Imagine this – you receive a call from your neighbor telling you your house is on fire. You rush home to find your house engulfed in flames. You watch the fire department try to save your home. You think of the valuable jewelry you inherited and photo albums that cannot be replaced.
A house fire is a devastating loss, especially when it completely destroys the home and nearly everything in it. To add to the devastation, what wasn't lost in the fire may be looted by criminals or damaged by weather, especially when the roofing and/or entire walls are burned down. If you suffer a catastrophic house fire, you'll need to protect yourself and your property before demolition can begin. Here are a few ideas.
Speak with the authorities
Police: Your local police department will likely be aware of your house fire. However, it's a good idea to speak with a police officer as soon as possible to let the department know that your property will be left unoccupied and unsecured. Depending on their availability, they may patrol your neighborhood. Be sure to give your contact information, including the most reliable phone number and where you will be staying. That way, the police can notify you if they notice looters or criminal activity.
Fire marshal: Do not enter what's left of your home until after a fire marshal has inspected the property and determined it is safe. The fire report will tell you if the structure is safe enough for you to search for salvageable belongings. You can get the fire report from your fire department.
Install construction fencing
A house destroyed by a fire is an open invitation to criminal activity. Thieves know to look for valuables that cannot be easily destroyed in house fires, such as metal and jewelry. A typical house may have several hundred pounds of copper, which can be sold to scrap metal recyclers.
You may wonder what difference it makes since your home is already destroyed. It's important because you may have to deal with personal injury claims if someone gets injured on your property, even uninvited criminals.
To keep looters and criminals out, surround your property with construction fencing. This type of fencing is temporary, yet strong enough to keep people out of the property. Choose the chain link type of temporary fencing, not the bright orange mesh type. You can find more information about different options at http://rent-a-fence.com/.
Include a gated entrance in the fencing. You'll want it to be large enough for heavy equipment and large trucks. That way, your demolition crew can have dumpster rentals dropped off and their equipment brought in without having to move the fencing.
Use large tarps
Without roofing or walls, your personal belongings will not have protection from the elements. Since clean-up after a fire takes a lot of time, it's a good idea to purchase several large tarps to lay over the remnants of the fire. Use pavers or cement blocks to hold down the corners and edges of the tarps.
Clear an area on the ground or driveway to lay out one of the tarps. Use this tarp to place items you recover from your home. Since you will have a fence surrounding your property, you won't have to worry about leaving these items unattended. Simply use another tarp to cover those items to keep them dry until you can transport them to another location.
Depending on the size of your property and the distance between the structure of your house and the construction fencing, you may be able to attach a tarp to the top of the fencing to create a temporary shelter. That way, when you are searching for salvageable items, you can take respite under the shelter to get out of the sun or rain.