A home of one’s own, to most families and individuals, is the pinnacle of reaching the American Dream. Not simply because you can do what you want within it, but because it is the realization of a place of one’s own. To make as you see fit and live in freedom and joy with other members of society. If the family is the foundation of society, then a home is the base from which it functions and prospers. It is most people’s hope that they will inhabit their home for a lifetime, perhaps even passing it down to their children.
Unfortunately, unless your home is a concrete fortress or bunker, accidents can happen that are not even your fault. Natural disasters, changes in weather, or the way your home is built can set you up for trouble down the line when circumstances change. Fire alarms, security systems, and modern appliances can only do so much. Sometimes, things are beyond your control and you are simply the victim of how life turns out. It is in these times that you hope you are resilient enough to rebuild or are in a great enough community that others are willing to help you out.
In this article, we will discuss how the Clarke family was able to recover from a fire and triumph through disaster cleanup. While it was a lesson that nobody would choose to learn, it has made the Clarke family more resilient and intent on helping others. Following in this vein of fire recovery, we’ll also go over why many homes are not resistant to fires and focus on how you may be able to improve this. In the end, we’ll discuss the resilience of the human spirit and how helping after a tragedy may be a positive coming out of so much negativity.
The Story Of How One Family Rebuilt Among Tragedy
Newcomerstown, Ohio is just like any other small American town: what they may lack in terms of retail stores or cultural moments is made up for in quality of life for families. This is the exact reason why Jessica and Glenn Clarke, along with their three children, enjoyed living in such a place. They had their own home on the hill near another residence, a simple, double-wide trailer heated by a wood stove, a feature that seemed convenient but would not allow them to purchase home insurance and would ultimately destroy the home.
Sometime on the evening of Jan 1, 2021, a fire started spreading in the Clarke’s home that firefighters were able to successfully put out. Knowing that it was the product of the wood stove, but having no other way to heat the home, they thought that the problem had been fixed for now. Unfortunately, later in the day as Glenn was preparing for bed, tragedy struck again. Both Jessica and Glenn smelled smoke, and upon inspection outside, Glenn knew that something bad was happening beyond the roof damage repair that was already needed. They were lucky enough to start evacuating their house and getting personal possessions outside as the fire department was called again and the house began to burn down.
After the family watched their home burn to the ground, community members in Newcomerstown rallied around them to help the family recover from a fire. They were able to raise thousands of dollars on GoFundMe.com and through an ammunition raffle with the local sheriff’s office, while members of the Amish community have also voiced to pitch in with their unique carpentry skills. The neighbors around them not only helped clean up the mess that the fire made, but also continued to contribute by digging out the basement for their new home. With the help of friends, family, and strangers, the Clarke’s life is truly looking up.
Why Fire Ravages Homes So Easily
You may be asking yourself now: why does fire seem to ravage homes so easily? It is a common mistake to think that most homes are fireproof or have fire resistant materials in them, especially if they have not been built in the modern era. Despite many commercial and office buildings having features like fire doors and special glass, there are simply not many residential homes that could recover from a fire if they needed to. Construction has changed over the ensuing decades and these safety features now try to be incorporated by modern builders, but this depends on the area the builders are operating in and what building codes they must adhere to.
Other factors that are out of most homeowners’ control include the environment in which their residences are located. Some of the most beautiful locations to live in the world (for example, California or Australia) are also prone to environmental concerns such as wildfires, earthquakes, and other dangers to your property. This is where having adequate home insurance comes in handy, but even this can only stave off something that may be an inevitability. Your best defense is always prevention, and this can mean simple things like monitoring candles, changing from gas to electric devices, or having regular inspections.
Many people that would like to own a fire-proof home and not take their chances on trying to recover from a fire think that such an ordeal is expensive. While truly fireproofing a home can mean sparing expenses for things such as concrete or specially rated wood, having a fire extinguisher inspection done by your local fire department is an example of something that can potentially save your life and property that can hardly be called an expense. While it may be $60 or more an hour to consult an electrician to look at the quality of wiring in your home, this pales in comparison to thousands of dollars of damage that the sparking wires may provoke.
Fire Proofing Tips For New Construction
Fear not, reader, you do not necessarily have to consult niche companies in order to have your new construction home become more fire resistant. In fact, many custom home builders offer weather/disaster proofing options as part of their packages. It’s best to consult with who’s building your home and what they can provide, while voicing your concern that you’d like to prevent and extinguish fires before you have to recover from a fire. Don’t worry, you won’t have to sacrifice aesthetics or style to remain safe.
From building your home out of brick (a classic fire prevention material) to making sure that your foundation is concrete, there have been many improvements made in building techniques over the years. Instead of having to recover from a fire, you can now prevent one from happening at all by simply constructing your home to be fire resistant (and in some cases, almost fire proof). Simple things, like deciding that all your windows will be double insulated and fire rated glass will go a long way towards helping you to sleep soundly at night and keep worried flames from dancing around in your head.
The good thing about building a house is that it can be truly customizable, meaning everything can be as you want it. In this case, you may want to consider making all the doors in your home steel or fiber cement. Both of these materials are known to help stop wildfires from getting in and from fires spreading room to room. In this same vein, you’ll want to consider making sure that your roof is sturdy and made over a fire-resistant cap. Embers can spread and trickle down from an upstairs fire, leading the entire house to burn down.
The last thing you may want to consider is the outdoor features of your new home. Keeping shrubbery and other greenery well away from the house may make it so that wildfires or nature-caused fires are simply not able to spread into your dwelling that easily. If the structure is built out of bricks or has a concrete exterior, this may make it even doubly hard for fire to get in and wreak havoc upon your property. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
How To Fire Proof Your Current Home
If you’re already dwelling in your dream home, but want to start to fire proof it before you have to recover from a fire, have no fear that it can be done. Little changes in how you operate and remodel your home can make all the difference, and if it really concerns you then you can always call a design build remodeling company to make your dreams come true in a (qualified) hurry. It is not as difficult as it seems, nor should it be intimidating. In fact, you may be able to save yourself a significant amount of money by doing much of the preventative work yourself.
A first, but perhaps not obvious tip, would be to try and eliminate fires in your home if possible. While fireplaces, fire pits, and candles are lovely, it only takes one wrong move on one fateful day to begin a terrible tragedy. Instead of being forced to recover from a fire, try to prevent one before it even begins instead. This may mean only using a fireplace during certain hours or getting it inspected for safety reasons, switching to electronic candles or other scented means, or constructing a place for fires that cannot be burnt down or harmed in any way.
Once you have eliminated fires from your home (as you see fit and reasonable), then you should consult a professional contractor that has a specialty in fire-proofing homes. Only they will be able to give you a proper inspection that will be able to point out the flaws and elements that need to be improved. From knocking down walls to painting sealants on the outside of your home, they are many different ways that professionals have come up with in order to improve upon the fire resistance of a home. By getting an inspection and quote from a qualified professional, you will be building upon what you can do yourself.
Organizations That Rebuild And Why They Need You
You may be wondering how you can help people build homes without having to watch someone’s dreams go up in flames. While it is honorable to help a family recover from a fire, there are always homes that need to be built and volunteers necessary to staff them. From organizations owned by veterans to faith-based charities, there are no shortages of non-profits or other endeavors that help people to get homes who need them. Many people view this is a worthwhile activity to participate in and receive immense personal satisfaction from said experiences.
Habitat For Humanity is the most prominent of these organizations, and they operate on a mixed-use model where they rely on volunteers and some professional help. If you own a roofing company or are an electrician, they may hire you to do professional work while allowing volunteers to build around it. This way they mix quality and compassion, ensuring that homes are built up to standard while allowing regular people to do their part. From painting to hauling materials, there is something for everyone to do regardless of the experience that they have.
Another organization that helps build homes for veterans is Operation Finally Home. This group is made up of builders, suppliers, and supporters that help to build mortgage-free homes for veterans in need. Since many of these veterans are ill, wounded, or disabled, they also focus on trying to customize homes so that they live as normal of a life as possible. They always require professionals to help out with customized homes, and many times take on volunteers where they’re willing to give. In the end, you’ll know that the home you’re providing to a veteran is vitally needed.
Helping Makes A Difference (We’re All Humans)
At the end of the day, whether you help a family recover from a fire or donate food to your local food bank, the result is the same: helping others helps you. Not in just a spiritual or mental sense, but in a strictly logical sense. The more that we help each other, the wider the circle grows of helpers and possible positive outcomes when tragedy inevitably strikes. While we try to plan for all types of situations and their outcomes, we can only do so much before it is simply out of our hands. By rebuilding and connecting with people, some would say that we help ourselves as well.
While we may not like that life is unpredictable and hard to plan, it’s by helping other humans out while they are struggling that allows us all to move forward together. When we help another family recover from a fire, we know that deep in our hearts that a fire that affects us is only a temporary setback in what will probably be a long and fruitful life. This implicit knowledge, along with the experience that helping another be lifted up provides us, may become even stronger than the concrete foundations that are put into fire proof structures.