The Santa Barbara County Public Health department has issued the following warnings to protect the families dealing with fire cleanup.
Try not to expose any part of your body: keep your eyes protected with glasses or goggles, wear shirts with long sleeves and pants to protect your skin. Thick-soled boots are recommended, but tennis shoes are discouraged because the soles might melt if they make contact with surfaces that are still hot.
Use rubber gloves when dealing with chemicals or outdoor plumbing, and leather gloves to move sharp objects.
If breathed in, ash can irritate the nose and throat causing coughing and triggering asthma attacks. Masks are strongly recommended to prevent this, a simple surgical mask will do, but if this is not available to you, use a damp cloth to cover your mouth and nose.
Avoid any ash residue by cleaning off all children’s toys and household pets before allowing your children to play with them. If you have a garden, thoroughly clean all fruits and vegetables before using them.
Please do not spread the ash into the air - do not use leaf blowers and most common vacuum cleaners.
Finally, persons with heart and lung disease should contact their physician prior to fire cleanup to consult them about masks and additional safety measures.
Jenny Pedersen is an Independent intern.