After a home fire, you'll want to make two phone calls right away – to your insurance agent and to a professional who specializes in fire damage restoration. Your insurance agent can probably steer you toward fire restoration companies that are equipped to deal specifically with fire, water, and smoke damage.
If the fire department tells you that it is safe to enter your home, be sure to wear long-sleeves, closed-toe shoes or boots, and work gloves to do any sort of work. You may also want a dust mask and safety goggles. There are several things you can do to start the process of getting life back on track toward normal.
* Inventory any of your belongings that received damage from the fire. Although some things may obviously be completely ruined, don't throw items away until you've done this inventory, so you can properly document the things you've lost. Your insurance company will want you to provide a detailed inventory list.
* Put your undamaged furniture and household items in a safe place, so they won't get damaged in the clean-up process. This may require you moving them to a storage unit.
* Open up windows and install fans to move the air. This helps the drying and airing out process begin. Even if you are hiring a fire restoration company, airing out the house quickly can be very helpful.
* If there's water damage in your house, dry things as quickly as you can. Use fans and dehumidifiers to help dry your carpets and curtains. Carpets are a real problem because if you cannot dry them quickly, then mold and mildew will grow on your flooring.
* You may choose to have your clothing professionally cleaned, but if you wash them yourself, use a warm water wash with liquid detergent. One washing may not be enough – you may need to put the clothes through several wash cycles to get rid of the smoke/soot smells.
* Clean any brass or copper objects in the home because within 24 hours smoke can cause damage to brass or copper. Use brass or copper cleaner to restore these objects.
* Keep all receipts for any items you purchase as a result of the fire. Your insurance company may request these receipts. Also you may need these receipts to document any losses you might claim on your income tax.
* If you cannot live in your home, contact your local police department and let them know that the house will be unoccupied for a period of time.