Last Friday night a family in our area lost their home and their two elementary-age boys in a devastating fire. The whole community is absolutely heartbroken for these parents… I didn’t know them personally, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them. Before I say anything else, will you join me in praying for Lindsey and Tom? (If you want to read more or donate to the trust that has been set up, you can do that here.)
If there has been even the tiniest bit of good to come out of this tragedy, it’s that families all around are checking their fire alarms and making plans for such an emergency.* It has made me realize how much I take my own safety for granted… We have smoke alarms in our house, but up until this week we hadn’t checked them in years, and Jeff and I had never really had a conversation about what we would do should we need to evacuate in the middle of the night. For example, “who will get who” in case of an emergency, so we don’t end up outside each thinking the other one has one of the kids.
Another thing I’d only vaguely heard in the past but have started implementing this week is sleeping with bedroom doors CLOSED. According to several studies, doors not only act as a shield from flames and smoke in a fire, but they can also change the actual flow of heat and toxic gases and could, literally, save a life.
I also started talking to Sam a little about what to do in case of a fire, and I realized that it’s not as black and white as “stop, drop, and roll” – especially when you’re talking to a four year old:
“Crawl on the ground and get outside as fast as you can.”
“But I need to wait for Mom and Dad.”
“No, you just go outside as fast as you can and wait for us there.”
“But you always say ‘No leaving the house without Mom and Dad.'”
The American Red Cross says that you should have TWO defined exit plans from every ROOM in the house. That’s a lot of planning. (They have some helpful tips and a printable planning worksheet here.) You also need to make sure your kids know what a fire alarm sounds like and practice your plans frequently. I tend to scoff at fire drills at school (we do them once a month), when I really should be doing them at home too. Sam’s only real understanding of what to do in a fire came from his drills at school, NOT anything we’d talked about. Would I feel silly doing a fire drill with my family? Yes. Will I do it anyway? Absolutely.
I’ll also be downloading the Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies mobile game from the Red Cross today and encouraging Sam to “play” with it and talk about it.
This isn’t a fun blog post, and I realize that it is a morbid and scary thing to talk about, but it is SO important. Please, in the midst of your busy day-to-day this week, make time to think through some of these things and implement them NOW.
Do it for Patrick and Logan.
*Just to clarify, I have no idea if this family had working fire alarms or a fire escape plan. Obviously, accidents happen and not everything can be planned for.