Recent Fire Damage Posts
6 Things You Need To Do After a House Fire
6 Things You Need To Do After a House Fire
You may think a house fire will never happen to you. But what if it does? Are you prepared?
Figuring out what to do after a home fire can be a very stressful and overwhelming process, and it can be hard to decide what to do first. With a little help from your insurance agent, though, you may be able to settle your claim more quickly and get your life back to normal.
Here are the six things you should do after a home fire.
1. Call your insurance agent immediately. You will be getting calls at all hours of the day from public adjusters and contractors who will try to offer you a deal on putting your house back together. These calls can create a lot of stress and confusion. I suggest you speak to no one but your agent to discuss your options at this point in the process.
2. Ask about restoration companies that can help with cleaning up soot, boarding up windows, and other construction. Immediately after a fire, especially if it is a minor one, you’ll need to clean up any soot or water damage. It is important to hire a reputable service to deal with these issues. Ask your agent or insurance adjuster to recommend a few different companies. They deal with these situations more often than you do and likely know of some businesses that fit your needs. Many of these restoration companies have connections to good contractors, engineers, and architects, as well.
3. Separate damaged property from undamaged property. The insurance company will need a detailed inventory list from you after they inspect the loss. Separating your damaged property from your undamaged property will make it easier for you to make a list of your damaged items. This list needs to include the date you purchased each item, the brand name, the price you paid, and the serial number, model, or description of each item. If the item was a gift, be sure to indicate that as well.
It’s a good idea to submit your receipts with this inventory list. If the receipts were destroyed in the fire, or you didn’t keep any receipts, request copies of prior bank statements. This can make obtaining duplicate receipts easier. Keep in mind that photos of any damaged items are always helpful if receipts are not available.
4. Save undamaged property from further destruction. Any items that are not damaged should be put in a safe place, even if it means putting them in storage. Insurance adjusters are typically fair when it comes to adding additional costs for storage.
5. Cooperate fully with the insurance company’s investigation. When a fire claim is reported to an insurance company, it is given top priority. Usually the adjusters come out to see the loss within 24 to 48 hours. To help settle your claim in a timely manner and to your satisfaction, be sure you are available and on time for all meetings, that you return calls promptly, that any requested paperwork is completed as quickly as possible, and that you contact the company or your agent immediately with any questions.
6. Find somewhere to stay if you can’t live in your home. Most homeowner’s policies include “Loss of Use or Loss of Rents” coverage, which will pay for the food, clothing, and shelter that you and your family may need for a specified period of time. Keep in mind that your policy will pay for “like kind and quality” living arrangements. You may want to save the Ritz for a special occasion and instead stay in a more reasonably priced hotel.
What to do before disaster strikes
• Review your homeowner’s policy to be sure you have replacement cost coverage, loss of use coverage, and adequate dwelling coverage. The last thing you want to hear after a fire is that you were underinsured.
• Save all your receipts and put them in a metal fireproof box or in a storage facility off the premises, such as a safety deposit box. Better yet, scan the receipts and save them to a computer file. Taking a video of your entire home and the possessions within it is the next best thing to receipts. This will show the insurance company what sort of lifestyle you had prior to the claim.
• Be sure to have smoke detectors in every room of your home to ensure that everyone gets out of the house or apartment safely in the event of a fire. Have exit ladders and fire extinguishers handy, and know how to use them.
• Discuss escape strategies and plans with your family prior to a fire, and consider a fire drill to help ensure everyone’s safety.
Written by Heidi Petschauer
How To Test Your Fire Alarm
How To Test Your Fire Alarm
Smoke detectors and fire alarms may be some of the most important items in your home when it comes to your family’s safety. These early warning devices may help alert your family to fire and dangerous smoke while there is still time to evacuate, but they need to be periodically tested to help ensure proper function.
Why Do It?
Electronic devices are not infallible. Batteries die, and other parts of the smoke detector can wear out over time. Testing them regularly and replacing batteries (or the entire device) is one way to help ensure your family stays safe should there be a fire in your home.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month and batteries should be replaced at least twice a year. A good way to help remember to do this is to change your batteries when you change your clocks for daylight saving time — when you spring forward or fall back. Make sure to review your smoke detector’s user manual — you may need to check more often if any of the following apply:
- The detector often gives false alarms.
- The alarm emits short beeps regularly without anyone touching it.
- Frequent kitchen smoke has caused it to activate often, which may wear it out faster.
There are two main types of smoke detectors, according to the USFA:
Battery-powered: This type can be susceptible to defective or worn-out batteries. Monthly testing is critical. Never put old batteries into your smoke detectors and fire alarms.
Hardwired: These detectors are powered by your home electrical system, but they usually have back-up batteries so the device can remain operational in a power outage. Hardwired smoke detectors still require monthly testing to help ensure that both batteries and parts are functioning properly. How to Test It
You should always check the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper method of testing your smoke detector and fire alarm. But, in general, most battery-powered and hardwired smoke detectors can be tested in the following way:
Step 1. Alert family members that you will be testing the alarm. Smoke detectors have a high-pitched alarm that may frighten small children, so you’ll want to let everyone know you plan to test the alarms to help avoid frightening anyone.
Step 2. Station a family member at the furthest point away from the alarm in your home. This can be critical to help make sure the alarm can be heard everywhere in your home. You may want to install extra detectors in areas where the alarm’s sound is low, muffled or weak.
Step 3. Press and hold the test button on the smoke detector. It can take a few seconds to begin, but a loud, ear-piercing siren should emanate from the smoke detector while the button is pressed. If the sound is weak or nonexistent, replace your batteries. If it has been more than six months since you last replaced the batteries (whether your detector is battery-powered or hardwired), change them now regardless of the test result, and test the new batteries one final time to help ensure proper functioning. You should also look at your smoke detector to make sure there’s no dust or other substance blocking its grates, which may prevent it from working even if the batteries are new.
Remember, smoke detectors have a normal life span of 10 years, according to the USFA. Even if you’ve performed regular maintenance, and your device is still functional, you should replace a smoke detector after the 10-year period or earlier, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions.
Installing smoke detectors can be a great way to help keep your family safe, but assuming they are working may lead to a dangerous situation. Taking a few minutes to check them regularly can help ensure they’re working properly.
Fire Safety Tips
Tips For Fire Safety:
Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
Test smoke alarms every month. If they’re not working, change the batteries.
Talk with all family members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.
If a fire occurs in your home, GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL FOR HELP. Never go back inside for anything or anyone.We partner with the American Red Cross and also our local fire departments so fire prevention is VERY important to us! These tips are from REDCROSS.ORG
Here are some tips on WHAT TO DO AFTER A FIRE:
Call 9-1-1. Give first aid where needed; cool and cover burns to reduce the chance of further injury or infection.
Let friends and family know you’re safe.
People and animals that are seriously injured or burned should be transported to professional medical or veterinary help immediately.
Stay out of fire-damaged homes until local fire authorities say it is safe to re-enter.
Caring for Yourself & Loved Ones
- Pay attention to how you and your loved ones are experiencing and handling stress. Promote emotional recovery by following these tips. Discard any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
- Watch pets closely and keep them under your direct control.
- Help people who require additional assistance- infants, elderly people, those without transportation, large families who may need additional help in an emergency situation, people with disabilities, and the people who care for them.
Also from REDCROSS.ORG, check it out for more information and make sure you are prepared in case an emergency happens in your Tennessee home!
The Most Common Causes of House Fires
Winter house fire
A house can easily catch fire from the misuse of appliances and heating equipment to smoking in bedrooms. In Australia’s hot summer months, temperatures can soar past 40°C and teamed with a dry climate, conditions are ideal for fires to break out.
However you can take measures to avoid fire in home and ensure the safety of your family. Below are some of the most common causes of house fires, and some tips to take precautions.
1. Cooking Equipment
Pots and pans can overheat and cause a fire very easily if the person cooking gets distracted and leaves cooking unattended. Always stay in the room, or ask someone to watch your food, when cooking on hotplates.
Keep portable heaters at least one metre away from anything that could easily catch fire such as furniture, curtains, laundry, clothes and even yourself. If you have a furnace, get it inspected once a year to make sure it is working to safety standards.
3. Smoking in bedrooms
Bedrooms are best to be kept off limits for smoking. A cigarette that is not put out properly can cause a flame, as the butt may stay alit for a few hours. It could burst into flames if it came into contact with flammable materials, such as furniture. Did you know that fires started in the bedroom or lounge make up 73% of all house fire fatalities?¹
4. Electrical Equipment
An electrical appliance, such as a toaster can start a fire if it is faulty or has a frayed cord. A power point that is overloaded with double adapter plugs can cause a fire from an overuse of electricity. A power point extension cord can also be a fire hazard if not used appropriately. Double check the appliances and power points in your home.
Candles look and smell pretty, but if left unattended they can cause a room to easily burst into flames. Keep candles away from any obviously flammable items such as books and tissue boxes. Always blow a candle out before leaving a room. Did you know that in Perth last year 34 house fires started as a result of candles?²
6. Curious Children
Kids can cause a fire out of curiosity, to see what would happen if they set fire to an object. Keep any matches or lighters out of reach of children, to avoid any curiosity turned disaster. Install a smoke alarm in your child’s room and practice a home escape plan with your children and family in case there was a fire. Teach kids understand the “stop, drop, cover and roll” drill as well as knowing their address if they needed to call 000.
7. Faulty Wiring
Homes with inadequate wiring can cause fires from electrical hazards. Some signs to see if you’ve bad wiring are: 1) Lights dim if you use another appliance; 2) For an appliance to work, you have to disconnect another; 3) Fuses blow or trip the circuit frequently. Have a licenced electrician come and inspect you house, or contact your landlord if you have any of the above occurrences.
Barbeques are great for an outdoor meal, but should always be used away from the home, tablecloths or any plants and tree branches. Keep BBQs regularly maintained and cleaned with soapy water and clean any removable parts. Check the gas bottle for any leaks before you use it each time.
9. Flammable Liquids
If you have any flammable liquids in the home or garage such as petrol, kerosene or methylated spirits, keep them away from heat sources and check the label before storing. Be careful when pouring these liquids.
Lamp shades and light fittings can build up heat if they are very close to light globes. Check around the house to make sure. Lamp bases can become a hazard if they are able to be knocked over easily, and so should be removed if they are. Check that down lights are insulated from wood panelling or ceiling timbers.
The above tips are a good guide to avoiding a fire in your home. However it’s a good idea to protect yourself with adequate home and content insurance, cover to ensure you are covered in the unlikely event a fire were to happen.
Put A Freeze on Winter Fires
Put a freeze on winter fires.
Heating, holiday decorations, winter storms and candles all contribute to an increased risk of fire during the winter months.
NFPA and the United States Fire Administration (USFA) are teaming up to help reduce your risk to winter fires and other hazards, including carbon monoxide and electrical fires. Learn more about these specific elements of winter fire safety to help keep you safe this winter.
Heating is the second leading cause of U.S. home fires, deaths and injuries. December, January and February are the peak months for heating fires. Space heaters are the type of equipment most often involved in home heating equipment fires, figuring in two of every five fires (40%).
Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, propane, etc. do not burn. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of CO. Carbon Monoxide incidents are more common during the winter months, and in residential properties.
Most of the U.S. is at risk for winter storms, which can cause dangerous and sometimes life-threatening conditions. Blinding wind-driven snow, extreme cold, icy road conditions, downed trees and power lines can all wreak havoc on our daily schedules. Home fires occur more in the winter than in any other season, and heating equipment is involved in one of every six reported home fires, and one in every five home fire deaths.
Portable generators are useful during power outages, however, many homeowners are unaware that the improper use of portable generators can be risky. The most common dangers associated with portable generators are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, electrical shock or electrocution, and fire hazards.
According to a 2013 Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report, half of the generator-related deaths happened in the four coldest months of the year, November through February, and portable generators were involved in the majority of carbon monoxide deaths involving engine-driven tools.
December is the peak time of year for home candle fires; the top four days for home candle fires are New Year’s Day, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve. Each year between 2009 and 2013, an average of 25 home candle fires were reported each day.
Electrical home fires are a leading cause of home fires in the U.S. Roughly half of all home electrical fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment, while nearly another half involved other known types of equipment like washer or dryer fans, and portable or stationary space heaters.
Christmas tree disposal
Christmas trees are combustible items that become increasing flammable as they continue to dry out in your home. Nearly 40 percent of home fires that begin with Christmas trees occur in January. Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur they’re much more likely to be serious.