Colorado Wildfires: What to Do After a Natural Disaster

Wildfires are incredibly destructive, fast-spreading, and tough to contain. Worst of all, a fire may come as a complete surprise to those impacted. The Marshall and Middle Forks Fires displaced tens of thousands of Colorado residents. Rebuilding may take time.1 Here are some tips for those affected by wildfires that may help rebuild and recover.

Immediately After a Fire: Staying Healthy

Cleaning up from a fire without the proper protection may put you into contact with substances that might cause harm. Consider using the following approaches:

  • Use an N95 (or equivalent) mask when cleaning your home after a fire or spending time outdoors in areas that have recently burned.
  • Do not disturb ash or debris; leave this to a professional.
  • Wipe any affected surfaces with a damp cloth. Using harsh chemicals on soot, ash, and particles may create fumes and chemical reactions that might be harmful.
  • If you vacuum, make sure your vacuum cleaner has a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
  • Have your HVAC ducts and filters cleaned (and replaced if necessary) as soon as possible after a fire.
  • Ensure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries and are in good working condition.

Ensuring a Safe Environment for the Long-Term

After you are allowed to return to your home, you may wonder—what next? Even after a thorough cleaning, is the air in your home safe? What about any damage to your lawn and outdoor living spaces? Residents of recently burned areas should take extra precautions in the months and years following a fire.

Stay Inside on Windy Days

High winds might send ash and other fire byproducts flying into the air. Although you may not see these particles, you could inhale them and irritate your lungs or increase your risk of developing pulmonary issues. By staying indoors on days with high wind, you may lessen your exposure to potentially harmful particulates.

Step Up Your Rug Collection

By placing rugs at the entry points of your home and removing your shoes when you arrive, you might avoid tracking in ash and particles from outdoors. Be sure to clean these rugs regularly. For this reason, you may want to purchase machine-washable rugs.

Discard or Professionally Clean Soft Surfaces

While it is possible to clean and sanitize many parts of your home after a wildfire, soft surfaces like couches, chairs, bedding, and carpet may still contain harmful residues. Some, like bedding, are easily washable; others, like couches and carpet, may need replacement if professional cleaning is not possible.

Check Your Heating Tanks

If you use propane, natural gas, or heating oil for home heating, you will want to contact your fuel supplier to ensure your system is still in good working condition and not damaged by the fire. The heat and pressure of a fire may damage the supply lines that transport fuel into your home, increasing the risk of leakage that may cause another fire.

Though it may take time to physically, mentally, and emotionally heal from a wildfire, these tips may help you stay safe while rebuilding and starting anew.


LPL Tracking #1-05232239

Nelisha Firestone
Author: Nelisha Firestone
Nelisha Firestone is a Wealth Advisor with Fusion Financial Group, an independent financial planning firm and fiduciary based in Denver, CO. With over 16 years of experience, Nelisha is passionate about guiding women to live their best lives by crafting their road map to financial independence. Her drive to help women comes from watching her grandmother, who was widowed at the age of 49, struggle financially after her husband died. Nelisha recognizes that if her grandmother had someone in her life to offer her sound financial advice, she would have lived a much better life. That’s why Nelisha specializes in serving business owners interested in exiting their business and single women with comprehensive financial planning and wealth management services. She recognizes that women have unique challenges, and she partners with her clients by educating and empowering them to make the best financial decisions possible. Nelisha has a bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University and is married to a Colorado native. Nelisha and her husband have two beautiful daughters, Addison and Eden, and love to spend time in the great outdoors hiking, skiing, and camping—to name a few! To learn more about Nelisha, connect with her on LinkedIn.