While I was literally writing my last blog post, this segment came on the Today Show about home smoke alarms failing to go off soon enough to alert you of a fire. Of course, there was a heartbreaking story in the segment about a mother who escaped a house fire, but whose four children died of smoke inhalation.
Their smoke alarms never went off.
I can personally attest to this. When I was in high school, we had a fire and our house nearly burned to the ground. I never once heard a smoke alarm. I woke up to kick off my blanket because it was so warm in my room, and only then noticed the smoke. At the exact same moment, my mom burst into my room to get me out of the house because our house was on fire. We escaped unharmed, but it could have been much, much worse.
THANK GOD my mom and I were the only ones home... I have four siblings who were at various other places that night. And I also thank God that my mom had fallen asleep on the couch in the living room that night, because otherwise, we easily both could have not made it. (My mom's room was in the basement, and if she had been down there, I
don't know that she would have ever known there was a fire until it was
too late.) The fire started in our kitchen -- they later determined the wiring behind our refrigerator had caught fire -- and my mom had been sleeping on the couch only feet away. She never heard the smoke alarm; it melted off the wall before it ever went off. Thankfully, she smelled the smoke and woke up in time to come check on me. But I still shudder to think of how much worse it could have been.
Since surviving our house fire, fire safety has been a huge thing for me. I make sure the batteries in our smoke alarms are working, even though I don't put as much faith in them as I used to. (I am seriously going to look into the photoelectric alarms mentioned in that Today Show piece.) I am so anal about making sure the stove and other heating elements (my straightener, etc.) are turned off when we are done using them. And I am so paranoid about other fire-prevention upkeep: keeping the dryer lint trap empty -- dryer lint buildup is a common cause of house fires -- and of course, making sure nothing gets stuck behind our refrigerator.
All of that said, please, just be aware that a fire really CAN happen in your home. I always like to think these things only happen to other people and it could never really happen to me, but sadly, I now know better. I just want to encourage everyone to do what you can to keep your family safe, should it happen to you!