Your instinct after a house fire is probably to save as many of your belongings as possible; however, you may need to throw away some items because they can not be safely salvaged. These four categories of the property may need to be tossed after a fire.
1. Nonperishable Food
Nonperishable food is a food item, such as canned or boxed goods, that has a long shelf-life and does not need to be refrigerated. Soot and smoke from a fire may contaminate even unopened packaging, rendering the food unsafe to eat.
2. Perishable Food
Perishable food items, such as fruits, vegetables, and meat, are foods with short shelf-lives. These foods often need to be refrigerated or frozen to slow bacteria growth. House fires may cause power outages. Foods that require refrigeration that has been at a temperature higher than 40° F for more than two hours should be thrown out. A power outage between two and six hours may render refrigerated food unsafe, while food in the freezer may become unsafe after an outage of 12 to 24 hours. You should also throw away perishable foods that have come in contact with flames, soot, or smoke.
3. Damaged Furniture and Mattresses
Furniture and mattresses that have fire damage may be structurally unsafe to use. Hardwood furniture with minor or moderate smoke and soot stains may be salvageable.
4. Medicines, Cosmetics, and Hygiene Products
Any medicines, cosmetics, or hygiene products that have been exposed to high heat, soot, smoke, or flames should be discarded. Contact your physician if you need a replacement for any prescription medications.
Property with cosmetic damage may be salvageable after a fire, but you should throw away any contaminated or spoiled food and medicine or structurally damaged furniture.