Unplanned Emergency Drill

If it’s unplanned, some people might call it an “actual” emergency but no one died so I’d like to refer to it as a drill.

Monday night we were staying up a little late to watch our new favorite show Castle and I told Dan I could smell something coming in the house from the garage. We went out to investigate and found that the super strong smell was filling the entire garage and we couldn’t tell where it was coming from. Having never been trained as a general contractor or a disaster-sniffing K9, I had no idea what the smell was or where it was coming from.

It could have been a gas leak, a motor failure, burning electronics, or maybe even a can of rancid food that had exploded in our storage shelves. Dan and I sniffed our way around the garage and even aired it out to get a better feel for source. In the end we decided that it was probably a furnace issue, turned off the furnace for the night and Dan headed inside to bed.

Now here’s how I know someone was looking out for me. I suddenly felt an urge to rearrange things in the garage, the garage that I’d let fester for months, the garage in which it was 11 o’clock pm and I had a sleeping baby in the house where I should have been sleeping as well. I just had a feeling I should move some stuff around.

As I walked by the electrical box, I heard a skittering sound. Thinking it was likely a rodent of some sort, I decided to stay away from that part of the garage but a few minutes later I noticed a swollen, bulging, water-soaked cardboard box on the shelf next to it. When I went to investigate, I found that one of our water bottles had a slow leak and had made a bit of a mess on the shelf and I decided I’d rather clean it up sooner than later.

So I spent the next several minutes mopping up the water, long enough to hear that the skittering sound was coming from inside the breaker box which was crackling and popping and giving off a burning smell but no visible smoke.

Looking down around the breaker box I noticed that directly in front of it was our kerosene heater full of fuel, a box of Duraflame logs and our wood supply. It was a perfect stack of kindling and accelerants. Nice. I called Dan out to have a look while I moved the flammables away from the fire hazard.

He went inside to turn off our computers before turning off the electricity to the house and my job was to stay by the box in case it burst into flames. And what was I to do then? Stop them with my laser vision? I had no idea because we couldn’t find our fire extinguisher. We both totally knew where it was. Only problem being – neither of us could actually locate it.

When I talked to my sister about this on the phone the next day, she said she totally knew where hers was. A minute later, she started grumbling, “It’s not there.” It took her several minutes to track it down, by which time her house would have burnt to the ground. So I encourage each of you to go today and find your fire extinguisher and give it a little pat so that you know that you really know where it is. And while you’re at it, check the expiration date.

Anyway, when we got the electricity turned off, I still wasn’t feeling safe enough to go to sleep while my children slept above that box. So we called the fire department to make sure we were okay. They jumped in the rig and stopped by with their giant red truck, their heat-detecting gun and their big huge pants. The box was still hot but not sparking and they told us we’d be fine and to call an electrician in the morning.

I just feel so blessed that we were able to figure things out in time to not be burnt to a crisp in our beds. If we hadn’t stayed up late… if I hadn’t smelled the smell from the garage… if I hadn’t decided to rearrange things when I should have been sleeping… if that bottle hadn’t leaked, drawing my attention to the breaker area, who knows what would have happened to us? I know Heavenly Father is protecting and looking out for my family and that’s a very comforting feeling.

We had one night without power and the next day, Dan was able find an honest and capable electrician who fixed things up to the tune of less than $200. Wild, wild night.

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21 Responses to Unplanned Emergency Drill

  1. LisAway says:

    Wow, Kathryn. What a story! I’m so glad everything turned out as it did!

    I just finished writing a series of articles on fire safety and this story is just perfect. You sort of did a partial fire risk assessment when you noticed the “kindling” under the electric box.

    And the advice on fire extinguishers really is VERY important! I’m so glad you’re all safe, and it really IS pretty obvious that you had a little Help. You must be living right.

  2. grammyelin says:

    Thank the Lord for promptings!

    How in the world would we live safely from day to day without the guidance of the Spirit? I’m beyond glad that you were led to stay out in the garage working until you’d discovered the source of the problem and so happy that you had the wisdom to do what you were directed to do.

    So much of this past general conference was about recognizing and acting on the promptings of the Spirit. This is a great example of why.

    BTW – Saturday morning we are going out to buy all new fire extinguishers. Thn\anks for the good advice.

    So glad you are all safe!

  3. Aunt Murry says:

    Wow. Wow is all I have. And goose bumps.

  4. Carrie says:

    Wow- I’m so glad God was looking out for you guys!

  5. Oh man, sometimes I wonder how much of that is going on all around us, and maybe there’s just an army of guardian angels making sure we all don’t “go up in flames” as often as we maybe should.

  6. Mother of the Wild Boys says:

    I’m so glad that you are all safe!

  7. Debbi T. says:

    I’m just wondering how the breaker box started getting hot? I’m just hoping it’s something I can prevent from happening in my home or was it preventable. I am so glad you followed the spirit. House fires in the middle of the night are one of my worst nightmare.

  8. Wow! How fortunate that it all worked out okay.

  9. FawnDear says:

    So, so, so glad you guys are okay. Thank Heaven for Tender Mercies, miracles, and promptings. You must be living right.

  10. Ashley says:

    It’s amazing how watched and protected we are- no matter what you believe in. We have a similar story that happened last week. I had left the stove on for what turned out to be two days- letting the gas build up in our house. I’m pretty sure I was saved by the fact we ate take out those two days because I didn’t feel like cooking. One spark, and our house would have totally exploded. 🙁
    Glad you and your family are ok!

  11. Debra says:

    So thankful you were listening when God was talking!

  12. Heffalump says:

    I’m so glad you are all safe!
    This is also a good reminder to go over your emergency plan with your kids and what they should do in case of fire.

  13. Carrie says:

    Wow – so scary! What a random time to decide to rearrange your garage – I’m so glad God led you to! He is watching out for you! 🙂 I think my fire extinguisher is in our shed…out back???

  14. Pam in Utah says:

    I love you folks and am so glad for the actions you took and the protection you received. SO THANKFUL.

  15. I’m so glad that you all are safe and that everything turned out okay. Scary stuff!!

  16. Paige says:

    That is VERY scary. I’m so glad you are all safe and ok, with no fires.

  17. Homemaker’s intuition. Can’t beat it. Glad things are all right.


  18. Janel says:

    We just bought a house and our next item on our list of things to buy was an area rug. Until I read this. Fire extinguisher, then area rug. Thanks for the advice and the witness of the divine overseer.

    • I’ve always thought that fire extinguishers were over-rated. When are you gonna actually have time to get one if there’s a fire? I never thought I’d be sitting, watching a part of my house potentially burst into flame with an extinguisher at the ready. Life is sort of strange that way.

  19. Melzie says:

    I listen to that 6th sense all the time.. firm believer in gut instincts and all… so glad you guys are okay!!!!

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