While most house fires do not cause catastrophic damage, they can still leave your home in need of crucial repairs. Even after a fire is put out, your home may be inhabitable due to smoke residue, the presence of toxic gases and damage from firefighting equipment. There are certain tasks you should complete in order to make sure your home is safe for re-entry and to protect your property in the event of another catastrophe.
Get Permission to Re-enter
Even if it appears your home did not suffer significant damage, do not enter the premises without permission from the fire department. Firefighters will let you know if the fire is completely extinguished. If there are areas of your home that are not safe, they will create a safety zone so you will not risk injury by inadvertently venturing into a badly damaged area.
Request an Advance for Necessities and File a Claim
It is imperative to contact your homeowner's insurance company as soon as you can after the fire is extinguished. If you had to leave your home in a hurry and did not have time to grab items like work clothes and toiletries, you can request an advance from your insurance company to cover the cost of replacing these items.
An insurance company representative can deliver a check to you in person so you can purchase necessities right away. Make sure to retain all receipts for items you purchase.
Do not wait to file a claim. Compile an inventory of losses to submit with your claim that includes a complete description of every item destroyed including current value, purchase price, serial number and model number.
Consult a Fire Restoration Service
A reputable fire damage restoration service will provide 24-hour service to dispatch a team as soon as possible to clean your home. The fire damage professionals, like ones from Central Flood Management Inc, will begin by conducting a thorough inspection to determine the extent of damage. They will let you know what property you can keep and what you should discard. They can also help you prepare the inventory you submit to your insurance company.
Do not try to clean up severely damaged walls, floors and other structures on your own. You can cause more damage than the actual fire if you have no experience in fire restoration.
Fire restoration professionals have the proper equipment to clean toxic, smoke damaged structures. They also wear specialized clothing to prevent their skin from coming into contact with toxins during a cleanup.
Board Up Windows and Protect the Roof
If there is extensive damage to the roof, windows and skylights, the fire restoration pros will board up your home and install a tarp over the roof to protect the interior.
If there is extensive water damage, they will install dehumidifiers to dry out your home. These measures will protect your home until you can hire contractors to perform extensive repairs. Boarding up your home also prevents entry to trespassers and small animals.
Improve Fire Safety
Once your home is hospitable again, you should take measures to improve fire safety.
- Create a family escape plan and schedule an annual fire drill.
- Install fire escape ladders on upper floors.
- Install a smoke alarm in each room and test the devices each month.
- Install residential fire extinguishers.
- Avoid creating hazardous conditions such as overloaded outlets.
Keep an Up-To-Date Home Inventory
When the fire restoration is complete and you begin replacing lost property, create an inventory of your home. The Insurance Information Institute offers free software for creating and updating a home inventory. Store the document online in a cloud service and keep a printed copy in a secure place like a safe deposit box or a fire-resistant safe.