Have You Seen The Burning House Project?

Fact about me: Fire is probably the thing I am most afraid of. I can sit near and enjoy a campfire, but I won’t sit too close and I have a healthy respect for the fact that the cheerful crackling blaze toasting my marshmallow could melt my face right off. So I was pretty fascinated by The Burning House Project, a newish blog that made headlines last month and is still making the rounds. The premise? People send in photos along with a list of what they’d grab if their home went up in flames. As it turned out, what I thought would be a stimulating look into what people care about is more like a lookit mah cool stuff fest.

Will you be so hip when you behold the scarring of your skin?

Things people would make a grab for in the event of a fire include: my favorite vinyl (kraftwerk/kruder & dorfmeister/stone roses/dj shadow/pixies/smiths/blumfeld) “Grenson x Albam city brogues (you never know when you’ll want to look sharp, house or no house)” “the one and only dollar left from my first trip to the us twenty years ago” etc.

Really? Here’s my list:

  • La Paloma.

If I felt like conditions were safe, I’d shoo out all the cats, grab my handbag (if it hadn’t been in a convenient place to grab with La Paloma). Even safer? My work laptop. Done. Because every other single thing in my home can be replaced and isn’t worth risking my life for. Even photographs. I still have the memories. Sentiment be damned. I look at the lists of things people claim they would try to rescue and I balk, but maybe that’s because I find fire so terrifying and I have a child. And yet, I’m still enjoying The Burning House Project. What redeemed the site for me? This entry in particular, written by someone who actually was in a fire, which ends thusly:

Word to all the folks with big piles of stuff: You have way less time than you think.

What would you REALLY risk your life for if your life was indeed on the line?

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7 Responses to “Have You Seen The Burning House Project?”

  1. Steph July 8, 2011 at 8:11 am #

    Cool. Haven’t seen this before.

    I’m going to use this as a high school art project next year. Nice.

  2. Jen July 8, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    The dog. If I had time, family pictures.

  3. La Petite Acadienne July 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    I’d grab my son. If time permitted, I’d also grab my purse and our external hard drive. Everything else is just stuff.

  4. The Jananator July 8, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    The clothes on my back, maybe my phone and wallet. Everything else isn’t important and docs and stuff are in a fire safe for this very reason. Fire moves fast, people, just like she says in that entry. SAFETY FIRST.

  5. Rusty July 8, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    Last spring a grass-fire threatened our house and we had less than 5 minutes to evacuate. I grabbed my daughters, our pets, daughters’ medicine, husband’s work laptop and my cellphone. My 14 year-old grabbed her backpack, the diaper bag and my husband’s gymbag. Basically, she grabbed whatever was on the mudroom floor and I grabbed the stuff sitting out on the kitchen counter.

    The hipsters who think they will have time to grab vintage vinyls or geegaws are fooling themselves… unless they happen to keep all of their fabulous things right by the backdoor.

  6. Christa Terry July 9, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    Wow, Rusty, thanks for sharing that with us – I know that your experience definitely makes me want to keep an emergency tote in the mudroom from now on.

  7. Sarah July 10, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    My purse. My cat. My passport or laptop, if I had time which I probably wouldn’t. I have absolutely nothing else that is important. It’s certainly not worth risking my life for keepsakes or photographs. And I don’t own anything cool enough to care that much about. Which is really sobering, since I still own a lot of STUFF. Makes me wonder why.