The Prudent Thing to Do




November 3, 2005 at 2:35 pm

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I’d like to say the following is a proactive, “I’ve got all my ducks in a row, and you should too,” sort of post. But it isn’t.

When the

in our home office started chirping every 30 seconds each cold morning (when batteries perform at their poorest), it took a day or two to figure out what the racket was. As soon as the temperatures warmed up it’d stop chirping, and promptly be forgotten.

Well, this morning the damned thing kept chirping until 11:30 AM.

It’s important to note right now that smoke detectors and I do not get along.

When I was a teenager, one of the smoke detectors at my parents’ house went off — not chirping, it actually went off.

The cats were going crazy, I was about to follow suit, and my ear drums were ringing as I balanced on a chair to try and figure out how to remove the blasted thing from the ceiling. I couldn’t figure out how to remove it, so I forced it… and it still kept going off. Well, after 20+ minutes of deafening noise, I did manage to get it turned off… by repeatedly beating it against the ceiling.

I killed it.

And I’ve never gotten over my fear and loathing of smoke detectors.

So it goes without saying that I’ve not been very keen on figuring out how to get our smoke detector to play nice. But it’s growing insistence that something was wrong (low battery, dusty sensor, etc.) was ruining my mornings and making working quite nerve-wracking.

After several visits to HowStuffWorks and Wikipedia, both of which provided useful info but not the crucial — “How do I remove this beast to change its battery?” I finally just kept fussing with it… even after it stopped chirping. I won’t bother sharing how long it took me to figure out the child’s play simple mechanism that was keeping me from getting the unit off the ceiling (why they made the locking peg look like a screw so idiots like me waste valuable time and brain cells turning it left and right, I do not know… it just needed to be yanked out, which is what I finally did in frustration/desperation.)

Got the cover off, opened the battery door and {sigh} the battery in the unit is clearly the original one that was installed in it — some cheap, off-brand battery.

I shouldn’t knock it too much, considering it lasted this long (remember: this unit was at least chirping it’s plaintive “feed me a battery” wail.)

Fumbled around in our battery cache and found several 9-volt batteries. Replaced the home office smoke detector’s battery and tested it — {LOUD! Yeah, it seems to work again!}

Then decided, you know, I really should check the others upstairs.

Well, gang, 3 out of the 4 smoke detectors on our upstairs floor were all completely DEAD, including the ones in our master bedroom and in Justin’s study.

Talk about a sobering thought… something so simple as a battery, and we didn’t even have that in place to allow the detectors to do their assigned function. Forget the carbon monoxide detector we bought on a whim, how’s about keeping the smoke detectors in working order, right?!

So, here’s a plea to everyone reading this. DO check your smoke detectors in your home/apartment. Test them to ensure they sound, and replace the batteries with fresh ones even if they do work.

I was shocked at how unprepared we were, and it’s such a simple thing to keep maintained!

The rule of thumb is to swap out your smoke detector batteries every time you change your clocks for Daylight Savings.

I think I now appreciate that and will take it to heart.

Nothing’s quite so depressing as realizing 75% of your home’s smoke detecting capabilities are completely offline…




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