In addition to swirling smoke that may contain multiple dangerous inhalants, burn residues that hold lead, asbestos, and other contaminants are real threats as owners and residents move about in the charred landscape. These are just two reasons that utilizing proper personal protection equipment (PPE) is vital. 

"Wildfires burn primarily wood and vegetation, but there can be numerous pollutants in the air, so proper PPE is essential for anyone working in a fire-damaged environment," says Sam Bergman, president of the Restoration Industry Association. Boots, shoe covers, goggles, gloves, masks and, in some cases, respirators are among the PPE items that entrants to a burn scene should wear. 

Hands should be washed frequently, especially before eating or drinking, and you should always avoid touching your face, eyes or mouth while engaged in burn cleanup work. Individuals who live and work in areas prone to wildfires - in addition to businesses and organizations - should consider purchasing and keeping a supply of PPE kits on hand just for such emergencies. 

Personal protection equipment is valuable in protecting yourself and family from not only smoke and burn residues, but also from the outbreaks of disease that can occur as tens of thousands of people are evacuated from their homes and forced into shelters or similar, crowded, temporary housing conditions. Disruptions in sanitation control and polluted water and air can lead to outbreaks of disease that can be avoided when PPE is at your disposal.