While the discovery of fire clearly changed the course of man's history, a fire can change the course of yours. If you've had a fire in your home you know just how terrifying it the flames, the heat and the smoke can be. Fire damage is perhaps the worst kind of damage because it involves damage from the flames, from the smoke and from the water used to put out the fire. While prevention is, of course, the best course, fires still happen even in the safest of dwellings. The most important thing to remember in a fire is that everyone gets out safely. Well-maintained fire detectors are your best bet to that end. Don't wait for this small piece of technology to sound it's alert telling you its batteries are dying. Be proactive and change the batteries every six months. Most fire detectors require less than a dollar's worth of batteries to stay in tip-top shape. A cost well spent. The other important item is an escape plan. There should be one for every room of the house and everyone in the house regardless of age should be able to respond immediately when asked what their course of escape would be depending on the room.
Professionals who deal in restoring your home to its state before the fire are known as fire damage restoration companies. These people have seen hundreds of homes damaged by fire and are ready, willing and able at a moments notice to jump in their truck and come and help you get your home back to normal. When you call these professionals the first thing they'll do is inspect your home and give you and estimate for repairs and restoration. They will coordinate closely with your insurance adjuster making certain that the repairs are covered under your policy. If certain repairs are not covered, they will notify you so that you can make the decision as to whether to skip that repair or foot the bill yourself. Their estimate will include a detailed assessment and explanation so that you will know in advance exactly what they will be repairing and how it will be done. Of course, some things can't be repaired or aren't worth the effort and the cost. A reputable fire damage restoration company will make this perfectly clear to you and to your insurance adjuster. Usually furniture and fabric such as drapes cannot be repaired and must be replaced but as technology improves more and more items fall under the auspices of restoration.
Smoke from fire contains a dangerous mixture of chemicals and toxins that can be harmful to your health as well as your property. It's also, perhaps, the most difficult aspect of any post-fire clean-up. Inhaling smoke is extremely damaging to your lungs which is why fire departments everywhere make it a practice of venting smoke from buildings as one of their main priorities. Smoke will not only leave a dreadful stench it will cause discoloration and corrosion of materials that will be extremely difficult to remedy. This pungent smell coupled with the discoloration is probably the most difficult to remedy after a fire. The extent of the smoke damage in your home is often due to the origin of the smoke, be it wet, dry, protein and/or fuel or oil. A result of low heat, wet smoke is exceedingly difficult to clean. A fast burning fire at high temperatures will result from a fast burning fire. While invisible, protein smoke will cause the most discoloration to varnishes and has an extremely bad odor. A result of a furnace malfunction, fuel-oil smoke will create soot.
Cleaning up after a fire is not a DIY (Do-it-Yourself) project. There are far too many variables and far too many dangers. You need to enlist the services of a professional smoke damage restoration firm. However, before they arrive there are a few things that you can do to start the repair/restoration process. Since smoke can damage so many different items in your home it is a good idea to try to remove as many things as possible that do not appear to be damaged by flames or water including small appliances, electronics, clothing, etc. You should also open all windows and doors, and turn on all fans and let them run continuously if possible. This will not only help vent the smoke but help the other surfaces dry from the water from the fire hoses. Now that everyone is safely out of the house don't forget about your pets; they are affected by smoke the same way you are if not worse. It's advised that you take them to friends houses or board them at a kennel or a vet. You should also consider using a wet/dry vacuum on upholstery, drapes and carpets. Remove all clothing and take it to a laundry and/or dry cleaner. Wipe off any surfaces where you see soot that includes kitchen counters and bathroom fixtures. And, of course, you want to discard any food packages other than canned goods.
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