February 15, 2005

Fire Safety Already!

My poor kid has been indoctrinated into the fire safety honor society, I swear.

Let me just disclaim here--a popular activity among bloggers--that I believe highly in fire safety. Fire is no joking matter. Fire is hot. It burns. It kills. It is nothing to laugh about. I am glad my child has spent the last THREE MONTHS in school receiving weekly fire safety lessons from the local fire crew, because, again, fire (as in my house is on!) is bad.

But then, so are my kid's phobias.

You see, I knew the fire safety thing had been bothering her. Little hints gave it away. The yelps from her room, for instance: "MOM! What was that beep!? Was that the smoke alarm!?" Jenny Penny. The sky ain't falling. She eyes the smoke detector on her way out of the house, into the house, and sometimes in between. She doesn't trust it even though she's seen George change the batteries.

But now that the unit on fire safety is almost complete, and the entire first grade has been appropriately traumatized, Jenna gave me some lessons this evening on what to do in the event of a fire.

Not only do they teach "stop drop and roll" these days, but they add instructions for those of us who might roll into various items during our rolling: if you roll into an object, turn and roll some more.

Jenna demonstrated the technique tonight, rolling alternatively into the dresser, the bed, and the rocking chair. I thought I'd have to take her to the ER not for burns, but for a broken arm caused by a flawed rolling technique. Imagine explaining that one. Yah, fire safety.

I also learned that she's selected a meeting spot for our family in the event of a house fire.

The first spot she picked was the rose bush, which is approximately 14 inches from the house. I suggested something a little further from the source of flames and flying embers. She said she'd considered the mail box, but then thought better of it since it is on the road and we might get hit by a car.

I pondered the irony of that scenario.

We settled on the stump where our willow tree used to be. This is typical southern location language--we often mark geographic landmarks by what "used to be" there.

So, after agreeing to meet where the tree used to be, she gave me a demonstration on how we should leave the house, crawling, one after the other. Daddy first, then her, then me. I pictured our large bodies slithering our way down the stairs and thought about how long that could take--10 minutes? 12?

Long enough to burn like a match.

I suggested, alternatively, that we run like hell.

Jenna explained that if there was smoke, no running. It's slither only. She wasn't negotiating that point.

I thought once again about home schooling.

Then she told me how leaving the house would work.

1) Mommy, you go outside and go to Jack's to call 911.

2) Next I'll go out and wait where the tree used to be.

3) When daddy comes out, he'll say, 'Have you seen mama!?' and I'll say, 'Yes, she's gone to the neighbor's to call 911."

I corrected her:


I demonstrate:

"FIRE! FIRE! WHERE'S MY BABY!?" I run into her bedroom from mine, grab her blanket which I pretend is her, and rush past the real jenna who's standing in the hallway giggling, toward the front door in a flash that lasts about 1.2 seconds.

She's still laughing.

She did learn other important lessons I hadn't thought of. For instance, parents, we need to show our young children how to open their bedroom windows so that they can scream for help in the event of a fire. And so that they can sneak out when they're 15.

Apparently, we also must remember NOT to put a tramploline under their bedroom windows. According to the fire chief, this almost never works out well.

So remember, class, stop, drop, roll, and as always, if you roll into something, turn and roll some more.

That's all for this evening's first-grade fire safety lesson.