Bad things happen. And even though we hope they never do or never happen to us, we know that bad things will inevitably happen. But this knowledge does not protect us from the shock we experience when we are the victims of disastrous events, such as a house fire.
Nobody wants problems, but problems are a permanent fixture of life, and the best way to deal with problems is to prepare for them. When a fire happens in your home, all sorts of emotions will flood your mind and make it hard to know the right steps to take.
But if you have taken the time to raise your level of emergency preparedness before the event happens, it makes it easier to get through the challenge. No amount of preparation will prevent accidents but a high level of preparedness can limit the event’s power to hurt you.
This is why Nelson Property Management in Roseville advises you should know the things to do and not do right after a house fire. Having this information is crucial because house fires are far more common than most people realize. On average, there are around 365,000 residential fires every year.
And although all these fires are damaging, a good number of them cause irreversible damage. What often determines if an individual or family is able to recover from a fire is how much they have taken to prepare for the possibility of such an event.
Facing up to and accepting the likelihood that you can have a fire in your home is half the battle of surviving a fire. The following is a list of things to do and not do after a fire incident in your home. These steps will help fast track your journey toward recovery.
What not to do after a house fire
Even though you may be concerned about salvaging some of your belongings, the safety of you and your loved ones should be paramount. To safeguard your life and wellbeing, please do not do any of the following:
- On no account should you reenter your home. The fire inspectors will want to check the house for structural soundness. You may only enter it if they say it is okay to do so.
- Your home’s utilities – gas, water, or electricity – need to be inspected before you can turn them on. If you turn them on before they are certified safe, you could put yourself in further danger.
- If your car was damaged by the fire, do not attempt to start it.
- Soot can irritate and damage your eyes and breathing passageways. Do not enter the home without the right protective gear and do not attempt to clean soot and smoke from your home. These tasks should be left to professionals.
What to do after a house fire
- Inform members of your family, friends, and loved ones of the accident.
- Inform utility providers (electric, gas, water) of the accident.
- Pay attention to your family’s emotional needs. House fires can be frightening and very traumatic for children. If necessary, arrange counseling for everyone.
- Calm frightened pets and ensure their safety and comfort. It may be necessary to have a vet check the pets for smoke damage and burns.
- Get the Fire Department’s go-ahead to enter your home. Your insurance company may also need to give approval before you enter the home. Entering the home without getting that approval could affect your insurance claim.
- Document the fire damage. This list should be as detailed as possible – with the make, model, serial numbers, and receipts of items. Ideally, you should have an inventory of your belongings before the fire. Take photographs of damaged items.
- Remove all undamaged items from the home. Undamaged items left in the home may be stolen. It is not uncommon for fire damaged homes to be vandalized.
- Contact the fire department for a copy of the fire report. This document will contain information about the cause of the fire and other details that may be helpful for processing insurance claims.
- Even if the home is not completely destroyed, it may not be safe or possible to stay in it. You and your family will need temporary accommodations. Your homeowner insurance may help to cover the additional living expenses if it includes ‘loss of use.’
- Let the local police department know that your home will be temporarily vacant. You should also let your children’s school know about the incident and how it could affect the children.
- Contact your insurance company and begin the claim process. This should be done as soon as possible because your insurance could fund the cost of living somewhere else temporarily.
- Also get in touch with your bank, mortgage provider, and auto insurance company.
- Begin the process of replacing important documents – licenses, passports, and birth certificates that were lost in the fire.
Finally, remember that most fires are preventable. Make sure devices, like smoke detectors and other fire prevention measures, are in place once you are able to return to your home.
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