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Warmth and help after an apartment fire in Saskatoon

By Michelle Palansky

It was late February 2019, in Saskatoon. The night was freezing, and Samantha was standing outside in her shorts. She left behind her phone charger, her medication, and the wheelchair she uses to aid in mobility issues stemming from chronic arthritis.

Samantha left it all behind because the fire alarm was blaring, and thick smoke was filling the hallways of her apartment building.

Initially, Samantha said she ignored the perpetually ringing alarm, but this time was different. She could hear people running in the hallways, and when her sister checked the corridor there was smoke everywhere.

They quickly left the building and stood outside waiting for the arrival of emergency personnel.
After waiting outside for over 10 minutes, Samantha had to get inside to warm up. Because she had left all her mobility aids in her apartment, the walk across the street to the next apartment building took her seven, long, arduous minutes.

Samantha called a cousin to drive to the site so that she could sit down, warm up, and wait for the firefighters to give her the all-clear so that she could retrieve her medication.

Red Cross teddy bears and blanketsOnce she was ready to leave, Samantha learned that the Canadian Red Cross was there to support her over the next days, providing shelter, medication and clothing vouchers. The vouchers were particularly welcome as Samantha had nothing but the clothes on her back.

“It was a really big help. I really appreciated it and I did not expect that. I never knew. I was really shocked by all the help that the Red Cross gave us. If it wasn’t for the help this would have been a much harder time for me. I’ll always have a soft spot and a good warm heart for the Red Cross. Your workers were very friendly and sweet people. Bless their hearts!”

Now settled in a new apartment, Samantha says that she still has trouble sleeping but is better prepared for potential emergencies.

“I have an emergency bag packed and more than that I am mentally prepared. I know now to take 10 seconds to grab my essentials bag and then go.”

Learn more about assembling your own emergency preparedness bag and download the emergency kit checklist

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