The situation remains dynamic, the fire threat is ever present and this will shape actions in the days, weeks, and possibly months to come. There will be good days, and bad days, anxious days, and relieved days, exhausted days, and fun days, clear days, and fuzzy days.
For many clean up begins, decisions on where to start and what to do. How to dispose of the rubble, what if there’s asbestos, what if snakes are sheltering in what was the shed. The lingering smoke full of particles, air full of ash and dust, the feeling of the need to move quickly and clean things up. Corners can be cut to get the job done.
People are tired and emotional. This is when injury can occur. Cuts, bruises, grazes, (from handling rubble), respiratory illness, asthma attacks (from dust and smoke), muscular strains, ankle sprains (uneven ground), sunburn (from being sun exposed), heat stress (from working in hot conditions), burns (from embers).
Simple things to do to reduce the risk of injury and illness. Check with the fire services that it is safe to return to the property. Make sure your tetanus immunisation is up to date. Download the Red Cross First aid App, and refresh your first aid skills, and take a first aid kit with you. Have adequate food and water.
Be aware that the blackened, sepia toned landscape and the sight of destruction will be emotionally challenging. Perhaps don’t do much on the first visit.
Make sure you have protective clothing, good boots, long pants and shirts, heavy duty gloves, hats, sunscreen, goggles, and an appropriate mask. Watch out for smouldering logs or trees. Don’t try to do everything yourself, ask friends to help. Be aware of driving long distances or late at night. Pace yourself.
For those whose properties have survived, also be aware. It has been emotional and exhausting, and with surviving the threat, comes the come down, and this is when the guard can be let down. Take special care around operating machinery, driving, using ladders etc .
Also, those who were visiting and are back home now, take care. The harrowing experiences can also have an impact, and blunt reflexes and decision-making.
As I have posted previously, looking after your health and wellbeing is important. It keeps you alert and safe. Maintain a good diet, exercise regularly, practice stress management techniques, and reduce stimulants. Watch out for others as well.