this is not a drill!

If there’s one thing I find somewhat alarming about living in Dubai, it’s the building fires. And when you live in an area that’s been dubbed the Tallest block in the world” because of the number of residential skyscrapers, it can be a little disconcerting. Especially when one tower has sadly caught fire twice! Thankfully, all humans and animals got to safety on both occasions.

Our building is fortunately only 30 floors high, which is relatively low compared to buildings of 70+. Of course, we’ve had our fair share of fire alarms going off at all times of the day, and while we were quick to react at first, false alarms became so regular at one point, we would often just sit through them unfazed. I myself have been guilty of setting off our kitchen smoke alarm – that’s what happens when you’re so over eager to use your new Le Creuset pot, you forget to remove the price tag from its base! For the record, I hadn’t actually burnt our meal or triggered the actual fire alarm, but it was somewhat embarrassing having to explain to the rather concerned guy who immediately called from reception that I was just cooking and hadn’t in fact started a kitchen fire … yet.

So when our fire alarm rang out the other day, we weren’t overly concerned. Because there had a been a spate of fires in our area over the last week, we thought they might be testing the system. But the alarm just wouldn’t quit and with our calls to reception going unanswered, I popped out the door and saw that all the lifts were grounded, which was rather odd. In past alarms, the lifts were always still going. I then went out onto our balcony to check if people were evacuating the building and although I couldn’t see anything, I heard sirens – hmmm … are those sirens for us? I go back out to our floor landing, still no activity, but I do start to hear people in the stairwell. They too aren’t quite sure if it’s a false alarm but are heading down anyway because the alarm still blaring.

Through all this, Poss & Ari are just casually sitting around glued to their phones and the TV, seemingly oblivious to the alarm that’s about to render us deaf. When I say to Poss that things don’t seem quite right and that we should leave, he’s convinced it’s another false alarm and doesn’t budge. So like any good wife, I choose to ignore him, put the cat in his carrier (just in case we do need to evacuate), grab my phone and together with Ari, make our way down the stairwell to find out what’s going on.

Boy, do you begin to appreciate living on a lower floor when you have to rush down the stairs. Even just 18 floors up, the stairs seemed never ending! And all I could hear was the thudding echo of the stairwell doors and my own heartbeat – well I hoped that’s what I was hearing and not the actual building slowly imploding. When I finally got outside, I was greeted by a sea of other tenants. So the sirens were for us after all.

When I caught up to Ari, I didn’t know a building sweep was underway and had in fact reached our flat where, as you might have guessed, my Poss was still casually sitting playing a game on his blooming phone! So when Ari told me his father was already heading down, I just hoped he hadn’t forgotten the cat! Any worry could have been avoided of course if we had all just come down together in the first place like I asked – MEN! Anyway, he soon emerged, more importantly, with the cat in tow. He even had time to grab his wallet – unlike me, who was sitting on the pavement in my striped Grease pyjamas, braless, with only a half charged phone to my name.

Thankfully, there was no fire. The cause for the alarm was an overheated electrical panel and we were able to return to our flats once the firefighters had declared the building secure. Safe and sound, at least we learnt a thing or two from the incident – firstly, that maybe we’d gotten a little too complacent because it could have been more serious, but perhaps more notably, that I obviously have no qualms abandoning my husband to potentially save myself lol! Trust me, if there was an ocean involved, he would do the same without batting an eyelid. Ah … true love 😉

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Ex-expat Dubai Diva wife - still trying to take it all in her stride, one stiletto at a time!

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