After a House Fire:
A fire will change your life in many ways that you cannot imagine. Whitestown Fire Department wants to help you and your family. The following information will guide you with useful information and resources.
What to Expect:
A fire in a home can cause serious damage. The building and many of the things in your home may have been badly damaged by flames, heat, smoke, and water.
Not all things in the home will burn up; many things will be ruined by smoke and will be soggy with water used to put the fire out.
You may find the firefighters have cut holes in the roof to let out heat and flames. Holes may also be cut in the walls of the building to look for hidden flames. Be patient as the firefighters check for hidden fires and cleanup.
Once are able to go back into your house:
DO NOT GO INTO THE RESIDENCE UNTIL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT SAYS IT IS OKAY!
It is important to understand the risk to your health and safety even after the fire is out. The soot and dirty water left behind may contain things that could make you sick.
Be very careful when you are able to return to your home. The structure of the building might be damaged, you could have holes in the floor, unstable stairs, and many more dangerous items that might be stepped on or ran into when walking through the building.
The fire department may have disconnected utilities (water, electricity, and gas) to protect you and the firefighter’s safety. DO NOT try to turn them back on yourself! Have the mechanical, electrical, and gas systems checked by a professional even if they do not appear to be damaged.
What do I do now?
Contact your insurance agent
Contact your insurance company or agent right away. Ask your agent/company what they want you to do first.
- Your insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurer. The insurer promises to do certain things for you. In turn, you have certain obligations. Among your duties after a fire loss would be to give immediate notice of the loss to the insurance company or the insurer’s agent.
- Protect the property from further damage by making sensible or necessary repairs such as covering holes in the roof or walls. Take reasonable precautions against loss, such as draining water lines in winter if the house will be unheated for some time. The insurance company may refuse to pay losses that occur from not taking such reasonable care.
- Make an inventory of damaged personal property showing in detail the quantity, description, original purchase price, purchase date, damage estimate and replacement cost.
- Cooperate with the insurer or his/her adjuster by exhibiting the damaged property.
If you do not have insurance, your family and community might help you get back off your feet. Organizations that might help include: American Red Cross (765-482-3100), Salvation Army, religious organizations, and public agencies.
Take care of yourself and your family!
Contact your local disaster relief service, such as the American Red Cross (765-482-3100) or the Salvation Army. They will help you find a place to stay for a while and find food, clothing, medicine, and other essential items. Be sure to ask for help, do not try to do this alone.
**DO NOT eat, drink, or breath in anything that has been near the fire’s flames, smoke, soot, or water used to put the fire out!!**
Your personal belongings: there are companies that are experts in cleaning and/or restoring items. Ask you insurance company, look online, or in a phone book for these companies.
Help your pets!
If you have pets, find them, and comfort them. Scared animals often react by biting or scratching. Handle them carefully, calmly, and gently. Keep them in a secure location, animals have a tendency to run back into the home. Try to leave pets with a family member, friend, or veterinarian if you visiting or cleaning your damaged home. Keep your pets out of the house until the clean-up is complete.
Boone County Humane Society: 765-485-8888 – if you leave a voicemail at this number they will get back with you and provide as much assistance as they can.
If you are going to be away from your home, contact the police department and let them know. In some cases you may need to board up openings, so no one can get in when you’re not there. Your insurance company should be able to assist in boarding up openings.
Contact your landlord or mortgage lender as soon as possible. After the fire be sure to save all receipts for any money you spend. Post fire you will want to keep track of money spent to show your insurance company. This will help prove you bought things you may want to claim on your income tax form.
Valuable Documents and Records
Here is a list of some important documents that might have gotten destroyed or lost in the fire:
Military Discharge Papers
Birth, Death, & Marriage Certificates
Social Security or Medicare Cards
Titles to Deeds
Stocks and Bonds
Income Tax Records
Animal Registration Papers
Prepaid Burial Contract
Contact Postal Office if you need mail delivered to a different location.
Important Contact Numbers:
Whitestown Fire Dept. – Non Emergency 317-769-3300
Boone County Health Department 765-482-3942
Red Cross 765-482-3100
Salvation Army 765-482-7377