A home fire can cause a lot of destruction and can be potentially dangerous. Although quite rare, home fires do still occur, and it’s important to know what you should do immediately after the fire has been extinguished to ensure that your home remains safe and that the damaged areas have a chance at being restored. You’ll not only be dealing with the damage from the fire, but also water damage which has been caused by the firefighting team.
When working in an area which has been damaged by fire, your primary focus should be on safety. Here are some fire damage restoration tips which you can follow before the professional help arrives to begin with the restoration. Following these tips will ensure that the area has the best chance of being fully restored.
Note: These tips are for small home fires which have not damaged the structural integrity of your home. If the fire has damaged the structure of your home’s walls, roof or floors then you should get professional assistance as there may be an impending risk of collapse which can result in serious injury or death.
Fire Damage Restoration Tips: Until Help Arrives
1. Remove Smoke Damage
When a fire occurs in a home, there is almost always some amount of smoke damage caused to the walls, wallpaper and paintwork. First try dusting the affected area off with a duster to remove any loose soot and then clean it by scrubbing with a mixture of water and a mild detergent such as dish soap or thin bleach. The soot cause by fire smoke is usually quite greasy and therefore requires a detergent to break down the grease in order to come clean.
2. Get Rid of Mold and Mildew
One of the next biggest risks is the onset of mold and mildew caused by the water which was used in the firefighting process seeping into the joints in your walls, floors and ceiling. It is usually best to get a professional team in to assist with drying out your home, they’ll use a series of pumps, fans and dryers to get rid of the damp. Proper drying is crucial as mold and mildew build-up in your home can cause serious health issues.
You can assist in making this process a bit quicker by immediately opening up all of the windows, vents and doors to air out all of the rooms before the professionals arrive. You can also give your filters a proper clean once they have been removed.
3. Limit Movement Throughout the Location
Until help arrives, limit movement around your house. This helps in preventing the movement of fine soot particles; you don’t want these to stick to the carpets and upholstery. This doesn’t mean that you can’t clean or remove items, just try to limit the number of people involved. Also be sure to keep your hands clean to prevent yourself from spreading soot around your home. You can protect you undamaged furniture and décor by covering them with clean towels.
4. Clean Smoke Damage from Clothing
Depending on the location of the fire, your clothing may be covered in soot, have smoke damage or may just smell like fire. Do not simply throw all of your clothing into the washing machine, dry cleaning is a much more effective cleaning method for this type of dirt or damage. Ask your local dry cleaners if they have any experience in post fire laundry.
5. Clean and Dry Flooring or Replace Carpets
The carpets in your house are prone to absorbing water and soot after a fire and will most likely need to be replaced. It is very difficult to thoroughly clean and properly dry out your carpets after a fire so most professionals will recommend replacement.
If you have floor boards or hard wood flooring, water will probably have soaked underneath the flooring. A professional drying company will be able to assist you with drying out this area, as mentioned previously.
6. Soak and Clean your Dishes
Utensils, crockery, pots, pans and other dishes are essential to clean after a fire as they are going to be in contact with food and can therefore cause serious health issues. Wash all of your dishes well; even those which were in a cupboard and don’t look dirty. Let them soak in a solution of water and bleach. If any dishes or utensils won’t come clean then throw them out, it is not worth the risk.
Basic Do’s and Don’ts in Case of Fire Damage
- Clean all appliances with a light coating of oil or Vaseline.
- If the power supply has been damaged or turned off, empty your freezer and refrigerator and the keep doors open with rolled towels or newspaper to absorb the moisture.
- Clean your indoor plants, wipe down both sides of the leaves with a damp cloth.
- Open all of your windows for ventilation (depending on the weather conditions outside).
- Use a double layer of cheesecloth on air registers.
- Use wet clothes on windows and doors as it helps in dealing with the smoke.
What Not to Do After a Fire?
After a fire has damaged a portion of your home, there are certain things which are strictly a no-no. Don’t attempt these after fire damage:
- Don’t clean any electrical appliances which were close to the fire.
- If the ceiling is wet and your home still has power, do not turn on ceiling fixtures. This may cause damage to the wiring.
- Don’t use any unsealed food or beverages which were stored near the fire.
- Don’t use electrical appliances like your television, radio or laptops until they are checked by the experts, especially if they were close to the fire or got wet in any way.
- Do not try to wash absorbent surfaces, the dirt and soot will further soak into them.
- Be cautious moving around and limit your movement to the affected area. Do not go into any areas which have visible structural damage to the walls, floors or ceilings.
Your safety is the most important in situations like this, no material possessions are worth risking your safety for. So wear safety equipment like shoes, long sleeves clothes, gloves, safety glasses, and a respiratory mask where possible.
If you enjoyed this article, you may also be interested in how to reduce the risk of and deal with chimney fires.
Have you had to deal with a fire in your home? Let us know what you did to assist in restoring your home in the comments section below.