According to the National Fire Protection Association, home cooking fires can be a bigger threat than most of us realize. Between 2014-2018, firefighters responded to a yearly average of over 170,000 fires that started with cooking incidents.
This number is huge—but if you’ve ever suffered a kitchen fire, you may know how isolating it can be. The destruction to your kitchen, and in some cases to your home overall, can feel devastating. But this isn’t a struggle you have to cope with alone.
Working with the right professionals and taking a few key steps can help you get on track to rebuild your home. If you’re tackling the aftermath, take a look at the tips below to understand the restoration process.
Wait Until Your Home Is Declared Safe
Even after your kitchen fire has stopped, there may be unseen consequences that can pose a hazard to you and your family. Issues with your electrical system, gas lines, or ductwork might not be easy to notice if you don’t have the proper training. There may even be structural damage that needs repairs before the house is safe to walk into.
Be sure to wait to enter your home until the fire department deems it’s safe. Even after you’ve returned inside, it’s often a good idea to wear safety gloves and a mask.
Secure Your Property
Once an expert has told you that it’s safe to enter your home again, make sure to secure your property if the fire has made it easy for strangers to get access to it. After all, the last complication your damaged home needs is vandals or squatters.
Be sure to board up any broken windows, and board up or replace any burned doorways as well.
Assess the Fire Damage
Though it may be difficult to create one, an objective record of the damage can be a great help in the coming days. Take photos of any damages that occurred, and consider taking video evidence as well for damage that’s hard to capture as a static image.
Don’t forget to also make lists of items that were damaged or destroyed. This can be difficult if the burned items in your kitchen are unrecognizable. However, if you’ve already created a home inventory, a common best practice for homeowners, the process will be much simpler.
1. Call Your Insurance Company
The rebuilding process can begin in earnest once you’ve made a call to your insurance company. Speak to an agent to get the claims process started as soon as you can.
Your agent will likely recommend that you work with a professional fire restoration specialist. If they don’t have a list of reliable agents on hand, consider the disaster restoration professionals at ctr-nw.com.
2. Take Care of Essential Repairs
When you rebuild after a fire, you need to take care of essential repairs before you dive into further fire and smoke restoration.
Address any repairs that impact your home’s structural integrity first. Next, repair any damages to essential systems like your electric system or gas lines. Don’t forget other possible issues, like contaminated air ducts or smoke stains in your sheetrock.
A restoration contractor can help you plan and implement the repairs that should come first.
3. Start the Cleaning Process
Once these first steps are complete, it’s time to start the cleaning process. The extent of cleaning will depend on the type and severity of fire you experienced. However, in general, the steps below will give you a good idea of where to start.
4. Get the Right Gear
Again, it’s a good idea to wear safety gloves and a face mask whenever you’re in your fire-damaged home. You may also want to consider safety goggles as well. These items may seem like over-preparation, but they can help protect you from carbon-based particles and airborne contaminants that can infect your lungs, eyes, and skin.
5. Clear the Air
Open the windows and doors to allow the air to circulate in your home. You may also need to set up fans as well. Creating air currents can help remove some of the airborne contaminants in your home, and it can also remove some of the lingering odor.
You’ll also want to change out the filter in your HVAC system if it was running while the fire was on. This can give you a fresh start and help your system work to clean remaining particles from the air.
6. Take Your Time to Clean Surfaces
This step can take days to weeks, depending on the severity of the fire. Whether you have a restoration contractor help or you tackle the job yourself, it’s important to be patient!
If the fire spread outside of your kitchen, going room by room can help you stay organized. Don’t forget to continue documenting the damage and cleanup process for your insurance company.
7. Restore and Replace Items as Needed
While you clean what you can, decide which items are salvageable and which items need replacement.
Certain items, like furniture or tapestries, may need professional restoration services. Others, like burned cabinets and doors or damaged clothing, may need to be replaced completely. Work with your insurance agent to make sure you get reimbursement for these damages.
Rebuild After Your Kitchen Fire
After a kitchen fire, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. After all, when everything is sooty and smells like smoke, where do you even begin?
Fortunately, the key tips above can help you plan your path toward restoration. From the early days of working with your insurance agent to replacing the last items on your list, this guide is a great way to reverse the worst of your fire damage.
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