House fires have been nicknamed "silent disasters" when compared to the natural disasters which are so publicly broadcasted about by the news media. Tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and tsunamis get a lot more press because they are devastating and uncommon. House fires are much more common but just as destructive. They are often considered private and isolated affairs that not many people hear about, thus their nickname. |
The most common reasons for a house fire to ignite include:
1. Improper functioning appliances and electric wiring 2. Objects placed too near a heat source such as a fireplace, woodstove or heater 3. Cooking projects gone bad. Unwatched pots and pans upon the stove, excessively hot oil in the frying pan, popping popcorn forgotten 4. Dropped cigarettes on the couch or bed 5. Children playing with matches
Once a fire has occurred and been put out, and the family is safe and sound, there will still be damage to sort through and try to alleviate. Inspecting the home and attempting to salvage unburned possessions will no doubt be emotionally devastating. There will be an oily residue on all surfaces to contend with as well as a permeating burnt smell.
Some steps that may be taken by either a professional or the homeowner may include demolition of the badly damaged structures, repainting and resealing with a coating of shellac varnish, or a product that is called Bin. Bin is a substance which contains shellac but is thin enough to pass through a sprayer, making it easier to coat areas and get rid of the smell.
A professional restoration team may be able to clean up the smoky air by using methods such as hot-and-wet fogging, Ozone or HEPA air scrubbing techniques, a steam cleaning method and applying a baking soda and dry ice concoction onto the damaged regions.
To clean curtains or upholstery, use a vacuum that suctions rather than one with a beater bar device which will tend to force the soot further into the fibers. Clothing and other fabrics should be soaked overnight and then laundered. Specialized detergents designed to remove soot and odors can be found online at fire restoration informational websites.
To clean porous surfaces such as masonry or drywall, first use a dry chemical sponge to wipe free as much debris as possible. Next spray with a grease cutting cleanser and wipe. Less porous surfaces such as metal appliances, glass or tile will need to also be sprayed with cleanser in order to be wiped free of the oily soot. Be sure to have plenty of sponges and paper towels available and throw them out as they become dirty and unusable.
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