Tetanus Shots and Respirators on List For Evacuees Returning Home

By Paige Browning

People who had to evacuate because of the Carlton Complex of fires are returning home to assess the damage and start cleanup. This process has health officials on alert, since breathing in or digging through ash can pose safety risks.
 
Jacqueline ‘JJ’ Bellinger is an environmental health specialist for Okanogan County Public Health. She says people should wear thick leather gloves, goggles, and be up to date on tetanus shots.
 
Bellinger: “People who’ve never had to deal with a completely burned house don’t even think about being up to their ankles in ash and trying to pick something up out of the ash and punching a hole in your hand on nails.”
 
She says kids should not help with cleaning up burned homes For lung protection, people need a particulate respirator, a type of facemask, from the hardware store.
 
Bellinger: “In addition to all the ash that’s left over, with lord knows what that burned off your house and didn’t go up in the air, the soil out is like moondust, and breathing all that into your lungs is not good even if you’re in wonderful health.”
 
For homes where there are still some appliances, health officials say turn off valves and switches and get an inspection.
 
The health guidelines are posted on the web, at www.okanogancounty.org/ochd.

 
Copyright 2014 Spokane Public Radio
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