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The immediate aftermath of a fire is a stressful, emotional time. There are so many things that need to be done right away and forgetting something can often lead to more trouble in the future. Make sure you check these FAQs so you know what to do if you find yourself dealing with fire damage.

Q: What can I clean on my own?
A: It’s frustrating waiting around with all that devastation in front of you, but most people don’t have the training, equipment, or cleaning products to handle a DIY cleanup. Trying to clean something by yourself can have the opposite effect and ruin something that could have been salvaged by an expert. While you wait for a restoration team to arrive, sort through items as much as possible and set aside items that should be considered top priorities for restoration. Fragile, expensive items such as computers and TVs must be restored sooner than everyday dishes. This will help the technicians know where to start when they arrive.

Q: How long will restoration take?
A: The length of time depends on the extent of the damage and the complexity of the restoration. A fire in a single room will take less time to restore than an entire floor, while a contemporary building that doesn’t have to comply with historical neighborhood codes or require hard to find replacement items will be completed sooner.

Q: Will I have to move out during restoration?
A: It depends on the extent of the damage. You won’t be able to stay in a home that has sustained extensive damage, lacks structural stability, or has no utilities. If the fire was contained to a single room, you may be able to stay, depending on the smell, the sounds of fire damage restoration work, and other concerns.

Q: What items should I keep with me if I have to leave after a fire?
A: Be sure to keep valuables and items that will be difficult to replace easily in your possession. You may have to leave your home due to structural instability, and you don’t want to leave things like these to the mercy of criminals:

  • Cash and checkbooks;
  • Medications;
  • Important personal documents;
  • Valuable collections, such as artwork, or coins.

Q: I have to inventory the non-restorable items for the insurance company. How do I do that?
A: You don’t need to go into great detail; list the quantity of the lost item, the name, year purchased, and an estimate on price. For example:

  • 1 Yoga Mat purchased in 2014 – $30

This helps the insurance company estimate your losses for the claim. It’s important to remember all your losses after a fire, even for small things like dishes and toothbrushes, because you need all of these items and they need to be replaced. Be sure to keep a copy of the inventory for yourself.

Q: When is it safe to turn on the furnace/air conditioning again?
A: Never turn on the furnace or AC until it’s been thoroughly checked by an HVAC technician. The system could have been damaged by the fire without your knowledge, and using it can cause new problems. You also want to be sure the system won’t pump soot and smoke through your home.

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