Lessons from a fire
- 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
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
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
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
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.