Monday, 19 December 2011


Are your appliances old? Do you own appliances that are half broken and should be replaced but still manage to do the trick so you plan on keeping them until they actually kick?
If you answered yes, and said appliance is a toaster that doesn’t automatically pop anymore or any other appliance that may cause accident, please do everyone a favour and get rid of them.

As you have likely already read, I am a nanny for a family here in Germany. I go into their home to look after the kids. This means, I have to get use to and figure out how all of their appliances work, what foods they like and how they like them prepared. This morning, I put a piece of bread in the toaster for one of the little girls and then continued washing up the dishes. All of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a light I hadn’t noticed before and looked over… FIRE! IN THE TOASTER!

“AHH” I yelled. I ran over and began blowing out the fairly large flame on the piece of toast. I pulled up the lever and once the fire was out, took the piece of bread and threw it out onto the metal part of the balcony. I did my best to waft the smoke out the door afraid it would set the fire alarm off. I went to get another piece of bread and noted to the mom that the toaster wasn’t automatically popping. They already NEW that but had forgotten to tell me. Luckily, the cupboards above the toaster are high enough that the flame had not reached them and no harm was done. I put a second piece of bread into the toaster and watched it as I began drying a few dishes. Watching a toaster is like watching paint dry.

It occurred to me while I was waiting for the second piece to toast that the mother had previously told me that German homes/apartments don’t have fire alarms….and that if you smell smoke, take that as your cue to get out! What is this, the stone age? What building wouldn’t be equipped with fire alarms? What if I had gone to the bathroom or decided to clean up the dining room while I was waiting instead of cleaning the dishes? This is not the first time this has happened to me. Two years ago, at my aunt’s house, I put a piece of bread in the toaster and went back into my room to finish getting ready. Not too long after, the fire alarm went off. It was very effective. It wasn’t just the standard beeping fire alarm. Not only did it beep, but it yelled FIRE!!! HALT!! On a continuous loop until my aunt shut off the breaker. No harm done to her home or toaster, but the toaster immediately went into the garbage after that.

When I got back home to my German apartment, I noted that our apartment did not have a fire alarm either. I am curious as to what the statistics are of deaths related to fires in the home or in a building. I am sure they are much higher than those in Canada or the United States.

The lesson learned here is to never leave your kitchen when there is a toaster involved and if the toaster looks like it’s from the 90’s, don’t let it out of your sight when the lever is down..especially if you live in Germany.

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