If in doubt, throw it out. When returning to your home, you should discard any food, beverage, or medication exposed to heat, smoke, or soot. The potency of some medications can be altered by exposure to heat, so check with your doctor before using any prescription or over-the-counter medicines.
- Throw away any consumable items that may have come in contact with heat, fumes, water, or chemicals.
- Refrigerators and freezers may not be airtight and power may have been interrupted while you were away.
- Discard any foods that have been above 40°F for over two hours.
For more detailed information, please refer to references provided below.
Surviving fire is an emotionally draining experience. While there are many considerations, the first step is to ensure your own well-being. Your own and your family’s emotional care and recovery are just as important as rebuilding a home and healing physical injuries.
Disasters can stir up many different feelings and thoughts. You may experience fear shock, disbelief, grief, anger and guilt. Memory problems, anxiety and/or depression are not uncommon after such a traumatic event.
Children, senior citizens, people with disabilities and people for whom English is not their first language are especially at risk. When disaster strikes, a child’s view of the world as a safe and predictable place is temporarily lost. It is important to let children know they are safe and that you will help them find a safe place to stay. It is also important that you talk with them in a calm way.
Some basic steps to help meet your physical and emotional needs:
- Return to as many of your personal and family routines as possible
- Rest and drink plenty of water
- Limit your exposure to the sights and sounds of disaster, especially on digital and print media
- Focus on the positive
- Recognize your own feelings
- Realize that, sometimes, recovery can take time
You are not alone, and there will be many resources available. Look for the Red Cross, FEMA, and your local community centers to help you through this difficult time.
- American Red Cross (2003), Picking up the Pieces After a Fire
- Harris, Guidelines for Food Safety During Short-Term Power Outages, UC Agricultur and Natural Resources
- FEMA (2012), After the Fire!
- Oregon State University, (2006) Wildfire Recovery, Oregon State University
- Barkley (2015), "If in Doubt, Throw it Out" - What to do With Food and Medication After a Wildfire, University of Idaho Extension
- Pasley, Canned Food Precautions, University of Wyoming Extension