Tag Archives: smoke alarm

Genius German Parenting

Fire and booze are the backbone of any German celebration. Christmas? Fire and booze! New Year’s? Fire and booze! Easter? Fire and booze! I’m not complaining, mind. Most things are more fun with some fire and booze added. In fact, maybe we should start an “Every Day that Ends in Day” fire and booze tradition.

Christmas fire and booze
Christmas fire and booze

During the week, I was telling one of my students about my first Easter Fire (and booze) experience. The conversation moved from there to fire in general and then on to smoke alarms and fire drills. Yes, a lot of my conversations are rambling.

Easter fire and booze
Easter fire and booze – and some firemen

Germans are nothing if not safety-conscious so it didn’t surprise me to hear that he had a plethora of smoke alarms in his house, all interconnected so that if one goes off, they all go off. However, you can have all the nifty technology in the world but people are, unfortunately, still people.

One night, when all of the smoke alarms went off, he watched as his wife and two young daughters ran around like headless chickens, unsure of where to go or what to do.

No, it really IS an Ausgang
No, it really IS an Ausgang

As it turned out, there was no fire and everyone was fine but still, this simply would not do. NEIN!

Luckily, as a German, a plan is never far away. All the better if that plan involves scaring the bejesus out of your loved ones – in a fun and educational way, naturally. I like to think that he started formulating his cunning plan it as he stood there in his manly German Hausschuhe, though I can’t be sure.

After drilling a fire escape plan into his hapless female family members, he went out and bought some dry ice. He put it in bowls in various strategic locations around the house and added hot water to it. Then he set off the smoke alarms. His newly-educated wife and daughters had to find a way out, avoiding the “smoke” that was now billowing around their home.

Once they made it outside, they encountered a fire raging in the garden. With the help of teamwork (and a garden hose), they managed to put out the fire. Fortunately for them – God knows what kind of a plan B he would have come up with.

In keeping with the German love of paper, each of them received a certificate, and a medal, as proof of their now bad-ass fire-escaping abilities.

I think my dad, a habitual smoke alarm-checker, would be rather impressed by this approach to family safety. If he reads this post, I predict some dry ice in Mammy O’Grady’s not-too-distant future…

I just hope she wins the medal. I’ll be rooting for you, Mammy O’Grady!