fire extinguishers, Fire safety

1948 Fire Alarm

1948 Wisdom?

This week I’ve been reading VARIETY FAIR, a tattered little household digest that graced my mother’s kitchen for as long as I can remember. Published in 1948 by the Altar Guild of St. James Catholic Church in Searcy, it contains recipes and lots of homemaking tips, some still useful. Others, not so advisable. Much has changed in 66 years.

Found under the heading of Safety in the Home

A few fire crackers placed at each corner of the basement and attic will improve your chances of being awakened in case of a fire at night.

Repeat after me: Thank God for smoke alarms!

If we replace our smoke alarm batteries as suggested when we change our clocks for Day Light Saving Time, we can feel pretty secure. After a close call at our house last year, I want to suggest that you add another item to your check list: Your Fire Extinguisher
We’ve had a fire extinguisher hanging on the garage wall just outside the kitchen door since we moved to this house 26 years ago. The same fire extinguisher. I’m not sure how often anyone looked closely at it in all that time. I never did. That is, not until one evening last year when a lithium battery Terry was recharging for his radio-control airplane went up in flames on our kitchen counter.

Lithium batteries are powerful, but safe as long as handled properly. Occasionally one gets damaged if a plane crashes or has a hard landing. For safety, they store and transport those batteries in special fireproof pouches and keep an eye on them during charging. That’s the reason they were on the kitchen counter. Our kitchen and den are connected and open enough for Terry to monitor it.

Good thing—because there we were, watching a NCIS rerun in the den, when I heard a loud whoosh behind me. Looking around, I saw two-foot-high flames leaping from the batteries.

We both jumped up and ran into the kitchen. Terry grabbed the fire extinguisher while I did a little “Oh, my gosh” dance nearby. One of us unplugged the charger—probably him.
But the extinguisher was USELESS. It was out of date!

My quick-witted husband grabbed long-nosed pliers from a drawer, pulled the wires away from the charger and dropped the burning battery on the tile floor. Regrouping fast, he picked it up again and carried it to the patio while I filled a bucket with water. Finally, we dumped the smoldering mass into the water and left it outside for a couple of days before he disposed of it.

It all happened in a flash. We still think about how amazing it was that nothing beyond the battery was damaged. The granite counter top, thankfully black, withstood the heat, and the tile floor didn’t crack. There was plenty of black carbon to wash off of surrounding areas, but only a couple of small plastic items were pitted by sparks.
We bought a new fire extinguisher and a new airplane battery. Terry still loves his planes, but now he charges those batteries on the concrete drive just outside the open garage door. 

Here’s my favorite plane.

You can bet from now on, we’ll check that fire extinguisher on a regular basis because we know we were very fortunate, and we are extremely grateful.
Please check your fire extinguisher TODAY to be sure it’s still serviceable.
If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, go straight to the store and buy one right now.
Don’t put it off. It could save your home or your very life.
The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,
Nahum 1:7

9 thoughts on “1948 Fire Alarm”

  1. Heavens! I didn't know about laptops! I have a fire extinguisher (thanks to Rhonda). Another good thing to have is a carbon monoxide alarm. A friend's CM alarm went off in the middle of the night (furnace malfunctioned). Otherwise they might have died in their sleep! Good post, Dorothy.


  2. Gracious, I charge everything overnight! Maybe should not. We keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. I do love that little book from the Searcy church. I'm sure my family knew some of the folks there.


  3. Thanks, Dot. Yes, CM alarm is also a must. Our niece and her family had a close call years ago before they were available. Thankfully, they realized they were all getting sick before any fatalities.


  4. Yes, the laptop thing is something to think about. I bet your family did know some of those Searcy folks. Love your Searcy connection! Two of my friends' mothers and a grandmother were among the contributors. I found an ad for my dad's service station in the back of it. Hadn't noticed it before.


  5. Oh my! Technology has surely come a long way since the publication of that article. The part with the firecrackers sure baffled me and cracked me up at the same time. Hahaha! Anyway, that story is amazing. I make it a point to really update on our fire alarms and extinguishers. Thank goodness you came out of that frightening experience safe and sound. Thank you for sharing that! Wishing you all the best!

    Ron Griffith @ HASAW


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