Last Saturday night I had gone to bed early because I had to work the next day.
I awoke to yelling outside my apartment. It had been a hot day, so my windows were open. At first I just thought it was average street noise. I live close to a few shops and restaurants.
It took about thirty seconds for my brain to wake up enough to process what people were yelling...
"You guys need to get out the building is on fire."
It wasn't panicked screaming... But the urgency finally broke through my sleep muffled brain.
I heard someone knocking on my door and this confirmed any doubts I had about the fire being in MY building.
I bolted up and rifled through laundry in my basket and threw on clothes. As I came down the hall from my bedroom I could see the backyard was filled with smoke.
I grabbed my keys and felt the door. At this point I smelled smoke. The door was cool so I opened it. ( Funny the things you remember from elementary school emergency training.) My neighbor was in the hall knocking on doors and I saw she had her purse. At that point I couldn't see flames and the hallway wasn't filled with smoke. I went back in my apartment and grabbed my purse and my phone. (Duh!! How could I leave without them?)
I made my way out the front door and found all my building mates standing in the street lit by the glow of lights from 5 Fire Engines. A plus, I suppose of living two blocks away from a fire station.
I could see from the sidewalk that the Fireman were extinguishing a tall tree that grew up against our building. It was covered in foamy ash. And at this point I could see the building was intact.
We all stood together on the sidewalk for an hour while they made sure the tree was out and that there was not a fire in the building.
I felt awkward standing outside in the warm summer night wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. But probably not as awkward as the woman who lives above me. She was only wearing a large t-shirt that she probably reserves for sleeping.
After we got the all clear to return to our apartments I went back inside and was left alone with my racing heart.
I was surprised that I had run immediately out of my apartment without thought of belongings. I almost left my wallet and my precious smart phone!
It took me awhile to fall back asleep and I lay there feeling grateful that our building is made of brick and that it was not ignited by the tree. And then I made a mental list of things I would have grabbed on my way out the door... Like a basket of laundry or my stash of tickets for concerts that are pending in the future! Silly things I gave no thought to when I thought there was an emergency.
I am so grateful to have a sturdy cozy home in which to live!
What would you grab as you were running out the door in an emergency?