P. Edronkin

Fire As A Local Environmental Cleanser And Countermeasure Against Infections



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If you ever spent a night outdoors, in a swampy area, cold or tropical but filled with small insects, you surely know what it means to be attacked by swarms of mosquitoes, flies and other exasperating creations of nature; a good use of fire will save you from such a disgrace. You may also be aware that in many places around the world, infectious diseases such as malaria, elephantiasis, dengue, the Chagas-Mazza fever and bubonic plague can be transmitted by means of such little animals. So, keeping them away is a mental of mental and physical hygiene: at any rate you will suffer if these small evils from hell are present around you while you want to sleep, and you can even get more than you bargained for when you bought the tickets that got you to your travel destination.

Of course there are commercial repellents, but under the duress of extreme survival situations, if there is no repellent left in your backpack, or if attacking insects seem to be immune to your biochemical weapons, then you can try fire as a countermeasure, because it really works if it is used wholeheartedly. Smoke will help, of course, but big flames will work as well: during the Black Death in Europe, the Pope's physician, Gui de Chaillac, prescribed Clement VI fire and isolation as the best preventive medicine for the plague, and he was right: not only he saved the leader of the Christian world, but himself, for Doctor de Chaillac actually got infected with the plague while studying some patients and survived to tell the tale when bubonic plague is deadly in more than 90% of the cases. The idea was simple: stay isolated, not allowing others to approach you, and make some really good fires around you.

We can indeed think about the use of such little animals as carriers of weapons of mass destruction, chemical as well as biological; in fact, the Japanese armed forces tested during WWII and around the city of Harbin, China, containers made out of clay and filled with sand and fleas that carried 'Pasteurella pestis,' the bacteria that actually produce bubonic plague. It has been confirmed that they tested these weapons by dropping them from aircraft in populated areas: results were mixed, but these historical facts prove that there is a use for insects as weapons.

The flames and temperature will destroy any approaching insect, the smoke will dissuade yet more, and the warm air will make it more difficult for the remaining ones to fly until they get you. The air will be purified and you will even enjoy a pressure differential - like present day WMD countermeasures - that will keep even microbes away. Sounds childishly simple, but it does work. Of course, you will need sufficient combustible to keep the flames going: wood, fuel, charcoal or whatever: but if you are able to manage your bonfires, they will take care of you. And in the case of trekking groups where there is enough people, managing and keeping those fires will be even easier: establish a two hour long watch and while one person makes sure that the flames are kept alive and kicking, the rest will sleep better than expected.




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