The Day After A Fire

Many people are lucky enough to never have gone through the devastating loss of a fire in their home.  But for those who have, these images are difficult to ever forget.  Here’s a set of photos displaying a home the day after the fire was extinguished, and a look at the severe damage it caused.  Please note, that all animals and residents were evacuated safely.  20151115_085912 20151115_085918 20151115_085926 20151115_085933 20151115_085941 20151115_085952

When the Power Goes Out

With powerful thunderstorms becoming more frequent, here’s a list of things to do when the power goes out

  • UNLESS there is an emergency, do not call 9-1-1. That number should ONLY be used if there is an emergency, or if someone is injured or in danger.
  • If there are downed power lines in your neighborhood, do not go near them. Call 9-1-1 first to report the emergency. Then call your electricity company. Check to make sure that no children or animals go near the wires – they could still be electrictrified and are lethal.
  • A rolling blackout during warm weather will most likely occur during the evening peak hours of 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Because it may be dark in rooms with no lights, keep flashlights handy. To avoid a power surge when the electricity returns, turn off computers, TVs, stereos and other unnecessary electronic equipment at the power strip.
  • Drink plenty of water. You will perspire and lose water, so stay hydrated.
  • Dress to stay cool – wear layers that can be removed if you get hot.
  • Avoid opening your refrigerator and freezer as much as possible. Food inside should stay cold for hours if the door is left closed.
  • If you’re hot, take a cool shower to reduce your body temperature.If you have a pool or a neighbor with a pool, it’s s good time to take a dip. The cooler water will bring your body temperature down and help you to stay cool.
  • Check on your elderly neighbors or those who may have medical conditions or use medical machinery that operates on electricity. Make sure they are dressed appropriately and are staying cool.
  • Drive carefully. Remember that traffic signals may be out in a rolling blackout. Consider each intersection to be a four-way stop and drive defensively.

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Plumbing Issues – Part 5

In our last part of our Plumbing Issues Series, we’ve included a photo showing water damage to a living room ceiling due to leaky pipes under a sink.  The customer placed a bucket and a couple of rags to catch the slow drip from the water line under the bathroom sink.  When he wasn’t home, the pipe opened up and flooded the ceiling.  This caused ceiling, wall and carpet loss, all because the repairs weren’t made in a timely fashion.  In conclusion, when you have identified a leak in your plumbing, call a professional if you aren’t capable of fixing it properly.  Otherwise, this can happen to you.DSCN1703

Emergency Exit Plan For Fires

If you become aware of a fire or hear a fire alarm, the first priority is getting out safely. Once clear of the building and in a safe location call 9-1-1.

* Take ALL fire alarms seriously and leave the building immediately. Do not stop.

* Feel door handles. If they are warm, do not open them. Find another way out of your room. If you can’t get out, signal for help.

* Close doors behind you.

* Stay low when there is smoke, where the air is cleaner and cooler.

* Always use the closest exit or stairway; never use elevators.

* If the alarm is on your way out, pull it!

* Once outside, do not go back in!

* If your clothes are on fire, stop, drop, and roll.

* Quickly cool any burns with water and seek medical attention.

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Tips on Dealing With Adjusters

Insurance companies employ their own adjusters. They’ll evaluate your property damage and help walk you through the claims process, free of charge. In many states, you can also hire public adjusters to help you file claims and negotiate your insurance payment. Public adjusters represent the claimant, and usually charge you 10-15 percent of any insurance settlement.

Schemes:  Most public adjusters are honest and competent, but some are crooked. They may come from out of town, and go door to door, trying to bilk disaster victims with insurance schemes. They might:

• Charge you a large fee, and then disappear without handling your claim.

• Refer your repair to a dishonest contractor for a kickback, and you may receive shoddy repairs in return.

• File false and inflated claims against your policy. Sometimes they’ll also try to convince you to join the scheme.

• Use their position of trust to access your Social Security number and other personal data for scams involving identity theft.

Licenses:  Public adjusters need licenses in most states. Ask your state insurance department if an adjuster is properly licensed in your state, or has any complaints or disciplinary actions. If the adjuster comes from another state, contact that state’s insurance department to make sure the adjuster is licensed.

References:  Ask people you trust if they can recommend a reputable adjuster.

Remember:  You are fully within your right to hire whichever contractor you desire.  Your home owners insurance adjuster or your public adjuster may recommend contractors, but the decision of whom you hire is completely up to you. 

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Selecting a Fire Restoration Company – Part 1

Fire damage clean up is an arduous process that often requires the proper industrial equipment and time. A standard vacuum cleaner is rarely enough. In addition, time is of the essence. In the wake of a fire, when victims are faced with insurance matters, arrangements for interim housing, and possible health concerns, homeowners are unlikely to make salvage efforts the top priority. Sadly, this could present a costly dilemma. In these cases, the services of a certified fire restoration company are invaluable.

Delays in fire damage clean up can have serious consequences. In addition to the obvious devastation created by heat, flames, and soot, water and smoke are powerful contaminators and destructors in their own right. Immediate intervention is critical to minimize exposure to these damaging agents in hopes of limiting restoration costs.

• Within minutes after the blaze is extinguished, acidic soot residue causes discoloration of plastics. Certain materials like marble and alabaster could be marred permanently.
• It only takes a matter of hours for acidic soot to cause yellowing of bath fixtures, counter tops, and the tarnishing of unprotected metals. Furniture and appliances may also discolor.
• Within days, acid residues may permanently discolor walls and cause corrosion and rusting of metals. Flooring made of wood or vinyl must be replaced (or at the least refinished), and textiles such as clothing and furniture upholstery becomes irreparably stained.
• In a matter of weeks, carpet may become unsalvageable due to discoloration. Silver-plated fixtures are irreversibly corroded. Glass, crystal, and china may become severely etched and pitted due to extended exposure to acidic soot residue.

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Health Effects of Radon

Radon is one of the “noble” gases (such as neon and argon). It is a naturally occurring element that is produced from radium which is part of the uranium decay series. Radon has a half-life of 3.82 days and during decay produces particles called radon daughters. These particles are solid, short-lived radioisotopes that emit alpha particles. When the radon daughters release these alpha particles into the lungs, the alpha particles penetrate cells and cause DNA damage.

Lung cancer
The primary health effect of radon is lung cancer. When the radon daughters release these alpha particles into the lungs, the alpha particles penetrate cells and cause DNA damage. The damage is cumulative and can eventually cause cancer. Animal studies have shown that radon can cause cancer without the contribution of other pollutants (e.g., tobacco smoke).

The fact that radon exposure causes lung cancer was recognized first in uranium miners. One study evaluated American Indian miners who were non-smokers, and found a threefold increase in lung cancer over that experienced by non smokers who were not miners in the same community.

Smoking increases the risk of lung cancer dramatically. Early evidence for the role of smoking is the fact that before manufactured cigarettes were available, lung cancer was considered a rare disease (in spite of ongoing exposure to radon). Following the introduction of manufactured cigarettes, the incidence of lung cancers rose quickly to the point where it is now one of the most common cancers. For lifelong non-smokers, absolute risks (as opposed to excess risk due only to radon) of lung cancer (for those still alive) are 0.4%, 0.5% and 0.7% respectively at radon concentrations of 0, 100 and 400 Bq/m3. In cigarette smokers exposed to the same radon concentrations, these risks are 10%, 12% and 16% (Darby et al., 2005).

The EPA is strongly focused on the reduction of radon exposure primarily because of the enormous public health impact of its role in lung cancer in smokers. Mendez et al. (2009) analyzed smoking trends in the US and concluded that a better approach would be to concentrate on programs to reduce smoking.

Radon and Childhood Leukemia
There is some evidence that excessive radon exposure can increase the risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children. One study demonstrated a 56% increase in the rate of this type of leukemia per 1000 Bq/m3-years increase in exposure (Raaschou-Nielsen et al., 2008; Harley & Robbins 2009).

Radon and Pancreatic Cancer
Radon exposure may be a significant risk factor for pancreatic cancer in African Americans, American Indians, and Asian Americans. Testing and mitigating homes for indoor radon may decrease the incidence of pancreatic cancer in these groups (Reddy & Bhutani 2009).

Radon and Other Cancers
One study of miners revealed some evidence for a relationship between other pulmonary cancers and cumulative radon exposures, but unknown factors could have influenced their results either negatively or positively.

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