How to Know What to do Following a House Fire

How to Know What to do Following a House Fire

Experiencing a house fire is a frightening, sickening, and very upsetting experience. In the aftermath of a fire, it is very important to know what to do to protect yourself and others from any possibility of further harm. This article will help you with key things to do and know after a fire.

  • Ask when it is safe to enter a house or other building on the property after a fire. Do not enter a house or other building that has been affected by a fire until you have listened to the professionals telling you that is okay to do so. Other factors to be aware of include:
    • making sure that the fire is extinguished
    • knowing that fire authorities have checked out the site and done what they need to do to establish a safety zone
    • the severity of the fire
  • Recognize that if a house or building is too badly damaged, you may not be allowed back inside at all.
  • Know who to call after a fire.
    • Contact family members that may not have been with you. Let them know what happened, let them know that you’re okay and let them know the information that is necessary.
    • Contact Pride Cleaning & Restoration to help board up your home, collect important items and discuss next steps.
    • After a house fire, don’t assume that someone is going to contact your insurance. This is the number one thing that you need to do. This will not only enable documentation of the event and set in train the insurance claim but your insurer will be able to talk you through emergency lodging and living expenses. Remember to retain all receipts to make a claim. The insurance company will also assist with clean up options.
    • If you are a tenant, contact the owner/landlord and/or their insurance company.
    • Anyone who you feel that could be helpful to you, not necessarily just an insurance company but it could be other things involved, such as the contents of your home and you need to contact a particular help group or business etc. For example, American Red Cross offers services to those who have lost their home.
  • Understand what happens with a “fire report”.
    • A fire report will discuss what structure the house was in, what area was involved, the time of the incident, the date of the incident and it will have an incident number if it comes through a fire department. This enables the fire department to know all the specifics of who was there and what resources were there, to assist in gathering a lot more information.
  • Know how to get a copy of a fire report.
    • You may be able to call the fire department for a copy. For example, in Wilmington NC, you can call the Fire Marshall or the billing agency of the fire department. If arson is involved, the Arson Unit or equivalent will probably be able to get this information to you.
  • Secure the property.
    • If you have not already been told to do so, it is important to secure your property to prevent possible looting. Talk to emergency services on how best to go about this. Most insurance policies require this.[3
  • Consider the cleanup requirements.
    • If your house has been damaged rather than destroyed, interior clean up will be required.
    • Keep in mind that damage to the property often goes beyond what the eye can see. (Removal of a destroyed house should only be done by professionals, such as Pride Cleaning & Restoration.)
    • You should spend a little time assessing whether you think you can perform the cleanup or if you’ll need Pride Cleaning & Restoration. You will find it useful to discuss this with your insurance company.
    • Consider such things as:
      • The types of damage including soot, ash, charing, smoke, odor, etc.
      • Damage to a single room – this may be something you can manage yourself
      • Extensive damage – leave it alone and call in the professionals… Pride Cleaning & Restoration.
  • Know how to handle smoke and soot damage after a fire.
    • If you do make the decision to clean up yourself, be aware that soot and smoke damage might be significant and often creates a film on the walls. There will also be residue from the extinguishers used by the fire crew.
    • Soot – while there are many cleaning products available on the market, one of the most common is “TSP” or tri-sodium phosphate. Mix it with water according to the instructions and use a sponge. Wipe down the walls and let it dry.
    • Extinguisher residue – use a shop hired vacuum to remove the residue and any remaining dry soot.[5]
    • Furnishings such as carpets, rugs, curtains etc. are best cleaned professionally if they are even salvageable.[6]
    • Open all doors and windows if possible. Even if it is freezing cold outside, let small bursts of fresh air circulate through. Send the kids to a friend’s house for a bit while this is happening.
    • They should not be around anyway, for fear of the potential for ingestion of chemical particles or other particles that might damage young lungs and immune systems.
  • If water hoses were used to put out your fire drying your home is very important.
    • It is best to hire professionals to do fire/ water combination clean up such as Pride Cleaning & Restoration. Water damage can lead to more damage or even mold if not dried properly. Insurance companies will often have approved restoration contractors that you can call for board up, structural drying, contents cleaning and structural cleaning and repair.
  • Seek counseling if needed and reassure children.
    • Having your house damaged or destroyed by fire is extremely traumatic and can have lasting impacts on each family member, depending on his or her ability to cope. Common feelings are helplessness, disorientation, pining for belongings, deep sadness, a sense of deprivation, despair and a loss of routine and structure. The depth of feelings and disorientation will depend on the extent of damage – loss of the entire house can leave everyone feeling as if they have to rebuild life all over again; partial loss, however, still carried stress and sadness. Reassure each other and let the emotions happen. Keep a close eye on children and be truthful with them about what has happened and if you do not know what is going to happen next, at least reassure them that you have one another, that things can all be replaced and that the only way is up from here on.

To learn more about our fire restoration services, contact Pride today at 910-507-2060.

Fire Damage During The Holidays

The most wonderful time of the year is also one of the most dangerous for homeowners. All of the decorations we use to dress up our homes for the holidays—from candles to Christmas trees—can become potential fire hazards if we’re not careful. Add to the risk fireplaces, space heaters and nonstop baking sessions, and your dream of a perfect holiday can quickly go up in smoke.

If an unexpected fire does leave your family out in the cold this season, know that you have a fire restoration company like Pride Cleaning & Restoration in Wilmington by your side. With our state-of-the-art restoration services, we can help you get your home back to normal and your New Year off to a better start.

Stop holiday fires from starting and spreading

According to the National Fire Protection Association, home fires happen more in the winter than in any other season. While we can all get swept up in the rush of the holidays, it’s important to take extra precaution when working on your Christmas to-do list to protect your home and family:

Foil a Christmas tree fire.

A dry Christmas tree is pretty much a big pile of kindling in your living room. When putting up your tree, keep it away from any source of heat like space heaters and candles. Be sure to only use decorative lights that are suited for indoor use. And most important, water that thirsty decoration every day until the holidays are over.

Keep an eye on your fryer.

Turkey fryers may cook up a crispy, golden bird, but they also serve up $15 million in home damages each year if not correctly used. If fried turkey is on the menu this Thanksgiving, be sure your bird is completely thawed and dry before cooking and set up your fryer outside away your home, garage or porch. If the fryer begins smoking, turn off the gas immediately and keep an extinguisher on hand in the case of a grease fire.

Control your candles.

More than half of home decoration fires are started by burning candles. Keep your candles at least a foot away from anything that burns (like your Christmas tree or curtains) and high enough where pets and kids can’t get to them. Anytime you leave the house or go to bed, use a candle snuffer to ensure the flame is out—even if you have to set a reminder on your phone to be sure it’s done.

Take care with outdoor décor.

Light manufacturers include safety instructions for a reason. If you install lights not designed for outdoor use, overload outlets or power strips, connect too many light strands together, or put up damaged or warped light strands, your light display is no longer just a way to wow your neighbors, but also a threat to your family’s safety.

Be conscious when cooking.

The peak days for cooking fires are Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas. When cooking on your stove, keep anything flammable—like towels and oven mitts—away from burners. Stay in the kitchen when frying or grilling, and if you leave the kitchen while your Christmas cookies and pumpkin pies are baking, keep a timer running so you remember to check in.

What to do after a fire if it happens during the holidays

In the event a Christmas tree fire or other disaster does occur, your safety and recovery don’t have to be put on hold just because it’s the holiday season. As soon as the fire is out, contact your insurance company immediately to begin the claim process and take photos of the damage before any clean-up begins to maximize your insurance payment.

It’s also critical to contact a Wilmington fire restoration company right away to get a quote. Pride Cleaning & Restoration can be on site within 24 hours—even during the holidays—to provide you with an estimate and timeline for repair. When your claim is approved, we’ll not only repair your home’s fire and smoke damage, but also clean and dehumidify your home to prevent mold growth from water and chemical extinguishers.

To learn more about our fire restoration services, contact Pride today at 910-507-2060.