Is It Safe To Sleep In A House After A Small Fire?
The leading cause of death in a fire incident is smoke inhalation. There is a fifty to eighty percent chance of death due to smoke inhalation instead of actual fire burns. Aside from inhaling smoke in a fire, the damage after the fact can also be just as detrimental. While it is true that smoke dissipates quickly, don’t be fooled into thinking that its adverse effects disappear just as fast.
Smoke finds its way around any closed space and can seep into almost anything. Even when smoke is not visible, its particles and soot can still be present and can damage your health if left untreated. On average, smoke damage restoration can take six months to a year for the repairs to be completed in an average house fire.
If you’ve recently experienced a fire, no matter how small, and you’re left wondering if you can still sleep in the house after the event, the short but definite answer is NO. Here’s why you need to get your fire and smoke damage fixed before staying at home.
Small Amounts of Smoke Can Affect Your Health
When a material, organic or inorganic, goes through combustion, it emits fine particles and gases. Smoke is the collection of these particles along with air.
Depending on the material that caused the fire, the smoke particles may include chemicals that can damage your home in various ways. Because smoke particles are microscopic and can quickly get into our lungs, they pose the most significant threat to your health. These fine particles can deeply penetrate your lungs and cause health problems. What initially may seem like a runny nose may end up causing complicated lung and heart issues. Furthermore, inhaling toxic fumes may not only cause respiratory problems but can have fatal consequences as well.
Staying in a Smoke-Damaged Home
Many will assume that once the fire is out, it is safe to return home. Unfortunately, that is not entirely true. Even with a small fire, smoke can stay and linger around the property for hours or even days, which can be incredibly toxic to your health. Carbon and tar are just two of the known byproducts of smoke. Additionally, heavy metals and other toxic substances are present in it, and inhaling these can pose serious health risks.
If you stay inside a smoke-damaged home, you will quickly encounter difficulty in breathing. It is because your sinuses and lungs can be directly and immediately affected by smoke inhalation. Carbon monoxide residue can also hinder the supply of oxygen to the heart, brain, and other major body organs, resulting in more dangerous consequences.
In addition to that, smoke particles do not only affect the respiratory function, but it can also seep into clothing and other fabric which may irritate the skin. In some cases, there may be skin irritations that are severe and may require immediate medical attention.
Here are some more of the possible unfavorable consequences of staying in a smoke-damaged house:
Oxygen deprivation or asphyxiation usually comes in two forms. First, the oxygen present in the surroundings is consumed during combustion, contributing to the lack of oxygen levels. Secondly, smoke contains carbon dioxide, which reduces the amount of oxygen present in the air.
Smoke contains ammonia, chlorine, and sulfur dioxide, amongst other known chemical irritants.
Chemicals that are released during the fire can remain within the surroundings. Hence, it can cause irritation and damage to the respiratory tract when inhaled. Complications can lead to swelling and a collapsed airway.
Signs of Toxic Smoke Inhalation
When faced with possible smoke inhalation, early detection is critical. There are tell-tale signs of smoke inhalation that you need to look out for.
In cases of smoke inhalation, the respiratory tract produces mucus when irritated. Excessive mucus production combined with tightening of the throat muscles causes a coughing reflex. Coughing is a way of expectorating mucus clogged in the airway. Depending on the smoke inhaled volume, the mucus may appear clear, greyish, or sometimes black.
- Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath is another sign of smoke inhalation. It is caused by a damaged respiratory tract that fails to supply adequate oxygen to the blood. Due to smoke inhalation damage, the body can start to breathe in a short and rapid phase.
Inhaling a high amount of carbon monoxide reduces the oxygen in the body. The effect causes the person to experience headaches, decreased alertness, or aggravate a condition in the heart, i.e., Angina.
- Heavy and noisy breathing
Hoarseness or noisy breathing occurs when the vocal cords are irritated due to smoke inhalation. The upper airway swells resulting in the build-up of fluids.
- Skin discoloration
Observing skin discoloration is also vital to know if someone is suffering from smoke inhalation. The decrease of oxygen supply to the body will make the skin look pale or, in some cases, bluish. On the other hand, carbon monoxide poisoning causes the skin to turn bright red.
- A decrease in alertness
With decreased oxygen supply, a person may experience confusion, dizzy spells, or a decrease in alertness. In severe cases, this can lead to seizures and brain damage.
- Chest pain
Because of excessive coughing and irritation of the respiratory tract, the supply of much-needed oxygen to a person’s heart is decreased. When this happens, chest pain may occur.
Prioritize YOUR Health
If you or someone you know showed signs of smoke inhalation, immediately call for medical assistance. Vacate the smoke-damaged area and move to an area with clean, fresh air. Check for airway blockage and breathing patterns. Performing CPR is necessary until help arrives.
Staying in a property that has been damaged by fire is not advisable because of the health implications a person may feel. The health risk is doubled for children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.
If you have experienced a fire, whether it is small or massive, it is best to seek services from a professional fire restoration company immediately. They can help in thoroughly cleaning and properly decontaminating the entire property. Doing so is making sure that your home is a safe environment for you and your family.