Get One of These, Now

by on April 21, 2006 · 2 comments

Do you have a working carbon monoxide detector with a digital readout? If not, you might want to consider getting one. A good one. We have one, and yesterday it stopped me from going to sleep and never waking up. (Note: Readers who have any regard for my intellect will find it evaporate upon reading this story. Bear in mind that I have never made any claim to be especially smart, although from time to time someone who knows me will make the mistake of thinking so; I just read too much and ask too many questions).

We’d recently had a new furnace and air conditioner put in to our retro chic 70′s townhouse. There was a lot of wrassling with duct work. I noticed a hole in some of the older pipes, but didn’t think much of it; the hole was right front and center, and I’d assumed that whatever pipes it was in couldn’t possibly be the exhaust pipes… I mean, that would mean that the installers had been insane. Then a handyman working in our basement noticed the same thing, and told me that yes, those were the exhaust pipes, and I really needed to get someone to look at them. I called the furnace guys, who assured me that a small hole wouldn’t be a problem. I made them promise to send someone out anyway. It was Thursday, and they said they would send someone Monday. After all, we weren’t using the furnace…

Friday afternoon, after putting the Grub down for his nap and lying down myself, I was feeling oh so sleeeeepy, very sleeepy, sort of like I’d been hit on the head by a brick. I was just drifting off when the carbon monoxide detector, which is right next to my bed, starts shrieking at me. Furious, because it’s LOUD and immediately wakes up the Grub, I yank it out of the wall, open the windows, and (here’s where the idiocy comes in) I lie back down to take my nap. (Background: over the last couple years we have been plagued by false alarms from our smoke detectors, so that sort of explains my idiocy, but not quite, because it’s obvious when a smoke detector is giving a false alarm, but not at all with a CO detector, which is the whole point of having one). All I can think of is how tired I am, and how annoyed I would be if the Grub won’t fall back to sleep again. Then just by chance my husband calls. Now I’m REALLY annoyed because the phone just stops me from drifting off again and again wakes up the Grub. It’s my husband. We have a short conversation about how our respective days are going. I happen to mention that I’m annoyed because it is too noisy and the Grub isn’t napping. We


then have a conversation along the following lines:

Husband: So what’s so noisy?
Me: The CO detector going off.

There’s a pause.

Husband: What? It did?
Me: Yeah, I’m SO annoyed because I really just want to go to sleep.
Husband: Um… did you call the fire department?
Me: Well, no, we’ve had so many false alarms…

At that point I just knew, of course, that he was going to make me call 911. I was SO ANNOYED. It was pretty clear that I wasn’t going to get to go to SLEEP, and that was really all I wanted to do.

So I called 911, long story short, and the nice 911 operator was sort of stunned that I hadn’t gotten my butt out of the house yet, especially when I explained to her that I really just wanted to take a nap, and she told me to get out of the house, and take the Grub with me (except she didn’t call him the Grub). And so reluctantly, sleepily, I did. The Grub was seriously irked. And the fire department showed up in force and measured our CO level, and what do you know? CO there was, indeed, especially in the basement. We had to spend the rest of the afternoon out in the yard, waiting for repair guys to show up and layer our ductwork with furnace cement.

It didn’t really occur to me until later that night just how incredibly stupid I was being. What the heck was I thinking? Why didn’t I get the heck out of the house when the alarm went off? Was I under the influence of the gas? It only got up to 13 parts per million in our room. Or am I just… an idiot? I’d like to think that I was already under the influence of the CO. “Isn’t it pretty to think so,” someone said once, (okay, completely wrong context, from Hemingway, utterly wrong context, but I’ll use it anyway).

My husband says that I must never, ever divorce him, because if I did a) something horrible was sure to happen to me and b) he would be sure to bring this incident up at the custody hearing.

  • http://www.withoutbound.net/blog/ Amanda

    I’d bet you were being affected by the CO. Fatigue, irritability, and confusion are typical symptoms of low-level CO poisoning.

  • http://www.withoutbound.net/blog/ Amanda

    I’d bet you were being affected by the CO. Fatigue, irritability, and confusion are typical symptoms of low-level CO poisoning.

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