What to do After a Fire: Your 5-Step Guide to Recovery

What to do after a fire in your home by Woodard Cleaning & Restoration in St. Louis, Mo.

The aftermath of a fire leaves physical damage in your midst, as well as financial and emotional stress. We know this is overwhelming, and understand that most people have no idea where to begin. If you find yourself asking "What do I do?" after a fire, reference  our 5 Step Guide to Recovery as you're sifting through the damage. With our expertise on your side, you can feel confident in knowing that you're taking the safest, and most appropriate, steps for a speedy recovery.

Step 1: Secure & Protect Your Home

Protecting your home after is the immediate first step. To protect your home from exterior elements, it is essential to board-up all doors and windows immediately. With unpredictable weather patterns and pests, the existing damage will only get worse if not protected immediately after the fire. More so, to prevent unlawful entry, securing your home is just as important. For your convenience and protection, Woodard provides 24/7 board-up services.

Step 2: Notify Your Insurance Provider

In order to get the ball rolling on your homeowner's insurance claim, it is crucial to notify your insurance agent of the fire as soon as you're able. Keep in mind: your carrier may suggest contractors to assist in the remediation process, but as an insured homeowner, you have the right to hire any firm you choose.

If you are not insured, there are several private organizations that provide great sources of information and helpful assistance, including:

  • American Red Cross
  • Salvation Army
  • Religious and civic organizations
  • Department of Social Services

Step 3: Determine Extent of Fire & Smoke Damage

Never enter a building that has not been verified as "safe" by the fire department. To classify a home as safe for entry after a fire, fire officials must note that utilities are either safe to use or have been disconnected before leaving the site; never attempt to reconnect utilities yourself. Additionally, homeowners are urged to refrain from disturbing the scene until the insurance company has officially determined the cause of fire. Once your team of fire safety and insurance professionals have completed the process of evaluating your property, you may re-enter and locate valuables. Here are a few items to look for:

  • Driver’s Licenses & Social Security Cards
  • Insurance Information
  • Medications, Eyeglasses, Hearing Aids & Prosthetic Devices
  • Credit Cards, Cash & Jewelry
  • Cell Phones & Chargers
  • Firearms & Weapons

Delays in the recovery process can lead to further damage to the structure, as well as the items within it. Additionally, excess water and smoke residue will cause more damage the longer it remains untreated. It is in your best interest to have a professional remediation firm evaluate your home immediately after the fire to determine the extent of the damage.

Never begin cleaning fire damage until after you’ve consulted with a restoration company. Though you may be anxious to start cleaning, you could cause additional problems if you don’t know what you’re doing; tackling the project yourself can cause additional damage and stress.

Step 4: Select a Remediation Firm

Always select an experienced company to manage the restoration and reconstruction of your home. Obviously, it is best to work with a firm that has years of industry experience, as well as positive reviews and references. When looking for a reputable contractor, ask people you trust (neighbors, family, friends, etc.) about firms they may be familiar with. When it comes down to it, a company’s reputation, experience, and rapport always speaks for itself.

Here at Woodard, we take the fire restoration process one step further by completing a full mitigation to assess and correct other damage that may have occurred. During the extended mitigation, we even take the time to identify if mold issues are present, and perform complete remediation services to remove mold and spores at the source.

Prior to selecting your remediation firm, be sure to verify policy coverage with your insurance company, and gain a full understanding of how the insurance company will be paying for any restoration, mitigation, and remediation work completed.

Step 5: The Recovery Process

Recovery must begin as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your home and its contents. Here are a few things to expect:

  • Fireman’s hoses can leave excess water in the property. If water is left unchecked for more than a day, the chance of mold growth and water damage greatly increases.
  • Some items can be salvaged, others unfortunately cannot. Your adjuster and remediation firm will review the damage to determine the outcome.
  • An itemized inventory of damaged contents and structure, along with photographs will be taken.
  • If items in your home are significantly damaged, they may need to be transported to a restoration facility for proper cleaning.
  • Equipment, such as a thermal fogger, will be brought into your home to remove smoke odors.
  • Once cleaning, restoration, and reconstruction is completed, there will be a final walk through with the adjuster and remediation firm to ensure your satisfaction of the work performed.

Rebuilding your home after a fire is a serious undertaking. Woodard’s cleaning, restoration, construction and community service teams are here to help. Woodard is available 24/7. Please contact us for more information at 314-227-3938.