Saturday, October 20, 2012

Better Than Any Sleeping Pill

When I got off work yesterday morning, I was looking forward to getting to my bed. Working the midnight shift as a single parent gets a little challenging when it comes to finding enough time to sleep. I have no trouble falling asleep during the day, as I hear other people do, but parenting responsibilities get in the way.

Wake me at break time.
I get off at eight Tuesday through Saturday mornings. I have made arrangements to get Kirsten to school each morning, but I have to pick her up in the afternoon. She gets out of school at 3:30, so if I can be asleep by 8:30, I get almost seven hours. However, there are usually little things that chip that time away.

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?"

I step outside much happier now that I am not freezing and see the help arriving. Two police cars and three fire trucks fill up the street along with all my neighbors, who are coming out to investigate the excitement. I couldn't really explain it to them, because I was busy trying not to hack up a lung.

I cough out an explanation to the first fire fighter about what had happened as the others went inside. They determined that there was no fire, but the furnace was still very hot. The glowing I saw was probably glowing metal from the extreme heat.

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?
  1. The quickly increasing heat would have eventually caused a fire, burning my house down with me asleep in the back room.
  2. Even before the fire started, the smoke inhalation would have probably already done me in.
I am truly amazed at how much smoke was in my bedroom and I didn't even realize it. The toxic gases lulled me into a deeper sleep than I have ever experienced.The deep sleep was nice, but not worth it in the end.

CHECK YOUR SMOKE DETECTORS, PEOPLE!

22 comments:

  1. Wow, how crazy and terrifying! The whole way through, I kept thinking, "what if Christian hadn't stopped by?" That's going to be some awesome leverage he has for a long time to come! "Remember that time when I saved your life, dad? Can I have....?"

    Thank God you are okay and that your house didn't actually start burning.

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    1. The thing is, he moved out about 2 years ago. He recently moved back into town and has been spending the night at the house for the last week. He isn't normally at the house. The fact that he just happens to be around right now is the only reason he showed up. Good timing!

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  2. I try not to do "what if", too. I owe Christian a hug. or COOKIES

    I have to think, though, that if it wasn't Christian, it would have been someone else...maybe a nosy neighbor-kid who saw smoke through the window. Because God loves me and wouldn't kill you that way.

    You're welcome for saving your life. Love me.

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    1. I'm glad your were there for me then.

      Christian loved the hug and wants his soup.

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  3. Christian was literally a life saver. I shudder to think what could have happened.

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  4. What a terrifyingly close call! I'm glad you're okay. I'm going to go check my smoke alarms now.

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    1. I will be getting new ones that might actually work.

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  5. Christian RobinsonOctober 20, 2012 at 7:40 PM

    What can I Say... My "Spidey" sense was tingling(BTW I'm Batman). With Great Power, Comes An Overwhelming Sense Of Awesomeness!

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  6. Wow! Don't play the "What if" game. You can play that game with every decision in your life so there is no point to it. Just be thankful that the circumstances happened as they did. Either that, or because God likes Red, either way, be thankful.

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    1. Thank you. Thankful I am. The smoke smell is even dissipating pretty quickly.

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  7. Oh gosh. Thank goodness your son was there to wakd you up! There is never a dull moment in your life, is there?

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    1. The timing couldn't have been better. Well, he could have shown a bit earlier, but this works.

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  8. That's horrifying, especially that such a thing just makes our stupid bodies want to sleep more. No, body, that's NOT what we do when we smell fire. We wake the hell up so we can get out of there!

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    1. Not a very good self-preservation system. Before this, I would have thought that the smell of smoke would have alerted me to danger. Not anymore!

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  9. Holy cow! Glad everyone's okay. Our furnace also broke last week (no heat, blower wouldn't go off) and I thought THAT was annoying! Not even close.

    I am glad that you remembered stop, drop and roll (even if you refused to apply it).

    Firefighter husband also reminds me that even when smoke is suffocating, you can buy extra minutes by basically burying your face in the carpet (extra air resides there).

    Relieved for you! And no running back in next time, coat or no.

    The Worrier

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    1. I didn't know that about the carpet. Cool.

      Had there been actual flames, I would not have gone back in. I figured even if it did start burning, I would have time to walk out.

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  10. Wow! So thankful you are ok. How scary, but fortuitous that Christian was there. Somebody was definitely looking out for you . . . even if it was just for Red. ;)

    My house burned down when I was 18. Nobody was in the house at the time, so we were all very lucky, but we lost pretty much everything. It was a dark time. I haven't written about it because there is nothing really funny about it. It just makes me sad.

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    1. i know it's just stuff, but I would be devastated to lose it all.

      It's great that Christian was there.

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  11. I'm so glad you are all OK. That is some scary stuff there, my friend. My boyfriend was appalled the first time he saw my apartment: no functioning fire alarms, no extinguisher, and exposed wiring on my back porch. Did I mention that my boyfriend is a firefighter? Ummm. . .yeah. . . Suffice to say, we are completely up-to-code now.

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    1. I don't have an extinguisher, but do have smoke detectors. They didn't go off for some reason.

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