Recent Fire Damage Posts
8 Things to Do After a House Fire
Moving on after a house fire can seem daunting—in fact, sometimes it can feel downright impossible. But it doesn’t have to. Knowing where to begin and who can help you is a crucial first step in putting your life back together.
If you’ve just suffered a house fire, follow these eight steps to help you and your family through this difficult time.
Find a Place to Stay
House fires are a terrifying experience, especially for children and pets. Finding a safe and comfortable place to relocate—even if it’s only for one night—will help you plan your next steps and give your family time to rest.
If staying at a hotel or with friends or family isn’t available, reach out to your local disaster relief agency like the American Red Cross or Salvation Army. Many times, these organizations can provide temporary shelter for free.
Contact Your Insurance Agent
File your claim immediately. The sooner you alert your insurance carrier, the sooner you can begin repairs or searching for a new home. Many carriers also provide help for daily expenses known as loss of use funds. These are especially useful if you lost your credit or debit cards in the fire.
Your agent can also help you find cleaning or abatement services.
Contact the Police
Empty homes—even those with fire damage—can be attractive locations for squatters and looters. Alerting local police to your fire will ensure your property remains safe during your absence. Boarding up windows and doors will provide an additional layer of security. You can tackle this job yourself or hire a pro.
The cost to board your windows will range from between $20 and $100 per window. Prices will vary based on the number and size of windows, and whether you hire a pro or not. Be sure to check with your fire department to ensure the home is safe to enter before beginning this job.
Plan Your Finances
Financial responsibilities will continue regardless of your fire. Many insurance policies cover mortgages, but it’s important to check on other recurring costs like car payments as well. Additionally, consider canceling cable and internet services if you won’t be in your home for several months. If you’re planning to front the costs of abatement, you can expect to pay between $800 and $25,300+.
It’s common to lose possessions like cooking equipment and clothing in the fire, too. Keep your receipts when replacing these items to ensure you’re quickly reimbursed. These can be pricey purchases if made at once for several family members.
Create a List of Damaged Items
Making a list of items—both big and small—that were lost or damaged in the fire will ensure you’re reimbursed. Many carriers will require detailed information like make and model, serial numbers, and receipts. This can be difficult if your home was completely destroyed or you don’t yet have access to it. If you have a computer, searching online bank statements can help you present proof of purchase and exact costs.
It’s also critical to make a list of important documents that were lost in the fire. Items like drivers’ licenses, birth certificates, passports, titles and deeds, medical records, tax information, etc., will need to be replaced immediately. Your agent will let you know which items are necessary for your claim. Replace those first.
Check on the Safety of Your Home
House fires can weaken the structural integrity of your home and leave behind noxious fumes from burned materials. If you need to return home to recover items, wait until a fire marshal has deemed the area safe. Aside from being dangerous, re-entering your home too soon can also void parts of your insurance policy—which can cause major problems when it comes to getting reimbursed later. Only enter your home once it’s deemed safe by the fire department and your insurance carrier.
Save Undamaged Possessions
If your home was partially damaged and deemed safe to re-enter, go back and remove anything that wasn’t affected by the fire. It’s also recommended to clean items after they’re removed from the house. Professional cleaning services have the experience and tools necessary to restore fire-affected items.
Many homeowners rent a storage unit to house salvageable items. Leaving possessions in your home can cause further damage and make it difficult for your abatement and repair crews to work. Most homeowners pay between $40 and $225 a month for storage units. Size and extras like climate control will affect pricing.
Wait to Turn on Utilities
In some cases, firefighters will turn off utilities to prevent further damage. If your utilities are disconnected, contact your fire department and utility provider before turning them on again. Connecting unsafe utilities can cause additional fires, gas leaks, and severe water damage. Have a professional inspect your home before attempting to turn on your utilities.
*Courtesy of https://www.thespruce.com/what-to-do-after-a-house-fire-4166008
Destroy Odors with Deodorization
Even a small fire can cause odors for years to come if the affected areas are not properly cleaned and deodorized. Fire, smoke and soot damage in your home or business can create unpleasant and potentially permanent problems.
As various materials burn, the smoke produced travels throughout the structure, leaving odorous residues and deposits on surfaces and in hard-to-reach places. Unless fast, professional action is taken, these residues and deposits can cause permanent damage to contents and may result in resurfacing odors.
With technicians certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration (IICRC), SERVPRO® of Douglasville professionals provide specialized services that can rid your home or business of offensive odors left by fire or smoke damage. SERVPRO® of Douglasville professionals do not cover up lingering odors with a fragrance; they seek out and remove the source of the odor. Once the source is found, SERVPRO’s own proprietary line of cleaning products is used to treat and prevent the odor from returning. Any restorable item in affected areas will also be professionally cleaned and deodorized, including furniture, draperies and upholstery, electronics, art, flooring, walls, ceilings, HVAC air ducts and more.
Ask SERVPRO® of Douglasville to explain the various deodorization methods available and which will work best for you.
If you or a customer suffer a fire damage or some other accident and require deodorization services, contact SERVPRO® of Douglasville. Whether it’s fire, water, or mold damage or just a stubborn odor that refuses to go away, we’ll help make it “Like it never even happened.”
*Courtesy of Restoration Newsline Vol 30, Iss 4
Smoke Damage Cleaning
Smoke damage cleaning is, perhaps, the most complicated form of treatment for a homeowner to accomplish themselves. Not only does it take a thorough approach and deep remediation of nearly every surface in the building, it can only be done effectively if the areas behind the building’s walls receive treatment as well. This is a massive challenge to anyone but certified professionals, as these experts have the know-how, manpower and equipment to complete the task properly. SERVPRO of Douglasville is your local expert in smoke damage cleaning and restoration.
Once the fire dies out, the problem is only beginning. Soot and smoke have a tendency to get everywhere, and these particles are so small that they can pass through walls effortlessly. They will also cake onto furniture, countertops, floors and walls if not dealt with right away, causing discoloration and overpowering odors. Smoke damage cleaning has to address both issues to be completely effective.
The professionals at SERVPRO of Douglasville are certified through the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) and have the expertise and materials needed to do the job right. With powerful treatment solutions, the soot and smoke can be removed during a deep scrubbing of the building. Professionals have access to thermal fogging technology to take care of the odors emanating from behind walls. The thermal fogging produces a cloud of odor neutralizing particles that can go where the smoke does.
*Information courtesy of https://www.IICRC.org/blog/tag/smoke-damage-restoration
Portable fire extinguishers can be life and property saving tools when used correctly. In order to operate an extinguisher, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests remembering the word PASS:
- Pull the pin. Hold the nozzle pointing away from you and release the locking mechanism.
- Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
- Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.
Read the instructions on the fire extinguisher and become familiar with them before a fire breaks out. Remember, extinguishers do have limitations. It is also important to ensure you have the correct type of extinguisher for your facility. To find more information on choosing the appropriate class of extinguisher, please visit the NFPA website at nfpa.org.
*Courtesy of Restoration Newsline Vol 30, Iss 2
Emergency Fire Damage Tips
These emergency tips will assist you in taking proper action until SERVPRO of Douglasville professionals arrive. Follow these DOs and DON’Ts to help reduce damage and increase the chances of a successful restoration.
- Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into carpet and avoid tracking.
- Keep hands clean. Soot on hands can further soil upholstery, walls and woodwork.
- If electricity is off, empty freezer and refrigerator completely and prop doors open to help prevent odor.
- Wipe soot from metal kitchen and bathroom faucets, trim and appliances.
- If heat is off during winter, pour RV antifreeze in sinks, toilet bowls, holding tanks and tubs to avoid freezing pipes and fixtures.
- Remove soot particles from plants with a damp cloth.
- Change HVAC filter, but leave system off until a trained professional can check the system.
- Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers to stop particles of soot from getting in or out of the HVAC system.
- Don’t attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces without first contacting SERVPRO of Douglasville.
- Don’t attempt to shampoo carpet, rugs or upholstered furniture without first consulting SERVPRO of Douglasville.
- Don’t attempt to clean any electrical appliances (TV sets, radios, etc.) that may have been close to fire, heat or water without first consulting an authorized repair service.
- Don’t consume any food or beverages that may have been stored close to fire, heat or water. (They may be contaminated.)
- Don’t turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet. Wiring may be wet or damaged and cause electrical shock and air movement may create secondary damage.
- Don’t send garments to the dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set in smoke odor.
When fire and water damage take control of your life, SERVPRO of Douglasville will help you take it back.
*Courtesy of Restoration Newsline Vol 30, Iss 2
Smoke Alarms: Life Savers
Source: American Red Cross
Smoke alarms save lives when properly installed and maintained, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
In homes, smoke alarms should be in every bedroom and on every level, including the basement. In office and commercial environments, check your state requirements or contact your local Fire Marshall to help ensure all codes are met.
Test smoke alarms monthly using the test button. Smoke alarms with non-replaceable batteries need the entire smoke alarm unit replaced every ten years. Other alarms need batteries replaced every year and the unit replaced every ten years. If the alarm chirps signaling low battery, take the proper steps to replace the unit or the batteries immediately. Never disable or remove the battery from an alarm. Almost half of fires where smoke alarms were present but did not activate had missing or disconnected batteries (NFPA).
In larger commercial facilities, hard wired or wireless smoke alarms offer benefits such as not needing to be tested as often and activating throughout the entire building if smoke is detected in just one area (NFPA).
If you need help installing, testing or changing batteries in your smoke alarms, contact your local fire department, an electrician or the American Red Cross.
Be sure your home or workplace has a fire emergency plan in place and conduct regular fire drills. For more information on Emergency Preparedness, contact SERVPRO of Douglasville.
*Courtesy of Restoration Newsline Vol 30, Iss 2