Recent Fire Damage Posts

House Fires: How to prevent them and what to do if you experience one in Cuyahoga County

1/20/2020 (Permalink)

House Fires: How to prevent them and what to do if you experience one

Every day, 7 people die in house fires- most in homes that lack working smoke alarms. In less than 30 seconds a small flame can evolve into a colossal fire and become life threatening; in less than two minutes your home can be consumed by flames, producing toxic smoke and gases with temperatures hotter than your oven. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths and surprisingly, heat is more dangerous than flames- Room temperature can reach 100° at floor level and a smoldering 600° at eye level. With that being said, smoke and toxic gases are responsible for more deaths than flames and heat.

Kitchen mishaps, electrical sparks, space heaters, playing with matches are all common causes of house fires. However, they are preventable:

  • Do not leave cooking unattended- More than 60% of kitchen fires begin on the stove. Also, do not use stove range to heat your home.
  • Keep grills at least 10 feet away from siding and out from under branches and roof overhangs.
  • Smoking is the leading cause of home fires. ALWAYS smoke outdoors, never in bed, and always use an ashtray, making sure butts are completely stubbed out.
  • NEVER smoke in a home where oxygen is used, even if it is turned off.
  • Replace all worn, old, or damaged appliance cords immediately. Frayed wires = fires!
  • Avoid having multiple appliances plugged into the same receptable and try not to run extension cords underneath rugs.
  • Keep combustible objects at least 3 feet away from portable heating devices, such as portable heaters- Make sure they have a thermostat control mechanism and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over.
  • Remove lint from dryer filter after every use.
  • Change heating and air conditioning filters regularly.
  • Avoid unattended/careless use of candles.
  • Portable generators should never be used indoors.
  • Make sure combustible and flammable liquids are kept away from any heat source.
  • Discuss at least two escape strategies with your family or housemates prior to a fire and designate a meeting spot that is a safe distance from the home.
  • A working smoke detector significantly increases chances of surviving a deadly fire. Place alarms on each floor of your house, even the basement, and if possible, in every bedroom. Test batteries monthly and replace them once a year. Replace the alarms themselves every 8-10 years.
  • *Contact your local fire department for information on obtaining alarms for people with functional needs, i.e. a vibrating or flashing alarm.
  • Have fire extinguishers on each level of the home and/or in fire-prone areas like the kitchen and near the fireplace. Check gauges often to make sure they have a proper charge.
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas found in fumes from combustible fuel- it is potentially deadly as it has no odor, taste, or color. Install CO alarms in central locations on each floor of the home, especially outside sleep areas.

Although preventable, fires still occur and figuring out what to do afterward can be an incredibly stressful and overwhelming process; it can be hard to decide what to do first as your mind is running around in a million directions.

  • Immediately call 9-1-1! But make sure you are out of the house before doing so.
  • Call your insurance company. You will most likely receive calls from public adjusters and contractors trying to get your business. It is recommended you speak to no one but your insurance agent.

If you do not have homeowner’s insurance, your family and community might help you get back on your feet. Some organizations that may help are:

  • American Red Cross (ARC).
  • Salvation Army.
  • Religious organizations.
  • Public agencies, such as the public health department.
  • Community Groups.
  • State or municipal emergency services office.
  • Nonprofit crisis- counseling centers.
  • A fire in your home can cause serious damage to your home and many of your belongings may be badly damaged by flames, heat, smoke, and water. In order to fight the fire, firefighters may have broken windows and cut holes on the roof- Ask your agent or adjuster to recommend restoration companies, like SERVPRO, that can help with cleaning up soot or water damage, boarding up windows, and other construction.
  • Contact your landlord or mortgage lender as well as your credit card company to report any cards lost in the fire.
  • Check with an accountant or the IRS about special benefits for people recovering from fire loss.
  • Save undamaged items from any further destruction. Any items not damaged should be put in a safe place, such as a storage facility.

Handle burnt money as little as possible. If money is only partly burnt, you can take it to your regional Federal Reserve Bank to get it replaced or send it to the Treasury:

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

MCD/OFM, Room 344A

14th and C Streets SW

Washington, DC 20228

  • Fully cooperate with the insurance company’s investigation. When a fire claim is reported, it becomes top priority and in most cases the adjuster will be out to see the loss within 24 to 48 hours after receiving the claim.
  • Find somewhere to live if you home is unlivable. Most policies include “Loss of Use or Loss or Rents” coverage, which pays for shelter, food, and clothing you may need- Make sure to let local police know that the site will be vacant.
  • Do not enter your house or apartment unless the fire department says that it’s safe to do so. If utilities are unsafe, they will be turned off- Do not try to turn them on yourself.

 After a fire, your sense of security may be lost, which can significantly disrupt the regularity of daily life and it can become difficult to take care of yourself with so many other anxieties preoccupying your mind. Experiencing such a tragic loss can take an emotional toll on you so pay attention to how you and your loved ones are handling stress, whether related to the fire or not. Make sure to get plenty of rest and ask for help if needed. Watch pets as well for any changes in their behavior. Scared animals often react by biting or scratching. Keep them out of the home until after the cleanup is done to keep them safe.

It is common to experience a variety of reactions such as:

  • Feeling physically or mentally drained.
  • Having difficulty making decisions or staying focused.
  • Becoming easily frustrated more frequently.
  • Becoming more argumentative with family and friends.
  • Feeling overly tired, sad, numb, lonely, or worried.
  • Undergoing changes in appetite or sleep patterns.

Try to accept whatever reactions you experience as most of them are temporary and should go away over time.  If the above reactions hang around for two weeks or longer is it suggested that you seek help from a medical professional.

For more advice on fire prevention and what you should do after a fire, contact SERVPRO of Cuyahoga South at (440) 237-0077.

SERVPRO of Cuyahoga South stresses the importance of proper fire restoration.

1/8/2020 (Permalink)

Fire and water damaged personal property Fire and water damaged personal belongings in this Cleveland basement that needs SERVPRO of Cuyahoga South's help.

Fires are a concern for homeowners year-round, but as winter is upon us, this is a good time of year to ensure you are properly prepared. The rate of home fires peak in the wintertime, so it is important to stay vigilant.

Thankfully, there are some things you can do in advance, such as practicing a fire evacuation plan with every member of your household and determining what restoration company you would like to work with to restore your home and belongings. That way you can call right away to get the process of restoring your home started.  SERVPRO of Cuyahoga South has what is needed should disaster strike.

Over the years, we have developed a cleaning system for fire restoration that handles your home, its contents and your air quality, ensuring the cleanup is thorough and your things are fully restored to their pre-fire conditions. These are the cleanings and services we provide:

Structural Cleaning

Structural damage in a fire can affect almost every aspect of a home, including floors, walls and ceilings. By performing initial testing, we can determine the severity of the damage and what equipment we will need to utilize for restoration. We can provide full reconstruction services after the cleaning is complete.

Content Cleaning

Using wet and dry cleaning equipment, we are able to restore many of your home’s contents during the process as well. This is often more cost-effective than replacing your items and allows you to keep your belongings intact. We can fully clean and deodorize many items, such as kitchen wares, bedding, upholstery and more.

Deodorization Services

The lingering odors from a fire are not just a nuisance—they can be dangerous, too. Smoke and soot exposure are associated with negative side effects, making it vital that the air is scrubbed and purified properly following a fire. Thankfully, we have the technology and expertise to handle this for you, so you do not have to worry about the health of your family due to poor air quality in the home.

If you’ve been affected by a fire, reach out to us right away! We are here 247 to help you recover. Call SERVPRO of Cuyahoga South at 440-237-0077.

Fire Damage Facts

11/19/2019 (Permalink)

Fireman in front of fire truck SERVPRO of Cuyahoga South support the men and women who serve our communities to keep us safe!

Flames can cause the most visible damage to your property during a fire, smoke and soot are silent and sometimes invisible hazards that could cost lives.  Water is also a reason for damage after a fire. Even firefighters themselves may cause some damage before they can completely put out a fire. Here are 10 important things to know about fires.

1. In a fire, more people die from inhaling smoke than from the flames. Never think that if you avoid the flames you are safe. Always keep away from smoke.

2. Soot is a coating of fine, black dust created when wood, coal, or oil-based substances are burned.  These carbon particles float into the air and settle anywhere.  Inhaling soot can caused severe lung deficiencies or even death. 

3. If soot contaminates items in your home or business, a fire restoration service provider like SERVPRO of Cuyahoga South must assess the damage to see if restoration is possible.

Need Fire Restoration Advice Or Services? Call SERVPRO of Cuyahoga South (440)237-0077

4.  The worst possible effect of soot is its tendency to cause cancer and cause serious defects in  newborns. Soot produces polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These hydrocarbons are responsible for gene mutation for particular groups of genes. They can cause birth defects and increase the chances of getting cancer.


Water’s Good And Bad
5. Water’s great at putting out most fires but the water itself can cause great damage. You must make sure, after the fire is out, that your home or business is completely dried. If you don’t, mold, mildew, and other consequences will lead to further damage and loss. This is why SERVPRO of Cuyahoga South provides industrial dehumidifiers and air movers to dry saturated carpets, padding, furniture, and any other wet items.

6. Mold colonies can begin to grow just 48 hours after water damage occurs.  The combination of fire, water, and mold damage to your commercial property or home could result in a complete loss if not handled properly. See our posts about mold,  mold myths, and how to clean up mold.

7. Use caution if you decide to do some of the cleanup after a fire. Never start your cleaning process until you’re properly attired. Wear heavy-duty gloves, safety goggles, and a face mask. Carefully cover your nose and make sure your safety glasses have no place for dust or soot to get into your eyes.

Why Firefighters Break Windows And Cut Holes In Roofs
8. Firefighters are true heroes. However, they often must break windows and cut holes in the roof of buildings on fire. As a fire burns, the fire moves up and down and across, growing very fast. Firefighters break windows and cut holes in roofs to provide ventilation that slows the fire’s growth. Ventilation also helps get rid of dark smoke that makes it hard for firefighters to see where they’re going. The holes and broken windows help firefighters fight the fire more quickly. The bottom line is that breaking windows and cutting holes in roofs help save lives and property.

9. Firefighters will also cut holes in walls at times. That’s not about ventilation. It’s done so the fire department is sure that the fire is completely out. Fire departments don’t want to risk leaving a fire that’s not visible but is still active inside the walls or in other hidden places.

10. If you have a fire, get a copy of the fire report. In most areas, a fire report is a public document. Ask for it at the fire department or fire marshal’s office. The fire report will help you with information that your insurance company and other official offices may request.

For more, see After The Fire: Returning to Normal from FEMA.

Here To Help
The team at SERVPRO of Cuyahoga South has specialized training and experience in fire restoration services and natural disaster cleanup.

Call SERVPRO of Cuyahoga South              (440) 237-0077, anytime.

We've serve the communities of Solon, Strongsville, Bedford, Independence, North Royalton, Middleburg Heights, Chagrin Falls, Parma Heights, Warrensville, Garfield, Olmsted Falls and communities beyond.

Maintaining your Furnace Key to Winter Safety!

11/14/2019 (Permalink)

Furnace and technician gauge Routine maintenance on your furnace will kee you warm and safe.

Like many homeowners, you may wonder what you can do to keep your furnace well-maintained and when you should perform such maintenance. After all, a functioning furnace reduces the chance of a fire and related fire cleaning in your Southern Cuyahoga home.

Here are three tips for keeping your furnace in top shape throughout the year

1. Keep It Clean

Dirt is a troublesome yet common nuisance that can lead to furnace-related fires. The blower, motor and system itself all need regular cleaning to remove troublesome dirt and debris. Research how to clean your particular unit, or get help from a local professional. Leaving dirt to sit can cause your unit to malfunction and cause a fire-related issue.

2. Replace Filters

Your furnace filters should be replaced regularly. A good rule of thumb is to change them once before cold weather hits, and then once a month during the times that the furnace is in heavy use. Dirty filters can lead to situations that require fire cleaning, much like with other furnace components, and will also not function properly when you are relying on them to keep you and your family warm.

3. Perform Maintenance Early

One of the most important things to remember is that any repairs or other maintenance tasks need to be completed before the cold comes. Otherwise, you will risk using the furnace while it is not in top shape, possibly causing a fire and leading to smoke cleaning. You also will likely have an under-performing furnace that does not quite do its job.

Furnace maintenance is not exactly fun, but neither is a fire. You owe it to yourself and your wallet to take precautions against having a furnace malfunction at home. You will not only avoid fire cleaning in the future - you will also have better peace-of-mind knowing your furnace is ready to keep you heated.

Holiday Safety Tips for your Southern Cuyahoga Home

11/12/2019 (Permalink)

Fire Extinguisher Always have an updated Fire Extinguisher in your home

Fire Prevention

  • Watch out for extension cords and multiple wires that are hidden behind carpets and curtains
    • Overloading Circuits is a common mistake especially for families who possess multiple electronics because they do not split the devices and run a different circuit.
  • Install an operating fire extinguisher and smoke detector
  • Prepare a plan for emergencies
    • Having a plan prepared can prevent injuries and accelerating the process of leading everyone back to safety.

Fire and smoke damage should not be taken lightly due to the dangers it may cause, action should be taken immediately to prevent further destruction. Smoke can spread throughout an entire structure under a couple of minutes.

If any damages occur after a fire, SERVPRO of Cuyahoga South specializes in residential and commercial services, to make it “Like it never even happened.”

Deep Frying Turkey Tips for your Cuyahoga Thanksgiving

11/6/2019 (Permalink)

Turkey in Deep Fryer Tips to keep the family safe while deep frying a turkey

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching SERVPRO of Cuyahoga South wants to offer tips to keep everyone safe if they are deep frying their turkey.

  1. Keep outdoor fryers off decks, out of garages and a safe distance away from trees and other structures that may catch fire.
  2. Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dry before cooking. Ice or water that mixes into the hot oil can cause flare-ups.
  3. Watch the weather. Never operate a fryer outdoors in the rain or snow.
  4. Place the fryer on a level surface, and avoid moving it once it's in use.
  5. Leave 2 feet between the tank and the burner when using a propane-powered fryer.
  6. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to avoid overfilling. Oil can ignite when it makes contact with the burner.
  7. Choose a smaller turkey for frying. A bird that's 8 to 10 pounds is best; pass on turkeys over 12 pounds.
  8. Never leave fryers unattended.
  9. Purchase a fryer with temperature controls, and watch the oil temperature carefully. Cooking oil that is heated beyond its smoke point can catch fire. If you notice the oil is smoking, turn the fryer off.
  10. Turn off the burner before lowering the turkey into the oil. Once the turkey is submerged, turn the burner on.
  11. Wear goggles to shield your eyes, use oven mitts to protect your hands and arms and keep an "ABC" or grease-rated fire extinguisher close by. Do not to use water or a garden hose on a fire related to Turkey Fryers.
  12. Do not stuff the turkey with stuffing or vegetables, also avoid water-based marinades.
  13. Keep children and pets away from the fryer at all times.
  14. Once finished, carefully remove the pot from the burner, place it on a level surface and cover to let the oil cool overnight before disposing.
  15. Opt for an oil-less fryer. This uses infrared heat, rather than oil, to cook the turkey. (And it’s healthier too!!)

Southern Cuyahoga County Homeowners: Tips on How to Deep Fry a Turkey Safely

11/20/2018 (Permalink)

Thanksgiving is a time for family traditions and favorite recipes. Protect yourself, your guests, and home with these helpful safety tips.

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, here are some great tips to keep everyone safe if they are deep frying their turkey.

  1. Keep outdoor fryers off decks, out of garages and a safe distance away from trees and other structures that may catch fire.
  2. Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dry before cooking. Ice or water that mixes into the hot oil can cause flare-ups.
  3. Watch the weather. Never operate a fryer outdoors in the rain or snow.
  4. Place the fryer on a level surface, and avoid moving it once it's in use.
  5. Leave 2 feet between the tank and the burner when using a propane-powered fryer.
  6. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to avoid overfilling. Oil can ignite when it makes contact with the burner.
  7. Choose a smaller turkey for frying. A bird that's 8 to 10 pounds is best; pass on turkeys over 12 pounds.
  8. Never leave fryers unattended.
  9. Purchase a fryer with temperature controls, and watch the oil temperature carefully. Cooking oil that is heated beyond its smoke point can catch fire. If you notice the oil is smoking, turn the fryer off.
  10. Turn off the burner before lowering the turkey into the oil. Once the turkey is submerged, turn the burner on.
  11. Wear goggles to shield your eyes, use oven mitts to protect your hands and arms and keep an "ABC" or grease-rated fire extinguisher close by. Do not to use water or a garden hose on a fire related to Turkey Fryers.
  12. Do not stuff the turkey with stuffing or vegetables, also avoid water-based marinades.
  13. Keep children and pets away from the fryer at all times.
  14. Once finished, carefully remove the pot from the burner, place it on a level surface and cover to let the oil cool overnight before disposing.
  15. Opt for an oil-less fryer. This uses infrared heat, rather than oil, to cook the turkey. (And it’s healthier too!!)

Furnace Maintenance Tips For Your Southern Cuyahoga Home

11/19/2018 (Permalink)

Keep your furnace clean and running efficiently

Like many homeowners, you may wonder what you can do to keep your furnace well-maintained and when you should perform such maintenance. After all, a functioning furnace reduces the chance of a fire and related fire cleaning in your Southern Cuyahoga home.

Here are three tips for keeping your furnace in top shape throughout the year

1. Keep It Clean

Dirt is a troublesome yet common nuisance that can lead to furnace-related fires. The blower, motor and system itself all need regular cleaning to remove troublesome dirt and debris. Research how to clean your particular unit, or get help from a local professional. Leaving dirt to sit can cause your unit to malfunction and cause a fire-related issue.

2. Replace Filters

Your furnace filters should be replaced regularly. A good rule of thumb is to change them once before cold weather hits, and then once a month during the times that the furnace is in heavy use. Dirty filters can lead to situations that require fire cleaning, much like with other furnace components, and will also not function properly when you are relying on them to keep you and your family warm.

3. Perform Maintenance Early

One of the most important things to remember is that any repairs or other maintenance tasks need to be completed before the cold comes. Otherwise, you will risk using the furnace while it is not in top shape, possibly causing a fire and leading to smoke cleaning. You also will likely have an under-performing furnace that does not quite do its job.

Furnace maintenance is not exactly fun, but neither is a fire. You owe it to yourself and your wallet to take precautions against having a furnace malfunction at home. You will not only avoid fire cleaning in the future - you will also have better peace-of-mind knowing your furnace is ready to keep you heated.

Furnace Maintenance Tips For Your Southern Cuyahoga Home

11/19/2018 (Permalink)

Keep your furnace clean and running efficiently

Like many homeowners, you may wonder what you can do to keep your furnace well-maintained and when you should perform such maintenance. After all, a functioning furnace reduces the chance of a fire and related fire cleaning in your Southern Cuyahoga home.

Here are three tips for keeping your furnace in top shape throughout the year

1. Keep It Clean

Dirt is a troublesome yet common nuisance that can lead to furnace-related fires. The blower, motor and system itself all need regular cleaning to remove troublesome dirt and debris. Research how to clean your particular unit, or get help from a local professional. Leaving dirt to sit can cause your unit to malfunction and cause a fire-related issue.

2. Replace Filters

Your furnace filters should be replaced regularly. A good rule of thumb is to change them once before cold weather hits, and then once a month during the times that the furnace is in heavy use. Dirty filters can lead to situations that require fire cleaning, much like with other furnace components, and will also not function properly when you are relying on them to keep you and your family warm.

3. Perform Maintenance Early

One of the most important things to remember is that any repairs or other maintenance tasks need to be completed before the cold comes. Otherwise, you will risk using the furnace while it is not in top shape, possibly causing a fire and leading to smoke cleaning. You also will likely have an under-performing furnace that does not quite do its job.

Furnace maintenance is not exactly fun, but neither is a fire. You owe it to yourself and your wallet to take precautions against having a furnace malfunction at home. You will not only avoid fire cleaning in the future - you will also have better peace-of-mind knowing your furnace is ready to keep you heated.

Holiday Fire Safety In Southern Cuyahoga

11/13/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Prevention

  • Watch out for extension cords and multiple wires that are hidden behind carpets and curtains
    • Overloading Circuits is a common mistake especially for families who possess multiple electronics because they do not split the devices and run a different circuit.
  • Install an operating fire extinguisher and smoke detector
  • Prepare a plan for emergencies
    • Having a plan prepared can prevent injuries and accelerating the process of leading everyone back to safety.

Fire and smoke damage should not be taken lightly due to the dangers it may cause, action should be taken immediately to prevent further destruction. Smoke can spread throughout an entire structure under a couple of minutes.

If any damages occur after a fire, SERVPRO of Southern Cuyahoga specializes in residential or commercial services, back to “Like it never even happened.”

Cuyahoga County Smoke and Soot Cleanup

6/13/2016 (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 Southern Cuyahoga 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 – 
440-237-0077