The United States saw 372,000 residential fires in 2020 alone, resulting in $8.6 billion in total damages. A house fire can cause serious losses, posing a struggle for families that may have to deal with it for months as they put their lives back together. Fortunately, you don’t have to face fire recovery alone. Follow these steps to get the help you need to recover from house fire damage.
Notify Key People
It’s important to alert the right people after a house fire. Your first and most obvious point of contact is the fire department. You shouldn’t re-enter your home or proceed with any other recovery efforts until fire department officials have cleared your home for re-entry. You should also contact:
- Friends and family members to let them know what happened and where you’re staying.
- Utility providers, including electric, gas, and water companies.
- Your homeowner’s insurance provider.
- The local police department.
Make Immediate Living Arrangements
Your first consideration after a house fire is making immediate living arrangements. Your homeowner’s insurance agent can advise you on getting funds for short-term lodging and living expenses. If you don’t have homeowner’s insurance and need assistance, you can contact your local Red Cross, Salvation Army, or other charities in the area for help.
Assess the Damage and Begin Recovery
As soon as the fire department has cleared your home for re-entry, you should begin documenting the fire damage. Start by taking photos for insurance purposes. Don’t discard anything until your insurance agent and a restoration team have assessed the home. You need to account for all losses, but you may be surprised at what you can save.
Recover essential documents if possible, such as birth certificates, passports, and financial documents. It’s always best to keep these items stored in a fireproof safe. Retrieve any other items that seem salvageable, but leave all food and cosmetics, as heat can make these items unsafe. You can take prescription medication bottles as a reference for refills, but you should not consume any medications left in the house during the fire.
Contact Restoration Professionals
House fire damage is virtually impossible to recover from on your own. Smoke and soot can pervade nearly every part of the home, even if the fire was confined to one area. Your home may also have extensive water damage from the firefighters’ efforts in putting out the fire.
A professional fire restoration service has the skills, tools, and expertise necessary to restore your home properly and safely. The restoration company can assess the damage, alert you to salvageable items, and begin the extensive clean-up process in your home. This may include:
- Boarding up windows and doors.
- Removing water from the carpet, upholstery, and other absorbent materials.
- Dehumidifying the home to speed drying.
- Combating mold and mildew.
- Eliminating smoke stains.
- Removing odors.