My nightmares tend to follow one of three patterns. Two have no discernible cause, but the third definitely does.
Every since a fire alarm salesman came to our house when I was about five and showed a scare-tactic film about people without smoke alarms dying in fires, I have had nightmares about fire.
I had one Sunday night. A house two houses from me was smoldering and the one next to me started burning. By the time I grabbed a water hose, it was engulfed, and I told my wife we had to get home and get the pets because I knew ours would be next.
We got home and I called the fire department. They knew about the fires but were nonchalant. They would get there eventually, they said.
I woke up with my heart just pounding. I got up and checked the house and all the pets to make sure they were okay. Everything was fine, but the only thing that enabled me to go back to sleep was making a detailed evacuation plan in my head for how to get me, my wife and all the pets out in case of fire.
The dream didn't feel like a premonition. But when at about 11:10 pm two nights later, the building fire alarm went off, it sure felt like one!
My wife and I got up and put on our clothes. She went and got the at carriers and I got the bird carrier. We calmly loaded the pets into the carrier and went down seven flights of stairs and into the snow. It took us maybe five minutes. Luckily, we seem to share a brain in crisis...neither of us panicked. We just got it done.
On my way out of the house, I grabbed my external hard drive and the garage door opener.
Once outside, I used to garage door opener to enter the garage from the outside and I ran in and got our car. We then loaded all the pets into the car to protect them from the cold.
Lucky we did...we were outside for about an hour before the security folks cleared the alarm and let us back in. The fire department never showed. Also a no show...ANY Estonians. The only other folks to evacuate were someone from Finland and someone from Lithuania. Also a no-show...the neighbor who set off the alarm with a pot on the stove...she didn't bother to let those of us standing in the snow know that there was not really a fire.
At any rate, my take-away from this is that having a plan really helps. That if something bad happens, both of us will be calm and do what we need to do to get our family to safety.
I feel better knowing that.
I suppose an hour in the snow is not too great a price to pay for that.