Preparedness Corner
January 2004
By Paul Vircsik

Hi Neighbors,

Hopefully everyone made it through the holidays with more happiness than strife.  There were lots of lights on homes this year and the hustle and bustle of shoppers in the stores may mean a better economy is making a move.  The Dow hit and stayed at ten thousand too, yippy.  I do know of some whose days were not as joyous as they would have wanted and that unfortunately occurs every year to someone somewhere.  There is always a fire on Christmas day that causes a family to be without a home and souls that lose their lives to illness or accident.  Lets try to think of all of them in our daily lives and not just on Sundays.

This year do something for yourself that will benefit everyone in the home.  I have a few ideas.  Vials of life.  An old idea that still is great for a home.  They sell them at Wally World and other drug stores.  A simple magnetic box the size of a post card and a half-inch thick, this vial holds all your medical and drug information.  Kept current and placed where the emergency medical types will find it (side of the fridge, medicine cabinet, etc) a container of this sort will aid immensely in getting the correct information to the right people when you need them the most.  And, and, if you are incapacitated and can’t tell them what a special person you are, this will.  Spear heading distribution sounds like a great mission for a small organization of loved ones to pick up and run with.  Why, they could even work in concert with the fire/ambulance personnel to agree on a central location for placement in the home.  And wait, there’s more.  They could sell them at a nominal fee and make some money for their organization.  That in turn would benefit the whole ranch, which benefits…You.

While the sap isn’t running is the perfect time to clear unwanted and dangerously placed vegetation.  That time would be now.  Remember that fire loves to move through areas that touch one another from the ground grasses to the crowns.  It’s the small stuff that drives the fire.  The tall grass, brush and weeds.  Clear this from around the trees and in the open areas and fires lose their ability to grow.  Make islands of brush if you want to keep the “natural look” but bear in mind that it isn’t “natural”.  Nature’s fires remove these fuels and only we stop this process of clearing and thinning.  So if we can’t burn it, remove it.  The animals will also thank you and you’ll see more of them.

Also while doing the chain saw dance, clearing your wood, riddle me this.  What has a flash point of minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit? Gasoline, right! This is a good thing to consider when its time to re-fuel those power tools with cold shivering paws.  It might be cold out there but one splash on the exhaust and you won’t be cold no more.  Let the tool cool or use a funnel.  Fill it away from the house and vegetation.  Think, “If this catches fire, what else will”.  Whilst burning is not the time to wonder what if.

Flashlights are not toys.  They are tools to be used only at certain times and for specific purposes.  This should be taught to the youngens and when the “emergency lights” are put in there special places they are to be left alone unless a real need arises.  I didn’t think of this one, it was brought up at a disaster preparedness meeting after a tornado strike.

Now I know I have mentioned the 911 system, how it works and how to check its efficiency on our ranch.  Here is some new info.  Have you ever thought of what you would say and how you would say it if you needed to make the call? Franticly trying to get across to the person on the other end of the phone just how important what you are saying is and having it come out like a Chaplin movie.  Here is a simple way to put it all in an easy package.  Who, What, Where.  This is the information that most dispatch centers in the nation give when dispatching a call.  It is much easier to understand the information given if it is delivered in the manner that is easiest for them.  “My name is Paul Vircsik and I want to report a fire in my home at 5834 Timber Ct, Santa Fe Trail Ranch.  If they need more, they will ask.  “This is Frank and I need an ambulance for a 52 year old unconscious female at exit six”.  Let them get the proper equipment started with the information you gave them.  They can then ask questions and give instructions while units respond.  Practice what to say in the same order, over and over.  Change the details, practice.  Try it when out of breath, practice.  If the fire is too big to say more, leave the phone off the hook and get out.  With the 911 system, your address should stay on the screen until you hang up.  When stopped at a stoplight, look at a building and make something up, practice.  “This is John Q Public and there are flames coming from the second floor window of the bank at Main and 1st.  This is a technique taught to aspiring fire officers.  Practice doing size-ups.  Because that is exactly what you are doing when you make a 911 call.  Telling a dispatcher who you are, what is going on, and where it is.  We also say what the potential is, what we are going to do and what we need.  That way the incoming units know what to expect when they arrive.  But that’s another story.  Practice.  “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” really doesn’t tell them very much.

Keep safe this winter, and memorize the sound of your boots crunching the snow so you can tell me all about its delectable sound when I visit.


Meet the author: Read about Paul Vircsik's background