Nov 25 2013

Have A Plan

1. Have a Plan. Those of you who know me professionally have heard me talk about this. And “What If” scenarios. Having thought about both, particularly in the event of fire (a fact of where we live), I’d already made up my mind to JUST LEAVE. I don’t know what I don’t know, but I DO know that I don’t know fire. Not a thing about it. So my plan has always been to ESCAPE, stay out of real help’s way, and not panic. (Hint: Having made up my mind to JUST LEAVE helps with the not-panic part.)

2. Be serious about your bugout kit. Have one (don’t just talk about it). Check it. Update it. Be able to GET to it. And have one for the important beings in your life: Peabody has her own, though she’s a little small to carry it by herself. I was able to get Pea, both kits (and mine is comprehensive (= heavy)), and me in the car in about 5 minutes.

3. Have a 3G or 4G capable cell phone. It was vital for getting info, nevermind calls, texts, etc. And even after getting home, when power and phone were’t working, I had a link to others. And keep it charged. You don’t know when you’ll have a chance to charge it again!

4. If you possible can, don’t run out in your flipflops! Get out with as much hard core gear on your person, as you can : boots, clothing with pockets, gloves, hats, eye protection.

5. Extra lights (not just your personal one): even in non-rural areas, you might not have power. You might need lights to guide emergency personnel and vehicles, signal, keep yourself visible while moving about, etc. The key is EXTRA, and in different configurations, in addition to your daily carry light.

6. Firearm: I always have one on an overbelt (which I use everyday when dog-walking). It has a spare light, ammo, loaders, etc. Though I had others as well, I grabbed the overbelt on the way out, and had that much more, all ready to go.

7. Make peace (as is possible) ahead of time with potential losses. Having thought about the possibility of fire before, having executed my plan — and thus having the most important things out with me, I found that I was calm. The prospect of losing the house and its contents was very real (I really believed it was a goner), and not pleasant…but I had already decided, before this ever happened, that I wouldn’t worry about “just stuff.” My dog was safe. I was safe. My neighbors were safe. We’re good. It hadn’t occurred that this would help me, but it made the watching and waiting SO MUCH more bearable!!

8. Be thankful. There is always something to be thankful for. Find it.

Nov 23 2013

What Am I Thankful For?


First, it’s never to early to be thankful, especially at a time like this. Here’s what I am thankful for today (Nov. 23, 2013) — IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

1. Heroic neighbors — the one who, on smelling the smoke through his dog door, only had the time to get his three generations of family members out (including a baby), but THEN, ran all the way over to another neighbor’s to pound on their door to warn them. In his underwear (no time!) We live in a rural area, and that was a football field sized run. THANK YOU, NEIGHBORS!

2. More heroic neighbors — the pounded-door neighbors divided tasks, and while one ran around grabbing stuff, the other took the time to call ME and another neighbor, to warn us. Fire? What fire?? I had NO idea. Where I was in the house, I could not smell, or see, ANY of this. And who knows WHEN I would have figured out there was a fire headed my way (someone later said, “the fire crews parked in your driveway would have been a clue…)”? THANK YOU, NEIGHBORS!

3. And more neighbors — There is only one road in and out to my home — and that one way was now in flames. But there is a dirt path leading from another neighbor’s place. It’s a switchbcck, since we’re all atop a big hill. It’s unlit and little used, it can be treacherous and daunting in broad daylight — nevermind the dark of night, with a fire on your heels. One of my neighbors waited for me, and led me down the trail (the other, who is a retired firefighter, stayed behind, to see if he could help). THANK YOU, NEIGHBORS!

4. And all my neighbors — We gathered at the volunteer fire station at the bottom of our hill (yes, I’m thankful for that too!!), looking up at the flames consuming our hillside, wondering if anyone’s home would survive. The first two neighbors’ places were completely surrounded when they left. The neighbor who led me down the path sat in my car, and we spent the rest of the night in camaraderie. She kept us updated with messages from the one who stayed behind. From time to time, all of us would exit our vehicles and brave the cold to gather to exchange news, thoughts, predictions — but really, I think we were just glad to be there with and for each other. For me, knowing that every one of my neighbors had reached out to help each other, made things a lot better. No matter what, we were all safe — thanks in large part to each other. THANK YOU NEIGHBORS!

5. Our firefighters. (Remember, I said in NO PARTICULAR ORDER, because it’s impossible to judge….) Heck, ALL firefighters! Our volunteer firefighters, along with units dispatched from neighboring towns, were on the scene in what seemed like minutes. And again, remember we are in a rural area. But when that siren wails, those men and women are on it. In the deepest darkness, up a very steep one mile hill, they drove and hiked up to save our homes. Not a single home burned, and I’m telling you the flames were so close, my first two neighbors drove through them to get out. When I was allowed to return home at midnight (those first two neighbors didn’t get back until 0400), there was an engine in my driveway, with three firefighters from another town, positioned there to protect the structure. And there they remained, through the night.

6. Gifts of nature and fate: Earlier in the evening, we had winds roaring to 35 mph. For whatever reason, they decreased a bit during the fire, and despite them, our firefighters were able to contain this hell. Cold: Not a friend of fire. I’ll never complain about it again. Rain: after the driest period ON RECORD, we finally had two days of rain — two days ago. Had that NOT happened…?

7. Luck: ’nuff said. But it includes the fact that we were able to drive our way out. That there IS a volunteer fire station within a mile. That somehow, we’re all safe, and have not lost much.