What to do After a Fire
Dealing with fire damage is devastating and costly. You want to save everything you can, but some items you should throw away immediately because they’re not worth the health risk. Be wary of:
For the least risk, it is recommended to discard all the above, but there are some things you can look for to see if any are salvageable.
Food and Beverages
All food and drink sitting out or in permeable containers should be discarded. Even if the items were not in direct contact with the fire or smoke, exposure to high heat and the hazardous chemicals that heat triggers can make anything exposed dangerous. Even food in sealed containers can be affected by the chemicals on those jars and cans reacting to the high heat. The only foods with a shot at being safe are the items in the refrigerator, but before trying to save them, make sure the following is true:
- The food is still cold, and food in the freezer still has ice crystals
- There is no smell of smoke inside
- No soot is visible anywhere inside
- The food has no visible damage or weird odors
Cosmetics and Medications
Since these are in direct contact with skin or are ingested, it is equally important to make sure they do not show any signs of damage. You should throw away any exposed cosmetics or medications immediately. Anything warped or covered in soot or fire extinguisher dust should be tossed as well.
Clothes and Bedding
Clothes and bedding are probably the most salvageable of all these items. Anything that is not burnt can often be saved after professional cleaning, but remember these come in direct contact with your skin and the skin of your loved ones. Take proper care to get them disinfected and be especially wary of any clothing or blankets for babies or young children.
Always make safety the priority. If you are ever in doubt about any items, it is better to throw away than test your luck. While they may be expensive to replace initially, preventing health concerns will save both heartache and money later.