Securing a Home After a Fire: What to do After a Fire to Secure Your Home and Protect Against Additional Damage
Fires are extremely frustrating and stressful. Whether it’s just a small kitchen fire or large fire that has damaged exterior walls or your roof, the first step in cleaning up fire damage is protecting your self and your home. Securing a home after a fire prevents a recurrence of fire and keeps the elements, looters, and vandals out. From checking that the fire is out to boarding and tarping your home, our guide will help ensure your home is safe and secure after a fire.
Steps to Securing a Home After a Fire
When it comes to securing a home after a fire, there are three easy steps that will prevent additional damage and secure your home against the elements, vandals, and looters.
1. Prevent a Fire Recurrence
The first step to securing a home after a fire is to make sure the fire is completely out. Trying to board up your home is futile if the fire can start back up. The same goes with cleaning up smoke and soot damage.
If the fire department did respond, they will ensure that the fire is completely out. For any fire where the fire department did not respond, you will need to ensure there are absolutely no flames or glowing coals.
While there could be some steam still rising if water or a fire extinguisher were used, there should be no smoking or smoldering embers. Use a fireplace poker or a metal shovel to rake over the area to look for coals or embers.
For kitchen fires, turn off the heat source and smother pots and pans with a heavy, tight-fitting lid. Do not remove the lid until the pan is cool to the touch. If the fire started in the oven or microwave, turn off the electricity or gas supply to prevent the fire from intensifying.
If the fire was started by an electrical appliance, such as a space heater or electric blanket, unplug the device if possible. Since the fire may have damaged the outlet or the wiring, you should turn off the electricity to prevent another fire.
2. Protect Against the Elements
Whether you plan to stay in your home or will be staying somewhere else until it can be repaired, you need to protect against the elements. For fires that burned through the exterior of your home or damaged windows and doors, you will need to protect against the elements.
Tarping your roof or boarding up windows and doors will prevent further damage, like water damage from rainstorms. It will also help keep unwanted animals, like squirrels and birds, from nesting or foraging in your home.
We recommend using heavy duty, exterior tarps to secure the roof of your home. Depending on the extent of the damage, it may be necessary to attach the tarp to your roof using a 1 by 2-inch wall stud or another piece of lumber. You should always board up windows and doors with at least ¾ inch exterior or marine-grade plywood.
3. Secure Against Looters and Vandals
Unfortunately, some people may take advantage of your misfortune by looting or vandalizing your property. In order to keep unwanted visitors out of your home, you should use at least ¾ inch exterior or marine-grade plywood to secure damaged windows and doors.
Instead of screwing the plywood to the outside of your home, use interior clamps or screw the plywood to the inside of your home. This prevents unwelcome visitors from just unscrewing the plywood and gaining access to your home.
You should not rely on your security system to keep your property safe after a fire. A fire will likely cause your security systems to malfunction, especially if windows or doors are damaged. Also, the system will not work if your electricity is turned off.
If you will not be staying in your home during fire damage restoration, you should remove your valuables. This includes jewelry, heirlooms, and valuable antiques. You should also take money, checks, stock or bond certificates, or other assets. Secure all firearms in a heavy-duty, lockable gun safe or take them with you.
You may also want to take important documents with you as well. This includes identifying documents like your passport, Social Security card, health insurance cards, and military documents. Other documents you may want to take are your will, birth and marriage certificates, divorce decrees, home deed or mortgage, and car titles or loan paperwork.
Securing a Commercial or Industrial Property After a Fire
Securing your commercial or industrial property after a fire can be more involved that securing a residential property. While the same basic steps apply, they could be on a much large scale.
The fire department usually responds to commercial and industrial fires, so they will ensure the fire is completely out. The fire department will also perform an initial inspection to ensure your property is safe to enter.
However, securing your property against the elements, looters, and vandals will likely be much more challenging. Depending on the extent of the damage, you will likely need to hire a professional fire restoration company to secure and restore the location. You may also need to hire a security company to watch the property until restoration is complete.
The Restoration Local fire damage restoration teams are experienced in securing and cleaning up after commercial and industrial fires. We work with all insurance companies and can secure your property while you are working out all of the details of your insurance claim.
Only Begin Fire Damage Restoration After Your Property is Secure
You should never begin fire damage restoration until you have finished securing a home after a fire.
Extracting and Drying Out Water: Firefighting efforts will likely leave water behind that can ruin walls, cabinets, carpeting, and other materials. Use pumps, wet/dry vacuums, air movers, and dehumidifiers to thoroughly dry out the area.
Remove Damaged Materials: Remove and dispose of any item that has been damaged beyond repair by water or fire. This includes flooring, walls, ceilings, cabinets, and countertops, as well as furniture and other personal items.
Clean Up Smoke and Soot: Smoke damage and soot damage will begin to permanently stain surfaces after just a few hours of exposure. Use a shop vacuum to suck up soot and ash and a vinegar and water solution to clean smoke stains.
Ventilate the Area to Deodorize: Smoke smells can linger, so ventilate the area as soon as cleanup is complete. Wait until after you’ve finished cleaning, as the air movement will allow the smoke and soot to spread even further.
Cleaning Carpeting, Upholstery, and Fabric: You can use a carpet or upholstery cleaner to remove smoke and soot stains from carpeting and furniture. In some cases, you may need to sent items out to be dry cleaned or hire a professional cleaner.
Sanitize to Prevent Mold: If the area was exposed to water, you should use a hospital grade disinfectant to prevent mold and other bacteria from growing. A solution of bleach and water will work too, but it is less effective in the long term.
Review our Fire Damage Restoration 101 guide for more details on restoring your home or business after a fire.
Call Now for Professional Fire Damage Restoration Services
Depending on the extent of the damage, securing a home after a fire can be taxing. It may require you going up on your roof or working out in the elements for an extended period. If you need help during the tarping and board up process, Restoration Local is here for you.
We’re the nation’s largest network of restoration professionals. Our directory includes major franchises like AdvantaClean, DKI Restoration, and PuroClean as well as independent restoration companies. Choose a fire damage restoration company near you now.
For immediate response, call 1-888-443-3110 to speak with our on-call fire damage contractor in your area. Our on-call partners offer 24-hour emergency services, 30-minute response, and a free, no-obligation estimate on fire damage restoration.