Emergency Preparedness: After a Wildfire

Learn how to recover from the devastating effects of fire.

Once the flames have died out and the smoke has cleared the process of recovery begins. Having a recovery plan and knowing what to do after is just as important as knowing what to do before and during a wildfire emergency. Part of your emergency preparedness plan for wildfires needs to include preparation for what you may have to do once the fire is gone.

Safety First

  1. Even though the fire has ended, safety should remain your primary focus. While the flames may be gone, there may still be many dangers around you and your home, including the potential for flash floods, building collapses from structural damage, unsafe roadways and debris.
  2. While your instinct may be to return home as soon as possible, wait until you receive notification from authorities that it is safe to do so.
  3. Be careful around tall objects such as trees and power lines. While the superficial damage to these objects may seem slight, they have lost stability during the fire and could fall. If you see downed power lines, stay away from them.

Returning Home

  1. Check the outside of your home for damage. If you see any damage, do not enter your home and wait for a professional to inspect it first. If there are signs of severe fire damage in or around your home be extremely cautious.  Hot spots can flare up and reignite without warning.
  2. If your home is structurally sound and you re-enter, be sure not to use the water from your faucet as it may be unsuitable to drink. Wait until an emergency official confirms it is not contaminated.
  3. If you do not have power in your home, first check if the main breaker is on. Contact your power company if it is on and you still do not have power. Do not turn on gas mains.
  4. The water from your faucet may be unsuitable. Do not use it until emergency officials tell you it’s safe.
  5. Maintain a fire watch on your property for the next few hours by walking around periodically and checking your home and property for smoke, sparks or smoldering embers.

Recovering Your Home

  1. Before you begin the process of cleaning up and recovery, be sure to document any damage to your home. Take pictures of the damage and maintain an inventory of items either damaged or destroyed by smoke, fire or water.
  2. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to begin the claims process to ensure your family is able to recover as quickly and wholly as possible.

While your first priority in any emergency is to survive safely, once the initial threat and danger has passed, your emergency preparedness plan needs to include a plan for the aftermath. Knowing what to do after can help you recover faster and worry less so you can focus on your family’s safety. Now is the time to make sure you and your family have an emergency preparedness plan in place.

Continue to follow our articles and participate in National Preparedness Month all month long by visiting Ready.gov.

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