What would you save from your burning house?

2013-01-31 14:48

Georgina Guedes

An article on showcased the work of designer and photographer Foster Huntington, as he asked people to assemble the items that they would rescue from their burning house. Of course, the exercise pre-supposes that your family and your pets have escaped.

So, in imagining that my home is being consumed by a slow-burning fire, but my children, husband, cat and dog are safely huddled on the lawn with me, here are the 10 things that I would venture back in for, with a damp towel wrapped around my head:

1.    The 1T external hard drive that contains all my backed-up work as well as 10 years of digital photographs. In fact, this exercise made me so paranoid about this hard drive that I have determined to make a copy of the whole thing and store it at my mom’s house.

2.    My Kindle. I’m awfully fond of it, but I haven’t insured it yet. I’ll count on the insurance to cover the big-screen TV, the computers and various other high-cost items.

3.    My wedding and engagement rings. I don’t wear them all the time, but I love them – the engagement ring was bought in Brazil, the wedding ring was made and engraved specially – so they’re irreplaceable.

4.    A bundle of clothes. Replacing clothing is a ball-ache, and I just updated my wardrobe with a pile of stuff from the Zara sale. Some of it I haven’t even worn yet. Such a waste for it to get eaten up by a raging inferno.

5.    My daughter’s Lego. She loves that stuff. Having a house burn down is pretty traumatic. Having her Lego will help.

6.    My son’s singing dinosaur. He’s not that attached to it – he mostly wants our cell phones, our keys and our remote controls – but if he one day asks what I saved for him when our house burnt down, I’d like to be able to give a good answer.

7.    My daughter’s first babygrow. I have a lot invested in my dream of showing her that she was once that small.

8.    My son’s first babygrow. Ditto.

9.    My cookbook collection. Does this count as one item? Could I drag the whole shelf out of the house? If I had to choose just one… I couldn’t. I’d dither in indecision as burning shards of my roof collapsed around my ears.

10.    The fair-trade earthenware Peruvian cooking pot made by a women’s collective and given to us as a wedding present by two dear friends. I love that thing.

I look back over the list and I am surprised by the insignificance of most of those items. As much as we spend most of our lives scuttling about in pursuit of material things, the really important things are family and good health. And of course, it helps that we have such things as insurance, or that list might look a whole lot different.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

Send your comments to Georgina

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24

  • LanfearM - 2013-01-31 15:02

    As to no.1, put up your own website [with nothing on it even, as you want], and use that server for a backup for your photos and stuff. As to other stuff, only my jewellery box [which contain antique stuff from my grandmother] and my handbag [which always has a password protected usb stick with my most valuble files]. Otherwise I don't care about replacing my books, dvds, clothes and other stuff. I will be sad about a lot of books, since a lot were gifts from friends and close family, but I will not risk my life for it.

      gordon.turner.37 - 2013-01-31 21:58

      Correct. If your backup is in the same property as your main work, then it is a copy, not a back up. When will people ever learn?

  • sarah.bouttell - 2013-01-31 15:04

    my child. my cats. everything else is just stuff.

      goyougoodthing - 2013-01-31 16:32

      Same list, just add my wife...

  • christiana.vespucci - 2013-01-31 15:46

    I would say. My identity book. Credit cards. All my beautiful high heel shoes. Oh and my ps3. ? (including all my games. Atleast they packed all packed in a suitcase).

  • chez.kri - 2013-01-31 15:49

    I have a box under my bed with some precious items in it. so often i see people in movies take out a box and get some comfort from it so i made one too! Good article and well writeen. thanks for not talking politics/religion/race :)

  • AshleighLanghein - 2013-01-31 16:29

    Easy - I'd save the house by putting out the fire :)

      mike.bundy.73 - 2013-02-01 06:37

      Good one - some of my most sentimental items are my fire extinguishers!

  • toni.oostingh - 2013-01-31 16:47

    Very sentimental me - I would have to save my son's fish, top priority (they can't run outside I'm afraid) then all my children's strange, wonky, sometimes abstract artworks from junior-primary. Yep much to their absolute embarrasment I have them dotted all over the wall unit. Next would definitely be to save my four sarmie sandwich grill - EVERYTHING gets cooked in there :) and it's soooo easy to clean.... mmmm oh and definitely the beers from the fridge, watching a fire destroy everything is bound to be very thirsty work. I'd have to rescue some food as well, I have a teenage son and he's bound to get hungry after 5 min of watching all that activity.

  • jo.vankatwijk - 2013-01-31 17:29

    Nothing much to grab for me. Just my file with all the important paperwork, like my birth certificate, and my handbag. As someone else said, the rest is just stuff.

  • - 2013-01-31 17:31

    In order of importance: - My fiance - Our cats - My computer I think I can carry all three in one go :-) My fiance might be a bit difficult - she bites.

  • squeegee.pilot - 2013-01-31 20:35

    Bank cards, credit cards, etc... you need access to cash while you waaaaaaiiiiiit for the insurance to pay out. IDs and cell phone - it may help to phone the fire brigade (wishful thinking).

  • janette.marais.5 - 2013-01-31 23:07

    my bag,my mom's old photos and her half completed story of her life.81 years (RIP mom) and my kids first bankets & shoes , laptop

  • mike.bundy.73 - 2013-02-01 07:20

    Make a "panic bag" and put all of your smaller valuables in it, such as rings and babygrows. (Why don't you wear your rings?) Also things like spare keys, passports, ID books, telephone numbers of loved ones, an old but good cellphone, bank cards and bank account information, some treasured valuables, small and basic medical kit etc, etc.

  • binarycape - 2013-02-01 10:45

    For me it would be my laptops etc, a lot of which is kept packed in a huge carry bag, 'backpack' bag in which are my ID book and passport, My beloved Kia Sportage - it matters not to me that she is 14 yrs old - I love her to bits AND she is not insured! My feather duvet and bedding. If I had someone around I would haul out my mattress and base too - they are really comfie but terribly heavy.

      binarycape - 2013-02-01 10:45

      Oh, and my contact lenses and juice from the bathroom. :)

  • flysouth - 2013-02-01 12:13

    ID docs and such, wallet with bank cards, car keys, plus money and guns and ammo.

  • terence.woodhead - 2013-02-01 13:12

    ID book and drivers license. Everything else is easily replacable.

      indianajohn - 2013-02-01 18:38

      Computer harddrive. Impossible to replace. ID book and drivers licenses are very, very easy to replace compared to lost data! Everything else can burn, just not the data.

  • ever.ryman - 2013-02-01 13:34

    Since my mother and my "baby" Boerboel are safe: handbag,(which always has my cellphone, ID book and purse with credit and bank cards in it), a carrier bag with a few days supply of clean undies and t-shirts, glasses, contact lenses and fluid (I am hopelessly shortsighted, laptop and if I have time, my Kindle (gotta have something to read. I can carry that with no problem. Otherwise, as others have said, its just stuff (which is insured!!)

  • louis.hager.12 - 2013-02-02 10:15

    Anything and everything that asures that I do not have to go to home afairs or the traffic dept.

  • njabulol - 2013-02-04 08:14

    In order of importance 1. My weed, a burnt down is stressful enough 2. Documentation ID, passport, diploma, degree, at least it's all in one place. 3. If time allows it, my PS3 games and blu-rays 4. My Darth Vader T-shirt to wear when I'm going to do insurance claims

  • eish.eish.5 - 2013-02-08 16:12

    So long as I didnt run out naked, I would be happy....

  • phililemiya - 2013-02-10 07:27

    Why dont you wear your rings?

  • pages:
  • 1