No, it is not safe to stay in your home after a fire. You need to have the area inspected, cleaned, and repaired first. Even a small house fire can release toxic chemicals into the air which could hurt you and your family. The only way to be sure it is safe and not a health risk is to have an inspection done. Homeowners should immediately call their insurance company to report the fire, smoke, and soot damage. Then, contact a fire damage restoration company to assist you with the cleanup and repair.
Specific health risks after a house fire include:
Structural damage – if the fire has compromised your home’s structural integrity the roof, walls or floor could be at risk of caving in. You may need to install roof tarping or board-up holes in your walls in order to shield your home from the elements.
Toxic fumes – Breathing in carbon monoxide, soot, and smoke can cause irritation and possible long-term damage to your lungs.
Chemical residue – When plastic, wallpaper, paint, and other household items burn they release toxic chemicals into the air. These chemicals can settle into any nearby fabric, carpet, or other surfaces. If you touch them this residue will then be on your skin and in your clothing. It is best to have an IIRC certified home renovation inspector evaluate your house before returning.
Is it Safe to Sleep in a House After a Small Fire?
Even if the fire was very small it is still dangerous to sleep in your house right after a fire. The air is contaminated with smoke, soot, burned chemicals, toxic fumes, and everything else that was released into the air from the fire. These toxic particles spread throughout your home and get trapped in fabric, bedding, clothing, drapes, and carpet. Even after a small fire, you should immediately open your windows and doors to air out the house. Then, wait for your home restoration team to evaluate and repair the fire damage before you continue to sleep in your house.
Is it Safe to Sleep in a House After Smoke?
Even if all you saw was smoke rather than flames, it may still be unsafe to sleep in your house. Instead of taking chances with your lungs, go ahead and have the inspection done. If you’ve filed a claim with your insurance company, it is possible they will cover the cost of the inspection. If it is necessary for you to sleep somewhere else while your property is being restored, your insurance plan should cover the cost of temporary lodgings. Contact your insurance agent to see what your individual plan covers.
How Long After a Fire is it Safe to go in and Recover Valuables?
The fire department will give you an “all clear” to allow you back into your house to recover your valuables after a fire. They will be checking to ensure that all flames have been extinguished and your home is still structurally sound. Once that occurs you can enter to retrieve valuables but should avoid spending large amounts of time inside until your home has been completely cleaned and restored.
Your belongings may have soot and smoke damage and may need to have fire damage restoration before they are safe to use again. You may need to take them to a safe location until they can be properly cleaned and sanitized by a restoration company.