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Wildfire season can pose quite a few dangers before, during, and after a wildfire occurs, making a wildfire action plan every step of the way is important for the safety of your family and home. Unfortunately, the aftermath of a wildfire still poses risks to you and your family even once the fire subsides. If you and your family have recently been affected by wildfires, it’s very important to keep the following tips in mind when planning to return home.
What to Do After a Wildfire
After a wildfire, follow these tips to ensure you have the safest possible return to your home:
- Check that there’s a plan in place for the removal of ash and debris by professionals.
- Don’t attempt to return home until your local authorities have indicated that you can.
- Make sure water, electricity, and other utilities are restored to your community.
- Check with your water provider to make sure water is okay to drink. After wildfires, water can become infected with bacteria. If this happens, you need to heat your water to a rolling boil and boil it for one minute to make it safe for drinking.
If your water provider indicates there’s been chemical contamination in your water supply, you’ll need to use a water filter or drink bottled water. For more information about water, explore the following resources:
A loss of power might mean that the food stored in your refrigerator or freezer has spoiled. If food has been warmed to room temperature for more than two hours, you need to throw it away. This resource from the CDC will explain more about food safety.
Understanding Post-Wildfire Hazards
One of the most important things to do after a wildfire is to keep yourself and children away from structural hazards that might cause injury. Many of these areas might look intriguing or tempting for children to explore. Make sure your kids understand the potential dangers of each of these hazards:
- Debris, including broken glass, wires, nails, and other objects can be sharp, cause puncture wounds, and carry diseases.
- Ash pits are holes full of hot ashes that might look cool on the surface, but they’re fiery and dangerous inside. Ash pits are caused by burned trees and stumps.
- Unstable buildings might look okay on the outside but could be dangerous inside because of structural damage. Children should be cautioned not to go into buildings that haven’t been given the all-clear. This also applies to roadways, bridges, and other outdoor structures.
- Animals that are wild, stray, or injured can be disease carriers and pose health risks for children.
- Ash can also be a significant hazard. It is irritating to the eyes, nose, throat, and skin. It’s very difficult to clean up. Make sure your child does not play in ash. When cleaning it from your home, try to avoid spreading it in the air. Wet it down first and then wipe it away. Don’t use leaf blowers or vacuums.
Keeping Your Family Safe
If you or your child has come in contact with ash or other wildfire-damaged substances, wash any areas that have been exposed to ash with warm soap and water. If there is a potential that ash got in the eyes, flush them with water. Remove any clothing and wash it separately from the rest of your clothes as soon as possible.
For those with chronic respiratory conditions, wildfire season can be exceptionally problematic, especially for children. Even after a fire is extinguished, make sure you monitor your child closely for symptoms like coughing, wheezing, or chest tightness.
Preparing for a wildfire involves many steps. It’s important to remember that your family can remain safe during wildfire season if you follow this protocol. If you have questions on how to best prepare, we’re here to help. Reach out to your local District Office or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay informed.
Please know that LMH will continue to coordinate with your local Command. If an evacuation is announced by the base, Lincoln Military Housing will replicate that alert to our residents using our Emergency Notification System, RedFlag. To ensure you receive RedFlag alerts, please update and verify any contact information with your local District Office.