Managing Utilities After Fire Damage
Many of the steps necessary after a house fire are common sense – stay safe, wait for professionals to inspect your building, and watch for hazardous areas surrounding you. Besides inspecting the building for structural integrity, there are other essential steps to ensuring your safety and property. You should make sure that the power supply has been completely shut off in case of fire damage. Fallen power lines surrounding your home are extremely dangerous and you should ensure that the power breaker in your individual residence is shut off, even if the neighborhood’s entire power is out. Check for your breaker box around the basement, garage, or utility areas of your home – after making sure that it is safe to enter. Never approach any standing water when dealing with possible stray power lines and be wary of power line poles as well, as these might have become unstable in the aftermath of fire damage.
Another step in securing your home after fire damage is controlling the water. It is quite possible that the fire damage has affected your water supply and possibly created flooding or other types of water damage. To ensure your own safety, make sure that locating the main water valve in your home completely shuts off the water supply. If you cannot find the valve or you are unsure of how to handle it, contact a local plumber or fire restoration specialist immediately. Turning off the water supply ensures that you do not create any unintentional house leaks or flooding damage in your home. Additionally, do not use piped water until you are positive that it is safe – boil it first or use bottled water. This is important to protect your health and ensure that fire or smoke damage has not affected your plumbing and water supply.
Additional Steps for Safety
Turning off the power and water supply is important when inspecting your home after fire damage, but there are additional steps that you can take. Turning off your gas supply can also prevent accidents when a home has suffered a fire. You can find your shut off valve for gas supply lines near the meter on your home. It is possible that the Fire Department might have already taken care of shutting down your utilities in order to prevent accidents. If the Fire Department has turned off your utilities, ensure that your home is safe and structurally sound. Only after determining this step should you attempt to turn on your own utilities – gas, water, and electricity. Do not attempt to reconnect everything yourself. Make sure that your home is safe before undertaking steps to turn on the electricity, water, and gas. The simplest way to accomplish this is to contact a fire restoration company.
It is wise to continually recheck your property for signs of flare-ups such as smoke, sparks, or unusual heat concentrations. You should check your entire building in addition to the surrounding areas to ensure that your property is not harboring smoldering embers. If you suspect something, wet down the area, and call a professional to ensure the area is safe. It is wise to lock and secure your property after a fire, even after utilities have been turned off, in order to prevent material loss due to looting or displacement. Keep in mind that alarms and security services might be disrupted if the electricity remains off.