How to Prevent Holiday Fires

How to Prevent Holiday Fires

As the old, classic song goes, the holidays are “the most wonderful time of the year”. However, that won’t be the case if you have fire hazards lurking in your home. Don’t let flames snuff out your holiday spirit. Here are some key fire prevention tips that can ensure you and your loved ones have a fun and festive holiday season.

House Fire Stats

The statistics are eye-opening. There are an average of 358,000 house fires in America every year. Flames leave behind nearly $12 billion in damage. Cooking is the leading cause of house fires, followed by faulty heating equipment and electrical malfunction. Fire departments respond to a fire in the U.S. every 24 seconds.

Fire Prevention Tips

According to the National Fire Protection Administration, more than one-third of home decoration fires are started by burning candles. Half are ignited by decorations placed too close to a heat source. Almost one-third of home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems. One in every five are sparked by a nearby heat source.

Holiday Decorating Hazards

Many people love to dress up their homes for the holidays. Here are some tips to follow for ultimate safety.

Blow out candles and unplug lights before leaving the home or going to bed. Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant. Keep lit candles away from anything flammable. Use only indoor string lights inside, and outdoor ones outside. Don’t connect too many light strands together. Read the manufacturer’s instructions. Use clips to hang lights, not nails that can damage cords. Keep decorations away from windows and doors.

Holiday Entertaining Safety

There is nothing worse than having a fire break out in a home full of people. Here’s what you need to know to tame the flames.

Test smoke alarms to make sure they work. Keep matches and lighters up high and out of reach. Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop. Keep children and pets away from lit candles. Ask smokers to go outside. Provide ashtrays for extinguishing cigarettes.

Live Christmas Trees

If you love to pick a fresh tree, here are some fire safety tips to keep in mind. Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that don’t fall off. Cut 2 inches off the trunk of the tree before putting it in a stand. Keep the tree at least three feet away from any heat source. Add water to the tree stand and keep filling it daily. Get rid of the tree after Christmas. Dried-out trees can quickly go up in flames.

Only use tree lights that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory. Replace any strings with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.

Fire Escape Plans

Every household needs to have an escape plan in case of fire. Find two ways to get out of every room in case the main entrance is blocked. Make sure the windows and screens can open. Practice getting low and moving to your exits in case of smoke. Pick a safe meeting place outside. Practice your plan at least twice a year.

Fire Damage Costs

The national average cost of fire damage restoration for a house is $12,900. Water damage alone can cost an average of $1,000 to $4,600 to fix. The price tag goes up when you add in smoke and soot damage, and odor removal.

When it comes to water, flood, or fire damage,  Flood Department is here to help. We provide water damage repair and clean-up services for homeowners and businesses. We cover Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. We are dedicated to helping reverse the unfortunate results. Contact us at 301-829-2600 or visit us online.

Home Fire Prevention and Safety Tips

Home Fire Prevention & Safety Tips

House fires are a devastating occurrence. Each year, an average of 358,300 homes in the U.S. go up in flames. Fires can destroy a home, cause property damage, leave emotional scars, and upset living quarters. Here are some home fire prevention and safety tips.

Fire Safety Tips

Here are some fire prevention tips to help protect your home from a disaster.

Install smoke alarms. Put them on every level of your home and by sleeping areas. Test them once a month to make sure they are working. Change the batteries twice a year.

Create a family escape plan. You have less than 2 minutes to escape your home safely. Everyone should know two ways out of each room. Decide on a meeting location outside and practice your plan twice a year.

Stay outside. Never go back into a burning home. Once you get outside, stay there, and call for help. Everyone should know how to dial 9-1-1.

Have a communications plan. Each family member should know who to contact if they become separated.

Stop, drop, and roll. Teach family members what to do if their clothes catch on fire.

Home Fire Safety

Here are some fire safety Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind to ensure your home and family stay safe.

Keep items that can catch fire at least three feet away from space heaters. Turn the appliance off when you leave the room or go to sleep.

Smoking materials are the leading cause of residential fire deaths in the United States. If you smoke, go outside. Never smoke in bed.

Talk to your kids about the dangers of fire, matches, and lighters. Keep anything flammable out of reach.

Inspect Your Home

You need to keep an eye on important items in your home. Check heating sources to make sure they are clean and working well. Many fires are sparked by poorly maintained furnaces, stoves, or chimneys with creosote buildup.

Inspect the electrical wiring. Fix or replace frayed cords, exposed wires, or loose plugs. Electric outlets should have cover plates and no exposed wiring. Avoid overloading outlets or extension cords.

Preventing Kitchen Fires

Cooking fires are the number one cause of house fires.  Unattended cooking is to blame for 90% of them. Never leave food unattended while it’s cooking. Keep potholders, oven mitts, paper, and other flammable items away from the heat. Clean cooking surfaces regularly to prevent grease buildup. Always check the kitchen before bed to make sure the stove and appliances are turned off.

Recovering After a Fire

If you have suffered a house fire, take these steps to get back on your feet.

Find a safe place to stay. If family or friends don’t have room, talk to your local disaster relief agency.

Contact your insurance agent. You’ll need to start a claim to address your immediate needs.

Protect your home. Make sure it’s protected as much as possible from weather and unlawful entry.

Check your pets. Smoke can damage lungs and burns can hide under fur. Bring your pets to the vet for an evaluation.

Get a copy of the fire report. It will be helpful to your insurance company.

Address mental health needs. Adults and children can have difficulty coping with a disaster. Seek support if it’s needed.

Let Us Clean Up the Mess

If your home has suffered water, flood, or fire damage, Flood Department is here to help. We provide repair and clean-up services for homeowners and businesses in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. We are dedicated to helping reverse the damage done by water, mold, sewage, smoke, and more. Contact us at 301-829-2600 or visit us online for more information.

Cleaning Up Your Home After a Storm

Cleaning Up Your Home After a Storm

When it comes to thuderstorms and your home, summertime is when the heat and humidity kicks in, which can lead to some nasty thunderstorms.  The barrage of rain, wind, lightning and even hail can do a number on your home and yard. Here’s how to cope if a bad storm strikes.

Keep an Eye on the Sky

It’s tempting to want to get going on cleaning up, but make sure you wait until weather conditions have improved. Stay up to date with your local forecast or check out NOAA weather.

Avoid Potential Dangers

When cleaning up after a bad storm, look around for hazardous conditions. Here are some tips to avoid potential dangers.

Check the risk. Evaluate what kind of risk you may be facing before you start cleaning up the mess. If an area looks dangerous, stay out of it. Severely damaged structures can be unsafe. Contact your local government for the next steps. You may need a safety inspection before you can enter your home.

Flooded rooms. Stay out of the water. Floodwater can contain dangerous bacteria. It also poses a safety risk if it comes into contact with electrical or gas appliances. If it’s safe to do so, turn off the power and gas lines in your home. If the shut-off valves are in the water, call a professional for assistance.

Ask for Help. If your home is a total loss, call local emergency services for help. Also contact your home insurance company before tackling the damage. If you notice any downed power lines, avoid them. Report them to local police and utility companies.

Wear Proper Protective Gear

When you are ready for clean-up, make sure you are wearing the proper protective gear.  Put on a hard hat, safety goggles, heavy-duty work gloves and waterproof boots.  Long pants and a long-sleeved shirt are also recommended. Put on an N95 respirator mask if you have one.

How to Clean Up Safely

It can take days or weeks to clean up after a severe storm. Here are some safety tips to help you navigate through the clean up process.

Tackling Indoor Cleanup

If your home is safe to enter, check for hazards such as frayed wiring. Sparks and a burning smell can also spell trouble. If there are issues, shut off the power immediately. If you smell gas, turn off the main gas valve.  Evacuate your home until the problems are resolved.

Once you’re out of danger, document your damages by taking photos and videos. Take detailed notes too. This will come in handy when you file your insurance claim.

Be careful not to step on exposed nails or broken glass while you’re exploring around the house. Also, clean up any spilled medicines, flammable liquids or potentially hazardous materials you find.

Next, set aside piles for different types of storm debris. These can include electronics, large appliances, hazardous and household waste, and construction materials. This will make clean-up and trash pick-up easier.

Safe Outdoor Cleanup

When you are ready to assess the yard damage,  take a look at your trees. Pick up any fallen branches and remove any dangling ones. Get them out of the way so you don’t trip over them. If you have the experience, grab a chainsaw for some tree trimming. Follow proper safety protocols before you begin, including ensuring the tree isn’t touching any power lines. If the tree is too large to handle, call in a pro to do the work.

Once the yard is safe to clean up, grab some trash bags. Pick up any loose debris. Use a shovel or rake to collect the yard waste. Put it in a heavy-duty trash bag. Be sure to clean out your gutters to keep them from clogging up. Check the roof as well. High winds, flying debris and fallen trees can damage your shingles.

Prepare for Outages

Have a plan in case the power goes out. Use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights to see in the dark. Avoid using candles. Keep extra batteries on hand to power up flashlights and portable radios. Purchase a portable charger for your phone. Disconnect appliances and electronics to prevent damage from electrical surges. Have non-perishable food on hand. Keep refrigerators and freezers closed.

You can use a generator for emergency power, but don’t turn it on during severe weather or in wet conditions. Run it only outdoors several feet away from the house.

Let Us Clean Up the Mess

When it comes to home disasters,  Flood Department is here to help. We provide repair and clean-up services for homeowners and businesses. We are dedicated to helping reverse the damage done by water, mold, sewage, smoke and more. We cover Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Contact us today at 301-829-2600 or visit us online.


Summer Fire Safety Tips

Summer is almost here and that means backyard barbeques, campfires, and fireworks. With that being said, we have some fire safety tips for the summer in order to help you stay safe.

However, along with the outdoor fun comes a risk of fires and injuries. Keep these fire safety tips in mind as you enjoy spending time with family and friends.

Grilling Safety Basics

Grilling is an extremely popular summertime activity.  Before you pull out your grill for the season, be sure to do a pre-check. Gas grills can have leaks and breaks.  Check the gas tank hose before firing up your grill for the first time.  If you smell gas and there is no flame, turn it off. Get the grill serviced before using it again.

  • Clean the grill after every use. Don’t let leftover grease and fat build up and possibly catch fire.
  • If you have a charcoal grill, only use charcoal starter fluid to light it. Never add more to the flames to make them bigger.
  • Keep the grill at least three feet from anything that can catch fire. This includes your house, deck railings, eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Never fire up a grill indoors or in an enclosed space. They are meant for outdoor use only.
  • Always keep an eye on the grill while cooking. Don’t leave it unattended.

Outdoor Fire Safety

Many of us enjoy warming up by a fire pit when evening comes, or lighting up a campfire and sleeping under the stars.  Keep in mind that campfires are allowed only in permitted areas. They must be at least 25 feet away from a structure or anything that can burn.  Clear away dry debris that can catch fire before lighting the campfire.

Never use gasoline to help start a campfire, or add it to an open flame.  Same goes for a fire pit or chiminea.  If an outdoor fire can’t quickly be extinguished, call 911.

Always use water and sand to douse the flames of the campfire when you’re done.

If you have a backyard fire pit, make sure it’s at least three feet away from your house or combustible materials.  Use a metal screen over wood-burning fires to keep sparks from flying out.  Closely watch children when using a firepit.  Extinguish the fire when you are done.

Fireworks Safety

Fireworks are dangerous and are best left to the professionals.  Enjoy them at a public Fourth of July event instead. Many people like to light sparklers at home.  If you are one of them, keep them away from children.  Sparklers can reach 1,200 F and cause third-degree burns.

Home Fire Safety

Keep your home safe from fire as well.  Test your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace the batteries regularly.  Check your fire extinguishers to make sure they are working.  Have a family escape plan in case a fire erupts.  Make sure all of the windows and doors are easily accessible.

Let Us Repair the Damage

When it comes to water, flood or fire damage,  Flood Department is here to help. We provide water damage repair and clean-up services for homeowners and businesses. We cover Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  We are dedicated to helping reverse the damage done by water, mold, sewage, smoke and more.  Contact us at 301-829-2600 or visit us online.


Removing Smoke Odors From Your Home

removing smoke odors

One of the biggest challenges following a house fire is removing smoke odors from your home.  Even a small fire has byproducts that can continue to cause property damage and jeopardize the health of the inhabitants.  Here are some tips to help eliminate the smokysmell quickly and effectively.

Removing the Stench

The flames may be gone, but tiny smoke particles continue to stick to household surfaces and porous materials like carpeting, furniture and books.  How well the odor can be removed depends on the size of the fire, length of exposure and the types of burned materials.  Try the following DIY methods first to remove the smoke odor. If none of them work, it’s time to call in a professional.

Let Fresh Air In

Open all the doors and windows so the outside air can come into your home.  Place fans throughout your house to help push the smoke smell out of the house.  Fresh air will reduce the smell of smoke, but won’t get rid of it all.

Deep Clean Everything

To eliminate the stench completely, you will need to do a deep cleaning of the items and surfaces that were impacted by the smoke.  Remove all fabrics such as curtains, rugs, and furniture covers. Wash or dry clean them. Keep them out of the house until the smoke has cleared.

Smoke particles are especially hard to get out of carpeting and furniture. To absorb odors, sprinkle them with a generous amount of baking soda.  Let it sit overnight, and then vacuum it up.

Wash the windows, screens and shades.  Wipe down all of your solid surfaces including walls, floors and light fixtures with a mixture of dish soap, white vinegar and warm water.  If the DIY cleaning method falls short, you may need to purchase specialized cleaning products.

Make sure you clean the HVAC system. Smoke can get into the ductwork and ventilation system and linger in your home.  Change the heating and air conditioning filters and have your HVAC system inspected for damage..

Do a Repainting Job

If the paint on your walls retains the smoke odor, you’ll have to wash, dry and repaint them to remove the bad smell.  Use cleaning products that contain ammonia or glycol to wash the walls. Apply a primer designed to lock in odors. Repaint the walls with latex paint.

The Scoop on Odor Removers

Save your air fresheners, odor-eliminating sprays and oil diffusers until after the smoke is cleared.  These items only temporarily mask the smell, but don’t get rid of it.

Activated charcoal can reduce the smell of smoke.  Charcoal contains carbon molecules that chemically “trap” smells, clearing them from the air. Most home improvement centers offer a variety of activated charcoal products. Make sure the package reads, “smoke or odor eliminators.”

Smoke that is left to linger in a home can cause headaches, bad smells and even respiratory issues.  Be sure to clear the smoky smell as soon as possible, and consider calling in a professional to do the job.

Let Us Clean it Up

When it comes to water, flood, or fire and smoke damage,  Flood Department is here to help. We provide water damage repair and clean-up services for homeowners and businesses in  Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  We are dedicated to helping reverse the damage done by water, mold, sewage, smoke and more.  Contact us at 301-829-2600 or visit us online.


Holiday Season Fire Safety Tips: Don’t Let Flames Ruin Your Holiday Fun

During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, the danger of fire is always lurking.  Don’t let flames ruin your festivities.  With proper preparedness, you can keep your family safe from disaster. Below are some of the top causes of holiday fires and some holiday season fire safety tips.

Cooking in the Kitchen

Cooking is the leading cause of reported house fires and injuries.  According to the U.S. Fire Administration, nearly 52-percent of residential fires were sparked by cooking in 2020.  Heating, electrical, smoking and candles are the other top causes of  home house fires.

Most fires in the kitchen can be blamed on unattended cooking. Keep an eye on the stove at all times.  Stay put while you are frying, boiling, grilling or broiling food.  If you are simmering, baking or roasting food, check it regularly.  Keep anything that can catch fire away from your stovetop.

If you have a small grease fire on the stovetop, turn off the burner and smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan.  Keep the cover on until the pot has cooled. For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.  According to the National Fire ProtectionAssociation, If you have any doubt, just get out, close the door and call 911.

Christmas Trees

Live trees that are not properly watered can dry out and easily go up in flames.

Be sure to keep yours well watered, replace any bad lights, remove nearby heat sources, and unplug the lights overnight and when you’re not home.  Dry Christmas trees are blamed for hundreds of fires each year.  Typical causes are shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches.

Electrical Malfunctions

When hanging lights or electrical decorations outside, make sure they are labeled for outdoor use.  Same goes for extension cords.  Hang the lights with UL-rated clips, not staples or nails.  Never connect multiple extension cords together. Discard wires and bulbs that are frayed or broken.

Candle Flames

Keep lit candles away from the Christmas tree, greenery, and other flammable decorations.

Place them on a countertop or another area a safe distance away.  Never leave candles lit while you are not home or nearby.  Also, keep wrapping paper, rugs and clothing at least three feet away from the fireplace.  Use a fireplace screen to keep embers and logs from escaping.


Cigarettes, pipes, cigars and other smoking materials start thousands of house fires annually.

According to a  2019  report by the National Fire Protection Association, smoking materials caused an estimated 18,000 fires annually between 2012 and 2016, killing nearly 600 people every year and injuring more than 1,100 others.  Smoking was the leading cause of home fire deaths over the five year period.  The majority of smoking-related fires started on the outdoor balcony or porch.

 Fire Safety Tips to Remember

A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a house fire. Install a fire alarm on every level of your home, including sleeping areas and the basement.

Test them monthly and replace batteries twice a year.   Create a fire escape plan with your family.  Get a fire extinguisher for your kitchen and consider putting an automatic fire sprinkler system in your home.

Hopefully these holiday season fire safety tips will keep you and your family safe.

Let Us Clean it Up

When it comes to water, flood or fire damage,  Flood Department is here to help. We provide water damage repair and clean-up services for homeowners and businesses in  Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  We are dedicated to helping reverse the damage done by water, mold, sewage, smoke and more.  Contact us at 301-829-2600 or visit us online.