Can I Sleep In My House After a Fire?
According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments in the United States respond to a fire every 24 seconds, with around 27%, or over 350,000, being house fires. In addition to over $7 billion in property damage, house fires are responsible for over 2600 deaths and 11,000 injuries every year.
A house fire, large or small, affects your entire house with consequences that can last long after the fire is extinguished. In addition to property loss, water damage, and hidden structural damage, the smoke from even a small fire can pose risks to you and your family's health.
Fire and Water Damage
After a fire, it is frequently apparent what household items are damaged beyond repair, but there may also be hidden damage that can lead to other problems. Often a small fire is contained to a specific appliance, such as a microwave, but nearby items may also show noticeable heat or fire damage. Scorched or burnt countertops, cabinets, walls, and damaged fixtures will usually have to be removed and replaced.
If you or the fire department used water to extinguish the fire, a large area of the house is likely to be thoroughly soaked. Areas drenched with water will need to be dried or cleaned before mold begins to grow, which can start in as little as 48 hours on wet drywall, fiberglass insulation, and wood. Mold makes the cleanup and restoration more difficult and expensive to complete and poses additional health risks.
While direct damage from a house fire is often apparent, one of the most dangerous and often unseen aspects of fire is smoke damage. When your house endures a fire of any size, smoke billows from the source and spreads everywhere.
Even a small appliance, or kitchen fire, can spread smoke to every room of the house. Smoke naturally travels to cooler areas and will move throughout your house, finding every opening, regardless of how small. As the smoke moves through your house, it will stain everything in its path and leave an unpleasant odor behind.
The penetrating nature of smoke and soot is what makes it so difficult to remove. You can wash your draperies, clean your walls and other surfaces, but smoke will penetrate deep into unfinished wood, insulation, and other porous materials in your house.
Smoke will also find its way into vents, ductwork, and throughout your HVAC system. The tiny particles of smoke and soot can linger for months, creating an unseen health hazard that can irritate your lungs and even cause permanent damage.
Why is Smoke So Dangerous?
When a house fire occurs, a variety of chemicals are released into the air. Everyday items found in your home, such as plastics, carpets, foams, fabrics, and other synthetic products, release toxic and deadly chemicals into the air when burned. Even if you cannot see the smoke, there will still be tiny particles released, which are the most dangerous.
Smoke from a fire can cause several health issues even after the thick, heavy smoke is gone.
- Breathing Issues: Smoke can cause shortness of breath, coughing, bronchitis, asthma, and lead to other respiratory issues.
- Skin Conditions: The byproducts of smoke and soot are severe skin irritants that can leave your skin dry and irritated. Clothing exposed to smoke can cause skin issues even after washing.
- Eye Irritation: Getting smoke in your eyes will cause them to tear up and turn red almost instantly. Since smoke damage is often invisible, this irritation may not start immediately but occur over time.
- Long-Term Health Risks: In addition to breathing issues, skin conditions, and eye irritation, smoke can lead to long-term health issues, including cancer, stroke, heart attack, and is especially dangerous for infants and small children.
How Do You Get The Smoke Smell Out Of Your House After a Fire?
The composition of smoke is extremely complex, penetrating surfaces and often leaving a greasy film, making it particularly difficult to remove. Removing the smell of smoke from your house requires specialized cleaning equipment and techniques to ensure the complete removal of the smell and associated health risks.
While smoke seems to dissipate quickly, it is incredibly invasive and presents a significant health risk. While it may be tempting to remove smoke damage yourself, it is easy to overlook hidden areas such as your HVAC system and components.
At AdvantaClean, we have the equipment, knowledge, and skill to remove soot and smoke byproducts from your house entirely. Our team of experts uses various techniques, including hydroxyl treatments to deodorize and neutralize odor-causing molecules, ozone treatments to remove pathogens from the air, and chlorine dioxide. This vapor treatment penetrates your house and eliminates odors from porous materials such as floors, studs, and drywall.
Can I Sleep In My House After a Fire?
While you may assume that once the fire is out and most of the smoke has cleared, it is safe to return, that's not true. Even after the visible smoke is gone, microscopic smoke particles will remain, posing immediate and long-term health risks.
Many of the synthetic materials used in construction and home furnishing release harmful chemicals that quickly and deeply penetrate your lungs, causing respiratory issues that can be long-term and even fatal. Regardless of the size, location, or cause, it is not safe to sleep in your house after a fire until the smoke damage is removed.
Contact The Experts at AdvantaClean
Staying in a house damaged by fire puts your health in jeopardy in several ways, and the risk is even greater for children, the elderly, or people with a compromised immune system. If your house has fire damage, the experts at AdvantaClean can clean and decontaminate your entire house so that you can safely return. Our team of skilled technicians uses a multi-step process to ensure that your house is once again a safe environment for you and your family.
To learn more about how we can help restore the safety of your house after a fire, contact us today.