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What to do after a wildfire

When you’re able to return home after a forest fire, use these tips to help recover and stay safe.

Burnt stop sign.

In the aftermath of a wildfire

If you end up in the path of a wildfire, the damage can be devastating, no matter how well you prepared ahead of time. When local authorities say it’s safe to return home, here are some tips to help get you back on your feet.

Before you return home

  • Send text messages or use social media to contact friends and family – make calls only in an emergency since phone lines are often busy after a forest fire.
  • Wait for the all-clear from local authorities.
  • Gather supplies like work gloves, sturdy shoes or boots, dust masks, goggles, flashlights, bottled water, garbage bags, and a first aid kit.

Returning home and checking for damage

  • Walk around outside first, if you notice downed power lines or a gas smell, call the professionals before going in.
  • The ground can contain heat pockets that could burn you or spark another fire, so avoid hot ash, charred trees, smoldering debris, and live embers.
  • Turn off the main power breaker if it’s safe to do so.
  • Wet down debris and wear a dust mask to help keep you from breathing in contaminants.
  • Open your windows and doors to help air your home out.
  • Watch for sagging floors and avoid putting weight on them.
  • Don’t drink the tap water until authorities tell you it’s safe.
  • Throw out any medication, food, or drinks that were exposed to heat, ash, smoke, or chemicals.
  • Avoid touching soot, it smears easily.
  • Follow all proper generator safety tips.
  • Take pictures of your home’s damage, inside and out.
  • Contact your insurance agent or your company to start your claims process.

Cleaning up and moving forward

As you work to return home and recover, the American Red Cross has good information on how to clean up after a wildfire. And as you rebuild, consider durable roofing materials and other ways to protect your home in the future.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm®. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. Nor is it intended to effect coverage under our policy. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates) is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, any third party products or the content of any third party sites referenced in this material. State Farm has no discretion to alter, update, or control the content on the third party sites. Any references to such sites are provided for informational purposes only and are not a solicitation to buy or sell any of the products which may be referenced on such third party sites. State Farm does not warrant the merchantability, fitness, or quality of the third party products referenced in this material.

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