Tuesday, January 11, 2011
The ol' smoke house
I woke up to "Kipp I can't breath." Standing beside my side of the bed was my wife holding her throat.
What's the matter?
"The house smells like smoke and the carbon monoxide detector is registering a number. Did you not put the fire out?"
I crawled out of bed and noticed it was 11:48 pm. Remembering I was nearing the end of the Everybody Loves Raymond hour as I nodded off, I knew I must have slipped away to lullaby land about 10:50. Walking through the house to get to the fire place I was met with a strong stench of smoldering oak ashes. When I last visited the fireplace, I had spread out the coals and leaned the remaining logs up on the sides of the fire place about 9:30. Had checked and rechecked the coals and logs before getting in bed about 10:15. When I closed the flu to the chimney I felt sure the fire was out.
My wife is now standing at the back door with it open. "I need air." I reminded her it was about 38 degrees out there and maybe...maybe I should stop talking.
I asked her if I could get her some water. "Yes." After slugging the water, she went on to deduct that the heat pump was probably recirculating the poisonous smoke throughout the house. She cut off the heat.
She drank another glass of water and informed me she was going to take the kids to her parents to spend the rest of the night at their house. I said OK as I approached the fire place still not seeing any visible signs of burning coals or smoke. I grabbed for the log grabber tool. As I was opening the screen I felt the heat. Great. I reached in and opened the flu. Using the log grabber tool, I pulled the log away from the side of the fireplace. The back side of it was red with hot coals. Here is the problem honey - the fire is not out. She did not hear me because she was on the phone with her Dad. "We will be over in a minute."
I took the log outside on the patio and headed back in for the other log. It too was hot with coals on the back side. I took it out and laid beside the other one. I then drew some water in a tea jug and poured it over the logs to put them out. Returning to the living room my wife and two kids were passing me dressed in long pants, heavy coats and holding blankets and dolls. I went back to my room to put on some clothes. When I returned the back door was opened all the way and the garage door was coming down with the bright beams from the headlights hitting it. The van was nearly in the street when I got to the door.
The responsibility I felt watching my family leave as I stayed behind to take care of the house filled with poisonous smoke was nearly overwhelming. I opened the back door as well to try to start drawing out the smoke. Figuring the open flu and the open two doors would allow the smoke filled house to air out quickly, I suddenly realized my own throat was a little dry. Hydration during an emergency is important.
Pacing from door to door for about 20 minutes making sure no uninvited guest critter or otherwise entered the house, I figured I could close the side door. After another 15 minutes passed, with the heat pump off and not yet convinced all the smoke had escaped the house via the opened doors and flu, I caught a chill. According our cool high tech Oregon temperature device it was a steady 38 degrees outside and a decreasing 60 degrees inside. To keep warm, since I could not turn on the heat pump or start another fire (remember I had poured water on the logs) I decided a game of Wii Golf might help.
The carbon monoxide detector was no longer registering a number. The fireplace was now smokeless. I was hydrated. I was a little bored. I figured keeping busy for a another 30 minutes or so might be a good idea in case their was any traces of C02 left in the air. Maybe if I passed out, the fall against the brick floor would jar me enough to reach for the phone and call for help. Plus moving around a bit would keep my body heat up until I could cut the heat back on.
After 9 holes at a score of 39 on the Wii Resort course I moved to a game of Ping Pong. Then changed to an Island Flyover in a bi-plane shooting ballon's (the Wii is a non-violent platform). I even tried out the Frisbee golf but c'mon who can control a real Frisbee much less a virtual one?! I went back for a full round of golf, 18 holes, then I realized it was almost 2:00 am. I can relate to why the kids play video games for hours and hours; it's fun.
I cut the heat back on since the smoke seemed to be gone and the temperature in the house was nearing 54. I threw an extra blanket on the bed. Crawled under the covers about 10 minutes after 2.
Of course I woke up late for work. Yes I showed up late for work smelling like I had been camping all night. Called home about 9:00 to see if my family had returned to the ol' smoke house. "Yes we are here. Still smells like smoke. But we were glad we did not find you in the floor or still in the bed." (Dang it - practical joke opportunity wasted - if only this would have happened on the weekend) To which I replied, I must have missed your invitation to join you and the girls last night. Then she tells me this, "You are old enough and smart enough to drive your...wait. You are right, I should have dressed you and put in the van with the girls."
My wife should really start her own blog.
Labels: the ol' smoke house