Holiday Prep Profile: Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguisher photo, courtesy of OSHA.
It is officially November!
Halloween is behind us, Thanksgiving and Christmas are still ahead, and while it might be too early for some to hear Christmas carols on the radio and in the stores, it’s NEVER to early to do some safety prep for the holiday season.
On Fridays this month we will take a look at some different safety considerations you might want to take before your celebrations begin.
For our first Holiday Prep Profile, we’re going to talk about fire extinguishers.
Why fire extinguishers? Well, according to the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA (one of our favorite sources, don’tcha know!), cooking fires peak during the holiday season. The NFPA says the most cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving, then Christmas Day, then Christmas Eve. Oh, and cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires.
So, all those statistics are certainly reason enough to consider getting a fire extinguisher for your home before the holidays AND learn how to use it properly.
First and foremost, you’re going to want to choose the right fire extinguisher. There are several classes of them, which the NFPA describes:
- Class A – this is the most common extinguisher and can be used to put out fires on cloth, wood, rubber, paper and many plastics.
- Class B – this is used on fires involving flammable liquids like gasoline, grease and oil.
- Class C – this is used for fires that involved electrical appliances and tools that are plugged in.
- Class D – this is used on flammable metals and is typically only found in factories that work with those metals.
- Class K – this is used on fires that involve oils and animal fats INSIDE cooking appliances. These are typically only found in commercial kitchens; however, they are on the market for use in homes.
The NFPA advises choosing a fire extinguisher for your home that is multi-purpose and large enough to put out a small fire, but not so large that it is difficult to handle.
The association also recommends reading all of the fire extinguisher’s directions and becoming familiar with it as soon as you buy it. This way you’ll know how to use it if you need it.
And when it comes to using it, remember the acronym PASS:
- P – Pull the pin. Hold the nozzle away from you and release the locking mechanism.
- A – Aim Low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
- S – Squeeze. Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
- S – Sweep. Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.
The NFPA WARNS a fire extinguisher should ONLY be used if the fire is contained to a SMALL area, is NOT growing and the room is NOT filled with smoke. Otherwise, it is far too dangerous to try to put out a fire using an extinguisher and you should leave the home immediately. And, the NFPA says, you should always call the fire department.
A fire extinguisher is certainly a good tool to have in your home, particularly around the holiday season. However, it is not the be-all or end-all for fire safety. Take care of yourself and always put your safety first.
Fire Prevention Profile: What to Do Until Help Arrives
Damage from a fire in the Green Bay area.
October has come to an end and, with it, so has Fire Prevention Month. However, you are in luck, as we have one more, bonus prevention profile to share! (And, let’s be honest, it’s never a bad time to talk about fire prevention.)
Aside from the obvious dangers house fires present, even the smallest blazes can bring big headaches. Meaning, even fires that are put out quickly without injury can leave soot, smoke damage and other nasty problems.
That’s where SERVPRO of West Brown County comes into the picture. After the you or firefighters have done the heavy lifting of putting out the flames, our technicians come in to clean up the damage left behind. We have the expertise and equipment to make a fire “like it never even happened.”
There are some things you can do to make that recovery process go smoothly and ensure the damage doesn’t get any worse before our team arrives.
SERVPRO advises these DOs:
- Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpet.
- Keep hands clean. Soot on hands can cause further damage to upholstery, walls and woodwork.
- Place dry, colorfast towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpeting.
- Wipe soot from chrome kitchen/bathroom faucets, trim and appliances. Then protect these surfaces with a light coating of lubricant.
- If heat is off during winter, pour RV antifreeze in sinks, toilet bowls, holding tanks and tubs to avoid freezing pipes and fixtures.
- Change HVAC filters; leave system off until a trained professional can check the system.
- Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers to stop soot particles from getting in or out of the HVAC system.
And along with those DOs, there are a list of DON’Ts:
- Don’t attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces without first contacting your SERVPRO professionals.
- Don’t attempt to shampoo carpet or upholstery without first contacting your SERVPRO professionals.
- Do not attempt to clean nay electrical appliances that may have been close to fire, heat or water without first contacting an authorized repair service.
- Do not consume any food or beverages that may have been stored close to fire, heat or water, as they may be contaminated.
- If ceiling is wet, do not turn on any ceiling fans. Wiring may be wet or damaged and cause electrical shock, and air movement may cause secondary damage.
- Don’t send garments to dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set in odor smoke.
Hopefully you never need this advice, but if you do, the steps are simple ones to take to ensure your property can be restored as easily as possible.
At SERVPRO of West Brown County we know a fire of any size can be a traumatic event and we know the damage left behind, the sights and smells of soot and smoke, can amplify and prolong that trauma. It is our goal to take care of that damage quickly and efficiently to help minimize the trauma and get your life back in order.
We are always just a phone call away at 920-434-8224.
Fire Prevention Profile: Home Heating Safety
House fire photo, courtesy of FEMA.
As October comes to an end, we can all start to feel that chill in the air.
Fall is a time known for “sweater weather,” a time of year to get cozy. And as we get deeper into autumn, we know old man winter is not far behind.
When winter arrives, the sweaters are no longer enough to keep us warm and snug and we all start to rely on home heating to get us through the bitter months (honestly, some of us have already turned on our thermostats!).
However, when it comes to home heating, the threat of fire is never far behind. In fact, according to FEMA, heating is the second leading cause of home fires after cooking.
Furnaces, space heaters, fireplaces and woodstoves all have the potential to cause a blaze. So, it’s important to follow some safety rules when using any of these.
FEMA has a list of advice for each piece of equipment we listed:
- Have your furnace inspected each year by an HVAC professional.
- Keep anything flammable at least three feet from your furnace.
- Keep anything flammable away from implements like heat registers too.
- Have your chimney inspected and cleaned once a year.
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet from your fireplace or woodstove.
- Do not burn paper in your fireplace or woodstove.
- Put the fire out before you go to sleep or leave the house.
- Put ashes in a metal container with a lid, outside, at least three feet away from your house.
- Keep a glass or metal screen in front of your fireplace to keep sparks and embers from jumping out.
- Space Heaters:
- Again, keep anything flammable or that can burn, at least three feet away from the space heater.
- Make sure the heater has an automatic shut off on the event it falls over.
- Turn heaters off when you leave the room or go to bed.
- Plug portable heaters directly into wall outlets, never into extension cords or power strips.
- Only use space heaters from a recognized testing laboratory.
These are some easy tips to follow and they’re also very important. According to FEMA, 75% of home heating fires are “confined,” meaning they are confined to chimneys, flues or fuel burners (so get those chimneys cleaned!) and 29% of heating fires that are not confined are caused when something flammable is left too close to a heat source.
It’s also important to note that, as FEMA reports, home heating fires peak in January (that’s the month when 21% of those blazes occur) and those fires peak between the hours of 5:00 and 9:00 p.m.
So, be sure to stay warm and cozy and SAFE during the cold months ahead!
Cleaning in the Community
SERVPRO crew after road clean.
As we’ve written in the past, SERVPRO of West Brown County is invested in making the Green Bay area a better place and that includes doing adopt-a-road clean up!
We recently completed our second volunteer road clean of 2018 in Howard. The village assigned our team Pamperin Road and part of Velp Avenue at the start of the year.
A group of about 20 volunteers from team SERVPRO (along with some of our friends and family members) hit the streets for our first clean last spring…and phew, let us tell you, there was a lot of garbage that needed picking up!
We were out there for more than three hours and we collected more than forty very large bags full of trash.
As part of our commitment to the village, we’ve agreed to do this clean up twice a year: one in spring and one in fall.
So, last weekend, another group of SERVPRO volunteers set out, pounding the pavement, to clean up our streets.
We were in for a very pleasant surprise: the roadways were MUCH cleaner this time around! Thanks to the spring clean, our fall clean was a breeze. It took us about two hours this time and we collected about 15 trash bags full and while 15 bags is an improvement over 40 bags, we still hate to see even that much trash on our roadways.
Our crew certainly enjoys helping make the community a bit cleaner and brighter, and we recommend any local business or team get together and adopt a local road of their own. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s really a great time. You get out, enjoy some nice weather and get to know your co-workers a little bit better.
And although we really do have a good time volunteering, we must ask all the drivers out there to please not litter! It takes everyone, working together, to make the community the best it can be.
Fire Prevention Profile: Electrical Fires
Picture courtesy of FEMA.
As the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer, we all start to rely more heavily on our lights and other electronic devices to keep our homes bright and warm. But, along with the increased use of electricity comes a greater risk of electrical fires.
And since October is fire prevention month, now is a great time to ensure your home is safe from this risk before we get into the bitter winter months.
According to FEMA there are more than 45,000 home electrical fires each year in the United States. Half of those are caused by lighting equipment or home electrical wiring. FEMA says the peak months for these fires are December through March and deaths caused by these blazes peak between the hours of midnight and 6:00 in the morning (a very good reason to have working smoke detectors in your home!).
There are some very easy steps you can take immediately to prevent electrical fires. FEMA has an easy to follow checklist for you:
- Always plug appliances (especially major appliances like washers, dryers and refrigerators) directly into wall outlets.
- Never use an extension cord with those major appliances, as the cords can overheat quickly and cause a fire.
- Unplug small appliances when not in use.
- Plug only one heat-producing appliance (like a coffee maker or microwave) into an outlet at a time.
- Never use an extension cord with a heat-producing appliance.
- Keep light fixtures and lightbulbs away from anything flammable.
- Use lightbulbs that match the recommended wattage of the light fixture.
- Check the cords on appliances often. Replace any cracked, damaged or loose cords.
- Do not overload wall outlets.
- Insert plugs fully into sockets.
- Never force a three-prong plug into a two-prong outlet.
- If you have young children, be sure to install tamper resistant outlets.
- Replace old, worn or damaged extension cords right away.
- Use extension cords for temporary purposes only.
- Avoid putting cords where they can be damaged or pinched (like in heavy traffic areas where they might be stepped on).
- Do not overload power strips.
- Only use power strips with internal overload protection.
Now that you have this list, we recommend you go through your home and check off every bullet point on there (What are you waiting for? Do it now!). Doing so can help protect you, your family and your property, while keeping things bright this winter.
Fire Prevention Profile: Kitchen Fires
A stove that caught fire in the Green Bay area
Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires in the United States and the dangers only rise as we get into the holiday season. So, (since October is Fire Prevention Month) now is a good time to learn more about these incidents and what you can do to prevent them.
The statistics when it comes to kitchen fires are stark. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking accounts for about 47% of home fires, 20% of fire-related deaths and 45% of the fire-related injuries reported across the country each year. The NFPA says Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and then Christmas Eve.
Luckily, there are many simple steps home chefs can take to avoid these fires. One big step? Always watch what you’re cooking. The NFPA tells us one third of kitchen fires happen when a person leaves the equipment they’re using unattended. So, particularly if you’re using the stove top, stay in the kitchen and watch closely. If you’re using the oven, experts advise checking in regularly.
It’s important to remember, kitchen fires don’t just happen when food burns, anything flammable can catch fire if it’s too close to the heat. So, keep anything like oven mitts, dish cloths and paper towels AWAY from heat sources.
We have saved the BIGGEST culprit of cooking fires for last: frying. The NFPA says frying dominates the cooking fire problem. So, the Association has some advice you’ll want to follow this holiday season (and, of course, all year long):
- Always stay in the kitchen when frying.
- If you see smoke coming off the food you’re frying, turn off the burner or safely remove the pan from the burner. Smoke it a sign the oil is too hot.
- Slowly heat the oil to the temperature you need.
- Add food to the oil gently so that it does not splatter.
- Always keep a lid beside your pan. If the pan does catch fire, cover it with the lid and turn off the banner. Let the oil cool before removing the lid again.
- NEVER put water on a grease fire. If a fire starts to spread, leave the house immediately and call 911.
Now you know a little bit more about how to stand the heat and stay in the kitchen SAFELY. Team SERVPRO of West Brown County wishes everyone in the Green Bay area and beyond a very safe and happy holiday season!
Fire Prevention Profile: October is Fire Prevention Month
October is Fire Prevention Month
October is National Fire Prevention Month and we at SERVPRO of West Brown County want to ensure you are staying safe this month and all year long.
And in that spirit, we will be posting Fire Prevention Profiles each Friday in October.
For this first profile, we will provide some general prevention tips. The second week we will talk about preventing kitchen fires, the third week we’ll cover electrical fire prevention and the final fire prevention profile will discuss home heating safety and how that relates to fire prevention.
So, diving in to this week, the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA, provides a theme each year for fire prevention and 2018’s theme is “Look. Listen. Learn. Be Aware. Fire can happen anywhere.”
So here is what the NFPA advises:
- LOOK – look for places in your home fires could start. Identify any possible hazards and take care of them.
- LISTEN – listen for the sound of your smoke alarm. If you hear the smoke alarm, leave the building immediately. You only have minutes, sometimes seconds to escape the smoke and flames safely once you hear the alarm.
- LEARN – learn (and teach your family) two ways out of every room and make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily and are free of clutter.
This is also a great time of year to PREPARE for emergencies! In case you didn’t see our Preparedness Profiles from last month, they are all still in our blog archives, which you can find easily on our website and our social media pages. You can find out more about preparing for evacuations, pet safety in emergencies and proper use of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
And always remember, if a fire should damage your home or business, SERVPRO of West Brown County is always here for you. You can reach us, day or night, at 920-434-8224.
Preparedness Profile: Emergency Finances
It's a good idea to have an emergency "piggy bank."
For our final Preparedness Profile as September (AKA National Preparedness Month) comes to an end, we’d like to talk to you about emergency finances.
Being ready for a disaster doesn’t just mean having a plan in place, or creating an emergency kit, it means making sure your bank account and insurance policies are ready if worse comes to worst.
Having your finances in place is so important, because disasters can be devastating financially. For example, Ready.gov, says that just one inch of water in your home during a flooding situation can cause $25,000 worth of damage.
Now, it’s unlikely that you have (or can get) a spare $25,000 in your bank account on short notice and that’s why it’s so important you make sure you have any insurance coverage you might need. Have a conversation with your insurance agent about your policy. What possible holes exist in your coverage? What might you need if disaster strikes?
There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to insurance that only a professional can help with. For example, did you know that most homeowners’ and renters’ insurance does NOT cover flood damage? You often need an additional flood insurance policy. Even if you don’t live near a body of water, the experts say, anywhere it rains it can flood.
In addition to having the right insurance coverage, it’s also a good idea to have SOME money set aside for a disaster, or emergency situation. This will ensure you can still care for your family if something prevents you from working.
Ready.gov advises putting aside a little bit of money each month in a savings account that is only to be used in case of emergencies. The website also advises you have any paychecks or benefit checks directly deposited into your bank account to ensure you continue to receive your money in the midst of any disasters.
In addition, Ready.gov has a list of identifying and financial documents you’ll want copies of in case of emergencies. Those documents include:
- Photo ID
- Birth certificates for all household members
- Social Security card
- Any military ID
- Pet ID tags
- Housing payment records
- Insurance policies
- Proof of income
- Tax documents
- Health records
- Health insurance documents
- Immunization records
It’s likely no surprise disaster situations can be costly, but if you plan ahead you can offset those costs and ease any burdens that might come your way.
Jim Knopf Named 'Ambassador of the Year'
Jim gives a speech after receiving the award for 'Ambassador of the Year.'
At SERVPRO of West Brown County we love to highlight the good work our employees do both on and off the clock. And you’ve probably noticed we spend a lot of time talking about our Sales and Marketing Manager Jim Knopf.
Jim is constantly volunteering with community organizations to make the Green Bay area a better place.
One project that is particularly important to Jim is his work as an Ambassador for the Greater Green Bay Chamber of Commerce.
As an Ambassador Jim volunteers his time to help the Chamber reach out to current and new members and to make sure Chamber members are getting the most out of their membership benefits. You can also see Jim out and about in his green jacket helping at ribbon cuttings and other big Chamber events.
Last week the Chamber recognized the great work Jim does by honoring him with the “Ambassador of the Year” award. This is so exciting for us and we could not be prouder of Jim’s commitment.
Renae Schlies, the Vice President of Membership for the Chamber, spoke with us about why Jim was chosen for this honor.
Schlies explained that the top six Ambassadors were chosen on a point system and they were asked to fill out an application to be Ambassador of the year. From there, the Chamber’s membership committee used a scoring rubric to vote on the best candidate.
Schlies told us what makes Jim a good Ambassador, writing in an email, “Jim is a great ambassador for many reasons. He is very giving of his time to the chamber. He comes to almost all of the ribbon cuttings and events. We can always rely on him to support our members and our overall mission. He often refers people to the chamber and bringing in new members. He helps organize the ribbon cuttings and makes sure that everyone feels welcome at events such as the Business After Hours. He is also very giving of his time in the community for other non-profits. He is a very valuable volunteer/advocate for the chamber. We are fortunate to have him as part of the ambassador group.”
As for Jim, he was thrilled with the recognition. He is very excited and extremely thankful for the award and said that every one of his fellow Ambassadors who were up for it were more than worthy.
In his own words Jim said, “Winning the Ambassador of the Year Award is not just about winning the title, it makes me realize the work I do as a volunteer is a huge privilege, I have the backing of my company (SERVPRO of East/West Brown County). I get the opportunity to network with new and existing companies on behalf of the Chamber and, at the same time, get a chance to talk about what I do. I feel connected to my community and that I am making a difference through this work.”
SERVPRO of West Brown County is so proud of Jim and the team members are so lucky to call him a co-worker. We have no doubt he will continue this great volunteerism for years to come.
Preparedness Profile: Sound the Alarm
Smoke alarm photo courtesy of the CDC.
There is no reason to be alarmed by this week’s Preparedness Profile! We’re simply talking about some of the important alarms/detectors you should have in your home to ensure your family’s safety.
Those include: smoke, carbon monoxide and radon detectors.
At this point, it’s likely you have at least one smoke detector in your home. These are designed to sound an alarm when smoke is in the vicinity of the detector. However, one alarm is not enough to ensure your safety, especially if that device is not working.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has a few tips when it comes to installing and maintaining smoke alarms in your home:
- Install smoke alarms in each bedroom.
- Install smoke alarms outside each sleeping area.
- Install smoke alarms on each level of your home, including your basement.
- On levels without bedrooms, install alarms in living rooms or dens and/or at the bottom of staircases.
- Smoke alarms should be mounted high on walls or on ceilings.
- Smoke alarms should be at least 10 feet from any cooking appliances to prevent them being set off by cooking.
- Test your alarms once a month to ensure they’re working.
- Change batteries at least once a year. If you have ten-year battery-operated alarms, make sure to buy new ones every ten years.
- The alarms will chirp if the batteries are low.
- Keep alarms clean and follow all manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance.
According to the NFPA, about 3 out of every 5 fire-related deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms.
The bottom line: smoke alarms save lives. So, make them a top priority in your home.
Now we move on to carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that is known as the “invisible killer.” The NFPA says the deadly gas is created when fuels like wood, propane and gas burn incompletely.
A large amount of carbon monoxide can kill a person in a short amount of time, while a small amount of the gas can kill a person over a longer amount of time. This is why CO detectors/alarms are so important for your home.
The tips for CO alarms are similar as those for smoke alarms. The NFPA advises:
- Install CO alarms in a central location outside each sleeping area.
- Install CO alarms on every floor of the home, including basement.
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions for installations and placement.
- Test batteries once a month, replace yearly (or if the alarm chirps, signaling low battery)
- If the alarm sounds immediately move all people and pets out of the home and call for emergency responders.
Remember: because carbon monoxide is invisible to the senses you will not be able to tell if It’s in your house. That means you need an alarm to do that for you!
And finally, we are talking radon. Radon is probably the least talked about behind smoke and carbon monoxide, but it poses significant dangers too.
According to the CDC, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking, resulting in about 20,000 deaths every year.
Like CO, radon is a colorless gas that you cannot see or taste. The CDC explains that radon occurs naturally in the ground and is created when radioactive metals like uranium, thorium, or radium break down. The gas can then seep into your home through cracks and crevices.
The CDC says you should test your home for radon levels. You can do so using a kit, which you can buy online or in most home improvement stores. If your test shows high radon levels you can make changes to your home to lower those levels, like sealing up cracks. The CDC does recommend hiring a professional to make those changes, however, if you’re not an expert yourself.
These are just three easy things you can do to ensure your home is safe for you and your family. So, take the opportunity to get into the spirit of National Preparedness Month and make sure you have all the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors your home needs and do a radon test for good measure!
Remember, you’ll have a lot less cause for alarm in the future if you take the steps to prepare now!