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Today, I went to the Advance Auto Store and then to the Wal-Mart, both of which are quite a distance from our rural home. I intended to pick up air filter, oil, oil filter, spark plugs, and spark plug wires for our "new to us" Craigslist find. My elder son made quick work of locating these items, which left me wandering the half aisle of ammunition they had, which was incidentally, quite masterfully restocked. While I was there I began a conversation with a man who was purchasing the maximum amount Wal-Mart policy would permit. When my mother was alive, she used to complain that I was just like my father, in that I "made a lifelong friend everywhere I would go". This isn't really true, but I do meet people sometimes, and I do learn something from everyone I meet, and I usually do remember those people when I see them again. The man was restocking his own supply of ammunition because his home recently burned to the ground. In the past twelve months three friends of ours have lost everything when their homes burned down. One friend had her home burn when a mouse chewed through the wiring in an older freezer she had. This sparked the blaze that not only destroyed her rural home, but killed her household pets as well. Since her home was paid off and she is widowed and having a difficult time financially, she let her homeowner's insurance lapse. As homeowner's insurance throughout the country has risen in the past year or two, many people, particularly the elderly have had to let their homeowner's insurance lapse. Mine is up by 40% this year, and it may not always be easy to get another company to insure your home. A second friend who has a rural home in the West, lost everything on her ranch to a fast moving wildfire. She and her family are not sure that they are willing to rebuild. They also lost all of the animals who were on the ranch, and it's very fortunate that they were not there, when this particular wildfire occurred. A third friend of ours was local, and although the fire department got to the blaze fairly quickly, it had engulfed the entire house and there was not much that could be done. I was driving nearby when his car exploded in response to being close to the conflagration while it was parked in his driveway.
Since house fire is a very common hazard anywhere in the world, it's probably something we should talk a bit about. First, make sure that each level of your home has a smoke detector and that you change its battery each time you set the clocks ahead or back, if you are in a nation which practices daylight savings time. If you can, have a smoke detector which is wired into your houses electrical system in one area, and one which is battery operated in another. This way you are covered for all contingencies. Some places require that each bedroom also has a smoke detector. Codes vary city to city, state to state and nation to nation, however, each family should assess what is needed in their own home, and in their own region and then make sure you have this. Having the correct fire extinguisher in your kitchen can be a lifesaver. I don't have one of these there, but I have one in the barn. Make sure that clutter is managed in your home and your garage, especially if it is attached to your house. Clutter, if it catches fire, can cause fire to spread much more readily. If you must use an extension cord, then make sure it's properly rated for the job you are doing. I don't use candles, but I have them for emergencies. Be careful that if you have a gas stove that potholders and food packaging isn't too close to the flames of the stove. If you are building a home, consider a detached garage, since most of us store some flammable things in a garage, and it would be better to lose a garage, than an entire home, especially an occupied one.
Wildfires are not something we can always anticipate or control. The best we can do is have an evacuation plan for ourselves and our animals. Then, we can trim shrubs and trees back from our home (to the amount recommended by where we live. It varies depending upon state and location.) If you are building a home or replacing a roof, consider a burn resistant roof, particularly if you reside in a windy or wildfire prone region. Be very careful that temporarily used space heaters are several feet from sources of ignition like curtains. Be alert to the smell of smoke and notify the fire department early. Don't assume that "by now someone else has called." Own multiple hoses and have them in accessible places. Sometimes the families whose homes have survived some wildfires are the families who were able to hose their yards near the house, and their houses down with water before leaving. If you have a well, consider having it serviced about every five years. (It works most efficiently with some parts replaced periodically) If you notice a drop in water pressure during the year, it's time to call your well pump contractor. Don't wait until you need water pressure sufficient to run two hoses on two sides of your house by different family members in a distant but viewable wildfire situation, and find that your well pump can only pressurize sufficient for one hose !
This weekend, take a walk around your home looking for fire hazards. The man I spoke to, did not have his ammunition stored in a safe. It was in a large metal box. When the fire got got hot enough, the ammunition was assumed to be the big loud explosive bang everyone heard. His family members were not hurt, but again, a family pet died in this mishap. I asked a lot of questions about the fire in order to understand and to make whatever adjustments I need to, here. His insurance company has been helpful, and he expects to rebuild what he had. Correct anything you think could be a fire problem at your place. Stay safe, and have a
Happy New Year !