This evening Shawn and James headed down to Anna for some manly bonding with some guy friends. Something about shooting guns and eating good food. About dark, I dressed for my run and was trying to decide whether to wait for Shawn to come home or head out. I stay close to home and run by the house several times, and Grace is pretty responsible and old enough to babysit. My only hesitation is that since it was dark, I wanted to take my phone with me and was reluctant to leave the kids without a phone. Ten minutes later I was infinitely thankful that I had not left the girls alone.
I began to smell smoke. Grace had just cooked a couple of pizzas in the oven, so I assumed she forgot to turn off the oven and crud on the burner was sizzling. Here in a minute the girls began screaming from my bedroom. Smoke was pouring from the air vents. I shut off the air conditioner and then did all the wrong, most stupid things you can do if you think your house is on fire.
1. I called Shawn to ask him if he wanted me to call the fire department or if he thought I should wait to see if the smoke cleared.
2. I threw open the doors to the closet where the air unit is to see if there were flames. HELLO!!!! What if there had been?
3. I still waited about dialing 911 because I was embarrassed that my house was smoking.
4. I wandered aimlessly around the house in the smoke to see if there was anything I needed to grab. Finally my logical brain kicked in, I realized how stupid I was being, and I walked out to wait on the fire department.
5. My children cleared to the front yard, came back in twice looking for me, and when I went outside I found them playing in the garage.
The fire department arrived and went into the house suited up. I was not panicked because I was pretty sure it was just the air. However, when a guy from the first truck came out and called for back-up I started to kind of freak out. At that moment I assumed my attic was on fire and the possibility of losing my stuff became a reality. I can honestly say that at that moment as God and I were talking about this, I really did say - with just a second of hesitation - "whatever God, it's just stuff. If this is part of your plan, okay."
Right after the other 2 firetrucks and other emergency vehicles arrived, Tammie Thompson came sprinting down my street. It was so awesome to see a familiar face. She took the kids to her car parked down the street. It was nice to know that if my house was on fire, I wasn't going to have to deal with it alone. After a few minutes, several of my neighbors also wandered out into the street. I had the opportunity to meet several of them for the first time.
It turned out to be the fan on the A.C. It was smoking and throwing sparks. Fortunately it threw off a lot of smoke to warn us that there was a problem. The fireman made sure everything was safe and brought in big fans to blow the smoke out. I appreciated their kindness in dealing with us. It is good to know that if there was a really big emergency, they have a pretty fast response time.
Tonight we are camping out in the playroom that has a separate air conditioner. I guess tomorrow we will be looking for an air guy. I'm just glad have my own house tonight.
So obviously some valuable lessons learned from this one.
*I will not EVER leave the kids home without a phone.
*I need to practice a firedrill with my children on a regular basis. Where do you go? Don't come back into the house, etc. - do some surprise drills also - so that in the real deal, they have the correct survival instincts - and establish a meeting place and remind them often so they are not waiting for me in the garage ever again.
*If I am ever in the situation again, I would exit immediately and call 911. The 10-15 minutes I spent trying to shut off the air unit and calling Shawn could have been the difference between keeping and losing my house. STUPID
*I stupidly started checking the source of the smoke before I made sure my children were in a safe location. I assumed they knew what to do. Make sure you take your children out and stay with them. Their safety is way more important than any crap you might lose in a fire.
On a positive note - It was huge for me to realize that I could have lost it all tonight and been okay. I sincerely prayed "it's just stuff." I say that often, but deep down I thought I was lots more attached to what I own. But tonight I was not concerned about all my junk. It is freeing to know that my stuff doesn't own me anymore. I would have been sad about my pictures, some family heirlooms, a few sentimental items like my Bible and some of the kid's stuff. It would certainly be hard to start over, but I wasn't panicked about the stuff. And that was cool. It was almost like I passed some sort of test.
On a funnier note - I kept thinking crazy stuff like, "I'm sure glad I washed the dishes," and "I hope the beds are made." Because these are the important things to be concerned about as firemen tromp through your house? Like any of that would matter if it was a real fire?
One last helpful hint - if your wife ever calls you to say the house is on fire, it's typically good protocol to eat your burger in the car as you are speeding home to your wife, instead of staying to finish it at the restaurant. But the cool part about Shawn's lack of panic is that his thought track was identical to mine, "It's just stuff." That is huge growth for both of us from this time a year ago.