On Christmas, Linda Smith spent a lot of time counting her blessings. Things haven’t been easy since her home disaster in mid-October.

“The smoke was just billowing out so I thought maybe it was something I could put out,” said Smith.

The smoke came pouring out of the kitchen. Smith had put an aromatherapy hot pack in the microwave. They help her with her arthritis. She says she must have punched in an extra zero.

“I tore through the house to see what the source might be because I was just in the kitchen moments ago.”

She went through dark plumes of smoke, out the door and called 911. Firefighters got to the scene. She didn’t ask for an ambulance, a decision she regrets.

“I told them I would be just fine.”

But she wouldn’t be. She says firefighters told her it would be safe to spend the night, so she did. Later, she found out the toxic gas gave her respiratory hypersensitivity, a permanent condition that brings her coughing fits.

Work crews have had to gut her house, ripping up carpet and throwing away anything with lingering fumes.

“It’s been really hard,” said Smith. “I know that they’re material things. They can be replaced.”

Some things can’t though, like an old piano that has been in her family for generations. The fact that it’s still in her home is one of the many things she’s thankful for. Now, she’s spreading awareness.

She’s urging folks not to overheat the bags, and if there’s a plastic fire, not to go through the smoke. Also, her next microwave will be a simple one, with a single button-push to heat one of the bags. That way, there won’t be the danger of an extra zero.