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VIRGINIABEACH -- After an electrical short sparked a massive house fire on Bay Island that left four people and a dog homeless on July 4, 13News Now looked into what people can do to both prevent fires and cope with the aftermath.

According to the Virginia Department of Fire Programs (VDFP) website, after summer storms many people begin the task of cleaning and clearing the debris that accumulated after Spring storms. The department recommends residents add home fire safety to their list.

The VDFP suggests the following preventive measures and safety tips:

  • Make sure electrical outlets and extension cords are not overloaded.
  • Have air conditioning units and other electrical appliances checked by a licensed professional.
  • Clear your basement and attics from old papers, oily rags, and broken furniture.
  • Make sure all fire exits or escape routes that are identified in your fire escape drill are clear of any debris and are not blocked-off.
  • Check and clean your smoke alarm.
  • Check and clean your carbon monoxide alarm.
  • Inspect your charcoal/gas grills.
  • Spread mulch at least a foot away from the house with a non-combustible barrier in between, such as rock.
  • Finally, when you are finished spring cleaning make sure all cleaning products are stored in child safety latched drawers and cabinets.

After a fire, the VDFP recommends, when it's safe to do so, trying to locate the following items:

  • identification, such as driver's licenses and Social Security cards
  • insurance information
  • medication information

There are many people/entities that should be notified of your relocation, including:

  • insurance agent/company
  • mortgage company (also inform them of the fire)
  • employer
  • child's school
  • post office
  • utility companies

The VDFP urges fire victims not to throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made. All damages are taken into consideration in developing your insurance claim. If you are considering contracting for inventory or repair services, discuss your plans with your insurance agent/company first.

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