Let’s face it. Just because it’s March doesn’t mean we have forgotten about those tumultuous holidays; Thanksgiving being that special time to fry your bird. Yes it can be tasty at times but it can also cause some havoc on your home. Fire damage may be something you have to deal with during these times. The U.S Fire Administration says about 2,000 Thanksgiving fires happen each year. Undoubtedly many of these cooks don’t have a handle on their turkey or their flames. House fires can be traumatizing for both you and your fowl. In some cases fire damage cannot be handled on your own.
FEMA states that in any kind of disaster you and your family should always build an emergency kit and make a family communication plan in preparation. In cases of smaller fires take a look below on ways to DIY fire clean up.
If you decide you want to stay in your home after a fire, you need to make sure the fire damage was small enough to do so. Fumes and smoke can cause unlivable conditions for you and your family. Most likely if the fire was concentrated to a small area, like a stove, you should be fine. Yet it is highly recommended you call the fire department to make sure the fire didn’t spread through the walls or electrical outlets.
First Things First
Once you have an understanding of how extreme your fire damage is, you should start the cleanup immediately. Acquire gloves, masks and proper clothing to start this adventure. You must limit the movement in the home initially to reduce the amount of soot particles that can be embedded into other fabrics and furniture. This should include keeping your hands and shoes clean so as to not spread it further around the home. Cover all furniture with tarps and clean towels so no extra debris settles on them. This is where borrowing your grandmother’s plastic couch covers can come in handy. If you have any plants in the home they need fresh air too. Wipe the leaves with a damp towel and place outside for a couple hours, weather permitting. You must change your air filter as well as covering your vents. Wet cheese cloths over vents help capture those soot particles that may be traveling throughout your ventilation system.
Soot Clean Up
To begin your soot cleanup, it’s a wise idea to tackle as much soot as possible without water. Fire damage can create inches of debris on household services. Since soot contains oil, water can make the particles stain even further. Find a vacuum with a powerful cleaning nozzle and hold one inch above the soot to capture as much as possible.
Soot cleanup from walls and ceilings can be a little tricky. Depending on the type of surface, like stated before, adding water can damage the surface further. Many specialty stores sell chemical sponges that clean up that soot quickly. Trisodium phosphate can be used as a cleaning agent as well. Combine one tablespoon with one gallon of water. Since it is a degreaser it can be used on countertops, plastics and walls. By combining trisodium phosphate with bleach it can also help with Mold Removal. For the first year after the fire be sure to change out your air filters every month.
If the soot seems to be a bigger problem than anticipated, Restoration Master Finder can provide you with professional cleaners who can get the job done quickly and efficiently.
Extinguish Clean Up
Putting out a fire can always be a scary experience. Having a fire extinguisher in the house is a must. The NFPA states “Install fire extinguishers close to an exit and keep your back to a clear exit when you use the device so you can make an easy escape if the fire cannot be controlled. If the room fills with smoke, leave immediately.”
After using an extinguisher you may have a mess on your hands. Most extinguishers use something called a dry chemical as their extinguishing agent. Take a vacuum to start the initial residue cleanup. A shop vacuum can be useful since they are so powerful.
– Use a wet rag and scrub brush to lift the residue from a mono ammonium phosphate extinguisher.
– Create a vinegar and water solution to lift remains from a sodium bicarbonate/potassium bicarbonate-based extinguisher. Using excess water may help lift the bicarbonate out of crevices.
– Water and soap can be used when dealing with foam based extinguishers. After a short time the residue will eventually evaporate.
Water Clean Up
In times of panic you may have used water to extinguish this fire. In turn you could have created some water damage. First thing you need to do is to mop up the standing water. Make sure to check your electrical outlets for water damaged. If they have been affected, turn off electric until a professional is able to deem it safe. After assessing which products are able to be saved start the drying process immediately. For the objects that still have soot on them, re-read the above statement on how to remove smoke damage. Opening the windows will allow ventilation throughout the home. Make sure this is done after the soot cleanup, since like stated before, soot can travel to all services through the air. If your ventilation system hasn’t been contaminated, turning the air conditioning on can dry out the air in your home. The sooner you can take care of the soot and water damage the better. Allowing those chemicals and liquids sit on services can create other problems like mold, mildew and odors.
Odor Clean Up
Odors can linger in your home for quite some time after a fire. Factors include weather, climate and altitude. Carpets, drapes, clothing and woods can keep the smell of smoke within them if the smells are not dealt with quickly. If you think the odor is worth taking care of on your own you can always use an Ozone generator, which can reduce the smell of smoke in fabrics. If you think ventilation can be the cure for your odor problem, that’s great. Yet some fires can cause pungent smells that last for months or even years. If this is the problem, it is best to have a professional take care of your belongings.
Fires can be traumatizing to anyone involved. They not only leave emotional scars but physical ones on your home. Fire damage is something that needs to be handled with concern. Please use these tips above to conquer your small home fires with caution.