That alarm can't actually be a warning of something important, can it?
-- but I'm going to copy/paste the whole series of posts here:
Every year at Christmas now I think about Christmas 8 years ago when I nearly died with my wife, child and in-laws.
I share this every year over on the Bird Site and will share it here now.
It was Christmas Eve. 9 year old was just 1. We were staying at my in-laws who had an acreage just outside Red Deer at the time. We went to bed a bit late but the night was good. 1 year old wasn’t up too much.
Around 4AM or so an alarm starts blaring, waking us up.
My in-laws smoke alarm was notoriously sensitive. It would go off every second time you made toast. So this wasn’t unusual. In my sleepy haze I assumed someone was making early morning toast and set off the smoke alarm again.
So I stumble out of the room, grab a towel and start waving it at the smoke alarm like an idiot. It takes me a moment to register that we’re sleeping in the basement. Why would the alarm go off here for toast?
I look closer at the alarm. Is it even going off?
I climb on a chair and look closer at it. I pull it right off the ceiling and hold it in my hand. It’s not going off. What the hell is making that noise? I can’t locate it.
My wife heads upstairs to get her parents to figure this out.
My father-in-law comes down and seems confused. We search around. In the corner there’s a white rectangular box plugged into the wall. It looks like it’s 30 years old. All the markings are worn off. Father-in-law unplugs it & it immediately shuts off.
“Carbon monoxide detector.”
He plugs it back in and it doesn’t turn back on. “So what does that mean?”
We all stare at it for what seems like a long time. The alarm isn’t restarting. My wife, the only one with brains, “Shouldn’t we leave?”
Me, a god damn idiot, “Look how old it is. Did it malfunction?”
My wife, again, the only smart one, “I’m leaving with the baby.”
That knocked the stupidity out of me. Where was the baby? He was still sleeping. “Why did the baby sleep through that alarm?”
We get the baby out. Don’t worry, baby was fine. He was just tired. It was -30 outside that night. We haul him out in his sleep sack, turn on the car, and sit inside with him while we wait for the fire truck.
The Red Deer County Volunteer Fire Department came rolling in early that Christmas morning. Left their families in the middle of the night. Determined it wasn’t a fire. Called the gas guy. Poor guy went to bed at 2AM after wrapping presents for his kids all night.
I can’t remember exactly what went wrong but they’d been having trouble with the furnace all year. It kept shutting off. Later we found out poplar fuzz was clogging the intake vent but that wasn’t the whole thing.
Regardless, they determined the CO levels by the time they got there were up at critical levels. They turned off the furnace and aired out the house. We had Christmas breakfast from the McDonalds drive through. Poor 1 year old peed through his diaper because we didn’t have an extra.
Every year I think about that one CO detector. Apparently the only one my father-in-law had in the house. Super old. Never checked.
Had it not been for that, we all might’ve died in our sleep Christmas morning 8 years ago. Myself, my wife, my son, and my in-laws.
Here’s the crazier part. Remember how my wife had to go upstairs to get her parents? That’s because the CO alarm in the basement wasn’t loud enough to wake them up in their room with the door closed.
No one slept in the basement except us when we came to visit.
So if that furnace malfunction had happened ‘any’ other night but Christmas Eve, they might have died in their sleep having never heard the alarm.
I also think about the volunteer fire department and the gas guy (think it was ATCO) leaving their house at 4 or 5AM Christmas morning to come help us out. Community workers are on call again tonight and every night.
Anyways, I have like 5 CO detectors in my house now. My in-laws do too. We’re all good. Lived through Christmas and many Christmases since.
So if I may ‘dad’ you all for a minute: Check your smoke alarms and your CO alarms. Have one at every level.
Also, if you’re stupid like me, marry someone with brains and listen to the damn alarm immediately.
Merry Christmas and hug your loved ones!