Tuesday, February 21, 2012

When The Fire Alarm Sounds - Again

Dear Uncle,

As you might remember, 2 years ago last October our apartment building caught fire. It took 11 minutes to run through the building.  Thank God there was no loss of human life largely due to the fact that the fire occurred in late afternoon,  although sadly many pets were lost. You might also remember the miracle that our apartment was the only apartment of 12 apartments, untouched by the flames and smoke and water.  I still thank the ancestors for pulling that one off. The Fire Marshall said in his opinion it was no less than a miracle.

I'm sure that you can imagine my panic when the building alarm went off last Friday evening. When we moved last year we selected a complex that had sprinklers in every apartment.  You never quite get over a fire.

We darted out into the parking lot looking for the flames. We didn't see any but that really doesn't mean anything.  Fire hides inside walls.  I ran back into our apartment hearing the sirens getting closer, ( I know it was a very stupid thing to do) grabbed a suitcase, loaded it with essentials, just in case. Again memories of smelling of smoke and shopping at midnight at Walmart for underwear and socks my motivator.  The prior time we had only the clothes on our backs.

The second thing was the Genealogy.  I ran into the office and stopped dead.  What to grab?  I was paralyzed.  There was no way we could grab 3 computers and their monitors, the printer, 6 boxes of files and research, 10 photo boxes of pictures, a box full of CD's full of document scans and the old pictures on the walls of my parents and grandparents.

Then there is the secondary stuff-- like clothes, receipts, insurance papers, passwords, bills and account information. It's amazing the things you can not do without account numbers.  And heaven forbid you don't remember who set up the account originally and what their social is, or what their "secret password" is. Yes, we learned the hard way the last time. That's why we have "THE BOX". Which I immediately forgot about. That's the first thing we are supposed to grab in case of whatever.

I can tell you it's the LAST thing I remembered to even think about grabbing.

As we stood looking at the apartment that had the fire ( grease fire and sensitive sprinklers) and all of the water from the sprinklers pouring out of that apartment, I was very thankful.  I am sure you heard my prayers that evening. No one was injured, only two other apartments were affected by smoke and water. And I'm relatively sure that the neighbor downstairs from the fire has some major issues.  Who fries Tater Tots in oil for goodness sake?

I was also thankful for backing up my trees on ancestry and again sending my backups to my niece 1500 miles away. But this did teach me yet another lesson.  I need a fireproof/waterproof black box for original documents or a safe deposit box.  Files can be recreated bit by bit ( hence the 3 computers: old, older and does that thing still run?) Document/ picture scans are at least SOMETHING if I cannot have the originals.

As organized as I am, there is still room for improvement. We need to once again document our belongings for insurance purposes.  Gather all receipts to one area and make duplicate copies of important info and put it into the fire box.  This is the second go round with fire. It's going to take me a while to relax again.

And so my Dear Uncle, if you and the ancestors once again took it upon yourselves to assist in containing the fire I thank you- again.

With much love,
Your Devoted Niece

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