You made it out safely and the fire has been extinguished. Panic has given way to worries and anxiety.
Where will your family stay? How much will restoration cost? What about the valuables that went up in smoke?
A checklist can help you take the right steps after a fire and ensure that your family stays safe.
Here’s a good 8-step what to do after a house fire checklist you can follow.
1. Find a safe place to stay
Your priority is to find a safe place to stay. Even if your house was only partially burned, it’s likely not safe to stay there.
Damage can extend far beyond what’s visible. The structure of the house may have been compromised.
Find a hotel to spend the next few nights or ask a family member or friend if they have some spare space.
If neither of that is possible, charity organisations such as the British Red Cross can provide emergency shelter.
Your local council can also help. They have a duty to provide housing to homeless persons.
Your situation will be treated as a priority need, which will speed up the response from the council.
2. Inform your family and close friends
Let everyone close to you know your status. They’ll be glad to know you made it out safely and may offer help with housing, food supplies and other basic needs before you get back up on your feet.
Informing your family and friends as soon as possible also ensures they don’t hear about the fire through some other means and spend their time worried sick about you.
3. Call your insurance
If your home or valuable in your home were insured, call your insurance agent as soon as possible. This will kick off the claim process.
Depending on your insurance policy, your insurer may help with daily expenses, finding a place to stay and other needs. They may also help you find the best restoration service.
4. Get started on clean-up and restoration
Look for a professional company to survey your home and determine what kind of work needs to be done to restore it to a liveable state.
If you have home insurance, they may help with this and even cover some or all the costs associated with clean up and restoration.
If you don’t have insurance, get a quote so that you can plan your finances accordingly.
5. Find out what was damaged (and what wasn’t)
Only take stock of the damage after the fire service tells you it’s safe to go back inside the house to have a look around.
Make a list of the damaged items. This will help you when making the insurance claim. You may need purchase receipts of the damaged items to file a claim.
As for the undamaged items, put them somewhere safe to prevent further damage. You can move them to another room or another house altogether depending on the severity of the fire damage.
Another option is to put them in storage.
6. Start replacing damaged documents
Check which documents – birth certificates, credit cards, title, passport etc. – were damaged in the fire and start the replacement process. Buy also things such as fire blankets, etc. if you didn’t have them before the fire.
7. Hold or forward your mail
Arrange for your mail and parcel deliveries to be put on hold until you go back to your home. Alternatively, you can have it forwarded to the address where you’ll be staying temporarily.
8. Get counselling
A house fire can be stressful and traumatic. Seek counselling if you feel like it has affected your mental health.
Counselling is especially important for kids. Your child’s school may offer counselling services or you can contact a therapist that helps children deal with traumatic events.