Last night was pretty eventful around here.
Around 9:00pm, Brady and I had gotten out of the tub, and were just snuggling in to bed with a show and some food when our smoke detectors started alarming. Being that they’re all wired together, they were ALL going off, and it was VERY loud!! We both dove out of bed. Brady ran down to the main area, and then to the basement. No smoke. No smell. Nothing.
We fanned the detectors with pillows, which was obviously fruitless, but we were grasping here. We had done NOTHING to motivate them to trip this alarm! We finally figured out it was the detector downstairs that was motivating the screaming alarm, and pushed the button that could silence the alarm, according to the internet, for eight minutes. A mere four minutes later, though, they all started screaming again. We had opened all of the windows in the main area and in the basement, and couldn’t imagine what the issue was. We were angry at the idea of it being a faulty detector, and how dare it scream at us this long! We popped the battery out, finally, and pulled it off of the ceiling. When Brady brought it down and had a closer look at it, he seemed to get stuck for a second. The light that was flashing wasn’t the smoke detector, but the carbon monoxide detector. Perfect.
Our detector, as well as the internet, said to call 911 immediately. And we were foolish, because we thought that was a gross overreaction. Instead, I reached out to a small handful of people that I know happen to be on our local volunteer fire department. No one was getting back to us instantly, and we were getting twitchy. So I very rudely called my dad out of a church business meeting. He and my mom chatted with me and they agreed with us that we couldn’t ignore the alarm. They said they’d come over right after the meeting.
In the meantime, we went around and checked on the kids. It was pretty scary at that point, because they had slept through the whole thing. It makes your mind and heart go to scary places. Thats about when I started getting more nervous. We were able to lull all four kids awake, though, which helped my heart a little. Thankfully, the church meeting ended pretty quickly after our call to my parents, and they headed over.
(I don’t know the exact time, but I’ll add in here that we aired out the basement really well, put the battery back int he detector, and reinstalled it, and it didn’t go off again.)
Conveniently, a couple of people at the church meeting are on the fire department, so I called over to the church, and one of them picked up! I asked her what to do, and she told me she would call the fire chief.
Sure enough, less than ten minutes later, a crew of 5-6 firemen were at our house! And I’ve got to say, that was an INCREDIBLE group of men!!! They were very attentive, polite, and understanding. We were nervous for the sake of the kids, specifically, and they took that into consideration. They apologized for their wet boots, and the great air test began!
There was CO on every level of the house, in every room. Not a super scary, we’re all going to die, amount of it, but enough that it needed to come down, obviously. I went into the kids rooms with them, in case they woke up and were afraid, but they all basically rolled over and went back to sleep.
Once it was determined that the CO wasn’t coming from the basement, someone suggested the garage. The second they opened the door, their air tester started screaming. Right away, they closed the man door to the house and opened the overhead garage door. It was then that we figured out what had happened. And we feel pretty silly about it, so no making fun of us! We were uneducated, and now we know.
We KNOW that its extremely dangerous to have a car running in the garage with the door closed. People die that way, its not a secret. We didn’t do that. We haven’t actually been parking our bus in the garage over the last couple of days, since our garage has a ton of stuff from the basement in it, and its a decently tight squeeze for our big vehicle. But yesterday, Brady backed his work van into the garage. He backed it in, turned it off, and closed the overhead door. Then, he opened the door to the house and left it open while he hauled his tools from our basement into his van. Now, since learning a LOT about all of this, we know that is all it takes :/ The cool air in the garage would have rushing into our house and straight down our stairs, CO and all. We also learned that CO is almost the same weight as air, just sliiightly lighter, so it took a few hours to float up to the detectors, hence the late night alarm.
Once we all figured out what had happened, and that we didn’t have some scary recurrent leak somewhere, the goal became very practical. Push the CO out of our house. We opened certain windows at certain times, and they brought in a high powered fan, blowing the air from the basement outside. While that was happening, the air quality of the kids rooms and our room were being tested constantly. They stayed until the levels were at zero. None of this “You should be ok now” business, but we were blessed to have complete reassurance that all traces of CO were good and gone! So we could all sleep better, they said.
I had texted a friend earlier whose husband is on the fire crew, but they weren’t available at that time. However, as soon as they were back in town, he ran over, and stayed until the call was over. It was so nice to have a familiar face around, among a few others who I recognized from one time or another. They were all so comforting, and didn’t make us feel silly, even though we did. They constantly told us “better safe than sorry,” and it seemed genuine. Solly even came out at the end to observe the situation, and he was welcomed, and greeted, and he was full of smiles for all the new people in his house. It was a weirdly nice setting, even though it had started with screaming alarms and fear.
Once levels were down, they all piled out just as quickly as they had arrived. Trucks lights went off, and our house was silent. It all ended around 11:30, but Brady and I were wired until 1:00am at least.
It felt like an adventure to me.
The kids have no memory of it. Slept through the whole thing.
THANK YOU to our amaaazing local fire department!!!! I am SO grateful to have you all here, in my town, at the ready, and happy to come and keep us safe!