Stay Safe After 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.
- Take steps to reduce your exposure to smoke [PDF – 817 KB]. Smoke can stay in the air for days after a wildfire ends.
Wildfires leave behind a lot of ash [PDF – 835 KB] that can irritate your eyes, nose, or skin and cause coughing and other health effects.
- Children and people with asthma, COPD, heart disease, or who are pregnant need to be especially careful about breathing wildfire smoke.
- 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 – 329 KB]. 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 – 2.7 MB]. 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.
- After a wildfire, private wells can be contaminated and unsafe to use for drinking water and other purposes. Learn about potential solutions.
- 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.
- Wear proper safety equipment, avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, and avoid electrical hazards.
- Learn more: Clean Up Safely After a Disaster
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.