

For Beauty and Scent

• There is a variety of flameless candles, such as LED Flameless wax pillar candles. There are myriad scents, shapes and sizes available. Some even have timers.
• Try using electric warmers for candles, oil or wax.
• Himalayan salt lamps do not produce any scent, but they can give any room a beautiful ambiance. Then you can use air fresheners or plug-ins for smell.
• Treat yourself to a little aromatherapy by using an essential oil diffuser.

When the Lights Go Out

• There is nothing wrong with using good old-fashioned flashlights or buy some with LED bulbs that last longer than regular ones.
• Camping lanterns are battery operated, and many can hang and use LED bulbs.
• Book lights are small, but many can clip to objects and are flexible.

If you use candles, ensure your family has smoke detectors, a fire extinguisher and an escape plan. A candle fire (or any fire) can cause significant smoke damage. Also, know that due to the nature of soot, it can sometimes be impossible to remove from surfaces. If your family has the unfortunate experience of a fire, call a professional who knows how to handle the smoke cleanup. If you decide to use the flameless route, then happy hunting for the best safe options for your family.

Four Tips for Preparing Pets for a Fire Emergency

12/27/2021 (Permalink)

Tan dog on fire truck with fire suit and glasses Because you love them like Family; Prepare them for the Unexpected

You should have a fire emergency plan set up for your family. This plan should contain many components, including pet preparation. Things will get hectic if a fire ever breaks out, and you do not want your furry friend to be left behind. Pet safety is critical during emergencies, and here are some points to keep in mind.

1. Have Pet Supplies in Your Disaster Kit

Your disaster kit should contain supplies to help you and your family while you wait for your house to be habitable once again. It should contain food, medications and water. It also needs to contain supplies for your pet. Have enough pet food to last for five days, medications if your pet is on anything and records of ownership and vaccinations.

2. Get Your Pet Microchipped

During a fire emergency, your pet may panic and flee. This can be extremely disheartening. In addition to dealing with fire remediation, you now have to locate your animal, too. However, if you get your pet microchipped well in advance, then finding it will become much easier.

3. Find Pet-Friendly Accommodations

While your house is being repaired, you may need to stay at a hotel in Austin, TX. Look at hotels in your city to see which ones allow pets. It will save you a lot of hassle if the time ever comes. You can also ask friends or neighbors if you can stay with them during this time and if they would be all right with having a dog or cat around for a week.

4. Keep a Pet-Alert Sign in Your Window

You want firefighters to be able to locate your pet in the event of a fire emergency. If you need to evacuate, then you may not be readily accessible to tell the firefighters this information. Keep a sign in your window to inform firefighters there is a pet in this house.

Fire Pit Safety

12/16/2021 (Permalink)

Fire pits have become the backyard must have item this fall season. They provide warmth and add ambience to any outdoor space. The best part about them is they require minimal maintenance and can bring you years of enjoyment. Here’s a few safety tips to keep in mind when considering a fire pit.

-Only use your fire pit outside and in an open space. Keep it away from low hanging foliage or anything flammable. It’s also recommended that you keep it 6-feet away from a home, deck, fence or anything flammable. The circle of safety!

-Never use or burn plastic materials in your fire pit. Plastic releases toxic fumes into the air and can ruin the surface of a fire pit.

-For wood burning fire pits, only use dry split wood in the fire. Hardwoods like oak, birch and maple are great for longer fires and stay hotter longer while softer woods like cedar and pine have a higher tendency to spark, create more smoke and may burn faster.

-Just like children and pets, never leave the fire pit unattended.

-Never cook on your gas fire pit. While it may seem like a great alternative to a grill, fire pits are made differently and food can damage expensive burner components.

- Make sure to read your owner’s manual and find the best method to extinguish the flame. While the fire may appear to be out, embers can reignite for up to 12 hours. A spark screen is a great addition to any wood burning fire pit.

-Regularly inspect the gas line, fitting, burners or any other components on your gas fire pit.

-Consider purchasing a cover for your fire pit or storing in a covered area during inclement weather. If it does get wet, make sure to drain all of the water and let it dry before igniting.

-Check the owner’s manual for recommended cleaning products and procedures but most fire pits can be cleaned with a soft cloth and mild soapy water.

-Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of an emergency. Sand is also a great way to quickly put out a fire without damaging a fire pit. Avoid using water which can weaken and potentially crack a fire pit.

Need fire restoration services? Call SERVPRO® of North Central Austin (512)579-0189

Portable fire extinguishers

11/16/2021 (Permalink)

Portable fire extinguishers can be life and property saving tools when used correctly. In order to operate an extinguisher, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests remembering the word PASS

Pull the pin. Hold the nozzle pointing away from you and release the locking mechanism.

Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.

Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.

Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.

Read the instructions on the fire extinguisher and become familiar with them before a fire breaks out. Remember, extinguishers do have limitations. It is also important to ensure you have the correct type of extinguisher for your facility. To find more information on choosing the appropriate class of extinguisher, please visit the NFPA websitehttps://www.nfpa.org/

Smoke Detector

11/16/2021 (Permalink)

Smoke alarms save lives when properly installed and maintained, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). In homes, smoke alarms should be in every bedroom and on every level, including the basement. In office and commercial environments, check your state requirements or contact your local Fire Marshall to help ensure all codes are met. Test smoke alarms monthly using the test button. Smoke alarms with non-replaceable batteries need the entire smoke alarm unit replaced every ten years. Other alarms need batteries replaced every year and the unit replaced every ten years. If the alarm chirps signaling low battery, take the proper steps to replace the unit or the batteries immediately. Never disable or remove the battery from an alarm. Almost half of fires where smoke alarms were present but did not activate had missing or disconnected batteries (NFPA). In larger commercial facilities, hard wired or wireless smoke alarms offer benefits such as not needing to be tested as often and activating throughout the entire building if smoke is detected in just one area (NFPA). If you need help installing, testing or changing batteries in your smoke alarms, contact your local fire department, an electrician or the American Red Cross. Be sure your home or workplace has a fire emergency plan in place and conduct regular fire drills. For more information on Emergency Preparedness, contact  SERVPRO® of North Central Austin and visit https://nfpa.org/ for more tips on Fire Safety and Precautions.

Fire and Smoke Damage

11/16/2021 (Permalink)

The damage to your property following a fire can often be complicated due to the unique behavior 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.
SERVPRO® of North Central Austin professionals are thoroughly trained in fire cleanup and restoration and know the different types of smoke and their behavior patterns. Knowing this information is vital to proper restoration. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO® of North Central Austin professionals will survey the loss to determine the extent of impact from fire, smoke, heat, and moisture on the building materials and its contents. The soot will then be tested to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. Pretesting determines the proper cleaning method and allows your local SERVPRO® of North Central Austin professionals to focus on saving your precious items.
SERVPRO® of North Central Austin professionals know smoke can penetrate various cavities within the structure, causing hidden damage and odor. Their knowledge of building systems helps them investigate how far smoke damage may have spread. The following points are additional facts you may not know about smoke.
Types Of Smoke:
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.
Wet Smoke. (Plastic and Rubber) Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, and 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. n Fuel Oil Soot. (Furnace puff backs) While “puff backs” can create havoc for homeowners, SERVPRO® franchise professionals can, in most cases, restore the contents and structure quickly.
Other Types. (Tear gas, fingerprint powder, and fire extinguisher residue) Special loss situations require special care.
SERVPRO® of North Central Austin professionals are trained to handle even the toughest of losses. If your home or business suffers fire or smoke damage, SERVPRO® of North Central Austin to help make it “Like it never even happened.”

How to Help Home Fire Survivors

11/18/2020 (Permalink)

Fire department caution tape with blurry firetrucks in the background How can you help when someone in your community loses everything to a fire? (Photo by Malachi Brooks)

As restoration professionals, we at SERVPRO of North Central Austin frequently work with homeowners going through the worst disasters of their lives. We’re proud to be able to help and to fix what’s been damaged. We know the joy of making homes “Like it never even happened.” But what do you do when someone’s home is actually destroyed by fire?

How can we as a community step up when a family loses everything in a fire? If you know the family, the simplest way to help is to give your neighbors the items that survivors of house fires need the most:

  1. Immediate necessities. Imagine walking into a hotel room with no bags. What do you change into after your shower? How do you brush your teeth? Gently used clothes from your own closet are generally considered appropriate since they’re immediately available and don’t require the time and effort of wardrobe shopping. But on your way to deliver them, stop by Walmart or Target and grab some new socks and underwear.
  2. Short-term basics. Now imagine moving into a new apartment with no boxes—no towels to put in the linen closet, no dishes to put in the cabinet. As you’re preparing to help a neighbor in need, mentally walk through your day and think about all the things you use daily. 

    According to Danielle Fox of ElleDecor.com actual possessions are more useful than cash or gift cards because "if you have insurance policy you ultimately get the cash, but you need time and work and help.”

  3. Long-term help. Now if you really know the family, work with them to provide assistance as they go through the process of recovery. Are you good with organizing? Maybe you can help them work with the insurance companies? Do you know their kids? Suggest a playdate while the parents work their to-do lists? Create a meal calendar for their friends or just take them out and let them talk.

If you don’t know the family affected by fire damage (or if it’s a community-wide disaster you’ve seen on the news) the best way to help is to donate money. You can give through gofundme.com or local charities, but the Red Cross is a consistently reliable organization with years of experience helping in exactly this sort of situation.

No one can know exactly what it's like to survive a house fire, but we know enough to know that we're needed and that's where we need to start. 

If you've experienced fire damage and would like to find out what our restoration professionals can do for you, call SERVPRO of North Central Austin at 512-579-0189.

Fire Extinguisher Readiness

11/6/2020 (Permalink)

Fire extinguisher on teal wall Do you know how to use your fire extinguisher? (Photo by Piotr Chrobot)

It’s November—time for Thanksgiving dinners and cozy fires in the hearth. It’s also a great time to review your fire extinguisher knowledge. 

  1. Do you have a fire extinguisher? Do you know where it is?
  2. Do you know when your fire extinguisher expires? “You can tell the difference between the two by the head; a rechargeable extinguisher has a metalhead with a gauge that reads Charge/Recharge, and a disposable extinguisher has a plastic head with a gauge that reads Full/Empty.” (Keystonefire.com
  3. Do you know how to use your fire extinguisher? The time to read the instructions is not when you reach for it in an emergency.

You should always familiarize yourself with the instructions for your specific extinguisher, but there are four basic steps to follow with a standard foam model. You can remember them with the acronym PASS:

  • P—Pull the pin on the fire extinguisher. 
  • A—Aim the nozzle or hose at the base of the fire. Keep a safe distance away. 
  • S—Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing materials.
  • S—Sweep the nozzle from side to side.

Continue directing the foam at the base of the fire until it is completely extinguished.

If you have experienced fire damage, call SERVPRO of North Central Austin to find out how we can help you make it “Like it never even happened.”

Can I Clean Smoke Damage Myself?

10/28/2020 (Permalink)

A singed magazine with a picture of a horse on the page laying on a charred wood floor. Smoke damage is far more complicated than you probably imagine.

When we talk about fire damage to our homes or offices, we usually think about about flames eating up our most beloved objects. Combustion is dangerous and is easily the scariest part of a fire, but when rebuilding after a disaster, the most complicated restoration and cleanup comes from the damage done by smoke and soot.

Smoke is the incomplete combustion of material in a fire. It’s actually made of tiny pieces of the burning thing floating around in the air. This means the chemicals that make up the burning objects are also being carried around your building, making it toxic to people and possessions.

Smoke damage can occur in buildings that aren’t even directly affected by fire. Homes or offices near a burning building or a wildfire, can be contaminated by smoke and soot. If your building was never even touched by the fire, it’s tempting to think of smoke cleanup as a simple DIY, but these are complicated and technical restoration jobs, so take the following elements into consideration before you try to clean the problem area yourself: 

  • What type of smoke are you working with. There are several different types of smoke: wet smoke, dry smoke, plastic or rubber smoke, protein smoke, furnace soot, and candle smoke. Has organic material been burned? What about plastics? Different materials will produce different types of smoke with different effects
  • What are you trying to clean? How valuable is it to you? Electronics are uniquely vulnerable to smoke damage—in addition to causing corrosion, smoke can also be electrically conductive, causing short circuits. Because of this, electronics should always be cleaned and refurbished by technical professionals

  • What sort of metal fixtures are in the room that experienced damage? Brass and copper can be etched by smoke within 24 hours of depositing.

Because of the complex nature of smoke, cleaning up after a fire is not a DIY project. Fortunately, the IICRC certified technicians at SERVPRO of North Central Austin have the experience and training to handle this type of restoration and make it “Like it never even happened.” Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

Celebrate Safely at Home

7/1/2020 (Permalink)

Red, white, and blue confetti How are you going to celebrate safely this weekend?

With many central Texas communities cancelling their July 4th fireworks displays, Austin families are looking for ways to recreate the excitement of these celebrations at home. The problem is that fireworks are a notoriously dangerous and destructive activity for nonprofessionals. Even the simplest fireworks require diligent supervision—25% of firework-related emergency room visits are from sparklers alone (National Safety Council).

So what do you do with your family when you want to have a colorful, but safe holiday? We reached out our neighbors to see what suggestions they had.

Looking for something to shoot into the air that is safe to do right in your back yard? Debbie suggested silly string, bubbles, or confetti. Don't forget to use recycled confetti if it's available. (Debbie Smith, The Kenzie at the Domain)

Laura suggested some interactive games you can play with the family. Replicate the popping of firecrackers with a bubble gum contest. You can give away a prize for the biggest bubble or loudest POP!

After the sun sets, hide glow sticks around the house or yard, turn off the lights and have a hunt to see who finds the most. (Laura Vivion, Bosworth & Associates)

Celebrate the spirit of fireworks by drawing on the sidewalk in colorful chalk. Everyone can draw a firework explosion, no matter what your age or skill level. Bonus points for getting to share your art with your neighbors (who are probably just as frustrated with the cancellations as you are). (April Laws, BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois)

Whatever your friends and family end up doing this weekend, we hope you have a safe and happy Independence Day!

Laundry Room Safety

6/11/2020 (Permalink)

An under counter washer/dryer with laundry in a hamper Property dryer maintenance can make the difference between a helpful tool and a potential hazard.

When you’re thinking about household fire hazards, you probably think about your kitchen, fire place, or electrical system. But do you ever think about your laundry room? According to U.S. Fire Administration, home dryer fires cause $35 million in property loss.

The most common reason for these fires by far is dirty or congested dryer vents and ducts. To reduce the risk of these fires happening, hire a professional cleaning and restoration company like SERVPRO® to clean your ducts when you notice your clothes are taking longer than normal to dry.

Other safety tips for your dryer from the National Fire Protection Agency include 

  • Cleaning the lint filter before and after each load. Purchase a vent brush (it’s like a giant bottle brush) to use between professional cleanings.
  • Making sure the outdoor vent flap will open and is not blocked by a bird’s nest or other potential obstacles
  • Keep your laundry room tidy. Don’t leave laundry or old lint near the machine where they could be ignited by an overheating machine.
  • Never run the dryer while you’re sleeping or away from home. 

For more information on cleaning dryer vents contact SERVPRO® of North Central Austin at (512) 579-0189. We are always here to help!

Safer Outdoor Cooking

6/4/2020 (Permalink)

sausages cooked over a portable charcoal grill With proper safety precautions, cooking outdoors is one of the highlights of the summer season. (Photo credit: Kristy TG)

Summer is a great time to enjoy cooking outdoors with your family and friends, but that means it’s also time to remind ourselves of fire safety. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), non-gas grills were involved in 1,300 home fires per year. That’s why they’ve offered the following tips for using outdoor grills or fire pits.

Starting Fires

  • Always build a campfire downwind from the tent area. Clear vegetation and dig a pit before building your fire. 
  • Place an outdoor grill six feet from your home on level ground.
  • When using a charcoal grill, only use starter fluids designed for barbecue grills, never gasoline or other accelerants
  • Store liquid fire starter  away from your tent and campfire, and only use dry kindling to freshen a campfire.
  • Never add starter fluid to charcoal or kindling that is already on fire

Extinguishing Fires

  • Fully extinguish fires before leaving a campsite or going to bed. Start by dousing the fire with water, then gently spread the ashes out to cool. Only leave a fire site once the ashes are cool to the touch
  • Keep something on hand in case the fire spreads. A fire extinguisher is obviously the most effective tool, but a spray bottle of water or garden hose can work if you’re grilling in your yard. If you’re camping, a bucket of sand is a helpful tool to keep near a camp fire.
  • Never empty used coals directly into a trash can. Designate a metal container (with a lid) just for the purpose of disposing of coal.

For more information on fire safety, follow the NFPA on Facebook and Twitter.

SERVPRO of North Central Austin wishes you a safe and happy summer!

Apartment Grilling—Know the Rules, Follow Them

11/25/2019 (Permalink)

Apartment building with flames coming from balcony Apartment grilling—know the rules.

Safe Grilling Practices

According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than one-quarter of grill structure fires started on an exterior balcony or open porch. 

According to an Austin Fire Department captain, if you want to grill here are the rules:

  1. The apartment management must allow tenants to have their own grills in the first place
  2. If the apartment management is allows you to have a grill, it must be used and stored at least five feet away, horizontally, from the nearest part of the apartment building at all times. Essentially this means that balconies are a no go and the apartment needs to be on the ground floor. See city ordinance that covers the Fire Code, section 308.1.4.

  3. If you're grilling below any portion of your building (for instance, if there's a balcony above your grill), the grill must be used (and stored!) at least 15 feet away from the nearest point of this overhanging portion at all times.
     
  4. Someone must be near the grill at all times when it's in use.

  5. If it’s a propane grill, the propane tank can never be inside the apartment—not even for storage.

  6. The grill also can’t ever be inside the apartment unless it is taken apart and in boxes. Unfortunately, this means it can’t be easily reassembled for use.

In Texas, most apartment balconies are tinder for a fire. We have seen fires from grills and even cigarettes. 

The short advice is don’t grill your apartment balcony; however, there are solutions. Several apartment complexes provide grills around the swimming pool or park areas. Thanks to George Foreman and others you can use Contact Grills (not completely the same, but certainly safer).

If a cooking fire does go awry, give us a call. We are experts in deodorization and fire restoration. Also, SERVPRO of North Central Austin is a full-service restoration company. We provide 24/7 emergency mitigation services and complete reconstruction services, making it “Like it never even happened.” 

When an emergency situation arises in your business, give us a call and we’ll be there fast with the help you need.

About SERVPRO of North Central Austin

SERVPRO of North Central Austin specializes in the cleanup and restoration of commercial and residential property after a water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. No matter what size disaster, from single story home and a complete high-rise, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge and resources to restore your property.

Deep Fried Turkey, Traditional as Football on Thanksgiving

11/25/2019 (Permalink)

Video still of a turkey fryer on fire Thanksgiving is the peak day for cooking fires.

A Dangerously Delicious Meal

It's is one of the pleasures of get-togethers during the holidays—cooking with your family—but cooking fires are more apt to happen when at just these times.  

One American tradition is fried turkey, but just because it's a common practice doesn't mean you can take its risk for granted. Because oil is involved, frying turkey requires care and caution.

Look at this compilation of frying fails.

In terms of safety, the National Fire Protection Association gives the best advice: Don’t do it. The deep-frying process is “not suitable for safe use by even a well-informed and careful consumer.”

However, deep-fried turkey is as much a part of the fabric of America’s day of thanks as canned cranberries and football, so here are some tips from FEMA.GOV:

  1. Turkey fryers can easily tip over, spilling hot oil across a large area. Use your turkey fryer only outdoors on a sturdy, level surface, well away from things that can burn. Make sure to have a “3-foot kid- and pet-free zone” around your turkey fryer to protect against burn injuries.

  2. An overfilled cooking pot will cause oil to spill over when the turkey is placed inside. Determine the correct amount of oil needed by first placing the turkey in the pot with water.

  3. A partially frozen turkey will cause hot oil to splatter. Make sure your turkey is completely thawed before you fry it.

  4. Turkey fryers can easily overheat and start a fire. Check the temperature often with a cooking thermometer so the oil won’t overheat.

  5. The pot, lid, and handles of a turkey fryer can get dangerously hot and cause burn injuries. Use long cooking gloves that protect hands and arms when you handle these items.

If a cooking fire does go awry this holiday season, give us a call. We are experts in deodorization and fire restoration. Also, SERVPRO of North Central Austin is a full-service restoration company. 

We provide 24/7 emergency mitigation services and complete reconstruction services, making it “Like it never even happened.” So when an emergency situation arises in your business, give us a call and we’ll be there fast with the help you need.

About SERVPRO of North Central Austin

SERVPRO of North Central Austin specializes in the cleanup and restoration of commercial and residential property after a water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. No matter what size disaster, from single story home and a complete high-rise, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge and resources to restore your property.

The Do’s and Don’ts with Fire and Smoke Damage.

9/5/2019 (Permalink)

multiple high rise buildings with black smoke rising from top SERVPRO of North Central Austin specializes in Fire restoration.

Fire damage can be scary , until help arrives here are some tips to help minimize damage.

Do’s:

  • Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpet.
  • Keep hands clean. Soot on hands can further soil upholstery, walls and woodwork.
  • Place dry, colorfast towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpet traffic areas.
  • If electricity is off, empty freezer and refrigerator completely and prop doors open to help prevent odor.
  • Wipe soot from chrome on kitchen and bathroom faucets, trim and appliances, then protect these surfaces with a light coating of lubricant.
  • If heat is off during winter, pour RV antifreeze in sinks, toilet bowls, holding tanks and tubs to avoid freezing pipes and fixtures.
  • Wash both sides of leaves on the house plants.
  • Change HVAC filter, but leave system off until a trained professional can check the system.
  • Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers to stop particles of soot from getting in or out of the HVAC system.

Don’ts

  • Attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces without first contacting SERVPRO of North Central Austin.
  • Attempt to shampoo carpet or upholstered furniture without first consulting SERVPRO.
  • Attempt to clean any electrical appliances (TV sets, Radios, etc.) that may have been close to fire, heat or water without first consulting an authorized repair service.
  • Consume any food or beverages that may have been stored close to fire, heat or water. (They may be contaminated.)
  • Turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet. Wiring may be wet or damaged and cause electrical shock, and air movement may create secondary damage.
  • Send garments to the dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set in smoke odor.

Celebrate safety

5/31/2019 (Permalink)

Have fun but be safe!

The fourth of July is a time to celebrate with friends and family. In order to celebrate safely, consider the following tips provided by the U.S. Fire Administration:

The best way to enjoy fireworks is to view public fireworks displays put on by professionals.

If you plan to use fireworks, ensure they are legal in your area. Only buy legal consumer fireworks from a licensed store, stand or tent. They typically have brightly colored labels with the manufacturer’s name, directions and warnings. Always read the directions and warning labels on fireworks. If a device is not marked with the contents, directions and a warning label, do not light it.

Always have an adult supervise children around fireworks activities at all times, especially with sparklers.

Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks. If a firework does not go off, do not stand over it to investigate. Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire, and to douse used fireworks before discarding in the trash.

Stay safe in the summer months.

5/29/2019 (Permalink)

Stay safe

Every new summer, families and friends across the country enjoy the summer months with barbecues, camping trips, or by cooling off in a pool or lake. In order to enjoy these occasions, it is important to keep safety on top of the mind to help ensure you have fun in the sun while maintaining safety procedures.  

According to the United States Fire Administration, nearly 8,600 Americans are injured by fireworks and almost 5,000 are injured by grill fires, annually. A grill should always be supervised when in use. Keep children and pets a safe distance from the grilling area to prevent accidental burns or tipping of the grill.

If you enjoy lounging by the pool or going for a boat ride to cool off from the summer sun, make sure you exercise caution, especially when children are present. Only swim in approved areas and supervise children at all times when near the water.

The Importance of Cleaning Dryer Vents

5/1/2019 (Permalink)

We do Duct Cleanings too!

According to FEMA, failure to clean home dryers causes 34% of home dryer fires. Home dryer fires cause $35 million in property loss and can even cause injury or death.

To reduce the risk of these fires happening in your or your insured’s home or business, SERVPRO® can help clean dryer vents and ducts that may have lint buildup.

Other tips for keeping your dryer vents clean from the National Fire Protection Agency include cleaning the lint filter before and after each load and making sure the outdoor vent flap will open and is not restricted by snow, a bird’s nest or other potential obstacles.

For more information on cleaning dryer vents contact SERVPRO® of North Central Austin Franchise Professionals. We are always here to help!

Fire Damage? Here's some things to avoid doing before we arrive!

10/12/2018 (Permalink)

When faced with fire and smoke damage, we're Here to Help®.

If you experience fire or smoke damage in your home, here are some things that you should NOT do while waiting for your remediation team to arrive.

Don't:

  • Attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces without first contacting SERVPRO of North Central Austin.
  • Attempt to shampoo carpet or upholstered furniture without first consulting SERVPRO of North Central Austin.
  • Attempt to clean any electrical appliances (TV sets, radios, etc.) that may have been close to fire, heat, or water without first consulting an authorized repair service.
  • Consume any food or beverages that may have been stored close to fire, heat, or water (they may be contaminated).
  • Turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet. Wiring may be wet or damaged and cause electrical shock, and air movement may create a secondary damage.
  • Send garments to dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set in smoke odor.

Fire Damage? Here's some things to do until we arrive!

10/12/2018 (Permalink)

When faced with fire and smoke damage, we're Here to Help®.

If you experience fire or smoke damage in your home, here are some things that you can do until your remediation team arrives.

Do:

  • Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpet.
  • Keep hands clean. Soot on hands can further soil upholstery, walls, and woodwork.
  • Place dry, colorfast towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery, and carpet traffic areas.
  • If electricity is off, empty freezer and refrigerator completely and prop doors open to help prevent odor.
  • Wipe soot from chrome on kitchen and bathroom faucets, trim, and appliances, then protect these surfaces with a light coating of lubricant.
  • If heat is off during winter, pour RV antifreeze in sinks, toilet bowls, holding tanks, and tubs to avoid freezing pipes and fixtures.
  • Wash both sides of leaves on house plants.
  • Change HVAC filter, but leave system off until a trained professional can check the system.
  • Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers to stop particles of soot from getting in or out of the HVAC system.

Have a Fire Escape Plan!

8/9/2018 (Permalink)

Make an emergency evacuation plan for your home.

Every second counts during a fire. Fire experts agree, people have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out.*

In a matter of moments, a small flame can become a major fire, making it critical to be prepared with an escape plan in place. A survey conducted by the American Red Cross shows only 26 percent of families have developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. Once a plan is developed, it is critical that everyone in the home understands the plan; the best way to do this is by practicing the escape plan at least twice a year. Increase your chance of surviving a fire by ensuring you have working smoke detectors in place, building an escape plan, and then practicing the escape plan. The following are a few steps to help you develop an emergency escape plan:

Draw a map of each level of your home and show all doors and windows. Find two ways to get out of each room. Make sure all doors and windows that lead outside open easily.

Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second and third floors. Only purchase collapsible escape ladders evaluated by a recognized testing laboratory. Store them near the window where they will be used.

Choose an outside meeting place a safe distance from your home where everyone can meet after they’ve escaped. Make sure to mark the meeting location on your escape plan. Teach children 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 individuals. Practice your fire escape plan at night and during the daytime. SERVPRO of North Central Austin wants you to stay safe and prepare now to ensure you are ready for any disaster. *Tips provided by American Red Cross and National Fire Protection Association

Smoke and Soot

8/7/2018 (Permalink)

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 North Central Austin 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 – 512-579-0189

Commercial Fire Damage? We can help!

8/1/2018 (Permalink)

24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week, we are SERVPRO ready to help.

A home or business fire can be a very stressful event for the property owner. Damage to personal belongings and the contents of the building is just one concern. Timely mitigation is the key to controlling damage, while reducing downtime and recovery costs. SERVPRO of North Central Austin understands how disruptive fires can be for business owners, their tenants, and even their customers. That is why SERVPRO offers 24-hour emergency response. SERVPRO's Service Response guidelines can help prevent fire damage from creating long-term problems. Under normal circumstances, a SERVPRO Professional will be on-site of a fire damage within four hours to begin emergency mitigation services.

The rapid response and the training of our professionals will help limit damage and get your facility back in operation quickly and help make it, "Like it never even happened."

Smoke Alarms; Safety Tips.

7/20/2018 (Permalink)

Smoke alarms help keep residences and businesses safe in the case of a fire.

Smoke alarms play a vital role in saving lives and, when properly installed, can reduce the risk of fire injury in half.*

The National Fire Protection Association recommends smoke alarms be installed in every bedroom, outside all sleeping quarters and on every level of the house. Business owners should consult the local Fire Marshall to ensure specific building fire codes and smoke detector requirements are met.

Smoke alarms work best when paired with a fire escape plan. A plan allows your family, employees, or clients to escape quickly and safely in an emergency situation.

Review the following tips regarding smoke detector installation and maintenance. For more on emergency preparedness, contact SERVPRO of North Central Austin.

- Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, including the basement.

- Smoke alarms should be installed away from the kitchen to prevent false alarms. Generally, they should be at least 10 feet from a cooking appliance.

- Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.

- Replace batteries in all smoke alarms at least once a year. If an alarm "chirps," the battery is low and should be replaced right away.

- Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.

JUST THE FACTS: Smoke Alarms

- Three out of five fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or when the alarms are not working.

- Smoke alarm failures usually result from missing, disconnected, or dead batteries.

- More than one-third (37 percent) of home fire deaths result from fires in which no smoke alarms are present.

- The risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms.

*Statistics and tips provided by National Fire Prevention Association

Is your property in need of board-up services? SERVPRO can Help!

6/8/2018 (Permalink)

We can help you pack up and board up your property to help make the clean up even easier.

Whether it is after a fire, storm, or other structural disaster, boarding up damaged commercial or residential property is a burden that no one should ever have to go through - especially if it is your property that has been damaged. Boarding up damaged property incorrectly could, in fact, cause secondary damages such as moisture or animal intrusion, making an already bad situation even worse. The actual process of boarding up after an unexpected damage can also be as dangerous as the damage itself. SERVPRO of North Central Austin can handle boarding up your damaged commercial or residential property, as well as mitigate and remediate the original damage caused, providing you with a peace of mind while helping make your loss "Like it never even happened."

Summer Safety Tips

6/4/2018 (Permalink)

Summer fun with less risks!

Summer is a time to enjoy the great outdoors, but it is also important to keep safety in mind. Consider the following tips, provided by the National Fire Protection Association to keep you and your family safe all summer long.

  • When using a charcoal grill, only use starter fluids designed for barbecue grills; do not add fluid after coals have been lit.
  • When using a gas grill, ensure the hose connection is tight; check hoses for leaks. Applying soapy water to the hoses will easily and safely reveal any leaks.
  • Always build a campfire downwind from the tent area. Clear vegetation and dig a pit before building your fire. Extinguish the fire before going to sleep or leaving the campsite.
  • Store liquid fire starter (not gasoline) away from your tent and campfire, and only use dry kindling to freshen a campfire.

SERVPRO of North Central Austin wishes you a safe and happy summer!

Five Dangers of Deep-Frying a Turkey

11/20/2017 (Permalink)

Deep-frying a turkey? Here are some things to keep in mind.

Each November, families gather to celebrate Thanksgiving by preparing a delicious feast, but if you don’t practice safe cooking habits, your holiday could become hazardous very quickly. According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. It’s important to be alert to prevent cooking fires. Especially dangerous is deep-frying your turkey. Here are five things to be aware of when considering using a deep-fryer:

  • Turkey fryers can easily tip over, spilling hot cooking oil over a large area.
  • An overfilled cooking pot will cause cooking oil to spill when the turkey is put in, and a partially frozen turkey will cause cooking oil to splatter when put in the pot.
  • Even a small amount of cooking oil spilling on a hot burner can cause a large fire.
  • Without thermostat controls, deep fryers can overheat oil to the point of starting a fire.
  • The sides of the cooking pot, lid, and pot handles can get dangerously hot.

Carbon Monoxide: A Silent Killer

11/7/2017 (Permalink)

Change the batteries in your smoke detectors at least once a year!

You can't see or smell carbon monoxide, but, at high levels, it can kill a person in minutes. Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide, or CO, is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (like gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, and propane) burn incompletely.

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning. It is estimated another 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to CO poisoning. All people and animals are at risk for CO poisoning, with some groups— including unborn babies, infants, and people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems— being more susceptible to the effects of carbon monoxide.

An excess of CO, leading to CO poisoning, can result from faulty furnaces or other heating appliances, portable generators, water heaters, clothes dryers, or idling cars left running in garages.

Taking some basic, precautionary steps can help eliminate the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Protect yourself by reviewing the following tips, provided by the United States Fire Administration:

  • Have fuel burning appliances, like oil and gas furnaces, gas or kerosene heaters, fireplaces, and wood stoves inspected by a trained professional every year.
  • Open the damper for proper ventilation before using a fireplace. Never use your oven or stovetop to heat your home.
  • Make sure all fuel-burning vented equipment is vented to the outside to avoid CO poisoning. Keep the venting for exhaust clear and unblocked.
  • If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Never run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not blocked with snow, ice, or other materials.
  • Make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow and other debris.
  • Only use barbecue grills outside, away from all doors, windows, vents, and other building openings. Some grills can produce CO gas. Never use grills inside the home or the garage, even if the doors are open.
  • Use portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from all doors, windows, vents, and other building openings to prevent exhaust fumes from entering the home.

What to DO Until Help Arrives: Fire & Smoke Damage

10/24/2017 (Permalink)

When faced with fire and smoke damage, we're Here to Help®.

If you experience fire or smoke damage in your home, here are some things that you can do until your remediation team arrives.

Do:

  • Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpet.
  • Keep hands clean. Soot on hands can further soil upholstery, walls, and woodwork.
  • Place dry, colorfast towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery, and carpet traffic areas.
  • If electricity is off, empty freezer and refrigerator completely and prop doors open to help prevent odor.
  • Wipe soot from chrome on kitchen and bathroom faucets, trim, and appliances, then protect these surfaces with a light coating of lubricant.
  • If heat is off during winter, pour RV antifreeze in sinks, toilet bowls, holding tanks, and tubs to avoid freezing pipes and fixtures.
  • Wash both sides of leaves on house plants.
  • Change HVAC filter, but leave system off until a trained professional can check the system.
  • Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers to stop particles of soot from getting in or out of the HVAC system.

What NOT TO DO Until Help Arrives: Fire & Smoke Damage

10/24/2017 (Permalink)

When faced with fire and smoke damage, we're Here to Help®.

If you experience fire or smoke damage in your home, here are some things that you should NOT do while waiting for your remediation team to arrive.

Don't:

  • Attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces without first contacting SERVPRO of North Central Austin.
  • Attempt to shampoo carpet or upholstered furniture without first consulting SERVPRO of North Central Austin.
  • Attempt to clean any electrical appliances (TV sets, radios, etc.) that may have been close to fire, heat, or water without first consulting an authorized repair service.
  • Consume any food or beverages that may have been stored close to fire, heat, or water (they may be contaminated).
  • Turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet. Wiring may be wet or damaged and cause electrical shock, and air movement may create a secondary damage.
  • Send garments to dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set in smoke odor.

Holiday Fire Safety

1/2/2017 (Permalink)

Pretty lights, candles, and decorations are festive, not frightening, when used properly!

Pretty lights, candles and decorations are just a few of the items bringing charm and cheer to the holiday season— however, if they are not used carefully, your holidays may go from festive to frightening. The American Red Cross provides the following safety tips to help greatly reduce the fire risk in your home or business this holiday season:

* Place Christmas trees, candles, and other holiday decorations at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents, and candles.

* Make sure that light strings and other holiday decorations are in good condition. Do not use anything with frayed electrical cords, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

* Always unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.

* Never use lit candles to decorate a tree. Always extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to bed.

* Use only sturdy tree stands designed not to tip over. Keep curious pets and children away from Christmas trees.

* Keep anything that can catch on fire—pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from your stove top.

* Designate one person to walk around your property to ensure all candles and smoking materials are properly extinguished after guests leave. SERVPRO of North Central Austin wishes you a safe and happy holiday season!

Holiday Fire Facts

1/2/2017 (Permalink)

Holiday Safety Facts to Consider

Holiday Fire Facts


Here is some information to keep in mind as the holidays approach, so that you will be more aware of ways to keep your home and loved ones safe.


* One of every three holiday home fires involving Christmas trees is caused by electrical problems.


* Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be quite serious. On average, one of every 31 reported home Christmas tree fires results in a death, compared to an average of one death per 144 total reported home fires.


* A heat source too close to the tree is the cause of one in every four of Christmas tree fires.


* Two out of five home decoration fires are actually started by candles.


* One-third of all candle fires at home start in the bedroom.


 


(Facts provided by the U.S. Fire Administration)

Summer Grill Safety

6/27/2016 (Permalink)

Summer Safety Tips to Keep the Fire in the Grill

Summer is synonymous with barbecues, parades, and firework displays; but, along with all the festivities are plenty of visits to emergency rooms, especially during July. Each year, an average of 230 people are injured badly enough to require medical treatment after firework-related incidents, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. In addition to causing injury, fireworks are also responsible for thousands of house fires each year with millions of dollars in property damage.

There is nothing like firing up the grill during the summer months? Did you know, July is the peak month for grill fires? A backyard barbecue can become dangerous if safety precautions aren't considered. Your local SERVPRO Professionals want you to have an enjoyable and safe summer. Consider the following tips to ensure your summer celebrations are disaster-free!

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors
  • The grill should be placed away from the home, deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.
  • When using a charcoal grill, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.
  • Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear.
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don't go off or in case of fire.
  • Children should never pick up leftover fireworks as they may still be active.
  • The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display conducted by trained professionals.

Tips and information provided by the National Fire Protection Association.

Happy New Year!

2/5/2016 (Permalink)

We are a team committed to helping people physically, emotionally, and spiritually in their time of need.

Imagine waking up New Year's Day, after a night of celebration, to see that your fireplace has caught your home on fire. We worked New Year's Day to carefully pack up and salvage this family's belongings.

While their home was being rebuilt, baseball season began. We were able to pull out their son's baseball gear from our warehouse so he could start. That's why we have a detailed inventory and photography system. We care, and it is sometimes the little things that show it the most. 

Real customer Trisha says it best, "SERVPRO employees are all courteous, sincere, concerned, and professional. I can't recall ever being treated with this much care. I have told everyone how great SERVPRO is."

While we only wish people the best, if you do need us, give us a call. We would love the opportunity to help. Here are some tips of what to do until we arrive to help: 

SERVPROnorthcentralaustin.com/fire-damage-tips