- Alert your insurance company immediately. Your insurance agent is your partner during this stressful time. He/she will guide you through the claims and clean-up process.
- Take photos of the damage prior to the property being cleaned-up, boarded-up or demolished. Having photographic documentation of the damage could be helpful for insurance purposes.
- Determine whether your house or place of business is structurally safe. If not, you will need to evacuate the facility and make alternate arrangements.
- Shut down the electrical and water supply and close the main gas valve, after the threat of physical danger has passed. These steps will help you avoid further damage, so it is important to know in advance where these important systems are located.
- Protect and secure property assets and/or personal belongings.
- Relocate all valuables to a safe and dry place.
- If there is standing water, try to remove as much of it to the outdoors as possible and run the air conditioning, a dehumidifier or a fan to help dry out the area. WARNING: Standing water will begin to produce dangerous mold within 48 hours, making it imperative to remove all standing water.
- If conditions allow, cover broken windows and doors as well as damaged walls and roof areas with plywood or plastic sheeting to prevent additional moisture entry and to protect the property from the elements.
- Inspect the property thoroughly. Your observations and comments will help speed up the restoration process when professional help arrives.
- Determine if there are roof shingles missing or if there is any
damage to your home's exterior, including to the gutters, windows,
siding, chimneys, etc.
- Inspect the property for any signs of water infiltration.
- Determine if the insulation is wet or damaged. Be sure to check the insulation around your windows and doors and in your attic, crawl spaces and walls.
- Look closely to verify that your foundation walls are intact.
In most cases your insurance agent will make clean-up/restoration contractor recommendations. However, in some situations, you may be advised to hire a restoration company of your own choosing. The following are tips for hiring the best professional restoration company:
- Look for a professional restoration company that specializes in working with property owners after a fire, flood, storm or other disaster. These companies are a better choice than general contracting companies that may offer restoration services.
- Be sure that the company you choose is licensed, bonded and insured in the state where the work will be performed.
- Do not sign a contract unless the job is described in detail including what will be done, a price estimate and what materials/tools will be used.
- Ask for a list of references. Also, look at before and after pictures of the company's work.
- Do not hire a company that requires a larger than normal deposit in order to start work.
The most effective way to recover from a fire, flood, storm or other disastrous event is to take action quickly Carefully following the Emergency Restoration checklist will help the disaster relief experts restore your home and property to normal as quickly as possible.