My sister, the oldest of 9 kids, the only girl in our family has always been the "Fire Marshall" of our family. She takes fire and home safety very seriously. I am not sure when her obsession about fire safety started but for as far back as I can remember my brothers and I have been making fun of her for her somewhat paranoid obsessive compulsive behavior when it comes to flames and home safety. My sister is the one, that for a wedding shower or a housewarming gift, will buy smoke alarms as gifts. I heard that she even gave someone a UL listed ABC rated fire extinguisher as a baby shower gift.
When Lauren and I moved into our current home my sister, as a house warming gift, gave us a remote controlled carbon monoxide detector. I had no idea what the "remote control" part meant. I just plugged it into the outlet in the kitchen and figured the thing would sound an alarm if there was a problem. The thing has been in the same spot for two years.
The first time I ever heard the alarm from the carbon monoxide detector was this past Christmas. The boys were in the kitchen playing with their new toys as Lauren and I were preparing dinner. The alarm sounded in small bursts. At first we thought there was an issue with the stove but then I figured the back-up battery was going bad and I changed it. Everything was fine.
A couple of weeks ago we got hit with some serious snow. I mentioned to Lauren that I was worried that our chimney to our heater may get blocked and that I would keep an eye on it. The snow came down off and on for about a week. Every day I would look out the bathroom window to make sure the chimney was clear of the more than 2 feet of snow. I think this made Lauren somewhat paranoid.
Last week, Lauren was making dinner and the boys were playing in the kitchen when the carbon monoxide detector started beeping. Beeping loud. Beeping consistent. Lauren tried to call me but for some reason the call did not go through. She decided it would be better to be safe and she took Maxfield, Wyatt and Jackson out to the car. She explained to Max and Wyatt what was going on and that if there was poisonous gas in the house and they stayed there they could get really sick. She told the children to sit tight and she would be right back. She was going to run back into the house to get her purse and cell phone.
I realized I missed a call from home and I called back at the exact time Lauren ran back into the house. She explained what was happening. I told her to open some windows and to make sure any potential causes of carbon monoxide were turned off. I told her I did not think it was a defective battery and we discussed other causes. Finally it dawned on me what was causing the alarm.
"Where the kids playing in the kitchen?" I asked.
"Were they playing with remote controlled cars or trucks?"
"That's got to be it." I said. I explained that the detector we had had some type of remote function but I was not sure what it was. I remembered that the last time it beeped the kids were playing with the new RC trucks. Lauren grabbed a toy remote controller and tested the theory, sure enough the alarm sounded. We talked for a few more minutes and Lauren said good bye.
Lauren went back out to the car to find Maxfield in a very scared, confused and saddened emotional state. Tears were forming in his eyes and he had a lump in his throat. Lauren asked him what was wrong.
"You said you were going to be real quick. But it took you so long to come back." Max said.
"I know but daddy called when I was in there and we figured out the problem."
Max choked back tears. "You were gone so long I thought the invisible poison killed you. I thought you died in there."
I called my sister later that night to tell her about the panic that her gift caused. I asked if she would be willing to pay for Max's therapy that he will need as a result of the alarm. My sister chuckled and without missing the opportunity to be safety conscience said:
"You do realize that the carbon monoxide detector is supposed to be plugged in on the level of the house where you sleep. Not in your kitchen."