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Fire, Preventative
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, three out of fire home fire deaths are a result of smoke alarms being absent or not working properly. 

1.) Choose interconnected smoke alarms, so that they all sound at once.
It’s important that your smoke alarms are interconnected. This will allow all the alarms to go off at once during a fire. This is important in case you are not near the source of the fire once it has ignited. In addition to being able to hear your alarms at any location in your house, interconnected smoke alarm systems usually will tell you which alarm was triggered first. This allows you to know where the fire started and where to avoid. 

2.) Put smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom and on every level of the home.
This tip speaks for itself. It’s important that there are smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom and on every level of your home to ensure that you and your family can hear the alarms sounding no matter where you are.

3.) Test your smoke alarms to make sure that they work.
Just because you have smoke alarms in place doesn’t mean that they will always work properly. You should test your smoke alarms regularly throughout the year to make sure that they are functioning properly. A good way to do this is to have a friend or family member stand as far away from the smoke alarm as possible and click the “Test” button. 

4.) Replace your smoke alarms every 10 years.
Like all technology, smoke alarms need to be replaced after a certain amount of time has passed. It is recommended that you replace your smoke alarms every 10 years to make sure that they operate the right way in the event of a fire. 

U.S. Fire Administration
BRK Electronics



As reported by the National Fire Protection Association, a fire department in the United States responds to a fire somewhere every 24 seconds. The best thing that you can do to avoid a house fire is take the proper preventative measures. Taking the time to make sure there aren’t any fire hazards around your home will greatly reduce the chances of a house fire. If you do find yourself in the middle of a house fire, it’s essential that you act fast. 

1.) Get a fire extinguisher.

If your alarm sounds, do not wait to see if there’s actually a fire or not. Fire spreads very quickly, so it’s important that you act fast. If you have a fire extinguisher nearby, you should grab it and put out the source of the fire. 

2.) Raise an alarm. 

You shouldn’t rely on your fire alarm to warn everyone of the fire. If there are other people in the house, you need to yell that there’s a fire and everyone needs to get out. 

3.) Get out of the house.

Your main objective should be to get you and everyone you live with out of the house. You should not stop to get any valuables. It’s important to remember that no material items are worth risking the lives of you and your loved ones. 

4.) Call 911.

Once you’re safely outside the house, you should call 911 immediately. Tell them how many people live in your house, how many are accounted for, if you have any pets in the house, and where you saw the fire in your house. It is important to remember that once you are out of the house, you should not re-enter the house under any circumstances. If you believe that someone else is still in the house, notify the fire department so that they can get them out. 

5.) Meet at specified meeting point.

If you have a pre-determined meeting point, you should make sure to get there as soon as possible. That way you will be able to account if everyone has made it out of the house or not. Meetings points usually are a neighbor’s house, sign, phone pole, tree etc. 

National Fire Protection Association



It is peak wildfire season in Central Oregon, and it is important that everyone is equipped with a plan of what to do if they ever happen to get stuck in the middle of one.  Since wildfires are often caused by people, they are impossible to predict when they are going to occur. It is important that you know if you live or are visiting a fire-prone area so that you can have a plan of what to do if ever faced with a wildfire. There are a few different actions that you can take that will greatly help your chance of making it out. 

1.) Do not try to outrun the fire.

Natural instincts would tell you to run away from the blaze as fast as you can, however this is one of the worst things that you can do. Fires double in size every minute, which makes them travel at an extremely fast pace. This makes it impossible to outrun a fire. Your best bet is to look for a body of water such as a pond, lake or river to crouch in.

2.) If you cannot find a body of water, find a clear, depressed area.

Unfortunately, there will not always be bodies of water nearby. If this is the case, your next best option is to find a clear, depressed area. Once you are as far away from any vegetation as possible, lie as low to the ground as you can and cover your body with wet clothing, blankets or soil. You will want to stay put until the fire completely passes.

3.) Breathe in the air closest to the ground.

The smoke given off by the fire can be very dangerous to breathe in. Due to this, you will want to get as close to the ground as possible to avoid as much smoke as you can (smoke rises). If possible, put a wet cloth over your mouth to breathe into. 

National Geographic


Fire, Preventative, Uncategorized

No one likes to think about the possibility of fire, flood, storm damage, or theft. But should such a disaster occur, you’d need to provide your insurance company with a detailed list of your belongings in order to be reimbursed for lost or damaged items. Without a home inventory prepared in advance, that list would need to be pieced together from memory. In the stressful aftermath of a disaster, could you count on your memory to recall what items have been lost and what they were worth? If not, you’ll likely get less compensation than you deserve. Now’s the time to compile that essential inventory so you can start the year with a greater sense of security that your personal property will be protected. Here, answer to all your questions about a home inventory—and helpful pointers on how to get it done.

Do You Really Need a Home Inventory?

It’s fairly easy to remember large items, such as big screen TVs and the grandfather’s clock in your living room, but could you name every necklace in your jewelry box without looking? If you had to list all your valuables after a natural disaster or property crime, it’s likely you wouldn’t remember all of them. And once you accept reimbursement from your insurance company, you can’t make additional claims. In addition to helping you file a claim that truly reflects the value of your property, a home inventory can be instrumental in obtaining more insurance coverage. If you collect original art, for instance, the value of your collection may well exceed your policy’s coverage limit for personal belongings. In that case, your home inventory can serve as evidence of the value of your collection, and you’ll be able to purchase a rider to your policy that specifically covers the art at a higher reimbursement value.

What Should a Home Inventory Include?

Just because your homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policy lists a maximum coverage amount for personal belongings, that doesn’t mean you’ll receive that amount after a loss. The reimbursement you receive depends on your ability to prove what items you owned, so in addition to a list of appliances, electronics, jewelry, and other valuables, you should briefly describe each individual item, including identifying the model and/or serial numbers as well as estimated value. To establish value, the inventory should include the original receipt or a copy. (If you file original receipts with your income tax papers, a copy should be kept with your home inventory.) Finally, a photo of each item should be included with the inventory as well

When Should You Compile an Inventory?

January is the ideal time to create or update your home inventory. The excitement of the holidays will be over yet you can still easily locate receipts from big-ticket purchases—many of which are made between Black Friday and Christmas. Get in the habit of addressing your home inventory needs every year at this time, and you’ll be protected in the event disaster strikes.

What Format Options Are Available?

The traditional method of creating a home inventory is to make a list of all your belongings on paper, supplementing it with photos, videos, valuations, and receipts. Because you’ll need access to the information in the event that your belongings are destroyed or stolen, if you choose to go this route, it’s wisest to store the inventory documents outside your home in a safety deposit box. A fireproof, waterproof home safe might keep the inventory intact through a natural disaster, but if the lockbox is stolen you’d be out of luck. Today’s technology offers another format for a home inventory that may be simpler to compile and safer to store. Mobile apps such as Sortly, which may be available for both iOS and Android devices, let you record each item’s photo, serial number, and purchase date, as well as add a description and a picture of the receipt. Best of all, your home inventory can be stored in a Cloud-based file, such as Dropbox. In addition to general home inventory apps, you may be able to use an insurer-specific app, depending on the company you’re insured with. Apps are available from major insurers, such as American Family and Allstate. Check with your insurance agent to see if they have a free home inventory app you can download

What’s the Best Way to Take Inventory?

The rule to remember when making a home inventory is: If it’s in your house, it has value. To make your home inventory, go room by room and detail all the belongings therein. If you’re including a paper copy, consider using a home inventory form, such as this one from Allstate. Your insurer can also provide a free form on request.

  • Start on one side of a room and systematically work your way around until you’ve documented every item in the room.
  • You need not document perishable food items and short-term supplies, such as pencils, paper, rubber bands, and other items that are used up quickly.
  • You need not document perishable food items and short-term supplies, such as pencils, paper, rubber bands, and other items that are used up quickly.
  • Photograph each wall in every room for item location purposes.
  • Take multiple photos of expensive items, such as computers, and when possible, get close-up shots of model numbers and serial numbers.
  • Open drawers and closets and document their contents.
  • Take close-up photos of receipts, or keep them with your inventory.
  • When a receipt isn’t available, document the year the item was purchased and its original cost.
  • Pace yourself so you don’t get overwhelmed. Allow one or more weekends to get through it all.

When Should a Home Inventory Be Updated?

Hold onto receipts from all major purchases you make throughout the year and update your home inventory annually, preferably around the first of the new year. Updating includes taking new room photos if you’ve moved items, in addition to recording new purchases and gifts. If the estimated value of your home inventory exceeds the maximum amount your insurance policy allows, contact your insurer and have your policy updated to reflect the additional value.

Source: https://www.bobvila.com/articles/home-inventory/


Fire, Preventative

Portable Heater Safety for the Chilly Months Ahead

Small space heaters are typically used when the main heating system is inadequate or when central heating is too costly to install or operate. In some cases, small space heaters can be less expensive to use if you only want to heat one room or supplement inadequate heating in one room. They can also boost the temperature of rooms used by individuals who are sensitive to cold, especially elderly persons, without overheating your entire home. Space heater capacities generally range between 10,000 Btu and 40,000 Btu per hour, and commonly run on electricity, propane, natural gas, and kerosene (see wood and pellet heating for information on wood and pellet stoves). Although most space heaters work by convection (the circulation of air in a room), some rely on radiant heating. Radiant heaters emit infrared radiation that directly heats objects and people within their line of sight, and are a more efficient choice when you will be in a room for only a few hours and can stay within the line of sight of the heater. They can also be more efficient when you will be using a room for a short period because they save energy by directly heating the occupant of the room and the occupant’s immediate surroundings rather than the whole room. Safety is a top consideration when using space heaters. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of space heaters, resulting in more than 300 deaths. In addition, an estimated 6,000 people receive hospital emergency room care for burn injuries associated with contacting the hot surfaces of room heaters, mostly in non-fire situations. When buying and installing a small space heater, follow these guidelines:
  • Only purchase newer model heaters that have all of the current safety features. Make sure the heater carries the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label.
  • Choose a thermostatically controlled heater, because they avoid the energy waste of overheating a room.
  • Select a heater of the proper size for the room you wish to heat. Do not purchase oversized heaters. Most heaters come with a general sizing table.
  • Locate the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic. Be especially careful to keep children and pets away from the heater.

Vented and Unvented Combustion Space Heaters

Space heaters are classified as vented and unvented or “vent-free.” Unvented combustion units are not recommended for use inside your home, because they introduce unwanted combustion products into the living space—including nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and water vapor—and deplete air in the space. Most states have banned unvented kerosene heaters for use in the home and at least five have banned the use of unvented natural gas heaters. Vented units are designed to be permanently located next to an outside wall, so that the flue gas vent can be installed through a ceiling or directly through the wall to the outside. Look for sealed combustion or “100% outdoor air” units, which have a duct to bring outside into the combustion chamber. Sealed combustion heaters are much safer to operate than other types of space heaters, and operate more efficiently because they do not draw in the heated air from the room and exhaust it to the outdoors. They are also less likely to backdraft and adversely affect indoor air quality. Less expensive (and less efficient) units use the room air for combustion. They do not have a sealed glass front to keep room air away from the fire and should not be confused with a sealed combustion heater. In addition to the manufacturer’s installation and operating instructions, you should follow these general safety guidelines for operating any combustion space heater:
  • For liquid-fueled heaters, use only the approved fuel. Never use gasoline! Follow the manufacturer’s fueling instructions. Never fill a heater that is still hot. Do not overfill the heater — you must allow for the expansion of the liquid. Only use approved containers clearly marked for that particular fuel, and store them outdoors.
  • Have vented space heaters professionally inspected every year. If the heater is not vented properly, not vented at all, or if the vent is blocked, separated, rusted, or corroded, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide (CO) can enter the home causing sickness and death. CO also can be produced if the heater is not properly set up and adjusted for the type of gas used and the altitude at which it is installed.

Electric Space Heaters

Electric space heaters are generally more expensive to operate than combustion space heaters, but they are the only unvented space heaters that are safe to operate inside your home. Although electric space heaters avoid indoor air quality concerns, they still pose burn and fire hazards and should be used with caution. For convection (non-radiant) space heaters, the best types incorporate a heat transfer liquid, such as oil, that is heated by the electric element. The heat transfer fluid provides some heat storage, allowing the heater to cycle less and to provide a more constant heat source. When buying and installing an electric space heater, you should follow these general safety guidelines:
  • Electric heaters should be plugged directly into the wall outlet. If an extension cord is necessary, use the shortest possible heavy-duty cord of 14-gauge wire or larger. Always check and follow any manufacturer’s instructions pertaining to the use of extension cords.
  • Buy a unit with a tip-over safety switch, which automatically shuts off the heater if the unit is tipped over.
If you have any questions about Fire Safety, feel free to contact Spectrum Building & Restoration at 541-385-0752.

You’ve heard all of the preventative steps, you’ve prepped your employees, and your building is up to code. However, the easiest prevention methods are usually the most overlooked. Some of the biggest ways to avoid needing fire damage reconstruction services are usually some of the quickest to check. Inspect these things today and be sure to set reminders accordingly:
  • Smoke Detectors. Safety experts say that you should check these at least once a month and replace the batteries once a year, or as needed.
  • Fire Extinguishers. See the directions on your fire extinguisher to see when it expires and who you can call to replace your extinguishers. Extinguishers can last anywhere from five to fifteen years. Also, depending on your fire marshal’s standards, you may have to have your extinguisher certified.
  • Fire Exits and Exit Signs. Can guests clearly see exit signs? Can they easily get to them? Consider having a fire drill to ensure guests and employees can easily get out of the building in the event of an emergency. Practice regularly.
  • See any State or Local Guidelines. There are some local and state guidelines that businesses have to follow to stay up to code. Take a minute to read up on these laws or talk to your local fire marshal to learn about the guidelines

Fire, Preventative

No matter where you live—house, apartment, dorm room, mobile home—one factor remains constant: There never seem to be enough power outlets. This may explain the popularity of multi-outlet power strips, which provide additional outlets and also let you control

  1. Refrigerators and Freezers

    Refrigerator power strip
    Large appliances like refrigerators require a lot of power and frequently cycle on and off, which can easily overload a power strip. These devices should be plugged directly into a wall outlet dedicated solely to powering the appliance. If you try to plug additional appliances into the same outlet, you risk tripping the circuit.  


    Microwave power strip
      The microwave is a miracle of modern food preparation, thawing, cooking, and reheating food in a fraction of the time it takes a conventional oven. But all that marvelous activity requires more energy than a power strip can provide. Like a conventional electric oven, the microwave should have its own dedicated power outlet.

    Coffee Makers

    Coffee maker power strip
      You may not think that your morning cup of joe requires that much energy to brew, but most coffee makers need quite bit of amperage to turn those roasted beans into a hot beverage. Plug your coffee maker directly into the outlet or you run the risk of waking up to a half-brewed pot of coffee.  


    Toaster power strip
      If you’ve ever peered into a toaster to remove a particularly stubborn piece of broken crust, you know that the inside is basically a bunch of wires that heat up to red-hot temperatures to toast the bread. The current draw that those wires require can easily cause a power strip to overheat. This same issue affects toaster ovens, electric skillets, and waffle irons as well.

    Slow Cookers and Hot Plates

    Crockpot power strip
      You might think you’re one clever cook when you plug your slow cooker into a power strip to free up outlet space for other countertop appliances, but you’d be wrong. These cooking appliances require more juice over a longer period of time than a power strip can handle. And because the appeal of a slow cooker is that it can operate without supervision, you definitely want to make sure it is safely plugged into a wall outlet to minimize any hazardous outcomes.

    Hair-Care Appliances

    Hair appliances power strip
    It takes a tremendous amount of electricity to power your hair dryers, curling wands, and flat irons. In fact, to prevent the circuit breaker from tripping, any hairdressing accessory that operates with heat should be plugged directly into a wall outlet—preferably a GFCI outlet to avoid the danger of accidental water exposure, a common bathroom hazard.  

    Portable Heaters and Air Conditioners

    Portable heater power strip
    Portable heaters and air conditioners are designed to cycle on and off, and they draw a large amount of current when they switch on. This activity can overload a power strip and either trip the circuit breaker or cause dangerous overheating. For that reason, these appliances should always be plugged into a dedicated outlet.

    Sump Pumps

    Sump pump
    A sump pump is often the last defense for a dry basement in the event of flooding. Because most power strips are not designed to be used in damp or wet conditions, they’re unsuitable for use with a sump pump. Instead, plug a sump pump into a GFCI outlet, preferably one installed some height above the floor in case flooding ever does occur.

    Air Compressors

    Air compressor power strip
    Portable air compressors are handy household helpers for the ambitious DIYer, but they draw a huge amount of energy on start-up. Rather than overloading a power strip, stick to a heavy-duty, properly rated extension cord to get the maximum use and benefit from your air tools.

    Another Power Strip

    Power strip
    Power strips are not meant to be used in conjunction with one another. In fact, plugging multiple power strips together, which is known as “daisy-chaining,” is the quickest way to overload your electrical system—and it’s also dangerous and violates most fire safety codes. For the same reason, avoid the use of extension cords with power strips. If you find yourself short of outlets, try unplugging one device before you plug another one in—or cut the cord and find power-free alternatives to your household appliances. If you have more questions about some of the items posted here, feel free to call Spectrum at 541-385-0752

The death of a family of fourfrom Iowa at a property in Mexico has illustrated the potentially lethal hazards when renting a home or condominium for vacation. Authorities say Kevin and Amy Sharp and their two children were found dead on March 23 after they inhaled a toxic gas in their vacation rental in Tulum.
Websites like Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO), which rented the condo to the Sharp family, indicate that the company is not responsible for the condition of the property. So how do you know if a vacation rental property is safe for your family? TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen spoke with an expert who provided three things you should do the moment you first arrive at your vacation rental in order to protect your family.
Experts believe the toxic gas that killed the Sharp family was most likely carbon monoxide, which is tasteless, odorless and invisible. Dave Hamilton with the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy in New Jersey noted to Rossen how it’s not possible to tell that a hot water heater is leaking gas even by standing right next to it. So there is a crucial item to bring on vacation – a carbon monoxide detector. Hamilton suggests mounting a battery-operated or plug-in carbon monoxide detector, which can be purchased for under $30, right outside the room that contains the furnace and water heater. Those are usually the common generation points for carbon monoxide. In many popular vacation destinations in foreign countries, carbon monoxide detectors are not necessarily required by law.
“One of the best things you can do is take one, and put it in your suitcase,” Hamilton told Rossen. “Travel with it. They’re going to protect you.” Another potential danger in vacation rentals is fire, as you would have no idea if the home you rented is up to code. Hamilton suggests immediately learning where the fire extinguisher in the rental is located and double-checking so that you know how to get to it quickly in case of an emergency. Hamilton’s third tip is making sure you know where all the exits to the home are located so that you have a fire escape plan. “Not just the front door, you need to know where the secondary exits are,” he said. “For example, there’s a doorway hidden behind this curtain and there’s also another doorway half way down the stairs that you would not be able to find in thick black smoke.” Three simple steps – bringing carbon monoxide detector, locating the fire extinguisher and knowing all the exits – can make sure your family can fully relax on vacation.