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Preparing Your Home for Severe Weather

10/4/2022 (Permalink)

lightning storm in the sky Follow these safety measures and general tips to help you weather the storm.

Preparing for a Tornado

Every state has at least minimal risk for tornadoes, though the region spanning from South Dakota to Texas is nicknamed Tornado Alley for a reason. Tornado season spans the spring and summer seasons.

Before a tornado hits, follow these severe weather tips:

  • Look outside for approaching storms and remain on alert for signs of a tornado, such as a dark sky, large hail, low-lying or fast-moving clouds, or roaring sounds.
  • Listen to your NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or TV newscasts to remain informed. Follow the instructions given by local emergency officials.
  • Recognize emergency alerts during a storm. A tornado watch means a tornado is possible. A tornado warning means a funnel has been spotted.
  • If a tornado warning is issued, take shelter in the basement or storm cellar immediately. If your home doesn’t have an underground room, an interior bathroom is the best place to hunker down.

Preparing for a Hurricane

The Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal regions are at risk for hurricanes. The Southwestern US can also experience heavy rains and floods from hurricanes generated off the coast of Mexico. Hurricane season lasts from June to November.

Before a hurricane hits, follow these severe weather tips:

  • Learn the elevation of your property to understand your personal flood risk. Determine whether levees and dams in your area could affect you if they break.
  • Become familiar with areas of higher ground in your city and determine how you would get there during an emergency.
  • Make plans to secure your home, including covering windows with storm shutters or plywood; installing straps to fasten your roof to the frame structure; and reinforcing garage doors.
  • Make plans to prepare your property, such as bringing un-tethered outdoor objects inside; trimming back trees and shrubs for better wind resistance; and determining how to secure your boat.
  • Recognize emergency alerts during a storm. A hurricane warning means unrelenting winds of 74 miles per hour or higher are expected to create hurricane conditions within the next 36 hours. A hurricane watch is similar, but the alert is issued within 48 hours of the anticipated storm.

Preparing for a Thunderstorm

Thunderstorms are dangerous because they always produce lightning and may produce hail, strong winds, flash flooding, tornadoes and wildfires if lightning strikes the ground. Thunderstorms can occur anywhere in the US and are most likely during the summer.

Before a thunderstorm hits, follow these severe weather tips:

  • Prepare your home by shuttering windows and doors, and unplugging sensitive electronics.
  • Prepare your property by removing damaged tree branches that could fall during a storm, and bringing outdoor objects inside.
  • Watch the sky and tune in to your NOAA Weather Radio for information.
  • Recognize emergency alerts during a storm. A severe thunderstorm watch means stormy conditions are likely to occur. A severe thunderstorm warning means radar indicates severe conditions exist.
  • If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, danger is imminent. Seek shelter inside or within a hard-topped vehicle if no buildings are nearby.

General Tips

  • Build an emergency kit: You need food, water and basic disaster supplies to last 72 hours. Assemble your emergency kit well before severe weather strikes. You may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice, so keep your emergency kit in an easy-to-access place.
  • Create a family communication plan: Your family may be scattered around town at school, work and daycare when a storm hits. That’s why you should create a family communication plan now. Establish how you’ll get in touch, reunite and handle different situations. Make sure every family member has their parents’ and siblings’ cell phone numbers memorized.
  • Learn your city’s evacuation plan: If you live in a storm-prone area, your community may have established evacuation routes to leave the area safely and quickly. Learn about these plans and share them with your family.

Why Do I Need SERVPRO of Kendall County to Handle Fire Restoration?

9/27/2022 (Permalink)

Servpro fire damage signage Fire and smoke damage restoration is not a job for amateurs.

You Might be Exposed to Hidden Health Hazards

Unfortunately, the dangers of a fire don’t end once the flames go out. The smoke and soot left behind are more than just dirty little reminders of the disaster that took place. Exposure to fire-damaged objects and lingering residue could be hazardous to your health.

Soot forms after a fire because plastic, foam, textiles, wood, and other household materials don’t burn cleanly. The soot then contains toxic materials that either didn’t burn completely or were produced as a chemical reaction in the fire’s high heat.

Invisible soot particles floating through the air may contain cancer-causing asbestos fibers, ammonia, tar, formaldehyde, and much more. Walking through your fire-ravaged home could allow chemically-laden soot to get into your eyes and penetrate your skin.   

Exposure to soot in a fire-damaged home is obviously at its highest during the cleanup process. However, unless thorough, adequate cleaning is performed, the health effects of smoke could linger for years. This is why you should leave fire restoration to SERVPRO of Kendall County who can employ deep-cleaning techniques to truly restore your home to its pre-fire condition.

You Need Special Equipment

A bottle of degreaser and a dust mask are not nearly enough to adequately clean up fire and smoke damage. After all, you can’t simply wipe soot away. You must deep clean all surfaces to eliminate lingering health threats and remove residual odors. Professional tools – not to mention knowledge of proper cleaning techniques – are at the heart of a thorough, safe fire restoration.

Also, be aware that laundering smoke-damaged clothing in your washer could deepen the damage and leave undesired odors in the washing machine. You must pursue special dry-cleaning techniques if you hope to salvage clothing damaged in a fire.

You Could Mistakenly Throw Away Salvageable Goods

It’s easy for the untrained eye to sift through damaged belongings and deem many of them a lost cause. However, with advanced recovery techniques, SERVPRO of Kendall County can help minimize your loss. Then, for contaminated items that truly are unrecoverable, proper disposal prevents unnecessary health hazards.

The Recovery Process Could Take Much Longer

Restoring your home back to its pre-fire condition is not a straightforward task. You have belongings to salvage, cleanup to do, and the home’s structure to repair. Then, there are the insurance claims to minimize the fire’s financial impact. The entire process is a headache to attempt yourself.

In fact, your efforts to save money with DIY fire restoration could easily backfire if you throw out salvageable belongings and don’t complete insurance claims correctly. The time it takes to perform the cleanup without help could also be detrimental. Relying on SERVPRO of Kendall County who’s familiar with every aspect of the disaster recovery process is a much better option.

Does Your Business Have A Flood Plan?

9/20/2022 (Permalink)

flooded board room Despite the prevalence of floods, most businesses remain unprepared.

Business Have Unique Flood Preparedness Needs

A flood emergency preparedness plan will be quite different for a construction zone than an office building or industrial facility. Each site and industry suffers unique risks. Industry-specific resources are essential to planning success, as is staff training. A well-informed staff can prevent confusion and added risks to employees and property in the event of disaster.

The Most Basic Flood Evacuation Plan Should Include:

  • The capacity for quick response.
    With personnel in-charge of monitoring man-made possibilities, and an NOAA Weather Radio or other news resource for natural events.
  • A basic disaster supply kit.
    This includes emergency and medical supplies, as well as enough food and water to last at least 72 hours. Preparedness training at work should likewise instruct employees on preparing their own mobile kit, for preparation to shelter-in-place for 24 hours in the event of emergency. 
  • Plan development and training.
    All employees should know what to do in an emergency, including disaster-specific evacuation and emergency response procedures. Assign specific employees (and backup personnel) to key tasks, such as emergency shut-down of equipment and power sources, and performing a roll-call. Exercises and drills to cement skills and uncover potential issues should be regularly performed, and flood and other emergency action plans reviewed and updated regularly. Clearly post and provide employees with paper copies of plans.
  • Emergency contact information.
    Ensure all employees have a list of key telephone numbers. Blank business cards sheets from the local office supply are a convenient, easy way to provide a wallet-size list.

What to Do When Your Water Heater Leaks

9/20/2022 (Permalink)

person repairing a water heater Knowing how to prevent water heater leaks or what to do when a leak occurs can save you money.

Homeowners understand that appliances don’t last forever. However, many don’t realize that even a good quality water heater will only last about 10 years before needing to be replaced. The constant filling and refilling of the tank leads to corrosion, which can lead to the tank bursting at its seams. Although using a water softener and scheduling regular maintenance can help extend the life of your unit, it will still need to be replaced once it gets over 12 years old. If you’re not sure the age of your water heater, look at the manufacturer’s serial number. The first two digits in the code represent the last two digits of the year your water heater was produced. For example, if you see “04” then your water heater was manufactured in 2004.

Act Quickly

Once you discover your water heater is leaking, the faster you act, the less damage will be done. If your water heater is safely accessible, take the following steps.

  • Turn off the water.
    The best way to avoid any additional water damage is to close off the water supply line to the tank. First, find the pipe leading from the main water line into the top of the hot water heater tank. The water shut off valve will either be a knob or level. Once you locate the valve near where the water supply line meets the tank, twist it clockwise to stop water from entering the tank. If the water shut off is a level, pull it so it is perpendicular to the water line.

  • Turn off the power.
    On most standard water heaters, there’s an electric or gas heating element designed to be submerged under the water. If the water is turned off and the tank is dry, this element can become a fire hazard. To prevent this, find the breaker for the water heater and turn it off.

Call an Emergency Plumber

After you’ve made sure no more water is leaking, call a plumber with 24/7 emergency services. A plumbing professional will examine your water heater and determine what caused the leak and the best way to deal with it. If your water heater is fairly new or the damage isn’t severe, a plumber will have the tools and skills to repair it. If repair isn’t an option, they’ll help you determine the best replacement option. They might even suggest you switch to a tankless water heater.

Call SERVPRO of Kendall County

Water heaters can have up to 40 to 120 gallons of water in them—more than enough water to cause some serious water damage. Water heaters located in a closet or attic usually have the potential for the greatest amount of damage, but even those located in garages or basements can be a problem when they start to leak. Not only can the water saturate your carpets and soak into your drywall, it can get behind your walls or in crawl spaces and lead to the growth of mildew and mold.

At SERVPRO of Kendall County, we can help you devise a plan to clean and restore any and all water damage to your home or belongings from a leaky water heater. We handle mold removal, odor removal, and any reconstruction and restoration due to saturated drywall. Our service professionals are certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), which is the hallmark of professional knowledge in the cleaning and restoration industry. We use state-of-the-art equipment and employ structural drying techniques to dry your structure as quickly and completely as possible. 

Recovering after a Tornado

9/13/2022 (Permalink)

tornado in a open field Recovering from any disaster is a gradual process, but the better prepared you are, the easier and faster your recovery can be.

Your post tornado disaster plan should cover many facets…

  • Health and safety
    • Quickly check for injuries to assess needed attention.
    • Do not move the seriously injured unless they’re at risk of immediate danger. Call for help.
    • Refer to local news or your weather radio for updated information and instructions, such as shelter, clothing, food and water from FEMA, Red Cross and other volunteer agencies.
    • Only return when authorities tell you it’s safe.
    • Ensure drinking water is safe. Do not drink, brush teeth, or wash hands or dishes with water until it has been declared safe.
      • BOIL: Boil for one minute, then cool, storing in clean, covered containers.
      • BLEACH: 1/8 teaspoon or 8 drops of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach per gallon should be used. Let water stand 30 minutes before using.
    • Manage food supplies. Throw out any foods that have come in contact with floodwater, including cans and water bottles that appear sealed.
    • Do not flush toilets until you know sewer lines are intact and properly functioning.
    • Opt for battery powered lighting over candles.
    • Keep pets under control.
  • Communication
    • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
    • Keep a battery-powered radio on hand at all times.
  • Travel
    • Stay off the streets.
    • Only travel when roads have been cleared safe by authorities, or when absolutely necessary.
    • Beware of washed out roads, unsafe structures (building, bridges, etc.), downed power lines, chemicals spills, animals, and other health and safety risks.
  • Rebuilding
    • Never enter a damaged building. When in doubt, consult a qualified building inspector prior to entrance.
    • Don’t return to a flood damaged area until it has been cleared as safe by authorities.
    • Wear long pants, a long sleeve shirt, and sturdy shoes when surveying for damage.
    • If it is safe, turn off all utilities at the source (water, gas, electricity).
    • Unplug appliances and let them dry out.
    • Watch for damaged power and gas lines – report them to the utility company immediately.
    • If you smell gas, immediately vacate the premises and notify the fire department and gas company.
    • Quickly address spilled medications, chemicals, and flammable liquids that could pose fire and safety hazards.
    • Take photos of damaged structures and contents for insurance claims.
    • Set priorities, and do not exhaust yourself.
    • When clearing a flooded basement, do so slowly, draining about 1/3 per day, to prevent building collapse.
    • When rebuilding, consider adding a tornado safe room. Funding grants may available in your area.
    • Keep a good record of cleaning and repair costs for insurance reimbursement.
  • Professional help
    • SERVPRO of Kendall County is available 24/7
    • Strengthen your home’s structure when rebuilding with the appropriate reinforcements such as anchors, clips, straps.
    • Use sturdy building materials and the proper structural supports for masonry walls and chimneys.
    • Permanently attach your manufactured home to its foundation.
    • Have all utilities – electrical, gas, and water – tested for safety before restoring operation.
    • Pump out wells and have well water tested for contaminants before drinking.
  • Emotional needs
    The emotional toll a disaster takes can be more devastating than physical damage and financial difficulties combined. Children and older adults are particularly at risk. Don’t neglect emotional needs. Get help. Contact FEMA, the Red Cross, other volunteer agencies, local churches, or your health insurance company for professional counseling assistance.
  • Letting everyone know you’re safe.
    Register for the American Red Cross Safe and Well program by web site or phone (1-866-GET-INFO) to let family and friends know you're safe.
  • Familiarize yourself with the American Red Cross Tornado Safety Checklist.
    Have a tornado disaster plan in place for before, during, and after a tornado. Luck favors the prepared! 

Household Flammable Liquids: What Are They?

9/13/2022 (Permalink)

household cleaning products Don’t leave the storage of these solutions up to chance.

The Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) regulates the labeling of hazardous household products. Under the FHSA, substances that are combustible, flammable, corrosive, irritating, toxic, a strong sensitizer, or cause a substantial risk of personal injury or illness must be labeled as such. 

In a home, this translates to products that include:   

  • Aerosol cans  

  • Gasoline  

  • Oils and lubricants 

  • Paint thinner 

  • Rubbing alcohol  

  • Turpentine  

  • Linseed oil  

  • Hand sanitizer 

  • Nail polish remover  

  • Stain removers 

  • Hairspray and beauty products 

  • Non-dairy creamer 

  • Cooking oil 

  • Kerosene 

  • And more.  

This list is not all-encompassing, but it’s a good starting point. Also consider products stored in attached and detached garages, sheds, or ancillary buildings when assessing the risk at your property.  

How to Store Flammable and Combustible Liquids at Home   

It’s hard to imagine a life without any of the potentially flammable items listed above. Storing combustible or flammable liquids safely is all about mitigating risk. Implement the storage strategies listed below in your home can help reduce your risk of fire.  

Storage Dos:  

  • Store products like oils and lubricants in a well-ventilated space in your garage or, preferably, a detached shed.  

  • Store household items like cleaners and beauty products in a cool, dark space like a cabinet or closet.  

  • Choose a storage location that receives adequate ventilation.  

  • Keep an inventory of potentially hazardous liquids, so you always know what’s in your home, its quantity, and where it is.  

  • Ensure your home is equipped with working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.  

  • Regularly change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. A good ‘rule of thumb’ is to change the batteries when you change your clocks in the spring and fall. 

  • Practice safe disposal methods for oil- or cleaner-soaked rags, empty containers promptly, and more. Many of these products are considered household hazardous waste, meaning they cannot be put down the drain or flushed down the toilet, and must be disposed of at a designated collection site.  

  • Store all chemicals and hazardous liquids out of reach of children and pets.  

  • Consider purchasing a flammable liquid storage cabinet. 

Storage Don’ts: 

  • Don’t store flammable liquids next to anything that ignites (lighters, matches, power tools, small engines, even kitchen appliances). 

  • Don’t store flammable liquids with ancillary fuel (think paper, fabric, or other highly flammable materials).  

  • Don’t hide combustible liquids away. Out of sight equals out of mind. Track these materials to ensure they are safely stored.  

  • Don’t stockpile hazardous or flammable materials. A good sale is no reason to keep extra, potentially dangerous materials on hand.  

  • Don’t leave flammable liquids near heat sources like heat vents or dryers. And never leave flammable liquids in the sun.  

  • Don’t store gasoline in anything other than an approved canister.  

How to Handle a Flammable Liquid Spill 

Uh-oh, have you accidentally spilled turpentine or a flammable cleaning liquid at home? Quick and safe clean-up is key to maintaining a safe environment.  

The exact cleanup steps will depend on the type of liquid spilled. For small spills, it’s recommended that homeowners:  

  • Open doors and windows to increase ventilation.  

  • Wear protective gear, like plastic gloves and goggles.  

  • Use absorbent and non-reactive material, like kitty litter or sawdust, to soak up liquid.  

  • Dispose of the soaked material safely (this will look different depending on what spilled). 

  • Clean any residue from the spill using soap and hot water.  

What To Do After a Flash Flood

9/6/2022 (Permalink)

Flooded street with a water halfway up a mailbox post Your home or business has been the casualty of a flash flood. What should you do?

Immediately following a flash flood:

  • Stay tuned in.
    During flash flood recovery, it is essential to listen to local radio, TV, or your weather radio for necessary information. Flood dangers may still be present even after the water has receded. These news outlets will keep you informed of when it is safe to return or venture out.
  • Assess utilities.
    Turn off electrical if you see sparks, broken/frayed wires, or smell smoke/burning insulation. If you have to step in water to get to a fuse box or circuit breaker, consult an electrician for advice. If water or sewage lines have been damaged, consult a licensed plumber straightaway. If you smell natural gas or propane or hear a hissing noise, vacate the area immediately and contact the fire department.
  • Don’t drink the water.
    Do not drink tap or well water until it is has been declared safe for consumption and free of human waste contamination, fuels, and other pollutants. Don’t use it to brush teeth, prepare food, wash dishes, make ice, or even wash your hands with it. Undamaged water heaters and melted ice cubes may offer a clean source of water to get you by. If you don’t have access to safe water:
    • Boil water:
      Boil for one minute, then cool, storing in clean, covered containers. This will destroy most types of disease-causing microorganisms.
    • Bleach:
      Bleach will kill some – but not all - types of bacteria. 1/8 teaspoon or eight drops of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach per gallon should be used. Let water stand 30 minutes before using.
  • Be overprotective.
    Keep a close eye on children of all ages as well as pets.
  • Avoid flood-ravaged areas.
    Barricades have been erected for your protection. Additional flooding may occur, roads may have been damaged, and an array of hazards – both visible and invisible – may be present. Staying off of roadways also helps emergency workers more easily get to flood victims in need of flash flood recovery.
  • Keep away from moving water.
    Just six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet, and a couple of feet can carry away most vehicles. Avoid moving water at all costs.
  • If you must travel, use extreme caution.
    Only travel through flood damaged areas when absolutely necessary. If you must travel, wait till water has stopped moving, wear sturdy shoes, and use a stick to gauge depth and firmness prior to taking each step. Be wary of contaminated water (gas, sewage, etc.), electrical hazards, hidden animals, dangerous debris, eroded roads and walkways, and more that can quickly land you in a dangerous situation whether you are traveling by foot or car. Avoid entering any structure surrounded by floodwaters that may be weakened until they have been declared safe from collapse.

Cleaning up and repairing:

  • Get help.
    Contact SERVPRO of Kendall County for restoration services for water damaged items.
  • Disinfection protection.
    Once floodwaters have receded, carefully clean and disinfect each wet item to protect your home and family from sewage or chemical contaminants. Be certain to wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and boots, during cleanup activities. 
  • Floods and food.
    Any items that have come in contact with floodwaters should be thrown out. This includes bottled water, canned goods, plastic utensils, baby bottles, and more. When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Scammers and con artists.
    Hire only professional, reputable contractors for cleanup and repair needs. Avoid the “drive-by” contractor.
  • Safe drainage.
    Should your basement become flooded, drain it gradually – about 1/3 per day – to prevent structural damage and collapse that may result from rapid water removal.
  • Insurance claims.
    Contact your insurance agents to discuss flash flood recovery claims. The typical homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover flood damage. Call to verify coverage before flash flooding – and the need to file a claim – affects you.

Everything You Need to Know About Bathtub Leaks

9/2/2022 (Permalink)

bathtub in a decorated bathroom A leak can lead to more than just a discolored and damaged ceiling

If you notice a damp spot on your ceiling, it usually signifies a leak. Depending on your home, the source of the leak could be your roof or plumbing in one of the upstairs rooms.

Plumbing leaks often originate in bathrooms—and the chances are good that a water-damaged ceiling is the result of a leaky bathtub or pipe.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about addressing a bathroom or bathtub leak to prevent further damage to your home.

Determining the Cause of Your Bathroom Leak

The first step to addressing a leak is pinpointing its origin point. A bathtub leak is likely to blame when a downstairs ceiling is leaking from an upstairs bathroom. Bathtub leaks usually originate with the drain, the overflow drain, or a bathtub crack.

Once you’ve addressed the source of the damage, it’s critical that you 1) hire a licensed plumber and 2) hire SERVPRO of Kendall County.

The three most common sources of bathtub leaks are:

  • Bathtub Drain Leak: A leaky bathtub drain is a common cause of bathroom water damage. This type of leak occurs when the drain and attached lines beneath your tub may weaken, causing the seals to fail or cracks to form. This drip, even if slow, will result in water damage to the infrastructure below the tub area.

  • Bathtub Overflow Drain Leak: Every tub is equipped with an overflow drain to preemptively stop a tub from overflowing into your bathroom. Unfortunately, as tubs age, this overflow drain may crack, break, or leak. Most likely it is the drain gasket. Like a drain leak, a bathtub overflow drain that is leaking may cause damage to your home.

  • Bathtub Crack Leak: Perhaps the leak isn’t from the pipes at all. Bathtub leaks can be from discrete hairline fractures in the body of the tub itself. This type of leak can be easily missed. To determine if a crack in the bathtub is the source of your leak, fill the tub with water. Allow the water to be still and look for areas that pull the water. Those small currents are flowing to your bathtub crack.

If Your Apartment Floods, What Should You Do?

9/2/2022 (Permalink)

Flooded living room of an apartment Don’t get caught off guard by flooding in your rental.

What to Do When Your Apartment Floods

1)     Make Sure Everyone Is Safe

The first thing you should do if your apartment floods is to make sure everyone is safe, including your pets. A small leak with water contained in one area or one room is not as much of a hazard as inches or even feet of water from a natural disaster. Use common sense, be safe and then move to step two.

2)     Contact Your Landlord or Property Manager

If there is a broken pipe, a leak from the tenant above you or water coming from another source, the first thing you should do is call your landlord or property manager. With any luck, they can respond immediately and stop the water and reduce the damage. If you can do it safely yourself, turn off the source of the water. Whether that’s a valve that you can shut off or an appliance you can turn off, stop the water if you can.

3)     Save Your Stuff!

If you can, move furniture and belongings from the flooded area. Put them in another room or put them up high and out of the water’s reach. If the entire apartment is flooded, do what you can to save as much as you can. It’s important to remove your valuables, especially if you’ll be displaced by the flooding. Put them in your car or take them to a friend or family member’s house for safekeeping.

4)     Follow Up on Restoration Plans

Ensure your landlord calls SERVPRO of Kendall County. Nothing is more important to flood recovery than a quick response by a restoration company.

Hidden Sources of Fire in Your Home

9/2/2022 (Permalink)

kitchen fire There are a number of items commonly found in your home that can be dangerous fire hazards.

Were you aware of these fire hazards in your home?

  • Microwaves
    Microwaves offer plenty of fire risks. Unnoticed metals on dinnerware, takeout containers – even in recycled paper products – can result in arcing, sparks, and fire. Popcorn, a commonly microwaved item, can easily catch fire when cooked for too long. If you have a fire in your microwave, turn it off immediately to prevent the fan feeding oxygen to flames and wait until it suffocates. Only open the door when you’re certain the fire is extinguished. Clean your microwave regularly and use only articles designed for microwave use to reduce fire potential. If your microwave malfunctions, replace it immediately. Microwaves are high voltage and pose an extreme fire risk when not properly operating. If your microwave malfunctions, unplug it. Never attempt to repair a microwave yourself, simply replace it or consult a professional.
  • Batteries
    All batteries pose a fire risk, even those with a weak charge. However 9 volt batteries are the biggest culprit of fire due to the close proximity of their terminals, which can easily short. A battery storage case is highly recommended. If you do not have one, leave batteries in their original packaging, not lying around loose. Store batteries standing up, placing electrical tape over the ends of each battery (all types – not just 9 volts) to prevent shorts. Do not store batteries in metal containers, or near other metal items such as keys, steel wool, and aluminum foil. Be sure to store 9 volt batteries separately.   
  • Light bulbs
    Overlamping, or using a light bulb with wattage too high for a given outlet, can easily result in a home fire. Determining proper wattage is easy. Simply locate the proper wattage on each fixtures outlet. If the fixture is unmarked, stay under 60 watts to be safe. Caution must also be taken with CFLs (compact fluorescents). These spiral shaped bulbs could result in fire when improperly used. Avoid using CFLs in any lighting unit where the base of the bulb is enclosed by the fixture, such as with track and recessed lighting. If your CFLs are burning out early and you notice they are brown at the base when you remove them, the bulbs are overheating and could result in fire. Choose a cooler option, such as LED.
  • Dryer lint
    Dryer lint that has not been properly cleaned from your dryer vent or ductwork can cause heat buildup and fast-moving fires. Clean your dryer’s lint screen after every load. Use aluminum tubing to vent your dryer to meet current fire code standards. Your dryer’s lint trap only catches 25 percent of lint, so be certain to clean the vent and exhaust duct periodically, as well as the area behind the dryer, where lint can build up.
  • Laptops
    Laptops can get pretty hot during normal operation. Never leave your laptop on a bed or couch, or any place where its cooling vents are blocked. This could result in fire. Store laptops securely on a desk or laptop stand.
  • Stacks of newspaper, magazines
    Items you plan to read eventually can ignite quickly if left too close to a heat source. If you must keep old newspapers or magazines, be certain to store them in a cool, dry place in short stacks.
  • Heating blankets and pads
    Defective, old or improperly used blankets and heating pads can result in fire. To prevent fires, read and adhere to all manufacturer’s operating instructions. Do not place the cord between the mattress and box spring, or in any location where it may be pinched or folded. Avoid bunching, keeping the blanket or pad flat when in use. Use these items on the lowest setting no longer than the recommended time. Wash them carefully and take heed not to dry, iron, or dry clean them, which can melt heating wire insulation and increase fire risks.
  • Barbeque charcoal
    Throwing that unused bag of charcoal in the closest storage closet is a bad idea. Damp coal can ignite and start a serious fire. Store charcoal in a cool, dry place in a metal pail or garbage can secured tightly with a lid.
  • Closet clutter
    A sweater stack a mile high could easily come into contact with a light bulb and ignite. Don’t store combustible materials near light fixtures. Cut the clutter and keep belongings far away from bulbs.
  • Dust
    Dust bunnies around electronics, sockets, and heaters can ignite and start fire. Regularly vacuum dust near outlets, wires, and appliances, including crevices and areas behind furniture, to prevent fires.
  • Old appliances
    Old appliances with worn insulation and dilapidated wiring are a disaster waiting to happen. Check them regularly to ensure good working condition and the safety of cords and connections.