Saturday, October 08, 2005

CLEARING THE AIR

I was doing my chores around the house earlier today, feeling a little chilly. I finally decided TODAY is THE DAY, and turned on the furnace for the first time this year. I continued working and a little while later, the smoke detector went off.

I went to check on things, and found out it was actually the carbon monoxide detector. I was on the phone at the time and my friend, hearing the beep beep beep asked me if every thing is ok. I raised my voice to be heard over it and assured her everything is fine, we continued the conversation and then hung up.

I poked the buttons on the detector, it reset to "O" and it quieted. I returned to doing my chores and it went off again. The numbers read "246". Then "888", then "246". It would be nice if I knew if that meant something. I poked more buttons in an authoritative way and it quieted again. I sniffed the air (for an ordorless gas(!) ) and went in to the bathroom to check my face in the mirror. My cheeks, lips and nose weren't red, I didn't feel sleepy or nauseated.

But, not liking the idea of going to bed later that day and that basically being all she wrote, I called the fire department.

They said they'd be right over and suggested I go check on my duplex-mates. I did, told them what was going on and they said they all felt fine. I told them the fire department was on their way.

I went back to folding towels, and started hearing a lot of commotion on the other side of the duplex; like furniture being thrown around; doors opening and closing a lot, people hurrying up and down the hallway a lot. I haven't heard that much movement over there since I moved in.

The guys arrived, turned my furnace up full blast, turned on the hot water and started checking things out. Nothing was detected.

They came upstairs and looked at the detector itself. They all proclaimed it one of the better ones (a Nighthawk). The cute one turned it over and removed a part of the back. "When was the last time you changed the battery?"

"Battery?" I asked looking at it dumbly. "I just plug it into the wall."

"It has a battery back-up," he said, removing the battery and holding it up. "This is the original battery," he proclaimed.

"Well, then," I said, "It would be safe to say 'never'." He asked how long I had it, and it was four years. I related that I got it when I was working out of town a lot one winter and there was a gas leak in our townhouse one night while I was gone. A neighbor had arrived home from work and smelled the gas and had called the fire department. It was so strong, they evacuated the entire complex, but couldn't arouse anyone in our townhouse. Fearing the worst, they broke down the door, only to find it empty. I was in West Virginia and the girls were at their dad's. I had been told that if we had been home at the time of the leak, since it started in our apartment, we would probably have died. The first fireman who entered had taken off his respirator to knock down the door and he passed out from the build-up of fumes.

One of the firemen here today said "I was on that call! Boy, that was a strong door. It didn't want to go down."

"Yeah," I said. "You took part of the wall with it."

"We thought you were all dead," he said. I assured him I wasn't upset, just kind of surprised at what happens when a door is knocked down. They don't exactly spring open like they do on TV. I went on to explain that the events surrounding that made me more conscious of safety and I bought the carbon monoxide detector then.

They advised me to replace it today, then they looked at the smoke detectors and I assured them those got replaced every time the time changes....which come to think of it is the end of this month! I had never replaced the one in the carbon monoxide detector because I didn't realize it had one since it was electric.

I felt silly.

They assured me they prefer these calls much more than ones where people don't have detectors and need them. They also thanked me for having one.

Then they left, not needing to go over to the other side of the duplex. All of that commotion over there for nothing.

*snicker*

5 comments:

Jeff Meyerson said...

"All that commotion over there" wouldn't have been flushing the drugs down the toilet, would it?

Just asking.

punky said...

Of course it was, jeff. :-)

*wipes tear from eye*

Brings me back to my days in college.

Good times.

Kafaleni said...

wow.. glad everything was okay, Sly. You don't want to find stuff like that out the hard way. Really. We had DLS a couple weeks ago and I tested my fire alarm (don't have CO alarm, because I don't run anything on gas..) by burning onions and garlic.

punky said...

Oh ... and because I totally forgot what the post was originally about ... I add my comment about being relieved that everything turned out OK, Sly. Didn't mean to be so damn insensitive. I am *not* myself these days.

xo

Anonymous said...

Per www.carbonmonoxidedetectorsinkirkwood.com, "246" means "Change the battery" and "888" means "stupid."

But then you wouldn't have met the cute firefighter.