Here you will find helpful advice for those who have suffered from a fire or flood.
To access financial support for households and businesses affected by the December 2015 floods, please visit this page.
Important general advice
- Fire can rekindle from hidden, smouldering remains. Be watchful for signs of heat and smoke. If in doubt, contact the fire and rescue service.
- Buildings that have suffered a fire or flood may have been damaged structurally and roofs/floors may have been weakened. Be watchful of any signs of structural damage. If in doubt, do not enter the property and seek expert advice.
- If you have a safe in your home, do not open it until it has had time to cool down. A safe involved in a fire may hold the intense heat for several hours. If the door is opened before it has cooled down, the entering air, combined with the high temperature may cause the contents to burst into flames.
- If you have money that has been partially burned, take it to a bank to be replaced.
- If you rent or lease the property, contact the landlord or his agent as soon as possible.
- Contact your insurance company at the earliest opportunity. They should be informed of the incident and you should complete a claims form. They may wish to inspect your property before anything is moved.
- If you are uninsured, you may be able to get financial help or furniture from your local social security office.
Make the property secure
It is the responsibility of the owner to ensure the property is secure following an emergency incident. However, in most cases the police will arrange for the property to be secured against theft and vandalism, and the fire and rescue service will arrange to protect the property from further damage by weather.
Get the clean-up under way
- Carpets and rugs - A wet/dry vacuum or water extractor cleaning machine is excellent for this job. It can be rented from various shops - look at the Yellow Pages. Allow them to dry out thoroughly.
- Clothing – Always read the label, but if clothing can withstand bleach, it can be treated with the following mixture: half a cup of domestic ammonia to two gallons of water and rinse in vinegar (wear kitchen gloves). If the clothes require dry cleaning, contact a specialist shop for advice.
- Smells – This is a complex problem due to the materials used in the home and those which have been involved in fire. Contact a specialist cleaning company, or for less severe smells, use a room deodorising product.
- Ceilings and walls – Unpapered walls may be washed down with a mild soap or detergent by washing small areas at a time and rinsing with clean water immediately. Unless washable, wallpaper cannot effectively be cleaned but you can try a cloth soaked in mid detergent (wrung out) and clean with water, re-pasting any edges if necessary.
- Furniture - For upholstered furniture, a wet/dry vacuum can be used or contact a specialist cleaning company from Yellow Pages. White spots on wood may be removed by turpentine or ammonia, then dry and polish.
- Food - If in doubt - throw it out. Fresh food should generally be thrown out if contaminated by smoke. Food in glass jars should be discarded if the jar is cracked and has been subjected to heat. Tinned food should be thrown out if the tin has bulged or been subjected to heat. Do not re-freeze thawed food items.
Sort out your utility supplies
If your internal electricity supply has been affected by fire or flood, your electricity supplier will need to reconnect the supply, after a qualified electrician has repaired it and notified the supplier of completion. Do not attempt to reconnect or turn on the supply yourself.
While you wait, you may choose to use temporary lighting or heating units. However, these can be potentially dangerous, especially if they have been unused or stored for some time. Do not forget to have these checked by the manufacturer or qualified dealer before use. If you are unsure, contact your local fire station.
Do not forget to read and follow the manufacturer's instructions when using these appliances.
If any gas appliances have been affected by fire, the fire service or British Gas will turn off/disconnect your supply. It is important either British Gas or an approved installer inspects and rectifies any problems in the system before any attempts are made to reconnect or turn on the supply. Do not attempt this yourself.
You will need a plumber if your water supply has been affected by fire or flood. Do not attempt to turn on your water until your system has been checked by a qualified plumber.