Oh, I wish I had a picture to show you the scene at our house from Saturday night. But I don’t. So I’ll have to do my best to paint a picture of my embarrassment with just words.
To set the scene: It was Saturday night and Benjamin and I were planning to head out to a friend’s birthday party. Our babysitter (a young girl whose parents live directly across the street from us) had just arrived. Since we had such a crazy week with me working late hours and staying in a hotel a few nights, etc., I wanted to put Owen to bed and sneak out after that so he wouldn’t even know we were gone. Bedtime went smoothly and I tiptoed out of his room, slipped on my heels and Benjamin and I headed for the door.
JUST as we were pulling on our coats and closing the door behind us, we heard a beeping. A loud, incessant beeping that we had never heard before. A constant, loud, incessant beeping. We followed the beeping sound to the carbon monoxide detector in the hallway outside of Owen’s room. Instinctively Benjamin tore the beeping thing off the wall and ran down the stairs in an effort to keep Owen asleep. But taking it off the wall only made the beeping worse.
It seemed highly unlikely that all of a sudden our house was filled with carbon monoxide for no good reason, but the carbon monoxide detector has a warning that says in big, bold capital letters: YOU CANNOT SEE, SMELL OR TASTE CARBON MONOXIDE. IF THIS ALARM GOES OFF, CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT OR EMERGENCY SERVICES AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
There were two lights on the front of the detector. Power and Alarm. Alarm was the one that was blinking and beeping.
Despite my normal inclination to say, “I’m sure it’s just a mistake. It’s fine. It’s not REALLY an emergency”, I couldn’t ignore the warning or the beeping. And, frankly, we couldn’t get it to stop. I couldn’t bring myself to call 911, since this situation felt far from an emergency, so I looked up the number for our local fire department. The fire chief answered the phone.
“Ok. Does your detector have a battery?”
“Hmmm. I don’t think so. It was plugged into the wall.”
“And is the alarm going off every few minutes, or pretty constantly?”
“Constantly. And the light that says Alarm is blinking.”
“We’ll be right over.”
I hung up the phone and Benjamin and I examined the (constant! loud! incessantly beeping!) detector. Guess what we found? A BATTERY. There is, apparently, a battery backup just in case the power goes out. Benjamin and I couldn’t help but laugh at our own stupidity while we changed the battery and plugged it back in.
Silence. (And, surprisingly, silence from Owen’s room too, even with all of the beeping and scrambling and yelling over the beeping).
I called the fire chief back to tell him we didn’t need anyone to come over. That we were idiots who didn’t know there was a battery in there even though it was plugged into the wall. “They are already on their way”, he said.
I opened my front door to see a gigantic fire truck with lights blazing, and 2 big firefighters jumping out of the doors and putting on their fire gear. (Yes, for real.). I ran up to the truck and explained what happened. We are idiots who didn’t know there was a battery in there even though it was plugged into the wall. The stupid thing must light up the alarm button when your battery dies. I’m sorry! They decided to come in and check it out just to be safe. So the big, burly firefighters in their heavy firefighting gear stomped through my house holding a meter in the air and looking for deadly gas. Surprise! They didn’t find any.
During this time our babysitter was just hanging out in the kitchen watching this unfold. And her PARENTS (who, remember, live right across the street) saw the fire truck pull up at our house and thought there was some emergency. So THEY come running over, barefoot, to see what happened. They were thankful that we were still there, and, to be honest, I was thankful that they ran right over. If there really had been an emergency I would have appreciated their concern. In this case, though, it just made us feel like even bigger idiots
After a few minutes of the firefighters checking the air in various parts of the house and me pleading with them that they should get back to the station in case of a real emergency, they left. I cursed myself for not waking Owen up to see them. He would have freaked out. A REAL, LIVE FIRETRUCK AT OUR HOUSE?!
Just as they left I heard him crying from his room. Apparently that was enough ruckus to wake him. I waited at the bottom of the stairs to see if I needed to go in, but he stopped after a minute or so and went back to sleep.
Ok. Babysitter was still there, alarm was off, baby was asleep. So we went out.
Just a normal Saturday night.