Tilting At Windmills : Improve Your Sex Life With Fire Safety Tips
Published: March 1st, 2024
By: Shelly Reuben

Tilting at Windmills : Improve Your Sex Life with Fire Safety Tips

Ha. Fooled you into reading this column. Fire safety won’t do a single thing to make you more alluring (although fireplaces are very seductive). But over the years I have made a few observations that might help to make you less ... combustible.

First, my credentials. For over 30 years, I was a licensed private detective specializing in investigating the origin and cause of fires. I was a professional fire investigator certified by the International Association of Arson Investigators, and I am a court qualified expert. I can also catch bullets in my teeth, and I have a golden lasso of truth.

Okay, those last two are lies. I just wanted to get your attention. So … listen up. This might save your life.


Scenario: You have just come home from the market and are carrying a heavy paper bag filled with groceries. The telephone rings, so you thrust the bag onto the kitchen counter and rush out of the room. The call is from an attorney informing you that your old lab partner in high school (with whom you lovingly had once dissected a frog) has left you one million dollars in his will. This results in a long conversation. Forty-five minutes into it, you smell smoke. You terminate the call and dial 911.

The fire department extinguishes the fire, but before the fire marshals leave, they tell you that the fire started in the kitchen. Where? Why? How? “In the toaster,” they confide. Toaster? Now you’re really puzzled. Nobody made toast that morning. Nobody even thought about making toast. However, (are you still paying attention?) the cord of the toaster was plugged into a wall outlet at the time. And that, dear Watson, caused the problem.

Story Continues Below Adverts

When in a rush to answer the phone, you plonked your grocery bag on the counter, one stiff corner of the bag connected with the toaster’s elevator arm, depressing the lever and turning the toaster on. Since the corner of the bag held the lever in the DOWN position, after the toast cycle was finished, it could not pop up, and the coils inside continued to glow red-hot.

Then, one of two things happened: heat from the toaster ignited the paper bag, or the counter under the toaster reached ignition temperature and burst into flames. Either way, you had a fire.


Once upon a time, Luke the Plumber entered a lovely Tudor home to fix a leaky boiler. Deciding that all he has to do was weld a joint where two pipes connected, he took out his acetylene torch.

Unknowingly, the homeowner had invited a fire setter into his house. One who – damn the fool – disregarded all safety requirements set forth in NFPA 51B STANDARD FOR FIRE PREVENTION DURING WELDING, CUTTING, AND OTHER HOT WORK. Luke did not check his workspace to make sure that it was free of combustibles. He did not wet down the ceiling, walls or floors. He did not use fire retardant blankets or shields to protect nearby surfaces. He did not cover openings in ductwork to prevent sparks from traveling to another area of the house. And – this is really nasty – he didn’t have a fire extinguisher or a water bucket nearby to extinguish cinders or flames.

Given that leaky pipes are a fact of life, what can you do to prevent Luke the Plumber from burning down our homes? (1) Watch Luke’s every move. After he departs, make sure nothing he touched is smoking or still hot. (2) Continue to check the area where he worked for a few hours after he leaves, because sparks can hide in insulation, behind walls, and above ceilings, smoldering for a long time before bursting into flames as deadly as those spewing from the tip of his acetylene torch.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, torches used to solder metallic plumbing systems are among the top-ten causes of house fires each year.


In the wrong small hands, a box of matches or a fire starter can be as deadly as a live grenade. Children do not perceive these dangers, because they watch cartoons in which their heroes get blown up in explosions, yet survive intact. Warriors walk through flames, slay fire snorting dragons, inhale poisonous gases, and can see through smoke. They never become disoriented and stride out of burning buildings (or castles) without suffering a single blister, let alone a third-degree burn.

To combat these dangerous illusions and save lives, the late Emmy Award winning journalist Dr. Frank Field wrote and produced a no-nonsense DVD entitled FIRE IS. The DVD is divided into five straightforward sections: FIRE IS BLACK · FIRE IS HOT · FIRE IS FAST · FIRE IS SMOKE AND GAS · FIRE IS EMERGENCY.

The Uniformed Fire Fighters Organization of Greater New York described FIRE IS as “debunking the myths of traditional fire safety education methods like ‘Stop, Drop & Roll’ in favor of teaching children and parents real truths and how to better prepare to get out alive.” For more information about this excellent teaching tool, check out https://www.firesafetysaveslives.com/ Or watch it on YouTube (with your children or grandchildren): Fire Is... [compilation] - YouTube

Which ends your first lesson in how fire safety can improve your sex life. But before I leave you, please memorize these few tips:

 Unplug your coffee pot, your toaster, your electric kettle, or any other heat-generating appliance before you leave home or go to bed (you don’t have to unplug your stove or your microwave oven).

Story Continues Below Adverts

 Never leave your dryer unattended when drying clothes. By which I mean NEVER. Not even if you are just running out to get a large pizza with extra cheese and bacon.

 Never put oily rags in your dryer, even if they have been washed first, because that WILL START A FIRE.

 Never, never, never, never smoke in bed.

Copyright © Shelly Reuben, 2024. Shelly Reuben’s books have been nominated for Edgar, Prometheus, and Falcon awards. For more about her writing, visit www.shellyreuben.com