Monday, February 28, 2011

Recovering from the Weekend

Oh, man! It's been crazy around here.

After we discovered that spilling mercury is baaaaad (and yeah, I remember playing with mercury as a kid, too!) and that sweeping the floor after a mercury spill is really, really bad (at least we had picked up all the visible mercury at that point!), we all huddled in the kids' room with the door closed. We opened the windows in the main area of the house and checked out clean-up instructions online.

Mr. X pointed out that we have a friend who's an environmental engineer, so we called him. He doesn't work with mercury himself, so he called his boss, who said that we probably should go ahead and follow the online instructions we found (and offered to get us a mercury spill kit and lend us their mercury sensor on Monday if we hadn't put that stuff together before then).

So, we went in search of a spill kit and mercury sensor. Ha! Good luck with that on a weekend!

We packed the kids up in the car. It's not a lot of fun to have two sick kids and to have to stay out of the house. We don't have family in the area that we can foist ourselves on and we didn't want to give our friends' kids the germs (let's face it, I'd share the germs with family, but not friends--though our engineer friend--who is a single guy, and boy, we should find a nice girl for him!--offered to let us stay at his place). So we just drove around trying to get the (sick, hungry, tired) kids to sleep while simultaneously getting the mercury clean-up stuff handled.

Things we learned:
1. Our cell phone provider's information service stinks! They could only find one nonemergency number for a fire station in my area, and that was headquarters. Which is open M-F 8-4:30.
2. Our nearest fire station is "not regularly staffed." Boy, I feel safe!
3. The fire station that was open does not have mercury spill kits or mercury sensors (friend's boss thought they might). They called county haz-mat to see if it was an issue.
4. County haz-mat thought it wasn't that big a deal and recommended cleaning up with ammonia . . . which some of the online instructions said might cause an explosion.
5. If county haz-mat had thought there was enough of a problem to need intervention, they would have sealed our house and called a contractor to deal with it, and we would have been on the hook for the bill for thousands of dollars.
6. The pastries at the fabulous Danish bakery near the fire station do have medicinal properties.
7. Walmart does not carry mercury spill kits.
8. Neither does Ace.
9. Neither does Lowes.

So, after hours in the car (which also included a stop at Rite-Aid to buy a new digital thermometer), we headed home. On our friend's advice, we called the county health department (which the cell provider's information service also could not locate), and they said to keep ventilating and try to get a spill kit. We also talked to chemist we know. Yes, we really are specialists at overkill! But it is pretty freaky when you see warnings about irreversible neurological damage to small children.

Saturday night, Sarah slept very little. On Sunday, we went for a walk to get out of the house. Nick threw up on his coat. We repeated the "drive around and try to get sick kids to nap" routine and kept ventilating the living room.I figured out, based on some of the online instructions, that if we still have any mercury in the cracks between the floorboards, it can't be much more than is in a lightbulb, and they just recommend disposing of the pieces in hazardous waste and then airing the room for 12-24 hours for that. Mr. X and I were finally ready to collapse into bed when we went upstairs and found that Wonderdog had had diarrhea all over her bed and the kitchen floor. As we were finishing cleaning it up, Sarah woke up and threw an hour-long tantrum. The poor little thing was so exhausted she didn't know what she wanted. We finally just brought her into our bed and I nursed her to sleep. It may undo some of our sleep training, but oh well.

Today, I finally found the sulfur powder we needed to clean up the last of the mercury at the local compounding pharmacy. When we got home, Nick napped for 2 1/2 hours, Sarah napped for 4 1/2 hours, I napped for about an hour, and we all felt much better. Mr. X put down the sulfur powder when he got home, and we're going to keep the kids out of the room for a few more days, just to err on the side of extreme caution.

Oh, and Mr. X came home with new batteries for my basal thermometer today. I was glad to see that the package read, "No Mercury"!


Second Chances said...

Goodness gracious! What a nightmare! I'm glad you're recovering. I hope you have a much better week!

Awaiting a Child of God:) said...

My goodness, that is so pathetic!!! Glad you got it all figured out!!

Tridentine Wife said...

oh wow, what a scary chaotic weekend, glad to read that things are finally calming down.


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