26 November 2009
PSA: Fire Safety (or: How Giddy Tried to Ruin Thanksgiving)
Dinner was wonderful, dessert was lovely, dishes were all washed, and the leftovers tucked away for tomorrow. CSB decided to run one more errand for the night, tying up a loose end for Dickens Fair this weekend, and I thought, "oh! one more glass of wine, and I'll watch Survivor... and maybe a lovely fire in the fireplace all warm and cozy for when he gets back."
What I didn't know was that he closed the flue. So here I am happily lighting newspaper and sticks on fire, and wait... shouldn't that smoke be going up instead of into the house?
Suddenly I'm finding that smoke is quickly pouring into the house, there is a raging fire, and my smoke detector is blaring. Crap. Within 15 seconds of that thing starting to go off, I was imagining how hard the fire department is going to laugh when they show up to open the chimney flue. Then I start to cough, and I am shocked at how quickly all this is happening... my brain is saying "but wait, the house isn't on fire, it's just a little smoke." At the same time, my body is doing what it needs to do to get fresh air into the house, and I remember the whole house fan. I open the window in ShortBus's room, open the garage door, and pull the cord for the fan. Within 15 seconds the smoke detector stops screeching at me... but, as I walk into the front part of the house I start coughing again. I open the back door and the front door to pull fresh air in that way, and then head for the fireplace to open the flue.
Luckily, CSB is on speed dial and my phone was in my pocket. With his help, the flue is open within seconds, and the smoke that was once filling the house, is now safely flowing the right direction.
Yes, I feel like a moron.
On the other hand, this was my first experience with this amount of smoke, and I never realized how quickly it could build up. I knew the house was filling with smoke almost immediately, reacted quickly, and still ended up coughing and breathing in more smoke than was safe. But, because I knew the fire was contained and it was "just smoke", I didn't react as quickly as I could have.
As "they" say, hindsight is 20/20. Of course, now as I'm sitting here and everything is fine (aside from my scratchy throat and the smell of smoke in the house), I can think about what might have happened, how easily and quickly the smoke could have affected me, and how my five year old son was only two rooms away.
Like I said, yes, I feel like a moron. But maybe, if I share this story with you, I can help to prevent someone else doing the same thing. And definitely, if I can feel like a moron, and share that feeling, and someone out there remembers to check the flue (even if you've had fires this season, and all the logs are piled up pretty, and everything seems SET for a fire...) before they strike the match... well then, the fact that I'm a dumbass might help someone else. And, that is the whole point of sharing the fact that I feel like an idiot with the whole wide interwebz.
Thankful... yes. Oh so thankful that things didn't end up worse.
Be safe this season...