Posts Tagged ‘safety’

Winter Fires from Heating Sources. What Homeowners Can Do to Stay Safe.

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Fires from heating sources is the second leading cause of winter fires in residential properties. An estimated 50,100 heating fires occur in homes in the United States each year. 87% of residential fires from heating are from a confined source such as chimneys, flues, or fuel burners. Why are these numbers so high? With the high cost of heating from oil, gas and electricity, homeowners are turning to alternative heating methods. Use of wood burning stoves, space heaters and fireplaces has increased. The elderly and low income homeowners are especially at risk when temperatures fall. I worked a fatal fire a few years ago in which the elderly gentleman had covered all windows with plastic and he was using his gas stove for heat to warm his hands. He was wearing a loose shirt and his sleeve caught fire.

What causes fires from these heating sources? Combustibles, using green wood, burning trash, creosote buildup in fireplaces, using the incorrect fuel and damage to the heater can all cause fires. As I mentioned in the case of the elderly gentleman warming his hands, wearing loose clothing around open flames from a stove or a fireplace can easily catch fire. Be sure rugs aren’t too close to heating sources such as fireplaces, baseboard heating elements and space heaters. Don’t store clothing or other items on your heater. Be sure heating sources are free of debris and are cleaned. If you have a wood-burning fireplace have a chimney sweep clean it annually. For oil heating systems, have your system on a service contract and have it serviced/checked at least annually. If you notice a funny smell or a smoky or dirty look to the inside of your home, be sure to contact your heating service right away so the system can be checked for malfunctions. Inspect your space heaters for cracks, damaged legs, doors, hinges etc. Make sure permanent heating sources are installed properly.

What else can I do to prevent fire or at the least increase the chance of my surviving if one occurs? Homeowners should have a few fire extinguishers and know how to use them. One extinguisher should always be in the kitchen. Smoke detectors should be installed and maintained. Batteries should be changed every 6 moths to one year. On a monthly basis test the smoke detector. Have a fire escape ladder and an escape plan. Make sure everyone in your family knows what to do in case of fire and practice your escape plan often.

Fires are devastating and scary. The claims process can be overwhelming especially if a loved one is lost in a fire. My role as a Public Adjuster is to help you. I handle your claim for you from start to finish. I ensure you receive a fair settlement from your insurance company. A Public Adjuster can take the burden and stress from you so that you can get back to what is most important..living your life and spending quality time with your family. When disaster strikes, know that you have someone on YOUR side to protect you.

I am Michelle Murphy, licensed and bonded Public Adjuster in the State of Pennsylvania. I have been working in this industry for four years in the Pocono, Slate Belt and Lehigh Valley regions. I am pleased to be a part of one of the largest companies in Pennsylvania, Citizens Public Adjusters, and look forward to helping people who have been the victims of fires. Feel free to call me at 570-730-8607 if you have any questions concerning fire damage to your home or business.  Come visit me and “Like” me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Michelle-Murphy-Public-Adjuster/186668698043821

 

Winter Fires and Safety

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Did you know that  fires are more prevalent during winter months. The main cause for this is the increase in heating use and cooking. Cooking is the leading source of residential fires. Fires occur most often in the early evening hours and peak between 5pm and 8pm. Other causes of fires during winter months are electrical, heating, holiday decorations, winter storms, and candles.

There are some basic safety tips you can follow to help prevent fires in your home. We’ll address them one at a time over the next several blog posts. The first we’ll address is cooking fires and safety in the kitchen. First, I’ve said it many times but it bears repeating. You must have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and you must know how to use it. When you are cooking do not wear loose clothing. You also want to keep kitchen towels, sponges, paper towels and potholders away from your stove. Other items that could catch fire are food packaging, wooden utensils and curtains. Be sure your stove is plugged directly into the outlet. Never use an extension cord for your appliances. Next, be alert! Never leave cooking food unattended. Oils are highly flammable. If you are cooking and your pan catches fire put a lid on it immediately. It is a good idea to keep a lid nearby with an oven mitt just in case. Once the lid is on, turn off the heat and do not uncover until the pan has cooled completely. Likewise if your oven catches fire, turn off the heat and do not open. Let the oven cool down completely before you open it. The most important tip here is to know when to get out of the house. It is always better to be safe and call for help if a fire doesn’t seem manageable. Things can be replaced, people can’t.

Smoke damage from a fire can be just as bad as actual fire damage. Smoke residue is acidic and can damage fibers. Smoke and soot in air ducts can be recycled through your home heating/central air systems causing continual damage over time if remediation is not done. Smoke and soot behind walls can leave an odor since it can penetrate into porous surfaces. Remediation is necessary to eradicate this problem as well.

Suffering property loss from a fire can be overwhelming and stressful to say the least. No matter whether it is a localized kitchen fire or a total loss, always remember that there is someone here to help you get through the claims process. My role as a Public Adjuster is to take the burden off you and process the claim on your behalf. We meet with your insurance adjuster, document the scope of the damage, inventory your personal belongings and fight for a settlement that is fair and within the limits of your policy. We’re with you every step of the way to help you so that you can get back to what is important,,living your life.  If you have any questions or if you would like a free policy review, I can always be reached on my direct line at 570-730-8607. You can also find me on Facebook here http://www.facebook.com/pages/Michelle-Murphy-Public-Adjuster/186668698043821.

 

 

 

Happy New Year! Out with the old and in with the new!

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Happy New Year! It is a brand new year and that means cleaning out the old and bringing in, or celebrating, the new! January is one of those months that find us all inside looking for things to do while the weather outside is not so pleasant. Holiday decorations are taken down and stored, and we try to reclaim our space by clearing out those things that no longer serve us. While packing your decorations, make sure to look them over for signs of wear.

Did you know light strands older than three years cause most fires? If you do have older strands be sure to check them over for nicks and frays. Do not ever splice your light strands. If you check with your trash hauler you may be able to take those old lights and stick them in your recycle bin! So while protecting yourself from a potential fire hazard and a homeowner’s insurance claim, you are also doing something good for the environment!

While you’re at it, be sure your smoke detectors are functioning and have fresh batteries. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. Also be sure you know your basic fire safety. By doing these few small things you are helping your family to be safe. Here’s hoping we all have a safe and (claim-free) Happy New Year! From the Poconos to the Slate Belt, I’m here to help you!  Feel free to contact me at 570-730-8607.  Click here to find me on Facebook as well http://www.facebook.com/pages/Michelle-Murphy-Public-Adjuster/186668698043821.