|Wake me at break time.|
I may need to run to the bank, drop by the library, get my oil changed or go pay a bill. I try to do as many things as I can in one day, but it doesn't always work out that way. Many days, I am only able to get about five hours sleep. I can do this for a couple of days, but it starts to catch up to me pretty quickly. Yesterday morning was going to be a good sleep day.
My daughter was already out of school and had an event after school that even provided her with a ride home afterwards. I would be able to go to bed and sleep until I woke up. I had gone short for the last couple of days, so I was really looking forward to it. Plus, I knew that I would barely get four hours the next day, so I needed to be well rested going into the weekend.
As soon as I take my coat off in the house, I notice how cold it is. The thermostat showed 58 degrees. The pilot light on my furnace had gone out again. That happens occasionally. I re-lit it and went to bed. I don't even remember laying down. I was out immediately.
Some time passes and I am jolted awake by a knocking on my bedroom door. As soon as I sat up to answer, my chest and eyes were burning. I started coughing and was having trouble breathing. I stumbled to the door. As I opened it, the light from the hallway lit up the smoke that had filled the house, including my bedroom.
My son Christian had dropped by the house and was met with a wall of smoke when he stepped in. He had immediately woken me and told me that there was a lot of heat coming from the furnace. I opened the furnace doors and tried to turn off the gas, but the controls were too hot to touch. I got it shut down using a rag. The blue flames disappeared immediately, but I could see a red glow still coming from the interior of the furnace. At this point, I occurs to me that I will not be getting all the sleep I had been looking forward to.
Fearing my house was on fire, I called 911. They told me to get everyone out of the house. I suddenly became aware that I was still in my underwear. Since the house wasn't actually burning down around me, I got dressed quickly and then went outside. I could already hear the sirens. I started checking out the roof and piping coming out of it, but could see no smoke.
It took me about 30 seconds to realize how cold it was outside. I knew the fire fighters would not let me near the house again once they got there, so I held my breath and went back in to get my coat. While I was in there, I also grabbed my laptop and my phone. Still no flames, but I couldn't see through the smoke. I remember thinking, "At what point am I supposed to stop, drop, and roll?"
They said the breaker to the furnace had blown in the fuse box, which means the blower was not running. The flames were building heat, but the blower was not distributing it through the house. I don't know anything about this stuff, but will attempt to explain it as I understand it.
Apparently, there are safeties in place to keep this sort of thing from happening. If the blower stops running, some little dude inside is supposed to notice and kill the flames. However, he fell asleep on the job or didn't show up for work and never turned the flames off. This allowed the heat to reach unacceptable levels. The same department must be in charge of my smoke detectors, because they never went off. Despite the battery change from six weeks ago. I'm going to make rabbit stew out of the Energizer bunny.
A few hours later, I was able to crawl back under the smoke saturated covers to go back to sleep. I was able to get a few more hours sleep and was immediately reminded of the events of the day when I woke up to the smell, a wheezing chest, and a splitting headache.
I am not one to usually play the "what if" game, but two scenarios come to mind. What if Christian had not dropped by?
- The quickly increasing heat would have eventually caused a fire, burning my house down with me asleep in the back room.
- Even before the fire started, the smoke inhalation would have probably already done me in.
CHECK YOUR SMOKE DETECTORS, PEOPLE!