If you are cleaning up after a fire, you can't just roll into the fire site and start cleaning things up. You have to be careful with how you clean because you don't just have to look out for areas damaged by the fire; you have to look out for smoke damage.

1. Always Verify the Safety of the Building

After a fire, no matter how small or severe it seemed to you, you will want to verify that the building is safe before you try to enter it and start cleaning things up. If the fire department responds to the fire, you will want to wait for the fire department to give you the all-clear that the building is safe to enter. If the fire was small enough that professional help was not called in, you will want to ensure that the fire is totally extinguished before you start the clean-up process.

2. Protect Your Body

Smoke damage is not just harmful physical structures; it can also be harmful to your body. As you clean things up, soot will get stirred up and released into the air, where it can then get into your lungs, eyes and come into contact with your skin. There are often additional hazardous materials that can be found in the smoke as well that you are going to need to protect yourself from.

With smoke, you will want to wear a respirator that is specifically designed to filter out soot and chemicals. You should wear goggles, gloves and cover up as much of your skin as you can. You should wear thick gloves as well.

3. Get to Work

With smoke damage, as soon as you get the all-clear, you will want to have a professional team ready to help you clean up the smoke. Soot stains, and the longer that it is left in place, the harder it will be to get rid of the stains that soot creates. Additionally, the longer the soot is left in place, the harder it can be to get rid of the smell that it makes as well.

4. Be Careful with Ventilation

After fire damage, you need ventilation in your workspace. However, you are going to want to be careful with how you achieve that ventilation. You will want to turn off the HVAC system, as you don't want it to carry soot to other parts of the building that were not impacted by the fire. You will want to open up doors and windows in the impacted area to get rid of the odors and provide yourself with ventilation as you clean.

After fire impacts, a building, don't start cleaning until the space is safe. Protect your body before you start to clean; you don't want to come into contact with the soot and chemicals it carries with it. Get to work as soon as you can, preferably with the assistance of a professional smoke damage cleanup team. Use doors and windows for ventilation, not the HVAC system.