Be SMART – 4th of July Fire Safety Tips

4th of July Fire Safety Tips…

There is roughly more than $35,000,000 per year in fire damages nationally. These fires are due to fireworks, and decorations that are accented with fireworks. This ends up being expensive, not only for the government, and insurance companies, but also families who lose everything due to a fire. Even with insurance, families lose their private positions that may not be replicable or their lives.

Under California law, illegal fireworks include sky rockets, bottle rockets, roman candles, aerial shells, firecrackers and other miscellaneous types that explode, go up in the air, or move about the ground in an uncontrollable fashion. Those convicted could be fined up to $50,000 and sent to prison or jail for up to one year.

In 286 communities in the state, “safe and sane” fireworks are permitted. However, State fire officials want to remind those who choose to purchase legal fireworks this year to make sure they purchase only those with the “Safe and Sane” State Fire Marshal seal they are only used in the community where they are purchased. It is illegal to sell, transport, posses, or use any fireworks in areas where they are not allowed. Even “Safe and Sane” fireworks can be dangerous if used unsafely.

Severe burns, amputations, blindness, and, in some cases, deaths are often the result of 4th of July celebrations. CAL FIRE’s Office of the State Fire Marshal has the following tips:

  • Always read directions.
  • Always have an adult present.
  • Use fireworks outdoors only.
  • Never use near dry grass or other flammable materials.
  • Light one at a time. Keep a safe distance.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Never experiment with fireworks.
  • Have a bucket of water and a hose handy.
  • Never attempt to re-light or “fix” fireworks.
  • Do not wear loose fitting clothing.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pockets.
  • Fireworks are not toys.
  • Use only State Fire Marshal approved fireworks…

4th of July Fire Safety Resources:
Communities Permitting State-Approved Fireworks

List of 290 Communities Permitting State-Approved Fireworks:
http://www.ca-fireworks.presskit247.com/content/content-article.asp?ArticleID=508

The Cause and Effects of Fire Damage

The Cause and Effects of Fire Damage

Fires that raze through homes and guts through buildings usually have their origins as follows:

Smoking Cigarette related fires are attributable to cigarette butts which are not put out properly and thoroughly.  This includes having fallen asleep holding a smoldering cigarette and using flammable materials and items as ashtrays.

CandlesFires that originate from candles start when the flame, caught by a draught leads to the burning of nearby combustible objects like curtains, rugs, papers, etc.  Some similar causes of candle related fires are when candles tilt from candle holders which are inappropriate for placing candles on or in.

Electrical – Most fires are caused by failed electrical connections in the form of overtly warming wires and defective fuses.  Often electrical fire related incidents start from sparks which do not produce any flames.  It is best not to underestimate the risk that comes from electricity even through the wires, plugs and sockets are correctly installed.

To be able to discern the root causes of fire within a home structure, it very informative to know the subsequent causes of fire that originates from room to room:

Bedrooms – Fires which begin inside bedrooms are often due to the improper utilization of electrical devices.  The overloading of extension cords, use of electric warmers, electric blankets that were not tested for quality upon released from the factory or manufacturing plant can overload the circuits.  During winter season, heaters that are carelessly positioned near flammable materials, clothes and linens generally cause fire.

Kitchen – Of all the rooms within a house, the kitchen is probably the room where most electrical appliances are found.  As such it has many fire hazardous elements and materials within in the form of open fire on stove, grease due to cooking, electrical tools and devices for preparing and cooking food.  Grease fire that comes from frying pans is quite dangerous since it can cause the entire kitchen to be consumed by fire.  The kinds of kitchen fire which are easy to control are the oven fires and dry cooking fires because they are unlikely to cause damage.  It is also best to maintain all kitchen appliances well so as not to be a source of fire.

Fireplace and Heating Devices – Heating devices and fireplaces are designed to create heat and could pose as fire risks if they are not correctly maintained.  Combustible things around the heater in the form of curtains, clothes or wall paper must be removed and placed at a safe distance.  Fireplaces that do not have a screen allow sparks from the fire to fly into the room where it is situated. And that can cause fire once the embers land on items or materials that can easily burn.

Fire damage requires doing a very grueling cleanup aside from necessitating the correct tools and equipment to do the restoration procedures.  It is recommended that a professional fire damage expert company is hired in order to do the task of cleaning. This is to be able to establish or segregate the items which could be repaired or changed.  All items that can be restored will be cleaned and brought back to its pre-fire damage state by professional fire cleaning experts to the best of their ability.

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Smoke Damage Is Harmful To Your Property And Health

Smoke Damage Is Harmful To Your Property And Health…

The most commonly downplayed effects of fires in homes and business establishments is in the general health condition of the people who come in contact with the remnants of the fiery event. Not only is there damage and destruction to property and valuable belongings, the person who comes in contact with smoke and fumes from a burned structure is greatly predisposed to developing a variety of health problems. Although these health problems may not be immediately seen nor felt, in due time and with the interplay of other aggravating factors such as the person’s diet, immune system functioning, and overall skin integrity, clinical manifestations will present. By this time, any preventive measures will be for naught and treatment modalities will be a costly affair to begin with.

Smoke Damage

It is almost always possible that small fires can occur right in the very confines of our homes brought about by any of, but not limited to, the following causes: a left open gas stove, leaking gas or fuel hoses, embers from cigars and cigarettes, and overheating appliances, among others. What makes smoke damage cleanup an intimidating task is that smoke and soot can move and penetrate into other rooms or areas of the house while from fires can greatly affect the paint of walls, furniture, and fixtures, carpet, upholstery, drapes, clothing, and other family articles which further adds to the extent of the damage.

Smoke damages the very complex structural network of fibers that strengthens and or solidifies a certain object by chemically reacting with the different molecules that make up the structure. What happens is that the molecular and chemical bonds between the various elements and molecules are broken down into component parts, rendering them unstable in the outside environment. Sometimes, smoke damaged articles still retain a certain amount of heat such that the burning process continues to damage and or weaken the structure and form of the article affected.

Health Concerns

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs are composed of over 100 different chemicals that are formed during the incomplete burning of combustible materials and other organic substances. In controlled laboratory experiments, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were shown to produce fertility problems among laboratory mice. The offspring of the lab mice also showed significantly greater rates of birth defects and low birth weights.

The same studies also revealed that some analogs of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons caused skin problems, body fluid abnormalities, and immune system defects among laboratory specimens. However, the implications are not readily generalizable to the human population because of ethics in research on human subjects.

Whether or not soot has really carcinogenic, mutagenic, and or even teratogenic effects on humans, it is relatively safe to assume that this byproduct of smoke from fires is something that should not be taken very lightly.

The Anatomy of Fire and Smoke

Fire occurs because of three fundamental elements that include air or oxygen, fuel or energy, and heat. Removing any of these elements and you can never start a fire, not even an ember. So, to start a fire, a highly combustible material must get in contact oxygen in the atmosphere to initiate a series of chemical reaction that, upon the application or introduction of the third element which is heat, fire is produced. Now, so long as there is a ready supply of combustible material vis-à-vis fuel load and a steady presence of oxygen in the atmosphere fire continue to exist because as oxygen and the combustible material react, they tend to give off heat, raising the heat element some more and fueling the fiery process in a vicious cycle.

In the birth of a fire, a heating element such as a match, a lighted candle, an electrical spark, or even friction, heats the combustible fuel load to very high temperatures, well within what is known as the material’s ignition temperature. By the time the combustible materials reaches around 150o Celsius (or 300o Fahrenheit), the heat already begins decomposing some of the cellulose that is found in the fuel load. The resulting chemical reaction releases unstable and explosive gases into the air which form what we see and are known to us as smoke. Smoke is primarily composed of oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon molecules. The materials that remain after the volatile gases have been released into the air as smoke make up the hardly recognizable char, as in “charcoal” which is made up of almost pure carbon. The combustible material which is left unburned or not turned into gas is called the ash and includes minerals such as calcium, potassium, chlorine, magnesium, and others. As such, charcoal fire can burn without the smoke as we usually use in our weekend barbecue activities.

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