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5 Steps to Take After a House Fire

A house fire can be a devastating experience. You may have lost your home, belongings, and even treasured family heirlooms. If you’re lucky enough to walk away from this tragedy with no injuries or deaths, it is important to take some basic steps as soon as possible.

These steps will help you when filing a fire damage insurance claim so that you can get back on your feet quickly after such an upsetting incident. If your claim is denied or undervalued, our team of Hollywood, FL fire damage lawyers at Klotzman Property Damage Law are here to help. 

How Do House Fires Happen?

A house fire can happen for a variety of reasons. It may be accidental, intentional, or even caused by natural causes.

Accidental fires are often caused by accidents with appliances or heating equipment like gas stoves and furnaces.  Intentional fires are deliberate acts of arson that result in significant property damage –  these are sometimes called arson fires.

Natural causes include lightning strikes or wildfires that spread to nearby structures through windblown embers or sparks from burning trees or brush. These fires are less common today than they were in the past due to modern building construction techniques that make homes less vulnerable to this type of damage (though not entirely fireproof).

Most home fires and fire casualties result from five causes: cooking, heating, electrical distribution, candles, and smoking.

What to Do if They Occur 

Let’s review the 5 most important things to do if a house fire happens in your home.

Be Safe

If you are in your home during a fire and can get out safely, do so immediately. Call 911 and report the location of the fire and its size.

If you are unable to escape, go to an area with no windows (such as a bathroom) that has no combustible materials nearby and close all doors between yourself and any source of smoke or heat. Do not use any electrical appliances as doing so could cause sparks that could start additional fires nearby.

If you’ve managed to get out of the house, try and give first aid where needed. For example, cool and cover burns to reduce the chance of further injury or infection. Call your loved ones to alert them of the incident so that they can offer support.

A Woman Crying in a Burned Down House, Fire Damage Concept

Document the Damage

It’s important to document the extent of your home’s damage, especially if you’re planning on claiming from your insurance company. Take pictures and make a list of the damaged or lost items. You may not think this is necessary at first, but once you start looking into insurance claims and lawsuits, you’ll see how vital it is to have clear evidence that shows how much work needs to be done on your house.

Keep track of what repairs are made and how much they cost. If there was an electrical fire, keep track of all electrical repairs, from replacing outlets to replacing parts in HVAC systems or water heaters. 

You’ll also want documentation about painting over smoke stains because those will fade over time. If possible get receipts from contractors who do work inside as well as outside so that if someone asks about them later on, like during an insurance claim, then you know exactly where those materials came from without having any doubt whatsoever.

Do What You Can to Mitigate Damage

Once you’ve made sure that everyone is okay, it’s time to start putting out any small fires. If you see flames or smoke coming from a room, don’t go in there and try to put them out yourself; call the fire department instead.

If the house is still standing after a fire, turn off gas and electricity if it’s safe for you to do so. Again, don’t do this if there are still hot spots. Remove any flammable objects from the house.

You may not be able to stay in the house, but try and preserve what you can otherwise insurance might lower compensation. This is called the duty to mitigate damage. The duty to mitigate refers to a party’s obligation to make reasonable efforts to limit the harm they suffer from an incident or another person.

Get a Copy of the Fire Report

Get a copy of the fire report from the local fire department. You’ll need it for your insurance company, your adjuster, and/or your lawyer. If you can’t get one right away because of damage to the home or other issues related to the fire, don’t worry, just make sure to request one as soon as possible so everyone knows where they stand with their claims and legal matters.

Contact Insurance

Now that the immediate danger has passed, it’s time to call your insurance company and file a claim. You may have homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance. Either way, call them immediately after the fire and let them know what happened so they can begin processing your claim.

Speak to Our Expert Fire Damage Lawyers Today!

If you’ve had a house fire, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. But by staying safe and contacting 911, documenting the damage, doing what you can to mitigate damage, and getting a copy of the fire report, you’ll have taken some important steps toward recovery.

Dealing with an insurance claim after a house fire can be taxing so it is recommended that you contact a property damage lawyer to assist. Here at Klotzman Property Damage Law, we advocate for fair compensation so you can properly restore and repair any damage.

Schedule your free case review today with our Hollywood, FL property damage attorneys. When insurance companies fail, Klotzman Property Damage Law succeeds.

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