The aftermath of a house fire can be extremely damaging, both emotionally and physically. Lives can be lost, people can be injured, and your home and belongings can be completely destroyed.
It’s something no family should ever experience, but sadly there is an estimated 358,500 house fires every year in the U.S. Most of these fires originate in the kitchen, while others begin in the bedroom, chimneys, and living rooms.
House fires are something we should all be diligent about preventing, which is why we’re sharing a few tips to decrease your chances of falling victim to fire damage. And should you ever experience a house fire, we’ve outlined the first steps you need to take afterward.
How to Prevent House Fires
You can do several things to prevent a house fire, such as inspecting heating sources, keeping your dryer vent clean, and properly storing any flammable household or beauty products. However, there are three important precautions that every homeowner and renter should take to prevent fire damage.
Here’s what you should start doing ASAP:
Test Smoke Alarms Regularly: Your smoke alarms have a button that you can press to ensure they’re working correctly, which the U.S. Fire Administration recommends doing monthly. Set a monthly reminder on your phone. If the smoke alarm ever begins to beep, that’s a sign you need to replace the batteries immediately.
Never Leave Potential Hazards Unattended: It only takes moments for a fire to break out, which is why you should be cautious when it comes to potential fire hazards. Never leave food unattended that’s cooking on the stove, and don’t leave candles burning in rooms you’re not in.
Keep Fire Extinguishers Handy: Should a fire break out, it’s good to have a fire extinguisher nearby and readily accessible. Put it somewhere near your kitchen (a common spot for house fires), and take a moment to learn how to use it, so you’re prepared in the case of an emergency.
It’s recommended to have at least one fire extinguisher on every level of your home, including the attic, basement, and garage. The number of fire extinguishers depends on the size of your house too. For example, the NFPA code states that there should be no more than 75 feet between fire extinguishers.
3 Steps to Take After a Fire
Should you find yourself dealing with the unfortunate event of a house fire, you’re likely feeling overwhelmed and confused about what to do next. After you’ve contacted the fire department and a reputable restoration company such as Restoration 1, here are a few things you can do after a fire:
Take a Moment to Check on Your Family
A house fire can be an event that can leave you and those involved dealing with post-traumatic stress for some time afterward. That’s why you need to check in with any friends or family members who were present at the time of the fire. Assessing their physical and mental wellbeing is crucial. Not forgetting to check in with yourself too.
Also, be sure to monitor anyone who may be suffering from smoke inhalation. Common signs of smoke inhalation include Hoarse voice, difficulty breathing, drawn-out coughing spells, and mental confusion.
Make sure everyone exposed to the fire is checked out by emergency medical professionals or taken to your local hospital.
After you’ve checked on those directly impacted by the fire, call any friends or family members you can lean on for support. During what is certainly a challenging time, you’re going to need people you can talk to and rely on to help get you through it.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Next, you’ll need to contact your insurance company. Provide them with a copy of the fire report, which you can get from the fire department that arrived on the scene.
Your homeowner’s insurance will have plenty of experience dealing with property restoration after fire and smoke damage, so they’ll be able to guide you through the insurance process. If you need help finding a temporary place to stay or require assistance with your living expenses, your insurance company can assist.
Determine the Extent of the Damage
After you’ve made arrangements for temporary accommodations and you’ve gotten settled in, you need to chat with your restoration company about the extent of the damage. Fire and smoke damage can wreak havoc on a home, causing problems that you might not see at first glance. Fires can also cause major structural damage, making it unsafe to re-enter your home. Smoke and soot from the fire can destroy your possessions. And there may be water damage from extinguishing the flames.
Both hard and soft furnishings absorb smoke and dangerous chemicals and will need to be professionally cleaned. Following a proper clean-up, deodorizing agents can remove any lingering smoke odors. It may also be necessary to use antimicrobial chemicals to sanitize and prevent possible mold growth. Certain Restoration 1 offices can provide this cleaning service in-house, or outsource this to trusted providers.
In many cases, a home can be saved, and fire damage restoration can commence. Other times, the only option is to demolish the home and rebuild. Restoration 1 will be able to assess exactly what needs to be done, provide an accurate timeline required for repairs and/or restoration, and talk you through the entire process – from start to finish.
Trust the Experts at Restoration 1
If you need help restoring your home and belongings from fire damage, our team at Restoration 1 is always here to help. We’ll safely remove and clean any damaged components from your house, and restore your property to its former pre-damaged state. Above all, our goal is to help you and your family get back on their feet as quickly as possible.
To learn more about our fire and smoke damage services, click here.