Inventorying Your Fire Loss
How to complete a total loss inventory list after a house fire
If you have a major fire that destroys your home, you will have to start the contents inventory process. Documenting your personal property will be necessary to ensure you get fully compensated for what you lost. Doing this full inventory is a high-stress task, but it must be done correctly and accurately. It is important to know ahead of time that the inventory process will be messy, time-consuming, and will require a lot of patience. You will be documenting a large portion of your family’s life, which can be emotionally difficult.
Before entering your home after a fire, you should always get permission from the fire department. They need to confirm that the scene has been released, and is no longer being investigated. When you have approval to enter your home, you want to make sure that you are wearing the proper protective gear. A long-sleeved shirt, long pants, close-toed shoes or boots, work gloves, hard hat, and safety glasses can help protect you from hazards. A disposable respirator with a NIOSH rating of N95 will help protect your respiratory system from inhaling ash, soot, and other toxic materials that may be present in the air.
- Start the inventory by making a diagram of your house and label all the rooms. In the rooms start drawing big furniture, and electronics. By doing this it will help jump start your brain into remembering what was in the rooms.
- Start one room at a time. Gather your smaller stuff. Place them on flat surfaces like some sort of tabletop. This is so you can get a good picture of your items. Make sure you do this with all the items so you have photos for everything. Once that room is done, then it’s time to move on to the next.
- When you are done photographing, then it’s time to start making your list. You will want to include brand, age, quantity, cost and condition. Model numbers and serial numbers, when available, should be documented. You need to be specific as possible to make sure you get the proper compensation.
- Note the price you paid for each on your inventory sheet, and include the receipts, if available. If you can’t remember what the value of an item is, sometimes you can research the valuation on the internet. If you find a price on the internet, be sure to note the cost to replace your damaged item with a new item of like kind and quality.