After staying up until 2:30 a.m. because it's fall break and I can (and also because I had Starbucks yesterday afternoon with Loren and I became the Energizer bunny), I had a very rude awakening this morning at 6:45 when I heard a continuous beeping sound coming from far away. I'd slept in Nine's room last night since I went to bed so late and didn't want to wake Dan up. Nine was sleeping in his brother's room because, if you ask him, fall break is just one really long sleepover. Anyway, I heard this beeping, didn't know where it was coming from, and didn't know what it was.
In my groggy state, I stumbled out into the hallway, where the sound got a little louder. I kind of smelled a stale, vaguely smoky, gas heater-y kind of smell, but it didn't smell like raging house fire. I thought maybe the sound was coming from a carbon monoxide detector. Then I remembered we didn't have one of those anymore because the old one went on the fritz at our previous house and got thrown down on the concrete driveway and smashed repeatedly with a broomstick by someone with obvious anger management issues when it wouldn't Stop Making Noise. Ahem. Calm, soothing breaths. Okay, moving on...
So, then I kind of woke up the rest of the way and realized it must be a smoke detector and it must be coming from downstairs because I could barely hear it. Then I noticed that Dan was awake. Then the smoke detector in the hallway right outside the bedroom doors started going crazy. Two sleepy boys came tumbling out of Thirteen's room, dragging their feet and looking confused. I yelled for them to follow me downstairs, but they couldn't hear me because they were covering their ears to drown out all the beeping. I pulled them downstairs while Dan found a stepladder to reach the smoke detector and shut it up. I grabbed jackets for the boys and got them outside, then made the other detector in the laundry room stop beeping.
We figured out that it happened because this was the first time that our heater had ever been used, since we got the new air conditioner/heater combo back in June. There was probably some kind of protective covering or layer of dust over the heating element or in the ducts that burned off when it first cut on. At least, that's my scientific explanation.
Bottom line is, if this had been a real fire emergency, we'd all be toast. Between the whole parents-not-hearing-the-alarm-at-first, the kids-covering-the-ears-so-they-don't-hear-instructions, and the bypass-the-closest-exit-upstairs-and-go all-the-way-downstairs-where-there-might-actually-BE-a-fire, we sucked at fire safety. Epic fire drill fail.
The good news is, since this wasn't an actual fire and we didn't die from our stupidity, it gave us a good opportunity to talk about what we did wrong and how we should respond in a real emergency. When I taught preschool, we always did a lesson about fire safety in October because, in addition to being Breast Cancer Awareness month (didn't the football players look so cute in all their pink accessories Sunday?), October is also, you guessed it, Fire Safety Month.
When I taught Pre-K, Grace and I always taught the kids to "Stop, Drop, and Roll." I loved that I got paid to roll around on the floor with four- and five-year-olds. We taught them to feel a door to see if it's hot before they opened it. We showed them how to "Get Low and Get Out" to avoid smoke inhalation. We taught them to never go back into the house for anything--pets, toys, parents, etc.We told the kids to talk to their parents about an escape plan. We even had the Smyrna fire department come out with a fire truck to show the kids how it worked and what firefighters do. I always put in a special request for them to send the really H-O-T firefighters to our school, because anyone who spends several hours a day with little kids deserves a little eye candy to spice things up a bit.
But I realized this morning that my own children probably haven't heard any of that since they were preschoolers themselves. So we had a mini-lesson right there in our pajamas in the Man Cave. Nine had a million What If? questions, of course, and Thirteen was busy hatching all kinds of radical escape plans involving the use of Nerf guns to break windows that he would then crawl through and Spidey down the downspouts with an invincibility that is only possessed by teenage boys. Or forty-five-year-old worship pastors, but that's another story for another day. I seem to remember this lesson being easier to teach with preschoolers.
So, even though I was rudely awakened way too early, we all learned a valuable lesson. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go take a nap and dream about hot firefighters.