Letter From The Chief of Halesite FD – Home Emergency Preparedness
It’s that moment that no home owner or renter wants to think about; you’ve just had a Whether the emergency was a fire of any size, a puff back, or a flood, watching the Fire Department pack up their tools and leave is the worst feeling in the world because now it’s up to you to figure out what to do next. Assuming no one was injured, your priorities are shelter (“Do I have a safe place to live?”), replacement of what was lost, and restoring your home to its original state. The order in which you do things will be governed by whether or not you can still occupy your home, but either way, there are some things you’ll need to do immediately.
If there is significant damage to your home and you’re unable to remain there until it is repaired, there are people you’ll need to call:
• Family- let them know you’re okay and where they can find you.
• Police- tell them about your fire and ask them to keep an eye on the property until you get back in.
• Your insurance agent- contact him as soon as possible to make your insurance company aware of your claim. Your insurance company will play a huge roll in securing the property after a fire. You home may need to be boarded up or the roof may need to be covered to prevent water damage. Also, ask about what temporary living expenses will be covered. It’s a good idea to try to develop a favorable relationship with at least one person (by name) at the insurance company. You’ll be talking to them a lot.
• Utilities- if you’ll be out of the house for a while, let PSE&G, National Grid, Cablevision, etc., know so you’re not paying for services you don’t need.
• Post Office- have your mail diverted to wherever you’ll be temporarily staying.
• Newspapers- again, have the delivery temporarily stopped or diverted so the papers aren’t piling up in the driveway.
• Mortgage company- you probably have an obligation to let them know if the house has been damaged to the extent you must vacate.
• Town Hall- if the damage is so extensive that it will keep you out of the house for a prolonged period, you may get some relief from real estate taxes.
• In case of a puff back or flood, you’ll need to contact the appropriate clean-up company. Your insurance agent will be able to identify the proper resources for the job. Depending on the scale of the damage however, you still may need to find an alternate place to stay for a while.
The best way to deal with the aftermath of a house fire or flood is to do a few simple things before there is an emergency.
• Take digital photos of the outside and inside of your home. Photograph every room, its furnishings and contents. Take shots of the exterior and landscaping. This will come in handy when you’re trying to document what you’ve lost to the insurance company.
• Make photocopies of your credit cards, driver’s license, and passports.
• Make a photocopy of the first page of your homeowner’s or renters insurance policy and bank account statements.
• Make a list of critical phone numbers: your insurance agent, for example. Don’t rely on all the numbers being stored on your cell phone; you may have lost it with the rest of the contents of your home.
• Email yourself all this pertinent information. Never delete the email so that you’ll always be able to retrieve it from another computer.
If you’d like more information on what to do after an emergency like this and some hints on how to deal with your insurance company, stop by the fire house and ask for a brochure. A local couple was thoughtful enough to prepare a comprehensive brochure on the subject after they experienced a serious house fire themselves.
Chief of Department