A fire in the home is a traumatic and terrifying event for most people. Even afterwards, when the fire service has left, you'll have lots of questions about what to do next. Here is some information that may be useful for anyone who has experienced a fire.
Injuries caused by fire are treated by healthcare personnel on site or in hospital. Some injuries, like shock, can develop after the fire. If you are worried about your own medical condition of that of someone else after a fire, contact your GP or Emergency Medical Centre.
It may be unsafe to stay in a house or property that has been in a fire. If the police or fire service have told you that this is the case, make sure that you pass this information on to anyone else who should know. The police may also instruct homeowners to implement measures to protect third parties from injury or damage. After a fire, the police will always try to identify the cause. Sometimes this means that they need to seal off the property. Never go into an area that has been sealed off by the police.
After a fire, you should contact your insurance company as soon as possible. It’s a good idea to take photos of the damage, if it is safe to do so. Write a list of any property that has been destroyed, and keep hold of receipts if these were not destroyed in the fire. You should be aware that the home or building and its contents are often covered by two different policies – sometimes even with different companies. If this is the case, remember to notify them both. Your insurance company will guide you through the process.
Unless the police have sealed off the site of the fire, it is your responsibility to secure the building and its contents. This is particularly important if you intend to claim compensation from an insurance company for any damage. If you cannot return to your home to live in it, close and lock the doors and windows if this is possible. If there are any doors and windows that you cannot otherwise secure, you can close these off by nailing on boards or planks. If it is safe to do so, take away any valuables and other contents that have not been damaged.
Electricity and water may have been disconnected because of the fire. Before you start using the electrical system again, you should have it checked by an electrician. Before you turn the water back on, you should have the system looked over by a plumber to make sure that it has not been damaged by the fire.
The fire service can help by pumping out water that has collected in the building during the firefighting operation. Drying and cleaning is your responsibility. There are also companies that provide services and equipment that make this job easier, particularly if there is a lot of water damage.
Flames, smoke and water can cause enormous damage, but with the right equipment, you can save many things. For example, there are companies that specialise in repairing documents and valuables after they have been damaged by fire or water. Other companies provide cleaning services with special equipment that can remove smoke and soot.
As a general rule, you should throw out any food or medicines that may have been contaminated by the fire. You should generally also scrap electrical appliances if they have been in contact with fire or water.
If your home has been so badly damaged by fire that you cannot live there, ask friends or relatives if they can offer you a place to sleep. If this is not possible, and you are in an emergency situation with nowhere to live, NAV is obliged to help you find temporary lodgings within the local area. You can read more about temporary lodgings in emergency situations at NAV.no.