When your local government has declared it safe for you to return home, there are steps you can take to make the transition back easier and safer. More detailed information can be found in the Re-Entering Your Home After a Wildfire Guide (PDF).

Re-Entering Your Home

Do not enter your home until local authorities say it’s safe. It’s important to obey all signage and Damage Assessment Placards.

Damage Assessment Placards are notices that the local government places on buildings within the damaged area. They tell you whether a structure is suitable for re-entry (green), if access is restricted (yellow) or if it is unsafe to enter (red). Visit BC Housing for more information on placards.

Drinking Water & Food Safety

Do not drink tap water unless local officials have assured you that it’s safe for drinking. Obtain bottled water, or boil or disinfect tap water with tablets (or chlorine bleach for non-drinking needs). If you are on a well or cistern and it has been damaged, assume the water is not safe to drink. Contact your local authority for instructions.

Food can be damaged by unsafe temperatures, smoke, ash, soot, fire retardant chemicals, water and loss of power during a fire. Discard food that is spoiled, as well as food that has been stored in a refrigerator that has lost power, even if the power has since been restored. When in doubt, throw it out. 

Fire Retardant

Things to know about fire retardant:

  • Water-soluble fire retardants are commonly used in fire suppression.
  • Retardant is typically coloured red with an iron oxide (rust) mixture to increase its visibility for air crews and ground personnel.
  • If retardant lands on houses, cars, etc., it can be washed off with water.
  • If the retardant is dry, removal may require some scrubbing with water or power washing and a mild detergent.

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