liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
[personal profile] liv
I am in fact totally fine, but my life has a lot more inconvenience in it than I'd prefer.

I was woken at about quarter past 2 this morning by a loud insistent beeping. And at first I groggily thought it was the alarm clock, and then slowly gathered my wits enough to think, oh shit, fire alarm. So I got up, kind of sleepily dithered a bit, and poked around the house to see if I could find any obvious reasons for the fire alarm going off. I convinced myself that it was warning me about carbon monoxide rather than fire, though in hindsight I'm not sure. By the time I'd spent a couple of minutes establishing that there wasn't any obvious immediate danger, the alarm had stopped beeping on its own, which was a bit confusing.

So I opened all the upstairs windows and asked uncle Google what to do in the event of a CO alarm, and it told me to call the gas emergency hotline, which I did. The hotline established that I couldn't smell gas, and told me to turn off the boiler at the mains and wait for an emergency engineer. I decided I'd better not go to sleep, mainly because I wasn't sure I'd hear the door, but also because I wasn't a hundred percent convinced I was safe. So I posted on Twitter asking for anyone who was awake to call me and keep me talking. [personal profile] pfy called me and we had a nice chat in which he assured me that I was lucid (well, as close as possible given I'd just been woken up in the middle of the night), and then [livejournal.com profile] deborah_c called me, and just as I picked up the phone to talk to her the engineer knocked at the door and the alarm started beeping again. I don't think I signed off the phone-call in the most reassuring way, but anyway.

The engineer duly disconnected and sealed my gas meter, and instructed me to find a registered gas fitter to come and inspect the boiler and reconnect the meter, assuring me that it was safe to wait until working hours to do so. At some point during his visit the fire alarm beeped again a few times, and at this point I was awake enough to conclude it was definitely a smoke alarm, not a CO alarm, but again it only went on for a few tens of seconds. (Not at all like the low battery noise, it sounded like an actual alarm, just for a rather brief duration.) The gas engineer rather brusquely declared it was obvious there was no fire, and that the most probable explanation was the alarm was defective. So I took the batteries out, but I didn't feel completely reassured.

By the time he left about 3:30; I was kind of reluctant to go back to sleep, because I was afraid that there was some danger detectable to the alarm but not to a cursory visual inspection. I kept convincing myself I could smell smoke, or my throat felt dry (that'd be the adrenaline...). This didn't actually help me very much, because it wasn't appreciably safer for me to sleep after 45 minutes of fretting than it would've been if I'd turned in straight away.

The official doctrine is that I ought to have evacuated the house immediately on being woken up by the beeps. Not stopped to figure out if it was fire or poison gas, not stopped to check what the internet recommended and post to Twitter. Maybe I was running an unreasonable risk by poking about first to see if there was actually any reason to evacuate, but I'm also quite glad I didn't end up on the street at half past two in the morning, probably in my pajamas and, if I'd followed the drill correctly, probably with no phone and I might well have locked myself out if I thought I was using up half my two minute safety margin to locate my keys. Obviously that would be better than being asphyxiated or burned to death, but also, false alarms do happen and there is some merit in avoiding an unnecessary 999 call as well as the obvious problems of locking yourself out in the middle of the night.

Now I'm a bit scared that there is in fact some kind of smouldering fire that was producing enough smoke to trigger the fire alarm intermittently. I don't know what I can do about that, though; neither nervously staying in the house nor leaving the house for any extended period seem like particularly good ideas if there is a smouldering fire! But anyway, even if I'm not in horrible danger, I still have the problem that I'm ridiculously sleep-deprived today, and that I have to get an engineer out to at least reconnect the meter even if there isn't anything else that needs fixing, which is going to be difficult to do when I only have two working days before going away. And obviously I have no hot water or use of my oven or hob until I do get that sorted; having no central heating isn't so much of a problem in June, even a rather chilly June.

Anyway, the upshot is that I'm annoyed rather than injured, and I have the most awesome friends. But grr, this I could really do without. Strangely enough, I feel much less inclined than I did last night to poke at my newly acquired pyromania game, Little Inferno, that I just acquired from the Humble Bundle. It's almost enough to make me superstitious.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-02 04:32 pm (UTC)
emperor: (Default)
From: [personal profile] emperor
That sounds deeply tiresome :( Maybe invest in separate fire and CO alarms to avoid the ambiguity in future?

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-02 04:35 pm (UTC)
jack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jack
*hugs* Agh, that's awful (although I'm glad it was no worse). I'm sorry I wasn't there to talk to you.

I'm not sure what a realistic response is, if nothing seems wrong. I think I rang you while I poked around, so at least if I was woozier than I realised someone else could point it out, and if I suddenly disappeared, someone could ring the fire brigade. But I don't know if that's actually better.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-02 06:10 pm (UTC)
simont: (Default)
From: [personal profile] simont
Coincidentally, I had an incident this weekend with my gas-leak alarm going off spuriously. Must be something in the air the time of year for it...

*hugs*

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-02 06:16 pm (UTC)
monanotlisa: alex and maggie next to each other (Default)
From: [personal profile] monanotlisa
That is pretty scary; seems you found a balance between a more extreme and too lenient action, though! Good thoughts to you.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-02 06:51 pm (UTC)
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea (Default)
From: [personal profile] redbird
I hope things are better and/or you are more settled by now. Also, if you need someone to talk to at odd hours, Seattle is on GMT-8, so I am likely to be awake when most of your friends are asleep (and vice versa).

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-02 07:43 pm (UTC)
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
From: [personal profile] karen2205
A smoke alarm sounding intermittently *may* be because the batteries need to be replaced, so it may be worthwhile trying new batteries in the alarm to see if you still get it sounding occasionally. [I hate replacing smoke alarm batteries, because adding the last battery makes the alarm beep loudly. The best I can come up with is burying the face of the alarm in a towel.]

Hope day time has allowed you to have a good look around the house to reassure yourself there's nothing smoldering and that you get a full night's sleep tonight and getting the gas/boiler reconnected is straight forward.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-02 08:03 pm (UTC)
ephemera: celtic knotwork style sitting fox (Default)
From: [personal profile] ephemera
Ugh - that sounds like far too many of the wrong kind adventures for the middle of the night! Hope things are not too complicated to sort out.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-03 01:11 am (UTC)
siderea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siderea
I recently learned that CO2 alarms (and maybe smoke detectors, too?) themselves have expiration dates. I learned this from a friend whose CO2 detector started going off intermittently, and it turned out not to be the batteries so he investigated. They're typically good for 7 years, but it varies by brand.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-03 06:35 am (UTC)
green_knight: (Default)
From: [personal profile] green_knight
I hope you find the reason behind the beeps soon, and I hope that it's something trivial like run-down batteries or faulty alarm. That's the sort of thing nobody needs - but I'm glad the alarm woke you up!

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-03 09:34 am (UTC)
naath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naath
Our official lab fire-alarm policy involves attempting to discover whether there is actually a fire and if there is whether it's anywhere near the lab...

I think that once the alarm has woken you up it's probably pretty obvious whether you are in immediate danger from fire or smoke; and whilst CO isn't detectable it isn't immediately fatal either. At home I'd certainly attempt to survey the house for the cause of the alarm and possibly try to put out small fires before leaving with phone, keys, wallet, and a coat to contact appropriate sources of help unless I was clearly in immediate danger.

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