At about 7:15am on Sunday, November 16, 2014, Tim and I awoke to the sounds of sirens and shouting men.
I put on my glasses, got out of bed, and opened the blinds: Imagine my surprise when I saw Ladder 26 of the Boston Fire Department begin to raise its ladder just underneath my window.
The row house two doors down was involved in a 3-alarm fire.
It took our brains a few seconds to wake up and realize what was happening. As we did, we began to smell the fire and smoke.
Immediately, our adrenaline kicked in.
We got dressed and spent 2-3 minutes grabbing important items: cellphones, laptops, anything around our laptops that seemed important, and our emergency “go-bag” for the dogs. We then raced to put on our shoes and winter coats, harness, leash, and coat our dogs, and exit our building.
Our whole dash took no more than 5-6 minutes. It was amazing how fast we moved.
After we exited our building and made sure our neighbors were okay, Tim and I talked about what to do next. We had no idea if the fire would spread or how long the firefighters would need to extinguish the flames and give us the “okay” to go back inside.
What we did know was that it was cold. With temperatures hovering between the upper 20s and low 30s, we needed to find someplace warm we could go with our dogs.
Immediately, we decided to go to my parents’ house. Unfortunately, the firemen had our car blocked in. Quick thinking told us to book a rental car, which we did, and we drove to my parents’ home to wait until the coast was clear.
As we drove to my parents' house we discussed the pros and cons of our emergency preparedness.
1. We had discussed what we would do in the event of an emergency before one happened.
Less than six months ago, I came across the TOC Go Bag on Kickstarter. I became an early backer because I realized that Tim and I were completely unprepared in the event of a disaster.
We knew what to grab and that the first safe, dog-friendly place we could go to would be my parents' house. We also knew where we could rent a car if ours was inaccessible.
2. We had a go-bag for the dogs.
After I backed the TOC Go Bag, I realized that I should prepare one for my dogs.
Over the summer, I prepared a small, red duffle bag with portable food and water dishes, leashes, tie outs, rope, a flashlight, a pet first aid kit, a blanket, and toys and treats to comfort them.
3. We didn’t worry about our photos and files because we have stored most of them on the cloud.
Disaster victims often report that photos are what they miss most.
Tim and I didn’t worry about grabbing our wedding album, other photos around the house, or my book manuscript files because we had already stored most of them on the cloud.
1. We did not have an appropriate human go bag.
I have yet to receive my TOC Go Bag. Even if I had received and grabbed it, it would have been completely inappropriate for the emergency situation we dealt with.
The TOC Go Bag is about survival. What we needed were a fresh change of clothes and simple toiletries. Thankfully, my Mom had most of these items.
The emergency we experienced provided us with a wakeup call: Disasters such as fire can happen to us at any time.
Thankfully, we had been mostly prepared for an emergency: we knew what we should grab from the house and what we should do while we waited out the emergency. Still our evacuation on Sunday showed us that we were still a bit unprepared. I plan to change that.
Over the next week I am going to pack a small, human go-bag that contains a fresh change of clothes for Tim and I, some travel sized toiletries, a small first aid kit, and possibly an emergency pay-as-you-go cellphone.
Are you prepared in the event that you and your family have to evacuate your home in the event of an emergency?
How have you prepared?
Tim and I would like to thank the Boston Fire Department. Not only did they responded quickly and professionally, but their tweets helped us understand what was happening and when it was safe for us to return.
All the of the fire-related photos in this post came from the Boston Fire Department twitter feed.