They let me know when it’s time to take the bacon out of the oven.
In our two-story house, there are four smoke alarms and one carbon-monoxide alarm. The carbon-monoxide alarm has never done anything but dangle precariously from the ceiling, because it was never properly installed.
The smoke alarms go off all the time.
Only rarely is there any smoke.
Once, when I was cooking something in the kitchen, I heard a muffled POP!!!! followed by a series of pitiful beeps.
I tracked the noise to the smoke alarm in the front hallway.
I pulled the smoke alarm down from the ceiling, and discovered that the battery inside had exploded.
I called the manufacturer to say, “Ummm, my smoke alarm just exploded.”
Yeah, said the customer service representative. They do that. I just needed to use a different brand of battery.
They expect me to entrust my life to this nefarious contraption?
Usually, when one of our smoke alarms needs a new battery, it does not explode. It chirps.
At 2 a.m.
A few weeks ago, when a smoke alarm started chirping at 2 a.m. (why is it always 2 a.m.?), we couldn’t figure out which of the four smoke alarms was in distress.
We finally just unplugged them all from the ceiling and went back to bed.
We left them unplugged for a couple of days – until one night, at 2 a.m., the hardwiring in the ceiling started chirping.
They’re like zombies, these smoke alarms. They will not die.
Upon further investigation, we learned that our particular models of smoke alarm are supposed to be replaced every five years.
The last time I replaced a smoke alarm, my daughter was 2. She watched, fascinated, as I clambered up on the ladder and disconnected the old smoke alarm from the ceiling.
I handed the old smoke alarm down to her, and asked her to hold it for me while I installed the new one.
As God as my witness, I thought the battery was dead.
My little girl found the battery test button, pushed it, and got a full-on sonic blast right in the face.
She shrieked, dropped the smoke alarm and ran to the other end of the house.
I almost fell off the ladder I was laughing so hard.
This time around, I will be replacing the smoke alarms by myself.
I had to order the replacement smoke alarms online. When I was done, I tossed the old ones in the trashcan.
Then I had an idea. Some of the batteries might still be usable. (I’m cheap like that.) I dug out one of the smoke alarms, popped open the battery case, discovered a 10-year-old battery and decided that this wasn’t a very good idea after all.
I tossed the battery back in the trashcan. I tossed the smoke alarm in after it.
Two minutes later, the darn thing started chirping again.
It was a lifeless lump of plastic. No electrical power, no battery. How was it DOING that?
I frantically dug out the 10-year-old battery, reinserted it into the zombie smoke alarm, ran outside and flung the thing in the outdoor trash can.
Ah, blessed silence.
A week later, I was sitting quietly on the couch, trying to write, when I heard a faint “beep-beep-beep.” It sounded like a truck backing up somewhere outside.
But the beeping never stopped.
I got up and threw open the back door to see which of the neighbors might be making this infernal noise.
It was coming from my trashcan.