California is on Fire- Again

In high school, I had a teacher who was a Reverend. One of the quotes he would always say was, “What you gonna do when the world is on fire?”

Most of us kids would laugh it off and say something like, “I guess I will find some water.”

Growing up Southern Baptist, I knew the answer to the question and waited for the day he would ask me. Finally, the day came early on a Monday morning (I remember because Monday was film day).

“Mr. Battle”, he said “What you gonna do when the world is on fire?”

I smiled at him and said, “Nothing, cause I won’t be here!”

He smiles, patted me on the shoulder and said, “Amen”

Last year wildfires tore through California, leaving devastation and broken hearts in the ashes. For those that lost everything they owned, their world had been on fire. The charred remanence of memories, now withered away to nothingness. From a firefighter’s perspective, even though there were personnel casualties, it could have been worse.

The internet was overflowing with interesting ways to protect your house from wildfires. From cutting your grass to making a fire break barrier, the ideas were endless. One of the reasons the wildfires spread so fast were the winds. The burning embers from the fires flowed along the wind making firefighting efforts more difficult.

Adding to the devastation, the rains came. The poor absorption rate of the soil and the lack of foliage due to the fire caused massive mud slides. Some were hit with a double whammy, fire and flood. Some who were lucky enough to be missed by the fire were caught by the flood. A third blow was delivered when some were told that their insurance did not cover these incidents.

As a prepper, my plan for this scenario is simple; should I stay, or should I go. A wildfire can travel miles in a few minutes. Waiting for the last minute to decide to leave maybe too late. Scrambling around to find those “Important Papers” and those “Family Photos” are precious moments that could have saved lives and prevent heartache. The goal is to make memories, not to become one.

The bug-in plan is temporary. Each fire is different. There is no formula for how long to stay. If a public official or news report tells you to leave – maybe you should take their advice. While home, make calls to find friends or family that can accommodate all members of the family; including the furry ones. Collect all medication and plan your travel with refrigerated meds. Open the safe (the fire, and flooding proof one) and pack the thumb drives and CDs with those important papers on them. Important papers include mortgage papers, insurance, wedding license, social security cards, birth certificates, wedding photos, and family pictures. Important papers, in my opinion, are not the noodle art that was made 10 years ago in your child’s third-grade art class; again, that’s just my opinion.

The bug-out plan is less nerve racking. I am no longer a firefighter. I do not have the equipment to fight a house fire or wildfire alone; nor is it wise to try. So, when the fire gets close, we are leaving. What do I consider close? That depends on the direction the fire is burning, how far it is, the direction of the wind, and how big the fire is. If there was a potential for a fire to block my escape route, then I would leave before being trapped by traffic while trying to use an alternate route. I once opted to evacuate well before being advised.  As a firefighter, I saw signs that I didn’t like and decided to take my family out of the hazardous situation. I felt the change in the atmosphere, the air felt warmer. The smoke was getting thicker, and the embers in the ash were not going out as fast. It was time to go.

Does your insurance policy cover fire and flooding? Did they tell you this or did you see it in writing? The insurance companies are not in the business to give you money, they are in the business to make money. Make sure you understand what you are paying for as well as what you are not paying for.

For more information, set up a seminar.

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