After the Fire: What to Save, What to Toss
A local home damaged by fire and restored by SERVPRO of Springfield/Greene County.
One of the hardest tasks to deal with after a fire is deciding what you can keep and what to toss. Many objects are obvious losses, but others may leave you unsure whether they’re salvageable or not. You want to save money, yet you also need to stay safe. So, here are some tips on how to handle some of the more questionable items that have been exposed to fire and smoke:
Throw out all food that’s been in contact with smoke and/or firefighting chemicals, including fresh produce, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, opened containers and packages, food packaged in cardboard, foil, paper, plastic, cloth, screw-topped jars and canisters, and any foods stored outside the refrigerator that were exposed to smoke or fumes.
Some canned goods may still look good on the outside, but heat damage can re-cook the ingredients in the can. This activates bacteria that causes food spoilage, making them unhealthy to eat.
But aren’t foods that were in a refrigerator or freezer be safe?
Sometimes seals on those appliances aren’t air-tight and smoke can leak inside to damage food. If the electricity went out during the fire for more than 2 hours, then it’s likely spoilage occurred so all items should be discarded.
Medicines & Cosmetics
The Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) says the effectiveness of drugs can be destroyed by high temperatures from a fire. If you think your medicines have been exposed to excessive heat, consider replacing them. The same is true if they’ve come into contact with firefighting chemicals.
As to cosmetics, high heat can change their composition without showing any visible signs. They could end up damaging hair and skin. Plus, they can absorb the toxic fumes that go along with all fires, which is not anything you want to put on your skin.
Clothes, bedding, and other fabrics can often be salvaged after a fire with proper cleaning and disinfecting. However, if anything is burned, throw it away. Use even stricter judgment when considering your child’s or baby’s clothing as they’re more susceptible to any leftover toxic residue.
But what about clothes that were packed in plastic bags and stored inside of drawers and closed closets? Aren’t they safe from smoke residue and odor?
No. Rapidly expanding air during a fire easily penetrates clothing even when plastic covers are used to protect them. As the air inside cools down and fresh air begins to circulate, garments covered by plastic with the odor inside are not subject to the normal airing-out process. This allows the malodors to thoroughly penetrate the garment.
To add to the problem, the plastic itself will attract and retain odor to a considerable degree and so must be removed and disposed of ASAP.
Never try to salvage any possessions that could put your health at risk. When in doubt, throw it out! If you have any other questions or concerns about what can be salvaged after a fire, or if you need to schedule fire restoration services, please contact SERVPRO of Springfield / Greene County today.
SERVPRO of Springfield/Greene County Fire Damage Restoration Services
A Smoke and Water Damaged Kitchen
Smoke and Soot Damage Can Cause a Pervasive Odor in Your Springfield/Greene County Home.
Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.
Smoke and soot facts:
- Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
- Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
- The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.
Different Types of Smoke
There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of Springfield/Greene County will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Here is some additional information:
Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber
- Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.
Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood
- Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.
Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire
- Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor.
Our Fire Damage Restoration Services
Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions. We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage. We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.
Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today – 417-865-7711
Don’t Let a Disaster Take Down Your Business
A recent commercial fire and water damage
Having a disaster such as a flood or a fire befall your business is more than an inconvenience. It’s your livelihood. Disasters also adversely affect all your employees because of loss wages due to downtime. Whether you’re a property manager or owner, you must not only consider what steps you need to take to clean up and repair the structure, but you’re also concerned with the health and safety of any staff and/or occupants. And time is of the essence. Your main concern will probably be: Can I run my business while the damage restoration process is happening?
You’re Not Alone
SERVPRO of Springfield / Greene County has been able to work with many different businesses and property owners over the years and have almost always found ways to keep businesses and commercial properties operating as efficiently as possible, while the restoration process is happening.
We do this by keeping a clear channel of communication open with owners or managers to figure out what your requirements are and how we can operate around you. In this way, we find the best possible way to move forward with the damage cleanup while working around your business needs.
We can also help you take on the headaches of working with your insurance company. Our expert team will create an estimate, document your claim, and submit it directly to your insurance company. We’ll help you understand what your insurance will cover and won’t cover, and the budget you’ll receive to make these critically needed repairs.
Eliminating Down Time
The team at SERVPRO of Springfield / Greene County understands what it means to handle commercial disaster restorations. We’ll send out a large crew that will get the work done quickly. We can schedule around your business hours so the dirtiest parts of the work can be done when your personnel and customers aren’t present. And we can cordon off the affected areas as we continue our work, so as not to endanger your staff or slow down your business. In short, we work hard to make sure your business, as much as possible, doesn’t miss a beat.
To help eliminate as much down time as possible, it’s important to plan now for disasters. Preparedness planning tools like the SERVPRO Emergency READY Program can help business owners know exactly who to call and what to do when disaster strikes. Under this Program, a business owner works with a SERVPRO disaster recovery specialist to create an Emergency READY Profile (ERP) for their facility, at no charge. This comprehensive document contains critical information about the business, including emergency contact information, shut-off valve locations and priority areas. Having this information in hand helps business owners and SERVPRO of Springfield / Greene County react to an unexpected event quickly and effectively to help minimize business interruption. And, because disasters are unexpected, there’s a Smartphone app and web version of the Program available to provide business owners with access to their ERP 24/7.
If you do experience a disaster, call the dedicated recovery team that’s able to respond faster, get to work faster, and get you back to doing what you do best…faster! SERVPRO will help make it “Like it never even happened."
Fire: Dangers in the Aftermath
Fire Damaged Garage from a recent residential fire SERVPRO of Springfield/Greene County completed
There’s been a fire at your home or business. Once the firemen leave, your first inclination may be to go inside the structure to see what you can salvage and start the cleaning process. But cleaning up after a fire is much more complicated than regular cleaning. It’s also very dangerous. Because once the last flame has been snuffed out, the dangers from a fire continue.
Since fire destroys all materials, the soot that covers everything you touch and that you kick up in the air is full of toxic substances. That’s why the highly trained professionals at SERVPRO of Springfield / Greene County wear heavy duty personal protection equipment (PPE) on fire mitigation jobs until all the soot is removed. Here are some of the poisons found in the soot and ashes of a building fire:
- Mesothelioma (cancer) causing asbestos fibers from building materials
- Carbon materials can produce carbon monoxide, ammonia, and nitrogen oxides
- PVC can create hydrogen chloride, phosgene (used as a chemical weapon during World War I), dioxin, Refrigerant-40, bromomethane (a pesticide), etc.
- Hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide (poisonous gasses)
- Petroleum based items can produce formaldehyde, acrolein, furfural, cresols, and other harmful chemicals
- Even wood smoke releases more than 100 chemicals also found in cigarette smoke
Removing the Odors
One of the main aftereffects of a fire are odors. These can be difficult to remove without professional know-how and equipment. For instance, did you know that several factors can impact the strength of fire odors? Some of these are:
- Size - The bigger the fire, the more objects have burned, and thus there’s been more smoke.
- Length -The longer a structure has been exposed to smoke, the more deeply odor has seeped into porous materials.
- Space - When a fire occurs in a smaller room, the smoke odor becomes more intense and concentrated.
- Stuff - Not all odors are equal. For instance, burning wood, plastic and protein, all emit different smells with varied consistency.
SERVPRO of Springfield / Greene County has the knowledge and equipment to eliminate the diverse and pungent odors that occur after a fire. Besides the easily accessible areas, we also examine wall cavities, duct work, crawl spaces and plumbing chases to establish whether they also suffered any smoke or fire damage. We’ll ensure that they’re cleaned, repaired and that all traces of odor are removed.
So as tempting as it may be to rush back into your fire damaged home or business once the fire is out, play it safe and call SERVPRO of Springfield / Greene County first so that we can safely make it “Like it never even happened."
Commercial Water Damage in Springfield Hotel
This hotel was flooded from a burst pipe during recent freezing temperatures
Due to recent freezing a pipe burst in an attic of a local hotel damaging the two levels below. We removed all the affected wet ceiling tiles, dried the ceiling and walls and were able to save the carpet in the large conference room of the hotel.
SERVPRO of Springfield / Greene County is ready to respond immediately and work quickly to clean or restore your business. We understand that your property’s appearance is important and that every hour spent restoring is an hour of lost productivity. When you need a restoration or cleaning professional, SERVPRO of Springfield/Greene County has the training and expertise to help make it “Like it never even happened.”
If you have a commercial water damage or would like to get a free Emergency Response Plan into place for your business call us at 417-865-7711.
Frozen Pipe Causes Water Damage in Springfield Church
Air Movers drying the walls after removing base trim in Springfield church
During a recent cold snap a frozen pipe caused this Springfield church to flood. This picture shows a portion of the building during the drying process. The cove trim was removed to allow us to access the area behind the walls. We utilized a large desiccant dehumidifier to dry the entire building. The desiccant recycles the air inside, bringing warm dry air inside while sucking moist air outside. SERVPRO of Springfield/Greene County's efforts resulted in having 90% of the building dry within 3 days.
Water damage can strike your commercial property at any time. Water damage can sideline your business, regardless if the damage occurs from a major storm event or a broken water line. Every hour spent cleaning up is an hour of lost revenue and productivity. If you have a commercial water damage or would like to get a free Emergency Response Plan into place for your business call us at 417-865-7711.
Two Story Water Damage in Springfield Home
During a recent cold snap a cold water supply line under a kitchen sink caused this Southwest Missouri basement home to have a major flood. This before picture shows the mess that was left behind in the basement as the water spread throughout the entire home and even into the garage. SERVPRO of Springfield/Greene County was called to clean up the water damaged home. Our crews immediately began working to extract the water and removed the affected drywall and flooring and cabinets to get this home completely dry. Construction repairs are under way to get this house back in order like it was pre water damage. If you have a water damage do not hesitate to contact us anytime day or night at 417-865-7711.
A Flood of Concerns for Greene County
Call SERVPRO of Springfield/Greene County for your storm and flooding damage
Spring will soon be upon us, along with spring rains. As needed as they are, sometimes those rains don’t let up for a while and Springfield ends up flooded. When that happens, we may see images of people walking through flood waters. Many times, they have no choice as they’re trying to escape to higher ground. But sometimes we see pictures of kids, even adults, playing in floodwaters. There is something tempting about playing in water when it’s in places it’s usually never seen. But here are some serious reasons why you never want to walk (or play) in floodwaters:
- Creature features – some of your playmates may include poisonous snakes, bugs, leeches, disease-carrying rodents and decaying animal carcasses.
- Shock value – a live power line could give way (which is not unusual in disaster areas) and land in the water you’re standing in. No description necessary.
- Junk in the funk – flood waters can carry and/or hide all sorts of debris that can harm you – broken glass, torn metal, splintered wood, etc.
- The force is not with you – it only takes 6 inches of rapidly moving floodwaters to knock you off your feet and carry you to an uncertain fate.
- Contamination abounds – many floods cause sewer overflows, releasing dangerous chemical waste and harmful microbes. These can make you very ill, especially if you swallow any or it comes in contact with your eyes, nose or open sores.
- They suck – when flood waters cover storm drains or sink holes, powerful whirlpools can form that may not be visible from above. They can pull you under and won't let you go.
If you must walk in flood water (standing only – never go into moving water unless you’ve got a rope attached and you’re with a fireman/EMT/etc.), then take all precautions. Wear protective clothing and where your skin or clothing comes in contact with the water, wash as soon as possible. Also make sure you keep up with all vaccinations.
The dangers listed above can also enter your home during flooding. And even if the flooding comes from an inside source, some of these hazards still exist. So instead of trying to handle such a catastrophe yourself, call the professionals at SERVPRO of Springfield / Greene County who are trained for such emergencies. We use powerful pumps and truck-mounted vacuum units to quickly remove hundreds or thousands of gallons of water from your property. Then we’ll dry, dehumidify, clean, repair and return your property to normal.
How to Prevent Mold in your Greene County Home
Example of Mold in Crawlspace. If you think you might have a mold problem call SERVPRO of Springfield/Greene County today at (417) 865-7711.
SERVPRO of Springfield/Greene County professionals handle water damages every day and know that prompt action is required to prevent mold growth. Mold is more likely to spread when the environment has been subject to moisture for a long period of time. If your property has seen a recent water damage, it is vital to remove excess water and dry structure promptly. If there is an ongoing moisture problem in the building, it is important to be alert for:
- The presence of visible mold.
- Strong musty odor which may indicate mold is present.
- Any evidence of past moisture problems that have caused undetected mold growth.
- Excessive humidity.
These conditions may require the expertise of a qualified Indoor Air Quality/Environmental Professional to inspect the property for mold growth and water damage problems. If you think you might have a mold problem call SERVPRO of Springfield/Greene County today at (417) 865-7711.
Don’t Reach for the Bleach!
Ten Reasons not to use bleach for mold cleaning
Chlorine-based bleach has been around for a long, long, time. It was invented in Europe in the late 18th century, and many consider it the be-all and end-all solution to their cleaning needs. But in reality, it can do great harm.
Here are the Top Ten reasons why you don’t want to use bleach to clean:
- Chlorine lacks detergency – in other words, it contains no wetting agents that allow it to penetrate soils, so surfaces must be pre-cleaned before chlorine will effectively kill germs. This is a 2-step process that requires more time.
- Chlorine is very caustic to human tissue. It can produce irritation and burning on your skin and could cause blindness.
- Chlorine reacts with other chemicals to create toxic byproducts and gases. For instance, when bleach comes in contact with ammonia, it can form chlorine gas, causing cellular damage in nasal passageways and lungs. The accidental mixture of these two products in homes has resulted in death. It’s also incompatible with products that contain hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid and acetic acid (vinegar).
- It may harm your children. After using, bleach remains on surfaces and continues to emit fumes. Recent studies show that children who been exposed to bleach in their homes are more likely to suffer from respiratory illness. In addition, various studies have linked the use of bleach in a household to a higher prevalence of asthma and allergies.
- Using bleach can hurt your pets. Your cleaning products can stay on a pet’s paws or fur. Since cats and dogs often lick themselves, they may ingest harmful chemicals. Due to their tiny size, birds can become sick upon inhaling only a small amount of the fumes. Bleach poisoning in pets can result in vomiting, convulsions, and sometimes death.
- Bleach can kill mold, BUT it depends on the surface the mold is on. Mold grows on both porous and non-porous materials. When dealing with mold on non-porous materials such as shower tiles, tubs, vinyl window trims, counter tops, etc. you can use bleach to kill the mold and disinfect. But using bleach to remove mold from porous materials like drywall and wood can actually accelerate mold growth rather than killing it! When bleach is used on porous materials, the chlorine is left on the surface and only the water component of the bleach is absorbed into the material, aggravating the situation as this provides more moisture for the mold to feed on, where it may then produce allergens and irritants. If you have a mold infestation, call SERVPRO of Springfield / Greene County to professionally remove it.
- Chlorine is extremely corrosive to metal surfaces and can permanently discolor countertops. It can also damage floor finishes, requiring them to be stripped and recoated, which is an expensive process.
- Chlorine discolors fibers and colored surfaces. Carpets, upholstery and clothing are just a few of the materials that may be damaged.
- Chlorine bleach’s disinfectant power is rapidly inactivated by contact with organic matter, such as blood, saliva, tissue, urine, feces, dirt, etc. Chlorine is also weakened by sunlight.
- Diluted chlorine bleach quickly loses its effectiveness, is unstable and can lose its disinfectant qualities very rapidly compared to other, more stable disinfectants.
Some safer and effective alternatives to bleach are:
- Baking soda and white vinegar – they’re non-toxic and non-corrosive. Use them to freshen fabrics, eliminate grease, and clean glass.
- Rubbing alcohol – effectively cleans plastic surfaces of electronics
- Hydrogen peroxide – it’s nontoxic and can be used to disinfect household surfaces. Unlike bleach, hydrogen peroxide is safe to use around food products.
- Soap and warm water – the basics! It’ll clean just about anything in your home and won’t present any health risks. Scrubbing with antibacterial soap will kill bacteria just like harsher chemicals.
Although bleach products may be a bargain, you owe it to yourself, your family or coworkers to use a product that truly cleans, thoroughly disinfects and is safe to use.