←in your home, get one. If you’ve got one, get more. Have at least one on every floor. Check them regularly. Replace them as needed.
I did all that, because foresight. But didn’t think all that much about it. Years went by and it was no big deal. Until it was.
I was sitting in my easy chair, easily reading Rolling Stone, when I heard from the basement “I need help.” It was the redhead. I stood up, picturing the redhead teetering as she tried to get a box down from a shelf. Thought about poking around for my slippers. Then I heard, “And bring a fire extinguisher.”
And I did (you would too). The kitchen extinguisher was actually by the basement steps, and as I was pulling it off the wall I could see the reflections of the flames on the wall down below me. Might have even felt a bit of heat. I pulled the fire extinguisher off the wall, or rather I ripped its mount off because I forgot about the strap holding it in (because I’m a monster-man and because adrenaline. You would too, again). Ran down and around and found my wife doing her best to move things away from a canister of MAPP gas with flames shooting out the top. Nice respectable-sized fire blossom about a yard around, I’d estimate. Amazingly it was isolated in the middle of the concrete floor, not a lick of flame touching any of the usual flammable stuff that anyone’s, everyone’s basement is riddled with.
I aimed the Kidde ABC and squeezed the trigger and it was out in one shot.
My wife, who works with MAPP torches in the creation of her gorgeous, incomparable art, made the one-time mistake of using a brand of MAPP regulator that announces it has reached its end of service life by setting itself on fire. She had initially – immediately, before calling for help – grabbed the extinguisher we keep in the basement, but found the trigger pull too stiff for her. So: redundancy in your safety equipment. I do it, so should you.
She told me this after the fire was out, as we both stared at the browned canister, covered in the powdered extinguisher material. So I took the one I’d just then realized she was holding, aimed it at the canister, and pulled the trigger. It went off, but I don’t regret that a bit, especially since I think the canister was still a little warm.
I was shaky, she was shaky. But still, foresight. She headed right out to the hardware store to buy replacements (fire extinguishers are one-shot deals, you know. I got no problem with that either). Still shaky, my next thought was “Hey! Facebook!” So I did. Then I poured myself two shots of Kentucky bourbon. Didn’t pour them to that little line, either. Went quite a ways past that.
When she got home with the replacements they got mounted, right away, ‘xactly where the old uns had been.
Have the foresight to equip yourself for emergencies. When the emergencies happen (and they will), use your equipment to do the things you need to do, precisely as you need to do them, without panicking. If you feel like panicking stop and take a deep breath, think about what you need to do, then do it.
Keep that clear head, and make yourself able to recognize when and if an emergency goes beyond the scope of what you and your equipment can handle. When that happens, get everyone and yourself the hell out of there and call for help.
If it’s a medical emergency – call for help, by all means, but also give help yourself if you’re at all able. If someone’s unconscious, first thing you check is whether they’re breathing. If someone’s bleeding badly put direct pressure on it, preferably with something that’s sterile or at least clean. If someone’s taken a fall from more than a couple feet off the ground, or been hit hard in any way that might injure their spine, don’t move them unless absolutely necessary. Absolutely necessary means fire, or worse; if that happens try to drag them in a straight line, keeping the spine and especially the neck as straight and as supported as possible. In all things keep yourself as safe as possible, because you can’t help anyone if you’re the next casualty.
I’d end the spew of advice here, except I hate ending on down notes. So try this: in addition to foresight and emergency preparedness and cultivating a cool head for catastrophes, also try changing up your habits every now and then. If you’re a coffee person, try tea. Try driving home a different route. Sleep on the other side of the bed. It keeps life interesting, and who knows you might find you prefer tea.
Oh yeah, last one. Adjust your car’s mirrors. The inside one is fine, but the outside two are wrong. Don’t take my word on it, read this guy.