Returning home after a wildfire affected the area may be stressful and traumatic. This guide will help you know what to do and where to get help.
Before returning home think about what you will see, hear and smell in your community upon return to emotionally prepare yourself and your family. Your community may have changed dramatically. Some things to be prepared for:
Burnt landscapes and trees
Burnt buildings and vehicles
Smell of smoke
Areas covered in ash and soot
Do not return home until the community government announces it is safe to return
The community government will have done an initial damage assessment of the community as a whole to make sure it is safe for residents to return.
Below are various things to think about before returning home. Being prepared both physically and mentally can help speed up your recovery time.
Before returning home, ensure that you have information about the following topics:
- Information from your community government about any significant structural damage or hazardous conditions.
- Information from your community government and/or local utility providers about whether power, gas, water and sewage services are working.
- Confirmation that drinking water is safe from the tap, and that there are no boil water orders in place.
- The status of core services and about collection or disposal of damaged items, as well as any changes to routine garbage collection services.
- Consider completing atmospheric testing as it is recommended in all buildings affected by fire where hazardous gas vapours and particulates may be present. This will help understand if your home is safe for occupancy.
Ensure that you and your family have thought about the following:
Do you have fuel, food, and water? There may be limited amounts available to you in your community.
Are your cell phones charged? There may be interruptions or lack of electricity in your community.
Do you have a radio, a flashlight and an emergency kit?
Do you have the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)? You may not be able to get this in your community.
Do you and your returning family members have your tetanus boosters and other vaccinations up to date?
Do you have all the medications that you will need?
Will you take your children and pets on the first visit?
Here is a list of recommended items that will help you in the recovery process:
- Camera or video camera
- Notebook and pen to record damage
- Buckets, mops and sponges
- All-purpose cleaner or unscented detergent
- First aid kit
- Tools (hammer, pliers)
- Trash bags
- PPE (gloves, respiratory protection, proper clothing and shoes, etc.)
- Food and drinking water (recommended 4L per person per day)