It has to be up there as one of our worst nightmares. The morning starts with the usual cuppa and a bite of breakfast. It is the weekend and as we have family visiting who we have not seen for ages we plan a great day out. Some retail therapy and a nice lunch followed by a celebration reunion drink at the Local on the way home.
Then the nightmare begins as you arrive home to see police cars, flashing lights from fire appliances and gathered crowds of your neighbours witnessing the scene. It is your house and it is burning beyond recognition. Disbelief, panic and grief mix with an overwhelming sense of helplessness and loss.
It was this nightmare that beset a friend of my daughter. By the time the fire crew had finished only the shell of the house remained. Everything had gone. A lifetime of collected memories, photographs, family heirlooms, and important legal papers and even the passports and belongings of the visiting relatives had been destroyed. The family literally had only the clothes they stood up in.
When this nightmarish account was relayed to me I couldn’t help but to look around my house and at all the things that we treasure and the comforts we enjoy and tried to imagine losing it all at a single stoke. It was impossible to contemplate.
It later transpired that the fire was started by an electrical fault possibly from old wiring whose insulation had perished. According to the statistics such fires are not uncommon but few, including me think to have our wiring checked. Businesses have PAT testing of all appliances and plugs and even hidden wiring can be checked for damage, faulty insulation and earth leakage. If you have a house over 20 years of age it would be a prudent step to have an electrician check the wiring circuits.
I wrote earlier about the steps you can take to minimise the risk of electrical fires – turn off appliances, check plugs for tell tale signs of burning, don’t overload them with adapters and don’t leave equipment on standby when you retire to bed are the more obvious precautions.
There are items in every home that have special significance and are difficult if not impossible to replace. The sentimental value of gifts and jewellery, family documents and your photographs of loved ones present and past is hard to quantify until they are all destroyed. Imagine the hassle of losing insurance certificates, passports even your rainy day nest egg, share certificates and premium bonds.
It certainly made me stop and think and I for one will be investing in a fireproof storage safe. I confess that although we sell these I had considered them more of a luxury item than a necessity for a homeowner. Not any longer.