Saturday, September 25, 2010

Never Cry Wolf

About 8 years ago, two smoke alarms went off in the middle of the night.  Brent was traveling for work, so it was just me and the young'uns.  No signs of fire or smoke. I pulled the 2 problematic detectors out of the ceilings for the night.  They began chirping on the kitchen table.  I removed their batteries.  They kept chirping.  I was about to throw them off the deck into the field, but then settled on wrapping them in towels and stuffing them in a drawer.  I accused them of being possessed.

Last night, at 12:30am, it happened again.  What a way to wake up.  I grabbed a chair and began yanking the hallway one closest to us out of the ceiling, but we could clearly hear another one going off in the basement.  I didn't even suspect a possible fire, I just wanted the damn thing out and a chance to regain my hearing.  Brent hollered from the bedroom, "Don't you think you ought to check out the basement?"  My first thought was, "One of us is standing on a kitchen chair in her undies trying to get this stupid thing to quiet, and one of us still in the bed!!!!"  I thought better of replying with sass (I saved that for today's post), and ran downstairs.  No sign of smoke or fire.  I pulled the basement detector out of the ceiling and put them both on the kitchen counter.  Back in bed, I hear the chirping.  Deja vu.  Yank out the batteries.  Still chirping.  How are these things making noise?  No electricity.  No batteries.  What is living inside of them?  I pressed some buttons which must have reset them.

Back to bed, and now my alertness and hearing are hypersensitive - the neighbor boy out late with a friend, the dog barking because of the neighbor boy, creaks in the house.  Each noise makes me startle, worrying that one of the 5 remaining smoke detectors might decide to cry wolf.

Three Truths About Smoke Detectors:
1)   They can save lives.
2)   If they are going to malfunction, it will always happen in the middle of the night.
3)   As deafeningly loud as they are, they still don't wake up my children.  How is this possible?  (Oli did wake up this time - but none of the kids woke 8 years ago!)

If we ever have a real fire, we're in trouble.  I won't even suspect fire, and the kids won't even wake up!


  1. Oh my! If you hadn't written that experience I would have sworn it was ME writing that same experience. Why do the alarms ALWAYS chirp in the middle of the night. NEVER during the day. And why am I always the one who gets up to do something about it??

  2. Oh Trilby. You made my day with that comment. Yes, the chirping is awful and always begins in the wee hours. But this time, we didn't even get the chirping first - just the full blown alarm. I wonder how many decibels.