Busted Water Pipes & Stress

Have you ever put a can of Soda in the freezer and forget that it’s in there until the next day?  I sure have, and its a mess cleaning out the freezer.  The can explodes and frozen soda sticks to the freezer and everything in its path like glue.  Frozen water pipes act in a similar way.  When pipes freeze the container expands causing pressure against the liquid that has not frozen yet and causes a crack or a violent tear in the container.  And the pressure is released, and container or pipe  is severely damaged or ruined.    

The aftermath of busted pipe is a lot of property damage, and a lot of squeegeeing.  That one shift we had last week, after the temperature began to rise from single digit numbers was just enough for the pipes to give way from the pressure they were under.  I’ve read that up north, where the winters are more brutal that the south, the homes are better designed to insulate pipes more efficient.  Pipes up north are layered with insulation to protect the container or pipe from the elements.   Down south we will run pipes under homes with little or no insulation and also in attics unprotected.  We don’t have real bad winters, they are few and far between, but when we do experience the northern single digit temperature, usually we become very busy in our occupation.    

Application : If you put a container of soda, in a freezer and forget its there, it’s going to most likely explode.  The container isn’t made for those conditions.  As firefighters if we don’t cover our entire body with PPE’s before we enter into a burning building, bad things can happen to the container we call our body.  I wouldn’t want to go in without every piece of armor that is available for my safety.  CISM is available for our safety also.  No it’s not part of our armor such as our PPE, but it is a necessary tool we have available to us.  CISM is a vital  resource that is available for each one of us if  needed.  We experience so many stressors that can stop us in our tracks.  CISM is a system that allows us to vent before the pressure becomes to great within us.  We’ve all seen the damage that busted water pipes can cause.  The residual damage can take weeks to clean up.  Stress when it goes unchecked can cause residual damage also.   If you feel the need to “vent,” find a trusted friend or confidant.  For me, it was my crew that i responded with the night of my stressful call.  We came back from the call and i asked my Captain if he would listen to my problem and he did, along with my crew.  It helped me tremendously just to get it off  my chest.  It took me about a month of company meetings with my crew to get it off my shoulders.   Other resources that are good are your pastor, and chaplain to name a few.  EAP is another outlet we have in seeking guidance during our burden.  Keep the pipes insulated, keep our minds insulated with layers of resources that will be needed when the changing conditions come our way.  

I Love you all, have a safe shift.   Lee.

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