A home fire is always difficult. Of course, the worst case is that there was a loss of life, but even if it was simply property loss, there can still be major concerns, including the long-term health of the family.
Sadly, it’s one of the least talked about aspects of home fires. Most people focus on the immediate aftermath and the property loss, but there can be some significant health concerns.
In this blog, we’ll look at some of these concerns and present some ways to mitigate them.
What Causes the Health Issues in a Fire Loss?
Before we start to look at the health issues, let’s look at why a fire creates them.
Many of the things that burn in a house fire don’t burn cleanly. This means that they put out a lot more than, say, a pellet stove. Where the main by-products of your car or your furnace are carbon monoxide and other chemicals, a house fire can create lots soot and partially burned chemicals. These act as irritants that make the family sick.
- Carpets (Synthetic Fibers)
- Furniture (Foam, Fabric, Plastics)
- Wood Products, often Treated
- Asbestos-laced Materials
- Paint and Coatings
Most of these materials are made from crude oil with the addition of other chemicals, metals, and more. As they burn, the soot that’s released often contains deadly chemicals and particles.
4 Major Areas of Health Concern from Fire Loss
There are 4 major areas of health concern from a fire loss:
- Skin issues
- Breathing concerns
- Eye irritation
- Long-term health effects
Many of the chemicals that are released during a fire are skin irritants. They can cause rashes, lesions, and more. There’s also the possibility of allergic reactions. Often, these are chemical irritations that home remedies can’t help. These conditions will often require medical attention if they start manifesting.
Clothes that were present during a fire need to be paid attention to. Smoke, soot, and by-products of the fire can remain in them. This can cause these chemicals to be pressed against the skin for hours and create significant concerns.
The soot, smoke, particulates, and chemicals from a fire can remain in the air for days after the fire is out. Also, every time something that was in the fire is moved, it can kick up soot and dust. This can cause the effects of a fire to last for months and even years.
The by-products of a fire can cause a full spectrum of breathing and lung issues: shortness of breath, coughing, asthma, bronchitis, and more.
For those who have pre-existing conditions, like asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), these chemicals and by-products can create a life-threatening situation. Someone who has these concerns needs to avoid a house where a fire has happened until it’s cleaned well. If they do go into the house, for even a few moments, they should wear a mask that stops particulates and filters the air.
Some of the chemicals that are released in a fire can also hurt your eyes. Rubbing will often make it worse. The particles that affect the lungs can also significantly irritate the eyes. Redness, discomfort, pain, and even affect your vision are all possible.
If your eyes begin to hurt or get irritated after a fire, it’s important to see a doctor right away. The damage to your eyes can be permanent.
Long-Term Health Risks
The chemicals in your house are, presumably, not harmful in their normal state. Your couch won’t make you ill if you just sit on it. When a fire alters the chemicals and releases them into the air, they can become deadly, even over the course of years.
This can cause many significant consequences to the people in the house:
- Heart Attack
- Chronic Bronchitis
- Chronic Asthma
- Effects on Children, including lifetime asthma and learning disabilities
There are other illnesses that you can acquire from the chemicals in the smoke. Sadly, this is why there are often firefighters that have ailments later in life.
How to Avoid Illnesses from Fire Loss
The only proper way to avoid these illnesses is to have your home properly cleaned and restored by a company that is licensed and experienced in this type of work.
At Water Restoration, we’ve been working on this type of problem for years in the Denver, CO area.
We start by removing the burned and useless materials. If it’s possible to save personal items, like photographs and furniture, we will do it. Each piece is handled by a restoration expert.
Next, the Water Restoration team will remove the burned and destroyed parts of the house. Often that will include parts of the roof, walls, and floors. Importantly, we’ll look at any wall that has been compromised. Even if it wasn’t burned, if a wall is opened up, smoke and soot can get inside.
After replacing everything that was too damaged to save, we’ll clean the house. We use special chemicals and equipment to get the soot and smoke off the walls, carpets, and ceilings. This process will help get the bad parts out and remove the smells of the fire.
When you get your home back, it’s more than just restored, it’s clean and healthy again.
We hope you’ll never need us after a fire in the Denver area, but if you do, our team stands ready to help. Call us as soon as the flames are out. Water Restoration can help secure your home from thieves, close up any holes in the roof, and immediately get started on making your home safe again.
The team at Denver Water Restoration is here to help you. If you’re not in the Denver area, please look for a reputable company to help you in your time of need. Many of our peers around the country are good people doing good work.