Hearing someone shout that word is high on the list of horrific experiences.
Unfortunately, many of our neighbors have heard this word in recent weeks.
Sadly, some of these fires have claimed lives, an unimaginable horror. All of them have disrupted life, as houses become uninhabitable and property is destroyed.
After the flames are extinguished, people always ask how a fire started. Part of it is curiosity. The other part is this thing that we all do to feel better.
Cooking unattended? Oh, I would never do that.
Did you leave a candle burning overnight? It wouldn’t happen to me.
Clogged dryer vent? Oh, I keep mine clean.
It is a defense mechanism in us so that we can convince ourselves that we will not be the next victim.
- Following: Choose a daycare? Don’t leave fire safety off your list of questions
The next question is about smoke detectors. Did they have them? Were they operational? It’s like asking if an accident victim was wearing a seat belt.
As someone who has never expected to see their house burn down on a Sunday afternoon (electricity and alarms blaring), let me ask you the most important question of all: do you have fire insurance?
I don’t sell insurance, and I am not related to anyone who sells insurance, but from experience it is something that everyone should have.
When my house burned down a few years ago, my granddaughter and two great-grandsons, we stood outside with just the clothes on our backs. Even with confidence, it is a terrifying feeling. Everything you own is burnt, saturated with smoke, or dripping from fire hoses.
The four of us spent the first night in a hotel with food vouchers and toiletries, courtesy of the Red Cross. The next morning my insurance agent came in with a check, a really big check, and told us to buy some basic necessities.
The necessities for me at this time included shoes. I was in slippers when the fire broke out. For the toddler, it consisted of diapers and a few toys. Of course, we all needed clothes, but the older boy was in desperate need of reassurance as well. He had seen all his possessions go up in smoke. I determined that the best therapy for him would be a replacement Xbox.
Thanks to the insurance, I was able to provide it.
In addition, thanks to the insurance, we were able to spend the next three months in a long-term hotel, with a swimming pool and laundry facilities. We could eat in the restaurants with the pennies from the insurance company or reheat the food they paid for in our small kitchen.
A few years later, when I sold my house and downsized to an apartment, one of my first purchases was tenant insurance. If you can afford a fine coffee every day or a few tattoos every year, you can afford home insurance.
Seriously, you can’t afford not to have it.
Mine works with my auto insurance. It’s a few dollars more each month that I don’t even miss.
This defense mechanism that we have charms us by making us believe that we are safe because we are careful and do everything right. We convince ourselves that the fire is not in our future.
But I’m living proof that you never know.
Start the New Year off on the right foot. Take insurance. Then, I hope you never have to use it.
NANCY ESHELMAN: firstname.lastname@example.org
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