We had a pretty exciting evening here at Earnest Parenting. Some couples from church have been getting together at Jason and Sally’s* house on Sunday evenings for a Bible study on marriage. The kids play in the basement while Sally’s 18 year-old-sister Nicole watches her two young children (and supervises the rest of the gang as well).
Tonight the kids settled downstairs with a game while we started the video lesson. About 5 minutes later Nicole came running up the stairs and called Jason with some urgency. I thought one of the boys had misbehaved pretty badly for her to be so upset. Jason ran down stairs and about 15 seconds later started hollering “FIRE! GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!”
We bolted out of our seats and headed for the stairs. I was last and I could hear Sally directing the children loudly out the door in the basement. Really thick black smoke was pouring up the stairs. Realizing that no one was wearing shoes I threw mine on, grabbed my coat and started picking up as many pairs as I could. Hubby came along and scooped up an armload. Jason-a firefighter-was already on his radio notifying the fire department of the emergency and we all ran outside.
When I got down the stairs to the driveway I could hear my friends saying that all the kids were accounted for. Our neighbor-also a firefighter-was getting his car moved away from the house for the firetrucks. I ordered the boys into our van to move it as well. Plus they were running around in rain and mud with no shoes.
Jason and Sally had borrowed a skidsteer (often referred to as a BobCat) from a mutual friend and it was sitting in their garage which is on the same level as the basement. We don’t know why yet, but it started burning. Because we had two fire-fighters on the scene, and because Jason’s father-in-law is a smart cookie, the guys were able to safely hook a chain to the skidsteer and drag it out of the house with Jason’s very large work truck.
The good news is that other than smoke damage it appears that the house is fine. The great news is that the kids were gotten out of the house safely. There were 10 precious lives in that basement tonight.
When we were heading out, Sally said something about her house being destroyed; in that moment she really thought the whole thing was a goner. Our neighbor said that if they hadn’t pulled the burning machine out, the garage would have gone up before the fire truck arrived, and that the house would have been engulfed a few minutes after that.
Definitely a close call.
We’re all thanking God tonight for so many factors that came into play to keep persons and property safe. Nicole alerted Jason to the fire and action was being taken before the smoke alarms even sounded. The kids all followed instructions to the letter, holding still when she told them to wait while she investigated, and then running like mad when instructed to get. out. now.
Especially impressive is the fact that at least 6 of the children didn’t know where the door to the outside was on that level, and 2 others were too small to have gotten outside on their own. Sally told them to hold hands and go, and they went.
We’ve instructed the boys in what to do if our house ever caught fire. They know all the exits and where to meet. They know not to stay in the house to call 911, and they know who in the neighborhood would be most able to help them in a crisis. We review that information periodically, just to make sure they know.
Honestly though, I never thought about having a plan for fire safety away from home. It’s something we’ll be discussing very soon. What about you? Do you have a plan in place for fire? What if it’s not at home?
*names have been changed to protect privacy.
Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want their children to be safe in fire situations.
Image courtesy of Kenneth B. Moore via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.