It all started with a drawing for some Taylor Swift tickets.

There we were, sitting at Texas Roadhouse waiting for a table, with this innocent-looking raffle box perched beside us. "WIN TAYLOR SWIFT TICKETS!" it proclaimed. Now, Colin loves him some T-Swift, and he loves him some blank paper. So since the intriguing little box combined the two, he started writing on the entry form. Curtis helped him fill in the proper info, they tucked it into the box, and then we were called to our table and I forgot all about it.

Until we got a phone call.

We had made it through the preliminary drawing for the Taylor Swift tickets, the caller told Curtis. The drawing for the actual tickets isn't until May, but our names had been chosen to win a $40 gas card (woot!). There was another prize, too - and this is where the details started to get hazy.

"The contest is sponsored by some fire safety thing," Curtis said. "I think she said the fire department. Anyway, they're sending a fireman out to our house to go over a fire escape plan and stuff. He'll be here on Monday at six."

I don't know about your husband, but mine - and I suspect guys in general - sometimes don't fully listen, or glaze over important details. So because I got my details from him, I was expecting something along the lines of this:

He's certainly not very well-protected, is he?

Okay, maybe not (hey, a girl can hope). But I at least expected this:

Not necessarily the truck and the whole nine yards, but from what Curtis told me, at least a member of the fire department. Who would, like, come in here and teach us how to protect ourselves in the event of a fire.

But what we got (a day late, mind you, because he was a no-show on the first night) was more along the lines of this:

I mean, the guy was more decently dressed and slightly less schmoozy (is that a word?), but he was still a salesman for a company called DeTech.  He began his presentation with a spiel about how it was purely for educational purposes and there was "nothing for sale today," but that if we were interested we could set up another in-home meeting so he could demonstrate his company's fire suppression system. Then he mentioned that if we were interested, we too could become schmoozy salespeople.

Long story short, the hourlong "fire safety education" was a mixed bag. There was some helpful information, and it definitely underscored the need for fire safety awareness and prevention. BUT. I was extremely, extremely put off by the obvious scare tactics this company was using. Article after article about children dying in fires. Stories about how so-and-so didn't have a DeTech system and lost everything. Photos of destruction, along with one of some charred sheets clearly showing the outline of a little girl. A video centering around a family who had lost their eight-year-old daughter in a horrific inferno; footage of burned-out cribs and smoke-saturated toys.

I know that when you talk about fire safety, you have to talk about the bad stuff. Fires do cause death and destruction; it's a reality, for sure. But I didn't just fall off the turnip truck, y'all, and I didn't appreciate the DeTech guy trying to frighten me into buying his stuff. The facts could have been presented in a much less macabre way, and still would have been relevant.

I lost my two-year-old niece, Sarah, in a house fire. So I know what fire can do. The effects that it can have ... forever. I'm not one of those bullheaded people who thinks it'll never happen to them and is irritated with the DeTech guy for "bringing up the uncomfortable truth." I'm just irritated that they thought they could use fear as a marketing tool. Irritated that it actually works well enough for them to continue. And I couldn't help but think of the family of the little girl who died in those charred sheets. Did they know that the picture of the place where their daughter died was being used as a sales tool? It sickened me.

Still, after we had told the guy exactly what we thought of his scare tactics and sent him packing, we got to talking about how fire-safe our home is. We have hard-wired smoke detectors in every room and in the hallway, and we recently changed the backup batteries (they say to do that when you change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time, and then test them monthly). We've told our kids what to do in the event of a fire, but we decided we needed to show them instead - so we had a fire drill.

And you know what? It was fun. We had the kids lay in bed as if they were asleep, and then Curtis pretended to be the smoke alarms. We timed the boys as they belly-crawled to both the front and back doors. They kept wanting to beat their best times, so we practiced over and over. Even Coby, who is 18 months old, wanted in on it, so we let him crawl too - and you know what? He was to the door, from his bedroom in the back of the house - crawling and unassisted - in just over thirty seconds. Pretty impressive for such a little guy. I had no idea he'd even catch on, but he seemed to.

Anyway, point is, fire safety is so immensely important. And I - even with a traumatic experience with fire in my background - needed a reminder of that. So in that way, I'm glad the DeTech guy came out. I just think he could've used a lot different sales tactic and been much more effective ... with us, at least.

Fire drills are going to become a regular thing around here. And I found these tips to drill into my kids' heads share with my kids. One tip that I didn't see mentioned, though, was brought up by a firefighter friend of mine (thanks, Doug!): tell your children never to hide from firefighters, even if their outfits make them look or sound scary.  

If you're reading this today, do me (and your family!) a favor and make a fire escape plan. Have a fire drill. Teach your children what to do, and then have them demonstrate it so that it really sticks.

... Or I'll come to your house and scare you into doing it. :)


  1. Wow, that really pisses me off, too. Disgusting is what it is. I'm really glad you told him so! I have to say that Taylor Swift's face annoys me and I don't know why. Am I the only one? Thanks for the tips and what really got me is that you said it was fun! We're gonna do a fire drill!

  2. Thanks for the reminder Rita. I know life can get hectic and we forget about things like this. I know I will be practicing with the boys tonight.

  3. Well, sorry the guy was a douche. But glad you got something good out of it. We had firedrills all the time when we were little. My parents were very creative with it at times too. Paper flames taped up in front of our door, so we had to crawl out the window, etc. I need to do a lot of work to become fire safe, so thanks for the reminder.

  4. I read all the fire safety tips and I agree it's a priority. I'm going to check my smoke alarm batteries today and create some type of "escape and meet" plan.
    Then I'm gonna sit and stare at that first fireman photo the rest of the day!

  5. I'm old enough to remember "bomb drills" and crawling under our school desks. As for Curtis, you should have told him his hoes was to little to put out any real fire. That always makes firemen mad.

  6. Commenting as a firefighter's wife...great post! Commenting as a mom, it would have been difficult not to give that man a swift kick in the heiny for being sleezy enough to do that company's bidding and show pictures like that.

    Also October is Fire Prevention Month. Usually that's when the fire department goes to the local school to teach the kiddos. They will also generally have "open houses" where you can go visit the firehouse. It's another opportunity to let kids see that firefighters, even though they might sound scary in the gear, are there to help you.

  7. Good reminder to speak with the kids about fire safety. And THANK YOU for that first picture. :)

  8. I just finished my fire academy as you know, and I have to admit, our instructors (all 10+ years firefighters and EMT certs) were somewhere between picture one and two. No kidding, really. They have to stay in shape so they do workout. Anyhow, the best thing about the fire department, they have a group of firefighters that will come out free of charge, check your entire house for risks and more, just have to call and make an appt.

  9. I'm SO glad you guys are practicing fire safety! We need to do the same thing at our house, even though we're much older and probably couldn't crawl as fast as Coby. LOL

    And I could just slap that salesman for showing pictures like that! Even if the product is good, it's a tacky way of selling it and I hope you told him so!


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