What Would You Do?

November 7, 2007
By Kathryn Liotta, Schenectady, NY

Whenever I walked outside for a fire drill at school, I never thought I would have to do it for real. Last summer I figured out that it could happen, anywhere, even on vacation!

It was the end of a fun vacation day at the New York State Fair. I was with my family in our hotel room relaxing and watching TV at about 10:40pm. I thought I was going to fall asleep on the couch. But, suddenly I was awoken by a loud, “boom!” What was it? My dad looked outside to see if it was thunder, but the sky was clear and we could see the full moon. We wondered if it could be fireworks... in August? Then, my dad went into the hallway to see if anyone was out there saying anything about it, but nobody was. He sat back down to watch TV with us again.

We figured the noise was not fireworks when the smoke alarm started going off. After only a few seconds, my mom smelled something. I did too. I remembered smelling something like it before. It seemed to be the same smell as one day when we were driving behind a truck. The truck driver hit the breaks. As the driver slowed down, the friction of the breaks caused a burning rubber smell. We knew something in the hotel had to be burning to make that kind of odor. It could not be good to smell anything like that for very long. We knew we had to get out.

Even though I have had fire drills every year at school, I did not know what to do. All I could remember was to get out. It seemed different because I was at a hotel. So, I just went into the hallway with my two little sisters Sierra and Kristine. While we were waiting for our parents to join us, some other people started coming out of their rooms. Everyone was wondering why the smoke alarm was going off. While all of this was happening, my parents sent my brother Dylan out into the hallway with us. Then, some workers started waving their arms signaling us to get out. At this point, I was wondering what was taking my parents so long. I quickly had to make the decision of waiting for the rest of the family or getting out. What if the workers knew more than us? What if there was a fire? What if our life was at risk? I thought it would be best to get out of the hotel right away. I went with most of my siblings out of the hotel without my parents and little brother Brian. On the way out, one of the workers asked us where we were going. I thought that was kind of funny because the fire alarm was going off and everyone was telling us to get out. I told him where we were going, “out” and pointed toward the door.

When we got outside, I realized we probably should have waited for our parents and little brother Brian, but now it was too late. We waited near the door watching for our parents to come out. After a little while my dad came out, followed by my mom carrying Brian. Now that we were all out of the hotel and together, we went to sit in our van. We thought it would take a while before we could go back into the hotel because the firemen had to come. They would have to find the problem and fix it. That is why my mom had taken the time to get some things like small blankets and my brother’s stuffed animals before she came out of the room. To our surprise, they let us back into the hotel in about fifteen minutes. On the way back to our room, my mom asked a fireman what had happened. He said that the belt to the air circulator broke in the pool area. There were no flames.

When we went into our room, the smell of burning rubber was still very strong. That was because our room was right above the pool. We went back into the hallway right away. Luckily, there was a fireman already nearby. He went into our room and opened the window. He also told us our room was the only one affected with the smell. My family waited in the hallway while our room aired out. When we went back in, I realized the smell was coming in through an air vent in our room, so we shut it off. That helped a lot. By then, it was midnight. My eyelids felt even heavier than before the alarm went off. I already had my pajamas on, so I just brushed my teeth and went to bed.

As I was trying to fall asleep, the events of that night kept going through my head. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before. I realized that you never know when there will be an emergency. But when there is one, you have to remember what you have learned and do what you think is right.

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