Do’s and Don’ts for Fire Prevention and Damage Control by the Experts at SERVICEMASTER Clean

Posted by: Tammy Hawkins in Tips

When fire or smoke unexpectedly damages your home, the first steps you take could mean the difference between a small cleanup and a more costly and time consuming restoration.  Knowing when to call in a professional can save you time in getting your life back to normal and money by preventing further damage.

What to do BEFORE disaster strikes:

  • Read your homeowner’s policy and review it annually to be sure you are adequately covered.
  • Keep important documents, policies and documentation (pictures or videos) of the contents of your home, outside your home in a safety deposit box.  Keep a second key with a friend or neighbor in the event your key is destroyed.
  • Keep copies of the contents of your wallets in your lock box.
  • Keep a spare or duplicate credit card in your lockbox.

What NOT to do if you have had fire damage:

  • Do not touch anything with your bare hands.  Oil from your hands can permeate upholstery, walls and woodwork, causing additional damage.
  • Do not wash walls.  Incorrect cleaning could compound the soot residue.
  • Do not attempt to clean carpets or upholstered furniture.
  • Do not use electrical appliances until having them checked.
  • Do not use ceiling fixtures if the ceiling is wet.

What TO DO if you have had a fire:

  • Corrosive byproducts can cause irreversible etching in as few as 72 hours.  Call for professional help.
  • If the  temperature is above 60 degrees, air out the house to reduce odor.
  • Clean Formica, chrome, porcelain and aluminum fixtures to prevent permanent tarnishing or etching.
  • Change the air filter on your furnace if it uses forced hot air.
  • Tape damp cheesecloth over returns and supply registers to capture loose soot in the air.
  • Discard any open food packages.
  • If the power is off, clean out the refrigerator and leave doors propped open.
  • Send clothing with heavy smoke damage to a qualified restoration dry cleaner.

Fire Prevention Tips

  • Stay in the kitchen when using the range.  When cooking with oil keep a lid or flat cookie sheet close to diffuse flames if they should develop.
  • Don’t cook when tired, drinking or using drugs that may cause drowsiness.
  • Don’t lie down and smoke.
  • Check attic and crawl spaces for wiring damaged by rodents or insects.
  • Notice flickering lights or intermittent power surges.  These can be caused by outside influences but often occur to indicate a bad connection or short in the circuit.
  • Note breakers that trip or fuses the blow frequently.  Almost always a sign of overload or other wiring issues, usually of a more serious nature.
  • Check the natural gas/LP gas system look for loose fittings, faulty pilot lights,  debris or improperly stored flammable materials near gas appliances.
  • Check A/C and heating units, do periodic maintenance. 
  • Keep appliances clean, especially watch for grease accumulation.
  • Keep lint traps and outside vent clean in your clothes dryer.
  • Space heaters should be placed in non-traffic areas at least 3 feet from any flammable material.  Do not use extension cords.
  • Maintain your fireplace, use glass doors or wire mesh spark screen to prevent embers from popping out.  Inspect and clean annually.
  • Candles and oil lamps should never be left unattended, always extinguish when leaving the room.
  • Christmas trees are highly flammable.  They become highly combustible when they become dry.  View this 2 minute video:  http://youtu.be/dxaUj_rfkN4  
  • Keep matches and lighters locked up away from children.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher near your grill.  Decks are highly flammable.

24 Hour Flood, Fire and Mold Damage Specialists, ServiceMaster Coastal Disaster Services.

Tammy Hawkins
Marketing Administrator


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