A house fire can be a life-changing experience. You may potentially suffer the loss of your home and your possessions, you might have the terrifying experience of being in the home at the time of the fire, or you may have to be evacuated in the case of wildfires.
Remember that at every step of the way, there are people to help you so that you don’t have to do it all alone. If you’re dealing with the aftermath of a house fire, here are some tips to help you recover.
The first and foremost concern is making sure you’re safe. As traumatic as it is to lose your home and everything in it, your safety has to come first.
- Have any injuries treated. If you have injuries and weren’t treated by emergency personnel at the scene, go to the hospital or an urgent care facility.
- Stay off the phones and the roads. Emergency personnel need clear access, so unless you were ordered to evacuate, stay off the roads. Likewise, phones are sometimes used to notify residents of evacuation orders and other updates when emergency situations occur. Stay off the phones as much as possible.
- Don’t return to your home or go inside unless told it’s safe. Until emergency personnel give you the green light, don’t risk returning to the evacuation area or going inside your home.
Assess the Damage
Once you’ve been told you can return to your home, you can assess the damage. Here are some guidelines to follow when you take your initial look, but it’s always best to have a professional restoration contractor go through the damage with you.
- Have a building inspector check things out first. To be safe, have a building inspector check the house and give you the go-ahead before you enter.
- Don’t force stuck doors. If a door is stuck, it may be holding part of the house up. Find another way into the house.
- Watch out for sagging ceilings or floors. Stay away from sagging floors and ceilings, in case of collapse.
- Use electricity and plumbing with caution. Check the fuse box before turning on any lights, and leave any breakers off if they’ve been tripped. Call a professional if you suspect damage, and keep the power and water off until they can be inspected.
Sometimes dealing with insurance companies is the worst part of a house fire. There are a lot of hoops to jump through, and financial relief won’t come immediately. Here are a few tips to help you navigate this obstacle course.
- Report the damage as soon as possible. Call your insurance company as soon as you can after the fire to report the damage.
- Take pictures. In today’s digital age, it’s easy to document the damage by taking pictures with a digital camera or smartphone.
- Don’t throw anything away yet. Keep the remains of items that will need to be replaced until the insurance adjuster has seen it.
- Keep all your receipts. If you have to check into a hotel, get food, or anything else due to the fire, keep your receipts so the insurance company can reimburse you later. Also keep receipts for any emergency or temporary repairs you have to do.
Recovering from a House Fire
Recovering from the trauma of a house fire can take time. Remember that there are people to help you navigate this difficult time, and don’t hesitate to call a professional if you feel overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done.