You are going to find this strange, but my brother and I had a real/love hate relationship when I was pushing pre-teen and he became a teenager. I know, your jaws are all on the ground... ha-ha-ha! Although, I will tell you until this day that I was the well behaved baby sister, he would claim otherwise.

One evening, our mom was working late, our dad was at his weekly Volunteer Fire Department meeting and my brother was left in charge of me. I am not sure what we were arguing over but I do know that my brother ended up locking me downstairs. Although it was an unfinished basement, we had a play area and a TV setup with a couch. I wasn’t too worried about waiting for our parents to come home as I envisioned his year-long grounding and my retribution. That played through my head as I walked down the stairs until the smell of smoke filled my nose and realized our basement was full of smoke. Panicked, I ran back up the stairs and screamed for my brother to open the door. At first he must have thought I was lying and refused to open the door. With the second plea he must have heard the fear in my voice so he opened the door, ran downstairs to check out the situation and called 9-1-1 after ushering me and our pets outside. Quickly my dad’s fire meeting turned into a real fire call to his home.

After the excitement settled down and the situation was assessed, it was discovered we had a chimney fire in our wood burning stove and no smoke detector in the basement of our home. When our house was built in 1977, my dad was assured that he was putting in the best heat and smoke detector available. The following day, my dad immediately put battery operated smoke detectors throughout the house including the basement. He also taught me how to pick the house locks with a wire hanger, just in case I was “locked” somewhere again. We began a regular check to ensure the detectors were still working and replaced the batteries every year in October during Fire Prevention Month. If you did not have a chance to check your detectors last month, be sure to take care of it in November during Child Safety Prevention Month.

Thank goodness my family’s wake-up call wasn’t because of a tragic event. I think my parents would almost say they were glad my brother and I were fighting for once, too. If it can happen to a fire fighter and his family, it can happen to anyone. Please make sure you have a smoke detector in every room a child will spend time in and at the top of the stairs well. Make sure that you are testing each detector monthly and changing the batteries on a regular basis.

You may never have need of a smoke detector, but what if you do?

To find out more about smoke detectors, including maintenance and safety messages visit, the National Fire Prevention Association here.

For our history buffs, head over to the Los Angeles Fire Department’s website called “My Smoke Alarm” here and find out how the smoke detector has evolved through the ages.


Tags: Child Safety Prevention Month , fire drill , smoke detectors

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