Recovering from a fire can be a physically and mentally draining process.
When fire strikes, lives are suddenly turned around. Often, the hardest part is knowing where to begin.
First off, contact a local disaster relief service, such as the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army, to help with immediate needs, such as: temporary housing, food, medicine, eyeglasses, clothing and other essential items.
Next, call the insurance company.
Cautions for returning home
- Do not enter the damaged site. Fires can rekindle from hidden, smoldering remains.
- Normally, the fire department will see that utilities (water, electricity and natural gas) are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site. Do not attempt to turn on utilities yourself.
- Be watchful for structural damage caused by the fire. Roofs and floors may be damaged and subject to collapse.
- Food, beverages and medicine exposed to heat, smoke, soot and water should not be consumed.
Leaving the home
Contact local police departments to let them know the site will be unoccupied.
In some cases it may be necessary to board up openings to discourage trespassers.
Beginning immediately, save receipts for any money spent. These receipts are important in showing the insurance company what money you have spent related to your fire loss and also for verifying losses claimed on your income tax.
If it is safe to do so, try to locate the following items:
- identification, such as driver's licenses and Social Security cards
- insurance information
- medication information
- eyeglasses, hearing aids or other prosthetic devices
- valuables, such as credit cards, bank books, cash and jewelry
There are many people and entities that should be notified of your relocation, including:
- insurance agent or company
- mortgage company (also inform them of the fire)
- family and friends
- child's school
- post office
- any delivery services
- fire and police departments
- utility companies
Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made. All damages are taken into consideration in developing your insurance claim.
If you are considering contracting for inventory or repair services discuss your plans with your insurance agent or company first.