Skip to content

A Cautionary Tale

Last Friday night Dale and I went out for the evening to dinner at a friend’s house. We left about 5:30 and when we returned home at 10:30 our carbon monoxide detector was going off. Fred & George were clearly agitated by the noise and we had no idea how long it had been sounding. We thought perhaps it was a malfunction, because Dale when took it off the wall and removed the batteries, it stopped. But I insisted that we call the fire department just to be safe.

They arrived pretty quickly and determined that we did indeed have elevated levels of CO throughout our house. They were calm, but told me I needed to get Fred & George out of the house because little bodies absorb toxins quickly. That was an adventure in itself . . . George was hiding under our bed (big men in big coats and boots and hats sent him right over the edge) and I had to drag him out by the scruff of his neck. I managed, though, plopped him in his carrier, and put him out on the deck. I then grabbed Fred, who was equally skittish but he’s not a hider so he was right under my feet, plopped him in his carrier, and then put them both in my car.

I went back inside and talked to the fire fighters who were getting levels ranging from the high 30s to the low 60s in our living room, bedroom, and Dale’s office upstairs. Our furnace is in the basement and the readers there were fine so we knew it was the wood stove but we weren’t initially sure what had happened. The fire was really low (we’d been out for 5 hours, remember?) so Dale shoveled out the coals and they doused them outside. They brought in a giant fan and set it up at our front door and got the air cleared pretty quickly.

In the meantime, I went out to the car to sit with Fred and George and reassure them that all was well. Keep in mind that these are cats who have only left our house ONE TIME since we got them and that was for their neutering surgery a year ago. So, naturally, they were nervous. I sat in the passenger seat with George’s carrier on my lap, Fred was in his carrier on the driver’s seat. I unzipped them each enough to get my hand inside to pet them and comfort them. Fred, the little bugger forced his way out of his carrier and sat up on the dashboard for a minute or so. And then he went over to George’s carrier and nudged at the zipper. I opened it a bit and he pushed himself inside and curled up against George and then they both settled right down. It was the sweetest thing!

Once the fire department left, we brought the cats back inside. They were acting fine at this point and, while I was worried, they have had no side effects from the carbon monoxide. Dale was able to identify the problem on Saturday (creosote build up below the point where the inside pipe enters the chimney) and we are back in business. Our chimney has a steel liner and we did just have everything cleaned and inspected at the end of December, but have them scheduled to come out at the end of the week just to be certain all is well.

I am so grateful for many things. That Fred and George are okay. That we have an alternative source of heat when we need it. That we live in a small town and knew the fire fighters who walked through our door. That things were corrected quickly. And that the carbon monoxide detector did the job and saved our lives.

You see these stories on the news and never think they will happen to you. I’m here to tell you that these situations can happen to anyone so please, check your smoke detectors, check your carbon monoxide detectors, and stay safe out there, friends.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. So glad all is well! You’re right that these things can happen to anyone. Glad you heeded the alarm.

  2. Glad all four of you are ok. It is easy to be complacent about those things, so excellent reminder.

  3. Thank God you all (Dale, you and Fred & George) are all ok. How scary and thank goodness you did call the fire department. I think it’s so cute that the cats curled up together in one carrier!

  4. I’m glad this story has a happy ending! A work colleague wanted to borrow a trowel from me so she could bury her parakeet that had died. When she returned the trowel, she was complaining about having a headache at home but it seemed to go away at work. The dead parakeet and headaches made me think of CO and I told her she should get it checked immediately. Sure enough, her chimney furnace had a cracked flue liner and was leaking CO into the house. She didn’t have a CO detector then but she does now.

  5. Truly one of my few fears. So happy that all ended well for you and Dale and Fred and George! Will check our batteries today!

  6. I’m so glad this story has a happy ending, Carole. Thanks for sharing your frightening experience — may it remind all of us that safety “features” are there for a reason, and we should use them/heed them. XOXO (And do cats EVER like to go on car adventures????)

  7. I am so very glad this scary story had a happy ending, was so quickly resolved, with no ill-effects! (and this is such a timely post because time change means check your smoke and CO2 detectors!)

  8. Glad your are all okay. It’s good that you heeded the alarm rather than just remove the batteries thinking they were low and needed to be changed.

  9. That was too close for comfort! Glad everyone is ok and thanks to the heros that are dedicated to saving lives.

  10. I am so relieved that you’re all okay! That’s certainly a scary situation, and I’m thankful that everything worked as it should have. Poor kitties!

Comments are closed.

Back To Top