Before I get started, I will go ahead and own what some of you will think. Yes. I did something really stupid. And, the ironic thing is, it's the kind of thing I would normally NEVER do because I am typically a far too practical person to do something as reckless as this. Normally, I analytically think through every single decision I make and put the pros and cons through the requisite obstacle course in my mind. Trust me when I tell you, you should never go shopping with me. I spend infinite amounts of time trying to make up my mind.  I labor over every single decision I make and usually come up with just the right solution.

But I didn't Saturday.

I got up early Saturday to prep for my Saturday morning ritual. I typically attend a cardio tennis clinic Saturday mornings at 8am at Center Court, which is about 1/4 mile from my house. Before I do that, I take a bath. That's how I wake up and get going each and every day. But Saturday morning, when I started running the water, I realized that there wasn't any hot water.  I figured that the pilot light had gone out in the hot water heater.  I was right.

See, our hot water heater is in the most inconvenient place possible in our house.  It's in our laundry/utility room where it belongs, but it's tucked in, uncomfortably, behind our downstairs heating/AC unit.

Chad Benefield
Chad Benefield
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It's virtually impossible to access and, because of where it sits, it's prone to getting pretty dusty and the pilot light has been known to get snuffed out by the debris.  Making this seem even more likely over the weekend is the fact that we have construction work going on in that side of the house and it's been very dusty for the last couple of weeks.

I had the problem figured out. I just didn't think wisely through the solution.

What I should have done was very simple. I should have just tried to re-ignite the pilot light. Instead, I went one step further. I decided it was smart to go ahead and clean around and inside the base of the heater. I grabbed a can of Duster and sprayed it inside.

Chad Benefield
Chad Benefield
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And, yes. That was STUPID!

I honestly don't know what I was thinking. I didn't read the warning labels on the canister or, not for a split second, consider that the "air" inside that canister was flammable.  I mean, we use it for a lot of things- at the office to clean off our mixing boards in the studio, at home to clean off our beard trimmers, etc. In my head, all I was thinking was that it seemed to be the quickest and easiest way to clean around the base of the hot water heater too.

Well, it wasn't. And there I was- lying on the ground with my face at eye level with the pilot light when I ignited it and it exploded.

Chad Benefield
Chad Benefield
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The ball of flames was ferocious and I immediately knew my face had been burned. Luckily, there was a towel at my feet and I was able to grab it and smash it against my face.  I could instantly feel the burns.  I could feel the heat on my neck, my chin, lips, nose and eyes.  For a brief moment, I was afraid to open my eyes because I wasn't sure I was going to be able to see.  I managed to get up, stumble out of the utility room and run to the bathroom sink.

I grabbed a wash cloth and started to blot my eyes and face with water.  I then knew I had to get Kevin up.  He was still sleeping.  I can't even imagine what I looked like standing there in the doorway to the upstairs bedroom.  My face was fire red. I had water dripping off my head and face. My eyes were completely bloodshot and all of my facial hair was singed- literally burned down to a one guard.

On Sunday morning, I noticed some small blistering on my chin and my nose. There's also some light scabbing happening there as well.  My eyes are much better, though I barely have eyelashes. Most were burned off. I can still smell the burnt ends of my facial hair.

Chad Benefield
Chad Benefield
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As Kevin said Saturday night, it could have been a lot worse. And, he's right. What if I had sprayed even more flammable duster?  What if my shirt had caught fire?  What if I truly hadn't been able to see after that initial "explosion"?

I am a guy who rarely makes missteps.  But it only takes one, doesn't it?  And this one was completely stupid and could have been avoided by simply checking my inconvenience at the door and taking time to read a warning label that's clearly there for a reason.  But I didn't do that.  And I got burned, figuratively and literally, for it.

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