Written by Heidi Nestor, Writer and Editor, Life Alert
Snickers, the Calico cat, ran throughout the old Victorian house that sat at the end of the block. He was looking for Granny, and found her where he had feared she’d be…in the attic. That only meant one thing - Granny was pulling out seasonal decorations for the Fourth of July, Snickers’ least favorite holiday.
Granny heard him mewing and yelled to him that she would be down shortly to fix his dinner. But that wasn’t what he was upset about. He mewed again. Granny told him not to worry that she wouldn’t accidently lock herself in the attic again like she did on Mother’s day. “Besides,” Granny added, “I have my Life Alert on, if anything happens I’ll just push my magic button and help will arrive.” Snickers howled this time and Granny peered down the retractable attic stairs to see the Calico staring up at her. “What is it?” Granny asked while carrying a small box of red, white and blue decorations downstairs.
Snickers took one look at the box and took off. Granny then knew what his problem was - the noise from all the fireworks. “Don’t worry, my pet, the kids are coming over.” That would make the evening a little better because the kids always comforted him, so he could bare himself through the night of fireworks.
By the time Snickers had eaten, bathed himself, and was napping peacefully in the grandkids rooms upstairs, Granny had fully decorated the picnic table and bench in the backyard for the evening’s festivities.
“DING DONG” came from the front door announcing visitors had arrived. Snickers had beaten
Granny to the door and they both welcomed in the grandkids, all nine of them.
“C’mon Snickers, let’s go play,” called out the ten year old boy. He ran up the stairs to the room where he stayed when visiting Granny. Snickers followed in pursuit. “I want to play, too,” yelled the boy’s seven year old cousin running hot on their trails.
The rest of the kids and parents made their sojourn to the large back yard where Granny’s eldest son started the grill for cooking the traditional hotdogs and hamburgers. The family sat at the picnic table talking and laughing. Everyone was in a festive mood while excitedly waiting for the firework show that the small town puts on every year in the park across the street from the Victorian house.
Meanwhile, upstairs the two cousins and Snickers played on the beds when suddenly the boy says, “Hey, guess what I got?”
“What?” replied his younger girl cousin.
“Uh-huh, my dad gave it to me.”
From his pocket he pulled out a wrapped sparkler.
“Cool!” she said. “Let’s light it.”
The boy tore off the wrapping and the two raced down to the kitchen with Snickers in tow. They lit the sparkler by the gas stove and soon colored sparks started twirling about.
“Let me hold it,” The girl squealed.
“No, it’s mine,” The boy shouted back.
The girl tried to grab it but the boy started to run into the living room. There she chased him around the furniture as sparks flew into the air and onto the furniture. Then the kids ran out of the room, through the kitchen, out the door into the back yard never noticing the couch started to smoke. One of the sparks had flown off and landed on it.
The fireworks show started as Granny’s living room filled with smoke. Snickers ran to the door that leads to the back yard but it was closed. This was not turning into a good night for the little feline. First, he had to endure all the noise from the fireworks, now the home is filling with smoke and none of the kids are there to make him feel safe.
Outside the family sat around the picnic table happily scarfing up holiday food, listening to music, and watching the loud explosions in the sky while never hearing the house phone ring. The Life Alert Monitored Smoke Detector had gone off signaling the emergency center.
A dispatcher was calling Granny, but since there was no answer he notified the local fire department. Sirens rang thought-out the neighborhood ending at the end of the street where the old Victorian house sat.
“Mom, those sirens sound like they’re right out front.” Said Granny’s daughter, and before they knew it a fireman had walked into the yard holding Snickers and explained that they had arrived just in time before the couch fully ignited, and it was now safe to go back in.
Everyone ran into the living room and stared at the black soot that ruined Granny’s green velvet Victorian tufted sofa.
“My couch!” exclaimed Granny. “How did this happen?”
The boy and the girl gave each other guilty glances but remained quiet. Granny asked all the family members but no one knew how an empty living room could have caught a couch on fire.
“But we never heard anything,” said Granny’s son.
“All the outside noise prevented you from hearing the alarm and the phone ringing.” The uniformed man said. Snickers piped up with loud meow, “Or your furry family member. Nights like this even your neighbors don’t know there’s a problem until it’s too late.”
Suddenly two female firefighters came down the stairs from checking out the house making sure everything was ok and overheard the conversation.
“Everything looks good upstairs; did you find what the cause of the fire?” One of them said.
“Not yet,” answered the fireman.
“A mystery indeed,” retorted the other firewoman, “I don’t feel comfortable leaving without finding out the cause first.”
“Let’s go over everyone’s story again and again.” The other one said looking at the young boy.
“This could take all night,” piped up the boy.
“Indeed it could. Too bad you’re not going to be able to enjoy the rest of the food and firework show,” replied one of the female firefighters. Discouraged, the boy stepped forward and explained what he and his cousin had done. The firewomen smiled at him and pulled out the sparkler wrapper and handed it to him.
The fireman said, “What’s really important is that Life Alert notified us before a catastrophe happened.”
After getting a strong warning about the safety of fireworks, even sparklers, from the fire fighters and the boy’s parents, the family was finally able to return to the festivities in the back yard.
“I’m sorry about your couch, Granny,” said the boy handing her some pocket change. “I’ll pay to fix the couch.”
“I don’t want your money, my love, just your promise that you will never do something like this again.” He agreed and went to play with the other kids.
Granny’s son put his arm over her and said, “Mom, are you going to be able to afford to fix the couch?”
“I’ll manage. Besides, I’ll just use the discount I get from my homeowner’s insurance by having a monitored fire alarm.”
“I’m sure happy you have that Life Alert protecting you.”
“So am I.” Granny answered and then Snickers walked up and leaned against her leg, “And I think Snickers is grateful too.”
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