After a fire, your home may be left with soot, ash, and debris. It is important to know the difference between what needs to be cleaned and what can be ignored in order to do the least amount of damage possible. Read on for eight important facts you should know about post-fire restoration.
- The most important thing you can do after a house fire is to keep it cool by shutting off all power sources and wrapping exposed pipes in wet towels or blankets until help arrives.
- Make sure that any water coming from broken pipes is shut off as well as gas lines if they have been damaged by heat.
- If there is no electricity available turn off fans or air conditioners that might create more smoke from burning embers or water damage.
- After the smoke has cleared you will see three colors on most burned surfaces: Light brown, which is unburned wood; gray and black where the fire burned; and soot, a fine black powder containing combustible gases that have been burned but not consumed.
- Try to identify burned items by their color. White or very light-colored items burned in a fire are usually damaged beyond repair and should be thrown away, though you may need to take an item to an expert for evaluation if the burned area is small (less than 1/2 inch) and hard to see.
- A burned carpet may not look burned but can contain burned fiber and other chemicals that could be harmful. If burned carpeting has been in your family for several years, it should be disposed of carefully. If burned carpet is new or doesn’t belong to you, immediately bag the burned area and put it out for collection in a garbage can with a securely tied lid.
- Do not pick up burned materials with your hands for disposal. Use a shovel or another clean container and place burned items in a sealed plastic bag.
- If the burned area is on clothing, it should be thrown away. Cotton and other natural fabrics can usually be washed after a fire without the risk of spreading any burned particles if they are done properly. Launder burned clothing in warm to hot water using detergent, softener, and bleach. After a fire, you should carefully check all clothing for burned particles before laundering.
Check with your insurance company for advice on cleaning your home after a fire, but the last thing they want to see is clean walls and floors. They will tell you that burned areas of carpet and burned materials should remain in place to help the fire investigators determine what caused your home to catch on fire.
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If you recently experienced a fire in your home or office, it is likely that the damage left behind will be extensive. It may seem like an overwhelming task to take on after everything else that has happened but there are steps you can take to help minimize the amount of work required for post-fire remediation. There’s no need to do any more than necessary when cleaning up – read our article and find out what needs attention and what doesn’t!