How to Prepare for a House Fire

Earlier this summer we posted a story with tips on ensuring your home is safe while you travel. Since that time, good friends of ours lost their home due to an electrical fire. Watching them recover from this disaster, I felt compelled to offer a few additional pieces of ‘piece of mind’ advice for all of you road tripping homeowners out there.

Step 1: Take photos of your possessions. 

The easiest and quickest way to start compiling a list of everything you own when filing an insurance claim is to take photos of your possessions. Then, store them in the cloud or on a flash drive in a fire safety box (better yet, a desk drawer at your workplace). 

After calling my insurance company to verify my homeowners policy was adequate to cover the cost of my replacement items, they suggested I upload photos to the Hover app (including photos of all major appliances, my HVAC system, water heater, and electrical panel). You can also use Hover to take exterior photos of your home and out buildings as a way to help calculate the structural replacement cost when rebuilding all or parts of your home.  

Step 2: Make a list and keep it up-to-date. 

Starting with your most expensive items – televisions, electronics, jewelry, sporting equipment – itemize the make, model, serial number and purchase price in a spreadsheet (Google Sheets is in the cloud). Take photos of receipts, save emails, and reference your Amazon purchase history if necessary. While you can always cross reference photos of your possessions, having the information organized and ready-to-go can expedite the claim process. 

Step 3: Store valuable documents in a fire safety box. 

Store important documents like birth certificates, passports, insurance policies, wills, vehicle titles–really, anything that would be cumbersome and expensive to replace in a fire safety box. We live in forest fire country; having everything together (and protected) is helpful in the event of an emergency evacuation. 

Step 4: Be prepared to help others. 

If you do know someone who is impacted by a home fire, we learned some of the best and most immediate ways to offer them suitcases and storage space when salvaging anything not ruined by fire or smoke. 

While you may have good intentions of offering them clothes, supplies, or replacement items, it may be overwhelming to present someone with an overwhelming amount of material possessions they will need to store in a vehicle or small hotel room. Restaurant gift certificates or prepaid gift cards may be the most useful to someone in the interim.  

IDX Broker

If you are a realtor and found this story helpful, check out to learn more about lead management solutions, customizable home search, and fully-hosted IDX websites. Full disclosure: By day, I’m the Content Marketing Manager at IDX Broker in Eugene, Oregon. 

About the Author

Julie Henning
Julie Henning is a freelance writer and journalist based out of Eugene, Oregon. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and owner of the family-travel website She is a recent past member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Association for Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. Julie is the Oregon Coast destination specialist for Bindu Media, an itinerary-focused website launching in Spring 2016 and featuring the work of 200+ professional, indie travel writers. Julie has been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois), the Rochester Post Bulletin, Wisconsin Natural Resources (DNR) Magazine, Sustainable Chicago Magazine, Group Tour Magazine, Student Group Tour Magazine, Silent Sports Magazine, Intercom Magazine,, and FTF Geocacher Magazine. Julie has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ohio Public Radio, and KCBX FM Central Coast Radio and is an affiliate producer with the Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a National Public Radio travel podcast. She has blogged for, Travel Oregon, and VISIT Milwaukee. Julie travels with her three kids and black lab as much as possible and lives by the motto, "Not all who wander are lost." Check out some of her best work at