Fire damage in your home or business is devastating. You feel helpless. It feels like you can’t do anything except stand back and watch the tragedy unfold. You feel the heat on your face; you can hear the hissing, pops and bangs of the fire singeing your possessions.
Fire damage makes you feel vulnerable.
Fire damage takes on so many forms: walls cave in, roofs collapse, and the smell hits you. It’s like acrid smoke and barbecue. The destruction feels like a war zone. Some buildings burn down to their foundation.
Fire damage is unbelievable; it feels impossible to recover from it. You’re left with a smoldering heap of what your life used to be. Fire damages your dreams and investments. Perhaps the only thing you want to do is sift through the rubble to find your family photos, your cat, your dog or a memento to snap you out of this horror.
You wonder if you’re dreaming; you’re not.
The goal, of course, is to get you back to “normal” as quickly and cost effectively as possible.
The simple fact is, fire damage doesn’t lend itself to a quick process. Emotionally it’s not easy at all.
How Do You Deal with Fire Damage?
That’s exactly why we’re here. As a professional restoration contractor with 40 years of fire damage cleanup experience, we have helped hundreds of people in Lancaster and York counties who are where you are right now.
We will help you recover from the damaging effects of fire, smoke, and soot.
Here are five best practices you need to know right now so you can deal with fire damage.
Fire Damage Makes You Prioritize Safety
Find a safe and comfortable place to go. It’s often tempting to go back and sift through the rubble. Don’t do it until the fire company deems it safe. Instead go to a friend or relative’s home. If you don’t have loved ones around, look for a temporary place to stay, like a hotel or motel. Put your safety and your loved one’s safety—not your things—first. Finding refuge is your priority.
In Lancaster and York counties, our customers have experienced positive stays at the following businesses:
Hampton Inn, York
Homewood Suites by Hilton, Lancaster
Comfort Inn, Granville
Call the American Red Cross. The Central Pennsylvania American Red Cross serves Lancaster and York counties.
Their number is 717-299-5561.
If you’re not surrounded by loved ones you’ll find a list of local open shelters through the Red Cross.
You’ll be welcome there. The American Red Cross doesn’t discriminate. If you need resources for a service animal, they can help with that, too. You’re welcome to show up at the shelter or you can call first. If you have any special needs—from food to medical equipment to religious needs—tell them. They’ll help.
If you have pets, they cannot come with you to the shelter. Try to make sure you pets go to a family member, love one’s, pet boarding or vet’s office while your home is being restored and explain that your pet may be acting differently than usual. If they can’t help, ask your shelter worker where you can house your pets until they can be returned safely to you.
To comfort your animals, consider using a piece of clothing or blanket that smells like you so they can cuddle it. Make sure to follow their usual diet and get plenty of water. You might see that your pet is acting out like defecating or urinating when your pet was previously housebroken. Maybe they’re scratching or biting when that’s not their usual behavior. Remember they’re stressed and you’re stressed.
Don’t Be Ashamed to Ask for Help to Deal with Fire Damage
As soon as you can, call your insurance agent to tell them about the fire damage. Your insurance agent is your advocate and will work on your behalf to file an insurance claim for your fire damage. Getting them involved right away will pave the way for a smooth recovery. Your insurance company will issue a claim number and assign an insurance adjuster to your project; be sure to keep those details handy as you will need them throughout your fire damage recovery process. Communication and organization are vital to a smooth process of fire damage restoration. Consider using a daily planner journal to record your appointments, contact information, and to help you stay on track. Keep all of your receipts for living expenses during your fire damage restoration. A spreadsheet is useful for tracking expenses and timelines. Ask a computer savvy friend to help you by creating and maintaining your expense log for you.
Notify your friends, family and coworkers to assist you while you cope from fire damage. Recruiting help from professionals and loved ones will ease the burden and allow you to recover faster, save you money, and retain your sanity.
Don’t Try to Clean the Smoke and Fire Damage on Your Own
Yes, time is of the essence when restoring fire damage and smoke damage. You’ll feel the urge to come back to your home or office and start scrubbing. You want to clean the fire residues from the walls, ceilings and absorbent surfaces but don’t do it. When you don’t clean fire damage properly, the smoke, soot and fire damage gets worse. It wastes your money, your time and your energy. It’s critical to call a reputable fire damage restoration company. Do it fast. Response time matters. Let the fire damage restoration company board up and do the tarping. Let them do the cleaning. You’re the victim. Let people care for you.
When You Experience Fire Damage Don’t Try To Save Your Food and Household Items
Discard all food items and canned goods that were exposed to the heat. This way you’ll avoid eating food that was contaminated by the fire damage. Don’t turn on computers, televisions, or electrical appliances until they’ve been cleaned and inspected for safety. Most likely you won’t be able to tell what’s safe and what isn’t. That’s why it’s critical to rely on a fire damage restoration company to guide you through the process.
Deal With Fire Damage By Taking a Vacation
Here’s the quickest and easiest way to deal with fire damage: our customers often arrange for a vacation during the process.
It helps give them much needed rest and perspective.
While you’re away, try to eat nourishing foods, drink water, and rest. Give yourself the space to feel and collect your thoughts.
It’s important you give yourself permission to take mental and physical breaks. You may feel tired, physically and emotionally. You might feel like you’re having trouble making decisions or maybe you’re tired, sad, or worried. You might find yourself or your loved ones bursting into tears or getting angry. You might not feel hungry. Your stomach might hurt. Your head may pound.
You’re under enormous stress due to the fire damage and one of the hardest parts is to trust the process.
Know you will get through this tragic event. It will take time.
When you’re ready, set small priorities that you can do and then break down the task into much smaller steps. This way, each task won’t feel quite as overwhelming.
To recap, follow these five steps to deal with fire damage:
Get to a safe place.
Ask for help.
Don’t try to clean up the mess alone. Don’t eat anything touched by the heat.
Take a vacation.
The quickest and easiest way to return to “normal” is to let a local fire damage restoration company do the cleanup for you.