Having a house fire can be a crisis of unprecedented magnitude in most people’s lives. Fire destroys just about everything it touches. In a best-case scenario, you’ll be walking away with costly repairs. In a worst-case scenario you could lose everything you love.
Dealing with a fire is enough of an ordeal in and of itself, but the aftermath of it can be equally, if not more complicated. We wish this blog post wasn’t so relevant at the moment, but with wildfires tearing through southern California, there’s no better time than now to be educated and informed about the best course of action after a fire.
Hopefully, you’ll never have to use this advice, but in the event that you do suffer a house fire, here are the steps that you should take:
Find Food and Shelter
Have you ever heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs? It’s a psychological theory about what humans need most, the idea being that one can’t reach higher levels of self-actualization until more basic, fundamental needs are met first.
At the very bottom of the list are the physiological needs that humans have — food and drink, closely followed by shelter. The bottom line is that, no matter our circumstances, aspirations, abilities, or desires, if we can’t meet these basic needs, all is lost.
A house fire effectively leaves you homeless. So, before you do anything else, look for somewhere to stay. Family and friends should be your first recourse, but you can always find a hotel until you can arrange for long-term arrangements. Disaster relief agencies are also usually willing to provide shelter.
Note that it’s important to find a place to stay even if your home was only partially damaged. This is because of smoke damage — having high levels of it inside your home is a health hazard. Best to stay someone else until you can call for fire damage restoration services.
Make Important Phone Calls
After you’ve settled for some shelter, you can take a moment to sit down, breathe for a moment, and assess your situation. There are plenty of calls you’ll need to make. Here are some numbers you should dial in the event of catastrophic fire damage to your San Diego home:
- Loved Ones: The logistics of dealing with the fire are, of course, important, but leaving your friends and family loved one is a cruelty that they don’t deserve. Tell them what has happened, the state of your situation, and that you’re okay. It’s enough for them just to know, but you also might receive unexpected aid, which can be welcome in such a dire situation.
- The Police: Did you know that seriously damaged homes are enticing targets for thieves? It’s cold, and it’s heartless, but virtue never was the strong point of thieves. It’s not a bad idea to alert the police of the fire — this could reduce the likelihood of being robbed while you’re away.
- Your Insurance Company: Your insurance company is equipped and prepared to deal with a disaster such as this. They will provide valuable guidance for the steps you need to take in this emergency situation, and they will also provide all the important details of what will be happening with your finances.
- Utilities: Is it overwhelmingly clear that you won’t be able to return to your home for a long time (or ever), you don’t want to throw money down the drain into utilities you won’t use. Cancel them all or freeze services. Internet, water, electric, gas, the works — you won’t need them for the foreseeable future.
- Landlord or Lender: Whether you’re renting or mortgaging, there’s someone you owe money to, and they are going to want to know that their property is burnt to a crisp. The fire will more than likely affect your payment plan, so it’s good to keep them in the loop and work with them.
- Disaster Relief Services: As we briefly mentioned above, disaster relief services can provide essential food and shelter in times of crisis, but you need to register them. If you do this immediately after the disaster, their help could go a long way while you get back on your feet.
Inspect the Damage
You’re probably not going to want to wait very long to return to your home — the anticipation of learning just how much was lost is ever-present while you’re away. Your local firefighters will give you the clear when your home is once again safe to enter.
When you’re back home, there are a lot of things you’ll want to take inventory of — it’s not just about recovering your stuff. Here are some things to consider when you’re inspecting the fire damage:
- Take Photos: Photos do a better job at capturing the damage than your memory ever can. This is important for the aftermath, where you’ll want to contact fire damage restoration companies. Take photos of the home, of damaged items, of surrounding debris, broken utility lines, and so on. When in doubt, take a photo.
- Create a List of Damaged Possessions: Creating an inventory of your possessions will be essential for insurance purposes. It’s good to have a list of all the property you can recall in general, but especially important will be those items which were ruined by the fire.
- Assess the Safety: In addition to the things you lost, it’s good to have a general idea of the structural integrity of your home as well as general safety conditions. Are there weak walls or beams? Are there downed power lines? Take note of everything. Professionals have their own means of doing this, but it never hurts to make them aware of certain dangers before they go in.
- Recover Your Possessions: Finally, make sure you take anything that can be recovered. A fire rarely ever claims every single object in the home, and it’s fairly likely you’ll find some items of value that have survived. It’s best to recover these so they don’t wallow in smoke damage or be left open for thieves.
Call a San Diego Fire Damage Restoration Company
If you happen to be in the area where most of our clientele live, you’re probably somewhere near San Diego, or at least in Southern California, be it Riverside, Chula Vista, or Los Angeles. In any case, the next thing you need to do is call a company for fire damage restoration services.
That’s where we come in.
In the most tragic cases of fires, a home can’t be repaired. However, there are many cases where the building and property are salvageable. If you call ServiceMaster Absolute for fire damage restoration, we will work as hard as we can, as fast as we can, around the clock so that you can return to a normal living situation as soon as possible.
We conduct smoke and fire damage restoration services on the regular here at ServiceMaster Absolute, and we have clientele all over the Southern California area who have testified of our incredible service. This praise is due to one factor alone — we care about our clients. We want the best for them, and because of that, we put everything we have into the jobs we take.
Are you the unfortunate victim of a fire, or you know someone who is? Contact us today.