September 9, 2011
With wildfires continuing to damage, lives, property and land, Texas health officials urge people to be aware of potential risks as they return home to begin the recovery process.
Ash: Adults should use a protective respirator mask (N-95 or P-100) while cleaning up areas with ash. Ash and dust from burned buildings may contain toxic chemicals. Children should not be in the area during
Electricity: Avoid downed or damaged electrical lines. Electrical repairs should be done by a qualified technician.
Carbon Monoxide: Place generators, power washers and other fuel burning devices at least 50 feet away from the house and away from open doors and windows to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
Natural Gas: Do not enter an area or building where you smell gas. Do not turn on the lights or light a match. Leave the area immediately, then dial 9-1-1.
Food: Discard food that may have spoiled, thawed or come into contact with hazardous materials. Loss of power to refrigeration and freezer units can cause food to spoil. If you’re not certain food is safe, throw it out.
Water: Check with the water provider to be sure that water is safe to drink because water pressure may have been lost during the fire. Water from a damaged water system or well may require disinfection by boiling for one minute or stirring in 1/8 teaspoon of unscented bleach per gallon and letting sit for 30 minutes.
Debris: Avoid broken glass, exposed wires, nails, wood, metal, plastic and other debris that can cause puncture wounds, cuts and burns. Falling trees and tree limbs while using chain saws can cause severe injuries.
Mental Health: Common feelings after a traumatic event can include fear, sadness, guilt, sleeplessness, irritability or numbness. Take breaks from cleanup efforts, get rest, drink water and accept help from others. Do not increase the use of alcohol or other substances. For mental health or substance abuse assistance, dial 2-1-1.
Always follow guidance from local officials before returning to an area that has been evacuated. For additional information about health effects and disaster preparation, go to www.dshs.state.tx.us or www.TexasPrepares.org.
For a downloadable fact sheet about wildfire recovery, go to Wildfire Recovery.
(News Media Contact: Carrie Williams, Press Officer, 512-776-7119.)
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