It's Common Sense: Avoid Disasters

Posted: March 01, 1995

It was a little after midnight, the day after Christmas, when I heard unusually loud thumping from the stairway of the house adjoining my father's. I rushed outside and saw a woman I did not recognize, but assumed lived in the adjoining house, leaning against my car, looking up to the house.

"What's the matter?" I asked.

"The house is on fire," she answered.

I was incredulous. I wondered why no one in that house had the presence of mind to warn me, my father and cousin. I heard the sirens, saw the fire- trucks and rushed back inside to get my relatives out of the house.

When watching the fire burn and the courageousness of the firefighters, I had quiet moments to consider. With only the clothes on my back, I thought that perhaps I could have nothing left in the morning - nothing in the material sense. But I had my life, my father and my cousin. A crisis clears the trash from one's existence, enabling one to focus on what is truly important.

I wish to commend the firefighters who put out the fire. The windless night, mild temperature and instantaneous response from the Fire Department deterred what could have been a disaster. No one was injured and my father's house sustained neither smoke nor water damage.

I am constantly amazed how people seem to prefer at-risk behaviors to more reasonable ones. In the case of the fire, a faulty electrical system was identified as the cause.

Fires can be prevented if people choose to be responsible and use, as my father would say, "The Good Common Sense God Gave Them." But maybe God ran out, and there wasn't enough common sense to go around. So maybe I shouldn't be amazed that winter after winter, children are left unattended with lighted candles and space heaters; summer after summer, unsupervised children drown in swimming pools.

One solution in reducing the occurrences of tragedy is to respect the elements fire, wind and water in all their forms - for they are stronger than we.

In spite of public education and public-service announcements from the Fire Department, Red Cross and other service organizations, it seems as if there will be that significant minority who will take the hard road in the way they handle issues of safety. Only when a self-initiated catastrophe overtakes them will they be able to understand and accept the meaning of safety in their lives. This is the kind of lesson that is full of regrets, tears and funerals with little coffins.

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