Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Years ago, my parents made an honest assessment of their location, climate and topography and determined that wildfire was their biggest natural disaster threat. Knowing they couldn't prepare for every eventuality, they chose to focus their natural disaster preparedness efforts on fireproofing (to the best of their abilities) their homestead. Although there is no way to prevent wildfire there are a few things you can do in order to reduce your fire risk:
1. REDUCE YOUR FIRELOAD: Clear dead trees from your property, along with slash piles and brush piles. Cut tall grasses with a field trimmer, swather or livestock. Keep outbuildings and other structures free from debris and make sure they are accessible. Every summer my parents cut down trees that are "standing dead", as well as dead branches and over-grown brush. They are careful to position slash piles far away from any structures and only burn after a heavy rain.
2. "FIREPROOF" STRUCTURES: Although not many structures are truly fire-proof, there are a few things you can do to reduce the possibility of fire. My parents built their home and all of their outbuildings utilizing metal roofing as siding. Not only are their roofs metal, so are the exteriors of every building, including their home. Falling embers and floating ash will not likely spark fires on any of their structures. Not only did they use building materials that discouraged fire, they also built one truly fireproof structure - a "bat cave". They dug out the side of a hill, placed a 20 foot steel container in the hole and covered it with dirt, leaving only the door accessible. After they buried the container, they planted grass over the top and created an entry-way with huge boulders. All of their basic necessities, food, water and medicine, along with blankets, etc. are stored in the "bat cave". If everything else is lost, they have something to see them through.
3. FIREFIGHTING EQUIPMENT: In addition to other preparations, my parents have invested in equipment to fight fire. They have a large dozer that can cut a fire-line in a matter of minutes and also a fire fighting trailer (formerly used on a logging job site) equipped with a 350 gallon water tank, trash pump (the trash pump allows them to draft from the creeks, of which they have two on their property, allowing them to fill the tank without any pressurized water supply) water pump and fire hose. They keep the fire trailer accessible during the entire fire season, maintaining operational readiness by using the trailer to water their garden, thus ensuring well maintained motors and a familiarity of operation.
4. PRE-PACKED BUG-OUT BAGS/ACCESSIBLE DOCUMENTS: If all of the previously established fire prevention methods fail, my parents have bug-out bags at the ready, along with highly organized and accessible documents. Their passports, birth certificates and other documents are stored in an easy-to-access folder in their safe. There is no rummaging through drawers or sifting through piles in an attempt to locate important documents as a fire is bearing down on the house. They have incorporated a "grab and go" system that is necessary when all other options fail.
There are no guarantees when preparing for natural disasters but there are steps that you can take to minimize your danger. Thoughtfully determine what specific natural disasters are most likely to affect you and make preparations accordingly. If you live in an area prone to tornados, prepare for tornados. If you have a high probability of earthquake, plan for an earthquake. If your greatest threat is wildfire, assess your situation and form a preparedness strategy.
Being prepared is much more than stocking up on food and waiting for TEOTWAWKI. It is about assessing potential threats and taking steps to mitigate the damage. Remember - preparedness is not rocket science, it's just good, old-fashioned common sense.