I recently moved into a new apartment and realized that my room is conveniently adjacent to an accessible fire escape. Of course being the delinquent I am my first thoughts were “yes, I can smoke out here” and shortly after I heartily did. As a friend and I sat out there, we took a little time to check out its’ stability it dawned on me – what would I really do if I was in my room isolated during a fire? The escape ladder was fused shut which made me ponder what I’d actually do given the pre-existing conditions and a potential fire. Did I really have the will and balls to jump out of the window? How much injury would be acceptable without being mortally wounding? Would I look cute with crutches, you know, important shit like that. Lady shit, adult shit – all things that are seemingly irrelevant until you need them.
Looking back, I find it highly ironic that one of the first things my roommates mom said to me as we were moving in was “make sure to change the fire detector batteries, at least then you know they’re fresh and when to change them again.” I’ve always thought fire safety was paramount but until last week never truly understood the vital importance of being 100% on top of it. Actually, there was the one time in college we accidentally set my mom’s backyard on fire, randomly catching the flames as I was coming out of the shower. Nothing says “hello neighborhood” like hand-pouring water on backyard bushes in a towel and flip-flops. This time though, was different. Taking a quick talk break before leaving the house, I was engulfed in conversation with my roommate who was pre-heating the oven for chicken. This was our first time using the oven in our new house and like millions of times before, neither of us had a second thought about it. The first time the smoke detector went off we laughed it off as sensitivity, “god there’s no smoke in here, why does that shit keep going off!” Take it as an omen (which is really the detector doing it’s job) but it was literally a minute later when we saw a real flame.
I freaked a little for sure because I’ve always noted that I do no want to go down that way, burning to death seems like one of the most horrid ways to go out. Immediately I ran for the extinguisher which when sprayed actually made the flames grow bigger, causing me to freak out again which really made me regret not paying attention during the stop, drop and roll portion of class. The biggest thing to dawn on me in this time was my real lack in fire safety knowledge. Knowing how to put out various types of fires, what materials to have, etc – it’s all extremely important and if you think it’s useless information use this story as a cautionary tale. Once the extinguisher was exhausted and ineffective, I called 911 right away. Like a damsel in distress multiple trucks pulled up like blaring saviors. Firemen from all of Jersey’s finest ethnic pots were present and ready for the looming danger, somehow my house possibly burning down didn’t seem so bad. Luckily they were able to put it out quickly and they were amazing about giving us the cliff note version of how the fire must have started. Big up to all firemen, it definitely occurred to me at that moment how much danger they deal with daily and how hazardous the occupation is as a whole. Fortunately, all I lost was a stove but my view on fire safety and the responsibility we all need to personally take has been cemented. Knowledge and preparation is more important than ever, be an adult and truly educate yourself.
Lesson learned: stop, drop & roll isn’t all you need to know about fire safety. Change your batteries, head the warning and always be good to your local firemen! 🙂