Yesterday morning at 1:00am, my family got a wake-up call when my 7-year-old’s pillow fell between her bed and the wall. The wall contained an outlet which had a 3-way extension plugged into the bottom receptacle. She had a fan and another nightlight plugged into the extension. In the top receptacle, she had a nightlight plugged in. She had removed the covering of the nightlight, so the hot bulb was exposed.
Her pillow landed on the bulb of the nightlight and caught fire. She didn’t even realize it because she was asleep. Thankfully, my husband was downstairs and smelled the horrible smell of burning foam. He immediately began searching for the source of the smell. He woke me up and I began searching as well. When he finally got to my daughters room, he realized her pillow was on fire (although not yet in flames…thankfully!) We woke up all three girls and got them safely outside.
I dialed 911 on the phone, but there was complete silence on the other end.
I tried again.
Same result. I could not get through to 911!
Thankfully, my husband was able to get the burning pillow outside in the snow and we did not need 911. This is what remains of her pillow.
Her mattress was also damaged.
Luckily we all escaped this incident unharmed and lost nothing but a pillow, a mattress, and a few hours of sleep. I know we were being watched over by God and our angels, and I am SO grateful for that! Who knows how much longer before the pillow would have burst into flames right next to my daughter’s head. I’m not one to spend time worrying about what ‘could’ have happened, but I know things could have turned out much worse than they did, and I am feeling so grateful!
What I’ve Learned: Fire Safety and Prevention Tips
I’ve learned a lot through this experience, and I feel it is my responsibility to share what I have learned so you do not have to go through the experience yourself.
- Check your smoke detectors. Make sure they are all working with batteries that have been recently replaced, and please make sure they are attached! Although the smoke detector in my 7-year-old’s room was working, I will admit that some of our other smoke detectors in other bedrooms were NOT hooked up. Sometimes they go off in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. My husband then removes them to stop the piercing sound throughout the house so we can all get back to sleep. And then, he doesn’t replace them. I view this incident as a sign and a warning to me, and if you’re reading this, please take it as a sign and take a few moments to check yours as well.
- Make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home. Again, I had removed the carbon monoxide detector because it was old and it randomly went off one day. I threw it away and never replaced it.
- Check your outlets and heaters. Make sure nothing is up against them. Electrical plugs MUST be pushed all the way into receptacles in wall sockets as well as extension cords. There is a great article about this from Fire 9 Prevention. I heard lots of stories yesterday about fires starting because a plug was not in all the way. Initially, we thought that was the cause of our fire until my husband found the nightlight melted under her bed.
- Make sure all light bulbs and nightlights have coverings.
- Make sure you have 911 set up to the correct address! We don’t have a traditional landline phone…we have Magic Jack which goes through our internet connection. I had assumed my husband set up 911 service through Magic Jack, but apparently they now charge for 911 and 411 services, so he had not set it up. If you have MagicJack, here are the instructions to set up their 911 service. I also heard lots of stories yesterday from friends who said their 911 was linked to a prior address. It is worth taking a few minutes to make sure 911 is set up to your current address. It could save your life or the life of a family member.
- Talk to your kids about fire safety and prevention. Make sure you have a designated meeting area outside. Make sure they know to tell you if they see or smell anything out of the ordinary. What concerns me the most about this whole incident is that my 7-year-old didn’t think anything was wrong when she smelled the smoke from her burning foam pillow.
If you’re reading this, I hope you will take a few minutes to check your home for fire safety and talk to your family about it. For more fire prevention tips, there are a lot of great articles on Fire 9 Prevention.