Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fire Alarm

This past weekend, Eric and I were oh-so-rudely awoken in the middle of the night by our smoke detector. I sort of half-woke-up several times before I realized what was going on. I would hear a beep, then a voice, then nothing. The beep and voice woke me up a little, by then when nothing else happened, I dozed right back to sleep. I have no idea how long this went on before I realized I really was hearing a voice in my house, saying "low battery." Oooh, our smoke detector is dying. Eric can sleep through pretty much anything, so I woke him up and asked him to please attend to this voice (hey, I had to go to work the next morning!). He very sweetly obliged and soon we were sleeping peacefully again.

Why is it that smoke detector batteries always die in the middle of the night?

This reminds me of a time in college when I spent the night at Eric's apartment. That was a fairly rare occurrence, because have you ever been in an apartment inhabited by four college boys? Theirs may not have been the worst apartment ever, but still...I didn't spend much time over there. That particular night, however, Eric's three roommates were out of town so we went over there for a little peace and quiet and a good night's sleep.

Much like this weekend, we woke up in the middle of the night to a periodic beeping - the smoke detector in Eric's room was signaling a low battery. It was the kind of situation where I inserted this beeping into my dreams before I actually woke up and realized what was going on. Eric got up and fussed with it (I don't remember if he changed the battery, or just fiddled with it, or switched it with the battery of another smoke detector, or what). It quieted down so we went back to sleep.

Some time later, we woke up again. You see, there were four bedrooms in this apartment, each one equipped with its own smoke detector. And now, another one was signaling low battery. Eric got it quiet again, as I recall.

And then again.

And then again.

All four smoke detectors died in the middle of that night. We spent all night long waking up and tending to smoke detectors. I don't remember how or if we ever got them all quieted down. I would bet a million dollars that Eric did not have four spare 9-volt batteries laying around, so it's possible we just tried to sleep through beeping all night. All I know is that was a very restless night.

Thinking back on that smoke detector experience made me think of one of Eric's favorite stories of my childhood. As a child, I was very scared of fire. I was terrified my house would burn to the ground in the middle of the night. That's a reasonable fear, no? So when I was little (we're talking under five years old here), I slept with a fire safety book under my pillow. Yup. That helped me feel safe. I don't know why - should the fire alarm go off, it would probably not be wise to pull out that book and read up on the proper protocol. But for whatever reason, I kept that book under my pillow.

It actually did prove rather unhelpful at one point. I remember one day my mom was using the toaster oven for something, but if memory serves me, a packet of rice cakes had been left in the toaster. (Why was there a packet of rice cakes in the toaster? I don't know.) It caught on fire and I FREAKED OUT. And even though I probably knew every single word of my fire safety book by memory - leave the house, gather your family, call the fire department, stop drop and roll - I did not run out of the house to safety. Instead, I ran to my room to get that book. Luckily, my mom was able to put out the tiny toaster fire and came to comfort me in my room. Crisis averted, but my precious fire safety book far from saved the day.

I guess the moral of this story is that my adult self should not complain about smoke detectors with low batteries. On behalf of baby, scared-of-fire me, I should just be glad to get the middle-of-the-night reminders that they work.

A very friendly smoke detector

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cute story Meghan!

Aunt Rachel