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Wildfire Recovery Steps

August 5, 2019

Wildfires can cause substantial damage and put lives in danger. The best way to protect yourself and your family is to stay informed, follow evacuation procedures and only re-enter your home when officials instruct you to do so. Read our steps on what to do after a wildfire has damaged your home.


Follow these steps immediately after a home fire:

  1. Call 911. Give first aid where needed; cool and cover burns to minimize the chance of additional injury or infection.
  2. Tell family and friends that you are safe.
  3. People and animals who are seriously injured or burned should be taken to professional medical or veterinary help as soon as possible.
  4. Do not enter fire-damaged homes until local authorities say it is safe to enter.

Recovering Emotionally

  • Remain calm; pace yourself. Realize that, sometimes, recovery can take time.
  • Stay connected with your family or other support systems.
  • Drink water and get some rest.
  • Limit your exposure to the sights and sounds of disasters.
  • Recognize your feelings.
  • Reach out and accept the help of others.

Recovering your Home

  • Take precautions and abide to directions from local authorities.
  • Use caution when entering burned areas; there may still be hot spots that may flare up with no warning.
  • Smell or sniff for gas leakages.
  • Beware of animals that may have entered your home.
  • Objects may be unstable; be very cautious when walking towards them.
  • Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
  • Disconnect and check all appliances before using them.
  • When it comes time to clean up, wear protective gear; boots, safety glasses and rubber gloves are necessary.
  • Household items often take several cleanings to rid the smoke odors, soot and stains.
  • Make sure all food and water is safe to consume. Discard food that might have been exposed to heat, smoke or soot and do not drink contaminated water.

Recovering Financially

  • Contact your local 360 agent.
  • Write an inventory and take pictures of damaged furniture, appliances, books, etc.
  • If possible, keep damaged items until the claims adjuster has visited your home.
  • Make sure to keep all receipts that are related to living expenses, repairs, etc.
  • Make copies of all documents and pictures given to your claims adjuster.

Check out the American Red Cross’s guide for more detailed information on what you should do after a fire.

Sources: American Red Cross, Canadian Red Cross

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