Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Check Your Smoke Detector Batteries, Everyone!

Because about an hour and a half ago, ours got a workout.

Wouldn't you know, the one night I get to bed early, at 10 PM. The rain had just started, and we were snuggled in for a nice night of cozy sleep, listening to the rain come down.

Until 12:30AM, when our smoke detector started SCREAMING. J. and I woke up together...we both thought at first it was his alarm clock, then immediately realized what it really was. My first thought was, naturally, 'The damn thing wants a new battery'. J. sat up and smelled smoke, and in admirable Alpha Male fashion, began barking, 'THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE, GET OUT!' at the top of his lungs. He went for the phone while I went for the kid, turning on lights as we went. The house was smoky, but no obvious fire. I did have trouble waking N., I was yelling, 'Wake up, the house is on fire!' and shaking her leg really hard, which got -zero- results, the kid was either out or starting to succumb to the smoke, which was heavier in her room. I ended up grabbing her by the ankle and dragging her towards me, hand over hand, thinking I was going to have to put my years of CPR training into use.

We all got out to the living room, and had the front door open and every light in the house on. Still no flames, and the smoke detectors had shut the Hell up, since we had opened doors & windows. We stuck N. on the front porch with instructions NOT to come back into the house, and to run out to the tree in the front yard (our fire drill plan we practice) if she saw flames, while we waited for the fire department, got dressed and grabbed our wallet/purse, N.s favorite stuffed bunny and my computer tower, which has family photos on it. Two things I did not grab and damned well should have were our folder of important papers (birth certificates, N.'s immunization records) and our daily medications. We did haul Jake the sparrow and Nadine the crow out back, where they got rained on a bit...they ended up thinking it was a fun midnight bath, though.

The police got here first, and their first task was to take a head count and get everyone out, which we did. The fire department was less than 15 seconds behind them. One of the cops was nice enough to let N. sit in the back of her police car while J. and I went around with the firemen (and women), telling them what we smelled where, was anything left on, etc. We all get well soaked since it's POURING rain still.

Still no source for the smoke and no flames, but everyone agrees that something is damned well burning, somewhere. I had turned off the central heat, which was set to 68 degrees but had not come on, since the house was 70 degrees. The attic was smoky, so J. climbed up on the roof to check the central heat/AC unit (he doesn't even get a break from his job at night, in the pouring rain, poor guy!). Well, I heard him YELP, and knew we'd struck paydirt.

He climbed down and killed the circuit breaker for the thing--it had shorted out and shocked the crap out of him when he touched it. Yay, we have a source! Everyone agrees that it should be OK now, with no power to it, and we collect the kid, thank the emergency personnel and wave goodbye to them. I've already decided that I'm not sleeping anymore tonight, and that N. is going to spend the night at grandma & grandpa's house. So we get her into dry clothes, pack up her favorite stuffed bunny and J. runs her over there. Meanwhile I've got every window open, and am trying to air out the house...but that smell does hang in the air.

Overall, it went about as well as a house fire could go, and was a great test of our fire drill practices.

I could have done without it, really, though, especially the ringing headache the smoke gave me.

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