This week is Fire Prevention Week and I wanted to use this time to tell you the story of a time I almost lost my entire family…and the $40 purchase that saved all of our lives.
Picture it. The year: 2005. The place: northern New Jersey.
Our oldest daughter was about a year and a half old, and we were expecting our second child (she would be born on New Year’s eve 2005!)
We had bought our home two years earlier and out “fixer upper” had already proven to be a money pit.
The roof needed to be replaced, the driveway was a safety hazard, the insulation worked about as well as a sieve, and there were giant, overgrown trees all over the property.
If you looked quickly you might think the house was being attacked by Ents, as large branches jutted over the roof from all sides.
One of those giant trees would later fall on the house and nearly kill us again, but that’s a story for another day.
Another problem with the house is that all of the appliances were older.
Functional? Yes. But older and nearing the end of their lifespan.
That included the furnace, which the home inspector had checked out and told us that while it didn’t look pretty it had plenty of life left in it.
Which brings us back to November 2005.
I still remember what we had for dinner that night. Homemade chili over rice. Funny how little details still stick out all these years later isn’t it?
Anyway, after dinner we played with our little girl until her bedtime and then watched a little TV. It was a work night so I headed off to bed pretty early, but the chili was giving my wife heartburn so she decided to stay downstairs a little longer.
Eventually she came to bed too and we both fell sound asleep.
Until about 3:30 in the morning that is.
I woke up, still groggy and out of it, to the sound of a strange beeping sound. The first thing I thought was, “Why is there a big truck backing up outside in the middle of the night?”
My first instinct was to roll over and go back to sleep.
But then the beeping stopped and I heard a strange, robotic voice.
“Warning! Carbon Monoxide!”
Instantly, I went from half asleep and groggy to fully alert.
I quickly woke my wife and told her we needed to get up and out of the house immediately.
Then I tore into my daughter’s room and lifted her from her crib.
Panic seized me as I tried to wake her and called her name without response.
Only about three seconds passed before she reluctantly opened her eyes, but it felt like at least 100 years had gone by before those beautiful blue eyes stared back at me with an annoyed curiosity.
I grabbed my cell phone off the nightstand and he three of us stormed out of the house and into the yard.
We were out of immediate danger. I called 911, and before long the fire department, paramedics, and utility company were on the scene.
The utility worker found elevated levels of carbon monoxide and a small leak in the furnace. It ended up being a quick and easy fix, something about a worn out gasket or pipe or whatever. That part was kind of a blur.
I was more worried about my wife, daughter, and unborn child. We had all been exposed to carbon monoxide and I knew people die from that every year.
We went to the hospital to get checked out. They gave us oxygen masks and it was a heck of a struggle to keep it on my daughter’s face!
In the end, none of us experienced any permanent damage.
But we could have been killed if not for the warning from our carbon monoxide detector.
I sometimes think about what would have happened if we hadn’t installed one right outside our bedroom. If the batteries had died and we didn’t notice. If I had slept through the alarm.
After all, my first instinct when I heard the beeping alarm go off was to ignore it. I had thought it was a truck backing up, or maybe a car alarm outside. And we all know how seriously we take car alarms right?
We’ve become so used to hearing them go off that we don’t even stop and look around when we hear one.
I think it was the strange voice that shook me awake and for that I’m forever grateful. Which is why I will never buy a cheapo smoke or carbon monoxide detector.
Sure, I could have spent ten bucks or less on a no-name smoke detector and taken my chances. But there’s a line between being frugal and being foolish.
If I had bought a cheapo detector and it failed, I wouldn’t be here and neither would my beautiful family.
I spent about $40 on the detector that saved my family and it was easily the best money I’ve ever spent in my life.
If you want to get the same one it’s called the Kidde Battery Operated Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm. I paid $40 for it but Amazon has it available for even less than that.
Pick one up today, the peace of mind it gives you is well worth the cost.
And it might just save your life. It saved mine.