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A scary situation


By lauram


This is one of those “other” postings that is frowned upon on GoY, but I’m writing this blog anyway in the hopes that it may help somebody else.

One night two weeks ago, I was in my garage cleaning turtle tanks. I shut off the hose & the lights and went into the house. I then heard a sound, a popping noise, as if something had fallen off a shelf. I walked back into the garage and saw that an electrical cord was sparking. Since it was next to the hose, I thought, well, OK, some water splashed on it. Upon closer (but not too much closer!) examination, I realized that portions of the wire were burned. This was a cord that was put in by my home’s previous owners. They had used the garage as a workshop, and so there were outlets on the end of it. It ran from the attic, then outside for about a foot, then into the garage. It had sat unused in a corner for several years. I couldn’t sleep that night – I’m terrified of fire. I gathered up my leukemia-positive cats (they live in the garage with the turtles, away from the other cats), threw them into crates for the night, shut off the power & stayed home from work the next day to take care of the problem.

An electrician arrived the next morning. This man has been an electrician for 40 years. He’s seen it all. He was shaking – literally shaking – when he saw this wire and when he went up into the attic. If I had not called, if I hadn’t noticed the problem when I did….my house would probably have gone up in flames within a couple of days. This is a typical old west Georgia farmhouse. It’s built of pine, with pine plank walls and floors. These homes burn to the ground in minutes. What happened was this: that electrical cord (so carelessly run outside, under a metal roof) had been hit by lightning. It was dozens of feet long and was burned and melted all along its length. It was 240 volts. If I had touched it (or if I hadn’t been wearing rubber-soled shoes) as I walked across that damp floor to shut off the water, it would have killed me. Instantly. If my leukemia cats had touched it, it would have killed them also. I wish I’d saved that wire or taken a photo of it. It was terrifying. Anyway, we are all OK….I am $1,600 poorer (breakers had to be replaced & I had some other work done while the electrician was here) but thankfully still alive. Death by fire is not my preferred way to go. Neither is death by electrocution while cleaning turtle tanks. So – this is my public-service message to you all. If you ever see ANYTHING amiss – even lights dimming – anything, CALL AN ELECTRICIAN, IMMEDIATELY. I am not a positive thinker by nature, and not a religious or spiritual person by any means, but I do feel blessed to still be alive to share this with you.

My internet has been out for over two weeks, also – my Jack Russell, Henry, chewed through the wire. It’s interesting, for over a week he frantically ran back and forth on the eastern side of the house, & even tried to dig into the wall. He would lie down facing that wall, alert, for hours. Some of the cats joined him, while others climbed their cat tree, stared at the ceiling and howled. I didn’t know how to interpret their actions, sadly, and assumed they were merely hearing rodents in the walls, but I believe they knew there was a problem.

More blog posts by lauram

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I see similar bodges in the motor trade all too often too! Last week, as a favour to a very good customer, I put her horsebox in for MOT (roadworthiness) test. A chunk of the chassis had rotted out at some time in the past, been filled (yes, FILLED), and then undersealed to make it all look original. This regularly carries two horses, yet was in danger of snapping as a result of somebodies callous attitude to the safety of the driver and other road users!
Thank your lucky stars that you heard that "pop"!

27 Sep, 2010


The people who owned this house before did everything halfway. If I could sue them, I would. They were the sort of people who didn't think they needed to consult an expert for anything, they'd just do it themselves.
You're right, thank goodness I heard that pop, and thank goodness I decided to investigate rather than assume it was just the cats messing about!

27 Sep, 2010


Your recent situation Lauram should be a warning to some people in this country.

We often moan about too many regulations here, but this just shows that when it comes to electrics, get a qualified expert in!!!

27 Sep, 2010


this is one of those others that wouldnt be frowned upon.
when we bought this house [built in 1964] it had balck/red rubber coated wires and round pin sockets. this was illegal when it was built but the builder used reclaied materials as he had built it for himself and felt it was safe. needless to say it was a total rewire job.

27 Sep, 2010


do you have circuit breakers fitted, if there is a problem they immediatly shut off the power. i don't pretend to understand it one bit but when the toaster went wrong everytime we switched it on the circuit breaker turned off all the electricity

28 Sep, 2010


The circuit breakers never switched off although they should have - the reason was explained to me but I can't remember what it was. It may have been because some of the breakers were bad & needed to be replaced? Also, the house was only halfway was grounded in one sense but not in another so the part that wasn't grounded negated the part that was. I can't understand this stuff either, that's why I leave it to the professionals!

28 Sep, 2010


thank goodness though that you saw it in time, I dread to think what could have happened, we take it so much for granted,-- grown up with it-- but it can be so dangerous ( theres a new tv costume drama just started over here ( i'm sure that they'll hope to sell it to you !! and Maggie Smith plays the Dowager Duchess who refuses to have the 'electric' at the dower house thinks its unsafe and ' much too bright!'--- still candles aren't safe either !!

28 Sep, 2010


On a similar theme, I put my dishwasher on one night and went to bed. A breaking noise woke me in the early hours but I found I really couldn't actually wake up. I became aware of a smell and battled for ages to force myself to open my eyes. I could barely see as the room was full of smoke. I grabbed the cat & ran downstairs to see smoke billowing around the thankfully closed kitchen door. Ran into the lounge for the dog & we all got out. The fire brigade put the fire out and 6 months later I moved back home. They said that putting on dishwashers, washing machines etc over night or when you go out is the worst thing you can do & one of the most common causes of house fires.

So just a warning to everyone - oh and replace batteries in smoke alarms - like I hadn't!!!!

28 Sep, 2010


very good advice Bev --- at this time of year

28 Sep, 2010


You have leukemia-positive cats that live in the garage with your turtles..? That sounds like quite a surreal situation! Is it common in Georgia?

28 Sep, 2010


I'm glad you are all right. Funny how animals can sense things. Pitty we are not able to understand them.

There are two wooden American houses in a village near here. They are listed buildings. I wouldn't like to live in them I don't think. They sound cold for this country.

29 Sep, 2010


hope you & all your animals are ok Lauram...

29 Sep, 2010


No, Arwel, not common at all - I doubt there are many people out there as wacky as I am! I used to work for a turtle conservation group, and when we shut down (we were a non-profit that sadly ran out of money) we had over 1,600 animals to place. Most went to other institutions but I took a bunch of my favorites and some of the babies that no one wanted. Then my former employer called me a year later and asked if I would take about 25 mud turtles. OK. A year after that, he called again and said he had to place Burmese brown tortoises, redfoots and elongated tortoises. I had the land and winter housing, so those came to live with me also. This is a pretty good climate for them since most can live outside for 6-7 months out of the year. As for the cats, I now work at an animal shelter and, like the rest of my co-workers, I have taken home animals that wouldn't make it out otherwise.

31 Oct, 2010

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