Posts Tagged ‘fire damage’

4 Fireplace Safety Tips

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

safe fireplaceAs the autumn leaves fall and the temperature dips lower, you may begin to regularly use a fireplace or wood burning stove to fend off the autumn chill. That means now is the time to make sure your wood burning system is in proper working order and that you're using it safely. Chimney fires can be hard to detect, but even if you're alerted to it right away you'll have the headache of smoke, fire and water damage to deal with afterward. Here are some tips to make sure your fireplace or wood burning stove is safe and cozy:

Have your chimney cleaned by a professional

Some homeowners clean their own chimneys, but it's well worth the money to bring in a professional. Not only will you avoid the risk involved in climbing up to the peak of your home with tools you almost never use, you'll benefit from the professional chimney sweep's valuable expertise. For example, a professional would recognize a flue that's not the proper size for the stove or fireplace it serves, but few homeowners would have that knowledge. A trained sweep will know exactly what signs to look for in a damaged chimney and be able to perform any repairs or modifications your wood burning system needs. Some sweeps can even check your chimney with video inspection equipment. In addition, if you use a professional chimney sweep, you'll know you've eliminated all creosote, the source of chimney fires. Creosote is also a very efficient insulator, so removing it makes your home more energy efficient as well as safer.

Up on the roof

Even if you're hiring a professional chimney sweep, it's helpful to know the signs of a problem. If creosote buildup or other problems have caused excess heat in the chimney, bricks and mortar may be cracked. You may also find black creosote deposits on the roof or on the ground around your home. Check your chimney's protective cap for discoloration from exposure to flame or extreme heat. If your chimney doesn't have a cap, get one installed as soon as possible; debris or nesting animals entering the chimney can cause a fire.

Inside, by the fire

Before you start using your stove or fireplace, clean out any debris or ashes and check the inside for cracks, damaged or discolored flues or anything else that seems out of place. If in doubt, have a professional inspect it and make any necessary repairs. Make sure there's nothing flammable near your stove or fireplace and use a mesh screen to protect against flying sparks. Make sure air flows freely through the fireplace and even the fire stack itself when it's burning. The better the airflow, the less creosote buildup will occur in the chimney. Using very dry wood in a loose stack will give you a clean-burning fire with a strong airflow. Avoid wood that's green or wet and never arrange your wood in a tight, compact stack. Make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector in every room that has a fireplace or stove. Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, so using a detector is the only way you can be sure it will be revealed before it becomes a lethal threat.

Ensure you're insured

Lastly, make sure you know how your homeowners’ insurance policy addresses stoves and fireplaces. You should also be absolutely sure your insurance company knows you're using one. If they're unaware that you have a wood burning system installed, they may not cover any damage resulting from a fire. Tired after all that work? The good news is you now have a warm, cozy (and safe and efficient) place to rest in comfort. LDR Cleaning and Restoration is one of the premier restoration companies in Rockford, Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. LDR provides restoration services from water damage, mold removal, fire damage restoration, storm and hail damage repair for commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Click here to contact LDR, or call 1-888-874-7066. Download your free home disaster planning eBook  


 

7 Ingredients for Kitchen Fire Safety

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

kitchen fireYour kitchen. It’s the heart of the home, isn’t it? A warm, welcoming spot that invites gathering…inspires creativity…and when the recipe gods cooperate, gives back with great taste. Such a fixture of everyday life is the kitchen that the last thing one expects to cook up within it is a life-threatening (and home-damaging) fire. Yet the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that between 2008 and 2010, cooking equipment was the number-one cause of house fires—approximately 150,000. And cooking itself was the culprit of the largest percentage of fire-related injuries in the home. The National Fire Protection Association offers up further details: The majority of kitchen fire injuries occur when victims attempt to douse the flames themselves. Rule one is to never hesitate to call the fire department, even if dealing with a small, contained fire or a blaze that you think…well, maybe?…has been extinguished. Erring on the side of caution has thwarted many a kitchen fire from hungrily spreading room-to-room and consuming everything within its path.

Kitchen Fire Prevention Tips

Here are some additional tips to avoid kitchen fire danger and damage:
  • Never walk away from food that’s cooking on the stovetop; the same goes for anything broiling inside the oven. If you must leave, turn off the stove or oven and remove pans or baking dishes from heat.
  • Make sure you have a smoke detector in or near the kitchen and install a fresh battery every six months.
  • No kitchen is complete without a kitchen fire extinguisher, as well. But it’s not enough to have one—learn how to use it before a fire breaks out.
  • Be aware that baggy shirts, clothing with long, flowing sleeves and even aprons can easily catch fire while cooking.
  • Don’t leave kitchen towels, appliance cords, oven mitts and other flammable items near a hot burner.
  • A candlelit dinner is romantic, but candles are another common cause of house fires. Use short, fat candles that are less likely to tip over and extinguish candles as soon as your flirtatious feast is finished.
  • And of course, every household should have—and practice—a fire escape plan. Talk together about how to call the fire department, the best ways to exit the house and where you’ll meet up outside.

Common types of kitchen fires and how to prevent them

Should a kitchen fire erupt despite your best precautions, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with the most common types of kitchen fires and how to handle them.

Grease fires

Grease fires are in a class by themselves and cannot be extinguished with water. Grease is lighter than water; it will float to the top and continue burning on the water’s surface. Instead, the way to handle a grease fire is to smother it with a pan lid and wait for it to die out. Or grab a box of baking soda from the fridge or cabinet and give it a few good shakes to displace the oxygen and kill the flames.

Oven and microwave fires

If a blaze suddenly sparks up inside your oven or microwave, shut the appliance door tightly and turn it off. Unplug the microwave, if it’s safe to do so. If the fire lingers beyond a few moments, call the fire department. And be sure to have the appliance inspected and repaired before using it again.

Electrical fires

Like grease fires, electrical fires cannot be eliminated with water. This is a job for your kitchen fire extinguisher. After you’ve put out an electrical fire, follow up right away with the fire department to ensure your kitchen is safe. To prevent electrical fires in the first place, make sure your outlets are not overloaded with too many appliances. By familiarizing yourself with prevention tips and common types of household kitchen fires, the only things you’ll create in the kitchen are delicious meals and happy memories—not frightening statistics. Be safe and bon appetit! Sources: cpsc.gov; everydayhealth.com; sheknows.com LDR Construction Services, Inc. Cleaning & Restoration has proudly served all of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin since 1991. LDR specializes in the complete fire damage restoration, smoke remediation, wind and water damage restoration as well as repairs of vandalism damage to both commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster restoration team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. For more information, visit www.ldr4service.com or call 1-888-874-7066. Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net Save $25 on Air Duct Cleaning - Free Coupon  


 

How Smoke, Chemicals & Water Impact Fire Damage Restoration

Friday, February 15th, 2013

fire extinguishers sosIt’s the day after the worst night of your life: when a fire broke out in your living room. You’re kicking yourself for forgetting to turn off that space heater, and for positioning it too close to the curtains in the first place. You’re thankful no one was hurt and that firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze fast—thankful, too, that most of your possessions were spared from fire damage. That is, until you get word from your claims adjustor that additional damage has been caused by smoke as well as the water and chemicals used to fight the fire. The damage is so extensive that it calls for professional help. Even more distressing is the news that because you do not have comprehensive coverage to insure all losses related to a fire, these “indirect” causes of damage are not covered. Lesson learned: Review your home insurance policy language for any exclusions or loopholes, and consult with your agent to ensure complete fire coverage. There’s also a lot to be learned from the fire itself; for example, how do smoke, water and chemicals cause damage? And how do disaster restoration specialists clean it all up?

Smoke Damage

Let’s start with the effects of smoke damage, which can appear in two forms. In the case of a slow, smoldering fire, the resulting smoke residue (soot) will be sticky, wet and strong smelling. Wet soot has an oily texture that stains carpets, furniture and any cloth furnishings in the house. A fast burning fire, however, leaves behind dry soot that smears and stains less—but the dry soot often becomes damp due to the moisture from the fire hose. Smoke damage remediation involves the use of industrial-strength vacuuming to suck up the soot without smearing it. Attempting to brush off soot only embeds it deeper into the fabric. As the pros vacuum the room, each area is covered with a drop cloth to protect it. Smoke odor, on the other hand, lingers in fabrics and is not as straightforward to remove. Professional cleaners use different chemicals to break down smoke molecules. Other methods including ozone treatment and applying specially formulated paint that seals up the source of smoke odor.

Extinguishing the Fire

Firefighting chemicals are catch-22s because while they can (thankfully) extinguish a blaze, they can also wreak havoc upon your possessions. Dry chemicals like Ammonium Sulphate produce a crust that can extinguish almost any classification of fire and prevent re-ignition of a combustible material that is on fire. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) puts out a non-corrosive gas that removes the oxygen that fuels the fire. Fire extinguishers emit low-expansion foam, while high-expansion foam is used for fighting fire in a confined space such as a basement. All of these firefighting chemicals—with the exception of Halon, used in electrical fires and known as a “clean agent”—leave behind a residue that requires professional-grade equipment and expertise to remove from a fire-stricken home or workplace.

Water Damage from Fire

Finally, anyone who has been through a fire knows that where there’s smoke, there’s water—and lots of it after firefighters have finished battling a blaze. The key to salvaging your belongings from water damage and preventing mold is to act quickly to begin the process of removing the moisture from your carpets, furniture and walls. Left unattended, mold spores reproduce rapidly, may cause allergies and asthma, and can even render a space uninhabitable. Professionals use mobile, state-of-the-art water extraction equipment and technology to get the job done as quickly as possible. Standing water is removed from flat surfaces by sponging and blotting. Electronics such as computers are transported to a dry environment, their cases removed and blown dry with low-pressure air. Saturated rugs and carpets are taken up when hardwood floors are at risk…these are just a few examples of the many steps involved in drying out a structure and restoring its contents. With proper precautions (and a dose of good luck), you may never experience the trauma of a fire or dealing with its messy aftermath. But just in case, it’s helpful to know just how destructive the combination of smoke, chemicals and water can be—and who to call when the prospect of cleaning it up yourself is overwhelming. LDR Construction Services, Inc. Cleaning & Restoration has proudly served all of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin since 1991. LDR specializes in the complete repair of fire, smoke, wind, water and vandalism damage to both commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. For more information, visit www.ldr4service.com or call 1-888-874-7066. Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net download the free Emergency Response Plan guide.


 


 

8 Ways to Tell if You’ve Had a Chimney Fire, and How to Prevent One

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

holiday fire safetyAh, the fireplace. Is any other spot in the home such an integral part of the holiday season? It’s where we roast chestnuts (well, maybe someone does), hang stockings, gather the family ‘round to read “’Twas the Night,” and enjoy a cup of good cheer after the kids are nestled snug in their beds. Of course, with fireplaces come chimneys—after all, how else could Santa deliver the goods?! In all seriousness, house fires escalate sharply in wintertime, with chimneys among the main culprits. What causes chimney fires? Usually an accumulation of creosote: a natural by-product of burning wood. Over time, creosote builds up on the walls of your flue, where hot gasses can easily ignite the sticky, highly combustible residue. Chimney fires are especially dangerous because they are also sneaky. While some chimney fires are explosively obvious—with loud popping noises, flames and dense smoke shooting out the top—others burn slowly and are barely noticeable while causing irreparable damage to the chimney and, worst case, eventually catching your home on fire. Here are some signs that you’ve had a chimney fire but may not even realize it:
  • Puffy creosote with rainbow-colored streaks that has expanded beyond its normal form
  • Damper metal and/or metal connector pipe are warped
  • Cracked or collapsed flue tiles or tiles with large chunks missing
  • Discolored or distorted rain cap
  • Heat damaged TV antenna attached to chimney
  • Flakes or larger pieces of creosote found on the roof or ground
  • Roofing material damaged by hot creosote
  • Cracks in exterior masonry
Taking precautions against creosote buildup begins by selecting the right firewood. Choose hardwoods that have been “seasoned” or dried in the sun over a stretch of time. Freshly cut green wood contains more moisture and produces cooler smoke when burned, which is likely to condense on the inside of the chimney and cause problems. Additionally, large, compact bundles of wood produce cooler fires. Build smaller, hotter fires instead. And it’s never a good idea to burn other materials such as evergreens, cardboard boxes or wrapping paper in the fireplace. Air supply, or lack of it, is another culprit in sparking chimney fires. Good currents of air or “draft” lift the smoke up and out of the chimney before it condenses; if your fireplace can’t draw in enough air, creosote forms. Make sure your damper is open and feel with your hand whether your fireplace has draft before lighting the logs; once burning, keep glass hearth doors open to encourage airflow. On a final note, obstructed chimneys can vent noxious gases back into your home, causing carbon monoxide poisoning and even death. That’s why having your chimney regularly inspected and cleaned by a certified chimney sweep is so important. Installing CO detectors in your home is the finishing touch to provide peace of mind and keep your family safe throughout the whole year, not just the holiday season. From our LDR family to yours, warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday. Enjoy your fireplace safely—at the very least, Saint Nick’s un-toasted tootsies will thank you! LDR Construction Services, Inc. Cleaning & Restoration has proudly served all of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin since 1991. LDR specializes in the complete repair of fire, smoke, wind, water and vandalism damage to both commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. For more information, visit www.ldr4service.com or call 1-888-874-7066. Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net Download your free home disaster planning eBook  


 

How to Prevent Fire Damage in the Home or Workplace This Holiday

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

christmas tree safety“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” Wait a minute, an open fire? Well, that really is nuts! Holiday time is prime time for fire danger in the home or workplace. And while it’s easy to think that you’ll never fall victim to such a scary situation, reality is there are more potential risks than you may realize—especially during the winter months. Fires get out of hand very quickly; in fact, it can take mere seconds for a single spark to fill a room with smoke. Add a Christmas tree into the equation, and the risk factor goes through the roof. A recent study shows that within three seconds of ignition, a dry Scotch pine is completely ablaze. Within 40 seconds, the festive tree becomes a distant memory, and the entire room is engulfed in flames that release dense—often deadly—toxic smoke. The good news? It can take less than one minute to help avoid such a tragedy. To stay safe this holiday season, start by remembering the three Ps: Prepare, Plan and Prevent. PREPARE. Smoke alarms should already be installed on every level of your home or office. It’s a good idea to test your smoke alarms every week, and while you’re at it, make sure you can hear them sounding off behind closed doors. If you have children at home or even at work—a child care center, for example—involve them in the testing to familiarize them with the sound of the alarm, and take the opportunity to discuss what they should do if the alarm goes off. You should also change alarm batteries at least twice per year. An easy way to remember? Get into the habit of replacing batteries when you change the clocks for Daylight Saving Time. PLAN. Be certain that your family and/or office staff have an emergency preparedness plan in place. Make a quick drawing of the floor plan and identify at least two exits in every room in case you need to escape quickly from a fire. Go over the plan together and identify a meeting place outside, such as a neighbor’s driveway or a neighboring business. It’s recommended that you hold fire drills and practice getting out of the house or office at least twice per year. Involving children in such drills is critical, but keep in mind that those with infants or very young children must do additional planning on how to get them to safety. Older children should be taught to stay low, feel doors before opening them, and never go back inside once they have exited. Our Emergency Preparedness Checklist provides 10 quick and easy tips to help you get started. PREVENT. We’ve all been schooled on ways to fireproof our homes or places of business throughout the year, but there are specific tips to prevent fires during the holidays—a hectic time when common sense can sometimes slip the mind! Some of these steps may only take a minute yet can help prevent what could be a lifetime of regret. If you have a real Christmas tree in your home or workspace, be sure to check the water in its stand daily and refill often. Your fresh-cut tree has been in the process of drying out since long before you brought it indoors. Watering will help it retain moisture and will also help delay messy needle drop. This video demonstrates how flammable a dry Christmas tree can be as opposed to a tree watered regularly. No matter what type of lights adorn your tree—the new LED variety or classic twinkling bulbs—be sure to turn them OFF whenever you leave home or work, and by all means before you go to sleep. A lit tree should never be left unattended. Beyond tree safety, take a look around at the rest of your holiday décor. Are stockings hung right above the fireplace? Are wrapped presents placed too close to the fireplace or other heating source? Are candles left burning for hours on end? Finally, are electrical outlets jam-packed with too many cords? These tips only scratch the surface; there are many more ways to play it safe. So give the gift of safety education this season—your family, friends and colleagues will be thankful when the only thing ablaze is the holiday spirit! Warm wishes to you and yours from all of us at LDR Cleaning & Restoration. LDR Construction Services, Inc. Cleaning & Restoration has proudly served all of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin since 1991. LDR specializes in the complete repair of fire, smoke, wind, water and vandalism damage to both commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. For more information, visit www.ldr4service.com or call 1-888-874-7066. download the free Emergency Response Plan guide.  


 

Finding Gratitude in the Aftermath of a Disaster

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

happy thanksgivingA Thanksgiving salute to the survivors of flooded homes, fire damage and more

“Thank goodness no one was hurt!” “It could have been much worse.” “It’s just stuff—it can be replaced.” In our work as professional disaster restoration specialists, we hear comments like these all the time. Understandably, it’s pretty tough to look at the bright side in the wake of a catastrophe such as a flood damage or fire in your home or place of business. That’s why we’re constantly surprised (and impressed) when so many of our clients do, indeed, summon a positive attitude amidst the chaos and confusion of the disaster recovery process. Our customers in northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin and elsewhere will be the first to tell you that there’s nothing like losing almost everything to make you realize how truly lucky you are—rich in family and friendships, precious memories, and the priceless potential to bounce back from the brink of whatever fate throws your way. Consider these facts:
  • From 2008-2010, there was an estimated average of 50,100 heating fires in residential buildings, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
  • During this same timeframe, there were an additional 900 portable heater fires.
  • Floods are the number one most common natural disaster in the U.S.
  • Flash flooding is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S., averaging 200 per year.
  • The National Flood Insurance Program paid over $2 billion in flood insurance claims to policyholders in 2011 alone.
These numbers represent people whose lives were changed forever by the forces of nature, malfunctioning or misused equipment, and other means. But this information isn’t meant to scare you or put a damper on your holiday spirit! It’s simply to remind you that on the road of life, none of us know what’s around the next bend. To those who have experienced unexpected tough times, and made it through a little stronger… a bit wiser…and a good deal more grateful than before…we dedicate this special Thanksgiving message! Take one family from Rockford, IL, for example, who responded to our recent customer satisfaction survey: “What started out a bad situation ended up a very good experience. You have a great group of people working at LDR, from the receptionist to the project manager. Thank you very much.” Another grateful customer from Rockton, IL, told us, “I would like to thank everyone that had a hand in putting our home and our lives back together. You are truly people sent from God! Our home is so beautiful and I am so happy that you were a part of that. Thank you LDR!” “We want to express our sincere thanks to you and all of the employees who helped to restore our water damaged home,” writes another couple from Rockton. “Special thanks for keeping us informed the entire time you were working here; you all were truly our saving grace.” “Special thanks to everyone. I didn’t know where to start; now my home is home again!” adds a Rockford client. Even our customers’ pets get in on the gratitude: “Everyone was very friendly and professional. My dog ‘Gunner’ misses the company that your staff provided. Thanks!” concludes a South Beloit, IL, customer. We hope this doesn’t come across as “tooting our own horn.” Rather, we wish to showcase the resilience of the human spirit…the fact that these good folks not only recovered from disaster, but discovered things for which to be thankful in the process. That they even found the time to jot down their kind comments to us is amazing in itself! What makes you feel grateful as we enter the holiday season? We at LDR give thanks for our dedicated, knowledgeable staff members who approach every assignment with professionalism and compassion. We are always grateful for our community’s emergency response professionals and volunteers who put themselves at risk. And of course, we are thankful for our customers themselves, who entrust us with the critical job of helping them restore their lives. It’s an honor. Please, use extra caution to prevent fire when preparing your holiday feasts and decorating your home or business this season. From all of us at LDR Cleaning & Restoration, have a very happy Thanksgiving! LDR Construction Services, Inc. Cleaning & Restoration has proudly served all of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin since 1991. LDR specializes in the complete repair of fire, smoke, wind, water and vandalism damage to both commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. For more information, visit www.ldr4service.com or call 1-888-874-7066. Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net Save $25 on Air Duct Cleaning - Free Coupon  


 

Firing Up your Furnace: Fire Safety Tips for Fall

Monday, October 15th, 2012

furnace fire safetyBrrrrrr—! There’s no denying it: Summer has finally flown the coop and frosty nights are in the forecast. If you have yet to crank up your furnace this fall, you’re a braver soul than most. And although you’ll soon have warm, fuzzy feelings toward your furnace during the frigid winter months, a furnace fire in your home or place of business can be your worst nightmare. According to FEMA, heating is second only to cooking as the leading culprit behind residential fires in the fall and winter months. The good news? The percentage of heating-related fires is on the decline, dramatically down from about 30 years ago when a surge in the use of space heaters and natural wood stoves (due to the energy shortage and environmental concerns) caused a spike in the nation’s heating-related fires.

How can you help prevent heating-related fires?

Generally speaking, there are three leading factors in ignition: operational error, misuse of heating equipment and mechanical failure. For starters, before the first hard freeze hits, it’s a good idea to fire up your furnace (no pun intended) and make sure everything’s running smoothly. Pick a mild day when you can open the windows and air out that musty odor that emanates from a furnace that’s been idle for the summer months. With furnace fires, something as simple as a ball of lint trapped in the heating ducts can start trouble. Thus, routine maintenance—at least yearly—is key. Have a professional cleaning and restoration service check your ductwork for any obstructions or buildup; they have professional-grade vacuum equipment that ensures a thorough cleaning. It’s also recommended to schedule an annual house call for your furnace (especially if it’s an older model) by an HVAC professional, who will perform a careful inspection and make sure everything is up to code.

Furnace 101: Don’t be caught unfiltered

Do-it-yourselfers, here’s a recurring item to add to your honey-do list: Stock up on properly sized furnace filters and change them often! It’s a small task that can make a big difference in safety, not to mention the health of your family and friends—especially allergy sufferers—by providing improved air quality. On average, it’s suggested that furnace filters should be changed every three to four months. Here are a few more tips to consider while trying to stay toasty:
  • Remove all flammable materials and chemicals from the area surrounding your furnace
  • Be aware of changes in the air, such as an unusual odor, that may indicate your furnace is on the fritz
  • Newer furnaces have a hot-surface ignition system which is safer than old pilot-light systems; however, even newer models should be regularly maintained for safety
  • If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly; close them when water appears
  • Swap out your old system for a programmable thermostat for energy and cost savings
If a fire does occur despite taking precautions, the professional restoration service you would contact to clean your ducts may also be an invaluable resource for putting your life back in order after a disaster. For example, LDR Cleaning & Restoration headquartered in Rockford, IL, is also a disaster restoration specialist capable of containing the smoke damage, removing soot and odor, and guiding you through the entire fire restoration process. The sooner you contact them after the blaze, the better. Save $25 on Air Duct Cleaning - Free Coupon


 

Firearmed: How to Practice Fire Safety in the Workplace

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Fire Safety at workPutting out fires. It’s an idiom used to describe a frustrating day at work…productivity lost addressing random problems that pop up. But what if you literally had a fire at your workplace? Would you know what to do? Where to go? How to keep your staff, co-workers and critical documents safe? On an average day, it’s estimated that over 200 fires occur in U.S. businesses. Annually, those blazes kill about 200 workers, injure thousands more and cost American companies over $2 billion. In mere minutes, lives can change forever—and everything you’ve worked for can go up in smoke. What’s the best advice for fighting a fire at work? Squelch the sparks before they ignite by making fire prevention part of your business emergency preparedness plan. Begin with a risk assessment that includes identifying potential hot spots in your place of business:
  • Are power cords and outlets in good working condition?
  • Are electrical circuits overloaded?
  • Kitchen appliances like coffee makers left on for long periods?
  • Are any chemicals or combustible materials stored properly?
  • Space heaters used to warm cubicles during chilly months?
  • What about holiday decorations like trees, lights and candles?
  • Is smoking on the premises entirely prohibited?
  • And more
While you’re taking note of the potential fire hazards in your workplace, also take inventory of the resources you might rely upon should a blaze break out. These may include but are not limited to:
  • Smoke detectors with fresh batteries
  • Pull alarms
  • Sprinkler system
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Emergency lighting
  • Method of alerting employees, such as a public address system
  • Emergency phone numbers
  • Evacuation routes/map posted
  • Emergency exits suitable for all, including wheelchair users
  • Clearly marked exits
  • Safe shutdown procedures for equipment (if need be and time allows)
  • A meeting point to account for all staff members
Of course, no resource is as useful as a calm, informed and well-prepared staff. This is where your business emergency preparedness plan really comes into play. Make your employees an important part of the planning process from day one. Ensure that every staff member has a copy of the plan and familiarizes himself with it. Determine who will lead your staff in evacuation efforts and confirm that each team member understands her role. Review, update and practice your plan regularly. When putting your plan in place, enlist the help of professionals to make sure you’ve covered all the bases. Your insurance agent will be able to advise you on securing adequate disaster coverage. Local firefighters often visit businesses to conduct inspections and give safety presentations. And don’t forget to pre-select a reputable disaster cleaning and restoration specialist that provides such services as water extraction, structural and contents drying, and soot and odor removal, as well as pre-loss inventory of your salvageable and non-salvageable items. A final thought: With any workplace or residential fire, the top priority is ensuring that everyone can reach a safe place quickly. Putting out the fire is always secondary because the greatest danger is not the blaze itself, but being rapidly overcome by the heat and smoke caused by it. By taking these tips to heart…and planning ahead…hopefully the only workplace fires you’ll encounter are the ones you can put out with a quick email and another jolt of coffee. Want to learn more about developing a workplace disaster plan? Download our free e-book, Emergency Preparedness: It’s Your Business—Five Tips to Kick-Start Your Company’s Disaster Plan. LDR Construction Services, Inc. Cleaning & Restoration has proudly served all of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin since 1991. LDR specializes in complete fire restorationwater damage restoration, and repairs from smoke, wind, and vandalism damage to both commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. For more information, visit www.ldr4service.com or call 1-888-874-7066. Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net Download your free home disaster planning eBook  


 

Safety Tips to Prevent Fire Damage This Fall

Friday, August 24th, 2012

fire damage restorationMany people love this time of year, transitioning from warm summer days to cool fall nights – football season, pumpkin picking and cozying up to a warm fire.  September is also National Preparedness Month and it is the time when several fire safety issues should be addressed in order to prevent fire damage to your home or business in the upcoming months.

Think ahead to prevent fire damage when burning wood in your fireplace or wood stove.

The chimney isn’t just a place to enjoy a warm fire, but almost all heating appliances, whether they burn gas, wood or coal, rely on the chimney to safely carry toxic carbon monoxide out of the house.  Proper cleaning of the chimney can also help to prevent carbon monoxide gases from entering the home in the first place.
  • Have your chimney and flue cleaned by a professional. A dirty chimney or damaged flue can cause smoke damage.
  • Clean your woodstove and remove any clutter that has accumulated on or near the stove or fireplace
  • Be sure that your chimney, flue, bricks and mortar are all in good condition and that you don’t have more than one heating device in a single flue.

Test your smoke alarms and CO2 dectors.

Going along with chimney safety, you should also test all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms as well as replace any worn out batteries.  A good way to remember is to change your batteries when you "Fall Back," and turn your clocks back to Standard Time in the fall.

Make a fire safety plan.

In the event of a fire, remember - time is the biggest enemy and every second counts! Make sure that you have a fire safely plan in place with all family members, especially children, in case of emergency so that everybody can get out of your home quickly. It takes less than 30 seconds for a small flame to get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. A house can fill with thick black smoke and become engulfed in flames in just a few minutes. Designate a meeting location away from the home, but not necessarily across the street. For example, meet under a specific tree or at the end of the driveway or front sidewalk to make sure everyone has gotten out safely and no one will be hurt looking for someone who is already safe. Designate one person to go to a neighbor's home to phone the fire department.

Check your dryer vent.

Fall is also a good time to check for build up in your dryer vent, while you still have access to the outside vent. This is an easy maintenance task, but one that often goes overlooked, and can be dangerous if left to build up for too long. People tend to clean out the lint traps on their dryers after every use or so, but don’t give much thought to the lint that can build up in your dryer vent or hose attached to your dryer. Follow these steps to check your dryer vent:
  • Loosen the vent clamp on the back of your dryer
  • Slide the vent off and reach in as far as you can in order to remove any lint and buildup.  You can also use a vacuum cleaner to help reach inside to remove additional buildup
  • Make sure to clean out the vent tubing as well
  • If you have a larger buildup, you may need to use a plumbing snake or wire brush to help remove the lint farther up the hose
  • Remove the vent on the outside of the house and repeat the above steps

Here are a few more things to consider when preparing your home or business for the fall months.

  • Clean out gutters from leaves or debris
  • Check your roof shingles to be sure they are in good condition for wind, ice and upcoming snow
  • Check windows for deteriorated sills and fill with putty to prevent water damage due to leaks
  • Take a look at the trees on your property and remove any limbs that would be in danger of falling on property or people during a large storm
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net download the free Emergency Response Plan guide.  


 

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