by Tamar Yonah
This might save lives. I wrote this piece on my community list that is for women, but decided to make a general post about it.
Less than two weeks ago, one of my neighbors had a huge fire in their home. Thank G-d they fled, but the house was burned badly and it is uninhabitable now. I always try to be prepared for an emergency, and each time I have had one befall our community, whether from a fire, heavy snowfall that cut off electricity for days, etc… I found out that I was NOT as prepared as I thought I was. In fact, I had planned poorly. [Will I ever learn?] Just before the Shavuot holiday, a huge fire broke out by my neighbor, and the wind was blowing thousands and thousands of burning embers into my yard. It was a very dangerous and precarious situation.
Minutes later, the firemen and security arrived at my own house. They came banging on my door, yelling that we needed to immediately evacuate, because they believed our house could be the next to catch on fire. Friends, when this happens, you have seconds to leave your house. The security people don’t let you go from room to room gathering what you want to take with you. You don’t have the luxury of even 2 minutes to search out your things. You have to grab your purse and cell phone (hopefully your *bugout bag as well) and quickly run. No time for ANYTHING. [*A bugout bag has emergency items you need for survival, as well as any important documents you need, ID papers, passports, photo-copies of important documents, Disk-on-keys/External hard drives, with important info on it, etc…] These legal documents are important to have, and they are not so easily replaced, and think that after a G-d forbid tragedy, you then have to go and spend hours and days inside government offices to replace ID cards, passports, drivers licenses, credit cards, financial papers, etc…. Much easier to have a bugout bag for emergencies to grab and take with you.
So, in the midst of being commanded to evacuate my home, I wanted to quickly grab our bugout bag, but …. I wasn’t sure where it was. Was it upstairs? Downstairs? In some closet? I knew that it could be in one of two places, but in the end I had no time to check even one of them. You can get confused in the midst of a real emergency. [Irresponsible me!] So….. I am writing this to just tell you that really, everyone should do a practice fire drill with their spouse and kids. Know what you are supposed to do, what to grab, and where to meet up after running out of the house. It’s important, especially with kids, to have them know how to escape their bedrooms if a fire breaks out in the middle of the night, and their path is blocked to the front door for whatever reason. When our kids were little, we had a long thick rope that we tied to their beds, to be able to toss out the window and climb out and down to safety.
I also once interviewed an American (now Israeli) fireman and he told me how once he almost lost his life one night while fighting a fire, because a mother screamed that she couldn’t find one of her kids. So after getting her and everyone else out of the way, he ran in trying to find her missing child. The roof then collapsed and almost killed him. He was able to escape,but it turns out, that in the end, her child wasn’t even in in the house! The child had gotten out earlier and was wandering around the street and crowd of people. The fireman told me how upset he was, that he almost got killed for nothing, and that parents MUST do a practice drill with their children and designate a place to stand and wait and meet-up outside, if they are forced to flee a fire. He said, ideally, that the place would be close to the house, but not too near the fire, maybe across the street where the fire would have less chance or take longer to reach, and where the parents can look out the window of their house and SEE the child standing there and KNOW that he is out of the house and safe. In any case, with the plague of fires we are seeing today, parents need to do a practice fire drill with their kids [you can make it fun], and YOU also need to know what you need to grab, and where it is. Every second counts in an emergency. We should never have to go through this. Stay safe!