First of all, the fire itself isn’t the only dangerous and damaging aspect of a house fire. There’s also fire smoke, and it shouldn’t be underestimated. When a home is on fire, the flames are usually preceded by an abundance of smoke drifting under doorways and through the halls.
Unfortunately for us humans, we have sensitive respiratory systems. It’s very easy for our body to get overwhelmed by the smoke long before we come face to face with the fire. After all, in a modern home, it’s not just untreated wood burning. Hence, there’s a lot that contributes to the toxicity of house fire smoke in 2018, and today we’re going to look at why smoke is so incredibly dangerous.
Therefore, with the advancement of technology, we’ve learned how to create materials and textiles that last longer than ever. But the longevity comes at a cost. Many of the products we use to build and remodel our homes are made with or treated with chemicals. Without a fire, common complaints are relatively minor such as headaches or skin irritation.
However, once the materials burn, they release compounds so quickly and in such high concentrations that it can affect anyone from the unsuspecting occupant to the fully-suited up firefighter.
Common household materials that can unleash toxic fumes:
- Furniture (particularly heavily manufactured and press-board style pieces)
- Old tile
- Plastic (including the ones you don’t think about like PVC piping)
- Flooring (laminate, vinyl, linoleum, etc.)
Particles that can be released into the air when a house burns:
- Heavy metals
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
- Acid gases
- Sulfur dioxide
- Nitrogen oxides
- And many more
Short-term & long-term effects of exposure to house fire smoke:
- Trouble breathing and shortness of breath
- Burning eyes
- Runny nose
- Decreased cognition
- Reduced alertness
- Delayed reaction times
- Decreased lung functioning
- Permanently stunted cognition
- Cardiovascular disease
- Lung disease
How You Can Protect Yourself and Your Family from Fire & Smoke
Educate yourself and your family on the most common causes of house fires and encourage smart, safe practices in your home to reduce the likelihood of a human-caused fire.
Learn about things you can do, right now, to reduce the fire risk in your home.
Purchase at least one fire extinguisher for your home (and keep it where it’s easily accessible and most likely to be used). For example, in the kitchen. If you have a two-story home, you should have at least one on each level.
Consider purchasing each member of your family an emergency smoke hood like this one, which is American certified by the Safety Equipment Institute.
NWA Restore It, Inc. is a master restorer with IICRC certifications in applied structural drying, fire & smoke restoration, mold remediation and removal, water damage restoration, textile cleaning, odor control, carpet cleaning, upholstery cleaning, and fabric cleaning.