Originally intended to document my experience of DeLorean ownership, focus is often radical and strange, boring and obtuse.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Your Smoke Alarm Can't Save You

Defective smoke alarms can cause birth defects. Oh ya. And death or something.

This is a DMC & ME Public Service Announcement. The kind that the fire department doesn't want you to hear.

The time change, which comes around every spring, is synonymous with safety. Every spring local fire departments, perhaps even your city, remind denizens to change the batteries in their smoke detectors.

With decades of mistakes to learn from, advances in fire-retardant materials, and more public awareness about smoke alarms and fire hazards, you'd think we could avoid devastating infernos that claim an average of 2,930 lives a year in the U.S. There were 524,000 building fires in 2006 alone. The numbers are huge. The stats are here.

But there's more to it than simply replacing your smoke detector's batteries every spring. Much more. And it's scary. Not scary like your phone ringing immediately after reading one of those chain letters that says your phone will ring, and the person calling you is actually hiding upstairs in your closet waiting to "get" you, whatever that means. Just what does that mean? "Get" you? Was it scary when your uncle Leonard, with outstretched arms, chased you around the house when you were six yelling, "I'm gonna get you!"? Sure it was, but you didn't really know why. That is, until about ten years later when uncle Leonard was arrested for being a pedophile.

I'm digressing. What the bulging, rippled firemen want you to know is that their calendars are on sale now. What they don't want you to know is that your smoke detector is unreliable. And it doesn't matter a darn tootin' about the condition of your battery.

Smoke detectors can fail. They can malfunction at any time, like mine did last week. But I didn't know it. Not until I tried a number of new batteries in it, only to discover none of them worked.

When things are working properly you take them for granted. But be careful. The fire department will not tell you that smoke detectors are unreliable. But they are. How will you know yours is going to work properly, and wake you if a fire starts while you're sleeping?

I hate to say it, but you won't.

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Blogger Ms. Creek said...

What the heck happened that made you decide to bring this up?

11:38:00 PM

Blogger Daisy said...

I had an uncle that was just a little too creepy and weird that I didn't want to in a room alone with. Because I sure as shit didn't want him to "get" me. I made sure I was always around other people if he was around. Wouldn't surprise me if he was a pedophile.

11:44:00 PM

Blogger Patti said...

Eee no your PSA was definitely not like mine. Well I can only hope the dog starts barking if we ever have a fire at least!

8:35:00 AM

Blogger Martini said...

Glad you survived your childhood unharmed Daisy!

Lucikly nothing happened in regards to a fire in our place. It was simply that time of year to change the batteries. But the ol' 9 volt was still good. The detector decided to go on strike and stopped working.

11:08:00 AM

Blogger Akhor said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:52:00 PM

Blogger Akhor said...

You bring up a really good point about these alarms.

As a general rule of safety, you should have more then one "type" of alarm in your house. The most common (and featured in your photo) is the Ionization type, they are usually either hard wired or battery operated... They are also, almost always the type that give false reading. Why? Ionization means that the particles passing through it must be big enough to trigger the alarm. However, a smouldering fire will take a long time to set this off, it at all... Where as your burn toast/pancake/food has larger particles and always sets it off when you screw up your cooking.

There is also a "Photoelectic" type of alarm, that will trigger on two things. Ionization OR visually "seeing" smoke (based on a light emitting diode). This type of alarm fails much less often then the Ionization alarm.

Things to remember about alarms:

1) Make sure you have a battery option. If a fire starts in the electrical system.. You'll need a backup power supply to make the product work.
2) Photoelectic is a much more reliable alarm.
3) When testing an Ionization alarm by pressing the "button" you are only testing whether the speaker is working.

Things to remember about general fire safety.

1) An alarm goes off.. GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE HOUSE!! Call the fire department from the neighbors.
2) Have a plan on where to meet out side on the same side of the street, not directly in front of your house. This way when the firemen show up you can tell them how many people are left in the house. And if it's an inferno, you'll be far enough away to enjoy the heat and marshmallows.

umm.. Maybe I'll go into the selling smoke alarms for a career...
Safety Sam.. OUT

3:55:00 PM

Blogger Martini said...

You sure sound like you speak from experience! I sure hope nothing bad has ever happened to make you so safety-conscious!

8:47:00 PM

Blogger Akhor said...

Nope... The wife made me attend a fire safety seminar. So that's what they taught us.

12:07:00 AM

Blogger ZoeyBella said...

Great... and I just bought three new ones. Now what's this about rippled firemen?

10:33:00 PM

Blogger Martini said...

Ah, distraction! My message has been lost in the muscles.

11:26:00 PM


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