From our friends at Healthy Building Science (Alex Statner, 10/18/17):
The October 2017 California Fires in Northern California were devastating. Northern California will be dealing with the death and destruction of recent wildfires for years. The immediate life-safety concerns about fire are obvious and frightening, but what many don’t realize is that returning to fire damaged buildings is also hazardous. Cleaning after a fire is part of recovery but done wrong this activity may do more harm. If you’re returning to a fire damaged community follow these fire restoration tips to reduce your health risks.
After you have dealt with the initial raw emotions of fire loss after you have contacted your insurance company and relatives and emergency personnel that are worried about you, it is time to clean up and rebuild. FEMA has a checklist for “returning to normal” after a fire. If hiring professionals is not in the budget or you want to get back home before the pros show up, read these tips for cleaning after a fire.
Immediate Threats When Cleaning After Fire
These basic measures may save your life when you return to clean up after a fire.
- Do not reenter a fire-stricken area or building unless a professional has verified it is safe to enter. Fires may reappear and you don’t want to be stuck in the danger zone. Do not go around police/fire barricades or ignore evacuation orders.
- Do not approach downed power lines or attempt to work around electrical wires.
- If the structure has been significantly impacted and there are any concerns about the structural integrity of the building, do not enter until an expert or structural engineer okays the building.
- Do not enter areas with standing water. There may be hidden dangers in the water.
- Hire a professional fire restoration company – if you can. Here is a checklist for hiring a contractor after a fire. Talk to your insurance first.
If you are a contractor working after a disaster you must protect worker safety – it’s the law.