Recent Fire Damage Posts

The Threat of Wildfires in Florida

4/11/2024 (Permalink)

SERVPRO van parked outside a building with fire damage. Don't wait until it's too late—start implementing these wildfire preparedness measures today to protect your home and loved ones.

As a homeowner in Florida, it's important to recognize the potential dangers posed by wildfires and take proactive steps to protect your property. While Florida may be known for its beautiful landscapes and sunny weather, it's also susceptible to wildfires, especially during dry and windy conditions. In this blog post, we'll explore the risks associated with wildfires in Florida and provide practical tips on how to prepare and protect your home from this ever-present threat.

Understanding the Threat

Wildfires in Florida can occur throughout the year, but they are most prevalent during the dry season, typically from late fall through spring. Factors such as drought, high winds, and human activity can contribute to the spread of wildfires, posing a significant risk to homes and communities across the state.

Assessing Your Home's Vulnerability

Start by assessing your home's vulnerability to wildfires. Consider factors such as the proximity of dense vegetation or wooded areas, the presence of flammable materials near the home, and the condition of the roof and exterior walls. Identifying potential vulnerabilities will help you develop a comprehensive wildfire preparedness plan.

Creating Defensible Space

Create defensible space around your home by clearing vegetation and debris from the immediate vicinity. Trim trees and shrubs to create a buffer zone of at least 30 feet around structures, and keep grasses and other flammable vegetation well-maintained and watered.

Hardening Your Home

Harden your home against wildfire by using fire-resistant building materials and making necessary upgrades to the roof, windows, and exterior walls. Consider installing ember-resistant vents and enclosing eaves and soffits to prevent embers from entering the home.

Preparing an Evacuation Plan

Develop an evacuation plan for your family and pets in the event of a wildfire. Identify multiple evacuation routes and establish a designated meeting point outside the evacuation zone. Keep emergency supplies such as food, water, medications, and important documents readily accessible.

Stay Informed

Stay informed about wildfire activity in your area by monitoring local news and official updates from emergency management agencies. Sign up for emergency alerts and notifications to receive timely information about evacuation orders, road closures, and other important updates.

Maintaining Fire Safety Practices

Practice fire safety year-round by observing local regulations regarding outdoor burning, using caution when operating grills or fire pits, and properly disposing of cigarette butts and other flammable materials. Encourage neighbors to do the same to reduce the risk of accidental fires.

Seek Professional Assistance

In the unfortunate event that your home sustains fire damage, it's essential to seek professional assistance for thorough cleanup and restoration. SERVPRO® specializes in fire damage restoration, offering comprehensive services to help homeowners recover from the aftermath of a fire. Let our team handle the restoration process, allowing you to focus on rebuilding and restoring your life after a fire.

By taking proactive steps to prepare and protect your home from wildfires, you can minimize the risk of damage and increase the safety and resilience of your property. Don't wait until it's too late—start implementing these wildfire preparedness measures today to protect your home and loved ones.

Aftermath of Home Fires: Understanding Smoke Damage

3/7/2023 (Permalink)

large house on fire, smoke billowing out the top, words on image "after a fire" SERVPRO of Altamonte Springs / Longwood, our fire and smoke damage restoration experts have years of experience handling the aftermath of home fires.

Experiencing a home fire can be an extremely frightening and traumatic event. Once the flames have been extinguished, the focus turns to the damage left behind.

The Impact of Smoke Damage

While the damage caused by flames is visible and often the primary concern, the impact of smoke damage should not be overlooked. In fact, smoke damage can be just as devastating to a home and its contents, and it can occur even in areas where the fire did not directly reach. 

Common Issues After House Fire

The following are some of the most common issues like to smoke damage after a home fire: 

  • Charring
  • Warped plastic and wood
  • Discoloration
  • Yellow stains on walls and ceilings
  • Household textiles covered in soot
  • Smoke odor and particles found on upholstered furniture, drapery, clothing, and carpets

One of the most significant impacts associated with smoke damage is the presence of smoke odor throughout the home, which can linger for months if not addressed properly. Restoration professionals can rid your home of odors by cleaning and sealing surfaces, HVAC cleanings, using an AIR SCRUBBER, Ozone treatments, and thermal fogging, among other methods.

Cleaning Up

Salvaging items impacted by smoke damage generally isn’t easy for the average person without the right knowledge or tools. It is a complex process that requires the expertise of a smoke damage restoration professional.

Some methods professionals use to clean smoke are:

  1. Dry cleaning: Smoke-damaged clothing and textiles can often be salvaged through professional dry cleaning.
  2. Ozone treatment: Ozone machines can be used to remove smoke odor from items like furniture and carpets.
  3. HEPA vacuuming: High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuums can remove soot and other smoke particles from surfaces.
  4. Thermal fogging: This process involves using a machine that releases a fog of deodorizing chemicals to neutralize smoke odor.

To Restore or To Replace?

Specialists assess the damage to both the home and its contents, determining what can be saved and what must be discarded. Professionals often prefer to restore rather than replace damaged items because restoration is usually more cost-effective and environmentally friendly. On top of that, many items have sentimental or historical value, so professionals do their best to restore rather than replace. By restoring items to their original condition, restoration professionals can help reduce waste and preserve valuable resources for the customer—it’s a win-win.

SERVPRO of Altamonte Springs

At SERVPRO of Altamonte Springs / Longwood, our fire and smoke damage restoration experts have years of experience handling the aftermath of home fires. If you or a loved one has experienced a fire, including the associated smoke damage, please do not hesitate to contact us. We offer free consultations and are always here to help you get back on the road to recovery.

What To Do After a House Fire

1/31/2022 (Permalink)

Your Orlando home was likely not built to stop house fires before they spread to other areas of the house. In general, most of the materials used for the construction of your home are fire kindling, able to catch fire quickly and spread throughout the property. On top of that, the popular open-concept floor plan lays out the perfect environment for fires to spread from room to room more easily than other floor plans.

While flames do much damage on their own, other substantial effects of a fire are smoke and soot damages. 

Soot Damages

Soot is most concentrated where it burned longest, but matted debris and film from the combustion leave a dark or black residue on surfaces, furniture, flooring, and other materials, too. Removing this residue requires multiple approaches. For wall surfaces, scrubbing with wet and dry sponges can often remove the bulk of the film. Confined spaces like ductwork require high powered vacuums. 

Smoke Damages

Smoke damage often presents itself in the form of a harsh odor lingering in fabrics, carpeting, and open spaces throughout affected areas of your house. Removal of this odor typically requires thermal fogging, a process that releases an unscented chemical compound into the environment and contents of the room to break apart odor molecules and leave no discernible scent behind. 

The Right Solution

Unfortunately, this causes a bigger mess than most people are equipped to handle. Fire damage proves to be challenging to remove without the right equipment. We always suggest hiring a professional fire cleanup and restoration expert. We may be biased, but SERVPRO is just that. We have the experience, tools, and techniques to help you through widespread fire, smoke, and soot damages. 

When you face the effects after a house fire, SERVPRO of Altamonte Springs / Longwood responds quickly to get your home back to preloss conditions, as soon as possible.

Preventing Electrical Fires in Your Home

1/12/2022 (Permalink)

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 47,700 home fires in the U.S. are caused by electrical failures or malfunctions each year. These fires result in 418 deaths, 1,570 injuries, and $1.4 billion in property damage. Overloaded electrical circuits are a major cause of residential fires. Help lower your risk of electrical fires by not overloading your electrical system.

Overloaded Circuit Warning Signs

  • Flickering, blinking, or dimming lights
  • Frequently tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses
  • Warm or discolored wall plates
  • Cracking, sizzling, or buzzing from receptacles
  • A burning odor coming from receptacles or wall switches
  • Mild shock or tingle from appliances, receptacles, or switches

When choosing to light for your home, it is essential to understand that some light switches have more functions than merely turning on lights. These added features such as timers and dimmers can make your home more convenient and efficient. If you are thinking of making a switch, contact a qualified electrician to ensure that the lighting you choose is compatible with your home. And remember, all light switches should be installed by a professional.

Don't Take These Warning Signs Lightly

  • The wall plate is hot to the touch.
  • There is discoloration of or around the switch plate.
  • Lights dim and/or flicker without cause.
  • You hear crackling, popping, or buzzing from your outlet.
  • Often Breakers trip or fuses blow when the switch is turned on.
  • You detect an odor when a switch is used.
  • The switch leans to one side or feels loose when operating.
  • You often experience a shock when operating the switch.
  • Lights get brighter or dimmer when other appliances turn on or off.
  • The home is over 40 years old and has aluminum wiring but has not recently undergone a safety inspection by an electrician. 

If any of the above characterizes your lighting control points, have your home's electrical system inspected by a qualified electrician as soon as possible.

How to Prevent Electrical Overloads

  • Never use extension cords or multi-outlet converters for appliances
  • All major appliances should be plugged directly into a wall receptacle outlet. Only plug one heat-producing appliance into a receptacle outlet at a time
  • Heavy reliance on extension cords is an indication that you have too few outlets to address your needs. Have a qualified electrician inspect your home and add new outlets
  • Power strips only add additional outlets; they do not change the amount of power being received from the outlet

Hopefully, these tips can help keep your home safe and protected from fires caused by an electrical malfunction, though accidents do occur. Our crews here at SERVPRO of Altamonte Springs/Longwood see a handful of electrical fires each year, especially during the summer when extra fans and a/c units are plugged in and in winter when plug-in heaters are in use as well as holiday lights. 

If your home or business is affected by an electrical fire. SERVPRO of Altamonte Springs/Longwood is ready 24/7, 365 to help deal with the smoke and fire damage that can occur and get your house back to pre-fire condition.

We Can Clean Smoke and Soot Damage

1/12/2022 (Permalink)

Smoke and soot are very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allow us to inspect and accurately assess the damage's extent 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 significantly 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 Altamonte Springs/Longwood 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 slightly 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. We’re available 24/7 for your fire damage emergency. Call us anytime at (407) 830-9899. 

Dryer Do's and Don't's to Prevent House Fires

1/12/2022 (Permalink)

How often should you clean the lint buildup in your dryer? If you answered after every load, you are correct! This is the easiest way to prevent a house fire. Amazingly, doing this small, seemingly insignificant task, can end up saving your home and possibly your life. 

There are approximately 2,900 home clothes dryer fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Dryer fires can be detrimental to you, your family, and your home. Take precautions to reduce the risk for home fires by following the do’s and don’t’s of dryer maintenance and identifying the signs of a clogged dryer.

Dryer Do’s 

  • Have your clothes dryer installed by a professional.
  • Make sure the correct electrical plug and outlet are used and that the dryer is connected properly.
  • Read manufacturers' instructions and warnings in use and care manuals that come with new dryers.
  • Clean the lint filter before and after each load of laundry. Don’t forget to clean the back of the dryer where lint can build up. In addition, clean the lint filter with a nylon brush at least every six months or more often if it becomes clogged. 
  • Clean lint out of the vent pipe every three months.
  • Have your dryer cleaned regularly by a professional, especially if it is taking longer than normal for clothes to dry.
  • Inspect the venting system behind the dryer to ensure it is not damaged or restricted.
  • Put a covering on outside wall dampers to keep out rain, snow, and dirt.

Dryer Don’t’s 

  • Don’t use a dryer without a lint filter or with a lint filter that is loose, damaged, or clogged.
  • Don’t overload the dryer.
  • Don’t use a wire screen or cloth to cover the wall damper. They can collect lint and clog the dryer vent.
  • Don’t dry anything containing foam, rubber, or plastic, like a bathroom rug with a rubber backing.
  • Don’t dry glass fiber materials (unless manufacturer's instructions allow).
  • Don’t dry items that have come into contact with anything flammable like alcohol, cooking oils, or gasoline. Dry them outdoors or in a well-ventilated room, away from heat.
  • Don’t leave a clothes dryer running if you leave home or when you go to bed.

Warning Signs Your Dryer is Clogged and May Cause a Fire

  • If it takes longer than about 45 minutes to dry your clothing, it could be a sign that the dryer vent is clogged.
  • Your clothes are roasting hot to the touch after they have gone through a dry cycle.
  • The flapper on the dryer's vent may not open entirely when the appliance is on.

For those homeowners who aren't lucky to catch the warning signs in time, fire damage can be daunting to clean up on your own. Professionals of SERVPRO of Altamonte Springs/Longwood can work on your home's fire restoration when it is most convenient for you. Make sure to contact SERVPRO of Altamonte Springs/Longwood at the first sign of fire damage so that issues are resolved immediately. We’re available 24/7 and can respond immediately. Call us at (407) 830-9889. 

Fire Extinguisher Ready, Is Your Home or Business Prepared?

1/12/2022 (Permalink)

Fire extinguishers are staples in disaster-ready homes and provide billions of people with a quick, effective way to respond to sudden blazes. With proper training and education, fire extinguishers can save your life and your property. For hands-on training, contact your local fire station. Generally, all fire extinguishers are alike, as they follow the same usage procedure known as PASS:

  • Pull the pin to break the tamper seal.
  • Aim the nozzle at the bottom of the fire.
  • Squeeze the handle and release extinguisher chemicals.
  • Sweep the nozzle back and forth at the base of the fire until it’s extinguished.

Choosing Your Extinguisher

Not every fire extinguisher is suitable for every job. Research different types of extinguishers before deciding where to place them around your home. The National Fire Protection Association recommends keeping multipurpose fire extinguishers in your home close to an exit. Class B extinguishers should be located in the kitchen and garage, as they are effective for putting out small grease and gasoline fires. 

Emergency Services

If a fire sparks, call 911 first, then use a fire extinguisher if the situation allows. This ensures you will be able to get the assistance you need if your attempts are unsuccessful. Furthermore, know when to leave the house. The first priority is a safe escape. If the blaze becomes large or your extinguisher runs out of fumes, it’s time to get out of the house. Let firefighters and emergency responders take care of the fire. Work with SERVPRO of Altamonte Springs/Longwood afterward to get your home back to normal. We specialize in fire restoration services such as smoke and soot cleanup, water removal, repairs, and more.

Being knowledgeable of fire extinguisher handling tips can save your home and your family. Discuss the above tips with every member of your family and create a fire escape plan. Call SERVPRO of Altamonte Springs/Longwood at (407) 830-9889 for additional information regarding fire damage cleanup.

Smoke Alarm Tips

1/12/2022 (Permalink)

While SERVPRO of Altamonte Springs/Longwood is here to help if you suffer from a fire. We still want each of our customers to be as safe as possible. Here are some tips to make sure your house is prepared in the event of a fire. 

The Different Types of Smoke Detectors

There are two main types of smoke detectors: those that use photoelectric detection and ionization detection.

Ionization detectors are more common because they are generally mass-produced and typically inexpensive, but photoelectric detectors are fairly affordable.

Ionization detectors are best at detecting flaming fires, while photoelectric alarms are usually more sensitive to smoldering fires. The best idea is to either have a combination of the two types of alarms or find one alarm that utilizes both detection types.

How Many Smoke Alarms Do I Need?

For maximum protection, one smoke alarm per room except for the bathroom, kitchen, and garage. Heat alarms may be considered where fumes from cooking or smoke from cigarettes or open fires could lead to unwanted alarm activations.

For minimum protection, one smoke alarm for each level/floor of your home.

Test Your Smoke Alarm Often

The National Fire Protection Association recommends testing your smoke alarm at least once a month to ensure it is functioning correctly. Most alarms have a test button. Hold the button for a few seconds and see if the alarm sounds. If you don’t hear it or faint, it’s time to replace your batteries. Keep your family safe by remembering to check your alarm regularly.

If you don’t change your alarm’s batteries, you’ll likely hear that annoying high-pitched periodic chirp until you do. While the sound is grating, it does an excellent job reminding you when the battery is low and it is time for a fresh one. If you’re unsure whether or not the battery is dead, test it in a non-safety device.

When in doubt, throw it out. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. It never hurts to give your fire alarm a fresh new battery, even if you aren’t sure if the last one is dead. Consider writing the date on the new battery with a permanent marker so when it dies, you can see how long it lasted and know approximately how long each battery will work in your particular alarm.

Experts recommend you change your smoke alarms about every 10 years. When it comes to your family’s safety, you’ll want to make sure your equipment is functioning well and that you are using the latest technology to warn of fire danger.

Combination Alarms are Available

Arguably even more dangerous than a fire is carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide gas is odorless and tasteless, yet extremely toxic, and therefore very dangerous. It is produced by vehicles and gas-powered furnaces, and unsafe levels cause hundreds of deaths each year. If possible, look for a fire alarm that also includes a carbon monoxide sensor.

Know Your Evacuation Plan!

The purpose of a Smoke Alarm is to give an early warning of an outbreak of fire! You and your family must know exactly what to do when the Smoke Alarm activates.

Plan an escape route, then run fire drills. If possible, figure out two ways to exit every room, even if that means out a window. Make sure everyone in the household understands and can run through the escape route. The practice should include the post-exit meeting place outside.

  • Practice drills during less-than-desirable times: in the middle of the night, in very cold weather, etc., as well as under more ideal circumstances.

  • Tweak the plan as necessary. Who may be capable of actually sleeping through the alarm? This should be addressed. Make sure that an escape plan is in place for physically disabled occupants, babies, and pets.

  • Purchase a folding ladder in case an escape through an upper window is necessary.

To get life back on track after a house fire, call SERVPRO of Altamonte Springs/Longwood. We have a team of highly trained fire restoration specialists who can clean your home and restore it to its preloss condition. Our staff can also communicate with your insurance to ensure a smoother claims process. Call us anytime at (407) 830-9889. We’re available 24/7.