When wildfires wreak havoc, all we can do is take the necessary precautions to protect our structures and evacuate when the danger gets too close. It can be difficult to return home safely after a wildfire. Having a plan can help to make the process a little more manageable. First and foremost, you have to work within safety limits. Additionally, you must work carefully and quickly to complete the necessary paperwork and start the recovery.
Check With the Authorities
When you are ready to return home, check with the authorities before doing so. Do not assume that it is safe to return home or that your home is safe to enter after a fire. Be aware of uneven road surfaces; Many roads may still be covered in ash or other debris. These areas can be dangerous and difficult to navigate safely.
Be Prepared To Put Out Small Fires
You’ll want to keep a fire extinguisher on hand to put out any small fires that may start in your home. Allsmoldering embers need to be extinguished to safely return home after a wildfire. Keep your eye out for any hot spots while sifting through your belongings.
Look For Hazardous Trees and Other Debris
When you return home, look for hazardous trees and other debris. Pay attention to anything that might have fallen into a road, even if it’s not blocking your way. Avoid walking under any charred trees, as there is a possibility of falling branches.
Watch Out for Power Lines
Watch out for power lines, particularly ones on the ground. Don’t touch a downed power line, even if it is not sparking or smoking. The voltage may still be present in the wires; if you see a live wire, alert the proper utility company and keep a distance until an electrician has removed it.
Wear a Mask and Protective Clothing
Many people lose everything in wildfire disasters; if you are able to return home, ventilate your house before entering it. Open doors and windows to get fresh air inside the structure. It is best to return to a home without smoke odors. If odors are present, they should dissipate quickly with fresh air circulating.
If possible, wear a filter mask while entering your house. Work gloves, long pants, and heavy work shoes or boots will protect you from sharp objects and debris. Eye protection is also recommended because ash can irritate the skin and eyes.
You Can Rebuild
Rebuilding homes after a wildfire takes time, effort, and money—but it’s possible with enough help! Volunteer organizations across the country have teams ready to work hard alongside their fellow citizens who’ve suffered losses during these natural disasters; these organizations and your homeowners’ insurance require documentation to begin the rebuild process. Gather any necessary forms and take pictures of damaged areas for documentation purposes.
If your state has been affected by wildfires recently or is at high risk for future ones, consider preparing well ahead of time for natural disasters like these. It is an understandably frightening time, but by taking the necessary steps to prepare, you can keep yourself and others safe, which is all that matters. Possessions can be replaced; just be thankful you are here to replace them.