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  • Writer's pictureKevin B Ebert

Be Prepared

About this #MyDay Post

About 6 weeks ago, we purchased a new house, well, a small farm to be exact and that will be a story for a different day. But, for this #MyDay post, what's important to know is that when we moved in, one of the smoke detectors started chirping alerting me to the fact that the battery needed to be replaced. Once I was able to find the offending alarm, (come on admit it, when you hear that chirping sound, it takes you a few minutes to figure out which smoke detector was making the noise), I realized that they were very old. As in the plastic was yellowing kind of old. And with that, I had a delimma.

At some point in my life, I remember hearing that smoke detectors have a life of 10 years. Being too lazy to Google it, I assumed it was true and went and purchased 8 new smoke detectors and embarked to replace them all. The first one went off without a hitch, but the second one, a different story. You see, when I touched the hot wire, I felt a numbing/burning/stinging sensation in my hand resulting in a quick withdraw from the wire that I was touching. Yikes! I didn't realize that the smoke detectors had a life wire in them.

Hindsight being 20/20, of course I knew they had hot wires in them, after all, how did they stay powered. It wasn't necessarily from the batteries and besides, why would they have a red, black, and white wire going into each one, because the electrician felt like adding them?

Of course not. So, after being shocked, I thought to myself, maybe I should cut the power to the room where I was changing the detector out. But, just as quick as the thought entered my mind, I dismissed the thought as it being to big of a burden to climb down the ladder, walk through the house to the circuit breaker, figure out what circuit and then cut it off. I promised myself to be more careful and not touch any of the coper wiring in the process.

That lasted for 6 more smoke detectors before I got shocked again. This time, more serious, and it hurt this time. And to boot, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get the white wire to wrap around the coper wires and screw them together. The wire from the smoke detector kept pulling apart from the screw cap. So, reluctantly, I climbed down the ladder, walked down the stairs, went outside, and looked at the circuit breaker board.

And much to my chagrin, I came to realize, that all the smoke detectors were on a single circuit meaning, the entire time, I could have flipped a single breaker and cut the power to all of them at once making it much safer to change them. I wouldn't have to do each room one at a time.

Lol, I headed back upstairs, shaking my head and finished the job.

The experience got me thinking that there is a bigger lesson than simply remembering to cut the power off to the smoke detector circuit before changing them out. What I realized was I set out on a goal to switch out all the old smoke detectors. Having never done it before, I didn't take a few extra minutes to learn the nuances of replacing them. But, I'm certain, had I taken the time, I would have learned to cut off the power to them and that they were all wired into a single circuit. And to boot, despite being shocked the first time, most normal people would have cut the power off immediately, an obvious answer to a problem I faced.

And hence, the motivation for this #MyDay post. What I learned is that when setting out to achieve a goal, especially if you don't know how you'll get it done, take a few minutes trying to think through the problems you'll encounter. Seek expert advice as it may make the journey easier and you'll have greater success at achieving the goal.

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