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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

You've Got Five Minutes

What would you take with you if you only had five minutes to escape your home with your life?

I've been feeling skittish for days. It's been so hot that we'd been put under the highest alert for fire danger.

We live in a fairly secluded area, and our volunteer fire department is about three miles away. For weeks, I've been hearing their sirens at all hours of the day and night. 

Even a tiny fire is dangerous. The winds are gusting up to 50 miles an hour. A fire can get away from you in an instant. And we're surrounded by trees.

I've decided to keep my truck filled up in case I have to leave quickly. People seem to be doing a good job of stopping any fire before it gets out of hand, but at least two towns south of us had a few houses and cars burn from a runaway fire. 

Yesterday, we finally had rain. I never thought I'd be so grateful. We're not out of the woods though. We're still in triple digits and within hours all that rain sucked into the earth. It's dry as a bone again.

If a fire does hit us, I made myself an escape plan. If it came down to evacuating, I'd let the chickens loose, gather the dogs, my computer tower, and photo albums, and go upwind of any fire danger.

My house is mostly brick and glass, but the roof is still vulnerable. I take the danger seriously. We lost two of our dogs in a fire once. I've sworn a solemn oath that that would never happen again as long as I drew breath.

Have you ever thought about what you would grab if you only had five minutes to escape?

Indie Road Tour update: I had way more invitations than I had topics on indie publishing. I'd be glad to visit, but you'll have to help me come up with a topic that's not already on my list. Email me if you still want me and I'll send you the topics I'm already covering.


Misha said...

Yes, but it's my one superstition that I don't say what I would take. Too many of these discussions in my lifetime were followed by fires that destroyed the very things they swore to save...

Maria Zannini said...

Misha: That first fire had the opposite effect on us. We became far more proactive after that experience. We fireproofed our kitchen, created doggie doors for the dogs, and placed all the family albums within easy reach of the exit.

Joanne said...

My first feeling is to get myself, my family and my cat the heck out of the house. An external hard drive with all my work saved on it would be on that list too.

Madeleine said...

Poor you it was be a very stressful time. My hubby would be planning like you what to do.

Good question. I guess I'd take my hubby, my cats, a warm coat and my keys and mobile, but things like passport and driver's licence are very important items not to lose.

Having worked with the fire brigade junior life skills training I know that getting yourself out is more important than trying to save the material things even though obviously I wouldn't want to lose them.
I hope it never happens to any of us.
It's the question the hero asks the heroine in the film 'Leap Year'. It turns out to be a pivotal question... :O)

Maria Zannini said...

Joanne: I think I could unplug my tower in less than thirty seconds, but yes, failing that I would just grab my jump drives. It doesn't have everything, but it has a good hunk of my work.

That is the one piece of technology I really love.

Maria Zannini said...

Madeleine: Ref: Leap Year
I've never seen that movie! I'll have to look it up.

I'm always reminded of something I saw on tv news once. This woman was searching through the rubble of her house after a tornado and all she could find was one picture of her family. The look on her face was haunting. It was all she had left.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

gah! I keep forgetting to send you an email!
That sucks about fire. I have a friend in NM who had to evacuate her home last week. For us, though, all we've had is rain. Too much rain, actually, and there's a lot of flooding

Cathy in AK said...

The advantage of living in a rainforest is that wild fires are pretty much unheard of. But we aren't immune to other causese, of course. I watched a neighbor's house burn this spring when some rodent-chewed wires caused a spark. It was scary.

What would I bring? My main concern would be the kids and the critters. We bought a fire proof box years ago to stash our important papers, and I also put my backup thumb drives in it. I've copied my work as well as pictures onto them. I still might grab the computer, tho :P

Stay safe!

jackie b central texas said...

Five minutes would mean rounding up three very scared furbabies with their pet carriers, purse with wallet and such installed and as my IMac because without it will have no idea what bills need to be paid and when as most of my stuff is online and the hard drive my husband has on his desk is not something I bother to update regularly... Being that my mobility is slow as molasses that would be about the only things I would have time to grab, being that we live on a road that is surrounded by pine trees five minutes is probably not enough time to even grab keys to a vehicle unless we get a good hours notice there is a fire headed our way we will be trapped and burn with the pets and the belongings! That is the reality of living in a forested area, the beauty and normal tranquility of my surroundings is worth the risk though...

Maria like you it is so hot and dry here that we have been frantic for the past couple of months actually, last night and early this am we got one and a half inches and more is on the way this week so hopefully it will help us get some relief from the fear of fires for a bit...

Kay Theodoratus said...

While we don't a "bug-out" kit per se, I have organized things like medicines, crucial finance stuff, food/water and important pics in grouping that are easy to grab. It might be hard to grab the cats, but I only have to grab my back-up drive for my computer.

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: The south is really getting hammered with heat. First tornadoes, then locusts, now fire. Maybe we're in the apocalypse and we just don't know it. :)

Cathy: You're right. No one is immune. I'd grab the tower only if I had time. There's so much data on there and it would take months to recover--if at all.

Jackie: You're in the same boat I am. And yes, cats would be awful to round up. They just don't understand the concept of 'we have to leave NOW'.

Kay: You sound very organized! I should follow your example.

Mike Keyton said...

Hmm, Family, memory sticks, kindle and mandolins. And my Davy Crockett hat

Shelley Munro said...

The danger of fire must be terrible. The last time we visited the US there were bad fires at several of the National Parks and in California. It must be so stressful living in such dry conditions, knowing the slightest spark is dangerous.

I'd grab our puppy, my laptop and backup plus my purse. If I had enough time I'd also grab my passport.

I'll cross my fingers that you get more rain, Maria. I'd happily send you some of ours. It's pouring down right now. Stay safe.

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: Hasn't your wife thrown out that raccoon hat yet? LOL.

Shelley: California usually gets hit the hardest with wildfires. It's a little rare for us.

Steven Whibley said...

I'd grab my lap top if I had to hack my way through flames to get it. I need to be better about backing up my stuff online!

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Scary. Very scary. I'd grab my kids and if there was time, some of their artwork and photos. Other than that, it could all burn and I'd be fine. I hope this never happens to any of us.

Angelina Rain said...

Wow, that's so scary. I'm very sorry about the dogs you lost in a fire. That really sucks.

If we had to escape a fire, I would take my hubby and my dog (and if my stepdaughter is over then her as well). After my computer crashed and all my files were lost last year, I keep everything on the computer and on little cruzer deives, so I would take the drives with my writing, photos, and home videos with me.

If I could get my goldfish into a food container in a safe amount of time, I would do that. But if not, I would have to leave the fish behind. That would really suck but I know my fish would hide instead of letting me catch him.

My house is very small and it's all wood, so it would burn very fast.

Rula Sinara said...

I have a firesafe too, but I should probably get a bigger one (or as second) and put more in it.

First, I'd get my kids out and the dog, and then my laptop and purse. Anything else would depend on time left.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

Besides animals, it would have to be my laptop...oh, and my husband. ;)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

It would be terrible but the progress in technology has made it easier to pick up pictures and such to take along. My books are on zip drives I can fit in my pockets. I hope none of us have to find out.

Maria Zannini said...

Steven: I love this: 'hacking my way through flames'. Don't know that I'd be that brave, but I'd try to grab it if I could.

Lindsay: That reminds me of when Hurricane Rita was coming for the coast. One of the things my hubby saved was the oil portraits I did of the dogs.

Rula: I wonder how fireproof those fire safes are? I would hate to lose all my important papers.

Barbara: I nearly swallowed my tongue when you put your husband in as an afterthought. LOL! Good one!

Susan: You're never the same once you go through it. It really does change the way you look at things.

Bookewyrme said...

I live in a very fire-prone area, so I have to think about it all the time. I usually keep it down to our computers, the two large paintings done by a talented friend which are our prize possessions, and the dogs. The longer we've got, the more electronics get added (our important papers are all in a fire-proof safe), but those are the top-tier things.

Anyway, hope you don't get any fires, and hope you get some more rain. Keeping my fingers crossed for you guys.

broken biro said...

Once again you remind us of the hostile environment you live in... eek. I'd send you a damp morning in Merseyside if I could... hope you keep safe.

I left in less than 5 mins once (long story involving an angry husband and a hammer). I couldn't think of what to take, so ended up with a carrier bag containing clean knickers, an A-Z and a tin of soup!!! When it's life or death, stuff suddenly seems less important. So, pets if I had any... and the laptop, of course!

Margo Benson said...

We have a fire safe, which we bought when we lived in San Diego, after a friend lost her home and everything in the 2003 fires.

Not so much fire risk here in Blighty but I have work backed up on memory sticks - I'd grab our two cats, precious photos ....and MrB.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Yes, I have thought about that. We live on a bit of an island and it floods like crazy with bad rains. So hurricane/N'oreaster season can be scary. The last time the bay reached the ocean was in the 60's. We have to be due for another bad storm soon.

Ellie Garratt said...

I've never had to answer this type of question, so I can't imagine what is must be like living with this kind of threat. I guess I would take my laptop and photo albums. Everything else is replaceable.

Ellie Garratt

Maria Zannini said...

Bookwyrme: Fire danger is new to us. Always an adventure, this place. :)

Brokenbiro: Oh, lordy. Do I sound like I live in a dangerous place? For all the fierce creatures and Ma Nature, it's really beautiful here. I guess nothing comes free. You have to take the good with the ouchy.

Margo: LOL. I'm know Mr. B will be glad to hear it.

Jennifer: Water has always scared me more than fire. And it's harder to escape a flood unless you know where the low areas are. I feel for you.

Ellie: The photos would be hardest of all to replace. They're a comfort especially during a time when you need that sense of place.