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Home > Natural Resources > Disaster Resources

Recovery After A Fire

Recovery steps after a building is lost to wildfire or house fire.

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Wildfire and firestorms are part of California because of our desert terrain, seasonal windstorms and low humidity. The firestorms are getting stronger and longer...and more families are affected.

The American Red Cross has prepared information to encourage families to take precautions to help keep family members safe and speed recovery after a fire. It also offers ideas on what individuals and friends / neighbors can do to help make families and homes safer from fires in the future.

American Red Cross Steps for Recovery

Recovering Emotionally

Your own and your family's emotional care and recovery are just as important as rebuilding a home and healing physical injuries.

Some basic steps you can take to meet physical and emotional needs-

  • Try to return to as many of your personal and family routines as possible.
  • Get rest and drink plenty of water.
  • Limit your exposure to the sights and sounds of disaster, especially on television, the radio and in the newspapers.
  • Focus on the positive.
  • Recognize your own feelings.
  • Reach out and accept help from others.
  • Do something you enjoy. Do something as a family that you have all enjoyed in the past.
  • Stay connected with your family and/or other support systems.
  • Realize that, sometimes, recovery can take time.

Helping Pets

If you have pets, try to find and comfort them. A scared animal may react by biting or scratching. Handle animals carefully and calmly.
  • Use toys, a blanket or favorite human's unsoiled clothing to comfort pets.
  • Make sure pets are fed their usual diet, and have plenty of water.
  • Visit your pets regularly, speak calmly and take some time out to play with them. Doing so can also help you in your recovery, as well.

Checking Your Home

Check with the fire department to make sure your residence is safe to enter. Do not cut or walk past colored tape that was placed over doors or windows to mark damaged areas unless local authorities advise that it is safe to do so.

See the Red Cross website for many excellent, detailed suggestions on how to check your home.

Recovering Financially

  • Contact your insurance agent, broker or insurance company as soon as you can to report how, when and where the damage occurred. Provide a general description of the damage.
  • Prepare a list of damaged or lost items and provide receipts if possible. Consider photographing or videotaping the damage where it occurred for further documentation to support your claim.
  • If possible, keep damaged items or portions of those items until the claims adjuster has visited your home. Do not throw away anything you plan to claim without discussing it with your adjuster first.
  • Keep receipts for all additional expenses that you may incur such as lodging, repairs or other supplies.
  • Make copies of all documents and pictures given to your claims adjuster or insurance company. Besides insurance, there are many questions related to taxes, expenses and determining just how you will recover from a personal financial point of view.

    For helpful advice, please see Disaster Recovery: A Guide to Financial Issues (A5076), which is available from your local Red Cross chapter and at www.redcross.org.

Rebuilding

Rebuilding takes time, emotional recovery and thought. Make sure that the contractor rebuilding your home is a certified professional and obtains a building permit and follows the current building, fire and electrical codes for your area.

Rebuilding is about rebuilding a life as well as a building. There's no time like now to consider the bigger picture of where to rebuild, what natural resources need to be worked "with" instead of "against", new building strategies such as healthful "green building" and to incorporate fire precautions in the rebuilding process.

It is much less expensive to have sprinklers and other fire-prevention design features installed during reconstruction than after the construction is complete.



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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