November 19, 2018
Post-Fire Tips for Dealing with the Aftermath of the California Fires


I just came across the following content, on Facebook, from a woman in California who who been the victim of two fires in the past 11 months. Below, she writes about what she has learned from her experiences and offers very practical advice to anyone in California (or anywhere, for that matter), who is dealing with the aftermath of a major fire event. I cannot verify the accuracy of everything she says, but it certainly seems worthy of your consideration -- especially if you are one of the people dealing with the after affects of the fires. Here goes:

"They said you can move back? Listen to me IT'S NOT OVER!! My husband and I escaped and evacuated from two major fires and a deadly mudslide this year. Had we stayed in California Wolsey and Hill would have been our 3rd occurrence in 11 months. This is what I learned this past year and I hope it can be of service to you and your families or pass it along to others you know who may need this information:

1. If your house burned down, then you are obviously not going to return to it. If you house hasn't burned down and you are still under mandatory evacuation, make sure you retain every receipt of all out of pocket expenses including gas. From gas to food to lodging. All can be reimbursed. If you haven't done so yet, call your insurance company and see what the terms are for LOSS OF USE. You don't have to have lost your home to be entitled to reimbursement.

2. If the mandatory evacuation has been lifted in your area and they tell you it is safe to return PLEASE READ ON...

3. If you live up to five miles from burned structures, IT IS NOT SAFE TO RETURN. Extremely toxic material has burned, from chemicals in cleaning products to appliances to cars. The ashes are toxic and extremely harmful to your health (especially for little ones, the elderly, people with respiratory issues and compromised immune systems, and animals).

4. The ashes, once the fires have been put out, will stay on the ground for a long time. Any swift wind will lift them and make them travel all the way to your roof and window screens. THEY TRAVEL FOR MILES!

5. Do not clean up the ashes yourself. Call remediation specialists. Again, the ashes are really toxic.

6. Do not use leaf blowers. In fact, there will probably be a ban on leaf blows for weeks or months.

7. Do not let your kids or pets play in the yard or public parks -- even after the sky turns blue again.

8. It doesn't matter what they tell you, the quality of the water will be compromised for a while. You can buy a water quality test for $20 on Amazon. Test your water not only for heavy metals but for e.coli and coliform bacteria. Use bottled water. Buy water filters for the shower.

9. BEWARE OF THE RAIN: It never rains in California except after fires. Check your weather forecast if rain is coming. This rain will be toxic on many levels. It will bring down the fumes that are currently in the air and it will infiltrate streams, the produce of nearby farms, (Ventura is a farmland), the kettle will drink it, and last by not least, it could be cause of mudslides due to the unstable condition of the soil and the amount of loose debris on the ground. If you think I'm exaggerating, please look up what happened in Santa Barbara earlier this year after the Thomas fire. It created more casualties than the fires. And FYI, mudslides are not covered under insurance unless you can prove they were a direct consequence of the fire. Be prepared to be under mandatory evacuation every time it rains if you live in the affected areas.

10. Talk to your public health officials and demand a letter that says it is completely safe for children, elderly, and pets to play outside. They will never give it to you. They will give you something that basically says they don't take responsibility to assess that and will give you a standard procedure after any fire. Use it to demand that your insurance company continues to pay for loss of use, complete remediation of your home, and new clothes until the area has been cleared from toxic ashes.

11. Once the debris of the burned structures have been removed (not before), make sure to get your roof and windows/screens power washed (covered by insurance) or demand it from your landlord.

12. Change the filters in your ventilation system in your house and your car. Until then, DO NOT run your central heating or AC. Get an electric heater for the time being.

13. Depending on how close you were to the fires, the insulation system in your attic may need to be replaced.

14. Get your chimney serviced and keep the damper closed.

15. Buy an air purifier immediately to keep in your main living area. Move it to the bedroom at night.

16. Check for rodent infestation. During fires, rodents try to find refuge in abandoned homes,

17. This could be a good time to adopt a pet. Your local shelters will soon overflow with lost pets.

18. Practice self-care. You may not realize it yet, but this was a very traumatic experience. Talk to a therapist/counselor/coach, especially your children.

19. Be prepared. Make sure you have an emergency bag in your car with all the important things and keep your key documents closer to the door. The last thing you think right now is that it will happen again. IT WILL. Trust me. I know.

20. if you are thinking about selling your home, just wait. There will be a moratorium on all the home insurance for months. That means that even if you find a buyer nobody will insure your home, hence no sale. There will be moratorium on renters insurance as well. It will eventually lift, but some insurance companies who will lose a lot of money in the area will not want to insure for a while.

21. If you want to talk, vent, cry, I AM HERE. I have been there. I am still there. Even if I don't know you, I'd be happy to talk or video chat. Just text, become friends on FB -- whatever does it for you. I found in this last year that sometimes the best therapy to overcome trauma is to help others overcome theirs."



After the Fire

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at November 19, 2018 09:46 AM

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