You hear people say, “My husband saved me.” Or “my wife saved me.” People usually mean it figuratively. I’ve said this many times about Chris over the past 8 years but in the wee hours of Saturday, July 12th, he literally saved my life and probably Daniel’s too. Chris by nature is very cautious, so when we shot out of bed at 5:15am to what sounded like a bomb going off in our backyard, I was not surprised that he was half dressed and demanding that we, “get out of the house!” by the time I was rolling out of bed, grabbing my cell phone and attempting to put his mind at ease by saying, “oh we are fine, we just lost power.” Our house was pitch black so it did not take us long to realize that our house had been hit by lightning. I was using my phone as a flashlight, only half awake, while my always-clear-minded hubby was already popping the garage doors to open them manually. As all of us moms know, with the loss of power comes the loss of baby monitor functionality so my first order of business was to check on our 17 month old, Daniel, to make sure the loud boom did not wake him up. This was truly my main concern! “How DARE the lightning strike our house and make noise! Does it not realize we have a sleeping child?!” I wandered into his room and by some miracle, he had slept through the gigantic noise, which of course made me proud! Never wake a sleeping child. So, I left Daniel in his crib and found Chris in the garage manually opening the doors. He was still insisting that “we need to get out of the house.” And he informed me that he was calling 911. At this point, I noticed that we were the only ones in the neighborhood without power and for the first time I felt uneasy. I decided to check on Daniel again. As I reached his door the smoke detectors started screeching. I entered his room and I smelled it. Smoke. Our little cutie was no longer sleeping but he was standing up in his bed waiting to be rescued. I could hardly see anything, but I grabbed him and made my way towards the garage door. At the same time, Chris started our car and the headlights hit my feet. Smoke was pooling at my feet and panic officially set it. I hardly even remember doing it, but we quickly loaded Daniel and our dogs up in our cars and left our house. I remember my fingers shaking as I buckled Daniel’s car seat and I remember sobbing as we pulled away from our house, not knowing when we would be back or even if we would be back.
The fire fighters came wailing only a few minutes after calling 911. I cannot say enough about the Tiffin and Oxford firemen. Both departments are volunteer departments. They volunteer to come to our houses and save our homes, pets and our lives. These brave souls saved our house and did so in a caring and genuine manner. They apologized over and over for the mess, but I was just thankful that when it was all said and done, our house was still standing. It ended up that the fire was in the ceiling of our basement office. The basement office ceiling also happens to be the floor of Daniel’s room. When I think of what could have happened, it terrifies me. The fire was right under his room. And I initially left him there. Never wake a sleeping baby. I feel like that is pounded into our heads. So much so that I made what could’ve been a fatal mistake and left him in his bed while a fire was brewing right below him. I am here to tell you to wake up your kids! Get them out of the house. Even if you think your husband is overreacting. Your children will forgive you for waking them up, but you will never be able to forgive yourself if you don’t and something happens. I can hardly forgive myself for not taking Daniel the first time I went in there and he was unharmed. I know this, now, which is why I am hoping to spread my knowledge to other mamas.
Since the fire, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the split-second decisions we made and how much better prepared we could’ve been if we’d had some sort of emergency plan in place. Here are some tips that we will use now and we feel it’s beneficial to share them:
- Have a safety house nearby: Have a house that everyone in your family knows is where you should go in case of an emergency. Ours is now our friends’ house. They live two doors down and when Daniel is old enough, he will know that if anything happens to me or his Dad, he can go there for help. If we have another fire, blackout, etc., that is where we all go. Our safety house is even on the same side of the street as our house which means kiddos won’t even have to cross the street!
- Have a grab and go bag: Remember the bag you had packed for the hospital when expecting your bundle of joy? This is the same idea. Our bag will have a set of clothes (don’t forget socks and underwear) for each member of the family, phone chargers and some cash.
- Keep your wallet in an accessible place, and if you are able, grab it before evacuating: There were things we had to purchase right away-a new baby monitor (the lightning blew it out of the wall!), food, toys, sippy cups and bottles (did you know that smoke is impossible to get out of plastic? Serve Pro immediately told us to throw away any plastic Daniel drinks or eats out of. Who knew?) Without a credit or debit card purchasing needed items could be difficult.
- Springing forward and falling back is not just for time changes: Use these dates to also change the batteries in all of your smoke detectors. We lost power which means our battery backups took over. Had the batteries not worked, we would not have been alerted of the fire that was brewing.
Even though this was probably the single most terrifying experience in my 32 years of life, it could’ve been so much worse. 12 hours earlier and we would not have been home. The firemen said if we hadn’t been there to call them right away our house would’ve been flaming. 8 hours later and my husband would’ve been long gone on a work trip leaving me to save our baby and four pets by myself…and probably doing it too late as I clearly was not in tune with how serious of a situation we’d found ourselves in. I still have my baby, my husband, my two dogs and my two cats. There is insurance for everything else. Our house will be put back together piece by piece and we will eventually be allowed to move back in. I am thankful for what we have learned from this experience and even more thankful for the opportunity to spread the knowledge.
**Special thanks to our Guest Blogger, Katie Moorhead, for sharing her story with us today!