Friday, September 12, 2008

Burning Down the House

Allow me a moment to educate you on the dangers of combining breast and bottle feeding.

Michael had his six month visit today at the pediatrician. Among other things we discussed how I needed to move on from the "slow flow" nipples we're using for the two bottles a day he is required to have. When Michael was first born and learning to eat he had all kinds of choking problems. We don't really have those issues any more, but I've still been reluctant to switch to the faster flowing nipples. Anyway we stopped and bought some on the way home from the doctor's office.

So we got home and Michael had fallen asleep in his car seat. I brought him in, left him in his seat, and put the new nipples in a pot with some water to boil them for five minutes as you are supposed to do to sterilize them. Normally when I do this I stand in the kitchen until the water boils and then set the timer on the microwave for five minutes. For some reason today, I failed to set the timer. Then Michael woke up, screaming to be fed, and it was during a point in the day when he usually nurses. So I took him into the living room to feed him, totally forgetting about the stove. Do you see where this is going?

Harper and Michael and I were in the living room when, several minutes (fifteen maybe?) later, I heard a funny noise in the kitchen and sent Harper to see what Rebound was doing. She walked out of the living room and then walked right back in and said, "I think something is not good, there's stuff coming out of the pot!" I thought she meant the water was boiling over, so I got out of the chair where I'd been nursing Michael and walked with him into the kitchen. Into the kitchen where I saw a pot full of FLAMING NIPPLE REMAINS! (Oh my, Google's gonna have a field day with that sentence.)

It's amazing how many clear thoughts you can have in a very short amount of time. Fortunately I tend not to get upset/panic until a dangerous/scary situation has already been dealt with. As I looked at the flaming pot I remember thinking I had to put Michael down before I could pick it up, thinking that I had to remove it from the heat, thinking that the fire extinguisher in the garage was a little too far away, and thinking that it was grease fires that you weren't supposed to throw water on. . . I am pretty sure I managed to tell Harper that things would be fine, while refraining from swearing, and sliding Michael into the exersaucer. Then I turned the burner off as I moved the pot toward the back of the stove, realized that wasn't going to stop the already burning fire (duh!) and picked the pot up, put it in the sink and ran water over it until the flames went out completely.

Michael was drooling cluelessly in the exersaucer, Harper's eyes were wide with fear, and I found myself wondering, as the kitchen filled with smoke, why the heck our smoke detector wasn't going off. When I broil pork chops it goes off every time, but for an actual fire, nothing? I think we may be replacing that soon.

There was a huge and surprising amount of smoke created when I put out the fire. I turned on the fan and opened the door to try to clear out the house. I wasn't sure what to do after that and called my mom to see if she thought any further action was necessary. She didn't think so and Matt walked in as I was talking to her, asking what happened, and Harper started telling him there was a fire so I pretty much hung up on my mom to go explain to Matt. Oops. Sorry Mom!

After an hour or so the smoke had cleared, the ruined nipples and pot had been thrown away, and the ashes had been cleaned out of the sink. Not that I hadn't respected what a fire could do before today, but I was pretty stunned by the smoke and smell and mess created by this one, relatively minor, fire.

Thank God the fire was contained to that one pot. I can't recall ever having an experience like this before and I'll tell you even a small fire is a scary one. My stomach is still knotting up a bit just thinking about it.

So today's lessons are:

1) Don't leave stuff unattended on the stove. (Although I'm pretty sure I'm the only one in the universe to have lapsed on that safety rule.)

2) Don't forget to set your timers.

3) It might be a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher somewhere in the kitchen.

4) Check smoke detectors more regularly.

5) Always set the baby down before handling a pot of flamming nipple remains. (I did remember to do that, but feel like it bears repeating.)

Thank you and good night.


Mommy Daisy said...

6) Once the first is put out in the pan, immediately place it outside to prevent more smoke from pouring all over the house.

Not that I've even had to do that. Ahem.

Astarte said...

Fire extinguishers make a hellacious mess in a kitchen. Avoid using them if at all possible. Not that I would know that, or anything.

Yeah, what was up with your smoke detector?! Mine goes off all the time, even when I open the oven door and just heat comes out! It drives me BONKERS. Although, come to think of it, ours didn't go off that time I, um, didn't need an extinguisher in the kitchen. Huh.

Erin said...

Phew! Glad everything is okay!

Flaming nipple remains. Hehehe.

Also, I am very, shamefully guilty of leaving the stove unattended. Once time recently I, um, left it on and followed the boys outside to play for like FIFTEEN MINUTES before Brett went back in, came directly back out, and said, "Is there a reason you left that pan of oil on the stove?" YIKES.

Lil Mouse said...

yikes, that's scary, our landlord took our fire extinguisher like 2 weeks ago and hasnt brought it back yet. i'm pretty sure that's illegal, but not much we can do about it. we do have one in the bronco, but the bronco is outside, so not sure i'd be able to get to it in time to put anything out, anyway....oh and our smoke detector is HARD WIRED into the house, so any time the power goes out, it blips like the battery is dead, but of course, no batteries, that's nice, and umm, legal, isn't it?

KNJ said...

Wow! Since we're also bottle feeding & nursing, I'll make sure to post this one on the fridge (the stove?)...

Before we were married, Jim once set my parents' stove on fire! While he thought it would be fine if we just waited for it to go out by itself, I insisted on finding & using the fire extg. Yeah, those things ABSOLUTELY make a mess (way bigger than the actual small fire). And then, you have to replace it!

Ditto Mommy Daisy's comment about putting the pot outside. Especially helpful if it's winter and you can just open the door and chuck the entire pot into 2 feet of snow. Fun to watch the sizzling effect too. Not so much fun to explain to the husband coming home... Those were our Pennsylvania days of course!

Laura said...

WOW! What a day you had!

Nice job on staying calm in front of your kids. I can just imagine the "select" words screaming in your head at the time.

Let me just tell you about my afternoon... shortly after reading your blog this morning, I was making TS beer bread in the oven and some butter had dripped over the edge of the bake dish which started a small fire in the bottom of the oven. AAck! I was fortunate (in a way) that Eric and both of my parents were there to corner the kids and get the whole mess under control.

I totally felt for you! It sounds like you managed beautifully in a crisis.

bluedaisy said...

Hello! I have been reading for a while but only commented anonymously. Anyway, I did a similar thing a while ago and left pacifiers boiling in water on the stove. On that occassion, I too failed to set a timer and all of the sudden, I smelled something horible. No fire but I ruined a pan and also had a good amount of smoke mostly in the kitchen. It was like midnight and I PRAYED that our smoke detector didn't go off and wake up 2 sleeping babies. It sounds like you handled it very well-- everyone remained safe which is the most important thing! All in a day's work, eh?

Swistle said...

Oh, man!! The sight of fire is so very, very scary! And I have DEFINITELY left things unattended on the stove. The only reason I haven't had a Fire Experience is PURE LUCK.

Hillary said...

As a soon-to-be Mom, I will keep this in mind! I'm glad everyone is okay.

samantha jo campen said...

"flaming nipple remains" made me pee a little. I'm so glad everyone is okay, and it is only because of that do I laugh and laugh.

Oh and I got your PIF package--I love it! Thanks!!

superpaige said...

Oh, that's so funny! Thanks for sharing!