A house fire is one of the most devastating things you could possibly endure and how you go about picking up the pieces and putting your home, and your life, back together can be an overwhelming and highly emotional experience.
The clean-up process is extremely important as it will help you to take stock of what’s left, determine if your home is still safe to live in, and assess the extent of the damage so you may go about moving forward with repair and replacement of all that was impacted or lost.
You have so much to deal with at the moment and hopefully your losses are not too catastrophic and no lives were lost in the blaze. You may be wondering what’s next as you gaze upon what is left after the fire crews have gone.
This will give you some direction as to how to proceed with the next steps in this troubling and difficult time so you can start on the road to recovery and put everything back to normal…or as close as possible in the meantime.
The First Steps
Before you do anything, you must reach out to your insurance company and remain in constant contact with them every step of the way. If a home has sustained fire damage Fairfax it’s absolutely critical that the insurance company is made aware so a claim can be filed in a timely manner so you can put your home back together.
Let your agent know what’s happened so you can begin to determine the value of the home and the property that may have been lost both in and outside the home. You should also ask your agent what sort of paper trail needs to be kept with respect to damages sustained and receipts for expenditures on repairs and replacement of everything from personal items and property to portions of the home itself.
You should also locate a copy of your current policy so you are well-apprised of the limitations of your coverage and other pertinent information related to having your home restored in full. It’s very possible this documentation was lost in the fire so you should request a new copy of your policy from your insurance company as soon as possible.
Once that has all been addressed you can then start the process of hiring qualified recovery professionals to assist you in the next phase of this clean-up and recovery process. They will be invaluable in advising you of the appropriate actions to take as well as the obstacles you need to avoid in getting back on your feet.
Entering the Home
This will undoubtedly be difficult to do both emotionally and physically, the latter dependent upon the amount of damage sustained to the structure of the dwelling. Before you step foot into your home, you must be entirely sure it is safe to enter and that will be at the sole discretion of the fire marshal.
Once the building has been declared safe and you are clear to enter, ask if there are any rooms or areas that should not be entered and be sure to comply with those restrictions. After this has all been determined, you can begin performing a damage assessment.
This will require you to bring a camera so you may be document all of the damage for the insurance company. You may also want to bring over a notebook to take notes and always be sure you are dressed suitably to enter a fire-damaged structure. This includes wearing gloves, a face mask, long-sleeved shirts and pants (no t-shirts or shorts), boots or shoes with thick soles, and most important, a hard hat.
You want to be fully protected should something come loose and fall down on your head.
As you enter do so deliberately and cautiously. Don’t be distracted and remain on high alert at all times. When you open doors do not force them as you could bring down part of the structure by mistake. Watch the ceiling above for loose portions that could fall and check for any evidence of a gas leak. If you think you smell or hear gas escaping from the line, exit as fast as possible and call the fire department.
Open any windows and turn on some fans to get air circulating through the house as you go about removing smoke odor. Once inside you can then begin to assess the extent of clean up that needs to be done with respect to washing away soot and smoke from walls and floors, furniture, and ceilings.
In most cases you can use mild soap and water to eradicate the effects of the fire but some things may need a stronger solution or they might need to be discarded entirely as you will never be able to restore them to their proper condition.