The First 24 Hours - Securing Yourself and the Site After a Fire

Contact your local disaster relief service, such as the American Red Cross or The Salvation Army, to help with your immediate needs, such as:

Also, contact your insurance agent/company to report your loss.


Do not enter the damaged site. Fires can rekindle from hidden, smoldering remains. Normally, the fire department will see that utilities (water, electricity and natural gas) are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site. Do not attempt to turn on utilities yourself. Be watchful for structural damage caused by the fire. Roofs and floors may be damaged and subject to collapse. Food, beverages and medicine exposed to heat, smoke, soot and water should not be consumed.

Leaving Your Home

Contact your local police departments to let them know the site will be unoccupied. In some cases, it may be necessary to board up openings to discourage trespassers. Beginning immediately, save receipts for any money you spend. These receipts are important in showing your insurance company what you have spent related to your fire loss and also to verify losses claimed on your income tax.

If it is safe to do so, try to locate the following items:

The people and entities that should be notified of your relocation include your:

Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made. All damages are taken into consideration in developing your insurance claim. If you are considering contracting for inventory or repair services, first discuss your plans with your insurance agent/company.

Source: United States Fire Administration (USAF).