Part of being prepared is having working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. And knowing how to use the extinguishers. And if it's beyond your ability to fight with your extinguisher - get the hell out!
No possession is worth risking your life to retrieve.
I have personally lost just about everything – not through fire (though years ago I did have a storage bin burn to the ground, which was a rather unpleasant experience but nothing like loosing your home!) – and before too terribly long I recovered and rebuilt to a point where I was better off than I was before. I’ve had friends who were burned out of their apartment and lost everything in an arson fire. They recovered and eventually were better off than before. It was a struggle, but they survived.
Things can be replaced. As hard as it may be to accept, pets can be replaced. People cannot. Trading the life of a human for that of a pet is a bad deal all the way around. I’ve had pets that I would have gone in after in the heat of the moment. Trading the life of a human for an inanimate object is truly a waste of that life.
I have used fire extinguishers more often than I can count. Only once on a fire of my very own.
Pro Tip: When topping off the oil in your truck’s engine, make sure to replace the oil fill cap when you are done. Driving down the highway with the oil fill cap sitting on top of the air cleaner can lead to all that oil you just poured in splattering all over things like, oh, the exhaust manifold, or the catalytic converter. Which get rather, um, “warm” at highway speeds.
Ehem. Something you’ll only do once…
Fortunately I had an extinguisher in the truck and I knew how to use it. What could have destroyed the truck and my personal finances for the immediate future ended up being nothing more than a minor embarrassment and a tale to tell decades later in a blog post.
Please check your smoke detectors and make sure they are working. And make sure you have fire extinguishers handy in your home and all of your vehicles. And learn how to use them. If you are faced with a fire the last thing you want to be doing is trying to read the instructions on the extinguisher through tearing eyes in a smoke filled room!
Be safe out there!