Smoke Alarming

I know things.  Quite a few things, actually.  And then there’s all that other stuff.

Consider smoke alarms.  I owned a home in Union, Ontario for twenty years with my dear wife Jody.  I often had to change the batteries and sometimes buy and install a new alarm.  So you’d think that the events of today would be a snap.  Not so.

I woke up at 3:35 this morning to the chirping of the smoke alarm in my kitchen.  Sleep was pressing down hard on my head.  Clear thinking would have to wait till business hours.  The bottom line?  I couldn’t figure out what to do.  I lay in bed, stupefied.

“It’ll go away.”  Sure.  How likely was that?  Fifteen minutes later, it did!  “See?  No problem.”  Back to snoozing.

A further fifteen minutes of tossing and turning were replaced by rechirping.  I counted: the beeps were every forty seconds.

“It’ll go away.”  It did. And then it returned, right on the dot of fifteen minutes.  Away … return … away … return …  Now it was 5:00 am.  My paltry brain tried to make sense of it all.  “If the battery was low, wouldn’t it keep up the beeping – no breaks?  But maybe it’s wired in.  Do wired in smoke alarms have batteries?”  Fuzziness ruled the early hours.

Finally, oh finally I got up.  I put shoes on and stumbled to the garage for the ladder.  After setting it appropriately in place, I climbed.  “Will I be able to get the alarm off the ceiling?”  I so lack confidence in my home maintenance abilities.  Happily the unit came off with a simple twist, revealing a nest of wires.  “Hmm … wired in.”  The close proximity chirp was piercing to the core of my mind so I grabbed my headphones.  Better.  But now what do I do?

Yesterday I wrote about choosing “this”, as in the reality of the present moment.  That commitment seemed to be fading away as the blare of the alarm ruptured my insides.  “C’mon, Bruce.  Think.”

Somehow I came up with a word which has a deep spiritual connotation – “Google”.  Surely Mr. Google could help me out.  I typed “smoke alarm chirping” and indeed an answer appeared before my wavering eyes.  There could be dust inside that’s causing the malfunction.  So I got out the vacuum and shoved the wand into the mass of wires.  Almost immediately, the chirping stopped!  Oh, I’m so smart.  I left the unit dangling from the ceiling and dove under the covers.  Exactly fifteen minutes later … well, you know what happened.

The Internet article mentioned that some wired in smoke alarms have a backup battery to deal with power failures.  I mounted the ladder once more and turned on a flashlight, trying in vain to read the small print above me.  Then I felt the surface of the unit, seeking some compartment that would be perfect for a battery.  Nothing.  Thank God for those headphones.

6:20.  The sound of “this” was pissing me off.  After much searching and whining, I found a little latch on the alarm.  A bit of pressure and … Voila!  A plastic section opened to reveal the bliss of a 9 volt battery (the rectangular one).  Laden with memories of other plastic objects, and me pulling too hard, resulting in destruction, I gingerly tried prodding the battery this way and that.  No go.  I tried to resist the explosion of sentences such as “You’re so stupid!”

I bet ten minutes later the battery came out.  The chirping continued.  I knew I had a stash of 9V batteries and I went to get one, smartly remembering how to get it back into the compartment.  The deal finally done, I closed the little door, screwed the unit back onto the ceiling, and waited.  No chirps!  Maybe I’m decently smart after all.

It was 6:50 and my head could sense a closely approaching pillow.  Dreamland was with me right away.

9:00.  Chirping.  And my mind started a slow process of disintegration.  Being a little more alert, I realized one thing: I hadn’t checked the new battery’s expiry date way back when at 6:50.  Addressing that situation, I read “December, 2018”.  (Sigh)

The story finally ended after a trip to Costco for a package of 9V batteries, clearly described as lasting five years.  Yay!  10:20 found me placing the sacred object into said unit, closing the little door, screwing the whole thing onto the ceiling, and waiting.

Chirp

(Waiting)

Chirp

(Waiting)

… … … … … Silence

Start at 3:30.  End at 10:30.  Piece of cake