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Where there’s smoke… August 22, 2006

Posted by table4five in Family, personal thoughts.

This is how this morning was supposed to go:

I wake up around 6:15 am. My Dad’s girlfriend Jean drops him off at the hospital at 6:45 am. She then drives the five minutes to my house to spend the day watching my kids. I am showered, dressed, have my bag packed and am ready to go. I kiss my husband and kids goodbye, and leave.

This is how today actually went:

6:40 am “Shit! Chris! We overslept, Jean will be here in 20 minutes! Shit!”

6:45 am “Shit, I forgot to make formula last night and the pitcher is empty. I’m putting water on to boil and hopping in the shower.”

7:00 am “Shit, is Jean here already? I’m not even dressed. Why is the dog barking like that?”



7:00.3 am


Apparently I have not given myself enough reasons to believe that I might need a new antidepressant this week.

Don’t ask me why I didn’t hear the smoke detector going off. Just don’t.

It wasn’t the saucepan boiling dry, it was the coffeemaker which was sitting on the stove next to the pan. The glass cooktop surface gets very hot, and the plastic started melting and then whooooosh. Chris said there were flames shooting up around the coffeemaker. FLAMES. Edited to add: As if I don’t already feel like enough of a dumbass, it turns out that what I actually did is turn the BACK burner on, the one the coffeemaker was sitting on, and not the FRONT burner under the saucepan. And I turned it on High to get the water boiling. I still can’t wrap my head around just how lucky I was that the kitchen curtains or cabinets didn’t ignite.

Not wishing to subject my loved ones to spending the day in a house that smelled like burned plastic, we had to quickly throw together everything three children would need to spend the day at a different house, including:

A fully stocked diaper bag, a can of formula, four clean bottles, a bib, a baby spoon, two jars of food, the Pack-n-Play, a change of clothes, toys, more toys, books and DVDs, snacks, toys, toys, and toys. Jean and the kids spent the day hanging out at my Dad’s house (more room than Jean’s), and the dog spent the day hanging out in our backyard with access to the garage if needed for shade. According to the neighbor kid, he whined a lot.

The dog, who I have been bitching about for weeks because he barks all the damn time? SAVED OUR FUCKING LIVES TODAY. He can bark all he wants, and have cooked chicken breast for dinner tomorrow night. And sleep on my bed.

You can never have too many conversations with your children and loved ones about what to do if there is a fire in your house. You must discuss all possibilities-what to do if the fire is right outside their bedroom, what to do if they are up watching cartoons and smell smoke and Mom and Dad are still sleeping, whether or not to worry about saving the dog, cat, XBox or Bionicles (NO), whether or not to go back into the house because they can’t find Mom or Dad (NO), whether or not to try to carry the baby out of the house (NO, unless Mom and Dad are obviously unconscious). Man, there is just no way that is not going to be a hell of a conversation to have during dinner.

Please, for the love of God or whomever you find holy, check every smoke detector in your house RIGHT NOW. Drive to Home Depot and buy a small fire extinguisher for your kitchen. And whatever you do, do NOT, I repeat NOT, store your plastic coffeemaker on your glass cooktop stove, just because you’re too lazy to find another place to store the toaster.

This morning could have been a very, very, VERY bad day for me and my family, in more ways than one. Tomorrow, I’m refilling the Wellbutrin XL.

edited to add: Javajabber’s comment reminded me of something else that you need to discuss during the what to do in a fire conversation-HOW to get out. We live in a Ranch-style house, so we told the boys to climb on the dresser and kick out the screen in the window if they can’t get out of their room. If you live in a two-story house, you can buy fire ladders that hook on to the windows to climb down. Practice doing this.



1. javajabber - August 23, 2006


How horrible it could have been if people weren’t milling around already to notice what was happening and you were in the shower!

Thank God everyone was okay.

There’s nothing worse than the smell of burnt plastic. It totally makes me want to vomit.

And here’s another item people should seriously consider purchasing in case of a fire (and you have a two-story house, of course) … a ladder. You know the kind I mean, they hang outside a second story window. We had one for our townhome. And we made the kids practice how to go down it without falling off and hurting themselves.

Absolutely essential. I forgot where we bought ours (it’s 6:19 am and I’m only on my first cup of coffee for crying out loud). But I’m sure it can be found online.

Again, am glad to hear everyone is ok.

2. tori - August 23, 2006

I am so glad everyone is safe! I am going to go order a ladder for my second story bedrooms right now! Yikes! How scary that must have been!

3. Arabella - August 23, 2006

Whoa! Glad everyone is ok.

Dogs are amazing; my childhood dog once barked when a fire erupted on the stove, too!

4. chris - August 23, 2006

OMG, how awful.

these are conversation that we need to have with our children over and over again. because they forget

And yes I agree do not store anything on your stove top.

so glad you are all okay.

5. Mir - August 23, 2006

Good lord. I’m so glad you’re all okay. The “what if”s after something like this can give you nightmares.

6. Mike - August 23, 2006

Happy to hear that you’re all safe.

Sad to see a coffee maker perish. 😦

7. Dawn - August 23, 2006

Holy shit.

I mean that. Holy shit.

8. Mom101 - August 23, 2006

I”m so glad everything is okay! Good dog. Goooooooood dog. Extra meat for the dog tonight, I say.

9. Fraulein N - August 23, 2006

Oh, that’s so scary. It sounds odd to say, but you are so very lucky. I’m glad no one was hurt. Give the dog an extra piece of chicken for me.

10. joypalmer - August 23, 2006

Yikester! All advice here duly noted. We’ve been really remiss on this one (gulp).

So glad it was ok, and hoe you get to come down to earth a little soon.

11. joy - August 23, 2006

whoops–that was me above (now outing myself to world–like, who cares?) was not logged out of wordpress.

12. mamatulip - August 23, 2006

Holy fucking shit. I am so glad you’re all okay.

Not the best way to start your morning.

13. Amy - August 23, 2006

That IS a bad day. How scary! I’m glad everybody’s okay.

14. TB - August 23, 2006

Jesus, as if you needed more stress right now.

15. mothergoosemouse - August 23, 2006

That is terribly scary. I’m so glad that nobody was hurt. Did Chris use a fire extinguisher on the flames? I think I may need to go buy a couple of them – no reason NOT to have one on hand.

Three cheers for your yappy dog!

16. theotherbear - August 23, 2006

How lucky this turned out the way it did. You’ve made me think – I have the smoke alarms and fire extinguisher. However I’m now worried about getting stuck upstairs. I could buy one of those ladders but there are bars on our windows, even the upstairs ones…

17. Suebob - August 23, 2006

Scary. I’m glad you are all ok. Good doggie!

18. Lanna - August 24, 2006

Geez, talk about excitement. Glad you’re all okay.
Do you need to get a new stovetop though?

Yup, check smoke alarms, CO detectors and fire extinguishers on Daylight Savings days or something like that.
(We do, have smoke alarms in 3 places in the house, CO detectors by the wood stoves and furnace and a fire extinguisher mounted by the upstairs wood stove and another out in the garage – our insurance agent loves us).

19. Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah - August 24, 2006


I’m glad you are okay!

Note to self: Get a dog.

20. Nancy - August 24, 2006

Holy crap. Oh my gosh, I am so glad that you are all OK — but how scary that is.

I am going to make sure that all of the smoke detectors are current, that we know where all the extinguishers are, and maybe even order a couple of those escape ladders. You would think having that house fire so close would have hit me — but this time I *got it.*

Please give my love to your dog.

21. roo - August 25, 2006

Oh, Elizabeth! What a sucky morning you had! I’m so sorry– that must have been terrifying. I’m so glad no one was hurt.

That sounds like something I might have done if I hadn’t been sleeping well– I make bad decisions when I’m tired.

Also: Good doggie! And thanks for the tips.

22. Mommy off the Record - August 25, 2006

OMG, Elizabeth! I am so glad that you are all OK and the house didn’t catch fire. It could have happened to anyone so don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re all alive and well and that’s what matters!

And thanks for the reminder on checking the smoke alarms.

23. Heidi - August 25, 2006

My goodness, that coffee pot is spent! I am so glad that everyone is ok.

24. gidge - August 26, 2006

I think that this is why I’ve always been afraid of those fancy stoves. I love the smooth, sleek way they look. But I know that I am just addle brained enough to make this mistake or some other, potentially FATAL mistake and kill off the whole family.

It seems like something I would do on my way out the door to work.

25. catherine - August 27, 2006

That picture makes my heart hurt for you. Eesh!! Mr. Dog is my new hero!!

26. gwendomama - August 28, 2006

and can i have a vey!

sheeeeeit elizabeth…i am soooo glad everyone is greatandfine, we have that same damn stove and yes – easy to do.
if it makes you feel any better at all, once i turned on the gas burner at my brother’s house to cook an egg. i turned around to find that i had set an errant pile of mail AFLAME by turning on – umm – the wrong burner! only a few christmas cards were ruined, one check singed (phew)! who puts mail on their stove burners? someone in their chaotic 4kid household! but every damn christmas i come back to PA…same story. i will never live this down.

27. ryncjrhiwe - December 6, 2006


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