Monday, July 16, 2012

Advice from a fire survivor

A friend of mine recently posted some advice that she learned the hard way, after her house nearly burned down a year ago.  It was so sensible that I wanted to repost it. She gave me permission, expressing the hope that it would help someone.

Dear Friends and Family,

Today marks the 1-year anniversary of our fire. I cannot even tell you how happy I am that this year is over. I remember right after our fire someone asked me if I had any advice for them on how to prepare. I didn't at the time, but I do now and I thought you might all appreciate knowing what I have learned.

1) If possible, store your 72-hour kits somewhere other than your house. If you have a shed, detached garage, or other similar building then put them there. I always thought that we would grab them on our way out if there was an emergency, but I never thought that the emergency would happen when we weren't home. Our 72-hour kits were wrecked right along with our house. Had they been in the shed and the shed had the fire, we still would have been OK since we would still have had the house. 

2) Make sure you have full replacement coverage on your belongings and home (belongings only if your are a renter). There are two kinds of coverage: full replacement and depreciated value. Full replacement means you go buy a new one, submit the receipt, and they reimburse you however much the item cost. Depreciated value means they look at how much that item cost and how old it is and then give you less money based on how old it is. Our big TV cost us around $1500 9 months before the fire and they would have given us $200 for it. Unless you have the cash on hand to replace your whole house, it is worth the extra bit for the extra insurance.

3) Make sure you have enough insurance. We lost 90% of the possessions on our top floor and maybe a few hundred dollars worth in the basement and we maxed out our policy. Had our house burned to the ground and we had lost the basement items, too, we would have been in trouble. Remember, even if you get a great deal on something, you will likely be replacing it with something new and not on sale, so either plan to have your disaster right before Black Friday or plan to have enough coverage.

4) Keep your data backed up somewhere other than your house. Our hard drive melted, but so did the back-up. I recommend using on-line back up services, or putting a portable drive in your shed, relative's house, etc.

5) If the unthinkable does happen, I strongly recommend purchasing one of those receipt scanners that they sell on TV ASAP. I think they are pretty cheap and I wish we would have bought one. We lost a few receipts along the way waiting to scan them in with the big scanner. It would have been so much easier to just scan them along the way. We could have even been scanning receipts when we were living in the hotel, before we replaced our scanner.

6) Keep your vital documents in a fire-proof safe and then retrieve them immediately after the fire is over.

7) Keep as many of your belongings in plastic containers with snap-on lids as you can. The restoration lady said that not only are they smoke proof, but they are also water proof if you have a water disaster. Our actual fire was contained to the kitchen, but we still lost almost everything we owned to smoke. My sweaters, however, were all just fine because they were in a plastic container with a snap-on lid.

 Last but not least, when you leave your house, make darn sure your stove is turned off 

Love you all,


This was her facebook status today: 

1=years to the day since our fire
3=weeks living in a hotel trying to manage 18 food allergies and 5 energetic children
5=months in a rental house worrying that it would sell and leave us homeless again
50+=hours spent doing fire related paperwork
250,000=total dollar amount of damage to our home and posessions
Millions=Blessings and tender mercies we received along the way, both through friends and strangers and directly from the Lord.

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