Monday, August 1, 2011


You know how the smoke alarm starts chirping in the middle of the night? What do you do? That happened to me this morning. It was 6:30 a.m. Not the middle of the night this time, but still disruptive to my morning. I had not even had coffee yet, and here was this ear-splitting beep echoing around the house. My cats, who were sleeping peacefully on my bed, fled to the basement.

I had no idea what to do. My first thought was to go get a hammer and smash it. I had stood by and watched while my husband changed the battery. So, I thought I would try that. I got out the step ladder, but it didn't bring me near enough to the chirping thing; we have nine foot ceilings. I can't look up anyway because I get dizzy when I look up. This is the lingering effect of an attack of vertigo I had some time ago.

My husband is out of town on business, so he couldn't help. Finally I thought of calling the fire department; maybe they would help, I wasn't sure. Would they take me seriously for such a minor matter? Well, I did call. They asked me a couple of questions, then said they would send a mobile unit out. I ran to get dressed and get the nine volt batteries, which I knew the smoke alarm uses.

About ten minutes later, the fire unit arrived. He had even brought the batteries with him. He was very helpful, changed the batteries in both the smoke detector and the carbon monoxide alarm. Then he explained how the alarms are wired, how they work, and what to do if they start chirping again. It turns out the new battery did it, but that we really should replace our smoke alarms because they are more than ten years old.

I'm not sure, but I think this may be one of the benefits of living in a very small town. In the big city, would they be so helpful? Maybe so... fire departments have a very good reputation. In any case, I was impressed. They sent a fireman with 20 years of experience to change the battery in my smoke alarm!

p.s. It's been quiet for over an hour now. My cats have come back up from the basement, but they are creeping along, crouched down low, suspicious, with their ears cocked for an emergency!

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