According to data collected by the U.S. Fire Administration, there were 1,291,500 fires in 2019. Those fires resulted in more than $14 billion in losses and more than 16,000 injuries.
Whether you’ve recently been in a house fire or you want to be prepared in case this horrific event happens to you, knowing what steps to take after surviving a fire is vital.
This guide will explain some of the most important steps you need to take after a house fire to make sure you address every issue and cope with the event accordingly. Keep reading to learn more about the proper steps you’ll need to take.
Table of Contents
- 1 Contact Emergency Services First
- 2 Give Yourself a Moment to Process
- 3 Find Somewhere to Stay
- 4 Contact Your Insurance Company
- 5 Contact a House Damage Restoration Company
- 6 Take Care of Your Pets
- 7 Secure Your Home
- 8 Take Care of Financial Matters
- 9 Make Sure It’s Safe to Go Back
- 10 Organize Your Belongings
- 11 Reach Out for Support if You Need It
- 12 Follow These Steps if You’ve Been in a House Fire
Contact Emergency Services First
The first thing you need to do after a fire breaks out is to call the fire rescue to help get you out safely and put out the fire before it does more damage. Focus on getting yourself, your family, and your pets out alive if you’re able to do it safely on your own.
Possessions can be replaced so the most important thing is to make sure your loved ones can get to safety. Depending on what caused the fire in the first place, it can get bigger quickly. Common cleaning products have high amounts of synthetics that are more flammable than you’d think.
Give Yourself a Moment to Process
A fire is a traumatic experience, especially if you suffered injuries or extensive damage to your home. Once you’ve gotten to safety take a moment to collect yourself.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and it’s ok to grieve the loss you’re currently experiencing. Even if no one in your family was hurt, losing your home or some of your possessions will still affect you.
Take the time you need to process everything that’s happened to you and your family. Remember that there’s a long recovery ahead of you whether that’s getting treated for injuries or going through the home restoration process.
Take things one day at a time to make the process more manageable and remember that things will get better.
Find Somewhere to Stay
After a house fire rescue, you’ll need to find another place to live for some time. Depending on the damages your house incurred it might be a few weeks or a couple of months before you can get back to the life you had before the fire.
You can reach out to family and friends to let them know what happened. You can also ask someone you trust in your family to let you stay with them while you can get back on your feet.
If you don’t have any family or friends to stay with you can contact a disaster relief agency in your area for help. The Salvation Army or American Red Cross are two options.
One of these agencies can help you find temporary housing after a fire. They can also help provide you with food and clothing if you don’t have anything with you after the fire.
Contact Your Insurance Company
After you’ve gotten out of harm’s way and found somewhere to sleep for the night, you’ll need to start the paperwork process required after a fire. First on the list is contacting your insurance company.
Once you let your homeowner’s insurance company know about the fire they’ll start a file where they’ll keep all necessary documents. They’ll start processing your claim too.
You’ll need a copy of the fire report filled after the fire at your home. Your insurer will need this report to process your claim. You can locate this report by contacting your local fire department.
Contact a House Damage Restoration Company
Next on your list of steps to take after a house fire is contacting a house damage restoration company. Your insurance company can put you in touch with different companies they work with or you can find one on your own.
Getting an inspection from a restoration specialist will help figure out if your home can be saved or whether it needs to be rebuilt. Some issues left after fire damage aren’t as noticeable as others and only a trained professional can know what needs to be repaired so that your home is safe to live in once again.
Check out West Coast Restoration if you’re interested in finding your own restoration company. Besides addressing the fire damage you might also need water damage restoration after firefighters use water to put out the fire in your home.
Take Care of Your Pets
Getting your furry loved ones out of a house fire is one thing but taking care of them after is another thing altogether. It’s a well-known fact that pets can help improve your mental health but you need to make sure you’re taking care of their mental health as well.
Pets get scared and traumatized the same way humans do. Make sure that you’re comforting your pet after you’re all safe. Change causes pets a lot of stress and staying in a new place can be overwhelming for your pet.
You should also take your pet to the vet after the fire. Even if you escaped before it got too big you want to make sure your pet hasn’t suffered any health issues after being exposed to fire and smoke.
Secure Your Home
After you’ve gotten to a safe place and the fire rescue has put out the fire in your home you need to make sure your house is protected.
If you or the firefighters broke down windows or doors to help you escape they’re now leaving your home vulnerable to the elements. Leaving your home open also leaves it vulnerable to vandals or thieves.
You want to protect your home from more damage if it’s safe to do so. Make sure that windows and doors get boarded up with plywood. Use tarps to cover holes in your roof so you don’t get more damage from any severe weather while you’re gone.
Take Care of Financial Matters
In the midst of such chaos, it’s easy to forget about finances and documents. Even if your entire home is destroyed you need to continue making your monthly payments.
Keep making your mortgage and car payments. Make sure to contact your utility company to ask how you can proceed with payments.
You’ll also need to contact your credit card companies to replace cards lost in the fire. If needed, you’ll have to contact the different agencies that can help you get new copies of your driver’s license, passport, and any other important documents you lost in the fire.
Make Sure It’s Safe to Go Back
After your house burned down the first thing you probably wanted to do is go back to recover your things. It’s not always safe to do that, however. You’ll get a chance to sort through your things but it’s important to get clearance from the fire department first.
Even if a fire is put out there’s always a risk of it starting again if it’s too early after the fire. Fires can damage your floors and roof and re-entering before it’s safe can cause them to fall, putting your life at risk.
Organize Your Belongings
Once you’ve been cleared to go back to your home you can start sorting through what’s left and organize your belongings. Make separate piles of what’s damaged and what you can save.
Making a list of your belongings including both the damaged and undamaged items is important information you’ll need to send to your insurance company. Make sure you take pictures of everything you collect. You’ll also need to send these photos to your insurer, they’ll help with processing your claim.
Reach Out for Support if You Need It
The process after a fire is long and stressful so if you feel like you’re struggling you should reach out for support. You can talk to your friends or family about how you’re feeling or find a support group with people who’ve experienced similar situations.
It’s important to remember that you’ll have help along every step of the way. The professionals who help you through this process have helped thousands of people who’ve been through the same thing. Reach out to them if you have any concerns about any step in the process.
Follow These Steps if You’ve Been in a House Fire
A house fire is a difficult situation to go through. This guide will inform you about each step you should take in the aftermath of a fire if you find yourself in that situation.
Did you learn something new from this article? Make sure to check out some of the other home blogs on our site if you did.