Six quick tips to help you navigate the fire damage restoration process.
A house fire can be a very traumatic and devastating experience for any homeowner and their family. Even after the fire is out, emotions may still be high, but is imperative that you act quickly and start taking the next steps to rebuilding and restoring your home.
1. Contact your insurance agency
You will want to contact your insurance company or insurance agent immediately to report your loss and set the claims process in motion.
- Make sure you have all the pertinent information regarding details of the fire (date, time, cause, amount of damage to your home and its contents).
- Record and document all damages.
- If you can, it is always a good idea to take photos of the damage to submit with your claim.
- Conduct an inventory of damaged items.
- Keep track of your receipts for any expenses that occur for possible reimbursement from your insurance carrier.
Your insurance company will guide you through the claims process as well as provide suggested restoration companies to work with and any other resources needed to get your home back to its previous state.
2. Find support and arrange accommodations
A fire will change your life in many ways and it is important to find the emotional and financial support you and your family need. Reach out to your family, friends, or community for help and support. You may want to contact your local disaster relief organizations, such as Salvation Army or American Red Cross. These organizations can provide assistance with helping you find a place to stay and if needed, clothing, food, and medication.
3. Assess the structural damage
Safety first, always be cautious when re-entering your home and don’t enter until you have the green light from emergency officials. No matter how big or small the fire, a professional will need to examine the damages and assess the structural integrity of your home to determine repairs.
4. Secure your property and collect valuables
Once the fire damage is properly assessed and documented, you should make sure your property is secured to prevent trespassers, vandals, and other weather related damages. You restoration contractor can assist to board up your windows and doors, as well as place tarps over your roof to prevent water damage.
Recover any irreplaceable heirlooms and valuable belongings before you leave the property. Gather all salvageable items and documents, plus make note of any important assets that need to be replaced, such as:
- Credit cards
- Important documentation such as, drivers license, passports, or social security cards
- Sentimental items
- Photos and memorabilia
5. Contact your utility providers and other third parties
It is important to have your electrical system inspected by a licensed electrician. An electrician will evaluate the damages and repair any issues involving your breaker box, wiring, outlets, and fixtures. Get in touch with your bank, mortgage company, auto insurance agent, and utility company to inform them of the incident. Many third parties will work with you while you get back on your feet.
6. First days of recovery
You and your family’s emotional care and recovery are just as important as rebuilding and restoring your home. Everyone acts and copes differently after experiencing a disaster. A lot of different emotions, feelings, and thoughts may effect your loved ones. Here are some basic steps you can take to address physical and emotional needs of loved ones after a fire:
- Limit exposure to the sights and sounds of the fire
- Stay connected with your family, friends, and support systems
- Focus on the positive
- Reach out and accept help from others
- Recognize your feelings and recovery takes time