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smoke

Is that pesky smoke odor just annoying or is it a red flag?

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The human body is truly amazing. When we experience a house fire the average human nose has millions of sensory neurons and that fire triggers those olfactory nerves which trigger the area of our brain that sets off emotional reactions. Our body has an alert and response system. The neurons in our nose remember smells and our emotional reactions to them, so even when a house fire appears to be out our noses can sense any lingering unseen flame or coals that still have a spark.

What causes the odor?

When we continue to smell smoke after the fire is out, what we smell are minuscule particles of incomplete combustion (PIC) and volatile organic compounds (VOC). To give you a visual of these small particles, the larger, visible fragments are called “soot.” The majority of these PIC and VOC fragments, however, or less than ten microns in diameter. To give you a reference for that measurement, picture a dime. Ten microns is 1/1,000 the thickness of a dime.

Other than carbon particles, what else can be in the soot?

 It depends on what was burned in the fire. Wood from the house’s walls and furniture release carbon dioxide. Exposure to Carbon Dioxide (CO2) causes a multitude of health detriments like headaches, difficulty breathing, asphyxia and that pins or needles feeling.

When plastic is burned, it releases chemicals like hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide, dioxins, furans, and other heavy metals. These kinds of emissions can cause respiratory ailments, they stress human immune systems, and they are potentially carcinogenic. 

Our clothes and other fabrics in our homes are often covered in chemicals such as formaldehyde. Formaldehyde can irritate your skin and other body parts like the eyes, nose, and throat.

 Depending on what is in your house during the fire, there might be other particles floating around as soot but these are some of the common ones. 

What steps need to be taken to completely remove the smoke odor?

1.   Removing the Source

The first step, and arguably the most important one, is to remove the source. This means removing any charred/burnt items including drywall. 

2.   Detailed cleaning of all salvageable items

3.   Cleaning the Air Ducts

Next, you need to clean out all of the air ducts within your home or business. Dust carries these particles and odors so cleaning your HVAC system early on in the restoration process is important. 

4.   Removing Airborne Odor 

Since the VOC’s and PIC’s creating the smoke odor remain airborne, the next task is removing them from the air.

Our teams of professional restoration technicians are here for you in the case of a house fire. Please call us to help you start getting your life back together and to clean up any fire damage, to effect any smoke remediation that is needed, and for smoke odor removal. We are here for your property restoration needs

 

Firework Fires in Utah

Firework Fires in Utah

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Firework Fires in Utah

The 4th of July is right around the corner.  You know what that means — Fireworks! Fireworks are a fundamental part of the celebrations of our freedom.  But that doesn’t mean we are free of potential hazards.

Fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires every year! These fires have lead to an average of $43 million in direct property damage every single year. Last year, 2018, in the Salt Lake City area alone there were 45 calls, generating 85 responses from the Salt Lake City Fire crews.  We know that these fireworks are an integral part of the holidays, but we need to make sure we are exercising caution! Below are a few reminders to hopefully bring down that number of fires we had last year!

Make sure to Obey Local Laws

If fireworks have been listed as illegal in a certain area, this is for a reason! The state is not trying to spoil your fun by limiting the areas where you can light off your fireworks.  They are trying to ensure that those areas which are drier and more susceptible to fire are protected.

Keep Buckets of Water

Make sure that you keep buckets of water on hand at all times.  It is great to be able to throw sparklers or other hot fireworks into a body of water to cool them down rather than throwing them into a trashcan or on the ground where they may catch something on fire.

Don’t relight “dud” fireworks

It may be a little disheartening to spend large chunks of money on fireworks only to have them not go off after lighting them.  Do not attempt to relight a “dud”. You should wait 15-20 minutes and then soak them in the previously mentioned bucket of water.  These are not to be messed with.

Do not Alter or Make Homemade Fireworks

Fireworks should not be altered or combined with other fireworks in an attempt to make them bigger, louder, more powerful, etc.  In addition, you should never try to create your own homemade fireworks or explosives. These can be very dangerous and are the number one cause for fires during this time!

Ensure that you are being safe, wearing shoes, and using common sense and you shouldn’t have any issues.  Make sure that you are only using fireworks in the areas where they are legally allowed. Following these simple rules should allow you to safely enjoy your holiday celebrations and firework shows!

Family watching their house burn.

Top 5 ways to prevent house fires

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Top 5 ways to prevent house fires

 

1- Make Sure Your Smoke Alarms Are Working Properly

37% of deaths related to house-fires came from homes which did not have smoke alarms.  23% came from homes which had smoke alarms, but that were not working properly. We get it, sometimes when the battery is low and your fire alarm starts making that annoying BEEP it can be tempting to just take out the fire alarm until you have time to replace the battery.  While it may seem tedious, it is worth it to make sure that your Smoke Alarm is working properly at all times.

 

2- Pay Extra Attention to the Stove and Cooking Equipment

Leftover food particles can get too hot and cause a fire, whether left on the stove or on a pot for too long.  It’s important to watch these surfaces and make sure they are cleaned regularly. Similarly, it is important to make sure that nothing else is left on these surfaces! A paper towel or dish rag left haphazardly on the stove, or curtains too close, can easily get too hot and start a fire!

 

3- Watch Your Electrical Equipment and Wiring

Frayed cords or faulty wiring can spark and cause a fire.  Check your cords before plugging them in to make sure that they are not frayed or broken in any way.  Pay attention to your outlets as well and ensure that you are not overloading them. Some extension cords can cause fires as well with overuse of electricity going through them.  If you notice that some circuits are shorting frequently, or lights are dimming when you use another piece of electrical equipment in your home, this may be a sign that you are at a greater risk for a fire.

 

4- Ensure that Bedrooms Also Have Smoke Alarms

Many people believe that most house fires start in the kitchen. While the kitchen is a very likely place for a fire to start, bedrooms are also a high-risk area! Curious kids may experiment with matches or lighters in their bedrooms so it is important to keep those out of reach for young ones.  Many people will light candles in their bedrooms as well which increases the risk of fire! Smoking is another thing which is commonly done in bedrooms but is best left away from the carpeted bedrooms. In any case, it is smart to make sure that all bedrooms also have their own smoke alarms!

 

5- Keep a Fire Extinguisher on Hand and Have a Safety Plan

A fire extinguisher is your best weapon when a small fire first breaks out so ensure that you have AT LEAST one in your house at all times, but preferably to have one in any room with a higher potential risk of fire.  It may be worth your time to make sure that everyone in the family knows how to properly handle the fire extinguisher as well, in case something happens while you are not home. We recommend having a fire safety plan as well.  Include training on “STOP, DROP, and ROLL”, safety evacuation plans, and practice drills with your family to avoid any questions they may have in case of a fire.