A fire in your home is one of the most devastating things you can go through. In addition to the terror of the moment, the aftermath of the fire is emotionally draining and physically exhausting. You are now taxed with determining what can be repaired and what will need to be replaced. Sifting through memories hurts. But before you make any moves, you need to know these five things about dealing with fire and smoke damage.
When Dealing with Fire and Smoke Damage, You Have to Act Fast
Costs increase and the cleanup process gets more complex the longer you wait. This is because soot settles onto surfaces immediately following a fire. Porous materials will be permanently discolored, but other surfaces do have the potential to be cleaned — if you act quickly. Hours after the fire, all surfaces will suffer from smoke damage. Your wooden furniture will probably need to be re-polished. Metal surfaces will probably rust. Painted walls will begin to yellow.
And as time goes on, this damage only becomes worse. If you wait days or weeks to address the problem, you could be faced with damage that can’t be undone.
Odor After Fire and Smoke Damage
A smoke odor can stick to upholstered furniture and clothing. Your carpets and draperies will suffer too. Not everything can be thrown in the wash, and even if it could, that wouldn’t solve the problem of odor after fire and smoke damage. Before these items can be properly cleaned, they need to be deodorized. It is best to let professional restorers handle this process. They have the knowledge of which counteractants to use to break up the smoke molecules and eliminate the odors.
Dry cleaners often can handle this process for your clothing, while professional restorers can treat your furniture and more in your home by placing the items under a tent while treating with ozone generators.
Not only do your upholstered furniture and clothing suffer, but fire and smoke damage leaves an odor behind throughout your home. In fact, the smoke can permeate walls and ducts. Professional restorers can conduct a process called thermal fogging in your home that sends a warm chemical fog to penetrate your walls and neutralize the odor.
How to Be Safe
Don’t enter your home until the fire marshal has declared it safe. And even then, be careful. The structure may not be sound, so be aware of damaged objects that could be unstable (like stairs) and don’t lean or put your full weight on them. In addition, exposure to soot residue is dangerous to your health as it can lead to respiratory emergencies and prolonged issues. Don’t even think about spending any time in a building that has had a fire without first wearing respiratory protection and heavy-duty gloves. Even though time is definitely of the essence, it’s worth it to take necessary safety steps.
You’ll Probably Have to Throw Away All Food
Most likely, none of the food in your house will be safe to eat after a fire. Unfortunately, smoke and soot permeate through everything — and even food in the freezer isn’t necessarily safe. However, you can feel confident in eating food from the freezer that has ice crystals on it. If it doesn’t have ice crystals, however, get rid of it.
This Probably Isn’t a DIY Job
Most likely, you’ll need professional help to remove the damage and restore your home back to its original state (or better). While there are some DIY steps you can take to get rid of minimal damage, most smoke and fire damage is so extensive that it needs to be handled by a professional disaster relief company. A good disaster relief company will help you work with your insurance to get what you deserve and will walk you through the decision-making process for your damaged items.
New Life Restoration is a 24/7 restoration company in Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County that will get to your home quickly following a fire. We’ll help you salvage what’s usable, document your damage for insurance purposes, work with your insurance company, clean up the damage, and restore your home back to its beautiful (or better) shape. Give us a call at (805) 925-1600 or contact us online.