What To Do After a House Fire
A house fire is an unpredictable disaster. The US fire departments report that approximately 354,400 residential structures are destroyed by fire every year. Unfortunately when it happens, it can be a terrifying experience, and can change your life entirely.
More importantly, moving on with your life after a house fire can be devastating since you have no idea on who to call, what to do next, or even where to start. But it doesn't have to. Below is what to do after a house fire to help you and your family get started during this difficult time.
1. MAKE IMPORTANT CALLS
After a house fire, call your family members who may have been away and let them know what occurred and if everyone is safe.
2. FIND A SAFE PLACE TO STAY
House fires are overwhelming especially if there are children and pets involved. You need to relocate to a comfortable and safe place even for one night to help you figure out what to do next and for your family to rest.
If your friends and family aren't available, you can reach out to a disaster relief agency such as the Red Cross. They can provide a temporary shelter for free.
3. CALL YOUR INSURANCE AGENT
After relocating to a safe place, you should file your claim immediately. The sooner you contact your insurance agent, the sooner the documentation and reimbursement process begins. Most insurers can also cater for daily expenses also referred to as loss of use fund especially if you lost your debit and credit cards in the fire. Your agents can also help find abatement or cleaning services.
4. CHECK ON YOUR HOME'S SAFETY
House fires tend to weaken your home structures as well as leave toxic fumes from the burned stuffs. If you want to get back to the house to salvage some items, wait for a fire marshal to declare it safe. Also, you need to speak with your insurer before you re-enter your home to avoid problems during reimbursement.
5. SALVAGE UNDAMAGED POSSESSIONS
If your house was partly damaged by fire and deemed safe to enter, you can remove undamaged items. It is recommended to clean the salvaged possessions preferably by professionals since they have the tools and experience designed to restore items affected by fire.
You can also rent a storage unit to store the salvaged items. This way, your possessions will not be damaged further or make it difficult for the repairs. The cost of the storage units depends on the size among other factors.
6. MAKE A LIST OF ALL DAMAGED ITEMS
Make sure you list all items that were damaged or lost whether big or small in the fire to ensure you are reimbursed. This is because most insurers need detailed information such as serial numbers, models and receipts. You can also search online for bank statements for proof of purchase. However, it can be difficult if everything was completely destroyed.
If crucial documents such as driver's licenses, passports, birth certificates, and tax information among others were destroyed too, you should list them too. Your insurance agent will inform you on the documents you need for reimbursement so you can replace them first.
When disaster strikes, it can be a stressful and traumatizing experience especially when trying to figure out what to do after a house fire. But don't fret, you can count on SERVPRO. We have the tools, expertise and experience to help you clean, repair and restore your damaged property "Like it never even happened." Moreover, we work hand in hand with your insurer to quicken the claim process.
For more information on what to do after a house fire, including steps to repair damage, please contact us.