Chapter 4: Preventing Further Damage to Your Home After a Wildfire
It is your responsibility to do anything you can to prevent additional damage to your home after a wildfire. These small efforts, in the beginning, may help make your home safer and ready to move back in quicker than if you just leave everything as is.
Do Not Enter Your Property Until It Is Safe To
A large part of preventing further damage and protecting yourself and your family is staying away from your home until it is safe to enter. Chapter 1 discusses how you can determine if your home is safe to re-enter after a fire, and we can’t stress enough the importance of waiting until it is truly safe. Please review this information to learn when re-entering your home is all right to do.
What to Do While You Wait for a Fire Restoration Team
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can restore your property yourself. All restoration efforts should be left to professionals, but there are a few minor things you can do until they arrive to prevent further damage:
- Board windows and holes: If you have any holes in the roof or damaged doors or windows, you should board or cover them up. If you are dealing with holes in the roof, though, exercise extreme caution. The roof’s structural integrity may be compromised by the fire. You might also choose to wait for a professional to safely board up your roof.
- Open doors and windows: Once you enter your home, you should try and get air moving to remove smoke odor. Open doors and windows, if possible. If you see or suspect water damage and the weather is warm outside, a professional restoration expert will close the windows and use industrial dehumidifiers to dry the water. If the weather is cold, you can open the windows and doors to air the home out and turn on the heat if it is safe to do so.
- Cover air registers: If it is safe to run the heat or the air and you decide to do so, you should cover the air registers with a damp cheesecloth to catch the soot and keep it out of your HVAC system. Also, remember to change the filters every day until there is no soot.
- Clean metal surfaces: Go through your home and clean any metal items, surfaces and fixtures as soon as possible. By doing this, you might prevent smoke damage to electronics and other metal surfaces. Smoke damage can become permanent in 24 hours in some cases and can cause permanent tarnishing to metal objects.
When the fire damage restoration team arrives, confirm the estimate of the job and stay updated as the project proceeds. If you can safely be at home, it might be helpful to oversee things and check-in periodically to make sure the job is on track. By hiring a reputable company, you minimize your risks — but it is a good idea to be aware of what is happening in your home.