Wednesday, January 4, 2012

check your smoke detectors

I had planned on doing this post last week but the time got away from me.

After complaining about our crazy Christmas I felt a little guilty after watching the news the next day and seeing that  tragic fire in Connecticut.  Such a sad story.

(courtesy of ABC news)
The Christmas morning fire at a Connecticut home that killed three girls and their grandparents was started by fireplace embers that had been cleared out of the fireplace and put in either a mud room attached to the house or a trash enclosure next to it, fire officials said today.

It is unclear whether there were smoke alarms in the house, which was in the middle of an extensive renovation.
Lomer Johnson, his wife Pauline Johnson and their three granddaughters, Lily, 10, and 7-year-old twins Grace and Sarah, were killed in the fire. The couple's daughter Madonna Badger, the mother of the girls, survived along with her friend and contractor Michael Borcina.

I dedicate this post to that family,
   My heart is with Madonna Badger and my prayers remain with her and her family.

Flashback to June 24th, 1984

I was 12 years old that summer,  school was out of session and we had just got "super Tv" .. the poor mans version of cable television.
We lived in a rented apartment on the second floor of a row house in the east side of Baltimore city.
It was a neat little apartment with only one bedroom which we took turns sleeping in.
Some nights my mom and step dad would sleep on the sofa bed  in the living room and I would take the bedroom and then we'd switch.. 
I didn't mind because when it was my turn to sleep on the sofa bed I could stay up and watch movies on Super Tv.

The night of June 23'rd it was my turn to sleep in the living room.
Oh the joy..  I was very excited about that.
It was June, it was hot, and we had just got our very first air conditioner
which was installed in the living room window .

That night I did not unfold the sofa bed..  but instead put my blankets on the floor in front of the television,
where my dog Snuggles and I fell asleep watching the Harrison Ford movie, High Road to China  ( it was the only thing on that night)

Early the in the morning of the 24th
I was woken by Snuggles,  who was barking and digging at my blankets.
I remember a few things at that moment.
My throat burned  and our brown plaid sofa was glowing orange
where the wall behind it was a wall of fire.
 I ran to the bedroom screaming to my mom.
The house is on fire.
It all happened so fast.
My mom was frantically searching for clothes to put on.
My step dad was running back and forth to the kitchen for water to pour on the fire that was only engulfing the room.
They yelled for me to get out..  to call the fire department.
I cried as I carried my dog through the back door, down the fire escape ( where I fell and got a nasty gash on my shin ~  which I still have the scar to remind me)
I don't think that I really needed to use the fire escape.. but it was there and back then,  I thought that was what I was supposed to do.
I ran to the houses on the corner, beating on several doors.
I don't remember which one answered first..   Whoever it was, I told them our house was on fire and to call the fire department.

 That was the last time I saw that little house that my mom worked so hard to make a home.
The fire was electrical,   caused by plugging the new air conditioner into a small extension cord.

Since it was electrical, the power cut off , silencing the old plug in smoke detector.
We were all safe that day,  but we lost most of our belongs to fire, smoke and water damage.

I remember my mom sitting outside on the curb crying that we lost all of the photographs.. all of our memories..
and a fireman said to her.. 
 "You are lucky.  Your family is safe and alive to make new memories."
It was a quote that I will never forget.

The red cross was a tremendous help to our family,  they helped with a down  payment on renting a new place, gave us vouchers to purchase essential furniture and provided food until my parents could back on their feet.

It's been 28 years since that dreadful morning and I still remember it like yesterday.
I am still cautious about plugs and cords and I am very paranoid about having electrical cords go under the beds.   

There is something that I slack on...
Something extremely dangerous..
I neglect our smoke detectors. 
Since I have this talent for setting them off when I cook,
we pull the batteries out to quiet them,
 and neglect to put the batteries back in.

My first order of business this new year was to refresh the batteries in our existing smoke detectors and to purchase a few new ones.

It is important that I take the few minutes that it takes to make sure that they are working correctly..
A few minutes..     could save the lives of my family.

The proper areas for smoke detectors is to have one on each floor near the stair case and one in each sleeping area.

Please  take a few minutes to check your smoke detectors too.



Sarah B said...

Oh my goodness. I don't know what to say. Gosh you were lucky. We were only saying the other day that we need to check our detectors. A great post Leslie x

Angie@Echoes of Laughter said...

Wow Leslie! What a compelling post! I will check our smoke detectors tomorrow! Thanks for a reminder and a great message! Angie xo

Brandi said...

Wow, Leslie. I can only imagine how scared you were. Thank goodness Snuggles was there to alert you and you and your family made it out safely. Thank you for sharing your story and for reminding us all to check our smoke alarms.

Michele said...

I had heard about that family. Such a horrible tragedy. It sickens me. Your story sounds terrifying. Thank God you and your family got out safe. We put our heat on the other night and the dust burning made all of our smoke alarms go off. At that moment I felt so grateful that they all were in good working order in case of a fire. Thank you for the info.

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

I was so saddened to see the news about the 'Christmas day fire.' Even sadder that it was reported yesterday that they'd emptied the fireplace of its coals because of Santa...

I can only imagine the fear you felt, and the uncertainty of what came afterwards. Fire is one thing that I worry about, and each time I hear about such a tragedy I try to remember to formulate what our plan would be, just in case. Thank-you for the reminder, which we should all act upon!

Gina said...

Oh my goodness, Leslie, that is quite a sad & scary story. The blessing being that you were all safe.

This is a great reminder to everyone about smoke alarms. My husband makes it his annual Halloween tradition. Every Halloween, he replaces all the batteries in the smoke alarms.

Pumpkin said...

That's always such a scary thing. I hope this family is surrounded by a good community that will help them get back on their feet.

Miss Merry said...

I, too, cried for that poor family. How heroic the grandparents were and how awful for the poor parents. I am also so grateful that your family survived your fire. Several years ago we had a stove fire that required the fire department. One of their questions after the fire was, did your smoke detectors go off? NO! It turned out that, although we faithfully replaced the batteries, the smoke detectors themselves had worn out. So TEST your detectors, too. We also learned that all our neighbor's fire extinquishers were outdated and non-working. They had showed up when they heard the sirens. Very timely post and, again, thank goodness you still had your family.

Katharine said...

Such sad stories, both of them... Thank goodness you were all ok. No wonder you remember it so vividly!Thanks for the reminder, we haven't checked ours for a while!

Country Dreaming said...

Great post and such a good reminder. I too have been through a fire and it is NOT pleasant.
We (my Mom and I )were not home at the time.
For those that don't have carbon
monoxide alarms get one too! Ours talks and alerts us when the battery is low (annoying at 3:00 in the morning) but will get your attnetion!
The Red Cross was a tremendous help too!

Hopefully all will turn out for this family. Prayers and blessings being sent for them.


Formerly known as Frau said...

My heart aches for that family such a horrible accident. Your story Leslie omg so sorry for you to have gone through that. I have such a fear of fire and am sammy safety but can be better....thanks for this post!

Natasha in Oz said...

We too have had a terrible season of fires over here in Australia. When I heard about that very sad fire in Connecticut I was also reading about a fire that killed a mother and her 3 children here in Queensland, my home-state. Needless to say I made sure our smoke detectors were working. I hope that everyone learns about fire safety and prevention as a sad result of these terrible tragedies.

Take care and best wishes to you for a safe, happy and joyful 2012.


The Single Nester said...

I have a smoke detector outside my kitchen that goes off if I burn a bagel. I love that it is so sensitive!

Karen A.Brewster said...

You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!
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