The U.S. Fire Administration reports that there were a total of 1,318,500 house fires in 2018, the most recent year for which statistics are available.
The agency goes on to note that those fires produced over $25.6 billion in damage and resulted in 15,200 injuries and 3,655 deaths.
But house fires are much more than a series of numbers no matter how eye-opening those numbers are.
Every instance that a house fire occurred means that a family potentially lost its home – and every death or injury that results from a house fire means that a family could have been negatively impacted.
The truth is few things are more serious or consequential to a family’s life than a house fire.
Your home is your sanctuary and when that sanctuary is damaged by fire it can be highly stressful and life changing.
Major Causes of House Fires
So what are the major causes of a house fire?
According to USFA, more than 50% of all house fires are caused by cooking mistakes.
The remaining causes are heating, carelessness and electrical malfunction.
Tips to Avoid a House Fire
If you are concerned about being the victim of a house fire, here are some tips you can use to lower your chances of experiencing one:
- Test your smoke alarms regularly to ensure the batteries are charged and ready for use.
- Conduct regular home inspections where you carefully inspect all heating sources and all electrical cords.
- Never leave your kitchen when cooking – remember, the vast majority of house fires are a direct result of cooking.
- Keep your stove and stove top clean. Allowing debris around the stove that can catch fire is tempting fate.
- Keep fire extinguishers in you home; in particular, be sure to have one in the kitchen.
- Properly store all flammable products.
- Be very careful when burning candles and never leave one burning in a room that nobody is in. Britney Spears recently reported that her home gym burned down. The reason? Burning candles.
- Always inspect your dryer and empty the lint trap after each load of clothes is dried.
But What Happens if You Have a House Fire? What Should You do Then?
First, make sure that everybody gets out of the home safely. Once all family members and pets are outside call the fire department.
Resist the urge to run in to a burning house to try and save possessions. They are just possessions and can be replaced. Don’t put your life or the life of a loved one in jeopardy over physical items. Staying safe is most important.
After the fire department has extinguished the blaze there is no time to collect your thoughts – you must take action.
Contact Your Insurance Agent
Immediately after a fire you will need to contact your insurance company to report it. Most companies now offer a toll-free number that you can call 24/7 to report a fire.
It is important to report a fire as soon as possible because insurance companies want and expect to be notified immediately. In fact, your insurance policy most likely has a section that states just that – that the insurance company must be notified of a fire in a timely manner.
Contacting the insurance company quickly benefits you as well. It will put the process of recovering from the fire in motion right away. You don’t want to have to be waiting and worrying. It’s better to get the wheels in motion.
After contacting your insurance agent, if you are able to access your insurance policy, get it and read it carefully. You’ll want to take note of what is covered and what is excluded under the terms of the policy.
If you are not able to access your insurance policy, your insurance agent should be able to provide you with a copy.
Have Your House Inspected
After contacting your insurance company, the next step is to have the house inspected by a professional inspector with experience assessing house fires.
This professional will be able to detect all fire damage – even that which is not readily visible and provide you with an accurate quote on the damage that was sustained and what it is going to cost to repair it.
Unfortunately, even minor house fires can result in costly damage due to smoke and soot damage and other negative effects from a fire.
Smoke and soot contain harmful chemicals and thus must be completely removed from a home where people are going to continue living. That means there could be more damage than what you see with your eyes – for example, behind the walls and in the air ducts.
So it’s best not to have any preconceived notions about how much it might cost to repair a house after a fire. Wait for the inspector’s report and then when you have all the information you can make a decision about whether to repair after a house fire or not.
Contact the Contractor
After getting the damage estimate from the inspector it is time to decide whether to repair the home or not. Most homeowners decide to repair their fire damaged house and that means the next step for them is hiring a contractor.
There is no hard and fast rule for finding a good contractor. You can get recommendations from friends and the real estate agent may also be able to give you some suggestions – just don’t feel beholden to use their recommendation. This is your house, your repairs, so you should make the decision.
An Alternative to Making Repairs
If you are leery of going through an extended repair process that might involve delays and work that needs to be redone, you can always sell your house to We Buy Fire Damaged Houses.
We specialize in buying houses damaged in fires and pay a good price quickly. With your sales price and your insurance settlement you could end up buying an even nicer house in a nicer area.
To learn much more about We Buy Fire Damaged Houses and to receive an offer on your fire-damaged home, simply fill out the short form below.