People yell 4-letter words all the time, but nothing gets people moving faster than the one spelled FIRE, and with good reason. It used to take about 14 minutes for a fire to catch, but because of the more flammable materials currently used in construction, it only takes about 30 seconds now for a fire to ignite and about 4 minutes to turn into a full-blown inferno. Fire and smoke damage can change your life forever.
Think about that for a minute. It takes an average of around 7 months to build a house that can burn to the ground in the time it takes for you to read this post.
Look around. What do you see? Your favorite chair. The table where your family gathers to swap stories and catch up on the latest happenings. The afghan your mother knitted for your wedding. The last photo of your father, sitting on the dresser that was given to you after he passed.
What about your beloved dog sleeping in the corner, or the beds where you tuck your kids in every night? It’s all part of who you are. It’s your life. And then someone yells that four-letter word.
Within minutes, you are waking the kids up, rushing them downstairs with a wet towel over your face, telling them to leave everything behind and run. You end up on the lawn surrounded by your family.
At least you’ve got your lives. But within those fleeting few moments, you watch your life engulfed in red, yellow, and orange flames, lapping at the air like a lizard’s tongue. Everything you’ve worked for – gone.
But let’s say it’s not a total loss. You venture back into the house to look for damage. Be careful, there are two kinds of damages caused by a house fire: the kind you can see, and the kind you cannot see.
Damages You Can See
- Broken windows – Firefighters might break the glass to let some of the pressure out.
- Holes in the roof – Venting the roof by making holes allows firefighters to locate the source of the fire.
- Water – everything you own is drenched. After all, something has to put out the fire, and that’s usually water. One telltale sign of water damage that you might see is brown spots on your ceiling. Others are flaking drywall and a musty smell.
Damages You Cannot See
- Ash and soot – this is scary stuff. Because of the toxins contained in soot, humans are at risk for breathing problems, compromised air quality, and even cancer. After a fire, you are likely to find many of the surfaces in your home covered in soot.
- Smoke damage – appliances, wood, fabric, carpets, electronics. All can be damaged by smoke. Long after the fire is out, your home is vulnerable to smoke damage, and that damage goes beyond the smell. Smoke inhalation can hurt your lungs, jeopardize your breathing, cause eye irritation, and even permeate the skin.
- Water – water damage caused by burst pipes and fire hoses can destroy everything in its path. Think in terms of a flash flood inside the house, soaking the carpet and buckling the hardwood floor.
- Mold – the fire is out. Lives are spared. The danger is over. Let the clean-up begin – but wait a moment. Often misdiagnosed, the hazards of mold are too many to name, but for just some of the reasons you should be concerned about the hidden dangers of mold, visit BioCide Laboratories. Within 24 hours, mold will begin to grow, regardless of whether the water is cleaned up or not.
- Unstable walls and roof – you may not be able to see it, but your fire inspector can tell you if the structure is at risk following a fire.
After the Fire
How do you even begin to pick up the pieces? FEMA is a great resource for what to do after a fire. It’s a good idea for any homeowner to familiarize themself with this information.
Above all else, your safety and the safety of your loved ones come first. As tempting as it is to rush through the door to see what can be salvaged, you will want to limit your movement. Your floors, walls, or roof could be unstable, so if at all possible, have the property inspected before entering. You should wait for clearance from the fire marshal or fire department before re-entering the premises.
- Turn off all water and gas, if you can re-enter.
- Get professional help. While it may be tempting to save money on supplies and labor, you do yourself a great disservice if you do not rely on trained, licensed contractors. The degree of damage may determine whether or not you can DIY the repairs or not. It also might be determined by what the insurance company will approve.
- Make a list of everything you’ve lost and keep all receipts.
- File the claim right away. This is where you contact your insurance company or hire a public adjuster. Whichever you choose, your professional adjuster will walk you through the process every step of the way. Not only is the adjuster trained; he or she also knows that your life has been turned upside down, and it is their priority to get you back on your feet as quickly as possible.
There’s so much to do and so many things to worry about. It’s overwhelming for sure. Whether you live in Atlantic County or the surrounding areas, your best recourse is to get professional help right away.
The word FIRE! sparks immediate action. And that’s exactly what you will get when you call us at Expert Claim Solutions.