Jrs V12 I22


Burning Man Update: The Jack Rabbit Speaks
Volume 12, Issue #22
August 6, 2008

In the grand spirit of radical self-reliance (if you don’t know what that is, you might want to take a gander at the Ten Principles: http://tinyurl.com/d3unc) , your personal health and safety at Burning Man is ultimately YOUR responsibility.

We have compiled a collection of information, resources and advice about health and safety at the event to help you with your playa planning. This JRS Special Edition is brought to you by the esteemed Emergency Services Department of Black Rock City, and the letter K.

(Associate Rabbit)

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…or care and feeding of your laser light show.

Yes we all love us some lasers on the playa. They look great in the distance and add a lot of atmosphere to your theme camp. But before you party please do some basic homework to ensure you are safe. Lasers are by no means toys and they can cause blindness, fires and other problems if set up improperly or if the incorrect equipment is used. Remember to install the lasers in such a way that they don’t point down at eye level as people can be temporarily or permanently blinded by the beam.

Get ready by checking out some on-line laser safety resources:

Basic: http://tinyurl.com/5gfk9p
Laser Light Show Safety: http://tinyurl.com/5768yv
Informative: http://tinyurl.com/63c42v
Regulatory: http://tinyurl.com/37pkvo

If you are going to have a laser set up on-playa and no one in your camp is a laser professional consider these tips:

* Use the lowest power laser that will effectively work for your needs and use it at the lowest power settings to accomplish your effect.
* Treat lasers operation as a serious safety matter and have only sober operators.
* Designate a laser safety officer to make sure your lasers are being operated safely by your operators.
* If your laser operates automatically or without an operator having a laser safety officer monitoring the system is just as important to ensure nothing goes wrong with its safe operation.

If you have related non-technical questions about the use of lasers at Burning Man, please direct them to 911 (at) burningman (dot) com.



IF YOU ARE STUCK IN AN EMERGENCY ROOM IN RENO Anyone unlucky enough to be airlifted or transported by ambulance while unconscious or alone may end up stranded at one of the local hospitals unable to get a ride back to the playa. Given the sheer volume of people passing through Reno on the way to the playa we thought we would find a way to help stranded persons get back to the Burning Man with someone already on their way in. Simply call (415) TO- FLAME and select the special Emergency Ride Share voice mail line to leave your name and the hospital where you are located. This Emergency Ride Share hotline will be checked on a regular basis and information on anyone who needs to be picked up will be posted on a special announcement line for those able to help a fellow burner out.

Call (415) TO-FLAME to check the announcement for any information on the person in question. If there is no information on the hotline announcement leading to the missing person’s whereabouts, try calling local area hospitals or the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office.

If you are passing through Reno and want to help someone out simply call (415) TO-FLAME special participant emergency ride share announcement line to check if anyone needs to be picked up. Please remember to call back to (415) TO-FLAME if you pick someone up so that their name can be removed from the announcement.



Every year the NHP helps hundreds of burners who get stranded or otherwise experience problems on the road to and from the event. At a recent meeting they let us know some super helpful tips to avoid the most common problems that burners experience while on the road:

Too tired to drive…
…The NHP reports that of the accidents in September ’07 that they relate to Burning Man traffic, the number one reported cause of these accidents was fatigue. Be sure to be well rested/caffeinated and sober (duh), with a buddy to help to keep you company while you drive. Behind the wheel is no place for a playa hangover.

Driving on empty…
…Fill your gas tank before heading out on 447. Turns out lots of people run out of gas to or from the event. Its a long way and there are few gas stations between Gerlach and the rest of the civilized world. Fuel up when you have the chance.

Soft shoulders…
…The shoulders of 447 and the other rural highways have *very* soft shoulders and the chance of getting stuck is much higher than you expect, especially in the soft sands around Pyramid lake. Only pull over if you absolutely have to and if at all possible only pull over on fully developed gravel shoulders. It’s also easy to roll a vehicle if you hit these soft shoulders at high speeds. If you absolutely have to, and if at all possible, only pull over on fully developed gravel shoulders.

Watch your load…
…Be sure your any loads on your roof rack or trailers are tied down properly. This especially applies at the end of the event on the way home when you may be tired and less careful about how you load and tie down. Taking a couple of extra minutes to tie down your load is a lot easier than scurrying about on the highway trying to pick up your gear while playing real life frogger with the oncoming traffic.

Hurry up and wait… …the wait for tow trucks can be very long (think hours and hours). Sitting on the side of the road is a major bummer so please be careful.



Q: What do I do if I get hurt or sick on the playa?
A: We hope, of course, that you won’t get sick or hurt…but being radically self-reliant also means remembering to bring a first aid kit (http://tinyurl.com/5ju88k) and treating yourself or your campmates for minor first aid needs. Should your illness or injury be more severe than you can manage without help, there are Emergency Services medical stations on the 3:00 and 9:00 plazas and at Center Camp. Look for the LED RED cross on top of the buildings. These stations are staffed by emergency health are providers (doctors, nurses, medics, etc.) and most donate their time and medical expertise as their gift to the community.

Q: What if they can’t manage my problem?
A: If the on-site medical providers feel that you have a medical emergency that requires a higher level of care than can be provided on the playa you may need to visit a hospital in Reno. Depending on the seriousness of your condition that can be accomplished by either getting a ride from a friend or being transported by an ambulance or helicopter. Remember to bring your ID, insurance card, cell phone and wallet when you go so you can take care of yourself accordingly. Also note that if you get transported by ambulance or helicopter you’ll need to arrange for a friend to pick you up after your hospital visit. There are no shuttles from the hospitals back to the playa.

Q: Is there a clinic in Gerlach?
A: The Gerlach Medical Center http://www.nvrhc.org/gerlach.htm is open Monday through Friday, 8 AM – 12 PM and 1 PM – 5 PM. This small family medicine clinic offers limited urgent care, laboratory, x-ray, and women’s health services.

Q: How much does it cost to see a doctor in Gerlach?
A: An average doctor visit usually costs between $100 and $300, plus the cost of any laboratory tests, x-rays, and prescriptions you may need. The clinic accepts insurance as well as Visa, Mastercard, Discover, traveller’s checks, personal checks (with identification) or cash.

Q: Where can I get a prescription filled?
A: It’s best to bring adequate supplies that you need to the playa. Should you need to get a prescription refilled, though, the closest pharmacies are in Fernley or Reno. The Gerlach Medical Clinic has a “closed pharmacy” meaning they can only fill prescriptions written by their physicians during a visit to the clinic… That means no refills of your existing prescriptions.



Unfortunately people like to steal the street signs from BRC on their way out of the event. While this may be a cool souvenir for some it causes havoc for the medical teams, fire trucks, Black Rock Rangers and other resources by making it difficult to find the location of those who need help in an emergency.

We’d really implore everyone, as a best-case-scenario, to leave the street signs where they are on your way out of the city. Obviously most people are not guilty of stealing street signs but there will always be those that persist… so we are asking some of you wonderful and awesome burners to help by adopting an intersection.

A simple way to help everyone…

The idea was inspired a few years ago when participants spontaneously improvised street signs to make it possible to navigate the city in absence of the originals. Using some cardboard, a marker, and some duct tape it’s possible to make a legible replacement with just a little effort if you find a sign that’s missing. It will not only help all the emergency responders but it will also be of great help to your fellow citizens of Black Rock City. It’s a small thing that makes a big difference to everyone.



Are you planning on using two way radio for any reason (greater than 5 watts) on the playa? The Emergency Services Department coordinates spectrum and systems to alleviate and proactively avoid interference between various projects on-playa and the Burning Man radio infrastructure.

Please note that in general, we do not coordinate AM or FM broadcast radio, WiFi, HAM, FRS (aka Talkabouts), GMRS, BRS, CB, or RC bands. However if you are planning a high power radio application in any of these bands please let us know so we can isolate the signal in the RF noise floor in case of interference.

Please contact ESD Communications via email at 911 (at) burningman (dot) com if you have questions or to register your frequency.



Q: Where should I go to check for emergency messages that might be waiting for me?
A: The only place on-playa that serves as a central collection point for emergency messages is Playa Info. While the Rangers, ESD, REMSA or Law Enforcement *may* have the relevant information only Playa Info services as the clearing house for all such messages.

Q: What if friends or family at home need to reach me for an emergency?
A: Unfortunately, given the nature of the event, finding a participant on the playa is usually quite challenging. Cell phones don’t work and people don’t generally have satellite phones. There is but limited Internet access. Now add the fact that addresses on the playa are inexact even if you _do_ know where you’re camping ahead of time and finding a person’s camp can become very difficult. Preparation will help you stay in touch in an emergency.

Q: How can friends or family send me a message?
A: Emergency messages should be sent to 911 (at) burningman (dot) com. The message will be passed to the Black Rock Rangers who, if they have the extra resources, will attempt to deliver it. We will also make the message available at Playa Info in Center Camp, so if you’re awaiting bad news or anticipating emergency messages, you might want to plan to check in there each day.

Q: What details should be included in an emergency message?
A: The message should include first and last name as well as any known nickname that you might go by around camp. It should also include the name of your theme camp or other affiliation (volunteer team, etc.), and its location if known, along with your vehicle make/license plate and any other unique features that will help with the search (such as, “camp has a 20 foot inflatable duck,” etc.)

Q: What can prevent me from getting the message?
A: Just a few of the variables that can get in the way: your camp relocates, or nobody’s ever in camp when we come to find you; your camp spot is obscured from view by other camps; the 20 foot inflatable duck deflates due to a leak; there are three camps with 20-foot inflatable ducks, and none of the neighbors know anyone named “Chris” because you have been introducing yourself all week as “Captain Underpants, Lord of the Duck People!” You get the picture.

In other words, you’re heading to the middle of the desert, and there is no guarantee that we’ll be able to deliver a message in an emergency; it’s important to weigh that before you leave home. If you are awaiting news, you can actively check in at Playa Info, and in truly dire circumstances, you can take the bus into Gerlach to use the pay phone there.



In 2007 the Emergency Services Department started offering a remote way for theme camps, art projects and participants to get help and in 2008 we plan on building on what we learned from the first trial year of service.

While all the conventional ways to get help are still available (for example know your local Ranger or where the nearest Emergency Services Station is), we wanted to enhance safety by providing an option for those who might have a specific concern or for those who just want be helpful to others in their neighborhood. This is accomplished by ESD and Rangers monitoring the license-free MURS (Multi User Radio Service) radio band.

MURS is a service similar to FRS (the frequencies that Motorola Talkabouts and similar radios use). As on-playa radio users can tell you FRS is extremely overcrowded and in use by thousands of participants during the event. FRS radios are also not powerful enough to effectively communicate throughout Black Rock City. MURS, in contrast, is currently not in common usage and generally operates at a higher power so it can communicate across the entire playa.

We hope that with the intention of reserving this “911” channel before MURS use becomes widespread at Burning Man will set the expectation that this channel will be for emergency use only. You will need to purchase your own MURS radio to contact ESD 911 but the other four MURS channels can also be just like FRS radios for other purposes. Large camps or villages might also choose to make one part of their group planning efforts and store it in a public place for emergency use.

Why do I want one of these when my FRS radio works just fine? * If you’re part of a large theme camp it could be a good investment to have a MURS radio around to call 911 for your group, especially if you have members who have known health issues or the risk of injury is of special concern.

* Large art projects working out on the open playa will be able to get help faster.

* Camps that are on the outer-rings of the city and are far from a Ranger outpost or Emergency Services station don’t have to send runners for help when an emergency arises.

* The other 4 channels on MURS can be a great alternative to crowded FRS channels, especially if your camp has an art-car or event-wide project they want to coordinate.

* Emergency Services Dispatch cannot be reached on an FRS radio.

Calling 911 on a MURS radio:

Set your MURS radio to channel 5, code 11 (154.600 / CTCSS or PL 97.4) to reach the Black Rock City Emergency Services Dispatch. Using any other “privacy codes” on channel 5 will interfere with 911. Instead limit your personal use to channels 1-4.

FOR ALL MURS USERS: we ask that all Burning Man participants respect that channel 5 will be used as a 911 channel only. While the other channels are fine for use as an alternative to FRS we want to stress that channel 5 on MURS please be kept open for emergencies and not used for any other purpose.

An example of a compatible radio: Dakota Alert MURS portable (operational controls just like common FRS radios, with selectable channel and code on the display) $89


If you have further questions or need help in finding a source for radios, please email 911 (at) burningman (dot) com for more information.



The Bureau of Erotic Discourse is seeking B.E.D. Buddies … come peek under our sheets!

Remember the signs in the porto-potties last year talking about preventing sexual assault? That was us! Remember the ‘How to Get Laid at Burning Man’ workshop last year? That was us too! Maybe you got a sassy button from us talking about how ‘No Means No’? Great news! We’re back with our sex-positive message for 2007, and B.E.D. needs YOU (and you too, hot stuff!) to help us. If you’re gonna have sex at Burning Man, we want it to be incredible, consensual, hair-raising, amazing, consensual, hot, thrilling CONSENSUAL sex.

Get into B.E.D. at http://bureauoferoticdiscourse.org and check out who we are and how you can help! Be the first in your camp to wear B.E.D. gear and show your support in two vital ways: you help fund our efforts and you also show the citizens of BRC that you care about preventing sexual assault in our fair city. See you in B.E.D.!”

Introducing the B.E.D. Theme Camp Challenge! B.E.D. challenges every single Burning Man theme camp to make sexual assault education part of their camp business. We are asking every camp to sit down with your members and discuss the issue and responsibility of sexual exploration at Burning Man. How do you broach this sensitive subject? We have developed a short outline to help you out. It’s easy!


Sign your camp up today!



For 10 years now a couple of very dedicated and positive members of Nevada State Health Division have been inspecting the Cafe and other theme camps that have large kitchens or gift food on the playa to make sure you stay healthy. This year they will be at Playa Info in the mornings so if you have any questions or need to pick up your permit feel free to drop by and chat with them. They also explore the event looking for kitchens to inspect and to give advice. Their goal is prevent problems so if you see them thank them and take their advice on food handling safety, they know their stuff!

Things that the Health Department will want to chat with you about:

WATER Large quantities of water (250 gallons+) being used for projects that entail full body contact or consumption by people must be “potable” and come from state health department approved water sources.

Water being used for misting systems, slip and slides and things that do not involve consumption do not need health department clearance. Either way it is wise to make sure that you have “potable” water and the source is reputable!

Large public pools and showers will not be permitted. Art pieces involving water are not considered showers unless they are labeled such and encourage bathing.

Please note that Burning Man does not provide water for any projects. You must bring your own.

If you are providing beverages and/or food for your camp and friends, no health permit is needed but public kitchens and bars of any sort need a permit.

Ice is considered food by the health department and as such your ice source must be approved by the health department. The easiest way to comply is to purchase your ice from commercial sources or from us at the event (money from our ice sales gets donated directly back to local community projects, see the Artica Afterburn report for exact details).

The health department has forms available on their web site: http://tinyurl.com/yv3d7n

It costs $50.00 to apply for a basic permit which are due no later than August 15th. The process is simple and the health department is easy to work with. They are genuinely concerned about the health of our citizens and prevention of food-born epidemics and it is their duty to inspect food preparation areas. Like the other public safety agencies on the playa they can issue citations and fines for violations and/or shut you down for non-compliance.

On the application the event coordinator is “Burning Man.” After mailing the application and payment and mailed permits can be picked up at Playa Info in Center Camp during the following days and hours:

Monday August 25th through Friday August 29th, 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM

They do this so that they can get an accurate address to do inspections. They are NOT issuing new permits at Playa Info.

If you know you need a permit or you have questions you can call the Health Department directly at (775) 687-7548 and ask for Richard. Or you email him at relloyan@nvhd.state.nv.us .



Yes, this is Burning Man. Fire plays a big part in the event. So does fire safety and common sense. This is something taken very seriously, so please read these guidelines carefully.

Fire Safety In Your Camp

Fire in theme-camps is a very serious thing and we caution you to take care in the planning of any open flame in theme-camps. There must be someone who is responsible and present at all time to monitor any fire in your camp and be prepared to completely extinguish it if wind conditions kick up. At least 5 gallons of water must be kept close for this purpose.

Part of the fun of Burning Man is gathering around a fire at night, meeting folks, sharing a story, enjoying the warmth. As nice as that sounds, there’s a lot of responsibility involved, too. Do we really need a fire in every camp? If you can do without it, save yourself the trouble and responsibility and gather around someone else’s fire. The ability for the Black Rock City Emergency Services Department to provide fire-control services would be stretched if multiple fires broke out in a severe windstorm.

Please remember that any fires found unattended or without water nearby — or burning in an unsafe manner — may be extinguished and the materials and equipment confiscated. This could also have a big affect on your camp’s status in the future.

Fire and open flame present a unique set of challenges on the playa. Wind is an ever-present aspect of the Black Rock desert, and with little warning, can blow sparks and embers from fire-barrels and across our city great distances until they settle against something (tents, shade structures, camping gear, art works, etc). This is VERY scary in a tent city!

Wind is also a factor with tiki-torches, candles and taller flame effects — and precautions should be taken to prevent these things from being knocked or blown over. A sufficient perimeter should be kept clear of all flammables. To help you prepare to have open flame or flame effects in your camp, here are some guidelines to help keep everyone in Black Rock City safe:


Note: All camps that have Open Fire or Flame Effects are asked to check in at the Artery in center-camp to receive an inspection from a Performance Safety team member.



The volunteers of the GVFD respond to dozens of medical, fire and rescue calls for participants coming to and from the event. The Burning Man event is a time of year that represents higher call volume for them due to the influx of people to the area. We deeply appreciate their support and dedication to their calling to help those in need. But since they are all volunteers they all have day jobs that they have to leave in order to respond and the stress from the additional calls is felt on many levels. In appreciation for their hard work, the volunteer brothers and sisters of the Black Rock City Emergency Services Department is asking for donations for the GVFD. They really need a new ambulance and we want to help them raise the money to do so. If you want to help, or have been the grateful recipient of their care, please consider donating via https://www.paypal.com/ to: mars (at) medicalresponse (dot) org . This effort is being done by individual Burners for GVFD’s benefit and is not directly affiliated with the Burning Man organization.



Check out our web site more information on health and safety related issues. There are all kinds of topics covered, including pregnancy, rebar safety, first-aid kits and fuel storage.




Feel free to email the Emergency Services Department if you have any questions that are not answered here or on our web site: 911 (at) burningman (dot) com


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Soundtrack for this JRS: The dulcet tones of Burning Man’s annual “The Way It Is” staff meeting.