What Should I Do After a House Fire?
After the fire is out and the smoke has cleared, the fire department is gone and you are left with a disaster on your hands. In the aftermath of a home fire, it’s very important to know what to do and what to avoid doing. Follow the guidelines to learn what to do after a house fire.
Contact your insurance agent immediately after a house fire
Your first obligation is to call your insurance agent. Discuss what to do to restore your property and the amount of your insurance deductible with your insurance agent. Ask for ways to secure your home and for recommendations of restoration companies that can be trusted.
When you hire a fire restoration company, make sure you receive an estimate of the cost before work is started. Ask your insurance agent who will cover the costs. Save the receipts for any expenses that concern the fire loss.
Document any personal items you have lost and try to attach a value to each item. Take a moment and think of all the things you would hate to lose if a fire occurred in your home. Review what was in the affected room or rooms and begin documenting losses as soon as possible.
Learn more about what to discuss with your insurance agent after a fire.
Ensure your safety
Always ensure your safety if you enter your home after the fire. Ask the restoration specialists, fire department, insurance agent or local building officials if the building is safe to enter. Otherwise, you could expose yourself to hazards.
Here’s why a house may be dangerous after a fire. Smoke darkens the structure and obstructs the view of safety concerns. There may be compromised structural components, falling debris or even electrical safety issues.
In addition to the structural hazards, it’s also important to consider health issues. Every fire generates particles of incomplete combustion (PICs), many of which are carcinogens. These remain in the air and on surfaces after the fire is out. They are microscopic, and therefore, are easy to ingest. Thus, it’s best to not touch fire-damaged items to avoid health risks.
Additionally, if the utility services were turned off by the fire department for safety reasons; don’t turn them back on until you are advised to do so.
Depending on the severity of the loss, you and other occupants may need to leave the building. So, make sure local officials concluded that the property is safe to enter.
If you decide to leave, secure the property
When you leave your house, secure it to as best as possible to deter looters. Also, let the police know your property is unoccupied. They can protect your property against burglars. Board up openings or make a temporary fence to protect your home, as well.
Ask for help at a local disaster relief center
If you can’t stay in your home, ask for help at local disaster relief services, such as public health departments and the American Red Cross. They can provide a safe place to stay, food, clothes, and other essential items. Also, when you decide to start the recovery process, don’t do it alone. Ask family members or friends for support.
Protect your pets
The next tip on what to do after a house fire concerns pets. Care for your pets, as they can behave irrationally during and after a disaster. Their instincts may cause them to bite or scratch, so be careful and gentle when handling them. Don’t let pets get near fire-damaged contents and provide a safe shelter for them. Learn more pet fire safety tips.
Hire a disaster restoration company after a house fire
It’s important to contact a professional restoration company after a fire to mitigate the damage and restore your home. Get the professional mitigation company involved immediately! The sooner they start the restoration process, the easier it’s going to be to assess, evaluate, and act on the damage. Your property and possessions will suffer further damage as time passes by. For example:
- Plastic and marble surfaces begin to permanently stain within minutes.
- Metals tarnish, grout stains, and fiberglass and furniture yellows within hours.
- Flooring, fabrics, and wood furniture finish are compromised within days.
Reputable companies also recognize the importance of compassion and understanding as you cope with your loss. They know how to help you alleviate the many concerns and fears that you may have. A prompt, knowledgeable and sympathetic response will go a long way in assuring you of the best possible outcome. Also, they can communicate with you the processes that will take place and how your property and personal items will be protected.
When you hire a restoration company, make sure they do their job right. Professional restoration companies that provide fire & smoke remediation services have these responsibilities:
- Respond rapidly to the client
- Communicate the procedures and secure an authorization
- Scope the damage and provide a detailed estimate
- Control and contain to prevent continuing damage
- Prevent cross-contamination
- Properly clean and process the entire job
- Process and properly dispose of wastes
- Provide effective odor control
- Provide an environment ready for any final repairs
From the time the first call is received until the mitigation is complete, a professional restoration company is essential in handling the claim and in managing the cost. Learn more about the fire damage restoration process and smoke odor removal after a house fire.
To summarize, here’s what to do after a house fire:
- Contact your insurance company and file the claim right away
- Inventory the losses and show them to your insurance agent
- Ensure your safety when entering your home
- If you’re leaving the home, secure it properly
- Ask for help from local disaster relief organizations
- Protect your pets after the disaster
- Hire a reputable restoration company to remediate the fire and smoke damage