7 Must-Know Fire Damage Tips
After the Fire: How to Recover from Fire Damage
Fire damage can be devastating. After experiencing a fire in your house or business, your world may feel like it’s been turned upside down. Know that you're not alone.
According to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to approximately 1,421,600 home structure fires between 2012 and 2016. These fires caused $6.5 billion in direct damage.
Depending on the extent of the damage, knowing where and how to begin tackling the fire damage can feel overwhelming. We’ve assembled a list of 7 must-know fire damage restoration tips to help steer you in the right direction and help you get your home and life back to normal.
Tip #1: Assess the Damage — Cautiously
While your first inclination after a fire is to get inside to assess the damage, we urge you to use caution! The flames may have been put out, but dangers still lurk in the form of soot and dirty water left behind that may make you sick. There may also be structural damage. Ask the advice of the Austin fire department if it’s safe to enter your home. Firefighters will make sure the utility services (water, electricity and gas) are safe to use, and that the roof and floors are secure before you assess any fire damage repair.
Tip #2: Contact Your Homeowner’s Insurance Company
To make sure you’re compensated properly for the damage to your Austin property, it’s important to contact your insurance company after the fire and before the fire damage cleanup begins. Your agent will instruct you on what to do first. You’ll be asked to make a list of everything that was damaged or destroyed in the fire and to describe these items in detail (including how much you paid for them and providing receipts when possible). The good news is that a standard homeowner’s insurance policy will cover fire damage to the home’s structure, as well as the homeowner’s personal property. Documenting the damage from the fire with photos and/or videos is also important. Your insurance company will also work with you to help you find a reputable fire and water restoration service.
Tip #3: Contact a Reputable Fire Damage Restoration Company
Cleanup after a fire takes time and patience. You’ll find items that have been damaged by fire, smoke, soot and water used to put out the fire. Trusting the advice and expertise of a reputable fire damage restoration company can ensure the process runs as safely, quickly and efficiently as possible.
Response time is crucial for proper fire damage restoration. The longer you wait to address the damages, the more repairs will be needed, especially when it comes to the often subsequent water damage that also occurs as a result.
Drenched walls, furniture and other belongings can promote the growth of dangerous mold in your Austin residence or commercial property. When choosing an Austin TX fire damage restoration company, be sure to entrust your home to a company that’s licensed, bonded, insured and is certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). Trustworthy companies will do the following:
- Perform a thorough fire damage assessment
- Secure windows and doors with board-up services to ensure the physical safety of your property
- Extract as much water as possible and use advanced drying and de-humidifying techniques
- Tackle smoke and soot removal
- Remove soot, ash and smoke residue from heating, ventilating and air-conditioning units and all ductwork
- Remove and dispose of items that are too badly damaged to be repairable
- Perform other cleaning, restoring and repairing services to preserve and protect your home and its contents
Tip #4: Care for Your Treasured Family Photos
As the fire and water damage specialist is busy at work bringing your home back to its pre-fire damaged condition, you’ll be eager to try to salvage as many treasured family belongings as possible, such as photographs.
Photographs that have not been burned can usually be saved. If you come across photographs that have become stuck together, don’t try to separate them by pulling them apart. Instead, soak them in slightly warm water. If the water becomes dirty change it often. It could take about an hour to loosen them. Dry them in a single layer, image-side up on a hard surface. Photos that are wet but not stuck together should be rinsed with water and dried, image-side up, in a single layer on a hard, smooth surface. Don’t dry photos in direct sunlight.
Tip #5: Throw Away These Items When You've Had Fire Damage!
Non-perishable food (such as canned foods) exposed to heat and damaged by flames or smoke should not be consumed. High heat can activate bacteria and toxic fumes can also contaminate food through sealed glass jars and aluminum cans. As a general rule, don't use canned goods when cans have bulged or are dented or rusted. Medications exposed to flames, heat and smoke should also be properly disposed.
Tip #6: Save Undamaged Property from Further Destruction
If you come across any items that aren’t damaged in your Austin TX home or business, you should put them in a safe place during the fire damage restoration process, such as in a storage facility. Check with your insurance company to see if your policy covers additional costs such as storage fees.
Tip #7: DIY Ways to Get Rid of Lingering Smoke Odors
If there’s a burnt odor that remains in your home, try using a HEPA filter air purifier. You can also try placing small bowls of baking soda, wine vinegar or activated charcoal throughout your home to help absorb the odor. Commercial odor-absorbing packets sold at home improvement stores will also help in some cases.
Flames, smoke, soot and water can cause significant damage to the structure of your home and your personal belongings. That’s why SERVPRO of East Central Austin is here to help you with any fire damage repair in Austin.
Our team of trained and certified professionals will be your ally throughout the process and will listen to your concerns. We will examine the extent of your fire damage repairs and provide the proper equipment and expertise to ensure a smooth restoration process, to make sure your home is restored to its pre-fire condition.
Give our local SERVPRO office a call if you need help, or have any questions.