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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Archived Fire Damage Blog Posts

Make an Escape Plan For Your Dekalb Home

6/8/2020 (Permalink)

In the past 40 years, escaping from a fire has dropped from 17 minutes to less than 3 minutes due to the evolution of materials in modern homes. This makes it vital to create and practice an emergency escape plan. Home fires are the single most common disaster across the nation, but only 26% of Americans have developed an escape plan for a fire.

When developing your plan, here are a few suggestions:

  • Draw a map of each level in your home. Locate all the doors, windows, and identify two ways to exit each room
  • Consider a collapsible escape ladder for your second and third floors. You should only buy them from a recognized testing laboratory
  • Choose an outside meeting place. It should be in front of your home, but also a safe distance away from the fire. Some examples include: Neighbor’s house, light post, mailbox, or stop sign
  • If your doors or windows have security bars, make sure the bars have emergency release devices inside so they can be opened immediately. Please note that emergency release devices do not compromise your security
  • Teach children how to escape on their own in case you cannot help them

Pets are a part of your family too. Half of a million pets are affected by home fires each year. Here are a few tips to creating an escape plan for your animal(s):

  • Pets will be afraid. Put your dog on a leash and keep your cat in a carrier. This will secure them with you and prevent them from fleeing
  • Identify your pet’s favorite hiding place ahead of time, as this is where they will most likely be hiding if a fire starts
  • Post “pet rescue stickers” to a front window, in an easy-to-spot location. The decal includes number of pets in your home, so rescuers know who to look for when entering
  • When you are not home, contain them near an exit. It will provide a better chance of firefighters finding your animal.

If your home experiences a fire, this is the time when you need us most, so that is why we are a 24-hour business. SERVPRO of Dekalb will provide you and your family with quality solutions to your loss and guide you through our process every step of the way. For any questions or to schedule our service, call our office: (815) 758-3900.

Learn about Dekalb.

Soot Safety After a Fire in Dekalb

5/28/2020 (Permalink)

Picture this: An accidental fire has started in your beautiful Dekalb home and you’re forced to quickly evacuate. Through the chaos and uncertainty, you and your loved ones have safely exited the home and are now a good distance away from the scorching flames. Everyone is now waiting outside as the rescue team fights to extinguish the fire. The firefighters were able to extinguish the flames and saved your home from burning down. They have determined your home is structurally sound enough for you to go back inside, but is your home really safe again?

As if dealing with a house fire was not enough, once the initial danger has passed, you have to deal with soot which has spread throughout your home. Soot is made of tiny carbon particles created by incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. It contains a lot of hazardous materials which give off an ugly sight and foul smell. This can be quite harmful to you and your family and may cause health effects. 

Soot exposure is a serious matter and it’s vital to ensure the soot-affected area has been properly cleaned by professionals. Statistics from a 2017 study, in JAMA, show that particle exposure leads to around 20,000 deaths in the United States each year. In fact, soot related diseases are the culprit of many of them. It has been the main cause of 300,000 asthma attack and two million lost workdays. Don’t let your home fire and its soot particles become one of these statistics.

Although safety risks from fires do not end once the flames are out, there are ways you can still bring your Dekalb home back to a safe environment. SERVPRO of Dekalb is here to offer the fire restoration services your home needs after a horrendous disaster. We are the trained professionals and know how to properly bring your home back to preloss conditions. Feel free to call us with any questions or schedule your services (815) 758-3900. Also consider reading more about an Emergency Escape Plan to prepare for this kind of disaster.

Learn more about Dekalb.

Close Before You Doze: Life Saving Habit For Your Dekalb Home

3/23/2020 (Permalink)

Close Before You Doze is a public fire safety campaign promoted by The UL Firefighter Safety Research. It has been proven during a fire, a closed door can make the difference between 100 degrees and 1,000 degrees. This significant difference has promoted the habit of sleeping with doors closed. It can help add critical time to your escape if a fire were to happen.

This is especially important with the “evolving fire environment”, caused by the increase use of synthetics in modern homes. According to research, forty years ago, the average time needed to escape a burning home was seventeen minutes. Today, the evolving fire environment has caused it to drop to only three minutes. The change in construction materials, furnishings and open layouts, has caused drastic reduction time. These factors allow the fire to spread and become more toxic much quicker.

It is common for people to want to leave the door open whether they have kids or do not think a door can make a significant difference. In fact, only 29% of people always sleep with their door closed. Therefore, it is very important for families to understand the lifesaving difference a closed door will make.

A fire needs heat, fuel, and oxygen to grow. So, when a door is closed, it limits the fire’s resources to spread. Furthermore, when a door is closed, not as much carbon monoxide will enter the room. This will keep the oxygen at a breathable level for additional time. The reduction of toxic smoke, improved oxygen levels, and decreased room temperatures will give you more time to escape the fire just by simply closing your door.

Closing the door when you go to sleep is one thing, but if there is an actual fire, it is critical to know the next steps of determining if the door is safe to open. First, you should look for smoke coming through the cracks in the door. If there is smoke, do not open the door. Next, gently touch the door to see if it is hot. If it is hot, do not open the door. Checking the door should be part of your escape plan. Make sure your family has established and rehearsed a plan to exit a burning fire.

Learn more about Dekalb.

Cozy Up to Fireplace Safety in Dekalb

3/11/2020 (Permalink)

Fireplaces can add the ambiance of warmth and tranquility to your Dekalb home on a chilly Sunday morning. It is important to remember if you don’t take care of your fireplace, your warmth and tranquility, can quickly turn into a nightmare. And it can all start with the cleanliness of your chimney.

One of the best ways to prevent a disaster is to keep your fireplace clean. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 30% of heating fires are a result of unclean chimneys and equipment. This is due to a substance called creosote. Creosote is a byproduct of wood combustion that consists mainly of tar. Traces of this substance are found in the smoke that rises from open flames. When smoke is rising to the top of your chimney, it will mix with cold air and water to solidify and stick to the chimney liner. Creosote is not something that fixes itself either. It grows in a self-perpetuating cycle since it accumulates when there is lack of ventilation. This is a huge hazard because creosote is extremely flammable and can cause a destructive, deadly house fire.

            Creosote forms naturally, so there is no way to completely avoid it while using your fireplace. Small amounts of presence of creosote is not the issues, it’s the buildup of this substance that is problematic. There are three stages of creosote buildup and here is how you can appropriately respond to each stage to get the best cleaning. When you decide it’s time to clean your chimney, ensure you use a trained professional.

  1. State One- A small amount of creosote is present and has a thin, flaky texture. At this stage, the coating can easily be brushed away by a technician using a specialized brush.
  2. Stage Two- A medium size amount of creosote is present which consents of more tar and soot. At this stage, it is a little tougher to remove the substance. To remove it, it would be most beneficial to use a rotary loop tool attached to a drill.
  3. Stage Three- A large amount of creosote is present which is very concentrated. It can feel either sticky and oily or hard and shiny depending if the coating is fresh. At this stage, it may actually be more cost-effective to simply replace the chimney liner than try to clean it.

Although there is no way to completely avoid creosote, you can take simple actions to slow the process of its buildup. Consider the following tips:

  • Only use dry, seasoned wood in your chimney. This is wood that has been left to dry for at least 6 months
  • Never burn artificial logs because they produce more combustion byproduct than regular wood
  • Make sure your fire has an adequate amount of air
  • Schedule an annual chimney cleaning and inspection

Unfortunately, sometimes disaster still happen despite taking the steps to prevent an accident. If your Dekalb home has experienced a fire due to creosote buildup, don’t feel you’re in this alone. We are the certified fire restoration experts and know how to bring your home back to preloss conditions. You can count on us to immediately assess the damages and begin the remediation and restoration process. For services or any questions, call our office (847) 758 3900

Learn more about Dekalb

Local church needed help

1/14/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Dekalb County was called to a local church that had a fire due to a accident by a contractor working on the building. The contractor was applying siding to the building  and exposed some electrical wires that then caught fire. The church also housed a daycare for the small community and needed to get reopened ASAP. The daycare was critical to the needs of the community. SERVPRO arrived the day of the fire and went right to work. They worked closely with the council of the church and local contractors. They got the church and its contents cleaned. Some of the challenges they incurred were dealt with in a quick manner and they got the church back open for their big fall celebration. They also had additional deadlines to meet for the daycare portion of the building. SERVPRO of Dekalb county worked well with all involved and has since been referred other work from the council of the church. 

Smoke is just as bad as fire

3/11/2019 (Permalink)

My husband is not a cook and truthfully rarely tries. He did attempt to make us some dinner one night and probably will not do that again for a while. He "forgot" to watch the pan on the stove and let it boil dry. It caused severe smoke in our home. We had smoke and soot everywhere. We called SERVPRO of DeKalb County to come in and clean it up for us. We had no idea that smoke could leave such mess and the smell. SERVPRO crews knew this and got right to work. They had not only our home taken care of but also all of our contents. I appreciated my husband trying to help out but maybe next time he just orders pizza. 

Spcae Heaters

2/7/2019 (Permalink)

We recently had quite a cold snap in our area. The temps reached -56 degrees at several points over a few days. Our old home was not made for those temps and we had to use space heaters to help in our bedrooms. I was very nervous to use a space heater and it turns out rightfully so! Our heater shorted out and luckily we were home when it sparked a small fire. Our family was luck enough to get out but it did cause some damage to our home and much smoke damage throughout. We called SERVPRO of DeKalb County per our agents referral and they came right out to help. They went right to work and never stopped moving even in such extreme conditions. We were at our neighbors home with our kids and animals and watched them from across the street. The efficient way they handle the scene was impressive. We met with them and they came us a detailed plan of how they would help us. We will be back in our home in no time and will never again use a space heater!

Fire in our Mother in Law suite

1/17/2019 (Permalink)

We recently had a small fire in the "mother in law suite" in our home. We have a family member staying there for a short time and she had too many things plugged into the outlet. While there wasn't too much damage from the fire there was smoke and soot on everything in the area not to mention the whole house. We called SERVPRO of Dekalb County on the recommendation of our agent. They came right out and got to work. We had quite of bit of contents that were effected and it didn't phase them at all. They had things packed up and the structure cleaned in no time at all. They were professional and knowledgeable. We couldn't believe the difference when they took things off the wall to clean. The whole process went smooth and we are back into a fresh clean home. 

Not such a bright christmas

11/28/2018 (Permalink)

We had never had a real Christmas tree before. This year we broke down to the kids asking for one and did the whole tree farm experience. We went our the week of thanksgiving and found the perfect tree. We gave our son the job of making sure it had water each day since he was the one that wanted a real tree so badly. Well I guess I should have followed up with that better because at some point I noticed how dry it was. I expressed my concerns to my husband but he said it would be fine. He was wrong. We went out shopping and received a frantic call from my child that said the tree was on fire. They had called 911 and the Fire Dept was on the way,while we rushed home. We were fortunate that it was mostly smoke but we called SERVPRO out and they went right to work. Our home was back to normal and smelling fresh in time for our family celebrations. We learned our lesson and will probably stick with a very "realistic" artificial tree from now on.

Fire in my rental occupied by hoarders

11/12/2018 (Permalink)

I own a rental home in a town about 25 minutes from my home. I had "trouble" with the homes tenants and had to end our relationship by giving them a 5 day eviction notice. On the night before they were to be out I received a call during the night that there had been a fire in the home. I quickly got out of bed and went to the home. After the fire dept had given the all clear they said I could enter the home. Once I was in I was overwhelmed needless to say. Not only had the home been damaged by fire and smoke there wasn't but a small clear path anywhere insight. I had no idea where to start. One of the firemen suggested I call SERVPRO of DeKalb county to help. They came out and boarded up the windows and doors that needed to be closed up and met with me to go over the proper procedure. We all came back and meet with the insurance adjusters in the daylight. I also had a legal obligation to work with the tenants ever though they were being evicted. I know that SERVPRO also met with them regarding the contents of the home. After much leg work and messy logistics we had a plan in place for getting this taken care of for both parties. I would say at the end of the day we were all happy with the outcome. I own a couple of dozen commercial and residential properties and now who to call if something would happen again. 

So Much Smoke

10/8/2018 (Permalink)

My 12 year old son decided he was going to do something nice for this single mom and make me breakfast one Saturday. Well we both got so much more then we bargained for that day. He gets an "A" for effort but unfortunately had some trouble with the eggs, bacon and toast. All of that resulted in a very small kitchen fire but the smoke amount was not small! Our local fire dept. recommended SERVPRO of DeKalb County to come out and help us. They SERVPRO team walked us thru the house pointing out so many different things that we hadn't even thought of to clean. I truly had just thought we were going to have to do some laundry and open up some windows for a while. (Not always a good thing in Northern Illinois in the fall) They care and took such great care with our belongings that I knew it would all be good soon for us. We are now back in our home and everything is so fresh and clean. On another note we have enrolled my son in a cooking class thru the local park district for future cooking tries! 

Heavy rains doesn't mean less fires

3/6/2018 (Permalink)

More water is not less fire

I have noticed this personally talking with people over the years and it is a common misconception is in the spring there is less fires because of all the rain. We tend to think what would be considered logically which is that all that extra moisture means trees are wet, our homes are wetter on the exterior and that the wood in our homes has more moisture in it from the extra moisture in the air. There is some truth to that as those that live in humid climates and warmer climates will find their doors swell and won't shut all the way but that doesn't stop the common causes of fires. Statistically there is no month that really just dominates the statistics as being the fire heavy month. The truth is it breaks out pretty even from month to month and that is because of the common factor in many home fires. The most common causes is Cooking, Heating, Candles, and Smokers. The heat is generally off during the summer but Cooking is generally regarded as the #1 cause of fires. Also smokers don't just smoker certain months and we tend to burn candles throughout the year as well because we love the smell of them. So yes there is more water but the most common causes of home fires are done throughout the year and we should be cautious of all those causes throughout the whole year. As an extra precaution if you do not have a fire extinguisher may I suggest getting one and let all family members know where it is. Not sure what one to get? Your local fire department would be more than willing to assist you in this area. And I truly hope you never need to use it. And many won't but if you should suffer damage from a fire our fire restoration technicians can help you throughout the process and get you home restored "Like it never even happened."

Fire Damage? Call SERVPRO of Dekalb County at (815)758-3900

Fireplace Safety

2/8/2018 (Permalink)

Staying warm

Winter time is when a lot of people will use their fireplace to help warm up the house. A fireplace can be economical and produce a fair amount of heat. Other people like it as well. I know when I go out of my house and smell someone using a fireplace in the area I get that "Ah someone has their fireplace going" feeling and think about how relaxing it is to sit in front of a nice fire in the fireplace. However the fireplace does need to be maintained and used properly to prevent fires and other issues. 

Some tips

  • Always use a screen guard. The screen will keep some of those popping embers from making it out away from the fireplace
  • If you have glass doors on the fireplace have them open as closed smothers the fire and creates extra creosote in the chimney
  • Have the chimney inspected each year for cleanliness and animals that may have nested. They do make caps to help keep them from getting in yet let the smoke get out. If the smoke can't get out then the carbon monoxide from the fire can't get out which can be life threatening. There are around 4000 deaths a year from carbon monoxide poisoning and a majority of these are from poorly vented fireplaces or fireplaces with the vents or flues closed.
  • Use only dry wood and not wet wood. Wet wood makes considerably more smoke.
  • Never assume the fire is out. Coals can remain hot or smoldering along for days
  • Keep a window cracked just a little for ventilation.
  • ALWAYS make sure the flue is open
  • Make sure you have carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in your home. People will start a fire but then go elsewhere throughout the house and this is a warning system something is wrong and is for your safety. SAFETY FIRST!
  • Keep a fire extinguisher on hand and where everyone knows where it is

Be safe with your fireplace. It is a nice thing to have and with a few simple precautions will be trouble free and safe to use. Just like so many things being careful can help prevent accidents. Stay warm and be safe.

Need Fire Restoration? Call SERVPRO of Dekalb County at (815)758-3900

Winter Fire Warning

1/10/2018 (Permalink)

More Structure Fires In Winter

There are more overall fires in other seasons but there are more structure fires in winter with many of these structures being homes. Why? Many reasons. The weather and thus air is more dry as is the wood our homes are made from. With less moisture things are more flammable. And it is winter season so we hang our lights for Christmas thus giving a possible ignition source. We put up our tree and if it is a real tree we water through Christmas but many people quit thinking about the tree after Christmas and quit watering it. You would think pre-Christmas would be the highest time for tree fires in homes but statistics actually show it to be the second week of January. I know what you are thinking - "They still have there trees up in January!!" It is easier to let time slide by and here is the tree that hasn't been watered for two weeks. Get the tree out as soon as possible to help reduce the risk. Another common winter fire issue is portable heaters. It is easy to forget they are on or to set something in front of them that gets warm enough to ignite. All that is needed for the home fire is just that first spark. 

Be Careful

So what we are saying is be careful. Be aware of possible fire sources and take proper precautions. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure as they say. Make sure to shut off the space heater when you are not around it. And as added safety have a working fire extinguisher in the house. Not sure how to use it? Go to the local fire department and they will gladly give you extinguisher training or tell you when the next class is. Be safe.

Fire Damage? Call us at SERVPRO of Dekalb County (815)758-3900 

I've heard it a million times

11/7/2017 (Permalink)

Smoke alarms

We've been told many times and to some of us it seems like a million times but it still needs repeating because we ignore what we are told. Just like we will warn our children over and over again about something that could harm them but we repeat it because we love them and do not want to see them hurt. So we at SERVPRO of Dekalb County are telling you because we don't want to see anyone hurt is have smoke alarms installed in your house. And a good rule of thumb is the first of every month is just test the alarm to make sure it is working. We keep hearing about smoke alarms but so many houses don't have one in them or have batteries that are dead. It is a good thing to have in the house to notify you of a fire so that every one can get out of the house safely. And that is what we want for all of you. We hope you do not have a fire but if you should the first and foremost thing is you and your family are safe. The house and the things in it is where fire restoration comes in. Keep yourself and your family safe and install a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm if you do not have them and check them regularly.

Had a fire and need our fire restoration services? Call us at SERVPRO of Dekalb County (815)758-3900 

Some common causes of house fires

11/7/2017 (Permalink)

Cooking

Cooking is the number one cause of home fires. Grease fires are common and to put it out DO NOT use water. Put the pan lid on to smother it or use baking soda or use a Class B fire extinguisher which uses a chemical instead of a water base. Also when near an open flame watch the oven mitts and towels near it when reaching for pans. I seen this happen on a cooking competition on tv where the cook caught their mitt on fire not paying attention so it can happen to anyone including those whose job is to cook and do it safely. 

Candles

We get so used to them burning as they are off to the side and burn so long that we don't always think about them when going to bed so make sure to snuff them out when going to bed. Also be aware of what is around the candle. Keep it a safe distance away from things that could ignite from the candle. 

Electrical

Do not overload outlets which is a more common problem than ever as we all have so many electrical based items in our houses now. Also watch for old and frayed cords and replace them if needed.

Heating

Be aware of your space heaters if you have them and keep things a safe distance away. The heat radiates out so it may be ok initially but then it continues to warm and get hotter and hotter until a fire starts. If you aren't sure if its far enough away be safe and move whatever it is a little further away.

Be Safe

It never hurts to double check things. Not sure you blew out the candle? Quick double check for safety insures you did.

Fire Damage? Call us at SERVPRO of Dekalb County (815)758-3900 

Educate Children About Fire

10/26/2017 (Permalink)

A Personal Experience

My Uncle's house burnt down back in 1981 because of this very thing of a child playing with fire. My 6 yr old cousin had taken one of the lighters around the house and gone to his bedroom and was lighting it in the closet. It caught the clothes above him on fire which then the fire quickly got out of control and burnt  up most of the house before it got put out.

Educate To Prevent

It is important to let kids know just how quickly fires get out of control. We teach them the stove is hot and don't touch but many kids (and I know I was the same) see fire and there is a certain interest in it. The flame can look so small but we as adults know how quickly that flame can become a fire. Take the time to let them know what can happen and when possible keep any lighters or anything else that could start a fire out of their reach.

Had Fire Damage? Contact us at SERVPRO of Dekalb County (815)758-3900

DeKalb County Smoke and Soot Clean up

7/20/2017 (Permalink)

Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.  

Smoke and soot facts:

  • Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
  • Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
  • The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.

Different Types of Smoke

There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of DeKalb County will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Here is some additional information:

Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber

  • Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.

Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood

  • Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.

Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire

  • Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor. 

Our Fire Damage Restoration Services

Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions.  We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage.  We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.

Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today –815758-3900

Fire Damage to our home

6/21/2017 (Permalink)

Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.  

Smoke and soot facts:

  • Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
  • Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
  • The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.

Different Types of Smoke

There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of Dekalb County will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Here is some additional information:

Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber

  • Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.

Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood

  • Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.

Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire

  • Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor. 

Our Fire Damage Restoration Services

Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions.  We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage.  We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.

Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today -815-758-3900

I had know idea where to start

6/5/2017 (Permalink)

I recently had a fire in my home. I had no idea that so many decisions had to be made after such a traumatic event or that I was going to be asked so many questions. I admit as everything was happening around me all I could hear was noise and was totally overwhelmed. When the local fire department suggested to me to call the local SERVPRO franchise I said yes without even really knowing what I was saying yes to. Well boy am I glad that I called them and can say with absolute certainty that they stopped the "noise" for me and my kids. It was like the commercials. The trucks pulled up and as the crew chief was speaking with me, his crew was already in work mode. I think back and realize how many questions I answered and how much info I gave him without even realizing I was even doing it. They put me at easy as much as was possible for the tragedy of the day. I cant thank the whole staff for the ease at which the entire claim was handled. I highly recommend SERVPRO of DeKalb county and cant thank them enough.

SERVPRO took my worries away

9/29/2016 (Permalink)

I am the owner of a multi unit residential building. In spring of 2016 we had a fire in one of the apartments. Not only did SERVPRO of DeKalb county take care of my building they put my other tenants at easy by working with them. They made things go so smoothly and worked with them when some didn't even have insurance coverage. They helped them out and made it all work for all involved. I would highly recommend SERVPRO of DeKalb County for any disaster. They made sure to follow up with me and offered a FREE Emergency Ready Plan to help me save time and money in the event that something like this would happen to any of my properties again. Thank you SERVPRO of DeKalb County.