Fire and Smoke Damage Preparedness

What if a Fire Occurs? – After a Fire




Not only is it important to prepare for the risk of fire, but it is also important to prepare for the aftermath should one occur.

  1. It is natural to think it will never happen to you.  It is likely that you or someone you are close to will experience a fire or smoke damage.  This is why it is vital to have a solid plan should an event take place!  A good Disaster Consultant will have vital contact information and effect protocols to assist in safety, secondary damage containment, Insurance Adjuster contact information and direct contact with Professional Fire and Smoke Restoration Professionals.
  2. If you are insured, contact your insurance company for detailed instructions on protecting the property, conducting inventory and contacting fire damage restoration companies. Note: Insurance companies, Insurance Agents and Insurance Adjusters may recommend a Restoration Contractor. The property owner always has the right to choose their Repair Service Provider. If you are not insured or do not have a Certified Restoration Service Provider, contact Brian Holter direct at: 800-435-5868 for a list of Certified Fire and Smoke Damage Providers.
  3. Check with the fire department to make sure your residence is safe to enter. Be watchful of any structural damage caused by the fire.
  4. The fire department should see that utilities are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site. DO NOT attempt to reconnect utilities yourself.
  5. Conduct an inventory of damaged property and items. Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made.  There are very effective inventory processes that should be followed to ensure maximum replacement claim values.
  6. Try to locate valuable documents and records. Remember: Important documents should always be stored in a Fire Resistant File Cabinet, Fire Resistant Safe or outside location. Eg. Safe Deposit Box.  *Note: Within our network are highly skilled Document Restoration Specialists that carefully restore damaged legal documents, medical documents, historical documents, books and other important papers.
  7. If the damage requires you to leave your home, contact the local police department to let them know the site will be unoccupied. Your Certified Fire and Smoke Damage Restoration Provider may be required to provide “Board-Up” Services to provide additional security to Residential and Commercial Properties.
  8. 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 income tax.
  9. Notify your mortgage company of the fire.
  10. Check with an accountant or the Internal Revenue Service about special benefits for people recovering from fire loss.

Escape Planning

Get Out Safely

More than 3,500 Americans die each year in fires, and approximately 18,300 are injured. Deaths resulting from failed emergency escapes are particularly avoidable.

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) believes that having a sound escape plan will greatly reduce fire deaths and protect you and your family’s safety if a fire occurs.

Have a Sound Fire Escape Plan

In the event of a fire, remember – time is the biggest enemy and every second counts! Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly. In less than 30 seconds a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for a house to fill with thick black smoke and become engulfed in flames.

Special Considerations

Practice Escaping From Every Room In The Home
Practice escape plans every month. The best plans have two ways to get out of each room. If the primary way is blocked by fire or smoke, you will need a second way out. A secondary route might be a window onto an adjacent roof or a collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows. Purchase only collapsible ladders evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL). Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly and that security bars can be properly opened. Also, practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
Security bars may help to keep your family safe from intruders, but they can also trap you in a deadly fire! Windows and doors with security bars must have quick release devices to allow them to be opened immediately in an emergency. Make sure everyone in the family understands and practices how to properly operate and open locked or barred doors and windows.
Immediately Leave The Home
When a fire occurs, do not waste any time saving property. Take the safest exit route, but if you must escape through smoke, remember to crawl low, under the smoke and keep your mouth covered. The smoke contains toxic gases which can disorient you or, at worst, overcome you.
Never Open Doors That Are Hot To The Touch
When you come to a closed door, use the back of your hand to feel the top of the door, the doorknob, and the crack between the door and door frame to make sure that fire is not on the other side. If it feels hot, use your secondary escape route. Even if the door feels cool, open it carefully. Brace your shoulder against the door and open it slowly. If heat and smoke come in, slam the door and make sure it is securely closed, then use your alternate escape route.
Designate A Meeting Place Outside and Take Attendance
Designate a meeting location away from the home, but not necessarily across the street. For example, meet under a specific tree or at the end of the driveway or front sidewalk to make sure everyone has gotten out safely and no one will be hurt looking for someone who is already safe. Designate one person to go to a neighbor’s home to phone the fire department.
Once Out, Stay Out
Remember to escape first, then notify the fire department using the 911 system or proper local emergency number in your area. Never go back into a burning building for any reason. Teach children not to hide from firefighters. If someone is missing, tell the firefighters. They are equipped to perform rescues safely.

Finally, having working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home dramatically increases your chances of survival. Smoke alarm batteries need to be tested every month and changed with new ones at least once a year. Also, consider replacing the entire smoke alarm every ten years, or as the manufacturer guidelines recommend.