A house fire can be a life changing experience for homeowners and their families. The fire can cause destruction to property and belongings in a number of ways, including flames, heat, smoke, and water. Recovering from a house fire takes time, and usually cannot be done overnight. While fire department personnel are making sure your property is safe to re-enter, there are a number of other things you can take care of in the meantime.
It is very important to be aware of the risks to your health and safety even after the fire has been put out. The aftermath of the fire contains polluted water and soot which can make you sick. And even though you may want to start recovering from a house fire as soon as possible, you cannot do so without first getting clearance from the fire department due to safety reasons.
1. Contact Your Insurance Agent
Do this right away and find out what you need to do about the immediate needs of your home. Your company may inform you to make a list of possessions affected by the fire and provide details regarding their cost. Or, they may require a record of the damage by way of a video or photos.
Also, talk to your insurance company to learn the value of your home and property. They can also advise you on what to do to keep your home safe until it is repaired. This may include boarding up broken doors and windows and covering holes in the walls and roof against intruders.
2. Get in Touch with Restoration Experts
In many cases, fire-damaged homes can be restored to their original condition. You will need to find a fire damage restoration professional who can assist with the process of recovering from a house fire. These experts help in cleaning and restoring your personal belongings.
Be sure to look for a restoration expert that specializes in both water and fire damage, since most homes affected by fires will have both types of damage due to fire-fighting efforts.
Whether you or your insurer gets this service, find out who will pay for it. You can ask your insurance company for any reliable recommendations, or you may wish to find a suitable restoration expert yourself. It is important to note that some restoration experts, such as Tidal Wave Response, work directly with insurance providers to reduce the hassle and streamline the process.
Some of the services that you will receive can include the following:
- Emergency pre-cleaning
- Dry out services
- Surface and content cleaning
- Content pack out
- Wall and ceiling cleaning
- Mold removal
- Smoke elimination
- Soot and stain removal
- Deodorization and sanitization
3. Take Care of Your Finances
During the process of recovering from a house fire, you should also contact your mortgage lender or landlord as soon as possible. It is your responsibility to inform the mortgage company about the fire and about the restoration process. They may have forms for you to fill out and may want to inspect the property. Also, get in touch with your credit card company to report any cards lost in the fire and request replacements.
If you need to spend any money at this time, make sure to save all receipts. You may need to present these receipts to your insurance company later to prove losses claimed on your tax return. You can also check with an accountant or the IRS regarding special benefits for people suffering from fire damage loss.
4. Find Your Local Disaster Relief Services
Recovering from a house fire often starts with getting the basics of food and shelter squared away. You can get in touch with local organizations that may be able to help. These can include options like the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, religious organizations, or community groups. These groups can help you find a place to stay along with providing other essentials like food, clothing, and medicine.
If your home has suffered a fire, you may qualify for government disaster financial assistance. For this, you will need to check with local authorities about assistance programs that are available.
5. Replace Valuable Documents
When you are allowed inside your house, one of the first things you will need to look for are important documents. If these have been destroyed, you will want to replace them as at the earliest possible chance.
Some common important documents include:
- Drivers’ licences
- Auto registration
- Insurance policies
- Medical records
- Birth, death and marriage certificates
- Divorce papers
Recovering from a house fire takes time and patience, but is worthwhile in the end to ensure that restoration has been done both safely and properly. Remember that even when you are allowed to re-renter your home, the premises may still pose certain threats. For this reason, never use any appliances, switch boxes, electrical outlets or fuse breaker panels until all electrical circuits have been inspected and cleared for use by qualified personnel.