Recent Fire Damage Posts
Recent Wildfires in California
Fires such as this have been raging across the state of California this month.
As of recent, there have been a great deal of wildfires throughout the state of California. The exact cause is under question but no doubt recent heatwaves, global warming, and poor care for national forests is likely to blame. A large developing fire has been the Bobcat Fire in Southern California. Nearly 13 of the 18 national forests in California have been closed down.
The fire began on September 6, 2020. It has approximately engulfed 115,000 acres. It is currently unknown what he exact cause of the inferno was. There is some good news, however. The fire is about 75% contained as of writing this article. Despite this, there are still many fires raging across the state. God bless the first responders and firefighters who are bravely responding to the call to action. The greatest concern here is not inherently the damage to structures or communities but rather the harm posed to people involved. Here are some helpful tools to keep informed.
- Road Closures: click here
- Fire startups and active map: click here
- Preparation for evacuation guide: click here
If you or anyone you know has been affected by the recent fires in California give SERVPRO® of Lancaster West a call today at (661) 723-7141.
How to Evacuate Safely in Wildfires
The best preparation for evacuation and wildfires is to create a plan.
During the rapid spread and growth of random wildfires throughout the state of California, it is essential to have an evacuation plan in place. It is already a stressful enough situation and having a game plan can help you maintain a peace of mind and focus on the task at hand. Here are some tips to help you in the unfortunate scenario there is a wildfire.
- Ensure You Are Prepared
While not every scenario allows for adequate preparation, it is essential that you have some form of physical preparations. This would include bottled water, calorie dense non-perishable foods, flashlights, and some form of simple shelter from the elements. These preparations should be enough for you and your family for at minimum three days. They should be simple and lightweight. You should be able to throw them into a backpack or two and then a small tent or some other temporary shelter if you are displaced for an extended period of time. Keep your gas tank full on your vehicle as well and only use verified evacuation routes. Trying to use side roads or less traveled roads can be dangerous and could leave you stranded.
- Communicate with Your Family
This may seem like a simple enough task or something which your mother used to tell you. However, it is paramount that your family and household know what the steps are to safely evacuate and how you can all work together to make this happen. Each person will have a different role. If everyone is aware of the plan you can help to keep everyone calm and you can essentially go into an autopilot mode.
- Make a Checklist
A simple system to help ensure an effective evacuation plan is a checklist. When you have a list make sure it is short and simple. The goal is to ensure that you are able to evacuate safely and prepared. Ultimately the goal is to protect yourself and your loved ones. In the case that you do not feel fully prepared, but a fire is near you are better off leaving unprepared and unscathed.
- Turn Off all External Pipes or Power Sources
This would include your water, gas, and electric lines. Generally, this can help prevent further damage to the home or safety hazards for fire fighters. If not done properly a wildfire fire could ignite a gas leak or rupture a line and cause a catastrophic explosion. Exposed electrical wires can also cause further damage to the building.
- Stay Updated and Informed
The most important tool at your disposal during times like these is information. With the correct information you can avoid peril and hardship by days. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that you take the warnings of your local authorities and news agencies to heart for your safety and those around you.
Staying Healthy Despite the Smog
A main problem with the air quality is the smog produced from the wildfires.
As of late the smog has been getting quite excessive in Southern California. Many news outlets have highlighted the fact that the air quality is very unhealthy. Later this weekend we will be hitting air qualities in the range of 200-460.AQICN has information and active graphs on this data and considers these levels to be hazardous to health. Anything over 150 can be quite unhealthy for sensitive groups with respiratory issues such as asthma or bronchitis. Therefore, one should take some precautions during this time to ensure your health and safety until things can settle down.
Lowering Your Carbon Footprint
One of the main contributing factors for the smog as of late is the raging wildfires across the state. These fires have destroyed well over 1.4 million acres in active fires this past few months. Thankfully most of the fires are under containment. However, you can also contribute to lower smog levels by not burning plastics, oil, or other noxious materials. Additionally, you can ensure that your cars are all smog checked and are not running inefficiently. This will also ensure you are getting the best MPG on your vehicle. Furthermore, when possible try to walk, bike, carpool, or use public transit to lower carbon footprint and help overall reduce smog. Additionally, when possible using electric tools compared to combustible variants can reduce air pollution and also save you money.
Buy an Air Filter
One simple way to help you breathe easier and ensure that your home is safe and healthy is to buy an air filter. Many home improvements stores and even grocery stores will sell cheap and functional HEPA air filters. HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate absorption. Some of these products can be marketed towards those with pets or animals but should be perfectly fine for cleaning and purifying the air in your home. One thing to keep in mind is the rated coverage of an air purifier. If a person has a large home and puts 1 single air purifier in their living room it will not be sufficient to purify the entire home’s air.
Wear a Mask
While everyone is sick of wearing a mask, you should definitely use one during elevated times of poor air quality. Not just any mask will suffice though. You will likely want to get an N95 or higher mask as this will give you more than enough protection by not allowing anything larger than 0.3 microns through. If one has an air purifier in their home, it is not necessary to wear an N95 mask. The whole point of these tips is to help you breathe better after all. Only wear a mask outdoors when the air quality calls for it or when social distancing cannot be maintained.
What happens if you are having difficulty breathing?
If the air quality is truly getting to you assess whether it is truly an emergency. Generally, if there is any swelling in your throat or feel as though you cannot get enough air you should immediately call 911. However, if there is no immediate danger, consider visiting a medical professional and seeking advice on medication or other solutions for the difficulty in breathing. Another simple solution could be to take a vacation or short break to somewhere with better air quality. Consider visiting a family friend, family member, or just going for a fun vacation until the air quality returns to a safe level.
If you have been affected by the recent fire in Southern California give SERVPRO® Lancaster West a call at (661) 723-7141.
Handling the Heat
Staying hydrated is the most important thing to do during times of intense heat.
These past few weeks have been quite interesting and challenging for Southern California. Not only has there been several fires spread throughout the region but also resulting smoke and air pollution, along with prolonged heat waves reaching temperatures of up to 116*. This is clearly a public health concern and one should know how to protect themselves and their property.
The main priority here is to ensure that you are taking care of your personal health. Overall, the highest risk here is for dehydration, heat stroke, or respiratory issues. One should ensure they are not in direct sunlight for too long during the day. If you must be in the sun due to jobs or lack of adequate shade you should drink plenty of fluids and use 30 SPF sunscreen or higher to prevent too severe of burns. Those who are not from the area or more sensitive to heat should attempt to stay out of the sun until temperatures are closer to 90*. One should also keep in contact with family, friends, and avoid going anywhere they could become stranded during a heatwave.
Besides personal health, these heatwaves can cause some property damage from the widespread fires and smoke damage. When there is excess smoke in the air you should try to not have any open windows or doors as this can allow smoke and ash to enter the home and cause a permeating smell. Keep an eye out on fire warnings as well. Cal Fire has a website and interactive map that you can visit here and use to keep an eye out for new or recurring flare ups.
Top 5 Tips for Preventing Fires in The Home | SERVPRO® of Lancaster
A Fireman Tries to Prevent the Spread of a Large Inferno.
- Never leave a flame unattended
This is by far the most important of all these tips. The two largest sources of residential fires in the U.S. are from candles and cooking accidents. Always be aware of open flames. It only takes a few seconds for a fire to spread rapidly from an unattended flame.
- Keep a candle at minimum 12 inches away from flammable objects
- Blow out unattended candles and turn off an unattended stovetop
- Ensure a candle is sturdy or in a candle holder which will not fall down
- Watch your electronics!
As consumers we place a lot of trust and faith into the functionality and safety of our electronics. The reality is that there can be defects and inherent safety risks with our electronics. Therefore, keep this in mind:
- Never plug in devices with damaged or frayed cords
- Consider having a certified electrician perform an annual evaluation of your home’s wiring
- Use your senses. If an outlet or device looks burnt or damaged or there is an odor of burning plastic or unsavory smell coming from an appliance, remove the device immediately and consult the manufacturer.
- Keep furniture and flammable materials away from heaters
Seemingly harmless heating tools such as a curling iron, hair dryer, or a space heater can still cause fires when left on for too long in close proximity to flammable sources. Some helpful tips to prevent fires from heating appliances are:
- Turn off your space heater when not in use
- At a minimum keep heating elements three feet away from flammable objects
- Never use an oven to warm your house
- Test your smoke detectors
One of the most practical tips to protect you and your family from fires is to ensure that your smoke detectors are functional. Be sure to test your devices monthly and also replace the batteries as soon as the low battery alert begins or once a year. Furthermore, place smoke detectors on every floor, including the basement. Finally, replace your smoke detectors every 10 years or earlier.
- Keep fire extinguishers readily available
Fires can happen rather suddenly, and one must be prepared to deal with it before it gets out of control. There are several things to keep in mind with fire extinguishers.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in each area of the house which may pose a fire risk
- Ensure that the members of the family know how to use a fire extinguisher
- If a fire cannot be contained via fire extinguisher call 911 and grab your loved ones and leave your residence as soon as possible
Smoke Detectors: Your First Line of Defense | SERVPRO® of Lancaster
A Smoke Detector is a Necessity to Keep You and Your Family Safe
Smoke detectors can often give homeowners the first alert of a fire within the home. When they are properly installed and functioning, they can help to protect your property, belongings, and most importantly your loved ones. While every fire cannot be prevented smoke detectors can help you to minimize the damage and protect yourself and those around you. Therefore, it is important to know how to install, monitor, and replace smoke detectors as need be.
Know Where to Install
One of the most important parts of installation of smoke detectors is to place them in the correct parts of the house. The National Fire Protection Association recommends placing smoke alarms on every floor of your home including the basement, inside and outside every sleeping area, and in high risk areas such as the kitchen, laundry room, and boiler area.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
Choose a smoke detector that is certified by a recognized testing laboratory and not just the cheapest one online. You should also install the smoke detector at least 10 feet away from the stove and large cooking appliances to save you the pain and deafening beeping of a false alarm. Ensure that your smoke alarms all work together as well so that should an alert go off in the basement everyone in the house is aware. Most smoke detectors have wireless connection methods nowadays, otherwise you could contact an electrician or look up how to hardwire them online. Furthermore, there are two different types of smoke detectors: Ionization and photoelectric. Ionization excels in detecting high heat and flaring fires whereas photoelectric are better suited for low heat and smoldering fires. Both of these should be utilized throughout the home for the best coverage and protection.
Know When to Replace
The vast majority of smoke detectors are designed with an internal non replaceable battery that lasts around 10 years. If your smoke detector is chirping this is a sign of a low battery and should be replaced as soon as possible. You should test all the smoke alarms in your home once every month using the test button on the detector. Furthermore, follow the instructions and manual that came with your smoke detector to clean it and ensure it does not get clogged up with dust or other contaminants which may hamper its ability to detect and alert to fires.
Experienced Fire Damage?
The reality is that even with fully functioning and interconnected smoke detectors, fires can and do unexpectedly happen. The most important thing is that you and your loved ones are safe. SERVPRO has the experience, expertise, and tools needed to properly mitigate and restore fire damage and make it “Like it never even happened.”
How to Grill Safely | SERVPRO® of Lancaster
Grilling can be a great deal of fun and delicious but can also cause property damage or personal harm.
How to Grill Safely | SERVPRO® of Santa Clarita Valley
Grilling is a wonderful pastime and a tradition for many households across the United States during holidays, sporting events, and the occasional weekend barbeque. Nevertheless, many fires are started due to faulty grills, user error, or a freak accident. There are several things to keep in mind so you can safely enjoy grilling and the delicious food afterwards.
The most important thing to ensure is that you are grilling outside and not in a garage or somewhere that could potentially burn down easily. Grilling indoors also exposes one to carbon monoxide which is deadly and is odorless and cannot be seen. When grilling outside, the grill should be at least 10 feet away from the base of the structure which you are grilling near. This should give you enough room to deal with a flare up or piece of charcoal that flies away.
Clean Your Grill Frequently
Not only will this help you to have a better grilling experience overall, it will also prevent dangerous flare ups from accumulated grease and fat. This is one of the most important things to do as it is so easy for flames to build up and quickly overwhelm an old greasy grill and spread to things such as a deck, nearby chair, or the exterior of the home.
Know Your Grill
There are both gas and charcoal grills. Make sure you know how your grill operates and ensure that you do occasional maintenance and examine that it is functioning properly. A big concern with gas grills is whether they have any leaks which could build up pressure and cause an explosive fireball. The easiest way to test for leaks is to make a one-part soap one-part water mixture then drip it on the hose and connections and then turn on the gas. If you notice large bubbles forming, you have a gas leak and should turn off the gas and replace the hose or connection points. Additionally, you should never use the gas feature when the grill top is closed as this could cause an unnecessary rise in pressure and an unintentional fireball.
Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby your grill so that if the need arises you can quickly and effectively stop a fire. If for some reason the fire cannot be contained call 911 and remove yourself and any other people from the premise.
If you happen to experience fire damage as a result of a grill fire, Give the experts over at SERVPRO® of Lancaster a call at (661) 723-7141.
The Importance of Proper Fire Damage Cleanup
There are some homeowners who are afraid to open claims on their homes when they have had damage due to the possible increase in their premiums. There are also homeowners who don’t have any homeowners’ insurance that covers fire damage. Instead of hiring a professional, they try to deal with the cleanup themselves. Often, more costly issues arise, and the homeowner calls a professional anyways. We can’t stress enough the importance of getting your insurance company involved; they can help you when you’re really in a bind, and often will recommend a company to help you mitigate the damages.
SERVPRO’s estimating method can help you determine whether you need to file a claim to deal with fire damage in your Lancaster home.
What is involved in fire damage cleanup?
We look at every special circumstance when getting ready to mitigate fire cleanup in a home. How severe was the fire? Was it isolated to one room? Is the roof intact? How much soot damage is there? Do we need to involve HVAC/duct cleaning? Click here to learn detailed information on how we put together a scope of fire damage restoration work.
Fire Damage in the Lancaster Area
Fire damage near Lancaster
Several states, California included, are on fire due to natural and man-made causes. Regardless, fire doesn’t discriminate and it has its own personality. There are, however, things you can do when you experience fire damage in the Lancaster area. SERVPRO of Lancaster is your local fire damage restoration company. We don’t hope for you to have to call us, but we are ready if you do.
Our responsibility to you
Not having answers when you’ve had a major disaster happen, especially if you’ve never had to deal with it, can be extremely overwhelming. You don’t know what to do, what you shouldn’t do, or who to call. As soon as you contact us, we can be at your residence within 4 hours to begin the mitigation process. This way, the damage is handled quickly before it either spreads or becomes harder to remove. Learn more about our fire damage process here.
Get all the answers and immediate help when you give our office a call. Our technicians respond at any time during an emergency; fire damage doesn’t sleep so neither do we. We strive to make the fire damage disappear, “Like it never even happened.”