I have seen fires up close and a little too personal. As a girl the 1 bedroom trailer I lived in with my family caught fire. My best friend and I had no idea we were in a burning home. We skipped out the front door carefree and fanned sparks into flames on our way to the park to fly kites. That day I lost so much and gained a good bit too.
I have also seen fires from the outside looking in. As I write this I sit nursing my baby holding her close as fire crews work to save and stop a fire raging through the house behind us. My heart goes out to the family I have never met. I wonder if the have children. I wonder if their dog survived and long to go out and offer them a bit of help. Alas, I have no aid to give tonight with children in tow and that is for the best.
When a fire hits we have a tendency to crowd, to stare on in horror. Don’t do it. If you do not have genuine help to offer if you can not lend a hand, stay way. It hurts to see others get entertainment out of our misery. Are you the praying type? Spend that time in prayer. They need that more than you will ever know.
Want to help out but don’t know what you have to offer? This can be a tough one. As the fire is happening and as everyone clears out different needs will appear here are some ideas for both.
As the fire rages on
Your neighbors and those responding to the fire will have needs as the fire rages on. What you can offer varies by how well you know the neighbors.
Help with children – If you know the family well offer to take any children into your home where they are safe and do not have to watch the fire. Feed them, reassure them, and offer comfort. If you do not know them well enough to offer this and no one else has you can still comfort the child. Speak to the parents and offer a sealed snack and or drink for both the parents and the children. Stuffed animals and small toys such as coloring books and crayons will help keep the child calm and busy close to mom and dad.
Help with pets – If the family has pets they will need care including fresh water to help clear the throat from any smoke inhalation. A bowl and a bottle of water can go a long way. If you know the family well offer to take the pet home to safety while everything is dealt with.
Offer supplies – From baskets to bottles of water offer what you can to help the family while they wait. Even on a hot day, a blanket can bring comfort which goes a long way when you lose your home. Offer sealed drinks and snacks, personal care items, even flip flops if you notice they are barefoot.
Help them connect with the red cross – The red cross offers assistance and the quicker they get into contact with the red cross the faster they can get help as everything settles.
After the fire, you can offer help by
supplying hot meals – Finding food while trying to figure out your life after losing everything is well hard.
Offer your guest room – If you have space and you know the family well offer them a place to sleep for the night. Depending on your location the red cross will offer them a night in the cheapest, worst motel nearby, and they may not allow the children to join.
Clear out things you do not need that they will need – Skip the yard sale and offer up things like furniture, clothing, books, and household items everyone needs. The less they have to spend on the basics the more they have to get back on their feet.
Keep an eye on the house when everyone leaves – not only is a burned house an unsightly mess, it is unsafe. Keep an eye out for kids and teens that may want to play around the area. Kids are not the only issue. Some things may have survived the fire but finding them will have to wait till everything cools off and morning light arrives. Keeping an eye out so the family can be the first to look for anything that made it is a great way to help your neighbor. Not much makes it out of a fire either fire, water, or smoke damages nearly everything but the family may find a few treasures or have a fire proof safe hidden.
remember fires are tough and the family will need support to bounce back. You can make a difference with the smallest effort. As a girl, I met one of my life-long friends was flames leaped out of my kitchen window. You just never know what life has in store for you.