It Happened to Me: A House Fire


Have you ever had a recurring nightmare? I sure have…plenty of them. One of my most frequently occurring dreams happened when my boys were babies.

I kept them with me in a cradle in my room until they were around three months old. One of the main reasons was because my bedroom was on the main level, and the nursery was on the second floor. I was nursing and I didn’t want to be too far away from them. Eventually I wasn’t sleeping well with them in the room, and so both times when I moved my infants up to their room, the nightmares started.

A fire. Me on the first floor, my babies on the the second. The fire blocking my only way up to them. Panic, helplessness, fear, and despair.

I would have this horrible dream at least once a week until my boys were finally old enough for a big bed, I still had these dreams, but no where near as often. Needless to say, I taught the boys how to open their windows and climb out to safety if there was a fire. (and ONLY if there was a fire.)

Looking back, I think those dreams were born more of my fear of not being able to protect my kids from everything, all the time. I did come to think of those dreams as a warning that something scary could happen, but in my waking hours, a fire was not something I thought would ever happen to me.

I mean, how many people have a fire in their house?

Well, it turns out, quite a few actually.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2015 over 365,500 home fires were reported.

And my home will be in the statistics for the year 2017.

In an attempt to process everything that happened that night and in the aftermath, and also to keep my friends and family informed, I blogged about the experiences I had here.

There is so much to process when something like this happens to you, I cannot possibly encompass it all in one post. I did want to pass on some of the things I learned from this event because as my youngest child so wisely said to me, “You never think anything like this will happen to you.”

It’s true. Even though a house fire was the subject of many of my nightmares, I didn’t think it would actually happen to me. When I stood and watched our home going up in flames, it brought back so many of the same emotions I had during my dreams. Except this time, when faced with reality, all my loved ones were safe, so I didn’t feel the despair I had in my dreams.

The cause of the fire at my house was undetermined, but statistics say most fires start with cooking, heating, or electrical failures. The best way to prevent this is to closely attend food when you are cooking at all times, and to routinely have your heating and electrical systems checked.

Here are a few other things I urge you to consider:

  • Make sure your kids know what to do if a fire occurs in your home. Visit your local fire station. Go to events that teach your kids what to do in a fire situation. We’ve gone to pancake breakfasts at the fire station where they have a mobile fire simulator. Kids can practice what to do and how to escape a fire. We’ve also visited the Hall of Flame at the Iowa State Fair, under the Grandstand.
  • Make a plan and talk about exactly how they could get out of their house in different scenarios. Draw a map together as a family.
  • Make sure you check your fire alarms regularly. (Try them out every time you have to change your clocks!)
  • Do you have bedrooms on the second floor? Buy a fire escape ladder for each room and show your kids how to use it.
  • Do you have a good insurance policy for disasters such as fires? Make sure you do.

Thankfully, when we had our house fire only things were lost, and not people or pets. And although it’s true there are some items that can never be replaced, it’s also true that you can’t take any of it with you when you leave this world, so holding on to things seems silly with that perspective. There have been a lot of lessons learned about what is and is not important.

Yes, I experienced a house fire. Yes, we lost pretty much everything that was in the house. But I am so thankful that no lives were lost. I am SO thankful for friends and family who surrounded us and found ways to make our lives easier as we continue to rebuild.

I am thankful for home-cooked meals brought to us, or made and frozen for us to pop in the crock pot later. I am thankful for cards and letters and texts that let me know I was being prayed for and loved. I am thankful for financial donations to help fill in some of the gaps that insurance didn’t cover. I am thankful for a friend who collected CAbi clothing from stylists all over the United States so I didn’t have to worry about what I was going to wear. My kids have seen the generous spirit of people coming together and helping them out. I hope this is something they will carry with them and continue to pay it forward their whole lives.

It was truly touching to see so many people pour their love onto my family in their time of need. I truly saw God’s hand in the way people stepped up and helped us in so many ways.

I will never forget it.

When all is said and done, the house will be rebuilt, our lives will continue to move forward, and I will look back on this experience with fondness. Yes, fondness.

There was, and still are, countless unpleasant things we’ve had to deal with since the house fire. But, there are considerably more amazing things that have happened because of it as well, and I am SO thankful for that.

it happened to me seriesHave you experienced something like this? What did you take away from the experience?

Read more from our It Happened to Me series.

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Jennifer is a single mom of two boys. She does her best to get to places on time, despite being a chronically late person and the fact that neither she or her boys are morning people. She recently went back into the classroom after staying home for nine years to raise her kids, and she credits her sanity and success at this endeavor to the fact that she has incredibly supportive parents, family, and friends. She also has a network of single moms that truly “get it” and who encourage her on a daily basis. When she’s not hanging out with her kiddos, Jennifer enjoys writing at a coffee shop, trying new restaurants, or catching up with friends.



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