Saturday, January 31, 2009

Get Up! Cover Your Mouth and DON'T BREATHE! (or ... how my kerosene heater tried to kill me)

The other morning, I had a conversation in the kitchen with a co-worker that triggered this memory for me.

So you can thank him for this post ;-)

About 15 years ago, before we were married and had kids, my ex and I were living in the bottom half of an upper/lower flat. One of those old homes that had been chopped up into multi-housing units.

Although our place had alot of character, and I really liked it, it was still an 'old, drafty house' in some respects.

To help offset the heating costs, we picked up a second hand kerosene heater.

It worked great! Threw off some wonderful heat in whatever room we had it in.

For awhile.

One REALLY cold winter night, we set it on low in the bedroom and went to sleep around midnight.

Shortly before daybreak, our dog Minor woke the ex by standing over us on the bed, barking his fool head off.

The ex instantly realized something was seriously wrong and woke me up with 'Kim! Get Up! Cover your mouth and DON'T BREATHE!

I don't remember the exact sequence of events that happened next (my ex could probably tell you, he's got a scary memory that way), but I do remember getting up to find the house filled with a thin layer of smoke.

Black soot was spewing from the kerosene heater.

The ex's face? Covered in black ash.

Because there wasn't an actual fire, and the air was somewhat 'cleaner' outside the bedroom, we didn't feel an urgency to get out of the house.

I ran to the bathroom. He started opening windows and called the fire dept.

Yes, I suppose a SANE person would still just get out of the house ... but I'm running to the bathroom, so I can look in the mirror to see if I have black crap all over me.

Because it was such a cold night, I was wearing those onesie pj's (full length pj's minus the feet and butt flap ... not the underwear onesies we put on infants & toddlers - just to be clear. Right girls? ;-p ).

Yeah, yeah, yeah, a onesie, dork I know. Let it go.

The only reason I bring that up, is because when I got to the bathroom, I discovered that because of the pj's, the only parts of me that had been exposed - my hands and face - were black. And I mean BLACK.

My hair, covered in grime.

The whites of my eyes were glowing, and when I opened my mouth, OH YEAH, so were the teeth baby! No White Strips required!

I remember waiting outside for the firemen, taking in the clean morning air in gulps.

I remember my throat was sore and my eyes were itchy.

I remember the BIG fans the firemen set up to air out the house.

But what I remember most?

The conversation we had with one of the firemen.

He informed us the kerosene heater had 'burned rich' (whatever the hell that means) and been spewing carbon monoxide / soot into our bedroom and throughout the house for god knew how long.

Too long.

He said "If your dog hadn't woken you up when he did, you WOULDN'T have woken up"

That was a pretty powerful statement for me.

Later that morning, while cleaning black soot off the furniture, our clothes and even off the dishes in ALL the cupboards, I vowed I would NEVER own a kerosene heater again.

And I haven't.

Which brings me to my current dilemma.

The basement in my current house is always cold. ALWAYS!

So much so, I'm thinking of finally breaking down, and buying some type of small space heater.

I'll admit, I haven't even looked at them yet. Have no idea what's out there to choose from. No idea even how much they cost.

If any of you would like to throw out a suggestion or recommendation, that would be GREAT!

I can't depend on the dog this time.

I'm afraid Belle would be more concerned with getting that black shit off me and spend all her time & energy licking and not barking.

That wouldn't be cool.

Neither is almost getting killed by your kerosene heater.

Thankfully, the toaster and I have a good relationship.

But the can opener? Yeah. I'm keeping my eye on THAT one!



Danie said...

I'll Minor got the biggest chewy reward for that, huh?

We have a couple of ceramic heaters. They have remotes, they oscillate, have temperature control and they automatically shut off if they 1) get too hot or 2) get knocked over. They're very safe. We have one in HeHeelys' bedroom and one in the basement.

CraftyLzrd said...

Thank goodness for the dog! You always hear of animals doing that sort of thing, but its still amazing to hear! :)

I second the ceramic heater! I bought one for my mom last winter and she loves it.

Kim's Korner said...

Yeah, Minor was definitely king of our castle for a good long while after that :-)

Thanks for the tip on the ceramic heater guys! I'll be sure to check that one out first!