According to the National Fire Protection Association, there is good news about house fires in the U.S. In 1975 there were over 723,000 such fires, but this figure had dropped by 2015 to 365,500.
Fewer house fires, and less injury, property damage, and death from such fires, is welcome news. Unfortunately, fires in homes are still all too common, and recovering and cleaning up after a fire at home is often a major challenge for individuals and families.
Steps in Recovering from a House Fire
Here is advice from the American Red Cross on what to do first after a house fire:
- Be attentive to the physical and mental well-being of everyone involved in the fire, especially children, and elderly people. Provide immediate first-aid or medical care followed by emotional support.
- Keep a close eye on pets and do not let them stray. Placing the pet in the care of family, friends, or a kennel can reduce anxiety for both people and animals.
- Remember there are many ways the stress of a house fire can affect people in the family, and how each person is affected differs with their temperament and age. Feelings of tiredness, anger, confusion, sadness, and numbness are common, but they usually pass quickly.
- Discard any food which was exposed during the fire.
- Let loved ones know you are safe and where you are staying.
- Do not enter the building until it has been cleared by the Fire Marshal.
Cleaning-Up After a House Fire
After making sure everyone is okay after a fire, it is important to move on quickly to arranging for clean-up. The more time that passes after the fire, the more damage is done to possessions inside the home from smoke and soot.
Water damage is another problem requiring fast action. Water soaked furniture, clothing, floors, and ceilings need removal from the site, ventilation, and cleaning as soon as possible to minimize loss. Once you have permission to enter the building from Fire Department officials, do so only with caution and while wearing work boots and other protective gear. Keep children and pets away from the site during the clean-up and rebuilding process.