So you had a fire now what?
SO you had fire. Help came and put it out. Now you have a layer of mud and soot on your floor and all over everything in your home. Even areas of the house that were not actually affected by the fire. What are your next steps. Breathe, and make sure you take care of your self. There will be a lot of things that will come up it will get stressful, overwhelming and excessive. It will all need to be done but keep in mind it does not have to be done in one day.
The first responders came and saved the day. Saved your home, lives and maybe even pets. The next call you make can be the difference between restoring vs. replacing things in your home. A timely beginning to mitigation of the soot, fire damaged areas as well as the smoke damage reduces your losses. The first 48 hours is crucial to minimizing your damages. Fire damage is especially devastating due to the fact that there is also water damage along with soot and smoke damage. Many times throughout the entire home in some fashion.
Our human brain says this needs to be cleaned up right away. Our attempts to restore order can be far more harmful than we realize. Why I am cleaning up the mess. Wiping all the counters, walls and cleaning the floor. Yet doing this improperly can cause permanent damage along with a lot of problems.
Who do you call? Who is the most important person to call after the fire is out? Where do you begin to get back to normal? What can you do to start cleaning up the mess?
Did you know that improperly cleaning any porous materials can actually push the soot deep into the material. This causes the odor to set below the surface and become permanent.
There area few things that you can do before the professionals arrive. Below is a key list of things that SHOULD be done.
Limit the movement in the home. Restricting access to the most damaged parts of the home is an essential part of not spreading the contamination.
Reduce the number of items you move around to wash and clean ( Particles will become airborne and settle in areas of the home that were not previously affected)
Use towels or old linens to line high traffic areas. Such as rugs, and walk ways and furniture
Coat all chrome faucets any trim countertops or appliances with Petroleum jelly or oil.
Place a barrier between all furniture legs. Wrap aluminum foil around blocks of wood to prevent absorption. Then prop up all of your furniture on the covered blocks. This will reduce the water absorption deep into the wood allowing it to dry more effectively.
Take photos of everything. If you have items that are beyond salvageability before you through them away make sure you photograph them and write a log of each item.
Documentation and Receipts
Find any receipts you have for the items lost.
If you have loss of use to your home, kitchen or bathroom areas requiring you to get a hotel room or eat out a restaurant. Make sure you keep all receipts as well a full calculation of what your normal weekly food expenses are. You will need to submit them to the company for reimbursement.
Log every call you have with all your contractors, insurance agents, adjusters and public officials. This may be needed when and if a difference in coverage allowances are presented.
Below you will find a list of things that you should not do.
DO NOT … DO NOT...
Wash any walls or painted surfaces. This will push the soot deep into he pores of the paint rendering it impossible to remove.
Shampoo anything upholstered or carpeted.
Clean any electrical equipment
Send clothing to a dry cleaner, Most do not know how to deal with soot and smoke damage. It will set the smoke deep into the fibers and will have to be tossed out.
A fire is a devastating disaster. Many times it is easy to become overwhelmed and just want to get back to normal as soon as possible. While this is the end game and the goal. Going to quickly or taking matters into your own hands can result in more of a problem.
Having a plan ahead of time and preparing for what could happen helps us all get through if something happens. Developing things like emergency evacuation routes out of the house. Collective meeting area a safe distance away from the home. Keeping an emergency bag in your car with some basics like a flashlight, blanket, toiletries and such.
Remember you do not have to go it alone. Reach out to local organizations for advice, guidance, direction and solutions. Many cities and towns have local resources. If you have pets local humane societies are a great resource for helping with your pets. Your insurance company agent and the adjuster will be able to provide you will valuable information.
Knowing who to call first, what services you will need coupled with the preparedness plan will bring you out back on top in no time.