Crucial: The first 24 hours

Normally, the fire department will see that utilities (water, electricity and natural gas) are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site. The Fire Battalion officer on duty will tell you if it’s safe for you to go back in to get essential belongings. The company called by the fire department (RBI or another company) will board up exposed windows, doors and holes caused by the fire or fire department personnel.

Leaving Your Home

Contact your local police department to let them know the site will be unoccupied.
Beginning immediately, save receipts for any money you spend. These receipts are important in showing the insurance company what money you have spent related to your fire loss and also for verifying losses claimed on your income tax.

Fire personnel who put out the fire will determine if it’s safe for you to re-enter. If it is safe to do so, try to locate the following items:
•    identification, such as driver’s licenses and Social Security cards
•    insurance information
•    medication information
•    eyeglasses,hearing aids or other prosthetic devices
•    valuables, such as credit cards, bank books, cash and jewelry

There are many people/entities that should be notified of your relocation, including:
•    your insurance agent/company
•    your mortgage company (also inform them of the fire)
•    your family and friends
•    your employer
•    your child’s school
•    your post office
•    any delivery services
•    your fire and police departments
•    your utility companies

Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made. All damages are taken into consideration in developing your insurance claim.

Take care of water damage immediately, but don’t be rushed into signing a contract for major repairs!

If you are considering contracting for inventory or repair services discuss your plans with your insurance agent/company first. It’s vitally important to get wet contents and moisture out of the house immediately to prevent mold and further damage, but repairs can wait until you have comprehensive,  detailed, written estimates from licensed contractors. Learn more about your rights as a homeowner in this brief video.