That loooong winter is finally over. The old timers’ are calling for the onion snow: a couple dustings of snow that melt when the sun rises. It’s finally here.
While we’re all excited, getting outside, starting the gardens and BBQ’ing, there’s people who had a harsher winter around here, and they will be recovering for awhile yet.
Fires happen for all sorts of reason, but old housing stock mixed with sketchy heating makes for a special combination. We gotta think about them, and the volunteers that save lives all through the cold.
Seems to me, winter is house fire season. You can barely pick up the local paper without reading about a fire and it’s aftermath. There’s been a lot around here- including fires that took out 4 or 5 homes. We’ve been talking about it all winter- a couple ripping through Shamokin; the one in Mount Carmel that took everything from quite a few people. You don’t just lose your house. You lose everything in your house. For a lot of people, the first thing they want to salvage is their memories- their old photo collections.
Bringing it up, you hear the stories. A friend told me about her house burning down when she was 2. Someone else told me about the time she got a call at work- an hour from her house in West Cameron- that her house had caught… and luckily her children got out to safety. To the later, she saw an upside. It wasn’t the stuff that mattered (memories included). It was the people.
Fires can happen for a lot of reason. New houses burn down, too. But we all know it costs $$ to fill that oil tank or coal bin . When you can’t it, you switch using kerosene heaters & electric space heaters to keep warm. Those come with the risk that they’ll catch something. Or old houses with old wiring. 100+ year old houses have archaic wiring, and that’s a huge risk that you might not know about, or have the money to fix. Or that the landlord isn’t fixing.
We should keep our hearts with those people who’ve lost. And the woman in Shamokin who died of hypothermia.
We’ve got firefighters around here that know a lot more about this than I do. If you don’t live around here, you might not realize that they do it all as volunteers.
Everybody knows some volunteer firefighters, and it’s a huge source of pride for the people that do it. They deserve that pride, because they come home from various jobs with their radios on, listening in case there’s an emergency. They’ve had as long a day as any of us. And they contribute as much as anyone can.
A fire could hit any of us. It’s hard to imagine, but what would it be like if you came home and your home wasn’t there? This hasn’t happened to me but I sure think about it.
The volunteers are always fundraising. Pick up those flyers and remember those road signs. Buy their sauerkraut, bean soup and chicken dinners. Go to their rummage sales. Get a membership at a fire company and drink their beer. Yes, that’s how a lot of fire companies stay funded. And make sure to say thank you, that we appreciate what they do.