What Now? Steps to take after a house fire
You have just had one of the worst days because your house started on fire. What do you need to do now? Take a breath and follow these guidelines to help alleviate stress and confusion.
- Depending on the severity of the fire you may have called 911 and the fire department has been there. DO NOT ENTER THE HOUSE UNTIL IT HAS BEEN INSPECTED AND YOU HAVE RECEIVED APPROVAL FROM THE FIRE DEPARTMENT. There may be structural damage and the house may not be safe. Once you have received approval you may enter your home.
- Call your insurance agent ASAP and follow their directions.
- If you are in need you may contact disaster relief or Red Cross for help with housing, food, medicine, etc.
- After approval to enter the home, take an inventory of everything that has been damaged. Do not throw anything away until you have done this. If you have insurance this list will be crucial to replace damaged items.
- The insurance company will usually suggest a disaster and restoration company; don’t feel like you have to choose the first one they suggest. Ask what others they work with and check out several of them to find the one you are the most confident and comfortable with.
- If you lost essential medical needs or medicine contact your doctor ASAP.
- If you own your home notify your mortgage lender. If you are a tenant notify the landlord.
- Contact your credit card provider, utilities companies, and any other lending institutions. They may be willing to work with you on your payments for a while.
- Take inventory of documents that may have been lost in the fire: Driver’s License; Social Security card; passport; Birth, Marriage, Death certificates; Vehicle Registration and Titles; Tax Records; Wills; Military Records; and any other important documents.
- Account for any cash that was damaged and contact the US Treasury Department. The treasury will replace your damaged currency with undamaged currency.
- Save ALL those receipts for money spent related to the fire loss. They may be needed by the insurance company and verifying losses claimed on taxes.
- Most important of all, take care of yourself and your family. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for and accept help.