What to do after a Fire?

A fire in your home is both tragic and traumatic. While your natural instinct may be to go back inside to survey the damage after the fire seems to be out, do not enter your home immediately. Fires can rekindle from hidden, smoldering remains. Normally, the fire department will see that utilities (water, electricity and natural gas) are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site. Do not attempt to turn on utilities yourself. Also, food, beverages and medicine exposed to heat, smoke, soot and water should not be consumed. Make sure you contact your local police departments to let them know the site will be unoccupied. Beginning immediately, save receipts for any money you spend. These receipts are important in showing the insurance company what money you have spent related to your fire loss and also for verifying losses claimed on your income tax. If it is safe to do so, try to locate the following items:

• identification, such as driver's licenses and Social Security cards • insurance information • medication information • eyeglasses, hearing aids or other prosthetic devices • valuables, such as credit cards, bank books, cash and jewelry

Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made. All damages are taken into consideration in developing your insurance claim. If you are considering contracting for inventory or repair services, discuss your plans with your insurance agent/company first. Contacting a professional fire restorer is in your best interest. They deal with problems similar to yours every day like smoke clean up, smoke removal, fire clean up, and home fire restoration. If your insurance agent doesn't suggest someone, look in the yellow pages of the telephone directory under "Carpet and Upholstery Cleaners" or "Fire and Water Damage Restoration". Keep in mind most professional fire restorers will travel a certain distance to restore fire damaged property. Inquire about the experience the fire restorer has had and, if possible, secure some references of persons they have served. Usually the professional fire restorer can provide helpful hints to prevent further damage, determine which items can be refurbished, and estimate the cost of deodorizing and cleaning your home. Hiring a professional fire restorer can be costly, but the best way to remove smoke odor and soot is with the appropriate equipment and appropriate chemicals. Also keep in mind that since water was most likely used to put out the fire, water damage and mold clean up may also be prevalent when calling emergency restoration services.

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