June 8, 2008

A lesson in fire safety



Tonight as we sat watching TV, we heard a big boom that blew open the doors under the kitchen sink.

As we were bending down looking into the cabinet, trying to figure out what happened, fumes (that we later learned were from a rusty spray paint can that had exploded) traveled across the floor to the oven and to the pilot light, causing a fireball to burst out of the oven, burning us both.

We're okay. :-)

Bub has first- and second-degree burns on his arms and legs. I have one small second-degree burn on the side of one ankle. We both lost arm and leg hair.

Destruction-wise, Bub used the fire extinguisher to put out the resulting fire and now that stuff is all over the kitchen. Plus, another small fire started inside our main cabinet with all the cookbooks and cat food, and now there's a mess to clean up in there.

We did spend a couple of hours in the emergency room for the burns and being monitored for smoke inhalation and whatnot, and we have some follow-up treatment to the burns, but everything is good. Painkillers are doing their job. I had to shave Bub's head because so much of his hair was singed. He was due for a haircut, anyway.

We managed to corral all three of our cats into our neighbor's house, and she took care of them while we were gone. The firefighters left all of the junk from under the sink in a trash bin outside, which now we're going to have to figure out how to dispose of.

The windows are all open and the fans are on, and the fire inspector let us come back, so it's smelly but safe. (By the way, aren't firefighters, EMTs and ER staff cool? They are just so calm in emergency situations. It's really hard to stay in a panic around them.) We might even go to bed sometime tonight, but we're still pretty wound up.

So here's what we learned:

1. Don't keep old, rusty cans of solvents and spray cans in the kitchen. Get rid of anything that's corroded, and especially corroded and flammable. It was the pressure inside the weakened can that caused it to burst. Add a nearby pilot light and you've got the "perfect storm."

2. Keep the fire extinguisher OUTSIDE of the kitchen so you don't have to run THROUGH the fire to get to it.

One thing for sure: it's a good thing we were home. If we had been out, the place might have just burned up.

So some Sunday plans have gone by the wayside, but we're fine, the cats are fine, and we've got a relatively small mess to clean up. Pretty good turnout, considering.

First update

Second update

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8 comments. Please add yours! :

Greg said...

WOW! I'm glad you guys are safe and okay (mostly).

Now you have me thinking... Hum, fire extinguisher... um... ok... um... crud, I don't think we have one. Not good. I'm going to get one (or two or three) today while I'm out.

Again, I'm glad you guys (and the kitties) are okay. And thanks for posting this!

jwindsor said...

What a story! Glad you guys are okay. And, indeed, how fortunate about being home . . .

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks. The other thing is that our smoke alarm is dead. So if we hadn't been home, it wouldn't have gone off either, and our neighbor (who lives only a few feet away) wouldn't have known there was a fire until it got very big and smoky.

So many good lessons. :-)

Tony said...

Gosh. My heart raced reading this story. I am so glad you guys are well. Great information and reminders as well on some safety information. Like all your readers, we are glad you are ok!

Andrew is getting fit said...

I've just moved my fire extinguisher from the kitchen to the dining room!

Glad you are only singed and not crisped!

Jacki Hollywood Brown said...

I'm so thankful you are both alright! Thanks for posting this little lesson.
Test your smoke detectors and check your fire extinguishers twice a year at every time change!

Matthew Cornell said...

I am very sorry this happened! I'm also very pleased everyone's OK. I've added 'check the house for ...' to my list! Leave it to you to turn it into a way to inform and help us readers. Thank you.

Erik Deckers said...

We had a similar situation a few weeks ago. The battery backup to our sump pump caught fire, and I got some second degree burns on my hands putting it out. Scared the bejeezus out of the kids (and us too), got the fire department out at 7 in the morning, and made for a good story to tell while my hands healed.

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