Aftermath of a Fire: A Step-by-Step Guide on What You Should Do

Tuesday, January 24, 2023


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Fire is a devastating force that can leave you feeling overwhelmed and confused. Over 356,000 house fires per year in the US affect many more people differently.

That being said, the aftermath of a fire is often a time of chaos, but there are steps you should take when possible to begin the recovery process. Taking one step at a time and arming yourself with the correct information and resources can make a massive difference in recovery. This guide provides an overview of what to do after a fire and how to start rebuilding and moving forward. From understanding your insurance coverage to dealing with emotional and psychological trauma, this guide will walk you through the steps and provide helpful advice to get you through this difficult time.

Get medical treatment if required.

Depending on the severity of the damage and your proximity to the fire, you may suffer from smoke inhalation or burn injuries. Smoke inhalation can cause symptoms including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, nausea, and vomiting. If you have been exposed to significant smoke, burned, or sustained other injuries due to the fire, you should also seek immediate medical attention. It is essential to be evaluated immediately to determine whether you need treatment.

Contact utility companies to have them turned off.

Depending on the extent of damage, there may be breaks in your gas, water, and electricity lines. In this case, you will need to contact the appropriate utility companies to have them turned off. If you can do it yourself, or the fire department can assist you in making the area safe until this can be arranged. If you don't have the numbers written down, you can often find them online.

Secure the property

It's essential to secure the property and ensure no one can enter. The aftermath of a fire can be chaotic and stressful, making it easier for people to enter the property without the owners knowing. Often, homeowners dealing with the aftermath of a fire are not as aware of their surroundings as they would typically be and, therefore, are more susceptible to criminal activity, such as theft. In addition, the commotion of firefighters, police officers, and other responders as they work to put out the fire and keep you and others safe can make it easier for someone to enter your property. It is essential to take the necessary precautions to ensure the property is secured. This can include locking all doors and windows, installing alarms or security systems, or even posting "no trespassing" signs around the property.

Contact employers to arrange time off.

In the aftermath of particularly severe house fires, you may need to work with your employer to arrange time off work. If you cannot work, you must inform your employer as soon as possible. Depending on your employer, you can use paid time off (such as annual or sick leave) or unpaid time off (such as family medical leave). If you have health insurance, it is also essential to read your policy to see what it covers. Many health insurance policies include psychological trauma coverage and counseling and therapy assistance.

Seek alternative accommodation if required

If you cannot live in your home due to the damage caused by the fire or while repairs are being made, it is essential to find alternative accommodation. You may be able to stay with a friend or family member, or you may need to find a nearby hotel or Airbnb. The duration you will be out of your home may differ depending on the work required to make it liveable again. It's a good idea to talk to your insurance company to find out if they cover any costs towards alternative accommodation for you and how and when this will be paid out to help you manage your finances during this time.

Contact your insurance company.

Call your insurance company and inform them of what has happened as soon as you can. Also, ask about any steps you need to take or documents you need to provide to file a claim. Depending on your insurance type, you may need to file a claim as soon as possible to receive benefits. For example, health insurance providers may have a specific time period in which you need to file a claim to receive coverage. In addition, some insurance companies may require you to submit a proof of loss (also referred to as a "loss assessment" or "loss estimate") to help determine your claim. A proof of loss is a document that lists the damage caused by the fire, such as the cost of repair or replacement and any additional expenses related to the fire.

Work with a fire restoration company.

As you begin the process of filing a claim and working with your insurance company, it may be helpful to work with a fire restoration company. They can help you understand the insurance claims process and assist you in collecting the necessary documentation and information needed to file a claim. Depending on the type of fire damage restoration company you choose, they may also be able to help you find the best insurance company to suit your needs. In many cases, insurance companies will have a list of preferred restoration companies they recommend. Working with a fire restoration company can help simplify the claims process and make it easier for you to navigate. In addition, it can make the process less stressful and help you feel as though you have someone on your side helping you navigate it.

Seek help for emotional and physical repercussions

No matter how prepared you are or how much you try to prepare for the aftermath of a fire, it is possible that you may experience some emotional and psychological trauma as a result. Feelings such as anxiety, fear, or worry may come up in the weeks following the fire, especially if the fire was particularly severe and you are required to take time off from work. In addition, if you sustained injuries during the fire, you may experience physical pain that adds to your emotional stress. Reaching out for help and talking to someone if you are struggling is essential. You do not have to deal with these emotions and feelings alone and can find support in many different ways. Many support networks, such as therapy, support groups, and helplines, can help you find the help you need. It is important to remember that everyone responds to trauma differently, and each person will experience the aftermath of a fire differently, which is why it is important to reach out for help and talk to someone.


Fire is a devastating and life-changing experience, but you can recover from it. The aftermath of a fire can be confusing and chaotic, but there are steps you can take to begin the recovery process.

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