If your home has been affected by a fire it can be hard to know where to begin. Recovering from a fire can also take an emotional toll. After a fire occurs you may or may not be allowed back into your home. Some homes may not be safe to enter after certain types of fires, especially if structural damage has occurred. Either way, be sure to contact your insurance company. They'll let you know how to begin the process of getting your house and life back to the way they used to be.

Beginning the healing process can certainly be difficult but it's essential that you act quickly. The longer you wait to clean salvageable objects, the less you'll have left to recover. Smoke leaves behind an acidic film on everything it comes in contact with. If it stays on objects too long it will cause permanent damage. Before you starting cleaning though, be sure to call your insurance company. They might require you to document the damage with photographs.

Fire coverage is typically a major part of homeowner policies. Some will pay for living expenses while you wait for major repairs. If not, you may want to contact your local Salvation Army branch or American Red Cross if you are not allowed to go back to your home.

Depending on the extent of the damage, you may or may not want to attempt cleaning up the mess on your own. There are many companies that specialize in fire damage restoration. While you may not have all the tools you need at your fingertips, these companies are specially trained and equipped for getting rid of the smell and mess that's left after a fire. They also have access to very expensive and specialized types of chemicals and equipment that aren't available to regular consumers even if you could afford them.

A major problem associated with cleaning up after a fire is odor. Even if you get things looking nice, the smell of smoke may still linger. Many household cleaners only mask smells and won't completely remove them. Even worse, some of the ingredients in the cleaners may interact with the smoke odor causing a bigger problem. Eventually you will definitely want to have the heating and cooling ductwork professionally cleaned in your home. You will need to change the filter more often than normal because particles left over from the fire can remain in the air for months.

You will also have to be careful with soft surfaces such as curtains, carpets, and rugs. Many people want to use upright vacuum cleaners or attachments to vacuum soot but this can actually force it deeper into the fibers. Instead, vacuum up as much soot as you can from a distance. Stay about an inch or two above the surface you're cleaning. Then cover it up and let the professionals do the rest.

Fire damage restoration can definitely be a physically and emotionally draining process. Fortunately, there are many companies who can help make life less stressful during this extremely difficult time.