You can board up before a big storm, you can evacuate in anticipation of a flood, but no one is ever prepared for a house fire. If you know someone who has recently experienced a fire, you may be wondering what you can do to help. Whether their house suffered minor property damage or they lost everything, you can offer kindness and support in many different ways through this time of recovery. Here are some ways you can help people after a house fire.
One thing people like to say after a loss is “I’m so sorry, let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.” But often, people are reluctant to accept help, and they may feel strange asking outright for things they need. Words of encouragement will only go so far. One of the best things you can do to help someone after a fire is to proactively fulfill a practical need for them—run an errand, serve as the drop-off point for donations, make some phone calls.
One of the immediate needs of anyone who has gone through a house fire is a pair of clean clothes. They will also need work clothes for adults and school clothes for children in the days and weeks ahead. You can help by either donating clothing items or providing gift cards to clothing stores that the family can use to buy some brand new clothes.
Financial support is one of the most helpful things you can offer someone after a fire. They will be spending money left and right, probably depleting their savings. Even if they were insured, the insurance process can take a while. If you are able, help take a little bit of the financial burden off of the situation.
This is a thoughtful way to help people who may be exhausted and struggling just to make it through each day, even if they are staying with others temporarily. That means it’s one less errand to run and one less meal to prepare.
As the family begins to establish themselves in a permanent or semi-permanent location, they may need housewares like pots and pans, tables, chairs, lamps, school supplies, etc. Even donations of cleaning supplies or hygiene products can be helpful to people who need everything.
Even months after the fire, the family is probably still dealing with the aftermath, whether that’s trying to get through bureaucratic processes or trying to recover mentally. Keep checking in and offer to fulfill any other needs that may come up.