Mondays are always a little hectic. There are the usual farm chores, plus picking and packing for Monday deliveries and a work day that ends by 4:00 so I can shower and change and get to town in time to make deliveries before band practice at 7. Yesterday, was a little crazier than usual.
I was washing lettuce and started smelling something . . . electrical . . . burning. So I unplugged everything in the kitchen and felt up all the appliances and sniffed around trying to find the unhappy piece of electronics. My nose finally led me to my bedroom, which was full of smoke. Again, I unplugged everything, opened the windows and turned on the fan. A quick grope of all the stuff in the bedroom and yes, the most likely suspect, my computer, was hot. Really hot. I had my youngest son (because he’s got longer arms and is more bendable than I am) disconnect all the cables and take it outside.
Then I debated. Do I call the fire department? My oldest son, the volunteer firefighter/EMT advised me that I should, but warned me that response time was likely to be slow. This funny thing is I was counting on that. Our house is small and always cluttered, but right now it is unusually cluttered. I’ve got honey extracting equipment and wine making gear covering every horizontal surface that is not used for packing lettuce and, as I mentioned, I was in the middle of lettuce packing when the smoke alarm in my nose went off.
So after a leisurely conversation with the 911 dispatcher, I actually spent the next half hour cleaning my house for the firefighters, making a path so they could get back to the bedroom without breaking anything, if they happened to come in full kit.
Cleaning my house for the firemen who are coming to possibly fight a fire in my house. How absurd is that?!
They did eventually arrive and ran a thermal imaging camera over the walls in my bedroom just to be sure there wasn’t anything brewing in the walls. They gave me the all clear and a lecture about me having ripped out all the smoke alarms. I lectured them right back, being the opinionated person that I am.
Smoke alarms! They are hung on the ceiling where you have to climb on a chair or ladder to service them. I understand the alarms need to be up where the smoke is going to gather, but why not put them on the wall about 6.5 to 7 feet off the floor? Like right above the light switch? Then why not make them with a flashing indicator light that simply says “change battery?” Why have every alarm in the house wired together so that when one freaks out because of a battery failure, you don’t spend three days trying to figure out which alarm is emotionally disturbed? A neatly printed expiration date would be helpful too. I mean if I’m going to spend many tens of dollars replacing batteries on a unit that has reached the end of its effective life, what is the point? And lastly, if I’m at home, I don’t need a smoke alarm because my nose is much more sensitive than any alarm I’ve ever used. And if I’m not home, what is the point of alarms that aren’t connected to the fire station? And finally, considering how long it takes a volunteer fire department to deploy in rural America, if my house decides to burn down, it’ll be down to its foundation by the time help arrives.
Yep, lots of problems with the state of the average household fire alarm.
Today, my husband took my computer apart and showed me the mess of melted wires and plastic. We were very lucky. No doubt about that. As to what may have caused the computer to overheat . . . the only thing that makes any sense was a brown out we had the night before. Several times the power to the house dropped dimming the lights, but never enough for the generator to kick on. Maybe that weakened the wiring. Who knows?
But, I still have a house and the clutter is rather tidy at the moment.
And the excitement of having a fire truck in the front yard put the ducks in a dither. One of them decided to give me a break and make a delivery.
Just another manic Monday. And now there’s another thing on The List – a fire plan and a better, more intuitive smoke detector.