Amish Cook: Gas alarm fuels frightening start to the day

Editor's Note: Lovina's church is more progressive when it comes to safety-oriented technology like smoke detectors. When their home was built, local home inspectors required such detectors be installed. Some more conservative Amish groups, such as the Swartzentruber Amish, have opposed such devices.

We are having some snowy days this week, although there is not much of an accumulation. We have had quite a day already. Joe left for work about 3:30 a.m. I had turned off the light and was ready to go back to bed until 5 a.m.

I heard an alarm go off in the basement, so I went to go out to check it out, and it was a carbon monoxide alarm. I could smell soot, so I checked our coal stove, but it looked OK. I figured that it might be the gas water heater and shut it off. I get worried more since the fire we had last year and decided to wake all eight children. I called 911 to ask what I should do. They said to get everyone out of the house, and they would send someone to take a look.

Everyone was still sleepy, and it was difficult to find clothes and coats by flashlight. I didn't want to turn on our gaslights just to be safe. Remembering the fire we had, everyone was shook up a little more.

It was cold and about 20 degrees outside, so I told the children to go inside the tool shed where it would be warmer. It ended up that the whole fire department showed up. They checked the carbon count, and it was 32 close by the water heater. It had probably aired out since I had shut it off. Elizabeth didn't go back to sleep since she leaves for work around 5:15 a.m. I think everyone will be ready for bed early tonight.


We have someone here now checking out the water heater. It sounds as if we could be getting some downdrafts, too. They are adding a fresh air vent to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide. With so many gas appliances running, plus the coal stove, we need more ventilation. Our house is so air-tight, and during the winter months when we don't have windows to air it out, it builds up faster.

They tested our propane gas lights, and they throw off a little, too. We use them longer during the winter months also. We hope this will take care of any more problems. I am glad we had the carbon monoxide detector down there.

We received word that Joe's great Uncle Amos died. We regret that we didn't find out in time to attend his funeral, which was yesterday. Our sympathy goes to the family.

The children enjoyed their two-day midwinter break. It went way too fast. Friday evening and Saturday we helped Jacob butcher hogs. They have a lot of meat now. We made pon hoss out of 12 gallons of juice from the pork bones. We have had quite a few meals of it already. Everyone in our family likes it.

We also have been using the fresh sausage Jacob sent home with us. We use it in breakfast burritos, casseroles, gravy and fry it for sandwiches. We have two hogs on order, but they are not quite big enough to butcher. We are thinking they should be ready in about three weeks. We plan to cut up a big beef before that.

I will be glad to get those greasy jobs off the list. By then, it will already be time to do some spring cleaning. Time does not stand still. Try this sausage and rice bake.

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