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Fall Back

The end of daylight saving time, November 1, means more than turning back the clocks. ServiceMaster Restore is reminding people that this is also the time of year to change the batteries in your smoke detectors and ensure that you and your family are following best fire safety practices this holiday season.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the majority of house fires are caused by cooking, which tends to increase during the last few months of the year when it's cooler and people are spending more time indoors prepping for the holidays. In an effort to keep families safe during the holidays, Peter Duncanson, director of system development with ServiceMaster Restore and chairman of the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), is sharing expert tips to ensure a disaster-free season.


Change batteries in every smoke detector and test them to make sure they are working. This is also an important time of year to ensure your fire extinguisher is in working order. Too often they are kept tucked away and it's easy to forget to inspect them. Check for corrosion, missing pull-pins and changes in the pressure gauge.


Develop an emergency evacuation plan, keep a map of it in plain sight, and practice an evacuation drill with the entire family, including your pets. Assign one person (an adult or parent) to keep track of the cat or dog, so that everyone isn't looking for a beloved pet during an emergency.


Identify two ways out of each room in your home and have the necessary tools on hand to evacuate through a window, if necessary. If there are multiple exits out of your home, make sure they're all clear of furniture and clutter.


Surge protectors are meant to protect your electronics from surges, not give you the opportunity to overload an electrical outlet, which can spark a fire. Also make sure that no cords are frayed or cracked.


Temperatures in the fall vary, so many avoid turning on the heat by starting a fire in the fireplace or turning on a space heater. Before cozying up by a fire, make sure your chimney has been inspected -- and before turning on a space heater, make sure there's nothing (and no one) within three feet of it. It's better to bundle up than put you and your family at risk with a premature fire or ill-placed space heater.

Duncanson has spent nearly 30 years in the disaster restoration business with ServiceMaster Restore, recovering and professionally cleaning salvageable items, as well as clearing homes and businesses of damaged items that remain.

"One of the most common problems we see with people who have dealt with a house fire is lack of preparedness," says Duncanson. "Everyone learns basic fire safety in school and at work, but few are practicing it at home with their loved ones. And when people do have a house fire, many don't know what to do after it. Fortunately, that's where ServiceMaster Restore comes in."

If you need assistance on cleaning up after a fire, call ServiceMaster Restoration by Wills.