Jul 19, 2011


7/19/2011 — cori

This is our first summer in Minnesota. Being from Texas the majority of my life, I'm very used to 100 degree days for 3 months out of the year. I'm a summer kinda girl. I love it! I love the sun! So, you can imagine my joy when the mercury started reaching the 90's this past week - bonus!

Unfortunately for us, this little mid-west heatwave decided to fall upon us at the onset of our little co-ed soccer season Chuck and I are playing. Sunday morning it was 95 degrees with a heat index of 104. The dewpoint was at 81%. That's some serious humidity. Although I'm used to heat, it's the humidity I don't have much experience with. It felt like a wet, heavy blanket draping over us the entire game. You can't breathe in enough oxygen to satisfy your need for air. As you can imagine, our game didn't go so well. But at least I didn't pass out or throw-up on the field. I accomplished my goals of not completely humiliating myself.

When we got home that afternoon, our fire alarms started going off in the house. That was odd because there was no fire. I even ran out to the street to get a good look at the roof and thankfully, no smoke was rising, so we were good. However, the sound wouldn't stop! This really made the kids super nervous - especially for Ninja. They kept saying, "What about Ninja's ears?" and all huddling around me while I was running around the house looking up at all the fire alarms, confirming that indeed all 20 of them were going off simultaneously.

During this little escapade, Chuck was safe in the shower...until we all descend upon him yelling at the top of our lungs, "FIRE ALARM!" Amazingly, he couldn't hear it in the shower. So, he runs out with a towel around his dripping wet self and stares at the same main alarm in our kitchen area. It is at least 15 feet high on the ceiling/roof. What he plans on doing is beyond me. He deems that the battery must be low and announces for all to hear, "Don't worry, it's just a low battery. It will stop soon." This is his overly optimistic self in full force. So what do we do? We all just continue on as if this incessant beeping is normal, while covering Ninja's sensitive ears. Thankfully, it only continued for about 5 minutes.

Fast forward to today. This is the 4th day of the heat wave. You take one step outside and your shirt, skin and hair are already dripping wet. Your glasses fog up instantly. All the windows in your house are foggy - it's like you live in an aquarium. You have to rub all the moisture off the windows in order to look outside. I was actually outside cleaning these same windows when all of the sudden, Chloe and Bennett come running outside, clearly worried, "Mom. Come quick. The fire alarms are going off again!"

Great!! What am I supposed to do?! The sound assaults me as soon as I step in. The chorus is loud and long. It's VERY hard for me to think under pressure. I'm suddenly whisked back in time to another fire alarm incident and start to panic. Quick. Think Cori. You're the only adult here! Hmmm. Okay, first things first...I ask Bennett to come out to the garage with me and help me haul in the 8 foot ladder. I send Chloe for the broom. The plan is to put it under the alarm and climb up as high as I dare and poke the alarm with the bottom of the broom. Maybe I can stop the noise that way. Why/How? I have no clue...but it seems like a productive thing to be doing.

Bennett is bravely holding the ladder in place as I make my ascent, broom in hand. I am 2 steps from the top and my feet have firmly planted themselves on this level and will go no farther. Next, I initiate the poking of the alarm. Much to my surprise it makes the noise stop for 1 second and then make a succession of beeps even louder than the original sound I was trying to eliminate. Great.

I've never been good at thinking on my feet, but while I'm up this high, I decide to try to read the fire alarm. The words are written in a circle all around it in the smallest font you've ever seen and in the same color as the alarm. It is impossible! Especially since I'm still a good 3 feet below it. There's no way I can reach high enough to touch it. Plus, we all remember my fear of height issues. I might spontaneously fall off this ladder at any moment...I need to hurry!
In a nutshell (at least from what I could decipher), the alarm says that it won't make any noise if the battery is low. Great. That means Chuck's earlier assessment is completely wrong and we do indeed have problem.

Plan B - call Chuck. He tells me he doesn't know what I should do. Great. I ask him if maybe this warrants a call to the fire department. If for no other reason, they would be able to actually reach the alarm in order to turn it off. He agrees.

I go look for the number to call in the city directory. Mind you, the fire alarm beeps are continual, loud, incessant, high-pitched and still going on. I call both of the numbers listed. One just rings and rings and no one answers. The second number sends me to voice mail. You have got to be kidding me. This is not an emergency in the truest sense of the word, but I have no other choice than to call the emergency number. Great.

So, here I go dialing 911 and feeling like a heel. I hope I'm not taking man power away from a true emergency. As soon as someone answers, I apologize and explain the situation. She's not surprised in the least. She told me, "We have gotten a ton of calls all weekend for the same thing. The heat and humidity are so high, it's setting off all the fire alarms." NO WAY! Never in my life have I heard of such a thing. This is beyond bizarre. She tells me, "I'll see if I can find someone to send over to help you and take a look at it. In the mean time, crank your a/c as low as you can to cool down the roof."

Thankfully, she found a fireman who wasn't in his fire truck, just an SUV to send over. He was accompanied with a policeman in a squad car - all for my stupid fire alarm that won't go off. But wouldn't you know, in the amount of time it took for me to lower my a/c and for the fireman to get here, the beeping stopped all on it's own (15-20 minutes). Now I look like a sick kid who goes to the doctor who doesn't look or act sick anymore. He comes in and repeats 911 lady's story about this happening all over town. He told me that the alarms that are attached to the ceilings that are directly under the roof tiles that don't have any insulation around them are picking up too much heat. Our particular one is on the west facing side of the house. He actually told me to unscrew it from the ceiling until the heat wave passes. That would be nice - if I could reach it.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be calling 911 because it was too hot. Welcome to Minnesota.

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