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.