There are some things around the house that generally fall to Dad to handle. You know what I am talking about: circuit breakers, sump pumps, the garbage disposal, things that get stuck, sprinklers, that sort of thing.
And perhaps the most important – dealing with smoke detectors.
I have a love hate relationship with the smoke detectors in our house. I love them for their incredible ability to detect smoke and potentially save the lives of my children and wife.
But I also HATE them for a simple design flaw. I have been losing the battle against the smoke detectors in our house over the course of this past week. In fact, here is a picture of me trying to address the smoke detector in the middle of the night on Wednesday…
I am not sure if anyone knows this, but according to Wikipedia, the inventor of the first battery-powered home smoke detector in 1965 was Duane D. Pearsall. By his picture he looks like a respectable man. He was an engineer and entrepreneur who won many awards for his contributions to fire safety. He is probably responsible for saving countless lives.
What he was not able to figure out was how the internal mechanism ONLY, (and I mean ONLY) tends to malfunction, run out of battery, short-circuit, and generally fail between the hours of 2:17am and 4:41am.
This to me is a design flaw.
I have been fortunate to live in houses and apartments with smoke detectors for my entire life, and I can not recall ONE SINGLE TIME when the smoke detector went off at 4pm.
Or when I was watching football on a Sunday afternoon.
Never when we were eating pizza on a Friday night.
Can’t remember a time it went off when we were enjoying coffee and reading the paper on a late Saturday morning.
Or when I was in the shower first thing in the morning.
(*Actually, there were a handful of times Angie set off the smoke detector in my parents house just by showering. Still un-explainable, although it has not happened since we got married, so maybe the soul of my parents house was testing her and she passed!)
But when it is 3:26 am, and it is 28 degrees outside and your bed has never felt so warm, and the delightful slumber of sleep is visiting you peacefully, be aware. THAT is the exact moment a single spec of drywall dust could trip the alarm and send the smoke detector into its most annoying function – the dreaded CHIRP.
Just by me writing the word chirp, I can almost guarantee every Dad who is reading this is grimacing.
A chirp is the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard, a screeching baby, or the most annoying noise in the world from Dumb & Dumber. It supposedly has a pattern (ie: once per minute), although in the middle of the night, I could only describe that pattern as relentless, ear-piercing, and obscenity inducing.
Needless to say, after replacing the batteries in 2 detectors the first night, I thought I was good. But no, the next night, the other 3 ran out and started chirping. And of course not at the same time. One was at 12:17am (earlier in the night than ever recorded in human history). Then 2 more at 2:30am and 4:41am, respectively. Oh and by the way, the one I changed the first night started chirping AGAIN. This is how I dealt with that one…
So yes, by the third night I just changed them all.
Have you ever tried to QUIETLY change a CHIRPING smoke detector in your sleeping child’s room? Picture me gingerly climbing up a step stool, head lamp on, gritting teeth, a mouth full of swear words, and a snoring 6-year-old 10 feet away. Pretty funny image, right? Stop laughing, it’s not funny at 3:26am!
So consider this your public service announcement.
Go today and buy a whole package of 9V batteries (I know you don’t have them now), and just replace all the batteries in all of the smoke detectors in your house in one fell swoop.
And just to stick it to Mr. Duane Pearsall, change them at 9am.
PS. If you have a smoke detector story, please share it in the comments below! “Anger” loves company!