Safety tips for post-wildfire home clean-up - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Safety tips for post-wildfire home clean-up

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If your home was impacted by the smoke and ash from the Thomas Fire, Public Health Officials encourage you to clean up carefully.  

Soot and ash can cause irritation to your eyes and skin, and can be harmful for those who have respiratory illnesses or asthma.  Whether you're sensitive to debris or not, you're encouraged to use an N-95 mask when cleaning up.

During the Thomas Fires, fire retardant was used extensively to help fight and control the fire.  Wildfire retardants are usually ammonium phosphate based and can be distinguished by a colored dye.  When cleaning up fire retardant, remove it with a brush, water and detergent as quickly as possible.  Also, wear your N-95 mask.  

Do not, under any circumstances, use chlorine (bleach) products to help with removal of retardants.  If chlorine combines with ammonia, chlorine gas is formed, which is poisonous to humans and animals.

Here are a few tips to help you clean up your home safely:

  • Wear a N-95 mask 
  • Clean up ash by windows and doors using a damp rag and dispose of them in the trash.
  • Use HEPA filters in vacuums, furnaces, and air purifiers.
  • Check computers and electronics for heat or fire damage before use.
  • Dispose of food that may have been exposed to heat or ash, or that may have spoiled due to loss of power to refrigerators or freezers. 

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