Fire and Water Damage – Health Precautions
If you’re in the midst of a water, fire or smoke disaster, keep in mind the following health precautions:
Bacteria & Mold Hazards Associated with Water Damage
Water damaged building interiors provide a “prime” environment for the growth and reproduction of bacteria and mold. Both are parasitic, i.e., they rely on dead or decaying organic matter for food. Favorite foods for bacteria and mold are cellulose based building material, such as wood, drywall and any soiled surface. Synthetic carpet fibers do not support microbial growth but the soils attached to them certainly do. These factors, coupled with warm humid air, create the ideal environment for reproduction. Bacteria and mold may cause allergic reactions, arthritis, puffy eyes, chronic cough, rheumatism, asthma, depression and headache.
Fire and water damage restoration must be performed by trained technicians who understand proper procedures and applications. Trained personnel will provide the necessary adjustments to the environment by altering temperature and humidity levels to deter production of bacterial and mold and setting up professional drying equipment to facilitate complete structural drying.
Breathing & Electrical Hazards Associated with Fire Damage
Structures that have been affected by fire may have strong, potentially toxic, odors. Never enter a smoking or smoldering area without the proper breathing equipment. Fires can also compromise electrical systems presenting serious electrical hazards. Do not attempt to unplug burned appliances or equipment unless you are certain that the power to the building has been shut-off. Failure to do so could result in electrical shock.
Residual water from fire fighting will add to the damage as mentioned above, creating health concerns. There may be fallen debris containing sharp surfaces, in addition to slip or trip hazards. Emergency services may be necessary to stabilize the structure, make it safe for occupancy and restoration, and mitigate against further damage.
Federal, state and local regulations require owners and operators of non-residential buildings and structures to conduct asbestos surveys. You can rely on restoration professionals to comply with federal, state and local EPA and OSHA regulations while performing work.