Wildfires are burning throughout California, and health officials are warning residents in burn areas to take precautions when cleaning up ash that has fallen on to their property. Depending on where the ash comes from, it can be toxic.
Ash from burned homes may contain more toxic substances than forest fire ash because synthetic materials such as metal, chemicals and asbestos are present. If this ash is breathed in or touched with wet skin, it can enter the bloodstream and cause major health problems. Wet ash can also cause chemical burns.
Public health officials said residents should not clean up ash while it is still falling. Once it is safe to clean up, ash should be moistened before it is wiped or swept up to avoid stirring up harmful dust. Also, wiping dry ash from a vehicle can scratch the paint.
If you have to clean up ash, wear a well-fitting dust mask to avoid breathing in particles, and wear gloves, a long sleeve shirt and pants to avoid skin contact. If you do get ash on your skin, wash it off as soon as possible.
Sources: OC Register and the California Air Resource Board
The recent volcanic activity in Hawaii should alert Californians to be prepared for disasters. Although most Californians are not aware, there are seven active volcanoes that pose a threat to California. The probability of an eruption is unknown, but the likelihood of a major earthquake is always a threat.
The seven active volcanoes in California consist of two threat levels: “Very High” and “High”. Three volcanoes in Northern California are in the “Very High” range, and four are in the “High” range; two in Northern California, one in Central California and one in Southern California by the Salton Sea.
Volcanic eruptions will occur in California in the future, and the one thing these eruptions have in common with earthquakes are short warning times. We need to always be prepared, and have the following items stored in a disaster preparedness kit:
- Water: One gallon per person per day
- Food, for at least 3 days
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Dust mask
- Wipes or toilettes
- Wrench or pliers
- Can opener
- Cell phone
In the event of a disaster or emergency, it is your responsibility as a homeowner and mobile home park resident to be prepared to take care of yourself and your family. If you or someone in your family requires electricity for life support equipment, be sure you have a back up generator available as well.
Sources: www.OCRegister.com www.sandiegouniontribune.com