Our house is not on fire. I have checked. Every ten minutes for the past hour, while attempting to get the kids to bed.
We are fortunate to have those fancy smoke alarms in our house that are all hard-wired together. So when one freaks out, they all do. And so do small children.
This isn't the first time we've had trouble with the dumb things. They have occasionally declared a spontaneous family fire drill around 2am, just for the fun of it. No, not the kids. The smoke alarms.
Tonight, they waited until my husband was gone for an hour and I was reading the kids a bedtime story. They are loud. Especially since fire code demands that there be one detector per bedroom, and one at the top of the stairs. So at the top of our stairs, within a ten-foot radius, we have five smoke detectors. Wait, make that six. We also have one up there that is not hard-wired to the house, but is connected to the house alarm. No one sleeps through a fire in our house.
I think we have finally, within the last ten minutes, solved the problem. First, I removed every battery (one of our units beeps continually with a battery installed, so it had none to start). Then, I removed the two security system units, which freaked out the alarm panel (though the monitoring company didn't call to check on us, which annoys me). When the alarm went off again, my husband was just getting home. I jumped online and found info that dust and spiders can short the alarms.
I went downstairs to tell my husband (he was attempting to shut off power to the units...) and he found another detector that I'd missed, in the storage room, covered in spider webs. It appears to be the culprit. It has now been removed (so please don't start a fire in our basement for a few days, k?). The unit gave one last hurrah in my husband's hand as he carried it upstairs (Did I mention how loud those things are? What's that ringing noise?)
Upon further research, it appears that the manufacturer of our smoke alarms recommends replacing the whole unit every 10 years. Our house was built in 2000. You do the math.
BTW, its daylight savings time this weekend. Time to change your smoke alarm batteries.