Risk and danger in the post-fire environment

SANTA FE, NM – The recent devastating wildfires and subsequent flash flooding are fresh in the minds of many New Mexicans. The Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department Forestry Division and its partners are working together to share information that can help protect families and property in fire-affected areas with this month’s Wildfire Preparedness is Year-Round campaign: Risk and Danger in the Post-Fire Environment.

After Wildfire, A Guide for New Mexico Communities, Afterwildfirenm.org/, has been developed to assist individuals and communities following a wildfire. The guide is designed to help residents plan ahead for flooding and erosion. The guide includes information on personal and family safety, community mobilization, post-fire treatments, financial tips, flood information and additional resources such as caring for pets or livestock post-fire.

Safety should be the first consideration both during and after a wildfire.

Flash flooding, structural damage, debris flows, road instability, and tree damage may occur. It is critical to check with local officials before re-entering an area to ensure it is safe to do so.  Additional tips include:

  • Stay away from arroyos and channels. Flooding or debris flows can be sudden, and ditches can be deadly.
  • Keep a battery-powered radio to listen to weather and flash flooding alerts if you lose power.
  • Have an evacuation plan in place and make sure all family members practice it.
  • Only return home once authorities say it is safe to do so.
  • Do not drink or use faucet water after flooding until officials say it is safe to do so.
  • Use caution around trees and power poles, and never touch power lines.
  • Contact utility and gas companies prior to turning on any utilities that are not functioning or off.
  • Document damage and contact your insurance company prior to beginning clean-up efforts.

New Mexico’s local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) may be able to provide help after a wildfire or post-fire impacts. For a listing of SWCDs, visit the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts (NMACD) website. Additional information can also be found on the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management website at https://www.nmdhsem.org/

The New Mexico Forestry Division is working with the Carson, Cibola, and Santa Fe National Forests, Forest Stewards Guild, Fire Adapted NM, New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Bureau of Land Management New Mexico to continue our Wildfire preparedness is Year-Round calendar in 2022 and share the message across multiple platforms. This includes social media, webinars, and community events. Bookmark the wildfire preparedness webpage to follow the campaign throughout the year.   

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