She Says… Fire Alarm Fear

I have written before about how fire alarms are Owen’s biggest fear. For a kid who seems to have NO fear leaping off of climbing structures taller than my head or starting up a conversation with a complete stranger, it still baffles me that he completely flips over something as commonplace as a fire alarm. But hey. It’s loud. I get it. And I know the bone-shaking fear from hearing my own house alarm go off unexpectedly.

So in the middle of the night on Saturday, I knew exactly whose room I had to run to first when I heard our fire alarms blare.

I was out of bed and standing in the hallway before I even woke up fully. With my hand on Owen’s door, I waited for him to call for me before I busted in, while simultaneously trying to make sense of the alarms (I didn’t smell smoke or see fire and feverishly debated the likelihood of false alarm vs. real emergency).

A few seconds later Benjamin stood in our bedroom doorway. He had just gotten back from a trip at midnight that night and I hadn’t even seen him yet (despite the fact that we were sleeping next to each other when the alarm went off). I jumped out of bed without even remembering he was right beside me. In his grogginess he assumed it was our house alarm system going off, and said, “Can you run down and turn it off?”.

There were 2 things wrong with this statement:
1. I knew that it was the fire alarm and I couldn’t just turn it off. But when he asked me this, he completely confused me and I began to doubt myself. Also, I learned my lesson the last time our house alarm DID go off that I shouldn’t just run down and turn it off — what if there was an intruder in the house?!
2. I was frozen outside of Owen’s room. I literally couldn’t move my body to do anything other than gather my babies amidst the crazy loud beeping.

So I just stood there. Staring at him. With my mouth open, trying to figure out how to respond to him. Owen’s cry for me (a scream of sheer terror, as he realized his biggest fear was happening) snapped me out of it, and I completely ignored Benjamin’s question, ran into Owen’s room and scooped him up. He covered his ears and yelled, “GET ME OUT OF HERE. STOP THE BEEPING.”

I clutched him and ran down the stairs. As soon as I did, I realized the sound was much quieter. It was our upstairs alarms going off. They are all wired into the house but apparently they don’t all go off at the same time. Who knew. I opened the front door of the house and held Owen outside, assuming that Benjamin was, I don’t know, handling everything else? I couldn’t bring myself to put Owen down but I wanted to grab Emmett as well, and didn’t feel comfortable leaving Owen on our front porch alone. So I ran back upstairs still carrying Owen to Emmett’s room. As soon as I opened his door (he was totally fine, by the way, barely phased by the noise) I realized what had happened.

It was his humidifier. It had to be. It was the only thing that was different about that night as opposed to other nights. And the very same humidifier had set off the fire alarm in Owen’s room one time, a long LONG time ago (when he was tiny enough that the alarm didn’t even wake him). I told Benjamin what it was and he quickly ripped the fire alarm in Emmett’s room out of the ceiling.



Emmett cooed happily as he realized I was going to feed him since I was awake and he normally wakes around then anyway. Babies are easy. Owen shuffled back to bed rubbing his eyes and asking adorable and yet painfully sad questions like, “Is the alarm ever going to stop beeping?” and “The alarm only goes off when there is a fire… is there a fire? Are we going to get burned?”. And, finally, “Can I sleep in your bed?”.

Almost as soon as both boys were settled back in their beds, Owen cried out again. He SWORE up and down that he could still hear the beeping in his sleep. I rubbed his back and asked him if he could hear it right now. “Yes. It won’t stop”. The poor kid was so traumatized he could still hear the ringing and it was keeping him awake.

After two more night visits to his room to reassure him, he finally fell asleep. The last thing he said to me? “Can I tell all my friends at school about this tomorrow?”.

I love that kid.

And while I’m so relieved it wasn’t a real fire, I’m super annoyed that I can’t seem to use a humidifier in my kids’ bedrooms (Emmett’s room is TINY so maybe I just have to turn down the setting, but I’m not willing to test that theory by possibly making the alarm go off again). Has anyone else had this happen? Even in Owen’s room, which is much larger, I can only put it on half power.


4 responses to “She Says… Fire Alarm Fear

  1. What kind of humidifier do you use? My brother was an asthma kid, I’m an asthma kid, I slept with a humidifier for months while pregnant and have it in my daughters rooms whenever she is teethingly snotty… I’ve never had it detected as smoke…
    You might want to change to a different one… The one I use and LOVE is the safety 1st ultrasonic 360 humidifier.

  2. @Caroline, I will have to check that out! I can’t remember the brand we have right now, but I think it’s also an Ultrasonic one. I’ll check when Emmett wakes up.

  3. That happens to us all the time with the humidifier in my sons room. We would just go unplug it when we went to bed. Luckily both my kiddos sleep through it Also, this summer, before we turned on the AC, it was so humid in our house the alarms would randomly go off. So annoying!

  4. @hilary, Ah, thank you! At least I know I’m not alone. Man, that sounds frustrating to have them go off randomly — Owen would be in hell.

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