Disaster Preparedness Profile: House Fire/Arson

Sep 16, 2020 | Organization, Procedures

Christine Morris, Operations Support at All Things Admin

One day, Christine Morris and her family were posing in front of the castle at Disney World. The next, she was standing in the smoldering rubble of her home, lost in a fire that would eventually be deemed arson.

The vacationing family received a text in the middle of the night from a close friend and neighbor. It simply said, “Your house is on fire.”

“Suddenly we were all wide awake, miles from home, and for the first few minutes, all I could think is, “What do you do?’” Christine says. 

Once the initial panic passed, Christine jumped into action, calling the airline and trying to get on the first flight out of Orlando to Pennsylvania. On the plane, she sent emails to her clients informing them of the situation and letting them know she’d get in touch as soon as she could.

Within hours, it became evident that the fire was arson, and the two-year journey of court cases, insurance dealings, and rebuilding began.


Christine’s Disaster Takeaways

“Document your systems and procedures.” Christine was self-employed and has always been very systems-focused, so having that mindset allowed her to get back to business more quickly.

“Save everything to the cloud.” The home and everything in it (including the computer in her home office) was a total loss. But Christine had important information saved to the cloud, and it remained safe and accessible.

“Check your insurance policies.” Many people think that all insurance policies are created equal, but that’s not true. It’s crucial that you know what’s covered and what isn’t before you need to make a claim. 

“Take care of yourself and your loved ones.” In the hours after the fire, as the text messages from concerned family and friends began to roll in, Christine copy and pasted the same reply to everyone: “We’re safe, we’re together, and that’s all that matters.”


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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures. 

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