Understanding what to do after an accident or natural disaster
While accidents happen without any warning, natural disasters, such as hurricanes, can come with a small window to prepare. The most important thing is the safety and well-being of yourself and your family.
It's always a good idea to have a plan to reunite with your family after an accident or natural disaster, such as a local restaurant or the instruction to call an out-of-town family member. Once you know everyone is okay or being taken care of, there are steps that you need to take after an accident or a natural disaster to ensure you can put your life back together.
Things to do after an accident or natural disaster
When the worst has happened and your home has been damaged, you may feel flustered and not know what steps you need to take. For instance, if a wildfire has damaged your home, does insurance cover it. Yes, in most cases, your homeowner's insurance should cover the costs of fire. However, this can vary by your geographical location, so you may want to check your policy or speak to your agent. Here's a look at what you need to do.
Wait for the all-clear
Whether there's been a flood or a wildfire, you need to wait to return to your home for an all-clear notification from authorities. You may think that the area looks safe, but it really isn't. Someone in charge will assess the situation and talk to experts to ensure your safety. In some cases, authorities will block the route to your home or property. You don't want to try to sneak by them.
If your home has been damaged by wildfire or flooding, you might consider asking a structural engineer to vie
w the property. They can determine if the structure is safe to enter. Even a small amount of fire or water damage can cause the structure to become unsafe. A wildfire can leave noxious and toxic gases in the air, so you need a professional to tell you when it's safe to go back inside your home even if there doesn't seem to be a lot of damage.
Take photos before doing anything
Before moving items out of the way or tossing them out, you need to take photographs of all the damage. You may need to move damaged items to take additional photos, and after you take pictures of the items you need to move that's okay. You want to provide your insurance company with evidence of the full extent of the damage.
The best way to provide evidence is to show photographs of how the house looked when you first arrived and before you began moving things around. Items with identification numbers, such as computers and television, should include photos of that information. This makes it easier to identify the item on a receipt or some other proof of purchase. You want to get multiple photos of the same things and structures from varied points of view.
Call a professional
If you have water or fire damage, you need to contact a company that handles clean-ups of this type. They have the equipment you need to dry
out or minimize any further damage. Most of these companies have years of experience cleaning up disaster sites and repairing fire and water damage and can help halt the growth of mold in your home.
In many cases, if your insurance covers the initial damage, it'll cover the cost of a professional cleaning crew. A wildfire can cause both smoke and fire damage. While the smoke damage doesn't weaken the structure of your home, the fire damage will. Hurricanes and flooding can cause water damage and structural problems.
Anytime your home is exposed to water in places that shouldn't be wet, you run the chance of developing mold. You need professional help to ensure damage from a flood or hurricane doesn't turn into a mold problem a couple of weeks later. The cost of ridding your home of mold, once it's taken hold, can be expensive. Especially in the case of flooding, when mold can form behind the walls and other hard to reach places.
Notify your insurance company
If you're dealing with a natural disaster, your insurance company is probably waiting on your call, along with hundreds of others. Most insurance companies have a large staff to jump into action when a natural disaster occurs. However, the sooner you call and start the process, the faster you receive financial compensation to begin putting your life and home back together.
You might think that if you start the claim process and then find more damage that it won't be covered, but it will. By contacting your insurance company, they can help you locate the resources you need to protect your home and property. Also, in some cases, they can release immediate funds for the cleanup effort or to protect your property from further damage, such as paying for tarps to put over holes in the roof.
Secure valuable items
In some cases, you can't move back into your home until repairs are completed. You need to ensure that you gather all of your valuables if your home can't be locked and secured and take them to a new location. This includes things like jewelry, computers, electronics, and other portable items.
For larger items, such as appliances, you may need to ask a friend or family member outside the disaster area to hold them. If you don't have anyone close to you, a storage center might be your best choice. In some cases, your insurance policy might cover the cost of the storage space.
At AdvantaClean, we're ready to spring into action when an accident or natural disaster leaves your home damaged. Our team knows how to deal with water and fire damage. Contact us to learn more.