“Gracie,” Mom whispered. “Wake up. It’s time for family prayer.”
Grace groaned and pulled the covers over her head. She was so warm and cozy in her bed. She heard her sister Charlotte get up and go into the living room. Grace stayed in bed, hoping her family would forget about her and just say the prayer. Dad had to leave for work early every morning, so everyone got up then to say good-bye and have a prayer.
“Grace, time to get up,” Mom called. Grace sighed and dragged herself out of bed. Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, she mumbled to herself, “What’s the point? We pray for the same things every day.”
“Hello, sleepyhead,” Dad said with a smile. Grace scowled at him. She knelt on the floor next to Charlotte and bowed her head.
“Help us to be like Jesus and to love one another. Please help us have a good day and bless us with health and safety. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen,” Charlotte said. “Amen,” chorused the family.
“Good-bye, everyone,” Dad said, “I love you.” Dad spied Grace, who was still scowling, and asked, “Where’s my good-bye smile?” Grace couldn’t help but smile as Dad reached out to tickle her, but she still felt grumpy.
Grace felt tired all morning at school. She was sure it was because she had to get up so early for family prayer. “If only I could sleep half an hour longer, I’m sure I wouldn’t feel so sleepy,” she thought.
Later that afternoon at home, Grace was eating a snack while Charlotte watched cartoons. Suddenly they heard pounding on the front door. Grace stood up and walked toward the door, but before she could open it, a man burst through it, yelling, “Fire! Fire! Hurry and get out! Your house is on fire!” Hearing the noise, Mom came rushing from the kitchen, a frightened look on her face. She grabbed the girls and rushed them out the front door. The man pointed to the flames coming from their roof. Smoke billowed into the sky as the flames climbed higher and higher. Mom led the girls to the neighbors’ porch across the street. “Stay here while I go call 911,” she said before running into the neighbors’ house. After Mom disappeared, Charlotte began to cry. “I want my mommy.” Grace hugged her, saying, “It’s OK, Mommy just went inside to call the fire department.”
By the time Mom came back, they could already hear sirens blaring. A big red fire truck roared up the street, screeching to a halt in front of their house. The firefighters leaped from the fire engine and began spraying Grace’s house with a big hose. Once the blaze died down, they went inside to check the house for any lingering flames. Mom hugged the girls as they watched the firefighters work.
Dad’s car pulled into the neighbors’ driveway. He jumped out.
“What happened?” Dad cried.
Shaking her head, Mom said, “I was starting dinner in the kitchen when a man came in and shouted that our house was on fire. He was working on the electrical lines and saw the smoke. I had no idea what was going on. …” She paused. “He saved our lives.”
Grace said in a trembling voice, “It was lucky that he was working up on the power poles and saw the smoke, or we might have been inside when the fire got worse.” Grace didn’t want to think of what might have happened.
Dad hugged everyone and said with tears in his eyes, “Let’s kneel right now and thank Heavenly Father for His protection.”
“What about the house, Dad?” Grace cried.
Dad said quietly, “I don’t care about the house. I’m just grateful you are all safe.”
Grace had never felt so much love and happiness as she knelt with her family. Then she remembered their family prayer that morning for health and safety. Shame washed over her as she recalled how she had acted.
“I’m sorry, Heavenly Father,” she prayed silently. The warm feeling returned to her heart. She knew that Heavenly Father had protected her and her family, and she was grateful that He had heard and answered her family’s prayer.
During family home evening, talk about how to prevent fires and what to do if there is a fire in your home.
Talk about fire prevention:
Never play with matches.
Stay away from lit candles.
Always have adult supervision in the kitchen.
Don’t plug too many things into an electrical outlet.
Talk about what to do if there is a fire. Do you have an escape plan? Smoke can make it difficult to see, so plan several escape routes.
If you live in an apartment building, learn where there is a fire escape or a stairwell.
Windows should be easy to open and screens easy to remove.
Talk about safe ways to leave your home, such as crawling on your hands and knees to escape the smoke. Do not run if your clothes are on fire. Stop, drop, and roll.
Make sure your fire alarm works. Check the batteries regularly.
If there is a fire, do not stop for a favorite toy or to call 911. Once you are out, stay out and do not go back in for any reason.
Never hide under a bed or in a closet, which makes it very difficult for a rescuer to find you. If you cannot get out on your own, stand in front of an open window and wait for help.
Decide on a meeting place a safe distance from the house, like a fence or a mailbox, so your family will know that everyone got out safely.
Practice a fire drill at home just as you do at school. You should practice every few months and time yourselves to see if you can get out faster than you did before. Try to have everyone out of the house and at the meeting place in three minutes or less.
If you would like more information about fire safety, visit the United States Fire Administration Web site at www.usfa.fema.gov/kids.