Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Two Under Two: In Case of Emergency

If you're like most parents, you probably made sure you had smoke detectors, a fire extinguisher, and other safety features around your house before you brought home your first child. But, did you revisit any of that before bringing home your second child? I didn't. I guess I didn't think safety would be much more different with more kids in the house. But, I soon found out I was wrong.

On November 17th, when AJ was just nine days old we had an emergency situation that caused us to leave our house in the middle of the night. By the grace of God we were all safe, and although no one ever wants to think of worst case scenarios, our situation could have been horribly worse.

It was an uneventful Wednesday night. Ro was home and my best friend was staying with us for the night from out of town. AJ was having some stomach problems so I found myself sitting in the recliner from 9pm onward trying to help her through the pain and hoping she'd sleep. But at nearly 11:30pm I realized that the air coming out of the vent was no longer warm but actually cold. And since it was around 40 degrees outside, the cold air was uncomfortable. I woke Ro and asked him to turn the heat off until we could figure out the problem.

He left the room and a few minutes later still hadn't returned. All of a sudden the power in the whole house went out. Hoping Ro knew what was going on, I called out to him. He responded that something had happened to the computer and he turned off the power. I walked toward where he was in the center of the house as he switched the main breaker back on. I quickly saw that several lights and an outdoor fan were surging dramatically and called for him to turn the power back off.

Standing in the hall outside Mogi's room with AJ in my arms, I was overcome by the need to get out of the house and protect the safety of our kids. I said, "something isn't right, we need to get out of the house." The moment I said those words I immediately heard fire truck's sirens on our street. The Mama Bear in me yelled to my best friend to get Mogi out of bed and get out of the house. And as we stepped out of the house we saw that the next door neighbor's house was on fire.

After we sought safety on another neighbor's front porch, I realized that my purse and keys were still in the house, along with AJ's car seat. Ro went back into the house, which still had the power off, and retrieved those items and we headed across town to my parent's home to get out of the cold and get the kids to bed.

I don't know if it comes across the page as a dramatic event, but it was very dramatic and a bit scary. We eventually found out that we had experienced a power surge that did damage to some appliances in our home and that the neighbor's home sustained extensive damage when a fire started at the meter box. It's a pure miracle that Ro was in the right place at the right time and saw our computer begin to surge and throw sparks or we could have had a worse fate.

But, all this got me thinking about safety. What if I had been home alone with my two kids? How would I have gotten them out of the house? Newborn babies are "floppy" and often require both hands to carry. And thirty pound 18 month toddlers do not move quickly when you need them too and certainly not in the middle of the night. I knew that I couldn't carry them both in my arms at the same time. I needed a plan.

Do you have an evacuation plan? Have you thought about it recently and included any new family members?

Well, mine's not fancy, but I have a plan in my head for what I'll do if I have to get both kids out of the house in an emergency.

At the time of our "evacuation" I had AJ's car seat in the kitchen on a chair so she could sit up at table level. Nice idea, but a difficult place to extract it from in a hurry. So, I now keep it right by the front door at all times.

I also make sure that my purse is in a certain place, especially at night, so I can grab it without thinking, and I keep my keys attached to the purse so they don't get carried off by a curious toddler without me knowing!

Both kids sleep in blanket sleepers, like Halo SleepSacks, so I don't have to worry about them being warm enough if it was cold outside, but if I did I would keep jackets and shoes in a bag by the door. And if you or your kids need medicines that would be hard to replace immediately, do you keep it in a place where it would go with you?

Well, I know this isn't an exciting post or a very happy topic, but I just felt the need to share. And I hope you'll be better prepared for an unforeseen event that I was...


  1. Good post! Scary story though! PTL you were up! I might order a fire extinguisher right now. We have moved since our first so I know I'm not prepared w/ two. Thanks for prompting me!

  2. ugh...the memory of that night is still so scary and unreal. no kids for me to worry about obviously, but even a single girl has stuff to worry about when running out of the house in an emergency. and having that experience makes you realize what is actually important in an emergency.

  3. such very important points that you brought up...please, everyone thing about these things ahead of time for safeties sake.