Sunday, June 27, 2010

Warning: evacuate, evacuate! Or, the dog who cried wolf

Have you ever read The Dog Who Cried Wolf by Keiko Kasza? It's one of my favorites, about a dog who yearns to join the wolves, and when he does, is so darn scared that he can't wait to get home. He spends a lot of time howling, and so do I.

However, my howling, officially called baying, is  highly musical. On the other paw, our home's combined smoke/carbon monoxide alarm, is not. Ours is a supposedly highly evolved model, which actually speaks. Speaks, however, does not quite describe the combination of booming alarm and sharp-toned voice shouting "Evacuate! Evacuate! Smoke in the dining room!" Or, its variation, "Evacuate! Evacuate! Carbon monoxide in the basement!" The thing is so darn loud and scares me out of my skin, plus it always chooses to express itself at 2 a.m., just when I'm in my deepest sleep.

Of course, all of my sleeps are deep.

The thing is, after this outrageous brouhaha, while everyone runs frantically around trying to find out whether there actually is any cause for alarm, very quietly it will say, "carbon monoxide level 0 ppm."

In other words, never mind.

Here's the problem: this alarm is just like the boy who cried wolf. Remember that tale? Of course, when a wolf really appeared, no one cared. Here's an idea, First Alert: use a hound dog's bay for the real thing. I have two: one is the alarm I give when that awful Siberian Husky comes near; one's my plaintive, play with me wail. I suggest using the plaintive wail for the testing sound; the Husky warning for the real thing. That will shake things up. I can assure you: people will pay attention.