It’s Fire Prevention Week! This year the National Fire Protection Association is reiterating the importance of planning at least two ways out when creating your fire escape plan.
About only half of Americans have developed a home fire escape plan – a quarter of those have never even practiced it. Planning (and practicing!) an escape route from your home can be the difference between life and death if there is ever a fire in your home. A regularly practiced fire escape plan can ensure that everyone in the home knows what to do and where to go when there’s a fire.
Home fires can spread very quickly, and that is why it is so important to plan at least two ways out of every room. If the fire spreads and blocks your first path out, you need to be able to react quickly and move on to plan B.
Your home fire escape plan should include working smoke alarms on every level of the home, as well as in every bedroom. There should be two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window. The escape plan should also include a clear path to an outdoor meeting place (like a tree or mailbox) that is a safe distance from the home. Once you’ve created your home escape plan, be sure to practice it at least twice a year with all members of the household, including pets!
With so many shared walls and spaces, water damage in an apartment community can get messy pretty quickly. Of course you can never know when an emergency situation will occur, but it’s in your best interest as a property manager, as well as in the best interest of your residents, to always be ahead of the game. Take these measures today to prevent water damage tomorrow.
- Check On Aging Appliances Regularly – If the property you manage includes a fridge, dishwasher, and/or washer/dryer in unit, you should closely monitor the age of the appliances as well as routinely checking them for cracked or damaged hoses or connections. Washer hoses should be replaced about every five years. It’s a good idea to replace washers and dryers before there’s a problem. It may cost more money now, but it could save you a lot of money and a headache or two in the future.
- Repair Old or Damaged Roofs When It’s Dry – Don’t wait for a big rain storm to find out that the roofing at your unit(s) needs replacing. Make routine checkups to monitor the condition of the roof(s) at your property. Make time and room in the budget to make any replacements or upgrades necessary during the dry season so that you can avoid water damage in the wet season.
- Stay in Touch with Your Residents and Know When they’re Traveling – Many people go on vacations during the summer. Talk to your residents about having their water shut off while they’re gone or, alternatively, having someone check on their apartment from time to time while they’re gone. If a water leak occurs while they’re away and no one is checking in, a small problem could potentially turn into something much worse.
- Clear Downspouts Consistently – This is especially important if there are a lot of large trees throughout your apartment community. When leaves, branches, and other debris clog the gutters, the risk of flooding is increased. Clear all debris from the gutters frequently. If you know a storm is about to hit, make sure everything is clear and that water is being effectively carried away from the building.
- Apply Dry-Proofing Methods – One cost effective way to prevent large scale water damage in low-lying areas is to apply waterproofing coatings and sealings. You can also elevate electrical equipment at least three feet off of the floor and install waterproof structures around circuits and electrical breakers.
- Check For HVAC System Blockages – If the line that moves condensation from the HVAC system is backed up, it can create serious water damage. Backed up water can seep through ceilings and through light fixtures or in between walls. When water leaks between walls, it can go undetected and result in mold damage in addition to water damage.
Of course, in the unfortunate event that water damage does affect your community, call SERVPRO of Tustin for fast response and services.
Approximately 500,000 pets are affected by house fires each year. Many house fires are caused by pets, especially when left home alone. Read over these tips to help prevent any accidental fire started by your pets and for keeping your pets safe in the event there is a fire in your home. Make sure you include your dog, cat, or other pets in your family’s emergency plan.
Prevent Your Pets From Starting A Fire
- Beware of candles and other open flames. Dogs are curious creatures and may take interest in a flickering flame. If you do have any open flames in your home at any time, be sure to never leave them unattended and to keep an eye on your pets. If you’re using a fireplace, consider getting a fireplace screen to protect pets when sleeping in front of the fire. Also make sure the fire is completely out before heading out or going to bed. Small sparks and coals can get through a screen and result in a fire.
- Secure wires and cords. Pets are often tempted to chew on loose wires and cords. Exposed wires can be a fire hazard, so consider securing any electrical objects so that their cords are out of reach.
- Don’t use glass bowls for your pets’ water. When filtered and heated through glass, the sun’s rays can ignite the wood beneath the bowl and set a deck in flames. Try using a stainless steel or ceramic bowl instead.
Keep Your Pets Safe After/During A Fire
- Place a pet fire sticker on the door or window. In the event of a fire when you’re away, having a pet sticker will help rescuers know how many pets to look for, saving valuable time and hopefully your pets.
- Use monitored smoke detectors. Pets left home alone can’t escape on their own when there’s a fire. Monitored smoke detectors contact emergency responders when you’re not home and add an extra layer of protection beyond that of battery-operated smoke alarms.
- Keep pets near entrances when you’re away from home. Keep collars (with ID tags) on your pets at all times and leave leashes by the entrance or somewhere easy to find in an emergency. This will help firefighters to find and rescue your pets when they arrive.
- Know where your pets’ hiding spots are. It’s important that you can find your pets quickly if there’s a fire. Know where your pets like to sleep and especially where they like to go when they are scared or anxious (under the bed or hidden in a quiet corner of the house somewhere)
- Have an emergency plan in place and make sure everyone in the house knows what to do in the event of a fire. Know who will be in charge of getting your pets outside safely. Have someone in charge of leashes and pet carriers so that they can be safely secured once you’re outside. In the event that you can’t find your pet when exiting, leave doors and windows open on your way out and call to them so that they come out on their own.
- Practice fire drills with your pets. It is important to include your pets in the family fire drills. Practice finding them and getting out of the house. Also practice the “open access” scenario where you leave an exit open (preferably the one they’re most comfortable with) and call to them to come out of the home. The more you practice, the more likely they are to come out in the event of an actual fire.
If you have any questions or require restoration services due to fire damage in your home, call SERVPRO of Tustin at (714)480-1340. Our crews are available 24/7 for services.
We here at SERVPRO of Tustin are experts when it comes to water damage. With over 30 years in the restoration industry, we’ve seen it all. Though our specialty is restoring your home to preloss conditions after you suffer water damage and making it “like it never even happened”, we have some tips for how you can prevent any future water damage to your home.
Watch Your Water Bill
- So often, homeowners don’t realize there’s a leak until major damage is done. If your water bill seems unusually high, there may be something going on behind the walls or beneath the floorboards. Monitor your bill closely to catch any potential leaks early.
Investigate Leaks Promptly
- If there is a water leak in your home, it is imperative that you take care of it quickly. Moisture in your home that is left untreated can result in mildew or mold and even structural damage to your property. Additionally, water damage that isn’t treated within 48 hours could potentially become contaminated.
Be Careful Where (And What) You Plant
- Some plants, such as willows, elms, and maples, have invasive roots that could cause problems for your property. Before planting a tree, find out about its root system. Never plant a tree less than 10 ft. from your home’s foundation; trees with invasive roots may need to be even further (25 to 50 ft. away) in order to ensure the roots don’t damage your water and sewer lines.
Ensure Proper Drainage
- Clear your gutters regularly to make room for rain water. Downspouts from your gutters should be directed at least 5 ft. away from your home. It is best to have the water flow onto a hard surface (such as a driveway) or to have a splash guard designed to spread the water and keep it from puddling on the ground.
Check Home Appliances Regularly
- Oftentimes, flooding in the home is caused by a leak from a fridge or dishwasher, etc. Check and maintain your home’s appliances regularly, and follow the manufacturer’s directions to fix any possible leaks. It is also a good idea to regularly replace the hose for your washing machine. Leaky hoses are a common cause of residential water damage.
Of course these are just some ways to prevent water damage. Unfortunately, not all forms of water damage are preventable. Disaster can strike at any moment, no matter how prepared you may be. We hope it doesn’t happen to you, but if it does, call SERVPRO of Tustin and we’ll make it “like it never even happened!”
We’re thrilled to be partnered with the American Red Cross as a Disaster Responder because here at SERVPRO of Tustin, we’re always “Ready for Whatever Happens” and we want you to be too! You never know when a disaster may strike, so it is important to have an emergency preparedness kit ready to go at a moment’s notice to use at home or to take with you in the event you must evacuate.
According to our friends at the American Red Cross, you should, at minimum, have the basic supplies listed below:
- Water: one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
- Food: non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home).
- Battery powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
- Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
- Cell phone with chargers
- Family and emergency contact information
You should also consider the needs of all family members and add supplies to your kit as needed. Suggested items to help meet additional needs are:
- Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, etc)
- Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
- Games and activities for children
- Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
- Extra set of car keys and house keys
Additional supplies to consider keeping at your home or in your emergency supply kit:
- Tools/supplies for securing your home
- Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
- Blankets or sleeping bags
You never know when a disaster might arise.
Keep you emergency kit somewhere easily accessible for if and when the time comes that you need it. You should also practice fire drills with your family and plan out multiple evacuation routes should you ever need to evacuate your home. Make sure that everyone knows what to do in case of emergency. Whether it’s the Big One, a house fire, or an unexpected storm, we want you to be “ready for whatever happens!”
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for family and friends to come together and enjoy a delicious meal, but it can also be a potentially dangerous situation. Thanksgiving is the number one day for home fires involving cooking equipment, so be sure to practice these safety tips courtesy of the National Fire Protection Association:
- Remain in the kitchen while you’re cooking, and keep a close eye on what you fry! Always stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling or broiling food. If you have to leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove. Regularly check on food that’s simmering, baking or roasting, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
- Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.
- Keep any items that can catch fire such as oven mitts, recipes, towels, and food packaging away from the stove
- Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay 3 feet away.
- Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
- Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
- Keep knives out of the reach of children.
- Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
- Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.
- Never leave children alone in room with a lit candle.
- Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.
- If you’re cooking a turkey using a disposable aluminum pan, consider doubling up and using two pans to avoid a puncture, as dripping turkey juices can cause an oven fire.
- If you have a small (grease) cooking fire on the stove-top and decide to fight the fire: Smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled. For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
In the event of a serious fire at home, call 911 or your local fire department right away.
Call SERVPRO of Tustin at (714) 480-1340. 24/7 Emergency Services and our expert specialists are standing by to answer any questions you may have or to respond to your emergency.