Written by Andy Gurczak

June 11, 2021

Fire Damage Tips for Handling Home Fires
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Handle Home Fires with These Tips

Fire Damage Tips

Top Fire Damage Tips for Handling Home Fires

Nobody is ever truly prepared for a house fire, and a fire disaster is one of the worst tragedies that can happen to anyone. Moreover, It can start from anywhere in your home. In fact, fire damage can occur at any given time of the day and for a number of reasons. Most importantly, the actions you take within the first 24 hours will determine whether or not you successfully restore your property and belongings quickly. Some of the fire damage tips you’ll find in this article might be helpful.

Your actions also have an impact on your health and safety. This is because there are many hazards around your property during the cleanup and restoration process. For instance, the smoke and soot left behind after a fire can be extremely hazardous. In fact, smoke inhalation is the leading cause of death amongst fire victims. Indeed, soot inhalation can cause severe illness or death as well.

Fires are traumatizing, and it can leave you feeling helpless. That is why we put together this fire damage tip guide. Indeed, you may be asking yourself “what do I do next?” Here are some valuable tips on how to deal with the aftermath and begin the fire damage restoration process on your home.

Fire Damage Tips: A Comprehensive List To Approaching Fire Damage Restoration Process

 The following fire damage tips should be followed in conjunction with the activities of the fire damage restoration company:

  • Remember, call your local Fire Marshal before accessing the building.
  • Indeed, be aware that after a fire, lingering residue and smoke can be dangerous. For this reason, remember to always wear a protective mask.
  • Moreover, ensure you shut off HVAC systems. Central air or heating systems can rapidly spread soot throughout a building.
  • Fourthly, don’t spread soot. In fact, do not wash, paint, or attempt to clean residue. Why? Because spreading the residue makes it harder to clean and could potentially result in further damage.
  • If the fire residues are too heavy, then move your pets and children to a temporary location. In fact, your insurance company might even pay for a hotel room or temporary lodging.
  • Open windows for ventilation if weather permits.
  • Stay away from any damaged areas that may be unsafe, including carpeting or furniture that has residue from the fire.
  • Take videos or pictures of the damage sustained as soon as possible.
  • Hire a qualified contractor to board up broken windows, open doors, holes in the roof and other open areas in order to prevent additional damage from vandalism, bad weather or theft.
  • Dispose of open food containers and contaminated foods, as well as food items and canned foods that were exposed to the heat. Do not use contaminated dishware or utensils, which should be inspected by a fire damage specialist, who will determine whether or not they are salvageable or will need to be disposed of.
  • Empty any refrigerator and freezer. Turning the appliances off and opening the doors can help prevent mold and mildew if power is disconnected.
  • Don’t use any electrical appliances, as shorts in the wiring can cause electrocution.

Holiday Fire Safety Tips

More Fire Damage Tips:

  • Notify the landlord or mortgage lender, if you have one. It’s easy to forget this step, but it’s an important one. They need to know what’s going on with the building.
  • Make a list of everything that has been damaged for your insurance carrier
  • Send receipts for any necessary temporary repairs made to your insurance carrier for reimbursement purposes.
  • Wait until your insurance adjuster has seen the damage before you make any permanent replacements or repairs.
  • Don’t attempt to clean off smoke and soot residues from surfaces on your own
  • Blow off or brush-vacuum any loose soot particles from upholstery, drapes, and carpets.
  • Cover carpeted traffic areas with towels or old linens to prevent additional soiling.
  • Send clothing with heavy smoke damage to a qualified professional dry cleaner that specializes in smoke damage.
  • Clean Formica and chrome fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom to prevent permanent tarnishing.
  • Wipe residue from porcelain bath fixtures to prevent etching.
  • Wipe the leaves of houseplants to remove smoke residue.
  • Protect water pipes. If the weather is freezing, the lack of heating could cause pipes to freeze and burst. Protect them by pouring a tablespoon of antifreeze down every sink and tub and even into every toilet bowl. Chrome faucets can be cleaned and protected with oil like WD-40.
  • Move the plants to a location away from any smoke and soot and wash both sides of the leaves with water until clean.
  • Change the air filter on your furnace if it uses forced hot air.

What Not to Do After Experiencing a Fire:

  • Don’t try to wash or paint anything. Improper washing can cause soot and smoke to set permanently. Painting can cause just as many problems. Leave that to the professionals.
  • Tape cheesecloth over intake and outlet air registers to capture any loose soot in the air. This is even more effective if the cheesecloth is damp.
  • If the outside temperature is above 60 degrees, air out the house to reduce smoke odor.
  • Don’t attempt to clean carpets, upholstery, or furniture. These items are tough to clean, and improper cleaning can cause permanent staining and damage.
  • Do not try to repair or use appliances. If the appliance was anywhere near the fire, it needs to be examined by a trained technician before it is used. Even if it looks fine the internal damage might cause it to malfunction or even make it dangerous to use.
  • Don’t try to clean clothing. Any kind of normal washing can cause soot stains and smoke smells to become permanent – even dry cleaning.
  • Don’t go into any damaged rooms. Fires can cause structural damage that might not be visible. The water used to put out the fire can cause hazards as well. Avoid going into any room near the fire if possible.
  • Do not use ceiling fixtures if the ceiling is wet. A short circuit could result.
  • Do not wait to call for professional help.

Holiday Fire Safety Tips

Recovering from Fire Damage: What To Do After A Fire Disaster

1. Get in touch with your insurance agent as soon as possible.

One of the first phone calls you need to make should be to your insurance provider. Before you start planning ways on how to deal with the damage, inform your agent of the incident. This way, you can go over the details of your insurance coverage.

Be sure to confirm you didn’t miss any inclusions in your policy. – like a living allowance or temporary accommodation assistance, perhaps. You also have to discuss the claims process and what you can do to speed things up.

Most importantly, don’t forget to advise the agent of your immediate fire damage remediation plans. Wait for the insurance company’s go signal before taking any action.

2. Ask for a copy of the fire report.

A fire report contains the critical details surrounding and contributing to the fire incident. It also includes basic information such as the date and time, the location, an account of the damage, and the source of the fire (if known).
All this data is essential to your insurance claim.

Fire reports are public documents, so you shouldn’t have any problem requesting a copy.

3. Start the mitigation process.

Fire can continue to endanger lives and cause damage to property even after it has been put out. Weakened structures can cave in, and damaged pipes can burst. There’s also the risk of inhaling toxic chemicals from the smoke residue and complex mix of gasses released into the air.

It’s important to start fire damage mitigation as soon as possible, but this is not something that you should do on your own. Let a local fire damage mitigation company take care of that for you.

4. Keep a record of all the damaged items.

Homeowners insurance usually includes contents coverage, which means your policy will also cover the replacement cost of items destroyed in the fire. Insurers typically ask for an inventory of personal properties damaged during the fire. To ensure that everything is accounted for, create a register of your belongings, and document your losses.

As you secure and mitigate the damage on the property, make a list of all damaged items and photograph them for proof. If possible, include the date of purchase, price, a description of the items on the inventory, and online statements.

If you lost important documents in the fire, like driver’s license, passport, birth certificates, deeds, and title, etc, you’ll have to replace them immediately. Some of these documents are necessary for the claim. Ask your agents which documents are needed, and request for them first.

Preparing a detailed record of your possessions and documentations beforehand will save you time and may help expedite the claim.

4. Clean the property and move undamaged items.

Fire disasters often leave the property looking dark, stained, and scorched. Thus, the fire damage cleanup and restoration crew usually spends the first phase of the clean-up scrubbing soot, smoke, and dust that stuck on the surfaces.

The next phase is water damage restoration. During this part of the clean-up, standing pools of water are removed by using submersible pumps. Afterward, these areas undergo drying and sanitation. Sanitation is vital to prevent any health issues due to water contamination.

Another critical issue that fire damage restoration professionals address is the odor. When smoke enters a room, it usually leaves behind an unpleasant stench that tends to stick on walls, carpets, upholstery, etc. Areas directly affected by the fire and the rooms nearby have to be cleaned and deodorized.

Finally, it’s time to segregate the damaged from undamaged items. Allocate storage space for the things that look good enough to keep and set them up for cleaning. Anything that’s badly burned or soaked in water should be disposed of properly. Ask the restoration company if they can do that for you.

5. The restoration process.

Rebuilding a home after a fire can be very costly. As such, you need to document all the repair and replacement expenses to prove the extent of your loss and recovery costs. The claims process will move quicker if you’ve got all the requirements ready. Should you need help with your insurance claims, you can ask your restoration contractor for help.

Restoration brings your home back to its pre-damaged state so you and your family can go back to living your normal lives. Most restoration companies offer a wide range of services. They can help you in almost all aspects of the process, from repairing furniture to installing new walls.

Some fire damage restoration companies, however, can do more than just restore the property. They also offer renovation services, so your home ends up looking even better than it did before.

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