I get home from a trying day on campus around 8:30pm and immediately flop on my bed, as one does. Unable to quiet my hunger any longer, I finally drag myself to the fridge around 9:00pm to start cooking and I stare into the abyss that is my freezer (way too small for roommates to share, but I live in the Old North End). *sigh* I guess I’ll cook up these Trader Joe’s Jamaican Style empanadas, that’ll be quick and easy, right? WRONG. As I dilly-dally in the kitchen waiting for my oven to preheat, I start to notice little wisps of smoke curling up from the stove. Weird, I think, but it must be cleaning remnants from when I scrubbed said stove earlier evaporating away, right? WRONG. A few more moments pass by and I notice that the wisps of smoke have become more like streams. I open the oven door and BAM! I am immediately hit with a fog so densely white that I cannot see a thing! My cat hisses at the cumulonimbus that emerged as it engulfed us both. Before I know it, my whole apartment is full of eye-watering haze and the smoke detectors are blaring like there is no tomorrow. I throw open the windows and begin running from detector to detector, flapping around a dish towel in a fruitless attempt to control the unfolding drama. Coughing from inhaling the toxic mist, I realize this is a true emergency! “Should I Stop, Drop, and Roll? No, there is hope yet, I won’t let it get to that point!” I self-proclaim. With the alarms screaming I snatch my cat from his hiding place under my bed and shove him in his crate, much to his chagrin. Now that he is screaming bloody murder, I run for the door, grabbing his treat jar and my schoolwork on the way out (essentials only). From my driveway, I can see the smoke making my windows steamy and I think, “Shit! I’m going to burn down the overpriced Burlington multi-unit home that contains my whole life!” I am so confused; I hadn’t put anything in the oven yet, nor had I used it in weeks so I had no idea what could’ve been going on. Calm down, I remember, your girlfriend was a junior firefighter in high school, she’ll know what to do. After calling her and recounting the modern day Greek epic I just lived through, we decide I should enlist the boys of Burlington Fire Department to come check it out.
They do not make haste. I sat in my driveway with Mr. Vinnie crying in his crate for a good 15 minutes before they arrived, and when they did, they didn’t even use their sirens! Wearing no fire-detering gear, they do not seem to be concerned. Somehow, the billows of smoke had diminished to a thin veil hanging in the air. They open my oven, revealing a large pile of oil at the bottom. “Ope! Looks like you just need to clean this out,” they conclude. “It’s not gas leaking out, right? The smoke didn’t smell like burning food,” I stammer. “Well your oven appears to be electric, so it couldn’t be gas.” Duh, omg Emma, you were literally a robotics team kid, you knew that. I am utterly embarrassed.
After much ado about literally nothing, I retreated to my apartment and went on with my night. In fact, I actually knew it was no big deal all along, I was just being a responsible citizen and organized a fire drill for myself. Importantly, I had to make sure that my cat knew what to do if a real emergency were to be happening. Remember in elementary school when there would be a fire drill but they wouldn’t tell us children so we’d treat it like it was real? Yeah, that’s what I did for Vinnie! It had to be authentic. As a readiness enthusiast, I needed to make sure my Emergency Action Plan would work. Quite frankly, practice makes perfect!