Sunday, December 30, 2007

The never-ending alarm

The night before last, at about 2:15 a.m., our carbon monoxide detector went off.

Its “beep-beep-beep-pause-repeat” woke me before Mark, my eyes flying open and my brain going from “dreamful sleep” to “wide-awake-panic” in about a tenth of a second.

Moments later, Mark jumped out of bed to investigate. Meanwhile, the “beep-beep-beep-pause-repeat” woke Loaf, and I gathered up her up and followed Mark into the living room.

The source of the problem was easy to identify. We started a fire Friday afternoon and mistakenly closed the flue too early. Mark opened doors and windows, started the attic fan and set up a number of fans at the doors to move air around (and of course he reopened the flue).

Within minutes, the detector was registering zero again and it’s “beep-beep-beep-pause-repeat” mercifully ended.

I checked Peanut (sleeping peacefully) and settled Loaf into our bed. A few minutes later, I got into bed next to her. She was already in a deep sleep. I however lay awake for a long time listening to her steady, slow breaths, my head filled with “what ifs.”

What if we didn’t have a carbon monoxide detector in the living room?
What if it hadn’t gone off in time? Peanut sleeps much closer to the fireplace than we do.
What if it had not gone off at all?
What if, what if, what if?

The grim possibilities raced through my head.

I rolled onto my side and draped my arm over Loaf’s tiny body. Feeling safe and happy, she sighed deeply in a state of perfect rest. But the responsibility for her and Peanut’s safety and well being rested on my chest like an anvil. The incident reminded me how important my job is, how much they count on me, and the endless list of things that are beyond my control or ability to prevent.

I glanced over at the clock.

5:23 a.m.

The “beep-beep-beep-pause-repeat” of the carbon monoxide detector had stopped hours ago, but it still rang loud and clear in my head.

I think it always will.



Blogger Maureen said...

Oh dear! Thank god for carbon monoxide dectors! Our house has been updated with a fancy smoke/fire detector system that is code for all houses. We also had to put up the carbon monoxide ones to pass inspection. They truly are a blessing.

My brother set our house on fire with an Eggo that got stuck in the toaster when he went to take a shower. He was in high school and supposed to be watching my younger brother and I before school. Luckily, the smoke detector went off & we were able to escape. There was damage to the kitchen but my parents couldn't be mad. It was their worst nightmare & they were just grateful for that stupid alarm that often went off when a hint of smoke went near it.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Rocas said...

My 21 year old daughter asked the other night (after what seemed to her to be my zillionth time reminding her of the hazzards of driving on wet road), when will I ever stop being an 'over' protective parent.

I told her never, and that she would understand that too one day.

2:33 PM  

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