Your Smoke Alarm Can't Save You
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.