After a house fire, moving on can seem like an impossible task.
There is so much that just instantly changed in your life, and it can have you feeling a little lost. But it doesn’t have to feel like this.
Knowing where to begin and where to go for help is a critical first step in getting your life back, even if there are a few changes.
If you have gone through a house fire, follow the steps below to be the rock your family needs during this tough time.
Find a Place to Stay
A house fire can be a terrifying experience for everyone involved.
First thing you need to do is find a safe and comfortable place to relocate that will help you plan your next steps, and allow your family time to rest and get a handle on what just happened.
Some of the most common places you can go for a place to stay are family members, friends, or neighbors, as well as finding a hotel.
If those options are not available to you, reach out to a local disaster relief agency like the American Red Cross or Salvation Army.
These organizations can usually offer some sort of temporary shelter for free.
Contact Your Insurance Agent
If you have a house fire, you should file a claim immediately. The sooner you can alert your insurance carrier, the sooner your search for a new home or home repairs can begin.
Many insurance carriers provide help for daily expenses known as a loss of use coverage. This is especially useful since you won’t be able to cook at home and will most likely have to eat out.
Your agent is also able to help find cleaning or other services.
Contact the Police
An empty home can be an attractive location for looters even after a fire. Contacting the local police about your fire will help to ensure that your property will remain safe while you are away.
Boarding up windows will also provide you with additional security. You can either do this yourself or hire a professional to do this job.
The cost of boarding up your windows will range between $20 and $100 per window.
Prices will vary based on the number and size of your windows and whether or not you hire a professional.
Also, be sure to check with the fire department that your home is safe to enter before you enter your home to begin this task.
Plan Your Finances
Although you are going through a rough time, your financial responsibilities will still be something you need to keep up with.
Many of the insurance companies out there will cover mortgages, but it is also smart to check on other recurring costs like car payments as well.
You should also think about canceling any TV and internet services for the time being if you are not going to be using them.
Losing things like clothes and cooking equipment is a common occurrence in fires.
Hold on to your receipts when you are replacing the items to be sure you are reimbursed as soon as possible.
The price can add up fast if there are purchases being made for several family members.
Create a List of Damaged Items
By making a list of the items that were either lost or damaged in the fire, you will ensure that you are reimbursed.
Many insurance carriers require specific information such as the make and model, serial numbers, etc.
This is going to be challenging to find all this information, but you may be able to find a good amount of it from online bank statements so that you can present proof of purchase and costs.
You should also be sure to make a list of important documents that were lost in the fire.
Essential items such as driver’s license, passport, deeds, medical records, birth certificate, and other items will need immediate replacement.
Your agent should be able to tell you which items are necessary for your claim, and you should replace those first.
Check on the Safety of Your Home
When you have a house fire, the structure of your home can become weakened and leave behind fumes and burned items and materials.
If you are looking to return to your home to collect your items and materials, wait for a fire marshal to check it over and say it is safe to enter.
While entering your home post-fire can be dangerous, re-entering your home can also void parts of your insurance policy and give you major problems in getting reimbursed.
The lesson here is only to enter your home if your home is considered safe by the fire department and is cleared by your insurance carrier.
Save Undamaged Possessions
If your home was only partially damaged and is safe for you to enter, go back and collect anything that wasn’t affected in the fire.
When you remove the items from home, you should be sure that you are getting these items cleaned.
There are professional cleaning services that can restore those fire-affected items.
You can rent a storage unit for the time being so that your home does not cause further damage to the items and allows for repairs to be made.
Wait to Turn on Utilities
Many times after a fire, the utilities will be turned off to prevent further damage.
If your utilities are disconnected and you want to turn them on, you should contact your fire department and utility provider to be sure everything is safe and okay to turn on.
Be sure to have a professional inspect your home as connecting unsafe utilities can cause additional fires and gas leaks that cause even more damage.
When your home has a disaster like a fire happen, the desire to get things back to normal as quickly as possible is at the front of your mind. This is a specialty of the disaster restoration team at ServiceMaster of Minneapolis.
We’re on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and know that disaster can come at any time. There is no didaster too big or too small for us to handle.
Hopefully, this list was able to give you a road map about what to do after a house fire and takes a little bit of stress away from your current situation.