There is nothing quite like a large kitchen fire to get you moving in the morning ? it is the most effective kind of wakeup call.

There is also nothing like a kitchen fire to make you realize how little fire safety some students actually know. And when I say “some students,” I am referring to my friends and myself.

School districts across the country spend millions of dollars every year educating children about proper fire safety. Teachers speak to classes, firemen demonstrate proper fire safety techniques and PBS airs after-school specials.

All that money down the drain. Flush-flush.

Last week I was sitting in my room when I smelled something burning. I assumed it was a piece of toast that was being overcooked. Mistake No. 1. Never assume there is not a fire. There is always a fire. Even when nothing is being cooked, there is a fire. Spontaneous combustion, anyone?

I did not think much of the smell and went back to doing nothing. Mistake No. 2. Always investigate burning smells. Oftentimes, there is a fire to go along with burning smells.

Five minutes later I noticed the smell was getting stronger. This time I went to go investigate, not because I was worried about a fire and the safety of everyone in the building but because I was worried the fire was my fault. There was a possibility I left the toaster on, and I did not want the entire building yelling at me.

I opened my bedroom door and immediately realized something was not quite right. The whole hallway seemed hazy. I stepped out my door and could not see the lounge. I rubbed my eyes. I looked again. The lounge was lost in smoke.

I walked towards the smoke and started yelling, “Oh my God! You guys!”

Apparently, my voice only has one pitch. Instead of a panicked tone, I had a “Oh, aren’t puppies cute” tone. It was not until I started yelling “Fire! Fire!” that anyone took major notice.

All my suitemates ran into the lounge to join me in gaping at the flames shooting from the toaster. Mistake No. 3. Do not walk towards a fire.

It was at this point when we realized how ineffective all those years of elementary school fire safety actually were.

We just stood and stared at the fire and had no clue what to do.

Remembering why I left my room in the first place, I opened the door to let the smoke out of the room. The toaster might be engulfed in flames, but I’d be damned if the fire alarm went off.

It was a good thing I was holding the door open, because the only other thing I could think to do was dump water on the fire. Mistake No. 4. Do not dump water on electrical appliances, even if they are on fire.

Luckily, one of my suitemates had her thinking cap on. She unplugged the toaster and then looked to us for support as she dumped a pot of water on the fiery inferno.

As the steam cleared away, I was immediately relieved. The charred remnants of croissant remained on the blackened grill. It was not I who started the fire. I do not eat croissants.

I have learned two things from my fire experience. One, yet again my personal adage has been proven true. A person learns more in everyday life than in the classroom ? grade school or college.

Two, I need to brush up on my fire safety skills. While I understand the basic concept of “stop, drop and roll,” I just might not understand the finer points. In fact, considering my performance last week, there is a strong possibility that I would just remember the “stop” and forget the “drop and roll” parts if my clothing actually did catch fire.

The Flaming Croissant Incident made me realize that it is time to brush up on my fire safety skills. Throughout the week, do not be surprised if you see me in the Multimedia Center watching after-school specials and creating a safe escape route.



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