It's the first Monday of fall and I think it's the perfect time to share…
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.