As if the ticking-bomb glass breakage sensor wasn’t enough, in mid-afternoon the smoke alarm outside my office began shrieking. We ran around sniffing the air, opening doors, checking the furnace and water heater and the clothes dryer. No smoke, no fumes. Not again!
We called the alarm monitoring company and luckily we got Larry again. My first words were, “Don’t send a fire truck.” He chuckled (somewhat paternally, I thought) and said no, because of the previous malfunction, they’d take our word for it that we weren’t crazed arsonists with the homeowners secret user name and passwords. Unfortunately, Larry couldn’t see an alert for the smoke alarm but he could see location #5 which was the device I’d deactivated earlier. Curiouser and curiouser.
From the phone in the kitchen he could hear the deafening wails (mine and the alarm’s), so he instructed Hub how to take out the wires attached to the scream-maker. The silence was deafening. But our relief was short-lived.
The wind was whipping up and Hub and I stored all the cushions in the deck box. The umbrella I tucked between on the seat of the swing, secured between the openings on the armrests. All battened down. The sky turned an ominous shade of grey-green. A tremendous roaring and moaning came from the stand of woods across the street. From past experience, we knew it was going to be a big blow.
Around 5:10 p.m., as I was microwaving some leftover Thai food for an early supper, the master alarm started whoop-whooping. Lord have mercy, what now? The alarm panel was useless because there were so many error messages. We did a quick perimeter check – nothing. Back to the phones. The technician pushed some buttons and we finally were able to turn off the alarm. Then the power went off and all of the uninterrupted power supply backups (on every piece of expensive electronics) screamed to life. The good thing is, we had time to do proper shutdowns of our computers.
Silly me, I dialed the emergency number for Hydro One, to get an update on how long the outage might last. Part of their website hadn’t been updated since 2014. The outage map showed only a few hundred people affected with an expected repair time of 8″45. Do-able – we had lots of candles. When we pulled back the curtains to the patio door, we saw that the heavy swing had been smacked over the glass table and chairs and jammed against the barbecue. Luckily, nothing broke, but the rain was slashing down so hard we couldn’t get out to move anything.
We had a dozen flashlights and three portable radios, one that we could spin a handle to charge up. But the newscasts on talk radio stations were as banal and useless as ever. Thank goodness for fully charged handheld devices.
I checked for updates on the Hydro One website – a futile search. On Facebook, though, our local Councillor reported that a tree had fallen across power lines north of us. We knew then it would be a long dark evening. The electricity stayed off until 12:15 a.m., which was actually not that bad.
Lots more branches smashed off some off two willow trees – leaves everywhere.
On the positive side, when the alarm company technician arrived today, he informed us that since the system is more than 10 years old and the extended outage killed the motherboard and the backup battery, they’ll install new devices at no cost, since it was equipment failure brought on by the fried motherboard that caused the cascade of warnings and system failures.