Wildfires not only impact the environment and human infrastructure, but can also create long term health issues for first responders, residents, and workers due to smoke emitted during the fire. The residues from burned material can also affect people involved in post-fire clean-up efforts. Tips to stay healthier during and after a wildfire event can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) webpage. Information on the page is available in English and Spanish.
The page talks about health concerns for those at highest risk of harm from wildfire smoke during a wildfire. People with COPD, asthma, heart disease, or those who are pregnant, need to be aware of their increased risk and take extra precautions and should seek medical assistance if needed.
After the fire has passed and residents return, the CDC recommends that residents, first responders, and clean-up workers take extra safety precautions to protect themselves from harmful chemical residues and other unsafe conditions that may be present. The site even shares some guidance for first responders who are managing the site. That information covers topics such as electrocution hazards, personal protective equipment needed for cleaning up, structure hazards that might be present, and more.
Being better prepared before, during, and after a fire can help create better outcomes for residents, first responders, and clean up crews after a wildfire event has occurred.
Image credit: Faith Berry, NFPA