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Okanagan, Shuswap homes survived the fire? Now the work begins

Even if they were left standing after the fires, there are still some vital steps homeowners need to take before their homes are safe. And there's a lot of work to be done just to make them livable.

First on the list is to survey the outside of the home, Cameron Stutters at Stutters Restoration told

“The first thing I recommend is simply just doing a walk around outside the property,” Stutters said. “Just go around the circumference of your building and just do a visual look at the siding, the patio furniture, the landscaping.”

Typically, the outside of a building sustains the most visual damage from fire.

“There could be some burnt siding on the side of the house. Or there could be some landscape damage,” Stutters said.

Homeowners will also need to check the condition of their roof (if it is safe to do so) as burn marks and ash deposits will likely be found there and on the siding of the building.

Next, the homeowner will need to turn their attention to the potential damage inside the home.

Where the outside of the house could smell burnt or similar to a wildfire, indoors there may be a strong soot or smoke odour.

Stutters said that it is important to look out for a dark grey or black discolouration in the furnace filter.

“This would be an indication that there's definitely been some soot or smoke contamination into the home,” he said. “We provide smoke odour treatments, we do kind of like a few swab tests inside the home just to kind of get a visual inspection of soot contamination.”

It is likely that residents left their homes in a hurry or panicked state and therefore may not have closed all the windows.

“That can be a concern because the smoke would have heavily come into the home,” Stutters said.

A quick inspection around window ledges can let you know if there has been any contamination. Ashy deposits or small black dots are an indication of soot contamination.

This is not something you want to find in your home, or go about cleaning yourself, Stutter said.

“Soot is very acidic,” he said. “So you don't really want to get out a wet cloth and then wipe that because it's going to smudge and that soot is going to stain in or set into the building materials.”

Instead, soot needs to be properly degreased and carefully removed.

“They could pull out a Q-tip or a Kleenex and just do a light surface wipe in some of those areas,” Stutters said. “Because a Kleenex is white, a Q-tip is white, and if you're seeing a lot of black particles there, then there's definitely some contamination that's come into the home and they should have a restoration professional come and do a proper deodorized treatment.”

And it doesn’t end there. Some homes will have been without electricity for a prolonged period of time, meaning there will be a lot of rotting food to dispose of from fridges.

“I'd recommend not opening them,” Stutters said. “It's going to be a really putrid smell.”

Stutters said that being aware that fridges and freezers are going to be full of rot is important and restoration companies should be contacted to remove the appliances and rotting food.

It is also important to consider how heavy smoke and soot contamination can be harmful to residents with respiratory issues, elderly people or infants.

“If people do have respiratory concerns or the elderly or infants, they might want to have someone assist them and then check out their home ahead of them or with them,” Stutters said. “Perhaps family or a close friend that could do that just to make sure that that person won't be adversely affected upon returning home.”

Air purification is one of the most vital steps in restoring a home to a healthy and liveable condition. 

“One of our first steps is to put in some air scrubbing technology so that the air inside the home is going through a filter machine with a (high-efficiency particulate absorbing) filter and a carbon filter,” he said. “That way the air inside the home is being purified and is much more breathable.”

For more information about Stutters Restoration visit their website here or call at 877-763-1540. 

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