Safety Tips For Your Gainesville Holiday Celebrations
Don't let your holiday season go up in smoke by neglecting basic safety tips.
Brightly lighted decorations, elaborate meals and large gatherings are all part of traditional holiday celebrations. Unfortunately, these seasonal traditions also cause an average of 780 home fires annually that result in an average of three deaths, 34 injuries and $12 million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Homeowners can help keep their homes and their families safe during the holiday season by understanding the dangers and taking some simple, commonsense precautions.
Holiday Cooking Fire Facts
- Thanksgiving Day has three times the average number of reported home structure fires involving cooking equipment.
- The two other peak days for cooking-related fires are Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
Holiday Cooking Safety Tips
- Supervise items on the stovetop. Fifty-eight percent of kitchen fires involve ranges; homes with electric cooktops have a higher risk of fire than homes with gas cooktops.
- Keep flammable items – potholders, packaging, wrapping, wooden utensils, loose clothing – away from the stovetop.
- Don’t let lack of sleep or alcohol consumption affect your ability to concentrate on preparing the meal.
Holiday Decorating Fire Facts
- Half of all holiday decoration fires start because the decoration is too close to a heat source.
- On average, 32 candle fires are reported each day. December is the peak month for candle fires.
Holiday Decorating Safety Tips:
- Keep all decorations away from heat sources like radiators, portable heaters and fireplaces.
- Use flameless candles.
- If you do use traditional candles, burn them in sturdy candleholders, well away from drapes and other flammable materials. Never leave them unattended and never allow them to burn down to less than one inch in length.
Christmas Tree Fire Facts:
- 50% of live tree fires occur between December 22 and January 5.
- 31% of tree fires are caused by electrical problems.
- 14% involve decorative lights.
Christmas Tree Safety Tips:
- Keep live trees well-watered to reduce the chance of a fire.
- Check wiring on lights for breaks and wear, replace worn strings and don’t exceed manufacturer guidelines for connecting multiple strands of lights.
- Don’t leave tree lights plugged in when you are away from home or asleep.
If you incur fire damage this holiday season, SERVPRO of Gainesville West-Alachua County West can assist you. We want to restore your home or business quickly and make it “Like it never even happened.”
Problems with mold in your Gainesville home
SERVPRO's trained technicians can remediate your mold problem in a timely manner.
Mold occurs naturally almost everywhere, both outdoors and indoors, and this makes it nearly impossible to remove all mold from a home or business. Therefore, mold remediation reduces the mold spore count back to its natural or baseline level.
In Florida, with the high humidity and temperatures, it is the perfect environment for mold to emerge – especially if your air conditioning unit goes out or you have a leak you are unaware of inside a wall or under a sink or appliance, like your refrigerator, washing machine or dishwasher.
Here are five areas to be aware of to avoid mold scenarios:
- Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall wood, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.
- Mold spores thrive on moisture. Mold spores can quickly grow into colonies when exposed to water. These colonies may produce allergens and irritants. Even higher-than-normal indoor humidity can support mold growth. Keep indoor humidity below 45 percent.
- Mold in your home can require cleaning, sanitizing, demolition, removal, or other treatment, of mold or mold-contaminated matter.
- Mold spores are microscopic and float along in the air and may enter your home through windows, doors, or AC/heating systems or even hitch a ride indoors on your clothing or a pet.
- Mold can spread throughout a property in as little as 24 to 72 hours and quick action to deal with the problem is critical.
If you suspect that your home or business has a mold problem, SERVPRO of Gainesville West-Alachua County West can assist you. Our technicians are trained in mold remediation and we can have your property restored in a timely manner and make it “Like it never even happened.”
Don't Become A Holiday Fire Stastic
Don't let this holiday season's cooking be emblazoned into your memory!
“The oven’s on fire and our guests are at the front door!”
Don’t let this be the what you hear at your house this holiday season. Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for fire departments that involve home fires and cooking equipment, followed closely by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
The National Fire Protection Association stated in a 2017 article that between 2011 and 2015, fire departments responded to an average of 170,200 home structure fires involving cooking equipment which resulted in 510 deaths and 5,470 injuries. Don’t let your home and family be included in these statistics this holiday season.
Here are some kitchen and cooking tips from the NFPA’s Thanksgiving page:
- Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.
- Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stove top so you can keep an eye on the food.
- Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.
- Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot, and kids should stay three 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 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.
- Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
- Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.
Considerations for cooking with oil
- Always stay in the kitchen when frying on the stovetop.
- Keep an eye on what you fry. If you see wisps of smoke or the oil smells, immediately turn off the burner and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner. Smoke is a danger sign that the oil is too hot.
- Heat the oil slowly to the temperature you need for frying or sautéing.
- Add food gently to the pot or pan so the oil does not splatter.
- Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water on the fire.
- If the fire does not go out or you don’t feel comfortable sliding a lid over the pan, get everyone out of your home. Call the fire department from outside.
Warning on deep frying a turkey
Be especially aware when Deep Frying a turkey, people tend to put too much oil in which causes overflow and spreads to the open flame causing a mass fireball. Also putting in a frozen or very wet bird can cause major problems which they call B.L.E.V.E which stands for Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion.
- Always use fryer outside away from any structure
- Keep oil under 350 degrees, the hotter the oil the more combustible it is
- Don’t overfill the pot with oil
- Thoroughly defrost turkey (24 hours for every 10 pounds the turkey weighs)
- Turn off flame before putting turkey in
- Keep grease fire approved extinguisher on hand
- Lower turkey into pot slowly
If you have a cooking fire
- 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.
- 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 stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
- For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
If you experience a fire in your home, call the professionals at SERVPRO of Gainesville West-Alachua County West to immediately respond and get your home back to pre-fire condition. We can restore and reconstruct your disaster and make it “Like it never even happened.”
Fire Preparedness Week Highlights Cooking Safety
There are various ways fires can erupt in the kitchen.
One of the most frequent causes of household fire and smoke damage is cooking. With Oct. 4-10 being Fire Preparedness Week, we would like to address how to keep safe in your Gainesville-area kitchen.
According to Tufts Public and Environmental Safety, more than 118,000 fires involve cooking equipment. Because of this, it is important to practice safe cooking behaviors whenever you are in the kitchen no matter how large or for what purpose the meal you are preparing.
- Protect Children from Scalds and Burns. Young children are at high risk of being burned by hot food and liquids. Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a "kid-free zone" of three feet around the stove.
- Watch What You’re Cooking. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or cooking food on the stop top or broiling food.
- Choose the Right Equipment and Use It Properly. Follow manufacturers' instructions when using cooking equipment. Remember to plug microwave ovens and other cooking appliances directly into an outlet. Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance, as it can overload the circuit and cause a fire. Cook only with equipment designed and intended for cooking and heat your home only with equipment designed and intended for heating.
- Avoid Using Deep Fat Turkey Fryers. The use of a deep fat turkey fryer can be very dangerous. If you do decide to use one, use it at a safe distance from buildings and other items that can catch fire. Never use a turkey fryer in a garage or on a wooden deck. Watch the fryer carefully, as the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire. To avoid oil spillover, don’t overfill the fryer. Oil-less turkey fryers are available. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website.
- Keep Things That Can Catch Fire and Heat Sources Apart. Keep anything that can catch fire - potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels, or curtains - away from your stovetop. Keep the stovetop, burners, and oven clean. Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
- Prevent Scalds and Burns. To prevent spills due to overturned appliances containing hot food or liquids, use the back burner when possible, and/or turn pot handles away from the stove's edge. Use oven mitts or potholders when moving hot food from ovens, microwave ovens, or stovetops.
Make sure to follow to follow these helpful tips, Whenever there is a problem with smoke damage in your home please give us a call at SERVPRO of Gainesville West/Alachua County West at 352-374-6589.
This Is The Reason For "Why SERVPRO"
Helping people is our what we do.
In one of our recent jobs that we finished in September, we were blessed to have our customer write the following email to our owners about the job we performed. It is responses like this that justify why we are in the business of helping restore people's lives during times of tragedy:
I am writing to express my sincerest appreciation for the following members of your team:
If possible, I would like this letter shared with them to express my gratefulness for their superior work.
My father suddenly passed away this month and immediately after his death I discovered his house was a horror scene. From the moment I called your office and spoke with CJ, he handled my panic with the utmost respect and concern. In fact, he sent a technician out to my father’s house the same day to walk through the home, assess the damage and provide an estimate. I was horrified and embarrassed at the situation, and CJ and the technicians that came to the house never once made me feel uncomfortable. In fact, they handled it so professionally that they made me feel like this was just a “normal” job.
When I went to the house to do a walk-through after the technicians finished cleaning, I was completely speechless. The house was absolutely beautiful, all the horrendous smells were gone, and the team had done an incredible job. On top of the thorough cleaning and spotless work, the technicians even took the time to fix the clogged kitchen sink, fix a broken kitchen cabinet and organize the cabinets! They took great care of all of the personal items inside the home, including organizing a dirty china cabinet. The time and detail the technicians put into the job showed in the quality of the work; they far exceeded my expectations. After I walked through the home, I told my family that your technicians were angels sent from heaven. I would like to thank Jason, Billy, Travis, Lee and Furnell for turning a complete nightmare back into a home.
I also wanted to highlight the work of Ms. Schellpepper. I called your office nearly every single day for weeks with questions and status and she was so kind to me. She answered every question I had and was always polite and professional, even when I was stressed and anxious. She even provided contact information for a flooring company and pest control agency to assist me with the home.
I give my highest recommendation to your company and your team members. The work you do is extremely difficult, and yet you found a way to bring joy to me in my time of grief and despair.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart,
And thank you, Michelle, for the appreciation, the kind words, and taking the time to send us this letter we could share with our franchise.
Do You Have an Emergency Plan for Your Gainesville-area Business?
Is your business going to close forever due to a disaster or will you be prepared and survive?
The Best Way to Reduce Business Interruption Following a Disaster is to Plan For it NOW
As many as 40 to 60 percent of businesses may never recover following a disaster, according to FEMA research. Of the businesses that survive, the overwhelming majority of them had a preparedness plan in place. Pre-planning can serve as an insurance policy aimed at peace of mind.
SERVPRO of Gainesville West/Alachua County West has an application that consists of all your emergency contacts right in the palm of your hands. The Emergency Ready Profile, or ERP, is an application designed by SERVPRO to help business owners, individuals and property managers access their emergency contacts all in one spot.
We stress the ease of our ERP to our property managers because it helps especially when it comes to the local and non-local board members who would like to keep a watchful eye on the property even while they are away.
Our ERP shows locations for water shut off valves, fire shut off, and electrical shut off in case an emergency arises. This is a service we provide at NO COST to our clients in order to keep them safe when a disaster strikes.
Call SERVPRO of Gainesville West/Alachua County West for you ERP at 352-374-6589. We will make it "Like it never even happened."
Explaining the Different Categories of Water Damage
There are three categories when it comes to determining how to proceed with a water scenario.
Have you ever wondered if there is a difference in the type of water when your house floods due to a storm, your toilet overflows or a supply-line pipe breaks inside your wall?
You’ve probably overheard SERVPRO of Gainesville West/Alachua County West’s technicians or an insurance adjuster talking about the category of water and have had it explained to you the three categories that we use to classify the damage. The kind of water in a water classification can affect the drying process, so we wanted to give a little info about each category of water:
Category 1 (Clean)
Category 1 is generally clean water that comes from supply lines, or tub/ sink overflows, or an appliance malfunction caused by an incoming water line. Category 1 water doesn’t usually pose a risk from exposure.
Category 2 (Gray)
Category 2 is the next category and is significantly more contaminated that Category 1. Category 2 can cause sickness or discomfort if it contacts human skin and is usually from overflowing washing machines, dishwashers, or any kinds of water that chemicals or detergents could have gotten into it.
Category 3 (Black)
Category 3 is extremely contaminated water that generally comes from sewage, flood waters, or any kind of biological contaminates getting into water. Extreme safety precautions are needed when working with Category 3 water damages.
It’s important to note that a unless water mitigation is started as quickly as possible it is possible for a Category 1 to go to a Category 3 very quickly, which is why it is important to call a mitigation specialist as quickly as possible.
If you have water damage, contact SERVPRO of Gainesville West/Alachua County West at 352-374-6589 and let us help you make your tragedy "Like it never even happened."
Smoke, Soot Hazards Following A Gainesville Fire
Smoke and soot present major health hazards if not cleaned and treated correctly following a fire.
Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. But not only that, it can also have hazardous health affects if not treated and cleaned properly.
Our smoke damage expertise and experience allow 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 Environmental Protection Agency has a list of the affects of smoke as a health hazard and the National Cancer Institute discusses how soot can affect you.
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. 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.
If you have questions about fire restoration or smoke and soot removal, call SERVPRO of Gainesville West/Alachua County West today at 352-374-6589.
Is Your Kitchen Safe From Fires?
The kitchen is one of the most hazardous rooms in your home if not properly maintained and handled safely.
Fires in the kitchen can quickly escalate. Stay safe and call SERVPRO after the fire is under control to begin the remediation process.
Your kitchen has the potential to be the most dangerous room in your home. It holds many hazards which can cause unintentional fires and burns. There are some basic safety rules you can follow to keep your kitchen free from hazards. If you have experienced a kitchen fire, you need the professional help of our technicians at SERVPRO. We are a trained and experienced fire damage remediation company who has the tools required to restore your home after a fire.
The first thing you should always have in your Gainesville kitchen to prevent fire damage is a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. A smoke detector also needs to be installed and maintained regularly. Any cleaning products should be stored away from children, and do not leave a heat source or fire unattended.
Stove and Oven
Clean your range and oven regularly and thoroughly. This prevents residual grease and food from catching fire. While cooking, keep pot handles turned inward away from the stove’s edge. Do not wear loose, long sleeves which can hang over the stove while cooking. Keep your eye on the oven at all times when it is on and turn it off when you are done cooking.
Flammable items such as dish rags, towels, and curtains should not be near the stove. Also, be cautious with flammable liquids, since a small spark can ignite vapors from these fluids.
Ensure all vents are clear of obstructions and the microwave has enough space for air circulation. Do not put foil or other metals in the microwave oven, as they can create sparks and fires.
Do not use appliances which have not been tested and approved by a recognized facility. Keep electrical outlets from being overloaded and check for broken or worn wiring regularly. Make any needed repairs in a timely fashion and keep cords on the counter so they do not get pulled down accidentally.
Deep Fryers and Frying Pans
The best thing to prevent fryer fires is to use a fryer with a controlled thermostat. Do not allow grease and fat buildup in pans or on the stove since they can easily catch fire. When SERVPRO arrives at your home, we assess the damage first, including any smoke, soot and/or water damage. Before we begin any remediation, we go over the plan with you so you can understand all that is happening.
Call on SERVPRO of Gainesville West/Alachua County West at 352-374-6589. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to start working on your home or business kitchen fire and make it "Like it never even happened."
Storms increase awareness in Southeastern states
With Hurricane Laura hitting Texas and Louisiana, now's the time to check over your emergency storm checklist.
Advanced planning in the Gainesville-Alachua County area is key
With Hurricane Laura making landfall in Texas and Louisiana, the summer/fall storm season is ramping up throughout the Southeastern states and we need to be diligent in preparation in the Gainesville and Alachua County area.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a warning earlier in August stating an “extremely active hurricane season possible for Atlantic Basin” and urging preparedness as we enter the peak months.
At SERVPRO of Gainesville West/Alachua County West, we take storm season seriously as we either travel to affected regions or stay in our home area of North-Central Florida to respond to damage resulting from high winds, rain and flooding.
Like any emergency, you want to plan in advance. The State of Florida website offers a comprehensive list for kits, how to secure your home, and dealing with power outages that includes the following:
It is important to create a kit of supplies that you could take with you if you are forced to evacuate. This kit will also be useful if you are able to stay in your home, but are still affected by the storm, such as through the loss of power. One common trend seen when hurricanes are approaching is a wide-spread panic. When this happens, people rush in large numbers to get all the supplies they think they need. However, if you prepare your kit ahead of time, you can alleviate a lot of the potential stress of a very chaotic situation. You should create your kit in a bag that you can easily take with you. Some recommended items to include are:
- Non-perishable food (enough to last at least 3 days)
- Water (enough to last at least 3 days)
- First-aid kit (include any prescription medication you may need)
- Personal hygiene items and sanitation items
- Flashlights (have extra batteries on hand)
- Battery operated radio (again, have extra batteries)
- Waterproof container with cash and important documents
- Manual can opener
- Lighter or matches
- Books, magazines, games for recreation
- Special needs items: pet supplies and baby supplies if applicable
- Cooler and ice packs
- A plan for evacuation and for if family members are separated
Securing Your Home
Know how to secure your home in the event of damaging winds, storm surge and flooding.
- Cover all your windows, either with hurricane shutters or wood.
- Although tape can prevent glass from shattering everywhere, be warned that tape does not prevent the window from breaking.
- If possible, secure straps or clips to securely fasten your roof to the structure of your home.
- Make sure all trees and shrubs are trimmed and clear rain gutters.
- Reinforce your garage doors.
- Bring in all outdoor furniture, garbage cans, decorations, and anything else that is not tied down.
- If winds become strong, stay away from windows and doors and close, secure and brace internal doors.
In the event a storm should leave you without power, there are a few things to consider and help you be ready and stay safe outside of your normal hurricane preparedness.
- Gas: Make sure your tank is full far in advance of an approaching storm. Most people wait until the last minute, rush to get extra gas for cars and generators, and subsequently gas stations can run out early.
- ATMS: Have extra cash on hand in the event no ATMS in your area are accessible or working.
- Cell Phones: Charge your cell phone and limit use after power is out.
- A/C: This can be the most uncomfortable side effect of losing power during a storm. Try to prevent as much light from entering and warming the house by covering up your windows on the inside. If you have back-up or battery-operated fans, don't run them unless you are in the room. Fans create a difference in perceived temperature but do not cool the room; instead, they create a cooling effect by dispersing the heat off your skin. It is said they can actually add heat to a room just by running.
- Water: Fill bathtub and large containers with water for washing and flushing only.
- Food: Turn your fridge temperature down and/or freeze any food or drinking water that can be frozen if you expect a power outage. Here is a guide on freezing food: Freezing and Food Safety. Have a cooler with ice packs prepared to cool your drinks and snacks after power has been out for more than 4 hours.
- Health/Safety: The CDC has a great guide on how to stay safe in the event of a power outage: Power Outages
And if tragedy strikes and your house floods, a tree crashes into your roof and exposes the attic and rooms below to water damage, or a power outage causes your HVAC to go out creating a possible mold situation, call on SERVPRO of Gainesville West/Alachua County West at 352-374-6589. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to start working on your home or business disaster and make it "Like it never even happened."