Starting over after you lose everything in a house fire is daunting, scary and very emotional. Ive found a few guidelines and things to help those that end up in a situation like mine. Things to remember and things to help.
A lot of people don't realize or know what happened to me. Those that do have tried to help as much as they can or on the reverse spectrum have said horrible things or accused me of burning my own home down. Well, let me fill you in on a few things... things to help. Ill leave the full story for another blog.. I tried to start it here but, its too early in the morning to start crying.
When you lose everything to a house fire your life stops for a while, That is to be expected. BUT, oh yea big But right there, DO NOT let it continue to put your life on hold. Stay strong and keep your head high. Hug your loved ones and work on going forward. Don't expect handouts or help (although you may receive some) Work as you would normally and get on and over it. If God brings you to it, he can help you get through it.
Now, that being said it will not be easy. There will be days you cry and days you feel as though you have forgotten until your child goes looking for their favorite cuddly stuffed animal and it suddenly dawns on you that is gone too. Days when cooking triggers everything while you look for that favorite wooden spoon. There will be days your ok and almost make it through until late at night some random sitcom has a plaque on the wall that says some random quote about our family and home. Things will make you bawl like a baby. Random things and odd things. Memories are triggered you didn't know you had and let me tell you know... it will happen for the rest of your life.
There is something else to remember... The fire more than likely did not just affect you... think of the other victims and be support for them as well. If your a parent be the strength your children come to when they realize what they have lost. Be the arms that hold them when the memories come flooding back. Because they will, and it doesn't hurt to cry them out.
Alright, emotionally you are shattered. The baby pictures are gone and all the memories and hard work are just charred and ash. Whether your ready or not, you need to start the work. If its a partial burn, get the lead out and the smoke smell.
CATALOG EVERYTHING. Every room and every item. Right that down! I've got some lists that I found that will help if you cant remember. I know your overwhelmed. Print these lists out and use them to help you. Check photographs and ask friends as well, they may be able to help too. Please Download and print these as needed, They are simple and easy to fill out and might help jog your memory.
My suggestion would be to keep a current inventory or a separate folder or two that has all the information on everything in your home. It may seem like a lot of extra work but its worth it if you ever need it. Keep it somewhere else, not at home. Perhaps when you do your annual spring cleaning you can redo the list each year and write down the paid for price or value of each item. It is something I only wish I had done.
If you want more help go on over to the website What Happens Now. They have a lot of good useful information to help those of us that have endured a fire and many other disasters. Plus they have good prevention information.
KEEP ALL RECEIPTS!! Get estimates and keep every document you can, including gas receipts and receipts of everything you replace and anything that has anything at all to do with your home and the circumstance you are in right now. If its a partial burn, hire licensed contractors to do the work and get the smoke smell out. Its not permanent. The folks over at What Happens Now wrote some important info about this...
Hiring a licensed general contractor, ideally one with experience in fire, water and smoke damage, is often the most crucial step toward being able to return home and regain a sense of normalcy.
“One big mistake is not choosing a general contractor quickly enough,” says Wesley Phillips, President of Bryant-Phillips Associates, a North Carolina-based licensed general contractor specializing in fire, water and smoke damages restoration.
"A general contractor should be able to assist you with securing your home, generating an estimate and doing all the repairs on the home," he continues. "The faster the homeowner selects a qualified contractor, the faster repairs can be made and the family can return home.”
Another error is trying to cut costs by doing the repairs themselves or with a friend or relative without the necessary expertise or experience which can lead to problems down the road, Phillips cautions.
Also, once the fire department has deemed the premises safe to enter, don’t delay in removing valuables and furnishings.
“The faster you get an item out, the better chance you have of repairing and salvaging it. Even though the fire is out, water and smoke will continue to damage items left inside,” Phillips says.
As for food, err on the side of caution and toss it all. Keep a running list of what you discard—frozen, refrigerated and shelf-stable items— since the insurance company needs to reimburse you for everything you lose in a fire, including food (see WHN's Food Safety Guide for more).
Phillips talks about three common misconceptions people have about the aftermath of home fires:
Overestimating the damage.
Homeowners often assess damages at 100 percent when they are really only 25 percent. And it's easy to overestimate the severity of a fire because in some cases, it looks worse than it is. For example, sheet rock is designed to keep fire out and once the black and charred material is removed, it is often undamaged underneath. Almost anything can be repaired.
Settling for the smoke smell.
It is possible to get rid of the smoke smell! Homeowners think they will never get rid of the smoke smell, but a good company will guarantee that they can permanently eliminate the odor. If the smoke smell remains, request additional treatment.
It takes time to repair a house. Homeowners need to prepare themselves for the fact that restoration can be time consuming. Since restoration can involve stripping the house to the studs and rebuilding, homeowners need to think in terms of months, not days or weeks."
BREATHE! Yup, simple as it may sound, sometimes it might feel hard to breathe. Your overwhelmed and stressed and it will all be ok in time. Just Breathe.
Here are some other useful links and helpful sites to visit.
Government and State Resources
- Federal Citizen Information Center
This site provides information on fire and carbon monoxide poisoning prevention tips. The Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC) is a source for questions and answers about consumer problems and government services.
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Learn about fire hazards and preparedness. FEMA prepares the nation for hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.
A tutorial program from the Department of Homeland Security. Includes lists for various emergency kits, tips on creating an evacuation plan and information on natural events. The Department of Homeland Security leverages resources within Federal, state, and local governments, coordinating the transition of multiple agencies and programs into a single, integrated agency focused on protecting the American people and their homeland.
- State Fire Marshals
Fire marshals enforce local and state fire codes and lead fire and arson investigations. Click on your state to find contact information for your state's fire marshal. The National Association of State Fire Marshals comprises the most senior fire officials in the United States.
- U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) – Fire Safety
An extensive site on fire prevention, preparedness and what to do after a fire. The U.S. Fire Administration is an entity of the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The mission of the USFA is to reduce life and economic losses due to fire and related emergencies, through leadership, advocacy, coordination, and support.
- American Red Cross
Click on ‘Disaster Services’ or ‘Get Prepared’ to learn more about fire prevention, first aid, and what to do after a fire. The American Red Cross, a humanitarian organization led by volunteers, provides relief to victims of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.
Hopefully I have helped you and you can always message me if you need to. I am going thru this and could always use more support myself, I know having a shoulder to cry on is necessary some times.
If you want more information on my situation please check out the Go Fund Me my mother set up. She keeps it updated and has been an angel to me.