Recovering from a home fire can be stressful and overwhelming. The American Red Cross responds to more than 60,000 disasters every year. Most of them are home fires. While Red Cross volunteers may be someone's first lifeline after a home fire, they are only one part of the recovery process. The following is a roadmap to help you recover after a home fire.
Call 9-1-1: In the immediate aftermath of a fire, call 9-1-1 and administer first aid where needed.
If Someone Is on Fire: Stop, drop and roll. Do not use a fire extinguisher on a person. It can have severe repercussions such as frostbite, mild to extreme respiratory problems, and suffocation or death in some instances.
Inform Friends and Family: Let your loved ones know you're safe by promptly telling them about the incident by phone or text.
Call 1-800-RED-CROSS: Call the Red Cross if you or a loved one has experienced a home fire and need assistance.
Stay Out Until Declared Safe: Heed the advice of local fire authorities and refrain from entering fire-damaged homes until declared safe to do so.
Contact Your Insurance Provider: Reach out to start a claim and address your immediate needs. The insurance company should also be able to help you secure your property and offer recommendations for cleaning up or restoring salvageable items.
If You Rent, Call the Property Manager: Notify the property manager or owner about the fire if they need to be made aware. There may be actions they need to take to help address the damage.
Take Care of Your Pets: Get your pets checked by a veterinarian after a fire. Smoke inhalation may have affected your pets' lungs, and burns can hide under fur.
Red Cross Assistance
The Red Cross provides crucial help after a home fire. The disaster action team can provide immediate financial assistance, shelter and mental health services. These essential services contribute significantly to a person's recovery.
Disaster Action Team Response: Volunteers respond swiftly to provide on-the-ground assistance, helping individuals cope with the immediate aftermath of a home fire. Usually, volunteers arrive to help residents within two hours of notification.
Immediate Financial Assistance: The Red Cross offers financial support to address urgent needs, helping individuals cover immediate expenses like accommodation, food and essential supplies.
Sheltering Services: If staying in the damaged home is not an option, the Red Cross works with community partners to help individuals and families find temporary shelter, ensuring they have a safe place to stay during recovery.
Mental Health Services: Recognizing the emotional toll of a home fire, the Red Cross provides crucial mental health services to support people as they navigate the challenges of recovery.
Red Cross Emergency App: The Red Cross offers a free Emergency App in the Apple Store and Google Play. This app provides essential safety features during emergencies, including home fires. Users can receive alerts, access expert guidance, and utilize helpful tools to navigate challenging situations. Text "GETEMERGENCY" to 90999 for a direct download.
Find a list of resources and more information about how the Red Cross responds to home fires here.
Returning Home After a Fire
Check Your Home: Follow detailed guidance on checking and cleaning up after a fire to ensure a safe return.
Throw Away Damaged Items: Throw away items like plastics, canned/boxed food, medicine and hygiene products. Take pictures of the items you discard for documentation purposes.
Replace Lost Documents: Replace essential documents like passports, birth certificates and marriage licenses lost in the fire.
Put Your Needs First: Prioritize your family's financial and emotional well-being during recovery. Understand what monthly payments you still need to make and replace credit cards lost in the fire. Home fires are emotionally challenging events, especially for children. Find support if you are having difficulty coping.
Recovering from a home fire can be daunting, but you are not alone. The information above, as well as resources and vital assistance from the Red Cross and other organizations, can help you navigate the challenges more effectively and start rebuilding your life.
FEMA Home Fires - https://www.ready.gov/home-fires
FEMA Fire Recovery - https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/fa_46.pdf
Texas Health & Human Services - Recovering after a disaster - https://www.hhs.texas.gov/services/disaster-assistance/receiving-disaster-assistance