House fire? The Morning After Might be Too Late for Clean Up

Vermonters are known for patience. We know that many things can wait until the morning. But when you’re dealing with a house fire, the time to take action is now. Once the smoke clears and the fire department takes their Dalmatian back to the station, the rest of the work begins. For insurers and for policyholders, time is of the essence.

A home owner’s first obligation is to call the insurance company. An insurer’s first obligation is to make the best recommendations for the policy holder’s safety, well-being, and speedy return to normalcy.

Let’s start with safety:
Make sure the home owner does not enter the house and walk around. This may cause re-contamination and is dangerous. The fire may have compromised the structure of the building. There may be electrical hazards and falling debris.

Well-being:
Smoke is a collection of solid and liquid particles forced into the air by combustion. The chemical makeup of smoke varies depending on the fuel that feeds it. In the case of our homes, the combustion of our prized possessions can cause the release of toxins in the form of PICs or particles of incomplete combustion. These are tiny particles that can be easily breathed. Many PICs contain known carcinogens. Concern is greatest for those with existing respiratory ailments. Seniors and infants are also at risk.

Return to normalcy:
The recommendation of a professional mitigation company can make all the difference here. A professional smoke and fire mitigator will:

  • Respond rapidly
  • Communicate procedure and secure authorization
  • Provide detailed estimate
  • Control and contain to prevent continuing damage
  • Prevent cross-contamination
  • Properly clean and process the entire job
  • Provide effective odor control

To a home owner who has suffered a loss, this list may sound fairly clinical. Compassion and understanding have to be part of the mix. Empathy not only comforts the home owner, it can also speed his return to normalcy. If he knows he is in good hands, he is more likely to take the proper steps.

PuroClean is known for this kind of personal service. We instill confidence in the home owner so that mitigation can begin and he can return to a safe, healthy environment as soon as possible.

Vermont BBQs – Sweet Summer Fun, Potential Summer Fire Hazard

As the Fourth of July approaches, there are two important questions on the minds of Vermonters: ‘Where is the best place to see the fireworks?’ And ‘What are we going to grill for dinner?’ The answer to the first question is easy. Check this list of the best fireworks displays in the Chittenden County. The answer to the second question can be more complicated depending on your guests and who is manning the grill.

Barbequing can be the source of fabulous summer dinners. But without appropriate safety precautions, it can be the source of tremendous summer problems. Barbecue grills cause more than 1,500 structural fires and 4,200 outdoor fires nationally. By taking the following grilling safety precautions, you can save all the rockets red glare for the skies this holiday.

Grilling Safety

  • Barbecue grills are designed for outdoor use only. Never barbecue in your trailer, tent, house, garage, or any enclosed area as carbon monoxide may accumulate and kill you.
  • When the propane tank is connected, the grill must be kept outside in a well-ventilated space. When not in use, the propane tank valve must be turned to the OFF or CLOSED position.
  • Position the grill in an open area at least 10 feet away from buildings, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • When igniting the barbecue charcoal, use a charcoal lighter, not gasoline. Gasoline can flash violently in and around the pit causing serious injuries to anyone in the area of the flash.
  • Have a charged garden hose or bucket of sand available to extinguish any small grill flare-ups.
  • Use barbecue utensils with long handles to avoid burns and splatters.
  • Wear short or tight fitting sleeves and use flame retardant mitts.
  • Once lit, never leave a grill unattended.
  • Never store a propane tank indoors or below ground level.
  • Do not store a spare propane cylinder. Find a local propane distributor who will exchange an empty tank for a full one on the spot.
  • Hot ash and coals from barbecue pits and charcoal burners should be placed in a non-combustible container until cooled or thoroughly saturated with water, before being disposed.

Keep your Fourth safe and happy! Call us if you need us.

More Winter Ahead: Vermonters Keep Safe

Regardless of what Punxsutawney Phil predicted on Ground Hog Day, Vermonters know we’ve got more winter in front of us and any boyscout worth his badges will tell you, be prepared.

The biggest culprits in Vermont in winter are Mold Damage, Water Damage, and Fire Damage… And they are all related (fire can lead to water damage and result in mold damage, if not handled properly). Let’s take a look at how you can be prepared.

Fire Damage
When it comes to Fire Damage, prevention is the cure. But accidents do happen and when they do, you should know what to do and what not to do. Soot is incredibly hard to clean. Much of the work should be left for the pros (even laundering), but there are a few simple things you can do to prevent further contamination: wear gloves and wash your hands, turn off your ventilation systems, and wash your house plants.

Mold Damage
Water damage can quickly lead to Mold. Mold exposure can cause all kinds of problems ranging from simple headaches and flu-like symptoms to more severe reactions, so a timely response can protect your health.The first thing you must do is stop the source of moisture (ie: turn off the water to your home and fix any plumbing leaks), then you can start to clean small areas (less than 10 sq. ft.). Use common household detergents or natural cleaners like grapefruit seed extract, vinegar, or tea tree oil (tea tree oil is a broad spectrum fungicide that kills all the mold families it contacts).

Here are a few important things you should not do when dealing with potential mold damage:

  • Ignore the problem – It won’t go away on its own.
  • Clean with Bleach – Cleaning with bleach does not kill mold spores and can actually feed further mold growth.
  • Dry a moldy area before cleaning – This can cause further spread of mold.

Water Damage
When it comes to water damage, your rapid response can have a great impact on preserving your home and belongings. Drying things up as quickly as possibly will reduce the potential for the development of mold. Here’s what you can do:

  • Turn off the water – This may seem obvious, but in an emergency, the obvious can be elusive.
  • Remove excess water – Mop up as much as you can. In cool weather open the windows; in hot weather turn on the A/C.
  • Prop up upholstery.
  • Remove area rugs to a dry place.
  • Protect valuables – move paintings and artwork to a safe, dry location.
  • Dry clothing as soon as possible – Fur and leather should be dried at room temperature.
  • Protect your furniture – Place plastic or aluminum foil under the legs of your sofa and chairs, open doors and cabinets to facilitate drying.

The list of things you should not do in the case if water damage of short, but essential in preventing electrical shock: do not use a household vacuum cleaner, do not operate electrical appliances, and do not touch any electrical outlets.

In any case, the best preparation Vermonters can have is a phone number: 802-878-9800. Call PuroClean.

Vermont Residential Fire Damage: What to do After the Smoke Lifts

Lately, residential fires have filled the nightly Vermont news. There were five fatal fires in the Burlington area in 2011. In 2012 there has already been one fatal fire in Essex Junction, a residential fire in Burlington, and a fire destroyed a popular local business in Middlesex.

Some of these fires are related to wood stoves and fireplaces, some to faulty electrical wiring, others to cigarettes. In many cases simple fire prevention measures, like the use of an ash can or even an ash tray, might have preempted disaster. In other cases, the fires that ripped through Vermont homes and businesses were inevitable.

When disaster strikes, it’s important to react as quickly as possible even after the fire is out. This will help insurance companies contain the losses, help homeowners get back to normal life, and reduce the potentially toxic after-effects caused by fire damage.

Every fire generates particles of incomplete combustion that remain in the air and on surfaces after the fire is out. Many of these particles  are known carcinogens. They range in size from 0.1 to 4.0 microns. A micron is tiny: there are 25,400 microns in one inch. Because of their very small size, these particles are easily inhaled which is why they are so dangerous. The presence of such particles might warrant complete evacuation of the property.

Once these potential health hazards are addressed, it is time to consider the contents of the home or business. A quick response time here can also make a huge difference. Consider the consequences of fire damage: Within minutes plastic and marble surfaces begin to permanently stain; Within hours metals tarnish, grout stains, fiberglass yellows and furniture yellows; Within Days floors stain, fabrics are lost, and wood furniture finish is history.

This is why you should contact a professional fire damage mitigator like PuroClean who will communicate the processes that will take place, how your property and personal items will be protected, and work with you and your insurance company on getting your life back together after the fire. When it comes to professional smoke and fire damage mitigation on your behalf, PuroClean’s responsibilities include:

  • Respond rapidly to the customer
  • Communicate the procedures and secure an authorization
  • Scope the damage and provide a detailed estimate
  • Control and contain to prevent continuing damage
  • Prevent cross-contamination
  • Properly clean and process the entire job
  • Process and properly dispose of wastes
  • Provide effective odor control
  • Provide an environment ready for any final repairs

CPR for Vermont’s frozen pipes

Many of us in Vermont think of water damage as a warm weather problem (think spring floods and Hurricane Irene), but residential water damage during freezing winter weather is more common than you might imagine.

When water freezes, its volume increases by approximately eleven percent (11%), and this expansion exerts a huge amount of force. This force is enough to break concrete or even the metal water pipes under your kitchen sink!

So far, the winter has been mild in Northern and Central Vermont. In Chittenden County in particular, you may still have time to take precautions against winter weather wrecking havoc in your home:

  • Shut off the valve supplying your outside water lines – drain these lines by opening the tap. Leave it open so any small amount of water that might be left in the line has room to freeze and expand without causing any damage.
  • Check water pipes running close to outside walls and in unheated crawl spaces. Put fiberglass insulation between the pipes in your home and the exterior walls to help keep them warm and prevent freezing.
  • Pipes running through unheated spaces should be covered with fiberglass insulation or pipe sleeve insulation.

The disaster resulting from frozen pipes is not one you’ll ever want to relive. The actual damage to the pipe is often minimal compared to the water damage the mess can cause in your home. Prevention is the best cure when it comes to frozen pipes.

Once the cold weather is upon us, there are still some things you can do to prevent frozen pipes:

  • During a cold snap, leave cabinet doors open under the sink so that heated air can warm pipes.
  • Leave bathroom and kitchen doors open to encourage heat circulation.
  • Open the taps just enough so that there’s a slow drip. This will relieve water pressure that could build up between an ice blockage and a closed spigot and rupture the pipe.
  • During extreme cold, keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both day and night.
  • If you will be away from home during cold weather, leave the heat set to 55ºF.

In the event of a flood in your home this winter, time is of the essence. Water will soak into a concrete floor within six to 12 hours and make it much more difficult to dry. And mold can begin to grow within two to three days. Mold can spell trouble with your insurance claim and with your cleanup efforts.

This is where PuroClean comes on to the scene with CPR – Controlling, Protecting, and Restoring damaged property and contents. The restoration professionals at PuroClean are trained in the latest in mitigation technology and procedures. They’ll get you back to normal in no time, so you can get back to enjoying winter.

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