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Narrowly Averted Home Disasters >> Sept B 2007

This list is certainly nothing to be proud of and nothing to joke about. And the disturbing thing is some of these incidents were quite bizarre. Hopefully I am not painted too much the fool. Or at least now I am a slightly wiser fool especially for insurance purposes. In fact, for insurance purposes my name is Rodriguez Vashnolopov Schnozzbit.

1) a glass marble - This is the weirdest incident. Suzanne had a large clear glass marble. (She likes little knicky-knacks.) It was perched on a tiny pedestal just in front of our front porch in a mulched garden. One day sunlight shone through the glass ball and sparked the mulch. Suzanne and I were inside at the time. Suzanne said she smelled something burning, but we thought it was just neighbors burning leaves or something. Good thing the windows were open. She went outside on the front porch and noticed a nice little campfire burning in the mulch. She called me and we snuffed it with water. The marble was hot to the touch and slightly scalded. I put it inside a box in the attic or somewhere dark so that its evil powers can't be called forth again.

2) tacos in toaster oven - This was the most alarming incident. I decided to warm several tacos in a toaster oven instead of the regular oven. Woe is me who disregarded the tiny red letters on the taco box that read "DO NOT USE TOASTER OVEN TO HEAT TACOS" or some such. Tacos I learned are quite explosive devices. They suddenly burst into flames. Not just a little poof, but a blazing fury like you might expect from a two month old Christmas tree or several large boxes of matches. It didn't subside and started licking out the front and back. So I got the fire extinguisher and used it like a real man. Whoosh, one squirt, half a second later, the fire was out. My white toaster oven was black. The underside of the cabinets overhead were blackened and there were little black fairies flying around the kitchen. I threw the toaster oven out and swore never to use another one. I had had it since college. Good riddance. Now I have a proper toaster for bread and I use the oven for tacos. Lesson learned.

3) clogged chimney - This is the most mundane incident. In our previous house we had a chimney. How nice and quaint. We noticed after several fires that the white painted bricks above the fireplace seemed to get smudgy and blackened. Annoying. We wiped it off. Then after some time it got worse. I called a chimney sweep and felt niftily old-fashioned doing so. What he discovered wasn't so nifty. We had moved in to the house maybe less than a year before but the chimney hadn't been cleaned for over a decade if not more. For the hole at the top was barely big enough to drop a quarter through, which apparently is a huge fire hazard. I felt I got my money's worth after he cleaned it out. No more smudgy walls either and a weather cap too.

4) cracked and frozen pipes - This is my recurring nightmare. We had frozen pipes in our previous house and a more recent house. Not to mention a cracked toilet. Luckily, both times, it was so freaking cold that once the pipes busted the temperature never warmed up enough to melt the water that would have come gushing out of the heating pipes. Just elongated icicle sausages emerged. I don't even want to talk about how much stress this caused, just make sure you have automatic oil delivery and good insulation. And never leave your house.

5) false alarm - This is the incident that wasn't an incident. We were away (of course) in another state for Thanksgiving or something. Bring! Brrrrring! We get the unexpected call from our neighbors across the street who had called the fire department for they had seen smoke coming out of our chimney and we didn't even have a fireplace. Well after the firemen busted in our house they discovered it wasn't a fire but just some sootiness that had been poofed out of boiler exhaust that uses the chimney. Nothing to worry about. Our neighbor bravely went in to rescue our cat I think or had intentions to. Anyway were were scolded by the fire department for partially blocking an escape door with a laundry basket and not having one of our three smoke alarms operational. As far as the poof of sootiness it hasn't happened again that I've noticed. Though I've been even more regimented about cleaning out the gook that collects at the bottom now... if that even makes a difference.


So this is why I'm scared of gas appliances and nervous about odd noises in the night, and leaving candles alone and so forth. This list doesn't include home disasters that were not averted like at my parent's house when I was young which flooded by burst pipes in the attic and did over $50,000 in water damage. We got the call the Christmas Eve while we were away (of course) in Scotland. That happened to be a freakishly cold year in Louisiana when the lakes froze over and the ducks hit the ice and skidded not knowing what had happened. I think an Exxon refinery exploded too that year.




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