So much for the more or less man-produced fire hazards. There is, however, the occasional fire that comes down from heaven. The National Board of Fire Underwriters has proved by careful investigation that a properly installed and maintained system of lightning rods will give a house ninety-eight per cent protection. It does not prevent the building from being struck, but it does provide an easy and direct path to earth for the lightning discharge, thus preventing damage and destruction. This has nothing to do with the old school of lightning rod salesmen trained in medicine show methods. Proper equipment and competent men working under inspection by the Underwriters Laboratories are now available. Incidentally, radio antennae should be properly grounded and have an approved lightning arrester.
There is one more possibility of disaster from lightning. Ordinary wire fencing mounted on wooden posts can become so highly charged with electricity during a thunder storm that no living thing is safe within thirty feet of it. Proper grounding is again the remedy and is relatively simple. At every fifth post an iron stake should be driven deep enough to reach permanent moisture. Connect this to the fencing by a wire tightly wrapped around the stake and each strand of the fencing. This causes the electricity generated during a storm to escape harmlessly into the ground, just as it does through the cables of a properly installed set of lightning rods.
With life in the country, there are times when the innate perverseness of the inanimate asserts itself. For one accustomed to city conditions this is almost a paralyzing experience. There is no apartment house superintendent to call on, no repairman just around the corner. In itself it may be very simple; but what to do, how to do it and with what tools, unless you have gone through the mill, is soul-searing. So, almost as soon as you have established your sources of food and fuel, address yourself to the problem of discovering the neighborhood handy man.
Not all men of the usual mechanical trades can qualify. Such a jewel must have native ingenuity, really enjoy coping with sudden emergencies and, like the old-fashioned country doctor, be possessed of a temperament that accepts sudden calls for help as part of the day’s work. He may have planned to take his family to the village moving picture show; but if your plumbing has sprung a leak, your pump has suddenly ceased to function, or any one of a dozen other contingencies has arisen, nothing is so comforting as his assurance that “he’ll be right over.” You know that within a reasonable time this physician to things mechanical will arrive in his somewhat battered automobile with an assortment of tools and supplies adequate for the majority of minor domestic crises.