Several months ago, when the Austin area was being plagued by wildfires, I shared with you the story of how my house burned to the ground from a lightning strike when I was a child.
I’m back today to tell you the story of how I’m lucky to be alive after our house was struck by lightning a few weeks ago.
That’s right, I am 23 years old and can officially say I have had my home struck by lightning twice in my life.
Corey and I woke up late on this particular Saturday morning, because neither of us had gotten much sleep the night before, thanks to a giant storm that had came through. We finally rolled out of bed and headed downstairs at around 11:30, and Corey noticed that the sprinklers in our backyard were on. The ones that have been turned off since sometime in October. The ones that we literally haven’t touched the control for in months. He came back into the house and tried to turn them off, but couldn’t – we ended up having to shut the water off completely in order to get our sprinklers to stop. We were irritated about this, and slightly nervous about what our water bill will look like after having our sprinklers run for who knows how many hours, but a quick call to the insurance company proved that it was probably lightning that shorted out the controls and the cost of our water bill and the cost to fix the sprinklers can be put towards our deductible.
We also discovered that day that the lightning strike had affected our internet modem and the DVR in our bedroom. All minor problems. None of these almost killed us, though they were all more than a little annoying.
When we got home from church on Sunday, I immediately thought I smelled gas when we walked into the house. I had Corey check to see if we had left a burner on the oven on, but he couldn’t find anything. He said that he didn’t smell it, so I dismissed it as my imagination. I’ve never lived in a home with gas before (I’ve always had electric stoves, etc.) and so I didn’t think about it being anything out of the ordinary.
Over the next couple of days, I occasionally would catch a quick whiff of the gas smell again, usually when I was walking down the stairs or in our master bedroom closet (which I learned later are both right next to the furnace, though at the time I had no idea). It was never a very strong smell, and it always seemed to go away quickly, so I just managed to dismiss it. Plus, Corey never mentioned smelling anything, so I genuinely thought that I must have just been making it up.
I know there are some of you sitting there shaking your heads at me wondering how I could possibly be so stupid. I want to emphasize again that never in my life have I lived in a home with gas appliances, a gas furnace, etc., and so I have absolutely zero frame of reference for how these things are handled. It also doesn’t help that Corey works from home 90% of the time, so he rarely leaves the house and probably genuinely didn’t smell anything because he had become accustomed to it.
It wasn’t until Wednesday afternoon (THREE DAYS after I first smelled gas) that Corey really began to smell it. He left the house for a few hours, and when he came home he was struck by a very strong gas smell. The gas leak must have worsened throughout the day on Wednesday because, like I said, it had been very faint up until that point. Luckily Corey is a much more logical thinker than I am and immediately called our gas company.
When the technician from the gas company arrived at our house a couple of hours later, his first words upon entering the house were “Open all of your windows, NOW.”
Yeah. After looking around, he determined that one of the valves for our furnace had been switched, and it was just slowly leaking gas into the house. He said that it’s entirely possible (and probable, given that nothing else has happened) that the lightning strike is what caused this gas leak.
Let me say to you again, I am lucky to be alive right now. Corey and I had been going about life as usual, cooking with our (gas) stove, and were basically completely clueless that our house was a ticking time bomb that could explode at any second.
There are no words for how terrifying that knowledge is.
I realize that by admitting all of this I am probably making Corey and myself look like idiots. How could we possibly not notice this? How could we let it go on for three days before calling someone? The only defense I can give is that I had no idea that it was even possible for my furnace to be leaking gas fumes into my home because of a lightning strike, and even the guy from the gas company was perplexed by how this could have happened.
I am writing about this today not so I can flaunt what a huge idiot I am (though I’m doing a pretty good job of that, aren’t I?) but just in case there are other people out there who are also huge idiots and aren’t aware of how serious something like this can be. I’ve learned my lesson, and Corey and I are much more aware of these things – and we’re going to pay attention to ANY gas smells in our home. You know, if I manage to have a house struck by lightning for a THIRD time in my life.
Twice is more than enough, don’t you think?
So, friends, don’t be an idiot like me. If you smell gas in your home, even if your spouse doesn’t, even if you think you are crazy, do something about it. Don’t ignore it like I did and almost lose everything.
Have you ever had a (completely terrifying) gas leak in your home? Have you ever acted like a complete idiot about something seriously scary?