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The holidays bring families together and remind us of fond memories. However, all the cooking and decorating can also create greater risk for home fires.According to the U.S. Fire Administration, unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires including 67 percent starting with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.
Our Team at Paul Davis Restoration of Greater Portland, leading providers of fire, water and mold damage restoration services for your residential or commercial property, offers the following tips to make the holidays safe.
Keep children away from cooking areas. Turn pot handles facing in to prevent scalds and burns. Avoid wearing loose clothing which can be ignited by hot burners. Don't store items on top of the stove. Turkey fryers should be used outdoors and away from buildings and flammable materials.
Lead is a toxic substance that, if left untreated, can poison your drinking water and indoor air quality and negatively affect the health of you and your family.
Lead damages the brain, nervous system, and even kidneys. This chemical is especially threatening to children, whose bodies are still developing, as well as to pregnant or nursing women. Damage may be permanent, so early detection and removal is essential.
One of the most common forms of lead poisoning in children originates in lead-based paint, a standard in homes built before 1960 and as recently as 1978. If you live in one of Portland’s historic neighborhoods or an older home in any area, you and your children may be waking up every day to a toxic environment.
Other locations where lead-based paint may show itself include:
We hear a lot about Spring cleaning, but what about winter cleaning? While Spring cleaning empties your home of unnecessary items and dust that has built up over a season indoors, winter cleaning prepares your home, inside and out, to weather a chillier climate.
In order to fully winterize your home, you must complete thorough inspections of your chimney and furnace and make sure your indoor organizational systems are in order. Consider the following steps to create a safe and healthy home in time for December 21, and beyond.
Clean Your Chimney
We’ve shared the value of cleaning your chimney in our post, A Clean Chimney Is a Safe Chimney, but the point bears repeating. Chimneys full of bird nests, soot, and debris are more likely to malfunction and cause home fires. “Cleaning logs” and other substitutes for a little elbow grease are not effective and put your home at risk. Be sure to have your chimney and/or wood stove cleaned and professionally checked before having a fire.
When winter chill sets in, it’s time to break out the space heaters. Right?
Not necessarily. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, space heaters cause over 25,000 residential fires each year, out of which 6000 individuals are sent to the emergency room for burn-related injury.
Akin to small stoves, these warming devices plug into your wall and can help reduce heating costs by keeping only selected areas of your house warm. However, if used improperly or for extended periods of time, particularly overnight, many models have been known to overheat, causing electrical fires.
We at Paul Davis encourage you not to rely on space heaters. One alternative is to install thermostats in each room to help you regulate your energy output. You can also insulate your windows to help retain heat when temperatures drop.
However, in the event that you choose to use a space heater, we want to help you act as safely as possible.
Follow these guidelines for the safest usage possible. Whatever you do, never, ever leave a space heater plugged in overnight or unattended.
Home remodeling can give your old home a new lease on life, taking it from dull and decrepit to fresh and appealing! However, the older the home, the more potential issues arise. The following are three common issues that arise when remodeling an older home and the ways in which you and Paul Davis can tackle these problems together.
Moisture causes mold and mildew to develop, which can lead to bacteria and eventually termites, all of which are detrimental to your home. During remodeling, we often find areas where moisture has taken over and caused major structural issues, requiring the replacement of studs prior to starting the rest of the remodel. Putting away 5 to 15 percent of your remodeling budget to allow for contingencies is an excellent way to ensure that unseen remodeling costs don’t derail the entire project.
Not all floods are created equal. In order to determine what types of flood are possible, how strong each types is, and which ones threaten your home, consider your geographic region and the land and bodies of water surrounding your property.
The following are types of flooding that can affect your structure, depending on where you live:
Coastal flooding occurs along the edge of the world’s oceans, driven by storm surges. Usually connected to hurricanes, tsunamis, or tropical storms, this kind or flooding originates when low pressures occur over the ocean and suck the water toward the center. When the eye of the storm moves toward land it carries a dome of water, sometimes reaching 25 feet in diameter. When this dome meets the shoreline it can cause major damage as waves breaking against nearby structures.
If you live in a Coastal region, be sure to familiarize yourself with emergency procedures in your community in the event of serious coastal flooding. Fema.gov offers excellent flood insurance resources to help protect your ocean-side home.
An “act of God” is a legal term referring to a natural disaster that creates widespread damage for which no human being can be held accountable. Often used in construction, insurance, transportation, and other types of contracts, this term describes damages done to your home due to unforeseen circumstances involving fire, flood, or another crisis caused by forces of nature.
If you live in a region known for natural disasters or recently experienced property damage as a result of fire, flood, or earthquake, you may be wondering how your insurance company categorizes acts of God in their fine print and how much, if any, assistance you qualify for.
While all policies are different, the following is an outline of the basic criteria for acts of God by most insurers:
Impossible to avoid
Events that are unforeseen and produce unavoidable effects fall under the Act of God umbrella. If an event occurs suddenly and cannot be controlled, either due to its power or the lack of human preparation time, it likely meets this requirement.
Human activity is not a root cause
Some disasters, thought previously to be natural disasters, have now lost their Act of God title due to human causation. These include:
Fires should begin and end within the safe confines of your chimney.
However, without proper chimney cleaning and maintenance, a cozy fire could become a destructive blaze, threatening your home and family.
Many homeowners with fireplaces are aware that they should use metal guards to keep children from getting too close. However, chimney care is not always a top priority.
Take these essential steps to protect your home against smoke damage and traumatic fire:
Inspect your fireplace each season
Fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, and chimneys all require annual inspections to ensure safety. Take a flashlight and peek inside your stove and chimney to check the condition of the firebricks and the amount of creosote (a chemical by-product created from the burning of wood and coal) lining the chimney.
Chimney caps should be examined for deposits. If you do not currently use a chimney cap, think about installing one, as they prevent birds and other animals from invading an unused chimney and making nests. Chimney caps also deflect rain, which can otherwise create a burnt smell in your home.
Gutters are your home’s gatekeeper. Through these channels, runoff that would otherwise collect at the edges of your roof or in your home’s foundation is carried through your gutters and away from your structure.
However, if these drainage channels become clogged with debris and cannot function properly, water can pool either on your roof or splash, undirected, to form a puddle around your foundation. From there, mold and mildew may development in the affected areas, leading to structural damage and costly repairs down the line.
How can you prevent flood damage caused by clogged or broken gutters? Consider these tips:
1. Remove dry debris
Don’t race outside after a rainstorm to clean the muck out of your gutters. Instead, wait until the debris has dried so as not to leak excess water upon removal into the very places you intended to protect.
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