June 21, 2012 4:26 pm ET
I started the fire and needed to put it out.
It began with the events that led me to write my blog about my mother’s struggle with dementia. I had the best intentions and like some days they went awry.
My 91-year-old mother fell in her home and my brother and I had to call 911. She had fractured her pelvis and it required professional assistance. Two angels arrived in the form of paramedics Tasha Williams and Cherish Ross of Station One in Towson. They had to use their special tools—kindness, concern, kid gloves and bright smiles—to deal with one who would never see her home again.
I promised them I would write a thank you letter to which I did. Since I receive so much spam email I had to have my filters fine tuned (so I thought) to deal with this menace. I continued to have issues and would do email searches if I was informed that someone sent me something I did not respond to. Sometimes it is hard to hand search each day’s 100 e-mails of spam.
I wrote Chief Hohman my thank you email as I had promised the angel paramedics. I waited for a response and did numerous email computer searches. Nothing turned up, or at least that is what I had thought. The truth is the chief responded in a very timely fashion.
When the county’s blog came up, my OCD kicked in and I fired off an angry comment. I harshly criticized Chief Hohman for (as I thought) and unjustly so, not responding. From there things went downhill, at least for me.
I received a very polite phone call from the Chief Hohman’s office inquiring if I had received his response. As the person, Ms. Kelly Thomas patiently waited, I again performed a search of (at her suggestion) my spam folder. Again nothing showed up, except my original email. She then provided me with the date and there it was. Since there was no rock big enough for me to hide under, I sought refuge in my comments as a mea culpa.
I promised to atone for my stupidity by blogging about the reality of the situation rather than my misguided comments. I even asked Chief Hohman for some input, which he provided. Given my comments towards the chief, that took true professionalism on his part to even reply to one as misguided as I was on this issue.
The Chief wanted to remind us of two lifesaving things we as citizens can do to protect ourselves.
The first area of concern is smoke detectors.
- Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, including the basement; do not put smoke alarms in the kitchen, bathroom or the garage because cooking, steam and exhaust fumes may set them off.
- Install smoke alarms both inside and outside sleeping areas, since many dangerous fires occur late at night or early in the morning. If you sleep with your bedroom door closed, absolutely install an alarm inside the room.
- Install smoke alarms on the ceiling or above eye level on the walls. Smoke and deadly gases rise, so installing them at the proper height will provide the earliest possible warning.
- These devices are easy to install; usually a screwdriver is the only tool you’ll need.
The second area is carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Call 911 immediately.
- Open the doors and windows to ventilate the house, then leave the house.
- Do not re-enter until experts have investigated the problem and declared it safe to return.
I want to thank the chief for his patience in this matter. This is not my first mea culpa and I’m sure it won’t be my last.
I guess that is why he John Hohman is chief of the Baltimore County Fire Department.