I took a day off work yesterday. Because I can. I have vacation time, and I’m darn well going to use every minute of it. I’ve been a bit of a stressed-out wreck lately, the next statutory holiday isn’t until Easter, and a long weekend sounded like an excellent idea.
I didn’t have any plans though. It’s been pouring outside for days, so I was thinking I’d just hang out and read.
And then at around 10:30 the fire alarm went off. It’s one of those big, red, round clangy ones and it’s right outside our door, so it was jarring to say the least. Here is what I did (and yes, my writing this today means that everything worked out ok, but in no way am I condoning this course of action in an actual fire-type emergency):
- I think, “Huh. Maybe I should change out of my pyjamas.” (3 minutes)
- I stare blankly at my closet trying to decide what to wear. (5 minutes)
- I put on some jeans and socks. I decide to leave the pyjama top on, but add a hoodie just in case. (2 minutes)
- I brush my teeth, but I don’t floss. (2 minutes)
- I consider where my insurance policy is. (6 minutes)
- I turn off the stereo. (So fast, it can’t be measured.)
- I look out the window and can see no sign of smoke. (4 minutes)
- I look out the peephole thing in the door. No sign of flames. (2 minutes)
- I check to see if the door is warm. It’s fine. (30 seconds)
- I go out into the hall and stare at the red clangy thing for a couple of minutes, willing it to stop. (5 minutes)
- I go back inside and wait to see if it will stop. It doesn’t. (10 minutes)
- I put on some shoes and get my purse and a book to read in case I can’t come back soon and I leave, locking the door behind me. I contemplate bringing my laptop, but decide that I can’t be bothered. (5 minutes)
- I go down the hall and still don’t see any smoke. I consider the elevator but decide to take the stairs for two reasons: first, because you should always take the stairs whenever you can because it’s good for your health; and second, because I think you are supposed to avoid elevators in a fire situation. (2 minutes)
- In the entry is the strata council president and some guy I don’t recognize. They look calm. “So,” I say, “Is there a fire? Should I be escaping?” They squint at me — kind of rudely, I think — and say that no, they are testing the alarms and didn’t I read the notice by the mailboxes? As if anyone reads those notices.
So, all was well. I survived that harrowing experience. In retrospect though, I don’t think the fire fighters who came to my elementary school and explained what to do in the case of a fire would have approved of my actions. More importantly, I think in a real fire situation, the 46 minutes it took me to leave probably would have been enough time for me to burn to a crisp.
Maybe I should implement regular drills to see if I can cut that time down at all.