The Devil Visited Last Night

I was in a deep sleep when I first heard the sound.  I opened one eye and noted it was 4:30 a.m.  I thought to myself, “oh please, don’t let this be happening.”


Maybe I was just dreaming.  I closed my eye.  Nope.  There it was again.  There was no avoiding the confrontation at this point.


It was time to battle the smoke detectors.


In the eleven years we’ve lived in this house I’ve never known the smoke detectors to chirp during daylight hours.  Why should this time be any different?  We have SIX devices in our house (3 upstairs, 3 downstairs), all hardwired together with 9v battery backups on each.  For our protection, if one detected smoke all six would sound the alarm simultaneously.  That also means when one malfunctions, the others chime in from time to time.  It’s like they’re talking to each other.  Chirp ……  Chirp.


I knew I was NOT going back to sleep.


First, I went to our storage box of batteries and found six UNUSED 9v batteries.  Yay!  Next, I pulled out the step ladder.  If I stand on the top step and stretch, I can barely reach the downstairs detectors.  I replaced the battery in the one I last heard chirp downstairs.  Within a few seconds one upstairs called out to its friends and the one I had just closed up answered.


In the past few years, we started writing the installation date on the batteries as we replaced them.  The ones I was removing were 14 days short of their birthday AND 3 days short of the end of Daylight-Saving Time (our traditional date for changing batteries!).  So close!


By this time Jenni was up, opening battery packages, and writing the date on each one.  I steadily worked my way through all the detectors in the house.  In the meantime, Jenni tried to calm a very anxious dog.  (Annie cannot stand beeping sounds; probably some trauma in her life before us.)  I felt like I was creating a trail of chirping monitors as I went through the house.  Nothing seemed to be working.


So, then we began looking for help online which led us to try counting the number of chirps per minute because that meant different things.  Then we basically started the process over but first cut the power to the breaker they were wired to.  I tried “draining the residual battery charge” which meant having my ear within a foot of the piercing screech.  They didn’t all react the same way but I was momentarily deaf by the end.  Now we were down to only 50% of them chirping!


At this point Jenni asked if I just wanted to go sleep out in Wanda the van on the driveway.  It was tempting.


In a last act of desperation, I took a used, three-year-old Eveready battery and replaced the “new” battery on the detector I had started with an hour earlier.  It remained quiet.  Then our bedroom detector chirped for help.  Same thing.  Fixed. As we stood there in the early morning cold, a faint chirp came from upstairs.  I had exhausted my supply of Eveready but I took one of the batteries I had just removed this night and shoved it back in.  Silence at last. 


Jenni headed to town later that morning to buy six new Eveready.


For something so important, smoke detectors can certainly come across as EVIL.

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