What should I do when fire or smoke damage happens to me?

After smoke and fire damage it is natural to want to jump right in and clean the building and contents. Timely action can be a great help, but incorrect action can jeopardize or impede satisfactory restoration.

When fire or smoke damage happens to you...

  • Clean and protect chrome trim on faucets and other brightwork by washing with detergent and applying a coating of Vaseline or oil.
  • Blow off or brush-vacuum loose smoke particles from upholstery, draperies and carpeting.
  • Open windows for ventilation if weather permits.
  • Empty refrigerators and freezers if electric is off, and prop doors open to allow air circulation.
  • Pour antifreeze in toilet bowls, tanks, sink and tub drains to prevent freezing if heat is off in winter.
  • Call a plumber to drain and blow out all water lines if heat is off in winter.
  • Remove pets to a clean environment if heavy fire residues are present.
  • Call a drycleaner to pick up salvageable items.
  • Retain a contractor to board up open windows, roofs, or other penetrations in order to prevent additional damage.

Be careful not to...

  • Wipe or attempt to wash fire residues from walls, ceilings, or other absorbent surfaces.
  • Use carpeting or upholstered furniture impacted by heavy smoke residues or debris.
  • Use food items or canned goods exposed to heat.
  • Turn on computers, TV’s, stereos, or electrical appliances until cleaned and checked.
  • Spend time in a potentially toxic environment.
  • Expose yourself to structurally unsafe areas.

What do I do first in the event of a fire or smoke emergency?

There are some steps you can take to minimize the impact of a disaster. They include:

  1. Get to safety - Make sure your family is safe and comfortable; go to a friend’s or relative’s home; a hotel or motel; any place where you can catch your breath and gather your thoughts.
  2. Call Your Insurance Agent - Agents have extensive experience in dealing with disasters, and they will quickly start working on your behalf.
  3. Contact the Experts - You will need a restoration company that you can trust –a company that has experience in dealing with insurance companies, offers reasonable completion dates, and has a local reputation for living up to its promises.
  4. Save as Much Property as You Can, If It’s Safe to Do So - Family heirlooms provide a link to the past and will help you recover. Electronics can also often be restored by a qualified restoration specialist. However, no piece of personal property is worth risking your safety; don’t enter an unsafe building for any reason.
  5. Don’t Get Discouraged - Your life will get back to normal. Your home or business can be restored to look as good as or better than it did before. Talk to your insurance adjuster and restoration company; they can advise you of your options.