A fire in a home, whether you live in an apartment, a single family, or multifamily home, can cause serious damage. The building and many of the things in your home may have been badly damaged by flames, heat, smoke, and water. You will find that things the fire did not burn up are now ruined by smoke and soggy with water used to put out the flames. Anything you want to save or re-use will need to be carefully cleaned. The firefighters may have cut holes in the walls of the building to look for any hidden flames. They may even have cut holes in the roof to let out the heat and smoke. Cleanup will take time and patience.
Do not enter a damaged home or apartment unless the fire department says it is safe to go in. Fires can start again even if they appear to be out. Watch for damage caused by the fire. Roofs and floors may be damaged and could fall down. The fire department will make sure that the utility services (water, electricity, and gas) are safe to use. If they are not safe, firefighters will disconnect them before they leave the site. Do not try to turn them back on yourself.
Steps to follow after a Fire in your Home
1. Contact your local disaster relief service, such as the Red Cross. They will help you find a place to stay for awhile and find food, medicines, and other important things
2. If you have insurance, contact your insurance company. Ask what you should do to keep your home safe until it is repaired. Find out how they want you to make a list of things that were lost or damaged in the fire. Ask who you should talk to about cleaning up the mess. If you are not insured, try contacting community groups for aid and assistance
3. Check with the fire department to make sure your home is safe to enter. Be very careful when you go inside. Floors and walls may not be as safe as they look.
4. The fire department will tell you if your utilities (water, electricity, and gas) are safe to use. If not, they will shut these off before they leave. DO NOT try to turn them back on by yourself. This could be very dangerous
5. Contact your landlord or mortgage company about the fire
6. Try to find valuable documents and records. See the information in this brochure about how to get new copies if you need them.
7. If you leave your home, call the local police department to let them know the site will be vacant.
8. Begin saving receipts for any money you spend related to fire loss. The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and to prove any losses claimed on your income tax
9. Check with an accountant or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about special benefits for people recovering from fire loss.