Smoke alarms: what you don’t know might kill a night’s sleep

Woke up at 5:57 this morning to the alarm clock going off. While I knew John had to be up and out the door early, there were two things wrong with the situation that my pre-caffeinated brain could discern. Firstly, the alarm was set for 6:25, which, even without coffee, I can tell is different from 5:57. Secondly, our alarm clock usually plays obnoxious pop music (don’t get me wrong – there is a lot of great pop music, but only once in a very great while does our alarm clock hit on a good selection) and doesn’t scream like a banshee.Then it stopped. Without my pushing the snooze button.

John seemed to be on the same train of thought, but processing slightly faster, because he jumped up and yelled, “THAT’S THE SMOKE ALARM!!” In retrospect, I probably should have had the same reation, but I didn’t. I rolled over and thought, “must replace the battery today”. It had stopped, right? If there were smoke, it would keep going.

Meanwhile John is tearing around the house, sniffing all of the rooms. He thunders back downstairs and barked out something like, “kidooojekda-baaamt.” At least, that’s what it sounded like from under two pillows. The only appropriate response to any question asked before 6am is, “no,” which is what I said. He then tore off to sniff the basement and found nothing but dust.

The drama ended. Until the wretched thing started up again. This time we both waited and counted to five, noticing that the signal was longer this time. Now thoroughly awake, I got up, sniffed the house, quieted the dogs, sniffed the outdoors and wondered, if there was no fire, what the border collie was climbing my leg for.

Noticed that the coffeemaker had started up. Thought, “hmmmm, I set that for 6:20. It is now 6:08. 6:08 is not 6:20. Ah ha! A power glitch! That’s what’s up with the smoke detector!” Checked other electric things in the house. Nothing had reset. Went downstairs. Found out that John, while sniffing the kitchen, had started the coffee, just to confuse me.

We both decided that sleep wasn’t worth it and got up.

After playing with my good friend Google this morning, I discovered that smoke detectors need regular vacuuming so that dust doesn’t muck up the sensor. Also, did you know that spiders can crawl into your smoke detector and set it off? Given the recent surplus of dust in this place and the general availability of spiders (I actually like them and rarely evict them), I think a bit of suction today will let us sleep until 7am tomorrow.

I’m sure the Fates will find another way to wake us early.

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