On October 2nd, 2017, one of my biggest fears happened. The threat of becoming homeless. That night, my family and I became part of the statistics of how many homes and lives are affected by fire. My husband (outside in the garage), two year old daughter (watching Disney JR), mother, father, uncle and I were all home. My father sleeps during the day because he works nights. He was the only one that was upstairs. That night, I had just finished making our dinner, puling it out of the oven and getting ready to plate everything.
What I heard as I sat the tray of chicken on the stove was a loud thud, as though someone had fallen or something heavy falling. Following that thud, was a POP, like a firecracker. I have lived in this house since the summer of 1997. I know the weird sounds this place makes. That POP was not one of them. This spurred me into action. I
told my mother that I was going to check on dad. I was barely halfway up the stairs when I noticed that the air was hazzy looking. This too is odd for the house. (Our home was built in the 1960s. It's old. It makes old house sounds.) Well, I had checked our room because I couldn't see anything out of the ordinary in my uncle's room, bathroom and my parents' room was closed.
In our bedroom, on my husband's side of the bed, I saw a small fire already going. It was still low to the ground. I raced back downstairs, yelling at my husband there was a fire in our room. Time stood still then. My husband ran back in and upstairs, he's given a fire extinguisher, only for it to fail on him and he yells that everyone needs to get out of the house. My uncle and mom went out front, I grabbed our daughter and went out the back to the alley. I alerted our next door neighbors to get out of their home because of ours being on fire. (our townhomes are connected and individually owned) For a brief moment, I wasn't sure what happened to my dad or if my husband was alright. I breathed a little better when I saw both of them physically outside.
Fire department showed up. Several people had called 911. I was oblivious to who all had, but glad that they cared enough to call. The fire had been contained to our room. That suffered the worst of the damage. All 6 of us made it out alive. Even all our pets (1 dog, 3 cats, 3 goldfish. Sadly, we could not keep any of them. Two were surrendered to the shelter, 2 went with one of my best friends who I happily report are happy kitties! And the fish went with one of my aunts.) When the fire department had asked about any fire alarms, we didn't have them. We couldn't install them. We tried. The alarms kept going off no matter where they were placed just by a simple pot of water boiling.
The Red Cross also arrived to provide assistance where needed. One of our closest neighbors was a volunteer and a few of ours friends were/had been volunteers. We were given blankets, diapers, basic needs like toothbrushes. My daughter was given a couple of toys, one of them being a little green frog. We were able to stay in a hotel for a couple nights, get a few changes of clothes, shoes, bathing supplies.. Thanks to the Red Cross, a foreign stranger (what an American welcome on your first night here!), our costuming club and friends.
The Red Cross exists for emergencies such as this. They are not just about blood donation, though that too is very important. Any donations is greatly appreciated! I know those who are affected by disaster, like us, appreciate it. Your viewpoints tend to change about life when faced with a situation like this. For a few weeks, I have had to tell my little girl that she couldn't go home. She couldn't have her bed, her two favorite blankies that she has gone to bed with since the day she was born, her cartoons. Because all of that was gone. Of all her baby blankets, only two had survived. Yes, we were all blessed and thankful that we all made it out, we are still alive...we are not having to bury anyone. It still didn't erase the fact that our two year old couldn't be inside the for two weeks. That we had to sleep in different hotels until we could prepare our house.
I urge you guys to help where you can. Donate, share, like.... Everything counts.
American Red Cross Desert to the Sea Region wrote -
Seven times a day someone in this country dies in a house fire and more than 60 percent of fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms. As a first responder to these local tragedies, the Red Cross is working to improve the odds of survival by as much as 25 percent over the next few years.
Sound the Alarm. Save a Life is a recurring national event where Red Cross volunteers will be partnering with fire departments and community groups across the country to install FREE smoke alarms, educate families about fire prevention, and map fire escape routes.
A gift of any size helps prepare, respond, and help families recover from home fires. your gift can literally help save a life and provide hope and urgent relief, like food, shelter, and other essentials, to people in their time of greatest need. Please support this important effort and encourage your family and friends to join you. Just share the link to this page and let your circle of compassionate friends know why this cause is important to you. Thank you!
To volunteer and help install free smoke alarms at the October 7, 2017 event in Santa Ana, please sign up here: https://volunteerconnection.redcross.org/?nd=vms_public_form&form_id=1707