Thursday, July 1, 2010

-9v + 4:40 am = @^#$&!

There is a classic lyric that states, "Those who know what's best for us, must rise and save us from ourselves." Of course, in the context of the song, the author is being sarcastic. However, in life it is amazing how often we are constantly being saved from ourselves.
I'm still amazed at the story of the person who sued a certain restaurant because she spilled coffee on her and it was hot. Her complaint was that no one warned her the coffee was hot. So why are there not warning signs on ice cream cones warning us they are cold?
Please don't misunderstand--I am strongly in favor of anything that will keep me and my family safe. There are times, however, when these safety features or warnings get out of hand.
Last night, our ten year old came to our room at 4:40 am complaining that her radio/alarm clock was making a beeping sound and was keeping her awake. My wife, bless her, came to her wits first and instructed her to unplug the radio/alarm clock. The ten year old said she already had, (Smart girl!) but it was still beeping.
By now, I heard the beeping she was talking about and recognized it as the smoke detector warning that the battery was getting low. Understand that we've had our issues with smoke detectors before. In one of our previous houses, we had a smoke detector right by an inside door--and if you closed the door too quickly, the air caused by the closing of the door would set off the alarm.
We've also had smoke detectors so close to the kitchen that when my wife was cooking certain items, (don't ask me what--she's the chef) the smoke detector would go off. I would joke that there had to be a better system to let me know dinner was almost ready.
So, back to last night: We got up and I verified that the sound was coming from the smoke detector in our ten year old's room. No problem, right? Just replace the battery. What? It takes a 9 volt? Who uses 9 volt batteries for anything anymore? Didn't those go out of style the same time as VHS machines? We don't have any of those on hand. Alright, well, we'll just take the battery out and get one in the morning. There are smoke detectors in the hall, in the other girls' room and in our main bedroom--we'll be fine.
We took the battery out of the smoke detector and that was the end of it, right? WRONG! The other smoke detectors in the area started that beeping now. To be clear: this is not the beeping that there is a fire, but a little "chirp" that happens every minute or so. What in the world? So, upon further inspection, I note that the 9 volt battery is actually a backup in case the power fails and each of the smoke detectors are wired into the house power--and linked together by some sort of communication network.
In taking out the battery of one, the rest of the detectors then started freaking out. Of course, this had to happen at 4:40 in the morning--it couldn't happen while we were all awake. We tried everything. I looked for a breaker to turn off the detectors--no luck. (Plus, not the safest thing to do, either) Finally, I got out my tools and was going to just disconnect the darn thing. As I got up on a chair with tools in hand, I noticed there was a way to simply unplug the smoke detector from the house power. That did the trick.
So, the lesson learned here: always keep some extra 9 volt batteries on hand, or replace them every 6 months like you should. And while you are buying some extra 9 volts, you may want to pick up a few extra VHS tapes as well--you never know.

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