What to do and what not to do when cleaning up ash - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

What to do and what not to do when cleaning up ash

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If your home was impacted by the Thomas fire, there are some important health precautions to keep in mind after you return home to an ash covered landscape.

Santa Barbara County Public Health does not advise ash clean-up while it's still falling and recommends you wait until conditions improve.

Here are some tips to keep in mind: 

• Avoid skin contact with ash. Ash from burned homes and other items will likely contain metals, chemicals, and potentially asbestos, items that may be considered toxic if breathed in or touched with wet skin.

• If you do get ash on your skin, wash it off immediately. Some wet ash can cause chemical burns.

Inhaled ash may be irritating to the nose, throat and lungs. In order to avoid possible health problems, these tips are also recommended:

• Avoid doing activities that stir up ash. Do not allow children to play in ash or be in an area where ash-covered materials are being disturbed. Wash ash off toys before children play with them.

• Wear a tight fitting N95 respirator mask, gloves, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when cleaning up ash.

• Avoid getting ash into the air as much as possible. Avoid sweeping it up dry. Use water and wet cloth or mop to clean items and surfaces.

• Under any circumstances, DO NOT USE LEAF BLOWERS!

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