If you’ve experienced a fire in your home, the last thing you might be thinking about is water damage; instead, you’re imagining issues with structural integrity, burnt mementos, and destroyed electrical systems. However, water damage is almost guaranteed after a fire for one very big reason: firefighters use enormous amounts of water to douse the flames, in addition to fire suppressant foams and other measures. This means that you’re looking at two distinct types of damage, each of which comes with its own risks.
While you should always reach out to a qualified water damage restoration company if your home has suffered a fire, there are some tasks that you can tackle on your own. Let’s look at a step-by-step checklist of what you’ll need to do right after you’ve been given the all-clear to enter your home again.
1. Use protective gear and carefully assess the area
Don’t ever re-enter a home that has suffered fire damage until given the all-clear by the firefighters: even if you can’t see any visible flames, structural issues may render the area unsafe, such as a burned foundation. Use protective gear, including respirators, safety glasses, gloves, and boots, to protect yourself from contaminants.
2. Document all damage as soon as it’s safe
Your phone is your best friend here: take photos and videos of all the damaged areas, including any belongings that have been ruined by the fire and flooding. Remember to photograph specific items that will need to be replaced by the insurance company, such as expensive furniture, TVs, and clothing. Get pictures of legible tags or stickers that show brand names and model numbers, as this will help ensure that your insurance company can accurately assess how much each item costs.
3. Contact a water damage remediation company immediately
No matter the extent of the issue, you should always contact a Portland water damage restoration company if your home has suffered a fire. Many of these businesses, including PacWest Restoration, can also handle fire damage as well, ensuring that your home will be brought back to its former glory in no time.
4. Don’t turn on the power until a qualified electrician takes a look
It’s very tempting to flick the switches as soon as you’re allowed back inside, but there may be severe damage to the electrical system that could electrocute you – or, worse, cause another fire. While your first call should be to a restoration company, you also need to get in touch with an electrician, who can take a look and let you know if it’s possible to restore power right away. If it’s not possible, they can advise you on how to get a generator set up so that you and the water damage restoration company can use the tools necessary to safely clean up the damage. Remember that you should never run a generator in an enclosed space, and it should always be placed at least 20 feet away from your home.
5. Start drying everything out
The clock starts ticking on mold growth the instant that something becomes saturated with water, so you need to begin drying things out as soon as you possibly can; this inhibits mold growth and ensures that you have less sanitizing to do.
While your water damage remediation company will use powerful fans and other desiccants to remove water, you can kick-start the process yourself by opening all the windows and doors, improving circulation. If you have access to power, start placing box fans around the area to evaporate excess moisture. This can be a huge help to your restoration company when they arrive, and it can also prevent further damage to your belongings.
6. Take all salvageable items elsewhere to begin the drying process
The remediation experts will take a good look at your belongings and assess what is and isn’t salvageable, depending on its construction and the level of damage. Once you know what can be salvaged, you need to take these belongings away from the affected area and start drying them out, which will vary depending on the item. For blankets and clothing, you can use a normal dryer, while other things may need to be air-dried. Expensive and highly cherished items should be taken to a professional cleaner, who can help to restore them to their former glory.
7. Throw out anything that would be a health risk
Unfortunately, there will likely be a large chunk of your household items that are a complete loss: they are too damaged, or their construction means they are at a high risk of developing dangerous mold spores that cannot be eradicated. Other items that might have to be removed and destroyed include drywall, carpet, furniture, and insulation. These should be safely disposed of according to the material; your restoration experts will help advise you on this as well.
8. Watch closely for mold, and disinfect everything
While the water damage remediation company will assist in disinfecting household surfaces and structures, you can speed up the process by caring for your personal effects. Take all the items that the remediation experts have informed you will be safe and disinfect them, taking a close look for any mold spores. These will show up as small spots or patches on cloth or wood, and they may exude a musty odor; mold can be a number of colors, including green, black, orange, red, or yellow. However, not all mold spores will be visible, so you should take care to deep-clean everything even if it shows no obvious damage.
A remediation company can do wonders at helping get your home back to working order
Water damage after a fire can be truly devastating, and it can feel as if you’ll never get your life back. However, a competent restoration company like PacWest Restoration can assist in every step of the process – and they bill directly to your insurance, so you can focus entirely on returning to a new normal. If you’ve suffered water damage after a fire in your home or business, it’s essential that you call the experts to make your property safe and sanitized once again.