Post fires, there’s a lot of ash, and with Thanksgiving coming up quickly, there’s a natural desire to get things back in order.

Please note, ash can cause health issues. Based on the information published by the public health department about a week after the Santa Barbara fires, here’s some things to note:

  • Avoid skin contact with ash. It likely contains metals, chemicals and potentially asbestos from homes – items that may be considered toxic if breathed in or comes in contact with wet skin. If you do get it on your skin, wash it off immediately.
  • Avoid doing things that stir up ash.
  • Do not allow children to play in ash, or be near where ash-covered materials are being disturbed. Wash off toys before playing with them.
  • Clean ash off pets if they are exposed to it.
  • When cleaning up ash, wear a tight-fitting N95 respirator mask, gloves, long sleeve shirts and pants.
  • Avoid stirring ash up into the air as much as possible. Avoid sweeping it up dry. Use water and a wet cloth or mop to clean items and surfaces.
  • Most importantly, DO NOT USE LEAF BLOWERS!

If you have symptoms of exposure, consult your doctor. Symptoms include repeated coughing, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, headaches, nausea or unusual fatigue.

For additional information on cleaning up ash from sandboxes, food contamination, and more, see the original article this was based on at

If you have any questions, or have had damage, please make sure to reference the City of Westlake Village’s Woolsey Fire Resources page at