Things You Should Not Do After a House Fire

A house fire's emotional toll on you, your family, and your property can be extensive. While in this vulnerable state, you will want to know what things you should not do in order to protect your family and your investment.

You will automatically want to start surveying the damage and trying to rebuild. But, if you start on the restoration or cleaning up the damage, you could be causing yourself more harm than good.

Here are some practical tips on what you should not do after a house fire, along with advice on how to care for your family.

house fire
  • Do not go into the house - The electricity may still be live in the home, putting you at great risk. There may be instability in the structure, creating another risk of the building collapsing. There could also be chemical contamination to the structure, and the damaged contents, from agents such as asbestos. A fire releases carbon monoxide and other toxic gases, so coming into contact with soot from smoke damage and dirty water could make you sick if you touch items affected by them.
  • Do not delay in calling your homeowner’s insurance - A quick response time in reaching out to your insurance agent after a house fire can end up saving you a lot of time, and money, in the long run. By alerting your insurance company sooner rather than later, you can begin the process of inventory, assessing damage, and starting the damage restoration process.
  • Do not clean up or move damaged items - While you will want to start doing something to start with the cleanup process, you must wait until it is safe to do so. Many items you have can be expensive to replace, so you will want the proper care taken with their assessment in order to work properly with your insurance company.
    You will also want to make sure your insurance agent has been able to provide you with guidelines of what they will need to process your claim. There are many factors to consider, such as salvage rights, which items can be cleaned or need replacing, and what the scope of loss is with your property.
  • Do not turn on the water or gas - For the protection of the firefighters who responded to your house fire, the water and gas lines may have been turned off. Water lines may have been melted or ruptured in the fire, or gas lines may have also been damaged. Until the proper authorities have cleared any possible repercussions from damaged utility lines, it is in the interest of your safety to not turn them back on.
  • Do not use any appliances - Once you can enter the home to begin the clean-up, you’ll want to consider having a professional come out to inspect your gas and electric appliances. With this inspection, your wiring should also be inspected, as damaged wiring can start another fire.

To Help Your State of Mind During This Stressful Time, We Also Recommend the Following:

  • Gather important documents - Once you’ve been given the go-ahead to re-enter your house, try to get all your important documents and records. These can include your birth, death, and marriage certificates, along with passports, Social Security, and medical cards.
  • Save all receipts - When you experience a house fire, you will be displaced, for possibly months. Every single item you purchase, every take-out meal, hotel stay, article of clothing, the list is endless, should be recorded. These receipts will prove the money you had to spend as a direct result of the fire and provide proof of losses which can later be claimed on your income tax return.
  • Take care of your pet(s) - While your pet may appear to be okay after being removed from a house fire, be sure to get them to a vet as soon as you can to check for any possible lung damage or burns that are not readily visible.
  • Contact local disaster relief - Your local chapters of the American Red Cross or Salvation Army can help you when you are displaced from your home, to find shelter, food, clothing, and important medicines you may need.

Fire damage restoration professionals, like the caring technicians at PDQ Restorations, have the right safety equipment and experience needed to make sure your home is restored and your belongings are handled properly. You don’t have to walk through this time alone, we’re here to help you through it.