Prior to 24 November 2005, the only time I ever heard anything from
any of my smoke detectors was when their batteries were running low
and needed to be replaced. All of that changed after our
Thanksgiving dinner this year.
To quote Arlo Guthrie, we had "a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be
beat" and then spread through the house to do various different
things. The kids were watching TV with their grandfather, my wife
was helping my mom with some web-shopping, and I was showing my
mother-in-law how to use some of the features of her new digital camera.
About 10 minutes into my camera tutorial, one of our smoke detectors
went off. Neither seeing nor smelling smoke, I walked over to the
detector to check it out. When I got there, I was shocked to see 1-
foot high flames dancing on my dining room table. Yikes! I yelled
"FIRE!" and ran to the table to try to put it out.
A few napkins had been tossed on the table and had landed too close
to a "tea candle." While not covering the candle, apparently part of
a napkin was close enough to catch fire. When I got to the table, I
started smothering the flames using un-burnt napkin and table cloth
while my 14-year-old son ran in and doused the pile of cloth with
some water. The combined effort quickly put out the flames.
If the smoke detector had not gone off, the fire could have easily
spread over the rest of the table cloth and onto the rug under the
table. At that point, our only option would have been to leave the
house and call 911 (in that order!).
As a reward for its selfless devotion to my safety, I'm going to give
my smoke detector and its brethren new batteries. I love my smoke