Main page content begins here


If in Doubt, Throw it out!

If your freezer has stopped running, it may not be possible to salvage the food, depending on the severity of the fire and its proximity to the freezer. Keep the freezer closed. It may have enough insulation to keep the food frozen for at least a day and perhaps longer. If necessary, move your food to a neighbour’s freezer or to a commercial freezer firm. Wrap the frozen food in newspapers, blankets or place in insulated boxes to transport.

You must be extremely careful when salvaging food. Once subjected to a fire, food can spoil quickly, resulting in the production of salmonella bacteria. Eating such food can result in food poisoning.

Even if the fire took place some distance from the kitchen, your food was quite possibly subjected to very high temperatures. Thoroughly examine everything and don't take chances.

Refrigerators and Freezers

To remove odour from your refrigerator or freezer, wash the inside with a solution of baking soda and water, or use one cup of vinegar or household ammonia to one gallon of water. Baking soda in an open container, or a piece of charcoal, can be placed in the refrigerator to absorb odour.

Caution: When cleaning or discarding any refrigerator or freezer, be sure the doors or locks are removed or secured to prevent a child from becoming trapped inside.


Don't operate any appliances until you have had a service person check them. If the fire crews turned off your gas, water or power during the fire, call your utility company to restore services. Don't try to do it yourself!


Take wool, silk or garments to the dry-cleaners as soon as possible.

Smoke odour and soot can sometimes be washed from other clothing. The following formula will often work for clothing that can be bleached:

  • 4-6 tablespoons (60-90 ml) tri-sodium phosphate. (can be purchased in paint stores)
  • 1 cup household chlorine bleach

Caution: Test coloured garments before using any treatment.

Air Filters

Replace furnace filters. Thoroughly clean all air conditioning and furnace ducts to avoid having to clean things twice.

Painted Walls

Vacuum before cleaning. To remove soot and smoke from painted walls, mix:

  • 4-6 tablespoons (60-90 ml) tri-sodium phosphate. (can be purchased in paint stores)
  • 1 gallon (4 litres) water

Keep this solution away from children and pets. Use rubber gloves and goggles. Wash a small area at a time. Since soot will deposit on the ceilings and upper portions of walls, work from the floor up, doing ceilings last. Rinse thoroughly. When completely dry, apply a smoke primer (available at a paint store) before painting.


Wallpaper usually can't be restored. Check with your wallpaper dealer.

Floors and Carpets

Remember to vacuum all surfaces before cleaning. Use flax or linseed soap on wood and linoleum floors. Apply four or five times, then strip and re-wax.

For carpeting, steam clean, shampoo, then steam clean again.

Furniture, Cabinets and Bedding

First, vacuum surfaces before cleaning.

Inexpensive cleansers such as flax soap or linseed soft soap (available in hardware and paint stores) are the most efficient products to use on wood, including kitchen cabinets.

Don't dry furniture in the sun because the wood may warp and twist out of shape.

Furniture shampoo units, available at any rental outlet, are recommended for upholstered furniture. Be sure to test the fabric for colour fastness before shampooing. Follow the instructions that come with the unit.

Reconditioning a mattress at home is very difficult. A company that builds or repairs mattresses can probably recondition your mattress. It is almost impossible to remove smoke odour from pillows. Feathers and/or foam retain the odour, so they should just be replaced.

Locks and Hinges

Locks should be taken apart, wiped with kerosene and oiled. If locks cannot be removed, squirt machine oil through a bolt opening or keyhole and turn the knob to distribute the oil. Hinges should also be thoroughly cleaned and oiled.

Cooking Utensils

Your pots, pans, flatware, etc. should be washed with soap and water, rinsed and polished with a fine powdered cleaner. Polish copper and brass with a cloth saturated in vinegar or lemon, sprinkled with salt.

Try to isolate the room in which you are working from the rest of the dwelling to keep soot from moving from one room to another.

Remember to provide for a good supply of fresh air for yourself and others working in the room.

Leather Goods

Wipe leather goods with a damp cloth, then with a dry cloth. Stuff purses and shoes with newspapers to retain their shape. Leave suitcases open. When dry, clean with saddle soap. Use steel wool or a suede brush on suede. Rinse leather and suede garments in cold water and dry away from heat and sun.


Books can be dried by placing them on end with the pages separated. Then stack to prevent pages from crinkling, alternate drying and stacking to help prevent mildew. If books are very damp, sprinkle cornstarch or talc between the pages, leave for several hours then brush off.

For More Information


In Edmonton: 311

Outside Edmonton: 780-442-5311

End of page content. Please choose between the following five options:

Back to main menu Back to current page menu and content View current page breadcrumb Back to site search Continue to page footer content