Following a fire, a fire damage restoration team will usually help take appropriate steps to repair, renovate and restore the physical structure and interior of your home. But there's still the question of what will happen to your belongings. Even a minor fire can cause serious damage to your possessions, and you need to be very careful when taking care of them.
Try to Reclaim Any Damaged Documents
Do you have important documents within your home? If they haven't been damaged by fire, they've likely been damaged by water. And it's possible they've been damaged by both. At this point, you will want to try to dry them out as soon as possible. There are a few methods that you can use. If the documents are otherwise fine, you can always air dry them. But if the documents have running ink or other problems, you might actually want to turn them over to the fire damage restoration team for either freeze drying or dehumidifying.
Collect Clothing, Drapery and Other Materials
After you've collected any items of particular importance, such as documents, your first priority should be collecting clothing, drapery and other materials. These materials will wick up the smoke smell, and it can be very difficult to get the scent of smoke out of fabric. Bag everything up and remove it from your home. You may want to send it to a commercial cleaning service -- or hang it outside in the open air.
Avoid Touching Any Electronic Devices
Electronic devices can be very dangerous after a fire. After being exposed to heat, the devices could be leaking dangerous chemicals. And after being exposed to water, they could be an electrical risk. It doesn't matter what type of electronic device it is -- from computer monitors to DVRs, you should avoid touching them. Leave electronics to your fire restoration team.
Record a List of Lost Items
Once you've done your best to recover your items, you should go from room to room and take an inventory of the items that have been damaged. Take pictures of the items if you can and take notes if the items cannot be identified visually by someone looking at the photo. You should also take down any serial numbers or identifying information.
If your belongings cannot be restored, you can always turn to your homeowner's insurance. An item does not need to be irretrievably damaged to still be covered through your insurance policy. Contact your claims adjuster to find out more and to find out how much coverage you have.