What to do if you have to evacuate for a wildfire?

If you have been told to evacuate due to the recent wildfires in Southern California, you may be confused about what to do next. You will have a lot of worries and anxiety leaving your home, not knowing if this will be the last time you can live in your home.

We are here to bring some normalcy into your life during this chaotic time and at least guide you through some action steps to recover from this disaster.

Aerial view of wildfire on the field. Huge clouds of smoke.

Some good news is a majority of people will be able to enter there home once evacuations are lifted and find that their home is still in tack without any fire damage. The bad news is, your home may not be livable due to due to smoke damage and smoke odor.

If you have been evacuated or ordered to evacuate due to the wildfires, here are the next steps to take:

1. Create a wildfire evacuation plan with your family.

An evacuation plan that includes a designated emergency meeting location outside the fire or hazard area. Though it is unlikely, there are chances that you may be separated from your family. This is critical to determine who has safely evacuated from the affected area and where to find each other.

Plan out several different escape routes from your home and community to avoid traffic jams.

Create an evacuation plan for pets and large animals such as horses and livestock. Find a local shelter that will be sheltering animals from disasters and make sure that you are able to leave your animals with your local animal shelter during times of emergencies.

Family Communication Plan that designates an out-of-area friend or relative as a point of contact to act as a single source of communication among family members in case of separation.

2. What items to take if you are ordered to evacuate.

Refer to a checklist that is published by ReadyforWildlife.org.

Bring some emergency supplies and important documents like insurance policies, driver licenses, passports, etc.

There are not many items that can not be replaced in your household, so just be sure to evacuate promptly.

3. Plan for recovery.

While you are evacuated, have a plan on how to recover and get back into your home as soon as possible. You have heard some stories of people not being able to get back into their home for months, and some just days. The difference is planning.

Expect that when you come back to your home still standing, it is still not livable due to smoke damages. The ashes from the wildfire will most likely have entered your home and left the air quality inside your home unlivable.

Get on Allied Restoration’s Wildfire Assistance Program where you will be able to get priority service and have a crew ready to clean, deodorize and restore your home back to livable conditions without the wait.

4. Planning to file an insurance claim.

In many cases, you are able to file an insurance claim. If you are unsure, you can have a professional like Allied Restoration to guide you through the process and conduct a physical or virtual walkthrough of your property. We are able to guide you to take the next best step.

5. Do NOT clean the property if you file an insurance claim.

Smoke damage is not easily cleaned even with powerful household products. Smoke odor can be behind your walls and inside of insulation, vents, attics, and crawl spaces. Without professional cleaning, the smoke odor may never dissipate.

If you decided to clean the property and wipe away the ashes, you may have lost proof of your insurance claim. It is very important to document and leave the property as-is if you are filing an insurance claim.

6. Board up your property if it will be left vacant.

In some cases, vandalism and theft may occur due to knowing there will be periods of occupancy. You can send a professional board-up company to assist you in securing your property from vandalism and mother nature.

Wildfire damages in California are at an all-time high and everyone will be scrambling to get back into their homes as soon as they can. It is very important that you beat the demand of needing a professional restoration company like Allied Restoration to come out to your property for an inspection. Allied Restoration has a Wildfire Assistance Program that will provide priority service to those that are on the list.

The Wildfire Assistance Program assists homeowners to return home as soon as evacuations lift and guide the homeowners through the next steps with an early appointment and inspection. Without being on the priority list, many homeowners have waited 3-6 weeks before they can get an inspection. Get on the list today and get back into your home.

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