I know I’ve been talking about natural disasters a lot lately, but there are currently several fires threatening New South Wales and southern Queensland. Checking my “Fires Near Me” app, there have a been a few near Brisbane, but not many that have raged like the ones currently on the news.

So I want to talk a little about the aftermath of the bushfires in terms of returning home.

Some things to be cautious of when returning to your home:

  • 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
  • Septic tanks

The ashes, fumes, and residue from the listed items can be harmful to people, especially the asbestos. The septic tanks may have bee damaged or weakened by the fire, so do not walk or drive over the tank.

When checking your property, make sure to wear the proper safety equipment. Cover up and wear a face mask to prevent yourself from breathing in anything harmful. Everything should be disposable preferably, so you can get rid of it once you’re done.

Discard any food that may have been damaged or affected by the fire; all of it, even the canned stuff. You should also check your water tank to ensure it hasn’t become contaminated with ash or debris. Do NOT drink it if you have even the smallest doubts that it has been affected.

Ventilate your house to allow sunlight and fresh air in to help getting rid of the smell of burnt everything. Wash down all your things with soapy water. Using a bleach, washing powder, and water mixture can help with persistent smells and soot, but make sure to wear rubber gloves. Move soft furniture (sofas, beds, etc.) outside to get some air, but your feather and foam pillows might need replacing. Wash clothing normally and air dry, but be careful of the wind as it may recover everything in ash and dust. Bleach can help with stains, but read the label for instructions.

Above all, take care of yourself first. Make sure you’re getting enough water and that you avoid irritants as best you can. If you aren’t feeling well in any way, you should contact your doctor for medical advice.

Information from Victoria Government’s Better Health Channel site: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/bushfire-aftermath-safety-tips

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