Friday, August 17, 2007


This may be the first truly useful post I've ever made. Last night I smelled something burning in our house and pinpointed the odor to our daughter's room, which was fairly easy to do since the odor was growing more pungent by the minute.

It was a confusing smell, like a toxic chemical or plastic but also a burnt smell. When I realized it was a serious problem I was really scared. I unplugged everything I could, felt the walls for heat, husband checked the attic, yanked things out of the closet, looked behind dressers and under the bed, looked for chemical spills or markers without lids, crawled around with my nose at the baseboards, checked the outside of the house ... I was praying for the Lord to show me where the fire was over and over. By this time I was growing panicky. I had exhausted all ideas and was just about to call the fire department, when something made me get up on her bed and smell the ceiling fan--and that was it. A GE helical spiral bulb had burned through at its base and made a small pencil-eraser sized hole in the plastic base of the bulb. It looked a lot like the one in picture above, except with a hole. Also, her fan had started to blacken.

We did not misuse the bulbs; we don't know what happened. Anyway, I was so relieved and yet shaken that all I could do was go out on the porch and cry. (My husband is probably cringing at my telling you every detail of this ordeal, but this is what we do on these blogs, we share the details of each others' lives, including the tears.)

I'm so thankful to the Lord that he prompted me to check out the fan up close, and yet I can't keep from imagining the worst: what if we hadn't noticed it and had left the light on a couple more hours? What if it had happened when she was alone yesterday afternoon for a couple of hours? How fast would our house burn? What if our alarm wasn't loud enough to waken the kids during the night? Could we have made it into their rooms with smoke billowing? The questions just kept eating at me, and I felt so guilty about the bulbs, although logically we had nothing to feel guilty about.

I checked online today about spiral bulbs being dangerous, especially GE helical bulbs, and there were several stories about them, including the one where I found this picture. So if you have switched to this more efficient spiral bulb, please be careful.

24 comments:

Barbara H. said...

Well, this is scary, because my husband bought a slew of those spiral bulbs. I'll have to show him this.

I think you can put those "What ifs" to bed, Linda -- God worked it out so that it happened when you were there, and you caught it before it went too far, and He prompted you to look at the bulb.

Kelli said...

First and most important- I'm so glad you're safe. Thank you, Jesus.

We have several of these. Looks like I'm doing some replacement shopping this weekend.

Amber said...

It's wonderful that the Lord put it in your heart where to look. Praise the Lord nothing happened!

God Bless,
Amber

Susan said...

Thank you for sharing your WHOLE story. Wow, that would have scared me too. I'm glad it all turned out OK. We DO have these bulbs in our house.

Blessings,

Susan

Susanne said...

Praise God that you guys are safe and sound. His hand protected you, your children and your home.

Now I need to show this to hubby too! We have those bulbs everywhere!

Connie@Little Red Hearts From God said...

Well we sure have..

so thank you very much...

I will show this to my husband...

I am so thankful that you guys are ok.. and that you are able to share with us....

God is so awesome..

Melanie said...

God is good.

Thank you for sharing. We have these outside and I burn them at night while we are asleep! I am going to take them down. Better safe than sorry. I am going to link to this, so others can hopefully see it.

Laane said...

I'm so glad you found it in time.

I've always had a strange inner feelings about these bulbs, so we only have two in the whole house.
But one can be enough to burn everything down...

Thank you so very much for writing this down.

I'll link to this, so others can be warned too.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Grafted Branch @ Restoring the Years said...

Good to know 'cause they are all over our home! Thanks!

Glad all is well. What a good God to show you as He did.

BooMama said...

So glad y'all are well - and great info. We have these bulbs all over our house, and thanks to you, I know the warning signs now.

Take care -

Ladytink_534 said...

Wow that's scary! I'm glad everything turned out okay though. Have you contacted the company that sold you the light bulb? There might be something wrong with that particular brand.

Tonya said...

Thanks for sharing your experience...even the details. My husband thinks these are great so I want to show this to him.

Roxanne said...

Linda,

We still use the regular light bulbs, but I just showed this to hubs in case he gets a "burning desire" (couldn't resist) to buy some of these. He recognized the bulb but also saw the big, black hole at the base. Thanks for posting this.

R--

P.S. By the way, those tears are God's way of washing all of the extra adrenelin out of your system. . .

Anonymous said...

I'm replacing the one that burns all night on my front porch today. To copy recent comment, "God is great."

Tam said...

Wow! That's scary! So glad you listened to the Lords prompting on that!

Love your blog too! I see one of your interests are Yorkies!!! I have one!His name is Duke. We actually have his sister here with us for a while too, Daisy.

Thanks for stopping by today...

Jen said...

thank goodness you smelt it
im going to show Muzz

mandy said...

scary!!!
the thing that baffles me about our commercial-driven culture is that companies advertise things as being helpful/beneficial/improved... but there's always those hidden side-effects that they don't let us in on... and we buy their product and then something goes wrong........ thanks for putting the word out there about these bulbs!
my husband and i experienced a similar problem with a different item today - and were baffled that we weren't adequately warned.
:)

Laura said...

I'm glad you shared the details too. What a scary moment! Yes, thank God that you were able to locate the problem and that you are all safe and sound.

Mommy, the Human Napkin said...

Wow, that is scary! Glad you're all okay! We have several of those bulbs in our house, so we'll definitely be keeping an eye on them. Thanks for posting this!

Angela Giles Klocke said...

How scary! So glad you were all OK...

My teen bought one of these and put it in the bathroom, apparently. With other different bulbs. I went in and turned the lights on, and they flickered on and off. I had no idea what was up until I realized the bulb was in there. I took it out and the lights have been fine. I hate to think if I hadn't found it!

Steff(http://okierivermama.livejournal.com/ said...

OK...to take the other side of this...percentage wise they are not any more dangerous than a regular bulb. Second they flicker because they need to heat up to work properly, but you are better off to not mix flourescents and reg bulbs. People need to be extremely careful when they replace with flourescents to use the appropriate size for whatever it is they are using it in. IE if the lamp says max of 40 W bulb use no more than a 7 W flourescent as they do get much hotter than regular bulbs, but the upside here is that a 7 W flourescent will produce at least as much light as the 40 and conserve a huge amount of energy.
We have no regular bulbs anywhere on our property. I was a bit leery about changing when we did, but when you consider that we moved in 2 1/2 years ago and there are lights in 6 of the 10 rooms that we have NEVER had to replace yet I think that says tons. Also this house is more than twice the size of our prior home but with HE appliances, extra insulation, and flourescents, our electric usage is on average 20% less than in the old house.
Steff

Anonymous said...

could you post where you found the photo?

Kathy in WA said...

Wow! That's incredibly scary. I'm so glad you found the source of the burning. The other night I was up late (blogging of course) and made some pancakes for dh's breakfast/lunch for the next day. I forgot to check the foreman grill and didn't realize it hadn't been cleaned from the chicken at dinner.

Nice crisp, burning smell. Dh scared the heck out of me by coming downstairs and checking on the smell. He had been in bed for a couple hours so I about jumped out of my skin when he came in to the kitchen. He was sure the house was on fire and even made me go outside and check the roof.

Sorry, hon, just burnt chicken remains. Ha!

Thanks for sharing! Glad things are okay.

Duckabush Blog

Colleen said...

Thanks for posting the link to this on my blog. That's really scary! I've read other stories of people having problems with them, but we've not yet and I keep hoping that they're getting better over time.