Preparedness Corner
April 2004
By Paul Vircsik

Hi Neighbors,

This great nation of ours promises three things to anyone who lives here.  Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Death and taxes don’t count.  Death is inevitable and taxes were supposed to be temporary according to one of our past Presidents.

It is the pursuit of happiness that is only promised in the Constitution, happiness itself never was promised.  How you pursue that last promise is the focus of this month’s column.  Whether with passion or pedantically your search for this final, sometimes hard to achieve, quest will affect you and those around you.  Ah yes, those around you.

I always teach my new Firefighters to think about what you are doing before you do it.  What you do has a reaction up line as well as down line and those reactions have permanent consequences.  In a pinion nut shell, what you do affects others.  Think before you act.

In our neck of the woods your neighbor may the noisiest, nosiest, or the quietest you have ever had.  That doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best.  And, that neighbor may be YOU.  While questing your quest (yes it is correct) you may put yourself and those around you in danger from chemicals, noise, disease and the elusive dragon; fire.  Being a good neighbor as always discussed in our early POA meetings continually had us pointing outward to those around us.  But think, if I’m going to truly protect and preserve my relationship with those around me I need to protect and preserve the relationship I have with myself and the house that is around ME.

From walking the property before construction, to building and moving in, safety should be an issue.  Out where we live?  Safety should be a concern.  The Cedar fire of 2004 in Southern California is now 6 months gone.  I just sat on a county wide blue ribbon committee of fire, builders, and insurance personnel discussing how to change building codes so that a fire like that never again destroys so many homes.  Even after all this time the committee has not come to any final decisions.  That was an 800,000 acre 3000 home lost fire.  We only have to worry about our 14,000 acres and 200+ homes.  No, that’s incorrect; we also have to worry about those around us and they should be worrying about their affect on us as well.  See how it cycles around?

Reading the Emergency Services Handbook once in awhile is prudent and responsible.  Add it to your up coming spring “time change” duties (detector battery change out, preparation for summer, etc.).  I have been watching the weather and notice that the temps are climbing.  This would be a good time walk your property for new growth that shouldn’t be there.  Clear the gutters, check the eaves and eave vents.  Did you ever make covers for the attic vents in case of fire?  Re-establish a good EDITH plan (Escape Drills In The Home - click here for a related article) and practice it now that you won’t be landing in the snow.  I was surprised to only receive ONE response to my request in February’s column.  Check the pressure on your fire extinguishers.  Better yet, go buy a new one and get the family together and practice with the old one.  The women’s group gave a good class on this.  Find where the good stuff is in the house and how you are going to round it all up in the special boxes you have labeled for the evacuation.  Where is the ladder?  The hose?

Good habits die young.  We learn and retain by repetition.  When is the last time you changed a tire?  Do you know all the steps?  Two nails in one drive.  My hand is up.  Past columns will help you with many of the details.  Life and death, a given.  Liberty, we fought and fight for.  The Pursuit of happiness is up to you to achieve.  Achieve it with regard to those around you and you will help to assure your happiness as well as neighbors.

See you all soon,

Meet the author: Read about Paul Vircsik's background