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Wildfires Cause Emergency Evacuations

July 9, 2012 by  

Wildfires Cause Emergency Evacuations
UPI
Recent wildfires destroyed property and claimed lives.

The seasons and the weather are changing from region to region. The World Meteorological Organization reported that 2001-2011 was the hottest decade on record. The hot, dry conditions are creating a tinderbox that is ideal for out-of-control wildfires.

This is what happened to a small town near my home in South Central Utah. Thieves stole the copper grounding wire from a power substation, setting off a chain of events that turned deadly. Dry lightning hit the substation. Because the copper grounding wire was gone, the transformer short-circuited, causing it to spark, which set the dry grass on fire. The extremely hot, dry weather coupled with high winds took the fire up over the mountainous ridges and out of control. Left in its wake were entire subdivisions reduced to ashes. There were only minutes to get out as the inferno engulfed trailers, outbuildings, vehicles, SUVs, permanent residences and beautiful vacation homes.

The wildfires that recently ravaged Colorado left piles of rubble and ashes where beautiful homes stood before the flames engulfed the region, leaving more than 30,000 people homeless and destroying more than 300 homes. Some of the lucky people had less than 30 minutes to grab their most valuable possessions and flee the inferno. Others got out with only the clothes on their backs.

What would you do if you were told to evacuate your home now?

Towns were evacuated. Roads were closed. Power was shut off. Soon after the towns were evacuated they heard loud booms as home propane tanks exploded one by one. People were freaking out as they drove through smoke, pitch black with ash and slowly following everyone else in vehicles, trailers and cattle trucks.

Volunteers went house to house and let people know that they needed to get out now. One 72-year-old resident drove through about 50 feet of flames to evacuate. He said the fire was so hot that he could feel it on his face inside his car. It was something out of a horror movie. One person either did not get the word or refused to leave his home and he was found dead the next day. Many ranchers were airlifted out by helicopter while they watched their livestock succumb to the fire. Neighbors helped each other evacuate their sheep, horses and cattle. Many people tried to get their vehicles, trailers and SUVs out. They were just lucky to grab what they could and go. They felt extremely lucky to have made it out alive.

The Red Cross set up an evacuation site for refugees fleeing their homes. Many families were camping out, watching the fire and waiting to get the word to be able to get into their property. The interviews on the news were very sad because people did not have time to get their valuables, they just had to evacuate.

72-hour 1-person pack72-Hour Backpack

In this case, 72-hour backpacks or grab-and-go packs were absolutely critical. Things the residents needed the most were: money, face masks, a flashlight, a change of clothing, a sleeping bag, personal-hygiene items, medications, a cellphone, food and water.

The purpose of the 72-hour backpack is to help you survive an emergency that could take up to three days to get help. Evaluate the backpack to make sure you have everything you need for basic survival. If you have children, pack one for them also and keep it in a vehicle or near the front entrance to your house so you can quickly grab it and go. Backpacks should be kept up to date and accessable. Extra gasoline is important to grab if you are a long way from a gas station.

Hybrid FlashlightSolar Flashlight

The best flashlight I have found so far is the Hybrid Solar Flashlight. Less than 9 inches long and weighing only 7.5 ounces, this solar flashlight will provide 120 lumens of power on a full charge and will do so for six hours. It is waterproof, it floats, and it is incredibly durable. This flashlight can be recharged using any light source (the sun is best) but ambient or artificial light works too. There’s no need to ever buy or store batteries.

ION Stabilized OxygenION Stabilized Oxygen

I keep ION (stabilized oxygen) water treatment in my 72-hour pack just in case there is no potable water available. ION kills bacteria on contact from any water source.

Fire Protection And Prevention Tips

The Governor of Utah speaks out on fire prevention. He is urging people to use common sense and much caution while target shooting, lighting off fireworks and building campfires. Making sure that the campfires are built in approved parks and areas designated for fires. The State of Utah has restricted the use of any open flame as well as all fireworks for the entire summer. Colorado and many other States are following suit.

Many fire departments dedicate weeks to fire prevention and protection because it is so important to be aware of the things we can do to prevent fires and protect our loved ones from fire. Thousands of fires occur each year that could be prevented.

The most important fire prevention and fire protection tips are:

  • Never allow children to play with matches, lighters or any other fire igniting apparatus. Keep these things in places where children cannot reach them, such as the top shelf of a kitchen cabinet.
  • Place lit candles in areas where, if an accident happens, like the glass jar bursts, the fire will not be able to spread. Candles are the leading cause of accidental house fires.
  • Check your fire extinguishers. It is important to know if your fire extinguishers are out of code. They may not work in a time when you need them.
  • Test your doors and windows. It is important to know if they open easily, and whether your windows open wide or tall enough. If you have second-story windows, you will need emergency ladders in the room that can be hung out the window so you can climb down them.
  • Make sure your smoke detectors work. Test them monthly and change the batteries right away if they do not work. This tip could help protect you and your loved ones by alerting you if there is smoke, and this can lead to protecting your home from a spreading fire.
  • Have the electrical system of your house tested yearly; the chance of a fire happening because of an electrical system short is much greater in an older house.
  • Always remember to turn off the stove when you are done cooking. Food left cooking on the stove can burn and cause a fire.
  • Keep all space heaters away from flammable materials.

Emergency Food Storage & Survival HandbookThe most important thing about fire prevention is to take personal responsibility for your actions, be cautious and use common sense.

To purchase ION or a packed 72-hour-backpack, click here. To learn how to put together your own 72-hour backpack, buy my book Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook. There is a whole chapter that will walk you through packing your backpack step-by-step.

Peggy Layton

a home economist and licensed nutritionist, holds a B.S. in Home Economics Education with a minor in Food Science and Nutrition from Brigham Young University. Peggy lives in Manti, Utah with her husband Scott. Together they have raised seven children. Peggy owns and operates two businesses: One called "The Therapy Center", where she is a licensed massage therapist and hypnotherapist, and the other an online cookbook and preparedness products business. She is nationally known for publishing a series of seven books on the subject of food storage and also lectures and teaches seminars about preparedness and using food storage products. Peggy practices what she preaches, has no debt, grows a huge garden, lives off the land, raises chickens, bottles and dehydrates food and has time left over to operate her businesses. To check out Peggy's cookbooks and self sufficiency products go to her website www.peggylayton.com. To get a free sample of three different storable meals that have a 15-year shelf life go here.

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  • Rennie

    Anyone in a tinder box zone should have a storm shelter/root cellar or even a 6x6x6 concrete hole with steel door they could at least stash valuables (not appliances) in a case like this, underground cistern/water storage would be even better, and you should always have at least a gallon of water per person in every vehicle in these potential condition, and yes a fire extinguisher because if you could put out a vehicle or roadside or camp fire before it spread it could save homes and lives. As I understand it shelters ran short of bottled water. I also understand the terrorist question of arson has also shown up on the farside of the world in Isreal, but the widespread looting makes me wonder if some of the cause wasn’t the looters themselves. therefore in that saferoom/bumker/cellar/shelter I would reccomend the recording system for your security cameras, so that no matter what happens to your home there will be some record of it. Especially when insurance companies are trying to wiggle out of damage claims by calling it “an act of God” and maybe this is where all the debate about it being terror/arson/natural related is coming from? Who pays? Like I said, think about that vault/shelter when you rebuild.

    • http://peresonallibertydigest.. gottaplenty

      Just do a little research on the web.. The islamists and mexican conquerers af America advocate a scorched earth policy to reduce our resistance to thier take over.. The theft of property should by all means be met with (shooting the bastards) No matter who.

      • torch

        I totally agree and wholeheartedly believe we should have open season on the scumbags once a week.No bag limit.Bonuses for over 100 in one day!!!

  • gunner689AI

    Where’s all the complaints about the lack of FEMA response to the fires out West that we heard about hurricane Katrina ?

    • Buster the Anatolian

      Good point Gunner.

    • jopa

      gunner;Perhaps the government is doing a great job and there is no need for complaints.The folks out west know what resources are available and the fire crews are working above and beyond of what is expected.The conditions are historically hot and dry and anyone that lives in the area knows the consequences.

  • http://www.peggylayton.com Peggy Layton

    I personally talked to one of my neighbors whose parents-in-law lost everything in the fire on Indian Ridge. This was their permanent residence. They had 20 minutes to evacuate so they put all their valuables in their root cellar. Because it was underground they thought it would be safe. The fire was so hot that it burned through 10 feet of earth and when they returned to access the damage their root cellar was smoldering and had collapsed and caved in on all their valuables. We drove the 1 &1/2 hour loop along Indian Ridge and the only thing standing was cinderblock foundations and metal. Everything else was incinerated in the inferno. I suggest root cellars be built out of cinderblock and cement with metal doors. Anything wooden was completely gone.

  • gunner689AI

    It wasn’t BO”s type of people out west so they were basically on their own.

  • JustAnotherJoe

    I live in an area where there is no fire service, and where some Summers are extremely fire-prone. Thankfully, this year has been a good year. Thus, what I do, is have a “fire list”-one that I pray I never need. Now granted, in this instance, such a list would be useless, as these folks had literally no time to do anything except run. But, for those whose area has been having fires, and you are given the “30 minutes to get out” signal, having a fire list of what you would be able to grab in just a few minutes is helpful. Keep the list where it is handy. For instance “clean clothes”, “laundry bag”, the few pictures that I cannot replace, computer, etc might be ideas to have on such a list. Then that way, when just such an order comes around, you do not have to think (and at a time when you are not going to be thinking clearly) ahead of time of what to take with you. Grab your list, and grab the things you have written down, and in short order, can have what you need for an evacuation. It is a list you pray you never need, but is nice to have on hand ahead of time.

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