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Tuesday, February 22, 2011


  • Use caution and exercise good judgment when re-entering a burned wildland area. Hazards may still exist, including hot spots, which can flare up without warning.
  • Avoid damaged or fallen power poles or lines, and downed wires. Immediately report electrical damage to authorities. Electric wires may shock people or cause further fires. If possible, remain on the scene to warn others of the hazard until repair crews arrive.
  • Be careful around burned trees and power poles. They may have lost stability due to fire damage.
  • Watch for ash pits and mark them for safety. Ash pits are holes full of hot ashes, created by burned trees and stumps. You can be seriously burned by falling into ash pits or landing in them with your hands or feet. Warn your family and neighbors to keep clear of the pits.
  • If a power line or pole should fall next to you, hop out of the area. You are less likely to be shocked if you are hopping.
    • Returning to Your Home
    • If there is no power, check to make sure the main breaker is on. Fires may cause breakers to trip. If the breakers are on and power is still not present, contact the utility company.
    • Inspect the roof immediately and extinguish any sparks or embers. Wildfires may have left burning embers that could reignite.
    • For several hours afterward, recheck for smoke and sparks throughout the home, including the attic. The winds of wildfires can blow burning embers anywhere. Keep checking your home for embers that could cause fires.
    • Take precautions while cleaning your property. You may be exposed to potential health risks from hazardous materials.
      • Debris should be wetted down to minimize health impacts from breathing dust particles.
      • Use a two-strap dust particulate mask with nose clip and coveralls for the best minimal protection.
      • Wear leather gloves to protect hands from sharp objects while removing debris.
      • Wear rubber gloves when working with outhouse remnants, plumbing fixtures and sewer piping. They can contain high levels of bacteria.
      • Hazardous materials such as kitchen and bathroom cleaning products, paint, batteries, contaminated fuel and damaged fuel containers need to be properly handled to avoid risk. Check with local authorities for hazardous disposal assistance.
    • If you have a propane tank system, contact a propane supplier, turn off valves on the system and leave valves closed until the supplier inspects your system. Tanks, brass and copper fittings and lines may have been damaged from the heat and be unsafe. If fire burned the tank, the pressure relief valve probably opened and released the contents.
    • If you have a heating oil tank system, contact a heating oil supplier for an inspection of your system before using. The tank may have shifted or fallen from the stand and fuel lines may have kinked or weakened. Heat from the fire may have caused the tank to warp or bulge. Nonvented tanks are more likely to bulge or show signs of stress. The fire may have loosened or damaged fittings and filters.
    • Visually check the stability of the trees. Any tree that has been weakened by fire may be a hazard. Winds are normally responsible for toppling weakened trees. The wind patterns in your area may have changed as a result of the loss of adjacent tree cover.
      • Look for burns on the tree trunk. If the bark on the trunk has been burned off or scorched by very high temperatures completely around the circumference, the tree will not survive. Where fire has burnt deep into the trunk, the tree should be considered unstable.
      • Look for burnt roots by probing the ground with a rod around the base of the tree and several feet away from the base. Roots are generally six to eight inches below the surface. If the roots have been burned, you should consider this tree very unstable, and it may be toppled by wind.
      • A scorched tree is one that has lost part or all of its leaves or needles. Healthy deciduous trees are resilient and may produce new branches and leaves as well as sprouts at the base of the tree. Evergreen trees may survive when partially scorched. An evergreen tree that has been damaged by fire is subject to bark beetle attack. Please seek professional assistance from the forestry service concerning measures for protecting evergreens from bark beetle attack.

      Drinking Water
    • Wells at undamaged homes should be safe, unless affected by a fuel spill. If you are in doubt of water safety, contact your local public health officials.
    • If your house was damaged, disinfect and test water before consumption. The water system may have become contaminated with bacteria due to loss of water pressure in the plumbing.
    • If you use water from a public well, have a water sample collected and tested before allowing the water to be consumed. Water may have been contaminated with bacteria due to a loss of water pressure in the plumbing.

1 comment:

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