Experiencing fire damage literally means big loss not only in valuable possessions and property but losing valuable time as well in trying to get your life back in order and in attaining some semblance of normality after the whole ordeal took place. Generally most insurance companies answer for the damages inflicted by the fire, provided of course that it was accidental and not intentional. Hence, it is best to inform your insurance company about the disaster and talk with the insurance adjuster immediately after the fire damage and disaster happened.
No Season Is Safe
It is normally expected that fires occur during the summer months when the outside environment’s temperature is high and hot. This is usually the time when most people maximize the use of their cooling system as well as their electric fans to ease the discomfort of having a leveled temperature and humidity within the insides of the house. Eventually, home owners must do regular checkups and maintenance of all their cooling equipment and apparatus when summer months approach to keep them functioning properly and efficiently. Most of these systems, once they overheat, can cause fuse to spark and frayed wires to overheat starting a fire. It is a wise decision to have a licensed electrician to look and inspect all electrical connections to see whether they are safe and in top shape before everything is used overtime.
The foregoing statements are likewise true when cold or winter months arrive. Heating systems take a beating and need to be evaluated and properly checked to avoid any complications within the entire electrical wiring system of your house. It is also recommended that when you go out of your house whether for a short time or a long time to unplug all appliances that are not currently needed or being used. Aside from this, shut off the main electrical switch of the house; which is generally found within a compartment box that also houses the fuses. This is to ensure that no untoward electrical accidents can happen while you are out of the house.
Cleanup and Restoration
In case of a fire disaster, most residential owners due to the lack of any financial resources may want to do the cleaning and restoration procedures by themselves along with the other family members. While this may sound practical and cost saving, the truth is you are facing a very daunting task of cleaning up the mess and restoring the house to its pre-fire disaster condition, consequently spending more money than expected.
It would also entail an unnecessary length of time to accomplish the task because you do not have the appropriate tools, equipment and gear necessary to do the job efficiently and properly. It is commonly suggested that an expert or professional fire damage cleaner is hired to do the job. For at least they have the experience, the knowledge, correct equipment and adequate manpower to engage with the after effects of the fire. Just make sure that the professional fire damage cleaner you hire has all the legal documents and certificates to prove that they can do the task of proper cleaning and restoration.
Before the Experts Arrive
Although hiring a professional cleaner is your best option, it is likewise good to know a few basic facts on what to do before professional help arrives:
- Before entering or venturing into your fire damaged house, make sure that the structure is safe. Sagging walls and ceilings indicate that the structure may not be safe. Request your local fire department to do an initial survey of the place before you do your own primary investigation.
- Remove all soot and ashes that landed on top of appliances, equipment and furniture by using your vacuum cleaner’s blower.
- Take out all house plants and clean them up with clean running water. Wash both sides of the leaves and leave them to drip excess water at a dry and clean location outside the house.
- Cover rugs and carpets with dry and clean linens or towels to prevent dirt, ashes and grime to further penetrate the materials.
- Apply a thin coat of Vaseline or similar products on faucets and other chrome line materials or objects within the fire damaged house to prevent further damage.
- Do not attempt to scrub off surfaces that are blackened by smoke and fire. Leave this particular task to the professional cleaners since more damage can be inflicted once the dirt or smudge penetrates the material of the surface deeply.
- All food storage cabinets including freezers and refrigerators must be emptied. Do not attempt to salvage food and beverages which were exposed to the fire. Check canned and bottled food for cracks or swelling before setting them aside for later consumption. It is best to avoid consuming these however.
- Clothes and other linens exposed to the smoke of the fire must be brought for washing at a regular laundry company to prevent deeply ingraining the smell of smoke into the fabric.
- Before using any electrical appliances affected by the fire, have them checked and cleaned. This is to make sure that they will function properly and will not be a source of any electrical short circuits at home.
Checking Every Room at Home
Fires typically have a starting point where they originate and then spread throughout the house. If immediate help arrives, the fire can be contained at a particular spot of the structure. But at times due to inevitable delays, the fire goes through the house and consumes everything in its wake before it is thoroughly and effectively put out. Below is a description of every room within a common residential house to let you know why fire comes from that certain location:
Living Room/Basement – it is common that fireplaces and heating devices or systems are located in the living room and basement per se. Heating systems and fireplaces are intended to create heat and are veritable sources of fire risks if they are not well maintained regularly. Flammable objects like paper, curtains and rugs should be kept away from fireplaces. Put a screen infront of a fireplace to prevent embers from flying and landing on any combustible material around the room, for this is where the fire usually starts. As for the heating system of the whole house, check the wirings and connections at regular intervals to make sure that the wires are all in good condition. This must be accomplished by a licensed electrician.
Bedroom – Most bedroom fires are due to smoking cigarettes that are not put out properly and of the improper use of electrical devices like electric blankets, electric warmers and extension cords which were not properly tested and checked prior to their release from the manufacturing plant. During the cold months as well as the hot months overloading of circuits and hastily positioned flammable materials near heaters and such commonly causes fire.
Kitchen – most household electrical appliances and tools can be found in the kitchen. Gas valves, grease and open fire are likewise present making it a very hazardous room if it is not properly maintained. All things inside the kitchen pose as risks when careful usage is not implemented and caution is thrown to the wind. Make sure to clean up the grease that comes from cooking and frying, because it can easily catch open flame that can spread fast and wide. All gas valves not in use must be closed to avoid leakages and seepage. The pipe lines which connect from the kitchen to the outside source must be constantly inspected for holes or cracks. Once the gas catches an open flame, fire and explosion can occur. Cleaning and proper maintenance of all electrical appliances for cooking and food preparation is a must to prevent it from becoming a source of fire.
Fires have their origins and are classified accordingly. Like any other kind of manmade disaster they have a starting point. The following are the most common starting points of fire along with some description of how they generally start:
Electrical – fires that originate from this source are due to overblown fuses and short circuits that throw spark. Frayed wires which overheat in time make combustion possible. Improper wire connections within the house structure must be promptly corrected. Many fires that come from an electrical source do not emit any flame at first to show that fire is present. But a smoke coming from any electrical source should not be taken lightly because of the fact that electrically originated fires are not known to cause a full blown flame.
Candles – candles are normally used when electric power is out and during special occasions. To be on the safe side, trim the candle’s wick once it gets too long making the flame too large. Remove any flammable material like paper, linen, etc that may be caught by the flame. Always position the candle at a safe distance from wind blown curtains, and use appropriate candle holders that will hold the candle upright to prevent it from toppling and causing a fire. Be sure to put off any lighted candles before going to sleep.
Smoking – it is better not to smoke inside the house, but if you do then make sure to use ashtrays and to put out the cigarette before you retire to sleep or rest. Also make it a habit to throw your unlit cigarette butts into proper waste receptacles to avoid littering.
Fire may be inevitable but with the steps and tips above, it can be prevented or at least, damages may be mitigated.