Posts Tagged ‘fire safety’

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  


 

10 Fireworks Safety Tips for a Happy Independence Day

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

fireworks safetyIn the United States, the Fourth of July is a weekend full of friends, family, cookouts, and FIREWORKS! Fireworks can be very dangerous if they aren’t handled properly, thus turning a weekend of fun into a possible disaster. If you are planning to use fireworks, keep the following safety tips in mind:
  1. Use fireworks outdoors only.
  2. Obey local laws - if fireworks are illegal where you live, do not use them.
  3. Always have water close by - a garden hose, bucket of water, etc.
  4. Use fireworks only as intended – don’t try to alter them or combine them in any way.
  5. Never attempt to relight a “dud” firework - wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  6. Use common sense – Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter, and safety glasses are highly recommended for anyone lighting fireworks.  Fireworks have been known to backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction.  Never throw or point fireworks and someone, even if done in jest.
  7. Keep your pets or other animals in mind - animals have sensitive ears and the noise and lights of fireworks can often frighten or stress animals.  Keep them inside if possible.  Also pick up any remaining debris at the conclusion of your fireworks.
  8. Alcohol and fireworks do NOT mix - have a designated “shooter.”
  9. Only persons over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type – When lit, sparklers can get six times as hot as a pan of cooking oil, or 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
  10. Use in a clear, open area and make sure the area overhead is also clear of obstructions – Watch out for dry grass, brush or any other type of flammable items that could catch fire, like your home or garage.
Fireworks by the numbers:
  • 30,100 - estimated number of fires caused by fireworks each year
  • 7,000 - estimated number of injuries caused by fireworks each year
  • $34 million – amount of direct property loss caused by fireworks each year
Sources:  National Fire Protection Association, Consumer Product Safety Commission, and National Council on Fireworks Safety. Image courtesy of nixxphotography / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 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  


 

Happy New Year! Resolve to Keep Your Home and Office Safe

Monday, December 31st, 2012

happy and safe new yearDrink less alcohol. Eat healthy food. Get a better education…get a better job…and once and for all, get fit! That’s just a sampling of the top New Year’s resolutions according to USA.gov. We at LDR Cleaning & Restoration have much respect for those who keep their resolutions and make positive changes in their lives. In the spirit of change, we’d like to offer our own version of New Year’s resolutions and challenge you—a safety throw down, if you will—to make improvements in your living and business environments that could, ultimately, save lives. Without further ado…LDR’s Top Five Steps to a Safer 2013: 5. Remove and prevent mold. According to the National Center for Environmental Health, exposure to molds can cause hay fever-like symptoms and compromise the breathing of individuals with chronic respiratory disease like COPD and asthma. Whether you’ve had a minor pipe leak or a major flood, where there is excessive moisture, there is mold. Picture one tiny mold spore dropping onto a soaked ceiling tile, perhaps, or a soggy section of carpet. In no time at all, that mold spore will multiply—and suddenly you’ll have health concerns on your hands. A good scrubbing with a strong cleanser is sometimes all that is needed for adequate mold removal, but it’s best to bring in the pros for larger jobs. Of course, preventing water damage in the workplace and at home is the best practice. We offer some ways to prevent water damage in the first place in our blog article, “Water Damage Restoration in the Workplace.4. Change furnace filters and clean ductwork. According to FEMA, heating is second only to cooking as the leading culprit behind residential fires in the fall and winter months. With furnace fires, something as simple as a ball of lint trapped in the heating ducts can start trouble; thus, routine maintenance is key. Have a local cleaning and restoration service check your ductwork for any obstructions or buildup; they have professional-grade vacuum equipment that ensures a thorough cleaning. Also, changing furnace filters is a small task that can make a big difference in safety, not to mention health, by providing improved air quality. We discuss other furnace safety tips in our blog article, “Firing Up Your Furnace, Fire Safety Tips for Fall.3. Review coverage with your insurance agent. A 2012 poll by the Insurance Information Institute found that 13 percent of American homeowners had a flood insurance policy, virtually unchanged from the 14 percent of homeowners in 2011, but well below the 17 percent who said they purchased flood insurance in May 2008. When it comes to protecting your home or workplace, are you fully covered for every force of nature—and beyond? Give your agent a call; he or she will be pleased to sit down over coffee, go over your policy and make any necessary recommendations. Are you an insurance agent? This could be the year to kick your business into high gear with the marketing ideas discussed in our ebook, “Tradition, Technology and Taking Risks: Five Modern Tips for Marketing Your Insurance Business.2. Check smoke detectors, sprinklers and fire extinguishers. Such a no-brainer, but one that really saves lives. On an average day, it’s estimated that over 200 fires occur in U.S. businesses. In mere minutes, lives can change forever—and everything you’ve worked for can go up in smoke. 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. Our blog article, “Firearmed: How to Practice Fire Safety in the Workplace,” discusses other steps you can take to keep your office safe. 1. Make an emergency preparedness plan. Here’s a sobering thought: How many businesses are prepared for disaster? Not nearly enough, according to data cited at ready.gov. They report that nearly two-thirds (62%) of respondents to an Ad Council survey do not have an emergency plan in place for their business. No matter what type of business you run or how many people you employ, there’s no question that having a plan in place can save valuable time post-disaster and, much more importantly, invaluable human lives. Don’t put it off any longer—the same goes for having an emergency plan at home, as well! Our ebook, “Emergency Preparedness, It’s Your Business: Five Tips to Kick-Start Your Company’s Disaster Plan,” can help you get started On behalf of LDR, we wish you and yours a safe, happy and prosperous 2013! May you never need our services. But should Mother Nature throw you a curveball, we hope you will consider us as your residential and business disaster recovery team. 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 Simon Howden / 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.  


 

Prepping for the Holidays: A Perfect Time for Air Duct Cleaning

Monday, October 29th, 2012

duct cleaningEntertaining guests this holiday season? Then chances are, there’s a whole lotta house cleaning going on. Much more than the usual vacuuming and dusting, oh yes…we’re talking the kind of deep cleaning that takes place when you’re convinced eagle-eyed Aunt Edna will spy those filthy baseboards in between bites of her pumpkin pie. This is the time of year when more carpets are steam cleaned…mini-blinds receive the once-over…dust bunnies are chased from beneath spare beds…and wood floors receive a fresh coat of polish. But although you may think you’ve cleaned every nook and cranny, there’s one area of the home that’s often overlooked and can lead to illness—possibly even death—if not paid proper attention. We’re talking about cleaning your air ducts. Out of sight, out of mind, right? But although you can’t see them, contaminants exist in your ducts and can affect your whole family’s health. As the particles blow through the home, its occupants are at a high risk of inhaling them. This can lead to such health issues as sinus problems, constant coughing and sneezing, severe allergies, headaches, inability to sleep, asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Worst-case scenario: If the amount of debris within your ductwork is especially substantial, it can even lead to a fire in your furnace. If your home or community fall under one or more of the following conditions, it’s recommended that you have your air ducts cleaned a minimum of once per year, if not twice:
  • Smoking inside the home
  • Pets in the household
  • High pollen count
  • Elevated levels of moisture or humidity
  • A recently completed home renovation project
  • A newly constructed home
  • Frequent use of chemical cleaning products
  • Existing flood damage
  • Nearby industries that emit pollutants
  • Rodents like mice or rats running through the ductwork

 What are the major benefits of air duct cleaning?

  • It’s good for your heating and cooling system. Most duct system failures occur because of an accumulation of dust and dirt. In fact, the EPA states that a buildup of just .042 inches of dirt on a heating or cooling coil can result in a 21% decrease in efficiency. By cleaning your ducts, your system will be more efficient which may even lower your energy costs—score!
  • It’s good for your family members, especially children. Because children’s immune systems are still developing, they are at higher risk for illness. It’s common sense that they need to eat nutritious meals and engage in regular exercise to grow into healthy adults. So why not also take the logical step of providing them with cleaner air?
  • High-risk individuals benefit most of all. Folks who have a health condition such as asthma as well as all senior citizens will benefit a great deal from a simple duct cleaning. Everyone deserves to breath easier and reduce their risk of developing respiratory illness.
  • You’ll enjoy a cleaner home, longer. Fewer dust particles blowing through your ductwork means you’ll have to break out the Swiffer® dust cloths less often. Enough said!
Now that you’ve realized the need to have your air ducts cleaned, can you do it yourself? Well, yes—but frankly, it’s not recommended because the results will never equal those of hiring a trained professional. You’ll need a variety of tools, a good deal of time, the ability to maneuver while perched atop a ladder, and an understanding of the many parts that make up your air duct system: supply and return air ducts, grills and diffusers, heating an cooling coils, heat exchangers, fan motor and housing, drip pans, and housing for the air handling unit. Save yourself the aggravation (and backache) and enjoy superior results by hiring a professional cleaning service. But be advised: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! As with many service industries, the duct cleaning business is rife with scam artists eagerly awaiting your call. Last year, for example, a Superior Court judge punished two sketchy New Jersey duct-cleaning companies for bait-and-switch tactics by ordering them to pay more than $68,000 in consumer restitution and over $1.7 million in civil penalties. Backed by hundreds of satisfied customers, LDR Cleaning & Restoration has proudly served all of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin since 1991. LDR offers reliable, professional air duct cleaning services, in addition to 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


 

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