After A Home Fire

A fire will change your life in many ways. Knowing where to begin and who can help you is important. Your home and many of the things in your home may be badly damaged by flames, heat, smoke, and water. Understand the risk to your safety and health by going back into your home even after the fire is out. The soot and dirty water left behind may contain things that could make you sick. Be very careful if you go into your home! The following checklist will provide direction in the steps following a fire.


Checklist Of Steps After A Fire

  • Contact your local disaster relief service, such as the American Red Cross. They will help you find food, clothing, medicine, and a place to stay. 
  • If you have insurance, contact your insurance company.
    1. Ask what you should do to keep your home safe until it is repaired. 
    2. Ask who you should talk to about cleaning up your home. 
  • If you are not insured, try contacting community groups for aid and assistance. 
  • Check with the fire department to make sure that your home is safe to enter. Be very careful when you go inside. Floors and walls may not be as safe as they look. 
  • Contact your landlord or mortgage company to report the fire. 
  • Try to find valuable documents and records. 
  • If you leave your home, call the local police department to let them know the site will be vacant. 
  • Begin saving receipts for any money that you spend related to the fire loss. The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and to prove any losses claimed on your income tax. 
  • Check with an accountant or the IRS about special benefits for people recovering from fire loss.


Valuable Documents & Records To Replace

Driver’s license.

Social security or Medicare cards.

Auto registration.

Credit cards.

Titles and deeds.

Stocks and bonds.

Insurance policies.


Military discharge papers.

Medical records.



Birth, death, and marriage certificates.

Income tax records.

Divorce papers.

Citizenship papers.


For more information go to the U.S. Fire Administration publication.