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Fire and Smoke

Fire and Smoke

Even small fires can cause extensive damage and threaten your family’s sense of security.

An emergency response by Union Restoration’s knowledgeable and caring fire restoration personnel can be a great first step towards putting your life back together.

Emergency Services

Securing your home while preventing further fire damage or deterioration is Union Restoration’s number one priority. An inventory of your home will be prepared and your contents will be carefully removed to a controlled environment for storage.

Saving Precious Items

Restoration methods can save many building components and valuable personal items. Even if damage looks severe, items can frequently be brought back to pre-loss condition. Union Restoration has developed methods to successfully restore your personal belongings instead of replacing them.

Rebuilding Your Home & Life

Rebuilding parts of your home instead of constructing a new home is a different skillset. Building materials, design and finishes have to be matched to the remaining structure. Odors associated with fire damage and smoke must be neutralized in all remaining building components.

The damage continues even after the fire is extinguished. Much of the material found in furniture and flooring is synthetic, leading to complex chemical reactions when the synthetic materials are burned. Synthetic items can become permanently unusable within days.

The professionals of Union Restoration are experts in understanding the chemical combinations that can effectively clean and salvage belongings. We can even remove soot from at-risk items such as brass, aluminium, chrome, marble, tile, porcelain, and fabrics.

We use the latest equipment and supplies in our five-step fire and smoke restoration process:

  • Emergency pre-cleaning
  • Content cleaning
  • Content pack-out
  • Wall and ceiling cleaning
  • Deodorization

Fires and Your Health

Smoke is composed of a complex mixture of gases and fine particles produced when wood and other organic materials burn. The biggest health threat from smoke is from the fine particles. These microscopic particles can get into your eyes and respiratory system, where they can cause health problems such as burning eyes, runny nose, and illnesses such as bronchitis.

Fine particles also can aggravate chronic heart and lung diseases, and smoke inhalation can lead to premature deaths in people with these conditions.

  • Use Common Sense

If it looks smoky outside, stay indoors as much as possible. Those who have no choice but to venture outside under smoky circumstances should wear a mask and avoid lingering outside.

  • Pay Attention to Local Air Quality Reports

Stay alert to smoke-related news coverage or health warnings. As smoke gets worse, the amount of particles in the air increases. The worse the air quality is, the more vigilant you must be to protect yourself from the pollution. Visit the FSPD website to read precautions to take to minimize exposure and damage stemming from smoke.

  • Keep Your Residence’s Air Clean

If you are advised to stay indoors, take steps to keep indoor air as clean as possible. When smoke levels are high, try to avoid using anything that burns Don’t vacuum; vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home. Don’t smoke; the chemicals from the smoking products will mix with the already-polluted air to cause more damage to you and the other residents. If you have asthma or other respiratory illnesses, follow your doctor’s directions about taking your medicines and adhering to your management plans. Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen.

  • Run Your Air Conditioner if You Have One

Keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent bringing additional smoke inside. If you don’t have an air conditioner, staying inside with the windows closed may be dangerous in extremely hot weather. In these cases, seek alternative shelter.

Home Fires

Each year, more than 2,500 people die and 12,600 are injured in home fires in the United States, with direct property loss due to home fires estimated at $7.3 billion annually.

Fire spreads quickly; there is no time to gather valuables or make a phone call. In just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames. Heat and smoke from fire can be more dangerous than the flames. Inhaling the heated air can sear your lungs. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy.

Instead of being awakened by a fire, you may fall into a deeper sleep. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio.

Fire Spreads Swiftly

In less than 30, seconds a small flame can turn into a major fire. It only takes two minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house or for it to be engulfed in flames. Most deadly fires occur in the home when people are asleep. You won’t have time to grab valuables because fire spreads too quickly and the smoke is too thick. There is only time to escape.

Fire Generates Intense Heat

Heat is more threatening than flames. A fire’s heat alone can kill. Room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling this heated air will scorch your lungs. This heat can melt clothes to your skin. In five minutes, a room can get so hot that everything in it ignites at once; this is called flashover.

Fire Darkens Its Environment

Fire starts bright, but quickly produces black smoke which darkens the entire area. If you wake up to a fire you may be blinded, disoriented and unable to navigate the area.

Fire Renders the Air Lethal

Smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames do. Fire consumes oxygen and produces smoke and poisonous gases. Breathing even small amounts of smoke and toxic gases can make you drowsy, disoriented and short of breath. The odorless, colorless fumes can lull you into a deep sleep before the flames reach your door. You may not wake up in time to escape.

Before a Fire

  • Find two ways to get out of each room.
  • If the primary way is blocked by fire or smoke, you will need a second way out. A secondary route might be a window onto a neighboring roof or a collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows.
  • Only purchase collapsible ladders evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory.
  • Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly, and that security bars can be properly opened.
  • Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
  • Windows and doors with security bars must have quick release devices to allow them to be opened immediately in an emergency. Make sure everyone in the family understands and practices how to properly operate and open locked or barred doors and windows.
  • Teach children not to hide from firefighters.

During a Fire

  • Crawl low under any smoke to your exit; heavy smoke and poisonous gases collect first along the ceiling.
  • When the smoke alarm sounds, get out fast. You have severly-limited time to escape safely.
  • If there is smoke blocking your door or first way out, use your second way out.
  • Smoke is toxic. If you must escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your way out.
  • Before opening a door, feel the doorknob and door. If either is hot, leave the door closed and use your second way out.
  • If there is smoke coming around the door, leave the door closed and use your second way out.
  • If you open a door, open it slowly. Be ready to shut it quickly if heavy smoke or fire is present.
  • If you can’t get to someone needing assistance, leave the home and call 9-1-1 or the fire department. Tell the emergency operator where the person is located.
  • If pets are trapped inside your home, tell firefighters right away.
  • If you can’t get out, close the door and cover vents and cracks around doors with cloth or tape to keep smoke out. Call 9-1-1 or your fire department. Say where you are and signal for help at the window with a light-colored cloth or a flashlight.
  • If your clothes catch fire, stop, drop, and roll – stop immediately, drop to the ground, and cover your face with your hands. Roll over and over or back and forth until the fire is out. If you or someone else cannot stop, drop, and roll, smother the flames with a blanket or towel. Use cool water to treat the burn immediately for 3 to 5 minutes. Cover with a clean, dry cloth. Get medical help right away by calling 9-1-1 or the fire department.

After a Fire

  • Contact your local disaster relief service if you need temporary housing, food and medicines.
  • If you are insured, contact your insurance company for detailed instructions on protecting the property, conducting inventory and contacting fire damage restoration companies. If you are not insured, try contacting private organizations for aid and assistance.
  • Check with the fire department to make sure your residence is safe to enter. Be watchful of any structural damage caused by the fire.
  • The fire department should see that utilities are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site. DO NOT attempt to reconnect utilities yourself.
  • Conduct an inventory of damaged property and items. Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made.
  • Try to locate valuable documents and records. Refer to information on contacts and the replacement process inside this brochure.
  • If you leave your home, contact the local police department to let them know the site will be unoccupied.
  • Begin saving receipts for any money you spend related to fire loss. The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and for verifying losses claimed on income tax.
  • Notify your mortgage company of the fire.
  • Check with an accountant or the Internal Revenue Service about special benefits for people recovering from fire loss.

Prevent Home Fires

Most home fires occur in the kitchen while cooking. Common causes of fires at night are carelessly discarded cigarettes, sparks from fireplaces without spark screens or glass doors, and heating appliances left too close to furniture or other combustibles. These fires can be particularly dangerous because they may smoulder for a long period before being discovered by sleeping residents.

The following are simple steps that each of us can take to prevent a tragedy:

Cooking

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
  • Do not cook if you are sleepy, have been drinking alcohol, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy.
  • Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a “kid-free zone” of 3 feet around the stove.
  • Position barbecue grills at least 10 feet away from siding and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

Smoking

  • If you smoke, smoke outside. Most home fires caused by smoking materials start inside the home. Put your cigarettes out in a can filled with sand.
  • Make sure cigarettes and ashes are out. The cigarette needs to be completely stubbed out in an ashtray. Soak cigarette butts and ashes in water before throwing them away. Never toss hot cigarette butts or ashes in the trash can.
  • Check for cigarette butts. Chairs and sofas catch on fire fast and burn fast. Don’t put ashtrays on them. If people have been smoking in the home, check for cigarettes under cushions.
  • Never smoke in a home where oxygen is used, even if it is turned off. Oxygen can be explosive and makes fire burn hotter and faster.
  • Don’t smoke in bed. If you are sleepy, have been drinking, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy, put your cigarette out first.

Electrical and Appliance Safety

  • Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately and do not run cords under rugs or furniture.
  • Buy electrical products evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory.
  • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
  • Use electrical extension cords wisely; never overload extension cords or wall sockets.
  • Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker.

Have An Emergency?
Call: 888-61-UNION(86466)

Portable Space Heaters

  • Keep combustible objects at least three feet away from portable heating devices.
  • Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory.
  • Ensure that the portable heater has a thermostat control mechanism and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over.
  • Check with your local fire department on the legality of kerosene heater use in your community.
  • Only use crystal clear K-1 kerosene in kerosene heaters. Never overfill it. Use the heater in a well-ventilated room.

Fireplaces and Woodstoves

  • Inspect and clean woodstove pipes and chimneys annually, and check monthly for damage or obstructions.
  • Never burn trash, paper, or green wood.
  • Use a fireplace screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks.
  • Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.
  • Store cooled ashes in a tightly sealed metal container outside the home.

Children

  • Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
  • Store matches and lighters out of children’s reach and sight, preferably in a locked cabinet.
  • Teach children not to pick up matches or lighters they may find. Instead, they should tell an adult immediately.
  • Never leave children unattended near operating stoves or burning candles, even for a short time.
  • Check under beds and in closets for burned matches, evidence your child may be playing with fire.

Miscellaneous Prevention Tips

  • Avoid using lighted candles.
  • Never use the range or oven to heat your home.
  • Replace mattresses made before the 2007 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard. Mattresses made since then are required by law to be safer.
  • Keep combustible and flammable liquids away from heat sources.
  • Portable generators should NEVER be used indoors and should only be refueled outdoors or in well ventilated areas.