Friday, August 05, 2011

Of Smoke Alarms

For many years we had three battery operated smoke alarms. They hung there on the ceiling occasionally shrilling when I burned the toast - okay, not occasionally, often - but at least that meant we knew they were working. We checked the batteries regularly but inevitably one would die between times. Then the smoke alarm would beep at a pitch we couldn't ignore until we replaced it. It invariably went off for the first time between 2:00 and 3:00 AM because it could. Maybe it just got bored with no movement in the house and decided to wake people for company. An elderly lady of my acquaintance mistook her beeping alarm for a bird trapped in the roof. It must have got a thrill out of her trying to find and release it.

Anyhow last year, tired of these shenanigans, we decided to dump the battery operated ones and get smoke alarms wired in. No more beepings in the early hours of the morning. Brilliant - and, if we ever decide to move it's all ready to go because, while battery operated alarms are quite legal in old houses here, if you want to sell the house you must have new ones installed that are wired into the house electrical system. Because our house rambles somewhat we did leave one in place as a just in case extra precaution.

So when a familiar beeping woke me around 3:00 AM on Wednesday morning my first thought was it couldn't be a smoke alarm battery, followed by leaving one battery operated alarm is a mistake, especially if you forget to check the battery. I tried to ignore it but they have been really well designed so that is not an option. By then Pisces had also woken up and we all - me, husband, dog and cat - trailed through the house picking up a ladder on the way - did I mention we have quite high ceilings? The battery was extracted. Bliss. Wednesday - in daylight - Pisces put in a new battery and returned it to its place.

Thursday morning 2:30 AM. Beep. Beep. Beep. We all head off through the house again. Pisces climbs up - and the smoke alarm with its new battery isn't responsible and it can't be the wired in ones. We track the sound - not easy because it seems to be coming from everywhere - another clever design feature to ensure you can't ignore it perhaps. Finally we find the offending alarm - hidden on the top of the bookcase. I had been feeling sorry for Pisces until that moment - he had an early start in the morning - but, since he put it there instead of getting rid of it, any sympathy flew out the window. I stomp off back to bed.

All I can say for the sake of a happy marriage is the remaining one had better not beep tonight because I haven't been able to find it yet and I suspect Pisces has forgotten where he put it.

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