After a fire, danger and injury are still possibilities. It is extremely important to keep the following information and safety standards in mind:
Check your home, especially roofs and chimneys, for structural damage. The initial check should be made from a distance. Do not enter a fire-damaged building unless authorities say it is okay. If you are cleared to enter, wear sturdy shoes and long pants and look out for signs of heat or smoke. If the building is deemed unsafe to enter, ask local police to watch the property during your absence. Notify all your contacts of your whereabouts.
Have an electrician check your household wiring before the current is turned back on. Do not attempt to reconnect any utilities yourself. Leave this to the proper authorities.
Discard food, beverages, and medicines that have been exposed to heat, smoke, or soot. Refrigerators and freezers left closed hold their temperature for a short time; however, do not attempt to refreeze food that has thawed.
If you have a safe or strong box, do not try to open it. It can hold intense heat for several hours. If the door is opened before the box has cooled, the entering air combined with the high internal temperature can cause the contents to burst into flames.
Contact your local disaster relief service, such as the American Red Cross or Salvation Army, if you need housing, food, or personal items which were destroyed in the fire.
Contact your insurance agent. An adjuster will be assigned to visit your home. Take photos or videotape of the damage. Separate damaged and undamaged belongings. Do not throw away any damaged goods until an official inventory has been taken. All damages are taken into consideration by your insurance company. Keep detailed records of cleanup costs.
If you are a tenant, contact the landlord. It is the property owner's responsibility to prevent further loss or damage to the site.
There are several agencies in the Baton Rouge area that can help after a fire. The two main agencies are the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. They can provide temporary shelter, clothing, and medications to fire victims. The Red Cross can be reached at (225)926-4533 and the Salvation Army can be reached at (225)355-4483. The IRS has tax breaks for fire victims. Refer to IRS publication number 547, Tax Information on Disasters, Casualty Losses and Thefts.