Recent Fire Damage Posts

What to Do After a House Fire in Your West Hartford Home

10/5/2020 (Permalink)

A woman holds her head in her hands in front of a burned-out house If your house catches fire, you need to get out in 3 minutes or less! Here's how to do it and what to do afterward to get your life back to normal.

Did you know that fires kill more people in America each year than all natural disasters put together? And a house fire in West Hartford can cost up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage. For example, it can cost  $50,000 or more to rebuild and restore a burned-out kitchen—and 44% of all home fires start as cooking fires.

The bad news is that while decades ago, house fires allowed residents around 15 minutes to escape, that timeframe has shrunk dramatically. Today, you need to get out of a burning home in around 3 minutes! Why this difference? Synthetic materials and furnishings in today’s homes are much more flammable, burn hotter and they produce more toxins when burned.

What Happens in a House Fire?

A timeline of a typical kitchen fire shows how quickly a fire can spread and destroy a home. Within just a few seconds, a stovetop boil-over can spill flammable oily contents onto the cooking flame or electric burner, causing flames to shoot up.

Within 30 seconds: Next, any grease or oil on the stovetop ignites, sending flames across the range and jumping to nearby combustibles, such as paper or dish towels. Smoke—composed of hot gases, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, water vapor and hydrogen sulfide, plus ash and soot—rises from the flames with the heated air. This may be your last chance at quickly putting the fire out. Don’t move the pot or pan, but cover it with a lid or cookie sheet to cut off its oxygen.

30–60 seconds: The fire gets bigger and hotter and ignites other objects in the kitchen, while smoke, which can burn your lungs and throat, spreads throughout the kitchen. Inhaling just a couple of breaths of the toxic gases in smoke can cause you to pass out.

1–3 minutes: The smoke thickens and spreads to other rooms and up the stairs, carrying deadly cyanide and carbon monoxide (which is the primary cause of fire deaths). The kitchen and its contents are being consumed and the temperature is now hot enough to kill humans. Thick smoke hovers just above the floor, filled with deadly toxic compounds. At this point, your family is rapidly running out of time to evacuate the house!

3–4 minutes: The heat soars to more than 1000 degrees F, and everything in the kitchen and other affected rooms bursts into flames in a flashover. Flames shoot out windows and doorways and the oxygen is sucked from the room. You can no longer navigate the stairwell. Synthetic furnishings, like sofas and carpets, burn and release huge amounts of heat. The flames begin to travel through interior walls to the second floor.

4–5 minutes: A passerby will see flames shooting out of windows and doors. The living room and other nearby spaces will flashover and your home is now at risk of floor or roof collapse. It is now almost impossible to rescue anyone on the second floor.

How to Escape a House Fire in 3 Minutes or Less

Your life and the lives of your family depend on creating and practicing an escape plan. Start by making a diagram of your house with windows and doors labeled. Map out two escape routes from each room, one of which is through a door. Identify an outside meeting place a safe distance from your house. At that point, you’ll call 911 from a neighbor’s house.

Next, make sure you have the right equipment to alert you to a fire and to allow you to escape. You should have smoke alarms on each floor and one near each sleeping area. Test your alarms each month, replace batteries once a year, and install new alarms every five years. Make sure all your windows open easily and doors can be opened from the inside without a key. If your family sleeps on the house's second floor, consider purchasing escape ladders to provide additional exit routes.

At least twice a year, practice your escape plan. Practice crawling and teach your children never to hide from a fire. Practice using escape ladders if you have them. And because most fires start at night, run one of your yearly drills after bedtime.

What Happens Immediately After a House Fire

After a house fire is extinguished, the structure and property may be gravely damaged. Do not enter the home until you have received permission from your local fire marshal. Between the flames, smoke and heat, what wasn’t destroyed outright may still be ruined. Appliances may have been melted inside, and synthetic materials will continue to emit toxins. Smoke and odor may have permeated every item in the house. You may even have a mold problem brewing caused by the water sprayed by firefighters. Structural weaknesses may cause your house to collapse.

At this point, you may want to call on the services of an experienced fire damage restoration company like SERVPRO of West Hartford to handle the enormous job of returning your home to livable condition. SERVPRO will send a crew in promptly to evaluate the job and can handle everything from start to finish: removing destroyed property; identifying and cleaning salvageable items; remediating damage from smoke, soot and water; coordinating with your insurer; and fully restoring your home to pre-fire condition.

What You’ll Need to Do After a House Fire

There are few disasters as shocking and devastating as losing your home to a house fire. You’ll have to make many critical decisions in a short period of time while emotions surge. Taking it step by step, here’s a process that will help you start putting your life back together.

Find a Place to Stay

Everyone who lives in your home, including children and even pets, will be deeply shaken after a house fire. Make it a priority to find a safe and comfortable place to stay—even if it’s just for a night or two. Your family will be able to rest, regroup and begin planning your next steps. You may prefer to stay with friends or family or at a hotel, but if that’s not possible, disaster relief agencies like the American Red Cross or Salvation Army can often set you up with temporary shelter at no charge.

Contact Your Insurance Agent

Get in touch with your insurance carrier as soon as possible. Your insurer may help you find a reliable cleaning and restoration company and may be able to provide funds for upcoming out-of-pocket costs. And of course, the sooner you get the claims process going, the faster you can get started on repairs or home replacement.

Ensure the Safety of Your Home

House fires can damage your home’s structure, putting it at risk of collapse, so don’t enter your fire-damaged home without a fire marshal’s okay. An inspection to determine if your home is safe to enter can be done by the fire marshal or your insurance company, who will search for hidden damage to wiring, wall supports and foundations.

Once your home is declared safe to enter, the next step is to document the damage, ideally with your insurance adjuster. You’ll also want to recover personal items and salvage whatever can be saved. For your safety, wear close-toed shoes, long-sleeved shirts and long pants, safety glasses and work gloves. Use a camera to document the damage to your house and property.

The firefighters who responded to your fire may have turned off your gas, water and electric utilities to prevent more damage. Again, wait for a home safety inspection and an all-clear from your fire marshal before you turn these utilities on again. You can inadvertently cause another fire, a gas leak or water damage.

You don’t want your empty, fire-damaged home to become a refuge for squatters and looters, so be sure to report your fire disaster to the local police and ask them to keep an eye on your property while you are sheltering elsewhere. Consider boarding up your windows and doors for even more security.

Save Undamaged Possessions

Once you’re able to reenter your damaged-but-not-destroyed house, you’ll want to remove items that weren’t damaged by the fire, especially personal items such as clothing, toys, memorabilia, important papers, etc. If you hire a fire restoration company like SERVPRO of West Hartford, we can work with you to clean your important items so that you can quickly access them.

Catalog Your Damaged Items

Daunting as it is, you’ll need to create a full accounting of all your possessions and furnishings that were destroyed or damaged in the fire. This catalog will be crucial in receiving full compensation from your insurance company. Many insurers even require receipts, serial numbers and other details. It’s a huge challenge to do this when your home has just been damaged or ruined. Some homeowners have been able to assemble this information for certain items by searching their online bank statements for the cost and date of purchases.

SERVPRO of West Hartford makes creating this catalog much easier. Room by room, we evaluate the damaged and undamaged items in your home, take photos and document key information to create a digital record. Then, we wrap and pack up the undamaged objects that require storage and the damaged objects that require cleaning and restoration. We transport all your possessions to our warehouse where they are carefully stored, cleaned, restored and tracked. Once your home repairs are complete (or your new home is ready for move-in), we reverse the process and replace all your personal items and furnishings into your home.

Beyond your possessions, you’ll also need to list important documents that were lost in the fire. Certain critical items, like drivers’ licenses, birth certificates, passports, titles and deeds, medical records, tax information, etc., will need to be replaced immediately. 

You’ll need to get rid of these household items after the fire (while documenting items and their value for insurance purposes):

  • Perishable food: If your electricity has been off for more than four hours, toss your refrigerated food. A full freezer may keep food for up to eight hours.
  • Non-perishable food: Unfortunately, other foods, even those in cans, that have been exposed to heat, water and firefighting chemicals must be thrown out.
  • Cosmetics and medicines: High temperatures, water, smoke and firefighting chemicals can ruin these products, so out they go, too.
  • Electrical equipment: Check for water and heat damage before you use any electrical items, such as small appliances or entertainment devices. You’re better off throwing out any questionable items to eliminate the possibility of another fire.

Plan Your Finances

You may need to pay out-of-pocket for some or all of the costs of restoring your home before you are reimbursed by your home insurer. Be prepared to lay out as much as tens of thousands of dollars before your insurer cuts its check to you.

Your house fire may require you to replace lots of furnishings and personal possessions, such as clothing, electronic devices and more. As you purchase new items, keep your receipts so that you can submit them to your insurer for reimbursement. Again, expect to make a cash outlay before your insurance claim is settled and you receive compensation.

One thing that doesn’t stop after a fire disaster is bills. Your insurance policy may or may not cover your mortgage. You’ll still have other recurring costs to cover, though, such as car and credit card payments. While your home is being repaired, it may make sense to cancel cable and internet.

We’re Here for You

The team at SERVPRO of West Hartford has specialized training and experience in fire restoration and cleanup, as well as natural disaster and storm damage cleanup, water damage and mold remediation, and chemical and biohazard cleanup. Call SERVPRO of West Hartford (860.206.6141) any time.

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

Other Helpful Blog Posts

SERVPRO publishes educational articles on how you can protect your home and business from fire, water, mold, sewage, storm, natural disaster and other damage.

SERVPRO of West Hartford
100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.206.6141
24-hour emergency service

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

Prevent a Chimney Fire!

1/20/2020 (Permalink)

Flames shoot out of the top of a chimney. A chimney fire can be a fast-moving disaster that destroys your home and puts your family at risk. Avoid a fire in your home by following this advice.

Each year in the U.S. there are 25,000-plus chimney fires, which cause more than $125 million in property damage. A poorly maintained chimney can lead to a fast, loud, terrifying and destructive chimney fire—or a slow, quiet and eventually, equally damaging one.

Either way, you will not be able to control a chimney fire. It’s a true emergency, so call 911 immediately! Because firefighters have to fight the flames from the top of the chimney, they will send water flooding through your house, causing water damage on top of the fire damage. Simply put: you can lose your home to a chimney fire. 

Fortunately, by performing regular maintenance and keeping watch for any signs of trouble, you can prevent most chimney fires. Read this article to understand what a chimney fire is, how it starts and how to stop one from occurring in your home.

Chimney Fires, Fast and Slow

With a fast chimney fire, you’ll first hear cracks and pops that could be as loud as gunshots, followed by a deep, rumbling sound. You’ll see black, flaming creosote falling into the firebox. And then, it’ll seem like an explosion. Flames will shoot out of the top of the chimney and back down into the firebox. Smoke will get pushed into your living space. Finally, the flue may crack, allowing flames to shoot into your walls.

Slow-burning chimney fires don’t get enough air or have enough fuel to burst into plain sight, but they can still be hazardous. You may not even know the fire took place until you get your chimney inspected. Still, the temperatures reached in a slow-burning fire are high enough to cause the same amount of damage to the chimney structure and nearby combustible parts of your home as their louder and more shocking siblings.

What Causes a Chimney Fire?

The job of chimneys that serve fireplaces and wood stoves is to expel the substances produced when wood burns. These by-products of combustion include smoke, water vapor, gases, unburned wood particles and more. These substances exit the fireplace or wood stove at high temperatures and flow up into the relatively cooler chimney, resulting in condensation and the eventual buildup on the inner walls of the chimney of a black or brown residue called creosote. The longer the smoke stays in the flue, the more likely it is that creosote will form. Creosote can be crusty and flaky, or sticky and drippy, or shiny and hardened—and each form is highly combustible. When creosote builds up on the inside of your chimney and the internal flue temperature gets high enough, a chimney fire can start and burn at up to 2,000°F.  

Creosote is more likely to build up in your chimney if your fireplace or stove:

  • is burning unseasoned wood
  • isn’t pulling in enough air
  • has cooler than normal chimney temperatures

What to Do if You Have a Chimney Fire

If you discover a chimney fire, immediately:

  • Get everyone out of the house, including yourself
  • Call 911

If you can do so—only without putting yourself at risk—take these additional steps to help save your home:

  • Place a chimney fire extinguisher or fire suppressant into the fireplace or wood stove, which will consume oxygen and starve the fire
  • Pour sand or baking soda onto the fire in the firebox (keep a bucket of sand nearby for this purpose)
  • Close the glass doors on a fireplace or the air inlets on a wood stove

Once outside, use a garden hose to spray down your roof (not the chimney) to keep the fire from spreading while you wait for the fire department.

Once the chimney fire is completely out, call an expert fire damage restoration company like SERVPRO of West Hartford, who will remove all traces of damage, smoke and soot from your home and possessions.

And before you light another fire, hire a certified chimney sweep to inspect for fire damage restoration to your chimney and fireplace, whether it’s masonry, prefabricated metal or a wood stove. 

Prevent a Chimney Fire: Regularly Clean and Inspect

Every chimney is vulnerable to a chimney fire. It’s how you maintain your fire-burning equipment that makes the difference and keeps you safe.

Once oily, black, sticky creosote has condensed on the inside of your chimney, it will lurk there, building up and growing into a real fire hazard, until it is removed.

Additionally, rain, wind or animals can carry flammable debris into the chimney, which can quickly fuel a chimney fire if touched by loose embers from a fire. If a chimney is not protected by a flue cap, wind can blow leaves and twigs inside, and birds, squirrels and other vermin can build nests.

The best way to ensure that you never have a chimney fire is by cleaning and inspecting it regularly. A chimney sweep will remove both creosote and any debris that’s in your chimney. In addition, the sweep will inspect your chimney to detect:

  • creosote built up to a honeycombed or puffy appearance
  • warped metal in the damper, smoke chamber or chimney
  • cracked, damaged or collapsed flue tiles
  • discolored and/or distorted chimney cap
  • creosote flakes and pieces on the roof or ground
  • roofing material damaged by hot creosote
  • cracks in exterior masonry
  • soot deposits around mortar joints of masonry or tile liners

Try to have your chimney cleaned and inspected each year before fire burning season starts. (If you haven’t done it yet this season, call today before you light another fire!) 

In addition to scheduling an annual chimney cleaning, you should pay attention to the condition of your chimney and fireplace. Schedule another cleaning when you notice creosote that: 

  • falls into the firebox during a fire
  • resembles a honeycomb on the inside of the chimney
  • is more than 1/4-inch thick

You’ll also want to do more frequent cleanings if you:

  • burn fires more than a couple of times a week
  • use a lot of artificial logs
  • burn green or unseasoned firewood

Prevent a Chimney Fire: Pay Attention

In addition to scheduling an annual chimney inspection, you should watch for these indications that you may be headed for a chimney fire. If you spot any of them, call a certified chimney inspector before you light your next fire.

Buckling brick or stone

Look for cracking or settling of masonry inside the firebox or anywhere on the surround or hearth. Just a small gap can provide a direct route for sparks and high heat to reach the flammable parts of your home’s structure.

Soot in your firebox

If you notice crumbly black soot accumulating in your firebox, that may mean that creosote is building up, so call for a chimney cleaning.

Debris in your firebox

Of even more concern is finding what appear to be broken tile or pot shards in your firebox. Older homes may have masonry fireplaces with terra-cotta chimney liners, so finding these pieces may mean the liner has already been damaged by a chimney fire. Do not use your fireplace until it’s been inspected by a certified chimney sweep.

Smoky odors

If you smell smoke beyond what you’re used to when you use your fireplace—or smell it outside the room the fireplace is in—extinguish the fire and call 911. Your local fire department will check for danger and damage to your chimney with heat-sensing guns or thermal imaging.

Changes in your walls

If heat has been escaping from cracked masonry, a damaged liner or an improperly installed prefab metal firebox, your home’s wood framing can become dry and charred and capable of igniting at a much lower temperature. Signs of excessive heat inside your walls include pictures falling off the wall or areas of bubbling or peeling paint. Call for an inspection if you see any of these changes.

Prevent a Chimney Fire: Prepare Your Fireplace

Beyond cleaning and inspecting your chimney and keeping an eye on potential trouble spots, you should always follow some best practices in preparing your chimney and fireplace or stove so that it burns efficiently and safely, every time.

Keep the damper open to maintain sufficient airflow during a fire (the damper is the metal plate in the flue that regulates the draft). This will allow enough air to quickly move heated smoke up the chimney. Likewise, when using a wood stove, avoid closing down the stove damper or air inlets too soon or too much. Overloading the firebox of a wood stove in an attempt to get a longer burn time also contributes to creosote buildup.

Insulate your chimney’s flue liner (the layer between the flue and chimney walls) to prevent flue temperatures from getting too cool, which can encourage fire by-products to condense and form creosote. Wrap a heat-resistant insulation blanket around the liner or pour an insulation mix such as vermiculite into the space between the liner and flue.

Install a chimney cap on the crown around the outside opening of the flue to keep debris and critters out of your chimney. A cap will also prevent acidic rainwater from entering and corroding the chimney. 

Prevent a Chimney Fire: Burn Fuel That’s Clean, Never Green

When you start a fire, you want it to burn hot, fast and clean to create far less smoke, vapor and unburned wood particles, allowing little to no creosote to form in the chimney. On the other hand, low-temperature, slow-burning fires, particularly those left to smolder overnight, produce more smoke and leave behind more unburned combustible material. When that hardens into creosote on the chimney walls, there’s an increased risk of chimney fires.

Use the right fuel and build your fire the right way by following these tips.

Always burn seasoned hardwood. That means the wood has dried for at least six months and has a moisture content of 20 percent or less (you can test this with a wood moisture meter). When you burn green or unseasoned wood, energy is used initially just to evaporate the water trapped in the logs’ cells. This, in turn, keeps the resulting smoke cooler and more likely to condense in the chimney and form creosote.

Use the best fire starters for fuel, kindling and tinder, such as well-seasoned hardwood or CSIA-approved logs. Never use gasoline and kerosene to start a fire—these flammable liquids can quickly create a conflagration. And burn coal only in a coal-burning wood stove, because it can significantly raise the temperature in the flue, increasing the risk of a chimney fire.

Build a clean fire by using the top-down burn method, in which the largest logs are at the bottom of the fire and the smallest pieces at the top. Start by placing the largest pieces of wood in the bottom of the fireplace or wood stove, with the ends at the front and back, which allows the air to mix well with the fuel. Next, stack four to five smaller levels of wood on top of the first layer, each layer perpendicular to the one below, until the stack is about half the height of the fireplace. Then place kindling (the smallest pieces of wood) in smaller and smaller pieces, adding wood shavings or crumpled newspaper on top. Light the material on the top and the fire will gradually burn its way down to the largest logs.

Use dried twigs or branches for kindling and torn or crumpled newspaper or pine cones for tinder. Cardboard or glossy magazine pages contain chemicals that can emit toxins when burned.

Enjoy a Happy Ending to Your Fire

Before retiring for the night or leaving your home, always extinguish your fire safely and thoroughly. Use a fireplace poker to spread out the wood and embers, then shovel ash from the bottom of the fireplace to cover them. Next, completely cover the cooled wood and embers with baking soda, which will extinguish any remaining embers. After the firebox cools (for a minimum of three hours, but preferably eight), shovel the ashes into a metal container. Fill the metal container with water and store it outside your home and away from other flammable materials until you’re ready to discard them.

Enjoy your clean and safe fireplace, avoid a chimney fire … and live happily ever after!

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

We’re Here for You

The team at SERVPRO of West Hartford has specialized training and experience in fire restoration and cleanup, as well as natural disaster and storm damage cleanup, water damage and mold remediation, and chemical and biohazard cleanup. Call SERVPRO of West Hartford (860.206.6141) any time.

SERVPRO of West Hartford
100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.206.6141
24-hour emergency service

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

Stay Warm—and Safe—With a Space Heater

11/27/2019 (Permalink)

A space heater is plugged into an outlet. Space heaters are a great way to ward off the chill. But they do bring risks, so please follow these safety guidelines to prevent a fire in your home!

Space heaters cause about one-third of all winter house fires and 80 percent of all winter heating fire deaths, and more than half of those deaths are caused by having combustible materials too close to the heater. 

The good news is that space heaters are getting safer and more efficient. Many of today’s space heaters are not just better-looking but also safer. In the past 10 years manufacturers have improved technology and added built-in safety features like a tip-over shut-off switch.  

Be Safe

Follow these simple safety rules to greatly reduce or eliminate any space heater hazards.  

  • Use newer space heaters, not older models.
  • Always buy a new—never used—space heater.
  • Only buy a space heater that has a safety certification from the Underwriters Laboratories or Intertek’s ETL Mark.
  • Don’t leave your space heater on when you’re not in the room.
  • Plug your heater directly into an outlet, not an extension cord or power strip. Those devices could overheat and start a fire.
  • Keep a three-foot perimeter around the space heater clear of people, furnishings or objects.
  • Never store clothing around or on the heater. Don’t place it too close to curtains or a bed.
  • Keep children and pets away from the space heater. Either could knock it over.
  • Unplug the heater when you’re not using it.

Safety Features to Look For in a Space Heater

Certification. Make sure the heater you buy carries a safety certification label from an independent testing organization, such as the UL mark, the ETL label from Intertek or certification from CSA International.

Shutoff features. A smart sensor that automatically shuts off a heater when it overheats is a must. You’ll also want a tip-over switch that does the same if the heater is knocked over.

Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) plug. Most space heaters don’t come equipped with a GFCI plug, which prevents electric shock. If yours does not, do not use it around water.

Sturdy cord. To prevent overheating, never use an extension cord or a power strip with an electric heater. Most space heaters come with a cord that’s 6 feet long.

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

We’re Here for You

The team at SERVPRO of West Hartford has specialized training and experience in fire restoration and cleanup, as well as natural disaster and storm damage cleanup, water damage and mold remediation, and chemical and biohazard cleanup. Call SERVPRO of West Hartford (860.206.6141) any time.

Other Helpful Blog Posts

SERVPRO publishes educational articles on how you can protect your home and business from fire, water, mold, sewage, storm, natural disaster and other damage.

SERVPRO of West Hartford
100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.206.6141
24-hour emergency service

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

Two Essential Fire Prevention Products

11/25/2019 (Permalink)

A smoke detector is surrounded by smoke You vastly increase your chances of surviving a house fire when you install and maintain smoke detectors and a fire sprinkler system.

About 80% of the 4,000 annual fire deaths in the United States occur at home. Two key products that can help protect your home and family from a devastating fire are smoke alarms tied to a central alarm system and automatic fire sprinklers.

Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms provide crucial minutes to escape a fire safely, cutting your chance of fire death nearly in half. There should be at least one smoke alarm installed on every level of your home, including the basement, and one inside each bedroom.

Hard-wired smoke alarm systems can maximize the alarms’ effectiveness; when one alarm detects a fire, the others will sound automatically, too, alerting everyone to the fire. Consider having a hard-wired system connected to a central alarm network that will also signal the fire department.

Remember: smoke alarms that don't work can't protect you. All smoke alarms, including hard-wired ones, need batteries (which enable them to operate during power outages). Maintain your home’s smoke alarms with these timely tasks:

Automatic Fire Sprinkler System

An automatic home fire sprinkler system is the single most effective way to minimize a fire's impact on a home and its residents. It can contain and even extinguish a fire in less time than it takes firefighters to arrive on the scene. A sprinkler system can also be tied into the central alarm network, which will alert the fire department if a sprinkler goes off. Cities that require residential sprinklers, such as Scottsdale, Arizona, have seen a dramatic drop in fire deaths and property damage.

And, contrary to what many people think, home sprinklers are actually quite cost-effective, particularly when installed during new construction (they add, on average, only 1 to 1 ½% to the total cost of building a new home).

People often underestimate fire's power and speed and overestimate the time they have to escape. That’s why installing and maintaining these two essential products—hard-wired smoke alarms and a home fire sprinkler system—can make a life-saving difference for your family.

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

We’re Here for You

The team at SERVPRO of West Hartford has specialized training and experience in fire restoration and cleanup, as well as natural disaster and storm damage cleanup, water damage and mold remediation, and chemical and biohazard cleanup. Call SERVPRO of West Hartford (860.206.6141) any time.

Other Helpful Blog Posts

SERVPRO publishes educational articles on how you can protect your home and business from fire, water, mold, sewage, storm, natural disaster and other damage.

SERVPRO of West Hartford
100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.206.6141
24-hour emergency service

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

Light Bulbs Can Pose Overlooked Fire Hazards

11/22/2019 (Permalink)

An unshielded light bulb in a pantry Be safe! Choose the correct wattage when replacing light bulbs in a fixture and never use bare incandescent bulbs in a closet.

Do you have exposed (unshielded or “bare”) incandescent bulbs lighting your closets? If so, you must switch them out immediately.

While under normal circumstances a 60-watt light bulb will get no hotter than 175 degrees Fahrenheit, under some conditions it could reach up to 500 degrees, hot enough to ignite nearby objects. It’s easy enough to imagine forgetting to turn off the light in your pantry or closet, allowing that light to heat up over many hours in close proximity to flammable items.

Previously, unshielded incandescent bulbs were permitted in closets as long as the bulb was at least 18″ away from the closet shelf. But today, exposed incandescent lights are no longer allowed in closets—period. The 2014 National Electric Code (NEC) prohibits all unshielded incandescent bulbs from use in closets.

Replace uncovered incandescent bulbs with LED or CFL bulbs, which operate at much cooler temperatures. It’s one of the quickest, easiest and least expensive fixes you can make—and it sure can make a difference in keeping you, your family and your home safe from fire.

Use the Correct Wattage

Using a bulb that has wattage too high for a fixture can cause a fire. Lamps come with a sticker or tag detailing what wattage bulb can be used. But often, after a lamp is purchased, the sticker is removed for appearance’s sake, and the wrong wattage bulb is used.

  • Keep the sticker or tag to your lamp in a safe place, or do not remove it from the lamp.
  • When replacing the bulb, reference your sticker or tag, or get the same wattage bulb that was in the lamp originally.

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

We’re Here for You

The team at SERVPRO of West Hartford has specialized training and experience in fire restoration and cleanup, as well as natural disaster and storm damage cleanup, water damage and mold remediation, and chemical and biohazard cleanup. Call SERVPRO of West Hartford (860.206.6141) any time.

Other Helpful Blog Posts

SERVPRO publishes educational articles on how you can protect your home and business from fire, water, mold, sewage, storm, natural disaster and other damage.

SERVPRO of West Hartford
100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.206.6141
24-hour emergency service

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

Will You Know How to Escape a House Fire?

11/12/2019 (Permalink)

A hand-drawn floorplan of a house showing escape routes Having and practicing a plan to escape from a house fire can mean the difference between life and death.

If a fire starts in your home, it’s critical that you and your family get out of the house fast, ideally in less than two minutes! Yet, you may be struggling to breathe in sheer darkness—while you attempt to keep yourself and your family members calm. Develop and rehearse an escape plan before a fire starts, and you’ll have a much better chance of escaping safely.

Make an Escape Plan

  • If you have young children (under 6) who cannot get outside by themselves, assign an adult to help each child get out safely.
  • Determine two ways out of every room in your home, in case one exit (typically a door) is blocked or dangerous to use.
  • Choose a meeting place a safe distance from your home.

Practice the Plan

Fires can start anywhere and at any time, so practice the plan at different times of the day and night using different ways out. Do this at least twice a year.

  • For night-time drills, your children should start the drill in their bedrooms and wait for the alarm.
  • One adult should sound the smoke alarm and start the timer. Everyone should move swiftly to the safe meeting spot.
  • In a real fire, you may need to get low and stay below smoke. Practice this, too.
  • Once everyone arrives at the meeting place, stop the timer. Did everyone get there in less than two minutes? If not, run the drill again.

Other Important Tips

  • Test your smoke alarms each month. Make sure your kids recognize the sound. There should be a smoke alarm on every level of your home, and one in each bedroom.
  • Teach children to never hide from firefighters and never go back inside a burning building. Once you’re out, stay out!
  • Teach everyone to check doors for heat with the back of a hand before opening and, if the door is hot, to use a different way out.
  • If you need to use an escape ladder, show everyone where you keep it and practice how to use it.

In a real fire, once your family is gathered at the safe meeting place, call 911 and keep everyone close until firefighters arrive!

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

We’re Here for You

The team at SERVPRO of West Hartford has specialized training and experience in fire restoration and cleanup, as well as natural disaster and storm damage cleanup, water damage and mold remediation, and chemical and biohazard cleanup. Call SERVPRO of West Hartford (860.206.6141) any time.

Other Helpful Blog Posts

SERVPRO publishes educational articles on how you can protect your home and business from fire, water, mold, sewage, storm, natural disaster and other damage.

SERVPRO of West Hartford
100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.206.6141
24-hour emergency service

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

Fire Hazards in Pre-1980 Homes

10/31/2019 (Permalink)

An older home is engulfed in fire If your home is 40 or more years old, it may contain deadly fire hazards, such as an aging electrical system and no fire breaks. Get inspected now!

Almost 50,000 electrical house fires occur each year in the U.S., and if your house is more than 40 years old, you could be at risk of a fire largely because of your home’s age. The key to preventing many of these tragedies is a routine home inspection, especially if your house was built before 1980.

How is Your Wiring?

Unseen fire risks may by lurking in outdated wiring. Pay attention to these warning signs of a failing electrical system:

  • flickering or dim lights
  • sparks or smoke
  • burning smells or unusual sounds like sizzles
  • any kind of electrical shock
  • damaged insulation
  • frequent power outages
  • warm or hot outlets or switches
  • a shrinking television picture
  • a need to use extension cords for everyday use

If you see any of these warning signs—or you can't remember the last time your electrical system was inspected—don’t delay! Many homes built before 1980 haven’t been inspected since they were built. Hire a licensed and insured electrician or electrical inspector to prevent a fire disaster in your home.

If Your House Was Built Before 1940

Many pre-1940 homes were built with balloon framing: a continuous wood stud wall that stretches from the foundation to the attic, with no fire breaks. This means a fire can spread from the floor to the roof in mere seconds!

If balloon framing is a possibility in your home, you definitely need to have it inspected! Unfortunately, a major remodel may be necessary to install fire breaks in your walls and ceilings. Still, costly home fire restorations are better than a devastating fire.

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

We’re Here for You

The team at SERVPRO of West Hartford has specialized training and experience in fire restoration and cleanup, as well as natural disaster and storm damage cleanup, water damage and mold remediation, and chemical and biohazard cleanup. Call SERVPRO of West Hartford (860.206.6141) any time.

Other Helpful Blog Posts

SERVPRO publishes educational articles on how you can protect your home and business from fire, water, mold, sewage, storm, natural disaster and other damage.

SERVPRO of West Hartford
100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.206.6141
24-hour emergency service

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

Where Do House Fires Usually Start?

10/10/2019 (Permalink)

A house burns and flames shoot out windows. A devastating house fire can be prevented by paying attention to safety at 5 key areas in your home.

Every year, 350,000 American families experience a house fire. While a fire can start almost anywhere in your home, some areas catch fire much more often than others. Fires start for many reasons—faulty electrical wiring, overheated appliances, unattended candles and fireplaces—but you can take simple precautions at these five locations to help prevent a fire at your home.

Kitchen

Half of all residential fires start in the kitchen, with its many appliances that use heat and electricity. Never leave food cooking on a stovetop unattended. Keep fabric and material, like potholders or dishcloths, away from heat and flame. Don’t let grease and residue build up on your oven or stovetop.

Appliances

Your electric, gas or heat-generating appliances are potential fire hazards, and appliances 15 years or older are particularly prone to fire damage. Only run appliances when you’re home, and regularly clean, inspect and maintain all your appliances.

Dryers: Keep vents and filters clean by removing lint after each use, and at least once a year, clean the lint from the exhaust hose at the back of the dryer.

Dishwashers: Don’t run these unattended—dishwasher heating elements, especially in older models, can overheat and catch fire.

Microwaves: Don’t heat materials that are flammable, such as aluminum foil, Styrofoam or certain plastic containers.

Toasters/Toaster Ovens: Never use these appliances unattended. Clean your toaster or oven regularly, because crumbs can accumulate and become stuck at the bottom, creating a fire hazard. Be aware that the electrical elements inside an older toaster can become faulty and may not turn off, which could start a fire.

Bedroom

Bedrooms are filled with potential fire hazards: bedding, mattresses, curtains and plush items. If your mattress was made before 2007, when flame-retardant safety standards were put into place, think about replacing it. Install smoke alarms in each bedroom and make a fire escape plan that includes two ways to exit the room (usually through the door and a window).

Chimneys and Fireplaces

As they age, chimneys and fireplaces can develop structural problems, leading them to burn too hot. Chimney liners can loosen or detach, allowing burning embers and ash to travel to walls, attics and roofs. Regularly clean and maintain your chimneys and fireplaces. At least once per year (or when creosote or soot builds up to a quarter inch), have a professional inspect and clean them. Keep rugs and other fabrics away from the fireplace, and always place a screen in front of the fireplace.

Living Room

Like bedrooms, living rooms contain many potentially flammable items: electronics, curtains and furniture. If you burn candles, place them away from combustible objects and materials and never leave a burning candle unattended.

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141

We’re Here for You

The team at SERVPRO of West Hartford has specialized training and experience in fire restoration and cleanup, as well as natural disaster and storm damage cleanup, water damage and mold remediation, and chemical and biohazard cleanup. Call SERVPRO of West Hartford (860.206.6141) any time.

SERVPRO of West Hartford
100 Peters Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
IICRC Certified
Ralph DiCristofaro 
Certified SERVPRO technicians
Call 860.206.6141
24-hour emergency service

If your home or business suffers damage from a fire, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141