Smoke and Soot After a Small Fire
Taking Care of Smoke and Soot After a Small Fire
If you had a small house fire, then you may be wondering why you need to leave your house for some time. After all, if the rest of your house wasn't damaged by the fire, it may seem excessive to stay at a hotel.
However, smoke and soot left behind by the fire carry potential health risks. Learn why you may need to evacuate for some time and how to take care of smoke damages when you return home.
Understand the Health Risks
Believe it or not, about 50 percent to 80 percent of fire-related deaths are because of smoke inhalation rather than burns. Additionally, combustion uses oxygen, so large fires are dangerous since they can use up the oxygen in the air and cause asphyxiation.
Although smaller fires may not use up all the oxygen in the air, the smoke is still dangerous because it is a mix of gases and heated particles. If you or a family member inhales chemical irritants, like sulfur dioxide, in the smoke, then they are at risk for injury. Smoke can irritate eyes, skin, mucous membranes, and respiratory tracts.
Once the fire is out, there will still be lingering smoke and soot in your home, which can still make you sick. Young children, people with poor immune systems, and the elderly are especially at risk for developing respiratory issues, like bronchitis.
Follow the recommendations of fire professionals and restoration companies if they say that you need to evacuate the house. If you or a family member was exposed to any smoke, see a doctor just to make sure you are okay. The effects of smoke inhalation may not reveal themselves right away; keep an eye out for:
- Prolonged coughing spells
- Difficulties with concentration
- Difficulty breathing or a hoarse voice
- Frequent headaches
If you have any of these symptoms, visit a doctor to make sure that you're all right.
Let Professionals Assess the Smoke Damage
You may need to evacuate your home so that professionals can properly assess the fire and smoke damage. Your insurance company needs to evaluate who was at fault and how the damages will be covered.
Professionals at restoration companies also need to assess what work needs to be done and figure out when it's safe enough to do so. For instance, the restoration professionals may need to properly ventilate the house before they can make repairs.
Although you may think you just have smoke damage, a restoration professional may find other issues. For example, you may have water damages from firefighting efforts, meaning that they will have to make sure the house doesn't have mold or structural damage.
Once the professionals have assessed the damages, they can proceed to make it safe for you to enter the house again.
Remove Lingering Odors When It's Safe to Return
Once you get the go-ahead to return to your home, you may find that while other restorations are underway, there are still odors from the fire. You shouldn't take care of large damages since they can put your health at risk, but you can help eliminate poor air quality.
Products with tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) are great at reducing smoky odors on upholstered furniture, clothing, and curtains. Make sure that you check your fabrics for care instructions. Remember that TSP can be caustic, so make sure that you wear a mask and gloves and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
Purchase dry-cleaning sponges to wipe off any soot or smoke stains on the walls. If there are still loose soot particles on the floor, use a shop-vac to remove the debris. Also consider installing or renting a HEPA air purifier to catch any lingering particulates in the air.
Lastly, talk with a professional from a restoration company to see what they cover in their services. Some places will clean up the odors along with their restorations. Contact us at SERVPRO of Eaton County if you need help with any restorations.