Home Emergency Tips

Your home is your castle, and it is natural for you to want to get your prize possessions back in order after fire, smoke or water damage. Timely action is called for, but if incorrectly done, can aggravate the problem.

The tips listed below will assist you in taking the proper action until professional assistance arrives and will increase the chances for a successful restoration.

Fire & Smoke Damage

  • Limit the movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being impregnated into upholstery and carpets. Keep hands clean. Soot on hands can impregnate upholstery, walls and woodwork, causing more damage.
  • Blow off or brush-vacuum loose soot particles from upholstery, drapes and carpets.
  • Place clean towels or old linens on rug and carpet traffic areas to prevent more soiling.
  • If electricity is off, empty freezer and refrigerator completely and prop doors open.
  • Clean and protect chrome on kitchen and bathroom faucets, trim and appliances with a light coating of Vaseline or oil.
  • Pour anti-freeze in sinks, toilet bowls and tubs if heat is off during the freezing season.
  • Wash off house plants on both sides of leaves. (Water softener helps.)
  • Change furnace filter.
  • Cover upholstery with sheets before use.
  • Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers.
  • Do not attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces without first contacting a professional restoration service.
  • Do not attempt to shampoo carpet or upholstered furniture without first consulting a professional restoration service.
  • Do not attempt to clean any electrical appliances, TV sets, radios, etc. that may have been close to fire, heat or water without consulting an authorized repair service.
  • Do not use any canned or packaged food or beverages that may have been stored close to fire, heat or water. (They may be contaminated.)
  • Do not turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet. Wiring may be wet or damaged.
  • Do not send garments to an ordinary dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set the smoke odor.

Water Damage

  • Remove as much excess water as possible by mopping and blotting.
  • Wipe as much excess water as possible from wood furniture after removal of lamps and tabletop items.
  • Remove and prop up wet upholstery cushions for even drying (check for possible bleeding).
  • Place aluminum foil, china saucers or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting.
  • Turn air conditioning on for maximum drying in summer; open windows to speed drying in winter.
  • Remove Oriental rugs or other colored rugs from wet wall-to-wall carpeting.
  • Open drawers and cabinet doors for complete drying. (Do not force, however.)
  • Remove valuable paintings and art objects to a safe place.
  • Open suitcases and luggage to dry, in sunlight, if possible.
  • Punch small holes in sagging ceilings to relieve trapped water. (Don’t forget to place pans underneath.)
  • Do not leave wet fabrics in place; dry as soon as possible, hang furs and leather goods to dry separately at room temperature.
  • Do not leave books, magazines or other colored items on wet carpets or floors.
  • Do not use your household vacuum to remove water.
  • Do not use TVs or other appliances while standing on wet carpets or floors, especially on wet concrete floors.
  • Do not turn on a ceiling fixture if the ceiling is wet, and keep out of rooms where ceilings are sagging from retained water.

Vandalism Damage

  • Hose down or wash egg damage from the building exterior as soon as possible.
  • Wipe up freshly spilled food from carpets and fabrics with a dampened cloth or sponge (but don’t over wet). Do scrape and blot (don’t rub; it may cause fuzzing or damage fibers.)
  • Vacuum glass particles from carpets and upholstery.
  • Save containers which will reveal the composition of spilled inks, cosmetics, and paints.
  • Throw out wood chips, broken pieces from furniture, porcelain or other art objects.
  • Do not attempt to remove ink, paint or cosmetic stains.
  • Do not operate damaged lamps or appliances.

Make Your Home Safer

Your insurance company may offer discounts for taking precautions, such as:

  • Make a map of alternative fire exits from every room.
  • Install smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers on each floor. Test them often!
  • Have fire drills with all family members, including pets.
  • Install deadbolt locks on all outside doors.
  • Put metal or wooden rods in the lower track of sliding doors.
  • Keep your garage door down and locked, even when you’re home.
  • Keep hedges and bushes near doors trimmed so thieves have nowhere to hide.