When I was in college, a few girls thought it was fun to pull the fire alarm and force everyone out into the night air. It didn’t happen often, and I didn’t mind too much, since I was out there with my friends and it was a a little exciting. But now that I’m an adult, it doesn’t go over as well–especially since I take life more seriously than I did then.
My husband, Rick, and I drove a few hours to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina recently for a couple of days in spite of rainy, cold temperatures. The weather had improved our last day there, and we settled in for a good night’s sleep. For some reason, shortly after I lay down, I thought about the large number of units in our all-wood building and realized the place is a fire trap.
A few minutes later a strange bleeping sound started, and I wondered if the fan in the room was having problems. Before I could investigate, Rick told me it was a fire alarm. When we checked outside, all of the lights on the front on the building were blinking, and the noise became louder as we opened the door. Soon an employee of the hotel informed us that they didn’t know what was caused the alarm to go off, but they wanted everyone to exit the building in case it was a fire. Not what I was hoping for.
I took just enough time to slip on some pants under my gown and put on some shoes and a coat, not worrying about what anyone would think about my appearance, and we started out into the chilly air to cluster with the hodgepodge of hotel guests. I felt uncomfortable next to a group of young guys, but a pajama-clad family put me at ease. (No one even glanced down at my embarrassing display of jacket, long gown, and pants.)
Two fire trucks had arrived by then, and we wondered if the firemen were going into every unit. Knowing that would take a long time, I hoped they could figure it out some other way. In the meantime, we discussed everything from sports to the lack of film development available. Everyone seemed to assume there wasn’t a fire, and Rick kept saying he wasn’t worried, since even the closets had sprinklers. (Of course, he also said he hoped they wouldn’t go off and get everything wet.)
Less than thirty minutes after the escapade began, the firemen waved us back inside, but Rick and I had trouble relaxing and falling asleep. We were relieved, of course, to be back in the room, since there wasn’t a problem.
The only other time I’d been ousted from a hotel was a few years ago when the alarm in an old building went off three times in one evening! We heard they’d been having trouble with it, but I really thought it should be fixed. After getting locked out of the stairwell the second time it sounded, I stayed in the room the third time, which is one reason they need a new system.
I hope you’ll never have to evacuate for a real or unreal fire.