Fires are obviously dangerous. Because of their destructive power and ease of spreading, people recognize immediately that flames aren’t something to take a chance with. Fires quickly consume properties, devouring furniture, cabinetry, floorboards, and more if left unchecked. Many people believe that once the fires are put out, the danger is doused with them. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Just like a flood can leave lasting structural damage and health hazards long afterward through mold growth, fires do a similar thing with smoke. And then there’s also the possibility that with bigger fires that need to be handled by the fire department, the property will have both water and fire damage to deal with. Because of this, you should call a competent restoration company for help. But is smoke damage really so dangerous?
People are generally in agreement that smoking cigarettes is harmful to health. The main explanation often given is that there are hundreds of dangerous chemicals that go into the addictive properties of cigarette smoke and that these chemicals are the source of the health problems. While these chemicals certainly increase the danger, removing them doesn’t eliminate health risks, as smoke itself is also dangerous, especially in large amounts.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, more deaths are caused by smoke inhalation than burns. This is due to a number of reasons:
Smoke is a heavy substance. And because it’s heavier than the gases around it, such as oxygen, it displaces them. Simplified, this means that it moves the oxygen elsewhere and takes its place. This is especially dangerous in enclosed spaces such as buildings because less oxygen is able to enter the space from another source. Reduced oxygen levels are a significant danger and humans have difficulty functioning when the overall oxygen levels are reduced even a little bit. Normal breathable air is made of approximately 21% oxygen. When smoke displaces this oxygen to lower amounts, breathing not only becomes difficult, but there are other physiological problems as well. At around 17%, people start to experience impaired judgment and fine motor skills. The problems compound until unconscious at around 9%, and cardiac arrest at levels close to 6%
Particles from smoke in high concentrations are harmful to anyone that inhales them in a significant amount. People with health conditions, however, are more at risk. If a person has lung disease, their lungs have to work harder to function properly. This means that lower oxygen levels affect them more than a person with normal functioning lungs. The young and elderly face similar problems as their lungs are often not operating at full capacity.
While the effects of smoke aren’t nearly as damaging to your property as they are to your health, they still exist. Structural damage such as rusting or corroding metal is common, as well as discolorations and odor.
Most smoke is naturally caustic, meaning that it can eat away at substances through chemical reactions. This damage is slower and can take some time to corrode through strong materials like metal, but is still something to be aware of. Over time, smoke can even start to weaken structures within your walls, putting your property at greater risk.
When smoke gets into some substances, it changes the color in a negative way. For some porous materials, this change is permanent, but for others, it can be reversed if properly cleaned. Drywall commonly gets a yellowish tint where it came in contact with smoke that needs cleaning to restore back to normal. Some things, however, aren’t as fortunate. Damage to artwork is a common misfortunate that happens after a fire for art that was lucky enough not to be destroyed in the initial fire. Paintings can be permanently altered. A similar transformation can happen with wood objects and furniture, although the effect can be reduced with wood polishers and cleaners.
Smoke odors are some of the most persistent odors there are. Even after all traces of smoke are gone, the odor can manage to survive. Different materials burn differently, and leave behind different levels of smoke odor. Because soot can be mixed with the air itself, these odors can survive long after the affected area is cleaned. The best method is to use some type of absorbent that can extract the leftover soot and particles left behind. There are some common household remedies, but in severe cases, professional smoke odor remediation may be necessary.
Since smoke can have powerful negative effects on your home and health, it’s important to do what you can to lessen the damage. A quality air purifier can pull out a good amount of harmful particulates and increase your air quality. There are also several products for smoke odor removal that can be applied in a pinch to reduce smoke issues. Many times, the only way to be sure you’ll get rid of all the smoke problems is to hire a restoration company. An adept property restoration company has industrial equipment and the right cleaners to make quick work of any smoke remnants and will get your property as close to normal as it can be.