Your Ultimate Guide to Fire Restoration and Smoke Damage

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The annual foreboding of “fire season” is all too familiar to California residents. The term itself can elicit a sinking feeling in us all and can easily create an immediate reaction when we hear the words “Santa Ana winds”. And while this is a real occurrence, it has in years passed been played down by media outlets and quite simply, those that don’t live with this annual affliction but sadly as the fires and effects increase, the danger is very real and very readily reported these days. 

While we know some things to do to prevent a fire, the vast majority of action for prevention, is absolutely out of our hands. In this circumstance, the course of reaction, may be our only course of action as it is. And while action in this case is reactionary it is still a necessary plan at its foundation. The course of action first and foremost as a homeowner is to know your resources. The resources you have at hand will make the difference in the speed at which repair is put into motion. 

Smoke damage may be one of the single most dangerous elements of a fire. And in many cases, the single most toxic element of a passing fire. A passing fire in many cases, can cause zero foundational damage while at the same time cause substantial environmental damage to a home. The residual effects being a mixture of toxic residue embedded in the structure and the surface elements of a home. Many residues that remain can be further altered from their original state due to the methods utilized in putting out a fire. Residual elements and effects can penetrate a home without the flames of a fire ever doing so themselves. The air simply carried into the home can cause significant damage. Dangerously, this damage may not be visible but most certainly can be inhaled.  The most substantial health threat from smoke is from fine particles. These microscopic particles can penetrate deep into your lungs, which makes this component a viable threat and health risk. 

Whether the action is precaution or reaction, knowing your resources will make all the difference in the aftermath of fire damage. A trusted resource for assessment and repair is a vital element in the process.  First and foremost, is the necessity for experience, knowledge and understanding of the health risks.  Before anything can begin, a qualified assessment of health risk must be done. This is the single most important element of the restoration process. From the position of health risk then falls in line the scope of repair. And while no two fires are identical, neither are the damages that they leave behind. A series of checks and balances that are definitely not to be taken lightly.  

Ultimate Guide to Main Hazards Produced by Fire Damage

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A fire can happen anywhere at any time. Constant attention to seemingly innocent causes is what makes the difference between a fire happening and not even though the potential causes are ever present. 

It’s no secret that fires cause significant damage to a structure that can have residual effects to the property and the people residing within and the after effects can be extremely dangerous, especially if not assessed and handled properly. The key is to know what the risk factors are and how to reduce that risk for all involved.

  • Waste products that are flammable: Many homes and commercial buildings have an excess of materials that have been put aside for disposal that are no longer of use. Unfortunately that build up becomes factor #1 if ignored and left to build up over time. Paper and cardboard matter can be prime combustion is allowed to build up over time. All manner of combustible materials should always be disposed of right away in order to avoid this substantial risk. 
  • Flammable liquids: Flammable liquids of all kinds ( lighter fluid, rubbing alcohol and nail polish remover) are commonly found in a home and can be highly combustible given exposure to any source of ignition. To minimize risk it’s imperative to keep all flammable liquids separated and stored well away from any potential fire hazard. 
  • Heat generating objects: Electrical equipment can overheat in an instant and the primary dangers come in combination with combustible materials being in close proximity. Regardless of size, a computer or an industrial size refrigerator, all mechanical components have the capability of overheating from overuse and producing a spark or a short which will ignite any materials in close range. The risk can be reduced by keeping a clear space and well ventilated area around all mechanical equipment free from any clutter or material build up. 

Finally and most commonly human error is the most common cause of fire risk all around. Often it is a rather innocent mistake that seems to go relatively unnoticed that can cause the greatest amount of damage. And it is nearly impossible to completely protect against human error of any kind. Awareness is key and standard maintenance and cleaning practices on a regular basis will be the greatest line of defense against a fire and the hazards associated with it. Above all else, having the right resource for assessment and damage restoration should the unthinkable happen will be the most valuable resource of all. 

Everything You Need to Know About Water Damage Restoration and Its Timing

Timing is everything with water damage restoration

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As a homeowner there are many images or scenarios that create an absolute dream setting. The portrait of the perfect summer day with family and friends around the pool, the idyllic holiday gathering bursting with laughter and levity, or even a simple Wednesday night family dinner all around the table. These are reasons to love your home in dreams, as well as reality. Unfortunately, there are scenarios that nightmares are made of as well and water restoration is one of them. While some like fire or catastrophic weather may never plague your home, indoor flooding may and it’s more common than you think. 

The sound of running water when the showers or appliances are on is a common mainstay.  The sounds of gushing water especially when it’s not supposed to be is an absolute nightmare. There is a problem, and you know it but you just don’t know where it is coming from…yet. 

If this nightmare happens in your home, you are not alone. While that thought will serve little purpose in comforting you, it is helpful to know that this common occurrence happens frequently and can easily be remedied but it is imperative that flooding and water damage is handled immediately.  

Water restoration is a necessity, not an option. Well trained resources will make all of the difference in the swiftness and ease that you and your family are likely to experience. Ignored or untreated damage becomes exponential. In a home that has been flooded or experienced a water leak, severe health risks, extensive damage and excessive expense can easily occur without prompt attention.  From health effects to structural damage and fire hazard, a water leak is among the most serious issues for a homeowner. 

Due to the serious health risks of mold growth, water leakage is a significant problem that must be addressed and attended to at the earliest signs. Mold growth will produce spores and once they become airborne, the contamination has started. Specifically, once mold comes into contact with water, its growth multiplies substantially, creating a hidden network of health dangers. Stopping the production of mold, and subsequently its spores, are the front line defense of water restoration.

While we know that immediate action is essential, it can also be an overwhelming situation that is difficult to navigate at the time. Initial steps can be taken as a homeowner in the meantime until the pro’s arrive. Drying as much of the leak as possible is the start. Removing any water-soaked objects from the surface is crucial. The risks are far too great to leave up to chance. A highly trained restoration service is imperative and instantaneous action can save you from further risk and damage to your health and home. 

Water Damage: Everything You Need to Know About First Steps

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Water damage in your home can be an absolute nightmare. It is oftentimes found after the fact and the damage can be catastrophic. The signs may come hours, days or weeks after a leak has occurred and the resulting issues can impound substantially. As a homeowner at the very first signs of water damage, action must be taken immediately for your own health and safety and peace of mind.

As in many cases, action is reactive with water damage. A leak may not be seen for some time and this simply cannot be completely avoided. At the first signs of water damage you must contact the right resource for assessment and repair. Additionally here are a series of first steps at the first sign of water damage:

  • If possible, identify the source of the leak. This may or may not be easy but should be attempted in order to provide  information to a repair professional.
  • Contact your insurance company right away. A claim will be put into action and will help with the next steps for repair.
  • Call a remediation expert within 24-48 hours of discovery. 
  • Take photos of the damage and progression of the leak. This will serve as a useful tool in assessment and insurance claim processes. 
  • If applicable contact your HOA or Community Association. Certain bylaws may address structural leak issues. 

Water damage in your home can be a disaster both financially and emotionally. It can start your home into a long list of repairs that can last weeks, days or months. A headache for all involved and a situation that cannot always be avoided. Should you find yourself in this situation, rest assured that it doesn’t always mean a disaster response is to follow. As a homeowner it is crucial that you partner with a well trained, well qualified and above all else well trusted repair resource for just such an occasion. The worst feeling is not knowing who to call or what to do when a problem occurs. We cannot always prevent a problem but we can be prepared with who to call when it happens. 

How to Avoid Disaster During the Holidays: Indoor

Preparation tips for seasonal success

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The holidays are a very busy time of year. Festivities and entertainment seem to take the lead, many of which occur in our own homes. Regardless of family size, home capacity or seasonal obligations this time of year brings a substantial increase for most people in duties and obligations, commitments and invitations, all of which take time and attention. 

As the season is ramping up and parties, gatherings and celebrations are approaching, the influx of usage in your home may skyrocket. So what happens if right in the middle of Christmas dinner something goes wrong? What on earth do you do? Here are a few things to consider and a few items to be “pre-party proactive” and possibly hedge your bet in the “holiday disaster preparation skill set“.

As often as possible it pays to do a little pre-check on your home especially if your home has the tendency to be the hub during the holidays. Increased usage of any kind will tax your home on all fronts. Plumbing, heating and drainage could be your greatest liability if not properly prepared. All of which are a foundational concern year round but especially in the winter months that usually see a drop in weather temperatures, creating a substantial stress on the home.  

  • Tip #1: Always know who to call if an emergency happens. In the unfortunate occasion that disaster happens mid-gathering, knowing who to call immediately is going to be your greatest resource. 
  • Tip #2 : Usage preparation of all types can use a little proactive tasking.
    • Clean out your fireplace and remove any old wood or debris which creates increased fire danger in the home. 
    • Have your water heater serviced regularly, checking for efficiency. 
    • Keep an eye on plumbing components, specifically faucets and toilets that can easily flood with over use if not in good working condition.
    • Be aware of overloaded electrical components like wall plugs with extension cords. A simple short circuit can easily create a fire danger in a cluttered space.

At the very least, any foundational projects that you have been putting off, get them completed prior to this time of year. Everyone, and that means everyone, is very busy during the holidays and this includes all manner of businesses and repair services. A little preparation will undoubtedly save you time and stress during the holidays.  

However, should a problem occur even with proactive preparation, knowing who to call will be your saving grace as a homeowner. Always partner with a quality service provider so when you need them you know exactly who to call. 

How to Maintain Fire Safety During the Holidays : Part II

Holiday Fire Safety Tips Part 2

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The holiday season is a very fun, very festive time of year. A season filled with many gatherings and celebrations, dinners and parties and a whole host of indoor and outdoor gatherings, all together with family and friends to celebrate with holiday cheer.

With the nature of the festivities of this season many homes are widely adorned with lights and trees, candles and decorations inside and out. And with the colder, festive months come a heightened level of unique dangers to most homes. A higher percentage of residential fires happen in the colder Fall and Winter months. Primarily caused by heating, electrical malfunctions and unsafe, unattended cooking indoors and outdoors. And while all of these hazards can happen anytime of year, they certainly seem to happen more frequently during the holidays and nothing will take the joy out of your holidays quite like a home accident or a  house fire

Regardless of what you celebrate or how you celebrate those special moments, please take the following steps and precautions into consideration this time of year:

  • Outdoor decorations and maintenance:
    • Holiday Lights – Above all else, decorate responsibly. All outdoor lighting and extension cords must be manufactured for outdoor use only. Do not use indoor lighting for outdoor use. All lighting should be tested for strong wiring. Annual testing of all light strands and cords for frayed or exposed, decaying sections. Any damaged wires or cords should be replaced prior to use. Keep all lights away from standing water or snow and always protected and covered if weather elements occur. 
    • Chimneys – Have your chimney professionally inspected annually. With a wood burning fireplace only burn dry wood. Green or damp wood when burned can sizzle and smoke and create additional dangers to the roof .  
    • Outdoor fireplaces and firepits – Always maintain a minimum of 10 feet out from your home or any structure on your property. Never operate in windy weather as sparks and flying embers can easily set surrounding homes and plants ablaze. 
    • Decorations– As with outdoor lighting, decorate responsibly. Always ensure that all wiring and cords are in good condition, free of any damage or fraying. Always keep all plugs and cords away from water or snow and always covered and protected if weather elements occur. 

As a homeowner, understanding the elevated risks of this time of year and exercising simple attentive precautions will keep you, your family and friends and your home safe for many festive holiday celebrations for years to come. 

How to Maintain Fire Safety During the Holidays: Part I

Holiday Fire Safety Tips: Part 1

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fireplace

The Fall and Winter holidays are a festive time of year. The weather has cooled, if only slightly, and the season of celebration begins. It’s a time of year to bring out the decorations, indoor and outdoor and invite friends and family over to celebrate with holiday cheer. 

With the nature of the festivities of this season, many homes are widely adorned with lights and trees, candles and decorations inside and out. And with the colder, festive months come a heightened level of unique dangers to most homes. A higher percentage of residential fires happen in the colder Fall and Winter months. Primarily caused by heating, electrical malfunctions and unsafe, unattended cooking indoors and outdoors. And while all of these hazards can happen anytime of year, they certainly seem to happen more frequently during the holidays and nothing will take the joy out of your holidays quite like a home accident or a  house fire

Regardless of what you celebrate or how you celebrate those special moments, please take the following steps and precautions into consideration this time of year:

  • Indoor decorations:
    • Holiday Lights – All lighting should be tested for strong wiring. Annual testing of all light strands and cords for frayed or exposed, decaying sections. Any damaged wires or cords should be replaced prior to use. Use clips instead of nails to hang indoor lights. A nail is easy to puncture a wire and will in turn leave an exposed section. 
    • Candles – Use real candles sparingly and in elevated, uncluttered spaces. Never leave a burning candle unattended and keep wicks trimmed in between each use. Always exercise extreme caution with burning candles when small children are present. 
    • Seasonal plants – All plants and trees should be a minimum of three feet away from any heating source, especially a fireplace. Always maintain appropriate water levels so as to not let your trees or plants dry out with increased home heating. 
    • Christmas tree – As with seasonal plants, always keep your tree a minimum of three feet away from any heating source and pay close attention that the heating vents are not blowing directly onto your tree which will in turn dry it out faster. Keep appropriate water levels constantly monitored and filled. Never under any circumstances put real candles on your tree as a decoration. And at the end of the season when your tree is removed from the home have it disposed of or recycled immediately. Never leave a dry, brittle tree in your yard or garage as it is highly combustible. 
  • Fireplace– As with candles, never leave a fire in the fireplace burning unattended. Keep all manner of materials and decor a minimum of three feet away from the fireplace. Be aware of stockings hanging directly above a fireplace. 

As a homeowner, understanding the elevated risks of this time of year and exercising simple attentive precautions will keep you, your family and friends and your home safe for many festive holiday celebrations to come. 

A Complete Guide to Repairing Fire Damage in Your Home

What is the process and where to begin repairing fire damage in a home?

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A home fire, large or small can be one of the most horrific occurrences for homeowners. Damage and destruction can render you hopeless. The list of what to do can seem monumental and endless, with seemingly nowhere to begin . Once the main concern of safety has been accounted for the process of restoration can begin. The how and where to begin are usually the first questions. In the event that this has happened to you, here is a brief and clear list of what needs to happen in order to repair fire damage in your home.

  • In the cleanup process, a great deal of assessment will take place. First and foremost, a reliable, highly trained professional restoration service must be contacted. This resource will be a homeowners greatest support system and will surely help reduce the stress and anxiety of the tasks at hand.  Within this first step the degree of damage will be determined. Damage assessment is crucial as the full extent must be determined in order for a repair plan to be made. The restoration process must happen in a very specific order therefore the full scope of damage must be determined first. 
  • Second, in the process is to confine and separate any weakened or unsafe areas. These portions can be large or small areas of the home, or possibly the entire home itself depending on the range of damage. This is amongst some of the most crucial steps in the process. 
  • Water removal: As standing water is most certainly remaining after a fire, a whole host of issues can arise with standing water in a home. If water remains in the home it must be removed immediately and the affected area dried as thoroughly as possible. 
  • As with the almost complete assurance that there will be residual water left after a fire, there will most certainly also be resulting residue from smoke and soot and can be highly toxic. The most insidious of residual effects, smoke and soot can and will permeate the furnishings and structure. A highly specialized and meticulous process of cleaning and sanitizing ceilings, floors, walls and all surfaces is necessary. 
  • Now comes the damage rescission process. This process varies considerably. This will directly depend on the scope of damage and may or may not be lengthy in it’s overall operation. This is the foundational assessment and rebuild and quite often possess the most long lasting repairs. A meticulous and comprehensive resource is of utmost importance, this truly is not the time to cut any corners. 

The bottom line is that the sooner the better cannot be stressed enough. Restoring your life and your home after a fire is the main focus. While life after a fire may not be exactly the same as pre-fire, the right kind of trusted and trained professionals surely can get you as close as possible. Heath, safety and peace of mind can be the residual effects with the proper resources at your side. 

Your Complete Guide to Fire Safety

Top Tips for fire safety: 

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fire safety

An ounce of prevention they say… and it is true. While that is in reference to heath, prevention of any sort is worth its weight in gold when it comes to protecting yourself, your family, your home and / or your business. There is no exception to this rule in any case really and especially when it comes to safety and preventative action with fire risk and security. 

While it is no steadfast guarantee that any preventative action will provide 100% safeguard, any action you take to guard against major damage is a step much closer to being in the clear all together. Many details or variables will not be in a person’s control but many similar or compatible actions will insulate potential damage to a home should a fire pass near or around your home. Here is a list of some of the Top Fire Safety Recommendations for homeowners:

  • Prevention- Exterior: It is crucial to safeguard against the potential threat of a fire outbreak. Being aware and responsible for your home’s exterior surroundings. Keeping dead and dry brush and plants cut back and / or fully removed especially after the summer months when the lack of rain and moisture in the environment is at its lowest. 
  • Prevention – Exterior: Always use extreme caution when storing flammable materials outdoors or in a shed. It is imperative that the storage location be well ventilated and away from the home but they must also be removed from any ignition source or removed from any equipment that may initiate a spark. 
  • Prevention – Interior: Portable heaters are the second leading cause of house fires. Never under any circumstances should a portable heater be left unattended or put into use in a very small, very restrictive position. 
  • Prevention – Interior: Constant and continual testing and maintenance of in home smoke detectors is top of the list for prevention. An action as simple as replacing the batteries or ensuring that batteries are never removed is absolutely necessary. 
  • Prevention – Both: Simply learn how to use a fire extinguisher and keep several strategically placed and easily accessible. This will come in handy indoors and outdoors and will put out a fire rapidly and with control. Maintaining calm, decisive action is important and knowing how to use a fire extinguisher will create exactly that. 
  • Prevention – Both: Stay on top of your home’s electrical wiring system. Be aware of any decaying or broken wiring in your home inside and outdoors. If wiring appears to be fraying, have a well qualified professional electrician repair the problem immediately. A leading cause of homes fires will be poorly maintained wiring especially when it has not been professionally installed or maintained. 

All tips will always involve awareness and decisive action. Some tasks can be put off but eventually the problem grows and becomes monumental and we all know this to be true. Truly an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and in the case of fire prevention that cure comes in the form of vast amounts of clean up. Fire damage is monumental in all areas and especially in fire prone areas such as California. Continual safety maintenance must be practiced all year round. These small actions may make the difference in catastrophic damage or not. 

Fire Season and How to Protect Your Surroundings

Everything you need to know about protecting your surroundings during fire season

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The term “defensible radius” easily conjures up images of large scale blockbuster movies of epic proportions with A- list casts and billion dollar budgets. It is not the sort of term that generally rolls off the tongue for the average suburban homeowner. While it might be common in your vocabulary, it’s likely a new term for many people. It is a term that would most certainly benefit anyone that resides in a fire prone area. 

California residents know all too well the dangers and destruction of wildfire. Fire season is real and it hits every year, without fail. In the last five years alone some of the most destructive fires in California’s history have laid waste to state resources and homes across hundreds of miles. Every year more and more resources are implemented to reduce the loss but nothing can protect against fire damage with absolute certainty. 

While more populated regions can be a moderate safeguard against fire season damage, no areas are fully protected from the possibility of these dangers. As a homeowner one of the proactive actions that you can take is to create that “defensible radius” large or small around your home to insulate from as much of the probability of exposure as possible. 

The defensible radius around your home will serve as a buffer of protection and preparation should fire danger approach. This buffer will serve several purposes including a boundary for fire crews to defend your home and land, a zone to keep flames at a distance keeping radiant heat removed from the structure. The zones are as follows:

  • Zone 1: extends 30 feet out from the structure and has the highest level of standards and probability of protecting your home. It is crucial to keep this zone free from all debris and dead and dry vegetation. Additionally utilizing fire retardant vegetation and materials in this zone will increase protection aspects. Cutting and removing all branches from nearby trees and maintaining a space of at least 10 feet above or near the roofline is necessary. 
  • Zone 2: extends an additional 100 feet out from your home structure. In this zone it is necessary to keep completely clear, free from any dead or overgrown vegetation, dried plants and materials and keep grass a maximum of four inches. 

Apart from the two zone barrier above it is also imperative to outfit your property with fire resistant roofing and structure materials for sheds, decks and patio covers. 

Safety in preparation and prevention is key. A constant stream of assessment, improvement and updates will be a substantial resource as fire season approaches. While no single action will provide absolute protection, constant attention to your home and property will not only improve its value but undoubtedly improve your peace of mind as the seasons come and go.