Midnight Drama

In the light of day, the goings on of last night seem rather silly and insignificant, but in the dark, after being jerked out of a deep sleep, it was drama enough — and trauma enough — for me. What makes it so much worse, is that it’s my own fault.

I’ve been trying to keep to a schedule to change the batteries in my smoke alarms every year, but this year, I let the date pass, though I thought about doing the job every day, and even wrote a note reminding myself to change the batteries in the smoke alarms, but still I procrastinated. It’s a difficult task for me — getting out the ladder, climbing a few rungs, and then trying to get to the old batteries to change them. It’s also ridiculous because there are so many smoke alarms in this very small house. One in each bedroom, one outside the kitchen, one in the hallway, as per code, but that makes four smoke alarms within just a few feet of each other. A fifth smoke alarm is on the ceiling of the enclosed porch. That’s a lot of ladder climbing for an older woman with bum knees!

So last night, I wasn’t surprised — just adrenaline-rush startled — to be awakened by an insanely loud metallic chirp. I lay there for a minute hoping somehow I’d dreamed the noise, but nope. There it was again. A brief screech from the smoke alarm in my bedroom.

Not wanting to go out to the detached garage to get the six-foot ladder, I got my stepstool and climbed on to the top rung, thinking all the while how idiotic that was. I mean, there I was, half asleep, heart pounding, and rather past my prime for such shenanigans. Still, I managed to change the batteries. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop the intermittent screech. I closed the bedroom door, put in earplugs, and went to sleep on my daybed, but I was too adrenalized to be able to fall asleep. Besides, muted as it was, I was still aware of the chirp.

Knowing I wouldn’t sleep (and knowing I desperately needed to sleep off a cold that was inching its way into my system), I got out of bed and went online to see what the problem could be. Apparently, after taking out the batteries and before putting in the new ones, I was supposed to push the “test” button for fifteen seconds to clear the charge.

Sighing to myself, I went outside, unlocked the garage, got the ladder (I wasn’t about to try balancing again on the top rung of the stepstool), got a second set of new batteries (just in case I’d put the old ones back in the alarm), and then followed directions. And the thing still chirped.

But just once. Whew!

As I said, the midnight drama (actually it was closer to 1:30 if I want to be accurate) doesn’t seem that bad now, but it sure was a problem last night. Obviously, it was less of a problem than it would have been if the alarm had sounded because of a fire (for which I am grateful), but it certainly wasn’t fun, that’s for sure.

Now I’m off to change the other batteries, though I really don’t want to.

Hmmm. Perhaps I could put it off for another day or two . . .


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.

6 Responses to “Midnight Drama”

  1. Judy C Galyon Says:

    That is quite a shocker in the middle of the night. It sure would throw my sleep pattern into the trash for that night! Hope the other batteries got changed out and that all is well on that front.

  2. Carol J. Garvin Says:

    What a rude awakening! I don’t think we’ve ever had the batteries go at night, but I remember walking around the house one evening when I was home alone, trying to figure out just which alarm was the one beeping. I think that one ended up being in an upstairs stairwell and its sound ‘travelled’. I do understand it’s a safety measure, but it really did seem like having one installed in every space was a bit much. At least now that you’ve been proactive and replaced all the batteries you won’t have to worry about a recurrence any time soon.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Apparently, if the batteries are low, the cold night makes them even lower, though it hasn’t been that cold here.

      It is amazing how hard it is to find the alarm that’s beeping. Even worse, if one goes off — the noise echoes throughout the house, and all of them seem to sound in tandem.

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