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Fires wreak havoc. But smoke, soot, and firewater will also cause great damage. The initial fire damage along with the lingering smoke smell and the various problems that might be created due to the firewater all highlight that there is not one but plenty of reasons for hurrying to call a professional fire damage restoration company.
No words can describe the devastation caused by even a small house fire – let alone a big one. And although it’s hard to control your emotions during these dreadful moments, you need to do the best you can to keep calm and call for help. When the flames go out, the calamity is only half-way addressed. Now it will be the time to fight more battles.
The potential risks after a fire damage
Soot might cause sickness
During house fires, soot is formed and spread. Simply put, this is an airborne contaminant that is also formed during cooking, from fireplaces or car exhaust emissions. It darkens our walls, ceilings, and curtains and the extent of the contamination depends on whether or not the concentration of soot is low or high and the flame type. When the house is on fire, every little object is burned. And they are all made of different materials resulting in high soot concentrations and thus great dangers when the fire is out. Soot lingers in the environment. Any soot clean up delay will only lead to sickness since high concentrations cause cancer and lung disease.
Lingering smoke might be fatal
There is no denying that the firefighters remove a large portion of smoke. But the smoke cleanup process doesn’t end there. Smoke will also linger even if you don’t see it. Smoke will be absorbed by clothing, furniture, walls, ceilings and anything else which have remained intact from the fire. It will be around whether the fire was small or big. If you thought fire is dangerous, wait to see what smoke can do. Or rather not. It’s imperative to have smoke removed completely from the house before you move in. Smoke is actually bringing a slow death since the harmful particles created by the burning objects enter your lungs resulting in respiratory problems and cause cardiovascular diseases. It always depends on what the fire burns. The substance of items burned defines the toxicity of the smoke. Many household products are made of plastic or contain chlorine or chemicals that make smoke toxic.
Firewater will cause extra damage
When one struggles with the aftermath of a fire hardly thinks of water damage. But if you think about it, water will put out the fire. The amounts used by firefighters are extraordinary. Water can also cause damage to your possessions and the structure. On top of that, the fire might cause water pipes to burst. If there is a fire sprinkler system at your home, the bulb will shatter as soon as the heat will be increased. When a fire goes out, the effort is to sprinkle water. When the fire is out, the effort is to extract water because moisture will cause saturation and extra damage. And if water damage restoration is delayed, mold infestation will be highly likely.
Mold infestation is highly possible
Mold growth is one of the most terrible effects of water damage. And although you might be currently dealing with the aftermath of fire damage, you will have more problems on your hands. Moisture and standing water create the perfect conditions for mold. The bad news is that you cannot always see the contaminated areas. What makes things even worse is that mold grows very fast. If moisture is not quickly controlled and the area is not properly dried, mold spores will be created and spread within two days. I think everyone knows the potential risks from mold. Both people and pets may become sick. Those with weak immune systems, like children and elderly people, will suffer the most. Mold can create severe respiratory problems & nausea – just to name the mildest effects. It will also cause property damage. Once extensively spread, complete mold removal is very difficult. So this gives you the incentive of hurrying, even more, to deal with the aftermath of fire damage.
The building’s safety & security will be questioned
During a fire, parts of the building’s structure are completely or partially damaged. There might be holes on the roof or serious window frame damage. In any way, the house will be exposed to extra dangers – like opportunistic thieves, animals, and the weather.
The usual process of a fire damage restoration
It’s clear that a quick fire damage restoration is imperative. Your house might not be completely damaged from the fire but you might not be able to return to it if it’s not cleaned up properly. To wrap up what we’ve already discussed above, a fire will leave behind chaos. Not only will your belongings and structure be burned but soot and smoke will linger threatening your health. And then comes water and the bad effects when it remains stagnant.
It’s no wondering why fire damage remediation companies are ready to go 24/7. Dealing with the fire damage urgently is of the essence. The process of restoration usually starts with the inspection of the property so that the pros can evaluate the extent of the damage and the stability of the structure. Once they assess the situation, they quickly form a plan of how to proceed with the restoration – not all fires are the same.
In order to eliminate the possibility of extra risks – like burglaries and animal attacks – they seal the area. The board up missing walls, windows, doors, and ceilings to safeguard the property and also offer protection from the elements. If heating systems, water tanks, and pipes are affected by the fire, the crew rushes to fix the equipment for the avoidance of further problems.
The next step is water removal and drying. The effort here is to extract waters and dry the areas as soon as possible so that there will be no extra damage and no mold growth. Now, the water damage cleanup process may vary depending on whether or not there was a sewage backup and thus dirty waters flooding. If items are saturated or carpets are wet, they are usually removed and thrown away. The overall effort is dual: to deal with the source of water damage (if any) – for example, a broken plumbing pipe and to remove all waters so that the home will be completely dry.
Then the soot and smoke repair and cleanup will begin. These companies use special equipment for soot and smoke removal. The important thing here is to remove the dangerous particles completely. So you need to make sure the air ducts are also checked and cleaned. Smoke and soot will most likely find their way into the ductwork system and will be released in the indoor air once again.
Common causes of house fires
A house fire can start easily. Don’t forget that most things we keep in our homes are combustible. Knowing the common causes of fires can save you from the incredible nightmare and thousands of dollars spent on the restoration.
- Cooking – especially if grease is used. It’s important to never leave the stove unattended when cooking.
- Leaving combustibles close to fire sources – never leave towels, paper, books etc. close to fireplaces, cooking stoves or other heat sources.
- Smoking – if you smoke, make sure the cigarettes are extinguished well and never leave them unattended or close to flammable items (sofas, fabrics etc.). On top of that, don’t leave matches to places where kids can find them.
- Beware of lit candles – they are beautiful and make a nice ambiance but don’t leave candles unattended for long or close to flammables or within the reach of children.
- Malfunctioning electrical equipment – don’t use any electrical outlet, appliance or equipment if the cords are frayed, there is an apparent problem, outlets are overloaded, or are not properly installed.
- Beware of Christmas decorations – keep the Christmas tree away from heat sources (fireplace, TV, radiators etc.) and heat sources (candles) away from the Christmas tree. Also, try out the Christmas lights, especially if you are planning to use them to decorate the Christmas tree.
- Barbeque is for outdoors only – don’t start a barbeque close to curtains, tablecloths, trees or other flammable items and always do it outdoors with care.
- Beware of heat sources – if you use home heaters, keep them away from flammables and always make sure they work okay.
- Keep chemicals properly stored – many household products can start a chemical fire. Keep chlorines, motor oils and other products stored in a safe place and out of the reach of children.
What to do after the fire
No doubt that your first call will be to the local fire department. But what comes up next? Let’s see what you should do in the event of a fire.
- Notify your insurance agency
- Find a fire restoration company
- Find a place to stay
- Keep a folder with all the paperwork involving the fire in case you want to file a claim.
It’s vital that you don’t go back into the house before the professional crews tell you that it’s okay to enter. If the structure is compromised, you might have an accident. And there will be smoke and soot. The best thing you can do is wait around until the fire restoration contractor gives you the assessment of the damage.
Questions to ask the fire restoration company
Ask about the process of restoration and the cost. Since this doesn’t come cheap, ask about how you can pay and organize your finances. Talk to your insurance agent about that and see if your policy covers your mortgage (if any).
It’s also important to get a list of the damaged items (cooking equipment, furniture etc.) so that you will know what you will have to buy again and start planning.
Ask how long it will take before you’ll return back to your house. If there’s a need for complete home restoration, this might a few months in which case you need to be sure where you are going to stay for so long or cancel internet and cable services.
When you return home after the fire restoration
The important thing when you return home is to be sure that you can reconnect all utilities without safety concerns. It’s crucial that the structure will be stable and free of soot, moisture, mold, and smoke. It’s imperative to remember that no cleaning should be done by you. It’s not safe to clean carpets or furniture where soot and smoke have set in. You shouldn’t try to plug in electronics if a thorough inspection and damage restoration is not done. After a complete fire damage restoration, you should still ventilate the home regularly. If this is a small fire and you quickly return back home, ventilate even more often and throw away food that might have been exposed to the soot and smoke. Make no exception here.
Very few things are more devastating than a home fire. It’s overwhelming, life-threatening, and costly to restore. Do all you can to prevent a fire but if it happens, hurry to have the damage restored! When it comes to such unbearable situations, remember three things:
- Avoid the temptation of inspecting and assessing the damage yourself. Put your safety first.
- A fire can cause significant damage but so will the smoke, soot, and water. It’d be better if you were prepared for such impossible situations by finding a company before this moment comes (let’s hope it never does).
- The longer you wait the harder it will be to restore fire damage completely.
With these things said, I simply cross my fingers and say no more…