I’ve done a lot of dumb things in my life. One of the dumbest was nearly burning my house down.
I was melting wax to make candles while my parents were at work. I knew that I needed to put the can of wax in a water bath to keep it from burning. But I was too impatient to wait that long.
My sister was watching a video in another room. I sat down to watch with her while I waited for the wax to heat up, totally forgetting about my candle project. The video was almost over when I noticed smoke drifting past me. I’d been so distracted that I hadn’t noticed that my wax had caught fire!
When I ran into the kitchen I saw flames leaping four feet high and almost touching the ceiling. “Keri,” I yelled, “there’s a fire on the stove!”
Before Keri got into the kitchen I turned the gas off at both the stove and the gas cylinder. I was scared that the gas tank was going to explode!
Keri shouted for me to throw baking soda on the fire, but that seemed to make the flames jump higher. I started to get tongs to carry the can outside. I’ll just let the fire die out, I thought. But before I could return to the flaming can, Keri had tossed a pitcher of water on the fire. It put the fire out but also threw stinky wax (the baking soda made it smell bad) all over the walls, ceiling, stove, and Keri!
It took the two of us four hours to clean up the wax, but smoke stains on the kitchen ceiling still remind me of when I tried to rush candlemaking.
I’ve also gotten others to do dumb stuff. Where we live, we put trash in big pits to keep it from looking bad or blowing away. Our next-door neighbors had just dug a new pit to burn leaves and grass in. As soon as it was finished, Keri and I went over to play in it.
The next day we returned to the pit to play some more. We looked in and saw ashes instead of trash in the bottom of the pit. We thought it was just a thin layer of ash and had already cooled down, but neither of us wanted to jump in first. Suddenly Keri said, “I dare you to jump in.”
“You’ll have to jump in first,” I responded.
I didn’t expect her to actually jump, but she did. As soon as her feet touched the ashes, she began screaming and trying to crawl back out.
I pulled Keri out by her arms, leaving her sandals in the pit. I carried her home on my back, and she started soaking her feet in cold water while I ran the eighth of a mile to the hospital to get my mom. After that I went back to the pit to see if I could get Keri’s sandals. The soles had melted off.
Keri’s feet have healed now, but we still remember both of these incidents. They remind us to think things through before doing things that might hurt others or ourselves.
Illustrated by Joel D. Springer