Be prepared - fire season is here

It is officially summer and we are approaching an extremely volatile fire season where the slightest spark can get out of hand very quickly. Who would have ever thought that a golf club swinging in the rough (getting a ball in an out-of-bounds area of tall, dry grass) would create a spark capable of causing a fire that would burn 20 acres and require 50 firefighters to put out?

Just about any friction in these conditions can potentially cause a fire. We are all a part of this environment and it is our duty to take care of it so that it can take care of us. I wonder if carrying a bottle of water with us at all times in or near dry grass would help us prevent a spark from getting out of control. A bottle of water would be easy to carry such as on a hike on any of our many trails or a simple walk through the neighborhood, on a horseback or dirt bike ride through the back country, especially in the car with us, and as we learned this week even on the golf course. Most of us don't drink enough water so it would be a win-win situation for our bodies as well as the local environment. We could drink some of it, water the plants and be ready to put out that spark.

We have talked a lot about how to prepare our homes for fire safety and maintaining defensible space, but we haven't talked about personal safety and prevention. Do you have a kit in your car and at home to carry with you in the case of a fire or evacuation? Some of the things to consider include: a gallon of water for each person to last at least three days; battery-operated flashlights and radio (they have those hand-crank powered ones now); non-perishable food supply for three days as well as can opener, utensils, plates, etc.; moist towelettes, garbage bags, and ties or rubber bands; pliers or wrenches to turn off utilities coming into your home; fire extinguisher (one for your home and your car); and don't forget about your pets. For those on prescription medications, it is a good idea to have at least a week or so in a separate place to get you through until a replacement supply can be accessed. Just be sure to use them at each refill and not leave them in the emergency kit so their potency expires. Some other suggestions would be items to entertain the young ones and any personal hygiene needs for your family.

Some simple tips in the home would be to check all electrical cords for fraying or warmth - unplug and repair or replace because both are indicators of a possible short circuit and fire potential. Light bulbs are a huge source of heat and we can save energy and help the environment if we begin replacing the incandescent bulbs with the newer lower wattage fluorescent options. There are LED lights that will save further energy that are coming on the market, too. We should never put a higher wattage than is recommended into a lamp or other fixture. If there is no recommendation tag, only use a 60-watt bulb. Beware of the halogen lamps and light bulbs because they get extremely hot. A friend turned on his halogen lamp (the torchiere kind) and a few minutes later had to run to the corner store. He was only gone about twenty minutes and as he turned the corner to his street on his way back, he found his house engulfed in flames. It was all attributed to the heat produced by the halogen bulb which ignited the curtains hanging next to the lamp. I believe the newer lamps have a protective covering over the bulb to help prevent this. Clothes dryers have also been the cause of several home fires. Did you know that the lint in the filter can be used to start a fire in your fireplace or woodstove? The screen also needs to be washed occasionally because the softener residue can build up on it further adding to a potential fire. You should be able to hold it under the faucet and have the water run freely through it. If it puddles up, you should scrub it with a toothbrush and soap and then recheck it for a free flow of water through the screen.

If we work together to be alert to potential fire hazards and are prepared, we can minimize the chaos that occurs in times of disaster and, more importantly, hopefully save a life.

Be sure to mark your calendars for the Ruhenstroth Volunteer Fire Department Annual Bar B Q from 4 p.m. to midnight on July 21. It is a fun evening for the entire family and open to anyone who wants to come out and meet the neighbors as well as thank our firefighters and their families. Keep your eyes open at the mailboxes for the ticket sales to begin soon and remember: you can buy tickets to enter the raffle even if you aren't able to attend the barbecue.

Have a ramblin' good week!

-- To reach Gail Davis, e-mail or call 265-1947.


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