It's a devastating thought, the possibility of fire ripping through the family home. Most of us don't even want to think of such a disaster but for an unlucky few it becomes a reality. When it does it requires some clear thinking and some sensible choices in order to minimize the damage that winds up being done to the home and your belongings.

There are some basic steps that can be followed, some of them very important, some of them recommended but not absolutely essential and some that are merely handy tips that you might be thankful for further down the track.

The first step that you should take is to call in a fire damage restoration expert as soon as you can manage it. As desperate as you might be to enter your home to try to start salvaging your property, the chances are that you will only cause more damage because you're not equipped to correctly attack the challenge.

One of the jobs you may be equipped to carry out yourself while waiting for the professionals to arrive is a basic soot damage cleanup. There are some basic things to remember about soot. The first is that it should not be touched or wiped as a means of removing it from the surfaces upon which it lies. Soot is an oily residue from the fire and touching, smearing or wiping it will only push it deeper into the surface of whatever it is sitting on.

The simplest method of removing soot is to use a vacuum cleaner and hover it above the soot, picking it without touching it. To avoid soot particles from drifting into other rooms, if the fire was contained to a single room, it would be a good idea to shut the doors and leave them that way until a complete restoration is underway.

Another step to undertake while waiting is to start removing food from the home. If it has been involved in the fire then the chances are very strong that the food is spoiled or contaminated. Better to remove it all from the start than let it sit there.