Where there’s smoke there isn’t always fire

Fire prevention week, Oct. 6 to 12, is here again!

Fire prevention week, Oct. 6 to 12, is here again!

The week brings with it the usual onslaught of information about fires and, of course, their causes and preventions.

As a print media type person, I have skimmed through the information, looking for the best little nuggets of wisdom to share with my readers.

‘Prevent Kitchen Fires‘ is the theme of Fire Prevention Week this year.

According to stats, two of every five home fires begin in the kitchen – more than any other place in the home, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Cooking fires are also the leading cause of home fire-related injuries.

I read with interest the tips provided to prevent fires in the kitchen. Tips like stay in the kitchen when you are cooking, use back burners when possible, wear clothing with tight-fitting sleeves and keep potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper and plastic bags away from the stovetop.

All good; very good tips!

I, however, due to firsthand experience during which my ego got severely singed, could add another one.

Do not, and I repeat, do not set your oven dial on self-clean when you have put a pot roast in it for supper and then leave the premises.

If you do, I’m here to tell you, awful things will happen.

First and foremost your roast will be burned beyond recognition. Second and equally important, you may come home to find a fire truck in your driveway and your stove sitting out in your back yard, smoke pouring out of the locked oven door.

Though it was long ago and it was far away, I remember it well.

It was a beautiful fall day, a crisp, clean good-to-be-alive day. It was a day that I felt very much in control; organized, efficient and really quite clever!

My to do list was in order and had not yet been lost and I even knew where my car keys and glasses were. My list read as follows:

1. Put roast in oven, set oven on a slow timed bake so the roast will be tender and lovely for supper even though it is only a cheap pot roast.

2. Take all three children for eye appointments in the city.

3. Come home, finish making lovely supper with delicious roast.

4. Think about what you will wear when you win the ‘homemaker of the year’ award.

Well, it turns out John Steinbeck knew what he was talking about when he said ‘the best laid plans of mice and men don’t always happen.’ And whoever said ‘pride goes before a fall’ wasn’t that far out either.

In defense of myself, the oven was new to me and my kitchen. And why did they use symbols and not words? How was I to know what the self-clean symbol was?

Anyway, when the paperboy saw the smoke pouring out of the living room window he called the fire department. And like the good firefighters they were, they came and quickly hauled the offending stove out to the back yard, thereby displaying for all to see, every housewife’s worse nightmare, a whole bunch of dirt that had got there somehow.

I was mortified. When I walked into my kitchen after the nasty deed had been done I immediately stepped over all the laundry on the floor of the laundry room (another hidden sin) to fetch the broom.

The men were kind. They didn’t laugh too much. And they didn’t joke about how I had taken burning a roast to a new level. Well, they didn’t do belly laughs, anyway.

But to this day, if ever I happen to run across one of those guys, they get this little smile on their lips and their eyes twinkle, when they figure out who I am.

“You’re the one who put your oven on self-clean with that roast in it, aren’t you?” Then they chuckle and I don’t.

And then I go home and pull out my stove and sweep the dirt up, just in case.

You never know!

— On The Other Side

 

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