Luckily this was not a huge fire. However, any fire is a serious fire and children need to know that.
I have managed to get through a few emergencies in my years as a mother and I am thankful for the safety of my family.
- The derecho 3 years ago when I had to wake the children up and get them down to the basement.
- The earthquake we had a few years ago when I stood in the foyer and watched the whole front of my house shake.
- Snowstorms with power outages
- The tornado warnings in my area when Emmett was a baby and I woke him up and brought him downstairs until the weather calmed down.
- The time my Starbucks rewards card was at zero and I couldn't remember the password to reload it.
So yesterday, I was challenged yet again when my oven caught on fire. I mean, full on fire inside the oven. The thing looked just like our wood stove.
I was cooking a meal that I had prepared for days. I found this new recipe in this month's issue of Southern Living Magazine and couldn't wait to try it. And there it was, on fire in my oven, just like that. Don't believe everything you read online. I was actually heating up chicken nuggets and tater tots. OKAAY?!? Don't judge me, Internet. I know you can be harsh. I can take it.
My 3 year old, John, just kept repeating, "My chicken nuggets are on fire"
When I saw the fire in the oven, I immediately took the nuggets and tots out so I wouldn't have to think of more food that I had to prepare for the family. Then I told the children to leave the house immediately and go to our meeting place. Desiree, my teenager, stayed to help, or watch, or something. I am not really sure because I was reading the directions on the fire extinguisher and feeling terrified to spray it into the oven.
I extinguished the fire in a second and crisis over. There was so much smoke. I went out and checked on the children and there they were, standing atour meeting place yelling,
The poor guy was concerned because he didn't have any shoes on and he had to go back into the house to get them. I took his hand and walked him to the meeting place and said it was ok that he didn't have shoes and the important thing was to get out of the house safely.
I had a bit of a flashback in that moment when John was trying to go back in to get his shoes. When I was 13 years old, there was a fire in my house and 2 of my sisters and I were the only ones home at the time. Upon my sister discovering the fire and telling us to get out of the house, I remember looking outside the front door at the walk and seeing the slush and snow on the sidewalk. I was wearing slippers. I didn't have the right shoes on. Instead of just leaving the house through the front, I walked through the house to the back, where the fire was, and walked right through the black smoke to get outside. This was a completely irrational move on my part and one that would haunt me the rest of my life. D
id I have mentality of a 3 year old instead of a 13 year old? Who knows. I've come to learn that emergency situations are kind of like parenting...you can know every play in the playbook, but when it comes down to it, there is no telling how you will react.
That experience has always been a reminder to me of what can happen in emergency situations. It is like that 13 year old girl lives inside of me and is that voice that always questions whether or not I made the right move in a situation that demands quick thinking.
My grandmother died that day in that fire. The fire started from her lit cigarette. She was pretty much immobile and we think she has a stroke or heart attack and dropped her cigarette right on herself. By the time my sisters and I knew there was a fire, it was fully engulfed and flames were shooting out of the window. A neighbor had come and broken the window to try to help her, but it was way too late. I was the last person in our family to see her alive.
I take fire seriously. I am afraid of fire and I even have trouble having a woodstove in our house and using fire as our sole source of heat for our home. Hey, I'm a grown up now, though. I can deal with it...
So it turns out the only thing I did wrong yesterday was NOT call 911 as soon I told the children to get out of the house. I called my sister to decompress and process everything and she told me that. I then called the fire department to ask them to come check my smoke alarms because they never went off. The man told me to hang up immediately and call 911 even though the fire was extinguished.
I am so glad I talked to my sister and then called the fire department. They told me the same thing when they were at the house. I should have called 911 as soon as I told the children to go to our meeting place and THEN deal with the fire.
I am also so thankful that my husband had put fire extinguishers in the kitchen and upstairs bathroom. We have had them there for years and I have never had to use one until yesterday.
Please make sure you have fire safety drills with your family and that you have fire extinguishers in your kitchen and around the house. The importance of having drills is so that if or when an actualy emergency happens, the response will be second nature and the kids will do the right thing.
The kids were so good and the neighbors came up to check on us. The kids loved to see the big fire trucks coming up our street and hear the sirens. As for me, I was just glad my house wasn't a mess. When I found out they were coming, though, I immediately asked Desiree to sweep the foyer! What is wrong with me! The fire fighters used a big fan to blow the smoke out of the house and that worked great. I am also hoping it blew some of the dust out, too, so that will be less housework for me.
Even though it was a serious situation, we will always remember John running down the hallway, "My chicken nuggets are on fire!"
I reassured him later that the nuggets were fine, the fire was on the bottom of the oven where there was grease. And the oven is VERY old and wasn't working well.
Desiree had a good idea, though...She said we should have told him, "John, the nuggets were on fire because you wouldn't eat your carrots. The oven got mad because you only wanted leftover marshmallow peeps from Easter." Awww John... if you read this when you are older...we wouldn't really do that to you. You are good boy.
The moral of this story is to please be grateful for your family, your homes and your safety. Never take a moment for granted and always appreciate your friends, your neighbors and your community. You never know when you will need them...
So be a good neighbor yourself and look out for people you love. When I looked at the meeting place and saw the children standing there safe and sound, that was the most important thing...
Maybe from now on, I'll just have to keep a pair of shoes handy for John that he can grap quickly on his way out.
Oh, and get a housekeeper so I don't have stress about what my house looks like when there is an emergency.
That's enough, I guess. I am hoping I live to write another blog post...and as for you...go do something more meaningful than making it to the end of another one of my blog posts....