Smoke Alarm Emergency

It might be true that there’s no smoke without a fire, but it’s also true that a smoke alarm can say there’s smoke even if there isn’t a fire.

One of my smoke alarms went off a little while ago, and I about jumped out of my skin. There’s no fire, no smoke, I’d recently changed the batteries, it’s only a couple of years old, and still it went off, scaring me half to death. A few minutes later, it went off again. I changed the battery because that’s all I could think of to do since there was no fire to put out.

I’m sitting here waiting to see if it will go off again, my heart still pumping, my ears still ringing, my hands still shaking from the adrenaline rush.

I wish there was a way to adjust the sound level of a smoke alarm. The sound emanating from that smoke alarm is ridiculous, made worse for being in a small hallway in a small house. If there really was a fire, and all the smoke alarms went off at once, I’d either have a heart attack or go deaf. There are three alarms all within six feet of each other — one in the hallway, one in the bedroom, and one outside the kitchen. As I said, this is a small house, so to put one in each necessary locale, they are clumped together. If the noise level can’t be adjusted, then there should be quieter ones for small houses. But of course, if there were, people with large houses would use them, they wouldn’t hear them if they were in the far reaches of the house, and I’d get sued for having such a stupid idea.

But oh, man — that noise is enough to wake the dead. And if not that, it’s enough to get people to join the dead.

I wonder if anyone has died because of the alarm? (Pause to go check Google.) All I could find was a study showing that the emergency alarm has been implicated in the high number of adverse cardiovascular events and coronary heart disease related deaths observed in United States firefighters. A fire station alarm is not the same as a house alarm sounding from a smoke detector, but it’s close, especially since the firefighters are relatively young and healthy, and not everyone who lives with a smoke alarm falls in that category.

The screech seems to be silenced for now, but yikes. What an awakening! If the thing wanted a new battery, all it had to do was chirp, and I’d still go running to do its bidding.


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.

4 Responses to “Smoke Alarm Emergency”

  1. Estragon Says:

    It must be the curmudgeon in me that I have a growing detest for alarms of all sort. The fire/ambulance/police sirens, the smoke/CO alarms, the phone alerts, the app/computer update alarms, even the seat-belt or service needed nag in the car. They’re all just getting annoying. Everything’s an emergency, even if it isn’t. Yeah, things need to be attended to, but is everything such an emergency that it needs to provoke a fight/flight/freeze response? The thing is, when it really is an emergency, I’ll probably be at the point I think it’s just another nag and ignore it!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It’s the whole car nag thing that made me decide to restore my old car rather than getting a new one. The new electronics in cars went a couple steps too far for me.

      The thing I learned about smoke alarms is that when they go off, they also set off panic mode, which means no orderly egress, but running around trying to figure out what to do. In my case, my nose is the best smoke alarm. I can smell smoke in such small amounts that if there was smoke in the house, I’d already have done something about it long before the alarm could go off.

      And your comment about everything being an emergency? That sure is the truth! If everything is an emergency, then nothing is.

  2. Uthayanan Says:

    Is it possible to use an old model which is still accepted by regulation.
    Easy to fix and you can change your battery easily. Naturally it won’t cost much. As far as I know you have already had bad experiences with smoke alarm. I had already an experience with my negligence with cooking but the sound is acceptable.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      My alarms are hooked into the electrical system of the house, so it wouldn’t be easy to replace them. If they were simply attached to the wall like ones I had years ago, I’d take off most of them and just use one. It’s good that you have one with an acceptable sound.

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