Alarmed that I didn’t hear a thing

Having been an apartment manager for many years, I understand the importance of keeping working smoke detectors in your home/apartment even more than most people.

I will admit that I have taken the alarm from the kitchen on more than one occasion. When the alarm goes off every time you fry an egg, it MAY be a little too close to the stove. In most cases there is more than one, and you can usually just move one into a hallway just outside of the kitchen. If you are dealing with an alarm that is "hard wired" in, you are pretty much out of luck. Short of cutting wires and possibly affecting everyone else in the building, I don't know if there is anything you can do.

One night last week I was awakened to the chirping sound of a smoke alarm battery that was dying. Once you have heard one, there is no doubt. It is much like the sound of a tennis shoe on a basketball court. Come to find out from Sister, it had been chirping since midnight, and I slept through it. One of my dogs, (Joseph) did NOT! I am not sure if it was the high pitch, or just that he didn't know what it was. But it had been making him crazy for most of the night. He does the same thing if he hears thunder. He does not seem to be able to find a SAFE place and ends up in a panic mode.

At first I thought it was coming from the hallway. I took that alarm down and it seemed to quit. For a minute! Then, we could hear it again. I knew the kitchen one wasn't making noise, but checked it anyway. Nope! Still no battery in that one. Turns out we actually had one more, in the hot water tank area. I yanked that sucker down in a heartbeat. OK. So now we have taken down the back one, disarmed the hallway one, and there wasn’t a battery in the kitchen one, already. I can reassure the dog that the scary noise is now over and he can relax.

Is this the end? Not a chance. A few hours into our day, the chirping has come back! At this point we have NO batteries in any of the smoke detectors! (My son was going to bring us a couple of new batteries that day) Sister and I are beginning to think there may be powers beyond our own involved in this. After searching the house to find the chirping, it now coming from the kitchen trash container! I couldn’t get the battery out of the one, and because it was somewhat attached, it was STILL chirping.

OK. I gotcha now! Picked up the beast, (that is what we are calling it at this point) out of the trash can and out to the dumpster.The dumpster was pretty much empty which allowed me to throw it very hard into a corner. Thus making SURE the battery would come out of it. I reassured the dog once again that the scary noise is now gone for good. Not done yet!

Keep in mind that by now it is evening. From my back porch, I can hear the smoke detector from inside the closed dumpster, which sits at the sidewalk at least 10 yards or more from my back door. I know if I can hear it, dog will also hear it and will NOT come out into the backyard. The backyard is where dog business is conducted. Now I am asking myself: How long can a battery go, once it is telling you that it is running down? Ok, we just need to get through tonight. It could not possibly chirp all night. The battery could not keep going that long.

Wrong again!! It is now 5:00 AM the next day. I step out back expecting that the noise has now ended. Also hope that it did not disturb any other apartments that are even closer to the dumpster than mine. Not only was it STILL chirping, but it seemed even louder than before. I have now had had it! I will kill that chirping beast no matter what. But how will I get to it? The dumpster was nearly empty when I threw it in and I know I am not climbing inside. How will I reach it, even on a step-stool?

Aha, I will use my nifty-nabbers and grab it, pull it out, and finally kill it! Maybe I will try one last time to get the battery completely out and then smash it with a hammer. No mercy left here for the demon smoke detector! I bundle up with robe, jacket and heavy slippers. In total darkness I am at the dumpster with nothing but evil intentions at this point. I lift the lid, and the alarm is loud enough to hear on Stockton Hill Road (three blocks away.) I am no longer trying to figure out how and why this demon will not stop. I know now, it is all up to me. The only way to even find it in the dark is with the nifty-nabber. I stick my arm in and go to the general area that I threw it into. I am not only determined but also asked for a little help from you know who. This madness has to end!

Lo and behold, I capture the beast on the first try. Now I am slowly bringing it to the top of the dumpster, as it is howling like a burglar alarm. No pauses in between. I truly expected that I would drop it and have to start all over again. Happily, I make it all the way to the top on the first try. I quickly yank the last wire that is holding the battery in. I have to tell you, at this point I truly expected it to go on WITHOUT a battery in it!

It finally ended. I came in the house like a conquering hero, carrying my niffty-nabbers like a sword.This time I knew the poor dog and Sister would be getting back to normal. Later that day one of my neighbors asked me, "Did you hear that God awful alarm going off all night?"

Nope. Didn't hear a thing.