Third grade is "The Year of Fire Safety". Or so it seems. At Reese's school they do an entire unit on it complete with homework, guest speakers, and videos. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great idea, but it also gave Reese one more thing to worry about. There have been a few middle of the night visits from her asking if we thought our house might catch fire that very night.
The first day of their Fire Safety unit coincided nicely with the day I decided to drag out our Fall decorations and light apple cider candles all over the house. She and her friend burst through the front door after school and took their task to "find fire hazards in their home" very seriously.
"Mom, that candle is too close to that little scarecrow!".
"The flame is getting bigger!".
"You're cooking in the kitchen but aren't staying in there?!".
Ok--pause--yes, I was cooking and no I wasn't in the kitchen at the time, but there's no way I am sitting in the kitchen for a 6-8 hour stretch while my crock pot is on.
"The outlet the crock pot is plugged into has too many other things plugged into it!".
"Where are all of our smoke detectors located?".
Um...er...I know there's one in the hallway?
Their message was already coming across loud and clear...we needed to become more vigilant about Fire Safety. The worksheets we had to do together drove that point home even more.
On one, Reese read the statements out loud and I had to say whether or not we practiced that at home. Statements about how often we change the batteries in our smoke alarms, whether or not we leave the room while a candle is burning, and if we had a family meeting place outside in care of a fire.
"Ok...so...if we don't do some of these (or a lot of these) is that going to affect your grade?" I asked her.
Thankfully, it didn't, because again, I am never in one room long enough to even warrant lighting a candle if I had to sit in there with it the whole time. Reese didn't hesitate to let us know when we were in violation of fire safety codes. And she went around the house moving all my candles if they were too close to any decorations that could catch fire.
If I put a pot of water on the stove to boil (back burner of course--I wouldn't dream of putting it on the *gasp* front burner), then ran upstairs for a second, she'd reprimand me. I may have rolled my eyes a time or two and she'd say, "Moooom! You have to be serious about this!".
We had our first family fire drill. Reese said we had to have a meeting place outside. "Ok, our driveway", I offered. She went on to explain that it had to be farther away from our burning house. "Ok, Tom's driveway", I suggested. (Our next door neighbor.) This satisfied her. But then the kids wanted to know if Tom would be mad that we were in his driveway. I love the way kids think. So simple and concrete. I assured them that no, Tom would in no way be upset we were using his driveway. He would be glad to help.
Reese reminded us that we had less than 2 minutes to get out of the house once a fire starts and we had to time our drill and write down how long it took us to get out. David sounded the alarm and we headed out the door. Reese was still on crutches, but she maneuvered herself out pretty quickly. We assembled in Tom's driveway and checked the stop watch. 53 seconds. Not bad for our first drill. As we stood there pleased with our evacuation process David said, "Awww...Molly and Mabel burned up"--the beagles. "And Pikachu" Tate added--his guinea pig. Rats. Totally forgot about them.
Over the next few nights, Reese was able to sleep all night and didn't wake us with any fire fears. An alarm on David's watch, however, kept going off at 6am and sounded eerily enough like the fire alarm to send whichever kid was in our bed at the time scrambling. Tate literally crawled over my face one morning in a mad dash to get out. Which started the morning off on a great foot for this already hater-of-mornings person.
The unit concluded with yet another worksheet to complete together. This time, telling about what fire safety practices we've initiated in the home as a result of this unit. "Hmmm...I moved all my candles to safer spots?" I suggested.
"No, Mom. You didn't." Reese corrected.
Truly, though, we are being more careful. There's something very sobering about looking each of your children in the eye and telling them if a fire breaks out in our home GET OUT! Do not wait for Mommy and Daddy. Go to the meeting place. Do not come back in looking for us. Very scary to think about. And very thankful this isn't an experience we've had to go through.