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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Danger in covering apartment smoke detectors

There are a few things I do when I move into my apartment on campus each year; check if the bathroom is gross, inspect closet space and then, in true Guilford spirit, I cover the smoke detector. Ironically, covering the smoke detector has always made me feel safer. I believed it would allow me to live freely.

However, after a judicial meeting this semester, I am convinced that covering the smoke detector is stupid, irresponsible and short-sighted.

There is a subconscious belief that nothing bad will happen. People believe hearing the smoke detector going off will only produce reasons for their roommates and others in the building to get irritated and will ultimately only succeed in interrupting their schedule.

So, we try to gain a bit more independence, a bit more power, by covering the detectors and restoring our residences to a state that makes us more comfortable.

The old apartments frequently get visited by the Greensboro Fire Department, but, as far as I can tell, there is almost never a real fire. Each time, I get annoyed at the person who did not cover their smoke detector. And each time, I feel bad for the firemen who have to waste their time and resources to come to Guilford and be told by Public Safety that someone was smoking up or cooking a burger. Even worse, sometimes the alarm is pulled by someone who has had a boring day and thinks that pulling the alarm is a joke.

In an attempt to avoid unnecessary visits by the Fire Department and unnecessary interruptions to my day, I convinced myself that as long as I am careful, covering the smoke detector is a good thing.

During spring break inspections, I got written up because my smoke detector was covered. I didn’t have time to uncover it because inspections began early.

When asked during my judicial hearing when and why I had covered it, I realized that it had been covered so for long that I couldn’t remember.

During my meeting, I learned that my entire my room would not have been searched had the smoke detector not been covered. I also learned that Mary Hobbes used to have a third level, but it burned down due to a fire caused by a blow-dryer.

Even after learning this, I agreed that smoke detectors were necessary but still thought “that would never happen to me.”

Then, I was asked to identify people that were affected by my decision. As I began naming everyone who lives in my apartment, I realized that I was actually making the decision that a fire would not happen in my apartment not only for myself, but for everyone else.

As this realization hit, I knew that I would never cover my smoke detector again. I realized that nobody, including myself, could have the foresight to know when a fire was going to occur so they could uncover their detector.

However, I still find it unfortunate that uncovered fire alarms mean the Fire Department has to waste time and resources chasing after carless students and cooking smoke.

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