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More Fire Safety Tips for Northern California Wildfires

10/1/2020 (Permalink)

Wildfires pose a real danger to Northern California home and businesses

With the fires that are currently raging in Northern California's wine country fire safety, both from wildfires and accidental home fires, is a real concern for millions of California residents, including those in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, and Redwood City in Santa Clara County, California.

Due to a combination of reasons, including weather conditions (including lack of rain and lack of humidity), increasing temperatures (global warming), and simple human error or carelessness (tossed cigarettes, illegal bonfires, intentional fire-setting), wildfires have been increasing in number and intensity in recent years. This means that experiencing fire damage has become a very real possibility for many Californians, including those in many parts of Santa Clara County, California.

There’s also the danger of fires starting in your home from electrical shorts or kitchen fires (the most common cause of in-home fires). According to The Red Cross, “If a fire starts in your home you may have as little as two minutes to escape. During a fire, early warning from a working smoke alarm plus a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly can save lives.” Two minutes! That’s barely enough time to grab your pets and a couple of beloved belongings and escape. Not to mention dealing with the worry about your home due to fire damage because of fires in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, or Redwood City.

Here are the top 7 ways to prepare for a home fire from redcross.org:

  • Install the correct number of smoke alarms. Install a smoke detector inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement. On levels without bedrooms, install alarms in the living room (or den or family room) or near the stairway to the upper level, or in both locations. Test your smoke alarm or smoke detector once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
  • Teach children what smoke alarms sound like, and teach them what to do when they hear one. Practice with them twice-yearly.
  • Ensure that all household members know at least two ways to escape from every room of your home, and that you determine a family meeting spot outside of your home in the case of a fire.
  • Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another or cannot meet at the predetermined family meeting spot.
  • Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year, and at random times. Press the smoke alarm test button or yell “Fire“ to alert everyone that they must get out.
  • Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1, no matter how young.
  • Teach family members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.

The Red Cross also recommends you follow these fire-safe habits:

  • Keep items that can catch on fire, like flammable clothing, paper, toys, etc. at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as space heaters.
  • Smoking paraphernalia is the leading cause of residential fire deaths in the United States. Please do not smoke. If you have to smoke, take precautions: Smoke outside, choose fire-safe cigarettes, don’t smoke in bed, don’t smoke when drowsy or medicated, or if anyone in the home is using oxygen. That’s a disaster waiting to happen.
  • Use deep, sturdy ashtrays and douse cigarette and cigar butts with water before disposal.
  • Talk to children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches, and lighters and keep them out of reach.
  • Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended, even for a minute.

Following these fire-safe habits won’t protect you against wildfires, but there are steps you can take to help reduce the risk of fire damage to your home from a wildfire, such as those that have recently been burning in both Northern California and Southern California.

In the last two years, over 67,000 wildfires have been reported across the country each year, many in California. Yearly, wildfires destroy over 4,000 structures, with 3,000 of them residential. As real estate development expands into forests and grasslands, the chances of wildfire-related property damage go up.  

You can’t fight back a wildfire that is encroaching on your home or business, but you can take steps to protect yourself and your property. Learn how you can help protect your home or business from a wildfire.  Keep you and your family safe and know how and when to evacuate. Learn more in the second part of this blog post, to be continued next week.

If you already have suffered fire damage and need fire restoration, please call SERVPRO of Palo Alto at (650) 800-3448 for a free estimate. Our highly trained technicians use advanced equipment to make it “Like it never even happened.”

Fall Fire Safety Tips to Protect Your Home | SERVPRO® of Palo Alto

9/24/2020 (Permalink)

If you experience any property damage due to a fire, we are here for you. Contact SERVPRO of Palo Alto to learn more.

While it’s true that house fires can happen at any time during the year, statistically most happen in the fall and winter months, according to the American Red Cross.

But here’s the good news: Whether you’re having fall fun around a roaring bonfire or just relaxing around the fireplace in your living room, you can take simple steps to make fire safety a priority.

Keeping Fall Fun and Safe

Many people look forward to lighting the first fire of the year in their fireplace. But before you relax in front of the fire with your pumpkin latte or hot cider, be sure to have your fireplace and chimney checked out by a professional. You’ll have more peace of mind if you know that your chimney or fireplace doesn’t need maintenance.

While you’re getting a fireplace checked out, ask your inspector to be sure any other heating systems you might use are working well, too. Fixing small issues before they become big problems can help you protect your home and family from fires.

Bonfires are another popular fall tradition. They’re a great way to gather friends and enjoy treats like s’mores. But if you’re having a bonfire, be sure there’s always someone nearby to keep an eye on the fire and help keep it under control so it doesn’t cause unexpected damage. Don’t leave a burning fire unattended in your yard.

Change Your Smoke Detector Batteries

Checking your smoke detectors a couple of times every year can help give your family a sense of security and protect them from the dangers that can come with fires. Most experts recommend having smoke detectors in all bedrooms and other strategic spots around the house, like in the living room.

When you check your smoke detectors, be sure to have new batteries on hand so you can change them out.

If you have problems remembering when you need to change the batteries in your smoke detectors (and many people do), a good rule of thumb is to switch them every spring and fall when you change your clocks.

<h2re-here-if-you-need-us">We’re Here if You Need Us

If an accident happens at your home this fall and you need help restoring fire or smoke damage, you don’t have to look far.

Our team is always ready to help you if a fire damages your home. Local experts can guide you through the fire restoration process and help get your home back in top shape.

We’re here to talk with you 247 if you need to learn more about our fire restoration process.

California Firestorms Info Links | SERVPRO of Palo Alto

9/16/2020 (Permalink)

Stay safe during Northern California wildfires!

With unprecedented firestorms burning all over the West Coast, including here in Northern California, it's vital to have information at your fingertips about wildfire location, air quality in your specific location, wildfire resources, and safety tips.

Here's where you should go to keep yourself informed and your family safe:

California wildfire map

CAL FIRE
Fire.ca.gov

Air quality information

EPA & partners
Airnow.gov

Wildfire preparedness & safety information

CAL FIRE
Readyforwildfire.org

Wildfire safety tips & information

FEMA
Ready.gov/wildfires

Wildfire response resources

Cal OES
Wildfirerecovery.caloes.ca.gov

Response.ca.gov

Satellite imagery of areas impacted by fire

Maxar technologies on Google Crisis Map
Google.org/crisismap/2020-california-wildfire-imagery

With the sheer magnitude of the current wildfire situation in our area and all over the western United States, please keep yourself informed. And if wildfires do affect your home or business, don't hesitate to call SERVPRO of Palo Alto for 24-hour fire restoration service! Call us at (650) 800-3448.

What You Should Know about Water Damage | SERVPRO® of Palo Alto

9/8/2020 (Permalink)

Our team is always ready to help you after busted pipes or other water related issues. SERVPRO of Palo Alto is the water restoration expert.

When you think about water damage, you probably think about thunderstorms, floods or other natural disasters. But most water damage in American homes is caused by the things we rely on to keep our lives running every day.

That’s right. Things like your appliances, plumbing and sewers (or septic tanks) are far more likely to cause water damage to your home than storms are. According to iPropertyManagement, a website that advises landlords and property managers, water damage that isn’t related to severe weather is the second-most common claim homeowners file.

What does that look like in dollars? In 2017, insurance companies paid out $13 billion in water damage claims.

Protecting your home

So, what are the common culprits causing water damage in homes? This list covers some of the top offenders.

The appliances in your kitchen can cause significant water damage. Dishwashers and refrigerators (specifically the ice maker) can flood areas when they malfunction. A slow, gradual leak that may go unnoticed at first can cause big damage later. But there are steps you can take to keep an eye on these possible issues.

Every few months, you can remove the plate at the bottom of your dishwasher while you’re running a cycle and look for leaks. You can check the supply line for your ice maker when you pull your refrigerator away from the wall to clean it.

Plumbing problems are another common cause of water damage. In general, plumbing pipes have a long lifespan. But you can watch for possible leaks by keeping an eye on your water bill. If it’s unusually high, there may be an issue. You can also pick up a water leak detector. Some of them even have apps for your phone.

Water heaters are another common culprit. The best way to prevent damage from your water heater is to replace it as needed. Depending on your model, most water heaters can last 10 to 20 years. You can check your water heater’s age by taking a look at the unit. It’s usually noted underneath it.

What happens if you can’t catch the leak?

Even the most diligent homeowners can sometimes miss a leak. Accidents happen. And when they do, it’s important to have your home professionally cleaned to protect you and your loved ones from mold and other issues that can arise after a water leak. That’s where our team of experts can help you.

Our team is always ready to help you after busted pipes, water heater leaks or appliance malfunctions damage your home. We’re here to talk with you 247 if you need to learn more about our water restoration process.

Get Your Home Ready for Severe Weather | SERVPRO® of Palo Alto

8/27/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Palo Alto is here to provide you with a rapid response. Contact us right away if you experience any storm damage.

You can’t control where a storm hits. But there are steps you can take to be sure your home is in the best shape possible to weather severe storms.

The National Weather Service has some great tips for making sure your home is ready for storms. They recommend:

Keeping the trees near your home trimmed and healthy. Tree limbs overhanging your house can fall during a storm. And having a dead tree near your home can be risky during heavy wind. It can damage your roof, the siding on your home, and break windows.

Ensuring your gutters are clean. This is a good way to help keep your roof (and the rest of your home) safe from water damage. Keep in mind that cleaning gutters regularly also protects your home over time.

Securing loose items and closing doors and windows. If you have time, this can help save both these items and your home from damage.

Other Ways to Prepare

If you want to know more about getting your home and family ready for severe weather—including the types of weather threats that are common in your area, visit ready.gov.

The information on ready.gov comes directly from the Department of Homeland Security. It’s a good source for general information about storms and emergency planning. Plus you can download their app to your smartphone for real-time alerts about severe weather that might affect your town.

During severe weather, every minute counts. So having real-time alerts is a good way to help keep your family members and pets safe. If you’re out of town, the app will send alerts that apply to wherever you are.

Cleaning Up After the Storm

Hopefully, your family will never be hit by a storm. But if you are, it’s important to get your home professionally cleaned. Why? Because expert cleaning can help get your family’s home back in order quickly. Plus, if there’s water damage, it can help protect you against mold later.

If your home sustains damage due to a storm, you can count on us to help. We’re here to talk with you 247if you need to learn more about our storm restoration process.

Ask the Right Questions to Pick a Storm Restoration Team | SERVPRO® of Palo Alto

8/7/2020 (Permalink)

Choosing the right restoration company is crucial to getting things back to normal. Call SERVPRO of Palo Alto to set up an appointment.

When there is severe weather in the area, it can be alarming to experience—but if your area sustains damage, it is even worse. The severity and expenditures associated with storm damage are more serious than many realize, which is why we always advise doing your research before making a decision when it comes time to pick a restoration company.

The company you choose is so important to your overall recovery experience. As it is generally a stressful time, working with a company that provides you with peace of mind will make a huge difference in how smoothly the process proceeds and how quickly your damages are resolved. To help you decide on the right company for you, we have a few tips.

Your Guide for Choosing a Restoration Company After Sustaining Damage

Have you checked on their reputation? When you invest money into your home, you want to be certain you are making a wise choice—and restoration is no exception. Scammers often surface after bad storms to take advantage of those who have sustained damage, so doing your own research is vital. Make sure your chosen company is active in the community and is considered an industry leader in restoration to be certain they are a good choice.

Do you know how they handle sudden rushes in businesses? Storm damage is quite unique because of just how suddenly it can occur and how much of an area it can impact. While you are deciding on a restoration company, make sure to choose one that can provide good service even when they get inundated with sudden requests. With our national SERVPRO® partnership, we are enabled to seek backup whenever we need it in order to provide the same level of service regardless of the extent of damages.

What happens if I have an after-hours emergency? It is rare that storm damages will occur at a time that is convenient, but it can occur at the worst time possible. Because storms do not follow a strict workweek, we do not either. You can get in touch with us any hour of the day or night to report your damage, and our emergency response team will spring into action regardless of the damages.

When you have damage from a storm to your home or commercial building, you can always depend on us to handle it. Contact us at any hour to see our exceptional service in action.

Take Precaution Every Time You Light Your Grill | SERVPRO® of Palo Alto

7/24/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Palo Alto is the fire restoration experts. To learn more give us a call or contact us online.

Cooking a homemade meal is a great way to spend time together as a family, especially if you are taking advantage of your backyard space and your grill. Grilled food is always delicious, but we do encourage people to remember their fire safety considerations every time an open flame is around.

Grill fires happen more regularly than many people realize—nearly 6,000 occur annually, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. A few fire safety tactics can go a long way to ensuring every cookout is a safe one.

Ensure Every Cookout Is a Safe One With Fire Safety Tips

Create a safe zone around your grill. While the deck right outside your back door may seem like the most logical place to put your grill, it may not be the safest. Three feet is the recommended safe zone for grilling—this is the zone where there is nothing that could catch on fire or melt, just in case.

Clean your grill grates often. Good grill habits involve regularly cleaning your grates, but this is good for more than keeping cooking temperatures consistent. As food particles and grease accumulate on the grates of the grill, they can heat up and catch fire eventually. By regularly scraping down your grates, you can significantly lessen the chance of this occurring.

Never leave the grill unattended. As with any open flame, a lit grill should never be left unattended, even with a closed lid. Fires can happen in an instant, and if you are not there with your fire extinguisher, they can get out of hand before you know it. Having someone take over so you can take a break is a wise way to prevent any accidents.

Inspect the grill regularly. It is always a good idea to do a visual inspection of your grill, even if you have been using it regularly. With use, gas connections and hoses can deteriorate and cause leaks, which can lead to a catastrophe if the grill is lit and gas vapors are in the air. Making an inspection part of your habit is one of the best things you can do to ensure you are being safe.

If you have a grill fire that does damage to your home, we are here to help. You can call us any time, day or night, to have a quick response from our restoration experts.

Tips for Storm Safety That You Can Use Anywhere | SERVPRO® of Palo Alto

7/13/2020 (Permalink)

Have you been affected by a storm event? SERVPRO of Palo Alto is available 24/7 and ready to assist you with any storm damage.

When the skies are clear and the day is warm, thunderstorms are probably the last thing on your mind—but because of how suddenly they can manifest during humid days, they are always something to keep in mind. Any thunderstorm has the potential to be dangerous, but with these safety tips, you can be sure you can protect yourself from summer storms anywhere.

Protect Yourself From Summer Storms Anywhere You Go

Know your options for shelter. When a storm catches you at home, you can follow storm safety guidelines to a T and take shelter in the most secure spot in your home. Unfortunately, if you are out and about when a storm pops up, you may have to get creative. Seeking shelter in a vehicle is actually recommended when you are not home, as the car will disperse any lightning strikes around you.

Practice electrical safety. A lightning strike can travel through a building rapidly, often using the home’s wiring system to do so. This can lead to a power surge, an event that can harm electronics and cause sparks. If you have plenty of time before the storm hits, unplugging everything is the safest thing you can do—but in case you don’t, also install surge protectors at home and at your office.

Avoid direct contact with concrete. When you hear that a thunderstorm is nearby, concrete might seem like the most reasonable place to seek shelter—but concrete can have its own dangers involved. Metal beams are often encased in poured concrete to stabilize it, meaning it can transfer the charge from lightning when it strikes. If you do seek shelter in a concrete building, avoid directly touching the floor or walls.

Stay indoors for at least 30 minutes. If you have an activity interrupted by a thunderstorm, getting back to it is likely your top priority—but do not forget about safety as well. Lightning can travel large distances even when the sky is clear, so experts recommend giving yourself at least half an hour before heading back outside.

If your home sustains damage due to a storm, you can count on us to help. Contact us at any hour to learn more about our storm restoration process.

Starting a Fire Evacuation Drill Program in the Workplace | SERVPRO® of Palo Alto

6/25/2020 (Permalink)

If your business experiences any fire damage, you can count on us. SERVPRO of Palo Alto specializes in commercial fire restoration.

When it comes to planning for commercial fires, it is important to understand that businesses in any industry carry some level of risk. Some may be more susceptible than others, but all businesses should do what they can to evaluate and reduce their risks of operation.

Whether you work in an industry with equipment that could cause a fire or you are just practicing regular office safety, it is important to do everything you can to keep your staff safe.

One of the chief things to be concerned about when boosting your fire preparedness is the overall safety of your workplace. That is why we recommend planning your fire evacuation drills and practicing them with staff as the first step of your fire safety planning.

Planning and Practicing Fire Evacuation Drills With Staff

Consult with your local fire officials. Once you begin researching fire safety, you will find lots of great tips and guidelines online for how to be as safe as possible—but do not forget to make use of local resources, too. Your local fire marshal will likely be glad to pay your business a visit and weigh in on the best ways to plan your evacuation routes and conduct drills in your space.

Communicate and mark fire evacuation routes. After determining what the best escape routes are, the next step is to mark them clearly and communicate your evacuation plans with employees. Making sure everyone is prepared in advance of a fire drill will ensure things go smoothly and everyone knows to take it seriously but to not panic.

Have fire drills frequently. You will find that your needs vary regarding how frequently to host your drills, so it is important to find what works best for you. You will want your drills to happen often enough that employees remember them, but not happen so regularly that they are disregarded as routine.

Run different fire scenarios. There are places in the office where a fire might be more likely to break out (such as a staff kitchen), but fires can come from many places. When you run your fire drills, have your fire “start” in various locations around the office so your employees will be comfortable using different routes and exits as needed.

If your business has experienced fire damage, you can count on us. We specialize in commercial fire restoration and will be here for you at any hour—contact us today.

Our Recommendations Regarding House Fire Recovery | SERVPRO® of Palo Alto

6/15/2020 (Permalink)

If your home is damaged in a house fire, SERVPRO of Palo Alto is here to help. Contact us for any fire restoration needs.

It is important that you and everyone in your household know what to do in the event of a fire, including having an emergency plan and practicing evacuation drills. However, you should also be aware of the difficulties regarding the aftermath of a fire and have a plan for how to navigate those as well.

With our tips for navigating the aftermath of a house fire, you can make sure you are following the right steps for a simple, quick recovery for your household.

Tips for Navigating the Aftermath of a House Fire

Prepare yourself for what to expect. The damages from every house fire are unique, but understanding the common implications of house fire damage is a good way to prepare yourself. Smoke and soot can often travel throughout the home, even impacting areas that had no direct flames. Additionally, firefighters may have to cause damage in order to make the fire safe to fight, so it is wise to prepare for these things ahead of time to avoid the shock.

Wait to enter your home. It is normal to immediately want to begin handling the damage and getting the restoration process started, but first, you need to make sure it is safe for you to re-enter the home. Structural damage is quite common after a fire breaks out, so wait for officials to authorize it before you go back into the home.

Contact your insurance company. The process of filing an insurance claim will vary based on your provider, so getting in touch with them early on is highly recommended. This way you can be certain you are not taking any unauthorized actions that could undermine your claim.

Document the damages. Records of the damages in the way of inventory lists and photographs are a smart way to stay organized. Not only will this be helpful for you as you recall what items you must replace after the restoration, but you can also use this to simplify your insurance claims process as well.

Contact your restoration company. A house fire is a traumatic thing for your family to experience, so recovering quickly is a great way to emotionally heal from the process. To make it as smooth as possible, we always recommend working with a reputable, well-trusted restoration company that is based locally, so you can be certain the job will be done right.

If your home is damaged in a house fire, you can count on us to help you. Get in touch at any hour for a quick response.