This guide is compiled to save you a lot of time and worry, about what to do next if your property was gutted by a fire or was flooded with water.
What to do after the firefighters has left?
(1) Heed to your own safety:
(a) Do you feel unwell?
(b) Unsafe buildings
(c) Air quality
(d) Skin contact
(2) Will your property be left unattended?
(3) Contact the insurance company.
(4) Secondary damage.
(5) What can I do until help arrives?
(6) Emergency Tips:
(b) If my clothes are on fire.
(c) What must I do if the alarm sounds?
(d) What if my way out is blocked?
(7) Fire Prevention
(a) Prevention is better than cure.
(b) Kitchen Fires.
What to do after my property has been flooded?
(1) What type of water caused the flood?
(2) Water and electricity.
(3) Secondary damage.
(4) What to do until help arrives?
(5)Who can clean - up afterwards?
As soon as the firefighters have left, reality and shock will set in. Try to remain as calm as possible and try to assess the situation.
(1) Heed to your own safety:
(a) Do you or any member of your family feel unwell?
If you or any member of your family suffer from any after effects of
smoke/fume inhalation, shock, burns, etc. you should get immediate
medical help. Contact your doctor or nearest hospital.
It is also recommended to make use of the services of a Trauma
Counselor if small children were involved in a major disaster, or where
there was the loss of a loved one or a pet.
(b) Unsafe buildings:
Never re-enter a building that was gutted by a fire unless the fire
department told you it is safe to do so. The structure of the walls and roof
can be severely weakened by the fire and can easily fall on unwary
(c) Air quality:
Fires can produce unhealthy and sometimes poisonous gasses and
chemicals. It can be absorbed by various porous surfaces during a fire and
then be released slowly afterwards.
Fires also produce tiny particles of carbon that can float in the air for days
after the fire. It is not advisable to be exposed to air of this poor quality,
especially immediately after the fire.
Sufferers of asthma, allergies, or other breathing problems should
keep away from the property until the air quality has improved.
Opening the doors and windows can help to improve the quality of the air,
until it is professionally treated and purified by specialists from a fire and
flood restoration company like Allsure Flood and Fire Restoration.
A competent fire and flood restoration company will determine what type
of fire caused the damage, for we know that a slow burning, smouldering
fire causes more odour and black residue than a quick, fast burning fire.
Because of the higher temperatures, a fast burning fire will leave more of
a white residue and less odour.
Allsure Flood and Fire Restoration will purify the air with the use of
specialized equipment. Air scrubbers are used to purify and decontaminate
the air and OzoneTreatment will remove lingering odours and sterilize the air.
(c) Skin contact
Fire residues may contain harmful chemicals that may burn the skin or can be absorbed through it.By wearing gloves and protective clothing when handling any items that were in the fire, you can reduce this risk.
2. Will your property be left unattended?
If your property will be left unattended after a fire, do:
- Close all doors and windows if it’s safe to do so. Otherwise your property is an open invitation to criminals.
- Remove all valuables like jewellery, car keys, important documents, etc. if you can.
- Contact your local police station and inform them of your situation and that the property will be left unattended. Note the time and the person’s details to whom you made the report.
3.Your insurance company:
- Contact your insurance broker/company as soon as possible and inform them of the fire and of your situation. If your building and the household contents are insured at different companies, remember to contact them both.
- Never throw any damaged item away unless the insurance company gave you permission to do so.
- Take photographs of everything you do throw away.
- Make sure whether you are covered for alternative accommodation and inform them the property is going to be left unattended, if applicable.
4. Secondary damage:
This is the damage that continues to occur after a fire incident and can significantly increase the cost and the unnecessary loss of personal items. Secondary damage can destroy an item that could have been restored to its original condition, if prompt action were taken to prevent it.
Acid fire residues causes damage through rust and staining for days afterwards.
Allsure Flood and Fire Restoration can ensure that secondary damage is
kept to the minimum through prompt and timely action.
5. What can I do until help arrives?
- If it is safe to enter the building, open all windows and doors to aid the
ventilation, but remember to close them again if you are going to leave the
- Keep the freezer closed if electricity is going to be restored within 24h.
If it is going to take longer to restore, remove all the food items and prop
the door open with a towel.
- Don’t use any items of food or canned goods that has been exposed to the heat or smoke. It can cause severe food poisoning.
- Remove pets like fish or birds to a safe, clean environment. Fish tanks should be thoroughly cleaned and filled with clean water. This will limit the loss of life.
- Wash plants with water on both sides of the leaves. (It helps to add a little water softener to the water.)
- Do not use any TV’s, computers or other electrical/electronic equipment, unless cleaned and checked by a qualified technician. Television sets can retain an electrical charge even when unplugged!
- Do not try to clean any damaged garments, carpets or upholstery yourself.
Improper cleaning methods may make it impossible to remove the soot odour.
Allsure will do this for you with their specialized cleaning techniques.
Smoke alarms are cheap, easy to install and can save your life!
(6) EMERGENCY TIPS:
It is important that all the members of your family should know what to do in case of a fire.
(a) Escape Plan:
- Always plan an escape route and practice it with your whole family.
- Ensure the kids understand it completely and know precisely what to do.
- Prepare an emergency room in case your escape route is blocked.
- You should be able to unlock the burglar bars in front of the windows to get out, if needed.
- There should be a suitcase in the room, with a supply of spare clothing, warm jackets, a medical kit, toiletries, etc. for everybody. You can just grab it on your way out. Also keep copies of all your important documents in the suitcase.
(b) If your or someone else’s clothing is on fire:
DON’T PANIC! Remember: STOP! DROP! ROLL
If you can’t, smother the flames with something heavy like a blanket.
Immerse the affected area in clean cold water
GET IMMEDIATE MEDICAL HELP!
a. If the smoke alarm sounds:
- Grab your cellular phone and a blanket if it’s nearby.
- Get everyone together and check that everyone is present.
- Implement the Escape Plan and get out! Don’t investigate the fire!
- Don’t go back for pets!
- Check closed doors with the back of your hand. If they’re warm, don’t open! There’s a fire on the other side!
- Crawl if there is a lot of smoke, as the air will be cleaner near the floor.
- If it is safe to do so, close doors as far as you go on your way out, to limit the spread of the fire.
- Get out and stay out! Never re- enter a burning building!
- Phone the emergency services.
b. If your way out is blocked:
- Get everyone into a street facing room/ your planned emergency room.
- Use towels/bedding to block the gaps around the door to stop smoke and fumes from entering the room.
- Open windows and get out. If there’s burglar bars in front of the windows that open, use a chair/something heavy to smash the middle window without the burglar bars.
- Use blankets to cover the windowsill to prevent injuries from broken glass. Use cushions/mattress to cushion your fall, if the window is high. Hang from your arms from the edge of the sill and then drop down.
- Shout / phone for help if it is impossible to get out of the window.
(7) Fire Prevention:
Don’t ever underestimate the dangers of a fire. If you take the time to
implement a number of fire safety measures, you can prevent a fire
most of the time.
- Prevention is better than cure:
- Switch off any electrical appliances not in use when you go to bed or leave your property.
- Close internal doors at night. If there is a fire, it will limit the spread.
- Put out all candles and cigarettes properly. Place candles, tea lights, oil burners etc. on heat resistant surfaces and never leave them unattended. Never put candles near curtains. Remember the wind can blow curtains towards a nearby candle! Don’t smoke in bed! Cigarettes burn at 700° C!
- Install smoke alarms and check them regularly. They’re inexpensive and can save your life.
- If using an electrical extension cord, check it regularly for any breaks. Don’t place it underneath a carpet where people can walk over it.
- Don’t overload electrical outlets by using numerous plugs and extensions on one outlet.
(b) Kitchen Fires:
- If cooking oil starts to smoke, turn off the stove/remove from heat.
- Never fill a pan/pot more than ? with cooking oil.
- Keep towels, oven gloves, clothing etc. away from hot stove plates.
- If a pot/pan catches fire - Don’t try to move it! Cover it with a lid if it’s safe to do so.
Remember: 4 out of 10 fires start in the kitchen!
1.What type of water that caused the flood?
Did the water come from a clean source like a geyser, burst water pipe, washing machine? If so, it is considered as clean water. If the water came from an outside source like a blocked sewage system, blocked drains, or storm water, it should be considered as contaminated water.
- Clean water:
Dealing with a flood caused by clean water, is not so hazardous and it is
normally easy to rectify. A burst geyser pipe for example, can be replaced quickly
(b) Contaminated water:
If your property has been flooded with contaminated water, the water
contains harmful bacteria and great care should be taken with food and
personal hygiene. Hands should be thoroughly washed before handling
Any cuts should be covered with a Band-Aid.
In both cases, thorough drying, decontamination, cleaning and sanitation of your property are essential and Allsure Flood and Fire Restoration can do this for you.
2. Water and electricity:
Electricity travels through water. Avoid electrocution! If your property is flooded, turn off the electricity and don’t use appliances. Some items like TV sets, retain an electrical charge for hours, even when unplugged!
After a flood, moisture levels are very high and mold can start to grow.
Wood continues to swell and warp the longer it is left in the moisture/wetness. Secondary damage can destroy an item that could have been restored to its original condition, if prompt action was taken to prevent it.
Allsure Flood and Fire Restoration can help prevent secondary damage to your household contents and structure, through our immediate emergency response.
- We shall get rid of the water with our water extraction equipment and dry the building to its normal equilibrium by using dehumidifiers and blowers.
- We also shall get rid of any mold and odors through Ozone Oxidation Treatment.
- Wooden items will be cleaned and treated to prevent further damage.
- Your property as well as affected household contents will be thoroughly cleaned, decontaminated and sanitized to make it safe.
4. What to do until help arrives?
- Remove wooden furniture as soon as possible from the wet areas.
If it is too difficult to move, put something between the wooden surface
and the water. Example: Place upturned saucers underneath table/sofa legs.
- Remove as much water as possible by mopping, sweeping or wet vacuuming.
(Do not use vacuum machine if it does not have a cut-out switch.)
- Open all windows and doors to aid the drying process.
- If your cupboards got wet, open the drawers and doors, but don’t force them.
- Remove oil paintings, books and documents from damp/wet areas.
- Items like magazines, dark colored clothing etc. can stain carpets/upholstery when wet. Remove any that’s lying around.
- Don’t use any electrical equipment/appliances if there was a possibility that it got wet.
- Don’t turn on any light switches or ceiling fixtures like fans, until it has been tested by an electrician.
- Avoid contact where possible with contaminated water that may contain harmful bacteria.
5. Who can clean - up afterwards?
A competent flood and fire restoration company like Allsure Flood and Fire Restoration, can be of invaluable help after a disaster incident. By offering immediate response we can substantially reduce an owner’s loss and prevent secondary damage.
We work closely with insurance companies and liaise with them at an early stage to gain approval for the necessary work.
If your property and the household contents are insured, the insurance company will pay for our work.
Within 24 hours after being notified of the disaster, the competent team of Allsure Flood and Fire Restoration will:
1.Send qualified persons to the disaster site to meet with you, the client, establish your needs, survey the disaster site, determine the scope of the damage and take immediate steps to prevent any further/secondary damage that may occur.
2.Do an assessment of:
(i)Which items need urgent attention to prevent any secondary damage.
(ii) Which items can definitely be restored and
(iii) Which items are not restorable and must be replaced
3. Make a thorough and detailed inventory of all the affected household contents, with photographs and video material of all the damaged items,
as well of all the items that must be uplifted for cleaning and restoration purposes.
4. Assess the cost of restoration/damage and supply the insurance company with the relevant cost and time projections, a complete inventory collation, as well as a detailed list of all the irreparable items that must be replaced, subject to the insurance company’s final approval.
5.Plan and prioritize the necessary procedures for restoration to limit your inconvenience and to restore normality to your household, as soon as possible.
6.We shall ensure that all the affected household contents that needs to be restored, is properly wrapped, packed and uplifted.
7.Implement the necessary restoration procedures for example: water extraction, dehumidification, mould prevention, ozone oxidation treatments, removal of odours, cleaning & deodorization of household contents, carpet and upholstery cleaning, etc.
8.We’ll also remove the rubble and irreparable household contents to a dumping site where necessary.
9.On request, provide a qualified builder to survey the site and assess the damage.
10.Submit, as soon as possible, a detailed cost estimate and time projection
concerning the restoration of the structure, to the insurance company.
11.Store the restored and refurbished household contents when necessary, until the structure is fully restored.
12. Deliver your household contents after everything has been cleaned and treated.
13.Go through the complete inventory list with you to ensure everything is restored/replaced to your complete satisfaction.
Remember, our team of professional and enthusiastic people, are committed to helping you. Leave all the hard work and hassle to us.
When disaster strikes…. We clean up afterwards!