September 2020: Safely Cleaning Ash and Smoke

Kristin B, and some of the team members who worked to organize the donation room at the fairgrounds.

Like many of you, Queen B Organizing stepped into the thick of volunteer efforts this past weekend to help those affected by wildfire. Cleaning up may not be the first thing on your mind just now, but when it is, it will mean the worst is past us and we begin the process of moving forward.  Here is some information to keep in mind to help you continue to stay safe.

Ash and Smoke in the Air

As wildfires continue to rage around Oregon, Washington, and California, the valley has been inundated with smoke and ash, causing the air to be hazardous to breathe.  While uncertainty about wind and weather patterns keep everyone in a state of high alert, they will shift, leaving those of us fortunate to be in our homes and businesses with the task of clearing them of the dangerous residue left behind.

The smallest particles of ash are extremely dangerous and can trigger serious health issues, particularly for those in vulnerable populations: children, pregnant women, those with chronic lung or heart conditions. Do not attempt to clean without following proper safety precautions, and if you are unable to do so, call a professional.

Safe Cleaning Guidelines

Start with the guidelines created by the EPA on this Wildfire Smoke Factsheet.  Wear protective clothing, including gloves, and an N95 mask. Choose your cleaning supplies carefully as well, to keep from spreading particles back into the air. The factsheet includes links to other resources that monitor air quality, and to recommendations for home air cleaning devices.

For cleanup related to smoke odors, follow this guide.  Something as simple as placing bowls of baking soda around your home can help clear the air of odor. Cleaning items inside and outside your home will help as well, when safe to do so.

Cleaning Your Car

Lastly, your vehicle may need to be cleaned of ash. In order to limit damage to the exterior paint, you can follow the simple guidelines presented in this short video for thorough cleaning.

Take the time to learn about safety precautions for the cleanup of ash and smoke, and share these resources with others.  May we all see blue skies again soon.


Featured image by okjumena from Pixabay