What to check for when returning home from a wildfire evacuation

An insurance expert gives the do's and don'ts of what to do when reentering evacuated dwellings.

Evacuation orders for the Goodwin Fire were lifted Thursday morning for people living in Mayer, and the evacuation on the east side of Poland Junction should be lifted Friday.

Kate Peifer, a communications consultant with Allstate, said it is important to closely inspect your home as you return from evacuation. 

First, you should check for anything smoldering and make sure there isn't anything flammable within 30 feet of your property. 

Once you confirm nothing is burning, there are a few more steps to take. 

“You just want to make sure everything is being fully inspected and checked out before you go living completely normally because it has totally affected your lifestyle and your house,” Peifer said. “And you just want to make sure that you’re being as healthy as possible.”

Yavapai County has provided a checklist of what to inspect. 

Food safety

Check the food in your refrigerator. Certain foods may need to be thrown out because electric power may have been off for at least two days.

You can safely keep things like ketchup, mustard, jams and jellies, store-bought salad dressing and pickles and relish.

Canned and packaged foods in pantries are usually safe unless they were exposed to extreme fire heat.

The Yavapai County Food Bank at 8866 East Long Mesa Drive in Prescott Valley is offering assistance to homeowners who were evacuated during the Goodwin Fire and have lost their fresh food supplies. Be prepared to provide an ID or property address to show you live within the evacuated area. 

Private wells

If your home or business in on a private well, you may have to take some precautions. Call the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality at (800) 234-5677 for more information.

Wildlife

During and after a fire, wildlife may be displaced and looking for food and water. Do not leave pet food or water bowls outdoors, and avoid contact with all wildlife.

Also remember to watch out for snakes, which could be hiding in trash or wood piles around your property.

Biting insects

When working outdoors, use an insect repellant containing diethyltoluamide, also known as DEET, to prevent bites from fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.

Garbage

To avoid attracting animals and flies, use tightly covered containers to hold garbage.

The Yavapai County Transfer Station at 11130 South Antelope Creek Road will be open during normal business hours and accepting trash at no charge from those affected by the fire or the power outage in Mayer. The station will be closed on July 4.

Septic Systems

Certain septic systems may have been adversely affected by lack of use during a prolonged absence. Fire retardant, water, ash and the weight of fallen debris may also be of concern. It is recommended that routine maintenance be performed for your specific systems.

Odors

The smell of smoke may linger in your home. You can place saucers of vanilla, vinegar or activated charcoal in rooms to help absorb the odors. Remember that the smoke odor is also inside the heating and cooling ductwork, and you may get a blast of the smell every time the air system is turned on.

Air quality

Smoke from the Goodwin Fire may be visible, but as long as you can still see things that are 5 to 10 miles away, you can be reasonably sure you won’t have a medical emergency caused by smoke inhalation.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is monitoring conditions, and communities will be alerted as needed. If you start to feel sick or faint, contact your doctor immediately.

Power outage in Mayer

Close to 600 APS customers are without power, which may not be fully restored until Sunday. Crews are working on restoring power as soon as possible. 

In the meantime, you can be reimbursed for up to 40 pounds of wet bagged ice or 20 pounds of dry ice. You are asked to send your receipts, along with your account number or service address, to: APS Community Affairs PO Box 53999 Phoenix, AZ 85072.

For more information, check the Yavapai County Emergency Managers Facebook page.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment