Joys of Modern Life

It’s horrendously early in the morning as I am writing this, hours before I generally get up, but I had to deal with a chirping smoke alarm, and now I can’t get back to sleep.

It’s my own fault, really. I should have changed the batteries a month ago since that’s when the alarms were originally installed, or even a week ago when I changed the batteries on the thermostat, but I don’t have a talent for ladders, so I hoped to get someone else to do the job. But I put it off. And there was no one around tonight (this morning!) to stop the chirping but me.

I looked up the instructions on how to change the batteries, and they were more complicated than I wanted to deal with, having to do with danger warnings, shutting off the power, flathead screwdrivers, and removing battery locks. I was sure the person who installed the alarms showed me a battery drawer in the side of the device so I wouldn’t have to dismantle the device before changing the batteries, but when the drawer didn’t easily open, I thought I might be mistaken.

So, YouTube to the rescue.

I was right about the drawer, and I managed to change the batteries on one alarm, but the chirping continued. When two alarms are close together, it’s almost impossible for me to figure out which one is chirping, and I’d picked the wrong one. I got the drawer of the second alarm open, but couldn’t remove the battery. A bit of finagling and a minimum of swear words, and the battery finally came out. Luckily, the new battery slid right in.

Ahhh. Silence.

I still have two more smoke alarms to do, but to get to the one in the back room, I will have to drag a longer ladder in from the garage. The smaller step ladder I’d used for the others won’t work because there is nothing for me to grab hold in that room to help me keep my balance. At least the others were near doorways, which gave me some purchase.

I know these smoke alarms are lifesavers, but do I really need four of them? One is in the bedroom, one in the hallway, and one near the kitchen as is required, but that puts all three of them within a few feet of each other.

Oh, well. There shouldn’t be a problem after this — I’ll write down the date I changed the batteries and will make sure I change them within the year so I can do it at a reasonable time rather than in the middle of the night.

I didn’t have to change the batteries tonight, of course — according to the instructions, I had a week in which to make the change. A week of that chirping? I don’t think so. I couldn’t even deal with an hour.

Now that the adrenaline of being so rudely awakened has drained away, maybe I can get back to sleep.

And so ends another saga of the joys of modern life.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

5 Responses to “Joys of Modern Life”

  1. Sam Sattler Says:

    We’ve been in this house for almost 21 years now, Pat, and I’ve had to climb out of bed numerous times to stop that annoying chirping sound before it drove both of us nuts. And not once, no one single time, has the chirping ever started during the day…only in the middle of the night. I even got called one night by a neighbor whose husband was out of town…at four in the morning…to change the batteries in one of her alarms. That has to be the most annoying sound and rhythm of sounds in the world./

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      My father had cathedral ceilings with a smoke alarm near the peak. Luckily, one of my brothers had knocked the thing off before I got there, because there is no way I could ever have changed the battery! The one’s I could reach were hard enough. The worst was soon after I got here — they started screeching at me for no reason. All of them at once.

      I think I finally found the one that was bad and had to throw it in the back yard so I could sleep because it wouldn’t quit. I can’t imagine the neighbors were very happy about that.

      Jeff and I always had the cheap ones that adhered to the wall rather than be wired into the electric system, so they were easy to get to in the early morning hours.

      But yes, every single alarm in every single place I lived went off in the early morning hours.

  2. Judy Galyon Says:

    I had a similar chirping event earlier this month & couldn’t figure out what it was. Fortunately there was a younger person in the house at that time & figured it out for me. I was able to get the step ladder & change the battery.
    Oh the joys of getting old!!!!

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