This actually happened a couple of weeks ago but I am just now getting around to writing about it. Everything turned out fine in the end but it was a very stressful few hours.
I took a couple of days off work to spend with the Little Guy before he went back to school and because we have a cut off of Labor Day for taking any more time off due to the busy election cycle. I took off a Thursday and a Friday. We decided to go bowling Friday and the LG asked one of his friends to go with us. Before we left, I had the LG scoop the cat litter and throw the bag in the trashcan out in the garage.
When he went out there the door was open for maybe 15 to 20 seconds and we both smelled a terrible odor. It smelled like really rotten food. I wondered what the heck we had in the trashcan that could smell so bad. I decided to open the main garage door and pull my car out and have the LG get in my car from the outside to avoid either of us getting ill. I was still very sensitive to odors at that time. I held my breath and pushed the button and slammed the house door shut and out the front door we went.
After bowling we were on our way to take the friend home and I called BJ. I told him that he had to get the trash out of the garage before I got home because it smelled like something died in there. Neither of us could figure out what we had thrown away to cause such a stench. I went inside the friend’s house to talk to the mom for a few minutes (ended up being like 25) and left my phone in the car. When I got back in I was joking with the LG about how many missed calls I might have. BJ had tried to call me 5 times! I knew something was up so I called him back right away. As it turns out, the trash is not what was stinking up the garage. BJ had left a 4-wheeler battery on the charger in the garage and it over charged and started leaking! The whole house smelled of sulfuric acid! He opened all the windows and turned on all the ceiling fans. The first thing he did was to open both garage doors and get that battery out of there. He said that I should stay out a little longer so we hit the grocery store for a few things. I was really worried about my cats, too. He said they seemed fine other than being freaked out at him running all over the house and throwing windows open. When I got home we quickly put the groceries away (I had my shirt over my nose and mouth) and headed out for dinner. He posted a question about the safety of the house and how to get that horrible odor out of our house on FB. Everyone told him that it was very dangerous to breathe the fumes and to call poison control. Of course, the cats were still in the house. I was panicked. I knew I was safe and that the baby was safe because we weren’t home most of the day (thank goodness!) but the cats were there ALL DAY breathing that horrible stuff.
BJ talked to the poison control lady and she said that since the battery was out in the garage that it was most likely just the bad smell that was in the house and not the gasses themselves. She said that opening everything up was the right thing to do except we should have turned off the AC. The AC unit naturally recycles the air through the house so it would keep the scent around longer. Great…it’s 90 something degrees outside and we have to go home and turn our AC off. She put our fears to rest about the safety of being in the house so we headed home. The house still smelled but not nearly as bad and we kept the windows open a while longer and turned the AC off. It was hot, but at least we knew we were doing the right thing. We went for a walk and then hung out at the neighbor’s for a little while. And the cats were no worse for wear, thank goodness. As it got closer to bedtime we turned the AC back on so that we could get some sleep and we shut the windows. Being in the house, we were able to get used to the smell somewhat so that was good. By the next morning the odor was pretty much out of the house. We left the garage doors open all night and put an oscillating fan in there to blow out any remaining fumes.
We kept talking about how the LG and I were lucky to be out of the house before we were overcome with fumes and how it worked out that we hung out at the bowling alley longer than anticipated and that the friend’s mom is a talker because all of that allowed BJ to get home before us and start the clean-up process. We definitely learned a valuable lesson here. Do not charge batteries in your garage unless you plan on staying with them until they are charged. It was a very hectic several hours to say the least but we all came out fine so that’s the best part.