Here is one time when my life was truly and suddenly in danger.
I don’t know how many of you are familiar with humidity or lack thereof…I know the Hound and my Fellow Foxes know about high humidity; it makes cold cut through you and heat sap energy from you. In winter, the temps can get rather cold before you really feel cold, indeed, it is dangerous because it can get to you before realize what is happening. You go to pump gas into the car and suddenly, if it’s cold enough, your face is numb. Low humidity is more comfortable in the summer; just a breeze or shade will make a world of difference. At least a forty degree temperature drop was normal between day and night in what was our part of Colorado; we always dressed in layers and carried jackets in our cars. We never used our air conditioning when we lived in the Denver suburbs. On the hottest days we avoided the top floor of our tri-level townhouse. If we didn’t jump in the car and head for the mountains (every chance we got),the cats and our sons played in the mostly finished basement during the day, or on the main floor. And with an east-west exposure, we opened the bedroom windows and doors for a cool flow-through at night.
We could see glaciers from my bedroom window year around, and with the added benefit of having an end unit, we had an extra window on the landing mid-stairs between the living room and bedrooms. We slept cool and well. It was cold in the winter, but as long as we kept the drafts out, it was OK, so the bedroom windows were shut tight and heavily curtained.
We had lots of storage inside and out, a decent–sized yard for the kids,( and me for small gardening) a great deal of open space for extra activities that was surrounded by privacy fencing, tennis courts, an in-ground pool and a park with a playground behind us. It was fine with two young kids. In the 1980’s, the western Denver suburbs were a good place to be, so we thought, but that is another story.
One winter’s night my youngest son woke me up. He was 6 or 7 and did not like sleeping at all. I sent him to the bathroom before tucking him back in bed and I felt suddenly slightly ill, which increased by the minute. He felt OK, but there was a devilish flu going around I had been told, so I did everything I could to make him go back to bed so I could, too. The ensuing argument woke my husband up. I told him how I was feeling as I came out of our in-room bathroom. The next thing I knew, I was on the floor, my husband cradling my head in his lap and him calling my name. I literally dragged myself onto the bed, figuring I had the killer flu. My husband asked me if he could get something for me; I asked for ice water. I never faint, so I talked to him about it. Then I said, “You’re not getting up”. He said that he didn’t feel very well either. I said, “Great, we both have an awful flu at the same time?’ He stood, but not for long. I dove off of the bed just in time to keep his head from hitting the floor. I called his name to bring him around and said, “We have gas in the house”. I crawled as low as I could to the windows and threw them open. He told me to wake the boys and open their windows; he would go down and open the doors. I told him to stop on the landing and get that window open and breathe there. I didn’t worry about an explosion as I did not smell the natural gas that ran our furnace and water heater, but I realized what I DID smell…wax and saw dust. My normally brilliant husband had closed the fireplace flue when the compressed fake fireplace logs we used had still been smoldering.
We often used our living room fireplace for warming the house. With the small, wrap-around rooms on the main floor, it was cozy. The fireplace put out a great deal of heat and the hot air rose across the living room up the split staircase and to our room. Fortunately,( although we did not think so until then), the warm air could not turn the corner to our sons’ room. It stayed cold there without the heater on, but thank God , the carbon monoxide that has us ill, and probably had us sleeping heavily at that point, had not affected Little Mr. Wouldn’t Sleep, who woke me up. Had it been able to enter their room faster, had that son not been going through a difficult phase, I wouldn’t be typing this 20 years later in Kentucky. Carbon monoxide is insidious; trust me, you never feel it coming. If you have ANY combustibles,(i.e.: natural gas, propane,[LP], a fireplace, kerosene heater, etc.) , you must get a carbon monoxide detector, along or in combination with, smoke detectors.
Aside from a few close calls in planes and cars, and the one near-drowning I mentioned yesterday, this was the closest that I know I have come to death. We aired the house, (we should have called the fire department to vent it with their powerful fans, as we later learned), but we felt ill for several days. The little boy is now grown and was exposed to a chemical that turned into carbon monoxide when it entered his system a couple of years ago. He lost consciousness and crashed his car. He was in a safe car and hit no one else, and although there were some problems, he’s OK now…but he never felt it coming on then, either.
Be safe, People.