The stress of having your house burned is enormous. You are dealing with so much after the house fire in addition to your day-to-day responsibilities such as work. After a traumatic experience such as a house fire, it’s normal to feel frightened, sad or anxious.

Your Guide to Surviving a House Fire
A fire in your home can cause a lot of damage. What may not be damaged by the flames, heat or smoke was likely damaged by the water used to put out the fire. Firefighters may have cut holes in your walls or roof to make sure the fire was completely extinguished and/or to ventilate smoke and heat.

Cleaning up the damage will take time. Although the fire is out, you can still get sick from the soot, chemicals, and dirty water left behind. Your safety and the safety of your family are very important. You will not be able to re-enter your home without a certificate of occupancy (COO). You will likely need to find temporary housing. There will be many decisions to make in the days and weeks following your house fire.

This web site and related materials are your guides to not only survive, but to thrive after a major catastrophe such as a house fire or flood. We understand that having your home damaged is one of the most stressful events that can happen.

Recognizing crisis-related stress
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), when adults have the following signs, they might need crisis counseling or stress management assistance:

• Difficulty communicating thoughts
• Difficulty maintaining balance in their lives
• Increased use of drugs/alcohol
• Poor work performance
• Tunnel vision/muffled hearing 
• Disorientation or confusion
• Depression, sadness
• Mood-swings and easy bouts of crying

• Difficulty sleeping
• Low threshold of frustration
• Limited attention span
• Headaches/stomach problems
• Colds or flu-like symptoms
• Difficulty concentrating
• Feelings of hopelessness
• Overwhelming guilt and self-doubt

How counseling can help
A counselor can be a valuable resource to you during this time. Even if you have never sought counseling before, now might be the time to consider it. A counselor can help you and your family:

• Validate and process your feelings
• Provide a safe space to discuss your feelings
• Help you make a plan to manage the crisis effectively
• Work with you to develop strategies to overcome the crisis

Support Groups
Support Groups are another valuable resource for managing the trauma and stress of the fire. They may help you feel less alone.

More information
For more information from FEMA on managing stress after a crisis, including how to help children, visit FEMA’s website.