After a house fire, it can be overwhelming to look towards the future. Fire damage restoration feels overwhelming when you’re staring at your home after a fire.
According to the Red Cross, 80% of Americans don’t realize that home fires are the single most common disaster in the United States. House fires cause damage throughout the whole house. Even in rooms that were never engulfed in flames, the high heat can melt plastic, cause your paint to blister, cause severe stress to your glass windows, and more. Appliances, equipment, and personal belongings that are still standing are likely ruined beyond repair.
These seven steps will help you get started on the road to recovery after a house fire.
7 Things to Do After a House Fire
1. Call Your Family
Contact any family members that may not have been with you. Let them know what happened and the status of any family members with you. If none of your family members are local, call a close friend so that you have help as you begin the restoration process.
2. Call Your Insurance Agent
After a house fire, don’t assume that someone else is going to contact your homeowners insurance company. This is the first thing that you need to do once you’ve contacted your family. This will start the process of event documentation and initiate your insurance claim.
From there your insurance agent will be able to talk you through emergency lodging and living expenses. They will also get you in touch with companies that do fire damage restoration. Often, the restoration company works with your insurance company to do cleanup.
Be clear on who is going to pay for different pieces of the restoration process. Make sure you have physical, written copies of every agreement.
3. Figure Out If Your Home is Salvageable
Your insurance company will most likely send out an adjuster to evaluate the fire damage to your home. They will decide if your home can be saved, or if it must be demolished and rebuilt.
If your house has been damaged rather than destroyed in the fire, it will need professional cleanup. The direct damage from the fire will need to be fixed, but heat, smoke, and soot can cause damage to your home and your possessions. On top of that, if your fire was extinguished by professionals, there may be water damage in your home. Remember that fire damage to your property often goes beyond what the eye can see. Professionals like Jenkins Restorations will know where to start.
4. Make Sure It’s Safe Before Re-entering Your House
Do not enter a house or other building that has been affected by a fire until the fire department has made sure that it’s safe to enter your home. Fires can start again even if they appear to be out and there is almost always hidden damage. Roofs and floors may be damaged and could fall down when you’re inside.
5. Organize Your Possessions
Separating your damaged possessions from your undamaged ones will make it easier for you to make a list of damaged items for your insurance company. Having a list of all of your personal belongings is very helpful in this situation. These lists often contain receipts and bank statements of purchased items. Providing photos along with the list would help greatly when filing the claim.
6. Save Undamaged Possessions
Either you or the restoration company needs to sort through your possessions. In many situations, there will be salvageable items in the wreckage, particularly if you saved certain items or documents in a fire-proof box. Any items that are not damaged or destroyed should be put in a safe place, even if it means putting them in storage.
You will find that things the fire did not burn up may be ruined by smoke, soot, or the water used to put out the flames. Anything you want to save will need to be carefully and potentially professionally cleaned.
7. Find Somewhere to Stay During the Fire Damage Restoration Process
Most homeowner’s policies will pay for the food, clothing, and shelter that you and your family may need for a specified period of time. You may want to contact local disaster relief like the American Red Cross, your church, or family and friends who can help you find a safe place to stay for a while.
You may be surprised at how you and your family may feel after a house fire. Disasters like these can cause a great deal of unsettled feelings, and your emotional care and recovery are important too. Just follow these steps and call our 24/7 emergency line- 888.450.6580 -to help get your home back to normal.