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All About Smoke Damage

A fire can be devastating and the damage from the smoke it produces can be as well. If a fire does occur in your business, you must have a professional clean up the smoke damage. Smoke damage can persist if not re mediated properly. 

Impacts of fire & smoke damage

Once a fire occurs, it is obvious what fire damage looks like in your home. What might not be so obvious is the smoke damage. Fire damage produces charred items, walls that are discolored, soot or ash on the floor, walls and ceiling. However, the smells and chemicals emanated from the result of a  fire burning can be harmful to the surfaces in your home as well as your health. Smoke damage can occur immediately after fire damage, but it also can take several hours or days after the fire to manifest. 

discoloration

Almost immediately after a fire has been put out, it is evident smoke damage is there in your home or business.  

  • Walls & ceilings. You might notice a yellowing as the smoke damage gets worse.
  • Plastic surfaces, wood & appliances. These types of surfaces can become discolored and even warp from smoke damage.
  • Metal hardware & Metals. Rust and corrosion will start to develop on any metal hardware in your home or business. These types of surfaces can also become permanently tarnished.
  • Marble, granite or travertine. Countertops, tiles or other surfaces that contain these materials will usually permanently discolor from smoke damage and acidic residue found in soot.

Smoke Odor

Many surfaces in your home or business will display the symptoms of smoke odor. This can happen on surfaces or fabric items. What causes this smoke odor? Smoke from a fire produces tiny particles of carbon (called soot) and this soot settling on surfaces of your home causes the smoke odor. After fire damage restoration has been completed, smoke damage restoration is necessary to get rid of smell produced from fire damage.

Smoke has several components which produces the odor that lingers. It produces particles that can penetrate fabrics and surfaces. These particles can be toxic. Smoke damage also produces vapors that can be poisonous if you inhale or are absorbed into surfaces. These vapors present themselves as fog-like droplets. Carbon monoxide (CO) is the most dangerous toxic gas produced from fire damage. Another toxic gas called phosgene is produced with items such as chlorine are burned. Hydrogen cyanide is produced from common household items such as insulation, synthetics, plastics, carpets, clothing and plastics burn.

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All About Fire Damage: Preventing Fire Damage in Your Home or Business

FIRE PREVENTION is a year round consideration!

We want to help you prevent fires in the workplace and your residence. With planning, preparation and education, consumers and businesses alike can take meaningful steps to avoid the danger and destruction of commercial and residential fires. Use this information to make your home and business safer year round!

The Stats

Figures provided by the U.S. Fire Administration.

Residential

Smoking
14.2%
Electrical Malfunction
9.7%
Cooking
6.6%

Non-Residential

Cooking
29.9%
Electrical Malfunction
7.4%
Heating
7.4%
Appliances
3.8%
Equipment malfunction
3.8%

Tips for Fire Prevention

It is easy to collect clutter! Whether you have a home or business, clutter is always a factor. Harboring items that have been acquired, items you have spent money for, keepsake items or stockpiled inventory or supplies can definitely be a fire hazard. If a fire starts near an area that has a large quantity of clutter, the flames spread more quickly. Now is the time to go through your home or business and declutter. Make sure emergency exits and escape routes are not blocked by clutter, furniture or other assets.

Everyone wants to make sure their electronic device is charged. Between smart phones, tables, televisions, computers, appliances, lighting and other devices… electrical outlets are in demand in any home or business. Overloaded circuits cause overheating and overheating can cause a fire. When overtaxed, circuit breakers can also malfunction, which can cause a fire. Consider these tips:

  • Do not connect an extention cord or power strip to another extension cord or power strip
  • Don't use extension cords permanently. Use them only for temporary purposes
  • Don't use worn, old or damaged extension cords
  • Don't use heat-producing appliance, such as a coffee maker or iron, on anything but an outlet
  • Don't run electrical cords under doorways or carpets

Different appliances and equipment produce higher amounts of heat than others. As an example, copy machines or coffee makers run hot. Make sure appliances and equipment that run hot stay away from products that will fuel a fire, such as paper. So if you have a copy machine or printer, keep it separate from the paper.

Each month, smoke alarms and smoke detectors should be checked and tested. If you have not replaced your smoke alarms or smoke detectors in the past 10 years, replace them. Smoke alarm and smoke detectors that are older than 10 years old are prone to malfunction and do not contain updated technology.

Each quarter, practice fire evacuation drills. Also, make sure you plan for the worst by having a business continuity plan. Disaster restoration planning allows your to minimize financial losses, disruptions, establish evacuation plans and communicate during times of emergency. Click the links below to learn more:

Never leave anything cooking unattended, even for a minute! Food burning can cause protein fires, which we cover in the next section. Protein fires can cause smoke odor damage and require specific equipment to remediate. To avoid this danger, always supervise your cooking and do not leave food cooking for long periods of time unsupervised.

Types of Fires

Most people think a fire is a fire, but did you know there are different types of fire? All fire damage produces smoke odor damage and the home or business usually also suffers water damage from putting out the fire.

  • Protein Fire

Protein fires are most often caused by cooking and are resulting from burning food that is high in protein like food or meat. If you have experienced a fire in your kitchen from burning food, the smell may not go away! Fire damage restoration of a protein fire requires very through cleaning to get rid of the odor and residue. Specific equipment and training is necessary to get the job done successfully.

  • Complex Fire

Complex fires are caused by multiple natural and synthetic items inside your home have burned causing black smoke residue on contents and surfaces and synthetic smoke odors. Here, emergency corrosion mitigation is needed to protect at-risk surfaces.

  • Natural Fire

If you experience a fire near your home or business and the smoke odor or smoke residue has penetrated the structure from the outside, you have experienced natural fire damage. Black soot requires specialized equipment to resolve.

  • Appliance Fire

When microwaves or hot water heaters explode, ovens burst into flames or dryers catch fire, that’s when you know you have experienced an appliance fire. Black soot and smoke odor damage require expert knowledge, skill and equipment to resolve.

  • Electrical Fire

When electrical circuits become overloaded from too much demand, electrical fires occur. Electrical fires can also be caused by faulty, old wiring and can produce some pungent smoke odor damage. To remove the black soot and smell, we have the processes and technology to restore your home or business back to its original condition.

Why Fire Damage Repair Needs to Happen Immediately

Obvious signs such as discoloration on walls or ceilings can disappear with replacement of the affected material. However, the smoke odor will not go away as it becomes trapped in hidden places and can continue to cause damage the longer it lingers. Air conditioner vents, spaces behind walls or the outside walls of your home or business are all areas where ash and soot can hide and continue to cause smoke odor damage if they are not resolved immediately.

What to do when fire damage occurs

Processes and technology are the key to handle fire damage when it happens. As a trusted fire damage contractor, we will make sure fire damage and smoke odor damage is handled property by:

  • Inspecting the structural integrity of the building for safety
  • Identifying the source to determine the type of fire that occurred
  • Evaluating all areas that suffered water damage as a result of fire suppression efforts to identify those that may need treatment
  • Remediating water damage (if any)
  • Evaluating sensitive materials that may be damaged as a result of smoke and soot particles
  • Removing contents from the building, including:
    • Collecting immediate items you may need to operate your business remotely
    • Securing removal, storage and cleaning of sensitive files and data storage devices
    • Salvaging of product stock, raw materials, commodities, and machinery
    • Packing out the remaining contents for cleaning and storage
  • Performing structural restoration, including:
    • Removing of any charred contents that may seal in smoke such as insulation and burned wood
    • Evaluating carpets and floor coverings that may need to be removed
    • Treating affected surfaces for smoke odors and sealing to keep any leftover odors from leaking back into the building
  • Cleaning, eliminating odors and deodorizing surfaces to pre-loss condition
  • Returning items to the original location and helping to restore your normal operation.

Don't Know What To Do Next? We Do

  • We're ready to restore your home or place of business following any disaster
  • 24/7 our trained and well-equipped experts respond to your emergency needs
  • With you as our priority, we say what we do and do what we say
Hurricane Preparedness: Strengthen Your Home
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Hurricane Preparedness: Strengthen Your Home

Why Wait?

Take some stress away from the already stressful process of anticipating a tropical storm or hurricane. Get your home or business ready for a storm before it even gets here! You know living in Florida that we will at least get one storm per year (and that’s extremely conservative), so preparing for upcoming storms is definitely not a waste of time.

If you already have loose, hanging branches, unstable trees or trees that are very close to your roof, garage or pool… take care of them NOW! You don’t want to be on a ladder when the winds pick up trying to take care of your landscaping problems. Tree trimming companies will not be available due to demand and home improvement stores selling landscaping tools you might need will be jammed with people trying to buy last minute supplies. Take care of lawn needs in the weeks before a hurricane hits so you can do so in a stress-free environment!

Whether you decide to board up your windows with plywood, procure hurricane shutters or get impact glass on your windows… prepare for this today.

  • If choosing plywood: Go ahead and buy the amount of plywood you will need now before home improvement stores sell out before a storm. Make sure you have the necessary amount (if not extra) screws, bolts and power tools to put the plywood up when a storm comes. You will be thankful you have plywood when the home improvement stores no longer have plywood in stock!
  • If choosing hurricane shutters: Get quotes and have your hurricane shutters installed as soon as possible if you do not have them already. If you already have hurricane shutters, make sure you have the necessary screws and bolts to secure them to your windows or lock them.
  • If choosing impact glass: Get quotes and have your impact glass installed as soon as possible. Window companies will not install impact glass once a storm starts approaching.

Items such as:

  • patio furniture
  • lawn chairs
  • bird feeders
  • hanging plants
  • toys

will become flying hazards to not only your home but your neighbors home in the event of even the smallest hurricane. Take an inventory of your outdoor items, create a list so you can know exactly what you need to put away once a storm hits.

Take the time to inspect your doors prior to a storm approaching. Make sure all door frames are strong, repair any issues that might be present with doors and check locks so doors are ready to withstand the pressures hurricane winds.

If there isn’t space in your garage to store your car… now is the time to make space! You need to have a safe place to store your car in the event of a hurricane so you will have a reliable vehicle after the storm. Cleaning out a garage can be quite a time-consuming project and is not something to tackle with an impending storm. Get your garage organized today!

When it Comes to disasters...

We have 40 years experience and have seen it all. We put together this guide to help you serve your policyholders the best you can. We want you to be successful.  Reach us 772-567-4435 anytime of the day or night.

Hurricane Preparedness: Determine Your Risk
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Hurricane Preparedness: Determine Your Risk

when it comes to hurricanes, What are you at risk for?

It is important to remember, hurricanes are not just a coastal problem. The impact of hurricane force winds can be felt hundreds of miles inland, and significant impacts can occur without it being a major hurricane. Consider the following threats:

While storm surge is largely a coastal problem, it can also present it self along major lakes (like Lake Okeechobee). 

As defined by NOAA: “Storm surge is an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted astronomical tides. Storm surge should not be confused with storm tide, which is defined as the water level rise due to the combination of storm surge and the astronomical tide. This rise in water level can cause extreme flooding in coastal areas particularly when storm surge coincides with normal high tide, resulting in storm tides reaching up to 20 feet or more in some cases.”

Consider these facts!

  • From 1990-2008, population density increased by 32% in Gulf coastal counties, 17% in Atlantic coastal counties, and 16% in Hawaii (U.S. Census Bureau 2010)
  • Much of the United States’ densely populated Atlantic and Gulf Coast coastlines lie less than 10 feet above mean sea level
  • Over half of the Nation’s economic productivity is located within coastal zones
  • 72% of ports, 27% of major roads, and 9% of rail lines within the Gulf Coast region are at or below 4 ft elevation (CCSP, SAP 4-7)
  • A storm surge of 23 ft has the ability to inundate 67% of interstates, 57% of arterials, almost half of rail miles, 29 airports, and virtually all ports in the Gulf Coast area (CCSP SAP 4-7)

Even when storms are located hundreds of miles away and don’t “hit” the coast, they can still pose significant threat through rip currents.

Rip currents are channeled currents of water flowing away from shore, usually extending past the line of breaking waves, that can pull even the strongest swimmers away from shore.

For boaters, mariners and beachgoers alike, keeping informed on the tide & current information can be a matter of life and death. Don’t be fooled by a hurricane’s location.. be aware of rip currents during hurricane season!

Tornadoes don’t occur just along the coast during a hurricane. They can form close to the center of the hurricane eye wall or can exist in the rain bands that extend off the center of the hurricane. Tornadoes post a threat within hundreds of miles of a hurricane due to the disturbance the hurricane is causing in the atmosphere. Even if the hurricane is not directly hitting your area, be aware of tornado warnings and have your safe room ready.

Hurricanes are full of rain and often produce widespread, torrential rains in excess of 6 inches, which may result in deadly and destructive floods. In fact, flooding is the major threat from hurricanes for people living inland. Flash flooding, defined as a rapid rise in water levels, can occur quickly due to intense rainfall. Longer term flooding on rivers and streams can persist for several days after the storm. When approaching water on a roadway, never try to drive through moving water. It is best to turn around versus risking drowning.

Rainfall amounts are not directly related to the strength of hurricanes but rather to the speed and size of the storm, as well as the geography of the area. Slower moving and larger storms produce more rainfall.

While 75 mph winds don’t scare most Floridians, think about the damage they can cause. Would you want a pineapple, piece of wood or piece of glass flying at your body at 75 mph? Even the weakest hurricanes cause wind damage.

Mobile homes and buildings that have not been built since newer building codes were enforced will still be affected by 75 mph winds. These buildings can product the flying objects that can affect your home or business.

It is for this reason, you want to take measures to secure loose patio furniture, lawn decorations, trim trees and protect windows even for the smallest hurricane.

When it comes to dealing with disasters...

We have 40 years experience and have seen it all. We put together this guide to help you serve your household the best you can. We want you to be successful.  Reach us 772-567-4435 anytime of the day or night.

Hurricane Preparedness: Develop an Evacuation Plan
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Hurricane Preparedness: Develop an Evacuation Plan

Do you know if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone?

Knowing this information beforehand can help you when a hurricane or tropical storm approaches.

Check now

Visit the Florida Disaster Map Hurricane Evacuation Zone Locator and see if your home or business lies in an evacuation zone!

Voluntary vs. Mandatory Evacuations

Technically, the government cannot force people to leave their homes… even when a hurricane is approaching the coast. As a hurricane approaches, you will hear the terms “voluntary” and “mandatory” evacuations… so what does that really mean?

When officials say “voluntary evacuation” that means the governor of Florida has not issued an official evacuation order. So why do they urge “voluntary evacuations” when the governor hasn’t made an official declaration? Because local and state authorities are trying to cut down on panic and traffic congestion for when the actual decree is given.

When the term “mandatory evacuation” is thrown out, that means the governor has officially released an evacuation order. Local services such as police and 911 will still be available, however only emergency personnel will respond depending on conditions and how many requests for help are being received. As you can surmise, waiting until you need the help of local authorities is not advisable. Anyone with health issues or disabilities needs to evacuate when orders are given or ahead of the storm to assure proper (and timely) attention is given.

WHEN IT COMES TO DEALING WITH DISASTERS…

We have 40 years experience and have seen it all. We put together this guide to help you serve your policyholders the best you can. We want you to be successful.  Reach us 772-567-4435 anytime of the day or night.