Monday, October 02, 2006

Crying Wolf

We've all heard the story of the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf. For those of you who have been living under a rock, the condensed version is the little boy was tending his sheep and liked the attention called when he cried "wolf!". One day he cried "wolf!" too many times and people didn't believe him and didn't come - and that, of course, was the day there really was a wolf.

I have my own version of that going on in my house. It's called the Smoke Detectors That Go Off. I have mentioned this before, but I'm going to bring it up again. This time I'm on a mission. I want new smoke detectors. I mean it.

I like having smoke detectors. I do. Especially since my parents' house burned down. I'm a little paranoid. This is a bigger house than our old one. Yes, it's newer, but that doesn't mean things can't catch on fire. We're just lucky the lightening that hit our house and put a hole in the roof, didn't catch anything on fire! If it had, I would hope the smoke detectors would have gone off and my daughter, home alone, would have safely gotten her and the critters out.

However, the way the ones we have now work, we'd all burn up.

We have several detectors and they are all hardwired into the electricity of the house, and some of them then also have a battery backup. It's this that causes the problem. I'm used to the detectors that give you a polite little 'beep' every few minutes until you change them. They start off beeping far apart, getting closer together the longer you ignore them. Yet, they still maintain that quiet, polite, little 'beep'.

The ones we have now give you no warning except to go off screaming - in the middle of the night. They all go off blaring loudly for about a 3 second interval and that, my friends, is your FIRST warning. I learned after that first time not to ignore the warning, but got right to it and replaced all the batteries. I did it over Memorial Weekend. You know, just a few short months ago. I remember checking the battery expiration dates to be sure they were still good - yes, they were all good until 2010. Should make it a year, then, huh? So... why did the alarm go off last night? Not, I might add, for the three-second warning, but for the full blaring 10-minute-until-I-could-pull-the-plug warning? ...and yes, I checked. I found no fire. Also, there is no way to tell which one is the bad battery, as they all go off if one goes off. So, you either change them all or hit and miss.

Which brings me back to the boy and the wolf. Instead of spending 10 minutes trying to figure out what was burning, I should be getting my family and critters out of the house, then trying to figure out what is burning. I should be able to rely on the fact that something is actually wrong... (and, no, they don't put them near kitchens anymore because they know people are always setting them off burning the toast.) Not to mention the middle-of-the-night jolt of adrenaline that I did NOT need and didn't leave my system for a good three hours.

As top-of-the-line as I'm sure these detectors are, I don't want them. I promise to change them once a year. I promise to pay attention if they politely beep at me to tell me "this one has a bad battery and it's gone down before the year has expired". I just don't need any more false alarms.