As some of you may already know, we are so in love with our dog Joey. I know that many of you feel the same way with your pets. In fact, if you’re like us, you consider your furry (or scaly or feathery) friends as part of your family. Perhaps you even see them as your children and you’d anything to protect them from harm.
This got me thinking.
Joey is completely capable of looking after his own but what if something really huge happens like a wildfire. It’s possible he could outrun a raging inferno but he would have a difficult time without our help. That’s the main reason why pet owners should include their animal friends in their prepping plans. Everything would be a lot easier if Joey was a human. With his smarts and all, I’m confident he would make it out alive.
Joey as a human. Now that’s a funny thought. But what if?
And so I wondered. If Joey was human and he had to face something horrific such as a natural or man-made disaster, what would he do?
For our very first installment of our What Would Joey Do Survival Tips Series, we will look at the on-going problem with wildfires. Right now, California is experiencing the worst wildfire season on record. So far, 103 people including 6 firefighters have died from these wildfires. Our heart goes out to the victims and their families. I’d be devastated if something like that happens to my loved ones, including Joey.
So what would Joey do in such situation?
How to Protect Your Home from Wildfire
Your home is perhaps your greatest pride and joy after your family. You worked hard for every penny that went into building your dream house. Then here come’s a wildfire wanting to engulf your prized possession. Don’t ever let this happen. Remember, prevention is better than cure.
First of all, you must understand that there are ways to protect your home from igniting during such uncontrolled wildfires. As scary and seemingly unstoppable these wildfires are, you shouldn’t just give up and let your home become a statistic. Protecting your home and family, for that matter, starts with the realization that you can do something about it.
Even before a fire breaks out, you should take the necessary steps to protect it from fire. You need to assess your property first. Keep in mind that a wildfire that’s a hundred feet away will not directly affect your home. Simply put, a huge fire from that distance will not burn your house.
Flying embers are more dangerous. Those pretty and bright little things are responsible for many a home that has burned to a crisp. That’s because they ignite when they come in contact with highly flammable items.
Thus, the most important step to keep your home fire-proof, so to say, is to clean the exterior of the house and your surroundings. Clean the gutters, get rid of clutter around the base of your home, ans make sure your wooden deck is free of any flammable items such as dried leaves, dried grass, pine needles, old newspapers, and such. Avoid using wooden lawn furniture, especially those with flammable cushions, on your porch or yard. Even firewood and brooms left outside can catch fire from a single ember so make sure you keep them in a safe place always.
You also have to look at other structures near the house. If you have a chicken coop, an outhouse or a tool shed, make sure they are safe from wildfires as well. Trim trees near your house. As for shrubs and other plants around your home, they are safe from catching fire as long as there’s green foliage. If you spot dried or dead material in the canopy or on the ground, get rid of them immediately.
Another thing to look at is your vents. Flying embers or burning brands can get inside your home through such openings. If one gets through and happens to land on a pile of paper, in the trash can, or on the curtains, there’s a chance that a fire may break out. This can be prevented by placing a fine mesh screen to cover the vent.
Finally, you have to look at the materials of your home. Wooden roof is a huge no-no. If possible, replace your whole roof with non-flammable material such as stainless steel or copper. If that’s not possible at the moment, you can coat the wood shingles with fire retardant.
When You’re Caught Near A Raging Inferno
If you’re on foot and trapped near a forest fire, you must stay calm yet act fast. Quickly survey your surroundings. If there is a body of water nearby, run to it as fast as you can. Your other option, if there are no bodies of water you can jump into, is to go to the clearest area you can find. Stay away from trees, dry leaves, and grass. You don’t want to be caught under burning trees.
If you have a shovel or any tool you can use for digging, dig a trench around you. Clear your surroundings of dried leaves then dig as deep and as fast as possible. I know Joey wouldn’t have any problem with this since he’s a heck of digger. The trench you’ll create will keep the fire from advancing towards you.
In case you’re in a rocky area as the fire rages towards you, digging may not be an option. What you can do is to look for a group of huge rocks or a rock formation and get in the middle of it. Make sure you stay as close to the ground as possible.
You will also need to protect yourself from flying embers or jumping flames. Find something that you can cover yourself with. In case you have a wool or cotton blanket, soak it in water before covering yourself. You can also splash some water on you, especially on your clothes. Grab a small towel, handkerchief or any piece of cloth and soak it in water as well. Place this one over your face.
Use a Mylar or emergency blanket if you have one. Just make sure the reflective side is exposed so it will reflect heat off of you. A fiberglass fire blanket would be a better choice.
When You’re Trapped Inside Your Home
The moment you hear news about a wildfire near your place, you should immediately prepare in case you have to evacuate the family to a safer place. Ready your car in case you have to bug out. Back it into the driveway and put your bug out bags or emergency kits in your car. Keep tabs on the news and watch out for orders to evacuate.
When it’s too late to evacuate, remember one of the most important things to do in such an emergency situation – stay calm. If you’re calm, the family will follow suit. Plain and simple.
The first thing to do is to call the authorities and tell them where you are and what situation you are in. Next, do some last minute measures to protect your home and your family from the deadly flames.
Close all doors and windows shut but don’t lock them. Remove anything that may catch fire such as curtains and window shades. Move furniture away from the doors and windows. Use plywood to seal off ground vents and the attic.
Next, gather as much water as you can. Fill the tub, sinks, and other containers with water. Place buckets of water around the house. Attach the hose to the water valves outside so they can be used to douse the fire.
Shut off the gas at the meter, the propane tanks, and the air conditioning. Turn all the lights on, especially those outside. The lights will tell firefighters that there are people inside the home who may need rescuing. Leave a ladder just outside the house so rescuers can use them to go up the roof.
Stay away from the walls at all times. When the fire is near, lie down on the floor and cover yourself with soaked wool blankets and thermal blankets. Have your emergency kits and supplies near you.
You may also want to grab important documents and other valuables. They should be kept in a fireproof and waterproof case so it’s easier to grab them. Keep a fire extinguisher handy in case fire breaks out inside our home.
Surviving A Wildfire When You’re Driving
If you’re driving and you’re trapped by a coming wildfire, you must remember to stay calm. Find an area that is free of vegetation and stop there. Close the windows and cover other openings where smoke may enter. Next, grab anything you can use for cover then lay on the floor of your vehicle.
You should have a fire blanket or thermal blanket in your car emergency kit. A jacket will do if you don’t have a blanket. While things have yet to get too hot, take the opportunity to call for help. Dial 911 then inform your loved ones. Make sure you describe your location. If you have a bottle of water, soak your hankie or any piece of clothing and cover your face with it.
These are but a few of the many wildfire survival tips you should learn. We may get to tackle more the next time we talk about wildfires and how to survive them. For now, I leave you with a prayer that you’ll always remain safe. As for our dear Joey, he’ll be showing us here on The Gentleman Pirate next time what he would do to survive a winter storm. We hope to see you later in the week on our next What Would Joey Do!
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