While we all hope it will never happen to us, it is estimated that there are over 300,000 residential fires each year in the United States. The fall and winter holidays always correlate with an increase in the number of fires, so it’s important to know what you can do to prevent this tragedy from occurring. Here are a few fire prevention tips to keep in mind:
Use caution when cooking.
Cooking tops the annual list as the leading cause of home fires and related injuries in the United States and Thanksgiving is historically the top day each year for these accidents. Unattended cooking is one of the biggest contributors to residential fires. If you’re frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food, stay in the kitchen while it is cooking. When simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it often and never leave home while it’s cooking. Another important safety tip is never to throw water on a grease fire. Instead, keep a lid within arm’s reach and place it over the pan if a grease fire starts. Then turn off the burner and leave the pan covered until it is cool. Also, be aware of flammable objects near the stovetop, such as towels and loose clothing. Lastly, teach small children the dangers of a hot stove and the importance of keeping a safe distance while food is cooking.
Be aware of heating sources and open flames in cooler months.
While heating your home during cooler weather is necessary, heating sources can be dangerous if you aren’t careful. Space heaters are one of the leading causes of fires each year. If you have to use portable space heaters, place them on level nonflammable surfaces, like ceramic tile, rather than rugs or carpet. Be sure to keep flammable items, such as clothing, rugs, drapes, and blankets at least 3 feet from heating sources. Always turn off any portable heaters when you leave the room or go to sleep.
Utilize safe smoking practices.
Another leading cause of residential fire deaths in the United States is smoking materials. If anyone in your home is a smoker, it’s imperative that they follow safe smoking practices. The safest choice a smoker can make is to smoke outside and douse cigar or cigarette butts with water before disposal. If smoking outside is not an option, be sure to never smoke in bed or while drowsy, and definitely do not smoke in the presence of anyone using portable oxygen.
Perform routine maintenance checks on your home heating sources.
Many residential fires are caused by poorly maintained furnaces, chimneys, and other heating sources. These incidents can be prevented with a little routine maintenance. Before cool weather arrives each year, make sure your furnace is clean and in good working order. Look for any cracked or rusted parts and consider having a professional inspection yearly. Also, check your chimney before lighting that first cozy fire. Creosote buildup is incredibly common, and extremely flammable. It’s recommended to have a professional chimney sweep inspect your fireplace yearly, and remove any buildup.
Prepare your home and family in case a fire occurs.
While no one wants to think about a fire occurring in their home, advanced preparation can save lives and lessen property damage. First, be sure to have smoke alarms in every sleeping room and on every level of your home. Also, test each smoke alarm monthly using the test button and replace batteries as needed. Next, be sure everyone knows what to do upon hearing a smoke alarm go off — this is especially important with small children. Make an emergency plan, and practice it with your family. Think through things like escape routes from various rooms, a family meeting place once safely outside, and which family member will be responsible for getting small children and any pets to safety.
Ready or not, cooler weather is on the way if it hasn’t arrived already. You may be ready for the change, but is your home prepared? The arrival of Fall can bring with it wind, rain, snow, and freezing temperatures. Take these steps now to prepare your home and prevent any weather-related damage.
Clean Your Gutters
Gutters exist to divert rainwater away from your home. It’s crucial to be sure that they are clear and that water is flowing smoothly. Clogged gutters can not only lead to roof damage, but also water that seeps into your exterior walls and even the basement. Once you’ve removed any debris, consider adding a mesh covering to prevent leaves from coming back and forming new clogs.
Inspect and Clean Your Chimney
For most homeowners, this one is best left to the professionals. Hire a chimney sweep to inspect and clean your chimney system before you decide to burn the first fire of the year. Burning wood produces a flammable by-product called Creosote that can build up in your chimney. If left uncleaned, it can cause a disastrous fire. It’s also important to check for any obstructions, such as bird’s nests, and to be sure the damper is in working order.
Give Your Furnace a Check-Up
If it has been more than a year since your last professional service, consider scheduling one before you need to turn on the heat. Be sure that your pilot light is functioning and clean off any dirt or grime that you notice. It’s also a good time to change your filters. Once you turn on the heat, pay special attention to any unusual noises, odd behavior, or odors as these can be signs that there is a bigger issue that needs to be addressed.
Insulate Exterior Pipes and Faucets
When temperatures drop below freezing, exposed pipes can start to freeze. This can lead to burst pipes and major water damage in your home. For any outdoor faucets, you’ll want to turn off any shut-off valves and then open the faucet to drain the line. If you don’t have shut-off valves, you should cover the faucet with an insulated cover. If you have unprotected pipes, cover them with foam sleeves.
Weatherproof Windows and Doors
Air leaks around windows and doors can cost you serious money in increased heating bills. Do a visual check around windows and door–frames for gaps in caulk, which can be easily remedied. Weather-stripping is another simple way to reduce drafts, but it can deteriorate over time. It’s important to check it yearly and replace as needed.
Perform a Safety Check
Unfortunately, cooler weather often brings an increased risk of home fires. While we all hope that it will never happen to us, it’s important to be prepared by doing a safety check as the seasons change. Replace the batteries in each smoke and carbon monoxide detector, and test each one to be sure it is working properly. Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher, but having more in various locations is even better. Do a quick check to be sure that the extinguishers are in good working order by looking at the pressure gauge and ensuring that the lock pin is in place. Experts recommend that fire extinguishers be replaced every 6 years.
A little preparation at the beginning of the season can save you a lot work, stress, and money down the road. If you do experience a loss, Delta is ready and available 24/7 to help. Give us a call at 253-927-4165.
As many homeowners know, mold is one of the most unwelcome visitors and can bring health problems with it. Mold can show up in unlikely places and is easy to miss unless you know the tell-tale signs to look out for.
One of the most obvious warning signs for mold growth is water damage, whether it’s recent or from a past incident. If you have a leaky roof or dripping toilet that you’re putting off fixing, they can create the perfect environment for mold growth. But people often overlook the possibility of mold in areas of past water damage. Don’t assume that just because visible water from a burst pipe or stormwater flood has been cleaned up that there is no longer a risk of mold growth. Water from these types of events can seep under flooring or behind walls and lead to mold growth that isn’t visible without further investigation.
Ask anyone who owns an older home and they’ll tell you that odd odors come with the territory, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Often times a musty odor is the only sign of mold that is growing in places you can’t see. If the musty odor in your home is persistent and stronger in one specific area, it may be time to call in a professional to take a closer look.
It can be difficult to distinguish between health problems caused by mold and seasonal allergies because the symptoms are so similar. Common symptoms of mold exposure include sneezing, itchy eyes, and nasal congestion. When trying to determine the cause of your symptoms, consider when and where your health issues are at their worst. If sneezing and itchy eyes are only happening when you’re inside your home, there’s a good chance that mold could be the culprit.
Condensation is moisture and moisture is fuel for mold growth. If you’re seeing condensation more often than simply in the bathroom after a hot shower, it may be a sign of a high humidity level in your home. Purchasing a dehumidifier is a simple way to correct the issue before it leads to mold growth. You may also notice condensation on metal pipes, which can be rectified by wrapping them with added insulation.
Hidden Home Warnings
Water damage and mold don’t always show up with clear warning signs. Instead, some of the quirky things that you’ve noticed in your home could be telling you about a bigger problem. Is there a section of your floor that feels squishy? It could be more than just your home settling – there’s a chance that the subfloor has water damage and/or mold growth. Have you noticed bubbles in the paint on your walls, particularly in the bathroom or near a window? One of the most common causes of paint bubbles is moisture, and as you know, moisture often leads to mold growth. It’s important not to overlook or put off these seemingly small issues and bring in an expert to take a closer look before it turns into a much bigger problem.
Do you know where your home’s water shut off valves are located? In the event of a water emergency, being able to locate these valves quickly can make a huge difference in the amount of damage your property sustains. There are typically two different types of valves located in different areas throughout your home.
Main Water Shut Off Valve
The first valve you want to locate is the main water shut off. As the name implies, this will stop all water from flowing through any pipes in your home. These valves are usually located near where the water enters your home, so you’ll want to look on the perimeter of your home closest to where the water line enters from the street. It may be in your basement or even on an outside wall of your home.
Once you locate the main shut off, you’ll see that it can be either a gate valve, which looks similar to an outdoor faucet, or a ball valve, which some people refer to as a knife valve. Now is the time to give it a try and be sure that you’re able to turn it off. If the valve is stuck, it’s worth a call to a plumber to replace it before you find yourself in a situation where you need to use it.
In addition to the main water shut off valve, most homes are equipped with supply valves to turn off the water locally in bathrooms or kitchens. These are commonly located near toilets, under sinks, near water heaters, and washing machines. They look like a small round or oval knob and you turn it clockwise to stop the flow of water. Supply valves are incredibly helpful in allowing you to work on one isolated problem area without turning off the water for your entire household.
Familiarizing yourself with the location of your home’s water shut off valves before an emergency happens is key to being an informed homeowner and avoiding excessive damage if a crisis occurs. If you notice water in your home, Delta Restoration Services of Tacoma can help. We’re just a phone call away, available 24/7 and offer a 2-hour or less guaranteed emergency response time to be on-site and begin helping you get your life back to normal as soon as possible.
House fires can be one of the most stressful, devastating events you’ll ever experience in your lifetime. However, being well prepared in the event of a house fire can make the recovery process easier, smoother, and faster. Here is a rundown of some things you need to know in order to be prepared for a house fire and know how to deal with the consequences after the fact.
- Fires are Fast, Hot, and Dark
Fires happen fast. In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can transform into a serious fire. Thick, black smoke can completely fill your home in the span of just a couple of minutes. Room temperatures during a house fire can rise to 600 degrees incredibly quickly, and the heat can often be more dangerous than the flames themselves. Hot air can scorch your lungs and melt your clothes into your skin.
You might think fire would make everything blindingly bright, but the black smoke actually throws your home into complete darkness. While the flames and heat are certainly dangerous, it’s actually the smoke and toxic gases that are the most dangerous parts of a house fire. When inhaled, they can leave you drowsy and disoriented, making it harder to find a way out.
- Get Out as Soon as Possible
You need to get out of your home as quickly as possible during a fire. Leave all your valuables behind if you can’t immediately grab them on your way out. It’s simply not worth the risk. Crawl under the smoke line and cover your mouth and nose with a damp cloth. If you have to open doors to get out, do so slowly, and feel if the doorknob and doors are hot or if smoke is entering the room through the cracks before opening. If the door is hot, it’s best to find an alternate exit if possible. If you can’t get out, plug up all cracks around your doors with clothes or tape and signal firefighters from a window with colored cloth or a flashlight.
- What to Do After a Fire
Talk to your fire department to see if it’s safe to re-enter your home. If it is, inventory all damaged property and items and take as many pictures as possible. Don’t throw anything away, as you may need it for your insurance claim. Call Delta Disaster Services immediately, so their team of experts can start the mitigation and cleanup process as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your property and possessions. Locate valuable items and documents and notify your insurance and mortgage companies of the fire. Save all receipts for any money you spend on fire remediation or restoration. You’ll need these to pass along to your insurance.
- Fire Prevention Tips
Always, always, always stay in the kitchen while you’re cooking. If you leave even for just a few minutes, turn off the stove. Stovetop fires are one of the most common causes of house fires, but they’re easy to avoid if you take the right steps. Keep barbecue grills at least 10 feet away from your home, deck railings, and overhanging eaves or branches. Never leave while it’s still lit.
Create a fire safety plan and practice it with your entire family at least twice a year. Identify two ways to get out of each room, and make sure your windows are easy to open and that your screens are easy to dislodge. Practice feeling your way out of the house in case of impenetrable black smoke and teach your kids not to hide from firefighters.
Make sure your smoke alarms are all working properly. Test their batteries once a month and replace them at least once a year. Install alarms on every single level of your home, and never ever disable them while cooking. Contact your local fire department for tips on maintaining and using a fire extinguisher and keep at least one in the house at all time. Review your insurance plan to make sure you have proper fire coverage, so you’re not left in a huge financial lurch after a fire.
Experiencing a house fire is a truly terrifying experience.
With these tips, you’ll be better prepared in case a house fire does happen, and you’ll be better equipped to prevent fires in the first place. Delta Disaster Services is always here to help you recover as soon as the fire is put out. Our team of fire and smoke mitigation and cleanup specialists can be at your home in just two hours or less after your initial call. Delta Disaster Services gives you peace of mind during uncertain times, and we’re proud to do our part to get you back to normal faster.
At Delta Disaster Services, all of our core values are centered around our customers. We value quality work, ethics, and integrity above all else, and work hard to make sure we’re giving our customers the best possible services, so they can get back to their normal lives with as little stress as possible. We heal the customer before we heal the loss.
Quality & Expertise
Every member of the Delta team is professionally trained to handle any disaster situation with expertise. We have a deep knowledge of the industry and work with top-level talent to make sure that every step of the process is executed to the highest standard. Technology is always changing and advancing, and we make sure to stay on top of the latest techniques and technology, so we can always deliver excellent, efficient work to our customers. We’re never afraid to learn something new or evolve with the times.
Another spote for iiCRC certs and badge
Empathy & Understanding
Experiencing a disaster in your home is one of the most upsetting, stressful experiences you will ever go through. The Delta team always leads with empathy and understanding and is there to guide you through the entire mitigation and cleanup process, so you can relax and focus on recovering. We want your experience with Delta Disaster Services to be as friendly and as stress-free as possible. Delta is here to give you peace of mind during uncertain times.
We value clear, honest, comprehensive communication between customers, providers, and support teams. We’ll sit down with you one-on-one to walk you through the entire process and answer any questions you may have.
Delta uses a proprietary job management software, so every member of our team can stay in constant communication throughout a project to make sure we’re always on the same page. We even track staff work hours by GPS to ensure accurate billing. We meticulously document everything and store it in one place so you and your insurance company will have easy access to all the information you need.
At Delta Disaster Services, our values are all about you. We work hard to make sure you have the best possible experience and get back to your normal life faster.