If you ever went to preschool, you probably remember the basics of fire safety: “stop, drop, and roll” is repeated over and over to ensure that every kid knows how to keep themselves safe in the event of a fire. But do you know what to do beyond stopping, dropping, and rolling if you have a house fire? Don’t panic. There are several steps to take to ensure the safety of yourself and your family, as well as protecting your home and your belongings.
Make a Plan Ahead of Time
You should ensure that your family has a plan in place regarding what to do if your house catches fire. Be sure to have a fire extinguisher in your home, ideally one on each floor of the house. If your home has more than one floor, purchase a few fire escape ladders for your home and keep them in second-story bedrooms. There are foldable ones that you can put under the bed. Make sure you and your family know how to use them. Create an escape plan and a meeting place that’s a safe distance away from the house- perhaps a designated spot across the street- and teach your kids to call 911 if they smell smoke or see flames. It’s also a good idea to do an inventory of your belongings once every few years. This will help with the insurance claim you’ll need to make.
First Priority: Get Everyone Out
This may seem obvious, but it’s the most important thing to do: get everyone out of your home. If you’re able to bring your pets with you, do so, but not at the risk of your own life. Do not stop to retrieve any belongings. Stay low to the ground to reduce the risk of smoke inhalation. Make sure your entire family has made it out of the house, go to a safe place, and call 911 as soon as possible. Do not, under any circumstances, re-enter a burning home. If you’ve left a pet inside or if someone did not make it out, notify the first responders instead of running back in yourself.
Find a Safe Place to Stay
No matter how much damage was or was not done by the fire, you’ll likely need to find a safe place to stay, at least for a few days. It’s not safe to stay in a home with lingering smoke- smoke inhalation can cause a large number of health issues. If you can stay in a hotel or with family or friends, make those arrangements as soon as possible. If you can’t stay with family or friends or in a hotel, talk with the police or firefighters. They may be able to help you find a place to stay.
Contact Your Insurance Company
As with any disaster, one of the first things you’ll need to do is contact your insurance company and tell them what’s happened. Take photos of the outside of the house in case your insurance agent needs to look at them. Taking photos of the inside of the house is also a good idea, but be sure to talk to the fire department before you re-enter your home. They will be able to tell you whether it’s safe to go inside or not. Write down and photograph damages, losses, etc. If there are salvageable items, remove those from your home. Get a copy of the fire report from the fire department as well- this could come in handy for your insurance claim.
Other Important Calls to Make
After you notify your insurance company of the fire, you also need to call your utility providers- gas, electric, water, etc.- and let them know what has happened so that you can suspend your service. Do not turn your utilities back on unless a fire official has told you that it is safe to do so. Make a list of important documents that were in your home, such as birth certificates, passports, and insurance papers, so that you can replace those. Finally, contact the post office and have them hold or forward your mail.
Restoration and Recovery
There are some cases where you can get a few friends together and make the most of a day of cleanup- for example, cleaning up your yard after a windstorm- but unfortunately, that’s not something you can really do after a fire. Fires can (and often do) cause structural damage as well as smoke damage, so you need an expert in fire damage home restoration to come in, evaluate the state of your home, and help you restore it.
Let Americon Restoration Help
Are you in need of fire damage restoration services in the Cleveland or Northeast Ohio area? Americon Restoration can help. We have a tried-and-true fire damage restoration process that’ll give you and your family peace of mind and after a fire. First, we secure the structure of your home and make sure it’s safe. Then we identify the type and extent of the damage done by the fire and smoke, putting together a comprehensive assessment and fire damage estimate. Finally, we do property restoration and contents restoration so that you and your family can get back in your own home as quickly as possible. If you need help after a fire, contact Americon Restoration through our website or by phone at 216-221-5200.