On smoke detectors

Published 9:48 am Tuesday, October 22, 2019

I’ll admit that there have been moments in my life in which I wanted to throw the smoke detector out the window. Most of those moments, unsurprisingly, have involved cooking.

Sure, I would like to consider myself a good cook. I pride myself in being able to whip up a meal that leaves everyone at the dinner table pretty happy. However, every experienced “chef” is prone to an occasional “oopsie.”

Last year, I was attempting to make my very first french onion soup. I’m a lover of onions, and despite my family members’ attempting to persuade me not to stink up the kitchen with a pot full of browning onions, I was looking forward to making the soup.

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I gathered all of the necessary ingredients and started my labor. I melted some butter, cooked the mountain of onions down, threw in some bay leaves and beef stock, etc. And just when it came time to deglaze my pot, my mother’s shiny, beautiful stew pot, I threw a dash of wine in.

Everything was OK for 30 seconds or so. Just when I was starting to think it was all just too easy, the onions started burning. Really, really, burning.

Our stove had seen its fair share of use over the last few decades, and the burners had begun to occasionally go crazy. My pot of french onion soup, which I had at a very low temperature, was suddenly boiling.

The kitchen quickly filled up with smoke. My beautiful, buttery onions became a pile of charcoal burned to the bottom of the stew pot. My family helped me to open all of the windows to let the smoke out of the house.

The smoke detector, of course, began beeping.

How many times have you found yourself yelling at your smoke detector, “The house isn’t on fire, I’m just a bad cook!”?

There have also been more than a few instances in which I have crawled into bed at night and snuggled into my pillow only to hear the chirp of a smoke detector that was low on battery. I always have to ask myself, “Why now?” as I find someone awake and tall enough to help change the battery.

The truth of the matter is that while those beeps and chirps seem annoying, they are there for a reason. That reason is to save your life.

No matter how many times I get angry at the smoke detector for thinking that my cooking is a fire, or for choosing the worst possible moment to need a battery change — I am ultimately thankful for it. Those irritating sounds are supposed to be irritating, and it’s much better to think that a burning pot of french onion soup is a fire than to think that an actual fire is just a burning pot of soup.

October is National Fire Prevention Month. Because of this, the Toga Volunteer Fire Department in Buckingham is offering free smoke detectors to those that stop by the firehouse between 10 a.m-3 p.m on Saturday, Oct. 19. The event will help Buckingham residents to be prepared in the event of a fire.

I commend the Toga Volunteer Fire Department for their service to the community and for helping to make sure that local families are protected against house fires. The event serves as a reminder that my smoke detector is less of a culinary critic and more of a friend working every day to protect my life.

ALEXA MASSEY is a staff reporter for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. Her email address is Alexa.Massey@FarmvilleHerald.com.