Minority of One blog

Your hotel smoke detector may not save you

One of the great safety advances of our time is the proliferation of smoke detectors in homes, workplaces and hotel rooms. It's easy to take them for granted. But three times in recent months, staying in hotels, I've done that -- and it's turned out to be a mistake.

The first time I got in late to my room, went to bed and, upon rising the next morning, saw the smoke detector open on the ceiling, with no battery. The second time, at a different hotel in a different state, it occurred to me in the morning to check the device -- whereupon I found it too lacked a battery. This past weekend, on my second evening, I looked up and saw a plastic bag wrapped around the smoke detector.

What gives? Maybe some people remove the batteries to smoke (or just steal them) and hotel managers don't insist on regular checks.

I mentioned the first one to the clerk on duty, who seemed uninterested. That reaction disturbed me enough that I emailed the local fire department to report what I found. I later got an email saying the department had confirmed that not all the rooms were properly equipped and told the management it could not lease those without functioning smoke detectors.

As for the plastic bag, I took it off. But clearly there are some hotel guests who don't want a working smoke detector and don't mind depriving others of one. So in the future, I plan to check the device as soon as I check in.

CHICAGO

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