At 8:30pm, with two Kiddos in bed and one more getting ready for bed, the smoke detector blared.
I hauled a chair out into the hallway to disconnect the alarm, and we went over the whole house looking for anything that might have been on fire, including the attic and the basement. When we were satisfied that there was no fire, we chalked it up to the ancient smoke detector having fits due to the steam from Kiddo#1’s shower.
We had an unopened smoke detector, so we assembled that. In the absence of a place to put it, we shoved the chair against the wall in the hallway and stood it on top of the chair.
By now, you all know I’m neurotic, so you’ll understand what happened the next day. It was an ordinary day at the start, although due to losing sleep, Kiddo#3 was an absolute bear and had to be put in time-out in his room upstairs due to having a full-on meltdown tantrum at the bus stop.
After he calmed down, I went back upstairs and smelled smoke.
Bearing in mind that the Force has a strong influence on the weak-minded (I don’t know why I keep saying that) I went back over every part of the house to make sure nothing was on fire. Nothing was, but I still could smell smoke. It was an eerie feeling, the sunlight streaming through the windows, the whole house silence, and me looking for the silent flames destined to consume us all.
I went downstairs again, and I forgot about the smoke. Half an hour later, I went back upstairs, and again I could smell smoke. I could smell it consistently in all the bedrooms. But it wasn’t really like smoke. Just a little bit “off.” And there was no visible smoke.
I went into Kiddo#4’s room to change his diaper and found the cover for the thermostat on the floor, along with the battery cover for the carbon monoxide detector and the new smoke detector we’d opened the day before. Odd.
Then I had an impulse: go get the sock yarn for Kiddo#1’s socks and knit the swatch the way I’d intended to. I wandered over to the yarn bag, and when I touched it, it was hot. “What the heck…?” I said, pulling it away from the wall, and that’s when I realized: the baseboard heaters were on.
This wasn’t smoke. Kiddo#3, in the fit of his tantrum, had gotten onto the chair and tried to pull down the CO detector and the thermostat, and in doing so, he’d cranked the heat up to 90!
Suddenly it all made sense. That smell wasn’t smoke! It was the startup smell for the heaters, all the dust from the summertime burning off the grids.
And I felt like the idiot of the year, waiting for the house to spontaneously burn down when in reality, it was only an impromptu heater test.
Congratulations, Philangelus, for making giant strides toward getting that “Golden I” award (once again) for 2008. Next year, I need to start working on a lifetime achievement award in cluelessness.