How to Recover From a Wildfire:
Introduction: What Homeowners and Restoration Professionals Need to Know
Recovering after a wildfire is a team effort and requires the help and expertise of many individuals. After the fire department and local law enforcement have given the all clear to return to the property, you are left to determine what to do after a wildfire to get your life back to normal.
The process can be overwhelming — both as a homeowner and restoration professional in a fire zone — and this guide was written to make the process a little easier for you.
What happens after a wildfire will vary depending on the severity of the fire and the damages that followed. But in all cases, a fire damage restoration process should begin as soon as possible.
The process may still leave you with questions, including how the insurance company will help you, what you should do to reduce the amount of damage to your home and belongings and what professionals you should contact to help clean up after the fire. As a professional, it’s your job to answer these questions for homeowners.
This guide walks you through the steps of returning home after a wildfire. It includes information about knowing when it is safe to return home and the information you need to determine the fire damage cleanup steps you should take. You will find valuable tips for working on your claim with the insurance company and efficient ways to let your family know you are safe.
It’s important for you as a homeowner to know what to look for when determining if you should enter your home. You also need to know what actions you can take while you wait for fire damage restoration experts to help you. You should not attempt to clean up and restore your property alone. You may end up just putting a bandage over the problem instead of properly cleaning up and restoring your home, which will only lead to more problems in the future.
Fire damage restoration requires the work of trained and experienced professionals. As a restoration professional, you know how to manage restoration fire damage jobs to keep yourself, your team and the property owners safe. This is a refresher on what equipment you should use and new equipment you can use for specific situations. Our general guidelines will help you with placement and item selection as you set up your restoration process and project.
A large part of the job is choosing the proper equipment to help you clean up and restore the property, and this guide discusses the key equipment you may need, such as dehumidifiers, air scrubbers and air movers. Aer Industries has the equipment you will need to restore a property after fire and water damage. Contact us to view our inventory and ask your questions about specific equipment and usage instructions.
Save this guide or download it so you can refer to it when needed. Share this guide with your clients, so they know what to expect from you and what to do after a wildfire.
If you have questions concerning fire and water damage restoration equipment for your business, please contact us or call (855) 345-3555 to talk with an Aer Industries expert.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Returning Home After the Wildfire: What to Do After a Fire
As a homeowner, returning home after a wildfire can be very traumatic and stressful. It’s not easy seeing your belongings and your house destroyed. It can be difficult to gather your thoughts and know the steps you should take to deal with your home and keep your family safe. The following information will answer some of the most important questions you may have regarding the things to do after a house fire.
How Do You Know It Is Safe to Return Home?
Knowing when to return home can be tricky. Generally, there are a few guidelines you can follow to know when it’s safe to return home after a fire. First, if your area was evacuated, you shouldn’t go back home until a public authority figure has deemed the area safe to re-enter. You may get the word from the fire department, the fire marshal or other local authority figures.
If you evacuated even though a mandatory order was not issued, keep up to date on the fire’s status before returning home. You should never go back to your home or the area surrounding your home if the wildfires haven’t been extinguished. Wildfires can spread at up to 14.29 miles per hour. This rate means the fire that’s 100 miles away could be right outside your home in seven hours if it’s not extinguished first.
How Do You Know It Is Safe to Re-Enter Your Property?
Once you have confirmation it’s safe to return to the area, you still have to know when it’s safe to re-enter your home. Since it can be hard to determine the damage to your home if it’s been consumed by or even near a fire, you need to consult with fire department professionals and other local authorities.
If there is any doubt about the structural integrity of a building, have a professional inspect your home before you enter it. Do not enter any unstable structure that has not been evaluated by professionals. The professional will look at the safety of areas such as:
- The roof
- The structure of the building
- The interior of the building
- The plumbing and heating systems
Upon arriving at your home, you should check for any broken or damaged gas lines, sniff for gas and listen for the hissing sound of a gas leak. Also look for any obvious foundation cracks or damage to any critical support beams. If there is any chance your electrical or plumbing systems were damaged during the fire, shut off the utilities if you can safely do so until a professional can examine them.
Look at your roof for any signs of burning or damage. Do not climb on top of your roof to get a closer look, though. Extreme heat can damage the roof’s structure and cause it to collapse, so you must be cautious.
Call Family Members to Let Them Know You Are Safe
It’s important to let your family and friends know you’re safe when you’re in an area where wildfires are burning. Once you’re safely evacuated, you should start contacting people to let them know what’s happening. Since you will have other things to take care of, you should have your family start a phone tree. This way, you can contact your immediate family, such as your parents and siblings, to let them know you are safe. They can contact the rest of the family to spread the word.
Social media is another good way to let people who care about you know you are safe. Facebook rolled out a new feature in 2016, called Safety Check. It allows you to check in if you are in an area impacted by a disaster. The check in will show all your friends that you marked yourself safe. Also, post a quick status update on your personal Facebook page and other social accounts to let everyone know you are safely out of the danger zone.
Once you’ve let your family know you are safe, you should begin contacting other important parties regarding the fires.