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Editor’s blog


August 22, 2011
By Laura King


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Aug. 22, 2011

Here in southwestern Ontario we get storms unlike those in say, Atlantic Canada – short, usually with driving rain, wind, hail and, at this time of year, tornados. We’re fairly used to this weather phenomenon – big, dark clouds, a massive buildup of humidity, a drop in temperature and thunder like you’ve never heard, some of which rattled the windows in our house yesterday.

Aug. 22, 2011

Here in southwestern Ontario we get storms unlike those in say, Atlantic Canada – short, usually with driving rain, wind, hail and, at this time of year, tornados. We’re fairly used to this weather phenomenon – big, dark clouds, a massive buildup of humidity, a drop in temperature and thunder like you’ve never heard, some of which rattled the windows in our house yesterday.

Flipping channels last night I caught bits and pieces of newscasts but didn’t realize the scale of the situation in Goderich until this morning when I read a Canadian Press story describing the damage, injuries and a fatality, and scrolled websites and YouTube.

Firefighters and other first responders in Goderich have their hands full.

There are tons of news stories out there, and video on YouTube, including this London Free Press/Ottawa Sun report that we re-posted on our website. It’s worth a look.

Back in December, I wrote about the state-of-the-art, Kidde smoke alarm in my upstairs hallway that emits a very authoritative female voice when the battery is low and scared the life out of us in the middle of the night. It took us two days to figure out where the voice was coming from – because, of course, it only spoke long after we had gone to sleep! – and replace the battery.

Sunday morning, my husband was waiting for an oil change so he started poking around on Facebook on his mobile. He sent me a text telling me to check our older son’s Facebook page, which usually means his relationship status has changed or there’s something witty about his hockey exploits.

Not this time.

“The smoke alarm goes off in my room at 3 a.m. and there's no fire anywhere …,” his Facebook status said. “I love waking up thinking I'm gonna die.”

Not exactly what a mother and editor of a fire magazine wants to read.

Offspring No. 1 was clearly rattled and was still annoyed when he eventually hauled himself downstairs later that day. He had sprung out of bed at 3 a.m., checked the door, checked the hallway, walked around the house, determined that there was no danger, pulled the battery out of the smoke alarm (which was still sounding), and, eventually, went back to sleep. Younger brother was also rudely awakened and rather startled – it’s good to know they can both be roused from a deep sleep by the alarm. I had long been asleep and heard a noise in the hallway but figured one of the boys had been up to the bathroom, and went back to sleep.

So, the (presumably?) faulty smoke alarm has been replaced by one from another room and all the smoke alarms in the bedrooms (which appear not to be brand name) will be replaced this week. And while it was good of the boys not to wake us (neither of us heard the alarm – our door, at the other end of the hallway, was closed, their doors were closed) and it was clear to the boys that there was no smoke, fire or danger, I was disturbed that they hadn’t alerted us.

My boys are accustomed to smoke alarms. There is one in each bedroom, one in the upstairs hallway, one in the main floor hallway, one in the stairway to the basement, three in the basement rec room (there are bulkheads in the basement and I’ve seen first-hand how bulkheads trap smoke), and one in the laundry/furnace room. That’s 11 smoke alarms. Sometimes they go off when the oven needs cleaning or when we’re testing them or changing the batteries – always with a warning to the boys that everything is OK.

Overkill? I don’t think so.


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