Let’s leave modern tech and all the shiny behind for a minute, to concentrate on a more fundamental level of existence: survival. We are frail creatures whose needs are very basic in biological terms; food, water, shelter and security. Everything that we do is an unconscious derivative of these needs. We’ve accomplished much for our survival; but sometimes, we become too complaisant. We arrogantly believe that our technology will save us from everything bad out there.
To date, we haven’t mastered any of the elemental forces of Nature. Oh sure, you may think that you are safe, sitting in comfort reading this entry. Most of the time, this is probably true, as we tend not to pay attention when Nature goes awry thousands of kilometers away. But don’t forget that we’ve also witnessed natural disasters in our neck of the woods. What if it hits close to home? What would you do?
No, no…this article isn’t a Philosophy v. Technology debate but more of a reminder that even the greatest geek of us all can be affected by disaster, at any time, any place.
So, what started this…existential train of thought?
Late Sunday night, my front neighbor’s house was destroyed by fire. I watched a man’s home, not ninety feet away from mine, burn and partially collapse and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do. Nobody was physically injured but the emotional pain and psychological distress must be unbearable.
The surreal irony of this situation wasn’t lost on me. I witnessed this drama unfold, from the comfort and safety of my own home! The nice picture window I stood behind protected me from the Elements and my roof was firm and strong, not engulfed in flames. I’ve been in an altered state ever since, I just can’t seem to quiet my mind. I’ve been thinking hard about the impact that a disaster like this must have on somebody’s psyche. I can still see the firefighters letting that poor bastard in to what had been his home, hours before. He and his son came back out with only a few clothing items, a big gym bag and shoes…nothing else. What the hell goes through your head when you have to deal with something like this? I’m having a difficult time relaying my thoughts to paper, I can scarcely begin to comprehend what he’s living!
I believe that being a new homeowner has had an effect on me, without any conscious realizations of it…until now. I’m not living in a tiny, crumbling apartment anymore. I own a dwelling into which I’ve poured blood, sweat and my last dimes, to make it safe for my family. Nary a thought sprang to mind that it could all disappear in an instant. Catch is, it can happen and nothing can stop that if it does.
I felt helpless that night and I had a very hard time sleeping. Tossing and turning, I kept questioning the integrity and safety of my house. What could/should/must I do, if anything to ‘prepare’ for such an event. The distressing answer is: not much. Fire is one of those Elements that has been revered but rightly feared since the Dawn of Man. We have a diametrically opposed relationship with it. It warms our bones in the dead of winter, has lit our steps in the night and protected us from bigger predators. But it also decimated cities, laid waste to entire ecosystems, maimed and killed millions through the Ages. Fire is not to be trifled with.
Please stand by for a Public Service Announcement.
The clocks will Spring ahead one hour this weekend, so do what the Fire Departments tell us; change the batteries in your smoke alarms. Oh and while we’re at it, do your Dad duties, go to your favorite home center and grab a few extinguishers (no, tools after!). They’re not that expensive – when you compare it with the usual Shiny – but they can save you and your family. I already bought and installed three of them (kitchen, garage and basement – 2 lbs/ type ABC).
Are you connected to a central alarm company? Good, that also works and Insurance companies love that. Now, for the rest of you, whaddaya mean you don’t have detectors! Hey, tough guy, do you want to see why you need – at least – one? Take a look at these.
Props to the Richelieu Volunteer Firefighters, they’re the real heroes. Not many people would have the balls to climb on a burning roof to cut vent holes with a chainsaw! Now that’s badass!
In the end, whatever happens, will happen but we can all take a page from this situation. I apologize if this article strayed from its usual format and appears somewhat preachy or paranoid. But if it makes just one Dad out there, Man-up for the sake of his wife and kids, then my neighbor’s loss served a purpose.