You wake up to realize your house is on fire

You wake up to realize your house is on fire. Immediately you throw off the covers and run for the front door to escape. You’re almost there, a few more steps, and you’re out, but you fall to the floor, overcome by smoke.

A firefighter pushes on the door, trying to enter but finds its block. He finally opens it enough to squeeze through; smoke and flames race out the door above him. Finding your lifeless body, he drags you outside and begins CPR with the medic crew that just pulled up. Other firefighters continue to battle the blaze.

Your neighbors look on in shock, and the cries of your wife, who has just arrived home from work, can be heard in the distance as a police officer briefs her of the situation.

The exhausted firefighter kneels to the ground and unzips his bunker gear to cool off as the ambulance drives away with your body. A scene that could have been prevented if you had remained calm and crawled out of your house instead of running. There was very little smoke at floor level, but you panicked and forgot this simple rule:

If you awake to an alarm or suspect fire at night, roll out of bed, and crawl, there will be less smoke and heat at floor level.

On average, seven people die in U.S. home fires per day.

Smoking is the leading cause of civilian home fire deaths. Heating equipment is the second most common cause of home fires and fire injuries and the third leading cause of fire deaths.

Smoke alarms save lives.

Make sure you have a working smoke detector in your home.

Don’t be the next victim, remain calm, and survive.

Surviving a catastrophic power outage

You may have read other articles about a December report put out by The President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC), which is composed of senior executives from industry, state, and local government who own and operate the critical infrastructure essential to our modern life. In those articles, you may feel they sensationalized the report, so I am going to write this article using only quoted material from the report. If, after reading them, you are still interested, you can read the full report here.

“We found that existing national plans, response resources, and coordination strategies would be outmatched by a catastrophic power outage.”

“Imagin an outage that stretches beyond days and weeks to months or years, and affects large swaths of the country.”

“The scale of the event—stretching across states and regions, affecting tens of millions of people—would exceed and exhaust mutual aid resources and capabilities.”

“A catastrophic power outage may occur with little or no notice and result from myriad types of scenarios: for example, a sophisticated cyber-physical attack resulting in severe physical infrastructure damage; attacks timed to follow and exacerbate a major natural disaster; a large-scale wildfire, earthquake, or geomagnetic event; or a series of attacks or events over a short period of time that compound to create significant physical damage to our nation’s infrastructure.”

“Ultimately, all events, from small to large disasters, are local. This means that those closest to impacted areas are the true first responders during an emergency or disaster—from individuals to families to neighbors and local communities.”

“There remains an ongoing myth that the federal government will be able to provide assistance and resources directly after an event to help with response, and that is not always the case.”

I will stop here, the quotes speak for themselves.

We should all be prepared to live without power, and we should also be ready to deal with those who are not, which, in my opinion, will be the more significant threat.

Microfiction – Sheeple

Sheeple, you have a problem, the grid has gone down, and your modern world has just disappeared into the dark. The car you let run down to almost empty will not get refueled. The gas pumps no longer work, and the tanks will be siphoned out by looters within days.

As you walk home, you look up and notice something you haven’t seen in a while. A night sky full of bright stars that were once hidden by our electric light pollution.

Moving along, you sense the fear growing in the others around you who want the same thing; power, your entire lives have revolved around it. It did everything for you.

As the last bit of light fades from their screens, people call out, “Mom! mom, are you still there,” cries one. “Honey, I’ll be home soon,” says another. You look at your phone, but it’s already dead. No reflection shines off your face.

The cyberattack that took down the power grid was well planned, and the entire nation is in the dark. You listen to the news coming from an emergency radio carried by the girl next to you. The others listen too, and panic sets in as a nearby stores get looted.

When you get home, you look in the freezer for something to eat and take out a frozen dinner. Instinctively, you swing around to open the microwave door. Pausing, the gravity of the situation sets in, and you sink to the floor in tears, not knowing what to do. Tonight you are safe, but what about tomorrow?