My building has had a fire...what do I do now? At any Fire and Water Damage Restoration Company that question is heard daily. Most important thing is to take immediate action to prevent further damage to your belongings. Every wasted minute can add to the cost of repairs and time necessary to completely restore your loss...and you may lose more if you wait.
Time is most critical in Water/Flood Damage. In just 24 hours, fungi and bacteria will begin to grow and flourish. Foul and unpleasant odors will begin to permeate the entire building structure. Hardwood flooring will likely be ruined from warping and metal surfaces will start to tarnish and rust. Self drying should be avoided. You may mop up standing water, but remember, just appearing dry is not good enough.
Certified professionals have moisture monitoring equipment that can tell them just where the moisture is, and if more drying is needed. When left untreated, wet materials will warp or deteriorate and in worst cases grow mold causing thousands of dollars in un-necessary damage to you property.
Follow these steps when you have a disaster to help make your claim go smoothly:
1. Contact your insurance agent (Am I Covered?)
2. Immediately contact your local restoration company to star the cleaning and drying. No matter who you choose, be certain they are IICRC certified. IICRC Certified companies can be found by zip code on the IICRC website. I cannot stress this enough. There are hundreds of copy cat companies out there that will say they do restoration work, but they are not trained or certified.
3. Do not attempt to clean the smoke or water damage on your own! Only certified specialist should handle fire cleaning and water extraction services. Doing it yourself will likely cause more damage. As before, check with the IICRC.
4. If you are a business, contact your employees and explain the situation. Notify customers of the possibility of delays and give contact information.
5. If you are a homeowner, contact the utility companies for your residence. If you loose a lot of domestic water call you sewage company. You may save money on your sewer bill since the lost water did not go through your drains.
Most importantly...act immediately!
To limit the potential damage from a fire around the perimeter of you home, I would suggest you invest in some fire retardant shrubs and plants that you could add in and around your home/business. Lists of ideas are:
* Jade Plants
* Rose Geraniums
* Ice Plants
Some other tips:
Remove fire wood from your home, store it outside if possible....Keep tree limbs at least 10 feet from your home...and remove dead leaves/pine needles from your gutters. Find out where your water shut off is in your home. Look at your circuit box and check to see how you turn off the electric to your house in an emergency. Have your chimney and fireplace inspected. Be sure to keep your fire extinguishers serviced and readily available throughout your building.
Sometimes it doesn't matter what you do to prepare, but disaster strikes. Remember these tips and share them with your family and co-workers so when it does happen, you are prepared.