Tag Archives: fire

Fire Tortilla

Irony. Ain’t she grand? I’ve been trying to get this post done for a week and on the night I resolve to actually get it done…I burn myself. The irony comes in when you find out the topic of the post. Fire protection. HA! Guess I should have thought about that when I reached into the oven to retrieve my sweet and sour chicken using only my kid’s decorative pot holder for safety. (Which by the way cost me an arm and a leg but as you just heard is only marginally useful. Thank God I find it impressively beautiful!) Don’t worry, my finger will survive to type another post, just in case you were worried. I am however, a big baby about pain. I swore after childbirth, I’d never stand by idle and tolerate such ridiculousness…hence the cold beverage aiding with my healing.

Back to fire! If you have ever heard me give my preparedness presentation, you’ve sat victim to my joke about keeping my in-laws in the basement when they stay over. I always hint that I do this because there is no egress from my basement as it has no exit door or sizable windows to speak of. (If you truly know me by the way, you know that I’m actually only kidding. One, they don’t sleep here, they live ten miles away. Two, I love them with all my heart.) The point is that my basement has no viable exit and from time to time my most precious babies actually get permission to play video games in the basement. I’ve been driving myself crazy to come up with a way to mitigate the issue. If there is a fire and my little men are in the basement, how are they going to get out without running through fire?

Found it! Now this is not a cure-all for sure. Certainly the viability of this mitigation strategy is dependent upon the extent of the fire. However, I’m going to purchase a fire blanket. Now these are traditionally used to smother fires, and in particular are recommended for use to protect from/fight kitchen fires. However, an alternative use for fire blankets is to wrap oneself or one’s loved ones in the blanket to essentially run through the fire and escape. Picture yourself or your little ones wrapped up like a little protective fire tortilla!


Traditionally, these blankets have been made of wool and you can certainly still get wool versions. At this point though, you can also purchase fiberglass versions. Some are even treated with chemicals to increase their ability to retard flames. They vary in range from $45.00 (this would be a smaller size, only appropriate for a small child.) to as much as $200.00. I think this could possibly be one of your more expensive purchases; however, if this is to be used as I would be using mine, then I deem it a worthy price. If you Google fire blanket, you will find many to choose from.

If you have babies or small children that you might have to carry out through a fire, because of a similar basement situation or because you can’t navigate an escape ladder (see previous post) while carrying the infant/child, a fire blanket may not only be the difference between life and death but also between severe burns and minor injuries for the little one. This could also so help if you have any elder care responsibilities and they also cannot navigate an escape ladder.

I’ve moved this to the top of our purchasing priority list for emergency preparedness supplies. I hope that you will consider the role a fire blanket might play in your preparedness as well. Be sure to purchase one that is the appropriate size for it’s intended user. (Too small and it won’t be as sufficient as it ought to be. Too large and a small child could trip over it and prolong their exposure to the flames.) Also, these ARE NOT intended to be used to run into a fire to rescue folks. Leave that to the professionals. And most importantly, no matter what, keep it in a place that it is easily accessible. No matter which version you buy, if you or your loved ones can’t get to it quickly, it’s saved no one.

Jack of All Trades (1)

If we are going to store up large quantities of survival items, then we’ve got to begin examining how to achieve the most bang for our bucks. To make the  most of what we spend on these items, they should not only be cost-effective but multifunctional as well.

I would like to make a plug for baking soda. This is one versatile little powder! Most of the things you can do with baking soda can be done with other products, but consider your storage capacity and the shelf life of some of the commercial products and I think you will agree…long term, baking soda is a wonderful thing.

Baking soda can be used for:

  • toothpaste
  • mouthwash
  • canker sore medicine
  • shaving cream
  • dry shampoo
  • deodorant
  • minor cuts/burns
  • sunburn/windburn
  • poison ivy
  • fire suppressant (grease/electrical fires)
  • acid reliever/indigestion (carefully follow directions)
  • household surface cleaner (kitchen, bathroom, etc.)
  • ant/roach killer (mix 1 to 1 with sugar)

Now, for shelf life. Unopened baking soda has an indefinite shelf life. Once baking soda is open and exposed to air the shelf life is two years. This can be fudged and extended somewhat by ensuring that you store opened baking soda in an airtight container. (Keep in mind that most of the issues with shelf life revolve around using baking soda for bakin.) And in case you haven’t tried to purchase boat loads of baking soda…you can get a 13 lb. bag for $5.00!

Considering the versatility, shelf life, and cost, I believe baking soda to be a best buy for emergency preparedness.

If You Had to _________, Could You?

Alright, tonight I”m whooped. And I’ve been really long-winded lately. So lets both have a  low-key night with our preparedness planning. I’m going to throw out a list of things to fill in the blank: “If you had to _______, could you?” I want you to consider if you could answer yes to any of the questions. If yes, then great. Maybe you are more prepared than you thought. If you can’t, then maybe you would like to have more information about a specific topic. If you drop me a comment/request, I’ll do the research for you and create a corresponding post. Or maybe you want to do some digging yourself. Either way, this is a critical thinking exercise. It is designed to get your preparedness juices flowing.  It is designed to make you think of preparedness as preparing for what could be a new reality. I know some of you don’t like the catastrophic chicken little stuff, so I’ve been taking it easy and going slow. But the fact is, many people do believe we could have an event (terroristic, natural, or economic) that could truly effect the infrastructure of this nation and therefore our lives for some time to come.

So, relax and let these ideas roll through your mind. How much do you really know about actually executing these topics? Could you really do it? Do you really believe you might have to? What sort of investment would it take to learn about these things, hone your skills, and really rev up your chicken little skills? Here goes…

If you had to__________, could you?

(all without electricity or running water)

  • Utilize weapons to kill an animal (for sustenance)
  • Clean, butcher, and cook your kill
  • Fish (minus traditional rod and reel/tackle box
  • Preserve meat (such as salting)
  • Render animal fat to create candles
  • Use wood ashes to make lye
  • Use lye to make soap
  • Create homemade ink
  • Plant, grow, maintain, and harvest a crop of vegetables and grains
  • Process homegrown grains for other uses (exp: flour)
  • Make butter
  • Turn wool into usable fiber
  • Spin yarn from fiber
  • Knit or crochet yarn into clothing
  • Sew clothing
  • Deliver a baby
  • Set a broken bone
  • Pull a tooth
  • Care for livestock
  • Purify water
  • Use a compass
  • Discern toxic plants from edible plants
  • Build a shelter
  • Make a fire
  • Mitigate bites (snake, spiders etc.)
  • Administer CPR



Night, Night…Sleep Tight

We’ve all heard the news stories before…”Fire kills entire family”, “Home completely destroyed”. Without rounding in your favor, without sugar-coating the truth, when was the last time you tested your smoke detectors? When was the last time you and your family practiced responding to your smoke detectors? Have you ever practiced? Do you have anything to practice…meaning do you have an emergency escape plan for your home?

 You know what the right answers to these questions are, and if you can’t provide them, you are just one of many. We are getting back to basics tonight. Emergency preparedness is more than go-kits and fancy camping supplies. It is also all of the basic things we learned from those visiting firemen in elementary school. The hard fact is, that was decades ago and frankly you were taught then that your parents were going to do it for you. Now many of us are parents ourselves. We have a responsibility our loved ones.

You have got to have an emergency escape plan and you have to PRACTICE it! First of all, take a walk through your home and do an assessment. Consider what you are at risk for. Consider the structure and design of your home. Do you have gas heat or appliances? How many stories does your home have? Do you have a basement? If so, is there egress from your basement? Which rooms have windows? Are they accessible or do you have furniture blocking them? What is below the windows outside? What about your door locks? Do you have the deadbolts that lock from the inside with a key rather than a knob? Where do you keep that key? Is it accessible in a dark, hot, smoke-filled, adrenaline inducing, life-threatening moment? The answers to these questions will affect the plan that you craft.

Consider all of your possible evacuation routes (doors, windows, and garage exits). Now consider the hazards associated with each. Make plans to mitigate those problems that you can. Decide which routes are viable as of right now and which ones need work. Outline what needs to be done to make them viable? What is the cost associated? Will you choose to prepare those routes or just write them off and have less escape route options.

SMOKE DETECTORS! Get them. For every floor of your home. Test them frequently. Change the batteries religiously. Teach children about them. Tell them what they are, how they are used, and let them hear it. They need to know what they sound like, and that sound needs to scare the bejesus out of them. Practice with them. This means have your family go to sleep, you stay up and after they have been asleep several hours, set the alarms off. Who wakes up? Everyone? Some of them? There have been studies that some (too many) children will actually sleep through smoke detectors. The following is a link to just one of the many articles on the topic.(http://healthland.time.com/2011/03/25/children-sleep-through-fire-alarms-study-shows/#disqus_thread) You won’t know if your kids fall into this category until you do a true test. If you do find that they don’t wake up quickly enough or at all, consider other options. They make smoke detectors that allow parents to pre-record their voice instead of beeping.  Imagine that instead of a random beep, your child hears your voice loudly telling them, “There is a fire. Get up. There is a fire William. Wake up. Get out of the house.” Another option is to have a secondary smoke detector in their room that utilizes bright light instead of sound. These types of smoke detectors were originally designed for the deaf community; however, they may be a realistic option for your family if they work better than the traditional alarm. 

Can you evacuate from the upper floors? Are you prepared to jump out of windows in a fire? If you are on the second story you may be fine or only sprain an ankle, but would your three-year old be fine? If you have children in an upstairs bedroom, you need to consider purchasing an escape ladder for their window. These can be found on the interweb and cost anywhere between $35.00-$80.00 depending on whether or not you need the 2 story or 3 story version. I can’t stress enough that these need to be practiced regularly if you expect children to use them, especially in such a high stress situation. Also, note that most of the manufactures of these escape ladders mark the products as “one time use only”. I find this to be useless because children are going to need to practice these skills. What if you are already incapacitated and their only hope is to use the ladder all by themselves? I did find one company, First Alert, that does not include the “one time only”  warning anywhere on or in their packaging. So buy theirs, practice, and then store the thing where 1) the kids can identify it and access it and 2) with strict understanding of the seriousness involved. These ladders can become tangled and/or bent if misused. If that happens, they will not be of use in the “heat” of the moment.

Just one note about basements. If you do not have egress out of your basement, please do not use them for sleeping. A basement with no egress is a death trap during a fire.

Lastly, let say that you make it out of the house. Now where are you going? If your house is on fire and you happen to have gas in the home, you might not want to wait for the fire department right in the front yard. Have pre-arranged relocation sites designated for your loved ones. Practice having smaller children going to those locations and becoming familiar with them. For instance, my kids know to meet us at the front of our community club house which is about a block away. If we can’t meet there, they know to go to the front of the community which is about four blocks away.

I know this was long, so I’ll stop. But this is basic stuff that far, far too often gets overlooked. Be sure you’ve considered the simple things at home. The things we sort of all know and somehow so many still ignore. This topic may not be as exciting as picking out your 12 degree below zero sleeping bag, but realize that they taught you these things in school as a little guy or gal for a reason. It’s that real, it’s that scary, and it can happen to you.

Still hoping to drum up questions or concerns. Leave me some feedback. Take care.

Shelter From the Storm

Alright, here we go. As promised, let’s talk about what you need to fill your shelter in place and go-kits. Let me caveat this by saying that there is no way that I can cover all of the possible items that you might need in one entry. The goal is to demonstrate the types of things you need to consider when designing your shelter in place and/or go-kit and to give some examples as well. We will cover this topic over multiple postings.

Now, lets review the types of kits: 1) Shelter in place kits (home, work, car, church, wherever you spend the majority of your time) 2) Go-kits (home, work, car)

So what do you need for each? Think about things in categories such as shelter, sustenance, medical, communication, and protection.

Shelter: When thinking of shelter in place there are many considerations for your shelter needs. What will you do for heat? Do you have a fireplace? If so, what kind of wood stockpile do you have? How long will that last you? If you don’t have a fireplace do you have sleeping bags that will tolerate your climate? Or is it time to consider a generator? If you do begin to consider a generator, what’s your fuel storage situation? If we have any type of radiological or biological event, consider that guidance suggests you have the ability use plastic sheeting/tape to seal off your home. Be sure to have enough plastic sheeting to do the job. Dont’ scrimp and buy the cheap stuff for these purposes, a heavy mil is needed to be appropriate. And enough tape to achieve good quality seals. I once received a great suggestions from a friend to have these sheets pre-cut and labeled for windows, doors, etc. In the heat of the moment, under extreme duress, I wouldn’t want to have to accomplish the task of effectively measuring and cutting plastic sheeting to seal off my home!

Also, be sure to strategize against the threats that are pertinent for your area. Are you at risk for earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding? These all present unique circumstances regarding what areas of your home will be safe during an event. Will you have access to all of your home or just some areas? Where are all of your emergency supplies stored? Can  they be safely accessed during the event? Keep your utilities in mind. It is possible that you to need to turn off any of your utilities. Do you know where and how to manage the shut-offs? Some utility shut-offs require special tools? Do you have the right tools and are they accessible or buried deep in the garage or out back in the shop? Did you know that if you turn off your gas, you need a professional to turn it back on? Do you have carbon monoxide alarms in the home? Do they run off of AC or do they have battery power in case you have lost electricity? When is the last time you checked the smoke detectors? Are they in working order? As with the carbon monoxide monitors, what is their power source?

Sanitation can be a major issue for any long-term type circumstances if you are sheltering in place. First of all, we will get to water storage issues later for shelter in place, but keep in mind that you can flush a toilet (even if your water is off) if you manually fill the tank with water. Waste issues can be a problem during a shelter in place event. Carefully consider how you are going to handle this issue. Do you have enough water to continue to flush? Or can you go outside? Even outside, there are considerations to be made. Do you have enough toilet paper? I’ve seen blogs that mention alternatives to toilet paper. Research this carefully because disease will eventually become rampant and much of it will center around improper waste disposal. Be careful of contaminating your water sources outside. Sanitation is not an issue anyone likes to deal with now, but it will be a major concern in a catastrophic event. Know your options and plan accordingly. Be ready to stick to strict, self-imposed rules regarding hygiene during these times.  

Now, for go kits. What would you need to constitute “shelter” outside of your home? If you have to leave your home due to a fire that is strictly localized to your home or area, your home owner’s insurance will be your source to put you up in a hotel, but what if the event is large-scale? If your whole local area or God-forbid worse is affected, where will you go? Are you aware of what your county/state offers for local shelters? You should know how to get to several local shelters in case overcrowding becomes an issue and you are not the first to arrive. Check your county’s website to verify their local emergency plans. If things get to be catastrophic and we have a total breakdown of basic social services, what would you need to survive outdoors? Do you have adequate sleeping bags? Any solar blankets? Solar blankets are great when measured against their cost (basic one man unit for under $5.00) and required storage (will fit in a pocket prior to the initial use. After that, maybe larger – these are like re-folding maps!). But still, great bang for a few bucks. However, if you live in an area where winters are bitter cold, a solar blanket will not cut it.

Fire. Do you possess the ability to make fire for warmth? (Also needed for outdoor cooking circumstances, but we will cover food in another session.) There are lots of options create fire, but think ahead. Consider waterproof matches, a basic flint, etc. Practice, by the way, if you are planning on utilizing flint to build a fire. Consider a fuel source. In the case of snow or flooding, what exactly are you planning on burning? Is it too wet to ignite? Again, plan in advance and practice.

These are just some considerations for shelter. We will talk about the other categories in successive posts. If you have particular questions, concerns, or comments…drop me a note.