Over one-quarter of all reported fires in the USA occurred in homes. And tragically, the majority of reported injuries and deaths occurred as a result of house fires.
Emotions will be running high. In the event of a house fire, knowing what steps to take after the firemen leave will save you time and money, and reduce stress.
Unsure exactly what to do after a house fire? Read on for a useful “what to do after a house fire” checklist that will help you recover quickly following a fire emergency.
1. Wait Until It’s Safe to Re-Enter Your Home
Once the firefighters have put the fire out, be sure to get the all-clear from them before entering your house to collect personal possessions. Fires can cause structural damage and houses have collapsed following a fire.
Check-in with your family. Is every member accounted for? Call any relatives and close friends to reassure them that everything is okay. If they offer help, don’t be shy to take it, whether it be a place to stay, a home-cooked meal, or a promise to assist with later restoration.
2. Get on the Phone With Your Insurance Agent
Once you know your family is safe and you’ve retrieved any essentials from your home, it’s time to call your insurance agent. They are experts in knowing what to do after fire. It’s essential to do this as soon as possible after a fire or you risk hampering the claim process.
The agent will walk you through any first steps you need to take on the phone. They may help with organizing emergency housing, provide you with living expenses, and researching restoration companies in your area.
3. Can You Save Your Home?
First, you need to determine what the fire has damaged or destroyed. Sometimes, if the fire was severe, this will be obvious. Other times, hidden fire damage may render your home unlivable even if it looks okay from the outside.
Your insurance company will send an adjuster to your property. They will check the damage and determine whether they can clean up your home. It’s also very possible it may need to be leveled and rebuilt.
4. Take a Tally of All Your Possessions
Once you’re able to go into your home to retrieve your possessions, work with your family to carefully sort the undamaged items from the damaged. You might be able to rescue some items ruined by heat or water.
Don a pair of gloves and use a clean soot sponge to rinse dirty surfaces. Take severely damaged items to a professional cleaner.
5. Getting It All Cleaned Up
Cleanup and total restoration is the final step on the list of what to do after a fire. Fixing a fire-damaged home is usually a job for professionals.
Even if the fire only influenced a single room, smoke and soot can infiltrate other areas of the home, including possessions like clothes, books, and electronic items. Salvage what you can and trash the rest.
What few people realize is that the water used to put out a house fire can be just as harmful to the structure of a home as the flames, heat, and smoke. Most professional restoration companies also offer water mitigation services.
Confident You Know What to Do After a House Fire Now?
Prepare for future emergencies: Create a “what to do after a house fire” kit. Gather together a list of personal belongings, copies of important documents like social security cards and passports, bank account and insurance company details, and precious family heirlooms. Store everything in a fire-proof box.
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