Emergency Tips


Guaranteed Furniture Services Inc. continuously strives to provide our clients with helpful information, especially when disaster strikes. We have compiled a list of tips to assist clients during an emergency.

Are You Prepared For The Worst?


Fire, flood, robbery – you can lose everything in an instant, and then how do you get it all back? The first essential is homeowners insurance. The other must-have is less obvious: a home inventory that documents all your possessions. This information will help you determine whether you have enough insurance coverage. In the event of a disaster, it'll allow you to file claims faster and more convincingly.


Write down a description of everything you own, from furniture and clothing to TVs and other electronics. What to say above each items: its purchase price (if you have a receipt, attach a copy to the list), the approximate date and venue of purchase, and where applicable, warranty information (the manufacturer's contact information and an explanation of the coverage). Also jot down the model and serial numbers of appliances and electronics. If you own artwork, jewelry, or other valuables that have been appraised, please include a copy of the assessment. To make the task less daunting, divide the job into chunks and spread the work out over a few weeks. Once you complete your initial inventory, you'll only have to add or remove items as they're purchased or discarded.


Depending on your skills, you can create your record in any of the three ways listed below; then attach the necessary paperwork. Once you've completed the inventory, keep a copy in a safe-deposit box or with a trusted relative or friend who lives far enough away to be out of range of a disaster in your area. You can document:


It's easy to start with blank paper, but unless you're super-meticulous, that approach can lead to a list that's disorganized and inconsistent. Some insurance companies distribute inventory forms that could be helpful; a checklist of common home items, which space provided for you to add vital information. Request a form from you insurance agent.


Photograph your possessions, get prints, and write the key points on the back of each image.


In our test of four inventory programs, all performed well, but just one of them was free: software from the Insurance Information Institute. Download it from knowyourstuff.org onto a PC or Mac, and the inventory process will be quick and pain free. Save the completed report on your computer and, to be safe, file a hard copy in your safe=deposit box. We also liked the online service A safe Spot (asafespot.com), which costs $9.95 a year. Because its Internet based, you can access your data from any computer – a plus if you have to flee home without your laptop.

Fire and Smoke Damage

After fire damage, it is natural to want to jump right in and clean the building and contents. Timely action can be a great help, but incorrect action can jeopardize or impede satisfactory restoration.


  • Clean and protect chrome trim on faucets and other bright work by washing with detergent and applying a coating of Vaseline or oil.
  • Blow off or brush-vacuum loose smoke particles from upholstery, draperies and carpeting.
  • Open windows for ventilation if weather permits.
  • Empty refrigerators and freezers if the electricity is off, and prop doors open with a rolled towel or newspaper to allow air circulation.
  • Pour antifreeze in toilet bowls, tanks, sinks and tub drains to prevent freeze damage if the heat is off in winter.
  • Remove pets to a clean environment if heavy fire residues are present.
  • Send a sample group of garments for cleaning and deodorization in order to observe the results.
  • Retain a contractor to board up open windows, roofs or other penetrations in order to prevent additional damage.

Do Not

  • Wipe or attempt to wash fire residues from walls, ceilings or other absorbent surfaces.
  • Use carpeting or upholstered furniture impacted by heavy smoke residues or debris.
  • Use food items or canned goods exposed to heat.
  • Turn on computers, TVs, stereos or electrical appliances until they have been cleaned and checked.

Water Damage

Water damage arises from fire damage, broken pipes, blocked drains, malfunctioning appliances, storms, and other causes. The appropriate treatment depends on the nature of the damage. Some water carries contaminants and should be considered hazardous (see Sewage and Flood Damage, below). Whatever the origin, the prospects for restoration depend largely on the speed with which your building and personal property can be dried. Even clean water can generate mildew and other bacterial growth if neglected.


  • Ventilate wet areas. Turn on air conditioning for accelerated drying in summer; in winter, alternate cycles of opened windows and heating.
  • Remove standing water from flat surfaces by sponging and blotting.
  • Take up saturated rugs and carpets when hardwood floors are at risk.
  • Stay out of rooms where ceilings are sagging from retained water.
  • Transport computers to a dry environment, remove cases and blow dry with low pressure air.
  • Remove lamps, telephones and decorative items from wet furniture tops.
  • Open drawers and cabinet doors for interior drying, but do not force open stuck drawers or doors.
  • Freeze valuable books and documents to retard mildew growth until drying can be performed.
  • Place aluminum foil squares, china saucers or wood blocks under furniture legs to avoid carpet staining.

Do Not

  • Operate TVs, vacuums or other appliances while standing on wet carpet or floors, especially not on wet concrete floors. Serious injury may result.
  • Use heat to dry closed building interiors; mildew and expanded moisture damage may result.
  • Leave wet fabrics in place; space them apart and dry as soon as possible.

Sewage and Flood Damage

Raw sewage and flood water contain bacteria and other micro organisms, which are extremely hazardous to human health. These can be transmitted by touching contaminated areas on shoes. Children and pets are especially vulnerable. Frequent hand washing is an important preventive measure. Absorbent materials such as carpeting and drywall may not be restorable after direct contact with sewage-contaminated or flood-contaminated water.


  • Treat all water-impacted surfaces and furnishings as toxic until properly decontaminated.
  • Keep children and pets out of contaminated areas.

Do Not

  • Track contaminated material into undamaged areas.
  • Attempt to decontaminate surfaces with sprays or other over-the-counter germicidal products, which may not fully disinfect contaminated surfaces.

Soot (Furnace) Damage

While soot may resemble smoke residues from a fire, the restoration of soot damage often requires different techniques; incorrect action can make restoration more difficult and delay the return to normal.


  • Change and save the old furnace filter.
  • Blow off or brush-vacuum loose soot particles from upholstery, draperies and carpets.
  • Cover upholstery with clean sheets before use.

Do Not

  • Attempt to wash walls, ceilings or contents without professional assistance.

Vandalism Damage

Vandalism often involves spray paint on walls, defacement of furnishings or spreading noxious substances. It is one of the most difficult forms of damage to restore. Prompt action can often minimize the effect of vandalism or make restoration more successful.


  • Hose down or wash egg damage from building exteriors as soon as possible.
  • Vacuum glass particles from carpet and upholstery.
  • Save containers and spray cans, which can reveal the composition of inks and pigments.
  • Save all wood chips and fragments form furniture, porcelain or art objects.

Do Not

  • Attempt to remove ink, paint or cosmetic stains; they can be permanently set if not handled properly.