Okay, you’ve done the smart thing, called in the experts to help clean up after a fire. Now what? Here’s how you can pitch in and make a difference—safely.
First, open the windows if that’s weather appropriate.
Second, think about what NOT to do. Don’t enter a building that is unsafe. Don’t use electrical equipment (computers, kitchen appliances, anything) until they have been checked and cleaned. Don’t eat food that’s been exposed to heat, even if it’s canned.
Recognize that some things respond well to cleaning rom fire and smoke damage. Metal fixtures like faucets can be cleaned with detergent. Hint: try coating them with Vaseline or oil.
Cleaning smoke damage is different from scrubbing dirt to clean something from everyday use. With drapes and upholstery, you want to brush or blow off the loose particles of smoke damage and debris, rather than rub them in with the elbow grease we are so familiar with.
Dry cleaning works well with clothes, depending on the damage. Send a few pieces out and see how they do.
Be ruthless about carpeting and furniture that is heavily damaged: it needs replacing.
If it is winter and there is no heat, drain the pipes and put antifreeze in the toilet bowl to prevent plumbing damage. And think about preventing further damage: hire a contractor to board up windows, etc. if repair work is delayed.
Ask for advice. It’s likely this is your first disaster—at least we hope so! Professionals have seen your situation often; they can guide you about how to proceed.