Friday 5 September 2014

How my daughter nearly died this morning - or why you should check your smoke alarm

Today has been the most stressful day for a long time. I was not looking forward to today. I was scheduled to address a conferance this morning and I had a lot of preparation to do prior to the event. So the plan was that we'd get up at 6.30am, walk the dogs and I'd get on the 7.37 train from Mill Hill Broadway to prepare.

I didn't sleep too well and I was awoken at 3am by my teenage daughter returning from a party, banging and crashing around the house. I was rather cross with her. All too soon the alarm clock woke us up at 6.30. As I'd played football last night, it was a real effort. Having dogs is a real commitment and so it wasn't much fun. Normally I enjoy walking the mutts when the weather is nice, but my calves ached and I felt cream crackered. We got home, had some breakfast and at 7.30 I was just about to leave when the smoke alarm sounded. My wife said "Go and change the batteries". I realised that this wasn't the low battery sound. I was a little confused. I ran upstairs to see. Reaching the landing, I was slightly confused as there was a smell of smoke, but no obvious source. I then noticed my daughters bedroom door was shut. I don't really like entering her room uninvited as she's 18, so I opened the doof gingerly. As I did, a huge waft of smoke hit me. So I burst in to see a scene of carnage. The chest of drawers in her room was ablaze with 2ft high flames licking up it. There were also candles all over the place. Realising that the situation was highly dangerous, I screamed at my daughter, who was completely zonked out, to wake up.

I then assessed what possible action could be taken. Realising the seriousness, I grabbed my daughters duvet and used this to smother the flames, calling Mrs T to bring up a bucked of water. Thankfully this action had the desired effect and we were able to extinguish the flames. Neighbours seeing the drama had called the fire brigade who turned up just as everything was sorted out. They quickly checked and confirmed the situation that all was ok. A chat with the fireman revealed that the tea lights my daughter had lit around her room, are a major cause of fires. He also noted that our smoke alarms were responsible for saving the day. In his opinion, they should be in every room in the house. He pointed out that by the time enough smoke escaped from daughters room to trigger them, the fire had taken hold. He estimated that we had approx 2 minutes more (based on scorch marks etc) before the fire would have been out of control. In short we were very lucky.

So please, whether you are my best friend or my biggest enemy, please do the following

1) Check your smoke alarms today
2) Don't leave candles/tea lights ablase when you go to sleep
3) Make sure your teenage kids who are living in digs have smoke alarms.

We were lucky. It scared the sh*t out of my daughter and I hope to God that a lesson has been learned. After all the fun died down, I just caught the 8.06 train and ended up giving my conference address with no prep at all and in a very stressed frame of mind. As it was, that went well.

I hope and pray that whatever your weekend has in store for you, you don't have to face what greeted me at 7.30 this morning. As I sat on the train into town, realised how close I'd come to losing my daughter and my home. It is a very sobering thought and puts many things in perspective.

And finally God Bless our firemen.


Unknown said...

I'm glad to hear your daughter is well. Must have been a pretty harrowing experience.

Thumbs up for the firefighters. I'll get some more alarms installed in our place after reading this.

Unknown said...

Blimey. What a chilling read. Quick thinking on your part with the duvet smothering technique. Thanks for sharing (made me wonder what I'd do, maybe panic??) and yes, god bless our firefighters.

What a relief to read that all's well, and that your daughter wasn't hurt, or worse.
She won't leave candles or tealights around again - a hard way to learn a lesson though.

Now you'll have to get rid of the lingering smell of smoke......