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Volume 16, Issue 44 - October 30 - November 5, 2008
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My Cooking Timer Often Cries Wolf

But this time it was the smoke detector screaming Fire!

by Margaret Tearman

Take time when setting your clocks back this weekend to replace the batteries of your smoke detectors.

Living in an old, wood farmhouse, I fear fire. It wouldn’t take much to turn our home into a pile of ashes.

We have three smoke detectors, one of them right outside the kitchen door. It seemed like a good place to put it, as kitchen fires are one of the leading causes of residential fires.

But the alarm has become a family joke. We don’t call it a smoke detector; we call it a cooking timer.

I’m reluctant to admit this as it could be seen as a reflection of my culinary skills, but when the alarm sounds, nobody runs for the door, screaming fire!

Instead, one of us will pull the offending noise-maker off the wall and, with the battery disconnected, set it outside on the porch until the smoke clears.

We have never been alarmed by our alarm because there has never been a fire.

Until I put a dozen eggs in a pan of water on the stove to boil. I puttered around the kitchen for a few minutes — until I remembered something I needed upstairs. Walking out of the kitchen, I noted the water hadn’t even started to boil and figured it would still take a few minutes. Upstairs, I was distracted by new email and sat down to read.

Time does indeed fly. I don’t know how long I sat at the computer, but it seemed like only a few minutes.

The shrieking smoke detector shocked me back to reality. For a second, I dismissed it, thinking Eh, I’m just cooking.

The eggs.

Thick, acrid smoke had already filled the kitchen and was creeping into the dining and living rooms. As I ran to the kitchen past the back door, I shooed three dogs outside to safety. I fully expected to see a kitchen in flames. I got to the burning eggs in the nick of time. My faithful cooking timer saved our house, our dogs and me.

When we turn back the clock this Saturday night, I’ll get husband Tom up on the ladder to replace the batteries in all three smoke detectors.


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