Saturday, September 22, 2012
When my folks moved permanently into their bug-out location, they spent a significant amount of time trying to determine what posed the greatest threat to their survival. After considering their location, their climate and their terrain, they determined that fire was their greatest threat. They live in an area that is not prone to high winds, earthquakes or monsoons, however, they are surrounded by timber and thousands of acres of uninhabited mountainous terrain. When the forest dries out in late summer and early fall, they have a tremendous fire load.
Knowing that fire was the greatest natural hazard they faced, they decided to prepare to the best of their ability. Dad located an old Forest Service fire trailer that had been most recently owned by a logger, made a deal for it and hauled it home. The fire rig consists of a 250 gallon water tank mounted on a heavy duty trailer frame. It has a tool box, fire hose, pump and nozzle with hose and reel assembly. It also has a pump hooked up specifically to "draught" (suck water directly out of a pond or creek).
Mom and dad bought their fire rig a number of years ago and had updated and repaired a number of systems on it, however, they had not gotten around to really using until this year. Their idea was to use the rig to water their garden. Really, it was an ingenious solution. Not only was their garden watered regularly, they had the opportunity to put their fire gear into service and become well acquainted with its operation.
One of the first orders of business was to figure out how to use the trash pump to draught from their creek. Sir Knight, the kids and I had headed up to their place to spend the weekend and Dad decided that was the perfect time to press the fire trailer into service. He and Sir Knight hooked the trailer up to Dad's pick-up and headed off to the creek. One of the first things that became apparent was that the suction line needed a float in order to keep it from resting on the bottom of the creek and sucking up sand, dirt and other debris. Once they had the suction line in a good position and got the pump started, they discovered that the pump was not self-priming. Grabbing a bucket out of the tool box (they happened to have an old canvas bucket tucked in a corner of the tool box), they unscrewed the top off the trash pump and primed the pump. Less than 5 minutes later, water came shooting out of the top of the tank, indicating that over 250 gallons of water had been successfully transferred from the creek into the tank. The fire rig was now ready to dump a tank of water on the nearest fire (or in this case, potatoes, carrots and onions).
Throughout the summer, mom and dad made regular trips to the creek to fill up the tank. Their logic was irrefutable - by using their fire rig regularly they would instinctively know how to operate it in an emergency and, because the rig was in constant service, it would be operational and at the ready if needed.
That emergency came. One afternoon a neighbor (they live about 2 miles away) called, frantic. A fire had broken out in their "back yard" - could mom and dad help? The Forest Service and the local fire department had been called, but both were at least 45 minutes out (did I mention that my folks live "way out", even by Redoubt standards?). Dad hooked his trailer up to his pick-up, made a quick stop at the creek to top off his tank and quickly made his way towards the neighbor's.
The fire was quickly contained. When the fire department eventually showed up, they had to ask dad to borrow a screw driver from his fire rig in order to hook their hoses together. Dad left his full fire trailer at the neighbor's house, just in case the fire reignited during the night. What could have been an emergency of immense proportions became nothing more than an inconvenient scare.
It is impossible to plan for every potential hazard. It is, however, very possible to plan for the ones most likely to confront you. Do you live in an area prone to drought? Water storage is for you. Have earthquakes? Plan accordingly. Do you regularly have hurricanes? You might want to think of putting working shutters up to cover your windows and your doors. Ice storms? Have an alternative way to heat your house (no grills, please) and make sure you have enough food to last at least a week.
One of the most important aspects of survival is the ability to accurately identify potential hazards and prepare accordingly. Now is the time to identify your hazards, while you still have the time and the resources to do something about it. Remember, they don't call us "preppers" for nothing!