CAN YOU GUESS THE MOST COMMON CAUSES OF HOUSE FIRES?
Fire damage to contents in a home in Santa Barbara
There are many situations that may cause a fire, but can you guess the most common causes of house fires? It may happen in ways you least expect. Take precautionary measures now to protect your home from the following fire instigators. If an accident occurs, SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach / Signal Hill has you covered.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking equipment is the number one cause for house fires. Pots and pans can quickly overheat when left unattended or mishandled. Be sure to turn handles towards the middle of the stove to avoid children from accidentally grabbing it from the burner. When leaving the house, remember to turn off stove-top burners and ovens.
Moreover, smoking in bedrooms should be avoided at all costs. A cigarette butt can stay lit for hours and cause a flame after coming into contact with clothes or furniture. Open flames such as candles also pose a danger for many residents. While they may have an attractive look and smell, candles should always be blown out before you leave a room.
Furthermore, older lampshades and light fittings may build up heat, and weak bases could pose a tipping hazard. Electrical equipment such as these should be checked for faulty cords, and the power point must not be overloaded with double adapter plugs. Also be mindful of flammable liquids such as petrol, kerosene, or methylated spirits around the house. These should be kept away from heat sources and stored properly according to their label.
If you experience a fire, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Examine you and your family for injuries and seek medical help
- If you can’t find a place to stay, your local Red Cross can help provide food and provisions
- Notify your insurance company about the fire
- Do not re-enter your home until instructed to do so. Talk to firefighters about what can be salvaged instead
- Once you are cleared to enter the building, check for important documents and keepsakes
- Make a list of your possessions and note damaged goods
- Keep track of receipts for expenses as a result of the fire
Nobody wants to come home to a irreparable damage. By knowing these common causes of house fires, you and your neighborhood can live a little bit safer. When accidents happen, SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach / Signal Hill is here to clean fire damage and restore your home quickly and professionally.
IMPACT OF SMOKE DAMAGE
Smoke damage can have devastating affects to health and property. SERVPRO can help!
At SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach / Signal Hill, fire restoration and clean-up is one of our specialties. Smoke, comprised of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and soot, affects a building’s structure in unexpected ways. Depending on temperature, the environment, and air flow, smoke can distribute in many different areas and cause more damage than you realize. To protect your health and preserve your property investment, count on SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach / Signal Hill to restore your building back to new.
Because hot air rises, smoke residue is most commonly found on the ceiling directly above the source of the fire. Soot can also extend to the inside perimeter as cold air below opens a path for smoke to travel to exterior walls and windows. Because of this, noticeable staining and odor remains present throughout.
Furniture, decorations, and enclosed spaces interact with the smoke in unusual ways. As molecules become excited in warmer air, they move from hot areas to colder areas of the room, falling out of the air and onto relatively enclosed areas. These particles rest behind cool drapes or under shades, and they travel into drawers, closets, and cavities. Since smoke particles are often ionized (possessing an electrical charge), smoke damage may also occur on surrounding nail heads in the ceiling and synthetic materials such as vinyl, due to their greater ionization characteristics. You may also witness cobweb-like shapes in the corners of the room caused by the strong charge of burning plastics.
Furthermore, air currents may carry smoke away from the fire, causing damage in surprising areas. First, the smoke will find its way into the cool ductwork, damaging rooms located away from the fire. Airstreams may then carry it around doors, like water passing objects in a stream. As a result, residue builds on the far side of door openings with the pattern diminishing further away from the fire. Understanding the physics takes mystery out of stressful situation.
Smoke resulting from fire can behave in unintended ways. It permeates a house as it seeks new places to settle. The resulting effects can be long lasting and have an impact on your health. Until professionals repair the damage and replace smoke stained areas, the room is virtually uninhabitable. If you find yourself in such a situation, SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach / Signal Hill will have you breathing better.
MONDAY MORNING FLOOD DAMAGE
SERVPRO techinician extracting water in a flooded Long Beach business
Monday Morning Flood Damage
Water damage may occur unexpectedly, through no fault of your own. For example, when a fire hydrant, adjacent to a commercial building, became sheared by a vehicle, it flooded the business without warning and without the occupants’ knowledge or involvement. Did you know a hydrant can gush 5,000 to 180,000 gallons of water, shooting 50 or 60 feet into the air? The amount of water lost depends on response time, hydrant type, and system pressure. If this type of catastrophe occurs, local businesses and residences must be prepared to mitigate a potential flood. On August 27, 2018, one such incident occurred, and SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach/Signal Hill was quick to arrive on the scene.
On Monday morning, firefighters began pumping water out of a downtown loading dock after a truck driver accidentally sheared a fire hydrant off its base. A big-rig hit the hydrant around 5 a.m. on Long Beach Boulevard, just south of Fourth Street. Fortunately, it activated a fire alarm in the nearby Chuck E. Cheese’s, alerting authorities. That same morning, SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach/Signal Hill was called to the scene to complete the water remediation in a nearby business affected by the accident. After an assessment of the situation, the SERVPRO crew was quick to suction water out of the floors and carpets, insuring that the facility was thoroughly and professionally dried down. Due to the extent of water damage, impacting numerous offices, computer room, and common area, the entire job was estimated to take about five days.
If your business becomes flooded, there are a few steps you can immediately take to reduce damage before SERVPRO arrives at the scene.
- Turn off power to affected rooms, and walk carefully while avoiding sagging ceilings.
- Find and stop the source. Turn off the valve attached to the leaking fixture, or locate the main water supply valve to the building. If you cannot find the valve, notify a plumber or in some cases, the fire department.
- Remove as much standing water as possible, but only if you’re certain that the water is clean. Do not use a household vacuum cleaner. Instead, use a professional wet/dry vac or towels and linens to prevent the water from entering unaffected areas.
- Remove clothing, documents, and objects in the affected area, and place plastic underneath furniture to prevent further water damage. Wooden blocks or Styrofoam can help protect furniture with a solid base, and curtains can be hung to dry.
- Remove pictures from wet walls and open drawers on wet furniture. Prop up cushions and remove rugs carefully as they may bleed onto other surfaces.
Unexpected flooding is stressful and places your business in a standstill. Whether the source of flooding originated in your building or your neighbor’s, SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach/Signal Hill is here to help in any emergency, 24/7, and get your business up and running.
THE IMPORTANCE OF RENTERS INSURANCE
Protect yourself and your family- have insurance!
If an unexpected disaster occurs, could you afford to replace the possessions in your home? Renters insurance is a cost effective way to replace personal belongings in the event of theft, fire, or water damage. It will also include liability protection, covering the medical expenses of someone hurt inside your residence. At SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach/Signal Hill, we witness customers getting back on their feet much more quickly with the appropriate renters insurance policy.
While renters insurance is not required by law, your landlord may require it as part of your rental agreement. It is important to note that their insurance policy will only cover the building and not items within the establishment such as furniture, electronics, and appliances.
Most people’s possessions are worth more than they realize. The average person has over $35,000 worth of items that are not covered under their landlord’s policy. Thankfully, renters insurance is relatively inexpensive. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ data, the average policy costs $184 per year, or about $15 per month for coverage that ranges from $30,000 to $50,000 (depending on where you live) with a $500 to $1,000 deductible.
In order to determine which insurance policy is right for you, it is important to take an inventory of your belongings which can later be used in your claim. Coverage for certain types of property such as collectibles, gold ware, jewelry, and bank notes may have a dollar limit, and the amount of money you can recoup depends on the terms of your insurance. Cash value coverage will reimburse the cost of the item at the time of the claim, whereas replacement cost coverage will reimburse the full value of a brand new item. Also be aware of multi-policy discounts or reductions if your home is equipped with smoke alarms or a security system. Should something happen and you need to file a claim, do not attempt to clean the area but document everything with photos and be prepared to pay your deductible.
Moreover, renters insurance will not cover you in the event of a flood. Floods are the number one natural disaster in the U.S., and you don’t have to live in a high risk flood-zone to be affected. Flash floods can occur anywhere, including the beaches and the deserts, and only an inch of water can begin causing damage to your building. Consider shopping for flood insurance in addition to your renters insurance.
SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach/Signal Hill is here to help get your life back on track. Our trained professionals and specialized equipment can help ease your stress by taking care of you in the event of water and fire damage. Additionally, renters insurance will give you one more reason to be worry free.
ASBESTOS - SHOULD I BE WORRIED?
At SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach/Signal Hill, we deal with a lot of unexpected problems and create a plan to solve each one. One common danger found in many homes includes the potentially harmful material, asbestos.
While Congress enacted the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1976 to comprehensively regulate toxic substances including asbestos, it hasn’t prevented the material from appearing in buildings and many consumer goods. Most recently, on June 1, 2018, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made it easier for companies to use asbestos in new products.
Following the new presidential administration “framework” for evaluating risks, the EPA would only restrict products that pose a direct risk to workers instead of a general risk to air, ground, or water contamination. While asbestos imports are tracked and reviewed for new purposes, many worry the EPA will be too lenient as they have been for pesticides, air pollution from cars, and coal-fired power plants. Asbestos imports to the U.S., which have declined overall and in the last few years, rose 45 percent between 2015 and 2016.
Asbestos was unable to reach a complete ban in the U.S. in 1991, and it is still responsible for the deaths of about 40,000 Americans annually.
So what is asbestos, the dangers it poses, and signs to look out for?
Asbestos fibers are a soft, flexible, mineral substance that are resistant to heat, electricity, and corrosion. For decades, this material has been used in fireproofing and electrical materials, floor tiles, automobile parts, and consumer products such as hair dryers. Unfortunately, these microscopic fibers are odorless, virtually invisible, and can cause inflammation in lung tissue when inhaled. Symptoms may remain dormant for 20-50 years, making the elderly more susceptible to mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the lungs. If you suspect a large amount of asbestos in your building, check for the following:
- Surface patterns on roofing and shingles with dimples or shallow craters.
- Interior and exterior joints where plastic, aluminum, or wooden runners were joined with asbestos sheets and adhesives, like window putty, drywall tape and joint cement.
- Asbestos insulation in the attic or in bathroom floor tiles.
Notify SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach/Signal Hill for expert cleaning from us and our associated professionals. A licensed abatement specialist will perform an asbestos inspection and determine if it needs to be covered or removed. You can count on us to keep you and your family healthy and hazard free.
MOLD-WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PREVENT ITS GROWTH
Mold in a storage unit in San Pedro
Mold is a type of fungi which grows in moist locations. Some mold is helpful and is used in medicines, some mold is delicious and is found in cheese or in the form of mushrooms. However, SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach/Signal Hill knows that other types of mold can be harmful to our health. It’s not healthy to inhale any type of mold spores, but some types of mold actually produce toxins, known as mycotoxins, that frequently cause a variety of health problems.
Once it’s been determined that your home or business has mold that must be remediated (testing is done and a protocol is written by an environmental consulting company), SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach/Signal Hill is there to contain the area, follow the protocol and remove the mold to ensure that you are living and working in a safe environment.
So how can we prevent the bad type of mold from growing in the first place?
Mold thrives in dark, moist areas. If your home or business has suffered a water loss remember that prompt mitigation is vital to avoid mold growth which can be visible in as little as 24 to 48 hours under certain conditions. Keep in mind that mold can grow on multiple places such as ceiling tiles, wallpaper, carpets, drywall and even wood.
Responding to water damages and other water intrusions immediately can prevent mold growth in those locations. When calling SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach/Signal Hill make sure to let them know how long this water damage could have been going on so we can inspect for mold growth as well.
Make sure to keep gutters and drains clear of debris. By keeping clear of build-up this prevents moisture from staying in the drains and will prevent mold from growing.
Regularly inspect plumbing and appliances for leaks.
Inspect the roof, windows and other areas where water might enter the building and perform necessary maintenance.
Having a mold issue can be dangerous to your health. Taking preventative steps to defend against mold growth is an important proactive step. When water loss occurs, prompt action and a call to SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach/Signal Hill at (562) 591-1788 to insure that the affected areas in your home or business is thoroughly dried and the loss is properly mitigated is key.
KID FIRE SAFETY- BE PREPARED!
Fire damage in a Signal Hill home
You may know what to do during a fire, but do your children? SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach/Signal Hill has faced countless losses in homes and businesses due to fire damage so we want families to be prepared. With school coming back in session soon, it's important to make sure that your kids are educated on fire safety. You never want to leave your kids home alone without the proper fire safety education and since you can't predict a fire emergency, fire safety education is key. Here are some important items to remember:
Make sure that you educate your children on what a smoke alarm looks and sounds like. Make sure they can recognize when a fire alarm has gone off and what to do when an alarm has sound. Know two or more routes to exit your home/school during a fire as well as a meeting point away from the location a safe distance from the fire. The American Red Cross suggests "Practice your fire escape plan at least twice a year and at different times of the day. Practice waking up to smoke alarms, low crawling, and meeting outside." It is crucial your children also know how to dial 9-1-1.
When making sure your home is up to fire safety standards, make sure to have escape ladders on the upper levels so that you can escape from windows to safety. The American Red Cross also suggests "use quick-release devices on barred windows and doors. Security bars without release devices can trap you in a deadly fire. If you have security bars on your windows, be sure one window in each sleeping room has a release device." It is important to make your children aware of which windows have quick releases on them and how to use them properly. Also have fire extinguishers readily available, and up-to-date and, at minimum, in the kitchen, garage and on the upper levels.
It's never too soon to start teaching your kids how to be prepared during an emergency, including fires, as they often occur in the home. SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach/Signal Hill is open 24/7 in case an emergency strikes. We are dedicated to helping restore your residence to pre-disaster conditions, making it “Like it never even happened”.
HOW TO PREVENT WATER DAMAGE: ON VACATION
Water Damage to a Long Beach Home
There may be nothing worse than coming home from a relaxing vacation to a flooded home! Water damage that isn't resolved quickly can turn into a mold problem. When a home suffers a water damage event, a mold infestation can quickly arise and spread throughout the residence in as little as 48-72 hours. Mold can cause health effects and can also cause significant damage to your property. So avoiding water damage while you are away is key vacation prep! Here are a few tips, before you head out, to keep your property dry and, hopefully, damage- free:
-Inspect the hoses that connect to major appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers and refrigerator ice-makers. Replace any old or damaged hoses.
-Clear all the debris out of your rain gutters, and check the downspouts for any blockages. This will enable water to exit your roof correctly without flooding or backing up.
-Ask someone to check on your home periodically while you are away to make sure all goes well. If there is a leak or flood, they’ll catch it in the early stages.
-Consider shutting off automatic sprinklers in the front and back of the house. This will prevent you from having a flood in your yard that can migrate into the property.
-Consider turning off the main water in the house. In this way, you are completely avoiding any in-home water damage from pipes that could possibly burst in your absence.
SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach/Signal Hill is ready to assist when your home is affected by water damage (fire damage, smoke damage, biohazard too) whether you've been away on vacation or not! Call us 24/7 at 562-591-1788 and let us know how we can help!
STORM - HURRICANE HARVEY 2017
A home in Houston ravaged by Hurricane Harvey
It has been nearly a year since SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach/Signal Hill packed up three trucks to make the drive from Long Beach, California to Houston, Texas to help with water damage repair cleanup from Hurricane Harvey. So, what was it like?
The drive took three full days due to the heavy equipment we carried with us. As we came closer to Houston, we had trouble fueling up our diesel truck. Driving from small town gas station to small town gas station along our route, we were met with signs over the gas nozzles announcing “Out of Fuel.” The lines were very long, with tempers flaring as locals and long-distance truck drivers competed to fill up their vehicles.
On Day 3 we made it to Houston in the afternoon. The traffic was terrible – and this is someone from Los Angeles saying this. There were many main roads that were still underwater, some looking like rivers as we passed them. We were fortunate to have a friend with a small apartment in Southeast Houston that we could stay at. It became our office, kitchen, and sleeping quarters. A hotel was rented for our technicians who flew in to help with the cleanup work.
The first couple days in Houston was spent organizing supplies, getting the layout of the city, and generally preparing to get started on the work. SERVPRO Storm Team started to send us a steady flow of work after about 4 days. Now, when you are responding to storm damaged homes, there is only so much preparation you can do beforehand. The real problem solving happens in the field once you have your boots on the ground.
The first impression I had when we started working was the great resourcefulness of Texans. Friends and neighbors came to each other’s aid to help pull out damaged furniture, remove drywall, and provide moral support and humor. Driving down neighborhoods, we saw piles of drywall, clothing, and furniture piled high in front yards. After a few days of trash not being cleared, the smell started to fill the humid air. The odor was like what you experience when you clean out a dirty fish tank. Many cars were unusable due to being flooded, so they sat with steamy windows until the towing companies could come through to take them to the junk yards. Despite all this, restaurants were open, Home Depot and Loews were open for business, and people went about their days as best they could, patching the city back together.
The worst houses we worked on were the ones that had been completely swept through with mud. Imagine a tidal wave of mud floating through the entire downstairs of your home. The water lines were taller than me on some of the homes. The mud was everywhere – caked on the floors, on the wall studs behind the drywall, on furniture and clothing. We would remove the furniture, the affected drywall, complete a pressure washing of all the surfaces while extracting the runoff, and then finish by hand wiping, vacuuming, and mopping all the affected areas at least one or more times. The final treatment would be an antimicrobial application.
The customers with the most badly affected homes were the nicest and most grateful. When they could have been angry at their circumstances, they instead showed gratitude. Our crews put in long days with a smile fueled by the good attitudes of our customers. Even the massive number of mosquitoes from all the standing water couldn’t keep us down.
After a month in Houston, we made the long ride back to Los Angeles. The home office ran smoothly in our absence, thanks to our wonderful General Manager and the crews that stayed behind. It was a great adventure. We hoped to have some much-needed downtime when we got back, but Mother Nature had other plans. We returned home to blazing wildfires in Los Angeles and Orange County. Off to help with the fire damage cleanup we went because at SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach/Signal Hill and SERVPRO NE Long Beach/Lakewood we are here to help with fire damage repair and water damage repair both on the road and in our own backyard.
COMMERCIAL - WATER DAMAGE
Moisture Meter shows atmospheric readings at this commercial loss in Long Beach
At SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach/Signal Hill we do a high volume of commercial water damage services. The term "commercial" in our industry includes office buildings, industrial buildings, multi-unit properties, and retail businesses. So what is the difference between working on commercial water damage repair versus performing our services at residential homes?
While a water damage to a residential home is a huge inconvenience for a homeowner or renter, it can be devastating for a business owner. Instead of one family being troubled with damaged property, a business with a water damage can affect the families of everyone who works there! Quick turnaround time is essential so that the business can get back to normal as fast as possible.
If you dislike Mondays, imagine a Monday morning where you open up the front door to your office and water floods your feet. After the initial panic subsides, you call in SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach/Signal Hill to help with the cleanup and repairs. Our initial crews will show up to assess the damage, as well as start the extraction of standing water and placing furniture up on blocks to stop further damage. No two jobs are alike, so our team kicks into problem- solving mode. Additional crews are called in, additional equipment arrives. The adjuster is contacted so he is apprised of the situation on the ground. Most likely testing will need to be ordered to comply with the Lead and Asbestos removal laws.
The needs of the business owner are the most important aspect of the entire process. Do they need to be relocated temporarily? SERVPRO takes care of that. Are there damaged servers or computers that need to be repaired? SERVPRO facilitates that. Was any specialty equipment damaged? Are there any safety hazards? Were any files damaged that need to be salvaged? Do we need to work around the clock? Can we only work through a night shift? There are so many variables. SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach/Signal Hill has many resources to help put your business back together as quickly as possible. It is what we do on a regular basis.
Once the drying takes place, the construction repairs follow. An estimate is sent to the insurance carrier for approval. The goal is to complete the repairs quickly so that business can resume as usual. The benefit of having one company do the water damage repair and the construction repair is the smooth work flow. We can write the repair estimate while the drying is taking place, which saves many days of waiting for insurance approval. Many of our clients have special needs, requiring us to work weekends only or nights, and we accommodate them.
Commercial water damage repair is a service that SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach/Signal Hill has been offering for 10 years. We are proud of our work product. If you have a water damage at your business, give us a call at 562-591-1788. SERVPRO of Downtown Long Beach/Signal Hill is here to help.