When a home or building has been ravaged by fire, it can be a wrenching and traumatic experience. The media may pay a lot more attention to more unusual disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and even tsunamis but fires and smoke damage can be just as deadly and destructive. Because the devastation is probably confined to one family or building rather than an entire region, it doesn't make the 6 o'clock news.
Perhaps it should, though, so that people wouldn't forget about the dangers of fire. When most people think of fire, they think of what has been burned up by the flames, but smoke damage needs special attention in order to be properly cleaned up, as well.
Some of the more common ways that a fire starts include faulty electrical wiring, appliances that go kaput, cigarettes not tended, kitchen cooking disasters or children playing with matches. In homes with a fireplace or wood stove, a fire can break out when items are left too close to the flames.
If this disaster strikes, hopefully smoke detectors alerted the emergency crews to rush to the scene to put the fire out quickly. Afterward, there will most likely be a smoky odor and an oily residue remaining on whatever is left standing. Here are some steps to take in order to clean up:
- Call your insurance company. They will need to inspect the damage before releasing funds for restoration.
- Get permission from the local fire authorities before re-entering the home. It's crucial that the building is deemed safe to go back into.
- Circulate the air with fans and open windows.
- Change filters on the heater system daily until no soot remains.
- Odors must be removed from linens, fabrics, textiles and clothing before washing them. A "counteractant" is a special chemical additive. It may be purchased from a restoration company in order to break down soot molecules in cloth so that they'll be released upon cleaning.
- Hiring a professional restoration company may be necessary. The pros will have proper equipment such as an ozone tent system to get rid of smoke and soot build-up in belongings.
- Walls should be cleaned with a chemical sponge and a solution of either rubbing alcohol or paint thinner. The room should be well ventilated and protective gloves must be worn during the process.
- Thermal fogging may need to be done by a professional team in order to break down the smoky residue and odors that remain in the home.
- Insulation batting in the home may need to be replaced as it can be a haven for collecting smoky odors.
Follow these steps and the home will soon be clear of smoke damage and the associated odors.
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