Aside from periodic panic, it’s all good

Aside from periodic panic, it’s all good

Many years ago when smoke detectors were first introduced on the market, we treated our house to a couple.

Back then they were inexpensive, easy to install and needed just an occasional battery change to keep fit. We put them in the obvious places: next to the kitchen, at the
head of the stairs and in the back hall. Once installed, they were hardly noticeable.

Perhaps those little things resented being ignored and wanted some attention because in no time our new smoke detectors began to cause periodic panic in our poor house.

The first panic attack occurred while Taller Half was cooking breakfast. He was happily frying bacon when the kitchen smoke detector suddenly emitted a piercing scream. He immediately assumed our cat was being murdered, and he rushed to its rescue. That
resulted in burned bacon, an astonished cat and a furious cook.

Occasionally, the detector in the back hall would, for no apparent reason, suddenly begin to squeal hysterically. We would all rush back there and find nothing. Taller Half changed its batteries, but that didn’t help, so the problem continued. Then our son moved out and the squealing ceased. Evidently, the steam from his long, hot showers was the culprit. That dumb detector couldn’t tell steam from smoke.

The worst panic attack occurred one stormy Saturday night. The power had gone off, leaving our household with a limited range of activities. While the rest of us snoozed, one child decided to read her book by candlelight. The smoke detector at the head of the stairs
smelled the candle smoke and began to shriek like a demented banshee. At that same instant, the weather bureau issued a severe storm warning, which triggered the alarm on the battery-operated weather radio. The two alarms blended their voices in an ear-shattering, people-panicking duet.

That cacophonous concert lifted us from a peaceful snooze and dropped us into a primal panic. Our basic “fight or flight” instincts came into play. We chose flight and fled outside into the relative peace of the storm.

We still have smoke detectors, but the weather radio is gone. We decided we’d take our chances with the weather.

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