The City of Monroe Fire Department has put together a checklist of some important information to help you get your life back on track.
Vital information you will need to have for insurance & legal records:
A fire in a home, whether you live in an apartment, a single family, or multifamily 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 or water. You will find that your belongings the fire did not burn up are now ruined by smoke and are soggy with water used to put out the flames. Anything you want to save or re-use will need to be carefully cleaned. The firefighters might have had to cut holes in the walls of the building to look for any hidden flames. They may even have cut holes in the roof to let out the heat and smoke. Cleanup will take time and patience.
It is important to understand the risk to your safety and health even after the fire is out. The soot and dirty water left behind may contain things that could make you sick. Be very careful if you go into your home and if you touch any fire-damaged items. Ask the advice of the fire department, your insurance agent, and restoration specialists before starting to clean or make repairs.
Contact your local disaster relief service, such as the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army. They will help you find a place to stay for a while and find food, clothing, medicine, and other important things. Make sure you have a safe place to live temporarily. You have a big job ahead of you. Get plenty of rest and ask for help. Do not try to do it all alone.
If you have pets, find them and comfort them. Scared animals often react by biting or scratching. Handle them carefully, calmly, and gently. Try to leave pets with a family member, friend, or veterinarian if you are visiting or cleaning your damaged home. Keep your pets out of the house until the cleanup is complete to keep them safe.
Do not enter a damaged home or apartment unless the fire department says it is safe to go in. Fires can start again even if they appear to be out. Watch for damage caused by the fire. Roofs and floors may be damaged and could fall down. The fire department will make sure that the utility services (water, electricity, and gas) are safe to use. If they are not safe, firefighters will disconnect them before they leave the site. Do not try to turn them back on yourself.
Do not eat, drink, or breathe in anything that has been near the fire’s flames, smoke, soot, or water used to put the fire out. This includes your MEDICINES.
You will most likely need a copy of the incident report of your fire.
Contact your insurance company or agent right away. Most companies have a 24 hour line for filing a claim. Ask them what to do about the immediate needs of your home. This includes pumping out water and covering doors, windows, and other openings. Ask your insurance agent/company what they want you to do first. Some companies may ask you to make a list of everything that was damaged by the fire. They will ask you to describe these in detail and say how much you paid for the items.
If you do not have insurance, your family and community might be able to help.
Get you back on your feet. Organizations that can also help include:
Get in touch with your landlord or mortgage lender as soon as possible. Contact your credit card company to report credit cards lost in the fire and request replacements. Save all receipts for any money you spend. These receipts are important in showing the insurance company what money you have spent concerning your fire loss. This will help prove you bought things you may want to claim on your income tax forms.
There are companies that are experts in cleaning and/or restoring your personal items. Whether you or your insurer buys this type of service, be clear on who will pay for it. Be sure to ask for an estimate of cost for the work and agree to it in writing. You will find the names and phone numbers for companies that do this work in the phone book and on the Internet, or ask your insurance agent for a company they have used. Before you hire any company, talk to someone who has used them to make sure they did good work.
Some companies that claim to provide board up and cleaning services are not honest. Ask your insurance company for names of companies you can trust to do a good job at a fair price. These companies will be able to help you restore items damaged in the fire. It is very important that you carefully handle items damaged in the fire. This is so the restoration companies will be able to salvage your belongings.
You will want to replace many of the following documents destroyed or lost in the fire:
Handle burned money as little as possible. Try to place each bill or part of a bill in plastic wrap to help preserve it. If money is partly burned—if half or more is still ok—you can take the part that is left to your regional Federal Reserve Bank to get it replaced. Ask your bank for the one nearest you or you can take the burned or torn money to the Post Office and mail it by “registered mail, return receipt requested” to:
Department of the Treasury Bureau of Engraving and Printing Office of Currency Standards P.O. Box 37048 Washington, DC 20013
Damaged or melted coins may be taken to your regional Federal Reserve Bank or mailed by “registered mail, return receipt requested” to:
Superintendent U.S. Mint
400 Philadelphia, PA 19105
To replace U.S. Savings Bonds that are destroyed or mutilated, get the Department of Treasury Form PD F 1048 (I) from your bank or at www.ustreas.gov and mail to:
Department of the Treasury Bureau of the Public Debt Savings Bonds Operations P.O. Box 1328 Parkersburg, WV 26106-1328