Thursday, June 13, 2024

What You Should Do After a House Fire

House fires can be utterly destructive, claiming lives and ruining the entire structure of your home. In the wake of a house fire, it’s important to protect yourself and your family – and start taking the steps necessary to restore your life back to proper order.

Priorities After a House Fire

Obviously, during a house fire, your highest priority is getting everyone out of the house quickly and safely. Assuming you and your family are immediately safe and emergency services have already begun to control the fire, these are the priorities you’ll need to think about moving forward, in order:

  • Health and safety. No matter what, you need to keep yourself and your family safe and healthy. Some of you may require medical attention as a result of being in the fire, and you’ll need to find a new place to stay.
  • Insurance/finance. Next, you’ll need to think about fixing the damage, rebuilding the house, and financially planning to tackle these priorities. You’ll work with your insurance company, a fire damage restoration service, and potentially other partners and organizations to accomplish this.
  • Emotional wellbeing. You’ll also need to think about your emotional wellbeing. Losing your home to a fire can be traumatizing and emotionally devastating, so it’s important to address your emotional needs.

Immediate Aftermath

In the immediate aftermath of the fire:

  • Get medical attention. Fires can cause burns, smoke inhalation, and countless other physical health effects. It’s important for you and your family members to get medical attention as soon as possible. If emergency services have been dispatched, you can begin receiving medical attention right away. You may also need to set follow-up appointments for the coming days and weeks. Follow your doctor’s recommendations.
  • Find a place to stay. You and your family need a safe place to stay. Depending on your circumstances, that could mean checking into a hotel room, moving in with a friend or family member temporarily, or finding a local organization that can support you.
  • Contact your insurance company. Reach out to your insurance company to begin the process of filing a claim, assuming fire damage to your home is covered by your current policy. Begin documenting as much as you can, taking photos and videos of the damage while also creating an itemized list of your possessions.

Days Following the Fire

In the days following the fire:

  • Determine if the home is safe to enter. Even if much of your home is still intact, fire damage to the home can make it unsafe to enter. Do not enter your home, or allow anyone else to enter your home, unless you’ve had it formally inspected and determined to be safe to enter.
  • Collect undamaged possessions. If your house is safe to enter, you can enter it and collect any undamaged possessions you find. You can also take this time to organize your possessions into partially damaged or destroyed categories.
  • Determine if your home is salvageable. An appraiser can tell you whether your home is salvageable after this fire. If it is, you may be able to rebuild and restore it to the way it was. If it isn’t, you’ll have to write this off as a total loss for insurance purposes.
  • Work with a fire restoration company. Assuming your home is salvageable, you’ll need to work with a fire restoration company to mitigate the damage and begin the work of rebuilding. Keep in mind that another restoration problem you might face during this time is water damage; when firefighters use water to put out the fire, it introduces significant moisture into the area, which can then cause mold problems if not properly handled.

Weeks Following the Fire

In the weeks following the fire:

  • Rebuild. If your home can be salvaged or restored, you’ll be able to begin that process once you get the go-ahead from your insurance company. You’ll likely need to get quotes from multiple establishments before moving forward.
  • Work with your insurance company. Making a fire damage home insurance claim can be a complicated process. Work together with your insurance company to make sure you’ve fulfilled all the proper documentation needs.
  • Take care of your emotional needs. Don’t neglect your emotional needs. Talking to friends and family members, practicing self-care, and going to therapy can help you through this process. Be proactive in managing your stress as you undergo this journey – and don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed.

Recovering from a house fire isn’t always easy or straightforward, especially with the complications of insurance and the uncertainty you face about your home’s salvageability. But if you take things one step at a time, you and your family can get through this successfully.

Lindsey Ertz
Lindsey Ertz
Lindsey, a curious soul from NY, is a technical, business writer, and journalist. Her passion lies in crafting well-researched, data-driven content that delivers authentic information to global audiences, fostering curiosity and inspiration.

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