Tips for dealing with disasters from your local ServiceMaster Clean professionals

February 20, 2009

After damage from a fire, smoke or water damage, what you do first can make a big difference — for good or bad. While you want to restore some sense of normalcy to your space and your employees/tenants, doing the wrong thing can make the damage worse.

If you need to clean fire and smoke damage


  • Lightly vacuum loose soot particles from upholstery, drapes, and carpets.
  • Cover carpeted traffic areas with towels or old linens to prevent soiling and ground-in soot.
  • Discard open food packages as they might be contaminated by chemicals released in the fire.
  • Send clothing with heavy smoke damage to a professional restoration cleaner rather than a dry cleaner.
  • Wipe the leaves of surviving plants to remove smoke residue.
  • Tape damp cheese cloth over air outlets (both intake and output) to capture loose soot in the air (and to reduce damage to your system).
  • If the outside temperature and security procedures will allow it, air out the building to reduce smoke odor.
  • Turn off HVAC system until it has been checked by a professional.


Wash any papered or flat painted walls.
  • Try cleaning carpets or upholstered furniture yourself.
  • Use electrical appliances before they've been checked.
  • Use ceiling fixtures before they've been checked.
  • Touch things unless you must; keep your hands as clean as possible, otherwise soot can migrate to places that didn't have any.
  • Eat any food that has been exposed to fire or smoke.
  • DON'T wait to call for professional help. Response in the first 24 hours can make a big difference in how much is saved.

    Tips to minimize the effects of water damage and help keep you safe.


    Cut off the power if you can do so without standing in a damp place.
  • Remove as much water as possible by blotting or mopping.
  • Move furniture to a dry area and wipe it down.
  • Lift draperies off the carpet.
  • Prop up wet furniture cushions for even drying.
  • Remove area rugs or floor coverings if wet.
  • Open doors and drawers of wet furniture to improve drying.
  • Move photos, paintings or other art objects to safe locations.
  • Remove damp books from shelves and open to dry, flipping the pages from time to time.
  • Leave your heat on if it’s cold outside; if it's very hot, leave your AC on.
  • DON'T

    Use an ordinary vacuum to remove water.
  • Use electrical appliances on wet carpet or floors.
  • Go into rooms with standing water if the power is still turned on.
  • Lift tacked down carpet. Doing so could increase shrinkage; let the professional handle it.
  • DON’T wait to call a professional. Water damage starts at once and gets worse as time passes.
  • Bacterial growth can start in just a few hours. A professional response in the first 24 hours can make all the difference.

    ServiceMaster Clean of Fort Collins/Loveland has the resources to handle any disaster situation, from regional floodwaters, broken pipes and dumpster fires to residuals from forest fires, tornados, acts of vandalism and even acts of terrorism. For more information on disaster recovery as well as commercial and residential cleaning services, contact ServiceMaster Clean in Fort Collins/Loveland at 970-484-0588 or visit