OK folks, so we’ve had some unseasonably late rain in northern Nevada this year. Small sections of Highway 447 were washed out last month, and in early August the DPW survey team evacuated the playa when storms swept through the area. If you remember 2014’s 12-hour Gate closure (we sure do), you’ll know why we feel it’s important to share our best tips for preparing for rain on your parade.
Probably the most important tip is, if you see rain coming, tune in to BMIR 94.5 FM for the latest news and updates on what to plan for. (You did pack a battery-powered radio, right?) Burning Man has its own weather tracking team who will be feeding the latest updates to BMIR, which will continue its no-snark news broadcasts at the top of every hour.
Here are the top tips for dealing with rain:
- Batten down your camp. (Rain is almost always accompanied by high winds, which will blow anything unattended into the next county.) This includes tents, shade structures, lawn chairs, clothing, paper plates and napkins, beer cans, or anything else that could potentially get blown away in a sudden, fierce windstorm.
- Shelter in place until the worst of it is over. And make sure your campmates have a safe and dry place to shelter, too. Don’t go out dancing in the rain if there is lightning.
- Protect all food, medicine, bedding and clothing from getting wet. There is nothing worse than trying to sleep in a wet sleeping bag. Speaking of food and medicine, be sure to bring extra on the chance you may be stuck on site for a period of time if it rains during Exodus.
- Turn off and cover generators or anything generating electricity. Also beware of extension cords and cables that run through puddles — lift them onto anything off the ground, like a wooden block.
- Store fuel safely. Make sure any stored fuel is above ground and in some sort of secondary containment to keep it away from water.
- Don’t climb on any structures in a severe rain storm (really, that should go without saying, because lightning).
- Don’t drive your car or Mutant Vehicle on the wet playa — all vehicles must stop moving. Driving on wet playa destroys the road system and creates ruts. Also, it is very possible you’ll get stuck.
- Same goes for riding your bike. Within seconds, your tires will collect wet clay and quickly seize solid with about 5″ (and 10 pounds) of thick clay-like mud making it impossible for the tires to rotate.
- If you absolutely have to walk around, duct tape heavy-duty trash bags to your shoes to minimize what can immediately become “playa platforms” on the bottom of your shoes as the layers of wet clay accumulate with each step you take.
Lastly, in the event of extended rain, pumping trucks will have trouble servicing the toilets and the porta-potties will fill up. You’ll need your own place to go. The solution? A Poop Bucket™! Making a poop bucket is old skool Burnertastic, and super simple. You’ll want:
- A five gallon bucket with a lid (you’ll really want the lid)
- Heavy-duty garbage bags (compactor bags are the best)
- Some kitty litter (or sawdust)
- A pool noodle (if you want to get all fancy)
The pool noodle (cut halfway through to its center point) fits nicely around the lip of the bucket and provides some cush for your tush. Line the bucket with a garbage bag, toss in an appropriate handful of some kitty litter for odor control and absorption and keep the lid on it until you need to use again. Don’t let any single garbage bag get too full (you really don’t want them breaking when you remove them). When the first gets partially full, seal it and place the next bag on top of the sealed one and use it. Poop bucket savants thread the toilet paper roll through the metal handle of the bucket, so it’s right where you need it at all times. Some people have been known to bring a toilet seat instead of the “pool noodle”. Either way, you’ll want to be prepared for just such an emergency.
Remember you need to take that “shit” with you when you leave — do NOT under any circumstances leave this mess for others to deal with. Don’t even think of bringing ANY materials from your Poop Bucket into the commercial porta potties (the mantra: if it wasn’t in your body, don’t put it in the potty! Otherwise the pumping machines get clogged). Also, human waste cannot go in dumpsters. So dispose of your Poop Bucket materials in the appropriate location (this is why you have the bucket lid — HELLA duct tape that thing on there for the ride home).
As you can see, Burning Man is fun and all, but preparing for the playa is no joke. Please remember the desert environment can be extreme. Strong gusts of wind, high temperatures during the day, cold at night, and yes, sometimes it rains. And rain is a serious matter in the Black Rock Desert. Read and review the information above, share it with your friends and campmates, and we’ll see you out there!