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What Can Be Safely Salvaged After Fire Damage?

Analog wall clock burned and melted by fire in a burnt kitchen

Small house fires are the most common disasters in North America. If you've suffered a house fire, you're probably just grateful no one was hurt. But after the initial shock, there are many things you'll have to take care of, including finding a place to stay, contacting your insurance company, and recovering your possessions. While some of your property must be thrown away after a fire, keeping as many of your personal items as possible can help provide comfort and make you feel normal again. Fortunately, with the help of a professional restoration service many objects with hard, porous, and non-porous surfaces (like glass and metal) or belongings that can be washed (like clothing) can usually be salvaged if they didn't come into direct contact with the fire.

Clothing, Bedding, Towels

Although it's best to throw away charred or burned textiles, items like clothing, towels, and bedding can be washed if they only have minor soot stains or water exposure. However, be especially careful when deciding whether to keep children's clothing, bedding, or cloth toys, since their skin can be much more sensitive to any chemicals on fabric. If washing doesn't remove the smell of smoke from your fabrics, you may need the help of a professional odor removal service.

Glass and Ceramic

Glass and ceramic are surprisingly resilient and are often much easier to save than fabrics. After a small house fire, the only damage to your glass belongings may be a coating of soot. However, ceramics can be porous and may be susceptible to staining from smoke damage and hard water. Although it may be possible to clean glass by washing it with vinegar and dish soap, ceramics may require a deeper professional cleaning. However, if glass or ceramic possessions are melted or cracked by the fire's heat, they'll probably have to be thrown away.

Related Topic: Throw These Four Things Away After a Fire

Pack-out Service

While your home is recovering from a fire, you may need a professional pack-out service. This service will remove items that need restoration, or store items to protect them from further damage. Companies that provide pack-out services will:

  1. Examine and separate damaged items that need restoration services.

  2. Carefully record all items using photo documentation, identification numbers, and detailed lists.

  3. Pack items carefully and deliver them to an off-site facility.

While at an off-site facility, your items will be housed in a secure, climate-controlled environment and will stay there until your home's cleaning and restoration is complete.

Hardwood Flooring

Even though wood is a porous material, unless there's flame damage—like charring or burn marks—you can almost always salvage hardwood floors after a fire. First, if the floors got wet while the fire was being extinguished, it's important that they are dried properly so they don't crack or warp. Contacting a professional restoration company immediately after the fire is the best way to restore your damaged wood floor.

Related Topic: How NOT to Fix Water Damaged Wood Floors

Ensure Safety with Salvaged Items

No matter how safe your home may seem after a fire, consulting a professional is the best way to determine which of your belongings are safe to keep and which ones must be discarded. Especially since firefighters may use chemicals to put out a fire that may leave a residue on your furniture, drapes, or even your clothes. The fire and water restoration professionals at Rainbow International can help you confirm which of your possessions you can keep, then clean and sanitize them to make sure they're safe for you and your family. Even a small house fire can be a traumatic experience. So, let the professionals at Rainbow International assist you through every step of the home fire restoration process, and help you return to a more normal way of life as quickly as possible.