Preparedness Corner
November 2002
By Paul Vircsik

Hi Neighbors,

Just got back from the ranch after the 20-minute meeting and a week of chain saw madness.  Getting the place ready for the chipper extravaganza in the spring.  I just canít wait for that set of blisters.  Hey, what was the white stuff flying around in the wind as I left? My little brother said it might be snow.  Naaaa, not before Halloween, that wouldnít be normal.  Not that this last yearís weather was normal, just look at Waltís stats.

Well, the days get darker earlier now that standard time is back.  Did we remember to switch the batteries in all the detectors? Electric? They still have battery back up.  Lets have a quick class and question.  What is the lowest form of burning? It is probably happening somewhere on your car as we speak.  Well, as I write.  Rust, thatís right rust.  By definition fire is the reduction of a substance by rapid oxidation with the evolution of heat, light, and smoke.  Rust, if you get close enough does all three.  I just donít recommend you get that close.  I do recommend though that you address those little rust spots before they become large ones and your car starts to look like it came from New York City.

While on the subject of cars, do you carry a fire extinguisher in your car? You should.  With fire service on the back roads and highways up to an hour away it might behoove you to take that step to protect your ride.  Or, you could practice sticking out your thumb to beg for the ride you will need standing next to the burned out hulk that a 2A10BC would have protected.  And, if you do carry one, every time you change your oil, try to remember to shake that puppy up, back and forth, up and down.  Loosen up the powder so it doesnít cake up and become solid.  Just air coming out of the nozzle as a result of a caked extinguisher results in the thumb coming out.

Lastly on the subject of cars.  If you do have an engine compartment fire, as soon as you come to a stop, pull the hood release even if you do not plan to fight the fire.  With the lightweight materials used in the wire and plastic hood release, it could melt through and render it useless.  On the engines arrival, a small compartment fire could be a total loss due to access problems.  I canít tell you how many car fires I have been too that we spend more time trying to get access to the fire than we do putting it out.  We sure have fun bending, tearing, and cutting the metal up though.  Thanks for the practice. Firemen do like to ply their trade.

Since the snow hasnít fallen in mass yet, I will wait for next month to talk about sheltering in your vehicle if you get caught in the snow.  I found a list of items you might consider getting together for the foul weather to protect yourself and your passengers.  Also a web site that deals with outdoor safety.  REI also sells two emergency kits, one with snow in mind; and one without;  They also have a list of the ď10 EssentialsĒ to have with you when out in the boonies.  People who hike and camp and Scouters have heard of this famous must have list.  This link; also explains why each of the ten is important.  Carry what you want, add anything else you might think of, because what you forget will always be what you need.  Just like the left handed adjustable wrench left in the garage while under the sink fixing the faucet.  First, get a box, thenÖ

Emergency Car Equipment

Cell phone w/ charger   4 qt bottles of water   Toilet paper
3 dehydrated meals   Other carb based foods   Space Blankets
Windshield scraper   Wipes   Spare personal medication
Flashlight and spare batteries   Portable radio   Tools (jack, etc.)
Booster cables, tow strap, flares   Folding shovel   Ski goggles and gloves
Chemical hand heater packets   Waterproof and windproof matches   Book to read
Metal cup   25-50 feet nylon cord   Basic first aid kit
Flagging tape   Knife   Whistle
Two empty cans (one for melting snow one for sanitary purposes)   Emergency candles or small stove    

Till the pink tights come out for the Christmas play,
See you all soon,

PS:  Yesterday (11-2) we responded to a car accident.  While enroute, dispatch upgraded the call to a two-car accident with fire.  On arrival one of the cars was actually on fire. This is a very rare occurrence.  Both cars were still in gear with the keys in the on position and no brakes set.  So, before we could fight the fire I had to safe the cars.  Why? Because while on fire the electrical system could short, engage the starter and if left in gear could move the car on its own.  Oh boy, chasing a burning car down the street.  Dear ChiefÖ

Please, if involved in an accident, put the vehicle in park, set the brake, turn off the ignition and pull the hood release.  The final step insures that rescue units can enter the engine compartment to disable the battery, or fight the fire without tearing up the car any more than it is.

Meet the author: Read about Paul Vircsik's background