After a Fire
After a Fire
The following checklist serves as a quick reference and guide for you to follow after a fire strike.
- Contact your local disaster relief service, such as The Red Cross, if you need temporary housing, food and medicines.
- If you are insured, contact your insurance company for detailed instructions on protecting your property, conducting inventory and contacting fire damage restoration companies.
- Check with the fire department to make sure your residence is safe to enter. Watch out for any structural damage caused by the fire.
- The fire department should make sure that utilities are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site. DO NOT attempt to reconnect utilities yourself.
- Conduct an inventory of damaged property and items. Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made.
- Begin saving receipts for any money you spend related to fire loss. The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and for verifying losses claimed on your income tax.
- Notify your mortgage company of the fire.
Portable Space Heaters
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Portable Space Heaters
- Keep combustible objects at least three feet away from portable heating devices.
- Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
- Check to make the portable heater has a thermostat control mechanism and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over.
- Only use crystal clear K-1 kerosene in kerosene heaters. Never overfill it. Use the heater in a well-ventilated room.
Fireplaces and Woodstoves
- Inspect and clean woodstove pipes and chimneys annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions.
- Use a fireplace screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks.
- Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.
- Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
- Store matches and lighters out of children's reach and sight, preferably in a locked cabinet.
- Never leave children unattended near operating stoves or burning candles, even for a short time.
Attics and Crawl Spaces
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Inaccessible attics and crawl spaces are easy to forget about, but 13% of electrical fires start in these neglected spaces. Electrical failure or malfunction account for about 88% of these fires.
If you live in an older home, suspect dubious DIY electrical work, or want reassurance that everything is in order, hire a professional, licensed electrician to check it out and address issues. While electrical problems can be expensive to fix, the cost of neglecting it can be devastating.
Laundry rooms are where 4% of residential fires begin, with dryers being the culprit of 92% of laundry room fires.
Fortunately, preventing laundry fires is simple for the most part:
- Don’t overload your washer or dryer or pack items down. Instead, leave room for laundry to tumble. Follow your machine manufacturer’s recommendations for capacity.
- Clean the lint screen and drum between loads to prevent buildup.
- About once a year, clean the dryer exhaust vent and ducts.
- Replace plastic venting material with flexible metal venting material.
- Ensure that your appliances are plugged into outlets with the proper voltage
Inventory is Important!
Your insurance company will want an inventory of everything that was lost or damaged during the fire. Your agent can provide you with an inventory sheet. Review any inventory you made prior to the fire and make additions to it. If you need to reconstruct a list of your belongings from memory, review photographs and video to refresh your memory, and ask friends or relatives who have been in your home to help you compile your list. Review old credit card statements and bank records to determine what you paid for your belongings.
Take care of yourself and family
A home fire is a traumatic experience and you could suffer the effects of the trauma for months and even years afterwards. Allow yourself time to heal, and seek counseling if you have trouble sleeping, concentrating or relating to others weeks after the fire. Return to your normal routines as soon as possible, and help your children to maintain their returns. Talk with children about their feelings and help them to process what has happened.
Staying Warm Before the Storm
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Have your furnace inspected before cold weather arrives. Inspect the heat exchanger for cracks, install a clean air filter, and check the thermostat to see if it’s working properly. Inspect fireplaces, and chimneys before using, and have them cleaned if needed. Keep drapes and blinds closed, except when windows are in direct sunlight. Put up storm windows, or install sheet plastic window insulation kits on the inside of windows. Cover or remove any window air conditioners. Insulate electrical outlets and switches on exterior walls with foam seals available at home centers. Caulk any cracks or holes on the outside of your house. Repair or replace weather stripping and thresholds around doors and windows. Run paddle ceiling fans on low in reverse (clockwise when looking up) to circulate warm air. Put draft snakes on window sills, between window frames, and against doors. If you heat with propane or fuel oil, make sure the tank is full. If you heat with wood or coal, have plenty of fuel on hand.
Remove area debris
While you can’t clear your entire neighborhood of potential missiles, you should remove or secure anything surrounding your home that could become an airborne projectile. That includes lawn furniture, toys and low-hanging branches or limbs. Cutting low-hanging branches, unstable bushes or trees can prevent larger and more expensive accidents from happening. Proper tree pruning also increases the chances that your trees can make it through a storm.
Clean out your gutters & drains
It’s always a good idea to keep your gutters and downspouts clear, as they prevent water from collecting around your home. In the case of a severe storm, clear gutters can prevent instant flooding of your attic or basement. Conduct a visual inspection of your gutters and downspouts to be sure nothing blocks the flow of water from your roof and away from your home.
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Mold Resistant Products!
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Equip Your Home with Mold-Resistant Products
Building a new home or renovating an old one? Use mold-resistant products like mold-resistant drywall or mold-resistant Sheetrock, and mold inhibitors for paints. Traditional drywall is composed of a gypsum plaster core pressed between plies of paper. Mold-resistant drywall is paperless — the gypsum core is covered in fiberglass, making the surface highly water-resistant. Moisture-resistant drywall is especially valuable in areas prone to wetness, such as bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, and kitchens. Not only is traditional drywall more susceptible to mold than the paperless kind, but it is also difficult to rid of mold, and removal and replacement can be expensive. Mold-resistant gypsum board is also available; the core of the drywall is developed in such a way to prevent moisture absorption, and thus prevent mold growth
Identify Problem Areas In Your Home
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Identify Problem Areas in Your Home and Correct Them
You can't mold-proof your home, but you can make it mold-resistant. Do an audit of your home: where are the problem areas? Does the basement flood? Do you notice frequent condensation on an upstairs window? Is there a water stain on the ceiling from a persistent leak? Preventing mold from growing or spreading might be as simple as ripping up carpet in a damp basement, installing mold-resistant products, or repairing damaged gutters. Or it may be a matter of major excavation and waterproofing. Whatever the case, address the problem now. It might cost some money up front, but it will surely be more costly down the road if mold continues to grow unchecked.
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Have Your Roof Gutters Been Cleaned?
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Clean or Repair Roof Gutters
A mold problem might be a simple matter of a roof that is leaking because of full or damaged gutters. Have your roof gutters cleaned regularly and inspected for damage. Repair them as necessary, and keep an eye out for water stains after storms that may indicate a leak.
Improve air flow in your home
According to the EPA, as temperatures drop, the air is able to hold less moisture. Without good air flow in your home, that excess moisture may appear on your walls, windows and floors. To increase circulation, open doors between rooms, move furniture away from walls, and open doors to closets that may be colder than the rooms they’re in. Let fresh air in to reduce moisture and keep mold at bay.
Moisture Control IS Mold Control!
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Moisture Control is the Key to Mold Control
- When water leaks or spills occur indoors - act quickly. If wet or damp materials or areas are dried 24-48 hours after a leak or spill happens, in most cases mold will not grow.
- Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
- Make sure the ground slopes away from the building foundation, so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation.
- Keep air conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly.
- Keep indoor humidity low. If possible, keep indoor humidity below 60 percent (ideally between 30 and 50 percent) relative humidity. Relative humidity can be measured with a moisture or humidity meter, a small, inexpensive ($10-$50) instrument available at many hardware stores.
- If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes act quickly to dry the wet surface and reduce the moisture/water source. Condensation can be a sign of high humidity.