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The Risks of Fire Damage Increases During the Holiday Season on Cape Cod and Islands

11/5/2015 (Permalink)

This photo shows the damage done by a fire which started twelve units away from it.

Every day we take certain measures to keep ourselves safe from accidents, fires, and other perils. We use our seat belts when we are driving and we insist that our passengers do the same. We place our children in their car seats to keep them safe. Hopefully, we refrain from texting while driving and never drink and drive, keeping ourselves and other travelers safe.

We also take precautions at home. We lock our doors and never leave valuables in our cars so that we are not the victims of a break-in. We keep our properties well lit to deter criminals. But even with the greatest of intentions and precautions on the minds of property owners, they sometimes forget that the greatest risk of all could be unintentionally caused by them. And what could that be, you ask.  House fires can be the most devastating accidents of all and  here are the top causes of fire damage to homes or housing complexes that you may or may not be aware of.

  • There are a number of sources for house fires and at the top of the list is cooking. Grease splatter or a pan overheating can quickly start a fire. Never leave a pot or pan, especially if you are using oil, unattended. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. Instead, cover it with a lid, to starve the fire of oxygen. Tip: As Thanksgiving Day approaches and you are tempted to fry the turkey instead of roasting it, make sure the fryer is a good distance from the house on a patch of dirt or sand.
  • Another source of home fires is the furnace or other heating elements, such as wood stoves and fireplaces. Remember to have your furnace checked annually. This not only reduces the potential for a fire or a puff back but helps the appliance operate efficiently. Be sure to have your chimney cleaned and remember to open the flue before starting a fire. Keep pets and children away from the fireplace when having a fire. Be careful when cleaning and disposing of ashes in the fireplace. Place discarded ashes in a barrel far away from the house.
  • Candles are lovely and certainly add to the ambiance in the room but they are also a major cause in many house fires.  When lighting candles, make sure that they are away from any loose fabrics, such as curtains. And NEVER leave a lit candle unattended.
  • Though smoking is all but taboo these days, people are still lighting up. Another big cause of home fires is poorly extinguished smoking materials. Make sure that smoking is off limits in bedrooms and that ash trays are deep and large. If at all possible, ask that smoking be done outside rather than in the house.
  • All too often, fires start because of an electrical malfunction. Be sure that electrical cords are not frayed and that you are not overloading extension cords. Though I applaud homeowners who can handle do it yourself projects, anything involving electricity might be better left to a licensed electrician. Tip: If you have to disconnect one appliance so that you can use another or if fuses blow and circuit breakers trip frequently or if the lights dim when you use another appliance, you may have a wiring problem and should call an electrician.
  • Take special care when storing flammable items such solvents, cleaning agents, thinners, or paint. Since the vapors can easily ignite from a high temperatures or small spark, be sure to store these items in a cool, ventilated area.
  • With Christmas just around the corner, make sure that the Christmas tree is positioned far enough away from heat sources, such as radiators, wood stoves, or heating systems. Check all lights and leave out any strings with frayed cords.

The old adage, It's better to be safe than sorry really holds true in these cases and we at SERVPRO of Upper Cape Cod & The Islands want you to know we are here when you need us most!

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