As bushfire-affected families return home and begin the task of assessing the damage, they have been warned to remember the possible health impacts.
The Murrumbidgee Local Health District's director of public heath Tracey Oakman has urged residents and their families to take extra precautions when returning to homes and properties affected by bushfires.
"Residents returning home after bushfires should first check with local emergency services to see if it is safe," Mrs Oakman said.
"Burnt houses, sheds or other structures can leave behind health hazards including fallen or sharp objects, smouldering coals, damaged electrical wires, leaking gas or weakened walls."
When returning home people are reminded to:
- Wear protective clothing, including sturdy footwear, heavy-duty work gloves, disposable coveralls and P2/N95 face masks;
- Throw out all fire-damaged or heat-affected food;
- Do not drink or give animals water that tastes, looks or smells unusual; and
- Do not spread or disturb ash around your property, particularly if treated timber was burnt in the fire.
- Residents with rainwater tanks should also be aware of specific advice around their use following a bushfire.
"Bushfires generate large amounts of smoke and ash, and your tank water could have become contaminated from debris and ash or dead animals. If the water tastes, looks or smells unusual do not drink it or give it to animals," Ms Oakman said.
Returning to property and bushfire affected areas may be stressful and exhausting, Mrs Oakman said.
For mental health support call:
- NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511
- Lifeline on 131114
- For practical assistance call the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line: 1800 018 444.
Mrs Oakman is also reminding people to take care of their health while the region continues to be affected by smoke and haze from the bushfires.