By now my friends have all realized they’ve lost me. Having a 4 yr old non-profit is like having a newborn, or so I’d imagine. Especially an emergency response org; up all night, sleep deprived, walking around with dog slobber on my clothes, not being able to talk about or focus on anything else. And I’m sure on more than one occasion I’ve bored them with recent cute pictures of dogs I’ve helped (what’s a proud mom to do?)! I have to be honest however, I’ve spent more than one night sitting outside of my house, in RP1, listening to jazz, not wanting to go inside and deal with all the foster “kids”!
Most of my friends don’t even really understand what I’m doing or why I’m so busy (stay at home mom’s can you feel me? “What is it you do all day?”). I’m not mad at them though, I totally get it! Most people live their lives not really giving disaster preparedness a second thought, let alone thinking a fire could destroy their house…until the night that it does.
This past winter I got a call at 3:30 in the morning; it was my night “off”, so I woke up slightly annoyed that my phone was ringing (kind of like when the kids are at grand moms and you finally get a night of peace!). The call was from one of my oldest and closest friends; there was a fire in her father’s apartment in Philly, her childhood home. Everyone had gotten out safely, including their dog, thanks to working smoke alarms, but his cat was still missing.
When I arrived on-scene the PFD was still inside putting water on some hot spots, but I was able to get in and search. As the years go on, we are asked to respond more and more, so I’m getting better and better at finding missing pets in fire dwellings (must be a mother’s instinct!). But I’m also really stubborn about it; I hate leaving a scene with out finding the owner’s pet, after all these are people’s children! But there’s definitely an added pressure when it’s someone’spet that you know and love. So I was very relieved to have found my friends cat so quickly, and uninjured! And her father was ecstatic to have both his “kids” back with him safe and sound!
The morning after the fire my friend posted on her FB page what had happened, “just when you start to imagine something never could happen to you, our dad’s apartment was badly damaged by an electrical fire last night”, she wrote, followed by a picture of her son with this caption ”One of the (at least) two very good reasons why I’m going around the house unplugging appliances…safety first!”
I’d imagine like most parents, there are days (and nights) you are so tired and exhausted, hungry, frazzled and crazed, that you long for the days before your children. I know I do!;) But its nights like that one above, that my “kid” makes me the proudest, because of Red Paw and how it’s grown and matured, we as an organization get to do what we do best, help keep families together, especially for a friend and her family, that’s when everything else is worth it!
Below are fire safety and preparedness tips to keep you and your kids (2 & 4-legged) safe:
-Always have working smoke alarms on every floor of your home.
-Be sure there is a neighbor or family member’s home you can go to if you need to leave your house in the middle of the night.
-Get renters or homeowners insurance! It’s pretty cheap, and worth it!
-Have a plan in place for your family and pets, if you need to leave your home or neighborhood due to a fire or disaster.
-Practice your fire escape plan regularly and discuss your family’s meeting place.
-Unplug all non-essential items when you are not using them. i.e lamps, coffee maker, phone chargers, etc.
-Do not use candles in your home.
-Have a buddy system with a neighbor, so if you aren’t home they can inform first responders of pets inside or other important information they should know about your home.
For more fire safety and preparedness tips: www.redpawemergencyreliefteam.org