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Fire Prevention: 5 Lesser-Known fire starters to avoid

9/19/2017 (Permalink)

Here are some surprising hazards that may be lurking in your home. So, in honor of National Fire Prevention Month, and as Part 2 of our “Fire Safety” series, here are 5 lesser-known fire starters to avoid.

1. Dust collection

Dust builds up quickly and can make the perfect kindling — especially clumps that accumulate near electrical sockets and appliances. All it takes is one errant spark to light up a dust bunny before it spreads to nearby curtains or upholstery.

Whenever you sweep floors or dust furniture, pay special attention to vulnerable areas, like around electronics, the washing machine and dryer, and the refrigerator. In addition, don’t ignore hard-to-reach places where dust has likely collected for some time, including behind shelves, atop ceiling fans, underneath the bed, and behind dressers. Not only will your house be cleaner and that much safer, but your sinuses will also thank you.

2. Dead, decaying flowers

Although rare, dead flowers can set off a blaze … and do. Back in 2010, such a case occurred at a home in Little Rock, Arkansas. Dead flowers left in a plastic pot on a sunny porch erupted in a fire that caused $20,000 in damages. Similarly, investigators of a 2012 house fire in Des Moines determined the ignition source to be a wooden pot of dried-up dead flowers and mulch on a hot day.

As a matter of fact, all it takes is some parched organic material (such as flowers, plants, or even compost) plus soaring temperatures to create the right conditions for spontaneous combustion. Additionally, chemicals and nitrates make an inferno all the more plausible. (Personal anecdote: a friend of mine once came home to firefighters putting out a fence blaze ignited by a compost bin. True story!)

With all that said, give those flowers some love. Or, at the very least, be sure to aerate the soil, especially when the mercury climbs. And if you have a compost bin out back, keep it enclosed and constantly tumbled to preserve moisture. No matter how hot it gets, it’ll be much more fire safe.

Check out:  Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, and … Baking Soda? Test Your BBQ Safety Knowledge

3. Piles of old newspapers

Believe it or not, stacks of old newspapers left near gas and propane containers are the culprit of many fire damage claims. A clutter of paper situated near a vent, space heater, or electrical socket also runs a major risk of starting a fire.

If you’ve acquired an impressive trove of news memorabilia that you want to hold onto, it might be best to digitize them. Not only is it safer, but your future historical insights are more likely to withstand the elements. Otherwise, it’s probably time to take out the recycling.

4. Glass fixtures

You know how magnifying glasses can focus sunlight to burn holes through paper or help start a campfire? Well, household glassware can have the same effect.

Between 2010 and 2015, the London Fire Brigade recorded 125 fires caused by glass fixtures (7 of which happened in the winter). And since London isn’t a sun-clad destination to begin with, those numbers are remarkable.

Be mindful of where you keep your fish tank, mirror, glass high heels, or crystal ball — they may not bode well near a window or skylight.

5. Oil-stained linens and clothes

Clothes, sheets, or cleaning rags that are stained with cooking oil, grease, gasoline, or cleaning agents can run the risk of causing a fire when run through the dryer. What’s more, oil-stained towels have been known to spontaneously combust after they’ve been taken out and folded. Crazy, right?

Anything that’s suffered stains like these may need to be cycled through the wash a few times to ensure there are no flammable remnants. Consumer Reports recommends not using liquid fabric softener, since combustibility tests show they actually expedite the burning process. As a safe alternative, they suggest using dryer sheets.

Of course, things can (and do) happen. Luckily, renters and homeowners insurance may provide a surefire safety net against fires, plus an onslaught of other perils, at and away from home.

If you have any questions about Fire & Water Restoration, feel free to call us at SERVPRO of Bend at (541) 385-7044.

Four Tips to Reduce Your House Fire Risk This Fall

9/19/2017 (Permalink)

Fall is a great time to start considering gearing up for the cooler weather. Warm sweaters, falling leaves, and a cozy fire. About the cozy fire...the American Red Cross finds that 7 people die in a home fire every day, while 36 suffer from injuries. And each year, $7 million in property damage occurs.

Here are 4 tips to reduce your house fire risk this fall.

1. Check your smoke alarm battery

Smoke alarms are easy to forget until they chirp in the middle of the night, but experts recommend you change your fire alarm batteries every year. Several years ago, the International Fire Chiefs Association launched a campaign called “Change Your Clock, Change Your Batteries™,” encouraging people to change their fire alarm batteries on the same day we switch to Daylight Saving Time in the fall. You could wait until then, but why not do it now while you’re tackling regular house maintenance?

2. Have a working fire extinguisher ready

Did you know your fire extinguisher could expire? It’s true, and you actually need to change it out every 5 to 15 years. That’s quite a variance, so one way to know whether yours is still in working order is to regularly check the pressure gauge to ensure the needle still falls within the green area. If not, it could be unreliable and should be replaced or checked. You can also have your extinguisher serviced and refilled by checking online for a center near you.

This is also a good time to review effective fire extinguisher use. The National Fire Prevention Association suggests you remember the word PASS to remind you how to use it:

Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you and release the locking mechanism.

Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.

Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.

Sweep the nozzle from side to side.

3. Watch your candles

Yeah, we know — it’s pumpkin spice candle season. And having a house full of burning candles can feel inviting … until one causes a fire. It’s more common than you might think. In fact, the National Fire Prevention Association estimates that almost 10,000 home fires are caused by candles, with roughly one-third starting in bedrooms. This one is so easy to fix: never leave a candle unattended and be sure to extinguish all of them before you go to bed. And if you have any in the bathroom or kitchen, make sure you snuff them out too.

4. Don’t leave your pots unattended

Although it’s easy to picture candles or fireplaces causing most of the damage,  the main cause of house fires is actually cooking. (As if we needed one more reason to turn to takeout!) But kitchen fires are not to be taken lightly. They often occur when pots are left unattended or on stoves with clutter (like wooden spoons or kitchen towels) that catch a spark. So clean your stove and keep all flammable items on another counter.

Now’s also a good time to make sure you’re covered with the right insurance.

If you need assistance or have any questions about Fire Damage Restoration, feel free to give us a call at SERVPRO of Bend, (541) 385-7044.

Hurricane Maria cripples Dominica as it churns toward Puerto Rico

9/19/2017 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Hurricane Maria cripples Dominica as it churns toward Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria has pounded Dominica with "widespread devastation" as it barrels toward St. Croix and threatens catastrophic damage to Puerto Rico.

Hurling winds of 160 mph (257 kph), Maria shredded the Dominica Prime Minister's house overnight and left much of the island -- population 73,000 -- in ruins.

"Initial reports are of widespread devastation," Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit posted on Facebook early Tuesday.

"So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace. My greatest fear for the morning is ... news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains."

A few hours earlier, the Prime Minister posted, "My roof is gone. I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding."

Maria is now the strongest hurricane on record to make landfall in Dominica, a former French and British colony with an economy heavily dependent on tourism and agriculture.

Now, it's taking aim on Puerto Rico and Islands already crippled by Hurricane Irma.

'Don't go out under any circumstances'

As of 11 a.m. ET Tuesday, Maria was centered about 150 miles (240 kilometers) southeast of St. Croix and was headed west-northwest at 10 mph.

While Maria moves closer to St. Croix, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, preparations against life-threatening storm surge, flooding and destructive winds "should be rushed to completion,' the National Hurricane Center said.

A hurricane warning is in effect Tuesday for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, the US and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques.

"A dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 7 to 11 feet above normal tide levels in the hurricane warning area near where the center of Maria moves across the Leeward Islands and the British Virgin Islands," the hurricane center said.

Guadeloupe's regional government tweeted a stern warning to residents Tuesday: "Don't go out under any circumstances."

Puerto Rico says Maria 'will be catastrophic'

After crossing St. Croix, Maria will head toward the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Tuesday night and Wednesday as "an extremely dangerous Category 4 or 5 hurricane," the National Hurricane Center said.

That would make Maria the first Category 4 or 5 hurricane to make landfall in Puerto Rico in 85 years.

Hurricane Harvey

9/7/2017 (Permalink)

Hurricane Harvey was the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Wilma in 2005, ending a record 12-year drought in which no major hurricanes made landfall in the country. In a four-day period, many areas received more than 40 inches (1,000 mm) of rain as the system meandered over eastern Texas and adjacent waters, causing catastrophic flooding. With peak accumulations of 51.88 in (1,318 mm), Harvey is the wettest tropical cyclone on record in the contiguous United States. The resulting floods inundated hundreds of thousands of homes, displaced more than 30,000 people, and prompted more than 17,000 rescues.

The eighth named storm, third hurricane, and the first major hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, Harvey developed from a tropical wave to the east of the Lesser Antilles, reaching tropical storm status on August 17. The storm crossed through the Windward Islands on the following day, passing just south of Barbados and later near Saint Vincent. Upon entering the Caribbean Sea, Harvey began to weaken due to moderate wind shear and degenerated into a tropical wave north of Colombia early on August 19. The remnants were monitored for regeneration as it continued west-northwestward across the Caribbean and the Yucatán Peninsula, before redeveloping over the Bay of Campeche on August 23. Harvey then began to rapidly intensify on August 24, regaining tropical storm status and becoming a hurricane later that day. While the storm moved generally northwest, Harvey's intensification phase stalled slightly overnight from August 24–25; however, Harvey soon resumed strengthening and quickly became a major hurricane and attained Category 4 intensity later that day. Hours later, Harvey made landfall near Rockport, Texas, at peak intensity.

Harvey caused at least 71 confirmed deaths;] Economic losses are preliminarily estimated at between $70 to $200 billion,]with a large portion of the losses sustained by uninsured homeowners.

Multiple SERVPRO Storm team members are on site and already assisting with the clean up.

What time is the solar eclipse where I live?

8/18/2017 (Permalink)

You'll need perfect timing to catch the exact moment the moon blocks the sun in your city.

The total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 lasts less than a minute in some places, while a partial eclipse can be visible for an hour or more.

Everyone in the USA will be able to see at least a partial eclipse, weather permitting, on Aug. 21, but when is the best time to watch?

The short answer is that it depends on where you live.

Type your zip code here to find out when to head outside.

The celestial show will start will start in Oregon at 9:05 a.m. PT, reaching totality at 10:17 a.m. PT. The last glimpse of the moon's shadow will fade out near Charleston, S.C. at 4:10 p.m. ET.

The view will be the best for those lucky enough to be in the “path of totality” which crosses these 12 states: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina

Eclipse concert crowds jam Prineville-area roadways

8/17/2017 (Permalink)

Community Eclipse concert crowds jam Prineville-area roadways Eclipse 2017 Traffic Through Prineville, Oregon

PRINEVILLE, Ore. - Thousands of festival-goers heading to Big Summit Prairie have been traveling through Prineville since Wednesday, causing traffic backups of 15 to 30 miles east of town, according to authorities.

Oregon State Police reported late Wednesday a 30-mile backup from the concert site, where 30,000 or more people are expected to attend the weekend event that begins Thursday.

Here's a news release issued Thursday morning by Crook County:

Traffic has been extremely heavy traveling East through Prineville since Wednesday, August 16th.  We saw an increase in congestion later in the day yesterday with traffic traveling East toward Big Summit Prairie.  Already today traffic is heavy from just west of Prineville headed east through town.

County operations and Law Enforcement is working with County Emergency Management, Fire and EMS as well as the Road Department and ODOT to mitigate the impact to our community.

Home Water Testing Part 1

8/17/2017 (Permalink)

At SERVPRO of Bend, we receive a lot of questions about the quality of customer's water after they have a water loss. In this two part series, we present Home Water Testing based on the Environmental Protection Agencies suggestions.

Should I Have My Water Tested?

The answer to this question depends on several factors. It concerns your health and the health of your family, so you need to know some basic facts. In addition to illness, a variety of less serious problems such as taste, color, odor and staining of clothes or fixtures are signs of possible water quality problems. Other things to think about include the nearness of your water well to septic systems and the composition of your home’s plumbing materials. This fact sheet provides information to help you decide whether or not to have your water tested, and if so, suggested tests for your situation.

Public Water Systems

When you turn on the tap, where does the water come from? If you pay a water bill, you are purchasing water from a public water system, where your water is monitored, tested and the results reported to the federal, state or tribal drinking water agencies responsible for making sure it meets the National Primary Drinking Water Standards. Your water company must notify you when contaminants are in the water they provide that may cause illness or other problems. Most people in the United States receive water from a community water system that provides its customers with an annual water quality report, also known as a Consumer Confidence Report. Normally, you will receive it with your water bill once a year in July. The report contains information on contaminants found, possible health effects, and the water’s source. If you do not receive a report, contact your water company for this information.

Private Water Supplies

If your drinking water does not come from a public water system, or you get your drinking water from a household well, you alone are responsible for assuring that it is safe. For this reason, routine testing for a few of the most common contaminants is highly recommended. Even if you currently have a safe, pure water supply, regular testing can be valuable because it establishes a record of water quality. This record is helpful in solving any future problems and in obtaining compensation if someone damages your water supply.

For more information, visit www.epa.gov/safewater/lead, or call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.

Eclipse in Portland is pretty darn close to total

8/17/2017 (Permalink)

Portland will be 99.4% of totality on August 21

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s true Portland metro is not in the path of totality for the August 21 solar eclipse. But it’s pretty close.

Portland will experience 99.4% of totality at 10:19:07 that Monday morning.

So where is the best place in this part of the region to see the eclipse? Jim Todd from OMSI suggested looking to the southeast and be in an open area to see the moon’s shadow come and go

Todd said you’ll be able to see Venus to the right of the sun

It may be a good idea to stick close to home: ODOT officials said the eclipse may cause the greatest traffic jam in Oregon history.

Don Hamilton with ODOT said there may be a million people who descend on the state for the eclipse, especially in the 60-mile path of totality that spans the state from west to east.

The risk of wildfires is increased during the eclipse as well — not from the eclipse, but from the thousands of campers and out-of-staters unfamiliar with the terrain and dryness.

And don’t forget to get the right kind of eyewear. Without certified glasses, the eclipse could fry your eyes

4 days till eclipse: Major traffic across Oregon

8/17/2017 (Permalink)

General 4 days till eclipse: Major traffic across Oregon Traffic Backup in Prineville, Oregon

BEND, Ore. (KOIN) — With only four more days until the solar eclipse, traffic is already picking up across Oregon

Oregon State Police said there was heavy congestion on Highway 97 NB in LaPine on Wednesday and after nightfall said there was also traffic in Prineville on Highway 26 heading into a festival event. Officials said there were 800 cars an hour and the back-up was about 30 miles from the event.

Crook County officials urged people to avoid traveling Thursday and Friday due to “extremely heavy traffic.”

ODOT urges early eclipse travel, seeks to dispel rumors

8/10/2017 (Permalink)

Community ODOT urges early eclipse travel, seeks to dispel rumors Central Oregon Eclipse 2017

SALEM, Ore - ODOT is warning last-minute travelers they could miss it all if they wait until Monday, Aug. 21 to hit the road. The total solar eclipse that morning will likely be the busiest traffic event in Oregon history. Eclipse fans must be in place well beforehand or risk getting stuck in traffic, the agency said Friday.

Here's the rest of their latest status update:

Post-eclipse travel may present even more problems. With hundreds of thousands of vehicles on the road at the same time, the trip home may be the most difficult part.

ODOT’s advice? Arrive early, stay put and leave late. This is NOT a game day: Please treat the 3-hour eclipse as a 3-DAY event.

Travelers have a shared responsibility to keep themselves, their passengers and other travelers safe.

Here’s the truth to dispel four rumors ODOT wishes we could launch into a black hole:

  1. ODOT is NOT planning to close any highways. Traffic may do that all by itself, but ODOT doesn't plan to, unless it’s a short closure for emergency response.
  2. ODOT is NOT planning to turn any highways into one-way roads. The staff required to perform that safely is not available.
  3. ODOT is NOT prohibiting big-rig traffic in Oregon. We are restricting one specific kind of truckload—over-width loads. But all other kinds of trucks can continue to carry interstate commerce in Oregon—or you wouldn’t get your gasoline, food, eclipse paraphernalia and other things you expect during that time.
  4. Rest areas will be open, but they are NOT available for camping.

ODOT will make regular, frequent updates to www.TripCheck.com and 511. We will use our social media accounts (facebook.com/OregonDOT and twitter.com/OregonDOT) to report road conditions, but they may not be staffed 24/7. And we will keep local media up to date so they can report travel time and road condition information.

ODOT will have crews posted at strategic locations along critical travel routes to help keep motorists mobile and safe.

But it still comes down to you. Plan to have a good time in Oregon viewing the eclipse. Plan ahead, so you will.

Visit http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/Pages/Eclipse.aspx for eclipse information.