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Initial Actions After A House Fire
The first thing to do after putting out a fire is to call your insurance company. Your insurance company will be able to offer good advice for what to do – it’s their job. They can provide a list of good local restoration companies to help you start the cleanup process. If your property is damaged enough to require security for your household valuables, they can offer companies with good security records to guard or board up the problem areas. Insurance estimators are the ones who recommend what the insurance company should do when you call them; so make sure you make the initial call after fire damage. It will make the process much easier.
When a fire occurs, you should remember that you might require extensive cleanup. Very little actual cleaning is done before your property is properly secured and assessed for the insurance adjustors. Some items of immediate concern, however, should be delicate electronics, valuable items like jewelry and silver, and anything extremely fragile. Expensive audio systems, computers, and other electronics that cost thousands should be assessed, and then taken to a properly certified repair shop. Do not attempt to clean these items yourself. Wherever there was air in your property, smoke and soot followed – make sure that you take anything within the property. Improper cleaning or failure to address the items that need to be cleaned can be future fire causes.
Edible items such as boxed foods should be discarded. If the food items were completely sealed and kept far away from the heat, cans and fully sealed plastic containers might still be acceptable. Make sure to thoroughly clean the outside of these containers to ensure sanitary conditions. If your power was turned off because of the fire, dispose of any fresh food in the fridge or elsewhere – anything exposed to the fire is probably not safe. Frozen food, however, should be okay as long as is not thawed out. Use common sense when addressing your edible items and make sure to err on the safe side when deciding what to dispose of.
Smoke residues and soot are extremely corrosive in addition to being difficult to remove. Cleaning off soot and ashes from metal surfaces is one of the first things that should be tackled. It should be relatively easy as long as you have chemical sponges, warm water, Vaseline, and degreaser. Materials like chemical sponges are to be used dry, as water mixed with soot will only make your problems worse. Covering items you have cleaned off with Vaseline is important to retard the corrosive nature of ashes and soot. This can be cleaned off in the future with warm water and soap solutions. Remember that all metal valuables can be treated this way.
After a fire has been extinguished you will probably have to deal with water damage in addition to fire damage, depending on how the blaze was put out. You may also have some sort of chemical damage. It is important to attempt to salvage papers, books, and other paper-based materials if they are important. You should freeze these if you cannot dry them out at that moment. Larger materials can be dried using air movers, dehumidifiers, and fans
These are steps that you can take prior to, and after, a professional fire restoration company has helped you. The one thing that is extremely difficult for you to clean up without professional help is the burnt odors that will be lingering wherever smoke drifted, as this requires an ozone machine and other solutions to be properly successful. If you have fire or smoke damage, call Restoration Local 24/7 at 1-888-443-3110 for a free estimate!