It’s devastating to have a fire disaster in your home. The loss of your home and material possessions can be overwhelming. The flames, heat, smoke, and the water used to get the fire out, can cause very extensive damage to your property. Cleanup and restoration are possible, but it takes time and a little patience.
Always check with the fire department before you re-enter your residence. If you have children, it’s best to leave them with a friend or relative due to the dangerous conditions.
Look for loose power lines, broken or damaged gas lines and foundation cracks. Check to see if the roof, chimneys, over hangings, etc. have any structural damage. Outside damage is an indicator of how safe or unsafe the building structure is to enter. Do this check from a safe distance.
Have a building inspector or contractor check to see if the home is safe before you enter. If the structure is declared unsafe, have the local police watch over the house. If you get the green light to enter, wear clothing that will protect you: Long pants, long sleeve shirts, boots, work gloves, etc. Many people get injured from cleanup after a fire disaster.
Call your insurance agent immediately to get you started with the claim process. All policies require homeowners to report their loss as soon as possible. Plus, if there are other homeowners affected by the fire, the sooner you call the better; you don’t want to drop to the bottom of the list by being the last one to submit your claim. It’s important to note that California requires insurance companies to send out a ?notice of intentions? within 30 days of receiving the fire insurance claims.
You may need to replace many important documents lost in the fire. You can be proactive and keep these documents off the property before a disaster happens, such as a in safety deposit box at a bank for example. Such documents include: bankbooks, insurance policies, passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, titles to deeds, stocks and bonds, income tax records, warranties, medical records, wills, animal registration papers and mortgage papers.
The IRS may grant additional time to file returns and pay taxes for homeowners and business recovering from a disaster. In a federally declared disaster area, individuals and businesses can get a faster refund by claiming losses related to the disaster on the tax return for the previous year.
You can do serious damage to your home’s structure and material items if you attempt to do restoration yourself. Restoration needs to be done by professionals. A qualified restoration technician will know the proper techniques and cleaning methods to restore the home and it’s items to their pre fire condition. Fire damage has many elements that need to be dealt with: Smoke odor, soot damage, water damage, heat damage, etc. It takes special training, knowledge, and experience to properly restore and clean the damage done by a fire disaster.