Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Smoke Detectors Will Kill Me

Sometimes I have trouble sleeping. Maybe it's a mother thing but I often have nights where I can't get to sleep or when once asleep I'll wake up in the middle of the night, my mind racing with important stuff like, "I forgot to put muffin wrappers on the shopping list. I need muffin wrappers. If I forget to pick them up on Thursday I'm dead. DO NOT FORGET MUFFIN WRAPPERS."

I've even devised a sophisticated memory tool to help me remember those midnight panics. I throw one of my bedside books on the floor accompanied by the thought "If I throw this on the floor I'll step on it in the morning and it will remind me to remember to call the insurance company." Forget a simple thing like writing it down on the handy pad of paper I keep at my beside table because if I make all the noise necessary to get the paper and pen out of the drawer and then write the item down it will wake Andrew.

And it usually works. The next morning I step on the book and *bang* on go the memory lights and suddenly I've remembered that Grace needs to be picked up at 4 rather than 3 for play practice. Works like a dream. Okay not a dream, bad choice of words.

You'd think with all this talk of insomnia that I'd launch into a story of my sleepless woes this week but oddly enough I've been in a good-sleep cycle. The planets have aligned and I'm sleeping soundly. No complaints. Until last night.

We have five smoke detectors in the house inherited from the previous owner. I usually change the batteries on daylight savings, twice a year, just like a good homeowner should (and I floss regularly too). But those same planets that were aligned before decided to conspire against me last night because somewhere around midnight I was yanked out of a sound sleep by a loud warning *BEEP*. Not the kind that indicates a fire, the kind that indicates your batteries are low. Loud enough to wake me up. Just one *BEEP*.

I went back to sleep, thinking I'd take care of it in the morning, that I must have got a bad battery in there somewhere but I'd only been asleep 20 more minutes when it went off again. *BEEP*. Considerably irritated, I got up to dismantle the rogue smoke detector and get back to my beauty rest but as soon as I got up I realized the horrible truth: I had no idea which smoke detector was beeping, with five of them, and with my stumbling in a sleep-deprived state it was hard to tell.

So there I stood, waiting in the hall, half-dressed and freezing, just waiting for the dumb thing to go off again so I could pull it off the wall and remove the battery for good (it's not like I carry extra 9-volts). I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, convinced the show was over for the night I went back to bed.

20 minutes later *BEEP*.

Up again, more waiting--WHICH ONE WAS IT?? But again, nothing.

I considered dismantling all, just ripping them off the walls in quick succession but there's this primal warning that comes to mind that says "Don't do that!" You know if I pulled them all down it would be the night we have a fire. At least that was my reasoning in my near-zombie state. I don't play odds too well after only three hours of sleep.

So I grabbed the one I thought was beeping, pulled out the battery and went back to sleep. 15 minutes later *BEEP*. The beeps were getting closer together, kind of like contractions--which didn't make me feel any better. I tried ignoring it but every 15 minutes I'd get lurched out of my REM with the brutality of a root canal without anesthetic.

Okay maybe I'm exaggerating a little but I'm not pretty when my sleep is taken from me. My precious precious sleep.

By 4:30 am I'd tried three different detectors before figuring out it was the carbon monoxide detector. I reached to yank out the battery like some vicious mechanical appendectomy but wouldn't you know it the battery case was screwed shut with these little tiny teensy screws. I knew I had a screw driver somewhere that would work but there was no way I'd go pawing through the garage in search of the correct tool because too much activity, too much thought and I'd never be able to go back to sleep. Just get up, get the job done and go back to sleep.

Not being able to remove the battery I pitched the vile machine down the stairs and into the family room, buried it under a pile of very fat pillows and stumbled back to bed. Lucky I didn't have a hammer in my hand, in a frenzy of adrenaline I'd probably have smashed the plastic case to pieces and felt much better.

And Andrew slept through it all. It must be a mom thing.

***

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34 comments:

Karen Shanley said...

I so feel your pain. Had a similar sleepless night myself. Mine weren't mechanical beeps, rather barking beeps every 20 min. My dogs were convinced we had a ghost in the house last night.

Love the book idea!

snarflemarfle said...

Why do those carbon monoxide detectors always get the beeps in the middle of the night?

Been there, done that!

wayabetty said...

That is too funny Michelle, no I'm not laughing at you but laughing with you. I can actually hear the smoke detector in the garage peeping right about now. The hubbie has "planned" to change the battery for about 3 wks now. Heck, I'm not about to climb up the ladder and change the darn thing with this 5 month belly hanging out!

wheresmymind said...

Ugg...our Smoke detectors are supposed to be RIGHT next to the kitchen. Since they go off whenever we cook we just took 'em down and put them in the bed room

Christie said...

too funny! i'm laughing out loud at your post realizing the same thing would happen to me, i am sure of it!

J said...

UGH. We lived in an apt in Philadelphia, and the smoke detectors didn't have batteries...I don't know how they worked, but they were electrically hooked up to the emergency generator or something. The one in our bedroom went off one night, and we couldn't stop it. No batteries to be pulled. My husband finally had to rip it out of the ceiling. We called the super in the morning, and asked them to fix it. Guess what? They ignored the one hanging from the ceiling, and replaced the one on the other side of the house. Idiots.

Chickadee said...

AAAARRRRGHHHH...as a fellow insomniac, I can relate to your pain. And yes, those dang things are annoying...even if they are for your own good.

Kerri said...

My middle of the night trick is to switch my wedding band on my left hand with the ring on my right hand (which has a small stone on it). That, or put my watch on the other wrist. Both things feel odd enough to me in the morning that I notice them and then think, "What the heck was I supposed to remember, now?" Usually it works. Occasionally, I can't pull it back from the lost recesses of my brain and it bugs me all day. :D

allysha said...

Oh, I have lived through that! It drives me crazy!

Jamie J said...

Oh I so hate the periodic beeps. Enough to drive you batty--especially in the middle of the night! DH did something funny to his brother once with a smoke detector. When the battery was low he hid it in the deep recesses of his brother's closet but close enough to the surface where he could still he the annoying 20 minute beep. Drove him crazy!

Brian (dad to 3) said...

"Do do that!" ??????

I think you were still a little tired when you proof read your post.

But I'm with you. How hard would it be to make it beep every minute?

"Sunshine" said...

Oh, how I can relate. I've had my smoke detector battles both day and night. Two of the four in our house are now disconnected. They have the uncanny ability of throwing their voices just to confuse you when you are especially irritated with them.

I loved your post, it was LOL funny. Thanks for sharing.

Mert said...

Oh my gosh, that was hysterical... only because I have done the exact same thing. :O)

Sandy said...

You have more patience than I, my friend...it does seem like those things have a vendetta when they start beeping like that, doesn't it?

I've gotta try that book idea.

Nicole said...

I HATE that. We are not so good about changing ours out and then the dreaded beeps start. We ALWAYS have a hard time figuring out which one it is. It drives me crazy!!

Heather said...

We had a similar situation about 2 weeks ago. Our Co2 detector was beeping and beeping, but it was during the evening. It quit, we went to bed and it had us up all night opening windows and worrying that if we unplugged it and we all died, it would be our fault. The thing was 10 years old, so we got a new one (cha-ching!) and it has never gone off. Ours plugs into a socket, so we couldn't just change the batteries. Incidentally, the old one is still plugged in adn hasn't gone off since we bought the new one. It must have felt threatened by the new one. LOL!

Kim said...

Thanks for a really funny story today. I can so relate to hearing a beep that no one else notices. Something like that would keep me awake the entire night!

Sleep well tonight.

chelle said...

hehe that is terrible (your description of it all and me being able to picture it in my mind is what has me giggling!)

local girl said...

Have you ever seen that episode of Friends when the smoke detector kept Pheobe up all night. It reminds me of you! LOL!

Julie Q. said...

I'm amazed that with such a fitful night you weren't too sleep-deprived to write a hilarious post. I love the muffin wrappers stuff. Man, I have so been there!

Mike said...

Our smoke alarm beeped, too. Of course, I was frying eggs then.

My wife and I frantically tried to fan out the smoke, to stop the smoke alarm from beeping. My 3-year old joined in.

Few days later, I told my 3-year old that I was frying some eggs. He looked at me, smiled then said, "Are we playing fireman again?"

Smarty-pants.


Mike
http://somethingaboutparenting.typepad.com/

Anna said...

I used to think that they were completely annoying until we lost our entire second floor to a fire. Just be glad that there was no fire.

Our child had gotten up from a nap and found a child "resistant" grill lighter that was locked in a tall dresser. He fiddled with it in the corner of a walk in closet and lit clothes on fire. By the time my husband heard the smoke detector, it had engulfed out entire bedroom and was making its way towardds the kids rooms. I am so grateful that our child didnt hide in fear....he was in his room and had gone to sleep. It was by Gods grace that he didnt light himself on fire. My husband was home with the kids and managed to get them out...

I can't tell you how many times they had gone off for whatever reason...I am just so thankful that they worked that day.

EVERY ONE CHECK YOUR SMOKE DETECTORS! And make sure that you are changing batteries and plugging them back in if you mess with them!

JAM said...

I feel for you. I've had bouts of insomnia over the years and it's no fun. Situations like that, robbing you of sleep are just as bad.

In my house, I go to bed before everyone else most of the time. Sometimes the rest of my family wake me up when getting ready for bed. They all go to sleep in about 5 minutes, and I'm awake for HOURS because of a few minutes noise while they get everything shut, turned off, or whatever. It's mentally painful.

Loralee Choate said...

That book thing sounds like a pretty cool tool. Of course, I have the memory of head cheese, so I would have to carry stacks of books and throw them around me perpetually.

binkytown said...

That is MADDENING! So unfair!

jchevais said...

I think I would have gone the extra steps to find the hammer and gone to town on that thing.

You had me chuckling there. I could see your sleep fuzzed angst.

Excellent post.

allrileyedup said...

A couple months ago, a beeping kept going off that I was able to tune out but was driving my husband insane. He went so far as to tear apart an old alarm system that the previous owners had, which he was convinced was the cause of the beeping. As it turns out, the cause of the beeping was extra smoke detector we had that had been unscrewed from its place the in kitchen during a remodeling, and I figured at some point we might need to use it, so I put it in a cupboard in the laundryroom and forgot about it. Oops.

Prahagirl said...

It reminds me of the episode of "Friends" when Phoebe is kept awake by the Fire-Alarm-From-Hell, the one that just wouldn't die! lol

Julie said...

That thing where you wake up in the middle of the night remembering some important thing that you need to do -- or even worse that you needed to do but didn't -- happens to me on a regular basis. I need to try the book on the floor as a reminder thing.

And julie q. is right -- how can anyone who got so little sleep write such a funny and amusing post the next day?

Ni Yachen said...

Funny thing is I do use the same memory triggers too. I throw my watch on the floor to remind me that I need to call so-n-so. My wife also gives me a hard time for not using a pen and pad like she does.

Damselfly said...

Scribbit, you kill me. Make the Anchorage daily paper carry a column of yours.

PS I'm impressed you have so many detectors. We have only two.

Jen said...

I can't tell you how many times I've searched and searched for the rogue smoke detector only to figure out it's the stupid carbon monoxide detector. Geeze, even dogs learn! But no, I go through the same routine every few months. Sigh...LOL!
And in this house, it's not me who has trouble sleeping, it's the oldest boy, who has gotten into the habit of making himself not sleep. Not fun.

An Ordinary Mom said...

I swear one of these days insomnia is going to kill me ... not a fire!

I laughed out loud about how your sophisticated memory tool ... I do that sort of thing all the time!

Anonymous said...

hahaha yeah i have that problem currently too, except that it's in my room and it beeps like every minute. I changed the battery like 3 times but, wouldn't you know it, it just loves to beep all night and day. I ended up sleeping in the guest room till we get it checked out cause its wired to the ceiling... c(-) () (-)p