For those of us lucky enough to be returning home after these fires, it might feel like a chance to finally relax and let the stress of this nightmare behind us. Unfortunately we're not out of the woods quite yet. When returning home its important to remember to do it safely. Which is why we've pulled together some tips and links we think will be useful. 

Use Caution When Returning to Your Property:

You should be prepared for any hazards that may be present by being properly dressed. Wear boots, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. A hard hat can provide additional safety. As there may be smoke and ash present, you may want a dust mask as well.

Things to Look For:

• charred trees and power poles that may be unstable

• live power lines that may be on the ground

• spot fires and smoldering debris

• live embers

• ash pits (holes created by burned trees filled with hot ash).


Before Entering Your Home

• FIRST check for the smell of gas. If you smell gas, leave the house and turn the supply off at the tank or outside valve. Open the doors and windows, and contact your utility provider.

• Check for electrical power. If there is power, temporarily turn it off until you've completed your inspection. If there is no power, see if the main breaker is on.

• Inspect your roof and attic for sparks or embers, and wet them down immediately. Embers can enter attics through attic vents if not properly screened.

• Check roofs and floors to be sure they are structurally safe before entering.

• Check for and extinguish any burning embers or smoldering debris found on your roof, in rain gutters, on the porch, or anywhere else on your property. Check back frequently over the course of several days to make sure they are completely out.


Once Inside Your Home

• Check for embers and smoke in the attic and crawl space. Do this every day for several days.

• Beware of hot spots, dust, ash, broken glass, and other sharp objects.

• Do not start cleaning or throwing away anything until you have contacted your insurance company.

• Ask your insurance provider what you should do about covering broken windows, doors, and other exposed areas, pumping out water, and any other activities you may need to do to secure your home.

• Take pictures and/or video, and start a list of damaged belongings.

• Continue wearing boots, heavy clothing, and rubber gloves when sifting through debris and handling hazardous materials (cleaning solvents, paints, batteries, etc).

• Wear a mask while sifting through debris to avoid breathing in smoke and ash.

• Do not allow children to play in the area.

• Be aware that animals may have taken shelter in your home, garage, or outbuildings. Leaving a door open door will allow animals to return on their own to their natural surroundings.

• Animals that appear injured or unwilling to leave may require you to call animal control.

• Contact your utility providers (water, natural gas, and electricity) to restore service.

Useful Links

CalFire: After a Wild Fire

CalFire: Returning Home

Redcross: Cleaning up after a fire

EPA: Risks of Smoke

Dealing with Insurance 1

Dealing with Insurance 2