If your home has sustained fire damage, what you do next is critical. Mistakes made early in the clean-up process can have lasting effects on you, your family, and your investment. To get the clean-up efforts underway, file a claim with your insurance company as quickly as possible. Next, hire a restoration crew to take care of the clean up the fire damage.
If you try to take care of the clean up by yourself, you expose yourself — and those who help you — to hazardous conditions. Once you've taken care of the insurance claim and the clean up, here are five additional steps to take that will help you avoid costly mistakes.
1. Bring in the Fresh Air
As soon as the fire department gives you authorization to enter your home, open as many doors and windows as you can. The added fresh air helps remove the smoke and provides a safer environment for you to walk around in.
While you wait for the air to clear, wear a protective mask over your face. That way, you protect your lungs from harmful smoke inhalation. For maximum protection, choose NIOSH 95 masks. These masks block out large particles that can pose a risk after a house fire.
2. Take Plenty of Pictures
When you file your insurance claim, you need to identify all your belongings. Use your camera to make sure you document all your belongings. Walk through your home and take pictures of each room. Pay close attention to the big ticket items, such as televisions and computers. Videos also provide adequate documentation for insurance purposes.
3. Arrange for a Roll-Off Dumpster
Before the clean up begins, rent a roll-off dumpster. Every item in your home will need to go through a sorting process. Belongings that have been destroyed need to be discarded quickly and safely. A roll-off dumpster provides for both of those needs. Your restoration crew also needs access to a roll-off dumpster, as they'll discard building materials that are removed from your home.
4. Take Care With What You Keep
While you sort through your belongings, you may find items that appear to be untouched by smoke and fire. Some of those items can be cleaned and reused. However, that does not apply to everything that may look safe.
Oral Hygiene Items
Your toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss need to be discarded — even if they look clean. Chemicals from the smoke may have contaminated those items. You don't want to put items that are contaminated by smoke and chemicals into your mouth.
When you open your pantry and refrigerator, your food may look safe for consumption. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Your food has been exposed to high temperatures, smoke, and chemicals. Take a picture of the contents of your cabinets, refrigerator, and freezer. Discard the food and give the pictures to your insurance agent. When you discard your food, be sure to include any pet food that you have in your home.
5. Hire a Public Adjuster
Now that you have an insurance claim to deal with, don't handle the process alone. Before you begin negotiations with your insurance company, hire a public adjuster. Your public adjuster will work to make sure that you receive everything you're entitled to from your insurance company. This is particularly important where the value of your home, repair costs, and replacement value for your personal belongings is concerned.
If you've suffered a house fire, the tips provided here will help you eliminate some of the stress and risk associated with the aftermath. For assistance with the clean up, contact us today at Piedmont Disaster Services. We're here to take care of the repair and restoration process for you.