Monday, July 18, 2011

The Fire Drill

Two weeks ago was Fire Drill Week for the boys at camp.They both came home with little red plastic fireman hats and eleven more pounds of paperwork and brochures and diagrams on fire safety and fire precautions and that we need to change the batteries on the smoke detectors and hey! wouldn't it be great if we had a fire drill?

I thought it seemed like a good idea...after all, we all need to know how to get out of the house just in case something horrible happened.We spent a couple days talking about how it's really, really important that they get their own little bodies outside. Not toys, not DSIs or favorite t-shirts or that awesome bat. Just yourself.

Simple, right?

Fire Drill #1:

After days of bugging me every ten minutes about "when are you gonna do the fire alarm, Mom? Now? How NOW! Or, now? Or, now? Or, now? Or, now? Or, now? Or, now? Or, now? Or, now?" they finally gave up. At one point, the boys were playing Wii, and I overheard Happy say to Lefty, "We're never gonna have fire..." and Lefty responded with, "I know. It's no fair."

So I did it. I grabbed the big bell and started ringing it and yelling, "FIRE DRILL! FIRE DRILL! Get out!!" which was immediately followed by screaming and frenetic running through the house, as the children celebrated the fact that there was, indeed, a fire drill happening. It! Was! All! So! Exciting! and Happy ran up to McGee and screamed, "McGee! We getta havva FIRE!" and then there was a lot of whooping and hunting for toys and bouncing on beds as we waited for windows to be opened so they could find sheets and try to parachute out the windows that are. on. the. first. floor.

All in all, it took us seventeen minutes to get out of the house. And once we were there, the children happily informed our nearest neighbors that our house was on fire.

Conclusion: We spent a lot of time in the days after Fire Drill #1 re-learning about calmly walking out of the house, possibly maybe using a door? You know, those eight hinged things scattered around the house that you leave open all the time so we can air condition the neighborhood? [Editor's Note: Gah. I just turned into my Scottish grandmother. -Kate] The IHPs thought they deserved credit for finding each other, which - yes - was an important thing to do, but maybe after you find each other, you need to get out of the burning home rather than turning into the Flying Wallendas between my sofa and the armoire to celebrate that you found each other in the middle of a practice house fire.

Fire Drill #2

Several days later the kids were huddled down in the play room with the Wii. It had rained all day and they always feel conspired against when it rains in the summer, like God owes them an extra warm October day for depriving them of the pool. I was making dinner and watching Law & Order and drinking a glass of wine and since I was doing much more of the second and the third rather than the first, it was pretty handy that something on the stove boiled over onto the burner and by the time it got my attention, I knew I was only a few seconds away from the smoke alarm going off. HEY! Let's have a fire drill, with actual real fire drill-y sounds.

So I stood there, watching the stove. As it turns out, a watched pot never does boil, it smokes. Awesome. Cue smoke alarm.

Good Maude those things are LOUD! It goes off, I start ringing the bell. "FIRE DRILL! FIRE DRILL!" and as I get downstairs after smashing the smoke alarm out of the ceiling with the broom handle, the kids have managed to...not move an inch.

Lefty: "Mom...we're playing Wii."
Me: "But, it's a fire drill! We have to get out of the house!"
Happy: "Mommy, it's the seventh inning...and it smells yucky. Did you burn dinner? I'm not hungry anymore."
Me: "HEY! Fire drill, remember?"
Lefty: "The door is right there. We would have made it."
McGee: "Yeah. Plus, it's raining outside. That would've put out the fire."
Happy: "And we want pizza."

Conclusion: Fire Drill FAIL. Also, we had burned dinner for dinner. And S'mores without melty marshmallows, because you need a fire for that, and I told them the rain put it out. Ingrates.

Fire Drill #3

This time I pull out the big guns. After a lovely conversation with the neighborhood fire men at our grocery store, the next fire drill was going to be the fire drill to end all fire drills. A few days later, the kids were in the house getting ready to jump into the shower after the pool, when Happy heard the sound of a fire engine. He ran to his room, jumped onto his bed and peered out his window to see a big red fire engine coming down our street.

I grab the bell..."FIRE DRILL FIRE DRILL!! (Please Maude don't f**k this up, there are actual firemen here) GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!!"

Lefty ran into Happy's room to retrieve his brother, saw him on the bed, and, rather than hightailing it out the door, he joined him in the stare-out-the-window-while-the-house-burned-down festivities. By the the fire engine is in front of my house, the neighbors are coming outside, and the IHPs are -- yes -- all in the bedroom. Watching.

Me: HEY! Get outside! Fire drill!
Lefty: [elated] MOM! There's a fire engine! Look!
Happy: [so so very happy] "AHHHH It's a fire engine. Wooo-wooo-wooo-wooo-wooo! Come see!"
Me: "Let's get outside and go see it. Show them that you learned a fire drill. C'mon!"
Happy: [mouth hanging open] "There are the firemen!"
Me: "Boys! Get down!"
Lefty: "But they might leave before we get outside."

WHUCK?! We don't live in a hotel, dude. It'll take all of eight seconds to get outside. I finally had to grab one, bribe McGee to grab the other, and drag them outside. When we walked out, we had to attend remedial fire drill classes. In front of our neighbors.

Conclusion: We're improving? The first drill took us seventeen minutes to get out the door. The second - we never left. You know, because fires don't happen in bad weather. And the third took us eleven minutes, a terrible record by any standards.

At one point, the fireman asked Lefty why he didn't just go out the window since he was already standing on the bed. As it turned out, Lefty didn't have his parachute. It's a long way down from the first floor.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011


  1. You got rain?! I'm so jealous. Thanks for the giggle.

  2. I run an in home daycare, nothing is more fun than the mandatory monthly fire drills with 2 infants, 2 toddlers and 2 preschoolers all trying to line up and walk out of the house in an orderly fashion. Fun times. After 18 months and just as many fire drills, these children still manage to fail. =/

  3. You made my husband and I cry because we were laughing so hard......can't believe you got real firemen.......awesome!

  4. LOL! Love how their minds work! They'll get it. I'll hope your sanity is still intact hehe. So what did you bribe McGee with? ;)

  5. Stop, drop, roll, Wii. That's the order, right?


  6. I just might have a fire drill right now... We've been talking about where we meet if there was a fire... I wonder of my midgets actually know!? Good reminder! Thank you!

  7. two things. 1. someone needs to watch kindergarten cop- your kids will be whipped into shape after that. 2. the first time my sister had a fire drill at school, she ran ALL THE WAY HOME. i still laugh so hard i get tears in my eyes when i picture it.

  8. So I had my own fire drill this afternoon. I think if our house is ever really on fire, I should just conk my two on the head and drag their unconscious bodies out myself. Safer for everyone involved, honestly.

    Oh, and the dog? There's no hope, he's just a goner. Poor thing.

  9. Well, that's adorably frustrating isn't it?! Had myself a nice guffaw at what y'all had for dinner that one night. So, it's not just my house. Awesome!:D

  10. Ha Ha! I have no children, but I do have six (4 dogs,2 cats) pets and a bad habit of catching the kitchen on fire. After 3 kitchen fires in the past couple of years, we have it down pat. Matter of fact, if I am cooking and the smoke detector goes off, all six animals will race to the garage door immediately (from any place in the house) and bark to be let out. My beagle/basset mix will grab her favorite toy first, but she's still at the door in seconds. One time I was in the office when it went off, and one of the beagles went and chased me to the garage door! As soon as you open the door, they all race to the car and all I have to do is open a car door and all six will hop right in. This came in handy during Snowpocolypse 2008 when we had to be evacuated from our house in minutes during the middle of the night.I was able to grab clothes,kibble, and go within 5 minutes. So long story short...send your kids to my house and I'll get 'em trained well!

  11. We tried to set up family fire drills after a lovely little incident where a friend of mine was watching the kids so I could go to the store (after daddy & I split up). I was standing in the ketchup aisle when I got a call from Brinks telling me my fire alarm was going off and asking should they send the brigade?...umm, I am shopping? How is my alarm going off? OMG MY HOUSE IS ON FIRE!! I raced home to see a fire engine and ambulance in front of my house. I run up to find my 4 kids together (the youngest were 9 mths and 20 mths-I was petrified!) and my friend talking to a fireman, with the other firemen standing around...snickering? What was going on you might ask? Oh, it turns out my sweet, darling 7 yo daughter took such a very long and hot shower that the steam set off the fire alarm. WHUCK?! I have never been so embarassed, but yet grateful my city has a good response time! We still tease her about that when she goes to take showers. :)

  12. Kate, I'm confused: which kid is in charge of grabbing your shoe collection on the way out the door...?

  13. It can be done! It just takes a year or 2. My eldest has auditory processing issues. The smoke detector going off originally caused her to A. Hide in closet. B. Hide under bed. C. Stand in a corner screaming louder than the smoke detector with her hands over her ears. Wait that still happens except her feet now move to the nearest exit. Also the smoke detector nearest her room talks! 2 loud but not freak out beeps and then it says fire fire fire.

    Thank goodness for the fireman that got me hooked up with that smoke detector. I also let the kids go out a window ( we have no second floor) or door as long as they get to the tree before me. I did fire drills almost every day for 2 weeks. Multiple times a day, until they got out in under 2 min. Then once a month & now whenever I feel like it I can evacuate my kids but seriously it took a good year for me to get them to have pavlov's dog reaction, of smoke alarm = leave house.




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