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But That Could Never Happen To Me!

Did you know the American Red Cross responds to a disaster every eight minutes and the majority of those responses are home fires? I know what you’re thinking:

“Well, that could never happen to me.”

I know you all too well, my friend. But actually, it can happen and I recently had my first home fire experience.

Imagine cooking dinner in your nine-floor brick apartment in Washington, DC. Sautéing this, flipping that, and smelling the sweet, wonderful aromas of… gas? Then the fire alarm suddenly starts ringing and panic starts to set in – did my crazy good cooking skills start this fire?

Readers, I ask you this – without even thinking, what would be your first reaction? Would you:

A. Turn the stove off and run out the door.

B. Leave the stove on, there’s a fire make a run for it!

C. Grab your phone, tweet about the incident (this selfie is too good to pass up, #firedrill) and then run out the door.

Obviously I’m expecting none of you to pick “C.” If you did, better brush up on those fire safety skills. “B” don’t leave on your stove, what if this was a fire drill and you just left that on to start a real fire? I did “A.” If I’m being really honest, I’m known to be an accident waiting to happen and the possibility that I started a fire while cooking was highly plausible. Therefore, after quickly assessing my surroundings for a fire, I turned the stove off and ran out the door.

Okay, so I passed the first test. Next, I briskly and calmly walked to the stairs which were overcrowded with people. This is normal for a fire drill, right? Still in denial that this could actually be a fire. Turn the corner to the next flight down and lo and behold there’s a fireman hooking the fire hose up for water.

Readers, do you:

A. Keep your cool, this is no time to panic. It’s time to get out of the building.

B. Push everyone aside as you make a run for it. This is a fire people – MOVE IT OR LOSE IT!

C. Grab your phone and tweet about seeing a fireman in action (this is for real, I can’t not document this. #notafiredrill).

“C” pickers are you still here? No tweeting, put that phone away! Chooser number “B,” slow your roll. I did “A.” I kept my cool and kept moving down the stairs to get outside because panicking doesn’t help anyone, not even yourself.

Passed test number two. Now, we’re outside the building at a safe distance, gazing up at our apartment building wondering if everyone is okay and where this apparent fire was. All the sudden, I see smoke coming out of an apartment complex and firemen doing an excellent job of putting out a fire. Then I count up one floor and oh look! My apartment is the one right above the apartment on fire. No wonder I thought I started the fire because it was right below my feet.

Fast forward to today and all is well at Hillary’s humble abode. In the afterthought of what happened, I brushed up my fire safety knowledge and skills because things could have been a lot different. For instance, what if I was unable to use the nearest stairwell to my apartment? I can’t jump out the window because I’m too high up, there’s no fire escape… where’s my second evacuation route?

So in light of my experience, are you still thinking a fire couldn’t happen to you? It’s okay if you are, but do yourself a wonderful favor and at least make sure you know your fire safety As, Bs, and Cs.