Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In the Middle of the Night

In the wee hours of Monday morning, I was ripped from sleep by the sound of our smoke detectors going off.  We have the kind that are wired together so that when one goes off, they all do.  It was loud, ear piercing, and alarming (which I suppose is the point!). My first thought was "Oh, S#!T! Jim has left for work already!" He wasn't in bed next to me.  I didn't smell smoke, feel heat, or see flames. What should I do? How do I turn these alarms off? Where are my kids? What should I do first? All of this ran through my head in the split second it took me to leap from my bed and out towards the girls' rooms.  Instantaneously, Jordan appeared from her bedroom with Ava close behind. Both were covering their ears. I could see a look in Ava's eyes that said "Mommy, my worst nightmare is coming true!" and Jordan was shouting "Everyone get up! There's a fire!"

Jim was there in a flash.  There was no fire, but one of the detectors was malfunctioning and he had to figure out which one. For about 30 seconds the girls and I stood there, adrenaline pumping, while Jim  ran from place to place trying to find the culprit. The basement smoke detector had gone bad. He ripped it out and the sound was gone as quickly as it had started.  I looked into the babies' room. I was standing outside the door. Livi was still in bed, awake and looking at me.  Chloe was sleeping! Jim and I herded the older girls back to their room telling them that there was nothing to be scared of, that it was a false alarm but that they had done the right thing by getting out of bed and coming to wake us.

I went back to bed. But I couldn't go back to sleep. Blood was still quickly pulsing through my veins and my mind could not shut down.  What if this had been an actual fire?  What if Jim had been off to work already?  What if my front door was engulfed in flames? How would we escape this house?  My older girls had woken up right away, left their room to come and find me, but the little ones did not know what was going on, had not moved from their beds. The baby had not even woken up at all! They would be dependent on me to get them and get them out of here and how would I do it? 

We all sleep on the second floor. There are no overhangs to jump onto.  If we had to jump, I guess we would jump from Jordan and Ava's room because that's the highest point in our yard, the lowest jumping point,  and we would be jumping out onto grass.  It was three degrees last night!  Would I grab blankets? Shoes? Or throw my children from the window in thin nightgowns and bare feet?  Would they jump? Would I jump first and try to catch them? Would we all jump together? And what about Kingston? I hadn't even given our beloved pet a thought! He is crated at night and would be trapped on the first floor.

We are unprepared. Plain and simple.  Jim got all new smoke detectors today and hooked them up after work. He bought a small fire extinguisher for the kitchen. I am going to find those ladders that attach to the windows and buy them.

I have thought about what might happen if our house caught fire. I have never made a plan.  This is a mistake. I am grateful for a malfunctioning smoke detector. 

Do you have a plan?


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