There’s nothing quite like waking up to your building’s fire alarm at 7am to get you thinking about what needs to be done in the event of an emergency.


After an adventurous night out with The Man, celebrating a tree lighting in the Village of Nyack, we were both looking forward to sleeping in on a Sunday morning. As I lie there, I was suddenly jolted awake by what seems to be a lot of movement in our neighbor’s apartment, and there is a ringing. My eyes snap open as I became fully aware that the ringing was actually a fire alarm.

Here was my first mistake: I looked out of the windows, didn’t seen anything, so I hurried to the front door and opened it. As I did so, smoke– or what I thought was smoke– had filled the hallway and I could not see the other side of the small space.

I ran back to the room, and told The Man what I saw. He gets up, and to be completely honest, I have no idea what he did beyond ensured that the smoke was not going to come into the apartment, and scoped out what was going on outside.

While he was being calm, and assessing the situation, my panicked mommy instincts took over. I went to the cabinet where I store Lily’s supplies, and grabbed her carrier. I assembled it, and placed her inside. I grabbed her food and placed her in the bedroom near the window that leads to the fire escape.

After her, I grabbed my planner, wallet, medications, important documents like my checkbook and passport, and important pieces of jewelry. Then I dressed myself in warm clothing. Then I thought, this is early in the morning and people might be hungry, let me grab a loaf of homemade bread!

The Man was still in his pajamas, just walking around! He explained how the safest place for us at that point was inside the apartment. There was no smoke coming in, it was not hot, and other telltale signs of a dangerous fire situation were not present.

As the situation unfolded and Engine 263 and Ladder 116 arrived, and soon thereafter left the scene, it turns out that it was steam. Yes, the stairwell was filled with steam all the way to the fourth floor.

But after this experience, I noticed that I have spent so much time discussing The Man facing fire on a daily basis, as well as my reaction to these dangerous situations taking place elsewhere. Fire became a distant thing for me over the course of this adventure. Today, it is no longer such a far-off idea.

When it came down to a potentially dangerous situation, I feel that I handled it pretty well. My essentials were by the escape route should the danger levels have escalated. There is much more preparation that I am now considering, and I hope that this experience will make readers consider their own plan of action in an emergency.