Teen's death is wake-up call for community

Saturday, May 4, 2002

The deaths of young people hit a community harder than any other, but especially so when there's no reason for them.

That was the case with 17-year-old Amanda Robinson, by all accounts a lively, energetic, beloved girl who was out on her own in Cape Girardeau, had a job and wanted to be a health care professional. Her whole life was ahead of her.

And then came a not-so-youthful mistake. She fell asleep with a candle burning, fire investigators said, and the hot wax caught the carpet on fire.

With candles so much a part of American decor that entire catalogs are devoted to them, one imagines that the situation of using one unsafely isn't all that rare. That issue alone is something that should make us consider our habits at home.

But the worst part is that the batteries were gone from two smoke alarms in Robinson's attic apartment.

How often do people scorch a bag of microwave popcorn and remove the batteries from a shrieking alarm? Some alarms are so sensitive that shower steam sets them off.

But forgetting to reinstall the batteries likely is what, in the end, cost Robinson her life.

Her death is beyond tragic, but it shouldn't be forgotten by the community it shocked. All should check their own practices involving candles and smoke alarms.

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