Friday, March 16, 2012

The disadvantages of being short

There are actually many disadvantages to being short, but I'm just going to talk about one today:

When you're short, it's really, really hard to see the instructions printed on the top side of a smoke detector that is wired into the electrical system of your house.

About three weeks ago, my kitchen smoke detector started beeping. It wasn't going off (it blares and yells, "Fire! Fire!"). It would just beep once, then be quiet for a few minutes, then beep again. The first time it happened, my dog totally flipped out. Barking, jumping, howling, running in circles, the works. Clearly, the beep is not a pleasant noise.

I dragged over a chair and looked up at the detector. It had some instructions printed on it, including "Test Weekly." Hmm. I have not tested it since moving in six months ago. So I held down the button to test it, and it did the whole blaring and yelling thing (which made my dog freak out even more), but it didn't beep any more. Yay!

A few days later, the power went out. When it came back on, the smoke detector beeped again (setting off the dog). 'Aha!' I thought. 'I know how to fix this!' So I pressed the test button, and my dog freaked out, and it stopped beeping.

And then it started again. This time, in the middle of the night. I didn't hear the first beep, but my dog certainly did! Cue the barking and jumping and howling and running in circles, which confused my still-mostly-asleep brain until the smoke detector beeped again. I stumbled to the kitchen, poked the test button (cue unhappy dog), the stumbled back to bed.

And then it happened again. And again. And again. And again. Almost always in the middle of the night. So I called the company that installed it, and the guy told me to check the battery.

I'm not a total idiot. I thought to check the battery. But I couldn't find a battery. When I twisted off the bottom bit of the smoke detector, it was still wired to the ceiling, and I couldn't manage to see the top part. I saw a little notch-y thing, but I couldn't open it easily, and I was quite certain that if I broke the smoke detector, it would probably make all of the other smoke detectors (which are wired together so that all three go off when any one of them detects smoke or gets tested). Given that my dog still flips out at the sound, I REALLY didn't want to take that chance.

Finally, a tall friend came to visit. She climbed up on the same chair and could see the top side of the detachable bit, and read the instructions: unplug the smoke detector from the house, then open the little battery door that was blocked by the wires.

So she unplugged it, handed it down to me, I opened the little battery door, changed the battery, gave it back to her, and she plugged it back in. And that made it blare and test itself, which made my dog flip out.

On the bright side, if I ever go deaf, I don't need to worry, because my dog will freak out if the smoke detector goes off.

So what was my point? If you're too short to read instructions, call a tall friend. You may get mocked for your lack of height, but you'll get to sleep through the night instead of being woken up by a smoke detector's dying-battery beeps.

1 comment:

Joe Robinsmith said...

Glad you figured it out. As a fire alarm technician & electrician, I was going to tell you.....the battery needs to be changed. LOL, but you figured that out, so I'm just saying...Good job.