First of all, our thoughts and sympathy go out to all those who have been evacuated from their homes due to the Wallow Fire. Many of our clients live in Greer, Springville, and the surrounding areas that have been evacuated by fire. It breaks our hearts to think about it, and we’re doing what we can to help you as neighbors and insurance agents.
We want to give you some advice about how to deal with fire damage once you are allowed to return to your homes. Now, even though we are hopeful that your homes have not been touched by flames, you may likely deal with smoke damage from the proximity of the flame.
In today’s post we’re going to focus on the first steps you should take when returning home. In later posts, we’ll help you with how to effectively get your home insurance to cover damages, and when it’s time to call in experts for some help. But for now, let’s focus on first things first.
Step #1: Open your windows and doors to clear out the smoke. Chances are, smoke has settled into every crevice of your home – the carpets, the walls, your furniture, and even your clothes. That smoke can be damaging to your health, so get the air flow back into your home as quickly as possible.
Step #2: Walk through your home and assess the damage. Smell everything from the curtains to the floors. If it smells like smoke, it needs to be restored. Make a list of all your belongings and note what damage each has experienced. Do they smell like smoke? Are they covered in soot? Write it down. Keep strong notes. You may even want to film your walk through.
Step #3: Decide what needs to be cleaned or aired out, but don’t start cleaning until you know what you are doing. Soot is a greasy, sticky substance and typical cleaning processes can actually cause more damage. Carpets need to be vacuumed with a special vacuum cleaner to get the soot out. Special chemical cleaners should be used on furniture and carpets. Even your clothes may need special chemical treatments. Scrubbing and water use can spread the mess.
Step #4: Throw out what food you can. Smoke damage can affect even the food in your refrigerator. If you have any question about contamination, throw it out. Consuming smoke damage can affect your health, so go through your cupboards and fridge and get rid of open containers.
Step #5: Call in a restoration specialist. Even if everything looks okay, there may be damage in your walls, ducts, and other areas you don’t see. We highly recommend you have a specialist come in to check your home. We’ll give you more details about that tomorrow, but realize that when it comes to keeping your home safe for you and your family (and sellable in the future), you will want to have someone come in for a professional inspection.
This is good information for anyone to know. After all, no one can predict when a catastrophe like a fire may hit. Our clients whose homes are at risk naturally have questions. Please feel free to give us a call and talk to your agent about any concerns or questions you may have.
If you know of any other steps that homeowners should take when returning to fire or smoke damaged homes, please let us know by leaving comments below.
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