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Returning home from an evacuation: Cleaning soot, ash or forest fire residue in a home or buildings

During an evacuation due to wildfires, ash, soot or smoke residue may have gotten inside of homes and buildings. They can cause physical reactions or symptoms.

Ash from a campfire

Forest fire ash is similar to ash found in fireplaces, wood stoves or fire pits

Soot, ashes or residue from forest fires are not chemically toxic.

They are similar to ash found in fireplaces, wood stoves or fire pits. 

Possible health effects

Person wearing an N95 mask

Wear an N-95 or KN-95 mask while cleaning

Did you know?

If you are doing the cleaning, it is recommended to wear an N95 or KN95 mask and gloves, to avoid breathing ash or soot, and so it doesn’t irritate your skin. Safety glasses can also be a good idea if there is heavy dust.

N95 or KN95 masks are available from your community’s Public Safety Officer or Emergency Response Team/Committee. 

Air circulation in the home

Fan on floor blowing red ribbon

Use a fan with an open window if possible

Did you know?

Once you have wiped down surfaces, you can open your windows and use a fan to get the air moving in your house, as long there is no smoke or ongoing poor outdoor air quality in the community. 

  • If there is poor outdoor air quality ongoing, use the recirculated air function on your ventilation system. 

  •  If you have one, you can use a humidifier to reduce how much ash and smoke residue becomes air-borne as you move items around in the house. 
  • When possible, have a professional clean ventilation ducts (if you have them) and air conditioning systems. 

  • Ozone generators do not function as “air cleaners” despite advertising claims. 

When you can, replace your furnace filter and/or air conditioner filter. 

Explore more

The Cree Board of Health recommends you wear a mask in certain situations to protect yourself and people around you.

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