How to Prevent House Fires: 3 Common Causes and Solutions

How to Prevent House Fires: 3 Common Causes and Solutions

There are over a million residential house fires every year. Many people are aware of the basics of home fire safety, like not keeping burning candles unattended and having a fire extinguisher on hand. But you should also learn how to prevent those fires when the causes are less obvious.

Here is a list of some of the most common unexpected causes of house fires and some things you can do to prevent them from happening.

1. Clothing Dryers

House after fire

34% of house fires caused by dryers are due to improper or infrequent cleaning of the dryer. These types of fires often occur at the end of the year, during fall and winter months.

Be sure to closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions if you’re installing your own vent and use only the recommended duct material. If you are unsure about how to properly install any part of the dryer, consult professional help.

If your dryer is installed and getting regular use, clean out the lint filter after every load and the dryer vent every few weeks. Lint has a way of collecting behind and under your dryer, so be diligent about checking all around it when cleaning. As your dryer heats up while operating it can cause the lint to catch fire.

2. Stoves and Ovens

House after fire

Each year there are close to 200,000 reports of house fires started by cooking.

Cooking in the kitchen demands a keen eye and a great deal of responsibility, even though it is a regular occurrence. There should always be a fire extinguisher nearby and everyone in the house should know how to use it. The stove and oven should be kept clean as well.
Built-up grease and splatter can easily ignite when the burners are being lit, or contribute to spreading a fire that has already started. It’s also why you should never leave your pots or pans unattended. There are many variables that result in catastrophe, so stay mindful and close by.

Finally, know how to spot a grease fire and how to put it out. Wisps of smoke and an acrid scent are signs a grease fire is bound to breakout. If the fire has yet to start, immediately turn off the heat source and remove the pot or pan from the source of heat.
If a grease fire has already started you’ll need to do the following:

  • Cover the flames with a pan or cookie sheet
  • Smother it with baking soda or salt
  • Use a Class B dry chemical fire extinguisher to extinguish the flames

And remember, never fight a grease fire with water. The water can actually spread the fire by splashing the grease and carry the grease particles within the water itself.

You should also never try to move the pan or pot outside as this can just result in the fire spreading.

Talk over kitchen safety with your children to help them know how to prevent fires and what to do in case of an emergency.

3. Outdated Faulty Wiring and Outlets

Faulty wiring in home catching fire

Be knowledgeable of your home’s electrical capacity, as overloading circuits is easy and can start a fire hidden quickly. If you live in an older house, have a certified electrician check over your wiring and breaker box to make sure everything is up to code and in proper working order.

Extension cords can be another big issue. Never run them under rugs or daisy-chain multiple cords together.

There are many different kinds of extension cords, surge protectors and, power strips. Extension cords without a third grounded hole tend to heat up quickly, are made of cheaper material, and can cause a fire. Only a surge protector will help protect multiple devices from a power surge. A regular power strip, however, has no built-in protection.

For any large appliance, ensure it’s plugged into its own circuit and has a heavy-duty power cable, or appliance grade extension cord.

4 Common House Fire Types

Not all fires are created equal and not all fires can be fought with water. Understanding where and what types of house fires can break out in your home will help you take measures to prevent house fires and follow proper procedures if one does start in your home.

1. Smoking-Related

Trashcans, bedding, and furniture are all common denominators in smoking-related house fires. Avoid smoking when drowsy or tired to avoid falling asleep with a lit cigarette.

Plus, be careful about where ashtrays are located. If emptying an ashtray into the trash with cigarettes still lit fire can ignite. Be sure all cigarettes are completely put out and never leave an ashtray in a spot it can tip over, like on a bed.

The safest option is to only smoke outside of the home and extinguish all cigarettes with sand-filled trays.

2. Kitchen Fires

Microwave caught on fire

Kitchen fires are the most common house fire in the United States. Water, grease, electricity, and heat are all at play in the kitchen. This can lead to disaster if care isn’t given to safely prepare food.

Kitchen fires often start from unattended frying pans, water coming into contact with electricity, and oven and appliance fires.

Often times kitchen fires are grease fires. You’ll need to smother these flames or use salt and baking soda to extinguish them. Never put water on a grease fire as it can lead it to spread further into your home.

3. Heater Fires

Most common in the winter months, heater fires start when a heater overheats. Heaters generally have an automatic shutoff to prevent this from happening. But that doesn’t mean fires can’t start from heaters.

Avoid heater fires by keeping flammable objects three feet away from heaters on all sides. You should also avoid leaving a heater on if you aren’t in the same room.

4. Electrical Fires

Electrical fires are usually caused by one of four things:

  • Faulty appliances
  • Worn wiring or breaker boxes
  • Overuse of outlets past capacity
  • Improper lighting wiring or bulb usage

If you have an older home, have an electrician assess for any faulty wiring. It’s better to put money into preventative measures than recovering from a house fire.

If you do happen to suffer through the trauma of fire large or small, contact us and we will help evaluate, control and rebuild your home immediately.

What to Do After a Fire in Your Home?

Standing in the aftermath after a house fire is an overwhelming experience. For most, we think it would never happen to us and so we might not have a plan of action when disaster strikes. After a house fire in your home follow the guidelines below to ensure you are on the quickest path to restoration.

Find a Safe Place to Stay

After contacting any family members who weren’t with you at the time of the fire, it’s time to figure out accommodations. You will not be able to stay in your home following the fire due to health concerns. Until you are cleared for reentry you’ll need a place to stay.

Your homeowner’s insurance policy will most likely cover food, shelter, and clothing for a period of time after the fire. This is called “Loss of Use or Loss of Rents” coverage and is pretty standard for most policies.

However, if recovery surpasses this time frame or your insurance doesn’t provide coverage then other options you can check include:

  • American Red Cross
  • Family and Friends
  • Churches in the area
  • A local disaster relief organization

Contact Your Homeowner’s Insurance Company

It is vital that you contact your insurance agent immediately to notify them of the fire. Luckily, most policies cover house fires under all standard insurance policies so it isn’t a matter of convincing them to help you.

Getting in touch with your insurance agent will give you access to an expert who can help you through the recovery process, ensuring you miss no important steps along the way.

Recover Your Possessions

Destroyed possessions after house fire
Collect all your possessions and separate them between damaged and undamaged. Remove any salvageable possessions and remove them from the damaged home. You can put them in a storage unit or another safe space where they won’t be ruined. Oftentimes, insurance will cover the cost of storage but it’s best to check first before expecting the rental price to be automatically covered.

Your possessions have been exposed to extreme conditions and may no longer be usable. Check and dispose of the following in your house:

  • Burned clothing
  • Medications
  • Cosmetic products
  • Toiletries
  • All food items

Create a List of All Damaged Items

From the damaged possessions you’ve separated out, you’ll need to create a list to present to your insurance agency. The inventory of damaged items from the fire should include:

  • Date of purchase
  • Brand name
  • Serial number and model
  • Description
  • Price paid
  • Copy of receipt

If you can’t find the receipts, you can use bank statements instead. You should also aim to include a picture of each item and indicate if it was a gift.

How to Replace Vital Documents Lost During a Home Fire

Another thing to keep in mind is how to replace any important documents lost or damaged in the fire. Each document is different but here is a breakdown of where you can go and what you’ll need to do to get replacement copies for the most common documents.

Social Security Card

Request a replacement SSS card online through the Social Security Administration website.

Birth, Marriage, or Death Certificates

In Florida, you can request a replacement copy of your vital documents online. This may vary for other states.

Passport

You must immediately notify the State Department of your lost passport. After, you can request a replacement be made.

Driver’s License

Replacement licenses (and state ID cards) can be requested through your state motor vehicle agency. Find yours

Title of Deeds

Contact the records department for the area where your home is located for a replacement.

Wills

Your attorney is the point of contact for replacing a copy of a Will.

Stocks and Bonds

Contact the issuing company of the stocks and bonds. You can also contact the broker responsible for managing these if you have one.

Insurance Policies

Contact your insurance providers for replacement documentation of your insurance policies.

Military Discharge Papers

The Department of Veterans Affairs will be able to help you with the replacement of military discharge papers.

Income Tax Records

Get replacement income tax records through the IRS center or from your accountant.

Citizenship Papers

The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services will help you get a replacement copy of your citizenship papers.

Mortgage Papers

The lending company you obtained your mortgage through will be able to replace this document for you.

Find Out When It’s Safe to Return to Your Home

What until reentry has been OK’ed by officials before you step inside any structure affected by the fire. Fires can restart and structural damage not visible from surface level can cause health risks.

Once permitted to return you should ensure your arms and legs are covered. It’s also a good idea to wear gloves and use other protective measures to prevent sickness caused by debris and soot.

Contact the Police

House boarded up after house fire
As you won’t remain in your house while it’s being restored from fire damage, the empty space becomes an attractive option for looters and squatters. Alerting the police of your fire and it standing vacant will help keep your home safe during the recovery period.

What You Can Do to Discourage Looters and Squatters While Gone

Boarding up your windows while your home stands vacant will discourage most looters and squatters from entering. This is something you can do yourself once given the go-ahead for reentry. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of boarding up every window on your own you can hire a restoration company to do this for you.

Consider and Prepare Your Financial Situation

You will still need to pay your mortgage lender after the house fire. The insurance company will make these payments to you and the mortgage lender. Keep in mind, as you’re going through the process of rebuilding, you should first focus on keeping existing bills paid. Use only leftover funds to put toward rebuilding your home.

Don’t forget about car payments and credit card payments. This is a hectic time for your family but, by staying on top of finances throughout, you can prevent the extended trauma from negative financial fallout.

Collect a Copy of the Fire Report from the Fire Department

Fireman putting out house fire

You may need a copy of the fire report of your home’s fire. This can be collected by contacting your fire department or the marshal’s office. This report includes the following information:

  • When the fire occurred
  • The area affected by fire
  • Description of all damage from fire
  • The ignition source of fire or cause

While you won’t necessarily need it, it’s better to get a copy in case your insurance agent requests it later on.

Confirm with Fire Department When You Should Turn Utilities Back On

Often times the fire department will turn off all utilities to prevent further damage to your home. When you do return and it’s time to flip everything back on there are three people you should contact before doing so:

  • The fire department
  • Your utility providers
  • An inspector

If you switch utilities back on when you shouldn’t it could end up starting another fire, causing a leak, or potentially instigating severe water damage. It’s important that you protect your home from further harm by taking the proper steps for turning your utilities back on.

Contact Professionals for Help with Fire Restoration

The aftermath of a house fire can be devastating. Luckily, with a team of restoration professionals, you can eliminate some of your worries and focus on healing emotionally from the disaster.

How to Get Rid of Black Mold

Black mold can lower your home’s value and cause numerous health problems in people, some severe enough to cause death. This unwelcome guest will appear in any humid, damp areas of your home like basements and bathrooms. Prevent health problems in your home and potential structural damage to the building itself by attacking the problem early on. The best way to ward off mold infestations in your home is to prevent it before it starts.

WHAT IS BLACK MOLD?

Mold on wall

Black mold, also called toxic black mold or stachybotrys chartarum, is a microfungus. It likes to spread through cellulose-rich materials – think the walls of buildings. Buildings that have been water-damaged are especially susceptible to black mold infestations.

What Causes Black Mold?

Mold begins to grow under a certain set of conditions. Mold spores must be present and have a food source, such as drywall. A dark, warm, and damp space will allow the mold to flourish and spread.

Some situations that can produce these conditions include:

  • Damp basement
  • Water in foundation
  • Flooding or other water damage
  • Leaks from pipes or roof
  • Lack of ventilation

What Does Black Mold Look Like?

Black mold is greenish-black in color and has a gelatinous, slimy texture. You’ll also notice black mold has a distinct smell of mildew and must.

But keep in mind, black mold isn’t the only mold with this same appearance. Having an expert identify the mold present in your home can help you decide how to proceed.

How Can I Tell If I Have Black Mold?

Peeling and bulging wall

Pay attention to the walls and ceilings of your home. If you notice any peeling or bulging it could be a sign of black mold growing. The mold may be hidden within your wall, leaving only these signs, or it may be present on the surface of your wall and clearly visible.

If you see only a few small spots don’t pass it off as no big deal. Small spots of mold could be indicators of a much larger colony growing out of sight.

Pay attention to the inhabitants of your home or building – are their allergies flaring up? Allergies and the distinct musty mold smell are both signs you could have a black mold problem.

Keep an eye on these black mold hotspots in your home or building:

  • Showers
  • Laundry rooms
  • Bathrooms
  • Basements

The presence of mold, even if it’s determined that the mold present isn’t black mold, is still something that should be addressed.

How Dangerous is Black Mold?

Ingesting or inhaling the spores from black mold can cause health concerns in people and pets. Once it is in a person’s system they may experience the following symptoms:

  • Irritated eyes, nose and throat
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Dry Skin
  • Difficulty breathing

Black mold can potentially be fatal, its effects depend on how susceptible you are to illness. For young, old and immunocompromised individuals, black mold is more likely to be fatal than in healthy adults. Individuals who suffer from an acute mold allergy are also more likely to face harsh side effects from ingesting black mold spores.

CAN I REMOVE BLACK MOLD BY MYSELF?

You can try to remove most mold from your home on your own. There are home remedies for black mold, but depending on the severity of the spread it may be wise to turn to an expert instead of patching together a DIY solution. If you’re overwhelmed by the extent of work needed to eliminate all mold spores from your home then it’s best to seek out a professional.

CLICK TO CONTACT YOUR LOCAL RESTORATION EXPERT

Contact Your Local Restoration Expert

Preparing to Treat for Black Mold

If you do decide to face the black mold infestation on your own, protect yourself using the following safety measures in addition to a long sleeve shirt and pants:

  • Respirator
  • Facemask
  • Gloves
  • Eye protection

Safety gear for cleaning black mold graphic

HOW TO REMOVE BLACK MOLD WITH 5 NATURAL METHODS

If you want to attempt your own attack against black mold spread in your home, there are go-to natural methods that may eliminate the fast-spreading spores.

Keep in mind, if you notice the black mold returning within the two days after cleaning, contact a professional as soon as possible to keep your family or employees safe. Black mold can completely infest a home within 48 hours – keep monitoring the situation to prevent spread.

1. Ammonia

Create a half ammonia, half water solution in a spray bottle and using the bottle, spritz all affected areas with the mixture. Let this sit on your walls for ten minutes to kill the mold. Then once the solution has sat, scrub the area with a brush until all mold can be wiped away.

2. Bleach

Use bleach on all non-porous materials to kill off any mold spores. Create a solution that is part bleach and part water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution directly on all affected areas and let sit for ten minutes. Once the solution has had time to kill the mold, scrub the area with a hard-bristled brush then wipe away all residue with a paper towel.

3. Vinegar

To kill black mold with vinegar, simply soak a paper towel and apply it to the affected area. After an hour, follow-up with a paper towel soaked with water. Use this to wipe away the vinegar from the affected spot and the black mold with it.

4. Borax

Create a mold-killing solution of one cup of borax per one gallon of water. Use this solution to wipe onto all affected areas. From there scrub the solution into the area, wiping away all mold and material broken up by the process. It’s best to let this solution sit on the affected area after scrubbing for further disinfecting.

5. Tea Tree Oil

Mix one teaspoon of tea tree oil with one cup of water to get started. Then spray or wipe the solution onto all affected areas, letting the mixture permeate the area and kill off the mold. Once complete don’t forget to wipe the area clean.

Bonus: Tea tree oil can be used as a black mold preventative measure. Apply to grout, faucets, and spouts to stop black mold before it starts.

TURNING TO EXPERT BLACK MOLD REMOVAL

Restoration experts are equipped to deal with all levels of a black mold infestation in residential and commercial buildings. Cleaning up mold damage is completed in four parts: analysis, containment, removal, and restoration.

When things get out of hand it’s time to turn to the experts. Keeping your family safe should be a top priority. If your natural remedies aren’t working and the mold is spreading, reach out to restoration experts for help.

Bathroom, Kitchen Tile and Grout Cleaning

bathroom and kitchen tile

Mold, microbials and mildew can build up in your home, causing damage to fixtures and potentially making inhabitants sick. As a homeowner, you should understand not only how to eliminate bacteria growth but also how to prevent it from developing at all. Proper cleaning and maintenance will keep bacteria growth to a minimum and mitigate any potential health effects from bacteria spores.

To prevent bacteria growth in your home, regularly clean your home, keep an eye on bacteria hotspots, or in severe cases, turn to a professional cleaning service.

WHY SHOULD YOU CLEAN YOUR BATHROOM AND KITCHEN TILE?

Besides creating an inviting aesthetic in your home, keeping bacteria at bay can eliminate side effects from coming into contact with bacteria and keep your appliances from deteriorating in value due to bacteria-induced damages.

Health Concerns from Harmful Bacteria

Health concerns are a leading reason to schedule in weekly cleaning maintenance and rid your home of harmful bacterias. Depending on the type of bacteria present in your home, which we breakdown in the following section, you may experience mild to severe side effects.

woman sneezing into tissue

Signs bacteria in your home could be causing you to get sick:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Sore throats
  • Persistent sinus infections
  • Pneumonia

Damage to Appliances and Fixtures

Items and fixtures with porous surfaces are likely to latch onto mold. The effects can be devastating. In some severe cases of bacteria in homes, items may need to be replaced to prevent further spread.

When deciding what to do in severe cases, consider whether it could be more expensive to replace the item or pay to have it professionally cleaned. For the average home, this is unlikely to be a concern, but in the case of water or flood damage cleaning measures will be more drastic.

Drop in Home Value

If you plan to sell your home in the near future you could encounter a roadblock between you and your asking price. Hint: its mold damage and bacteria presence.

If your tiles, grout, or other home fixtures have mold damage you might not be able to garner the price you were hoping for. Buyers will likely either ask you to repair it or to take the cost out of their closing fees.

Another great reason to keep your bacteria in check.

WHAT COMMON BACTERIA CAN BE FOUND IN HOMES

To prevent the occurrence of sickness in the home or working environment, cleanliness is a must. There are several known bacteria that can live on floor tile and grout. The most common bacteria you should be aware of are:

  • SERRATIA MARCESCENS usually found building up in bathrooms especially on tile grout, shower corners, toilet water line, and within the basin. It develops as a slimy film and feeds off phosphorus-containing materials or fatty substances like bath soap and shampoo residue.
  • STAPHYLOCOCCUS AUREUS can cause food poisoning, and skin and bone infections.
  • BURKHOLDERIA CEPACIA is a human pathogen that takes advantage of moist conditions to further its spread. This bacteria is known to cause pneumonia in individuals with impaired immune system with underlying lung disease.
  • PSEUDOMONAS AERUGINOSA can be found in food and soil. It can commonly be found in bathroom sinks and kitchens. It won’t kill you, but it’s side effects aren’t pleasant. Expect a mild illness along with pseudomonas aeruginosa presence.
  • STREPTOCOCCUS associated with strep throat most commonly. It can also result in toxic shock syndrome and flesh-eating bacteria infections known as necrotizing fasciitis, both potentially deadly diagnoses. This bacteria will live and grow in the tiles of your bathroom.
  • ENTEROCOCCUS FAECALIS occupies the gastrointestinal tracts of humans and other mammals once in contact with the body. Keep in mind, this hardy bacteria can survive alkaline cleaning.

WHERE DOES BACTERIA MOST COMMONLY GROW?

Bacteria will grow anywhere that is warm and moist. If you’re thinking of your bathroom, you’re on the right track.

Keep an eye on these bacteria hotspots to mitigate any rising growth:

  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Laundry Rooms
  • Basements

The tiles in kitchens and bathrooms are especially permeable because it accumulates and holds stains from mold and mildew, dust, makeup stains, and dirty water. You may have already noticed this in your bathroom or even in the tiles of your kitchen.
It becomes a breeding ground for bacteria once moisture is added to the mix. Think, hot showers creating steam in your bathroom.

moldy wall beforemoldy wall before

HOW DO I CLEAN TILES AND GROUT?

You might have already noticed discoloration, a key indicator of bacteria growth in tiles and grout. Besides being aesthetically unappealing, the discoloration is likely caused by bacteria which can cause illness. The fact is, if not properly cleaned and maintained, grout behaves like a sponge that absorbs stains and specks of dirt. If this scenario is left unattended, the stains and dirt are confined below the surface and can be difficult to remove.

SCRUB WITH BAKING SODA SOLUTION

Using three parts baking soda and one part water create a paste. Apply the paste to all grout before spritzing it with vinegar. This will create a fizzing reaction as the baking soda and vinegar work together to breakdown grime and bacteria deep within the grout.

Avoid this option if you are cleaning limestone or marble. The vinegar can be too harsh for these materials.

USE A STEAM MOP ON TILES

Steam mops can effectively kill off 99.9% of bacteria making it an effective way to eliminate bacteria buildup in your home. Because steam mops don’t use any harsh chemicals, this option is an environmentally-friendly alternative.

HIRE A PROFESSIONAL

To maintain the condition and cleanliness of tile and grout, it’s best to clean it as often as necessary. There are proper ways of cleaning tile by doing it on your own but, if you don’t have time and patience to thoroughly clean tiles and grout, it’s best to leave it to the experts and have these restoration professionals do their job to clean all your tile and grout. If you haven’t done a thorough cleaning before and stains became permanent inhabitant in your tiles or the discoloration on grout is very visible, these expert professionals are well equipped on removing the stains and filth persisting below the surface and apply required sealants to avert future staining.
You can resort to your own home cleaning remedy by using any of the previously mentioned solutions. But for hard-to-clean stains, you should seek out the help of professional experts to save you time and be stress-free

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CLEAN TO AVOID BACTERIAL GROWTH?

Maybe you just noticed mold growth in your home or you’re just being cautious. Unfortunately keep your home free of bacteria is an ongoing effort. Maintenance cleaning of bacteria hotspots, such as your kitchen and bathroom, should be carried out on a weekly basis.

What is a Flood Zone?

A flood zone is any geographic region that FEMA considers to be at higher risk for floods than other areas. Many flood zones require special insurance for floods, so it’s important to know what kind of zone you may live in and whether or not you may need flood insurance.

Types of Risk Area

Flood zones are rated based on the severity and type of flood risk. What type of zone you live in may affect the flood insurance you need as well as what precautions you may need to take to protect your home.

FEMA measures flood zones based on their risk of 100-year or 500-year flood. A 100-year floodplain is an area that is predicted to have a 1% chance of flooding in any given year. Similarly, a 500-year flood is a flood that has a 1 in 500 chance of happening.

Low-Risk Areas

Low-risk areas are categorized by FEMA as C and X. These are areas that are considered to be above the level of risk for a 500-year flood. They’re also protected from 100-year floods by levees.

Moderate Risk Areas

Areas of moderate risk are between the 100-year and 500-year flood limits. They may be protected by levees from 100-year floods, but there may still be up to 1 foot of flooding in these areas.

High-Risk Areas

There are a variety of different types of high-risk areas according to FEMA’s classification. Any zone that contains the letter A (A, AE, A1-A30, AH, AO, AR, and A99) are considered high-risk flood zones. Most areas classified as a type of A zone had a 26% chance of flooding over the course of a thirty-year period of time.

Coastal Areas

FEMA classifies coastal flood zones with the letter designation V: V, VE, and V1-V30. These zones are coastal areas that are, similar to high-risk areas, at a 26% risk of a flood during a thirty-year time period.

Undetermined

FEMA classifies any “undetermined” areas as D zones. These are areas where no analysis of the flood risk has been carried out, so FEMA cannot make an informed assessment of the risk.

Flooding outside house

Where Are Flood Zones Usually Located?

Flood zones can be almost anywhere, but the primary flood zones are areas that have lower elevation and coastal areas. Many high-risk zones are located near a body of water, such as a river or lake. More than 20,000 communities across the United State have been classified as being in a type of flood zone.

How do I know if I’m in a flood zone?

The Internet has a lot of resources that can help you determine whether or not you live in a flood zone. There are online maps, such as floodtools.com, where you can enter your address and the map will tell you not only the flood risk for your area but also the elevation and the amount of the average flood insurance payout for people living in that area. FEMA also has a flood map to help you determine what kind of area you live in.

Do I Have to Have Flood Insurance?

Anyone living in a flood zone marked as A or V must have flood insurance. Standard insurance policies in these areas generally don’t cover floors, so extra flood insurance is required. Even if FEMA classifies your area as a low-to-moderate risk area, local insurance companies may still require separate flood insurance.

If a flood damages your home, you must have flood insurance in order to be eligible for federal disaster aid.

What Is Considered a Flood?

The definition of a flood, according to FEMA, is “the partial or complete inundation of 2 or more acres of normally dry land or 2 or of more properties.”

Another type of flood occurs when erosion causes the land to collapse and water to exceed its normal levels for 2 properties or 2 acres.

Storm waves from the ocean

What Can Cause Floods?

Floods are caused by any large influx of water from any source because of either natural or human causes. Floods happen when water levels rise for any reason, but in areas where this is expected, there are dams and levees to prevent the water from reaching inhabited areas. If these protections are poorly designed, the flooding can be much worse.

Heavy Rain and Overflow

Heavy rain can accumulate in low-lying areas and can also cause bodies of water such as rivers and lakes to overflow.

Hurricanes and Storm Surges

In hurricane-prone coastal areas, floods are often caused by both the heavy rain of the storm itself but also from storm surges as the high winds push the ocean further inland than normal.

What Can I Do to Protect My Home from Floods?

If you live in an area that is at higher risk for floods, it’s important to make sure that your home is protected. There may be local restrictions on how high above the base flood elevation your home needs to be, so it’s important to make sure that you’re familiar with local requirements and that your home is up to code.

Keep All Electrical Systems Above Flood Level

Make sure that anything electrical is above the possible flood level. Any outlets and switches in your home should be high enough that flood waters won’t reach them and get into your electrical system.

Elevate All Outdoor Equipment

Any home system that has an outdoor component, such as a fuel tank or an air conditioner, should be elevated, anchored to a high place. Indoor equipment should also be above the potential flood level.

Install a Backflow Valve

If the sewer system in your area floods, there’s a possibility that sewage could back up into your home. A backflow valve, either inside or outside your house, can help prevent that from happening.

Install a Sump Pump

A sump pump can help drain any water that has managed to accumulate in your home. They’re usually installed in the basement, as it’s the lowest-lying part of the house and the most liable to flood.

Direct Water away from Your Home

The land around your home can be graded to direct water away from your house. During a rainstorm, watch how the water flows around your home to see where the water flows. If it flows towards your house, you can consider landscaping changes that would direct the water away instead.

Raise the Level of Your Home

If you live in a flood zone that has a high risk of high floods, you may want to consider raising the level of your home. This is a drastic step, but can protect your home from extreme floods. Many homes in known flood areas may already be built on stilts or supports so that the lowest level of the house above the highest flood level.

What Can I Do if There’s a Flood?

If a flood is imminent, there are some steps that you can take to help minimize the damage to your home and belongings.

Stock Up on Emergency Supplies

First, stock up on emergency supplies. If there is a flood in your area, stores may be closed and roads impassable. It’s also a good idea to stock up on food and water.

Flooding inside house

Move Belongings

Any important belongings should be moved to higher ground. Transport as many belongings as possible to higher floors to protect them.

Evacuate

Depending on the severity of the flood, you may be asked to evacuate. Pay attention to government warnings and alerts and follow any official instructions as quickly as possible. You don’t want to get stranded after an evacuation order has been issued.

What kind of fire extinguisher should I have at home?

Keeping a fire extinguisher at home can save lives and prevent a small fire from spreading into a large one. There are different sizes and different types of fire extinguisher, so it’s important to know exactly what kind you need and how many of what size in order to best protect your home.

Fire Extinguisher Classifications

Home fire extinguishers come in three different types – A, B, or C. Each type is effective against different types of fires. In addition to the letter, there’s also a number classification. The higher the number, the more effective that particular fire extinguisher is against that type of fire. Fire extinguishers can be effective against more than one type of fire. It’s important to check the numerical rating next to each number to see how effective it is for each type of fire.

The C classification doesn’t have a number rating to go with it. A C label on a fire extinguisher indicates that it isn’t conducive to electricity.

A

Fire extinguishers that are labeled A are designed for fires caused by normal burnable items such as wood or paper.

B

Fire extinguishers labeled B are effective against fires caused by liquids. These include cooking oil or gas.

C

Fire extinguishers with a C label are meant for use against fires caused by live electricity. The chemicals inside the fire extinguisher will not conduct electricity. This allows them to suppress the fire instead of spreading it.

D

Class D fire extinguishers are for use on combustible metals. These include sodium, magnesium, titanium, and more.

K

Class K fire extinguishers are for use in the kitchen on fires caused by grease and other cooking materials. These are more commonly used in larger, commercial kitchens, however.

Five different classifications of fire extinguishers

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Fire Extinguisher Sizes

There are four standard sizes of fire extinguisher for the home: stove-top, 2-pound, 5-pound, and 10-pound. Each size is best suited to a different part of the house.

Stove-Top

Stove-top sizes can be mounted over the stove, although they should not be used with deep fryers – the can cause the fire to spread by splattering grease.

2-Pound

2-Pound models are small and more portable and so are suited for use in your car. Some come with hardware so you can mount it to stop it from moving around as the car moves.

5-Pound

This is the best size for within the house, such as in the kitchen or laundry room.

10-Pound

The largest of the standard sizes, the 10-pound fire extinguisher is best used in a location such as a garage, basement, or a storage area, where a fire may not be noticed as quickly. The larger size can compensate for how big a fire might grow before it’s noticed in the lesser-used areas of the house.

Different fire extinguisher sizes

Why Should I Have a Fire Extinguisher at Home?

Having a fire extinguisher in your home can be an essential part of home safety, just like having a smoke detector. Provided you know how to use the fire extinguisher, you can prevent a fire from spreading or causing more damage than it already has.

Preserving your home and property is important, but not as important as the lives of the people (and any pets) that live there. Before you attempt to douse a fire with a fire extinguisher, first make sure that the fire department has been called and that all people (and pets) are out of the house. Also, make sure that you always have an escape route so that you can leave the house safely should your attempt to put out the fire be unsuccessful.

Where Should I Keep a Fire Extinguisher?

It’s recommended to have several fire extinguishers kept in your house, at least one on each floor. It’s best to keep them where they will be within easy reach in the event of a fire. It’s most important to have fire extinguishers in areas that are more prone to fire, such as the kitchen or laundry room.

Kitchen

You’ll need a class B or K (depending on your cooking habits) to put out a fire caused by grease or cooking oil. It’s recommended that the fire extinguisher is stored at least 30 feet away from the stove. If it’s kept too close to the stove, you won’t be able to reach it through the fire in order to put the flames out.

Many people keep their fire extinguisher by the kitchen door, or even in a separate room in homes that have small kitchens.

Garage

The garage is filled with many different kinds of flammable materials, including paint, gasoline, and even some tools. This is also a location where a fire may not be noticed for some time, so a larger fire extinguisher may be necessary. The safest location to store the fire extinguisher is near the door so it’s within easy reach from inside the house.

Laundry Room

Because of lint traps and exhaust tubes on the dryer, laundry rooms are also a common source of fires. You can prevent fires here by making sure to clean the lint trap every time you do laundry and by clearing out the exhaust tubes at least once every six months. It’s still best to keep a fire extinguisher nearby as well.

Bedroom

It’s recommended to have a fire extinguisher in each bedroom. Most home fires occur at night and having a fire extinguisher handy to where you were sleeping can prevent the fire’s spread as well as save lives. A centrally-located fire extinguisher wouldn’t be easy to reach from the bedroom, especially if the fire were in or near the bedroom.

Outside

If you have a grill or a fire pit in your back yard or on a patio, keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Both are potential fire hazards, so keeping a fire extinguisher near the back door or in another spot that’s easy to reach.

Car

A small, 2-pound fire extinguisher can be mounted in the trunk of the car.

How Many Fire Extinguishers Should I Have?

You should have, at minimum, one fire extinguisher per floor. If you do have only one, it should be in a centrally located area, mounted off the ground and in an easy-to-see place so that in the event of a fire, no one wastes time searching for it.

However, it’s recommended that you have a fire extinguisher handy for any location that’s a potential fire hazard. This includes near chimneys, fireplaces, a furnace, the stove, the dryer, or other potentially risky areas.

Fire Extinguishers per Square Foot

Fire departments recommend that there are fire extinguishers with a rating of at least 13A total for every approximately 2,000 square feet. Since home fire extinguishers tend to be smaller, this means more fire extinguishers per square foot than in a commercial establishment.

How many fire extinguishers you need per room varies based on the layout of your house and how many rooms you have. It’s important to cover all of the areas where a fire is most likely to start as well as all bedrooms.

Different fire extinguisher sizes

How Do I Use a Fire Extinguisher?

When you purchase a fire extinguisher, first read the manual that comes with it so you understand how to properly use it. Most fire extinguishers will also come labeled with instructions for easy use during a fire.

Waiting until there’s a fire to use a fire extinguisher for the first time isn’t a good idea. You may want to practice using a fire extinguisher so you’re prepared for how it feels and sounds when you use it.

To use a fire extinguisher, pull out the pin and then aim it at the fire’s base, not at the flames. Sweep the nozzle or hose from side to side until the fire is out. Carefully watch the area to make sure that it doesn’t reignite.

How Do I Know What Type of Fire Extinguisher to Use?

Fire extinguishers that you keep in your home should be multipurpose. Homes are at risk for multiple types of fires, so unless you know that a certain area should only have one type of fire, then it’s not a good idea to have several different classes of fire extinguishers. In an emergency, it’s better to have one that can be used for everything so that you don’t have to waste time trying to figure out which one to use.

How Often Do I Need to Replace a Fire Extinguisher?

Most fire extinguishers can last up to 15 years before needing to be replaced. It’s important to check the pressure gauge regularly. If the gauge is in the green, then the pressure on the fire extinguisher is still good.

If you have recently used your fire extinguisher, then you may need to get it refilled or have it replaced.

How Should I Store a Fire Extinguisher?

Fire extinguishers should be stored in an easily visible and easily accessible location. Fire extinguishers are designed to work from a wide temperature range (-60 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit), so the primary consideration is where the fire extinguishers will be the most useful in an emergency.

Where Can I Buy a Fire Extinguisher?

Fire extinguishers can be purchased at most home improvement stores, such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, but other big box stores such as Walmart carry them, too. You can also purchase a variety of fire extinguishers online at online retailers such as Amazon.

How Do I Prevent Mold After Water Damage?

What Is the Best Method to Clean up Water Damage?

No matter how minor your water damage may be, it’s important to clean up properly after any amount of water gets inside your house. This will help you prevent any potential mold. The best steps to take to clean up water are the following:

  1. Unplug all electronics near the water
  2. Move everything you can to a dry place
    • Electronics
    • Furniture
    • Movable possessions
  3. Clean up the water with a wet/dry vacuum cleaner
    • If you don’t have one, you can rent one from a hardware store or hire professionals who have one
  4. Make sure the flooded area is completely dry
    • Use fans and a dehumidifier
    • Open windows if it’s not raining
  5. Disinfect the flooded area to get rid of any bacteria
  6. Prevent mold with a mold preventative product
  7. Dispose of any possessions that weren’t salvageable

What Products Prevent Mold?

While there are some specialized mold preventatives that you can purchase online or at a home improvement store, there are several DIY options. Many of these may actually already be in your house and can prevent mold just as well as a dedicated produce. They don’t just prevent mold but can also get rid of mold that’s already there.

Hydrogen peroxide: Put 3% concentrated hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle, spray the moldy area completely. After ten minutes, scrub the area thoroughly.

Baking soda: Mix a quarter of a tablespoon to a tablespoon of baking soda into a spray bottle of water. Make sure the baking soda has fully dissolved and then spray the moldy area. Scrub the mold away with a brush and then rinse with water.

Vinegar: Put white distilled vinegar into a spray bottle and spray it onto the moldy area. After an hour, wipe with water to clean the vinegar and residual mold from the area. Let the area dry and within a few hours the vinegar smell will fade.

Do I Need to Hire a Professional?

If the water damage is extensive and severe (for example, if your entire basement has flooded) or if you don’t have the equipment to properly clean up the water yourself, you may want to hire a professional to do it for you. A professional will be able to bring the equipment with them for the cleanup. There may also be a better guarantee that the cleanup was done properly to prevent mold. If you have questions about whether you need professional help, don’t hesitate to call us at (407) 295-5440.

What Does it Cost to Clean up Water Damage?

The cost of cleaning up water damage depends on the size of the flooded area and the severity of the damage. Hiring a professional to do the cleanup can sometimes cost between $2,700 and $7,500, depending on the size of the flooded area and the extent and severity of the damage. Fortunately, your insurance company can usually help cover these costs.

You may be able to save some money by doing the cleanup yourself, but renting a wet/dry vacuum could still run into the hundreds of dollars depending on how long you needed it, where you rented it from, and the size of the vacuum. Cleaning up the water yourself may cost more in the long run if it’s not done properly, as you could be paying more for mold and other damage.

What Causes Mold?

Mold in a house is caused by humidity and dampness. Mold can grow inside if the weather has been rainy or humid for many days in a row and may not need a flood or water damage to occur.

What Conditions Does Mold Grow in?

Floods and water damage provide optimal conditions for mold to grow because not only is the affected area damp and humid, but water can evaporate into the air, raising the overall humidity of the house, allowing mold to grow in other areas of the house as well.

How Quickly Can Mold Grow?

If the conditions are ideal for mold (humid and damp), it can grow as quickly as 24 to 48 hours.

What Are the Warning Signs of Mold?

If you’ve had water damage in your house, pay attention to the following signs to keep an eye out for mold growth:

  • Allergy symptoms
  • Musty odor
  • Dampness and humidity
  • Black spots
  • Discolored walls
  • Water stains

Learn more from our article on how to detect if there is mold in your home.

How Can I Prevent Moisture and Mold?

The best way to prevent mold from growing in your home is to prevent the conditions under which it grows from occurring. This means keeping the humidity and dampness levels in your home low. If you’ve recently had a flood or other water damage, ensure that it’s properly cleaned up and dried. Pay attention to any areas in your home that naturally have more moisture, like the attic or basement, and take steps to prevent moisture in those areas. These steps may include proper ventilation and mold-prevention products.

How Do I Prevent Mold in My Basement?

The basement is a prime location for mold and is also the usual location of water damage if your house has flooded. Prevent mold in your basement with the following:

  • Use a dehumidifier
  • Monitor humidity levels
    • Humidity monitors are available at drugstores
    • Ideal humidity is 25-40 percent in winter and less than 60 percent in summer
  • Don’t keep wood or plants in the basement
  • Keep the basement clutter-free
  • Don’t dry wet clothes in the basement
  • Make sure water is directed away from your house
    • If the ground around your home slopes down towards your house, water can drain into your basement or crawlspace. Add dirt to create a slope away from your house.
    • Gutters and downspouts should also direct water away from your house
  • Clean any floods, leaks, or spills immediately
  • Use insulated pipes

How Do I Prevent Mold in My Attic?

The attic can also provide the ideal conditions for mold growth and it can be harder to detect mold there if no one regularly goes into it. To prevent mold from growing in your attic, do the following:

  • Make sure the attic has adequate ventilation
    • If it’s not well-ventilated, you may be able to see frost and dampness inside the attic and ice dams on the eaves outside in winter.
    • Attic vents out onto the roof, gables, or eaves can ensure adequate ventilation.
  • Don’t have kitchen or bathroom vents going into the attic
  • Make sure the attic is properly insulated
  • Address any roof leaks immediately
  • Don’t install furnaces or water heaters in the attic
  • Make sure skylights are installed properly

What are next steps?

If you notice any signs of mold in your home, it’s very important to take action as soon as possible. This will help avoid any health issues for you and your family and any property damage for your home.

Contact our mold experts now at 855-352-2281.

How to detect if there is mold in your home

Mold is a dangerous and scary thing to find in your home, but it’s even more frightening to know that it’s so hard to detect. Read below to find out more about mold and how you can determine if your home has been contaminated by it.

What does mold look like?

Mold typically manifests in your home as a dark, wet spot on your ceiling or wall. It can be gathered in one area, splotchy, or even create a dripping pattern. If you see anything that appears to be mold in your home, it’s very important to get it professionally checked out right away to avoid any potential health issues for you and your family.

Signs of mold example

What does mold smell like?

The smell of mold is definitely unpleasant, and smells like something moist is in the room. It can often be compared to the smell of wet clothing or rotting wood. If you smell an earthy, moist smell in your home it could potentially be mold.

If you believe it to be in a specific wall, smell around an outlet port to try to determine if the smell is stronger. The outlet provides a clearer pathway into the wall, so it should smell worse if you’re in the right area of the home.

Keep in mind that you may have gotten used to the smell of your home, including the mold. Have a family member or friend visit and ask if they smell anything unpleasant in your home, telling them that you’re concerned about mold so that they’ll be honest and forthright about it.

Where is mold most likely to be found?

Mold can typically be found in areas of your home that are dark and moist. Examples of this are:

  • Basement
  • Utility room
  • Under sinks
  • Closets
  • Windows (from condensation)
  • Shower curtains
  • Ceiling corners
  • Air ducts & vents
  • Places recently damaged by water

How mold can affect your health

Mold has serious, negative effects on human health, so it’s vitally important to find it and get rid of it as soon as possible. This is especially the case if those living in your home are children, seniors, pregnant, or have serious pre-existing health concerns that may lead to a higher vulnerability to mold.

Health Symptoms of Living in a Home with Mold

The symptoms of living in a mold-infested home can often go overlooked because of how common they are. They’re similar to those that you’ve experienced with a common cold.

  • Chest and nasal congestion
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Watering, dry, or sore eyes
  • Sore throat
  • Skin irritation
  • Headaches

NOTICE: If you’ve started exhibiting any of these symptoms, and you have reason to believe that it’s related to mold, reach out to our experts right away. The symptoms get significantly worse and more serious if the mold isn’t addressed as soon as possible.

CLICK TO CONTACT OUR MOLD EXPERTS

The Different Types of Mold

The most common harmful molds that you may find in your home are:

  • Stachybotrys Chartarum (Black Mold)
  • Chaetomium
  • Serpula Lacrymans
  • Trichoderma
  • Fusarium
  • Ulocladium
  • Aspergillus
  • Cladosporium
  • Alternaria
  • Penicillium
  • Aureobasidium

Types of mold

Testing for mold

If you suspect you might have mold in your home, you need to test for it right away to keep you and your family safe. You can either try to do it yourself or have a professional do it.

DIY Tests for mold

The DIY mold test kits are less expensive but at the cost of less reliability and having to be able to see the signs yourself. You can test for mold by yourself using:

  • In-home testing kits
  • Borescope
    • To use a borescope, drill a hole into your wall, push the fiber optic cord through, and view the monitor to look for any signs of mold (typically discoloration)

Mold testing kits

Professional Testing for Mold

If you have reason to believe that you have mold in your home, we highly recommend reaching out to a professional to inspect your house. The health issues and property damage that mold can create can damage your health and that of your family members or pets. Contact our mold experts to set up your mold inspection.

What should I do if I have mold?

While we strongly recommend contacting an expert if you have mold, you can try to clean it out yourself if it hasn’t gotten too bad.

To clear a minor mold infestation on your own:

  • Scrub all hard surfaces
  • Fix all leaks
  • Seal small opening
  • Clean air ducts
  • Dispose of surfaces that absorb moisture

To have a professional take care of your mold for you:

  • Call a restoration company like Florida Catastrophe
  • How does a professional contain the mold?
  • How does a professional remove the mold?
  • How does a professional restore the affected area?
  • How will I know if the mold is completely gone?

    While you can try to get rid of the mold on your own, you won’t be able to be certain about whether it’s all gone unless you get it certified by an independent industrial hygienist.

    What are the risks if mold goes untreated?

    In extreme cases of untreated mold, symptoms can be devastating:

    • Difficulty breathing
    • Bleeding gums
    • Nose bleeds
    • Vomiting
    • Blurred vision
    • Nausea
    • In extremely severe cases, growth of cancers

    What are next steps?

    If you notice any signs of mold in your home, it’s very important to take action as soon as possible. This will help avoid any health issues for you and your family and any property damage for your home.

    Contact our mold experts now at 855-352-2281.

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