Bushfire aftermath – safety tips

  • Check with your local emergency services that it is safe to return to your property after a bushfire.
  • Wear protective clothing before entering your property after a bushfire.
  • Where possible, try to avoid taking children onto fire-damaged properties. If you do, make sure they remain protected at all times.
  • Hazardous wastes, such as asbestos materials and burnt CCA-treated timber, need special care during handling and disposal.
 

Houses, sheds and other buildings or structures burnt in a bushfire can leave potential health hazards. These may include fallen or sharp objects, smouldering coals, damaged electrical wires, leaking gas and weakened walls.

When returning to your property, make sure you are aware of the dangers and take steps to protect your health and safety.

 

Hazardous materials that may be present after a bushfire include:

  • asbestos
  • ashes, especially from burnt treated timbers (such as copper chrome arsenate or ‘CCA’)
  • LPG gas cylinders
  • medication
  • garden chemicals
  • farm chemicals
  • other general chemicals (for example, cleaning products)
  • metal and other residues from burnt household appliances
  • dust.

If you have a septic tank, remember it may have been weakened in the fire so do not drive or walk over it.

It is unsafe to spread ash around your property, particularly if asbestos materials were used in your home or other structures, or if CCA-treated timber was burnt. It is also unsafe to disturb the dust when walking around your property.

Use protective clothing to check your property after a bushfire
 

Make sure you wear protective clothing before entering your property, including:

  • Wear sturdy footwear and heavy-duty work gloves.
  • Wear disposable overalls, with long sleeves and trousers.
  • Wear a P2 face mask (P2 face masks are sometimes referred to as N95 masks).
  • When leaving the property, dispose of gloves, coveralls and face masks into a garbage bag. Wash your hands after removing contaminated clothing and articles. Shoes should be cleaned before being worn again.

All foods that have been fire damaged or affected by heat should be discarded. This includes all perishable and non-perishable foods (such as cans or packaged foods). Power outages can also leave perishable foods that may have been refrigerated unsafe to eat.

Bushfires produce large amounts of smoke and ash, and your tank water could have become contaminated from debris and ash, or dead animals. If the water tastes, looks or smells unusual, do not drink it or give it to animals.

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