Fire evacuees should consider health and safety issues when returning home

Kittitas County, WA -08/17/2012 – In response to the Taylor Bridge fire, Kittitas County Public Health Department is providing some guidelines for evacuees to consider when returning to their homes to avoid health and safety problems. Prompt and safe cleanup procedures will help residents move forward with their lives while minimizing potential health and environmental issues that may be exacerbated with improper cleanup methods.

  • Ash and debris from burned structures may contain toxic substances.  Care should thus be taken when handling any materials from buildings that are either partially damaged or completely destroyed by the fire.
  • Dispose of household chemicals that have been damaged by the fire at the Ellensburg or Cle Elum Moderate Risk Waste Facility (transfer stations).
  • If you have a propane tank system, contact a propane supplier, turn off the valves on the system, and leave the valves closed until the supplier inspects your system.
  • If you have a heating oil tank system, contact a heating oil supplier for an inspection before using it.
  • If you have determined that burying any dead animals is an appropriate method, be sure every part of the carcass is covered by at least three feet of soil; at a location not less than 100 feet from any well, spring, stream, or other surface water.
  • Discard any food that may be contamined by heat, smoke fumes, chemicals, and power outages.
  • Use a “particulate respirator” to help to protect your lungs during cleanup efforts, such as one that has the word “NIOSH” and either “N95” or “P100” printed on it.
  • Perform a visual inspection of your well and other components which are part of your water supply system.  If you find damage, contact an appropriate contractor to repair the damage.
  • If your water system has been damaged or if you are in doubt about the safety of your water, you may want to have your water tested.  Water testing kits are available from the Kittitas County Public Health Department 507 N. Nanum, Suite 102, Ellensburg, 509-962-7515 or Evergreen Valley Utilities, 301 W First St, Cle Elum, 509-674-9642.
  • If you do not have water that you know is safe, use bottled water or purify the water for drinking purposes using chemical disinfection or boiling the water for at least 10 minutes.
  • Inspect your septic system for damage.   If it is damaged, backing up, or malfunctioning, discontinue use and contact a septic system installer or designer for guidance and instruction.
  • Tetanus is a concern for persons with both open and closed wounds, and a tetanus vaccination is recommended for all residents returning to the burn area who have not had a documented dose within the past ten years.

Download additional information: http://www2.co.kittitas.wa.us/fileUploads/press-releases/202/additional/guidance for evacuees returning to homes after fire.pdf

For more detailed information on safe clean up and health considerations when returning to your home, please see the county health dept. website at www.co.kittitas.wa.us/health

nkctribuneFire evacuees should consider health and safety issues when returning home