Cooking, heating, smoking, candles, and electrical issues are the top causes of a house fire in the United States. According to statistics, around 358,500 house fires happen every year. It means that even the best precautions cannot remove the risk of fires at home.
In case of the unthinkable, what should you do after a fire disaster on your property?
1. Move Out and Find a Safe Place to Stay
Even if you see that the damage is minor, avoid staying at home, risking your family’s safety and health. If living with relatives or friends in the meantime is not possible, you can talk to your local disaster relief agency. They can help you find a safe place to stay temporarily. If you have the means, you may also consider staying in a hotel for a while.
If you’re renting your home, make sure to contact the owner of the property right away. It will help them make decisions about the house and start with the recovery process.
2. Get in Touch with Your Insurance
Always call your insurance right after a home disaster happens, and never assume that someone will do it for you. This will begin the event documentation and claim process. Your insurance policy will most likely cover your living and other daily expenses, like your hotel bills. Whether or not you receive this in advance, keep all receipts and maintain a detailed record of all your purchases.
Your insurance should help you secure your property and recommend restoration companies for fire damage cleaning and restoring items that can be saved. If you can, get fire reports from your local fire department since these can help provide more information to your insurance company. It’s always best if you have your own list of restoration companies that you can call.
3. Determine if Your House is Safe to Enter
Never enter a house or building that a fire has damaged until the fire department tells you it’s safe to do so. Keep in mind that fires can start again even if they appear to be out. Also, damaged roofs and floors can fall and hit you.
There are also health risks caused by inhaling soot and smoke, especially for an extended period. If you were given a signal to enter your home, retrieve valuables and essential documents, including birth certificates, passports, medical records, etc. Most importantly, never smoke while in your damaged house or bring any flammable items. You may go to this page for more information about property restoration after a house fire.
4. Organize and Recover Your Possessions
Separate damaged from undamaged items to make it easier for your insurance agency. Your homeowner’s policy often replaces all the costs of all your damaged possessions. Consider keeping a home inventory of your belongings to make sure everything is accounted for.
Your inventory should include:
- Date of purchase
- Descriptions of each item
- Receipts or bank statements
- Photos of items
5. Take Care of Your Pets
Take your pets to your trusted veterinarian as soon as possible. Sometimes the effects of house fires can take several hours to become fatal. Your vet will examine your pet’s lungs, heart, lungs, eyes, and skin. You may not know it, but burns can be hidden under their fur.
Expect that they may require lab work, such as an x-ray of the lungs. Depending on the situation, they can also be in oxygen care, IV fluids, or some surgeries in case of extensive burns.
6. Take Care of Your Family’s Mental Health
Disasters don’t only cause physical injuries but also emotional distress. Imagine losing your home, your valuables, and treasured items. It’s normal to experience anger, shock, depression, and hopelessness, but over time, you can reach a stage of acceptance and be able to move on.
Get support from your family, friends, colleagues, and people around you, and avoid isolating yourself too much. Allow yourself to cry, feel bad, and healthily release negative emotions. However, permit yourself to feel good despite what happened. If you have children, be a positive role model in recovering in a healthy way.