Call your insurance company. One of the first things you want to do is to call your insurance company to make sure you are covered for the damage. This will go a long way to helping you fully recover from such a serious event.
Take photos. Before you begin any cleanup or start repairs, take photos to document the damage. This can provide you with some additional evidence to present to your insurance company as proof to the severity of your loss.
Think safety first. If you get permission to enter the building once it is determined to be structurally safe, you’ll still need to use caution. There may be nails, sagging ceilings or obstacles that can cause you to trip. Wear sturdy shoes and a hard hat. Use dust masks to protect your lungs against pollutants that may still be in the air.
Remove your belongings. Place things that need drying outside but out of direct sunlight. Some items, such as linens and clothing may need special dry cleaning if they have smoke odors.
Some items may need professional restoration. Water damaged documents, books and valuable collections can be salvaged through professional restoration services.
Rent a dumpster. The hard facts are that you’re most likely going to have to throw a lot of things away. A dumpster is going to make your job a lot easier. You can call to have it hauled away when it’s full and get another one if you need it.
Don’t try to salvage everything. Soggy upholstered furniture may never dry correctly and appliances exposed to water or smoke could actually be dangerous to use. It’s important to simply let some things go and realize it’s a necessary part of starting over.
Mist down debris before removing. If you’re handling some of the cleanup yourself, mist down ash and dusty debris to keep it from floating around in the air. Wear a dust mask during all phases of cleanup to prevent breathing in contaminants.
Remove water damaged dry wall, ceiling panels and insulation. These are things you cannot salvage. Wet wallboard will crumble even after it has dried and it, along with wet ceiling panels and insulation, can provide the perfect environment for mold to grow.
Water damage requires fast action. If you’re dealing with extensive water damage and it’s going to take more than a couple of days to tackle the job alone, you need to get help. Mold can set in in as little as 48 hours and can be difficult to control once it gets started. Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. It could save your home.