Fire? What Fire?

by: Lou Stein

It’s strange to think only the seniors, faculty, and staff will remember the Visitation Fire as it occurred in the spring of 2016. Reflecting on this event has reminded me of one of the most important yet tedious parts of dormitory living: Fire Drills. No one needs to be reminded why fire drills are important; unless you were homeschooled, you’ve been evacuating to the nearest designated exit and waiting outside until a fire marshal gives the ‘go-ahead’ for over 12 years. But even though most of us are pros at this safety standard, it amazes me how many people think of their fire drill experience as a chore. It’s time to realize that what many people take to be a boring and disruptive task, can actually be an enjoyable time in the right circumstances. So this week, I’m giving you my cherished advice on how to get the most out of your next fire drill.

Graphic by Anna Petersen

#1. Stop going unprepared. We’ve all had that fear, that the fire alarm will go off while we are in the middle of showering. Maybe we know someone who has been caught with wet hair and a bathrobe in front of the entirety of Beckman hall. Avoid this and any other fire-fashion-faux-pas, by always having a bag ready to go in case of emergency. It’s always good to have an emergency bag with you anyway, but make sure you have one specifically for fires. Include spare shoes and a change in clothes, a phone charger, cash, a flotation device, the keys to your uncles RV, three bottles of sparkling water, that can of soup your mom gave you, and a fire extinguisher (for obvious reasons). Keep this bag with you whenever you get to your dorm hall. Going to the bathroom? Bring your bag. Heading downstairs for a quick laundry run? Bring your bag. This way you will never be caught unprepared for the inevitable fire drill.

#2. Drop everything school related. Yes, I know you were in the middle of writing that six-page response due at midnight. Yes, I know that the fire alarm totally ruined your concentration. Instead of fighting it, take this mandatory exit as a sign from God: that you deserve a break, outside, and with some fresh air. Taking the time to not worry about school will be great for your stress level. I recommend that you use your brief moment of mental clarity to sit down and meditate, right there in the parking lot is fine. Light some candles or burn incense to really help get you in the mindset. Close your eyes and really focus on the moment. When you’re done, leave the candles burning on the ground for someone else to use later. Just because this may or may not be a real fire emergency does not give you an excuse to be a jerk to people. It’s called sharing. Try it sometime.

#3. Roll with the circumstance. So now that you’ve followed the first two steps and are both fully prepared and stress-free, you’re ready to have some fun with this fire drill. First, have some pizza delivered. You’re outside anyway, and the fire trucks will have cleared some traffic so you’ll get it in a fraction of the time you normally would. Second, take advantage of the captive audience that is all of your classmates huddled outside and in one place. This is your chance to say to them what you never had time for during an “Open Mike Night.” Recite your long-form poetry, or start signing your new mixtape. This is a golden opportunity to really express yourself artistically and get some constructive criticism from your peers. If you don’t have their attention, feel free to climb up on a car and shout your message over the hum of chatter. Your peers will be glad that you did because you are giving them some artistic culture.

Following these steps will make sure you are getting the most out of your fire drill experience. This may seem like a lot to take in, but fear not. So that you will remember them, they can be shortened down to my entirely original and patent-pending memory mnemonic: Stop, Drop, and Roll.

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