Fire damage is devastating not only to the affected building but also to the family living inside it. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) detailed around 1.5 million fires in the United States in 2022. These fires caused 13,250 injuries and $18 billion in property damage.
These numbers are staggering and mainly focus on the immediate results. However, there’s also the aftermath, usually the health effects of fire smoke. If you’re a home or business owner, understanding its different hazards and risks can help protect your loved ones or employees.
Read on as we talk about the common health effects of smoke from fires and the damage they could do to the body so you can better prepare for unforeseen incidents.
Understanding Fire Damage: A Quick Overview
Common causes of fire include electrical malfunctions, cooking accidents, faulty appliances, and, unfortunately, intentional acts. The immediate effects on a property are often visible, with charred structures, melted belongings, and pervasive smoke residues.
However, beyond the visible property damage, there are also health concerns. The effects of fire smoke inhalation can contribute to chronic respiratory conditions, impacting individuals long after the incident.
On the other hand, direct exposure to flames results in burn injuries, ranging from minor to severe, depending on the fire’s intensity. The trauma from such incidents can also impact the victims’ mental health, which can lead to anxiety or other stress-related disorders.
5 Health Risks Associated with Fire Damage
In the wake of a fire incident, specific demographics, such as children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing health conditions, face heightened health risks. Here are some specific ones and ways to address or mitigate them:
1. Respiratory issues
Utah is one of the most wildfire-prone states, so many residents are at risk of fire smoke damage to the lungs. These could lead to lasting conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Smoke inhalation introduces harmful particles and toxins, causing inflammation and respiratory distress. Symptoms like shortness of breath and coughing are particularly alarming for children and older people. To prevent respiratory issues, seal any air leaks from fire hazards, use air purifiers, and promptly seek medical attention for symptoms.
2. Cardiovascular problems
Medical studies indicate a connection between smoke exposure and an increased risk of heart disease. If you already suffer from existing cardiovascular disorders, smoke from fires could exacerbate your condition. Regular checkups can help keep track of your health, especially for several family members with similar conditions.
3. Skin and eye irritation
Soot and chemicals released during a fire can lead to skin and eye irritation, causing redness, itching, or a burning sensation.
Protective equipment like gloves, goggles, and masks can minimize direct contact with irritants. In the event of exposure, avoid touching your face and wash any affected skin immediately. If any other symptoms occur, seek medical attention, as delayed treatment may lead to complications.
4. Mental health impact
The psychological impact of a fire incident can be devastating. Anxiety can stem from the fear and uncertainty during and after the event. Individuals may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with distressing memories, nightmares, and heightened stress levels.
Depression can also manifest as a persistent low mood, feelings of hopelessness, and a sense of loss, especially when dealing with the destruction of personal belongings and memories.
Getting support helps in weathering the mental turmoil. Support groups and professionals can play a pivotal role in assisting people to cope. These resources offer a supportive environment for sharing experiences, gaining insights, and receiving guidance on rebuilding lives.
5. Exposure to hazardous chemicals
Fires release hazardous chemicals into the air, containing particulate matter, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and carbon monoxide. Lengthy exposure to these elements can lead to numerous health complications.
Utilizing masks like N95 respirators can significantly reduce the inhalation of harmful particles during and after a fire. You should also stay indoors in the aftermath, as air quality is likely still compromised.
Hiring an expert company to do cleanup and restoration for your damaged property can also help mitigate exposure to these chemicals, as they know how to dispose of the debris safely.
Safeguard Your Health Through the Fire
Protecting yourself during and after a fire is paramount, as it goes beyond the visible damage. From respiratory concerns to mental health impacts and exposure to hazardous chemicals, the aftermath can be just as devastating.
At All Dry, we understand the intricate connection between property restoration and your health. We offer commercial and residential restoration services that go beyond rebuilding structures. Our team can thoroughly clean up your property, minimizing risks and creating a healthier living environment.
If you’re a fire victim and want to rebuild or proactively address potential health risks, contact us today for assistance. Our team of experts is ready to guide you through the fire damage restoration process.