A house fire can cause serious damage, depending on the extent of the fire. In some cases, your home can be completely destroyed. In others, only parts of the house are damaged and might be able to be repaired.
The extent of damage goes beyond the flames of the fire. Your home could experience smoke damage, water damage, and heat damage. So, even when the fire does not destroy belongings, they could still be damaged and unsalvageable.
Moving Forward After a House Fire
It can seem difficult to move forward after your house is damaged or destroyed by a fire. However, there are several essential things you need to do to protect yourself, your family, your finances, and your property. We recommend you keep an electronic copy of our post-fire tips and tricks to help you remain organized and on track.
What to Do Immediately Following the House Fire
While it can be tempting to want to get back into your home as quickly as possible to survey the damages, there are other things you need to do immediately following the house fire, as follows:
- Find a safe location for you and your family to stay. Your home will not be habitable for quite some time, so you will need to find temporary housing at a hotel or with family or friends. In areas where wildfires destroy communities, there are often disaster relief shelters set up for you to utilize until you can find other accommodations.
- Notify your insurance company. You need to initiate an insurance claim for the fire damage. Most homeowner’s policies have coverage for temporary housing expenses, so you can start to draw against this benefit almost immediately.
- Secure your home. Your insurance company will require you to secure your home regardless of the fire damage. You need to protect it from further damage and unauthorized access. As such, you may need to put up a temporary fence to protect your property.
- Seek medical treatment. If you were in the home when the fire occurred and breathed in the smoke, it is a good idea to get a thorough examination from your doctor. If you have pets, take them to your veterinarian for a checkup to ensure they are okay.
What to Do the First Few Days After the House Fire
- Get clearance from the fire department to reenter the house. You will need to get clearance from the fire department if your home is safe to reenter after the fire. When you are given clearance, your goal is to start recovering belongings, valuables, and vital records that survived the fire.
- Determine if the home can be saved. If your home was not burnt to the ground, it might be possible to save it. However, you will need to have an assessment performed to determine the extent of structural damage. Your insurance company will often arrange to send an adjuster to your home to evaluate if the home can be cleaned up and saved or if it has to be demolished and rebuilt.
- Organize anything you were able to save. As you recover your belongings, you will want to organize them to determine what was lost and what can be salvaged.
- Take care of your finances. You will want to contact your bank, credit card companies, mortgage holder, and other financial institutions to lock accounts, request replacement credit and debit cards, and explore repayment options for your mortgage if necessary.
- Carefully bag partially burnt cash. If you have cash that was burnt, as long as half or more of it remains, you can get it replaced. Carefully place each bill in a plastic bag to preserve it until you can exchange it at a regional Federal Reserve Branch.
What to Do Next?
Now that your insurance claim has been filed and you have taken care of the essential things, it can be some time before you can start rebuilding or repairing your fire-damaged home. While you wait, your next step is to make a list of vital records and documents lost in the fire, including:
- Driver’s Licenses
- Birth Certificates
- Insurance Policies
- Military Service Records
- Marriage Certificate
- Social Security Cards
- Stocks and Bonds
- Income Tax Records
- S. Citizenship Documents
If you are a business owner and keep certain business documents at home, you may need to replace any of the following:
- Business Registration
- Business License
- Seller’s Permit
- Federal Tax ID Certificate
- Sales Tax Permit
- Business Tax Returns
- Payroll Records
- Employee Records
Why Is It Important to Replace Vital Records ASAP?
It is essential to start the process to replace vital records lost in the fire right away. If you wait until later, you will have to pay all the fees and costs associated with replacing the vital records and documents out of your own pocket.
By replacing them as soon as possible after the fire, you can include any fees and costs as part of your fire damage insurance claim and get reimbursed for those costs.
Another reason to replace vital records quickly is to help reduce fraud and potential identity theft risks. If someone is aware of the fire, they might attempt to get some of your vital records fraudulently, which they can use to try to open credit cards, take out loans, etc.
Additionally, replacing your vital records and documents lost in the fire is therapeutic for many people. Having your home damaged or destroyed by a fire has an emotional impact. When you can check off replacing the records and documents for the numerous tasks you need to get done, it often helps with the recovery process and makes you feel better that your life is getting back on track.
FastFilings Can Help Replace a Birth Certificate Lost in a Fire
Life will seem chaotic and hectic immediately following a house fire. At FastFilings, we can take some of that added stress off your shoulders with our simple and easy processes to replace lost birth certificates.
Step 1: Fill out our secure online form.
Provide the information required on our easy online application form. We use this information to complete your application correctly and accurately the first time.
Step 2: Sign your documents.
After you sign your documents, we will submit the request to your state of birth to get your new birth certificates.
Step 3: Wait for your replacement birth certificate to arrive.
We will send you confirmation once your birth certificates have been processed and are on their way in the mail to you.
You can also request expedited service for even faster lost birth certificate replacement. Please keep in mind, some states may require you to mail in your application. If this applies to your particular situation, we will send you the correctly completed application, a list of instructions of what to do next, and a prepaid, addressed envelope to drop in the mail.
For further information or to submit your application to replace a birth certificate lost in a fire, apply securely online. You may also use our online contact form to reach out to us if you have further questions or require assistance. FastFilings can also assist business owners who need replacement copies of their seller’s permits and sales tax permits.