What to do if your home is affected

Arizona residents aren’t strangers to the effects of monsoon and wildfire seasons.

At least 1,500 homes were at risk of flooding in 2022 and about 32 homes were burned in the Contreras and Tunnel fires, some of the biggest wildfires this season. Here are some tips residents can follow after wildfires and floods hit.

What to do after a flood in Arizona

After a flood, if someone’s home was affected, the National Flood Insurance Program suggests you:

  1. Contact your insurance agent or insurer as soon as possible to file your claim.
  2. Before entering, check around your home carefully for signs of structural damage like eroded soil around the foundation, displaced foundation, or gaps around doors or windows. Look through your windows to make sure it’s safe—older homes may be particularly unstable.
  3. Make sure the electricity and gas are shut off to avoid fire or injury. Have an electrician check the house before turning the power back on.
  4. Your home may be contaminated with mold, sewage, or other hazards. Enter with caution and wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles during cleanup.
  5. Photograph and make a list of flood-damaged items for insurance purposes before discarding them. Then throw flooded items that pose a health risk such as perishable food items, clothing, cushions and pillows.

People are also advised to begin cleanup and documentation as soon as possible to prevent the spread of mold. The website has tips on how people can salvage family valuables and heirlooms such as art or photographs.

What to do after a fire in Arizona

A brochure from the Arizona Department of Health Services advises following these steps after a fire:

  • Call your insurance carrier immediately: Don’t settle claims or sign releases too quickly. Ensure the insurance will take care of security matters such as boarding up the property and take time to know the losses.
  • Temporary housing: If your house is uninhabitable and you have no place to go, contact your county’s American Red Cross. The contact information for Central and Northern Arizona can be found at https://www.redcross.org/local/az-nm/about-us/locations/central-and-northern-arizona.html and the contact information for Southern Arizona can be found at https://www.redcross.org/local/az-nm/about-us/locations/southern-arizona.html.
  • Residual fire retardant: If you notice residual red fire retardant, use a mild detergent and brushes to scrub the dried residue and rinse with clean water.
  • Lost power and utilities: Don’t attempt to turn on the gas yourself and don’t run wet appliances until a professional has checked them.
  • Food and water safety: Discard food if it may have been sitting above 41 degrees for more than four hours. If you are on a public water system, boil your water unless your water company announces that the water is safe to drink. If you have a well, check the quality of the water.
  • Water damage: Check for water beneath vinyl floors and allow rugs and carpets to dry thoroughly. Also, assess damage to wood furniture and fixtures since some can be saved.
  • Fire and ash damage: Ash from a burned home or garage may be harmful. West the ash before removing it to avoid harmful dust. Also, wash cooking utensils.
  • Propane and household chemicals: Ensure that propane tanks are secure and not leaking. If they may have been damaged, don’t use it and call your propane service provider. If the original containers or labels of household chemicals are damaged, properly dispose of them.
  • Money replacement: Damaged paper money or coins may be redeemable. You can mail the money via registered mail, return receipt requested to the Department of Treasury, Bureau of Engraving and Printing Office of Currency Standards.  
  • Documents and records: Check what documents you may need to replace. For documented related to social services and welfare, notify your caseworker. For birth or death-related records, contact the Arizona Department of Health Services Office of Vital Records.

Coconino County offers the following guidance for re-entering an area that was impacted by a flood or wildfire:

  • Use protective equipment like a hard hat, safety glasses, mask gloves and boots with steel toes.
  • Clean all open wounds and cuts with soap and clean water.
  • A tetanus vaccination is recommended for people who have not had a documented dose in the past ten years.
  • Be careful with wildlife that may have been displaced.
  • Be aware that buildings may have structural damage that is not visible. The structures should be inspected.
  • Avoid potential electrical hazards and be careful with debris.
  • Be aware of respiratory hazards that may be caused by fire or bacteria growing.

Reach breaking news reporter Angela Cordoba Perez at Angela.CordobaPerez@Gannett.com or on Twitter @AngelaCordobaP.

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