Well that’s a New Year’s to remember!

1 01 2012

My ears are still ringing. No – not tinnitus. Nor, for that matter the lingering aftermath of my trip to watch Mother Mother play live the other night. No this is much more mundane.

Having dutifully stayed up until just past midnight so that we could contact various close friends and distant rellies to wish them all the best for 2012, we shuffled off to bed – leaving the middle pachyderm and her friends to make sure the New Year was suitably dog-eared before the rest of us had to deal with it for real. Several bottles of bubbly, Brazil nuts, Cajun cashew nuts, cheese and crackers and Christmas cake ensured that sleep came quickly and deeply, until…

A beep. Not just any beep, mind… a screeching high pitched beep. A beep of the kind that says “wake the f**k up!” I did. Silence. Odd…

Sleep started to reintroduce itself. Beep again. I’m not at my best in the mornings. Not that my best is much anyway, but even so, this was not it. No surprise then that it took a couple more eardrum piercing beeps for me to shepherd enough neurons together to figure out that it was the carbon monoxide alarm. It very helpfully tells you when its battery needs replacing by beeping. Not a friendly “Sorry to bother you, but when you have a moment, I’d appreciate a new battery” kind of beep though. Oh no, that would require an extra 2c resistor in its manufacture. No this is the regular “Get out, get out, pants on fire” alarm… but rationed into short shrill bursts, apologetically spaced at 25 second intervals.

But why now? Why on New Year’s morning at 4:30am? In fact why do smoke and CO alarms always need new batteries in the middle of the night? It is my experience as a long time safety-conscious home owner that smoke alarm batteries ALWAYS die in the early hours of the morning. Never in the middle of the day, or early evening when inconvenience would be minimal. I’m sure they have a little “inconvenience timer” circuit built in. No doubt taking care to make allowances for daylight saving, and a willingness to delay a few days if a major drinking excuse like New Year’s is in the offing. I bet they even download residents’ birthdays from some secret server to add the possibilities of other late nights/short sleeps to be interrupted.

So, having finally figured out what was beeping, and conscious of my daughter having a couple of friends sleeping over who might be similarly disturbed (though it’s interesting to note the landing wasn’t awash with teenagers panicking about the potential for fire and the loss of their MP3 collections), I set off to remedy matters. It’s a mains-powered device (the battery being there for backup in case of power failure, I assume), so I not unreasonably figured that if I just removed it from the wall, all would be quiet and well.

Kidde CO alarm

Kidde CO alarm

Boy was I wrong! No, removing it from the power source is equivalent to lighting a box of Swan Vestas under its bum. So there I am, dressed in my skivvies on the landing with this now constantly shrieking box of electronics in my trembling hand. Quite sure my ears are now bleeding (these things yell at 85dB: anything louder can actually cause permanent damage…), I search frantically for an off-switch while stumbling down the stairs to at least reduce the volume for the other previously sleeping residents. The dog looks like a demented floor mop by now. If it was bad for me, I can only imagine what she was going through. The button helpfully labelled “reset” only works when it’s in the mood it seems, and this was obviously not the right day of its cycle. Perilously close now to dropping the thing into the beckoning toilet bowl, I eventually noticed a slide switch on the back requiring a narrow device (oh no – a mere finger wouldn’t be inconvenient enough), which an applied biro operated satisfactorily. Silence. Internal ringing still, but external silence at least. Result!

Once my heart rate had subsided to relatively normal levels, I returned to bed and slept fitfully until about 7am, when you guessed it… beep! More subdued – being still downstairs, but unmistakable. The blasted thing has a devilish sense of humour it seems. This time I took a screwdriver to the damned thing and took the battery out, taking care to place it several feet away to avoid any chance cosmic event re-inserting it in my absence. One cup of tea later, and the world was back in proper proportion.

A new battery now in place, all is once more safe and well in chez Elephant as I write this, but for the rest of the day the dog has taken every opportunity to leave the house… just in case!

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4 responses

2 01 2012
misfits' miscellany

My solution is more costly and potentially hazardous to the health but far more satisfying. What you do is get up with a long Tourette’s-type string of random words as you hunt for the broom and then bash the thing with added vitriol until it starts to whine in a wa-wa-waaaaa, fashion. Then you go back to sleep and deal with it in the morning.

2 01 2012
Quieter Elephant

There’s always a next time… I’ll bear it in mind!

2 01 2012
Moon Under Water

Finally got around to having a look at this blog. This is a very funny and frustratingly true-to-life account. Thanks – the writing here is great! I’m off for a browse 😀

2 01 2012
Quieter Elephant

Well – thank you for your kind words. We aim to please.
Well, actually, that’s really just a convenient by-product of my compulsive need to type.
Either way, I’m glad you found something to your taste. Remember to take your coat when you leave though…

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