Los Angeles

Public Health Emergency Declared in California Due to Wildfires

What to Know

  • Local Health Emergency is put in place for areas affected by the wildfires.
  • Avoid unnecessary exposure to fire debris.
  • Follow the County Public Health Department's safety recommendations.

A public health emergency was declared in California Wednesday as crews to the northern and southern regions of the state battle deadly fires. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar's announcement comes on the heals of President Donald Trump declaring the fires a federal disaster.

The designations allow for health providers and services more flexibility in meeting the need for help following the fires.

In addition, Ventura County declared the Woolsey blaze a local health emergency. The county would be coordinating with local and state officials to help residents with fire debris removal in the wake of the 97,000-acre blaze. 

County officials were asking residents to avoid removing fire debris and ash until professional cleanup services can be obtained. 

The County Public Health Department recommends the following safety recommendations when searching through debris.

  • When exposure to dust or ash cannot be avoided, use a well-fitted NIOSH- certified air-purifying respirator N-95 mask.
  • Children should not be in the vicinity while cleanup is in progress. Even if care is exercised, it is easy to stir up ash that may contain hazardous substances.
  • Clean ash off house pets and other domesticated animals if they have been in contaminated areas. Do not allow pets in these areas for their health and because of their ability to spread contamination.
  • Wear gloves, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants to avoid skin contact. Goggles are recommended. Change your shoes and clothing prior to leaving the site, to avoid tracking ash into your car and other areas.  

You can registed for recovery notifications and find additional resources on the Ventura County Recovery page.

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