Even a small fire can be a big problem – but despite your best efforts, fires can be a reality of home ownership. Once the blaze is extinguished, these tips will help you recover as best you can, keeping you and your property safe.
What to Do
- Be careful. Between the fire itself and the first responders, a structure is full of hazards after a fire. Check with the fire department to see whether the building is safe to enter. If so, use caution: the structure may not be as safe as it looks.
- Don’t spread soot. When inside, wear gloves and protective clothing. Soot spreads easily; avoid transferring it from one surface to another.
- Shut off HVAC systems. Central air or heating systems can rapidly spread soot throughout a building. Contact a licensed HVAC contractor or have Mammoth recommend one.
- Throw out food or drinks near the fire. Even if cans and other containers don’t look damaged, they may not be safe after exposure to that amount of heat.
- Empty the refrigerator and freezer. Clear out all food, throwing it out if the fire was anywhere near the appliance. Turning the appliances off and opening the doors can help prevent mold and mildew if power is disconnected.
- Protect water pipes. If the weather is freezing, the lack of central heat could cause pipes to freeze and burst. Protect them by pouring a tablespoon of antifreeze down every sink and tub and into every toilet bowl. Chrome faucets can be cleaned and protected with oil like WD-40.
- Care for and comfort pets. If there are pets in the building, they’re likely to be very scared after a fire. Handle them gently, but make sure that they are moved out of harm’s way. Even if the damage is minor, it’s best to find another place for them to stay temporarily.
- Take care of plants. Move the plants to a location away from any smoke and soot and wash both sides of the leaves with water until clean.
- Notify the landlord or mortgage company, if you have one. It’s easy to forget this step, but it’s an important one. They need to know what’s going on with the building.
- Call Mammoth Restoration. DIY fire damage recovery can do more harm than good. This is a job for trained professionals.
What Not to Do
- Don’t try to wash or paint anything. Improper washing can cause soot and smoke to set permanently. Painting can cause just as many problems. Leave that to the professionals.
- Don’t try to clean carpets, upholstery, or furniture. These items are tough to clean, and improper cleaning can cause permanent staining and damage.
- Don’t try to repair or use appliances. If the appliance was anywhere near the fire, it needs to be examined by a trained technician before it’s used. Even if it looks fine, internal damage might cause it to malfunction or even make it dangerous to use.
- Don’t try to clean clothing. Any kind of normal washing can cause soot stains and smoke smells to become permanent – even dry cleaning.
- Don’t go into any damaged rooms. Fires can cause structural damage that might not be visible. The water used to put out the fire can cause hazards as well. Avoid going into any room near the fire if possible.