Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Silent But Deadly

It was this past Sunday evening, a perfect night for sleeping. It was rainy and cool, just after midnight. My lady and I got into bed at her place and settled in for a good sleep. The pup snuggled on one side, my lady on the other, it was about as comfortable as could be.

Then the Beep started.

It was super high-pitched and piercing then silent. A minute later another chirp that demanded we don’t ignore it.

We got up and found that one of the 2 carbon monoxide detectors in the apartment was beeping at us. I say only one of the two because the other had its batteries permanently removed due to the fact that it went off constantly… much the same as most fire detectors in the apartments of those who cook in this city. It’s often much easier to take the batteries out of the detectors than to have to constantly deal with the noise that a malfunction or smoky cooking experience causes.

We first ripped the batteries out of the thing then took it off the wall. According to the instructions on the back the beep we heard was from the batteries dying. No problem.

After rustling up some batteries we put them into the detector expecting silence. No dice.

It now was beeping at us with 4 quick beeps in short succession. According to the back of the detector, 4 beeps means vacate the premises, you’ve got a problem. The other detector gave the same result when batteries were placed in it.

I grabbed my ladies laptop and started reading up on carbon monoxide because we don’t know anything about it other than the fact we’re required to have the detectors and, well, it can kill you. According to what I read it’s dangerous in places without any ventilation. We had 3 windows open and a cross breeze. Shouldn’t be a problem.

Then my lady mentioned she was getting a headache. I stood up and felt a bit wobbly. Fuzzy headed. We thought it silly to think that there would be a problem. No one else in the building’s detectors were going off and we were in a well ventilated place so there was no problem.

Then why did we both feel “off” and wobbly? Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches, nausea, confusion, and dizziness. We had 2-3 of these symptoms.

I decided at this point we were getting out fast. We were sure it was nothing but there is no reason to tempt fate. We both grabbed our things and the dog in about 5 minutes and were in the elevator headed out.

When the elevator door opened in the foyer we discovered an ass that lives in her building passed out asleep and snoring on the floor in front of the elevator door. We stepped over him and hopped into a cab and fled to my place like refugees getting out of a dangerous country.

We felt freaked and concerned. What if we left and didn’t alert anyone and someone else in the building died of carbon monoxide poisoning. My lady called 311 in the cab and was transferred around and told not to worry about it by the fire department, that her neighbors had detectors that would alert them of a problem.

When we got to my place we couldn’t sleep for a while or very well at all. Freaked out by this mystery unseen or smelled danger. What could have caused it? What was going on? Were we affected? Were our nausea, dizziness, and headaches caused by our imagination?

The next day the detectors found nothing and all is clear.

It’s just strange to think that it’s something so small and minor that could get you. If it was a fire I’d understand it and know better how to deal with the situation (Stop, Drop, and Roll then Look, Listen, Feel) because I’ve seen all the PSA’s and read enough to know what to do. Earthquake, hurricane, tornado, lightning strikes, termites, I got it, I’m covered. Carbon monoxide poisoning is too new a threat in the home for me to know or understand it other than what I’ve seen on CSI, but it’s time to learn something new.

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