4.14.2009

while you were sleeping

Smoke detectors save lives, of course. But after a particularly memorable smoke detector in an old apartment decided to shriek every single time I boiled water, I decided that the ability to take down and disable my smoke detector, should I choose to take my life into my own hands, was a freedom I valued.

In my current apartment, the smoke detector is wired into my heating and cooling system, twelve and a half feet up. (This is an unforeseen downside to having ridiculously high ceilings.) I occasionally smack it with the handle of a mop when it mistakes my searing steak for a life-threatening inferno, but otherwise, I leave it alone.

On Monday morning, the smoke detector started beeping at three-minute intervals. Other than annoying me while I searched for the source of the sound, it wasn't a big deal. I smacked at it with the mop, and it stopped making noise.

Monday night, at around 3:30 a.m., the smoke detector decided that it would not be put off so easily. BEEP, it told me. BEEP. GET UP AND LEAVE ASIDE ANY SILLY THOUGHTS OF REST.
Beep, in this case, meant that battering the smoke detector with a mop handle was no longer sufficient. Time for a new battery, it seems. But wait- the smoke detector is almost thirteen feet in the air, and although I am over six foot in heels, I have no way to remove and replace the battery to shut the damn beeping off.

My first thought, after beating the smoke detector like a deranged child after a beeping piƱata, was that I should short it out somehow. This highly logical idea was to involve me throwing water at the smoke detector until it shorted out the electricity in my apartment. But then I'd have no electricity, and my bed, located directly under the smoke detector, would be soaked.

I had to get to the damn thing first. Since I neither own nor store a thirteen-foot ladder in a studio apartment, I had to find an alternate route. Jumping on my bed wasn't working, so I shoved the bed to one side, drug over my coffee table, and placed a folding chair atop the coffee table. (Yes, neighbors, I was moving furniture at 3:45 a.m.- sorry about that.) I clambered onto this jenga-like structure and finally reached the smoke detector. Victory! Remove the battery, and on to bed!

Turns out these fancy new smoke detectors will beep with renewed urgency if you take their battery out. And not just any battery that one might have lying about the house, but a nine-volt battery. It would make too much sense to have a smoke detector run on AA batteries, of course, for people have AA batteries around the house for clocks and remote controls and those creepy vibrating razors and would be able to change out their smoke detector batteries without making a trip to the store.

As I wasn't wearing actual clothes, I decided to throw on a raincoat and boots and head out in search of the elusive nine-volt battery. (Note: it was not raining at this point, but I needed a coat that would cover my nightgown.) I grabbed my car keys on the way out, in case I had to drive around the greater Cincinnati metropolitan area in search of a twenty-four hour hardware store. My first planned stop was a convenience store two blocks from my house. Somewhere in my head, I was convinced that I'd have to drive to find the necessary battery, so I walked the block and a half to where my car was parked, got in, and drove the half-block to the convenience store. Yes, I drove a half-block at four in the morning while essentially wearing only a jacket.

$5 and two truly befuddled convenience store clerks later (I'd forgotten the lovely little spots of white pimple cream dotting my face, and had cat hair stuck to my lip balm from the pillow), I arrived home to once again climb up the rickety arrangement of furniture to stuff the battery in the VERY CONCERNED smoke detector. I thought about smacking it around a bit for good measure to show it who was boss, but feared this might set off another round of beeping.

Whoever designed these "smart" smoke detectors owes me a good 75 minutes of sleep.

3 comments:

Kaye said...

terrible! Last year our carbon monoxide detector kept doing that. Then when Ruth was staying at our place I was gone for the weekend. I guess it was going haywire. So I get back from NYC and fine the detector in my closet. She said at 3am this seemed very logical, put it in the closet and you won't hear it anymore. haha!

Glad you could find a battery, blast those Roanoke ceilings.

Lyz said...

I, too, have thought about going after a smoke detector at 3am. For some reason, that's when they decide to go off...and wake up 2 kids in the process. Murder has never sounded so reasonable.

nadarine said...

Lyz: in my head, the kids would be an asset here. Can you just stack them up like little circus acrobats and hoist them into the air so they can grab the smoke detector? No? That's not how children work?