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What to Do After a House Fire (Part 1): Initial Steps

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Experiencing a house fire can be traumatic, leaving homeowners overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. As you come to terms with what has happened, it’s crucial to have a clear plan of action to stabilize the situation and begin the process of recovery. In Part 1 of this two-part blog series, we will guide you through the initial steps to take after the house fire. In Part 2, we will talk about how to rebuild.

So, let’s explore the immediate actions you should take!

Safety First

Make sure your family’s medical needs are addressed and that everyone has a safe place to stay. Do not reenter your house until you have been cleared to do so. When cleared, use protective equipment like masks and gloves to recover valuables.

Let Your Family and Friends Know

Family and friends may be concerned, so let them know what is going on, and ask for help if you need it!

Let Your Employer, Utility Companies, Lender, and/or Landlord Know

If there will be any effect on your work, your employer should know so that they can accommodate you. This is especially true if you work from home!

Let your utility companies know so that they can shut off service and prevent further risks.

You lender may be able to pause required mortgage payments, and will be involved in disbursing insurance payments.

Your landlord will need to be involved both in working with the insurance and in dealing with the house.

Secure and Protect the House

Even if you will not be living there, make sure the house is protected from things like rain and secured against burglary. One way to do this is by boarding it up.

Contact Your Insurance Agent, Obtain a Copy of the Fire Report, and Document Damage

Your agent will be able to provide guidance on your options and help you file a claim. Since documentation is important to make sure your losses are restored, be meticulous about recording what you spend and what is lost and unrecoverable. Take pictures and video of as much as you can. The fire report will help progress on your claim and will be useful in any legal proceedings.


Don’t forget to update your mailing address if you will be staying somewhere else long term. Replace any important documents that have been lost (think passports, marriage and birth certificates, etc.). Throw away damaged items, making sure to document them for insurance purposes, and secure valuables and other items that are undamaged.


The aftermath of a house fire can be chaotic. However, taking the right initial steps can lay the foundation for a smoother recovery process. Once the situation has been stabilized, a homeowner may consider restoring and rebuilding. Let’s talk about that in Part 2.

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