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What should you do when returning home after evacuating? Here are some tips

People are beginning to return home as some evacuation orders have been reduced.
Credit: Barbara Lokken
Credit: Barbara Lokken

CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. — Evacuation orders in parts of Oregon have been reduced in recent days, meaning some people who left their homes due to wildfire danger are now being allowed to return.

For many people, given the historic magnitude of the fires burning in Oregon, this may be the first time they've ever evacuated their homes. That also means, for the people who didn't lose their houses, it’s the first time they’re returning home after being forced to leave due to the dangerous situation.

So, what should you do when you return home? Nancy Bush, the disaster management director for Clackamas County, gave some tips during a news conference Monday:

  • Be cautious as you travel back home. Visibility is still poor because of the smoke and there’s downed trees and debris in some areas. There may also be damage to the road.
  • Use caution around trees, power poles and other tall objects that may have lost stability.
  • Once you're home, check for the smell of gas. Turn off the gas and power until you’ve inspected your home.
  • Discard any food in the fridge or food that’s been exposed to heat, smoke and soot.
  • Don’t forget about COVID-19 protocols including washing your hands and cleaning surfaces at your home.
  • Phone reception may be unreliable depending on where you live. Send text messages or use social media to give family and friends an update on your situation.

Watch the news conference (Bush speaks at 13:45 mark)

As of Monday evening, 35 active wildfires have burned about 950,000 acres and killed 10 people, according to the Oregon Office of Emergency Management