If you have fallen victim to a house fire, no matter how small or large, it can have a devastating effect on both you and your loved ones.
Depending on the seriousness of the fire, you may have some real insurance ramifications to deal with, not to mention the time spent repairing and replacing any damaged items lost in the fire.
It can have an effect on your mental health, providing unnecessary stress and strain on your social and working life. You may need to seek shelter elsewhere, at a friend’s or at a relative’s.
It is understandable that a house fire can easily flip someone’s life upside down.
However it is also important to start getting reparations ready as soon as possible, so that you can make sure you get your life back on track.
The best thing to do following a fire is to not give up. Try to assess the situation in a clear and calm manner and set about everything you need to do.
Here are some things you’ll want to consider following a house fire.
Immediately after the fire
Once the building has been secured, ask when it will be safe to enter again. Do not enter before the authorities have given the all-clear, as you may be putting yourself at risk.
If a house is still on fire, never re-enter the house to grab belongings; your life is far more important!
Make sure the fire authorities have checked out the entire site and that the fire is properly extinguished before re-entering the building.
Take a mental inventory of everything that escaped harm and everything that was damaged in the fire. Do not touch anything. This is an easy mistake to make as you’ll have so much running through your head, but it is important to remember that you are technically looking at a scene, plus many of the objects or furnishings will still be quite hot, so you’ll want to avoid burning yourself if at all possible.
Contact all the necessary people
Make sure to contact any loved ones who weren’t with you at the time of the fire to let them know of the fire, particularly if they are currently living at the same address as you.
Provide them with all the necessary information and let them know that you are okay. You may also need to contact your employer or employees to inform them of the situation, as dealing with the aftermath of a fire may take some time.
Contacting your insurance company is essential and must be done as soon as possible so that you can start proceedings straight away.
You will also do well to contact your local authority if you are a council tenant if your doors and windows need boarding up for security, and you’ll need to alert your gas, electricity and water suppliers to avoid any misunderstandings with bills etc.
Cleaning and reparation aid
Depending on the cause and the extent of the fire damage, there are a number of professional cleaning companies who specialise in fire damaged homes and have extensive experience in dealing with smoke and fire damage.
If you are insured against a fire you may be able to use the insurance to clean and repair your house. The cleaning company will make an assessment of what can be repaired and what is beyond saving. They will do a complete sweep of the house, clearing out all furniture and then they will conduct a deep clean of the property.
This will extract any residual ash, remove burn marks from walls and will clear out the air so that it is habitable once more.
They will also clean furniture, wash materials and may even offer advice on how reparations can be made to more damaged pieces of furniture.
In order to avoid further stress it is always recommended that you choose a professional company to handle the cleaning and reparation of your home as it is well worth the time and effort you will save in comparison to the money you’ll save doing it all yourself.
Coming to terms with the fire
Fire is destructive and not only does it destroy physical property, it can also have lasting effect on your mental and physical health as you worry about it happening again, or you worry about what you could have done to cause or even prevent the fire in the first place.
It is important to remember that accidents happen and that even the safest of houses can be subject to a fire if the conditions are right.
Do not continue to blame yourself. Focus on working your way back to normality and seek counselling if you are honestly fearful about the cause or the repercussions of the fire.
Make sure you seek hospital aid if you fear you have suffered from smoke damage if you were in the house when the fire occurred and try to focus on reassuring your children and rebuilding your life.
It can be a long, hard journey as a result of something that happened so quickly. But you may find that you will have come out of this situation stronger and more hardy than ever before!
Stephen O’Reilly works for www.cleaningindustrialsolutions.co.uk, an industrial cleaning specialist with many years experience working around Surrey, Sussex & Kent.