ServiceMaster Experts Weigh in: Majority of House Fires Occur in December; Cooking is Leading Cause
Transitioning to cooler temperatures means more time spent indoors, more home cooked meals and, unfortunately, the beginning of the most common month for house fires. ServiceMaster Restore, the leader in emergency fire and water damage cleanup and part of the ServiceMaster (NYSE: SERV) family of brands, recently polled more than 350 franchise owners across the country, revealing alarming insights about Americans’ lack of preparedness when it comes to fires.
According to the 2014 ServiceMaster Restore Franchise Fire Prevention Survey, December is the most common month for house fires, with cooking as the leading cause ― making one of the happiest times of the year for homeowners also among the riskiest.
Nearly all ServiceMaster Restore franchisees (97 percent) agreed that homeowners are inadequately prepared for a cooking-related fire, with 85 percent believing that most homeowners don’t even own a fire extinguisher. In fact, according to 94 percent of the experts, most homeowners don’t have a fire evacuation plan in place.
Homeowners are even less prepared to deal with the aftermath of a fire, making two common costly errors. According to the survey, 86 percent of ServiceMaster experts say many homeowners attempt to clean fire-damaged areas themselves, which can cause more damage to belongings; 82 percent say homeowners discard burned items without taking an inventory of the damage, which causes them to lose valuable records of their personal property.
“Over the course of more than 50 years in business, we’ve seen it all when it comes to house fires,” says Kim Brooks, President at ServiceMaster DSI. “The truth is, while every situation is different, there is one constant: People are largely unprepared to prevent or manage the aftermath of a fire.”
In an effort to keep families in Kansas City, Missouri, Chicago, Illinois and across the entire midwest safe this holiday season, ServiceMaster DSI is providing its expert tips to ensure that this holiday season is a safe one:
Put Safety First
In the event of a fire, put safety, not your possessions, first. Assess your surroundings to judge whether it’s safe to evacuate. If possible, evacuate immediately, even if it requires leaving behind important belongings.
Protect Yourself and Your Family
In the event of a fire, there is usually limited time to react. One of the best things you can do to prepare for a fire is to develop an evacuation plan and make sure everyone in your household knows exactly what that is.
Protect Your Investment
Practicing preparedness year-round is a good rule to follow. Make it a habit to review insurance policies and important homeowner documents every year, saving electronic copies in your email files so you can easily access them if the originals or hard copies are destroyed.
Assess the Damage
In most cases, the occurrence of a fire is sudden. Be sure to take every fire alarm seriously and prepare yourself to the best of your ability beforehand. If you have to evacuate, do it. If you need help during the cleanup aftermath, call a professional restoration company like ServiceMaster DSI with locations in Kansas City, St. Joseph, Springfield, MO, Chicago metro area, Rockford, Princeton, Kankakee, Champaign and Springfield, IL with the experience, training and resources to work with you and your insurance company to help restore your home. Remember that sometimes the “D-I-Y” cleanup approach following a fire can worsen the damage and lead to unnecessary expenses.
For expert tips and information on how to prevent and recover from a fire, visit servicemasterdsi.com. For immediate emergency fire and water damage cleanup, call a live ServiceMaster Restore operator at 1-800-954-9444.
The 2014 ServiceMaster Restore Franchise Fire Prevention Survey presents the findings of an online survey conducted by ServiceMaster Restore from September 15-24, 2014 among a sample of 351 ServiceMaster franchise owners across the U.S. The margin of error for a sample of this size is ± 5 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Some numbers may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding.