Are you aware of what really matters in your home?
“Fire Department” Pound, Pound
Imagine you are hearing that at your front door right now. You have to evacuate. What goes through your head?
What Did You Mentally Do? Or Grab?
How much time you have depends on the fire’s proximity to you and how fast it’s approaching. If you live in a condo, apartment, etc… and the fire is next door, across, above, or below you, you won’t have much time to do anything other than grab kids and run. You won’t have time to coax fluffy out from under the bed.
If the fire is raging up the hill behind your house, you may have enough time to grab shoes, car keys, purse, and maybe Fluffy. If Fluffy isn’t the kind of cat that races away from you in an emergency situation.
Or, there may be a wildfire raging nearby and you may be in the evacuation zone, but you have more time to pack up. The fire department wants you out in case wind direction changes or the wind picks up and causes the fire to race your way.
Human Life is What Really Matters, Obviously
When we rank what first goes through our heads, life, human life comes in first. If you are parents or you are watching kids, your mind will first go to them, “Get them out, get them safe.”
Other adults or older children can help you get an elderly adult or disabled person out of the home. If the fire department shows up and you need assistance getting someone out, or you need assistance, let them know immediately. They will help you. They will probably ask if you need help, don’t be afraid to say “yes.”
It’s a teribble thought that we may not have time to save a pet in such a situation. No one wants to even consider that. However, we must.
Given a little extra time, we can aim for saving pets. Most dogs follow their people, but cats, not always. I once had to round up a couple of cats when my friend was moving. It took us a good 30- to 45-minutes to round them up. Cats are amazing in speed and agility when it comes to avoiding something they don’t want to do. One of those cats we cornered in a bedroom. He ran up the bare wall and leaped over our heads. He may have been Satan’s spawn, I can’t be positive.
Pets in small cages, like a small bird or gerbil, will be easier and quicker to grab. But what if you have fish in large aquariums? I have nothing here. If you know of a way to save fish, leave it in the comments.
We have four cats and a dog. Our dog is beside me everytime I move. We can get her without an issue. Three of our cats are not accommodating in the “come here” deparment. We took time to shuffle those cats outside. They have been out before, so it wasn’t scary for them. However, for us, it gave us peace of mind that we wouldn’t have to chase them down if the fire did jump toward our home.
The Rest that Matters
Clearly, material things are last on the list of things to save.
But what else matters? For my husband and me, we got lucky. We didn’t plan this, but when we were in an evacuation zone we had time to think about what to take. I mean, with reason. There was a concerning moment when the fire changed direction. We just happen to have all of our important files in one file drawer. Which made it easy to grab and toss the whole drawer in the truck.
I shouldn’t say “we” my husband was the one saving the documents. I was trying to decide which Bibles to save. Should I save my Dad’s my grandfather’s, my grandmother’s, mine? I grabbed my grandfather’s because he had made more notes. Then I ran through the house ripping photos off the walls. We have pictures from before the digital age that are irreplaceable.
Then, we stood back. We had time to pack a few extra non-necessities, like dog treats and food. A few collectibles that we’d never be able to afford to replace. From all my books and papers, the only things I took were a datebook and a pen.
At that point, we didn’t feel the need to get anything else. It was abundantly clear that nothing else mattered.
How Awareness Helps
If you are aware of what a moment like that entails, your decisions and actions will be much quicker.
Hopefully, you’ve run through your home evacuation plan in case you have a fire inside your home. Now you need to to think ahead to a fire heading your way.
- Put important files in one drawer that you can grab and go with, or use a fire safe filing cabinet. Or even a fire-safe box that you can leave behind knowing your papers are safe. Important papers would be birth certificates, social security cards, vehicle titles, home deeds, insurance company information, a list of all financial accounts and bills, and account numbers.
- Plan for pet-saving measures. If you know your cat is skittish, what can you do to help it survive? Can you leave a door or window open? It’s not ideal, but it provides an escape. If you have fish, again, I have nothing here.
- Set your mind that all the stuff you feel you need, you will quickly realize how little you need it.
- Here’s a great article that goes into more depth of what to save and do in a wildfire evacuation.
A Few Tips You MayWant to Know
- The power may not work, nor your phone, nor your data on your cell phone, and the radio may not give you the information you need. We were always told to keep a radio handy to get information. Turns out the news doesn’t give you the information you need. We coudn’t call out, we coudn’t send texts, our power and phone lines were down, and the only information we could gather from the radio was traffic congestion and that there were roads closed due to the Sumner Grade Fire. No specifics on what areas were in different phases of evacuation: Like “level three evacuate now” with a list of surrounding borders for that. We had to go up to the road and wait to talk to a policeman to find out what the heck we needed to know.
- The fire department may not knock on your door. THIS IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW. Bascially, for the sole reason that if the fire department knocks, you need to leave, now. Our neighbors on the ridge were evacuated in the middle of the night. The fire licked within an inch of their eaves. We were in the Level three evacuation zone, “leave now.” We didn’t receive a knock because the fire wasn’t heading our way. Even though it was only a hundred + yards from us. Other homes that were further from the flames were evacuated becasue they had no other out if the fire jumped the road. They received knocks from the fire department. We were told we should leave, but if we stayed, be alert for a knock or horns or bullhorn announcements to evacuate immediately.
- If you have a place to go, go. Don’t stay. We had a place to go, and I’ll say it right now, we were stupid to stay. Probably took a few years off our lives from all the smoke. Plus there was no rest. It was eerie and we were afraid of missing the knock so, yeah, no sleep. And smoke inhalation. Plus we probably made it more stressful for the firefighters knowing they’d have to come clear an area that should be clear.
Take Advantage of the Awareness of What Really Matters
If that situation arises and you are lucky enough to come home to a still- standing place, now is the time to declutter.
That may sound like a joke. But I’m serious. After my husband and I went through being in an evacuation zone, I had the best decluttering session ever.
When I’d come upon something that I wasn’t sure about that I “May be able to use later,” I got rid of it. You can hold onto stuff for sentimental reasons, but if you can’t save it in a fire, what’s the point. And I’m talking about things like wedding dresses, clothing that you will never wear, your favorite onesie that you had for the infant (who is currently twenty). I’m not talking about the bracelet that your grandmother gave you and that you wear nearly every week. Nor the serving set that you use for every holiday that has been in your family for generations. I’m talking about things that are tucked away and you only remember them when you declutter and then repack it away.
Share a moment that brought awareness of what really matters to your life.
A few more posts that you may find interesting: Virtues & Vices