02 February 2009

As Requested By Marmot Dad

Tonight the little girl marmots were playing a game that involved their ponies being sucked down into whirlpools, which prompted Marmot Dad to confess that the fear of whirlpools weighed heavily on his mind as a child, causing my sister to pipe up that she (a child raised in the woods of Kentucky) had grown up terrified of quicksand. She demonstrated for us how she practiced throwing her arms out and leaning forward to save herself in case she found herself pulled into quicksand while wandering in the woods.

When I was in elementary school, I was sure my house would be consumed by fire. A friendly firefighter visited my elementary school and apprised the entire third grade of the dangers of being caught in a house fire without a plan. He instructed us that we needed metal ladders near our upstairs windows and fire extinguishers in our closets and a family emergency plan and meeting spot to be agreed upon now, before our homes were all burned to the ground. I took these warnings to heart and sat my mother down to inform her that we were ill-prepared for the great disaster that would surely befall us one day. We had no ladders. We had no fire extinguisher. We had no family meeting spot. What was she going to do about it? She suggested that we perhaps meet at the neighbors' house across the street. She went back to reading her book. She seemed unimpressed with the potential calamity awaiting us.

Fortunately for the family, I was prepared to step up and save us in case of a fire. I spent almost every night of the third grade lying in bed considering escape routes from our house in the event of a fire. I was most concerned with our pets. I figured the cat was smart enough to get out on her own, and the dog would be wherever my mom was. He was heavy, but I was pretty sure we could get him thrown out a bedroom window. His legs would break, but he'd heal okay and not be left in a burning house. We had two fish, though, and the fish were a problem. My brother won the fish somewhere and brought them home for me to raise. I disliked them. Fish are creepy. Fish do not contribute anything to a home. Once I dropped one of the fish into some shag carpeting and had to scoop him up with a sugar bowl, which is really hard, and which did not increase my affection for the icky, prehistoric pet. Still, I was the caretaker of the fish and I felt responsible for them, so I was working on a fire escape plan for them, too. If I left them in the house, they would boil in their bowl, but if I threw them out the window, they'd lie in the dirt sucking air. Which death was more humane? I finally decided that neither was acceptable and I'd have to rush into the bathroom and flush them, wishing them well in the sewage system and hoping they made it into fresh water one day.

It's been a long time since I've thought about fire safety. Max and Sasha are going to have to fend for themselves if we have a fire here. I have no plan.


Sean said...

When I was little, my parents invited a fire safety expert to come give us a presentation in our home. Only it turned out he was less of an "expert" and more of a "salesman who wanted to terrify us into buying his company's brand of carbon monoxide sensor/alarm," which he did by presenting horrifying facts, figures, anecdotes and illustrations.

For years afterwards I was convinced our house would catch fire in the night and I would sit up in bed only to have my lungs burned instantly to a cinder by the superheated air that was filling the room because I had stupidly left my bedroom door open OMG!!!! My parents were less impressed and did not buy his product.

Moo said...

I always planned on jumping out the higher window in my bedroom, as the other window had a window well under it, which I was afraid that I would fall into and break my leg and not be able to get out of it. I did have the ICI sticker on my window, so that the firemen would know where to come to rescue me.

Amy said...

I was likewise terrified of burning to death in the night. And I worried about how I'd rescue baby Caitlin. One Christmas my dad gave me a fire-escape ladder that I could store under my bed. Best gift ever.

MBC said...

Ahhh, I knew I was not alone in my childhood traumas.

Maren said...

My family actually discussed our escape plan when I was growing up. But they failed to purchase the ladders. My dad informed me we would have to jump from our upstairs windows. I said, "we might break our legs." He just told me that would be better than burning to death. This was not good enough for me.
Instead, I decided one day that my little brother and I should practice climbing out our windows and jumping to see if we could indeed survive the fall in good enough shape to crawl to our rendezvous point. Somehow Randy agreed, and we both made it out on to the window ledge OK. However, it took us a half hour to talk ourselves into actually jumping to the lawn below. We finally did it - and surprisingly we survived without injury. I slept better at night, but my mom was not too thrilled to hear about our experiment.

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