What to do after a fire

There are some kinds of “disasters” that you can sometimes make jokes about. Spilling ketchup on your new white jeans on a first date can actually sometimes get you that second date. A flat car tire on a road trip always makes for a good story. When a washer or a dishwasher decides to just keep filling up and leaves a sudsy little lake on the floor, sometimes a joke or hyperbolic statement is, not only appropriate, but wanted. Fires, though, really aren’t funny. No one can really prepare you for them, and even if you’ve got a trusty fire extinguisher and an emergency preparedness plan, you can’t save all of those family pictures or bank statements. So what are you supposed to do now that your house (or part of it) has gone up in flames?

The most important thing is to keep everyone safe. Even after the fire has been extinguished, it’s not safe for you to go back inside. There are still dangers that you need to be aware of before dealing with the aftermath of a fire.

  1. The first thing to do after the fire has been extinguished is to find your insurance policy number and file a claim, as well as contact a company that does fire damage restoration / remediation. These are the professionals that will help you repair the damage and get you back to some normality.
  2. Check your insurance policy for Out of Home Living provisions. If the fire has spread to living areas, you will have to temporarily relocate until the remediation has been taken care of. DO NOT stay in a house that has experienced a substantial fire. Exposure to toxins and chemicals can cause serious health problems.
  3. This one is going to be hard for all of you wonderfully clean, orderly people, but do not attempt to clean anything up. The ash and soot from a fire contain extremely hazardous chemicals that can hurt you or your family. Also be sure not to touch walls or drapes as they are sure to be covered in ash.
  4.  WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN CLEARED TO GO BACK IN THE HOUSE, open all windows and allow the house to air out. Wear a mask to prevent breathing in any chemicals.
  5. I know you wouldn’t think to do this, but be sure to throw away all food items if there has been any exposure to the fire or smoke. Even the smoke carries extremely dangerous chemicals and toxins. If you’re not sure whether to throw it out or not, just throw it out. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  6. Be sure to take pictures of any damage. You’ll need this for your insurance policy in order to ensure that anything that was damaged will be repaired or replaced.

You can take all sorts of precautions for fires, but you can’t always prevent them from happening. Be sure to incorporate a cleanup plan into your fire preparedness plan and hopefully your cleanup will be quick and safe.

 

By Ginger Price

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