Emergency Restoration Tips January 25, 2017 – Posted in: Blog – Tags: Fire Damage Restoration, water damage restoration
When a disaster strikes your home — like a fire or flood — you want to salvage everything you can and get things back to normal as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, well-intentioned homeowners can often do more harm than good, to both themselves and their homes.
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Fire and Smoke Damage: What Should You Do First?
When thinking about house fires, the mental picture is usually the charred remains of a few timbers, with the rest of the house lost to the blaze. For many homeowners, that’s not the case. Fires that are caught or fought before they consume the entire house can leave anything from just one wall to multiple rooms damaged, while others remain passable or inhabitable.
Help from a professional is crucial to remediating damage and restoring your home to working order. However, there are a few measures you can take — without causing further harm — while you wait on the pros.
Before you attempt to inspect the damage yourself, make sure the fire department has given the all-clear to reenter the structure. Fires can cause structural damage that could make your home unsafe to enter.
Start with a careful, thorough inspection of your possessions. Remember, it can be hard for the average homeowner to tell the extent of the damage. Ask your local fire department which areas of your home, if any, are safe to reenter.
Food that has come in contact with smoke, debris or even water should be thrown out. Water used to douse flames can transfer soot, debris and other harmful substances to whatever it touches. Dishes and food prep items should be thoroughly cleaned before reuse. Same goes for salvageable clothing, furniture, carpeting, etc.
Firefighters may have had to break down doors or cut walls to battle the flames. The fire itself could have broken windows. Get a contractor to board up these entry points ASAP to protect your home during the remediation process.
Most importantly: Be safe. Don’t turn on any electrical appliances until a professional has inspected them and given the all clear. Don’t attempt to clean walls or ceilings yourself. Wear safety gear like sturdy shoes, pants and long sleeves, gloves, safety glasses and a respirator or mask.
How to Recover From Water Damage: Category 1
You don’t have to live near a body of water or in a rain-prone valley to experience water damage. Water damage is the result of any number of issues or events: poor drainage, burst pipes, an old roof and firefighting efforts included.
A big part of recovering from water damage is helping your home and possessions dry out. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do in advance of, or in addition to, the arrival of a restoration professional.
You should never use a regular vacuum cleaner to remove standing water — use a wet/dry shop vacuum, and only do so if you know your electricity is in safe working order. Even if you don’t have a wet vac or if you’re waiting for an electrician, you can still aid in the drying process. Blot flat surfaces to get rid of standing water. Open all your cabinets and drawers, closets and luggage so air can circulate. Loop curtains through a hanger and place that hanger on the rod to get drapes off of the wet floor. Leave your seasonally-appropriate HVAC on. Pop your valuable books and important papers into the freezer ASAP. This will help combat mildew growth until you’re able to start the drying process.
Again: Be safe. Don’t enter rooms with standing water while the electricity is on. Don’t attempt to use appliances while standing on wet flooring. Wear appropriate safety gear.
When in doubt, wait until you can speak to a certified restoration professional about how you should proceed.
How to Handle Sewage and Flood Damage: Category 2 & 3
Flooding is the number one cause of property damage in the U.S. This is unfortunate, as many homeowners do not own any type of flood insurance or policy.
Damage and contamination from water is bad enough, but sewage greatly compounds the problem. It’s no longer a case of cleaning and drying items and putting them back into use.
Treat any item — food, cosmetics, medicine or medical supplies, toys, bedding, upholstered furniture, etc. — that has come into contact with sewage as contaminated. Sewage spreads a plethora of viral, bacterial and parasitic diseases, and contaminated items should immediately be thrown away.
To prevent further spread of germs and parasites, keep kids and pets out of contaminated areas until after remediation.
Unfortunately, helpful homeowners are likely to do more harm than good when dealing with sewage. The best you can do is to dry damp areas in the first 48 hours to help prevent mold growth. Using your own sprays or products to attempt to clean contaminated areas only does more harm than good.
Any of these emergencies are understandably upsetting. It’s not surprising that as a homeowner, you want to get your home back to normal as soon as possible. These tips and warnings can help ease the process, but are not a permanent solution in and of themselves.
For the structural integrity of your home and the health and well-being of your family, don’t rely on DIY. Call upon a restoration professional to inspect, restore and remediate damages.