Smoke Detectors

When I was six-years-old, I was in a full-fledged burning house fire at my grandparents’ house. Grandma and I were playing cards in the dining room while Grandpa was working in the kitchen, spiffying it up for the upcoming holiday.
One of my fondest memories of Grandma is our card games. I can’t remember the names of them all. There was casino (I think) where you added two cards to equal the amount on the third card. She was the only one I played this one with and I can’t recall how to play it anymore.
Back to the fire. Grandma heard Grandpa yell. I didn’t know what he said, but I heard his loud voice and looked to the direction of the short hallway that leads to the kitchen and saw an orange glow. I knew we needed to get out. I had to push the chair back hard because it was heavy and bigger than me. We headed in the opposite direction that took us to the front door.

We went to neighbors and called the fire department. I sat on the steps and stared at the burning house. Everyone was OK, but Grandpa had to go to the hospital for smoke inhalation. Mom arrived wearing her 1776 – 1976 blazer and I saw her lean against a tree upset. Grandpa tried to clean up the paint with oil when it lit up and he tried calling the fire department from inside the house. Panic mode and wasn’t thinking.
I planned to write about smoke detectors and ended up telling the story of the fire experience. Whenever a fire alarm went off, I got jittery because of that experience. In my freshman year in college, the school installed a fire alarm for me so it would flash when the alarm blares.
Early in my marriage, Paul traveled a lot. I didn’t mind staying home alone, but I hated it at night. I was afraid something would happen and I wouldn’t hear it. My imagination went wild at night, too. One time, I was reading a book in bed and suddenly the bedroom door swung open scaring the sheet out of me. I promptly turned off the light and went to bed hiding under the covers. Everything was fine once daylight appeared.
All of the fire alarms in my current office light up. The sound screams for me to turn off my implant. It’s horrible. Then the lights make my eyes ache with their flashes like a camera’s light, but worse.
When we moved into our current home, we talked about getting a fire alarm for me. I don’t recall why it didn’t happen. But thankfully, Paul doesn’t travel and my daughter is old enough to help us all. But I don’t want to rely on my child. I want her to rely on me. That’s the hardest thing about being a parent who is deaf. Being forced to rely on my children for phone calls and such. It’s that helpless feeling I so despise.


    • Adrean on July 18, 2005 at 12:09 pm
    • Reply

    To be honest, it’s not necessary to put so much pressure on yourself.
    I’m deaf with three kids, including 21-month-old twins, and we do NOT rely on them. It’s a matter of learning what to watch for, and for other things such as using technology that helps, like door flashers and lights for when the phone rings. I don’t even worry about it, and I have a DeafBlind husband who helps out around the house and with the kids.
    For fire safety, we just discuss what to do in case of a fire and teach our kids what to do. Our home has flashing fire alarms. I’ve survived flashing fire drills in college, and they’re VERY hard to sleep through.
    You don’t have to put the pressure on yourself or the kids. Remember that.
    And don’t forget to change the alarm batteries. 🙂

  1. Oh man, what timing. Just came across this article in which a girl who is deaf was rescued from a fire (

    • Alicia on July 19, 2005 at 8:20 am
    • Reply

    Wow, that’s a really misleading headline. “Samaritan Saves Deaf Girl”? She ran out on her own before he arrived. He didn’t save her. What he did save was her grandparents’ house, by spraying the fire with a garden hose.
    It’s headlines and story angles like this that perpetuate the myth that deaf people are helpless and not capable of holding high-level jobs or taking care of their own families.

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