What To Do After A House Fire

Thursday 9th September 2021

Sophie Rioch

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What to do after a fire

If you've just experienced a fire in your home, it can be difficult knowing where to start.

There are a number of steps you should take to both protect the health of your loved ones and restore your property as close to its original condition as possible.

Put your health first

Kent Fire and Rescue Services states that breathing in smoke from house fires can lead to a range of health consequences. What’s more, you may not notice the effects straight away, so it’s important to remain vigilant.

According to the NHS, smoke can affect children and adults of all ages. Side effects may include:

  • Burning eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Phlegm
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing

Those with asthma, weakened immune systems or other respiratory diseases (such as heart disease or lung disease) must be extra careful to avoid exposure to toxic smoke as they may experience more severe symptoms.

Those with heart disease may experience:

  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue

Individuals with lung disease may suffer from:

  • Coughing
  • Phlegm
  • Chest discomfort
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath

Pregnant women, individuals with diabetes, infants and the elderly may also be more at risk of developing complications.

If you begin to feel unwell, call 111 immediately for professional advice.

Seek alternative accommodation

Following the fire, your home will need professional restoration services to return it to a safe, habitable condition.

During this time, you should look into alternative places to stay – whether it be through family or friends, or via your local housing authority.

Call 0808 196 3651 to speak with a volunteer from the British Red Cross. Offering free, confidential support, the British Red Cross will be able to help you take the next steps.

Prevent further incidents

Once all hazards have been dealt with, you should consider the level of safety in your home.

Remember not to turn on the gas, electricity or water supply until a qualified engineer has confirmed it’s safe to do so.

Whether you know the cause of the fire or not, it’s important to do all that you can to prevent another fire from taking place. This begins with educating your household on the dangers of fires.

Educate your household

By reminding all members of your household of the fire risks within your home, you can minimise the chance of another incident taking place. Educating your household will also put you one step ahead should another fire arise.

According to First Alert, you should practise your fire escape plan on a regular basis too. Experts suggest carrying out the drill at least twice a year. You should aim to make the drill as realistic as possible.

The National Fire Protection Association recommends that all members of the household should be involved in creating the escape plan, particularly if you have children in the home.

As a parent, it may be helpful to draw a floor plan of your home showing all windows and doors. This will make it easier to train your children to find the nearest fire exit in the event of an emergency.

Test all smoke alarms

It’s crucial to check that your smoke alarms are working properly following a fire.

Data collected by the Office for National Statistics shows that faulty smoke alarms were present in 21% of fire incidents in 2020. Reasons for failure include:

  • Alarm battery missing
  • Alarm battery defective
  • System not set up correctly
  • System damaged by fire
  • System turned off

This means that if your home was recently affected by a house fire, there’s a chance that the fire may have damaged your alarms.

To check if your alarms have been damaged, press the test button until the alarm sounds. If no alarm sounds, it’s time to get a new one.

According to Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, you should test your smoke alarms once a month. Remember that all smoke alarms have a lifespan of 10 years, so you’ll need to replace them after this time (Netatmo).

If you’re not sure whether your smoke alarm is working, you can organise a free fire safety visit from your local fire services. If you’re based in London, check out London Fire Brigade’s website to book your home visit, or call 0800 028 4428.

Restore your home

Once you’ve secured your home, it’s time to start restoring the property.  

It’s likely your home will require a deep clean. From your carpets and soft furnishings to your ceilings and doors, you may find some items are beyond repair. You should dispose of these immediately.

Any items you wish to salvage will require a professional deep cleaning treatment to extract all traces of soot and ash. Soot and ash pose a number of health threats and require specialist cleaning tools to remove them.

Ventilate the property

It’s also important to ventilate the property.

Opening any windows or doors will allow fresh air to enter your home, and help to push any harmful airborne smoke particles out. This is crucial to create a healthy air flow.

Whilst ventilating the property won’t eradicate all fire smoke odours, it may reduce the strength of the smell. If you’re looking to completely remove the smell, you’ll require professional assistance.

Call us today

Here at ICE Cleaning, we offer around-the-clock fire damage cleaning services for house fire victims.

Call our emergency response team on 0208 066 0360 for a same-day response. To find out more about the full range of fire and smoke damage services we offer, send your questions to enquiries@icecleaning.co.uk.

Zoe Dunning

Zoe Dunning

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