Recent Fire Damage Posts

How Rodents Can Cause Electrical Fires and Fire Damage in Midlothian, TX, Homes

11/8/2022 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO® of Waxahachie/Midlothian warns the local community about the connection between electrical fires and the presence of rodents in the home.

Fire damage may often result in the need for water removal and water damage restoration. In Midlothian, TX, homes, fire can result from a variety of causes, and one of these causes is the failure of or damage to the home’s electrical components. A sometimes overlooked contributor to electrical fires in the home is rodents. The experts at PestWorld.org, the official consumer education website of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), estimate that “rodents are responsible for 20 percent to 25 percent of all fires of unknown causes because of their propensity for chewing electrical wiring and gas lines.”

Rodents often gnaw on housing materials, such as wiring, insulation, and pipes, because these pests need to be constantly filing down their teeth. If a rodent’s teeth grow too long, the animal will be unable to eat. Once rats or mice chew through the protective plastic insulation covering the electrical wires, the metal is exposed, and sparks from a shorted circuit or heat from the live wire could ignite a fire if the homeowner does not discover the damaged wiring in time. Rodent nests and debris caused by rodent activity can become the fuel that touches off a destructive house fire.

The rodent roundup: What are Texas’ most infamous rodents?

While Texas is home to many different types of rodents, four pests are the most notable: the eastern deer mouse, the house mouse, the brown rat, and the roof rat.

Eastern deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus)

These native Texas rodents can be found throughout Lone Star State, especially in rural areas. Their white and brown coloration resembles that of a deer, hence the name ‘deer mice.’ Eastern deer mice are nocturnal and can reach a size of around three to four inches long, not including the mouse’s tail. When they enter homes, they often do so in order to build a nest.

House mice (Mus musculus)

Although house mice are not native to Texas, they are present throughout the entire state. Like eastern deer mice, they are nocturnal, but they are also active during the daytime. Adults can grow to three to four inches, excluding the tail. House mice are prolific breeders, so eradicating them from a house they have infested can be a challenging task. By the time the pest control company or exterminator has remediated the infestation, the home may have sustained extensive damage.

Brown rats (Rattus norvegicus)

The brown rat, also known as the common rat, the Norway rat, the street rat, or the sewer rat, is one of Texas’ largest pests, reaching an adult body length of seven to nine inches. The species is not native to the area, but they are present in most of Texas, although they are more commonly seen in the north of the state. Brown rats reproduce at a rapid rate.

Roof rats (Rattus rattus)

Alternatively known as the black rat or the house rat, the roof rat is a skilled climber and can make its way to the roof, the rafters, or the attic. Roof rats like to stay in populated areas and can gnaw through a variety of household materials such as wood, drywall, aluminum siding, and electrical wiring. In terms of size, they can grow to a length of six to eight inches, not including the length of the tail. According to PestWorld.org, “Roof rats only live up to one year but have the ability to produce as many as 40 new offspring during their lifetime.”

The two calls homeowners need to make

When a rodent infestation is suspected or detected, the homeowner will need to call in the services of a professional pest control company or wildlife exclusion company that can safely resolve the problem. In addition to dealing with the current rodent problem, a wildlife exclusion service will identify and seal up rodent access points so that the pests do not return to the home.

The second call is to a fire damage restoration company. In the event that rodents have caused fire damage to the home, the services of a restoration company will be essential to remediate the damage and return life to a sense of normalcy. However, it is recommended that homeowners prequalify a full-service damage restoration company before a disaster strikes in order to minimize stress and provide a clear plan of action in case of property damage.

Contact SERVPRO® of Waxahachie/Midlothian to learn more about fire damage restoration, water damage restoration, and water removal services in Midlothian, TX. The office can be reached by email at acarey@SERVPRO10932.com or by phone at (972) 935-0827.

How Maintenance Can Keep a Stove Operating Efficiently While Preventing Possible Fire Damage

10/10/2022 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian offers stove care tips for peak operating efficiency of the appliance and fire damage prevention.

SERVPRO® of Waxahachie/Midlothian offers tips to help homeowners keep their stoves working at peak efficiency and prevent a fire damage disaster. With regular maintenance and cleaning, Midlothian, TX, homeowners can keep the stove working efficiently and safely. Proper maintenance and early intervention when repairs are needed can also extend the life of the appliance.

COVID-19, remote work, supply chain issues, and high food prices have re-invigorated dining in. The use of the stove has skyrocketed, and this constant, daily usage will take a toll on the stove. A regular routine of maintenance and cleaning will keep the appliance performing at peak levels while extending its lifespan and minimizing the potential for fire damage.

Four basic stove care tips

Tip #1: Maintenance starts on day one.

Maintenance begins the day the appliance is installed. If maintenance has been neglected on a stove already in use, today is a great day to start providing the appliance with the attention and care it needs to operate efficiently and safely for many years to come.

Tip #2: Monthly maintenance makes sense for most situations.

Usage has a bearing on the frequency of the maintenance and cleaning plan. Be proactive. Monthly maintenance is advised. Greater frequency may be needed during holidays and special events when usage is very high.

Tip #3: Read the owner’s manual.

A stove is a major investment with a lifetime of rewards. Take time to read the owner’s manual and highlight key sections, contact information, and warranty information. If a digital version is available, download it for safekeeping. Store the hard copy in a file cabinet with other appliance and device manuals.

By knowing and following the owner’s manual, the homeowner can avoid actions that damage the appliance or nullify the warranty. Proper maintenance will be outlined in the manual. Is it safe to use cleaning solutions on the inside of a self-cleaning oven? The owner’s manual has the answer. Only use cleaning solutions approved in the owner’s manual for usage on the inside of self-cleaning ovens.

Tip #4: Follow safety precautions while cleaning the oven.

Some of these safety precautions include:

  • The oven should be cool to the touch while performing cleaning and maintenance.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using cleaners on the unit.
  • Be sure to unplug the appliance when performing electrical repairs.

Five simple safety tips

A stove is a powerful appliance. A small coil can reach temperatures exceeding 1100 degrees Fahrenheit, while a large coil can exceed 1600 degrees Fahrenheit. When used safely, a stove can bring nutritional benefits and culinary enjoyment. Listed below are five important safety tips.

  • Install a safety bracket to keep the unit from tipping over.
  • Turn pot handles to the back or side to prevent accidental spillage from clothing snagging on the handles or young children reaching up to grab a shiny handle.
  • When opening lids, protect the hands, arms, face, and eyes from steam release.
  • Keep dishes being cooked contained in their safe space. When pots boil over, and when greasy foods and oil splatter, the risk of personal injury and fire rises. The mess is also difficult to clean up.
  • Have a fire extinguisher and a supply of baking soda at the ready in case a pan erupts into flames. Never use water to extinguish flames in a frying pan; the results could be explosive when the water hits the hot grease.

Bonus tip: One of the leading causes of fire damage is unattended cooking fires. When cooking on the stove, stay with the dishes while they are cooking on the stove. Turn off the burners and cover the pans before leaving the kitchen.

Cleaning care tips

A clean stove is a safer stove. As mentioned earlier, use cleaners that are safe for the appliance and humans. Avoid using harsh abrasives on glass top stoves. In contrast, a stainless-steel stovetop responds well to a strong degreaser. For an eco-friendly cleanser, mix equal parts of baking soda, salt, and water to create a mildly abrasive paste. Apply the paste with a soft cloth and rub vigorously to remove the grime.

Avoid using water on knobs and dials. Instead, use a damp cloth to clean the areas around the knobs. Remove the parts and wash them separately. Excessive moisture can damage the electrical circuits in a stove.

Spills, grease, and food can build up and catch fire. Clean around the burners to remove residue that can smolder, setting off smoke alarms. The oven hood, including the fan, needs to be cleaned regularly.

In kitchens where the oven is often used, the inside of the appliance may need more frequent cleanings. Spills, splashes, and drips should be cleaned up without delay to prevent smoke damage or fire. Avoid the use of detergent or soaps on the inside of the oven. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper cleaning solutions and techniques. Remove the racks before running the self-cleaning feature. Avoid allowing grime to build up. Wash racks with hot soapy water in the sink or a tub of water. Include the stove hood in the cleaning process.

Make rapid repairs and replacements

A delay in repairing a stove can cause an electrical fire or result in an injury during the cooking process when a pan tilts and spills on a burner. Replace worn or broken parts such as the stove and oven elements. A faulty door hinge, a broken oven window, a damaged door gasket, a bent, and uneven element, or a broken dial can be disastrous. Most parts can be purchased online from the manufacturer or an after-market provider.

A cooking fire, along with the process used to extinguish the flame, can cause extensive fire, water, and smoke damage. The water and fire damage cleanup and restoration team at SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian is IICRC-certified, has years of experience, and is available 24/7, 365 days a year. Contact SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian to learn more about fire damage restoration in Midlothian, TX. The office can be reached by calling (972) 935-0827 or by emailing acarey@SERVPRO10932.com.

Causes and Effects of a Fire on a University Campus and the Importance of Rapid Fire Damage Restoration

9/8/2022 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian explains how university and college campuses in Midlothian, TX, can address a fire damage disaster.

SERVPRO® of Waxahachie/Midlothian provides fire damage cleanup and restoration for college campuses in the Midlothian, TX, area. In many ways, a college or university campus is like a small, tight-knit community with a population ranging from just a few thousand to over 100,000 students, faculty, and staff. The comfortable, cozy accommodations are a home for the co-eds to experience life, learn skills needed for a successful professional or technical career, and earn a prized degree from the academic institution of their choice. However, an unanticipated fire can shatter this idyllic educational environment in a matter of minutes. A fire at a university can have consequences that reach into every facet of campus life, depending on the location and extent of the property damage.

The majority of fires on university campuses occur in dormitories. The most frequent causes of fire are listed as follows:

  • Smoking
  • Cooking
  • Overloaded electrical outlets
  • Alcohol-related activity in which inebriated students engage in behaviors that elevate the risk of a fire

Fire safety in the home is much less complex than fire safety in a housing facility with hundreds of rooms, multiple stories, and limited exits. Lack of familiarity with fire survival and escape protocols can lead to dangerous or fatal consequences. A dorm room fire can quickly spread from one room to another, causing extensive damage to the facility and the loss of students’ personal belongings. Fire and smoke damage can render large sections of a dormitory or high-rise student apartment complex uninhabitable for days, weeks, or even months. Smoke damage and water damage from fire suppression sprinklers and the fire department’s efforts to extinguish the blaze may cause damage far in excess of the actual damage from the flames.

The dormitory may be determined to be uninhabitable until the damage cleanup and restoration process has been completed and the building has been inspected and declared safe. In the meantime, alternate living accommodations must be obtained for the student population displaced by the fire. The services of area hotels may be enlisted to meet these housing needs. If the restoration process is extensive or delayed, the cost of alternative housing could be massive.

A fire in a classroom setting may damage equipment, curriculum, and student projects, so a substitute classroom must be located. If a course requires special equipment, as in the case of a chemistry or biology class, the challenges may be insurmountable in the short term. A virtual classroom works for lectures, but hands-on activities like animal dissections and dangerous chemical experiments do not work in a virtual setting. Postponement may be the only option until the restoration project is completed.

Campus dining halls are not immune to fires and fire damage. However, the fact that personnel and staff are well-trained in fire prevention and mitigation means that the fires that do occur are usually extinguished quickly with little to no interruption of services.

Fires occurring in administrative offices are often quickly suppressed by fire sprinklers or employees who have fire prevention training. Quick, decisive action with a fire extinguisher or fire blanket may prevent the activation of the fire sprinkler system, preventing or greatly reducing water damage associated with the activation of the system. A negative consequence of fire damage in an administrative building may involve the damage or destruction of vital documents, computers, copy machines, or other electronics. Cloud storage capabilities, remote work from home or another location on campus may make the disruption and relocation a minimal and temporary inconvenience.

Disruptions on a college campus can be disastrous, especially disruptions from a fire. Listed below are reasons to pre-qualify SERVPRO of Waxahachie as the dedicated property damage cleanup and restoration service provider for the entire university or college.

  1. Availability 24/7, 365 days a year, including holidays

The SERVPRO team of well-equipped, experienced, and IICRC-certified technicians are always available on weekends, holidays, and game days which is important since the population of the university may increase by as much as 100,000 if the football stadium is at capacity.

  1. Rapid response and quick cleanup

The one call the university decision-maker places to SERVPRO of Waxahachie yields a rapid response. Crews arrive on the scene in about an hour to inspect and assess the damage and begin the cleanup and restoration project.

  1. A detailed and well-documented estimate

A highly trained technician inspects and assesses the damage, creating a detailed estimate that includes images and videos. The estimate eliminates surprises and is very helpful in the insurance claims process, which SERVPRO can handle from beginning to end.

  1. Ability to scale

The concentration of SERVPRO service providers in the DFW metro area means that SERVPRO is an excellent choice for a dorm room fire or a dormitory fire involving extensive damage on multiple floors or the entire facility. No other property damage company can provide a large-loss response on a par with the SERVPRO franchise family. Whether the situation calls for two crews or twenty crews, the response is still rapid and the cleanup and restoration quick.

  1. Experience facing challenging situations

SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian and the larger SERVPRO franchise family have a proven track record of success working on large-loss cleanup and restoration projects. This success with large-scale disasters breeds excellence.

For more information about fire damage restoration in Midlothian, TX, contact the office by phone at (972) 935-0827 or email at acarey@SERVPRO10932.com.

Five Ways Water Damage Affects a Fire-Damaged Home

7/16/2022 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian highlights several reasons why a housefire requires both fire damage restoration and water damage restoration after the flames have been extinguished and the fire department has come and gone.

When fire damage occurs, a combination of factors complicates the situation, and a fire damage disaster frequently requires both fire and water damage restoration services. A house fire is a traumatic experience, and the devastation is often heart-wrenching. Fire, smoke, ash, soot, and water touch everything in the home. Where the visible signs of the disaster are not evident, the smell of charred wood, melted plastic, and burnt fabric permeates the house. The situation calls for the services of property damage restoration professionals who are trained, certified, experienced, well-equipped, and protected. Because a fire damage disaster is so complex and hazardous, cleanup for fire-damaged homes in Red Oak, TX, must be thorough.

A grasp of the complex factors comprising a fire damage disaster must not lightly dismiss or inadvertently overlook the significance of water damage in a fire damage disaster. Fire damage restoration and water damage restoration are inseparably linked. The water may have been introduced by a fire sprinkler system or by high-pressure hoses on the pumper truck. Either way, the water damage will be extensive, escalating the risk hazards and complicating the cleanup and restoration process. On occasion, the water damage from extinguishing the fire exceeds the actual fire damage.

How Water Impacts a Fire Damage Disaster

The amount of water used to extinguish the fire and the application method have a bearing on the extent and type of water damage. A fire hose can stream hundreds of gallons of water per minute into a burning structure. A home should receive a comprehensive inspection for both fire and water damage. Most of the water damage will be in the vicinity of the fire, but the water, like the fire, will have an impact on the entire structure. Some of the water damage will be from direct contact with the water. The moisture, water vapor, and steam from the fire and water mixing will present challenges different from a less complex water damage situation, such as puddled water on the floors and in the crawl space.

Drywall

Drywall is porous and soaks up water. As a result, cleanup and drying may not be sufficient. The drywall may need to be cut out and replaced. Cleaning and restoration professionals can discern what drywall can be dried and salvaged and what must be replaced.

Flooring

Floors are vulnerable to serious damage from water if water removal, drying, and dehumidification are not immediately implemented. Delays can lead to swelling and warping, making the floor beyond recovery. Carpeting and rugs are the most vulnerable to damage from soot, smoke, and water. A combination of extensive water damage, toxins from the fire, and delays in water damage cleanup means the carpet will have to be removed and replaced. Baseboards and floorboards should be examined for swelling and warping. A delay in water removal can lead to the ruin of baseboards that swell to the point that salvaging them is impossible.

Ceilings

If the roof is pierced to allow firefighters to extinguish flames in the attic, then the ceiling will receive extensive water damage. A sagging ceiling may be on the verge of collapsing, which puts occupants in the residence at risk for personal injury. Water spots, signs that water is trapped above the ceiling, may be difficult to identify if the ceiling is discolored with smoke and soot. Qualified fire and water damage cleanup and restoration professionals will be able to spot danger signs on the ceiling.

Personal Belongings

Water in a home damaged by fire will be highly contaminated by smoke and soot. Certain personal belongings are porous and will soak up contaminated water. These items include books, documents, fabric, cushions, and pillows.

Mold

A fire damage disaster that involves water is prone to a mold infestation. Within about 24 to 48 hours, mold can gain a foothold and make a bad situation worse. A rapid response and quick cleanup process that uses the latest equipment, advanced moisture-detecting technology, and EPA-approved cleaning products is crucial to prevent a mold infestation.

A fire damage disaster that also involves water damage is a complex and contaminated disaster scene requiring knowledge, experience, special equipment, cutting-edge moisture detecting technology, and advanced cleaning techniques. Fire leaves behind smoke and soot residue, and everyone working in the environment must be safety-conscious and wear personal protective gear. The professionals at SERVPRO of Waxahachie thoroughly and safely clean and restore any size of fire damage disaster.

To learn more details about water and fire damage cleanup, contact SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian. The office can be reached by calling (972) 935-0827 or by emailing acarey@SERVPRO10932.com

Fire Prevention Strategies for Midlothian, TX, Senior Care Centers

5/23/2022 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian explains five tips that help prevent fire damage in senior living centers in the Midlothian areas.

The prevention of fire damage in an assisted living center is vitally important for the safety of residents and staff. The team at SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian lives and works in the local community. When neighbors, including residents in an assisted living center, suffer fire damage, the SERVPRO professionals can quickly restore the damaged property.

Statistics That Illustrate the Need for Fire Damage Prevention

America has a growing “graying” population. There are nearly 50 million seniors over the age of 65, according to the US Census Bureau. The National Center for Assisted Living provides the following insight on assisted living centers in the United States: “There are approximately 28,900 assisted living communities with nearly 1 million licensed beds in the United States today.”

A typical resident in an assisted living facility could be an 87-year-old woman needing assistance with two or three activities of daily living, such as medication management, bathing, and dressing.

Texas has over 1,300 assisted living communities with almost 49,000 residents. The average size center serves 29 people. A breakdown of services provided by these centers offers a glimpse into the daily lives of the residents and the caregivers who faithfully meet these needs:

  • 46% are over the age of 85
  • 58% need help with bathing
  • 66% need help with walking
  • 46% need help with dressing
  • 30% need help with bed transfer

These insights illustrate the special care assisted living facilities provide for residents who are not able to take care of themselves. Reliable fire prevention is a top priority since many residents have mobility and memory issues that limit their ability to respond to a fire emergency without assistance.

Fire Protection and Prevention Strategies for Assisted Living Facilities

Life in an assisted living center affords residents a wide range of independence. Assistance levels may be nominal or intensive, depending on the desires and needs of the residents. Fire prevention is a priority. Below are six core strategies to ensure fire safety in a healthcare facility.

1. Exercise due diligence in monitoring the kitchen while food is being prepared.

Cooking equipment is the top cause of fires in healthcare facilities. The peak hours for fire damage are 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM, the peak hours for food prep. Thankfully, most kitchen fires are confined to the appliance and the kitchen.

  • Keep appliances, grease traps, grills, and grill ducts clean.
  • Store flammables away from cooking equipment.
  • Regularly inspect electrical cords for damage.
  • Maintain fire extinguishers.
  • Train and drill staff in the fire safety plan.

2. Perform routine inspections of electrical outlets and wiring.

Unlike cooking fires which typically do not spread beyond an appliance or the kitchen, electrical fires are pervasive. Twenty percent of fires that spread beyond the point of origin were caused by circuit overloads or faulty wiring. As much as possible, avoid using extension cords.

3. Smoking and oxygen are an explosive combination.

Seniors often use oxygen tanks for various health conditions. Oxygen tanks should never come in contact with fire or sparks, such as from a lit cigarette. If the campus is not smoke-free, staff should smoke outside in a designated area at a safe distance from the facility.

4. Implement regular fire safety training.

Healthcare facilities have layers of policies and regulations covering every conceivable contingency. A lack of staff awareness is often the origin of a citation or an actual fire event.

5. Create a fire response action plan.

Senior care centers must develop and distribute a fire safety plan. The plan details action steps in the event of a fire. Knowledge and drilling will help workers to remain calm and follow the proper procedures in the event of a fire.

SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian can be a trusted partner in the development of an Emergency Readiness Plan that includes pre-qualifying a dedicated damage restoration provider in the event of a fire or other property damage disaster. A rapid fire damage cleanup process is crucial considering the unique needs of the residents and the limited options should a fire damage disaster require the facility to be vacated during the cleanup and restoration process.

To learn more about Midlothian, TX, fire damage restoration, contact SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian by calling the office at (972) 935-0827 or by emailing acarey@SERVPRO10932.com

Fire Pit Safety: A Key Element of Fire Damage Prevention in Midlothian, TX

2/11/2022 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian highlights how prioritizing fire pit safety can prevent fire damage to homes and structures in Ellis County.

A fire damage disaster can bring an abrupt end to a friendly gathering around the backyard firepit. However, with appropriate safety measures in place, the event does not have to end in disaster. SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian explains how simple fire pit safety practices can help homeowners prevent fire damage. When fire damage, smoke damage, or water damage occurs, SERVPRO is the local cleanup and restoration company that can quickly restore the damaged property.

Before firing up the fire pit, brush up on fire pit safety practices. By learning and consistently applying simple, practical steps, people can keep the home safe and avoid the need for fire damage cleanup.

The firepit pro or novice newcomer planning to add a firepit should review fire pit safety practices. The time investment is especially crucial for the first-time firepit enthusiast. Get the maximum enjoyment from the firepit while keeping family and friends safe.

Select a safe site for the fire pit.

Choosing the right location for the firepit is foundational to fire pit safety. Ideally, the firepit should be on level ground and ten to twenty feet away from buildings, structures, and plants. Never place a firepit below an overhang or in an area that is partly enclosed. Also, avoid overhanging tree limbs and branches since they can ignite quickly if exposed to sparks. Once the location has been selected, border the firepit with brick, sand, crushed stone, or other materials that are not combustible.

Seat guests safely.

Chairs should not be placed too close to the fire. The homeowner can ensure that seats remain at a safe distance from the pit by using heavy chairs or fixed seating. Whenever a fire pit is in use, keep a close eye on children and do not allow them to get too close to the blaze.

Use good wood.

Wood that has been seasoned for a minimum of six months is the only fuel that should be used in a wood-burning fire pit. Choose hardwoods over softwoods since softwoods often give off more sparks. Do not burn plywood, particleboard, MDF, or similar types of composite boards since these materials can produce toxic fumes.

Prepare the fire correctly.

HGTV provides the following advice: “For wood-burning fire pits, cut logs so their length is less than three-quarters the diameter of the pit. Never use lighter fluid or gasoline to start a fire in a fire pit….Avoid lighting a fire in windy conditions.”

Minimize spark output.

Sparks can turn a well-controlled campfire into an unbridled inferno. Consider purchasing a firepit with a screen that prevents sparks from escaping. Also, keep a hose and a pail of sand nearby to immediately extinguish stray sparks. When using a hose to eliminate flare-ups, use the nozzle’s spray function rather than a concentrated stream, which can scatter sparks. Fire gloves and fire blankets are other valuable tools for gaining control of a fire.

Invest in a fire extinguisher.

A fully charged fire extinguisher can be a lifesaver. Look for a dry-chemical extinguisher with a Class B and Class C or multipurpose rating. Homeowners need to educate themselves on the proper use of the device and should understand the fire extinguisher’s effective range, which is typically 6 to 10 feet. If the firepit uses gas, shut off the gas before extinguishing the flames.

Douse according to the directions.

At the end of the evening, douse the fire properly. Many manufactured fire pits come with instructions for extinguishing the blaze. Remember, water can crack ceramic fire pits and some metal ones, so follow the instructions closely.

Since 2000, SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian has been serving the local area, and the damage restoration company is centrally located in Ellis County. The restoration experts specialize in residential, commercial, and large-scale disaster cleanup and restoration.

Customer service is a priority at SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian, and the team strives to reduce stress and provide rapid results. One satisfied client writes, “Thank you so much for all your hard work during a difficult situation! Quick response and always professional. The build back company even commented that the work was really well done.”

To learn more about SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian’s fire damage restoration services, email the office at acarey@SERVPRO10932.com. The team can also be contacted by phone at (972) 935-0827

Six Tips for Christmas Tree Fire Prevention and How to Recover If Fire Damage Occurs

12/17/2021 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian provides homeowners with a guide for preventing and recovering from fire damage caused by a Christmas tree fire.

SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian knows how traumatic a fire damage disaster can be during the holiday season. The unexpected and unwanted disaster interrupts busy schedules, guests coming and going, and time together with family. The team of service professionals at SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian offers this guide to preventing and recovering from a Christmas tree fire. The goal is to make sure that everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Facts About Christmas Tree Fires

According to the NIST National Fire Research Laboratory, “Every year in the U.S., fire departments respond to an estimated 210 home fires involving Christmas trees. Even though Christmas tree fires are infrequent, when they occur, they can be dangerous and costly. These fires cause an annual average of 6 civilian deaths, 16 civilian injuries, and $16.2 million in property damage.”

Thankfully, Christmas tree fires have been steadily declining in frequency from an all-time high of nearly 850 incidents in 1980. However, Christmas tree fires are still too common, especially in light of the fact that these types of fires are preventable.

Approximately one in four Christmas tree fires results from electrical issues or from the tree being placed too close to a heat source such as a radiator, fireplace, or candles. About half of all Christmas decoration fires are caused by the decorations being placed in close proximity to a fireplace or other heat source.

A Guide to Preventing Christmas Tree Fires

By following these simple prevention tips, homeowners can prevent most Christmas tree fires.

  1. Inspect all Christmas tree lights before hanging them on the tree. Strands with frayed, chewed, or cracked cords should be discarded. Loose or broken bulbs should be replaced with bulbs of the same wattage.
  2. Be careful not to exceed the manufacturer’s recommended maximum number of light strands that can be connected. Limit traditional incandescent Christmas lights to two strands. LED Christmas lights use much less energy which increases the number of light strands that can be connected. The best practice is to follow the instructions that come with the lights.
  3. Practice extension cord safety. Feel extension cords to ensure they are not warm or hot. Avoid running extension cords under the tree skirt or area rugs.
  4. Always unplug lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  5. Take good care of the Christmas tree. Select the freshest tree possible. The needles should be firmly attached to the branches. Sap on the trunk is an indication of freshness. Immediately water the tree. Keep it well-watered for as long as it is in use.
  6. Significantly reduce the likelihood of fire by keeping the Christmas tree and Christmas decorations a safe distance from heat sources. An artificial tree is much safer than a real Christmas tree.

What to Do in Case of a House Fire During the Holidays

Fire and smoke damage during the holidays is traumatic and disruptive. In the aftermath of a house fire, contact a reputable and well-established fire, smoke, and water damage restoration company to handle the cleanup and repair process.

Homeowners and businesses are encouraged to pre-qualify a property damage restoration company before a disaster strikes. An established relationship with SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian offers many benefits.

  • When a disaster strikes, only one call is needed to dispatch a restoration company to the disaster scene.
  • The property owner is confident that the restoration company is competent because it has been thoroughly vetted.
  • The cleanup and restoration process can begin more quickly because the service provider already has vital information about the location.

A client of SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian posted the following review of the damage restoration company’s services: “Exceptional customer service, professional employees and timely service. Highly recommend this company.”

Since 2000, SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian has been serving the area, and the company is locally owned. In addition, the damage restoration company is backed by a nationwide system of qualified franchisees. Being centrally located in Ellis County means that SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian can offer a rapid response time since technicians are within a thirty-minute drive or less of any location in the community. The team of restoration experts specializes in residential, commercial, and large-scale disaster cleanup and restoration.

For more details about fire damage restoration in Midlothian, TX, contact SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian by email at acarey@SERVPRO10932.com. The office can also be reached by calling (972) 935-0827.

Five Foods That Can Cause Fire Damage in Midlothian, TX, Homes

11/24/2021 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian highlights potentially flammable foods that can lead to a kitchen fire.

As professionals in the fire damage restoration industry, the technicians at SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian are well aware of the dangers of cooking. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports, “Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries, causing 49% of home fires that resulted in 21% of the home fire deaths and 44% of the injuries.”

Many fire damage disasters in the kitchen are caused by leaving food unattended. However, even an attentive cook can accidentally cause fire damage by cooking with flammable foods. Listed below are five foods that carry an additional fire risk and should be treated with an extra measure of caution.

#1: Powdery substances

Non-dairy creamer, flour, corn starch, powdered sugar, and similar products are highly flammable. Firefighter Insider explains, “The finely ground powder can easily disperse in the air and when it does, it has a very high oxygen to surface area ratio, and it can catch fire in the presence of a naked flame or even with a spark. If there is enough powder present, it could even explode….Powders are flammable because the particles in them have a very small volume and a comparatively large surface area. This surface area is completely exposed to oxygen in the air and thus, it’s very easy for them to catch fire when dispersed in the air. More surface area means higher oxygen to fuel ratio and this means it is more likely to ignite...”

#2: Deep-fried frozen turkey

A notoriously dangerous dish, deep-fried turkey is infamous for causing fires and explosions, especially during the holiday season when turkey is most popular. In fact, the NFPA cautions home cooks that Thanksgiving Day sees three times more cooking-related fires than any other day of the year.

The fire hazard stems from the following two factors:

  • The combination of oil and water: Since oil and water molecules repel each other, ice from a frozen turkey and oil from a deep fryer create the potential for an inferno.
  • The airborne compounds released at the smoke point of cooking oil: The smoke point, also called the burning point, refers to the temperature at which oil starts to produce smoke, as well as airborne compounds that are highly flammable. Different types of cooking oils reach their smoke points at different temperatures, so cooks should research the smoke point of the oil they have chosen for deep frying. Black smoke coming from the oil in a deep fryer is a warning sign that the oil is nearing its smoke point. Lower the temperature of the fryer immediately.

#3: Alcohol

From sherry to beer, alcohol is a powerful way to elevate the flavor profile of a dish. However, alcohol is also a powerful fire accelerant. Alcohol-infused recipes, such as chicken marsala or beer-battered fish, are delicious and enjoyable to cook, but the chef should be careful not to leave the bottle or can of alcohol too close to the stovetop. Also, be prepared to extinguish any flare ups, which can result from recipes that include alcohol. Be especially cautious when making dishes designed to be lit on fire like shrimp flambé, bananas foster, and cherries jubilee. The combination of alcohol and fire could be disastrous.

#4: Caramelized sugar

One of the hazards of recipes that call for caramelized sugar is the potential for burning the sugar. Properly melting sugar without burning it can be a challenging task, and home cooks need to know how to safely deal with a flaming pan.

#5: High-fat meats

Meats with a high fat content, such as bacon, ribs, lamb chops, and ground beef, release grease when cooked. If this grease escapes the pan, it can badly burn the chef, or it can flare up if exposed to an open flame.

To prevent a grease fire, use a pan that has enough depth to contain all the grease. When cooking bacon, pour the old grease out of the pan before starting a new batch of meat. This oil should be stored in a bowl or jar that is kept away from the stove and other cooking implements.

When a relaxing evening of trying new recipes turns into a stressful kitchen fire, the crestfallen chef may be confused and unsure how to proceed. In the event of fire damage, the local community knows to call the team at SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian to remediate both fire damage and any secondary damage. The technicians provide a quick response, use state-of-the-art equipment and techniques, and thoroughly complete the restoration process.

To learn more about fire damage restoration services in Midlothian, TX, contact SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian by email at acarey@SERVPRO10932.com. Staff can also be reached by phone at (972) 935-0827.

Five Safety Tips to Prevent a Gas Leak From Turning Into a Fire Damage Disaster

10/26/2021 (Permalink)

Headline: The Importance of Gas Leak Fire Safety to Prevent Devastating Fire Damage

Blog Headline: Five Safety Tips to Prevent a Gas Leak From Turning Into a Fire Damage Disaster

Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian shares safety strategies for people to follow when dealing with a gas leak.

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian advises property owners to follow five safety practices when faced with a natural gas leak. These practices will help keep everyone safe and prevent a devastating natural gas fire.

SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian is prepared for any size and type of disaster, including a fire damage disaster resulting from a natural gas leak. A fire involving natural gas is potentially explosive in nature and can cause substantial property damage in seconds. Homeowners need to be able to identify a natural gas leak emergency and how to respond quickly and safely to save lives and property. Here are five easy steps to stay safe and prevent a fire during a natural gas leak emergency.

Step #1: SMELL

Is there a rotten egg or sulfur smell?  In its original state, natural gas is odorless and colorless. Natural gas companies add a harmless chemical called mercaptan to the gas, giving it a noxious, rotten egg smell. The sulfur-like odor alerts the nose so that the homeowner knows of the gas leak even if the leak is minuscule and pressure in the line is low. Typically, the pressure in the natural gas line in a structure is about 1/4 psi. This pressure level may seem low. However, if left unchecked, a small leak can destroy a home or business if ignition occurs. Natural gas is a cost-effective, plentiful, and safe form of energy, but usage requires attention on the part of the property owner.

Exposure to a natural gas leak may lead to serious health effects. Anyone, especially children and the elderly, exposed to a gas leak and experiencing symptoms should seek immediate attention from a health care provider. Pets may react to exposure to natural gas and show signs of health effects as well.

Step #2: LOOK

Once alerted to a possible rupture or leak in the natural gas pipe, look for damaged piping inside the residence or business. Piping can be damaged during construction, demolition, remodeling, or while installing a new gas appliance such as a stove, clothes dryer, or HVAC unit with natural gas heating.

If the inside inspection fails to turn up any clues, then look outside. Are there any signs the ground has been disturbed from the street connection to the meter at the structure? Boring, drilling, trenching, and grading can damage a natural gas line or other underground utilities. Planting or transplanting trees or shrubs can also damage utilities, including the gas line. Large shrubs and trees may require as much as a 48-inch hole for planting, and a hole of this depth is deep enough to damage or sever utilities.

A word of caution: most municipalities require underground utilities to be located and marked by approved providers before any blasting, boring, drilling, trenching, or digging begins on a property. Failure to comply can lead to stiff penalties. The repair of any damaged utilities is the responsibility of the property owner or the entity contracted by the property owner. Service interruption to neighbors, businesses, institutions, or other commercial or governmental agencies may result in litigation against the party damaging the utility. Property owners are advised to hire companies that are bonded, insured, and licensed.

The SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian professionals are trained, certified, and experienced in fire damage restoration and other types of property damage restoration. When a restoration project requires demolition, remodels, and rebuilds, the technicians and subcontractors follow safety protocols and carefully adhere to building codes and regulations. SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian is bonded, insured, and licensed to perform damage restoration services for homes, businesses, institutions, and other commercial entities.

Step #3: LISTEN

Once alerted to a possible leak by the presence of the rotten egg smell, listen for a blowing or hissing noise. As mentioned above, the psi of gas lines inside the home is small. However, the gas flow is strong enough to make an audible noise.

Step #4: LEAVE

If a natural gas leak is suspected, leave the structure immediately. Pay close attention to the critically important safety practices listed below:

  • Do not place or receive a cell phone or landline call inside the structure.
  • Do not use matches to light a candle or lamp.
  • Do not turn off light switches.
  • Do not open an automated garage door.
  • Do not attempt to identify the exact location of the leak.
  • Do not take the time to shut off the gas valves or meter.
  • LEAVE THE BUILDING.

Step #5: REPORT

The top priority is to safely evacuate the structure. Once everyone has exited the building and is at a safe distance, call 9-1-1 and report the gas leak to the proper authorities. Then call the emergency telephone number of the natural gas provider to the structure. There is no charge or cost to a customer to respond to a suspected gas leak.

To ensure safety, install smoke alarms, natural gas detectors, and CO2 detectors in the home or business. Personal safety and peace of mind are worth the expense and battery maintenance. Consult the local fire department for advice on selecting any of these devices.

When faced with a fire, smoke, and water damage disaster, call in the pros at SERVPRO of Waxahachie /Midlothian. A natural gas fire can cause severe damage in a split second. The SERVPRO technicians are trained, certified, and experienced in cleaning up a fire and smoke damage disaster. They have the equipment, training, safety gear, and cleaning techniques and solutions to quickly and safely restore the damaged area.

For more information about fire damage restoration services in Red Oak, TX, contact the office by phone at (972) 935-0827. SERVPRO of Waxahachie /Midlothian can also be reached by email at acarey@SERVPRO10932.com.

Five Kitchen Fire Hazards That Can Cause a Fire Damage Disaster

7/2/2021 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: To help homeowners avoid fire damage in the kitchen, SERVPRO of Waxahachie / Midlothian warns people about fire hazards involving the stove, microwave, refrigerator, and dishwasher.

Years of experience responding to kitchen fires and other fire damage disasters have given the fire damage restoration team at SERVPRO of Waxahachie / Midlothian great compassion for people affected by fire damage. A fire in the kitchen can be a frightening and devastating experience for homeowners and their families. One moment the family is enjoying the rich, complex aromas of a lovingly prepared meal; the next moment smoke and the smell of burnt food fill the kitchen as smoke alarms screech in a deafening clamor of high-pitched peals. To help homeowners prevent a disaster from occurring in their kitchen, SERVPRO of Waxahachie / Midlothian is highlighting five causes of fire damage in the kitchen area.

  • Stove fires

Leaving the stovetop unattended is a major cause of fire damage in the kitchen. If the chef does not keep a careful watch on the stove, food can quickly become overheated and catch fire, engulfing the kitchen in a conflagration.

Another stovetop safety hazard is the failure to keep the area around the stove clean and free of flammable materials. A cluttered or dirty counter around the stove is an invitation for a small stovetop fire to spiral out of control.

  • Oil and grease fires

Oil and grease are notorious for their flammable properties, and anyone who decides to use these cooking methods should exercise great caution. Home cooks must learn how to properly deal with an oil and grease fire in order to prevent personal injury and fire damage.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) shares the following recommendations for safely cooking with oil or grease: “Keep an eye on what you fry. If you see wisps of smoke or the oil smells, immediately turn off the burner and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner. Smoke is a danger sign that the oil is too hot. Heat the oil slowly to the temperature you need for frying or sautéing. Add food gently to the pot or pan so the oil does not splatter.”

  • Microwave fires

Microwave fires can ignite in a variety of ways. Beware of overheating foods or inputting the wrong heating time into the microwave. Homeowners can easily prevent this mistake by quickly checking the microwave countdown to ensure that their food is heating for forty seconds, not four minutes.

Arcing, also known as sparking, is a fire hazard in microwaves that are malfunctioning or defective. In 2016, Good Housekeeping reported that Whirlpool, a home appliance company, had to recall over 15,000 microwaves because the appliances posed a potential fire hazard due to arcing. According to Good Housekeeping, “Whirlpool received five reports of fire incidents, including one home fire, two fires involving surrounding cabinets, one report of smoke and another of burning odor.”

Heating food in dishes or containers that are not microwave-safe also poses a fire risk. The National Institutes of Health provides the following advice: “Remove food from packaging before defrosting in a microwave oven. Do not use plastic storage containers, foam trays, and plastic wraps in microwave ovens because they are not heat-stable at high temperatures. Melting or warping can occur which may cause harmful chemicals to migrate into the food. Never use recycled paper products in microwave ovens unless they are specifically approved for microwave use. Some recycled products including paper towels and even waxed paper may contain minute metal flecks. When a microwave oven is operating, the interaction between microwaves and the metal can cause sparks and even flames.”

  • Refrigerator fires

It may surprise homeowners to learn that the refrigerator is a leading cause of fires in the kitchen after the stove and microwave. While the purpose of refrigerators and freezers is to keep things cool, the electrical components in these appliances give them the potential to make things hot.

Consumer Reports elaborates on refrigerator fire damage statistics: “From 2006 to 2010, the latest statistics available for the U.S., refrigerators and freezers were the cause of 1,710 home structure fires that resulted in two deaths, 19 injuries, and $23 million in property damage. Typically the fires were caused by the relay switch short-circuiting or the lightbulb remaining on when the door was closed, according to the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System.”

  • Dishwasher fires

The dishwasher is another unexpected cause of kitchen fires and should be regarded as a potential fire hazard. Dishwashers rely on heating elements to clean and dry the dishes, and these elements can turn into a fire hazard when they become old and worn out. As a precaution, never leave the dishwasher running when no one is at home.

The fire hazards in a kitchen are not always obvious sources of fire damage. What is obvious is the need for a trustworthy and reliable damage restoration company in the aftermath of a kitchen fire. SERVPRO of Waxahachie / Midlothian is proud to serve the local community with damage restoration services, including fire and smoke damage restoration services, that instill confidence and give hope to homeowners in need.

To learn more about fire damage restoration in Midlothian, TX, call SERVPRO of Waxahachie / Midlothian at (972) 935-0827 or email the company at acarey@SERVPRO10932.com.

What Are Some Common Fire Hazards in the Bedroom Area?

5/4/2021 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian urges homeowners to be aware of seven fire damage hazards in the bedroom.

The SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian fire damage restoration team realizes that most people do not associate the bedroom with a property damage disaster. The bathroom floods from a sewage overflow or a bathtub leak. The washing machine supply line bursts, engulfing the laundry room in a watery mess. A grease fire seriously damages the kitchen. A tangled web of equipment cords and charging stations plugged into a frayed extension cord turns the home office into a charred shell. Sparks from a power tool ignite oily rags in the garage workshop, heavily damaging a vehicle and nearly burning down the home before the flames can be extinguished.

However, the bedroom is not without its own set of fire hazards. An article in Safety+Health magazine highlights the danger of a bedroom fire, writing, “About half of all fire deaths in homes occurred in the early morning hours, and one-third of victims were asleep, according to a recent U.S. Fire Administration report on 2011-2013 residential fire fatalities...Half of all fire deaths occurred in bedrooms, and 52 percent occurred from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.”

In light of these compelling statistics, the fire damage restoration company urges homeowners to be aware of fire hazards in the bedroom.

Seven Fire Damage Hazards in the Bedroom

Being aware of these fire hazards in the bedroom and taking action to prevent them or remedy the situation when they are discovered can save lives and property.

#1: Keeping a source of heat too close to flammable materials

Keep heat sources such as space heaters, electronics, and candles at least three feet away from combustible items such as clothing, stacks of books or magazines, curtains, and bedding.

#2: Unsupervised space heaters

Never leave a space heater running in any unoccupied room, including the bedroom. The inconvenience of a slight chill is much less than the inconvenience, disruption, and stress resulting from a bedroom fire. Sleeping while a space heater is in operation is extremely dangerous.

#3: Smoking in bed

Smoking in bed can be lethal. The number one cause of deaths in housefires is smoking in bed, and one-third of these fatalities are children. By simply taking the activity of smoking outside, seventy-five percent of the nearly 90,000 structure fires caused by smoking could be prevented. Do not smoke in bed or in any place where falling asleep while smoking is possible, such as rocked back in the recliner or lounging on the couch.

#4: Improperly using an extension cord or power strip

With more people working from home, a corner of the bedroom often becomes a new home for the office cubicle, placing greater demand on the electrical outlets in the room. Most electrical fires start in the bedroom, so it is important to pay attention to the power drain and the power cords in that room. Take steps to ensure that electrical cords cannot become tangled. Check for tangled cords and allow space around them for the heat to dissipate. Replace frayed cords. Occasionally feel the cords to see if they are becoming warm. Warm or hot extension cords are overtaxed and are a fire hazard. Avoid using an extension cord with equipment, devices, or appliances that require a large amount of electricity to operate. Examples include curlers, curling irons, hairdryers, air conditioners, heaters, or dehumidifiers. The cord can overheat, and arcing and sparks can occur where the two cords connect. Never run electrical cords under the bed, carpet, or rugs. Avoid pinning extension cords between the wall and any furniture.

#5: Letting a device charge on the bed or under bedding

Charge devices such as phones, laptops, and tablets on a hard surface and never in the bed or on carpeting. A device in the process of being charged can generate a lot of heat. Sometimes malfunctions during the charging process can cause the charger or device to become very hot, melt, or catch fire.

#6: Misusing an electric blanket

Use electric blankets with caution, and make sure to turn them off before going to sleep.

#7: Using a mattress that does not meet the 2007 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard

There are two compelling reasons to purchase a new mattress. If the mattress is worn out, it is time for a replacement. As long as the bed does not cause the sleeper to be tired, sore, and stiff, continue to use it. When the mattress is the cause of a poor night’s sleep, it is time for a change. If the mattress is so old it fails to comply with the 2007 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard, replace it. How old is the mattress in the guest bedroom? Even though the mattress is twenty years old and has only been slept in a few times, it poses a fire hazard and is unsafe for anyone who sleeps in it.

The bedroom can be transformed into one of the safest rooms in the home by simply taking a few common sense corrective and preventive measures. In the case of a fire, smoke, or water damage disaster, reach out to SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian for assistance.

For more information about fire damage restoration in Midlothian, TX, contact SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian by phone at (972) 935-0827 or by email at acarey@SERVPRO10932.com.

Nine Deep Frying Safety Tips to Help Homeowners Avoid a Fire Damage Disaster

1/5/2021 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian offers nine tips to make deep frying a safer experience.

A fire damage disaster can strike at any time and often without warning. When it does, life is suddenly filled with stress, worry, and sometimes fear. The team at SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian lives and works in this community. When neighbors suffer fire damage, smoke damage, or water damage due to any size disaster, the SERVPRO professionals are the premier cleanup and restoration company in the region who can quickly restore the damaged property to a state “Like it never even happened.”

Awareness of the Dangers of Deep Frying

Texans love to cook, and they are good at it! Many homeowners have met the COVID-19 challenges of shutdowns, social distancing, and self-quarantines by re-orienting their culinary activities to include more deep frying in the home, outdoor kitchen, and backyard.

Favorite foods that can be cooked in a deep fryer include turkey, donuts, chicken, French fries, and onion rings. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service reports, “While these items are often purchased at a restaurant, deep fat frying is also a popular way to cook in home kitchens. However, deep frying in hot oil can be extremely dangerous. Hot oil can burn people and start fires. If food is not cooked to a safe temperature, it can cause a foodborne illness.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking is the primary cause of home fires and fire-related injuries in the U.S. Fire departments, on average, respond to over 166,000 structure fires per year, resulting in nearly $1.1 billion in direct property damage. Fat, grease, and cooking oil started fires in fifty-two percent of home fires.

Nine Safety Tips for Deep Frying at Home

Deep-fried foods are a favorite tradition for many Waxahachie and Midlothian families. When safety procedures are properly followed, there is minimal danger involved in the process. The following tips aim to prevent deep frying injuries at home and to make sure that food is cooked to a safe temperature.

  1. If the preparation of the recipe involves using a pot to deep fry the food item, be sure to have the following equipment available:
  • metal tongs
  • a thermometer with a pot clip
  • a large, heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid
  • baking soda or all-purpose flour

Baking soda also functions as an extinguishing agent in case of a small fire.

  1. If utilizing a store-bought deep fryer, read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Also, take some time to watch several videos on set up, food prep, safety precautions, and the frying process. In many cases, a name brand deep fryer offers professionally scripted and produced instructional videos. Tapping into this knowledge base can result in both better cuisine and a safer experience.

  1. Never leave a deep fryer unattended.

Leaving unattended items cooking in the deep fryer or on the stove is a leading cause of house fires. The cook can become distracted by social media, a phone call, or a childcare issue and lose track of time. Before long, the smell of smoke or the shrill sound of the smoke alarm will alert the cook to the imminent danger of a fire.

  1. Use a thermometer to monitor and properly regulate the oil temperature.

The chef will want to make sure that the food is cooked at a high enough temperature to kill any bacteria that might cause food poisoning.

  1. Avoid overfilling a fryer or pot with oil.

Remember that food displaces oil and may cause spillage. Oil heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit spilling out onto the countertop or flooring can cause burns, damage the flooring, and ruin the meal.

  1. Wear long-sleeves while frying in case of unexpected splatter.

Water and oil do not mix, especially if the oil is heated to several hundred degrees. Splatter or a full-blown explosion of hot grease can occur. Covering the arms can also prevent burns from normal oil splatter.

  1. If frying a turkey or other large foods, the recommendation is to deep fry outside.

Cooking outside limits the damage that can occur in the kitchen should the cooking experience turn dangerous. The backyard deep fryer still requires a watchful eye since the tantalizing aroma of deep-fried donuts, turkey, or chicken can be a great temptation to the family pet.

  1. Before gently placing foods into the hot oil, remove as much excess moisture, water, and marinade as possible.
  2. Always allow the cooking oil to fully cool before handling.

What to Do in Case of a Fire Caused Deep Frying

  1. When hot oil is involved, do not use water to extinguish the fire. The results could be explosive.
  2. Do not attempt to move or relocate the pan, pot, or fryer until the fire is completely out.
  3. Cover the pot or pan with a heavy lid. Cutting off the oxygen will extinguish the fire.
  4. Apply a copious amount of baking soda or all-purpose flour to smother any flames.
  5. Stop fighting the flames if the fire spreads. Redirect the focus to helping everyone escape to safety.
  6. Call 911.

With practice and safe handling of proper equipment, deep frying can be enjoyed at home during the holidays and all year long. Should fire damage restoration services be needed due to a deep frying disaster or other fire damage event, the team at SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian is ready to help restore the damage and give peace of mind to the homeowner.

For more information about fire damage restoration in Waxahachie and Midlothian, TX, contact the office by phone at (972) 935-0827 or email acarey@SERVPRO10932.com.

How Animals in the Attic Can Cause a House Fire

9/2/2020 (Permalink)

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Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian cautions homeowners about animals that can cause house fires.

The team at SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian is highly experienced at providing fire damage restoration for homes and businesses. A commonly overlooked cause of fires is rodents. Squirrels, rats, and other small pests can gnaw at electrical wiring, exposing live wires. Property owners may not realize the unseen structural damage and dangerous conditions that rodents can create in the attic, crawl space, and walls of a home, business, or other structure.

Uninvited Intruders

Rats, mice, and squirrels are the most common uninvited intruders. Generations of squirrels may populate an attic or crawl space. Other “guests” include raccoons, chipmunks, bats, and flying squirrels. Groundhogs, possums, and skunks can present challenges, too. Bird infestations in the attic are not so common, but they do occur.

A Nighttime Nuisance

Rodents and other animals can be a nuisance when they find or make a way into a home. They keep the family awake by scurrying in the walls and in the ceiling and attic during the night. Small children can be disturbed from sleep at night or from an important afternoon nap during the day. Some of the noises, fighting, and gnawing can be frightening to residents.

Unsanitary Guests

Rats and mice raid food stores in the pantry, on shelves, and in cabinets. The food contaminated by their body fluids and feces is ruined and should be immediately discarded. If left to roam and reproduce, the unwanted guests can quickly create more and more inhabitants that contribute to the problem.

Demolition Experts

Rats, mice, squirrels, and chipmunks have teeth that continue to grow throughout their lifespan. Much like fingernails that always need clipping, a rodent’s teeth need to be constantly gnawing and chewing to keep the teeth growth in check. Rodents that are unable to constantly chew or gnaw will grow teeth so long that eating becomes impossible. As a result, the creatures will starve to death.

This constant need to gnaw means that a nest of squirrels, a pack of mice or rats, or a family of raccoons can very quickly damage personal belongings, chew through support beams, gnaw insulation to pieces, pierce pipes and tubing, and even cut through electrical wiring with their razor-sharp incisors. Compared to metal pipes, which rodents sometimes chew, a strand of wire coated with softer insulation is a delicacy.

Shocking Results

Plugging a hole in the eaves of the roof, sealing cracks in the foundation, or repairing the obvious damage to gnawed timbers or shredded insulation is manageable for the homeowner or the critter control specialist.

On the other hand, locating gnawed wiring may be virtually impossible due to the inaccessibility of much of the wire behind walls, under insulation in the attic, or concealed under the home in the crawl space. The observant homeowner may find some evidence of wiring that has been gnawed or chewed. Of course, the wiring issue should be repaired. The larger question relates to wiring throughout the remainder of the home. Without inspecting every inch of wiring, the results could be shocking!

How a Fire Starts

Electrical wiring can become hot when electricity is flowing through it. The plastic insulation prevents the heat in the wire from igniting nearby objects. When a rat or mouse has gnawed away the insulation leaving bare wire, the heat from the wire or a spark from a short circuit can ignite insulation or other debris near the wire. Sometimes, a hot wire resting against a wooden support beam is enough to start a house fire over time.

Solutions That Work

  • Eliminate the risk by removing the intruders.
  • Identify and seal any actual or potential entry points.
  • Contact a certified electrician to inspect the damage and make any electrical repairs.
  • Contact a property damage restoration specialist to clean up the mess left by the “guests.”
  • Contact the fire and water damage specialists at SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian in case the worst happens — a fire caused by exposed wires gnawed by a rodent or other uninvited guest. Fire and water damage are traumatic. Securing the services of experienced professionals who know how to handle the incident from initial inspection and assessment to the completion of the restoration project brings much-needed peace of mind.


For more information about biohazard cleanups, fire damage, and water damage, visit the SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian website at https://www.SERVPROwaxahachiemidlothian.com. The office can be reached by phone at (972) 935-0827.

Damage Restoration Company Shares Grill Safety Tips for Summer Cookouts

8/3/2020 (Permalink)

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Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian offers grill safety tips for the backyard barbecue.

The summer of 2020 is different from other summers. COVID-19 has created somewhat of a meat shortage and higher prices at the grocery store. Restaurants are feeling the brunt of higher prices and limited hours and seating. In their quest for a bite of great Texas beef and BBQ, homeowners are firing up the grill and cooking at home. In pursuit of taste and convenience, backyard grill masters are purchasing both a charcoal grill for flavor and a gas grill for convenience and functionality. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, 64% of households own a gas grill, 44% own a charcoal grill, and 9% own an electric grill.

With more grills and more grilling, the frequency of grill-caused fires increases. From 2013-2017, grills caused an annual average of 10,200 home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Gas grills cause more home fires than charcoal grills.

Outdoor chefs can prevent fire damage this summer and fall by following these grilling safety tips.

  1. Grill outside in a well-ventilated area away from the house or any other structures. 

Gas and charcoal grills are designed for outdoor use only. According to the NFPA, 27% of residential fires caused by outdoor grills began in a terrace, courtyard, or patio, and 29% of residential fires caused by outdoor grills were ignited on an exterior balcony or open porch.

Pay close attention to overhanging tree branches when setting up the grill. Catching a neighbor’s home on fire or starting a wildfire could be very costly.

  1. Ensure the cleanliness and stability of the grill. A clean grill is a safe grill. Remove grease from both the grill and the tray below the grill. When using a charcoal grill, allow the coals to completely cool before disposing of them in a metal container.

Set up the grill on a flat, stable surface where it cannot be overturned. Protect the grill or patio by using a grill pad or splatter mat underneath the grill to protect the deck or patio.

  1. Inspect the propane tank hose for leaks on the gas grill. At the first of the season, check the hose for leaks. Apply soapy water to the hose and then turn on the gas. Bubbles indicate a leak.  A flame that will not light or gas smells may be indications of a leak.
  1. If the flame goes out, do not re-light for five minutes. Turn the grill and the gas off. Wait for about five minutes. Re-ignite the grill.
  1. Be careful, especially close to the grill. A lit grill should always have a watchful eye on it. Children or pets should not play near the grill. Allow a grill time to cool for at least an hour after use, and wait until the grill cools to move it. 
  1. Use caution when applying charcoal starter fluid. Only use charcoal starter fluid since it resists flare-ups. If the flame begins to die down, do not apply more starter fluid. Flammable liquids such as gasoline are hazardous and should never be used to start charcoal on a grill. Do not use an aerosol spray as a torch to start or restart the pile of briquettes. A charcoal chimney starter is very safe and uses newspaper to start the fire instead of starter fluid.
  1. Wear fire-safe clothing when around a grill or other source of an open fire. 

Clothing can readily ignite. Make sure sleeves, shirttails, and apron strings are not exposed to the open flame of the grill.

Conclusion

Backyard grilling creates culinary memories with friends and family that are not soon forgotten. Always have the means to extinguish the grill or a fire caused by the grill. A bucket of sand, a water hose, and a fire extinguisher are recommended to have nearby in case of fire. Remember, a grease fire is neutralized by baking soda, not water. Never use water on a grease fire.

These easy-to-follow tips will keep everyone safe when grilling out. SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian encourages everyone to enjoy the summer barbecuing season. Stay safe and stay healthy!


For more information about property damage restoration near Waxahachie and Midlothian, TX, visit the SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian website at https://www.SERVPROwaxahachiemidlothian.com. Contact the office by phone at (972) 935-0827.

Waxahachie/Midlothian Damage Restoration Company Offers Fireworks Safety Tips

6/30/2020 (Permalink)

Here to Help Here to Help

Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian urges people to use caution when setting off fireworks for the Fourth of July.

Fourth of July celebrations that include fireworks is an enduring American tradition. SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian, a fire damage restoration company, urges caution for residents of Waxahachie, Texas, and the surrounding communities of Midlothian, Venus, Maypearl, Mountain Peak, and Ward when enjoying this tradition.

Fireworks Can Be Dangerous

The National Fire Protection Association provides the following fireworks fire and injury statistics to drive home the potential danger that can arise from improperly handling fireworks.

“Fireworks started an estimated 19,500 fires in 2018, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires, and 17,100 outside and other fires. These fires caused five deaths, 46 civilian injuries, and $105 million in direct property damage. In 2018, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 9,100 people for fireworks-related injuries; half of those injuries were to the extremities and 34% were to the eye or other parts of the head. Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for more than one-third (36%) of the estimated 2018 injuries. These injury estimates were obtained or derived from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2018 Fireworks Annual Report by Yongling Tu and Jason Ng.”

How to Stay Safe When Using Fireworks

The Texas Department of Insurance offers these fireworks safety tips to know to have fun with fireworks and stay safe.

  1. Follow local laws.

Some places allow only certain types of fireworks, and most areas do not allow fireworks within city limits or during burn bans. Contact the local fire officials if there are any questions.

  1. Find out if a permit is required.

Organizers will need a permit from the local fire department if they are putting on a fireworks show for a group of fifty people or larger.

  1. Hire licensed professionals.

If someone is hired to put on a display for a group, they must have a Texas pyrotechnic operator’s license. To find out if someone has a Texas license, contact the State Fire Marshal’s Office, which can be reached at 1-800-578-4677 or Fire.Marshal@tdi.texas.gov.

  1. Confirm that fireworks are legal.

Fireworks can be sold only at certain times of the year, typically during a week or so leading up to an important holiday. Besides the Fourth of July and New Year’s, Texas counties have the option to include Texas Independence Day (March 2nd), San Jacinto Day (April 21st), Cinco de Mayo (May 5th), and Memorial Day. Anyone can use fireworks any day of the year as long as they are not banned in the area where they are being used.

  1. Stay safe!
  • Children should not use fireworks, and an adult should always be present when children are near a fireworks display.
  • Alcohol and fireworks are a recipe for an emergency room trip.
  • Always follow the firework instructions exactly.
  • Never shoot fireworks around dry grass, brush, or other flammable materials.
  • Never aim fireworks at a home, animal, or person.
  • Keep a bucket of water, garden hose, or other water sources nearby for emergencies.

SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian provides these fireworks safety tips as a public service to the residents of West Fort Worth in the hopes that everyone will have an enjoyable, safe, and patriotic July 4th.

Fire and Water Damage Restoration Process

When a home or business is dealing with the aftermath of a fire, the damage that it can cause to the property structure and valuable possessions can be extremely devastating. Here at SERVPRO, the team understands the stress, confusion, and emotions that are present when dealing with this kind of ordeal. The SERVPRO technicians are highly skilled and certified, as well as equipped with fire damage restoration equipment to take special care of the client’s property and possessions. The SERVPRO team will be there with the customer every step along the way to explain the process to help get them through this stressful time.

After the fire trucks leave, the home or business likely suffers from fire and smoke damage and extensive water damage from firefighting efforts. SERVPRO has the specialized fire restoration training needed to restore a home to its pre-fire conditions.

Every fire damage event requires an individualized solution, but the general process stays the same. The steps listed below illustrate the process for the typical fire damage emergency.

Step 1: Emergency contact

Step 2: Inspection and fire damage assessment

Step 3: Immediate board-up and roof-tarp service

Step 4: Water removal and drying (if water damage is present)

Step 5: Removal of smoke and soot from all surfaces

Step 6: Cleaning and sanitizing

Step 7: Restoration

Conclusion

SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian hopes that everyone has a July 4th celebration that is safe, enjoyable, and fire-free. The team of fire and water damage experts is proud to serve the local communities of Waxahachie, Midlothian, Venus, Maypearl, Mountain Peak, and Ward.

To learn more about fire and water damage restoration, visit the SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian website at https://www.SERVPROwaxahachiemidlothian.com. Contact a SERVPRO representative by phone at (972) 935-0827.

Ellis County Smoke and Soot Cleanup

4/1/2020 (Permalink)

Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.  

Smoke and soot facts:

  • Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
  • Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
  • The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.

Different Types of Smoke

There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of  Waxahachie/Midlothian-Ennis/Red Oak will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Here is some additional information:

Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber

  • Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.

Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood

  • Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.

Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire

  • Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor. 

Our Fire Damage Restoration Services

Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions.  We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage.  We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.

Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today –
972-935-0827

Preventing fires in your home

3/10/2019 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Ellis County is here to assist your rebuild and restoration needs in the event of a fire. We understand that the best course of action for you is to avoid the fire in the first place. It's appropriate to end this string of fire-related blogs with one that you can act upon now, to make your home a safer place and hopefully avoid any fire damage in the future.

If you have any questions or there is a topic not discussed, your local fire department will also have plenty of resources to use to ensure your home is protected.

To talk about what can be done to prevent fires to your house or residence, it’s, of course, important to get a grasp on what the main causes of fires are. Once we know what might be the source of potential fire, we can then delve into the steps you can take to make these sources safer in your everyday life.

Our experience at SERVPRO of Ellis County definitely echos this source that discusses the common causes of house fires. The ones we run into most often include kitchen/cooking fires, electrical fires, and smoking-related. These are things that we use every day, meaning that many times people become complacent with them. Having a general idea of the common causes of house fires, let’s now take a look at the steps to be taken to avoid them.

Kitchen fires, cooking fires, and grease fires are all frequent culprits of fire damage. There are some basic things you can do to minimize the risks when cooking. First and foremost, never leave your food cooking when unattended. It is tempting to go do something else for 5-10 minutes while you let food cook, but this can have unintended consequences when one stray flame causes a fire that you could have extinguished easily, but how now turned into a full-blown kitchen fire.

Similarly, leaving rags, oven mitts, or anything flammable near the stove or oven only serves as fuel for a potential fire. Be sure to always store these items a safe distance from the heat sources in your kitchen.

Finally, all kitchen appliances that rely on electricity should be unplugged when not in use. While it may be a hassle to plug your coffee machine in first thing every morning, this is much preferable to a fire caused by faulty wiring.

In fact, faulty wiring can cause a fire in every room of your house, not just your kitchen. Electricity is an ingrained part of modern life, and it is not realistic to request you unplug every single device in every room when you leave.

However, there are still some useful tips to help minimize the risk your electrical devices have in your home.

First and foremost, those power cords and surge protectors you use to expand the electrical outlet capacity in your home are a large fire hazard. These should be avoided or used sparingly. Ensure that all electrical wires do not run underneath carpet or rugs, are kept away from water, and any possible heat source. Keep an eye on your electrical devices and their associated cords, if anything seems hotter than is typical unplug the device immediately.

Smoking is the other cause of fires that we see often. Not only does this cause fire, but we frequently have customers wanting us to help them remove the smoke smell from a residence. The easiest way to avoid both of these is to simply smoke outside. The weather may not be the best, but temporary discomfort is much preferable to the long and arduous process of dealing with fire damage.

Your home has a plethora of flammable items that a stray cigarette can quickly ignite. Whether or not you are inside when you choose to smoke, ensure that the cigarette is completely out before disposing of it.

This is a huge cause of smoke-related fires, someone thinking the cigarette is out when there are still embers to ignite other materials. The way to prevent this is to always use an ashtray, and be thorough when putting your cigarette out, to the extent that you can pour water on the cigarette after you are done to make sure that it cannot cause a fire. If you do choose to smoke inside, you should never smoke in your bed, or when you are under blankets of any kind, or near any sources of medical oxygen.

Some of this may seem like common sense, and most of it is not hard to adhere to. The mere fact of the matter is complacency can be a huge determining factor in whether a house is safe from fire damage or not.

The key is to remain diligent, follow this advice and the advice of your local fire department, and have your smoke detector and smoke alarms checked routinely to ensure they are functioning properly.

With all of this in mind, proper preventative techniques can do a lot to prevent a fire that can harm you, your family, and your property.

Written by: Brendan Gillette

Fire Damage Process

3/7/2019 (Permalink)

Fires are some of the most sudden and destructive occurrences that can happen to your home or property. It is an unfortunate and stressful time for you and your family, so it is important to discuss the necessary steps to remediating your fire damage and getting your life back on track in the fastest and most convenient manner for you.

A fire damage in your home, much like a water damage, could be from a number of causes. There could be an electrical fire caused by faulty outlets, a kitchen or grease fire caused by accidents when cooking, or could be the result of lightning striking your home.

As there are a number of causes, there could potentially be a number of ways we go about your remediation.

First it is important to outline how the fire process differs from the water mitigation process. When you have a fire in your home, please do not call us first! Call 911 and have your local fire department come to take care of the problem. When that is complete is when we can begin our mitigation work.

The fire department, depending on the severity of the fire, will be the ones who determine when a mitigation company can enter the property. It is fine to call us and give us your information so we can prepare, but we cannot come out to begin your scope until the fire department clears the area as safe.

Now that we have been given permission to enter the building, our work operates a little differently than water mitigation jobs. Whereas we can usually get moisture readings and begin mitigation the same day, fire damages are typically a slightly slower process.

It is assumed in a water damage that your house is fine, and whatever work we do inside will be restoring that house. Fire damages aren’t quite so simple.

Adjusters may need to come inspect the property to deem whether or not the structure is salvageable or not. Similarly, a lot of items that were affected by the fire will be either deemed salvageable or unsalvageable, and your adjuster may want us to come up with that list before we continue work. This process of doing inventory and inspecting every one of your possessions is to determine what we can clean and what we cannot clean is the first important step to getting your restored to pre-accident condition.

Once we understand what can be cleaned, and what will need to be replaced, the next step of the process is called a pack out. This is essentially moving your items that will be cleaned to our safe storage facility so that we can best clean them. This happens for two reasons.

First, we oftentimes need to use an ozone machine to get the entirety of the smoke odor out of your items.

Second, the floors, walls, and ceilings of your house are more than likely also affected by smoke odor. This means if we can your dresser and leave it in your room, the smoke odor will permeate back into the item leaving you in the same situation. It is also easiest to do all of the surface cleanings; your walls and ceilings, as well as carpet and duct cleaning while the areas are completely empty of other items.

After our extensive and exhaustive cleaning is finished, ensuring all of your items are restored to pre-fire condition, the final step before we can put everything back in your house is repairing or replacing any damaged parts of your home.

Whether drywall and ceiling have been burnt during the fire, or your vent hood in the kitchen needs replaced, we are here to help and have a number of professional contractors who specialize in restoration work that can make your home "Like it never even happened."

The final step, once all of this is complete, is to do a pack back. We return your items, clothing, furniture, and place everything back in your home like it was prior to the fire.

We understand this is a trying time. We will work in conjunction with your insurance to ensure that the fire that uplifted your life is in the past and you can move forward in your newly restored home.

Written by: Brendan Gillette

Categories of Fire Damages

3/7/2019 (Permalink)

When we talk about the different categories of fire damages, we aren’t necessarily looking at the cause of the fire. While there are differences and nuances in regards to the cause of fires on the methods we use to properly clean afterward`, the bigger concern lies in what happens to stop the fire from spreading, and how far the fire spreads.

We generally categorize fire damages as fire, fire/water, or smoke losses.

We will investigate each of these to explain what that means for you, the homeowner, when one of these occurs.

Fire damage is extensive damage to the property itself and your items and furniture. The extent will vary, depending on the source of the fire and the time it took to extinguish. However these jobs will, generally, involve the removal of your items (packout), cleaning of items and of surfaces inside your home, then the return of your items (packback) after any rebuild is complete. This is a lengthy process, but we here at SERVPRO of Ellis County will do everything in our power to expedite the job to get you back in your home as soon as possible.

A fire/water damage is very similar to fire damage, with the caveat that the fire department had to use water or another liquid agent to extinguish the fire.

While the fire department does the heroic work saving lives and property every single day, the addition of water to your home in such large, unmanageable amounts causes more work to be done.

What we are looking at in this case is everything involving fire damage, but also all of the water damage requirements as well. We will have to include a water remediation portion of the job on top of the rest of the fire damage.

You can go back to view water damages in detail in our previous posts.

The biggest thing to realize, however, is that the non-salvageable list will continue to grow as the areas affected by water or whatever liquid agent extinguished the flames most likely soaked your items such as dressers and furniture and while some may be cleaned and repaired, others may have to be replaced.

This is an unfortunate situation to find yourself in, but the first and most important priority is the safety of you and your family and thus the use of liquid-based extinguisher was deemed required. These jobs are more complicated but are nothing new to the professional team at SERVPRO of Ellis County. We will be able to handle your water/fire situation just as well as any other fire jobs.

One other category worth mentioning is smoke. If you have a grease fire, leave the oven on, or have a fire situation that is relatively small and contained, you may very well still have smoke damage throughout your house. This is because smoke often times can travel through duct systems and affect rooms that were nowhere near the original source of the fire.

When this happens, your clothes, bedding, furniture, and sometimes even walls and carpet can begin to smell like smoke. The remediation process for this is very similar to your regular fire job, however, the additional application of an air scrubber or ozone machine on-site to help clean the air of the smoke odor may be necessary.

Often times, repainting is required as the smoke embeds itself in the walls. These types of damages are best cleaned as soon as possible as the longer it takes to clean the more difficult the smell will be to eradicate from the substance.

This is one of the most trying times in your life when you have fire damage your home. This is something that we are here to help with.

Understanding the differences between fire damage, a fire/water damage, and smoke damage will help you better understand the steps you need to take and the steps we will be performing to best remediate your fire damage.

Written by: Brendan Gillette

Packouts and Packbacks

3/7/2019 (Permalink)

The vast majority of fire damages will result in a partial or complete packout. You can view this as SERVPRO of Ellis County personally moving all the contents of your home to our secure facility, where, depending on damages, your items will be cleaned and restored or simply stored until the home back to pristine condition for us to move everything back.

Because fire and smoke jobs are so closely associated with packouts, I felt this the perfect time to go over the details of packouts and what you need to know.

Packouts happen so frequently because fire tends to leave your items smelling like smoke. Without proper and thorough cleaning, this smell becomes worse and worse and can not only be a nuisance but also can cause health hazards to you and your family in the future. As such, we oftentimes recommend packouts and cleaning of items during most fire damages.

When you have been affected by fire damage, you want to get things taken care of right away. We will work with your insurance for approval to do your packout and packback, and this often means submitting a salvageable/non-salvageable list before we begin the process. We try our best to get approval for all work necessary and get started right away.

Once we are prepared to begin, we bring teams of trained crew members who have performed this task hundreds of times. Packouts and Packbacks are a common occurrence in the SERVPRO of Ellis County family, which means you are in good hands!

Our crews hand wrap and protect every large item such as furniture, tables, chairs, and artwork. Smaller things are sorted and put into boxes. For inventory purposes, we are required to take pictures of each item that is packed out, label each item that is taken, and organize these pictures and labels in our proprietary software to better keep track of your items during the entire process. This means we aren’t just a moving company that comes and takes your items, but we are entering item information and pictures for record-keeping and to ensure that everything comes back and is placed in the right place.

Nothing is worse than moving just to realize you can’t find that one kitchen appliance you really need, or discover you’ve lost half of your sock collection. Our process is more thorough than your typical movers. Everything we do is to ensure nothing goes missing during your packout.

After we have loaded up and moved all of your items to our secure location, we unload and store your items in an air-conditioned environment.

Over the course of the next few days, depending on the extent of the damages, we will hand clean each item that we bring before we pack them back to you. We even have an ozone room, a room dedicated to use with an ozone machine that helps eliminate all pesky odors that attempt to cling to porous items and surfaces. All of this means you get your items returned in the cleanest state they’ve been in since you bought them!

Now that cleaning is complete, we reverse the process. We pack items into our trucks, return them to your location, and even unpack the items if you’d like.

This process, similar to the packout, may take a couple of days or more depending on the number of items we have. We like to do things correctly the first time, every time. So while the process does take some time, it is much preferable to the risks that are associated with a rushed, unattentive job.

The end of your packback marks the moment that your home is restored to a condition "Like it never even happened."

SERVPRO of Ellis County is here every step of the way during your fire damage, and the packout/packback process is one of the largest and most important steps that we take.

Written by: Brendan Gillette

Understanding Salvageable and Unsalvageable

3/7/2019 (Permalink)

We have mentioned a salvageable and unsalvageable list in previous blogs. This is a precursor to any packout and cleaning we do. We need to make sure everyone involved, including your insurance and yourself, are aware of what is deemed salvageable and what is going to have to be replaced.

At times, the restoration of the item is possible, but cost prohibitive and it makes more sense for your insurance to pay you to get the item replaced. This is a difficult time for you, the insured, and we are going to do everything in our power to assist you when it comes to this list of salvageable items.

The general process includes taking pictures of each and every item and recording their condition. That is something we are here to help you with. Either during the packout process or when we have all items in our warehouse, we are able to record what is unsalvageable and with proper documentation to send to your insurance to ensure you get properly reimbursed for these items.

As a valued customer, we promise to do everything we can to benefit you and ensure your life is restored, starting with advocating for your unsalvageable items to your insurance.

What deems an item unsalvageable hinges on a number of factors. The age, prior condition, any damage that was done to the item, and the relative restoration cost all play a part in what will be included in the unsalvageable list.

Naturally, the rest of the items are considered salvageable and will be cleaned and returned to you during the packback phase of your job.

The factors that go into creating the unsalvageable list and recording all documentation can be found here. This is obviously a lot of work, and we are here to make sure you don’t have to struggle through these steps and help do them for you.

That being said, there are some things you can do to help expedite the process of creating this list. One thing mentioned in the linked article is keeping receipts. This is the biggest and most helpful thing you can do when we are negotiating salvageability and pricing with your insurance.

Receipts that show the original price of your items, as well as pictures from before your fire damage to prove that the damage sustained was related to the fire. These help immensely when it comes to creating and validating this unsalvageable list with your insurance.

If you do not already, it may be best to make a list of all your items and their associated costs and put them together in a file with pictures of all of these items. This is a lengthy process but could help save valuable time in the future in the unfortunate event of fire damage.

One last thing that needs to be clarified is the fate of your unsalvageable items. When insurances agree that an item cannot be saved, and determines payment to you for that item, we are required not to give the item back.

Oftentimes customers will ask for one or more of their unsalvageable items. We fully understand that some items may have sentimental value to you and your family. If this is the case, we need to know as soon as possible what items you want to be returned when we give you our list of unsalvageable items, so that the item can be taken off the list and your insurance can adjust payment.

Nearing the end of your job is too late to return any unsalvageable as the insurance has paid you for those items, and we are obligated to dispose of the unsalvageable items.

Knowledge of what types of factors play into an unsalvageable list will be immensely helpful in the case of fire damage.

Remember, you can do your part now by inventorying all of your possessions with pictures of them in their current state. This can help us, your insurance, and yourself if you do find yourself in the midst of fire damage in your home.

Written by: Brendan Gillette

Fire Damages and Insurance

3/7/2019 (Permalink)

There are many different types of coverage you may have related to your fire damage, and understanding this now and selecting the right insurance plan could save you time and money in the future.

Often people are unaware of their insurance plan, coverage, details, and are mistakenly convinced that the entirety of their fire damage will be covered. What this results in is a large bill to you, and quite the headache if you don’t understand the inclusions and limits of your policy.

This needs to be prefaced with the following: we do not benefit from you increasing/decreasing insurance coverage at all. We are not here to sell you more insurance coverage or scare you into thinking you will not be covered. Every insurance and every policy is different. We are just going to be covering the basics to give you a better understanding of where you may fall, and from there you can determine if your coverage is enough, too much, or too little.

First, we have renters insurance. This insurance is for apartments or rental homes where your items may be affected but you are not the owner or insured for the actual residence itself. Your renter's insurance policy ought to cover fires under the “covered perils” section. There will be a few different coverages in rental insurance with limits and deductibles, so it is important to understand what these are.

Personal property coverage will cover all of your items damaged/destroyed during a fire, up to a certain limit. These may include a deductible that means you have a responsibility for a certain portion of the costs before the policy begins paying for damages.

Loss-of-use coverage is something that will cover any additional expenses that result because you can no longer live in the property you were renting. Not every policy includes loss-of-use coverage, so it is important to check if yours does. This covers hotel costs if necessary.

Another common form of insurance that covers fire damages is homeowners insurance. Fire is one of the named perils that is covered. Generally, this will include dwelling coverage and personal property coverage. Dwelling coverage will pay for the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home. This, along with similar personal property coverage from rental insurance, usually have a limit that is the maximum amount the insurance will pay.

You can look for other fire specific insurance coverages if you are worried that your limit is not high enough to completely cover the cost of fire damages.

Another type of coverage that may or may not appear on your homeowner's insurance is Additional Living Expenses. This, similar to loss-of-use, is for any food, hotel costs, and other expenses that are incurred when you cannot stay in your home.

Other things that often do not appear in your homeowners insurance include coverage if the home was vacant for more than 30 days prior to the fire, arson, when a fire is deliberately started by a person, is not covered by general homeowners insurance, and fires that damage things such as your car, detached sheds, and other property located outside your home would also not be covered. You can look into additional coverage for these items as needed.

There is never a good time for a fire to strike. We at SERVPRO of Ellis County understand that when you are dealing with fire damage, there are seemingly hundreds of pertinent things that must be done to get your house back to pre-fire condition.

One thing you can do is read up on your homeowner's or renter’s insurance, look for a section specifically covering fire, and learn what your policy details are. You are looking for limits, deductibles, possible exceptions, and anything else that may be pertinent. Knowing how your insurance will be handling your fire claim can save a lot of time and confusion in the future.

If you want to read more about homeowners insurance, you can do so here or for more information on fire coverage beyond homeowners insurance.

Written by: Brendan Gillette