10 Tips for Preventing Home Fires Before They Start

Are you at risk for a house fire?

According to the National Fire Protection, over 1,000 house fires occur every day in the United States. Heating equipment, kitchen appliances, and tobacco products trigger the majority of residential blazes. In light of that harrowing statistic, it’s crucial to thoroughly inspect your home for fire hazards and learn techniques that help minimize the risk.


1. Watch your kitchen appliances closely and be sure to remain in the kitchen while using broilers or grills. Finish cooking and shut off all appliances before you depart.

2. When you turn on a stove or oven, always use the timer. This ensures that you’ll remember to remove the food when it’s done. If possible, set the appliance to automatically turn itself off.

3. Don’t forget to switch off cooking equipment when an electrical outage occurs. If the utility restores power after you leave home or fall asleep, an appliance could cook the food until it ignites.


4. Consider installing an arc-fault circuit interrupter. This device often prevents dangerous electrical fires. Indiana is the only state that doesn’t require it in new homes.

5. Exercise caution when using outlet splitters or power strips. Don’t connect more than one high-wattage machine to the same outlet. Such devices include heaters, air conditioners, and cooking appliances.


6. Avoid smoking indoors, especially when you drink alcoholic beverages or feel drowsy. The NFPA warns that tobacco products trigger almost 3,600 U.S. home fires in an average year.


7. If you own a clothes dryer, take the time to regularly clean its vent. A fire may occur after lint accumulates and the vent becomes clogged.

8. Hire a professional to examine and sweep your chimney. It’s best to inspect pipe seams, flue pipes, and other components every year, according to the city of New Castle, Ind.


9. Keep all flammable objects at least 36 inches away from space heaters, and avoid using this equipment while you sleep. These devices cause one out of three heating-related blazes.

10. If your home has a furnace or boiler, confirm that the emergency shut-off switch works correctly. Your entire family should know how to find this switch and when to use it.

These safety precautions could prevent thousands of house fires each year. At the same time, it’s impossible to stop every blaze from happening. Homeowners can expedite the recovery process by contacting Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling. Our experienced technicians in northeast Indiana know how to fully recondition homes with fire damage.

For more details or a free quote, visit our website or contact us today.

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5 Steps: Remodeling After a House Fire

Unfortunately, fire damage and smoke damage go hand in hand

House fires are serious business, and if you’ve just lived through one for the first time, you know how hard the road to remodeling looks. From smoke damage to structural ruin to financing, there are a lot of things to cover in the days after the embers die out. The good news is that with a lot of hard work and a little help from professionals, it’s possible to fully recover from disaster and even turn it into an opportunity to build your dream home. Here are the five tips you need to know to get started:

1. Get Your Insurance Agent on the Line

The majority of home insurance plans cover house fires, but because of the complex nature of assessing disaster damage, financial help can be slow. The sooner you call, the faster you can begin the restoration process.

In the meantime, be careful when talking to public adjusters and anyone else who offers you unsolicited deals on remodeling. After your insurance agent gives you a rundown of your options, you’ll have a much better idea of where to look for help.

2. Separate the Saved From the Lost

Your insurance agent will need to get an inventory of items that were damaged beyond repair. Plus, organizing everything involved in the fire into two simple lists will make it easier to plan restoration and prioritize replacements.

3. Make Time for Your Insurer’s Investigation

While filling out paperwork, meeting for appointments and returning frequent calls can feel overwhelming when you already have so much on your plate, communicating with your insurance company throughout the investigation process will help you maximize and speed up reimbursement.

4. Find the Right Temporary Housing

If your home was severely damaged, chances are that you’ll need to stay someplace else, at least in the beginning stages of restoration. Hotel rooms, the traditional go-to for displaced homeowners, can be expensive and not very convenient. Staying with friends or family would likely be the most affordable option, but if you want all the comforts of home while you wait, consider use an online booking service such as HomeAway or Airbnb to find a short-term vacation rental instead.

5. Hire Experienced Contractors

There’s so much more to house fires than lost property. The first sparks start a chain reaction that affects everything from plumbing to electrics. Working with a professional crew is the best way to get damaged home systems back up quickly and safely. To take stress and extra expenses out of the equation, screen your team for licensing, experience and reputation.

Are you looking for contractors you can trust? Contact us at Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling or visit us online for more information about our services in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

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After the Disaster: How to Deal With Insurance Claims

After a fire or other life-altering event, you may be thankful just to be in one piece. Nonetheless, it’s important to start rebuilding, and the quicker you begin, the sooner you’ll be able to resume life as normal.

While additional responsibilities are probably the last things you want to deal with at this point, restoration and reconstruction usually go better when you handle them proactively. If you’re like most homeowners in such dire straits, this probably means you’re going to have to negotiate your way through an insurance claim. Here are some key steps that might help you file for the damages and still keep your cool.

Document Everything Under the Sun

Successful insurance claims depend on accurate, extensive documentation. Remember that there’s never such a thing as submitting too much paperwork.

At some point, you may disagree with how your policy provider is handling your case. For this reason, experts say it’s vital to maintain records of all communications, including emails and calls. You’ll also want to document your new living expenses so that you can claim various unusual hardships, like the cost of having to lodge in a hotel or travel further to and from work.

Note that this is all in addition to photos of damaged property and professional restoration estimates. Make things easier on yourself by being as organized as possible.

Learn Your Policy’s Boundaries

You can save yourself a lot of heartache by finding out what your policy covers early on. For instance, if a fire damages your roof, your terms may only compensate you for an amount equal to the value of the damaged roofing prior to the blaze, and this figure might include depreciation. Understanding these differences can stop you from having to pay out of pocket for restoration work that exceeded your limits.

File Your Claim Sooner Rather Than Later

Filing early is by far the most important part of the claims process. Most policies only permit payments for those who submit claims without delay. Letting too much time elapse between the event and when you file might even cause your provider to earmark your claim for potential fraud.

If you plan on reoccupying your existing property someday, this is also the time to obtain estimates on repairs and restoration. For example, letting flood-ruined building materials sit around may allow damage to spread and result in you requiring more extensive corrective work. Since insurers are less likely to pay higher claims, controlling costs by staying on the ball could give your request better chances.

Wondering how you’ll fare during the insurance claim process? Chart out a restoration plan that eases the burden by getting in touch with Paul Davis online.

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After The Fire, Smoke Leaves Its Mark

Smoke from a house fire can cause as much damage as the fire itself. Soot, foul odors and ash residue can be everywhere, even in parts of the house that were not damaged. The longer this residue remains in your home, the harder it is to get rid of. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can fix the problem yourself; cleaning up after a fire is always best left to professionals.

Calling A Pro Is The Only Way To Go

After a fire has been extinguished, you might think the damage has been contained. This is not the case. Smoke can cause serious and ongoing damage in a home even though you can’t see it. Until and unless the home is professionally treated, it will never return to its former state. Restoring a building after a fire is not complicated, but it does require special equipment, proper cleaning methods and significant manpower.

What Kind Of Damage Is Caused By Smoke?

Fire byproducts such as odors, soot, smoke and ash residue cause ongoing corrosion, etching and discoloration the longer they remain untreated. Ash residue quickly discolors plastic, fiberglass and appliance finishes. As the days pass, metal surfaces tarnish and corrode. Wood surfaces deteriorate. Carpeting, walls, rugs, draperies, upholstery, curtains and clothing become discolored. Glass surfaces and windows can suffer such severe etching that they must be replaced.

The Sooner The Job Is Done, The Less Damage There Will Be

Smoke damage restoration companies have the resources and the know-how to treat smoke damage, but only when they are called to the scene immediately. The longer you wait, the more damage there will be, and the more expensive and difficult the restoration process will become. A professional restoration company can also help you to secure your property and will work with your insurance agent to help you get a speedy settlement.

A professional restoration team can assess the degree of smoke damage and give you an estimate of the work to be done. This process must be completed without causing the ash residue to spread throughout the home. The team will then clean up the ash residue and inventory the damages. Household goods and personal possessions are removed for cleaning and restoration.

Using industrial-strength water extractors, fans, dehumidifiers and other powerful equipment, your team can remove the water and moisture used to extinguish the fire. Meanwhile, disinfectants and other chemicals are used to treat odors, prevent mold and mildew, purify the air and sanitize your home’s interior. Upholstery, draperies, carpeting and clothing may require dry cleaning and additional deodorizing.

The smoke damage professionals at Paul Davis believe in eco-friendly solutions for fire, smoke, ash and soot damage. We have been helping homeowners to recover from fire and smoke damage for almost 50 years. To learn more, visit our website today.

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Chimney Cleaning for Fire Safety

It’s not fireplace season yet, but soon enough you’ll be ready to fire up the chimney and enjoy the beautiful glow and smell of fresh burning firewood with your family. Before you light up the first log, you need a thorough chimney cleaning to prevent possible home fire hazards, especially if you have prior damage from water, fire or smoke. Chimney cleaning can be complicated business, so don’t take any chances by trying to do it yourself. Do yourself a favor and schedule an inspection by a professional before the temperature drops so that you can start using your fireplace as soon as winter sets in.

How Often Should You Have Your Chimney Checked?

Fireplaces and chimneys become hot commodities during the winter, but they need special attention during the rest of the year to keep them working safely. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, chimneys should be inspected once a year at minimum to ensure structural soundness and to remove any deposits or obstructions. Any necessary chimney cleaning, repairs and restoration should be performed before using your fireplace for the first time during the cold season. Even if you don’t regularly use your chimney, you should still have it inspected for animal nesting or deterioration.

Why Should You Schedule An Annual Chimney Cleaning?

In addition to routine maintenance by a professional, you should regularly sweep your fireplace as soon as you notice sooty buildup. Acidic soot deposits can drastically shorten the lifespan of your chimney and serve as fuel in the event of a home fire. Chimneys in areas that are prone to a lot of snow and ice such as Indiana need special attention because cracks can form in the mortar as water freezes and expands. Wear and tear from water and smoke can add up over the course of a year, and it can affect the durability and efficiency of your unit. Structural repairs can take time, so you should have your chimney inspected and cleaned during the warm months before you’re tempted to light up your fireplace.

Paul Davis Provides Restoration Services in Indiana

Don’t wait for disaster to ignite. However, you can’t always prepare for unexpected disasters. If your home has suffered fire damage, contact Paul Davis today for restoration and reconstruction services.

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Don’t Plug In Your Electric Blanket Until You Read This

There is no better ritual for beating the winter blues than wrapping yourself in a warm electric blanket and sipping hot cocoa. However, like many good things in life, the comfort of your electric blanket comes with risks. Here are the most common hazards associated with electric blankets and what you can do to stay safe and warm this season.

Electric Blanket Burns and Fires

Every electrical appliance carries a risk of starting fires, and electric blankets are no exception. For example, in 2013, an overheated electric blanket was responsible for $90,000 worth of destruction to a California home. People getting burned by electric blankets is less common, but it still happens, which is why you should never fall asleep with your blanket plugged in. The best way to limit opportunities for burns and fires is to follow the safety instructions that come with your blanket and to turn it off when not in use. The majority of fires are started by blankets that are old and overused, so replace your electric blanket at least every ten years or sooner if you notice any tears or frayed wires peeking through the cloth.

What to do in the Event of an Electric Blanket Fire

– Remove the blanket’s plug from the outlet if you can safely do so.
– Have everyone evacuate your home before trying to extinguish the fire.
– Call 9-1-1 immediately.
– Never use water on an electrical fire as it will only make the situation worse.
– Use a “C” fire extinguisher if you have one to put out the flame.
– Baking soda can smother small fires if dumped directly onto the flames.

When Accidents Happen, Paul Davis Helps Indiana Rebuild

Has your home or business been damaged due to fire, flooding or other mishaps? If you live in Northern Indiana, help is right around the corner: Paul Davis has been the Hoosier State’s leader in property damage mitigation, reconstruction and remodeling for decades. Visit our webpage for our full list of services to see how we can restore order to your home.

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Extreme Weather Damage

When winter weather gets more extreme, so do the consequences of not preparing for the worst. Small issues like an overhanging tree can turn into a tree in the living room after a cold-snap and strong winds. Foundation cracks can turn into foundation failures when exposed to freezing ground-water. Pipes can burst in winter, leaving you without hot water, or causing damaging flooding, which can be incredibly dangerous in cold weather. Regardless what kinds of catastrophes you face, a disaster restoration plan are something that no homeowner should be without. Here are some of the risks that you could encounter and ways to cope effectively.

Don’t believe that Indiana homeowners are at risk of high-water events in the midst of cold weather? Just look back to 2005, when severe winter storms and flooding in the state prompted the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to declare a major disaster that lasted for the entirety of January and much of February. Or consider the fact that the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program says that floods are the number one natural disaster in the country.

With dangers like ice jams that cause rivers to spill over and snow-melt that can overwhelm normal drainage channels, flooding hazards are real. Even if you follow FEMA’s advice by purchasing flood insurance, you’ll need to consult with restoration experts right after your disaster to get the most out of your policy.

Indiana winters can make you think of moving somewhere much warmer, but the frigid cold doesn’t protect your property from blazes. For a variety of reasons, such as increased cooking and heating activities, house fires are more common in winter than at any other time of year.

Fires can be worse in inclement weather because they eradicate your property’s barriers against the outside world. For instance, flames that burn through roofing or exterior walls subsequently allow moisture to get inside and cause additional damage by freezing. Without expert disaster management assistance, repairs may also take longer.

Ice and Snow
Ice storms don’t just cause water to freeze uncomfortably close to your home. While these events can indeed result in the formation of ice dams that tear roof shingles apart or make gutters fall, they can also impact the trees and power lines around your property. When these features collapse, the aftermath may be even more catastrophic.

In some cases, snow buildup itself damages homes. This is especially concerning with older properties that may not be quite as structurally sound as they once were. Heavy snow that causes your roof plane to bend or warp can create weaknesses that worsen with every passing season. No matter how minor the problem seems now, failing to take immediate action is almost certain to cost you down the line.

In winter, rapid emergency restoration needs to be one of your primary concerns. The risks of waiting around after an incident are undeniable, and your real estate’s equity will suffer for every second you delay. To learn more about extreme weather disaster restoration, contact a Paul Davis expert now.

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Fire Aftermath: Will Insurance Cover Smoke Damage?

Even a small fire may yield considerable amounts of smoke. This results in unsightly stains and strong odors. Prolonged exposure could seriously harm your health. Soot is difficult to remove, so professional cleaning often proves necessary. Fortunately, insurance companies pay for cleaning and repairs in most situations.


If you rent a house or apartment, your landlord probably insures the building. The insurance company will pay for repairs to items and structures that the landlord owns. It may cover walls, ceilings, carpets and appliances. However, you’ll be responsible for replacing or fixing all personal possessions.

People with renters insurance usually qualify for compensation when smoke damages their belongings. It covers furniture, electronics, clothing, rugs and similar items. The insurer may also reimburse you for restaurant meals and a motel room if you can’t safely stay in your home.


Nearly all Indiana home insurance policies cover smoke damage. Mobile home insurance usually pays for restoration services as well. However, many insurers subtract deductibles which may be as high as several hundred dollars. This means that you may have to pay for a portion of the costs of professional cleaning and repairs.

Most home insurance policies don’t cover soot removal in unoccupied dwellings. Depending on the specific company, a house is considered vacant after all residents leave for one or two months. So, homeowners need to notify their insurers and pay for vacant home coverage. Insurance companies require special policies because unoccupied buildings are more likely to suffer damage.


Business owners with property insurance normally qualify for compensation when smoke damage occurs. These policies pay for repairs to furniture, uniforms, equipment, supplies, and other assets. If you own a building, the insurer will also cover structural components like ceilings and walls.

Many Indiana business owners rent their stores or offices. In this situation, the landlord’s insurer is responsible for fixing most damage to the building. A business operator still needs to insure his or her equipment. If a landlord fails to repair a commercial building, tenants generally have the right to cancel their leases and move elsewhere.


Most home, renters and business policies exclude certain kinds of smoke damage. Many insurers reject such claims when industrial facilities or agricultural smudging produce soot. There’s a chance this could happen if you live near an orchard or factory. Furthermore, these policies typically don’t cover damage triggered by arson.

After a fire occurs, remember to board up any broken windows and document all related expenses. File an insurance claim as soon as possible for the best results. The smoke damage remediation experts at Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling can help. We thoroughly remove all traces of soot and work with insurers to maximize compensation. To learn more about our services, visit our website today.

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Fire Restoration Technology Helps Life Get Back To Normal After A Fire

Once you know your loved ones are safe and sound, the first thought likely on your mind after you’ve suffered smoke or fire damage to your home is, “how can life get back to normal?”

In order for this to happen, it can take multiple trips from estimators who spend hours reviewing and documenting every square inch of your home before your insurance company gets involved.

But Paul Davis recently adopted a state-of-the-art piece of technology that speeds up this process: the Matterport Pro 3D Camera.

“We cover such a large territory in the greater Fort Wayne area that we would have our estimators spend eight hours of their day in a car just bouncing between two job sites, depending on the distance,” said Robert Sterling, a project manager/estimator who is spearheading the use of the Matterport Pro 3D Camera at Paul Davis. “The Matterport actually allows us to take the people with the knowledge and put them behind the computer and get them away from their windshields.”

Now, technicians are able to go to each site, set up the Matterport Pro 3D Camera and, in roughly an hour, have an interactive 3D video that documents the entirety of a home or building. This allows estimators to then walk through the home with the click of a mouse and label areas that were damaged by fire or smoke.

An Expedited Process

For Paul Davis, estimations that once took 48 to 72 hours can now be completed in less than a day. Additionally, it minimizes mistakes because now if an estimator wants to double check a measurement or grab a picture of a particular wall, it can be done from their computer screen as opposed to spending hours in the car for a couple minutes of actual work.

Because the Matterport utilizes a 4K camera, there’s almost no pixilation when zooming in on a wall or another damaged portion of the house. This allows the estimator to still get up close and personal with any space.

Better yet, this information can be shared easily.

“I can share the link with you,” Sterling said. “Let's just say you're the insurance adjuster, you pull measurements from that app. Let's say if you wanted to verify a cabinet's linear footage or damage to drywall, but then with everybody working remotely, it's kind of hard to tell a story without sitting there with them.

“With this, you can actually put in notes called Mattertags. I can tell you, ‘hey, go to the living room and click on that Mattertag on the wall. I put in a description of what needs to be done.’ That way you can zoom in on it and all of the information is right there.”

The Matterport software can also develop floor plans in a matter of minutes—a task that once took hours to complete.

Less Person-To-Person Contact During the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on a number of challenges to United States businesses, which now need to accomplish more tasks than ever while also practicing social distancing. This can be difficult, but with the Matterport 3D Camera, estimators typically only need to spend an hour at your home.

“It allows for fewer people and limited touches,” Sterling said. “The homeowner doesn't necessarily have to be home if they don't want to be. Then instead of having the homeowner, the adjuster and a couple other people on the job site together, you have one person.”

This keeps the homeowner and Paul Davis employees safer and, overall, can help limit the spread of the virus.

In Need of a Fire Restoration Specialist?

The aftermath of a house or building fire is a stressful time. Emergency Services experts like Robert Sterling of Paul Davis of Northeast Indiana will be there for you after a fire to your home or business, helping to restore your property and your life back to normal.

For more information, call 260-436-7510.

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Fire Restoration: How Paul Davis Restores Buildings After Fires

House fires can start in an instant. All it takes is an unattended pot catching fire on the stove, poor interior wiring, malfunctioning electrical equipment or a candle that’s accidentally knocked over.

Thanks in part to modern fire safety technological advancements, less than 2 percent of residential fires result in injuries, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. But in most instances, there may still be significant damage to your home or business. This can include your walls and carpet or various items such as clothing, furniture and electronics.

Even if the actual flames were not significant, smoke can near-ruin almost any item.

“Portions of the property that were not touched by the fire could still be affected by smoke damage,” said Rebecca Serratos, emergency services manager of Paul Davis of Northeast Indiana. “The severity of the smoke damage depends on what burned in the fire, how long it burned, the distance from the source of the fire, and many other factors.”

That’s why, after any fire, you’ll want to contact a fire restoration specialist immediately to begin the process of rehabilitating your home.

First Steps

After you contact a restoration specialist such as Paul Davis, the first thing you’ll be advised to do is to make sure your home is protected from outside elements. For instance, your roof or a hole in an exterior wall may need to be boarded up.

Just be careful to not do anything that might interfere with an ongoing fire investigation. Depending on the extent of the fire damage, you will likely need permission from the fire department to re-enter your home. Ask the department at this time what you can, should or shouldn’t do in your home, such as boarding up windows, and follow their instructions.

It may also be helpful to take both interior and exterior photos of your home to document the damage. From there, a restoration expert will arrive on site as soon as possible.

“When arriving on site, the first thing a restoration expert will do is evaluate the need for emergency services including additional temporary repairs, removal of personal property, and mitigating fire and/or water damage in the property,” Serratos said. “In regards to the home itself and all personal property, the salvageability is determined by the severity of the fire damage and the cost of restoration versus replacement.”

The Restoration Process

Some items are more affected by fire and smoke than others. When it comes to the amount of damage caused, the the origin of the fire matters.

“Fires where natural materials burn are the easiest to clean,” Serratos said. “Most fires are a mix of natural and synthetic materials, such as plastics. These can be more difficult because the soot is oily and smears easily. The most difficult type of smoke damage to remediate is from a protein fire. Protein fires have a strong odor, and they leave behind residues that are challenging to remove.”

Additionally, porous items are more difficult to restore because they more readily absorb smoke and undesirable odors. But even in cases of extreme smoke damage, not all is lost.

“With proper cleaning and deodorization, some items can be salvaged,” Serratos said.

Most items will be restored carefully with various cleaning solutions.

In the end, some items will be damaged beyond repair, but it’s important that property owners do not attempt to determine which of their belongings fall into this category. Leave that to a professional.

“Property owners should refrain from touching items and disposing of personal property until they have spoken with the adjuster and received directions for how to report non-salvageable items to the insurance company,” Serratos said. “I would also recommend that property owners consult with a restoration professional before trying to do any cleaning on their own. If the cleaning is not done properly, it can create more damage.”

In Need of a Fire Restoration Specialist?

The aftermath of a house or building fire is a stressful time. Emergency Services experts like Rebecca Serratos of Paul Davis of Northeast Indiana will be there for you after a fire to your home or business, helping to restore your property and your life back to normal.

For more information, call 260-436-7510 or visit northeast-indiana.pauldavis.com/services/fire-restoration/

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Fire Safety and Prevention Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

Fire Safety and Prevention Tips for Homeowners

In recent years, fires spreading across Australia and the western United States have received a significant amount of news coverage, as they should.

These wildfires have been devastating, but for those of us here in Indiana, our fire risk is within our homes. The good news is that you can have a direct impact on preventing a house fire by adhering to safety tips and taking proper precautions.


In most homes, cooking is an everyday occurrence, but using the stove and oven — whether electrical or gas — is one of the main causes of house fires.

This can happen for a multitude of reasons, from forgetting to turn off the burners all the way to leaving food cooking in the oven while you’re out of the house. Burners also get turned on by mistake more often than one might think, which is why it’s important to keep flammable materials (think paper towels and napkins) away from the stove at all times.

“I've even heard of fires starting because a pet turns on a stove and there's something flammable on or near the stove that starts a fire,” Rebecca Serratos, the Emergency Services Administrator at Paul Davis Restoration of Northeast Indiana, said. “If you have like pets and young ones that could touch those dials, it might be a good idea to just take those off or use some kind of a safety device to make sure that they can't be turned on unintentionally.”

Another common cause for house fires is when grease accumulates inside the oven or on the stove. Even when dry, grease can catch fire and cause a significant problem. That’s why you should clean your stovetop and oven regularly.


Even outside of the kitchen, there are a number of home appliances that can cause house fires.

The two most problematic household appliances are your dryer and a space heater. That doesn’t mean you should avoid using either, but you should take the proper precautions and adhere to preventative maintenance tips when using them. 

“It's important after every load in the dryer to make sure you're cleaning out that lint trap. If lint accumulates in there, that could start a fire,” Serratos said. “Having your dryer vent cleaned is something that you can do yourself with supplies found at a hardware store. There are also companies, including Paul Davis, that will come out and clean that vent. That's recommended annually.”

Space heaters, on the other hand, can cause fires when left unattended, on for too long or near flammable materials, such as a blanket, papers or chemicals.

When using a space heater, it’s important to monitor them carefully to prevent a fire. Never leave a space heater on in an empty room, even if there’s an auto-shutoff feature.

Lastly, appliances such as hair straighteners and curling irons should be turned off and unplugged when they’re not in use.


Faulty and exposed wires can spark and cause fires in your home, which often happens because of poor installation.

“There's definitely a lot of things out of your control,” Serratos said. “The thing about electrical is you don't know that there's an issue until you have a problem most of the time, but if you are doing anything with your circuit breaker, like you're adding circuits or if you decide to add some recessed lighting, get a qualified electrician to assist with that. It's not the greatest DIY project.”

Other wiring issues can come from extension cords and Christmas lights.

Old and worn out extension cords may have exposed wires that can malfunction and overheat, which is why it’s important to check them before use, especially if you have pets that could chew on them or if they were left outside or in the garage. You’ll also want to make sure you uncoil all extension cords to prevent them from overheating and melting the protective plastic.

Christmas tree lights should never be left on overnight or when no one is home in case there’s an issue or a pet chews on the cords. It’s also important to adhere to the recommended number of strands you’re allowed to link together.


If a fire does start in your home, the first thing you’ll want to do is get out of your home in the safest way possible and then call 911 immediately. When exiting your home, stay low to the ground to avoid inhaling smoke and other toxic fumes. Touch all doorknobs with the back of your hands to make sure they’re not too hot to grab.

It’s also recommended that you and your family sleep with your doors shut. In the event of a fire, a closed door can help keep smoke and toxic fumes away while you sleep and give you and your family more time to escape.

Smoke detectors are also lifesavers, which is why it’s important to check that they’re in good working condition on a regular basis. Change the batteries at the beginning and end of Daylight Saving Time every year.


Experience fire damage? Paul Davis can help restore your home after a fire. Call 888-473-7669 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If your home is damaged by fire, it’s critical to contact a company that specializes in the fire and smoke restoration process as soon as possible to prevent additional damage. Your local Paul Davis is available 24/7 to help minimize the cost of fire and smoke damage to your home.

Paul Davis can also help commercial businesses plan for fire safety and prevention, including going over safety precautions and preparing strategies to get everyone out of the building safely.

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How to Negotiate With Your Insurer After a Fire

Contacting your insurance company is the first major step in fire restoration.

Learning how to negotiate with your insurance company can help you make the fire restoration process a little less stressful.

It may be the last thing you want to do after going through a traumatic house fire, but the sooner you open the lines of communication with your insurer, the faster you’ll get the home you love back in shape. Despite their reputation of being tough and unemotional, most insurance agents are more than happy to help their clients collect the benefits they deserve. They just need your help to do their job quickly and correctly. Here’s how to get the ball rolling in the right direction:

Take a Closer Look at Your Contract

If you’re like most homeowners who suddenly find themselves dealing with unexpected fire damage, chances are that you haven’t reviewed your insurance policy since the day you bought it. Going through it in detail before you call is the best way to up your confidence and put yourself in control of the negotiation process.

Remember to keep a copy in front of you whenever you speak with insurance agents to make sure they’re holding up their end of the deal and that you’re asking for compensation that fits within your contract’s conditions. When emotions are running high, it’s easy to forget that what your insurance agent can do is limited by the terms of your agreement.

Hang on to Damaged Items

In addition to structural fire restoration, insurance policies usually cover the majority of the items that were lost in the flames. Even if they’re beyond repair, holding on to damaged possessions can instantly give you the upper hand throughout the negotiation process.

In general, have a master list of all perished goods ready before the adjuster pulls into your driveway to make sure you don’t leave anything out later on.

Ask for Living Expenses

Depending on your policy, you may be able to get coverage for temporary housing while your home is being repaired. Since reimbursement is usually provided after you make upfront payments, get proof of coverage in advance if your insurance carrier agrees to foot the final bill.

Don’t Give Them a Reason to Say No

Remember that insurance companies have to be selective about which claims they approve to stay in business. Incomplete claims, lack of proof, and coverage limits are a few common reasons why claims get denied. To streamline the process, create a complete file that covers everything related to your claim, including receipts, pictures, records, and damage estimates. For more tips on filling out fire claims, read this report from ABC News.

Need more information about fire restoration in Northeast Indiana? Contact Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling or head to our homepage for expert advice and local recovery services.

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Preventing Kitchen Fires When Cooking

When it comes to fires, the most at-risk area of your home is the kitchen. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 49 percent of all house fires involve cooking equipment.

That’s why, for this year’s Fire Prevention Week, the NFPA announced that the theme is Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen.

“Cooking continues to be a major contributor to the home fire problem,” Lorraine Carli, NFPA Vice President of Outreach and Advocacy, said in a press release. “The good news is that the vast majority of these fires are highly preventable. This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign works to better educate the public about where potential cooking hazards exist and basic but critical ways to prevent them.”

The restoration and prevention specialists at Paul Davis of Northern Indiana agree with this sentiment, including Steve Leffers, an associate at Paul Davis who is certified in fire and smoke restoration.

“I've been at Paul Davis for 27 years,” he said, “and I would say that's got to be the most common origin.”

Fire Safety Concerns in the Kitchen

While fires can occur anywhere in your home for a variety of reasons, most fires in the kitchen ignite due to user error. That is, most start because the stove or oven is left unattended.

“In kitchen-related fires, a lot of them are attributed to cooking situations and negligence,” Leffers said.

Leffers once was called to fire damage at a home where a man took his dog for a long walk in the midst of frying eggs on a skillet. While that may be an extreme example, any time you leave cooking food unattended, you could be at risk for a fire.

Occasionally, electronic appliances such as an oven, microwave or toaster oven can malfunction and cause a fire, but that’s much less common.

How to Help Prevent Kitchen Fires

First and foremost, whenever you’re cooking, never leave your stove or oven unattended. It may seem innocent to watch television for a few minutes in the other room while a pan is heating up, but a flame can spark at any moment.

It’s also important to make sure flammable cooking items, such as food utensils, packaging, oven mitts, etc. are kept several feet away from a stove top. Also, never use cooking spray when a pan is already over an open flame.

If you’ve consumed alcohol or feel tired, using an oven or stove may be ill-advised.

Lastly, it’s recommended that you have at least one fire extinguisher on hand in the kitchen.

Be Wary of Grease Fires

When dealing with kitchen fires, it’s important to be especially careful when cooking grease-heavy items or using lots of oil, because grease fires are extremely dangerous.

“They can be extraordinary, especially around Thanksgiving,” Leffers said. “That's when we get most of those because somebody is trying to do a deep-fried turkey.”

The issue is that grease fires cannot be put out with water. In fact, water will only intensify the flames.

Instead, grease fires must be smothered and starved of oxygen. Typically, the best and most convenient items to use are a pan lid or cooking sheet. Then turn off the oven and/or stove. Salt or baking soda can be used to smother small grease fires but be wary of using other items, as their chemical makeup may intensify the fire.

As a last resort, grab your fire extinguisher. If that doesn’t work, dial 911 and exit your home immediately.

In Need of a Fire Restoration Expert?

The aftermath of a house or building fire is a stressful time. Restoration specialists like Steve Leffers at Paul Davis of Northeast Indiana will be there for you after a fire. Their experts at dealing with insurance companies and know exactly what to do to restore your home back to its previous state.

For more information, call us at 260-436-7510.

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Step by Step: After the Fire

A house fire causes emotional and physical damage, and the effects can last for years. After the fire, Paul Davis steps in and eases the strain, implementing careful procedures to secure your property and prevent complications in the future. House fires and the process of starting over or rebuilding may seem overwhelming. We’re here to ensure a smooth transition and outline our steps to make everything okay again.

5 Key Steps for Efficient Fire Restoration

  1. Cleaning Visual Damage

A fire leaves its mark and creates widespread damage in a short time. We use environmentally friendly methods to clean up the soot and any residue that is left after a fire. We make sure to remove all traces of damage without using products or methods that could pose a threat to your belongings or family.

  1. Purifying the Air

Smoke sticks to fibers and penetrates porous surfaces long after the fire has been extinguished. We specialize in smoke odor removal and air purification, making sure to extract and remove the smoke from affected areas and locations where the smoke has traveled and settled.

  1. Restoring Personal Items

We take careful inventory of your belongings and household goods before removing them from your home. Once removed, we take care in cleaning and restoring the items before returning them to you.

  1. Removing Water Damage

Firefighters use abundant water to douse the flames. Unfortunately, the water not only causes damage to the fire area but also to unaffected areas. We use industrial-grade water extractors, air movers, dehumidifiers and more to remove standing water and prevent additional damage.

  1. Protecting Against Mold and Mildew

If water steps into wood or fabric, it can promote mold and mildew growth. We use strong disinfectants to clean the water-soaked areas and apply antimicrobial solutions to combat mold and mildew before they sprout and spread throughout your home.

Paul Davis Secures and Restores Your Home

No matter how severe, a house fire doesn’t have to put an end to your happy home. You can start over. Contact Paul Davis to learn more about our fire restoration services. Our experienced and qualified team is here to help you recover, restore and rebuild after a fire.

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Summer Fire Safety For Your Home

Summer is finally here. It’s time to play outside, barbecue in the backyard and chill under warm evening skies. The season comes with its share of routine chores around the house too. As you gear up for lawn mowing and tree trimming, put these home fire safety tips on your must-do list, too.

1. Baby Your Grill – Without regular maintenance, your outdoor cooking station can cause serious fire damage. Keep drip pans and grates free of grease build-up that can turn open flames into dangerous flares. If your setup uses a gas tank, check lines for wear, and make sure connections are tight. Always keep kids and pets a safe distance away from the grilling action.

2. Keep Things Wet – Shrubs that shrivel under the hot summer sun are potential fire hazards. A stray spark from the grill or a carelessly tossed match can ignite flames in a dry backyard. Keep the lawn watered, replant dead areas, and cut back dry brush. Keep an eye on tree branches over your grill too. A flare-up that scorches burgers can also ignite that shady canopy overhead.

3. Keep Extinguishers Handy – When you’re cooking outdoors, always have an extinguisher within reach, and keep another one handy in the kitchen. Check the pressure gauge every month. Replace any extinguisher that shows wear on its hose or nozzle. If your extinguisher is older than 10 years, invest in a new model. It costs far less than addressing water damage and smoke damage to your home after a fire.

4. Play Safely With Fireworks – Fireworks are fun, but they can also be dangerous. Always light them a safe distance from the house, and keep them away from the kids. Don’t try to light up the sky all at once. Proceed with caution, and keep a bucket of water nearby for duds and spent fireworks.

5. Develop a Plan Now – Every home needs a solid fire evacuation plan. Get the family together, and determine multiple escape routes out of the house. Go over evacuation basics that include staying low to the floor to avoid smoke, testing door knobs for heat and using windows for exits if necessary. Identify safe routes out of the backyard too.

We want you to stay safe this summer and enjoy the season. If you’d like more ideas for home fire safety tips, contact Paul Davis today. We offer more than 20 years of professional reconstruction and restoration experience, and we’re here for you 24/7.

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The Fire Damage Restoration Process: An Overview

Fire damage restoration is a detailed and complicated process. Not only are homeowners dealing with the emotional shock of a fire, but the damage from the fire, smoke, soot and water (from firefighting efforts) can be equally as devastating. Top that off with the necessity of restoring the home immediately, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

To understand why restoration needs to begin right away, let’s take a quick look at how fire damage affects your home and belongings.

• Within minutes – Immediately after a fire, the soot settles on everything and causes discoloration. Appliances, plastic items and other porous materials such as grout, marble and granite are affected right away.

• Within hours – If the soot remains on furniture or appliances for several hours, the initial discoloration begins to turn into dark stains.

• Within days – Fire damage sets in deeper if not handled immediately. At this point, stains can become permanent on walls, furniture and appliances.

• Long-term damage – With every passing day, fire damage restoration will cost more because the finish on floors and furniture will be so damaged they may need to be replaced altogether.

With time ticking away, it’s vital that you take care of any damage from fire, smoke and soot as soon as possible. You may attempt to take care of the restoration process yourself, but hiring a professional is the only way to make sure the proper steps are performed as best as possible.

1. Protection – Once the fire marshal has cleared individuals to enter your home, restoration professionals will wear protective clothing and gloves. For extra protection from breathing in fumes and chemicals, they may use an oxygen tank.

2. Ventilation – Opening up all the windows and doors will help get any residual smoke out of your home. Fans may also be brought in to help circulate the air.

3. Cleaning – This is the tough part. To get all the soot and smoke out of your home, professionals use a high-efficiency vacuum to get the soot out of your carpets and upholstery. Then they thoroughly clean the interior of your house including the windows, doors, floors, walls and fixtures. For fire damage outside your home, you can pressure wash the exterior completely.

4. Aftermath – To get rid of the unpleasant odor caused from fire damage, you can use disinfectant and deodorizing sprays. While sprays can help temporarily, the best solution is to deep clean your home as soon as you can.

When restoring your home after fire damage, contacting expert fire damage specialists immediately is a smart decision. Paul Davis has trained experts ready to assess the damage and help you get your home back to normal. For more information, visit our website today.

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The Top 7 Ways House Fires Start

Your home is the place that keeps you safe and sheltered, so it can be frightening to think about a fire starting in your comfortable haven. However, the National Fire Protection Association reported that there were almost 500,000 building fires in 2014, and a fire was called in every 86 seconds. Find out the most common causes of house fires, and learn what you can do to prevent them.


Smoking is the primary cause of deaths from fires. The embers from a burning cigarette may come into contact with sheets, curtains, furniture and clothing, sending them up in flames. Smoke outside if you can’t kick the habit, and make sure that you completely extinguish your cigarettes, cigars and pipes.


Cooking is the most common source of house fires in the country. Cooking fires are usually a result of something being placed too close to a heat source on the stove and catching fire. Keep dishrags and pot holders away from your stove and oven, and store a fire extinguisher in the kitchen to prevent cooking fires from making your home a statistic.


The second most common cause of house fires and fire-related deaths, heating fires are usually caused by portable heaters. Don’t use a space heater near combustible materials, while you’re sleeping or when you’re not home.


Electrical fires can be generated when light bulbs are installed in lamps that cannot withstand the bulb wattage. Faulty wiring or plugs can also lead to electrical fires. Never tamper with a plug or electrical socket, and don’t use extension cords as a permanent solution. If you need additional outlets, have them installed by a professional.


Although fireplaces can be cozy, they can also be dangerous. Most fireplace blazes start because the chimney is not properly cleaned and maintained. Make sure that you open the flue before lighting the logs in your fireplace and have your chimney serviced regularly. Don’t use your fireplace for cooking, and don’t leave a fire unattended.


Your dryer could catch fire if it malfunctions, is not properly cleaned or is subject to an electrical problem. Keep your appliances safe by having them installed by an expert. Clean out your lint filter with each use and your vent pipe at least once a year. Make sure that lint doesn’t collect behind, under or around your dryer.


You’ve probably heard it before; candles are a major contributor to house fires. After you have set the mood, blow out the candles. Never place a candle on an unstable surface or near flammable materials.

If you’ve been unfortunate enough to experience a house fire, dealing with the aftermath can be stressful. Let Paul Davis restore your home to the sanctuary that it once was.

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The Ultimate Guide to Fire Restoration Services

Fires can ignite without a moment’s notice and send your home and belongings up in flames. Though it’s a devastating experience, you don’t have to deal with the aftermath on your own. Cleaning up the fire and smoke damage takes a long time and involved more effort than you may expect. By using a professional fire restoration service, you can avoid the headache and devote more time for putting your life back on track.

The Problem With DIY Fire Restora

If you look online, you can find a do-it-yourself solution for almost anything. However, cleaning up after a house fire requires more than a few DIY techniques. Many people don’t realize that you have more to deal with than the actual fire itself. Where there’s fire, there’s also smoke, and it causes air pollution and stains in the affected area. In addition, firefighters have to put out the flames with water, causing further potential water damage throughout your house.

To make matters worse, not all of the items in your home react the same to fire, smoke and water, so you can’t use the same cleaning techniques to treat everything. Furthermore, if you fail to clean the affected items immediately, it could lead to permanent soot residue and yellowing on the walls, your appliances and more. The shock from a house fire takes a while to wear off, leaving many homeowners baffled about the best ways to get the cleanup started. Hiring a restoration professional ensures the damage is repaired without hassle.

Should You Hire an Individual Contractor?

Individual contractors might only specialize in one area of restoration. For example, they may have the equipment and the knowledge to clean up smoke damage but fail to provide efficient services for mold and water damage or reconstruction. Many of these contractors may not have sufficient staff on hand to assist with the cleanup, which prolongs the entire restoration process.

It’s always wise to seek professional assistance after a fire, but you should choose a company with comprehensive experience, tools, staff and knowledge to handle the job with care and urgency.

Professional Fire Damage Restoration

Contact Paul Davis for more information on how our professional restoration services can help minimize further damage and repair your property. With 24/7 emergency support, smoke odor removal, structural stabilization and more, we’ll help you get back the home you love and return your life to normalcy.

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Top 14 Tips for Preventing House Fires

Living through a house fire isn’t something you want to mark off your list of memorable life experiences. Even small home fires can progress quickly, and the damage from flames, smoke and toxic gases can destroy everything you own and threaten the lives of everyone in your household. For everyone involved, avoiding fire damage is much better than repairing the destruction it wreaks. The following tips can help you reduce your risk of experiencing a house fire. To make your home a safer place, share them with all of your household members.

Essential Home Fire Prevention Tips

  1. Install smoke alarms on each level of your home. Test them every month to ensure that they’re working properly and their batteries are still good.
  1. Develop a fire escape plan with your family, and conduct a fire drill at least twice a year.
  1. Place space heaters at least three feet away from walls and any flammable materials. Always supervise children and pets when heaters are in operation.
  1. If you store gasoline or other flammable liquids, be sure that they’re out of reach and in a childproof container.
  1. Avoid plugging multiple electric appliances into the same electrical outlet.
  1. Never leave a hot oven or stove top unattended. Remain in the kitchen while stove burners, ovens and other cooking appliances are in operation.
  1. Keep dish towels, wooden or plastic utensils and any other flammable items away from your stove top.
  1. Don’t wear long sleeves or loose clothing while cooking.
  1. Keep a working fire extinguisher in your kitchen.
  1. Never leave lit candles or fireplaces unattended. Remain awake while they’re in use, and keep pets and children away from them.
  1. Have all electrical repairs and installations completed by a qualified electrician.
  1. If electrical outlets become warm or discolored or you notice a burning smell, cut off power to the area. Seek advice from emergency services immediately.
  1. Never smoke in bed or leave lit cigarettes unattended.
  1. If a fire occurs, get out of the house immediately. Call for help, and don’t reenter your home until it’s safe to do so.

If It’s Too Late to Prevent Fire, Call Paul Davis

Unfortunately, no prevention plan is foolproof. Thousands of homes suffer fire, smoke and soot damage every year. At Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling, fire damage restoration is one of our specialties. We’ve helped homeowners salvage their possessions and reclaim their lives after home fires for more than 40 years. Our prompt and comprehensive services include soot clean-up, odor removal, water extraction, mold prevention, reconstruction, assistance with insurance claims and much more, and it all comes with the expertise and understanding you need during a major disaster. If you’ve recently experienced a home fire, visit us online to learn how we can help.

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Water Damage from a House Fire? Find Out How

When firefighters are called to the scene of a building fire, everyone is on high alert. First and foremost, these brave men and women need to ensure that nobody is still inside the burning structure. Once everyone is safe, firefighters diligently work to distinguish the damaging flames. Unfortunately, the extreme amount of water required to put out a fire can actually cause damage to the interior of your home, your furniture and personal items. In most cases, water damage is the unexpected destroyer in a house fire.

What Can You Do?

Even if you have been cleared to re-enter your home, you need to extremely careful around weakened support structures from the fire and water damage. According to the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration (IICRC), your best bet is to immediately seek professional help with the restoration process.

In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to minimize the extent of the fire, water and smoke damage.

1. Protect yourself – Only enter your home if you have been authorized to do so by professionals. You need to ensure that you are fully protected from dangerous fumes and chemicals when re-entering your home. Start with thick clothing, protective gloves and a face mask. In extreme cases, you may have to use an oxygen tank.

2. Ventilate the house – It’s important to get fresh air moving through your home to clear out any residual smoke and begin to dry out your house. If you’re lucky, a windy day can really help as you open all your doors and windows. Otherwise, use strategically-placed fans to clear away any remaining smoke and standing water.

3. Preliminary cleaning – This is where expert fire damage restoration professionals can help you out the most. From removing soot, smoke and excess water with a high-efficiency vacuum and industrial equipment to scrubbing the inside and outside of your house, a professional service understands how to properly clean your house.

4. Restoring your home – Water damage can lead to mold, mildew and fungus problems if not handled immediately. While setting up dehumidifiers can help dry out your house temporarily, professional restoration companies have the best equipment and drying techniques to protect your home from any further damage. The last thing you need to deal with is mold remediation on top of everything else.

Who Can You Call?

With the emotional trauma of experiencing a house fire and the overwhelming task of restoring and reconstructing your home, contacting trained professionals is the smartest thing to do. At Paul Davis, we know how to properly assess the extent of the fire, water and smoke damage. In addition, our skilled team understands that fire and water damage restoration needs to be completed right away. If you have questions or want additional information on our restoration and reconstruction procedures, visit our website today.

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