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Lessons from a fire

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  • Lucinda Houston
    Recently, I had to wake up children at 2:30 a.m. and quickly lead them out into the cold and wet because a fire had been set in the apartment below. The
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2006
      Recently, I had to wake up children at 2:30 a.m. and quickly lead
      them out into the cold and wet because a fire had been set in the
      apartment below.

      The firetrucks arrived in a timely fashion and put it out. They
      somehow sucked the smoke out of the apartment we occupied so there
      would be minimal smoke damage. The threat ended and the air cleared
      up in no time.

      It was a deliberately set fire, and the occupant from below is no
      longer allowed to be on the premises, but that is beside the point.

      I reflected on it and was rather glad for the experience for
      learning a few things, namely how poorly prepared I was when it came
      to a fast exit.

      I quickly put the laptop into a rolling suitcase and threw a
      backback and bag into the same rolling suitcase, all within a minute
      or so, and was out. Dense smoke was engulfing the air quickly.

      Once out, it was impracticable and unsafe to return. It was a done
      deal until expert help arrived and eliminated the danger.

      When it was over, the occupants settled down again, and I was back
      at my laptop, I started thinking.

      Though it would be ideal to have a survival property, which I almost
      managed, but for things going awry, did not, I realized that for
      many, we may have to pack and go, quickly, with no looking back.

      So is the nature of natural or manmade disaster. Things happen

      What I retrieved to "save" during the fire threat was laughable.
      Aside from the bags, the rolling suitcase, the laptop... well, there
      wasn't much more. One bag which should hold clothing had a few
      garments in it, but not a complete change of clothes. I found a
      shirt to help cover a scarcely clad little girl, and the guy from
      next door surrendered his blanket that he had wrapped around him, to
      shelter her and two other cold little girls from the cold and wet
      while he stood out there dressed in only a night shirt and socks,
      shivering. A teenager sat on a grassy slope cross-legged with a
      thin short sleeved shirt and no jacket, holding a two year old niece
      close in her arms, cuddling for warmth, and generally there were a
      lot of people standing out there in the cold, without much
      protection from the elements. All the while it lightly rained on
      us. It is what happens when you have to leave a building at 2:30 in
      the morning while in your night clothes.

      I figured, after the fact, that I should have had at least a set of
      protective clothing in my bags. Most of my little wardrobe was in a
      laundry hamper waiting to be laundered "tomorrow". It would have
      been nice to have had a complete outfit at the ready, "freshly
      laundered" not being nearly as important as having had the items at
      hand after hastily evacuating.

      I was one of the few who had slippers on as well, another concern,
      and I thought it might be nice to have several pair of insulated
      slippers of some type that wouldn't take up much room, to provide
      for others. I had the little girls stand on part of the blanket
      they were covered up with. Little girls, and boys, from the time
      they're old enough to walk enjoy walking in bigger shoes. Bigger is
      not a problem. Guys and gals with larger foot sizes would need to
      be accommodated, so it wouldn't hurt to have a pair or more for
      those have bigger feet.

      Oh, now here I go again, spending money I don't have. Now if I land
      a windfall, which happens from time to time, I will certainly look
      into this foot cover idea.

      Thinking of laundry, my mind kept going to washboards. There's a
      small one which is affordable, weighs a pound, and looks like it
      could be tucked into belongings economically.

      see washboards advertisement:


      The total, including shipping, comes to $11.94 ($6.49 + $5.45 s&h)

      Now, I could surely squeeze this out of my budget.

      These days, you can get "pre-paid" credit/debit cards from Safeway,
      Check Cashing Centers, and elsewhere. They make them available to
      encourage and facilitate Net-Spending. There are different fee
      options, none of which will bust your budget. You can use them just
      like any credit card (purchase) or debit (transaction), wherever
      these are accepted. The only hitch is, ya gotta have the funds in
      the account to cover your purchase. I think they are even better
      than credit cards. It would be difficult, if even possible, to mess
      up with them, and good credit is not a requirement to have a card.

      Again regarding laundry, supposing I could acquire an adequate
      survival site along with some type of electrical system, The idea
      entertains me of having a "Splendide washer/dryer". Some years ago
      I had visited the "Energy Outlet", a place which sells nothing, but
      has on display the most energy efficient products on the market, for
      promoting, raising awareness, and educating the public about these
      efficient products.

      Well, the first wind-fall that came my way after visiting the energy
      outlet, I took and used to buy a Splendide washer/dryer. I was
      offered, and purchased, the floor model at the appliance store,
      which cost me about $850 which was a nifty discount on the product.

      Per information from the Energy Outlet, the Splendide is (or was at
      the time) touted to cost only $47 per year in energy costs, based on
      average use.

      Now, if I were to have the opportunity to make the goal of a
      survival community property, and had the money to invest in it, I
      think I would want to have a Splendide machine, not to use
      continuously, but for sporadic use, for that deep-clean every once
      and a while, and when needed, to combat germs and use in wetness
      situations, and the like.

      I figured I could purchase the regular threaded faucets to attach to
      my 15 gallon water barrels to use in hooking up to the washer (for a
      portable but adequate water source/supply/connection to washer)
      whatever electrical system I have in place, a 12 volt D.C. system
      with battery bank and an inverter with the proper watt rating, I
      should be able to hook up and put into operation, the Splendide
      washer/dryer (has regular 120 volt plug). This thrifty machine both
      washes and then dries loads in the same machine. It can be a vented
      or unvented (which I had) model. Mine was hooked up in an apartment
      near a small kitchen. I used nylon stockings held in place with
      rubber bands over the hose ending that let out dirtied water (into
      the kitchen sink). It filtered sand and debris and kept the
      plumbing safe.

      It sure was nice having this machine in my apartment, to launder in
      the privacy of my personal environment and eliminating the need to
      go out (to the laundry mat).

      There's a soap bar you can get, a big square, hard, gold one, that
      is not for personal bathing, but laundry. It is widely used in
      Mexico (just as are washboards) and a friend who had one said she
      bought hers at a Mexican Food Store.

      Even the best of planning can go afoul, and a community survival
      site with amenities would be really awesome, but because of what I
      learned due to the fire, I want to acquire and keep ready and handy,
      some things that I don't have, which a small amount of money can
      buy, such as the small washboard, and which might make a great deal
      of difference when needed.
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