Frances Badayos | author
ICHQ | Site Author
After safely escaping a fire at your home and avoiding serious injury, did you know that the health risks after a house fire are often just as dangerous as the fire itself? Entering your home after a fire puts you at risk for several health concerns that can have far-reaching effects and trigger a variety of breathing issues.
Don’t wait to get legal help with the fire remediation process, and be aware of the health risks of entering a home damaged by a fire. When disaster strikes, our fire damage claim attorneys serving New Orleans and Louisiana at Insurance Claim HQ stand ready to assist with claim filing and denials after house fire clean-up.
What Are the Respiratory Health Risks After a House Fire?
Once firefighters put out a house fire, entering it to assess the damage and retrieve belongings is probably your first order of business, but doing so without protective equipment can put you at risk.
After a house fire, the interior environment is often toxic with poor air quality resulting from several factors, including:
- Soot residue
- Smoke damage
- Chemical particles
Breathing around the soot after a house fire can cause you to inhale heavy metals, acidic particles, and dust that impact your lungs. It is impossible to avoid this because soot clings to many different surfaces after a fire, including furniture and drywall.
Toxic fumes can also travel through your home’s air ducts, even if the fire only affected a certain area. Closing off burned rooms and keeping your HVAC system turned off until your home undergoes repairs can limit the spread of toxins.
What Chemical Hazards May Be Present After a House Fire?
During a house fire, some items release toxic fumes when they burn. These include household cleaning products, styrofoam, certain plastics, and furniture cushions. The fumes from any of these can cause health concerns from a house fire if you breathe them in while attempting to retrieve certain items.
Breathing in airborne ash that contains toxins can irritate your throat, sinuses, and lungs. The irritation can last several days and cause a persistent cough and nasal sensitivity that may lead to sudden nosebleeds.
Why Is Mold Growth Dangerous?
After firefighters extinguish a burning house, the water hoses they use introduce additional health risks after a house fire. The water gets left behind, and such moisture often causes mold growth in affected areas. Mold develops rapidly and does not require sunlight to thrive, only humidity and something to grow on.
Mold spores can travel to almost any area in your home. Once mold begins to spread, it can affect drywall, carpeting, and almost any building material. Nearly any porous surface creates an environment for mold to grow.
According to the Louisiana Department of Health, once spores begin to develop, they release toxic compounds into the air that give the growth its familiar foul, musty odor, like wet, dirty fabric.
How mold affects the body
Breathing in the toxic compounds mold gives off can trigger breathing problems in those with chronic respiratory issues, such as asthma. Exposure can cause a variety of other symptoms as well, including:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Persistent fatigue
Quickly multiplying spores can cause you to develop mold toxicity symptoms in a relatively short amount of time. If you discover any mold after entering your burned home, notify your home insurance agent.
Can You Enter Your Burned House Safely?
If you must enter your damaged home, taking precautions can lower the risk of breathing in toxins that remain behind after a fire. Try to wear a breathing apparatus qualified to filter out elements in the air, as well as boots and gloves to protect your skin from absorbing any toxins.
If you do not have access to appropriate safety equipment, staying out of the burned areas of your home is generally the most effective way of staying safe. Allowing a professional remediation service to handle the cleanup completely shields you from the dangers of chemical hazards. Your insurance company can offer details about whether your home insurance provides such a service.
Does Insurance Cover the Cost of Temporary Lodging?
If a fire burned your home to the ground or made it unsafe to live in, review your insurance policy regarding the coverage of temporary dwelling costs. If you and your family must live in a hotel or rent an apartment during repairs to your home, your insurance policy may reimburse you for all or part of the cost. Our contract attorneys can assist you if necessary.
Protect Yourself and Your Family From Health Risks After a Fire
The potential health risks after a house fire can affect any family member, especially those with a previous lung or respiratory illness. Breathing in the air affected by smoke, soot, ash, and mold introduces toxins into the body that may linger for weeks.