What Do You Do After a House Fire?
The aftermath of such a tragedy is a hard pill to swallow, and taking the following steps are crucial to take after a home fire.
These tips should help you get back on your Feet:
Find a safe place to stay
Regardless of the damage, the likelihood of being able to stay in your house is slim. If family or friends are unavailable talk to your local disaster relief agency, such as the American Red Cross or Salvation Army. These organizations will help you find a safe place to stay temporarily. Most insurance policies will cover the cost of a hotel stay until long term arrangements can be made.
Contact your insurance agent
You’ll need to start a claim and address your immediate needs. If you have an insurance agent they can get in contact with your insurance carrier. If you don’t know who your agent is or don’t have one, every insurance carrier has a process to report a claim. “Loss of use” funds from your insurance policy may cover living and other daily expenses. If you receive these funds or an advance on your claim, save all receipts and keep a detailed record of all purchases.
Protect Your Home
Even though your home is damaged, and you may not be able to stay there, as the owner, you still need to protect it as much as possible from both weather and unlawful entry. You will need to board up or cover broken windows or holes cut in the roof caused by fire damage or from the fire department.
Recover your possessions
Do not re-enter your home until the fire department says it is safe to do so. While the initial reaction after a fire is to take all your possession out of the home, there are only a few things that need to come out immediately. This includes personal documents, valuable jewelry, weapons and ammunition, medications, and currency. Soot and smoke from the fire can damage your possessions permanently if they are not handled and cleaned by a trained professional. Items that may appear “clean” can smell like smoke and can contaminate areas if brought to another location without being professionally cleaned.
Take care of your pets
If you have pets, find and comfort them. After a fire and all the commotion your pets will be extremely stressed, they will either be hiding somewhere in the home or even run away due to the trauma.
Once you find your pets take them to the veterinarian to be checked. Pets that have been in a house fire can be injured from ingesting smoke just like humans.
Contact a Restoration Company
Your insurance company will most likely suggest or recommend a restoration company to help deal with immediate concerns like water damage, protecting your home, and savable content. As the homeowner you have the final say on who to use. Calling a reputable company with years of experience can make all the difference in how the restoration process moves forward. Fire damage clean up and reconstruction is a very specialized service that requires experience and years of industry knowledge.
Take Photos and Keep A Notebook
There will be a lot of information given to you in a short amount of time during a very stressful situation. It will be helpful to keep a record of any conversations you have with your insurance company and restoration contractor. This can help you remember the things you need to follow up on or provide to them. Take pictures and make a list of everything that was lost in the fire. While this can feel impossible and overwhelming, it is important to simply start. We find it is easiest if you just start a list and every time you think of something, write it down.
These are just a few tips to start you in the process after a house fire. JP Maguire has been helping families recover from a fire and return home for 40 years. As scary and uncertain as a house fire can feel, you can be assured that we can guide you through the entire process. For more information about the service we offer please visit our Fire Damage Restoration Page.
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We hope you stay safe! JP Maguire and Associates is celebrating 40 years of serving the community.