Emergency Preparedness: House Fire

Posted on behalf of Rizk Law on Jul 25, 2018 in Consumer Alerts

“I am going to share with you what I learned from this tragedy…

This is what I have done to be better prepared if something traumatic happens in the future. My hope is that this will help save you or someone you love extra pain, struggle and challenge if you are ever in an emergency situation.

In the Wee Hours of the Morning

I awoke to a room full of smoke, my home was on fire! Somehow I managed to get outside barefoot and only wearing a bathrobe. I will never forget the feeling of the cold running through me on that winter day 10 years ago.

I was determined to go back into the burning house after my daughter and pets.  A policewoman held me at bay to keep me from going in to look for them. Thankfully, my daughter had already gone out of a window and straight over to our neighbor’s house. Our neighbor called the fire department and kept close watch over my daughter while the fire raged.

To this day, I still cannot recall everything that happened on that cold January night 10 years ago.

A couple practical life lesson that really hit home from this event:

  • Never go to bed angry.
  • Always express, I love you, every chance you get.

Thankfully, we only lost one life in this fire. Sadly one of our pets went to sleep from the smoke.

In some ways, this was only the beginning. I spent several days getting insulted added to injury before getting to start my journey to recovery.

A house fire can definitely change the way one views being prepared for emergencies.

The inspiration for creating this article comes from a question I have continually asked myself while reflecting on this experience.

…“How could I have been better prepared for this unexpected and devastating event?”

The results of this question have led to the creation of this article in the hope that it will give you and your loved ones a chance to be better prepared than I was in the case an emergency occurs.

Capture a Glimpse of My Experience

After my house fire, my emotional state was fragile, to say the least. In times like this, the value of community is really magnified. For every attack on my emotions, there was also blessings coming at me in every direction.

Our veterinarian, Jackson Animal Clinic, voluntarily cared for our three surviving cats, tending to burned feet, bathing, and feeding them for almost three weeks after the fire.

The company I worked for at the time found us an apartment, they paid for the first three months, as well as negotiated with the property management company so that we could bring our pets. Work also gave me a week of bereavement pay. I found out later that all of the employees were asked if this would be acceptable to them. All of the employees agreed this qualified.

All of the jewelry we found, among the remains, was dropped off at our local jeweler, King’s Jeweler. He cleaned and stored the jewelry for three weeks and when I came to pick it up he wouldn’t accept any payment.

It didn’t stop there.

People brought dinner every night to the new apartment for two weeks. Clothing and furniture arrived from a variety of states.  Individuals came to help sift through the remains of the house, looking for anything that could be saved.

At one point I actually threw my grandmothers vintage sewing machine into the dumpster. What a wonderful surprise when a kindhearted person handed it back to me weeks later, completely cleaned and restored.


You can find them for around $ 50.00.

Place in the Safe:

Vital Documents/Information:

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage Licenses
  • Copy of Social Security Card
  • Copy of Driver’s license
  • Passport
  • Will
  • Medical Directives
  • Homeowners/Renters Insurance
  • Auto Insurance
  • Doctors/Vet Information
  • Phone Numbers of Closest Relatives/Friends you would contact)
  • Consider any other documents that may be of importance overall.

Vital Items:

  • Spare Glasses (Even an old pair is better than none right away)
  • Spare Credit Card/Bank Card (not expired)
  • Checks from Main Bank Account
  • Spare Set of Car Keys

ICE Contacts:

Let us talk about your cell phone.  I am surprised how many people still do not do this.  In the case of an emergency, personnel are trained to look for ICE numbers (In Case of Emergency) in your cell phone.

Here is the general idea.

  • Ice1 – Name / Partner
  • Ice2 – Name / Relationship
  • Ice3 – Name / Relationship

Follow the link below to help you set up your mobile phone with ICE contacts step by step.

Assistance After a Disaster :

You can contact the Red Cross for emergency assistance. They provided me with money coupons to be used at supported stores so that my family could immediately get clothing, hygiene items, and other initially needed supplies. I spent all of my coupons at Kmart so that my kids had clothes to wear.  It may not be much financial assistance but when you have nothing on hand it gets you through a day or two. I now regularly donate to the Red Cross. Hopefully, you will never need this assistance, but there is always someone who will.

I hope what I have shared with you over the past few weeks has better prepared you if something traumatic happens in the future. My hope is that this will help you and your loved ones avoid extra pain, struggles and challenges if you are ever in an emergency situation, particularly a house fire.

Thank you for reading. Feel free to share your story or any tips that you have with us!”

Esther Edgren

Rizklaw, HR

Please share this article with those you care about. Spread the word to help keep them safe. Not only can we help you as a Portland injury law firm, but at Rizk Law, we are also interested in helping you to be better prepared.

From all of us at Rizklaw, Be Smart, Be Safe, and Be Prepared.