Startled Awake

At 3 a.m., we were startled awake by the smoke alarm blaring and screaming “FIRE, FIRE.” It stopped very quickly, like someone had pushed the test button, but no one was here but hubby and me and we were both soundly asleep. Needless to say, I bolted from bed, I didn’t see flames, didn’t smell smoke, but still went into every room, touched every outlet, checked the utility area of the finished basement, and the circuit breaker boxes, peered into the garage, even stepped out on the rear deck to look at the heat pump and to determine if I smelled smoke as many of the folks up here heat with wood, some indoors, some in the outdoor wood furnaces. There was no indication of fire, no smoke visible or by smell, so back into bed with the adrenalin pumping. The detector in our bedroom was flashing a red light every 10 seconds.

After a few hours of restless tossing and turning, I finally dozed back off, the alarms silent, the red light flashing.

A google search of the manual indicated the flashing light was a low battery indicator, but there was no accompanying chirp, so I guess it triggered the alarm. The alarms themselves are only about a year old. Son 1 when he was here one weekend replaced all the 16 year old alarms with new ones, but the batteries hadn’t been changed since then. Most of the alarms are easy for me to reach with or without a low stool, but the two in the loft and our bedroom are very high. The 8 foot ladder is a challenge for my senior body with achy shoulders, but changing those batteries was a necessity so hauling it upstairs had to be done. It requires negotiating it around the stair railing and not knocking the wall, avoiding ceiling fans and hanging light fixtures once it is upstairs to climb up.

During the restless early morning hours of tossing and turning, wondering what we would do if there really was a fire and could my anxious brain remember everything for the insurance company. I know there are some very, very old photos from prior houses with some of the furniture in them stashed in the safe as an inventory, but this morning as soon as I was up and dressed, I created an album in my Google photos of pictures taken at various times of the rooms in this house and filling in with photos this morning of areas not found and uploaded them to the cloud. To accompany the photos, a Goggle Doc written inventory by room is in the works. These could be accessed by us on any computer at any time should we ever have to prove what was in the house.

With the batteries changed, the light quit flashing. With the morning efforts underway, my mind is more settled. We do have fire extinguishers throughout the house, in easy reach, but hope never to have to use them.

This is third time I have been startled awake by smoke alarms. The first was in my single days when my Dad and I bought a duplex that I lived in the upper half and we rented out the lower half. My tenants were less than stellar, playing loud music all night, and it turned out doing hard drugs down there, setting a chair on fire with a lit cigarette (before laws that prohibited smoking in rentals) after falling into a drug induced stupor and setting off the alarm. I had never heard one before, they were a new invention then. The second time woke us and our three children and it turned out to be a carbon monoxide alarm had failed. We ended up going to the all night pharmacy and buying a new one to make sure we didn’t actually have a carbon monoxide issue.

Hopefully, this will not happen again, but I was one battery short of replacing all six so tomorrow one more will be acquired and that one is a bit more challenging to change, but not as bad as the upstairs two.

I would love to hear your comments on this post.

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