Monday, December 27, 2010

Canaries (or silent death)

I was reading Ann Landers (or whatever her old column is called now) and this lady wrote in to tell in great detail how carbon monoxide detectors saved everyone’s life she has ever known.  I instantly decided that my life needed saving (although I didn’t know this lady, I was sure she felt the same way) and asked my mom to pick me up a carbon monoxide detector at the hardware store. 
I opened it up and read the directions.  According to these, my mom got me the inferior model, the better model has a digital readout of the carbon monoxide levels in your home at all times.  I needed that!  I had always assumed that Phoebe would be my canary in the mine; if she passed out, then I would escape for fresh air.  Now before you call PETA, I thought better of this idea (mainly because we would never really know what could have taken the cat out, it may or may not be an odorless gas – not to point fingers, but Bailey does hate the cat…..). 
I carefully read my directions and inserted my batteries as directed.  Then it told me to push the Test/Reset button.  I did this and nothing happened.  I assumed it was working and then the beeping started.  Oh my God!  The carbon monoxide levels were so high that it started beeping immediately!  How were we still alive???  Bailey was running around as my secondary alarm, yipping to tell me something was wrong (or telling me to stop the irritating high-decibel shriek beeps).
The beeping stopped and I breathed deeply in relief (not the best idea if my home is full of deadly gasses).  BEEP  BEEP  BEEP  BEEP – it started again!  Bailey was almost frothing at the mouth at this point and my canary in the mine had run off somewhere.  As quickly as it started it stopped again.  I took the moment of silence to read the directions on what to do if death is imminent from carbon monoxide.
“When the test/retest button is pushed, cover the speakers because the alarm will beep quickly and loudly, stop for 30 seconds, then beep again.” 
But now I am convinced that my home is full of rising carbon monoxide levels.  My directions for the detector had all of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.  First comes the fatigue and headache.  I am always tired with a headache.  Check.  Then comes a severe headache, drowsiness, and confusion.  Yup, this describes me as well.  Check.  Next is unconsciousness.  Nope, but it is apparently only a matter of time.
Now I am paranoid that this machine will go off.  It will probably go off at some inopportune time (such as late at night while I am taking a bath or something).  Therefore I must remain dressed at all times.  I need to keep my keys and phone with me as well….just in case we have to leave the house quickly.  I am actually afraid to go to sleep tonight in case the machine beeps. 
Maybe it was a good idea to not have the digital readout.  Otherwise I would be constantly monitoring the carbon monoxide levels in my home. I’d probably carry the harbinger of death alarm around with me to see if the levels change. 
Obsess much? 

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