Black Smoke on the Horizon

Well, it happened again. As I entered my town, I could see smoke from a fire coming from the direction where my apartment buildings are located. Once more, I had to anxiously wait while I drove the last few miles to reach home in order to see if it was my building that had gone up in smoke. Thank goodness, it wasn’t. This is the third time in the last year that a fire has sent smoke billowing into the air near my place of residence. The last time, it was the muffler shop that went up in flames near my home.

After reading about the massive fires in Alberta, Canada, a couple of months ago, I was once again struck by the “Are You Ready?” bug. The first time the bug struck was right before Y2K. I had stockpiled some stuff to eat and extra toothpaste, but mostly I sat up to see if the lights in New Zealand went out at 12 midnight. When they didn’t, I went to bed.

The second time the bug struck was during my graduate classes in 2009-2010 when I was pursuing a Masters of Library and Information Science. I took three classes from the same professor who was very thorough in her research, which in turn made her downright scary. The classes revolved around what a librarian should do during emergency and pandemic scenarios and what information should be provided to public response agencies. Needless to say, the scenarios were reviting and included both real and imagined worse-case scenarios. It was the stuff of nightmares for months afterwards. The government actually has many websites dedicated to such information due to the increase in floods, hurricanes, and other disasters that the U.S. is experiencing in recent years. We had to evaluate all of them. I started stockpiling gallons of water and my kids thought I was nuts. But then, Fukushima happened and the Japanese who had two weeks worth of stockpiled food and water fared better.

So, what would you grab if you were given a thirty minutes evacuation order? That is all the time the Alberta people had and it started the vicious cycle of wondering if-I-could-fit-it-all in-my-truck thoughts. Of course, I was more worried about an apartment fire while I was away. (A co-worker of mine here in town shared her experience of coming home to a pile of ashes instead of an apartment building). So, my thoughts revolved around what I could cram into my fire-proof safes. One already held all my official unopened college transcripts from 8 schools (to be used for future schools and job applications). The other used to hold my Spanish telenovelas before I digitalized them, but now stood empty. I decided to save small stuff that held sentimental value–jewelry making tools, penny whistles, a crocheted square I made with my adopted Basque grandma, my embroidered Hobbitville — you know, the priceless stuff you can’t buy or replace with a Mastercard. I am almost done digitalizing my life, DVDs, CDs, dramas, photos, books, and home (except for foreign language books) and I carry the external hard drives with me, so they are safe unless my truck catches on fire with me in it.

BUT, apparently, not everything burns up in a fire as I thought. Diamonds, gold, and steel, etc., have higher melting points than a normal house fire. But, and here is the caveat that I read about, even if the fire doesn’t reach your stuff and it is only smoked out and slightly crispy around the edges, will it survive the 30k gallons of water used to quench the flames? Mmm, I hadn’t thought of water damage. So, following their advice (whichever survival guru I was reading on the web)– I went and bought ziplock baggies. Now, my documents are safe in ziplock baggies in a fireproof case. All my priceless trinkets are zip-locked and stuffed into the second safe. Too bad the violin and electric keyboard don’t fit. But, I can sleep at night now. Or should I?

I started wondering if the melting point of plastic isn’t rather low. Does that mean I will have gooey plastic melted all over my treasures and documents now? Maybe I should buy tins and stuff my treasures into tins BEFORE I zip them into plastic bags…

 

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Author: foggydreamer

Foggy indulges her life-long passion for languages while working and having fun. Runescape has provided an immersive world for exploring personal and professional activities.

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