Saturday, August 09, 2014

This is why you should change your smoke detector batteries once a year

A true story, thankfully not ripped from the headlines.

Two nineteen this morning, I hear it. BLEEP! An irritating sound and meant to be so. I know exactly what it is, the dying of a battery in a smoke alarm.

I also know that they only start BLEEPing in the middle of the night. There is no hoping it'll stop and I can go back to sleep. It will not. It was built to BLEEP. Every minute. Ad infinitum.

We have three smoke alarms, one on each floor's ceiling and one in the basement. I do not change the batteries on a regular basis. If I did, if I followed the handy advice of once a year whether they have BLEEPed or not, I would not have this problem. I do not and therefore I do.

The first problem is to determine which alarm is BLEEPing. They are, basically, one atop each other in the stairwell. I think, after the third BLEEP, that it is the one outside the bedroom doors. I get the step stool and determine that I can barely reach it with my fingertips. I drop the cover and awaken my husband.

This was not in the plan.

But now that I have a comrade, we can be more efficient about this. He removes the battery, I start to get a new one, and we hear BLEEP.

Wrong smoke alarm. Must be the one downstairs. It's easier to reach, we replace the battery quickly, head upstairs to do the same, and hear BLEEP.

Is it the one in the basement? Will I ever get back to sleep?

Husband replaces the upstairs battery, which probably didn't need it now but we need something to show for our efforts and a year's peace is making sense. I head to the basement to stake out the bad actor. Except the next BLEEP is not from the basement.

So now we have a well-behaved basement alarm, two new batteries in the stairwell alarms, and something is still BLEEPing.

We are having our stairwell repainted and the painters have quite nicely covered up the hall tree where the carbon monoxide alarm resides on top. Guess what's BLEEPing?

I tear open the plastic covering and look at the offending alarm. Had the plastic interfered with it? Never mind, it was getting a new battery and a new life on the kitchen counter until the painting is done.

Twenty minutes had passed and no, I never did get back to sleep. But when I go to bed tonight, I'll be assured that no smoke or CO will go undetected!

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