Recent Fire Damage Posts

Deodorization After a Fire

6/9/2021 (Permalink)

Have you ever noticed how when you burn a bag of popcorn in the microwave the smell seems to linger for way longer than it should?

That's what happens with even the smallest fire in your home or business. After a fire if the area isn't properly cleaned, restored, and deodorized the burnt scent  can hold onto to your space for years to come. The smoke from a fire is what carries the awful scent throughout a structure. This smoke sets into any surface it can touch.

If a cleanup isn't executed as fast as possible, the residue can cause permanent damage and could even cause the smell to come back! 

The SERVPRO of Howard County team is highly trained to locate and remove the source of the odor. Other professionals will just mask the scent with a fragrance of some kind and once it wears off, you're left with the bill and no actual solution to your odor problem. 

Our professionals also work to make sure you understand all of your possible options when it comes to deodorization.

What to do After a Fire Occurs

6/9/2021 (Permalink)

Fire damage itself is enough trouble as is, but most forget that smoke damage and other odors can be just as much of a nuisance. After a fire, it's important to act appropriately in order to avoid secondary damage. These do's and don'ts might come in handy to help you increase chances of a successful restoration.

DO:

  • Limit movement. Extensive movement can further embed soot particles in your carpet and other upholstered surfaces
  • Keep you hands clean so you don't transfer any soot around and damage walls and woodwork, etc.
  • Put dry, colorfast towels and/or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpet traffic areas
  • If your electricity has failed, empty any fridges and freezer entirely. Then prop their doors open to prevent odor
  • If you have chrome appliances or trim, you can wipe soot from those surfaces and apply a thin coating of lubricant to them
  • If you fire occurs during winter and your heat fails, pour RV antifreeze into sinks, toilet bowls, holding tanks, and tubs to ensure your pipes and other fixtures don't freeze
  • Change your HVAC filters, but leave the system off until it is checked by a professional
  • Tape double layers of cheesecloth over your air registers. This keeps soot particles out of your HVAC system

DON'T:

  • Don't try to wash any walls or painted surfaces without calling SERVPRO of Baltimore's Inner Harbor to consult about the extent of the damage
  • Don't shampoo carpet of upholstered furniture
  • Don't try to clean any electrical appliances that might have been close to the flames, heat, or water, because they might have become contaminated
  • If your ceiling is wet, do not turn on the fan. The wiring might be wet or damaged and could cause electrical shock. Air movement could also spread around other particles and cause secondary damage
  • Don't send your garments to the dry cleaner, as improper cleaning might only set in the smoke odor

If your home or business is faced with fire damage, don't try to clean it yourself. Our SERVPRO professionals are given special training and specific equipment to mitigate fire damage without furthering damage.

Fireworks this 4th of July

6/9/2021 (Permalink)

Here's a fairly well-known joke about the 4th of July. It goes something like this: always buy fireworks from the guy missing a few fingers; you know he always has the good ones!

Kind of funny but not so much if it happens to you!

Every 4th of July, people get hurt with fireworks. Some lose a finger, some lose their home to fire and some even worse. It's not hard to believe that some people call the 4th of July the deadliest of holidays. If you're going to enjoy setting off fireworks this year, make sure to follow the instructions on the fireworks as well as these additional tips:

Have a bucket of water near by

Light one at a time

Don't try to re-light a "dud" firework. Give it some time and then soak it in water

Wear safety glasses

Don't let children handle fireworks

Always be a safe distance from any buildings or cars

Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting and then tossing in a metal trash can

The last thing to remember is don't forget to pack your common sense this holiday and anytime you light off fireworks, check your surrounds and look for things that could go wrong!

You don't want to be like the guy in joke!

With Warmth comes Fire

6/4/2021 (Permalink)

Who doesn't love sitting outside in the summer with a nice fire going? It just goes hand and hand with summertime and roasting marshmallows. 

It sure can be relaxing but don't get too relaxed. You still need to be safe when having a fire. 

When you have campfires, make sure you build them at least 25 feet away from tents, shrubs or anything that has the potential to catch on fire.

When using a fire pit, outdoor fireplace or chimney , you are going to want to make sure you have placed these things at least 10 feet away from your home or structure or again anything that could possibly catch on fire. 

Make sure when your tending the fire to not have loose sleeves or articles of clothing on that could catch on fire as well. 

Always think ahead and look around you for possible fire hazards. Once that is all done you can relax around the glow of the fire.

If anything happens though, you know that SERVPRO of Howard County is here to help. We never take a night off even in the summertime. 24/7 365 days a year. There when you need us.

(410) 465-7333

Close the Door!

6/4/2021 (Permalink)

Did you know that 40 years ago you had about 17 mins. to get out of your house during a fire?

Now you have have about 3 mins. This is due to the synthetic materials, furniture and construction materials that we use.

Fire spreads faster than ever. Having your door closed can save your life. It gives you more time to find a way out before the room fills with smoke or more time to be rescued. 

Having the door closed slows down the smoke, hear and fire itself.

One concern that people had with having the door was that they wouldn't be able to hear the alarm. The difference, in one study, showed that there was only a 17 decibel difference between the door closed and opened. It was still loud enough to hear the alarm in the room with the door closed.

Along with the alarm, having the door closed can save your life.

Get in the habit of closing the door!

That Smelly Smell

2/22/2021 (Permalink)

Have you ever noticed how when you burn a bag of popcorn in the microwave the smell seems to linger for way longer than it should?

That's what happens with even the smallest fire in your home or business. After a fire if the area isn't properly cleaned, restored, and deodorized the burnt scent  can hold onto to your space for years to come. The smoke from a fire is what carries the awful scent throughout a structure. This smoke sets into any surface it can touch.

If a cleanup isn't executed as fast as possible, the residue can cause permanent damage and could even cause the smell to come back! 

The SERVPRO of Howard County team is highly trained to locate and remove the source of the odor. Other professionals will just mask the scent with a fragrance of some kind and once it wears off, you're left with the bill and no actual solution to your odor problem. 

Our professionals also work to make sure you understand all of your possible options when it comes to deodorization.

You can't have too many plans.

6/15/2020 (Permalink)

We all know that we should plan and practice our escape route when we have a house fire but we tend to get lazy when we don't plan to practice. Practice time needs to be scheduled. Even if it's scheduled when you change your smoke detector batteries twice year. Use the time when we change clocks back to do both. Battery change and escape route practice.

Now did you plan for things to happen to your plan. Maybe something has blocked your escape route? Think ahead to things that might happen. Keep a phone next to your bed to dial 911. Keep shoes next to your bed to escape with. Keep a fire blanket under the bed. Try to think ahead for anything that will help with obstacles. 

You should have a checklist when you leave the house or go to bed. 

Things on this list might be:

Check to make sure stove is off and clear of anything flammable.

Make sure your space heater is off and unplugged. Electrical appliances draw current and if there is a faulty plug , there could be a fire. There should also always be 3 feet clearance around the heater. 

If you are a smoker, smoke outside. This will cut the risk of having a stray ash start a fire. 

Check your dryer vents to make sure they are clean . Do not leave the dryer running when your leaving the house or going to bed. 

Be safe and smart. Make your own list of safety checks. There are many more you can add.

Lastly, make sure your house number can be seen from the road for emergency responders.

When you are safe and ready, call SERVPRO of Howard County. Plan on putting our number in your phone. We will help get things back to normal. 410-465-7333

Don't try to clean it yourself.

6/15/2020 (Permalink)

After a fire, your house is left with lingering smoke that can be harmful to your health and property. The best thing to do in such a situation is to clean smoke immediately because if you ignore it, the smoke will cause massive damage on your property which will require more money to clean than if you had cleaned it soon enough.

If the smoke is not cleaned as soon as possible, the items that will be mostly affected by smoke are drapes, carpets, upholstery and walls because they will become permanently discolored. Glass will become extremely etched, and metals will tarnish which will require replacement.

You might think that you can do a good job at cleaning smoke by yourself without any basic knowledge and skills on how to go about it but this can lead to you causing further damage on the items. The best thing to do is to call the professionals at SERVPRO of Howard County to do the cleaning and restore the home to the state it was in before the fire disaster struck.

One of the advantages of calling SERVPRO to clean soot is that they have specialized tools which are crucial in eliminating smoke. These are tools such as extractors, rotary scrubbers, and wet cleaning tools. Another advantage is that they have a lot of experience in doing such work; therefore, they will know the right steps to take in cleaning hour home and preventing further damage on your property.

SERVPRO of Howard County 410-465-7333

Fires are stressful

6/15/2020 (Permalink)

After a fire, there will be loss of property most times. You will want to restore  your home to its condition prior to the fire of course, but other than looks, you will really want to have it done to heal the trauma faster.  SERVPRO of Howard County has a rebuild division that can restore it back to its prior condition in a short time.

We can help with the stress of your loss by getting the restoration done and then going right into the rebuild process. SERVPRO of Howard County will be there every step of the way to help ease your worries and help to get it your life back to normal. 

The stress from a fire is hard. Getting it back to normal shouldn't be. 

Trust the professionals at SERVPRO to guide everything back into place. 

SERVPRO of Howard County 410-465-7333

Where there's smoke, there's fire.

6/11/2020 (Permalink)

You've probably heard the saying, "Where's the smoke, there's fire." In the case of a commercial building fire, you could say, "Where's the fire, there's water."

Even a small fire can cause major damage. We are always thankful that the experienced Fire Professionals are there to stop a fire of course. The reality is that most times we now have water damage to mitigate as well as fire and smoke.


A fire can rage through your office quickly and destroy building materials, furniture, documents, and electronics. The smoke damage can be just as damaging as the fire itself.  Smoke leaves soot and ash on the floor, equipment, and other surfaces. SERVPRO of Baltimore's Inner Harbor is trained and experienced to  handle the cleanup and rebuild that will be need.

As mentioned earlier the water left behind can destroy computers, printers, carpet, and documents. Also if you don't clean up the water quickly, mold can start to grow.

Feel confident that when you call SERVPRO of Baltimore's Inner Harbor ,We can handle the fire, smoke, water and rebuild from the loss along with any other circumstances that might arise. 

410-637-3433

Kitchens are the heart of the home but they can also be the heart of the fire.

6/11/2020 (Permalink)

Everyone loves to gather in the kitchen and the  cook is often the popular one in the house but did you know that cooking is the leading cause of home fires and injuries in the U.S. ?

Cooking fires often result from unattended cooking and human error. Although it is important to make sure your appliances are functioning properly and kept up to date, it is equally important to cook with caution and never get too comfortable in the kitchen.  

Although accidents happen, it is important to be prepared and alert in order to minimize these chances before they occur. Here are a few simple safety precautions to take to decrease the possibility of a fire. 

Some tips to remember:

Stay in the kitchen. Never leave cooking unattended. 

Keep a fire extinguisher in or near  the kitchen.

Make sure you the batteries are always changed in the smoke detector. 

Never throw hot grease in the garbage can. This can easily start a fire. 

Beware of things around the stove. Do not keep towels , oven mitts, or anything flammable near the fire.

Also, take notice of what you are wearing. Do not wear clothing that is flowing and could catch on fire. 

Be safe while cooking and keep it the heart of the home. 

If anything happens though, know that SERVPRO of Baltimore's Inner Harbor is here to help .

410-637-3433

Think the flame is worse then the heat, think again!

2/21/2020 (Permalink)

If your like most people you might think you can get out of a fire if you can at least avoid the flames.

Not true, the smoke and gases are 3 times as likely to kill you then the flame. https://www.usfa.fema.gov/

It takes less than 30 seconds for a small fire to go to a big on in many cases. Just minutes for the black smoke and gasses that are produced to over come you. Did you know the heat from a fire can be more threatening than the flame. The temperature on the floor can be 100 degrees and 600 degrees at eye level. Can you image what that kind of heat does to your lungs while breathing it in? The heat alone can even burn your clothing. 

Make sure you have your fire plan in place. There are many resources to get an exit plan set up in case of a fire. 

This site is a great resource for information.https://www.usfa.fema.gov/

Be safe and be prepared. 

Can you protect your home from a wildfire?

1/7/2020 (Permalink)

In recent years it seems like there are more wild fires then ever. 

Right now Australia is going through a devastating fire right now. 

Many times we have no control if we are going to lose our home to a wildfire but there are things we can do to prepare and hopefully at times save our home.

So be prepred.  Create a defensible space around your home. Keep at least 30 feet between your home and your potential sources.

Clean and remove all dead and dry leaves and pine needles from your yard, roof and rain gutters.

Create a seperation between trees, shrubs and items that would catch fire. These could be things like patio furniture, wood piles , swing sets etc.

If there is a wildfire in the area be prepared.

Stay aware of the latest news and updates from your local media and fire department.

Get your family, home and pets prepared to evacuate.

Place an emergency supply kit and other valuables in your vehicle.

Close and protect your home’s openings, these could be the attic and basement doors and vents, windows, garage doors and pet doors to prevent embers from penetrating your home.

Connect garden hoses and fill any pools, hot tubs, garbage cans, tubs, or other large containers with water. 

Leave as early as possible, before you’re told to evacuate.  

Be Safe and always remember that SERVPRO of Howard County is here to help . 410-465-7333

You have to cook no matter what the season.

7/8/2019 (Permalink)

Although house fires are generally down in numbers during the summer months, you still need to be on your toes when cooking. Cooking is one of the most leading causes of house fires by far. Grease and oils can ignite an unattended stove. Another way that a fire can occur is with dish towels or other things being left on the stove. These items can ignite easily. 

Taking the cooking outdoors in the summer doesn't necessarily keep you safe from a cooking fire. Mishandled propane tanks are responsible for many fires and injuries. 

Summertime is a time to be careful as always whether you are cooking indoors or outdoors. Enjoy the easy breezy days of summer but stay on your toes when cooking.

If you have a problem of course SERVPRO of Howard County is always there to help. 

Keep your dryer vents clean.

6/21/2019 (Permalink)

According to FEMA, failing to clean your home dryer causes 34% of home dryer fires.

These dryer fires cause $35 million in property loss and are also capable of causing injury or even death.

Reducing your risk for dryer fire is incredibly simple. Let SERVPRO clean your vents and ducts that may being holding lint buildup. 

The National Fire Protection Agency recommends that you clean your dryers lint filter every time you do a load of laundry. This ensures the outdoor vent flap will open with ease. This flap could be restricted by snow or even a bird's nest.

Let our specifically trained technicians make sure all of your vents, filters, and ducts aren't restricted and can let air flow freely.

For more info about the vent and duct cleaning services SERVPRO offers, give us a call at 410-465-7333

Do you have a plan?

6/19/2019 (Permalink)

Fire experts agree that people have as little as two minutes to escape a burning building before it is too late to exit safely. When it comes to a fire escape plan, every second counts. In a matter of seconds, even the smallest flame can become a massive blaze. The American Cross conducted a survey that found only 26% of families have made and practiced their fire escape plans. If you don't have a plan in place for your home or business, use these tips to develop one!

Draw a map of each level of your home indicating exits (windows and doors)

Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas on higher floors. Store them near the window. If you buy these ladders, make sure they are tested by a reliable testing laboratory

Pick a meeting place outside that keeps a safe distance from your home. Mark it well so everyone remembers where it is

Teach the youngest members of your family how to escape on their own if no one is able to help them. Make accommodations for the elderly, disabled, and your pets

Practice your plan at least twice a year (once during the day and once at nighttime)

Fires can be unpredictable, so your escape plan shouldn't be! Restoring your property after a fire shouldn't be difficult either. That's why SERVPRO of Howard County works so efficiently to cleanup your property ASAP after damage or a loss.

Smoke is no joke.

6/19/2019 (Permalink)

Fire losses and the damage they leave behind can be an incredibly complex job to deal with. This is caused largely by the behavior of smoke. When our SERVPRO professionals respond to a call for a fire job, their initial goal is to determine the extent of damage from fire itself, smoke, heat, and moisture. Not only do we deal with damage to building structures, but we work to clean buildings contents.

Our SERVPRO trained professionals are trained to understand how smoke penetrates various cavities within the structure, causing hidden damage and odor. Our teams knowledge helps them investigate how far smoke damage may have spread. We know it can be stressful when you don't understand the issues facing your home, so take a moment to read up on the different kinds of smoke and soot that could potentially effect your property.

While there are technically only two different types of smoke - wet and dry, there are varying types of soot residue after a fire. Here's a handy glossary of smoke and soot types that might come in handy if you're ever faced with the misfortune of dealing with a property fire:

Wet smoke (plastic & rubber): Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. These smoke webs are more difficult to clean.

Dry smoke (paper & wood): Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises and thus so does the smoke

Protein fire residue (caused by evaporation of material instead of fire): Virtually invisible discolors paints and varnishes, extremely pungent odor

Fuel oil soot (furnace puff backs): While "puff backs" can create havoc for homeowners, SERVPRO can, in most cases, restore your contents and your Baltimore structure quickly (thanks to their training)

Additionally, we do deal with tear gas, fingerprint powder, and fire extinguisher resides. These special situations require special care and evaluation.

Understanding and having the ability to differentiate between these different types of smoke and soot is part of SERVPRO's specific training which makes us a cut above any other local restoration team. Trusting a company  to care about your home like you do can seem daunting and feel impossible, but when it comes to SERVPRO, you can trust you are in good hands at SERVPRO of Howard County. We make it, "Like it never even happened."

Are you prepared for a House Fire?

2/21/2019 (Permalink)

Are we really ever prepared for a house fire? It would be hard to ever prepare ourselves mentally but we can try to have a plan in place to be as safe as we can in case of a fire. 

The Red Cross has a great website for giving tips. Here are there 7 tips to be prepared. 

The 7 Ways to Prepare for a Home Fire

 

Install the right number of smoke alarms. Test them once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year.        

 

Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one. 

 

Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home and know the family meeting spot outside of your home.

 

Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another.

 

Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year. Press the smoke alarm test button or yell “Fire“ to alert everyone that they must get out.

 

Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.

 

Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire. 

http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/fire/home-fire-preparedness

Winter and Fire Safety

1/2/2019 (Permalink)

Heating is the second leading cause of a home fire next to cooking. We always think of candles and cooking causing fires but we need to think of being safe when we heat our home too. 

Here are some safety tips:

Use your fire place safely. Always use metal or heat tempered glass screens when using a fireplace.

Never use an oven or stove top to heat your home.

Keep wood stove door closed unless adding wood or pellets or stoking the fire.

Make sure your space heater has an automatic shut off. If it tips over then it goes off. 

It's always best to test your smoke alarms at least once a month.  

Always remember to turn off a space heater when leaving the room or going to bed.

SERVPRO of Howard County is here to help if a fire happens in your home. Give us a call at 410-984-8520 . 

https://www.hvfd6.org/safety/winter-fire-safety/

Summertime and Fireworks go hand and hand.

7/9/2018 (Permalink)

There is always a joke about buying Fireworks that comes out in the summer.

It goes something like this," always buy from the guy missing a few fingers; you know he always has the good ones!"

Kind of funny but not so much if it happens to you.

Every 4th of July people get hurt with fireworks. Some lose a finger, some lose their home to fire and some even worse.

It's not hard to believe that some people call the 4th of July the deadliest of holidays.

If your going to enjoy setting off  fireworks this year at anytime follow the instructions on the firework as well as these  few more tips:

Have a bucket of water near by

Light one at a time

Don't try to re-light a "dud" firework. Give it some time and then soak it in water

Wear safety glasses

Don't let children handle fireworks

Always be a safe distance from any buildings or cars

Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting and then tossing in a metal trash can

The last thing I can say is don't forget to pack your common sense this summer and anytime you light off fireworks check your surrounds and look for things that could go wrong.

You don't want to be like the guy in joke!

Lazy Summer nights.

6/13/2018 (Permalink)

Who doesn't love sitting outside in the summer and enjoying an outdoor fire?

Those lazy night of summer can be fun but don't get lazy when it comes to the fire.

When you are building a fire pit. Make sure it's downwind of your camp site or any backyard items.

ideally you should clear out a 10 foot radius of space around your pit. Make sure there isn't any tree limbs hanging down as well.

Before you build the fire make sure the weather conditions are in the safe zone. Dry, windy weather for example can be a bad time to have an outdoor fire.

When you have finished enjoying the fire make sure it's out. Even if the embers are gray it doesn't mean it's safe.

Pour water on the fire and then stir it with a shovel to test for any hot spots

Summertime is a great time to be lazy but not when it comes to the fire.

What you don't know about lightening.

5/15/2018 (Permalink)

Lightning fires most commonly occur during the summer months when afternoon and early evening storms are at their peak. Homes in heavily wooded areas are extra vulnerable to lightning strikes that set the surrounding landscape on fire. Most people might already know this but do they know what to do to help their home could be as easy as installing a lightening rod or the professional term would be a lightning protection system.

These systems are  not intended to prevent a strike. Its purpose is to provide a safe path on which the current can be safely directed to the ground. Talk with an expert and find out if you should have a system on your house.

You will also want to help protect the inside of your house during a storm. Lightning can damage the electronics, telephone and other systems in your house connected to an electrical outlet. The easiest way to protect your appliances is to unplug them when you first hear the clap of thunder.

Surge protectors can help but are not fail-proof if the strike is a powerful one. To protect yourself, stay away from all plumbing including toilets, sinks and faucets as the pipes of your house make excellent conductors. Stay off the phone , corded phone scan conduct the lightening and therefore strike you when your on the phone.

Lightening is amazing and beautiful but also deadly. Don't ever let yourself forget that.

We want to help you restore all you can after a fire.

5/8/2018 (Permalink)

When you have a fire it can be devastating. Most of the time the hard part is loosing so much of your contents. When you have fire damage, you also have soot, odor and water damage.

We at SERVPRO want to help restore as much as we can for you. We have specialized training in doing just that.

First we do an inspection and fire damage assessment to begin to form a plan of action.

Immediately if need, we will properly board up your home and a roof tarp. 

The water removal will  begin immediately as well as the drying.

We have specialized equipment and techniques to remove smoke and soot from ceilings, walls and other surfaces.

We will clean, disinfect, and sanitize all of the restorable items. 

Finally , SERVPRO of Howard County can even help you with the restoration.

Howard County Smoke and Soot Cleanup

2/28/2018 (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 Howard County 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 – 410-465-7333

Keep your Doors Closed.

12/27/2017 (Permalink)

Did you know that 40 years ago you had about 17 mins. to get out of your house during a fire?

Now you have have about 3 mins. This is due to the synthetic materials, furniture and construction materials that we use.

Fire spreads faster than ever. Having your door closed can save your life. It gives you more time to find a way out before the room fills with smoke or more time to be rescued. 

Having the door closed slows down the smoke, hear and fire itself.

One concern that people had with having the door was that they wouldn't be able to hear the alarm. The difference, in one study, showed that there was only a 17 decimal difference between the door closed and opened. It was still loud enought to hear the alarm in the room with the door closed.

Along with the alarm, having the door closed can save your life.

Get in the habit of closing the door.

Being Safe While Decorating for the Holidays!

12/11/2017 (Permalink)

Christmas trees - Are beautiful but can be deadly.  Check out this video. It's amazing how fast things can change. 

https://youtu.be/xr6b9b8FYKk

  • Between 2011-2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an average 200 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 6 deaths, 16 injuries, and $14.8 million in direct property damage annually.
  • On average, one of every 32 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 143 total reported home fires.
  • Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in two of every five (40%) of home Christmas tree fires.
  • In one-quarter (26%) of the Christmas tree fires and in 80% of the deaths, some type of heat source, such as a candle or equipment, was too close to the tree.
  • One quarter (24%) of Christmas tree fires were intentional. 
  • Forty-two percent of reported home Christmas tree fires occurred in December and 37% were reported in January. 
  • More than one-third (37%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den.

Source: NFPA's "Home Structure Fires Involving Christmas Trees" report

For many, the winter holidays are a time of joy, celebration and tradition. Decorating your home, yard or office is a fun, festive way to celebrate the season. A little planning can help you enjoy your display all season long. Following are some tips from Travelers Risk Consultants to help keep your family and friends safe around your decorative displays.

Planning your Holiday Display

  • Plan your display according to the number and location of available outlets, and avoid overloading electrical outlets.
  • Use lights that have been tested for safety – look for a certification mark from UL, CSA, ETL or other nationally-recognized laboratories. Consider using LED lights when possible – they run cooler, use less energy and last longer than incandescent lights.
  • Never exceed the maximum number of strings or devices that may be linked together, as indicated on decoration packaging.
  • Carefully inspect all lights and decorations for cracks, damaged sockets and loose or bare wires prior to use – these defects can cause a serious fire or shock.

Decorating Safely

  • When decorating the outside of your home, keep yourself, your decorations and equipment at least 10 feet from power lines. Make sure decorations are well-ventilated, protected from weather and a safe distance away from flammable items.
  • Use wooden or fiberglass ladders when putting up electrical décor and lights outside as metal ladders conduct electricity.
  • Unplug electric lights, devices and decorations before installing or replacing bulbs, changing parts or attempting other repairs.
  • Plug all outdoor lights and decorations into ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to reduce the risk of electric shock. Portable GFCIs for outdoor use can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold.
  • Secure lights, decorations and cords to prevent wind damage. Never staple, nail through or fasten electrical wires or extensions cords in any way that might damage the wire or insulation. This could cause electrical shock or fire.

During the Holidays 

  • Turn off all lights and electrical decorations before leaving your home or office, or going to bed.
  • If possible, use battery-operated candles in place of traditional candles to avoid the hazards of an open flame. If you choose to light candles, place them away from flammable or combustible materials, including other decorations, fabrics, plastic or paper products. 
  • Do not put candles in places where they might be easily knocked over, and never leave a lit candle unattended. 
  • Extinguish all candles before leaving a room or going to bed.

Packing and Storage

  • Inspect and discard damaged decorations prior to packing and storing them.
  • Store decorations in a dry location that is out of the reach of children and pets, as well as heat sources and open flames.
  • Stack boxes in a corner or other stable location, and never higher than eye level to avoid injury or damage from toppling.
Source(s): Consumer Protection Safety Commission, http://www.cpsc.gov/; Electrical Safety Foundation International, http://esfi.org/.

Is Your Home Fire Escape Plan Up to Par?

6/15/2017 (Permalink)

Fire experts agree that people have as little as two minutes to escape a burning building before it is too late to exit safely. When it comes to a fire escape plan, every second counts. In a matter of seconds, even the smallest flame can become a massive blaze. The American Cross conducted a survey that found only 26% of families have made and practiced their fire escape plans. If you don't have a plan in place for your home or business, use these tips to develop one!

Draw a map of each level of your home indicating exits (windows and doors)

Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas on higher floors. Store them near the window. If you buy these ladders, make sure they are tested by a reliable testing laboratory

Pick a meeting place outside that keeps a safe distance from your home. Mark it well so everyone remembers where it is

Teach the youngest members of your family how to escape on their own if no one is able to help them. Make accommodations for the elderly, disabled, and your pets

Practice your plan at least twice a year (once during the day and once at nighttime)

Fires can be unpredictable, so your escape plan shouldn't be! Restoring your property after a fire shouldn't be difficult either. That's why SERVPRO of Howard County works so efficiently to cleanup your property ASAP after damage or a loss.

Dryer Fire: It Might Rhyme, But It's Not A Good Time!

4/14/2017 (Permalink)

According to FEMA, failing to clean your home dryer causes 34% of home dryer fires.

These dryer fires cause $35 million in property loss and are also capable of causing injury or even death.

Reducing your risk for dryer fire is incredibly simple. Let SERVPRO clean your vents and ducts that may being holding lint buildup. 

The National Fire Protection Agency recommends that you clean your dryers lint filter every time you do a load of laundry. This ensures the outdoor vent flap will open with ease. This flap could be restricted by snow or even a bird's nest.

Let our specifically trained technicians make sure all of your vents, filters, and ducts aren't restricted and can let air flow freely.

For more info about the vent and duct cleaning services SERVPRO offers, give us a call at 410-465-7333

What's That Smell...? It's Fire Damage!

4/12/2017 (Permalink)

Have you ever noticed how when you burn a bag of popcorn in the microwave the smell seems to linger for way longer than it should?

That's what happens with even the smallest fire in your home or business. After a fire if the area isn't properly cleaned, restored, and deodorized the burnt scent  can hold onto to your space for years to come. The smoke from a fire is what carries the awful scent throughout a structure. This smoke sets into any surface it can touch.

If a cleanup isn't executed as fast as possible, the residue can cause permanent damage and could even cause the smell to come back! 

The SERVPRO of Howard County team is highly trained to locate and remove the source of the odor. Other professionals will just mask the scent with a fragrance of some kind and once it wears off, you're left with the bill and no actual solution to your odor problem. 

Our professionals also work to make sure you understand your possible options when it comes to deodorization. 

We make it "Like it never even happened." 

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Halt Winter Heating Hazards

1/30/2017 (Permalink)

The winter season is here and with it comes shorter days and lower temperatures.  No matter where you live, winter brings a change in the weather.  In an effort to keep our homes and workplaces cozy, many people use alternative heat sources like fireplaces, portable space heaters, and wood burning stoves.  Did you know, heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths?  According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment fires cause an estimated $1 billion in direct property damage annually  Keep the following safety tips in mind to help reduce our risk of a heating-related fire.



  • Keep anything flammable at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or a portable space heater.  Have a three foot "kid-free zone" around open fires and space heaters.

  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room.  Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container.  Keep the container a safe distance away from your home. 

  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.

  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.

  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.

  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer's instructions.

  • Test smoke alarms monthly.


If your property does suffer fire damage, contact us at 410-465-7333 to help make it "Like it never even happened."

Celebrate Safely This Holiday Season

12/13/2016 (Permalink)

Did you know?

December is the peak time of year for home candle fires.

Pretty lights, candles and decorations are just a few of the items bringing charm and cheer to the holiday season--however, if they are not used carefully your holidays may go from festive to frightening.

The American Red Cross offers the following safety tips to help greatly reduce the fire risk in your home or business this holiday season.

  • Place Christmas trees, candles and other holiday decorations at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents and candles.
  • Make sure that light strings and other holiday decorations are in good condition.  Do not use anything with frayed electrical cords and always follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Always unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving the property or going to bed.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate a tree.  Always extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Use only sturdy tree stands designed not to tip over.  Keep curious pets and children away from Christmas trees. 
  • Keep anything that can catch on fire--pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains--away from your stove top.
  • Designate one person to walk around your property to ensure all candles and smoking materials are properly extinguished after guests leave.

If you should need our services please call SERVPRO of Howard County at 410-465-7333.  We service all of Howard County.  Woodbine, Ellicott City, Columbia, Jessup, Sykesville, Clarksville, and many more. We're always here to help.

Celebrate Safely with a Recipe For Safety

11/7/2016 (Permalink)

Each November, families gather to celebrate Thanksgiving by preparing a delicious feast, but if you don't practice safe cooking habits, your holiday could become hazardous very quickly.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries.  The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.  It's important to be alert to prevent cooking fires.  

  • Be on alert!  If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don't use the stove or stove top.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling or broiling good.
  • If you are simmering, baking or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire--oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains--away from the stove top.

If you have a cooking fire, consider the following safety protocols to help keep you and your family safe. 

  • Just get out!  When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
  • For an oven fire turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
  • If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you're cooking to smother small grease fires.  Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stove top.  Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.

SERVPRO of Howard County wishes you a safe and Happy Holiday Season.  Remember to follow this recipe to assure safety in the kitchen.  Call SERVPRO of Howard County for any Fire, Water, or mold issue that you may need our help with.  410-465-7333.

October is Fire Prevention Month-10 Home Fire Safety Tips from SERVPRO of Howard County

10/3/2016 (Permalink)

The U.S. Fire Administration reports that fires kill more than 4,000 Americans each year and approximately injure 20,000 more.  U.S. fire departments respond to nearly 2 million fires each year, with three-quarters of them occurring in residences.


A home is often referred to as a safe haven.  This month, make sure your home is protected from (and your family is prepared for) a fire.  Here are 10 simple tips to help you avoid fires and reduce the risk of injury should one occur:


1)      Smoke Alarms – These are still a very important addition to your home.  Smoke alarms are widely available and inexpensive.  Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home and test it monthly.


2)      Prevent Electrical Fires – Don’t overload circuits or extension cords.  Cords and wires should never be placed  under rugs or in high traffic areas.  Avoid loose electrical connections by checking the fit of the plug in the wall outlet.  If the plug loosely fits, inspect the outlet right away.  A poor connection between the plug and the outlet can cause overheating and can start a fire in minutes.


3)      Keep Plugs Safe – Unplug all appliances when not in use.  Follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions and use your senses to spot any potential disasters.  If a plug is overheating, smells strange, shorts out or sparks – the appliance should be shut off immediately, then replaced or repaired.


4)      Alternate Heaters – Make sure there is ample space around any portable heating unit.  Anything that could catch fire should be at least three feet away.  Inspect your chimney annually and use fire screens to help keep any fires in the fireplace.


5)      Fire Safety Sprinklers – When combined with working smoke alarms, home fire sprinklers greatly increase your chance of surviving a fire.  Sprinklers are affordable and they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.


6)      Create An Escape Route – Create and practice your escape plan with your family from every room in the house.  Practice staying low to the floor and checking for hot doors using the back of your hand.  It’s just like a routine school fire drill – but in your home.


7)      Position Appliances Carefully – Try to keep TV sets, kitchen and other appliances away from windows with curtains.  If there is a wiring problem, curtains can spread a fire quickly.  Additionally, keeping your appliances away from water sources (like rain coming in from windows) can help prevent wiring damage which can lead to a fire.


8)      Clean Dryer Vents – Clothes dryers often start fires in residential areas.  Clean the lint filter every time you start a load of clothes to dry or after the drying cycle is complete.  Make sure your exhaust duct is made of metal tubing and not plastic or foil.  Clean the exhaust duct with a good quality dryer vent brush to prevent blockage & check for lint build up behind the dryer at least twice a year.


9)      Be Careful Around the Holidays – If you fill your home with lights during the holiday season, keep them away from anything that can easily catch fire.  Check all of your lights prior to stringing them up and dispose of anything with frayed or exposed wires.


10)   Conduct Regular Inspections – Check all of your electronic equipment and wiring at least once a month.  Taking a little time to do this each month can really pay off.


Following these simple tips could potentially save your life or the life of a loved one.  Pass this list on to your friends and family and make this fire prevention month count!



Call SERVPRO of Howard County at 410-465-7333 if you need assistance with  fire, water, or mold remediation in your home or business.  We service all of Howard County Maryland, including Columbia, Ellicott City, Elkridge, Sykesville, and Clarksville.

SERVPRO® Pledges Ongoing Support to the American Red Cross Disaster Responder Program Red Cross recognizes SERVPRO for their contribution to disaster

6/28/2016 (Permalink)

The American Red Cross recently recognized SERVPRO®, a cleanup and restoration company, for participation in its Disaster Responder Program1.


As a Disaster Responder Program member, SERVPRO pledges a donation to the Red Cross in advance of disasters, allowing the organization to respond quickly and effectively to nearly 66,000 disasters annually, most of which are home fires. SERVPRO is entering their third year of partnership with the Red Cross; their donations to the organization to date exceed one million dollars.


“One of the reasons home fires account for the majority of the disasters the Red Cross responds to annually is that the risk for home fires exists all year long,” said Jeffrey Holland, owner of SERVPRO of Howard County.


“Statistics compiled by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)2 show the majority of home fires are related to unattended cooking accidents – and cooking is something most people do every day.”



For fire prevention tips and information about fire and water damage restoration services, please visit www.SERVPRO.com. For more information on SERVPRO® of Howard County, please contact Jeffrey Holland at (410) 465-7333 or jholland@SERVPROhowardco.com.

http://www.redcross.org/news/article/local/tennessee/SERVPRO-Recognized-for-Contribution-to-the-American-Red-Cross
http://www.nfpa.org/research/reports-and-statistics/fires-by-property-type/residential/home-structure-fires