Know how the COVID-19 pandemic can affect disaster preparedness and recovery, and what you can do to keep yourself and others safe.

Stay Safe After a Wildfire

Smoked-filled forest in the aftermath of a wildfire.

If your home was affected by a wildfire, do not return home until authorities say it is safe. Take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Continue to check air quality reports.
Wildfires leave behind a lot of ash pdf icon[PDF – 845 KB]external icon that can irritate your eyes, nose, or skin and cause coughing and other health effects.
  • Children pdf icon[PDF – 497 KB]external icon, pregnant women, and people with asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), or heart disease pdf icon[PDF – 793 KB] need to be especially careful about breathing in dust from ash.
  • Protect yourself against ash when you clean up. Wear gloves, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and shoes and socks to protect your skin. Wear goggles to protect your eyes.
  • Wash off any ash that gets on your skin or in your eyes or mouth as soon as you can.
  • Children should not do any cleanup work.
  • Limit how much ash you breathe in by wearing an N95 respirator pdf icon[PDF – 321 KB]external icon. A respirator is a mask that fits tightly to your face to filter out ash before you can breathe it in.  You must wear a respirator correctly pdf icon[PDF – 2.7 MB]external icon. Respirators are not made to fit children.  If you have heart or lung disease ask your doctor if it is safe for you to wear a respirator.
  • Pay attention to any health symptoms if you or your children have asthma, COPD, heart disease, or are pregnant. Get to medical help if you need it.
Drive safely.
  • Be alert for broken traffic lights and missing street signs.
  • Watch out for trash and debris on the road.
  • Learn more: Motor Vehicle Safety
Be careful around damaged buildings or structures.
  • Wait to return to buildings during daylight hours, when it is easier to avoid hazards, especially if the electricity is off and you have no lights.
  • Learn more: Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup
Clean up safely.
Protect your emotional well-being.

After a wildfire, you may feel sad, mad, guilty, or numb. These are all normal reactions to stress. Talk to a psychologist, social worker, or professional counselor if you need help coping.

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