After a fire in your home, there are going to be a lot of questions running through your head. One of these questions may be what can you keep and what are you going to have to throw away. This is an important question as it can directly affect you and your family’s health. The below items should be thrown away after a fire.
- Non-Perishable Food in a Permeable Container or Close to the Heat. Any food in an open container or in a container made of cardboard, cloth, or thin plastic should be thrown away. If the food is in cans or jars, it may be okay unless it was exposed to high heat from the fire because the heat can activate bacteria that causes food to spoil and develop a foul taste. In addition, the toxic fumes can contaminate the food within the glass or aluminum containers. Any foods that look like they may have been affected by the fire should be thrown away, and if you are unsure it is better to throw it away than risk your health.
- Spoiled Perishable Food. If the fridge was not damaged in the fire and was sealed well, the food in your refrigerator or freezer may be untouched by the fire. Check your fridge and make sure the food is not at room temperature before eating or keeping. Other things to look for is a smoky smell in the fridge, visible soot within the fridge, or food that has an odd smell or taste.
- Medicine, Cosmetics, and Personal Hygiene Products. The fire may have melted any of these products, but even if they look salvageable, the high heat most likely affected their chemical compositions. Anything warped, charred, or soot-stained should be thrown away. The same goes for anything touched by fire extinguisher residue. Trying to keep damaged toiletries or cosmetics can damage your hair or skin. Any medications affected by the fire could damage your health if ingested. It is best to contact your doctor and get new prescriptions then to salvage what you had.
- Burned and Charred Textiles. If burned or charred, all textiles such as clothes, bedding, and towels should be thrown away. Any textiles that show no signs of being burnt can be salvaged if properly cleaned and disinfected before use or storage.
- Damaged Furniture. You should throw away any furniture or mattresses that were burned in the fire, as they are at risk of falling apart. If you have any hardwood furniture with minimal smoke and soot stains, then you can salvage it by cleaning it up. If these were water-logged when the fire was being extinguished, they could grow mold easily.
- Damaged or Stained Plastics. Plastics have the ability to pull in and collect smoke and soot more than most materials, so you should consider throwing away anything made of plastic after the fire.
- Affected Electrical Equipment. All electrical appliances and equipment should be inspected for water and heat damage by professionals before being used. If you are unsure it is best to throw them away.
After a fire, it is beneficial to contact a professional restoration service that can lead the cleanup and guide you through the process of deciding what to throw away and what to keep, as well as how to clean what you choose to keep. Remember if you’re ever unsure if an item should be kept, it is best to discard it, because it is better to be safe than to risk you and your family’s health and wellbeing.