Fire Prevention Week

4 years ago


Happy Fire Prevention Week! 

"Fire Prevention Week?" you ask? Yes, Fire Prevention Week, instituted in 1922 on the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, which was, of course "the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on October 8, but continued into and did most of its damage on October 9, 1871."

How are you celebrating? Mmmm, sounds lovely. And terrifying.

You see, ever since I was a little girl, Fire Prevention Week has plagued my birthday. I didn't know this until today but it actually CENTERS on October 9th, and as such, the week of my special day was always peppered with drills and visits by firemen and stopping, dropping, and rolling. When I was little, I was so scared of house fires in the middle of the night. No matter what I'd said I wanted for my birthday until that point (Teddy Ruxpin, a puppy, a big wheel, a puppy, roller blades, a puppy), after a week of practicing escape plans and deciding on family meeting places at school, the number one desire of my little birthday heart was...

a fire safety ladder.

Year after year I'd ask for one, and it was the weirdest thing, y'all, my parents never got me one. I couldn't for the life of me understand why they wouldn't want their 8 year-old to have an easy escape out the window of her two story bedroom. Perhaps it was because I was, oh, I don't know, 8?! I postulate that it had even more to do with the slightly more mischievous creative 3 year old sister who shared my room.

So I never got my fire safety ladder, and yet, I survived. When we did have a house fire, it happened late in the afternoon and we were outside, so, no problems there.

So this wonderful week of prevention stalked my birthdays growing up, and you guys, it hasn't stopped.

The girls and I were taking it slow Friday morning, enjoying staying at home (for once). They were in various stages of toddler undress, while I was wearing a t-shirt and jeans, only because I'd taken the dog out before Duff left.

Eliza was picking her nose or playing the piano in their room while Liv was asking to watch more Go Diego, Go when the fire alarm in our apartment started going off.


I figured it was a drill, but the rule follower in me felt an adrenaline rush. I started to put my boots on and told Liv to quickly get some shoes. Quickly and get shoes don't really go together for Liv, who takes this selection very seriously, as if she won't change them 5 more times before the end of the day. I grabbed Eliza and put Liv in her rainboots, then heard Oscar sniffing from the bathroom. OSCAR. Shoot. So I put his leash on, put Eliza on my hip, grabbed Liv's hand and a sweatshirt for my half-dressed daughters, and started downstairs.

STAIRS. Because fire.

We live on the third floor, which is not that many stairs, but with one baby in my arms, a dog pulling at the leash and a toddler in over-sized boots, we weren't making great time. Oh-and-also the alarm was going off. My sweet kids made it about 45 wide-eyed seconds before they both dissolved into tears at the offensive beeping.

I still thought it was probably a drill, but to be honest, I wasn't sure how we were going to make it all the way down like this. I didn't think it was fair for Liv to have to walk on her own, especially in tears, but I wasn't sure I could balance both kids and the dog on a marble staircase.

Mom superpower kicked in, and I suddenly found strength, balance and speed otherwise unknown to me. We made it almost to the bottom before I saw a neighbor coming back up, saying she checked and it was just a drill. A Fire Prevention Week drill, I'm guessing.

With the news that this was, indeed, another drill, I was tempted to drop everything and collapsed but, um, I was holding my children, and the alarm was STILL GOING OFF. So I turned around and super-mommed our way back to our door.

I congratulated Liv on listening so well, and we had a talk about why it's important to have such a loud alarm. We watched Go Diego, Go and ate a few bon-bons while we recovered.

So. Happy Fire Prevention Week. May you plan effectively and find your own super-mom or dad or friend strength during your respective fire drills.

And for the love, someone send me a fire safety ladder. Not a puppy.



Cross-posted at


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