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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fire PSA and Warning

It's no secret that we here in the Midwest got a whole boatload of snow, everywhere, containing and followed by a whole lot of wind that created a bunch of really interesting drifts.

For the most part, the snow has been moved out of the way by the City or County or State (depending on where you live) but the government is not responsible for your own personal property.

I can't even COUNT the number of houses I have passed on residential streets in my last two weeks of travel about the Twin Cities in Minnesota, that have front doors blocked by those original drifts.

Look, Homeowners, I know what you're thinking:

You only shoveled your garage door or your ailing/elderly/young single mother's driveway because it's all you/they use and is critical to you/them.  I'm the same way...most of my coming and going is through my garage door, or, well, if I had a house with an unattached garage, I'd be using the door off the driveway.

Very few people actually USE their front doors, and as such, that door in a single family home is usually very neglected.

You're risking your life and the lives of your entire family to ignore that door.

Imagine This:

One night you wake up to the sound of your intact smoke alarms, and slowly, you realize the acrid scent being registered in your nostrils, tastebuds, and throat belongs to an actual fire in your castle.

You realize that the fire is coming from a burner left on in the kitchen, and while you don't recall leaving that burner on, nor does your husband/wife or children, there it was, and it has alighted some oil that was not cleaned off the stove, and that heat caught a picture on fire - one your daughter gave you tonight which you planned to hang on the refrigerator in the morning.

Instead, that picture acted as a wick and transferred the rapid oxidation to the curtains over the sink, which set the boxes intended for the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal alight...and their contents...and spread to the other curtains on the other kitchen window, the door, and the rug you purchased in Africa on your honeymoon.

That same fire sends a spark and alights your Christmas tree, blocking your exit through the garage door and/or side door while it sets the other continuous decorations alight.

Your only way out is the front door, and you go about waking and herding your family towards the front door - the only exit.

Yet when you get there, you are faced with a mountain of snow you never bothered to shovel, even though that storm was 2 weeks ago almost to the day, and it's completely blocking the door. You can toss your newborn out through the crack, but is that a GOOD idea when he sinks through the snow and then the heat from the house causes the tip of the drift to collapse upon him, covering him in an avalanche?

In the meantime...

The Fire Department arrives and approaches your house, watching as they hook up the Engine to the closest hydrant, which they have to take several minutes to locate and then dig out since neither you nor your neighbors did so.

It takes them awhile to do this, even as they try to lay a tank line to the most accessible door, including the consideration of the most likely place for survivors.  They look at the side door and lay a line there, but realize that if they open that door, they might actually directly cause the deaths of anyone inside, and of course, can't actually ENTER they look to the front door...which is covered by snow.

They can't hear the cries of the baby you tossed beneath the roar of the consuming fire. They don't know he's there no matter how loudly you scream because they can't hear you either, between the fire, the engines, their turnout gear and the sound of air from their tanks.

Realizing they have no entrance from the plowed area, they try to access the blocked front door,  and the windows...but they can't get there through the drifts and the powerful hose really just turns snow into powerful waves of ice in your front lawn, forming bars against your house while you kneel on the floor, pounding against what you thought was an exit, sinking further and further, trying to protect your children from the encroaching smoke and heat.

You gasp your last breaths as you watch the pulsating blue and red lights glow through the drift you didn't bother to shovel, and that's where you realize your children are now too late to save.

Across the Street

Mr. Neighbor a la Snowblower stands, in shock, watching the Fire Department try to access your home. He's the one who happened to be awake and called at 1:00 am, and he's the same guy you spoke with regarding the snowdrift blocking your front door. He has one to match, because neither of you thought it important since neither of you has EVER used the front door of your home but for an occasional formal event.

Yet Mr. Neighbor stands there, horrified, witnessing this sin of omission as the Fire Department labors through your front lawn to get to a door, a window, and the newborn encapsulated in a drift that should never have been present.

He watches the Fire Department labor through the stuff he could have eliminated, and watches you and your dead family being brought on stretchers through the snow, just as the light comes into the sky, and gives his testimony to the police and to the NEWS...all for want of a little flat tool that would have prevented that mass-family funeral he will attend  a couple days after Christmas.

And none of your family or friends will remember Christmas the same way again, for instead of the birth of Christ, they will remember the drift of snow over the doorway to life and they will forever recall your absence...your stupid, stupid absence.



Anonymous said...

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God Bless You :-)


Adoro said...

The Old Geezer ~ Hello and welcome - I apologize for my delay in responding to you.

God bless you and Merry Christmas!